Friday, December 08, 2006

Terrorism in America

I was reading a UKC discussion (well - brawl might be more accurate) this week about new airline passenger profiling being done by the US - civil liberties vs. security blah, blah, blah... same old same old. But then I noticed a comment by the generally rude and arrogant JCM (who just happens to annoying normally also be correct and to the point), saying that there has been virtually no history of terrorism in the US. This was great, as I knew he was plain wrong, so it was a chance to pounce! :-) Anyway I did a list off the top my head and Googled a couple just to make sure. I'll copy the post here, just so I don't forget them all, even if no one else is really interested. But I think it is interesting to look at just how much political violence there has been in the US over the years that doesn't fit into the current view of terrorism being done by Jihadis. My post was as follows:
"if you are really interested you should read a book called "Images of Terror" by a US academic called Philip Jenkins. For example do you know about the 1975 La Guardia bombing? Probably not, as most Americans don't remember it. It killed eleven - more than were killed in the first WTC bombing that most do remember, but was carried out by Croatian Ultra nationalist Utashe.

But lets start with groups off the top of my head. You can argue the toss over what is a terrorists but all of these below on non-state groups who have used violence for a political or religious reason. Most have killed:

"Left" in vague historical order
-The "Red Wave" of the 20s - numerous bombings by communists and anarchist particularly the Wall Street Bombing of 1920 that killed 30
-Symbionese Liberation Army
-The Weather Underground
-Black Panthers
-United Freedom Front
-Puerto Rican nationalist movement, 1976 they bombed 30 sites in major US cities, including one in NYC that killed 4 and injured 50
-the UNA bomber
-Earth First/Earth Liberation Front

-Various militias in rural areas who have killed law enforcement officers
-Klu Klux Klan
-Abortion clinic bombings and assassinations of doctors (eg. Joseph Paul Franklin)
-Christian Identity Movement linked bombers like Eric Robert Rudolf and Timothy McVeigh and its spin offs: Army of God, Aryan Nation, The Order etc.
-There are also many case of lone rightwingers killing or attempting to carry out terrorist acts including serious attempts to get chem and bio weapons. The bible of the US far right, the Turner Diaries, makes a big thing of the 'lone wolf' concept, so although they can't be considered terrorist groups, they can be considered terrorists.

Then happening in the US but originating overseas:
-Cuban Exile groups - 1975 thirteen bombs went off in Miami in two days, organised by a Bay of Pigs Veteran. Cuban rightists also murdered leftist Latin American exiles in the US - including the Chilean Orlando Letelier. A Cuban diplomat was also murdered by Cuban exiles in 1980.
-Croatian Nationalists (La Guardia bombing)

The question isn't whether there has been political violence in the US, there always has been - huge amounts of "terrorism" after the Civil War for example - but who gets to call it terrorism.

Anyway, purely by coincidence just a few days after discussing this I was listening to last week's podcast of On The Media from WNYC/NPR, and they had a fascinating discussion "El Terrorista y La Periodista" about the bizarre activities of the U.S. Government regarding those very Cuban nationalist terrorists, specifically Luis Posada Carriles who has been convicted in Venezuela of the 1976 bombing Cubana Flight 455 in midflight killing all 73 on board. It seems that US Govt. has chucked away all the evidence they have on the guy, and are now trying to get that evidence from journalists via subpoena. Meanwhile a convicted terrorist is living free in the Miami suburbs. Read it here or listen to it by clicking here.


Akinoluna said...

Maybe his point wasn't literally that we've had no terrorist attacks, but that they aren't something we worry about on a daily basis. We think about generic "attacks against America" but then people get up and go to the grocery store without a second thought. But if those same people lived in, say, Iraq or Israel, you better believe they think twice about terrorists.

If it wasn't his point, it's mine at least.

KGS said...

You are (as you Brits say) "spot on" about terrorism in the US not being anything new. I attended a seminar at the University of Jyväskylä a couple of years ago where the same theme was mentioned.

What is more worrisome though, is a continual onslaught of both domestic and international jihadis, who form "a much larger group" than the previous groups mentioned and conform to a very similar profile.

I find it ludicrous to check the shoes/feet of old grannies so that 20-45 year old Muslim males won't feel discrimianted/humiliated.

The recent brouhaha involving six Imams who were directed off a US plane because of their behaviour, will make the case of profiling a bit easier to defend, since they were caught behaving like suspicious terrorists in the first place. Their subsequent denials and explanations over their actions have done nothing to better the image of Muslims in an airport, since they were caught lying through their teeth.

But yes, the US has a sad history of political violence, the newest wave happens to be the most serious to date.

KGS said...

One other group worth mentioning was the JDL (Jewish Defence League) that engaged in terrorist activities in the US during the 70's and 80's, against Arab/Muslim targets.

As I see it, any politically motivated act of violence against a civilian population, constitutes an act of terrorism. What makes any group a defacto terroist entitey, is the sustained strategy of these attacks.

Jokinen and Kullberg have a rather good take on it. IMHO

KGS said...

One more for the road.....

This just in, a 22 yr old jihadi wants to do "violent jiahd", (not the inner type of struggle) and fits the same profile of being between the ages of 20-45 yr old and a Muslim male.

"This may be my last will and testament, the last words I have spoken to those who know me, to those who do not know me. My name is Talib Abu Salam Ibn Shareef. I am 22 years of age. I am from America and this tape is to let you guys know, who disbelieve in Allah, to let the enemies of Islam know, and to let the Muslims alike know that the time for jihad is now....Be strong, oh Mujahaideen. Be strong oh brothers who want to fight for jihad...This is a warning to those who disbelieve, that we are here for you, and I am ready to give my life.

Akinoluna said...

I think the random checks at the airport should continue. If you start checking only certain groups of people, all you're doing is telling the terrorists who NOT to send onto planes with explosives. They aren't dumb. And speaking of planes, I don't know why they would bother with going to the trouble of trying to sneak past the human-scanning X-ray machine when they can put whatever they want in the hold. In fact, why bother with planes when you've got unguarded hundred-car freight trains cruising through downtown DC every day? But I digress...

Besides, how do you plan on screening out the Muslims from among all the other 20-45s? Not all Muslems look like bin Laden you know. They can be white, black, Indian, Asian, and don't get me started on all the Hispanics who "look" Middle Eastern. Like my dad, for example.

KGS said...

Personal interviews of passengers waiting in the security line is a good way to spot potential risks. What I am more worried about, is the refraining from checking Muslims due to false charges of victimization.

The recent Flying Imams' provocation on a US airline might help potential trouble makers getting on board, especially if they are successful in a lawsuit leveled against the airline, that was acting responsibly to thier behavoural oddities that caused concern for all the other passengers on board.