The question of what is and what is not ‘terrorism’ becomes most contentious when it’s not a Muslim doing the killing.
The reason is that there are clearly plenty of Islamic terror attacks, and far fewer for any other religion or ideology, and Muslims and other apologists for Islam don’t like it that Islamic terrorism gets so much attention. They’d like non-Islamic non-terrorist attacks to be called terrorist attacks, or they’d like the world to make less of the ‘Islamic’ in Islamic terrorism (“Nothing to do with Islam”, “Not a true Muslim”, “Terrorism has no religion”, …). And when the real world doesn’t comply, they make fake claims about ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘racism’.
Is there a lone killer, that’s crazy (crazier than run of the mill crazy ideologues) and is he unaffiliated with a particular group or acting without sanction from a particular group?
He’s a crazy lone wolf killer.
Is he doing it in the name of his ideological group in order to strike terror into the target?
He’s a lone wolf terrorist.
Is he doing it in the name of his ideological group, with their sanction and assistance, or carrying out their stated plan of terror, even if acting as a lone wolf?
He’s a lone terrorist acting for the group.
Is there more than one killer, or a co-ordinated number of separate attacks, involving more than one killer, or one or more killers with support activists, and aid and sanction from the group?
They are terrorists …
Acting in the name of Islam? Islamic terrorists.
Acting in the name of Christianity? Christian terrorists.
Acting in the name of some other ideology? Terrorists for that ideology.
Craig Hicks (Chapel Hill):
Lone wolf crazy (allegedly) killer, who happens to be an atheist, but not doing it in the name of atheism, or if he is, then without any atheist doctrine to motivate him; he’s just plain crazy. Want more evidence? Try this.
Larry Dawson, a pastor from Tennessee:
Lone wolf crazy would-be killer, acting in the name of the Christian god, but with little modern excuse from Christian scripture. If it makes you more comfortable calling him a terrorists, go ahead, but he’s a crazy lone wolf would-be killer.
Red Army Faction:
Old school West German far left terrorists
Muslim attackers of Charlie Hebdo, Paris 2015, Brussels 2016, … (long list):
Explicit Islamic terrorists acting in a co-ordinated way, as a group or groups, sanctioned and aided by Islamic terrorist organisations.
FINDING JUSTIFICATION DIRECTLY IN ISLAMIC TEXTS
Is that clear enough for you?
2016 Orlando nightclub shooting by Omar Mateen
Hate crime, but terrorism cannot be ruled out, given the influences on and history of Mateen’s contacts.
He was probably influenced by Islamic teachings about homosexuality, which may have conflicted with his own homosexuality. The role of his wife is unclear. Witness accounts said he mentioned US involvement in Syria and iraq.
Unclear. Possible multiple motives, making it both a hate crime and a terrorist attack.
2016 Charleston church shooting by Dylan Roof
He declared his intentions and stated it was about race, and had the political motivation of starting a race war. Mad? Deluded? Hate? Sure … but …
White racist terrorism. Simple.
June 2017 – Finsbury Park Mosque Attack
A van mows down several people, killing one, as they emerge from Finsbury Park Mosque. Possible racist and/or anti-Islam. Under investigation.
Lone Wolf Terrorism
August 2017 – Charlottesville killing of Heather Heyer
James Alex Fields Jr. being charged with that attack. Watching the video it seems like intent – without counter evidence it would hard to dispute that.
Lone Wolf Terrorism.
October 2017 – Marseille stabbing, Edmonton vehicle attack
Hallmarks of Islamic terrorism
Under investigation … but sometimes the prima facie evidence is pretty strong
October 2017 – Las Vegas Strip shooting by Stephen Paddock
Not confirmed as terrorism because there is no known political motive.
Under investigation … and so far a weird and little understood mass shooting.
The Charlottesville attack …
This is pretty clear terrorism, given the political motivation involved, but the case is ongoing at the time of writing. It looks like a ‘lone wolf’ incident since any of the organisations he might be associated with (those asked deny his membership) reject terrorism, though they aren’t averse to violence.
A complication here is that many of these groups on the far right might well be terrorist groups, but they just don’t admit it. But if that’s the case, to what extent does it meet the definition of being terrorist group, since a terrorist group publicly states its intent to perform terrorist acts in order to strike terror?
When we get to the fine details the line that takes you into terrorism maybe slightly blurred, but I can’t seriously deny this is a terrorist attack given the political motives and the apparent intent of the incident. Even if it turns out the driver has a serious mental problem that deminishes his responsibility, if he did it purposefully for his political cause, it’s terrorism. See Terrorism v Crazy below.
On this Vegas attack by Paddock (as of writing on 3rd October 2017) …
While victims and those around them may have been in a state of terror, the motivation of the killer is unknown at the time of writing, and so there is no clear intent to create general terror in the population for the purpose of furthering a cause.
