How does Just War Theory apply to an act of terrorism?
The Just War Theory consists of two important sets of criteria: jus ad bellum (right to war or right to engage in war) and jus in bello (right conduct in war).
Jus ad bellum explains why the war is fought and has five principles: proper and competent authority, right intention and just cause, probability or chance of success, proportionality or proportionate cause, and last resort. Jus in bello is basically considered the "law of war" and explains how the war is fought; it has two main principles—discrimination and proportionality, which determine who is the target and how much force should be used in the war or how much force is morally acceptable.
According to these two criteria, there is a clear distinction between a just war and an act of terrorism. Terrorists cannot be considered just freedom fighters or legitimate authority, as they do not meet the criteria—they deliberately target and attack innocent civilians in order to spread fear and terror and to change or destroy the system; they do not have a right cause, nor do they have a right intention, which makes them unlawful and immoral. In this sense, terrorism is more of a criminal act than an act of war.
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