State-sponsored terrorism is government support of violent non-state actors engaged in terrorism in other countries. State- sponsored terrorism on a massive scale appeared in international politics in 1960-70s. In recent times, some countries have embraced terrorism as a deliberate instrument of foreign policy.
One distinction of state sponsored terrorism from other forms of terrorist activity is that it is initiated to obtain certain clearly defined foreign policy objectives rather than grabbing media attention or targeting potential audience. Given this character, it operates under fewer constraints and causes greater casualty on the target.
In a cost benefit analysis, state-sponsored terrorism is most effective means of terrorism from perspective of the perpetrator.
Reasons for undertaking state-sponsored terrorism: Difficult to take accountability, wars are very costly, low threshold attack as compared to war, hence, full-fledged response is evaded.
Instances of State sponsored Terrorism
Pakistan sponsored terrorism (Proxy war by deep state) in India, especially in J&K. (LeT, JeI etc.)
Western powers under leadership of US supported all kinds of nationalist & anti-communist rebels throughout Cold War.
US supported Mujahidin during Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1980s which eventually led to the rise of Taliban.
USSR was no different in its operations during this period. Countries like Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya North Korea have been engaged in sponsorship of political violence of different nature in their ‘enemy’ countries.
Terrorism by Non-State Actors
Individuals or organizations are involved in terrorist activities to influencing politics at a national level or sometimes international level but do not belong to or ally themselves to any country or state. Ex-Naxalites, LTTE, LeT (Lashkar – e-Taiba) etc.
However, these Non-State actors operate hand in hand with enemy countries.
Use of non-state actors is essentially employment of a proxy element, which gives the state of Pakistan a degree of deniability.
However, there is no doubt that none of the so-called non-state actors like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) could have operated with impunity without active funding, logistical and military support of Pakistan.
Close linkages of ISI and such groups are well documented as is their direct involvement in attacks like 26/11.
Ideology oriented Terrorism
Left-wing Terrorism:Violence against ruling elite mostly by peasant class motivated leftist ideologies have occurred repeatedly in history. Ideological basis for left and subsequent violent movements was provided by writings of Marx and Engels, Lenin, Mao Zedong. Leftist ideologies believe that all existing social relations & state structures in capitalist society are exploitative in character and a revolutionary change through violent means is essential. Ex. Maoists in India and Nepal.
Right–wing terrorism:Right-wing groups seek to maintain status-quo or return to some past situation that they feel should have been conserved. Sometimes, groups espousing rightist ideologies might assume ethnic/racist character too. They may force government to acquire a territory or to intervene to protect rights of an ‘oppressed’ minority in a neighbouring country (i.e.: Nazi Party in Germany). Violence against migrant communities comes under this category. Often religion can play a supportive role to rightist violence. Ex: Nazism in Germany, Fascists in Italy, white supremacy movements in the US known as Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
Religious Terrorism:Present-day terrorist activities are motivated largely by religious imperatives. Practitioners of terrorism motivated by a religious imperative consider violence as a divine duty or a sacramental act. It embraces different means of legitimisation and justification compared to other terrorist groups making them more destructive.
Ethno-Nationalist terrorism can be defined as deliberate violence by a subnational ethnic group to advance its cause. Such violence usually focuses either on creation of a separate State or elevation of status of one ethnic group over others. Ex. Tamil Nationalist groups in Sri Lanka and insurgent groups in Northeast India.