Terrorism may result in murder, which is bad –but not bad enough to be a uniquely evil and threatening phenomenon. A terrorist murder is not any worse than other murders. Indeed, what distinguishes terrorists from ordinary murderers is the deliberate frightening of people for political advantage. In this regard, states can be terrorists too. When terrorism is used as a political strategy to protect those oppressed by the state, terrorism can be justified despite it intentionally killing or injuring innocent people. In such cases, killings by terrorists can be considered as killing in self-defense since terrorists try to protect the rights of an oppressed population.
The ethical framework of consequentialism also supports this counter-argument. It argues that terrorism is unjustifiable and morally wrong only if it has bad consequences on balance. If the benefits of terrorism outweigh its costs, it can be justified. The innocence of people does not change the arithmetic calculation of benefits and costs.
Additionally, noncombatant immunity is not an absolute, exceptionless constraint on how wars or rebellions may be carried out. In cases of supreme emergency (when dangers are so imminent that there are no other alternative means to counteract the threat), civilians become permissible targets.