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Think Terrorist Sympathizers Are Harmless? Think Again.

Last week, Mir Aimal Kasi was executed for the murder of two CIA employees in 1993 — a brutal act of terrorism.
But in the years since Kasi stepped out of his pickup truck near the entrance to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., shouldered his AK-47 and began firing at waiting motorists, law-enforcement officials have been unable to find evidence that Kasi was linked to any terrorist organization. Rather, it appears, he acted out of sympathy with the goals of militant Islamic terrorist organizations.

This instance of what might be called "sympathizer" terrorism is not unique — it applies also to the Egyptian immigrant who shot up the El Al ticket counter at LAX on July 4, it applies also to the Oklahoma City bombers, and possibly to the D.C. snipers as well.

And it is a phenomenon that we are likely to face more often in the future. If you listen carefully to Osama bin Laden's latest tape it's clear that he's encouraging the "zealous sons of Islam" to plan and execute freelance acts of terrorism.

U.S. officials responsible for fighting terrorism appear to be confused by all this. Kasi, a Pakistani national, described his actions as "retaliation against the U.S. government" for policies which, he believed, were hurting Muslims worldwide. To Kasi, killing motorists at random as a protest "had nothing to do with terrorism." Peculiar as that may sound, the FBI evidently agreed, calling him not a terrorist but merely a murderer based on the lack of a connection to any established terrorist group. But the State Department last week referred to Mr. Karsi as a "convicted terrorist," and warned that his execution might trigger retaliatory terrorist attacks against Americans, especially in Pakistan.

A similar debate surrounded the case of Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, the Egyptian who opened fire at the El Al counter at LAX on July 4 of this year, killing two people. He was driven by a hatred of Jews whom he blamed for the woes of the Arab world. The media and the FBI initially classified his act as a "hate crime," rather than as terrorism.

Finally, most of the establishment media has dismissed the possibility that John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, the D.C. snipers, might be terrorists, claiming, again, that there is no evidence of a connection between them and a terrorist organization, or suggesting that they are psychologically troubled — as though a neurotic or psychotic terrorist could not be imagined.

In fact, of course, many terrorists have acted alone and/or exhibited mental problems. The worst terrorist attack in the United States before September 11 was the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, in which 168 people were killed. The perpetrators, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, were angry and frustrated men — and they, too, had no formal links to any terrorist group. In the following year, the FBI thwarted plots to blow up seven federal office buildings in Phoenix and the FBI computer center in West Virginia, and failed to stop the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics. None of these attacks was coordinated by a centralized terrorist organization. The perpetrators acted on their own, but they had adopted the murderous agenda of "Christian Identity" white-supremacist movements.

Initially, attacks by white-supremacist-militia terrorists were viewed as isolated hate crimes — but does any one now reject the notion that the Oklahoma City bombing was an act of terrorism? What we eventually recognized was that the Christian white-supremacist-militia movement specifically aimed to recruit a loose army of sympathizers to join the "battle" against their enemies — the federal government, blacks, Jews, and gays. Indeed, as Aryan Nations/KKK leader Louis Beam explained, "utilizing the Leaderless Resistance concept, all individuals and groups operate independently of each other, and never report to a central headquarters or single leader for direction or instruction."

Like the Oklahoma City bombers, Kasi and Hadayet clearly can be classified as "sympathizer" terrorists. So, too, can Osman Petmezci and his American fiancιe, arrested in Germany last September for plotting to attack a U.S. military base on the September 11 anniversary. They had no known ties with a terrorist network but Petmezci was described by the police as "a follower of Osama bin Laden who is deeply religious and harbors a hatred for Americans and Jews." German police found 130kg of bomb-making chemicals, five pipe bombs ready to be filled with explosives, a book about bomb-making, and a picture of Osama bin Laden in the couple's apartment.

The D.C. sniper suspects also may be sympathizer terrorists. They are known to have spoken sympathetically about the perpetrators of September 11, and they were associated with the anti-Semitic and supremacist Nation of Islam. The Council on American-Islamic Relations warned the press not to bring up the D.C. snipers' beliefs — it could, they claimed, constitute "stereotyping or prejudice" against Islam. But identifying the Christian white-supremacist ideologies of Timothy McVeigh did not incriminate Christianity as a whole; surely we should be able to explore the possible role of radical Islam in the D.C. sniper shootings without incriminating all Muslims.

Terrorism evolves. We should not be bound by our past perceptions and definitions. The perpetrator of an act that has all the hallmarks of terrorism — deliberately targeting civilians, intent to send a message, in support of a broader cause or ideology — is a terrorist, whether or not he, or she, is formally affiliated with a terrorist organization.

