The shootings that left six people dead inside a Sikh temple in the Milwaukee area on Sunday have raised questions about how acts of violence are classified by government agencies. TUSR contributor Kerry Patton explains the ways agencies treat such crimes.
By Kerry Patton
Terrorism does not have a universally accepted definition. Depending on the country and government agency, the definition of terrorism varies. Inside the United States, three key definitions are accepted within the federal government. The Departments of Justice, Defense, and State have their own definitions.
Considering the most recent rampage occurred inside the United States, the Department of Justice would determine whether the incident should be deemed terrorism. The Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as:
“The unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85)
There is no doubt that unlawful violence unfolded this past Sunday. But was that violence conducted to coerce a government or a civilian population or any segment thereof for a political or social objective? Even the police stated in a recent press conference that they did not know the motive behind the shooter’s actions.
Maybe the shooter was anti-Islamic. If that was the case, the shooter was an idiot, considering Sikhs are not Muslims. So what was his true motivation? No one knows at this time.
Currently, no person can make an official claim that the incident was an act of terrorism. Sure, it was terrorizing knowing that an individual who once served in the U.S. Army would go out on some shooting spree, but that does not mean he was necessarily a terrorist. Nor does it mean his actions should be construed as an act of terror. In fact, for now, based upon the target, this incident would more likely be construed as a hate crime until further evidence dictates otherwise.
Reports continue to come forth claiming the shooter was a White Supremacist. Maybe Wade Michael Page, the shooter killed, was a White Supremacist. However, there is no official evidence proving or disproving any affiliation to a White Supremacist group. He was a former psychological warfare specialist in the US Army. Allegations about Page’s involvement with hate groups are coming from private sector organizations that track hate groups.
One long-time hate group monitor has actually classified legitimate political groups as extremists, another reason we should wait for official statements rather than buy into whatever story media tells at the moment.
Many intelligence professionals, and in many cases, psychological warfare specialists who often engage in similar historic studies as the intelligence professional, read literature written by our adversaries. Some familiar readings come from Adolf Hitler, Che Guevara, Carlos Marighella, The IRA Green Book, Clausewitz, Hezbollah’s Charter, the Al Qaeda Manual, etc. Just because these documents are read doesn’t make anyone a member of a certain adversary or terrorist group.
As we now know, the shooter was also presumably a member of a punk band. Again, just because someone sings lyrics of hatred does not mean they are a member of any terrorist group. How many black rappers would be construed as Black Supremacists if this were the ultimate final decision point?
In the past two years, the federal government has been obsessed about right wing terrorism being a domestic threat toward the United States. Conversely, the federal government refuses to admit that U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan’s shooting rampage was an act of terror. Instead, the Dept. of Justice categorized Hasan’s actions as “workplace violence.”
There is no official basis for claims about Page being a domestic terrorist—for now. Let’s not jump the gun by fueling the right wing domestic terror nonsense. There is no credible intelligence depicting right wing terrorism as a broad threat to the United States. We have much bigger threats to contend with these days than some loner who was obviously socially and culturally unglued from reality.
CNN said on Tuesday:
Teresa Carlson, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Milwaukee office, said investigators have been told Page may have been involved with the white supremacist movement, but that hadn't been confirmed. No motive for Sunday's attack had been established, but the FBI was investigating whether the killings at the Sikh temple were an act of domestic terrorism, she said.