What is the difference between a terrorist, and a freedom fighter?

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  1. dadibobs profile image57
    dadibobsposted 11 years ago

    If your country was invaded, would fighting to free your people from occupation make you a terrorist?, therefore being feared, hated and eventually punished, or would you become a public hero, reaping the benefits along the way?

    What are your thoughts?

    1. Shinkicker profile image53
      Shinkickerposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Hi dadibobs

      I think it is better to think of 'acts of terrorism' rather than 'a terrorist' per se. A soldier can perpetrate a terrorist atrocity, an insurgent can conduct a heroic act ....... and vice-versa of course.

    2. profile image0
      MP50posted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Whoever invented the gun, should have been shot with it, then we wouldn't need freedom fighters or terroists.

      Just my input DB.

  2. Stump Parrish profile image60
    Stump Parrishposted 11 years ago

    The God they pray to is the biggest difference. If they pray to the same god they are a freedom fighter and if not, that makes them a terrorist. I have an original quote that deals with exactly this idea and it goes like this. "Be it the Twin Towers or an Abortion Clinic a terrorist is still a terrorist. Only their god changes" Stump Parrish

  3. dadibobs profile image57
    dadibobsposted 11 years ago

    good point Shinkicker, but what i mean is this, if your own country was invaded, would you turn to the methods we currently see used against us, for example Afghanistan Ied's etc, or if a conventional war was fought, and we lost, should we just accept the invaders as our new leaders?

    Thanks for comenting smile

    1. secularist10 profile image61
      secularist10posted 11 years agoin reply to this

      True. Most people will keep fighting endlessly because they think they are in the right. That's why we see conflicts that have lasted for centuries in certain parts of the world (i.e. the Balkans). Even once they lose the conventional war, they will just keep the hope alive through nonconventional means.

      Afghanistan is a good example (which is why the US effort there is ultimately doomed), as is Vietnam. When it's your land, and your home, you have nowhere else to go. It's either fight or die. But if it's an obscure place on the other side of the world (Afghanistan for the US, Vietnam for the US, the American colonies for the UK, India for the UK, etc), you are much less likely to want to fight. It's in that gray area where "terrorism" or something like it develops.

    2. Shinkicker profile image53
      Shinkickerposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I think it would be legitimate for people to fight invaders using guerilla tactics against the forces of occupation. Booby traps, assassinations, ambushes for example. Even regular armies do that in conflict. War is dirty and vicious.

      There are grey areas I suppose but I would view the capture and torture of soldiers as terrorism. Also the execution of surrendered soldiers too.

      But when people start targeting innocent civilians and children then that really goes beyond the pale. That would be the worst kind of terror. But the biggest of those type of killers have been the forces of nation states, not insurgents.

  4. dadibobs profile image57
    dadibobsposted 11 years ago

    Your input is always welcome MP50 lol, i agree, the inventor does have a lot to answer for lol

  5. Gail Anthony profile image60
    Gail Anthonyposted 11 years ago

    In my opinion, terrorists indiscriminately harm and kill non-combatants. As a group, freedom fighters are striving for self-rule. The Viet Cong, who Americans fought, were cold and ruthless combatants that often-times killed civilians. However, they did not kill indiscriminately. I would call them freedom fighters. Al-Queda sets off bombs in markets without any regard as to who will be killed. I would classify them as terrorists.

    Additionally, terrorists do not need guns and terrorists existed long before gunpowder was used in weaponry. In my opinion, Genghis Khan was a terrorist since his troops indiscriminately wiped out entire communities. Alexander the Great was not a terrorist.

  6. Jeff Berndt profile image75
    Jeff Berndtposted 11 years ago

    One criterion would be where the fighting is happening.

    The French resistance would be freedom fighters, since they were attacking a foreign army that invaded and occupied their territory.

    Al Quaida would be terrorists, since they were blowing folks up all over the globe (at least before the US invasion of Afghanistan).

    Someone from Iraq attacking invading US and allied soldiers would be a freedom fighter. But someone from elsewhere who came to Iraq to fight American (and other coalition) soldiers would be at best, a mercenary, at worst, a terrorist.

    And on a slightly different note, "If your country was invaded" is the only reason I would take up arms. If the US were to be  invaded, it would be every able-bodied citizen's duty to do what they could to resist the invasion, whether as a new member of the armed forces or as a civilian partisan. I would expect nothing less from the people of any democracy.

    But nobody is crazy enough to try to invade the US. China is the only country that could pose a credible threat, but they don't have enough boats to get their army over here.

