Monday, August 18, 2014

Defining Terrorism

The other day I came across a little video supposedly about Islam being a peaceful religion. That isn’t actually what it was; it was pro-terrorist propaganda. Normally I would just ignore such a thing, but what bothered me is that it was linked by a friend, passing it along as useful for us to think about, to be more open minded.
So I thought I’d spend a post going over how to recognize propaganda and define terms—rather than letting the enemy redefine perfectly useful words.
Definition of Terrorist
Terrorists are persons or groups who use mass murder aimed at innocent civilians in an attempt to coerce submission to the terrorist’s control, particularly control over beliefs.
In the internationally agreed upon rules for war, terrorism is outside any acceptable form of engagement. Terrorists are typically without uniform, dressed or disguised to look unlike recognizable combatants. While terrorists can come from a variety of ideological views, in today's world virtually all are Islamist (radical Muslims who see anyone outside their beliefs, including moderate Muslims, as the subhuman enemy).
Is it possible for a state to commit terrorism? Yes. If the state purposely attacks innocent civilians rather than military installations or infrastructure—particularly for the purpose of coercing submission to belief change.
During the rules of war, collateral damage can include significant numbers of civilian casualties. When Britain carpet bombed Berlin, that was not terrorism. When the US dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that was not terrorism. Both were defensive actions carried out militarily, with the intent to cease invasion by the aggressive enemy, and were both proven to have saved lives in the long run.
Were these bombs terrifying? Yes. But they were not terrorist attacks carried out by terrorists. They were defensive military attacks carried out by uniformed military.
When Hamas attacks Israeli citizens, purposely targeting civilians, that is terrorism. Hamas is a known terrorist organization. It does not follow rules of war. It doesn’t have any legitimate state purpose. It doesn’t have uniformed military. It has an ideology it intends to impose through coercion by mass murdering innocents.
Israel’s response to Hamas attacks is not terrorism. Israel’s military responds, legally, in self-preservation of the state. It goes way out of its way to avoid civilian casualties. But Hamas tries to force attacks on civilians by attacking from schools and hospitals, and then pressuring people to stay and face possible death so that they can use the civilian casualties in a propaganda war against their civilized enemies.
Here’s another thing that is not equivalent to terrorism: having a military base in a foreign country, by agreement with that country, for the purpose of benefitting that country as well as our own interests in the region.
It would not even be terrorism if we occupied bases in those countries against their will (Guantanamo in Cuba, for example). We would simply be seen as exerting our power. When Russia exerts power, as it is doing in Ukraine, that is an act of aggression, for the imperialist purpose of increasing power—bad, but not terrorism. When the US military exerts power, helping nations become independent and self-sufficient, that is not only within the rules of war, it is defensive, not offensive or imperialistic.
The US does not coerce ideology, nor does it subject nations and peoples to its imperialist rule. Our military assistance to allies should not be construed as imperialist—let alone as terrorism. Anyone who calls what the US has done in Afghanistan or Iraq as terrorism is misusing the word.
In the Spherical Model, while war is a terrible thing, people living in the northern hemisphere of freedom, prosperity, and civilization CAN engage in war justifiably—in order to preserve their way of life from those who would threaten to take it.
Terrorism—using mass murder to coerce belief change—is savage. Always. It is down near the south pole of the miserable southern hemisphere. Down that far south, it is a short distance from the chaos of terrorism to the control of coercive tyranny. It is engaged in by savage tyrannists. There is NO path connecting terrorism to freedom, prosperity, and civilization.
Spotting Propaganda
Some time back I wrote a piece about identifying propaganda. Here are the questions to ask:
·         What is the point of view of the information source?
·         Do the themes coincide with known principles?
·         Is there documented and verifiable evidence following a line of logic, rather than implication and accusation?
