Last week, DHS secretary Janet Napolitano said on a Washington, D.C., radio that show and said that Joseph Stack’s suicide small-plane attack against the IRS building in Austin, Texas, was not terrorism. “To our belief, he was a lone wolf,” Napolitano said. “He used a terrorist tactic, but an individual who uses a terrorist tactic doesn’t necessarily mean they are part of an organized group attempting an attack on the United States.”

A private intelligence begs to differ. Washington, D.C.-based Stratfor issued a report last week, titled Terrorism: Defining a Tactic, arguing that the recent attacks against U.S. government and military locations are examples of domestic terrorism, despite what government officials and politicians say.

The report examines three recent incidents — Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s November 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood; Joseph Stack’s suicidal plane crash into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, nearly a month ago; and John Patrick Bedell’s shoot out at the Pentagon last week — and challenges the arguments that say these attacks do not qualify as terrorism.

Arguments used to not classify these attacks as terrorism include the failure to generate large numbers of casualties, a lack of foreign ties and the absence of a larger conspiracy. This dismissal of terrorism as a factor in these attacks ultimately has a long-term impact on past and future investigations, and it also seems to ignore the legal definition, as set out in Title VIII, Section 802 of the USA PATRIOT Act:
Stratfor’s Fred Burton and Ben West, the authors of the report, further note that not defining these incidents as terrorism conflicts with the Patriot Act’s definition of what terrorism is under U.S. law:

[An] act of terrorism means any activity that (A) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life that is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State; and (B) appears to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping.

Matthew Harwood writes that Burton and West disagree with Napolitano’s lone-wolf theory as to why Stack’s attack (but, presumably, also Hasan’s and Bedell’s attacks) should not be regarded as acts of terrorism. First, violent attackers do not have to be part of a larger network or organization to qualify as terrorists, as Napolitano states. Burton and West say lone wolves can be a more dangerous form of terrorist because its harder to detect and deter their attacks. “Theodore Kaczynski (aka the Unabomber) is the archetypal lone-wolf operative who used violent attacks to publicize a social and political message,” the analysts write. “Therefore his violent acts qualify as terrorism.”

Read the rest of the article at Homeland Security Newswire.

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