I hate the term terrorist or terrorism. Basically, it has become the broad brush to paint anyone whose goals and aims do not align with that of any particular set of ruling authorities.
Most Westerners, particularly Americans, have this idea that certain behaviors in conflict are acceptable and other behaviors are not. They get this from being conditioned from the time they are toddlers, as they are taught the 'rules' of conflict.
On the national scale, these rules date back to the Treaty of Westphalia, which, in essence, divided the parties affected by conflict into three groups: sovereign governments, military forces under the control of sovereign governments, and the general population. In Western thought, the first two are responsible for managing and engaging in conflict, and the latter has the responsibility to stay out of it.
This is an artificial construct. First, even though the West has been the dominant political force in the world for the last 400 years, not all nations and cultures subscribe to Western values, particularly regarding conflict and war. Second, while Western rules regarding war and conflict seem logical to most Westerners, they are an anathema to a large part of the world. Finally, Western rules around war and conflict require forethought and planning to implement, and are never implemented well, as so many 'war crimes' trials indicate.
What does this mean to us today in the current wave of “terrorism”? If we define terrorism as the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims, then the list of terrorist organizations becomes very long, and includes most of the governments of the world as well as organizations that are not recognized as governments. However, most people today think of Mohammedan radicals when they hear the word terrorism. This is not an unreasonable reaction.
Most people today do not understand what is going on in what we call terrorism. The New York Times is calling for 'reform' from inside the Mohammedan religions. They, and most like them, do not see that the Mohammedan radicals are the reformers. They do not see that what is happening now is the third historical Mohammedan Expansion.