"Terrorism Answers"

Jon Johanning jjohanning at igc.org
Fri Aug 16 08:23:53 MDT 2002

Some more interesting bits from the "American Militant Extremists" 
section of this site:

 >Not all politically motivated violence qualifies as terrorism (for 
instance, the FBI and some terrorism experts did not regard the 
Unabomber, who says his antimodern beliefs were behind a 17-year 
mail-bombing campaign, as a terrorist), nor do all groups that espouse 
extremist ideas turn to terrorist acts. Experts do not consider all 
political assassinations or hate crimes to be terrorist attacks, and 
some critics note that politics often helps determine what gets labeled 
domestic terrorism as opposed to criminal activity.

An excellent illustration of the hopelessly confused, propagandistic 
character of the term "terrorism." The sight of this burgeoning cottage 
industry of "terrorism experts" falling over themselves trying to 
explain what they are talking about would be quite amusing if it weren't 
for the fact that powerful segments of the country seem to be taking 
them seriously.

This kind of muddy thinking about "terrorism" could lead to very 
unfortunate consequences for dissidents on the left. To wit:

 >Do different types of domestic terrorist groups have ties with one 
 >It’s hard to know. Leaderless resistance has made it difficult to track 
ties between, say, one suspected far-right terrorist and another. There 
are no known operational links across ideological lines—between far-left 
and far-right terrorist groups, for instance. But some 
domestic-terrorism watchers note that left-wing and right-wing 
extremists share an opposition to globalization. Also, experts note that 
anarchist and left-wing rhetoric has begun to emerge in eco-terrorist 

 >Have domestic terrorists changed their behavior since September 11?
 >Since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and 
the subsequent anthrax letters, any terrorism-related lead—international 
or domestic—receives increased scrutiny. As a result, American 
extremists have been lying low, experts say. Nonetheless, eco-terrorists 
firebombed a Bureau of Land Management wild-horse corral in Nevada and 
targeted several university research facilities. And antigovernment 
messages accompanied the pipe bombs left in mailboxes in the Midwest, 
Texas, and Colorado in May 2002.

It's not hard to see where this line of argument is going:  " 'Left-wing 
extremists' are, for now, only 'potentially dangerous.' But 'left-wing 
and right-wing extremists share an opposition to globalization,' so 
there appears to be some sort of sinister connection between them, 
somewhere under the surface. Maybe. (A subject that 'terrorism experts' 
need to research more intensively, no doubt.) So, if a corral in Nevada 
is firebombed today, and subversive messages are attached to pipe bombs 
made by a mentally unbalanced college student, it is at least 
'potentially possible' that Marxists will try to bring down another 
skyscraper tomorrow. You never know, in today's dangerous world."

Until quite recently, I thought that the paranoia of the post-WW II "Red 
scare" was unlikely to come back. Fortunately, the great majority of 
Americans still seem to be fairly calm about the whole "terrorist 
threat" (at least as long as another major event like 9/11 doesn't 
happen again). But in the present economic crisis, establishment groups 
like the CFR seem to be making some experimental efforts to subtly nudge 
the American people back into another orgy of suppression of the radical 

Jon Johanning // jjohanning at igc.org
If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders 
of giants.-- Isaac Newton
If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing 
on my shoulders.-- Hal Abelson, MIT professor

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