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Glenn Greenwald: The real definition of Terrorism

(cross-posted from Salon)

The FBI yesterday announced it has secured an indictment against Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, a 38-year-old citizen of Iraq currently in Canada, from which the U.S. is seeking his extradition. The headline on the FBI’s Press Release tells the basic story: “Alleged Terrorist Indicted in New York for the Murder of Five American Soldiers.” The criminal complaint previously filed under seal provides the details: ‘Isa is charged with “providing material support to a terrorist conspiracy” because he allegedly supported a 2008 attack on a U.S. military base in Mosul that killed 5 American soldiers. In other words, if the U.S. invades and occupies your country, and you respond by fighting back against the invading army — the ultimate definition of a “military, not civilian target” — then you are a . . . Terrorist.

Here is how the complaint, in the first paragraph, summarizes the Terrorism charge against ‘Isa:

By “outside of the United States,” the Government means: inside Iraq, ‘Isa’s country. The bulk of the complaint details conversations ‘Isa allegedly had over the Internet, while he was in Canada, with several Tunisians who wanted to engage in suicide attacks aimed at American troops in Iraq; he is not alleged to have organized the Mosul attack but merely to have provided political and religious encouragement (the network of which he was allegedly a part also carried out a suicide attack on an Iraqi police station, though ‘Isa’s alleged involvement is confined to the attack on the U.S. military base that killed the 5 soldiers along with several Iraqis, and the Terrorism indictment is based solely on the deaths of the U.S. soldiers).

In an effort to depict him as a crazed, Terrorist fanatic, the complaint includes this description of conversations he had while being monitored:

Is that not exactly the mindset that more or less anyone in the world would have: if a foreign army invades your country and proceeds to brutally occupy it for the next eight years, then it’s your solemn duty to fight them? Indeed, isn’t that exactly the mentality that caused some young Americans to enlist after the 9/11 attack and be hailed as heroes:they attacked us on our soil, and so now I want to fight them?

Yet when it’s the U.S. that is doing the invading and attacking, then we’re all supposed to look upon this very common reaction with mockery, horror, and disgust– look at these primitive religious fanatic Terrorists who have no regard for human life — because the only healthy, normal, civilized reaction someone should have to the U.S. invading, occupying, and destroying their country is gratitude, or at least passive acquiescence. Anything else, by definition, makes you a Terrorist. That’s because it is an inherent American right to invade or occupy whomever it wants and only a Terrorist would resist (to see one vivid (and darkly humorous) expression of this pathological, imperial entitlement, see this casual speculation from a neocon law professor at Cornell that Iran may have committed an “act of war” if it brought down the American drone that entered its airspace and hovered over its soil without permission: “if it is true, as the Iranians claim, that the drone did not fall by accident but was brought down by Iranian electronic means, then isn’t that already an act of war?”).

It’s one thing to condemn ‘Isa’s actions on moral or ethical grounds: one could argue, I suppose, that the solemn duty of every Iraqi was to respectfully treat the American invaders as honored (albeit uninvited) guests, or at least to cede to invading American troops the monopoly on violence. But it’s another thing entirely to label someone who does choose to fight back as a “Terrorist” and prosecute them as such under charges that entail life in prison (by contrast: an Israeli soldier yesterday killed a Palestinian protester in a small West Bank village that has had much of its land appropriated by Israeli settlers, by shooting him in the face at relatively close range with a tear gas cannister, while an Israeli plane attacked a civilian home in Gaza and killed a father and his young son while injuring several other children; acts like that, or the countless acts of reckless or even deliberate slaughter of civilians by Americans, must never be deemed Terrorism).

Few things better illustrate the utter meaninglessness of the word Terrorism than applying it to a citizen of an invaded country for fighting back against the invading army and aiming at purely military targets (this is far from the first time that Iraqis and others who accused of fighting back against the invading U.S. military have been formally deemed to be Terrorists for having done so). To the extent the word means anything operationally, it is: he who effectively opposes the will of the U.S. and its allies.

