The mainstream media – even conservative leaning media are describing the Austin plane incident as a possible act of domestic terrorism. It is an interesting link to make since a Democrat congressman from Austin called it an act of domestic terrorism. Therefore, there is some political purpose behind that statement for sure now and it is unfortunate. Once again, instead of taking the opportunity to advance the right position a political leader draws attention down the wrong path. If this idea gets a head of steam valuable resources, time, money and expertise will nonsensically divert to this incident. The facts are not all in, but it seems fairly clear that this is not terrorism in any form. The FBI defines domestic terrorism as follows:
Domestic terrorism refers to activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. [18 U.S.C. § 2331(5)]
The real element that distinguishes terrorism from crime is the intent-the goal, not the location or the amount of damage. This incident on its face seems to be a man taking out his frustrations on one of the groups he believes is causing him trouble. There are a number of them and he could just as easily have driven a car or the airplane into his CPAs house. Beyond the official definition there other elements that distinguish this incident from terrorism,
Groups that use terror tactics love to take credit. In some case more thatn one group will take credit for an incident. The attempt on the Northwest/Delta flight at Christmas is a recent example where both Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took credit. These types of incidents have long been part of the terrorist playbook – broad media exposure. Attention from the media can turn a small, unknown group into an international threat, all from one spectacularly violent incident for which they happily claim responsibility. There is no such claim here, no ideological manifesto. If we divert investigative resources on the call of domestic terrorism, we usurp local law enforcement, bring in the federal government unnecessarily and distract from their real fight against terror groups. If you narrow the focus correctly and appropriately, you concentrate and apply the resources required to take care of this specific problem – true domestic and international terror use. It is disappointing, but not a surprise that our political leaders are political leaders no matter the topic.
FBI Terrorism Definitions
Congressman Call Incident Domestic Terrorism