The US Code defines terrorism as a crime that appears to be intended to (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping.
None of the crimes committed by the alleged 9/11 attackers fall within the “intent” definition of the US Code. They were hijackers and mass murderers, but not terrorists.
George W. Bush declared a war against terrorists. Under that guise, the US threatened the Taliban in Afghanistan with military action unless they surrendered Osama bin Laden.
When the Taliban insisted on evidence supporting the US position that bin Laden was the culprit behind the 9/11 hijackings and mass murders, the US remained silent.
Instead, they bombed Afghanistan, violating their own code. They attempted to intimidate and coerce the civilian population of Afghanistan, they attempted to influence policy of the Afghan government through coercion and intimidation, and they attempted to affect the conduct of the Afghan government by assassination and kidnapping.
In retribution for a criminal act, the US defiled its own code by terrorising Afghans on all three counts.
As Noam Chomsky observed in his book 9/11, “if Western powers ever abided by the Code’s definition of terrorism, it “would at once reveal that the U.S. is a leading terrorist state, as are its clients.”
The US Immigration and Nationality Act defines “terrorism” differently. It has expanded the definition to include any unlawful act which involves “(I) the hijacking or sabotage of any conveyance (including an aircraft, vessel, or vehicle).”
By this definition, the alleged hijackers of 9/11 were certainly terrorists. However, the Immigration and Nationality Act is not in line with the US Code, as it excludes any consideration of intent. That consideration alone distinguishes a crime from its aim.
What would the alleged 9/11 mass murderers be tried for if they still lived? Terrorism or hijacking and mass murder? If they were tried for terrorism, their case would be thrown out of court unless their intent could be proven to fit within the definition in the US Code. Nothing has been produced to suggest that the authorities have any evidence to support a prosecutor’s argument about intent fitting the US Code.
On the other hand, item (V) of the Immigration and Nationality Act defines terrorism as “The use of any (a) biological agent, chemical agent, or nuclear weapon or device, or (b) explosive or firearm, other than for mere personal monetary gain, with intent to endanger directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property.”
Under section (VI) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, terrorism is defined as “A threat, attempt or conspiracy to do any of the foregoing.”
By this definition, the US government is certainly guilty of terrorism. The use of chemical agents in the Vietnam war and the use of nuclear weapons in World War II qualify the US as terrorists. Plentyl evidence exists to establish intent under the US Code’s definition as well.
Undoubtedly the US government is guilty of terrorism in Afghanistan by its own definition under section (b).
Certainly the threats made toward Iran, the sanctions which are acts of war and refusal to seriously negotiate Iran’s nuclear development qualify America as terrorists under all of its own definitions.
The US, however, is not satisfied with being terrorists. They’re actively engaged in eliciting support for their terrorist activity in an effort to deceive themselves into believing that they are above their own laws.
Paul Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. He’s a weekly Op-Ed columnist for the GULF DAILY NEWS . Dr. Balles is also Editorial Consultant for Red House Marketing and a regular contributor to Bahrain This Month.