This topic is so vital because this meaningless, definition-free word — Terrorism — drives so many of our political debates and policies. Virtually every debate in which I ever participate quickly and prominently includes defenders of government policy invoking the word as some sort of debate-ending, magical elixir: of course President Obama has to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process: they’re Terrorists; of course we have to stay in Afghanistan: we have to stop The Terrorists; President Obama is not only right to kill people (including civilians) using drones, but is justified in boasting and even joking about it, because they’re Terrorists; of course some people should be held in prison without charges: they’re Terrorists, etc. etc. It’s a word that simultaneously means nothing and justifies everything.

(Continues here).

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  • Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad, M.S.J.D.

    Sir David: Or should that be big brother is watching you?

    Oh, no … “Uncle Sam is watching over you” to keep his Big Brother hidden at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 2448.56)

    Or should that be big brother is watching you ?

  • Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad, M.S.J.D.

    Sir David rings the Liberty Bell: A couple of points here I think are worth noting.

    Is the USA monitoring every phone call to Iraq?


    Who is doing the translating?

    ReadWare® software running on the basement full of Cray computers at the NSA. It used to be done by the Army Security Agency’s graduates from the US Army Language School, but between Echelon and ReadWare®, they’re no longer needed ~ the software uses voice recognition software and optical character reader software, language-specific dictionaries and grammar algorithms, to “read” everything going through high-level routers with understanding comparable to that of a college graduate, seeking concepts and dynamics, not “words.” Using “code words” to refer to munitions, drugs, or other “interesting” topics does not conceal the concept or the dynamic of the conversation, and the software knows what it’s looking for ~ to kick into someone’s “In Box” for closer examination ~ translated, decoded, and identified by origin and destination.

    NSA has had ReadWare® running for decades. One of my former students holds the patents on it.

    Never mind the mental health of the client.

    Triggering pathological responses in a target population is child’s play ~ mobs have no mental health.

    mmmmm are we being monitored at this very moment?

    It’s all flowing into the NSA basements. Don’t be impatient, it’s “first come first served” but it’s quite fast. Of course, potential counterrevolutionaries aren’t on any “immediate action” lists yet, other than for dossier compilation functions.

    (a big hello to our friends in Langley, Cheltnam and Tel Aviv)

    Uncle Sam is watching over you.

  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 5:32) Warning Contains Irony

    A couple of points here I think are worth noting .
    Is the USA monitoring every phone call to Iraq ?
    Who is doing the translating ?
    Never mind the mental health of the client .
    mmmmm are we being monitored at this very moment ?
    ( a big hello to our friends in Langley ,Cheltnam and Tel Aviv)

  • Faisal Rathor

    Danios, I believe that you will be called Terrorist too because to America anyone who show any sympathy to its enemy is its enemy.

  • Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad, M.S.J.D.

    Where’s Al Yankovich when we really need him? He needs to follow up his “If you [fill in the blank], then you might be a redneck” to help us discover whether we might be terrorists.

    For example, “If you pray five times a day, you might be a terrorist.”

    Or “If you don’t walk around half-naked, you might be a terrorist.”

    Or “If you say ‘muslim’ instead of ‘mooz-lum’ or ‘moz-lum,’ you might be a terrorist.”

    I’ve read the Complaint. It’s very interesting, as I explain below, after I mention a few details.

    The Complaint says, on page 3:

    g. On or about May 28, 2010, the defendant instructed his sister, who was living in Iraq, to “Go learn about weapons and go attack the police and Americans. Let it be that you die.

    On page 6, the Complaint alleges that Faruq “is a member of” a …

    … facilitation network (the “facilitation network”) that transports jihadist fighters from Tunisia to Iraq to conduct suicide bomb attacks against American and Coalition forces in Iraq.

