How do you define a terrorist?

How do you define a terrorist?


“Remember, remember the 5th of November. The gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”

These are the the lines of the movie V for Vendetta, which in my opinion, is a movie which openly endorses a terrorist as far as he is shown in the movie. It is a brilliant and yet love me/hate me kind of film. Frankly because it shows another side of the terrorist problem we seem to be facing in the real world a lot lately.

vendetta_07V: …A building is a symbol, as is the act of destroying it. Symbols are given power by people. Alone, a symbol is meaningless, but with enough people, blowing up a building can change the world.

Obvious tones to the 9/11 incident but V puts out another riddle, how do you define justice and how do you define a terrorist?

Adam Lanza made headlines around the globe and didn’t live to see it. And now I see everyone either going anti-gun or pro-gun. The question which is left in the middle is not why Adam Lanza did such a horrible thing?. The real question is what did he think he was doing? Sounds weird, right. I guess some might even find it mildly insulting that I am trying to soften the image of Adam. Far from the truth I think, there is a good deal to look at here which people aren’t looking at.

Adam Lanza probably justified himself in a horrible way. And that he ended it turning the gun to himself only means a few things:

1.He was too proud to be caught, like many other killers, especially Hitler.

2. He knew he had done wrong, and though he might have acted out in rage, he saw he did something terrible and the guilt made him kill himself too.

3. He just didn’t care about how anybody viewed him, he was tired of life. He knew he was not brave enough to speak out or make a statement and he knew that no one would listen to him or believe what he had to say. 

He was no Timothy McVeigh, no political agenda, nothing.  Adam Lanza was isolated, he was shy, he was unable to communicate properly. These are all factors, which are in many many people at his age. I was the same in school and college, hell, I am still a bit reclusive. These things don’t make anyone a mass murderer.

Out of the three IMAGINATIVE scenarios that my poor intellect can form, I am most scared by the third. Because that reflects a problem which doesn’t end with the criminal.

It starts with motive, thought, guilt, remorse, redemption and pain, tremendous amount of pain or pressure. Where the person starts to see himself as a victim against a system. That is the time when a terrorist is born.

There are ample examples in the world which make my point seem kind of wrong. But in my observation, terrorism seems to be defined relatively.

Consider, when the CIA first created the war group, Mujaheddin to fight soviets in the 80’s and the 90’s. To the CIA and the people oppressed, the Mujaheddin were what? A terrorist camp, no. They were heroes, invited to the white house for dinners, had unprecedented financial and political American support and even Hollywood made a Rambo movie out of it. The end title of which speaks of the heroism of the Afghan people. To the soviets, the Mujaheddin were terrorists.

Fast forward to 2001 and we have Afghans labeled as terrorists by America, because now the Muhadden are hurting America instead of Russia. We see all Muslims as potential terrorists. India calls the freedom fighters in the disputed territory of Kashmir, terrorists. The kashmiri’s call them freedom fighters, fighting for a cause and they in turn call the Indian army terrorist. So who is the terrorist, the one occupying the land or the one trying to fight to free his land?

The same thing is happening in Israel, Hamas is a terrorist organization; so why do the Philistines support it? Because to them it is not a terrorist organization at all. To them Hamas is fighting the power which is turning them out of their homes.

Was the american liberation of from the British empire, terrorism? Yes to the British it was terrorism because it was their colonies, but to the Americans it was freedom.

On one hand, I fully sympathize with a Kashmiri guy whose country has been invaded by India for more than 50 years now. They are still fighting for freedom. I understand why would a guy, just wear a bomb jacket and lie down in front of a tank to blow it up, Kashmiri’s have been doing this for years now. They don’t have army tanks so they just wear bomb jackets and blow artillery. The kashmiri body count is in hundreds of thousands.

On the other hand the Indians call these freedom fighters, terrorists because they believe that while they are trying to build that country, these outlaws are going against law and authority. Now to the kashmiri, this law is an unjust law. he would not accept a law such as being governed by an another country. This is the same principle on which Gandhi liberated India from the British and the Americans got their freedom form the British empire.

