Terrorism and Other Crimes Against the State


Unlike most crimes that are committed with an intention to cause harm to particular individuals or property, crimes against the state have a much broader scope of effect. These offenses undermine the underlying security of the state and government by actions that contradict the law and the politics of a country. Among different crimes within this category, terrorism has occurred as one of the most dangerous and prevalent within several recent decades. Terroristic attacks of both domestic and international types impose severe hazards for the state placing citizens’ safety at risk. Due to the insufficient research and understanding of the nature of terrorism, this type of crime deserves to be paid more attention to bring more clarity about its causes and possible ways of decreasing its occurrence rate. In this paper, the general overview of crimes against the state will be provided with the following broad discussion of terrorism as an offense, its types, and the legislator allowing for combating it.

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Offenses Against the State

In the law and criminology spheres, there is a distinction between the crimes against individuals and those against the whole state, including its citizens and officials. An offense against the country might be defined as “the political activities that are regarded as a threat to the established political system, public order, or the existence of the nation-state itself” (Head, 2). These crimes include sabotage, espionage, treason, illegal immigration, sedition, terrorism, and others. Some of such crimes are related to violent actions or their planning; for example, terrorism and sabotage. Other offenses might not be connected to any violence but rather deal with an informational exchange with enemies of a country (Head, 2). In general, the discussion of the offenses against the government falls in two directions, which imply the complicated nature of this crime category. The two courses include political and legal perspectives, from which the analyzed crime category is viewed.

While a particular crime is claimed to be against the law from the legal point of view, it might be perceived as a lawful deed and even appraised from the political perspective. Such a distinction in judgment is caused by the context in which a crime is committed. As Head states, there are sabotage, espionage, or similar type of activity might not be classified as a crime if it is performed in the interests of a state, not against it. Therefore, the trial and punishment for these crimes greatly depends on the context in which they were committed but not on their nature. That is why it is so complicated to define a clear idea about offenses against the state when they are discussed in the political realm. However, terrorism is recognized to be a violent crime that has negative global implications.


Terrorism is commonly defined as an act of violence that aims at the destruction of state security. Head provides a broader definition that characterizes terrorism as “acts of violence or intimidation organized, supported or sanctioned by governments or government agencies”. In the US legislature, terroristic actions are regarded to be a federal offense and are always identified as a crime without any regard to the intention. Terrorist acts are motivated by politics and are specifically organized to threaten the citizens of a state and impose hectic public sentiments. Usually performed by the members of secret organizations, violent terroristic attacks include bombing, mass killing, threatening, and other actions.

One of the most dangerous and influential terroristic organizations in the world is al-Qaeda, which has a large number of groups and members originated from such countries as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and others(Head, 185-186). These groups operate worldwide performing crimes in Europe and the Americas to promote their anti-political views. Often, anti-government terrorism leads to a state’s decisive actions, which might result in war. Therefore, terrorism on both international and domestic levels proves to be one of the biggest threats to state safety in the 21st century.

In the modern world, terrorist attacks take place relatively often and have different motives in focus, which are either of a domestic or an international origin. Domestic terrorism is a category of acts that are “dangerous to human life” and violate the criminal law of a state (Head, 199). Such crimes are committed within a state by the citizens of the same country against the politics of the government. On the other hand, international terrorism is defined as the actions dangerous to human life that violate international law and impose threats for conflicts between two states (Head, 199). This type of terrorism embraces a large part of attacks organized by the al-Qaeda groups or the like in attempts to undermine the groundbreaking basics of political systems of some influential countries in the international arena.

Since the events that took place in New York on 9 September 2001, there has been a rapid increase in the amount of research and legislature aimed at studying and combating the threats imposed by terrorism worldwide. The trends of globalization seem to have a significant influence on the rates of terrorism in different corners of the world. The study conducted by Bove and Bohmelt suggests that the growing migration rates have caused an increased probability of terroristic attacks worldwide. Indeed, in recent decades, the flow of international migration has increased. Cross-border migration provides “opportunities for new forms of transnational action that are used by political movements, including terrorist organizations” (Bove and Bohmelt, 7). In other words, the more people enter a foreign state, the more is the chance that a terrorist attack will occur.

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The concentration of foreign citizens in particular countries has already shown its impact on the rates of terrorism. For example, in Italy, the rapid growth of terrorism risk rates was linked to the great number of immigrants from North Africa (Bove and Bohmelt, 4). This tendency is evident on a global scale and is continuously addressed by the state and international organizations. According to the reports of the International Organization for Migration, the intersection of migration procedures and national security leads to the increase of risk to state safety (Bove and Bohmelt 6-7). However, the very fact of the linkage between migration and terrorism does not imply that all migrants are likely to become terrorists. The critical detail here is “the countries of migrants’ origins and how present terrorism is in those states” (Bove and Bohmelt, 6). This means that terrorist movements incept based on the immigrants who come from a terrorist-prone country, and these are the individuals who need to be in the focus of anti-terrorism procedure’s attention.

Anti-Terrorism Legislation

The legal sphere has significantly changed since the advancement in terrorism-related law. The basic principles of the legislature, including the presumption of innocence or habeas corpus, have been deteriorated to introduce preventative punishment and combat terrorism (Head, 181). Since military terrorism has been an issue for a long time during the wars, the civil manifestation of this crime has imposed citizens’ safety concerns in peacetime. The difficulty in determining the exact measures used for anti-terrorism activities is related to the political nature of the phenomenon, which is close to the essence of freedom movements. The contemporary court systems in the USA apply a broad system of prosecution and preventative procedure to fight terrorism. However, due to the political nature of terrorism as a crime against the government, the majority of the cases are state secrets; this fact diminishes the possibility to research the question and attract academic circles to develop a broad system of anti-terroristic measures.


In summary, the whole range of crimes against the state involves actions that have the potential to undermine the stability and security of governmental powers and state politics. Although all of the crimes are dangerous, terrorism is regarded as the most hazardous one due to its global scale and insufficient understanding of its nature. Although military-related terrorism as a phenomenon has been known for a long time, the growing cross-border migration imposes higher rates of both domestic and international terrorism as a threat to citizens’ safety and state security. The political nature of the topic under discussion diminishes its research opportunities, but it is essential to find ways to combat this crime to ensure peace and safety in the conditions of modern globalization.

Works Cited

Bove, Vincenzo, and Tobias Bohmelt. “Does Immigration Induce Terrorism?” The Journal of Politics, vol. 78, no.2, 2016, pp. 1-37.

Head, Michael. Crimes Against The State: From Treason to Terrorism. Routledge, 2016.

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