Terrorism versus Piracy: In Modern and Medieval Contexts

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Piracy and terrorism – these are two words, which threaten a number of people throughout the world. Because of some terrorists’ activities in seas and the involvement of violence, some people think these two criminal acts as similar things. On the other hand, some instances have come in the limelight, when terrorists hire pirates to plunder the ship of some particular nation. It may also be the cause for this misconception.

But, in fact, the piracy is very different from terrorism. Interestingly, some aspects of raiding (piracy) have allured the people so much that pirate clothing has become the fashion trend. But, it is medieval piracy, which fascinated the people, and it has nothing to do with modern freebooters.

The major difference that we find between the piracy and terrorism is that the motives of these outlaw acts are different. The terrorists often have the political motives. They are fuelled by ethno-nationalism, religious fundamentalism and some other ideology. On the contrary, the piracy is done for the personal gain. The raiders loot the money, gold and many other items for their personal interest. But, we see the difference in case of Elizabethan privateering. In the Elizabethan Age, some of the pirates were the government officials, who used to loot the treasure ships of the rival nations. Such raiders were known as privateers.

Moreover, the way to perform the activities by the raiders and the terrorists is also different. The terrorists perform most of the acts by killing of the people. On the other hand, the raiders kill people only if they think it is necessary. There are some instances when the pirates kidnapped the people as hostages and left them on getting the ransom.

In addition, the terrorists want the media attention as they had to fulfill their political motive. But, the modern pirates usually remain anonymous as their purpose was personal interest. However, we find the difference here if we give some attention to the medieval piracy. There were some known notorious raiders during that period such as Blackbeard, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, Ching Shih, Mary Read, Black Bart and many others. During that period, the raiders also had a crew and a captain as the sailors had.

Besides, there is a difference in the laws for terrorists and the raiders. If the terrorists perform some activity in the seas, then they are not punished under the piracy laws. It is considered as a maritime violence.

Apart from all, the pirates’ areas are limited to the waters only such as oceans, seas and rivers. Some historical freebooters would loot the villages of the coastal areas. But, this is their last limit. On the other hand, there is no limitation of terrorists. Of course, they attack vessels in the waters many times, but they use other means also for attracting the attention of the people as well as media. These days, air attacks have also come in the limelight. Destruction of World Trade Center on 11th September 2001 is one of the examples in this regard. In addition, fixing the bombs at public places, attacks on public through machine guns etc. in the public places are some other ways that are used by the terrorists.

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