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Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice
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Outliers with high impact become news. This is one reason why people become more afraid for an airplane or terrorist than a car accident.
Recommended related material: the book Factfulness by Hans Rosling  and Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice by Universiteit Leiden .
> because 'terrorism' is a rather ill-defined term
Terrorism is well defined, by Alex P. Schmid in 1988:
Schmid and Jongman (1988): "Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby - in contrast to assassination - the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperilled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought".
As well as by "The Revised Academic Consensus Definition of Terrorism (2011)" by Alex Schmid available at 
The problems derive from definition being complex. Examples: laymen don't have the analytical power, powers that be have a conflict of interest as you describe. However that is certainly not the same as terrorism being an ill-defined term.
The revised definition is used world wide by terrorism experts such as Prof. Dr. Beatrice de Graaf and Prof. Dr. Edwin Bakker.
If this subjects is of interest to you I recommend the Coursera course "Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice"  by Prof. Dr. Edwin Bakker.
Learning How To Learn by Barbara Oakly on Coursera https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn It teaches you fundamentals of how the brain works, and how to improve your learning. It is free. Those three factors make it a great first course.
Cryptography I by Dan Boneh on Coursera https://www.coursera.org/learn/crypto I actually can't recommend it to everyone because I didn't complete it and I just wasn't intelligent enough on the material to complete it. This requires one to be good with advanced maths, and I got migraine issues from this (same as with advanced maths in my youth). However it is very well explained. The problem was me, not Dan Boneh's course.
Positive Psychology by Barbara Fredrickson https://www.coursera.org/learn/positive-psychology My significant other completed this course (I have not tried it yet), and highly recommends it. Its on my list.
Securing Democracy by J. Alex Halderman https://www.coursera.org/learn/digital-democracy I thought I was interested in this subject, and I was to some extend, but I was not enough interested to follow the course to the end. However the course as far as I took it was excellent.
Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice by Edwin Bakker https://www.coursera.org/learn/terrorism I didn't complete this course either but it was interesting and good nonetheless.
There are just a few of the courses I can recommend, and it doesn't contain the one I'm currently one because I haven't completed it yet (will likely include it once completed). There's also courses I cannot recommend (it also depends on the audience). I will resort to the positive angle though wink.
One thing I got from the courses is that it is OK to not complete a course. You can regard it as time waste which is fair enough. My goal is not to get a certificate though. That's merely a byproduct. My goal is to learn (which is a process), to satisfy my taste for knowledge. However Coursera changed its terms of usage last years and ever since I used the platform less.