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defining as well as denying terror

Reader comment on item: Denying [Islamist] Terrorism

Submitted by Tharpa (Canada), Feb 9, 2005 at 17:04

Dear Daniel,

Your points about authorities covering up Islamic-jihadi inspired violence to avoid inflaming the situation are well taken.

FIrst, perhaps this is the right approach, i.e. more harm than good is done by making a fuss? Of course, they should try to find the perpetrators, but in the real world, the vast majority of random violence cases like this go unsolved.

Second: we should distinguish between racially/ideologically inspired violence and terrorism. There is no final definition of course, but for the sake of clarity let me suggest that what we refer to as terrorism should refer to tactics using violence against militarily uninvolved civilians - except by nationality or location - to frighten their opponents and more generally if such acts are perpetrated by an organization that has this as their main agenda.

Many of the crimes you cited were just that: crimes. Terrible, yes, but not really 'terrorism' per se, rather (inexcusable and horrible) violence.

Also, if we accept that terrorism is a tactic to impress one's opponents with the ruthlessness with which one is willing to make a point, then we have to admit that many things sanctioned by our wn governments, both overt and clandestine, have for many years been of the same bent. Naturally, we like to ignore this side of it; but whether we choose to ignore it or not, rest assured that our opponents view our own 'suppressions' or 'liberations' as a form of terrorism, if again you mean by that that we are willing to inflict massive casualties on non-military civilians in order to show how determined we are that they toe the line.

Since the current administration has labelled our international politico-police operations as 'the war on terrorism', it behooves us to pay attention to what we are saying. The crimes you cited in this context cannot seriously be regarded as actions by the enemy in that war, rather as unfortunate side effects that of course are related, but also are not the same.

Cape Breton, Canada.
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