PDA

View Full Version : What is Terrorism



FlaGator
11-12-2009, 01:52 PM
I was thinking about this the other night so I will put the question(s) to the members of CU. What is your criteria for an action to be considered a terrorist act and does the Ft. Hood event meet that standard?

I see a terroristic act as one that is attempting to incite fear in the general population of the country it is aimed at and causing that population to alter it's behavior because of that fear. Using that as my standard, I don't see Ft. Hood so much as a terrorist act as it seems to be an action expressly aimed at the military to show it that infiltration of the ranks has been achieved. Indirectly it is an act of terrorism because of the way people responded to it, but I don't see terrorism at it's main goal.

Please, I don't want some big argument started here, I'm just interested in everyone opinions.

GrumpyOldLady
11-12-2009, 02:07 PM
Judge Napolitano on FOX said that the legal definition includes this - (paraphrased) 2 or more acts of violence with intent to cause change to American policy/law.

SOmething like that.

I say terrorism is any violent (or implied violence like a threat) against people that terrorizes.

Fort Hood was terrorism - under both Judge Napolitano and my definitions.

hampshirebrit
11-12-2009, 02:13 PM
Given that the FH killings have terrorised the families of the soldiers he killed and injured, and wrecked those families, it qualifies as a terrorist act. The fact that he effectively infiltrated the service to carry out his acts also qualifies.

He may not have conspired with AQ, but he still committed an act of terrorism (and treason) in my view.

FlaGator
11-12-2009, 02:18 PM
Judge Napolitano on FOX said that the legal definition includes this - (paraphrased) 2 or more acts of violence with intent to cause change to American policy/law.

SOmething like that.

I say terrorism is any violent (or implied violence like a threat) against people that terrorizes.

Fort Hood was terrorism - under both Judge Napolitano and my definitions.

Then is not war an act of terrorism since it meets your criteria?

Rebel Yell
11-12-2009, 02:18 PM
it seems to be an action expressly aimed at the military to show it that infiltration of the ranks has been achieved

Hence, to strike fear in ranks of the military.

FlaGator
11-12-2009, 02:23 PM
Given that the FH killings have terrorised the families of the soldiers he killed and injured, and wrecked those families, it qualifies as a terrorist act. The fact that he effectively infiltrated the service to carry out his acts also qualifies.

He may not have conspired with AQ, but he still committed an act of terrorism (and treason) in my view.

I don't think that one has to act in concert with anyone else in order to perform a terroristic act. Timothy McVey was pretty much a lone wolf but was certianly a terrorist. If the 9/11 highjackers would have operated on their own, separate form Al Queda they would still be terrorist.

The question here is not whether the families of those killed were terrorized by the event because they most certainly were, the question is was that the shooter's primary intention?

hampshirebrit
11-12-2009, 02:23 PM
Hence, to strike fear in ranks of the military.

Exactly, and their families.


the question is was that the shooter's primary intention?

There has been enough evidence surfacing this week about his motivations. He seems to have been blatant enough about expressing them. As much as President Obama and the NYT don't want to admit it, they're all out there in the open for all to see.

FlaGator
11-12-2009, 02:26 PM
Hence, to strike fear in ranks of the military.

But isn't that risk a part of their job? When Pearl Harbor was bombed that wasn't considered a terrorist attack. It was an act of war. Civilians where killed in the bombing but the death or terrorizing of civilians was not the main objective, neutralizing Pearl Harbor was the objective.

FlaGator
11-12-2009, 02:28 PM
Exactly, and their families.



There has been enough evidence surfacing this week about his motivations. He seems to have been blatant enough about expressing them. As much as President Obama and the NYT don't want to admit it, they're all out there in the open for all to see.

I will ask you, was Pearl Harbor a terrorist act? It meets much of the criteria you have established but to my knowledge it has never been described as a terrorist action.

hampshirebrit
11-12-2009, 02:36 PM
I will ask you, was Pearl Harbor a terrorist act? It meets much of the criteria you have established but to my knowledge it has never been described as a terrorist action.

It was a sneak attack. Not quite the same thing. The Japanese supposedly intended to formally declare war immediately prior to Pearl Harbor, but the attack came first through a bungled communique.

If you have two armies or combined arms going against each other that is war, declared or not, not terrorism. It may also have the effect of terrorising the civilian populations, but it's still symmetric, not asymmetric warfare.

