There are countless definitions of terrorism, but one defining characteristic is the use of violence against non-combatants to instill terror in others. This objective tends to influence the type of violence to become more horrific and gruesome killings become commonplace. This is in stark contrast to regular warfare, where the the violence itself is less important than the strategic objective, often achieved by tying up the resources of the opposing force, for example by deploying land mines designed to wound, rather than kill.
With this distinction in mind, what would you call a policy where a falling dictator orders his remaining loyalists to deliberately and repeatedly fire large-calibre bullets originally designed to penetrate light armour into the foreheads of small girls?
If you follow the stream of information coming out of Libya, you cannot fail to notice the abnormally large number of dead protesters with bullet holes in their heads. I claim that this is a deliberate tactic to instill fear in the people. Stick your head out, catch a bullet with it. Armour-piercing optional.
The dying regime is both trying to spread fear and keeping it within the country's borders, a wish that Internet services like Twitter and Facebook seem determined to deny them. You see, information really wants to be free, just like the oppressed peoples of the arab world. The harder the oppressors close their fist, the more will slip through their fingers. When Ghadaffi orders his mercenaries to shoot people for looking out a window to keep them from filming them dragging away another protestor's limp body, someone else WILL film it and that film will eventually find its way to Youtube.
The kind of terrorism we're most used to seeing is best fought by removing the reasons for it, draining the swamp to get rid of the mosquitos. This kind? Expose it. Free the information. Share the videos, retweet and like. It's either that or nuke them from orbit. And let me tell you, right now the nuke option is starting to look pretty good because policies and technologies for filtering information and keeping it secret are becoming more commonplace, not rarer. This is an incredibly dangerous development, pushed by a relatively small number of stakeholders in the surveillance business.
In the end, it's a political choice that each and every one of us has to make, at the very least the next time there's an election. When you are standing by that ballot box, remember who talks about more surveillance and who talks about more freedom. Who sold arms and equipment to the oppressive regimes and who runs anonymizing routers?
Remember the people who died for that freedom.
Remember, or they will have died in vain.