The underlying points are almost the same and the outcomes and perception of it in the modern world, is drastically different.

I was reading C.S Lewis the other day and something struck me he wrote, “Evil, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way.

May be that is true. But then who decides what is good and what is wrong? Does a terrorist blows things up for fun? yeah may be a one in a thousand might do this. But if you read you will find, every terrorist has a cause he was trying to peruse. We don’t agree with the cause, so we call him a terrorist. Because he uses force, illegally.

This is something very striking, Timothy McVeigh the Oklahoma bomber, said the same thing, he said that because the American government were bombarding innocents, in war, as collateral damage, and the pilots and the soldiers were called heroes and were decorated; they need to see the Oklahoma bombing in the same light the same way.

I don’t agree with his statement but I can tell you this, he was partially right about the first part. And this is not something exclusive to America, the same patriotism is shown to every army by its govt. and people. No war is without crimes. Just yesterday I saw a picture of four American soldiers, pissing on dead bodies of some Afghan villagers that had been shot by them and now they were making jokes about it. That seemed so strange, those guys seemed so out of the world, so untouched with what they had done, that it baffled me. They were treating it as it was a casual leak you take with your buddies on a picnic trip.

Are these guys terrorists? No they are soldiers, and they might be getting an award when they come home. because the total “good” is more than the total “bad”. The sandy hook shootings made everyone cry, yet pictures of dead Somalian kids have never ushered such a response from the society. I think this is because we feel connected more to the people living inside a line on the map we call borders. This is America, humans live here, that is Africa, no humans live there, Africans do. This is Pakistan, humans live here, that is India, Indians live there. It is alright to kill an Indian soldier but a not a Pakistani. Its a mentality which is sowed deep inside of us from the beginning.

Why do we have so much differing opinions in a world where now most opinions seem to matter? A line on a map, divides us and makes us see those outside of the line as “less important”. Can we eradicate this mentality? Osama bin laden was a terrorist on all accounts and yet the Afghan people did not view him a terrorist because he was fighting a common enemy. Hitler was a mass-murderer and yet the German people saw him as hero (most did).

Violence breeds violence. I can only quote Goya, “The sleep of reason breeds monsters.” The question is, who is to reason and how can we persuade the other with our reasoning? Gun control is not going to do anything, you need to look at the heart of the issue. Why does some individuals find themselves at complete odds with their surroundings? Adam Lanza was not part of any terrorist organization, he was not part of Alqeada or any Islamic group. How did he view his own actions? I suspect the key lies within that answer, an answer we may never get.

My question is, how do you define a terrorist? Someone who hurts humanity or just people inside the line you call national borders? What of the people that in turn think of you the same way you think of them? In Pakistan the general public view America as a bully, Americans think of them as terrorists.

America is making new enemies with the drone strikes which are killing innocents. If an afghan child survivor of the drone attack, turns out 20 years later in an american building loaded with bombs to get revenge of his innocent family being killed, would you be surprised? Would you call him terrorist? Can he call you back, a terrorist? 

Both sides have their vice and virtue. Who is right? I have no idea now, perhaps both are or else they are both wrong.

The bitter truth is, the big guys always get to lay the rules down. The biggest terrorist acts in my opinion were the nuclear bombings of japan in 1945, seconded by the Holocaust. Both were wrong. I am not taking sides on anything, I am not anti-america, nor pro-america. I am simply saying that this issue of terrorism is deep and needs attention. Stop looking at it superficially. Terrorism is the outcome of problems rooted deep in our ideas, actions and mentality. You want to eradicate terrorism? make world a better place to live. If you approve of killing by some standard of your own, you are giving others the freedom to make their own standards. Violence begets violence. This is an eternal truth. Blowing up people in masses, is not going to end terrorism, it will only fuel it.

This is my garbled understanding of thought and reason, both of which I have seemed to run out of now, so I will leave it to you.

How do you define a terrorist?

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11 thoughts on “How do you define a terrorist?