If you have a non-governmental group or individual attacking either civilian or military targets, that's terrorism, even if the perpetrator has successfully infiltrated an armed service as in this case.

linda22003
11-12-2009, 02:37 PM
Pearl Harbor was an act of war because it was the deliberate policy act of another government, not individual loonies using planes to make a point.

Rebel Yell
11-12-2009, 02:51 PM
But isn't that risk a part of their job? When Pearl Harbor was bombed that wasn't considered a terrorist attack. It was an act of war. Civilians where killed in the bombing but the death or terrorizing of civilians was not the main objective, neutralizing Pearl Harbor was the objective.

Pearl Harbor was a sneak attack from a military against another military. The objective was, in part, to strike fear. The main objective was to disable the closest Naval Fleet. It was a strategic strike.

FlaGator
11-12-2009, 02:54 PM
It was a sneak attack. Not quite the same thing. The Japanese supposedly intended to formally declare war immediately prior to Pearl Harbor, but the attack came first through a bungled communique.

If you have two armies or combined arms going against each other that is war, declared or not, not terrorism. It may also have the effect of terrorising the civilian populations, but it's still symmetric, not asymmetric warfare.

If you have a non-governmental group or individual attacking either civilian or military targets, that's terrorism, even if the perpetrator has successfully infiltrated an armed service as in this case.

I suppose I should let everyone know what prompted this. I was thinking about how some names and actions become deluted by over user to the point of desensitizing people when the hear the word. Back in the 40s and 50s to call someone a nazi or a communist was really a biting remark, by the 70s the words had no power because the were so over used. Another example is homophobe, before the gay crowd started labeling anyone who disagreed with them as a homophobe this word had impact. Now it means nothing. I'm seeing the same thing happening with terrorist. We have domestic terrorism when a husband comes home drunk and brow beats his wife. Tell someone you want to kick their ass and you are now guilty of making a terroristic threat.

It seems we realized what effect the word had on people have 9/11 and now we are starting to apply it to everything in order to generate the same effect in situations where it may or may not be needed. We take words and us them as a modern version of crying wolf when their are no wolves around. Was the Ft. Hood shooter a wolf? Probably. Maybe, however, he just wanted for people to think of him as a wolf when in reality he is just a scared little man who realized how insignificant he is and wanted to make a difference by pretending to be something that he wasn't.

Just a thought.

Rebel Yell
11-12-2009, 02:58 PM
I suppose I should let everyone know what prompted this. I was thinking about how some names and actions become deluted by over user to the point of desensitizing people when the hear the word. Back in the 40s and 50s to call someone a nazi or a communist was really a biting remark, by the 70s the words had no power because the were so over used. Another example is homophobe, before the gay crowd started labeling anyone who disagreed with them as a homophobe this word had impact. Now it means nothing. I'm seeing the same thing happening with terrorist. We have domestic terrorism when a husband comes home drunk and brow beats his wife. Tell someone you want to kick their ass and you are now guilty of making a terroristic threat.

It seems we realized what effect the word had on people have 9/11 and now we are starting to apply it to everything in order to generate the same effect in situations where it may or may not be needed. We take words and us them as a modern version of crying wolf when their are no wolves around. Was the Ft. Hood shooter a wolf? Probably. Maybe, however, he just wanted for people to think of him as a wolf when in reality he is just a scared little man who realized how insignificant he is and wanted to make a difference by pretending to be something that he wasn't.

Just a thought.

No, you're just a Muslim loving liberal victim monger. Admit it.:D

PoliCon
11-12-2009, 02:59 PM
What is terrorism? Patriots cooking of course! :D

In all seriousness - terrorism is a random act of violence where the main intent or even result is inspiring fear and discomfort in a group of people with the intent of influencing the choices / actions / policies of that group.

noonwitch
11-12-2009, 03:04 PM
I always thought terrorism was a technique, or method of attack, that involved small, targeted attacks instead of a full-army invasion. As a kid, one of the first contexts I heard the term used in was the Vietnam War-the way the Vietcong fought the US was called terrorism by television commentators.


I personally understand why no one wanted to call the Ft. Hood shootings a terrorist attack before all the evidence was in, because everyone seems to have a different definition of what the term means. What does it mean in a legal/prosecutorial sense or a tactical sense? Does it go to motive?

The guy at Ft. Hood's motive was to kill some in order to terrorize everyone. That makes it terrorism in the motive sense and in the tactical sense, but I'm not sure it does in a legal sense, if his actions that day alone are being judged. But with the info coming out about his attempts to contact al Queda and all, it will probably be easier to make the statement that he is a terrorist.