So, looking at the video in question, I can see that it is developed by a Muslim. And because it supports the idea that terrorism is just, it is not from a peaceful, moderate Muslim, but from an Islamist. Is it from an actual terrorist? I can’t tell that without knowing more, but its script indeed does support the possibility that terrorism is justifiable--which it is not. I do not recognize names, and I hesitate to do too much searching, or mentioning of names, for the sake of privacy and safety.  I hope I am safe in linking the video below.*
The other questions are answerable by looking at the script. So below is the transcript, with my comments in brackets.
The video takes place in a classroom setting. The teacher, Mr. Kahn, is talking about the comparison between the number of times (41) jihad is mentioned in the Koran [their spelling, so I’ll go with it], and how many times (355) mercy, peace, and compassion are mentioned.
Girl Student: If Islam truly is a religion that preaches peace, then how come the world’s most troubled spots—the West Bank, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq—they’re all plagued with Islamic terrorism? [She asks a reasonable question, which he dismisses.]
Mr. Kahn: That depends on your definition of terrorism. [No it doesn’t. Regardless of your definition, her question is valid. A lot of unrest, outside of military conflict, involving mass murder of civilians by non-uniform-wearing attackers is happening in those places.] Some might argue that the US invasions of countries like Iraq and Afghanistan are also acts of terrorism. [Some might argue that, but it isn’t a valid argument. Military attacks are not terrorism, whether justified or not. And he is erasing that difference and implying lack of valid reasons in one stroke—without any evidence to justify his assertion.]
Girl Student: No. Those were acts of war to get rid of despotic regimes. [They were acts of war. Whether they were solely to get rid of despotic regimes is debatable. Also implied by placing these words in the mouth of the naïve student is the validity of getting rid of so-called despotic regimes as justification for war. This is an attempt to delegitimize anything the US may have done.]
Mr. Kahn: Or means of getting other countries’ oil. [This implies that the US had ulterior, self-serving motives for war in Iraq. But there is the historical fact that the US never took Iraqi oil—or anyone else’s. The US helped Iraq build infrastructure so it could sell its own oil for its own benefit.]
Boy Student: Conspiracy theories.
The teacher allows an answer from Riyaz, a young man who joined the class a minute late.
Riyaz: Mr. Khan is right. I mean, if we’re talking about terrorists, the world’s biggest terrorists are the white superpowers. [Notice that he has equated military action, for any reason whatever, with terrorism—which it is not, by definition. This is a lie. He adds the racial component—probably to imply racism on the part of the US and Britain, but in reality revealing the racism of the propagandist. The US and Britain do not choose which Iraqis to support based on the amount of melanin in their skin—but based on their belief in freedom and human rights.]
Another Boy Student: Come on, now.
Riyaz: Really. Stop and think about it. [Implying that he is the thinker, and the others are not.]
Girl Student: Explain 9/11.
Riyaz: Okay. Do you know how many people died in the twin towers strike?
Girl Student: Around 3,000.
Riyaz: And do you have any idea how many people died in the bombings of Afghanistan? Take a wild guess. More than 15,000 people died. And that’s just conservative figures. About 50,000 tons of explosives were dropped on innocent civilians. Men, women, children. [He has just done a bait and switch. 9/11 was a terrorist attack on innocents, to create chaos with the purpose of terrorizing and eventually coercing submission to the terrorists’ rule. Afghanistan losses occurred over a decade of battle, in which military people attacked specific terrorist groups—the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda—and not only attempted to avoid civilian casualties, but attempted to free and help those previously subjected to the Taliban to have freedom and self rule. He is equating using bombs designed to infiltrate mountain caves hiding terrorists with using airplanes to fly into skyscrapers. They are not equal. The US was never limited to a certain number of Taliban deaths or tons of explosives for the purpose of taking out those who were guilty of attacking American citizens on American soil. The US military had every right to go to any lengths necessary to wipe out that enemy. Were some innocents killed in the process? No doubt. But the US always attempted to minimize such casualties; it did not seek them.]
Girl Student: Yes, but that was because of the Taliban.
