When is Terrorism not Defined as Terrorism?

As we await the conclusion of the FBI’s investigation into the July 4 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, we are witnessing a sudden attack on law enforcement’s definition of terrorism.

If the investigators conclude that the shooting incident involved terrorism, let’s all accept it and move on. If they maintain that it was an isolated incident, expect a widening of the debate on the methodology on classification of violent acts. A deeper problem, however, is how violence and subsequent pain has been politicized and exploited.

When Irv Rubin of the Jewish Defense League was charged last fall with attempting to bomb our office, the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City and the office of Rep. Darryl Issa, federal authorities avoided the invocation of terrorism. It was a bomb plot and the charges centered on the possession of explosives.

The president did not issue any statement to the nation, as he did for the LAX shooting. In fact, the JDL is still not listed as a terrorist organization. Where were the brave voices speaking out against political correctness? In another landmark case, a federal judge dismissed charges against seven members of the Mujahedeen El Khalq, a pro-Marxist terrorist organization established to overthrow the current Iranian regime.

The group was charged with aiding terrorist groups by soliciting donations at airports. The judge asserted that MEK’s civil rights were violated when they could not defend themselves against the State Department’s assertion that they were a terrorist group in the agency’s listing.

Members of Congress even passed a resolution in solidarity with the MEK after the Clinton administration placed the Marxist group on the terrorist list. Congress was never accused of aiding and abetting terrorists. Should the same standard apply for the three American Muslim charities shut down as a result of the government’s freeze of their assets? Of course, the MEK story did not stir up any debate, because these terrorists are working for the West against a Muslim country.

Selective justice is injustice — it does not help us in the war on terror and continues to project the image that the U.S. is anti-Islam. Other cases involving violence against ethnic groups could have been used as political footballs. An Egyptian store owner was killed within weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, but it has not been labeled a hate crime or a terrorist attack. Terrorism was never acknowledged when black churches were torched throughout the South. There was also a case involving militants storing arms in an Armenian church here in Los Angeles. Their purpose in smuggling arms was to kill their opponents, the Azeris. If a group of Muslims was caught storing arms to ship to the Kashmiris, for example, I’m sure there would be a national uproar about it as another chapter in the war on terror. American Jews celebrate the fact that their children defer going to college in order to serve in the Israeli army, but American Muslims are chastised as terrorist sympathizers for giving money to the refugees of war-torn countries. The LAX shooting underscores the troubling development of bringing Middle East violence onto our streets.

Whether violence is committed by groups or individuals, our job as leaders in the Muslim and Jewish communities is to diminish, not exacerbate, hatred, rather than jumping on opportunities to score more political points against one another at the expense of human relations.

I can understand the hysteria surrounding the Middle East conflict. Public policy-making is not the place for allowing that hysteria to influence serious decisions.

A violent crime that takes the life of innocent people is bad enough. But to be so adamant about and outraged over the labeling of the crime does not serve anyone’s interest.

To the valiant spokespeople who want to promote the war on terrorism in their selective application of terrorism: Be careful for what you wish, because you might get it, and then you will have to recoil to your corners when the double-edged sword of the terrorism debate swings the other way.

Salam al-Marayati is executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles.


More articles by:
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes