One of the two general types of terrorism, domestic terrorism is the type that “involves persons or groups committing a terrorist act(s) in their own country” (Fairchild, 2001). As opposed to domestic terrorism, international terrorism usually include situations that involve a target in another country attacked by a group from another, thus creating a situation in which more than one government has an interest. Thus, domestic terrorism is an internal affair and, at least in theory, less open to the involvement of other states.
This distinction between domestic and international terrorism, however, can often be misleading. Domestic terrorist actions may only be possible with foreign support and aid, yet the presence of that support and assistance may not be known for some time, leading to a misclassification of the act. A dissident organization may seek to attack a foreign ally of the government that it opposes in order to have the foreign support reduced. Such an attack would clearly be international in scope, but generally domestic in the objective it seeks.
In yet other cases, what passes for an international terrorist act is less distinctive. If Kurdish separatists in Turkey attempt to attack the office of a provincial governor, it is domestic terrorism. If the same separatist group attacks a Turkish consulate in France, then the attack is considered international terrorism since it took place on foreign soil. In both cases, however, the attack represents actions by the same organization against the same government.
Whether the attack occurred in Turkey or France is a matter of convenience for the separatists; it does not reflect a significantly different type of action (Lutz & Lutz, 2004, p. 15). One famous example would be the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh and his associates. Another example occurred in Spain, where the Basque Fatherland and Liberty Movement has used terrorist tactics to overcome Spanish resistance to Basque separatism. A third example took place in Japan, where sarin nerve gas was planted in five trains in the Tokyo subway in 1995 by a Japanese religious cult.
Furthermore, there are two types of domestic terrorism: Terrorism from above, or the so-called state terrorism and terrorism from below, which is the non-state terrorism. One example of a state terrorism the mass killing by the governments of Sudan and China, where 130 million civilians were decimated by 34 million men in uniform in 20th century (Rummel, 1996). Another example is the genocidal policies against the North American Indians. This happened before the Constitution was signed, when the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was mapped out the manner in which the U.
S. government would deal with the Indian nations. The Ordinance proclaimed that the government would observe “the utmost good faith” in dealing with Indians and promised that their lands would not be invaded or taken except “in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress. ” The Indian policies have been contradictory in practice because these policies endorsed actions most beneficial to the non-Indian population, making them prone to terrorism (Vohryzek-Bolden et al 2001, p. 40).