FlaGator
11-12-2009, 03:07 PM
Pearl Harbor was a sneak attack from a military against another military. The objective was, in part, to strike fear. The main objective was to disable the closest Naval Fleet. It was a strategic strike.

So military actions can not be terroristic because the are of a strategic nature and the military are performing them. When Saddam's army torched the Kiuwati oil fields was that a military action or a terroristic one? Arguements can be made both ways. Was the US use of nukes on population centers military or terrorist actions. There the goal was a much to terrorize the Jap civilians as it was to destroy military infrastructure. When Russia started killing eastern Europeans at the end of WWII because they couldn't tell who were German soldiers dressed as civilians and who were really civilians.

Hey I have no issues with dropping the nukes on Japan, I'm just trying to muddy the waters a little bit. In times of war things happen but now we are trying to fight these battles with rules and it seems that anything that falls outside of those rules is considered terrorism by one side or the other. There weren't really a lot of rules in WWII other than kill your enemy before he kills you and in some cases the distinction between military and civilian was not made nor did it matter. The birth of terrorism seems to be that we now have rules and make these distinctions.

Gingersnap
11-12-2009, 03:52 PM
I think our problem is with semantics. I've always thought that the division between terrorism and anything else was largely illusory. Noonwitch is right in that terrorism is more a technique of war rather than a substantially different thing.

Now, was this an act of war committed against the U.S. military by a traitor? You bet. The guy is clearly a traitor so there's no argument against that. Did he see himself as part of a far flung an enemy force? Yep.

That's about all I need to know in terms of labeling or categorizing this event.

However, political correctness probably forbids the use of "traitor" as a descriptor these days.

Jfor
11-12-2009, 03:53 PM
I will ask you, was Pearl Harbor a terrorist act? It meets much of the criteria you have established but to my knowledge it has never been described as a terrorist action.

No it was not. The Japanese were uniformed enemies fighting under the flag AND uniform of their country. These hadji's fight for their own personal belief that the West is evil incarnate and cannot fight a modern military force head on so they resort to the cowardly tactic of fighting unarmed civilians.

Rebel Yell
11-12-2009, 04:07 PM
So military actions can not be terroristic because the are of a strategic nature and the military are performing them. When Saddam's army torched the Kiuwati oil fields was that a military action or a terroristic one? Arguements can be made both ways. Was the US use of nukes on population centers military or terrorist actions. There the goal was a much to terrorize the Jap civilians as it was to destroy military infrastructure. When Russia started killing eastern Europeans at the end of WWII because they couldn't tell who were German soldiers dressed as civilians and who were really civilians.

Hey I have no issues with dropping the nukes on Japan, I'm just trying to muddy the waters a little bit. In times of war things happen but now we are trying to fight these battles with rules and it seems that anything that falls outside of those rules is considered terrorism by one side or the other. There weren't really a lot of rules in WWII other than kill your enemy before he kills you and in some cases the distinction between military and civilian was not made nor did it matter. The birth of terrorism seems to be that we now have rules and make these distinctions.

It's ALL semantics. Good rule of thumb is, "Does it pass the smell test?"

FlaGator
11-12-2009, 04:08 PM
No it was not. The Japanese were uniformed enemies fighting under the flag AND uniform of their country. These hadji's fight for their own personal belief that the West is evil incarnate and cannot fight a modern military force head on so they resort to the cowardly tactic of fighting unarmed civilians.

OK, it is acting outside of the sanction of a government that constitutes terrorism. What if we find out one day that the 9/11 highjackers where acting under the orders of Saudi Arabia with the kingdoms full knowledge and support. Would that mean the Trade Center attack should be reclassified as a military action?

As for beliefs, aren't there some sort of beliefs involved in all wars? Weren't the Japanese under the impression that they were superior to everyone else and thus entitled to treat prisoners like non-humans. Is there a difference if a japanese soldier in uniform cut off some ones head or an arab in tribal robes? The Japanese believed that the rest of the world was not as good as them, Muslims believe that the rest of the world is not as Godly as they are. What is the difference?

FlaGator
11-12-2009, 04:16 PM
It's ALL semantics. Good rule of thumb is, "Does it pass the smell test?"

But that is what this whole thread is about... semantics. For me, it doesn't pass the smell test and I am reluctant to think of it as a terrorist act. Now information maybe uncovered that changes my mind. At this moment I see this as not too different than some kid shooting up a school because the jocks pushed him around.

hampshirebrit
11-12-2009, 04:37 PM
A very, very good thread, this is. I thank FlaGator for starting it.