Despite the complaints of many Muslims that only Muslims are classed as terrorists, this incident still can’t be so classed, by the usual definition. However, for political reasons, some states class mass shootings as terrorism, even if that does dilute the term.
Lots of questions about this one relating to
- ISIS claim it, but no corroberating evidence with the killer.
- Lots of guns, some of which should have raised concerns.
- Nobody in the hotel staff noticed anything strange?
- So far his family seem as clueless as everyone else.
- Looks planned so any spontaneous motive (big casino loss) seem unlikely.
Terrorism v Crazy
Where does this leave us with regards to ‘terrorism’ v ‘crazy’ in regard to Islamic killers?
If it helps to call them crazy, then knock yourself out. But all religious believers that use their scriptures to determine how they behave and how others should behave are crazy too, just not as dangerously so.
And it’s no great selling point for Islam, that it’s texts can so easily be used to radicalise the gullible and the mentally ill.
Now, can we drop the obfuscating nonsense that wants to distance Islamic terrorists from Islam at all costs. And, it’s not racism to call them Islamic terrorists.
Are US ‘domestic’ terrorists not being called terrorists when they should be? Then call them terrorists. This failure doesn’t suddenly make Islamic terrorists non-terrorists or non-Islamic.
Is this an over simplification? Sure it is. It’s a guide for idiots. Because the idiots that can’t get this won’t get anything more nuanced or complicated.
If you’re not sure why the focus here is on Islam, it’s for two reasons.
- First, many Muslims want their religion to be the religion of peace, and they are in complete denial about the content of its texts and the capacity for them to be so easily used to justify terrorism – the Quran, after all, is inerrant, and Mohammed is the perfect man.
- Second, there are an awful lot of Islamic terror attacks (many victims being other Muslims):
List of Islamic terror attacks
Terrorism v Hate Crimes v Racism – What’s the Difference
A lot of incidents where someone has verbally abused or even assaulted a Muslim have been called Hate Crimes. We sometimes hear people ask why they are not terrorist attacks. It’s usually pretty obvious why not.
Most ‘Islamophobia’ incidents have been mild compared to Islamist and Islamic terrorist incidents, so there’s been a false equivolence narrative where a hate crime of pulling of a hijab (definitely an assault) seems to have the same value as an actual terrorist act. That’s because there are very few terrorist acts against Muslims by Muslim hating western nationalists and racists, so there has to be some way of upping the victimhood.
I agree the line can be difficult to define. For example, when a British Muslim converted to Christianity and some of his Muslim neighbours beat the crap out of him and hospitalised him, has that gone over the line from hate crime to terrorism? If the stabbing of a cartoonist is terrorism, why not this? And when a British Sunni Muslim travels to Scotland to stab to death an Ahmadi Muslim, is that a hate crime or a terrorist act? Terrorist attack, because he wants to instil terror into apostates and blasphemers.
But I think shooting a number of people, or blowing them up, or mowing them down with a truck, are all terrorist acts. That’s sufficiently over the line to define it easily.
Of course the actual motive matters.
If the shooter simply hated some people in the mosque, for personal reasons, then does that have any ‘terror’ implications – are the general public at risk of similar attacks? I’d say not.
If the shooter has a history of hateful posting on social media or other evidence shows he has built up a hatred of Muslims and is making a statement in his act, then even if acting alone at the time he can become a role model for others – it was a terrorist act.
If the killer is a racist they might also be anti-Islam or anti- some other group that’s usually associated with people of other ethnicities (e.g. Finsbury Park).
The Myth of the “Lone Wolf” Terrorist, by Julie Lenarz
Terrorism or not? Las Vegas reignites a real — and really important — debate. by Aaron Blake
Terrorism Act 2000 – For a British perspective on the use of the term ‘terrorism’. (h/t Four Horseman Facebook)
REBUTTAL: Everything Wrong With Jimmy Kimmel’s Las Vegas Rant | Louder With Crowder – I don’t agree with Crowder’s support for guns, but he’s right on many of the details and facts, compared to the motional outburst from Kimmel. (Shapiro makes many of the same rebuttals).
Abdel-Magied says gun laws discussed because Vegas shooter was white – This is an example of the BS that comes from Muslims and apologists on this. And it is observably false:
- Orlando Shooter Bought Gun Legally, Store Owner Says
- How Florida’s Twisted Gun Laws Made the Orlando Attack Possible
- There are many other examples – Google it.
Special Mention – Craig Considine
Craig is a well known apologists for Islam that regularly plays this rhetorical game.
When the killer declares he’s doing it for Islam, he’s an Islamic terrorist. When we find out Paddock’s motives, we can point those out too. Clowns like Craig need to be called out on their BS every time they do it – and they keep on doing it.