Why isn’t the Colorado shooter considered a Terrorist? Featured

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.

21 comments

  • Comment Link Queen Winona

    He's definitely a terrorist whether America states it or not

    Thursday, 26 July 2012 09:40 posted by Queen Winona
  • Comment Link sammyzoso

    The shooter was a terrorist but not in the "official" FBI sense of the term in that he had no political agenda. He just wanted to kill, which certainly qualifies as terrorism in most peoples' book I would say.

    Wednesday, 25 July 2012 16:47 posted by sammyzoso
  • Comment Link Otman Karim

    The media plays people for fools as it wants everyone to think Islam is the root cause. Those of you who read the Quran would know that Islam forbids such acts and that rather the media is doing that for political reasons (and maybe financial too).
    It's very sad. May God help the families of the victimes. It is very very difficult I can't even grasp it, having children on my own.

    Tuesday, 24 July 2012 13:03 posted by Otman Karim
  • Comment Link Blah

    Does labeling something serial murder or terrorism change the fact that an atrocity was committed? It doesn't matter what you call either of them, there needs to be an effort to prevent it.

    Tuesday, 24 July 2012 00:21 posted by Blah
  • Comment Link Grant

    This is the wrong way to approach the issue-- it is true that a Muslim who did what Holmes did would be labelled a terrorist-- but that does not necessarily mean Holmes is a terrorist, it means people are misapplying the term toward Muslims. Terrorism refers to acts done in the name of a political cause, thus it does not appear to apply to Holmes at this time. Perhaps the reason Holmes isn't being labelled a terrorist is simply because he isn't one, and rather than misusing the definition to include him we should instead concern ourselves with using the term more correctly when it applies to Muslims.

    Tuesday, 24 July 2012 00:09 posted by Grant
  • Comment Link Paige

    You do not have to have a history of mental illness to fall victim to it. People must realize that fact. For example, schizophrenia can surface later in life during a time of extreme stress. I'm tired of this guy being used as a soap box for racial equality. This is a horrible situation. It was an act of terror for those involved, absolutely. We cannot, however, forget that the POPULAR definition of terrorism is used to describe religious and/or political fanaticism that contributes to scare tactics. The Colorado Shooter has yet to demonstrate those qualities. Americans have recently been exposed to terrorism through al-Qaeda. It's only natural that they associate terrorism with certain groups of individuals. Whether that association is accurate matters not. It's still a fact. This act has nothing to do with Muslims or media bias. Let's stop pretending it does. It makes us sound whiny.

    Tuesday, 24 July 2012 00:06 posted by Paige
  • Comment Link Paige

    You do not have to have a history of mental illness to fall victim to it. People must realize that fact. For example, schizophrenia can surface later in life during a time of extreme stress. I'm tired of this guy being used as a soap box for racial equality. This is a horrible situation. It was an act of terror for those involved, absolutely. We cannot, however, forget that the POPULAR definition of terrorism is used to describe religious and/or political fanaticism that contributes to scare tactics. The Colorado Shooter has yet to demonstrate those qualities. Americans have recently been exposed to terrorism through al-Qaeda. It's only natural that they associate terrorism with certain groups of individuals. Whether that association is accurate matters not. It's still a fact. This act has nothing to do with Muslims or media bias. Let's stop pretending it does. It makes us sound whiny.

    Tuesday, 24 July 2012 00:02 posted by Paige
  • Comment Link m feldy

    I am a muslim and I live in US. I think I am more afraid of the American than you should be afraid to me just because my religion is Islam.

    Most of us are defenseless, and minority. We are not trained with gun or explosive, like how the most western media try to potray us. And after all, the religion itslef has 1.6 billion followers, if you can associate that all moslem are terrorist, you couldn't have imagine how chaotic the world is now.

    The conflicts are there in most moslem countries. But you must learn the cause of most of the conflicts. They are not about the faith, but the injustice, and the dictatorship of the government. And of course, if you have a data of terorist attack to western countries and western countries intervention to muslim country, I bet you would have find a very strong correlation between them.

    Just my two cents

    Monday, 23 July 2012 23:27 posted by m feldy
  • Comment Link Zeke

    I would disagree with your interpretation of the terrorist statute. Theorize a robber in the theater instead of Holmes. Everything happens the same except he asks them for their money. He is committing violence, within the territory of the US, with the intent to intimidate and coerce. No one would consider calling him a terrorist, but under your interpretation of the statute heis a terrorist. In fact, almost any violent crime involving more than one person becomes an act of terrorism.

    This is an untoward result and the statute plainly cannot mean that. You could argue that population must extend to the whole population, but there is no indication that (A) the statute needs to be read that narrowly or (B) the shooter intended to intimidate the whole population. That is supposition.

    Given this untoward result the statute must be narrowed. The statute must mean the intimidation/coercion has a specific telos. What is that telos?

    Scalia makes a point that once words are defined within a statute, they do not, unless explicit, lose their typical meaning. Terrorism typically has political overtones to it. Politics encompasses more than merely government actions. Therefore, the intimidation/coercion must have a telos that is political, but not in the narrow sense defined by the next clause.

    Another way of looking at it is that the statute distinguish between the population and/or the government.

    Monday, 23 July 2012 23:19 posted by Zeke
  • Comment Link Nina

    Islam is one of the purest religions and in fact forbids terrorism or any form of killing against the innocent. I feel sorry for the families, may God help them with their pain.

    Monday, 23 July 2012 20:25 posted by Nina

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