    On pages 19 through 22 of the Complaint, conversations between Faruq and “Facilitator 3,” and between Faruq and a “higher-up” in the network, reveal that those in Tunisia and Iraq with whom Faruq is working have not met, in person, either with each other or with the directors for whom they are working, and have no idea who those directors are working for. The entire apparatus ~ the “facilitation network” ~ is organized in such a way that any participant who is captured cannot jeopardize more than a few people. The French Resistance against the Nazi occupation of France was organized the same way, in compartmented cells, as an underground network. Faruq also discloses that he wants to be a sniper, not a suicide bomber, either in Iraq or in Canada (or the U.S.).

    On page 22 of the Complaint, we read that

    The investigation has revealed that “farming” is code for conducting terrorist attacks.

    This is followed by reference to an intercepted “electronic communication” where Faruq explains the word “farming,” implying that the “revelations” of “the investigation” came from intercepted communications authorized by a judicial warrant.

    On page 23 of the Complaint we read Faruq’s statement to his mother:

    There is no more pressing duty after the declaration of faith than fighting the enemy. Fighting comes before the other 4 pillars of faith.

    And the entire Complaint is based on internet communications and an occasional telephone conversation. On page 6 of the Complaint we learn that

    Since 2009, Canadian, Tunisian and United States law enforcement officials, including FBI agents and other law enforcement personnel in the New York field office of the FBI and the JTTF [“Joint Terrorism Task Force”], have been investigating a Tunisian foreign-fighter facilitation network (the “facilitation network”) …

    … mentioned above. The Complaint does not say how this underground network was discovered, but had it been “discovered” by an informer from within, or by an infiltrator, that would have been mentioned to show the legal basis for law enforcement to start investigating. Had a member of the network made a security mistake, that would have been mentioned to show that law enforcement had a legal basis for starting an investigation. The absence of such a showing is meaningful ~ the FBI cannot reveal how Canada and Tunisia ~ and the FBI ~ learned enough to get warrants to tap telephones and intercept internet communications.

    Would anyone care to hazard a guess? Or shall I explain how these underground resistance fighters, who had evaded detection and identification by hard-working, massively funded, highly-trained, professional Tunisian and Canadian and American intelligence agencies for years, managed to get themselves arrested?

    This network was ~ is ~ professionally competent. Those at the lowest levels of the network are trained in intelligence and counterintelligence. They operate within a population that supports them and reports to them any hostile inquiries of which they become aware ~ the network has tripwires and agents within hostile agencies giving warnings of investigations approaching their operational core. They investigate “volunteers” ~ muslims making known their desire and intention to kill themselves in order to take some of “the enemy” with them ~ before allowing them any contact with the network. Those they transport receive instructions ~ go there, do this ~ and are never in a position to betray those who give them their instructions. The network is not made up of adventurers or amateurs, but of intelligent and experienced fighters whose primary aim is to remain able and available to fight the invaders of muslim countries, the murderers of innocent muslims. They aid battlefield combatants in reaching the battlefield, and know perfectly well that they’re being hunted and how to avoid being found.

    So how was this four- or five-man team found? You can bet that “the authorities” will say it was “intelligence” work and they can’t reveal their sources, and the public will buy that nonsense ~ no government, including America’s, has the financial or human resources to defeat a competent counterintelligence shield.

    Just the evidence cited in the Complaint is sufficient to convict Faruq of “providing material aid” to “terrorists” in an American federal courtroom. And it should be sufficient to get Faruq extradited from Canada. American muslims are serving sentences in federal prisons for allowing someone to use their telephone ~ someone who later became a “terrorist” or was once associated with an organized party later “listed” as a “terrorist organization.” Sulimon ~ John Lindh ~ is serving a twenty-year sentence for receiving basic military training in Afghanistan, to fight the opium barons and warlords of the north, before those warlords became American “allies” in the war to secure an oil pipeline from the Caspian Basin through Afghanistan. He was “arrested” after throwing down his weapons when he learned that American forces were invading Afghanistan, after surrendering to the warlords, and after the flooding of his basement prison cell, by order of the CIA, failed to drown him like it did other prisoners in the same basement, who had fled there to avoid involvement in an attempt by other prisoners to escape.