His point about semantical desensitisation is a good one. At the end of the day, though, the smell test wins, definitely in this case.

You have to look at motive and intention, as well as method. When you do this, the method becomes secondary, as appalling as the method is.

The motive and intention with Malik Hasan was to destroy lives and lay ruin to families to further an Islamist agenda. Other than the scale, there is no difference between his crime and the crime of hijacking an aircraft and flying it into an office building. The motivations and intentions behind each are identical.

Additionally, Hasan has caused substantial and lasting damage to the standing of more honourable, decent Muslims who serve in the US armed forces. And it might be well worth our while considering that this was also a significant part of his motivation, part of his plan.

Last year and the year before, in the UK, our intelligence services uncovered Islamist plots to murder Muslim members of our armed forces whilst in the UK, presumably to deter other Muslims from fighting in the infidel's armies.

Hasan has found a diabolically smarter way to achieve the same end. What better deterrent could there be than to know that you, as a Muslim, will no longer be trusted by your comrades.

Like Noonwitch, I can understand why the WH and the media did not immediately label this a terrorist act. The facts were not in. All we knew at first was that a muslim US Army officer had murdered 14 people.

What is really dismaying is that now that the facts are emerging, there still seems to be reluctance on the part of the WH and liberal media to call it what it now very much seems to be.

Rebel Yell
11-12-2009, 04:54 PM
But that is what this whole thread is about... semantics. For me, it doesn't pass the smell test and I am reluctant to think of it as a terrorist act. Now information maybe uncovered that changes my mind. At this moment I see this as not too different than some kid shooting up a school because the jocks pushed him around.

But this wasn't because he was pushed around. This was driven by religion, plain and simple. I don't care if he drank and smoked. I drink, cuss, and smoke (occasionally), but I still hold my religious beliefs close to my heart.

hampshirebrit
11-12-2009, 05:03 PM
But this wasn't because he was pushed around. This was driven by religion, plain and simple. I don't care if he drank and smoked. I drink, cuss, and smoke (occasionally), but I still hold my religious beliefs close to my heart.

I have to agree.

This is not anywhere close to a Columbine bullied kid problem. It's a million light years from being anywhere close to that.

He is an adult, a Muslim, a soldier in the US Army, who, for whatever twisted rationale, deliberately used his status to destroy lives in order to further an agenda.

Rebel Yell
11-12-2009, 05:13 PM
I have to agree.

This is not anywhere close to a Columbine bullied kid problem. It's a million light years from being anywhere close to that.

He is an adult, a Muslim, a soldier in the US Army, who, for whatever twisted rationale, deliberately used his status to destroy lives in order to further an agenda.

..and no one was allowed to formally investigate or report him for fear of reprimand in our diversity rich military.

hampshirebrit
11-12-2009, 05:23 PM
..and no one was allowed to formally investigate or report him for fear of reprimand in our diversity rich military.

Yes, that is a real problem, both in government and civilian organisations around the developed world at the moment.

The only good that might come out of this is that the uber-PC brigade will be forced to rethink their policies.

Both sides of the argument have been allowed to flip too far to the extremes. We see this more and more frequently, even here on CU. The hysterical rantings of the imminent dhimmification crowd are matched in equal or worse measure by the uber-PC crowd.

Maybe, just maybe, this wretched Hassan will have inadvertently made a more intelligent debate possible.

Rebel Yell
11-12-2009, 05:48 PM
Yes, that is a real problem, both in government and civilian organisations around the developed world at the moment.

The only good that might come out of this is that the uber-PC brigade will be forced to rethink their policies.

Both sides of the argument have been allowed to flip too far to the extremes. We see this more and more frequently, even here on CU. The hysterical rantings of the imminent dhimmification crowd are matched in equal or worse measure by the uber-PC crowd.

Maybe, just maybe, this wretched Hassan will have inadvertently made a more intelligent debate possible.




I wouldn't bet on it.

hampshirebrit
11-12-2009, 05:54 PM
I wouldn't bet on it.

Neither would I. I have hopes, though. We shall see.

I think it's worth the effort, personally. The thought of having either side's whackjobs win the debate are not at all pleasant.

Rockntractor
11-12-2009, 06:05 PM
I would like to label him dead! As soon as possible.

hampshirebrit
11-12-2009, 06:18 PM
I would like to label him dead! As soon as possible.

In'sh'allah. In a piggy way. :D

GrumpyOldLady
11-12-2009, 06:42 PM
Then is not war an act of terrorism since it meets your criteria?

