Acts of terrorism 13

On July 14, 2016, Bastille Day, at about 10.30 in the evening, a Muslim drove a 19-tonne cargo truck into a crowd of people strolling in the French resort city of Nice, killing 86 and injuring more than 300. The driver  was shot dead by police.

On December 19, 2016, at about 8 in the evening, a Muslim drove a 19-tonne vehicle into a crowd at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring about 50. The driver was arrested.

On April 7, 2017, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, a Muslim drove a 30-tonne beer truck into a large crowd on a street in central Stockholm, killing 4 and injuring 15. The killer escaped.

On March 22, 2017, at about 2.40 in the afternoon, a Muslim drove a car into a crowd on Westminster Bridge, London, killing 4 and injuring more than 50. The driver left the vehicle, stabbed a police officer dead inside the gates of the Houses of Parliament, and was shot dead himself by police.

On June 3, 2017, at about 10.30 in the evening, three Muslims drove a van into a crowd on London Bridge, then left the van and stabbed people on the streets and in two restaurants. They killed 7 people, and injured 48.  The three Muslims were killed by police.

These were all terrorist attacks. They are just 5 of many attacks carried out in Europe by Muslims using vehicles to mow people down in public places, in the name of Islam. And they are only a tiny fraction of the total number of attacks carried out by Muslims in the name of Islam in the West since this century began.

In the early hours of Monday June 19, 2017, a man named Darren Osborne drove a van into a crowd of people coming out of a mosque in Finsbury Park, London. He injured 10, and possibly caused the death of a man who had collapsed and was “being resuscitated” when the van hit the people round him.

Was this too an act of terrorism?

There is no generally agreed definition of the word “terrorism” (though lexicographers pretend there is). The United Nations Organization has never been able to arrive at a definition because the Islamic block, which dominates the General Assembly and intimidates the Security Council, won’t allow a definition to be adopted that would label acts of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam as “acts of terrorism” – which is to say, almost all the acts of terrorism being carried out everywhere in the world. Today, June 21, 2017, the website that publishes a daily tally of lethal terrorist attacks carried out in the name of Islam since Muslims killed close to 3000 people in America on September 11, 2001, has the number at 31046. No other group, organization, movement which has used violence to advance its cause in the last 50 years has come anywhere near matching that number of attacks.

Yet it is possible to define terrorism.

First, let’s say what it is not. It is not an ideology, or a movement, or a conspiracy, or a policy, or an aim.

What it is, is a method. A tactic.

Its users may be an organized movement that conspires to adopt the tactic; and a state might use it against its own people as a matter of policy – as for instance the rulers of the USSR and China did in the twentieth century, and the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea and Iran do now. But terrorism itself is simply a method, a tactic.

A useful working definition of the term could be:

Terrorism is the systematic use of extreme violence in order to create public fear.

In order to create public fear, it must be terrifying and it must be aimed randomly. By killing and injuring a few, any few who just happen to be at the place and time where the strike is made, the terrorist is signaling to a very much larger audience – the inhabitants of a city, walkers on any of its streets, workers in any tower of offices, shoppers in any mall, diners in any restaurant, or flyers in any plane – that THEY could suffer the same fate. Every act of terrorism in your country is telling you that YOU could be next. Though you have done nothing personally to offend the terrorist organization doing its evil deeds in your corner of the world, you must be made to understand that their bomb could be in the bus you take to work or your child takes to school, and so could as easily kill or maim you or your child as anyone else.

It is a method of instilling fear into many more people than the attacker can directly attack. 

To what purpose?

The Islamic terrorism being inflicted on the West at present serves religious and political ends. (There is no difference in Islam between the religious and the political.) Islam is a supremacist ideology that aims to bring the entire human race to submit to its god. (“Islam” means “submission”.) It has used war and terror to advance this aim since its inception.

Terrorism has been much used chiefly for political ends in the last 200 years by many organizations acting locally to overthrow governments or change government policy. Some of these have been aided (trained, defended diplomatically, even paid and armed) by a foreign power. In the last century, the USSR supported local groups in almost all countries on all the inhabited continents as catspaws to spread communist rule by terrorist violence. In South America several such organizations – for instance FARC in Colombia – are still waging their terrorist wars to this end.

Communism and Islam are inherently terrorist ideologies.