    The Faruq “case” is just another part of America’s war against Islam, the “Let’s you and him fight” war set up two thousand years ago. What’s “interesting” is that Faruq is being sent to the courthouse rather than to the morgue ~ it’s psychological warfare against the muslims who are fighting underground and against the American people.

    The irony is that Faruq is wrong in telling his sister to fight, wrong in aiding people to commit suicide, wrong to fight the aggressive invaders, even as an underground armchair combatant, from outside the country that’s been invaded, wrong to aid the enemies of humanity by what he’s been doing, and wrong to fight the forces of the False Messiah ~ “wrong” according to Islam on all five counts. He’s another muslim who doesn’t know his religion, doesn’t read the Signs we’ve been given to determine the course of our lives, and doesn’t know beans about the spiritual warfare that has been going on for over three thousand years. His intentions have been to get his sister killed, to help people commit suicide, to support lawful jihad against the enemies of humanity in an unlawful manner ~ three intentions, “good” only in his confused imagination.

    His sincerity just might save him from the heat of the Fire, given the apparent insanity shown by the Complaint, but as a mujahid he’d make a good saboteur ~ for the enemy forces. He certainly is not aiding the jihad of the muslims, he’s aiding the enemies of humanity. I’m certainly not condemning him for his confusion, or for his errors, or for anything ~ I feel sorry for him and pray that Allah will forgive him. But the other irony here is that the FBI is taking away from the enemies of humanity one of their assets.

    Yes, in any terms Faruq is a victim of injustice so egregious that it should not go unnoticed or unopposed. But in the very real terms of the war against humanity that is being manifested on the ground with bombs and bullets murdering innocents, it’s another drop in the bucket that will presently pour fire on the corrupt of this world. What the enemies of humanity gain by using their stone-hearted brain-dead slaves to work this injustice on Faruq will be completely overwhelmed by what returns to them from their own hands.

    And Faruq will be the final victor in this holographic skirmish, no matter what the immediate consequence may be. Allah turns the mistakes of the faithful into advantages, and He has a lot to turn to Faruq’s advantage. That “sincerity” factor ~ hamaas in Arabic ~ is huge.

  • Jd

    /\ Terrorist muslims ( since all terrorism is done by muslims) strike again

  • Jd

    Rome parcel bomb injures Equitalia tax official

    A parcel bomb has exploded at a tax collection office in the Italian capital Rome, injuring the director.

    Officials at the Equitalia agency said the blast shattered a glass desktop, causing hand and eye injuries to director Marco Cuccagna.

    Police said the package also contained a leaflet signed by the Italian anarchist group FAI.

    The FAI has said it sent a letter bomb on Wednesday to the headquarters of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.

  • Fox news

    Its a fact that Iraq invasion brought al Qaeda into Iraq rather than vice versa. Its not just this false labelling of Muslim nationalist fighters as “terrorists” that US is wrong about, but US is also directly responsible for growth of Al Qaeda in Muslim countries.

  • eslaporte

    “Terrorist” also is someone who is Muslim. “Terrorism” comes from Islam. “Radicalized individuals,” as well as “terrorists” are “detected” by how religious pious they are to the Islamic faith. “They” are also “detected” by the way they dress; grow a beard, and their viewpoints on topics, like the Middle East peace process and the wars in Muslim countries, for example. Terrorist=Muslim, Islam=terrorism.

    This is how Western intelligence agencies in Western nations think on both sides of the Atlantic. Much of the criteria of “detecting terrorists” centers on things that have nothing to do with threatening behavior and violence. Actions, like being monitored, are started against people who are probably not involved in terrorist activities. This is outrageous!

  • mindy1

    Greenwald seems like a good person to debate…he is thought provoking

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