It depends on the war.
If it's defensive .. no.
If it's offensive .. yes.

WWII engagement against Nazis ... no.
WWII engagement against Japanese .. no.
Afghanistan ... no

etc

FlaGator
11-12-2009, 11:00 PM
But this wasn't because he was pushed around. This was driven by religion, plain and simple. I don't care if he drank and smoked. I drink, cuss, and smoke (occasionally), but I still hold my religious beliefs close to my heart.

You take my example a bit too literally. I have to wonder, was he driven by religious beliefs are a fear of being deployed?

Big Guy
11-12-2009, 11:21 PM
Terrorism, by my definition:
A heinous criminal act with the intent to inflict great bodily harm, death and to strike fear into a populace with the intention to change the course of a political action.

War is a political action.

FlaGator
11-13-2009, 07:58 AM
Terrorism, by my definition:
A heinous criminal act with the intent to inflict great bodily harm, death and to strike fear into a populace with the intention to change the course of a political action.

War is a political action.

I tend to see war as the collision of idealogies and philosophies. Often we can identify the point of contact that touched off a war but if we look beyond that we'll find that opposing idealogies make war an almost inevitable outcome between cultures who are so dynamically opposed that co-existence is impossible. Communism and Captialism are good examples as are non Islamic societies and Islamic ones. Eventually there will be all out war with Islam and it won't be a Christian vs. Islam event. It will be a war consisting of Islam and all those who don't wish to live under Muslim rules. There should be some interesting alliences to come out of a conflict of this nature.

SaintLouieWoman
11-13-2009, 08:49 AM
Hence, to strike fear in ranks of the military.

And fear into the general populace. If our military isn't safe in the heart of a base guarded at its entrances by armed guards, how safe are we at a shopping center or in our churches?

To me it was an act of terrorism as surely as 9-11.

SaintLouieWoman
11-13-2009, 09:03 AM
You take my example a bit too literally. I have to wonder, was he driven by religious beliefs are a fear of being deployed?

I believe it was by his religious beliefs. One of the never ending discussion shows here mentioned that he had not filed for an exemption due to his "pacifist" beliefs. Perhaps he was a coward; perhaps he was using a convenient excuse to avoid service overseas. I cannot imagine that any of our military dances for joy at the opportunity to be deployed to that fourth world country, Afghanistan.

GrumpyOldLady
11-13-2009, 09:18 AM
War is a political action.
War can be defensive. When it is defensive, it isn't terrorism.

Eagle
11-13-2009, 06:01 PM
Anything that scares people.

The democrats in congress should be declared terriorsts for what they are proposing or anybody else that goes along with them. They are scaring better than half the population.

PoliCon
11-14-2009, 01:31 AM
Anything that scares people.



Hillary Clinton's face qualifies then?

Goldwater
11-14-2009, 11:46 AM
Perhaps he was a coward; perhaps he was using a convenient excuse to avoid service overseas. I cannot imagine that any of our military dances for joy at the opportunity to be deployed to that fourth world country, Afghanistan.

To me, it seems like it was more of the fact he felt like he shouldn't have been deployed because he was a muslim (amongst other factors), and thought that some kind of entitlement allowed him to not go or something, so he acted out as a true madman would.

Eagle
11-14-2009, 05:23 PM
Anything that scares people.

hampshirebrit
11-14-2009, 08:27 PM
Anything that scares people.

Anything? Come on.

Most people can become a little bit scared by the sound of their own fart as they're falling asleep. A big, raspy cheez cut can be enough to jolt anyone back to an uneasy wakeful state, especially if it also smells a bit bad.

Seriously, if you are really saying that it's "anything that scares people" then you are ceding way too much power to the terrorist, and not giving enough credit for the common sense and courage of normal people.

Teetop
11-14-2009, 09:24 PM
Killing to cause fear in the name of an ideology. To invoke terror onto their victims.

Eagle
11-15-2009, 04:41 PM
Anything? Come on.

Most people can become a little bit scared by the sound of their own fart as they're falling asleep. A big, raspy cheez cut can be enough to jolt anyone back to an uneasy wakeful state, especially if it also smells a bit bad.

Seriously, if you are really saying that it's "anything that scares people" then you are ceding way too much power to the terrorist, and not giving enough credit for the common sense and courage of normal people.

All I do is laugh to myself when I cut a good one. :D Think of the libs though, if you cut a fart then lit a match they'd call homeland security on you.