Federal law, 22 U.S.C. §. 2656f(d),
defines "terrorism" as "premeditated, politically motivated
violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national
groups or clandestine agents."
This is consistent with the common
American understanding of the term, as reflected in the American
Heritage Dictionary of the English Language [4th ed.,2000] definition
of "terrorism" as "the unlawful use ... of force or violence
by a person or an organized group against people or property
with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or
governments, often for ideological or political reasons."
Based on U.S. law, the State Department
has formally designated Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP and Al Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades as "foreign terrorist organizations."
The FBI defines terrorism as,
"the unlawful use of force or violence against persons
or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian
population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political
or social objectives."
The FBI further classifies terrorism
as either domestic or international, depending on the origin,
base and objectives of the terrorist organization.