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A domestic terrorist is one who is a citizen of the country the acts of terrorism is directed against. They are often pushing for only certain goals rather than the disestablishment of government as in anarchy.[citation needed] The United States FBI has three categories for classifying terrorism: left-wing, right-wing, and special-interest extremists.

The label has sparked controversy over what the exact definition of a "terrorist" is. Many claim that the term is used as a form of social control to brand people who commit acts of vandalism (without harming people) against what they perceive to be an entrenched injustice or illegitimate institution. Many say it is becoming similar to the word "communist" during the Red Scares.

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