Why isn’t the Colorado shooter considered a Terrorist?

22 July 2012
Published in Blog

James Holmes is a terrorist.

You would think this would be undisputed. But it’s not. Why? Two reasons keep coming up: 1. He had no overt political agenda for his attack and/or; 2. He is not a Muslim.

I’m sure some are saying: Why does his religion matter? Let us be honest: If James Holmes had instead been named Jalal and was Muslim, the response by the media and most Americans would be different. The presumption would be that he’s a terrorist. The political reason for the attack many say is currently missing would be a given simply because of his Muslim faith.

There would be calls to increase police surveillance of American-Muslims and justifications offered for racial profiling. People like Representative Michelle Bachmann would likely claim that the attack was part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s campaign to destroy America. After all, just last week Bachmann claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood was infiltrating the US government. (I personally wish that Bachmann’s brain would be infiltrated by intelligence.)

But the facts are clear that the greatest threat to the lives of Americans is not Muslim terrorists. Indeed, in 2011, approximately 14,000 Americans were murdered on US soil. How many were killed by Islamic terrorists? Zero. 

Despite this fact, Representative Peter King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, continues to solely focus on the “radicalization” of American-Muslims, instead of the radicalization of any American. It’s about time that Peter King stop demonizing Muslims for political gain and start using his committee’s work to save American lives.

So why do I believe Holmes is a terrorist? First and foremost, because of Holmes extensive planning. The Aurora, Colorado police chief described the attack as being designed with "calculation and deliberation." Several months ago, Holmes apparently put his plan into action when he purchased a handgun and shotgun from a local store. Holmes later purchased a third weapon–-an AR-15 assault rifle--from another store about one mile from the theater where he committed his bloody assault.

Holmes also purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet. In addition, on the night of his terrorist attack, he donned a Kevlar helmet, a gas mask, a tactical bullet-resistant vest, bulletproof leggings, a neck and groin protector and special tactical gloves.

And Holmes, not content to just kill the people in the theater, even rigged his apartment with jars of liquids, explosives and chemicals. The intention being to kill or maim any person who entered his residence after the attack.

This is truly Terrorism 101. It is as evil as the people who attacked our nation on 9/11.

Finally, I don’t subscribe to the view that you need an overt political agenda to be labeled a terrorist. In fact, neither does US law.

Federal law defines the term "domestic terrorism" to mean activities that:

         (A) Involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

         (B) appear to be intended -

           (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

           (ii) to influence the policy of a government by Intimidation or coercion; or

           (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

         (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

Consequently, a person can be found guilty of “domestic terrorism” if he/she: 1. Engages in acts dangerous to human lives which violate US/State law – in this case shooting people; and 2. The action “appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.”

There is a strong argument that James Holmes goal was to achieve just that. He wanted to instill terror in the hearts of Americans. To make us all fear that in the friendly confides of our neighborhood movie theater, another killer could be lurking in the darkness waiting to open fire.

Some say in Holmes defense that he was crazy. I honestly think we would prefer to believe that as opposed to labeling a fellow American a terrorist.

But there are simply no signs of insanity. Holmes has shown no prior incidence of mental illness. He has no prior criminal history. He has been described as a brilliant young man who excelled at science. The only blemish in the glowing description of Holmes was that he was a loner.

While it’s painful for some, we must as a nation come to the realization that terrorism does not come from just one religion, race or ethnicity. Terrorism knows no such bounds.

However, there is, of course, still a chance that Holmes is insane. Most undoubtedly would prefer to give Holmes the benefit of the doubt on that issue. However, I doubt most would apply that same standard if Holmes were Muslim.