Terrorism can be the act of a single individual, infected with poisonous ideology, murdering one person while seeking to kill and maim many more, as in central Melbourne.
Terrorism can be the actions of an armed homicidal maniac who enters a place of worship on the Sabbath in suburban USA and murders whoever is unfortunate enough to be in his sights, or the bloody attack on religious scholars in Afghanistan on their holy day.
Terrorism can be the igniting of incendiary devices at public gatherings as has been the intent of groups of men arrested in Melbourne in recent times, of setting off explosives in aircraft, as has been attempted from Sydney, or obscene violent attacks on educational and welfare institutions in Africa and Asia.
The world of the terrorist is one in which the terrorist is entirely right, often serving a Divine they imagine seeks a world in which hatred and thuggery reign, with the targeted victims fully deserving of their fate.
Some will have developed intricate and inane conspiracy theories, which feed paranoia and provide complete justification for whatever they may do.
Others are imbued with a poison-dipped Manichaeism which can energise and enthuse as it amplifies inhumanity.
Terrorism is a means to an end, but a means to an end which gives power and authority to the least moral and most violent.
For people in Sydney, the actions of the young man who had become intoxicated with an evil incarnation of Islamism and murdered Curtis Cheng in Parramatta and of the grotesque quasi-Sheikh responsible for the destruction of life and lives in the Lindt Café, are fresh in our minds.
Well within living memory are other attacks which, if they had gone to plan, would have murdered countless more, such as the Hakoah Club and Westfield Tower bombs on the one day in 1982.
Intelligent commentators conclude that the motivation for terrorists’ strategies and tactics is in the worldview of the terrorist and never in the actions of the targeted victims nor the objective life circumstances of the person who will become a terrorist.
It is in this context that one should consider the comments of that embarrassment to public life, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Most likely a seat warmer for an oppressive variety of political Islam, he returned to power due to the corrupt excesses of administrations past.
His boof-headed bigotry, which blinds him to the impact of references to “hook-nosed”, avaricious Jews, is complemented by his bloody-minded belittling of the suffering of victims of Nazism and his substantially inconsequential malevolent meddling in Middle East matters.
His comments on the matter of the Australian Government examining the benefits and prudence of relocating our embassy to Jerusalem showed his gut instincts only reinforce anti-Muslim prejudices, warning such an act would make us targets of terrorism.
When he entered the fray, he not only brought pathetic threats and displayed disingenuousness of epic proportions, but drew some attention to the attitude of Malaysians to terrorism.
The recently published Merdeka Centre poll found that 28% of Malaysian Muslims showed “support for extreme or justified violence in the name of Islam”, 2% said they would directly participate in violent extremism and 18.1% of Malaysian Muslims supported groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah.
One of the study’s co-authors, Ananthi Al-Ramiah, said: “the main drivers for extremism were religious narratives, such as the pursuit of ‘purist’ Islamic goals like jihad or hudud [sharia-mandated punishments], as well as religious literalism.”
If Mahathir and those who echoed his comments were really concerned about terrorism, they would combat, not promote, incendiary public commentary.
Muslims in Australia, as elsewhere, are engaged in the front line in the ideological and religious war against terrorism.
Mahathir has, once again, made their struggle even more difficult than it already was.