Difference Between Terrorism and Insurgency

Terrorism vs Insurgency

Terrorism has become a bane of the modern world and all of us are aware of the dreadful consequences of terrorism. In fact, the world is waging a war on terror in a united manner to weed out this modern evil from the face of the civilized world. Use of violence or threat of violence in a systematic manner to achieve religious or political ends is what constitutes terrorism with innocent people becoming soft targets. There is another related term called insurgency that is troubling many nations of the world. There is much similarity between terrorism and insurgency for people to equate the two concepts. This article attempts to highlight the differences between terrorism and insurgency.


To begin with, there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism, but even in the absence of a common definition, terrorism can be understood as a philosophy that attempts to use terror as a tool to achieve ideological goals. The same people who are termed as terrorists and perpetrators of crimes against humanity by a government or an authority in place are termed as jihadis or warriors by organizations who recruit them to achieve their goals. Terrorists deliberately target civilians who cannot defend themselves, to create terror in their minds and to teach the authorities a lesson.

Terrorism is used as a clever ploy by political organizations to achieve their goals. In fact, no longer can only right wing parties be accused for terrorism as left inclined political parties have also started to make use of terrorism as a tool to further their objectives. Whoever the sponsor and whoever the actor, it is plain clear that terrorism is a method to use violence indiscriminately against innocent civilians to draw attention to the cause of the sponsor.


It is a fact that, in modern times, there are always people and groups in societies who feel aggrieved with the policies and programs of those in authority and strive to achieve freedom for themselves by staging a rebellion. It has to be kept in mind that the insurgency is performed by people who are not recognized as belligerents. Insurgents try to upstage the authority that is recognized by other nations and even the United Nations. Insurgency has a political motive with a desire to achieve a freedom from the rule of the government in place. Small rebellion that loses out on popular mass support is referred to as brigandry and the people taking part in this uprising are called brigands and not insurgents. Insurgency is a problem that is mostly faced by countries having multiple ethnic identities or divisions in societies that lead to crushed aspirations and hopes. Insurgency is regarded as the internal problem of a sovereign state, and the international community does not interfere in the matter.

What is the difference between Terrorism and Insurgency?

• Insurgency is a rebellion against authority in place and is mostly localized whereas terrorism knows no boundaries.

• While there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism because of the fact that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, the use of violence to create terror in the minds of innocent civilians is the basic purpose of terrorism.

• Insurgency is an armed rebellion or uprising that has the sole aim of uprooting the government in place.

• Sometimes terrorism and insurgencies are inseparable, but not all insurgencies use terrorism as a method to uproot the authority

• Terrorism is a clever ploy to draw the attention of the world towards the plight of a group of people.