Friday, July 27, 2018

When Is Terrorism Treason?

Over the past week, stimulated by the terror attack in Toronto, Canada, we have discussed here the notion of what terrorism is and is not.  I believe and would insist that most all of the incidents we have seen the past few years -- you know what I'm referring to -- are terrorism, whether or not they were perpetrated by Islamists.

But at least some of these incidents have been perpetrated by American citizens.  What then?

Well, this notion was brought to me by a reader, and I immediately thought that he was exactly right.  If an American citizen grabs a weapon or three, or he or she gets behind the wheel and starts running over people in the name of ISIS, or the name of Iran, or some other Islamist entity, well sure, we're talking murder.  That will get you the death penalty in some states, no matter whose name it was done in.

But it is something else as well, and that is going to get the Feds involved, or at least it should, and I'm hoping someone of the right authority level reads this and thinks about it.

If an American citizen takes up arms in the USA, whether automotive, firearm or otherwise and kills innocents in the name of a foreign entity, with or without territory, they are essentially fighting for that other nation or entity and against the United States.

We have a word for that.  It is called "treason."

Omar Mateen, the murderer in the Orlando gay nightclub shooting, was a native-born American citizen, born in New York of Afghan parents.  He declared his allegiance to ISIS on the phone during the shootings.  By all interpretations, Mateen was fighting for a foreign entity when he shot up the nightclub.

Of course, Mateen is dead, having been killed by police at the end of the standoff, so he is not going to face any charges by the State of Florida, and certainly not treason by the USA, which apparently has a whole bunch of other things to occupy the time and resources of its Justice Department, like figuring out how corrupt FBI management could take an opposition research document to a FISA court and get a warrant to spy on a U.S. citizen.

But there are and will be others, American citizens-turned-soldiers for ISIS or Al Qaeda or whomever.  Some of those will initiate terrorist acts, which may or may not result in death.  But whether or not the result is what they want, any such action that can be suggested to be characterized as an action on behalf of such an entity constitutes treason.

I would certainly like for law enforcement to start -- now -- thinking in those terms, that when an American acts in any way on behalf of a foreign terrorist entity with a violent goal, he or she is seen as a traitor and the Federal government's law enforcement goes there first.

I doubt that doing so routinely is going to lead to any diminution of the frequency of such attacks -- the best weapon for that is people who know turning such types into authorities before they act -- but it is a standard that needs to be set.

Now that's treason.  Let's call it such.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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