      1. Yes It Is..

        Well, It is A Fox News Telling that the U.N. Struggles to Define Terrorism .. (as lately they are siding with terrorists It really mean that The U.N. is out of touch with this one, as one commentary is saying :

        “”…..Of course the United Nations is not going to define terrorism considering the fact it supports terrorists and dictators as well as state sponsors of terrorism. This is one more reason why this hideous organization should be disbanded. Getting the UN involved in fighting terrorism is like getting the Mafia to help fight organized crime….”””

        youtube.com/watch?v=RFfs5ln5T2w

  1. War creates its own logic, as your quotation from Lewis suggests. I was in Srinigar in 1989. While I was there in the city, I had tea with a guy who was probably a couple of years younger than I was at the time.
    He told me, “We just want to govern ourselves. Nothing about our relationship with India will change, we must trade, we need the Hindu tourists. We don’t want to become part of Pakistan either. We want an independent Kashmir that isn’t part of the disputes between its neighbors.”
    I recall a horrible, sinking feeling as he spoke. I wanted to tell him, “I have studied this in school; states do not relinquish territory peacefully, on principle alone. If you engage with them they will pull you down to their level and once you are reduced to something which it is acceptable to destroy, they will destroy you.”
    I couldn’t bear to say it and it wouldn’t have dissuaded him anyway, so I kept quiet and poured some more tea for him. Within the year, protests started. They were peaceful and the army violently suppressed them, as expected. German tourists were taken hostage soon after. They escaped when one of the hostages punched a guard and the Kashmiri were so flabbergasted that they didn’t react to stop the Germans’ exit. Now Kashmiris kill and die in the proxy war between Pakistan and India; they have already lost what they were fighting for at the start, maybe forever.
    The logic is hard to resist. We are hearing it again in the case of the public health nurses killed for distributing polio vaccine. The U.N. is weak for pulling back and seeking other strategies. The nurses must have justice (retribution). The only thing these people understand is force…

    1. As alwasy you made some very intresting points keith, largely I do not disagree with you. There are sadly people in this wold who only understand force. I wish there was a way aorund that. But I guess that is like wishing for the impossible. I do however beleive that there are many areas in between, the grey ones where these liberties of justice are taken in the wrong context too. Anyway that is for lkaters. Thank you for your feedback. Always appreciated. Take care and God bless.

  2. Anyone can be a terrorist if what you are “doing” or “saying” threatens someone else’s cherished agenda. Fo instance, I recall the North Koreans claiming that South Korea was committing psychological warfare against them, because some of the South Korean Christmas lights could be seen over the wall. In considering the definition of Terrorist, I have had to consider the question of “How many of us are willing to be a terrorist for what we believe in? To be labeled a terrorist does not mean you have to kill people. If you cause people mental anguish, such as sharing what the Bible says on many subjects. Right now it is called “hate crimes”, which is only one small step short of being called a terrorist. If I understand the book of Revelation correctly, it looks to me like mankind eventually takes that small step, and I will be considered a terrorist in my own country, because I believe Jesus Christ is the one way to God, and I will be the enemy of world unity, and thus, a terrorist. Not something I am looking forward to, but not hard to see coming. So, if the Bible turns out to be the word of God as it claims, and I have taken a stand for it, then in the end, I have had to be willing to be a terrorist in order to stand for something correct, right, and true. In the end, I guess we all just better hope we are right in what we are judging to be correct, right, and true, because if I ever have to be considered a terrorist someday, I don’t want to find out that I actually was a terrorist, even in the eyes of God. Some may think I’m speaking like a terrorist now, even in just the few things I have alluded to. Those who considered Jesus a terrorist, caused him to be nailed to a cross. If even Jesus was a terrorist to some, then we must come back to our judgement of good and evil. Anyone here volunteer to be the final authority on that? Everyday we choose what is right, or wrong, and then we choose if we will perform the right, or the wrong. Even though one man’s right is another man’s terrorism, that does not mean there is not a choice that is “Right”.

    1. Very nice points my friend. I wish Lord Jesus could come sooner and wrap up the one big mess we call earth. Hopefully I will be back soon and then respond properly. Untill then. God bless you.

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