Top Menu

It’s Only Terrorism When Muslims Do It

After an extensive search, I could not locate the names or faces of the victims of the recent American terrorist attack.

On Sunday, a decorated U.S. military officer systematically (and intentionally) slaughtered sixteen Afghan Muslim civilians.   Nine children and three women were among the dead.  It was “a three-hour rampage [that] was allowed to happen”: the perpetrator “walk[ed] from house to house in the quiet of night opening fire on residents…In one house, he piled eleven bodies together and set them on fire…”

Imagine for a moment if the roles had been reversed, if it had been an Afghan Muslim man who set a house of eleven American civilians on fire, killing them inside.  Would there be any doubt that the U.S. media would be labeling this an act of terrorism and the suspect a terrorist?  Would we not be subjected to panel discussions by “terrorism experts” who would remind us of the dangers of Islamic radicalism and of “homegrown extremism”?

Yet, nary a soul in the establishment (the media or the government) has called the slaughter of sixteen Afghan Muslim civilians–of which nine were children and three were women–an act of “terrorism”.  Nobody has called the perpetrator a “terrorist”.  That label is strictly reserved for Muslims, and is completely off-limits to U.S. soldiers and Americans (unless they happen to be American Muslims, in which case they are “homegrown terrorists”).

What is the name of the American perpetrator and what is his religion?  Does anybody know?  In fact, the media has protected his name from disclosure and there is absolutely no mention of his faith whatsoever.  Could he be one of the many Christian extremist nuts in the U.S. military?  Where is the wild speculation by the American media about the looming threat of Christian radicalism and the danger it poses?

Had this been a Muslim, the headlines would blare “TERRORIST”.  Not only is this not the case with our American soldier, but amazingly, there are articles seeking to justify and mitigate his heinous act of terrorism.  The NY Daily News published this article:

Soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians saw his buddy’s leg blown off the day before the massacre, his lawyer says

Suspect is highly decorated combat veteran who lost part of his foot in Iraq last year

The American staff sergeant suspected of gunning down 16 Afghan civilians saw his buddy’s leg blown off the day before the massacre, his lawyer said Thursday.

“We have been informed that at this small base that he was at, somebody was gravely injured . . . and that affected all the soldiers,” lawyer John Henry Browne said.

The New York Times reported–and other media outlets repeated this claim–that the soldier was “suffering from the stress of a fourth combat tour”.  Another explanation given was that the soldier was simply drunk.

If that were not enough, the soldier must have had a “brain injury” and “marital problems”; ABC News reported:

Soldier Held in Afghan Massacre Had Brain Injury, Marital Problems

The Army staff sergeant who allegedly went on a rampage and killed 16 Afghans as they slept in their homes had a traumatic brain injury at one point and had problems at home after his last deployment, officials told ABC News.

The perpetrator’s “buddy”, a military man and member of an occupying force, had his leg injured (how dare the Afghans fight back!), and somehow this explains why the perpetrator killed sixteen Afghan civilians?  Is it even conceivable that such justifications would have been raised had it been an Afghan Muslim who had killed sixteen Americans on the streets of New York?

Afghan Muslims see their children maimed, their entire families exterminated, and whole villages obliterated.  Yet, the U.S. media wouldn’t let any of this mitigate an act of terrorism committed by an Afghan Muslim against Americans.  On the other hand, “marital problems” explains why the American soldier did what he did.

Remember the Fort Hood Shooting?  A Muslim had killed thirteen U.S. soldiers, who were being deployed to join an occupying force in the Muslim world.  That was labeled an act of Terrorism (with a capital ‘T’), unanimously condemned as such in the mainstream media.  Yet, here we have an American soldier targeting and killing sixteen Afghan Muslim civilians, but I have yet to see the U.S. media labeling this an act of terrorism.

The rule is clear: it’s only terrorism when Muslims do it.  It’s certainly never terrorism when America does it.   As George Orwell put it: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

When it’s a Muslim perpetrator, the media will interview the victims’ families and eulogize the dead, personalizing them by giving detailed accounts of their life stories, their dreams and aspirations.  Meanwhile, the Afghan dead are nameless and faceless.  The only images available of the attack are of angry Afghans burning U.S. flags in response–look how violent they are! 

If it’s a Muslim crime, the media will quickly link it to other Muslim individuals and organizations using six degrees of associations.  But when an American soldier does it, then the media reassures us, using official government responses as a cue, that this was a lone wolf or rogue soldier.  This, despite the fact that eyewitnesses say that it was a group of U.S. soldiers who did the deed, not just one man.  This, despite the fact that a nearby U.S. military base allowed the rampage to continue for three hours.

If it’s a Muslim crime, we are told that it fits a sustained pattern of Islamic terrorism.  But when the U.S. soldier killed sixteen, we’re told that it’s a one-off rogue attack.  This, even though “[t]he latest killing of civilians by an American soldier isn’t an outlier” at all.  Political commentator Nima Shirazi writes:

Such “isolated incidents” have been obliterating the lives of Afghan civilians for over a decade.  Between January and May 2010, members of a U.S. Army Stryker brigade, who called themselves the “Kill Team,” executed three Afghans — a 15-year-old boy, a mentally retarded man and a religious leader — and then staged combat situations to cover up the killings, snapped commemorative and ghastly celebratory photographs with the murdered corpses, and took fingers and teeth as trophies. Peggy Noonan might say that they thought barbarity was their right.

