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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Paris attack reveals hidden meaning of "terrorism"

There is no question that the deadly gun attack on the French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo was a heinous crime of mass murder. It was completely reprehensible. It appears to be the work of Islamist extremists as payback for the publication of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed; the gunmen claimed to represent al Qaeda of Yemen. The magazine they attacked has a long history of outraging the narrow minded; it was once banned in France for its portrayal of Charles De Gaulle.

This attack was gangsterism pure and simple. This is exactly what Al Capone, and a million other mobsters would do. They make threats of violence if you don't do what they say, and when you refuse their "advise," they come and shoot up your place, maybe even fire bomb it, and of course, kill some of your people. What separates it from terrorism per se is that the target is very specific and the murders are gangster negotiation. The target is not the general public as with 9/11, the Kenya mall attack, or the Boston bombing, and the aim is not to terrorize a people generally with random violence. Of course when Al Capone blew up a bar, a child might be killed, but he was trying to force bars to buy his beer, the kid was "collateral damage" and nobody called it "terrorism."

While groups like al Qaeda do make liberal use of terrorist tactics, and hide behind a religious veil, most of their daily stock and trade is gangsterism, including intimidation, robbery, extortion, money laundering, murder, prostitution and other forms of human trafficking including slavery. This gangsterism may not affect the West so much because it is directed at the people these gangsters dominate, but it is the main aspect of these groups. It is fully on display in the parts of Iraq and Syria now controlled by ISIS. Killing people who don't do what they say is what these gangsters do all the time back home.

Yet, this barbaric Paris attack is being widely condemned as a "terrorist attack." How is this a "terrorist attack?" How does "terrorism" come by its meaning in the context of these murders? We find similarly, that attacks against purely military objectives, be it a US military convoy in Iraq or an Assad helicopter gunship base in Syria, are condemned as "terrorist attacks" if the attackers are Muslim. One wonders if a Muslim can be violent any more without at the same time being a terrorist?

It would appear that there is an implied racial or ethnic component to the official definition of "terrorism" that the officials don't like to talk about, but it is hanging out there in this case.

This morning we have reports of "reprisal" attacks against mosques in France. This makes as much sense as attacking a random Italian restaurant because of something Al Capone did. The official media bears some responsibility for these attacks on mosques because they have identified the Paris attack as a Muslim crime with their code word "terrorism."

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