Advertisement

City of Brass

City of Brass

Calling a Spade a Spade

Note:  I will be filling in for Aziz Poonawalla on this site for the next couple of weeks, while he is off gallivanting around the world.  These are undoubtedly big shoes to fill (even though technically  I’m a size 13 and he’s a 9), but I’ll do my best.  Aziz, in addition to being a good friend, is my mentor in all things blogging and I have long read his blog and aspired to be in the same league.  For those who are interested, these posts will also be available on my own blog Notes from The Heart as well.

 

Recently, a US soldier in Afghanistan left his base at about 3 AM.  He walked about half a mile to a nearby village, entered three different homes, and shot dead at least 16 Afghani civilians (at least twelve of whom were women and children).  In the first home, where eleven of the victims were located, he gathered the bodies to burn them.  He then returned to base and turned himself in to authorities.  At the current time, his motives are unclear.  Much information about the killings and the killer has not yet been released.  What is known is that many of the victims were asleep at the time of the killings.

Advertisement

The US Government has issued a necessary but predictable statement of remorse, assuring that an investigation will soon be undertaken, and appropriate legal actions will be pursued (US soldiers in Afghanistan fall under US legal jurisdiction).  The question remains, exactly what crime was committed here?  Was this act part of the “fog of war” and thus representative of collateral damage?  Perhaps the shooter is not guilty by reason of insanity, due to PTSD and a possible history of previous brain trauma?  The killing may represent first degree murder (based on the premeditation inherent in walking a mile to the nearest town).  But, intriguingly, the news media has yet to use the word “terrorism”.

Advertisement

The first two, more lenient, possibilities also seem the least likely to be successful.  The shooter clearly had not been engaged actively by an enemy at the time of the shooting, and collateral damage can only be claimed if he had targeted a real or perceived enemy.  The insanity defense is very likely to be used and is already being used in the media, where all sorts of excuses (ranging from stress to alcohol to a bad marriage) are being floated for his actions.  It is interesting that these same excuses would be considered absolutely inadequate if the killings had occurred against an American town on American soil.  However, this strategy is unlikely to succeed legally and politically, as the shooter clearly knew what he did was wrong (he immediately turned himself over to authorities), and because the government will want to show swift and severe judgment in order to avoid unrest and backlash.

Advertisement

The question then becomes, is this  US soldier a terrorist?  Here is a person who has targeted innocent civilians and killed them in cold blood.  If his motivations were motivated by pure psychopathy then he is nothing more than a deranged cold blooded mass-murderer.   If, however, his motivations included any element of religious or political ideology, then his actions must be considered an act of terrorism.

When Major Nidal Hasan (also a member of the US Military) opened fire at Fort Hood, he was immediately branded a terrorist.  He had, after all, murdered innocents (sort of–members of the military industrial complex are considered reasonable targets by the Geneva Convention) and was motivated by political ideology.  But, when Joseph Stack flew his plane into the IRS building (sound familiar?), clearly motivated by a political ideology, he was branded a deranged anti-government crusader and some Americans even considered him a hero.  In fact, in an official statement “government officials were quick to rule out any involvement of terrorism in the incident.”

Advertisement

Let us hope that we have not devolved so much as a society as to believe that the definition of terrorism is inherently related to one’s own religion, or the nationality of the victims.  While this seems clearly to be the case with the news media,  the FBI official definition of terrorism includes no such reference:

“the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85)

While it is a major tenet of US law that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, it is a painful fact that if in fact our soldier was motivated by any religious or political objective then he has committed an act of terrorism.  If we are to maintain consistency with our rule of law, not to mention any semblance of credibility in the global community, then we must have the strength to call a spade a spade.

Advertisement

RELATED: The Daily Beast editorial board had a very interesting internal discussion on what they should call terrorism, related to the Joseph Stack incident.  They also had the courage to post it online in its entirety.  It is worth a read.

  • http://phelps.donotremove.net Phelps

    I agree that it comes down to motivation. If he intended to intimidate the Afghani population, then he’s a terrorist. At the least, he’s a mass murderer. The Army is going to have a hard time allowing him an insanity defense, since they kept him on active duty and he used their weapon.

    In fact, I’m even leaning towards the direction that it doesn’t matter what his intent was. The result was intimidation, and we should judge someone by their actions rather than the motives they profess.

Previous Posts

Ramadan Pearls 06 - expectant
When it comes to material food, if you eat too little, you will remain hungry like the crow and suffer ill-temper and anemia; if you eat your fill, your body will incur the penalty of indigestion. Partake of God's food, that easily digested ...

posted 9:44:56am Jul. 07, 2015 | read full post »

Ramadan Pearls 05 - objective
As for the men of knowledge of the hereafter, what they mean by the correctness of fasting is its acceptability; and the acceptability of the fast is whether or not it has enabled one to reach one's objective. They understand the objective of ...

posted 7:26:32am Jul. 05, 2015 | read full post »

The Fourth and the First
This evening, just prior to sunrise, members of my mosque in Los Angeles gathered round to raise the flag of the United States of America. Due to fortuitous timing, just as the flag was unfurled, a squadron of planes flew overhead in formation, ...

posted 12:38:00am Jul. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Ramadan Pearls 04 - angels
He who has fasted for Allah, the Glorious and Mighty, and is in the discomfort of heat and struck by thirst, will have his face wiped and be given the good news by a thousand angels whom Allah has entrusted to him until he breaks his fast; at ...

posted 8:16:29am Jul. 03, 2015 | read full post »

ibadat in Ramadan - process as piety
There are a lot of articles written during Ramadan about what Ramadan means, about what we as Muslims should be "getting out" of Ramadan, what the benefits of Ramadan should be. But I think that these sorts of articles miss the point of ibadat. ...

posted 10:20:36am Jul. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.