The Corner

Re: Was It Terrorism?

My two cents: The most widely accepted definition of a terrorist is someone who intentionally targets non-combatants with violence for political purposes. The shooter at Fort Hood, by contrast, was targeting uniformed combatants. In that sense, he was not a terrorist. So what was he? A traitor, a man who wore his country’s uniform, and killed his fellow countrymen in the service of his country’s enemies.

Is there a reason we no longer use the word “traitor”? Maybe it’s time to reintroduce it into our vocabulary?

There is this complicating factor: Soldiers acting as peace-keepers, e.g. the U.S. Marines in Beirut who were suicide-bombed by Hezbollah in 1983, are considered non-combatants. So attacking them does count as terrorism.

By contrast, the troops at Fort Hood had been (or were to be) fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban. They were combatants, even if they were not on a conventional battlefield.

I think our working assumption has to be that what took place at Fort Hood was an act of treachery and asymmetrical warfare, an act — in the eyes of the perpetrator — of jihad on behalf of Islamist terrorists. 

Clifford D. MayClifford D. May is an American journalist and editor. He is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative policy institute created shortly after the 9/11 attacks, ...