Kathryn, the Post-Intelligencer story is so typical of what happens in a society and a government which default from the ideology part of an ideological war.
A Muslim man walks into not just any building in Seattle — not even just any identifiably Jewish location in Seattle — but into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, whose mission since 1926, according to the website it maintains, is to “ensure Jewish survival and to enhance the quality of Jewish life locally, in Israel and worldwide.”
The Muslim man has obviously not only carefully chosen the target but cased the place. There’s a security system, so he waits until someone attached to the Federation enters using her access code, then he pounces, forcing his way through the open door. He brandishes a large caliber, semi-automatic handgun. He announces that he’s a Muslim angry at Israel. Then he randomly, wantonly opens fire — shooting six women, one of whom is pregnant, one of whom is killed.
So what happens? The police don’t even want to admit that he’s Muslim (“You could infer that,” the police chief tells the reporters who press this patently relevant question). And the FBI insists it’s not terrorism.
Now, it could not conceivably be more clear that it is terrorism. If the FBI is saying they can’t link him to any known terrorist group, that doesn’t mean it’s not terrorism. It’s too early in the investigation to have run down whether the guy has ties to known groups; even if he doesn’t, not all terrorism is committed by known groups (sometimes the acts of terror are how we get to know them); and even if he is acting alone, federal law recognizes the concept of lone-wolf terrorism.
It is terrorism because it is a sneak attack — in this case against civilians — which is motivated by a purpose to affect government policy and/or further a political/social/religious cause. The shooter was not there to rob the register or kill someone he knew over some private dispute.
This is militant Islam in action, but we don’t want to think or talk about Islam, so we’ll pretend that the fact he’s a Muslim is irrelevant (“terrorists come in all shapes and sizes” is the official PC postion of government), and if we can’t attach a known group to the shooter we’ll close our eyes to the fact that he might have reason the understand that his religion impelled him to act.
On November 5, 1990, at a hotel in Manhattan, Sayyid Nosair murdered JDL founder, Rabbi Meir Kahane, as the latter finished a speech. The chief of detectives for the NYPD immediately pronounced that the homicide was the work of a lone gunman. No meaningful investigation had yet been done into Nosair’s background, and the police could not quickly connect him to any known terrorist organization. It turned out that he had been a member of a nascent jihadist militia with connections the Egypt’s Islamic Group (Gama’at al Islamia) for several years. Two years later, from his prison cell — which militants flocked to because the Kahane murder turned him into a hero in what they saw as an ongoing jihad — he helped plot the bombing of the World Trade Center.
As I tried to argue the other day, those who don’t — or won’t — learn from history are condemned to repeat it.