To date, 11 soldiers have been convicted in connection to the murders. Last year, one of the soldiers, Spc. Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his role in the killings.  One of the leaked Kill Team photos shows “Morlock smiling as he holds a dead man up by the hair on his head.” At the beginning of his court-martial, Morlock bluntly told the judge, “The plan was to kill people, sir.”  He may be eligible for parole in less than seven years.

Then there was the online video showing four giddy U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of three slain Afghan men while saying things like “Have a good day, buddy” and “Golden like a shower.”  One of the soldiers was the platoon’s commanding officer.  Just a few weeks later, American troops at Bagram Air Base deliberately incinerated numerous copies of the Quran and other religious texts, sparking mass riots across Afghanistan and leading to a rash of killings of U.S. and NATO soldiers by Afghans armed and trained by NATO.  Just two days ago, in the eastern Afghan province of Kapisa, “NATO helicopters apparently hunting Taliban insurgents instead fired on civilians, killing four and wounding three others.”

Shirazi pointed out elsewhere:

Just last month, on Feb. 8, 2012, a NATO airstrike killed several children in the eastern Kapinsa province of Afghanistan, with “young Afghans of varying ages” identified among the casualties.  Similar strikes were responsible for the deaths — no, murder — of nearly 200 civilians last year alone.  In less than 10 months from 2010 to early 2011, well over 1,500 Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. and NATO forces in night raids, a brutal occupation tactic that has been embraced — along with drone attacks — by President Barack Obama.  According to a September 2011 study by the Open Society Foundation, “An estimated 12 to 20 night raids now occur per night, resulting in thousands of detentions per year, many of whom are non-combatants.” These raids produce heavy civilian casualties and often target the wrong people.

The stories of American atrocities are numerous.  Furthermore, the death count from them is astronomically high: “a reasonable upper bound for Muslim fatalities [caused by the United States]…is well over one million.”  Meanwhile, Muslim terrorists have killed zero civilians in the United States in the entire last decade.  Far more Americans die of lightning and peanuts than Islamic terrorism.

The United States has killed “over one million” Muslims, but when an American soldier kills Muslim civilians, it’s a “one-off event” and does not at all reflect the outstanding work of the U.S. military.  Muslims “have killed zero civilians in the United States” but when a Muslim terrorist does something, then the crime fits a well-established pattern of Islamic radicalism.

This is War Propaganda 101.  The threat posed by one’s “enemy” is exaggerated to no end (even though you have a higher chance of dying from lightning or peanuts), whereas the atrocities committed by one’s own country are glossed over or denied altogether (you can’t possibly compare American military intervention to Islamic terrorism!).  (When it comes to the United States, “intervention” is the proper term, not “terrorism.”)

This double standard comes to mind with the recent reporting of a Moroccan man being arrested for allegedly plotting to bomb a synagogue in Italy.  The media used such titles: “Italian police arrest terrorism suspect.”  Compare that title to this one: “After U.S. soldier allegedly kills 16 civilians, Afghans voice rage and Taliban vows revenge.”  Could we ever expect to read a major news outlet using the title “After U.S. terrorist kills…”  It’s simply unthinkable.

Notice too how the latter title makes it sound as if it is the Afghans who are the violent ones: they are in a “rage” and “vow revenge”.  Americans respond with “steadfast resolve” and “demand justice”, but Afghan Muslims respond with “rage” and “vow revenge”.

American coverage of this most recent U.S. atrocity focused on: (a) finding justifications for the attack, and (b) the “violent” reaction of the victim population.  Little attention was given to the act itself, and nowhere was it called terrorism.  The Moroccan suspect killed zero people.  He is from the start a “terrorist”, whereas no body count–no atrocity (other than converting to Islam)–could earn the American soldier that title.

That zero civilians died from this latest (alleged) Islamic terrorist plot is unsurprising: in fact, the vast majority of Islamic terrorist plots are foiled or otherwise unsuccessful.  There have been very few deadly attacks of Islamic terrorism in the West. But, that doesn’t stop the media from talking about them endlessly or hyping their threat.  Meanwhile, American atrocities are very “successful” and result in casualties in the thousands or even hundreds of thousands yet they do not warrant much discussion at all.

We live in a truly Orwellian time: ants are portrayed as menacing beasts, while the elephants that routinely stomp all over them are made to look like their hapless victims.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Pingback: Media and Mourning: Rembering, Forgetting, and Breaking the Silence | Critical Considerations()

  • Pingback: It’s only Terrorism when Muslims do it « INDEX NEWS()

  • Billal Hajabajababjaba


    Great use of adjective, jingoist, does actually accurately describe your point of view of proud Americans. Bibles, Beer, and the Stars and Stripes for the win though sorry my friend

    Proud to be a citizen of the Red, White, and Blue


  • NassirH

    Deranged jingoist: “It’s only terrorism when Muslims do it because we are, as Americans, just better than you.”

