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Let's Define Terrorism Better

Reader comment on item: Terrorism Defies Definition

Submitted by Richard H. Shulman (United States), Oct 26, 2014 at 20:31

How much of the government's confusion is due political correctness, inability to identify Radical Islamic organizations, and the Obama and Christie administrations' sympathy for what really are our enemies?

You and Teri mention the existing definition as not applying to governments. I think of terrorism as deliberately aiming attacks at civilians for a political or religious purpose. This should include governments, such as Iran or Russia, which liquidate opponents or non-believers abroad.

You explain that the existing definition fails to include individuals acting on their own. They really aren't on their own, however, when they get their inspiration from jihadist websites or mosques, without joining an organization. I think that the definition should be expanded to include them.

Instead, you report, our government tries to find the cause to be their personal psychoses. I'd look at it this way: Like Bolshevism, Radical Islam gives a rationale, feeling of solidarity, a target, and information about weapons to disturbed people. The disturbance is what inclines them to Radical Islam. But they are terrorists.

Consider terrorism from the Palestinian Authority. The whole society is organized to support jihad. Abbas can't openly send his forces against Israel. So he glorifies and rewards individuals who attack Israelis and he rewards their families. He helps inspire their attacks. Hence, deliberate vehicular homicide by his people is terrorism.

Other individual terrorists may be single women seeking to avoid shame over, say, accusations that they held hands with a man. Hamas blackmails them or may not even deal with them. That still is terrorism, too, when they target civilians in a political/religious cause.

Israel is a bit confused about what is terrorism. When a terrorist organization attacks Israeli troops on active duty, the Israeli government and media seem to label the attacks as terrorist. I don't think they are. They are acts of war.

I hope that MEF will sometimes explain why the Arab definition of terrorism is distorted. The Arabs define terrorism according to the alleged cause behind the violence. Acts are terrorist because of their means, not because of their causes. Islam considers its attacks on non-believers legitimate, and non-believers resistance as "aggression."

Don't we need to declare war on the radical jihadist ideology, so that we can take proper action when we need to?

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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