The Real Definition of Terrorism

Editor’s Note: Where is the US heading? Let us see….to disaster. For herself. From a super power who could have played the “Big Brother” to the world, charting a course of supremacy for herself for decades to come, US has instead chosen to be the wolf in Red Riding Clothes! Except the Red Riding Hood’s cover is blown. Read Khan Zia in”How the Muslims See the West” by clicking:

By Glenn Greenwald 

December 11, 2011 “Salon” —  The FBI yesterday announced it has secured an indictment against Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, a 38-year-old citizen of Iraq currently in Canada, from which the U.S. is seeking his extradition. The headline on the FBI’s Press Release tells the basic story: “Alleged Terrorist Indicted in New York for the Murder of Five American Soldiers.” The criminal complaint previously filed under seal provides the details: ‘Isa is charged with “providing material support to a terrorist conspiracy” because he allegedly supported a 2008 attack on a U.S. military base in Mosul that killed 5 American soldiers. In other words, if the U.S. invades and occupies your country, and you respond by fighting back against the invading army — the ultimate definition of a “military, not civilian target” — then you are a . . . Terrorist.

Here is how the complaint, in the first paragraph, summarizes the Terrorism charge against ‘Isa:

By “outside of the United States,” the Government means: inside Iraq, ‘Isa’s country. The bulk of the complaint details conversations ‘Isa allegedly had over the Internet, while he was in Canada, with several Tunisians who wanted to engage in suicide attacks aimed at American troops in Iraq; he is not alleged to have organized the Mosul attack but merely to have provided political and religious encouragement (the network of which he was allegedly a part also carried out a suicide attack on an Iraqi police station, though ‘Isa’s alleged involvement is confined to the attack on the U.S. military base that killed the 5 soldiers along with several Iraqis, and the Terrorism indictment is based solely on the deaths of the U.S. soldiers).

In an effort to depict him as a crazed, Terrorist fanatic, the complaint includes this description of conversations he had while being monitored:

Is that not exactly the mindset that more or less anyone in the world would have: if a foreign army invades your country and proceeds to brutally occupy it for the next eight years, then it’s your solemn duty to fight them? Indeed, isn’t that exactly the mentality that caused some young Americans to enlist after the 9/11 attack and be hailed as heroes: they attacked us on our soil, and so now I want to fight them?

Yet when it’s the U.S. that is doing the invading and attacking, then we’re all supposed to look upon this very common reaction with mockery, horror, and disgust– look at these primitive religious fanatic Terrorists who have no regard for human life — because the only healthy, normal, civilized reaction someone should have to the U.S. invading, occupying, and destroying their country is gratitude, or at least passive acquiescence. Anything else, by definition, makes you a Terrorist. That’s because it is an inherent American right to invade or occupy whomever it wants and only a Terrorist would resist (to see one vivid (and darkly humorous) expression of this pathological, imperial entitlement, see this casual speculation from a neocon law professor at Cornell that Iran may have committed an “act of war” if it brought down the American drone that entered its airspace and hovered over its soil without permission: “if it is true, as the Iranians claim, that the drone did not fall by accident but was brought down by Iranian electronic means, then isn’t that already an act of war?”).

It’s one thing to condemn ‘Isa’s actions on moral or ethical grounds: one could argue, I suppose, that the solemn duty of every Iraqi was to respectfully treat the American invaders as honored (albeit uninvited) guests, or at least to cede to invading American troops the monopoly on violence. But it’s another thing entirely to label someone who does choose to fight back as a “Terrorist” and prosecute them as such under charges that entail life in prison (by contrast: an Israeli soldier yesterday killed a Palestinian protester in a small West Bank village that has had much of its land appropriated by Israeli settlers, by shooting him in the face at relatively close range with a tear gas cannister, while an Israeli plane attacked a civilian home in Gaza and killed a father and his young son while injuring several other children; acts like that, or the countless acts of reckless or even deliberate slaughter of civilians by Americans, must never be deemed Terrorism).

Few things better illustrate the utter meaninglessness of the word Terrorism than applying it to a citizen of an invaded country for fighting back against the invading army and aiming at purely military targets (this is far from the first time that Iraqis and others who were accused of fighting back against the invading U.S. military have been formally deemed to be Terrorists for having done so). To the extent the word means anything operationally, it is: he who effectively opposes the will of the U.S. and its allies.

This topic is so vital because this meaningless, definition-free word — Terrorism — drives so many of our political debates and policies. Virtually every debate in which I ever participate quickly and prominently includes defenders of government policy invoking the word as some sort of debate-ending, magical elixir: of course President Obama has to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process: they’re Terrorists; of course we have to stay in Afghanistan: we have to stop The Terrorists; President Obama is not only right to kill people (including civilians) using drones, but is justified inboasting and even joking about it, because they’re Terrorists; of course some people should be held in prison without charges: they’re Terrorists, etc. etc. It’s a word that simultaneously means nothing and justifies everything.

* * * * *

Here are two videos relating somewhat to this: (1) Sen. Carl Levin claimed as part of the debate over the detention bill he sponsored with John McCain that it was the Obama White House that demanded the removal of language that would have exempted U.S. citizens from military detention without charges:

(2) Last month, I sat for an hour-long interview with Berkeley’s Harry Kreisler as part of that university’s Conversations With History series. Although the event was nominally part of my book tour, Kreisler was a very good interviewer who asked a lot of probing questions unrelated to the book which I’m not generally asked — about my background, intellectual influences and foundations, motives — and so some may find this discussion worthwhile:
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  • khan saheb  On December 12, 2011 at 8:48 am


    The US is looking at Isa’s act as Terror on War.


