Nationalist terrorism

Nationalist terrorism is a form of terrorism motivated by nationalism. Nationalist terrorists seek to form self-determination in some form, which may range from gaining greater autonomy to establishing a completely independent, sovereign state (separatism). Nationalist terrorists often oppose what they consider to be occupying, imperial, or otherwise illegitimate powers.

Nationalist terrorism is linked to a national, ethnic, religious, or other identifying group, and the feeling among members of that group that they are oppressed or denied rights, especially rights accorded to others.

As with the concept of terrorism itself, the term "nationalist terrorism" and its application are highly contentious issues. What constitutes an illegitimate regime and what types of violence and war are acceptable against such a state are subjects of debate. Groups described by some as "nationalist terrorists" tend to consider themselves "freedom fighters," engaged in valid but asymmetric warfare.

Other nationalistic terrorism can include violence against immigrants in a country. Nationalists in many countries see immigration as a threat to the prosperity of the local or native population of that country.

The following are nationalist groups, which in some circles have been deemed "terrorist":

The label of a group as carrying out "nationalist terrorism" does not preclude it being described in other terms:

Northern Ireland

The "Troubles" in Northern Ireland (1968-) is characterised by the competing nationalist claims of the two communities there:

The mainly Roman Catholic Irish republicans or nationalists community, mainly descended from the native Irish inhabitants, identify as Irish and want the six counties of Northern Ireland, currently part of the United Kingdom to leave the UK and unite with the Republic of Ireland. Paramilitary groups associated with this ideology include:

The other community is overwhelmingly Protestant and are known as unionists or loyalists and are largely descended from Scottish and English settlers who arrived in Ulster during the Plantations of Ireland. This community, which forms a slight majority in Northern Ireland, regards itself as essentially British. They have received clandestine assistance from the British security forces in the past. Many of their victims have been civilian Catholics with no political connections. Paramilitary groups associated with this ideology include:


  1. Matovic, Violeta, Suicide Bombers Who's Next, Belgrade, The National Counter Terrorism Committee, ISBN 978-86-908309-2-3
  2. Matovic, Violeta, Suicide Bombers Who's Next, Belgrade, The National Counter Terrorism Committee, ISBN 978-86-908309-2-3
  3. Ralph Bunche report on assassination of UN mediator 27th Sept 1948, "notorious terrorists long known as the Stern group"
  4. Pope Brewer, Sam. IRGUN BOMB KILLS 11 ARABS, 2 BRITONS. New York Times. December 30, 1947.
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