You are hereTruthout: Op Ed- Why Isn't Jared Lee Loughner a Homegrown Terrorist?

Truthout: Op Ed- Why Isn't Jared Lee Loughner a Homegrown Terrorist?


-By Sahar Aziz

How many more members of Congress have to be victims of politically motivated violence before we acknowledge terrorism is defined by the act and not the identity of the actor? Any person who "use[s] violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature ... through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear" is a terrorist.

While clearly suffering from some sort of mental disorder, Jared Lee Loughner was motivated to some extent by anti-government politics. Had his name been Mohammed, we would be talking about homegrown terrorism, not gun control or mental illness.

The tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is a wakeup call that religious profiling does not work. While our nation was obsessed with Muslim "homegrown terrorism," Loughner stealthily planned his terrorist scheme.

It is no secret that since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FBI has focused its anti-terrorism efforts on Muslims. Traveler watch lists have grown exponentially, primarily with Muslim and Arabic names. Internet web sites and chat rooms with expressions of political dissent coupled with Islamic rhetoric are presumably under vigilant surveillance. More recently, Muslim youth have become ensnared in sting operations as part of a zealous preventative campaign. So much so that civil rights groups claim the tactics may cross into unlawful entrapment.

To be sure, Muslims engaged in illegal terrorist activity should be investigated and prosecuted accordingly. But with its investigative authorities broadened after 9/11, why didn't the FBI stop Loughner before he shot a Congresswoman in the head, killed six civilians, including a federal judge and nine-year-old girl, and injured 17 people?

In light of the FBI's recent stings of Muslim terrorist suspects that involved months of surveillance, undercover operations and careful execution, where was the FBI when Loughner was plotting his murderous scheme? Did they fail to discover his plot because he did not fit the "profile" of a Muslim terrorist?

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