All this has important implications for how we fight terrorism. We need to pay close attention to how radical Islamic ideas, such as jihad against infidels, are promoted in our country. We should keep a watch on Islamic hate groups, just as we keep a watch on Christian white-supremacist hate groups. And we should be on the lookout for hate-driven, sympathizer terrorism, a phenomenon that is real, that is happening, and which must be recognized if we are to have any chance to defeat it.
sounds like a militant ANTI-Terrorist to me 17.Nov.2002 10:28

GRINGO STARS gringo_stars@attbi.com

Since the CIA is one of the largest, most dangerous (even genocidal) terrorist organisations on earth ever, Mir Aimal Kasi sounds like an ANTI-TERRORIST to me. He is fighting known terrorists (the CIA), out of sheer frustration that the CIA goes unpunished, even well-rewarded, for its secret wars and brutal terrorist actions.

The problem is that this makes him a terrorist also. Using terror to fight terrorists is a terrorist act. Just like when the FBI terrorises "suspected terrorists" (read: muslim-americans) they are doing it in the name of "anti-terrorism."

They should take a hint from fiction: i.e. the absurdity of King Arthur going around, kicking everyone's ass, saying "Might does not make right!"

But Americans are raised like grown children, all hoping for Camelot and a Cadillac.
sounds like a militant ANTI-Terrorist to me
sounds like a militant ANTI-Terrorist to me

my take 17.Nov.2002 11:29

this

This initial piece is a subtle approach to the excusal of thought police and the future implementation of social control based on these measures.

I agree with *this* 17.Nov.2002 16:12

GRINGO STARS gringo_stars@attbi.com

the commenter named *this* is correct - the original post is corporate news propaganda. It fails to mention that Tomothy McVeigh, as well as the two DC Snipers, are all United States veterans of the first Gulf War. So in fact, contrary what this "news" story claims, they most certainly have affiliated with known terrorist groups - the U.S. armed forces. The U.S. armed forces fulfill all criteria for what this article calls;

"the hallmarks of terrorism — deliberately targeting civilians, intent to send a message, in support of a broader cause or ideology"

But what do you expect of news coming from MSNBC - the mouthpiece of Microsoft and General Electric (and many others)

your point... 17.Nov.2002 17:14

steve

so this guy decided the best way he could express his anger at an institution was a random act of violence. OK, I don't particularly agree with him, but why is he any worse than the guy he decides that the best way to express his anger at his work environment is to walk into the office with a gun and go apeshit? These are CRIMES, we already have a system in place for dealing with people who independently decide to commit violent acts. If a crime of this type is planned and coordinated by a foreign-based organization with a particular motive, then you might have a case for dealing with it slightly differently. Or do you think we should just abandon rationality and the rules of our legal system and overreact as drastically as possible every time a nutjob with a gun might conceivably be labeled a "terrorist"?

That guy didn't kill *randomly* 17.Nov.2002 21:12

GRINGO STARS gringo_stars@attbi.com

These were not at all random killings. Mir Aimal Kasi killed TWO CIA EMPLOYEES. Yes, it was terrorism. It sent a message: "If you work for the most dangerous organisation in the world, be prepared for the violence to come back to you at some point -- All CIA employees are complicit in their operatives' actions." Violence is a two-way street.
This guy is A LOT different than a disgruntled employee because he is not reacting to merely getting fired from his office job. The CIA destroys democracies, performs genocides, grows and transports heroin and cocaine all over the world, assassinates any leader who is anti-US or pro-union or communist or socialist, and generally acts like the filthy rich A**holes that they are, devoid of any accountability or responsibility or morals. I'm amazed that, even with the multi-billion-dollar-a-year worldwide PR campaign to propagandize the CIA into good guys, such violence hasn't happened at Langley before. But I guess if it has, we wouldn't hear about it, given the censorious nature of corporate media.

And another thing 18.Nov.2002 12:22

Publius

This article leaves out a lot - it is spin.

Is the desire to preserve freedom an aid to terrorists?

The 2 shooters in Maryland had an as yet unidentified source of money - John Allen Mohammed had apparent connections to the underworld/CIA. Data insufficient to establish more than there is something curious about this man's background.

OK city - anyone who believes that Timothy McVeigh acted alone or that "his" truck bomb blew down the front of the Federal Building simply has not dug into the independent investigations data. (The Building across the street from the blast was only 30 feet further from the blast only had windows blown out and a good shake. Does this sound like a bomb that could take the facade off of 5 stories of concrete building?) There are many questions which the official spin does not answer. As well - the Michigan Militia - a Patriot Group - identified as a "White Supremecist group" rejected McVeigh for membership. This spin is aimed at attempting to blame them for McVeigh's actions. Too many unanswered questions to take up in a short post.

Was the FBI set-up and attack at Ruby Ridge a terrorist act?

Was the murder of 85 innocent men, women, and mostly children, at Waco a terrorist event.

"Hi, I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."