    George Orwell: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

  • Billal Hajabajababjaba


    No drugs my friend, just waking up to the sun shining every morning in the greatest country on Earth and breathing in the air of freedom

  • Pingback: Right-Wing Terrorism: String of Firebombs Against Planned Parenthood Under Reported in the Media | Islamophobia Today eNewspaper()

  • TheBig-T

    @Billal Hajabajababjaba

  • TheBig-T

    @ Bilal Hajabajababjaba

    and what the hell kind of drugs are you snorting?

  • Billal Hajabajababjaba

    It’s only terrorism when Muslims do it because we are, as Americans, just better than you. I hope those 72 virgins treat you well because with a bible in one hand and a 12 gague in the other you come over to the land of the free and the home of the brave we will kick your a** back to Bumlaf**k with a smile on our face.

  • Solid Snake

    Oh and by the way I just wanted to thank Kushboo, Garry L., Jack Cope, and HGG for your support 🙂 I was feeling rather depressed that day. Thank you..

  • verisimilidude

    Right after the story broke journalists went into the villages where the killings happened and reported on the inhabitants stories of what happened. The stories were of hearing a GROUP of drunken American soldiers while they hid in fear. I find it hard to believe that a single soldier would enter an enclosed space, like a house, without being able to leave a lookout. And even harder to believe is that a single soldier would put down his weapon and move the murdered into a pile in order to burn the bodies. My belief is that a group of soldiers did this, that one soldier realized the enormity of what he had done and turned himself in and that the army has decided it can get away with the ‘rogue killer’ story again and has pinned everything on this one guy. They have convinced him to go along with the for the good of the mission and the promise of a verdict of temporary insanity. I predict there will be very little forensic evidence introduced at the court martial, that no Afgan witnesses will testify, and that this soldier will continue to claim that he has no memories of the night of the attack. The army has, since at least the start of the 20th century, been able to put on a solid front that results in the wrong people being blamed (cf. Abu Graib or the Brownsville Affair Why is our supposedly liberal media not investigating this more. It was only the power of the press that brought prosecution of the My Lai massacre. I wish they would do more.

  • Pingback: Mohammed Merah: Al-Qaeda Linked Terrorist is Chief Suspect Behind French Murders | Islamophobia Today eNewspaper()

  • khushboo

    Bales did a hit and run, assaulted his girlfriend, jipped a couple off $637,000 and got away…and now getting away again. His lawyer now says “he doesn’t remember anything”.

  • Benjamin Taghiov

    “Surely, if he was entirely deranged, our staff sergeant would have killed 16 of his fellow Americans. He would have slaughtered his mates and then set fire to their bodies. But, no, he didn’t kill Americans. He chose to kill Afghans. There was a choice involved. “. -Robert Fisk

  • Pingback: Justice USA | The Tasneem Project()

  • AJ


    I saw the document. It has a lot of verses from the Quran. I don’t understand why this guy would show them in a public setting unless someone is just interested to learn about Islam or Quran or what? I found slide 48 (comments) to be a real hotchpotch with a splatter of some favorite Islamophobic key terms like “Osama bin Laden”, “suicide bombing”, “suicide bombers”, etc. This page fell totally out of context with the previous slides where there were just normal verses (I didn’t verify them) from the Quran. Were there questions directed to Hasan after the presentation about these terms or otherwise this page doesn’t make any sense. A good IT person can exactly pinpoint when and where everything was inserted/typed. But see that’s the problem with any supposed “islamist jihadist” crime – the evidence stays behind closed doors and never sees the light of the day. Well, it’s a matter of national security – of course.

  • NassirH

    According to ABC, “Many Willing to Cut Afghan Shooting Suspect Slack.” Yet another example of the impeccable ethicality of America’s Moral Majority. So glad that everyone’s willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt.

  • Hey Yitzchak, in a matter of moments, you just removed one “religious element” i.e. the “Allah-u-Akbar” now that the Munley-Todd-a-police-sergeant-is-found-lying fiasco basically discredits any eye-witnesses’ accounts and taints the official military story.

    This is all very interesting, but the CNN journalist approvingly quotes a criminologist who disapprovingly states “A lot of people are jumping to the conclusion because this man spouted violent Islamic ideology that this is a terrorist attack.” If you want to cast doubt on the “violent Islamic ideology” part in your attempt to have the last word on what really happened, fine, but it doesn’t change the point about the journalism. This is about to turn into a comment thread with no readers since the post does not show up any more when one views the main page of the site. This is probably my last comment in this thread.

  • AJ

    “Surely the well-established aspects of the case establish the religious element–the Awlaki connection, the power point presentation. I’m writing from memory.”

    Hey Yitzchak, in a matter of moments, you just removed one “religious element” i.e. the “Allah-u-Akbar” now that the Munley-Todd-a-police-sergeant-is-found-lying fiasco basically discredits any eye-witnesses’ accounts and taints the official military story.

Powered by Loon Watchers