    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      "If your country was invaded".  Do you not, then, respect the needs of friends and those we have treaties with?

      Specifically, I'm thinking of Kuwait when they were invaded and Britain or China in WWII.  Would you have chosen to simply wait until those invaders actually landed on American soil?

      It would seem that always waiting to be attacked is a good way to let an enemy eat up smaller countries until they have a manufacturing base large enough to take on anyone or anything.

      1. Jeff Berndt profile image75
        Jeff Berndtposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Good points, wilderness. You're right that the US should honor treaties (and therefore ought to be very careful about whom it makes treaties with).

        I agree that the US should not have allowed its allies to fall to the Nazis or to Imperial Japan. At the same time, though, there's a pretty big difference between an aggressive expansionist regime like Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan, and say, Iraq, which hasn't actually attacked anybody since its ill-fated invasion of Kuwait.

        Sure, Iraq might have been talking belligerently in 2001/2, but they hadn't actually attacked anything since 1990. Therefore, the US had no business invading Iraq in 2002.

        Seems to me, if a country doesn't attack anybody, nobody should attack that country.

        1. wilderness profile image95
          wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          We're on the same side here - on the whole I agree 100% with you.

          The problem is that the world is never black and white.  We'll never really know why the US attacked Iraq the second time, but was it because a madman who tried to commit genocide on his own countrymen was stockpiling weapons to attack someone else?

          If your neighbor (whom you detest) is seen beating his wife, torturing her, and eventually caught in the act of murdering here, should you interfere?  Or just sit by?  The situation could be analogous to what Saddam was doing by killing Kurds.  Should we attack, or just let it happen?  Impossible to say, but I can conceive of circumstances where we should intervene, by force if necessary.  And I say that even though I thoroughly hate the fact that we have become the world's policeman. 

          The world is gray, and it is possible that we will face such a scenario once more.  A blanket statement that we never attack unless physically attacked first doesn't cut it.  It makes a great first policy, a good starting point, but there has to be more.

          1. Jeff Berndt profile image75
            Jeff Berndtposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            "We'll never really know why the US attacked Iraq the second time, but was it because a madman who tried to commit genocide on his own countrymen was stockpiling weapons to attack someone else?"
            Well, that was one of the many reasons the Bush administration put forward.

            The thing is, the US, since the first Bush administration, had been enforcing the two no-fly zones very aggressively. Iraq's ability to attack any nation not right next door had been reduced to near zero. They could have had WMDs, (they didn't) but had no way of getting them to where they needed to be.

            "If your neighbor (whom you detest) is seen beating his wife, torturing her, and eventually caught in the act of murdering here, should you interfere?"
            Yes. In fact, I've done so, but only when I heard the lady in question say the words "You're hurting me." Before that moment, it was a private argument, and none of my business (but was audible to me nonetheless) But from that moment on, the man in question was a belligerent aggressor, and had to be stopped. I would hope that anyone would intervene in such a case. Luckily, the incident happened in a place where police could be quickly summoned, and they quickly arrived (because I called them before I did anything else). So, don't get the idea that I'm trying to say that I'm any braver than anybody else.

            "The situation could be analogous to what Saddam was doing by killing Kurds.  Should we attack, or just let it happen?"
            Well, that's the real question. During the Civil War, the North invaded the South first. Should the nations of Europe have involved themselves in the conflict? But then, the South was enslaving people (on the sufferance of the national government). Should the nations of Europe have invaded to end the "Peculiar Institution?"

            The world would be a very different place if the several nations had joined to oppose Hitler's 'final solution' before Germany had captured most of Europe.

            You're right that "Don't fire unless fired upon" can't be the end-all, be-all, but it should always be our first principle. We can at least be sure that we will never be the aggressor as long as we make this our policy.

    2. Josak profile image61
      Josakposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I more or less agree with this definition, unfurtunately it means our government has been a terrorist organisation many times.

  7. dadibobs profile image57
    dadibobsposted 11 years ago

    So Jeff Berndt, it's all about perspective?, which side of the invasion you sit on? and what role you play with respect to the invasion?

    Interesting points, thanks for replying smile

    1. Jeff Berndt profile image75
      Jeff Berndtposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Basically, yes. Objectively speaking, the Sons of Liberty were terrorists (but without the explosions). They used intimidation, fear, and violence to achieve their political goals. But we revere them in the US, because they helped to incite the revolution.
      The French resistance were terrorists. The IRA were terrorists. But in the US we gave them a pass, because the French resistance fought the Nazis, and the IRA 1) didn't attack the US and 2) were white*.
      The Mujahadin (sp?) were terrorists when they fought against the Soviet Union (but we called them freedom fighters).

