Paris, France: Today, Wednesday, January 7, 2015, three men walked into a building in Paris, into the offices of a newspaper that published cartoons depicting Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam, called out the names of people and shot 12 people dead and injured another 11 people. The three men yelled “Allah Akbar!” (“God is great”) as they fired.
All day long, news reports were funneling the latest comments by politicians, leaders of France, England, Germany and the United States. Fox News highlighted how long it took President Obama to call it an act of terror, apparently only after France’s President called it an act of terror. Well, here’s the thing…
The United Nations cannot agree on a definition of “terror, terrorism.” After all, it could be an act of self-determination (read revolt). Here in the United States, we did agree on a definition of terrorism, but broke it out between International, Domestic and Federal. The Central Intelligence Agency states:
“The Intelligence Community is guided by the definition of terrorism contained in Title 22 of the US Code, Section 2656f(d):
The term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.
The term “international terrorism” means terrorism involving the territory or the citizens of more than one country.
The term “terrorist group” means any group that practices, or has significant subgroups that practice, international terrorism.”
So, in essence, depending on where the attack takes place, what the motives are, whether it be a individual, a group, a state sponsor…. this is why it takes time to make a clear and concrete statement that today’s act was an act of terror… For me, an act of terrorism is much like Judge Potter Stewart’s comment on pornography, “I know it when I see it.”