Apparently this statement is from one of Mandelas trials - it's an interesting read. Mandela says although he engaged in violence he was never a terrorist. Yes, the man was defending himself in court, but I had difficulty even parsing the argment. After it sunk in I was ashamed, and shocked/afraid at my own malleability - of course terrorism isn't the catchall defined in the media. The statement follows
"I do not deny that I planned sabotage. We believed violence by the African people had become inevitable. [T]here would be outbreaks of terrorism. Without violence there would be no way open to the African people to suceed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy.
[Umkhonto] volunteers were not, and are not, the soldiers of a black army pledge to fight a Civil War against the whites.
50 years of nonviolence had brought the African people nothing our followers were beginning to lose confidence in this policy and were developing disturbing ideas of terrorism.
As violence in this country was inevitable, it would be unrealistic and wrong for African leaders to continue preaching peace and nonviolence
[In mid-1961] the ANC was prepared to depart from its 50 year old policy of nonviolence to this extent that it would no longer disapprove of properly controlled violence.
I say 'properly controlled violence' because I made it clear that I would at all times subject it to the political guidance of the ANC.
Four forms of violence were possible. There is sabotage, there is guerrilla warfare, there is terrorism, and there is open revolution. We chose to adopt the first method and to exhaust it before taking any other decision. Sabotage Offered the best hope for future race relations."
Our leaders in the west might as well have organised drops of militant recruiting leaflets and saved billions while achieving similar ends - it's shameful. If any militants have had their beliefs challenged it has been through citizens more-or-less working against government policy, and against western militarism. Take for instance Maajid Nawaz... he was rescued by Amnesty International from jail in Egypt despite them knowing he considered them his enemies. Maajid is now risking his life arguing against Islamism rather than risking his life recruiting for it. That raises another issue - these guys are brave idealistic defenders of their community who would be an asset to any nation had they not been twisted by toxic radical ideology. Unfortunately the toxic radical ideology on our side has made everything so much worse - it has been the perfect book-end to prop up an ideology which was not widely supported just after 9/11 in any case.