      Evan is right: it's about who is talking to whom.

      *we called the PLO terrorists even though they satisfied the same criteria as the Mujahedin: they were fighting against an occupying force. What's the difference? It's not that the PLO attacked our ally (Israel), because the IRA also attacked our ally (Great Britain). It's not because they targeted civilians, because plenty of civilians have fallen to the IRA's bombs and other IRA violence. The main difference is that the PLO are Arabs, and as a rule, euro-Americans are scared of dark-skinned people who use violence, but not of light-skinned ones who do the same. Racism.

  8. Evan G Rogers profile image61
    Evan G Rogersposted 11 years ago

    The difference comes from who is labeling them.

    To anyone familiar with history, the current terrorists are freedom fighters.

    To anyone unfamiliar with history, or to those who have something to gain from rhetoric, or to those who have lost a loved one in an attack, the current terrorists are terrorists.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc5E-MnD … r_embedded
    (caution, graphic images)

  9. Xenonlit profile image60
    Xenonlitposted 11 years ago

    To me, it depends on who is being slaughtered.

  10. knolyourself profile image61
    knolyourselfposted 11 years ago

    In the real world it is all about resource wars and capitalism versus socialism.

  11. maxoxam41 profile image63
    maxoxam41posted 11 years ago

    None both use violence to be heard.

  12. knolyourself profile image61
    knolyourselfposted 11 years ago

    "We'll never really know why the US attacked Iraq the second time". Of course it is known, Oil and Israel and the fact that Saddam Hussein began to sell oil only in Euros.

  13. Perspycacious profile image62
    Perspycaciousposted 11 years ago

    Freedom Fighters strike against the recognized enemy, a guerilla is such a fighter.  The outstanding examples which come to mind are those of the Hungarian and Czechoslovakian uprisings against the Soviets and their sycophants, and the Polich uprising against the Nazis.
    Terrorists strike randomly to terrorize groups not necessarily the object of their depravity.

  14. Perspycacious profile image62
    Perspycaciousposted 11 years ago


  15. moiragallaga profile image78
    moiragallagaposted 11 years ago

    Wilderness is right, the world is never black and white. Moreso, after the Cold War ended. During the Cold War things were much simpler, perceptions, labels and context were framed according to alignment, East or West. Under that dichotomy one could often quote the saying, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," with the classification depending on where you are aligned.

    Nowadays, it isn't that simple anymore, and with the advent of globalization, the global security environment has become much, much more complicated. The emergence of non-State actors and the growth of transnational organized crime has created a new paradigm.

    To keep things simple, I agree with an earlier post here that makes reference to terrorist acts. Define acts of terrorism (good luck getting consensus on that on a global scale) and whoever engages in such should be considered as one. A freedom fighter is usually someone who is fighting to liberate his country, whether it is a foreign invader or a home-grown despot. It makes no sense for a freedom fighter to indiscriminately kill his fellow citizens who are non-combatants or the very people whose freedom he is supposedly fighting for.

    So my personal opinion? For me, the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter is in their actions and conduct as they seek to achieve their goals.

  16. profile image0
    The Writers Dogposted 11 years ago

    By today's spinning of freedom fighters, Washington's Continental Army would have been terroists. So would the French Resistance.

  17. profile image57
    SanXuaryposted 11 years ago

    There is no difference and defining justice invites the same argument. Only those in power and hold wealth have the rights to violate all laws and get to determine who the bad guy is. Everyone else is in contempt of them if they are not on their side and given labels except maybe victim.

  18. dadibobs profile image57
    dadibobsposted 11 years ago

    TO recap, if i have this right,

    A freedom fighter is someone who is in their own, or allies country, fighting an occupying army, but only targetting a military, or military supporting infrastructure.

    A terrorist is someone who will attack anyone, civilians included, anywhere in the world, using what weapons come to hand, for political reasons.

    Wow, the distinction is huge, i have to thank every single person who has contributed to the answers.

    Thank you guys smile

    1. Jeff Berndt profile image75
      Jeff Berndtposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      "A freedom fighter is someone who is in their own, or allies country, fighting an occupying army, but only targetting a military, or military supporting infrastructure."

      By this definition:

      If Norway invaded Canada (far-fetched, but stay with me) and I went to Canada and helped plant bombs to blow up the invading Norwegian Army's vehicles, materiel, and personnel, then I'd be a freedom fighter.
      But if those bombs also killed people who weren't in the Norwegian Army, I'd be a terrorist.

