Definitions of Both Hotly ContestedAttempting to identify terrorist organizations as religious cults or religious cults as terrorist organizations is a challenging task for several reasons.  Both the definition of cult and the definition of terrorism are hotly contested and thus their combination is unsurprisingly exponentially more so.  Why is this the case?  Definitions of both cults and terrorism are based on subjective lists of characteristics, rather than undisputed definitions.  Thus a terrorist is someone who employs terrorism  - and terrorism is defined according to certain characteristics of an act often (but not always) including the target of the attack, the social position of the attacker, the intention of the attacker, etc.  A cult is also defined by characteristics including (sometimes) a particular structure of leadership, conditions of the followers, and elements of an ideology.  Both “terrorism” and “cult” are pejorative words…

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