But terrorism is not always used for political ends. It has been used historically by organized religion: not only Islam which has always been a religion of war, but also the Catholic Church with its Inquisition; Protestant powers such as Calvin’s in Geneva and the Puritans at Salem. It has also been used for criminally commercial ends, as by the Mafia.

Whether terrorism is used by a small group like the Weather Underground or the Baader-Meinhof gang; a large group like the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern Ireland and England, or Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in Peru; or a state like the Third Reich or the USSR, it is a method of instilling fear into many more people than it can directly attack, so they or their governments will do or refrain from doing what the terrorists want done or not done.

The mentality behind terrorism is similar to the mentality of the racist. The users of the method target individuals indiscriminately because they “belong” to a group or class that the terrorists designate their enemy. You are a member of a religion or political party that they oppose. You have a nationality they don’t like. You are a capitalist. You work for the “military-industrial complex”. Or you are one person in a national collective under a despotism that would keep you obediently conforming. 

Can the use of terrorism ever be justified? It is the moral question every terrorist needs to answer for himself. He alone makes the decision to do the deed. It is no excuse that he is obeying others. He – or she – is still responsible even under threat. The exception of course is when, for instance, a person is forcibly strapped into a suicide vest, deposited in a public place, and is detonated without his taking any action himself. Islamic terrorists often use children in this way.

An argument is often put forward, mostly by leftist politicians or academics who want, for various and usually disgraceful reasons, to discourage action against this or that terrorist organization, that the number of people who are hurt or killed in a specified period by terrorist action is smaller than the number killed by (eg) car accidents in the same time span. But an accident is by definition nobody’s fault. Because terrorism is a moral question, depending on people making decisions and implementing them, such comparisons are not only invalid but invidious.

What of war? Does that not harm and kill many innocents? Of course. But when war happens, all normal constraints are abandoned and the moral questions are changed. Was Churchill right to have Dresden bombed flat? Was America right to drop nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima? If more people were saved by these acts which brought war to an end than were hurt and killed by the actions themselves, were they good or were they evil?

The morality of war is open to argument. But clear acts of terrorism can be carried out within wars, and need to be unequivocally condemned. For instance, in World War Two, the Germans massacred all the inhabitants (642), men women and children, of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944, in reprisal for one of their officers being captured and held there. The massacre was plainly a “war crime”, and plainly an act of terrorism. It was a warning to the French people as a whole that for such actions against any member of the German occupying force, terrifying retribution was to be expected.

Now let’s return to the question we asked before we started our examination of what terrorism is.

Was the murderous act carried out by Darren Osborne on June 19, 2017, when he drove a van into a crowd of people coming out of a mosque in Finsbury Park, an act of terrorism?

It was certainly an act of revenge for lethal attacks in Britain by Muslims terrorists.

Our working definition of terrorism – that is, the systematic use of extreme violence in order to create public fear – only partly fits what Darren Osborne did.  There could be nothing “systematic” about this one man’s act. The Muslim acts are systematic in that Islam prescribes random violence as one of their methods of defeating infidels. But Osborne was not acting for any organized religion or political group. He was acting alone, as a native citizen of Britain who was angry that a foreign people with an alien culture, alien values, alien law was entering his country and lethally harming its native citizens.

But he is reported to have cried out, “I want to kill all Muslims.” And he was certainly hoping to make many more Muslims afraid than the few he could attack at that moment. He had no way of knowing whether those he attacked at random were in any way personally guilty of the massacres he was avenging. All of which means that his crime was an act of terrorism. If he hoped, as he might have done though we cannot be sure of it, that other native citizens would follow his example and strike Muslims wherever they could reach them, that would reinforce the nature of his crime as a terrorist act.

We have yet to see whether his violent attack will inspire others like it. If more such acts of revenge are carried out on any Muslims that such attackers can reach to injure and kill, they will be individually guilty of terrorism.

But others share the guilt with the perpetrators. For all the blood spilt in Britain and Europe in this cause, whether by terrorism or conventional battle in the streets, Western political leaders are to blame, because they brought, and continue bringing, this self-declared enemy of our civilization into our midst. The blood is on their hands too.

 

Jillian Becker   June 21, 2017

(Jillian Becker was Director of the London-based Institute for the Study of Terrorism 1985-1990, and the author, editor, and publisher of numerous publications on the subject of Terrorism.)

Posted under Terrorism by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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