Riyaz: Now that you brought it up, did you know that the Taliban was a creation of the CIA, to fight the Russians? [But this is a lie. The Taliban dates back to around 1992, with its first major military action in 1994, and ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001, ending when NATO forces defeated them. This is entirely after the fall of the Soviet Union and the official end of the Cold War. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan during the 1980s, the US joined with Saudi Arabia to offer financial support to the local Afghani resistors to Soviet invasion. The US never created nor supported the Taliban, nor did it seek to support any tribal entities that sought to enforce Islamist Sharia law.]
Another Boy Student: Whatever. They were still harboring terrorists.
Riyaz: Yeah, right. Terrorists that were never found. [This is another lie. Osama Bin Laden and dozens of his higher and lower minions were taken out. Al-Qaeda trained between 10-20,000 terrorists in Afghanistan  before 9/11. These were the enemy NATO forces were fighting in Afghanistan. He’s pretending these enemies never existed, and that the US and NATO forces simply attacked innocent Afghani citizens. Re-read Lone Survivor.] Just like the weapons of mass destruction that were never found in Iraq. [Another twist of the facts. The weapons of mass destruction in question in Iraq were those listed as known to be in the possession of Saddam Hussein at the end of the Gulf War—which had not been shown to be destroyed. All intelligence sources agreed then, and still do, that Saddam Hussein had not destroyed those listed weapons, and that he was seeking ways to use them. He was in violation of the Gulf War peace treaty; whether they were found or not was always irrelevant to whether the US and NATO forces should hold Hussein accountable. The fact that they were not found means there is still the possibility that he transferred them elsewhere, possibly Syria. Or, less likely, that he destroyed them but refused to show evidence that he had done so.] Do you want to get into the death toll in Iraq? 500,000 civilians and counting. [He’s implying here that the US attacked the peaceful Iraqis, which is exactly opposite of the facts. Hussein attacked his own people if they sought freedom. Remember that his sons used a wood chipper to dispose of dissidents? The US did not seek to destroy Iraqi civilians, but to help them free themselves and develop a free government.] And what do Britain and America say when they don’t find these weapons? It’s simple. They just say, “sorry.” And still refuse to relinquish control of these countries. [US facilitated self-rule. To claim the US refused to relinquish control is a lie. It is certainly, now, arguable that the US has removed help prematurely, and the resurgence of Islamists there is a predicted result.]
Yet Another Boy Student: What are you trying to say?
Riyaz: What I’m trying to say is that, just because you’re American, wear a fancy suit and call yourself the president doesn’t make you any less of a terrorist. I’m saying that if you don’t stop meddling in other people’s countries, you will face a backlash. [What he’s doing is threatening. Using the term “terrorist” to refer to civilized national leaders is simply a ploy. Terrorism is savage and never justifiable. He isn’t redefining terrorism to include us to make us see how bad it is; he is redefining it to distract us from noticing that he advocates and justifies terrorism.]
Girl: If Muslims like you feel that way, then why don’t you get out of our country?
Riyaz: We will. As soon as you promise to leave ours. [This is another lie. They don’t call us The Great Satan because we have legal, invited military bases in some Muslim countries. They call us The Great Satan because they hate us and want to destroy us—along with everyone else in the world who doesn’t share their beliefs. Our show of weakness would not lead to peace; it would encourage more bold attacks.]
One advantage to using the Spherical Model is that you can see where things fall. Terrorism falls in the savage tyranny zone, near the southern pole. The US Constitution resides in the upper northern hemisphere where people thrive with freedom, prosperity, and civilization. They’re not close.  
*Post by Chik Fakhrul Azzam, found here:




  1. I really enjoyed reading your analysis of this video, as I recently saw it and wanted to read a more thorough dissection.

  2. I'm glad you found it useful. I thought the video was pretty obscure when I wrote about it, but its viewership is growing, so the rebuttal is even more needed.