Wednesday, September 27, 2006



Recently, there has been a lot of flak against the Bush Administration with regards to its handling of the rather shambolic "War On Terror". From retired generals to senior Republicans, everyone seems to have a say in this war, sending the beleaguered White House Bushies into a state of frenzy.

Of course, matters, are not helped when the President-in-charge is about as adept as a fumbling buffoon, when it comes to giving proper, articulate speeches.

Having said that, however, the reason why I post this article is not to criticize Bush nor his cronies on a personal basis; rather, I would like to describe, in great detail, why America has failed to arrest the spiralling situation in both its current theatres of war, Iraq and Afghanistan respectively, and why, in the strictest sense, the war on terror isn't really like any other conventional war in the history of America.

To begin with, I shall commence with Part I of my series with regards on this subject.


Prior to 911, the word "terrorist" was as synomynous to the word "obscure". Aside from the Oklahoma and Atlanta bombings, terrorism just didn't register in the minds of the average America.

911, however, changed the face of America, and redefined terror: For the first time, America was under seige by foreign terrorists, terrorists that, for the longest time, appeared only on BBC and CNN news. Scenes of mangled bodies, broken body parts and screaming, terrified crowds was suddenly brought close to home in the shape of two burning towers.

The events immediately after 911, however, did give the definition of terror a whole new dimension.

For example, a person who commits arson may or may not be classified as a terrorist, even if he or she is a serial arson. Blowing up a building may be an act of crime, but does it necessarily be an act of terror?

The definition of the word "terror", or that of the perpetrator of terror, i.e the terrorist, can be somewhat ambiguous, since the actions of a terrorist may sometimes cross-link with other types of criminals.

According to the Oxford's dictionary's definition:


• noun a person who uses violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

The Encyclopedia Britannica gives a slightly more precise definition:

the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. Terrorism has been practiced by political organizations with both rightist and leftist objectives, by nationalistic and religious groups, by revolutionaries, and even by state institutions such as armies, intelligence services, and police.

Hence, what really separates the average criminal from a terrorist is perhaps the intent: A need to make a political statement, or to be heard, so to speak, via the use of violence to create a climate of fear.


Having defined the roles of a terrorist, the next question would be: What are the requisites that a terrorist really needs to, erm, become a full fledged terrorist? How does one distinguish a terrorist from other criminals, such as mafia and triad gangs and petty, small time thieves and other unsavory street thrash?

Post 911 era has a whole new definition for the average terrorist, although some of which may actually deviate from the original version.

i. Join A Political/Religious Organization (The more violent, the better)

To become a successful terrorist, it is most likely that the terrorist in question be a member of a politically or religiously-motivated group.

It is imperative to note that while it is not impossible for a terrorist to work solo, it is quite plausible that the individual in question would have to be influenced by an external group's doctrines to be docile and crazy enough to create a scene of horror and destruction.

Having said that, terrorists who work together tend to achieve higher success and shock rates. Throw in a few potential, religiously-motivated crazies, and you get the epitome of terror, the likes of which we have witnessed on the fateful day of September 11, 2001.


Now, one would ask, wouldn't mob gangs and mafia crooks be capable of commiting violence? Not to mention street gangs, petty thieves and all.

As the definition of terrorism goes, one cannot be a terrorist simply based on actions. The motives, for one, would eliminate street gangs and the likes as terrorists, although that doesn't mean they don't get a spot in FBI's top ten list.

As far as perpetrating violence goes, it is simply not enough to earn that terrorist tag.

3. Ability to Perpetrate Pyschological Impact And Fear

Now, this trait will kick-start the elimination process of separating the chimeras from the real players. Of course, we know that mafias and triads do thrive on impact and fear, but this will eliminate petty crime and small-time criminals from the big players, for it is the big players who perpetrate violence on a grandiose scale.

Terrorists and mafia gangs, however, have a knack of wrecking fear for two reasons: One, to drive the fear of terror into the hearts of ordinary folks. Two: To make their points heard.

4. Achieving a Political/Religious Goal/Statement

Perhaps the one trait that separates the terrorist from the last group of triad-related criminals. Criminals of the terrorist nature commit mass murders to make a statement, while mafia groups generally commit bloodshed for wholly financial or vendetta-related purposes.

5. Affiliation To Creeds

This one may sound really controversial here: The FBI and other law enforcement agencies, I suspect, do differentiate criminals of this nature along religious and racial lines.

Take, for example, Eric Rudolph: His crimes ought to classify him as a terrorist. The only reason why he was not thrown into Guantanama and humiliated is due to the fact that he was a Christian.

Of course, the fact that he acted alone may have denied him that uncoveted status, but if he were a Muslim, I doubt he would never have been tried under existing American law.

The Bush Administration's subsequent willingness to jail POWs, or should I say, muslims who are even remotely suspected to have links with the Al-Qaeda demonstrates this little-publicized fact: That the Americans are targetting middle-eastern and muslim men as prime suspects in the ongoing fight against terror. Only a muslim, or a Middle Eastern person, it seems, is capable of terrorism. Or so the Bush Administration seems to be thinking.


However one wishes to define the act of terror, it is clear that, at this point of time, we are merely looking at the definition of terror from the viewpoint of the Bush Administration.

In the next chapter, I would be discussing in detail, as to the strategy of the first first theatre of war in the "War on Terror": The Attack on Afghanistan, and the Failure to Catch a Bogeyman.

Stay tuned.

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