      If I went to the Norwegian embassy in the US, and blew it up because I don't like the Norwegian invasion of Canada, I'd be a terrorist.

  19. Reality Bytes profile image76
    Reality Bytesposted 11 years ago

    Freedom fighter fights to preserve their Nation from foreign invaders, targeting the foreign invaders themselves.

    Terrorists go to the foreign Nation and target civilians, so as to break that nations will to fight.

    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      On the whole I can agree with that definition, but..

      What about Dresden, Hiroshima or Nagasaki?  The Japanese targets were militarily important (manufacturing centers) but I'm not sure about Dresden.  Either way there was huge loss of civilian life both in the attack and later - does that make it a terrorist action?  Against a country that was plainly the aggressor?  Was the US using terrorism on foreign soil?

      "Collateral damage" is a much maligned term and usually used very derogatorily but it will always be a part of war.

      1. Jeff Berndt profile image75
        Jeff Berndtposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Dresden was not a center of manufacturing. It may have been a center of commerce; I'm not sure. But it was a pretty big town, and big town usually have a reason for existing beyond just being a nice place to live.

        I've read that the allies chose Dresden as a target both as an attempt to break the spirit of the Germans and as a demonstration of power for the Soviets' benefit. (The idea being that the USSR would see that the allies could drop bombs as far East as Dresden, and might be able to do so even further East.)

        As long as nations send armies to try to conquer other nations, there will be "collateral damage." This is another good reason not to go to war if at all possible.

  20. steveamy profile image61
    steveamyposted 11 years ago

    point of view .....

  21. MrMaranatha profile image73
    MrMaranathaposted 11 years ago

    The only difference between a "Terrorist" and a "Freedom Fighter" is often the Location in which they operate.

    They can be a freedom fighter at home.. but when they go to someone else's country to do their killing against unarmed people with unprovoked Violence they are then Terrorists regardless of their Parent National Identity.

  22. LeanMan profile image80
    LeanManposted 11 years ago

    I think the difference is in the number and quality of virgins that they get to receive in the afterlife!

  23. profile image0
    Home Girlposted 11 years ago

    Violence is violence, is violence.
    I can get a medal for it.
    I can be put in prison for it.
    We should not kill anybody. Ideally.
    By the way, I was a terrorist yesterday  I ate bacon and eggs for breakfast.

  24. Anti-Valentine profile image75
    Anti-Valentineposted 11 years ago

    One is just a politically correct term for the other.

    Mandela was a convicted criminal and terrorist and even after his release from Robben Island was barred from visiting certain countries because of his reputation. Yet he was later president of South Africa, and one of the better ones at that. People who committed such acts and who are now government officials or affiliated with the current administration would be labelled as terrorists, or at the very least troublemakers, anywhere else in the world, but they're called freedom fighters instead.

    I don't condone apartheid, but I also don't condone some of the actions committed by the (at the time) oppressed, either.

    1. ngureco profile image81
      ngurecoposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      What you may call a terrorist maybe another man’s freedom fighter. Reagan used to refer to Afghan Mujahideen as freedom fighters when they were fighting the Soviets. George W. Bush would refer to the very same Afghan Mujahideen as terrorist when they fought the interests of Americans.

  25. DzyMsLizzy profile image87
    DzyMsLizzyposted 11 years ago

    In one sense, it may be only a matter of semantics, depending upon which side of the incident you happen to find yourself.
    In another sense, I'd say that no matter who is involved, the terrorists are the ones doing the invading into another country, and the defenders are the true 'freedom fighters.'
    Maybe the real terrorists are the governments robbing people of their rights and freedoms anywhere in the world, but most especially in countries such as here in the USA, where we have traditionally been very free, and now the goverment wants to take away more and more of our liberties under the guise of "the war on terror."   THEY are the terrorists in this case--you do not win a war of any kind by persecuting your own citizens.

  26. ethel smith profile image82
    ethel smithposted 5 years ago

    imo in part it depends who is backing you. In Syria the rebels were called freedom fighters by the west. Same in Libya and Egypt during Arab Spring. Always a lot of hypocrisy about.

    1. Castlepaloma profile image75
      Castlepalomaposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      When ever a Country invades a another country, especially for their resources, and murdering mostly innocent woman and children, it's odiously a terrorist act. When the defenders are protecting their Family, tthey are the ones who are the freedom fighter.

      The 9/11 was not treated like an international crime. More like a false flag attacks like most others around the world. What country in their right mind however would attrack the US when they have more guns than People.


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