Chattanooga: A Crime or an Act of War

Chattanooga: A Crime or an Act of War
Chattanooga shootings were either a crime or an act of war -- but not an act of terrorism.

Thursday’s attack by Mohammod Abdulazeez in Chattanooga, Tennessee that killed 4 U.S. Marines was either a criminal act or it was an act of war. But it was not an act of domestic terrorism, as officials claim.

If Abdulazeez’s rampage had nothing to do with any of the Islamic groups in which the U.S. is currently fighting, then his actions were simply a criminal act carried out by a U.S. citizen who owned multiple guns.

But if it turns out that Abdulazeez targeted U.S. Marines because he was working on behalf of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, then the killings were an act of war, since the Obama administration has essentially declared war on those entities. And based on its own vernacular, the U.S. media should call the Marines he killed “combatants,” “insurgents” or “terrorists.”

Based on its own definition, the U.S. has no justification for calling Abdulazeez’s actions “terrorism.” According to Title 22, Section 2656 of the U.S. Code, terrorism is defined as: “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets.” Obviously, U.S. Marines are not “noncombatant targets.”

The U.S. needs to come to terms with the fact that it has dropped bombs in seven predominantly Muslim countries during Barack Obama’s presidency, and that inevitably some Muslims will fight back with force. When that happens, and members of the U.S. armed forces are killed, whether at home or abroad, the deaths should be labeled casualties of war.

If Abdulazeez were a Christian, white, black or Hispanic, would he so quickly have been labeled a terrorist? Probably not, but Islamophobia has swept through the U.S. and policy makers and weapon manufacturers love to find ways to justify their mass killings in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya.

Whether or not the four Marines were killed because of what the U.S. military is doing throughout the Muslim world has yet to be determined. But if Abdulazeez indeed targeted U.S. military personnel, then the American establishment needs to accept the consequences of its militarism.

After all, when members of the Islamic State, al-Shabab or al-Qaeda are targeted and killed by the U.S. military in their own country, do American officials call the killings acts of “terrorism?”