  • Amir Rana  On December 12, 2011 at 8:50 am

    A very important topic which we all need to ponder upon before getting carried away by the media men striving to play their games. If the current series of articles posted on this blog (including “How Muslims take up the West”, “Pakistan as Gateway to Zionsists Endgame” and the current one) are read together with an open mind, the reader would be able to form a reasonably solid opinion regarding what is going on and might also be able to develop a road map in mind to get out of this maze. Add vivid guidelines provided in Quran and most of the confusions get dispelled.

  • Imtiaz Hussain  On December 12, 2011 at 8:53 am

    what is written in this articlew is not new
    all the stake holder in issues relating to USA know actually what is true definition of terrorism and WHO is responssible for terrorism.
    Perhaps we need to be aware of the new forms of terrorism which are been introduced.
    The latest form is through VEENA MALIK
    USA is now attacking the very basis,,, the roots of this country… after dealing with the trunk and branches
    Like the way we all know the true meaning of terrorism, similarly we must also be knowing as well basis of creation of Pakistan. It was that the muslims of India be provided with a place with in india where they can live in peace and hormony according to their norms of their religion. The speech of Quaid e Azam on 11th August in the first constituent assembly of Pakistan clearly depicts a secular thought but which was not adopted by the later leaders of Pakistan. Also through the assembly according to some conspiringly by the moulvis ‘ QARADARD e MAQASID’ was inducted into the constitutions of 1973, the master mind of which was late ZA Bhutto sb. No matter how this happenned but the same resolution is still part of constitution and today we do point towards the generals be it be moulvi general or disco general for breaking constitution by displacing the always corrupt and inept civilian government to replace with even worser and ineptor military governments ultimately to hand over to the power to the same corrupt and inept political forces, but we seldom realize that how from a common man to people like VEENA MALIK are also responsible to breaking the constituttion on day to day basis….. such as marrying a girl with Quran, not allowing a group of people to vote according to their conscious, submitting false witnesses on oath daily all over Pakistan, not going to government duty despite taking salary from the government and now getting nude in Public despite being a declared Muslim.
    America knows we all are traitors,, aand it is so easy for him to spread terrorism through us
    we need not to be taliban, or Veena Malik, we despite offering namaz 5 times a day and chanting sologons against America are actually serving the American agenda and we all are American agents for the simple reason that we commit treason every minute every second we live with Pakistan….
    I guess we need to understand this side of definition of Terrorism…….
    if you do not agree with me just tell me Why there is no terrorism in Nepal, Maldives, Bangladesh, now Sri lanka and why not to include even India despite its many disputes..
    I guess we will need to stop selling our mothers and sisters now to stop terrorism….
    I guess before we claim ourselve Muslims we neeed to become a Human
    than we will not commit what we are commiting and what Veena Malik committed.
    A huam nis Ameen and Sidiq and thinks of others less than self
    and once you start doing that
    Terrorism alongwithall its definitions and aspects will end …
    without becoming a good human one can never be a Muslim what to talk of a good Muslim

    good luck lambs…..

  • Khan Zia  On December 12, 2011 at 9:02 am

    For the legally minded —- there is no universally agreed definition of ‘terrorism’. All UN attempts to agree upon an internationally binding definition were blocked by the US and Britain. In the absence of one they feel free to undertake aggression abroad, including the occupation of foreign countries, and call it ‘war against terrorism’ that no one can legally challenge.

    The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as per the Code of Federal Regulations (28 CFR Section 0.85), defines terrorism as ‘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.’ The wording used by the United States Department of Defense describes it as ‘the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.’

    As per both these definitions even states could commit terrorist acts which the US State Department, anxious not to see certain US allies or the US itself labeled as terrorist states, finds unacceptable. (Please see Unspeak: Words Are Weapons by Steven Poole, Abacus, London, 2007, chapter 6 for a learned discourse on the subject.)

    Under the UN Charter resistance against foreign aggression and occupation is perfectly legal and justified. Also, international law takes precedence over state law. However, Faruq Khalil Muhammad Isa need not hold out much hope for another Canadian named, Omer Ahmed Khadr, was awarded jail term by a US kangaroo court after remaining in solitary confinement at Guantanamo for eight years. He was convicted and sentenced for fighting against the Americans in Afghanistan despite his being a minor and identified as such by the head of the United Nations child soldier program in a letter to the Military Commission in October 2010.

  • Pervez  On December 12, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    The US is a terrorist state and no amount of legally agreed definitions is going to change that. Pakistan should not be found helping such a state. Those who agree that the US is a terrorist state, could consider what actions will dissuade them from the path they have chosen. Because we cannot take on their massive US military might, does not meand that we cannot shame and embarras them through the media. Laugh, cry and generally give them the treatment they deserve. It seems to me that they need admiration for their loutish actions – at least that can be withdrawn. Reviewing what I have written, the proposal sounds weak – but is it? What is an alternative? Sad situation, very sad.

    Parvez Amin

  • Ian Ombima  On December 16, 2011 at 8:04 am

    The real definition of terrorism is the “American Foreign Policy”, dare say it and you are a terrorist!!

  • Dylan Carthon  On December 22, 2011 at 4:05 am

    I like this web blog very much so much fantastic information.

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