Over the past few weeks there have been a few postings on the concept of trying to deny al Qaeda the 'semantic' war footing of allowing them to self-define and, instead, try to use 'proper Islamic terms' to define them. Wordsmith at Flopping Aces has been one of those, and now I get a relayed question from Shrinkwrapped on the General James Mattis article on attacking al Qaeda on this front with his follow-on to the James E. Killcullen view on this previously.
So, when asked for my general opinion, I will often give the pre-requisite Free Dumb Look!
That done, onto this actual concept of trying to remove the semantic playing field from the enemy by developing a 'new lexicon' for defining things which have, unfortunately, age-old terms that work just fine. While I do enjoy the military lexicon's ever inventive methods to circumlocute around an activity, so that 'friendly fire' actually means 'we shot at our own folks by accident' and thus being unfriendly even though it comes from those that are friends, the idea that a brand new lexicon is necessary or even wanted to 'undermine the memes' of al Qaeda and their propagation is one that is quite dangerous. Why is that?
First and foremost, the United States defines things in terms that are common to the People, understood by the common man, and based on actions not intent. Mind you the concept of 'conspiracy' is an intentful activity which is seeking to bear a common intent and, when done for criminal ends, is prosecutable under law. Conspiracy, itself is, literally, to 'breath together'. Those that conspire in secret to do unlawful acts are performing a conspiracy, which is an act in, and of, itself. To define 'terrorism' we must define what the activity actually is, first and foremost, before we go looking for fine tuning our definitions. If we don't know what the hell we are talking about, then we will be unable to do any fine tuning that is actually meaningful.
Terrorism is a conspiracy to commit unlawful acts, in this case acts that would give grounds for going to war. That has a term to it, also: casus belli. "Cause for war". That is the activity in and of itself that if performed by a Nation State would also give clear justification for declaring war on that Nation State. In the case of non-Nation State actors, the actual activity itself is still a casus belli because it is an unwarranted attack upon the land, people or commerce of a Nation using warlike means. What terrorists do *not* have is: government, land in which they govern, recognizable uniforms, accountability via diplomacy, or any of the things that would make them a Nation State and, thusly, open for the Nation State declaration of war.
That leaves them as 'outlaws' who are, indeed, 'outside the law'. This is the one place where the 20th century has really worked a case of amnesia upon modern culture as this was not unknown in prior centuries. The terminology applied to those that conspired to become a law unto themselves is rampant with colorful terms, but the meaning of it is quite old, as given to us by the American Heritage Dictionary via Answer.com:
WORD HISTORY The word outlaw brings to mind the cattle rustlers and gunslingers of the Wild West, but it comes to us from a much earlier time, when guns were not yet invented but cattle stealing was. Outlaw can be traced back to the Old Norse word ūtlagr, “outlawed, banished,” made up of ūt, “out,” and lög, “law.” An ūtlagi (derived from ūtlagr) was someone outside the protection of the law. The Scandinavians, who invaded and settled in England during the 8th through the 11th century, gave us the Old English word ūtlaga, which designated someone who because of criminal acts had to give up his property to the crown and could be killed without recrimination. The legal status of the outlaw became less severe over the course of the Middle Ages. However, the looser use of the word to designate criminals in general, which arose in Middle English, lives on in tales of the Wild West.Italics in the original, bolding is mine. An outlaw is outside the protection of the law, and terrorists, by being unaccountable to any authority have put themselves outside of the Law of Nations and its protections. Being a law unto themselves and openly attacking and taking credit for attacks makes them something else and this will be taken from the Oxford University Press US Military Dictionary via Answer.com:
banditNote that a bandit can also be a plain outlaw belonging to a gang, typically operating in places like the caves of Northern Waziristan. Yes, those who are outlaws conspiring together are 'bandits'. Now a bit of insight into some of the trends of operation of 'terrorists' over the last decade or so. For this we will use the testimony given to the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, December 13, 2000 given by Ralf Mutschke, Assistant Director, Criminal Intelligence Directorate, International Criminal Police Organization - Interpol General Secretariat:
n. pl. bandits or banditti bænˈdiṭē 1. a robber or outlaw belonging to a gang and typically operating in an isolated or lawless area.
2. slang an enemy aircraft.
Structural links between political terrorism and traditional criminal activity, such as drugs trafficking, armed robbery or extortion have come increasingly to the attention of law enforcement authorities, security agencies and political decision makers. There is a fairly accepted view in the international community that in recent years, direct state sponsorship has declined, therefore terrorists increasingly have to resort to other means of financing, including criminal activities, in order to raise funds. These activities have traditionally been drug trafficking, extortion/collection of "revolutionary taxes", armed robbery, and kidnappings. The involvement of such groups as the PKK, LTTE, and GIA in these activities has been established.There is much more from the testimony, including the indications of FARC activity working with Islamic groups in the Tri-Border Area of South America, but the basic linkages between these organizations shows that the concept of illegal activities to pay for banditry is ALSO a part of 'terrorism'. This does help to show that the trend of terrorism is away from the State sponsored sort of the old fashioned Hezbollah in Lebanon, and more to the al Qaeda 'blended mode' of crime and terror mixed together as seen by al Qaeda (and its affiliates), Hamas, Hezbollah - Chechnya, Bosnia, Tri-Border Area, FARC, Shining Path, and various other groups too numerous to be named.
I would like to draw the particular attention of the Committee to the Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA), considering the events of December last year. On 14 December 1999, Ahmed Ressam, was arrested near Port Angeles, Washington State, while trying to enter the United States from Canada. He was in possession of a timing device, explosive materials and false identification documents. Ahmed Ressam is known to have shared a Montreal (Canada) apartment with Said Atmani, a known document forger for the GIA. It has been established that before Ressam attempted to enter the US, he was in the company of Abdelmajid Dahoumane in Vancouver (Canada) for a 3 to 4 week period. An Interpol Red Notice was issued regarding the latter. The investigation has revealed links between terrorists of Algerian origin and a criminal network established in Montreal and specializing in the theft of portable computers and mobile telephones. The group in Montreal was in contact with individuals involved in terrorist support activity in France, and with several Moudjahidin groups who are active in Bosnia.
Subsequent to the arrest of Ressam, the Montreal police arrested twelve persons who were committing theft of valuable goods in cars in the Montreal downtown area. The proceeds of these criminal activities were sent to an international network with links to France, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Bosnia.
The events in Canada and the United States should be seen in a wider perspective. Indeed, intelligence shows that several Algerian terrorist leaders were present at a meeting in Albania, which could also have been attended by Usama bin Laden, who was believed to be in Albania at that time. It was during this meeting that many structures and networks were established for propaganda and fund raising activities, and for providing Algerian armed groups with logistical support. The arrest at the Canada-US border in December 1999 may indicate that the Algerian terrorists are prepared to take their terrorism campaign to North America.
The GIA is a very active and deadly terrorist organization operating mainly in Algeria but which has also mounted several terrorist attacks in France, including the hijacking of an Air France jetliner in 1994 and a bombing campaign in 1995. Their aim is the overthrow of the Algerian Secular Government and its replacement with an Islamic state. They have developed large scale support and financing activities in Europe and other parts of the world. An analysis recently conducted at the Interpol General Secretariat has revealed GIA involvement in a number of criminal activities in several European countries. Although the information received is fragmented, it has been established that GIA support networks are involved in extortion, currency counterfeiting, fraud, and money laundering.
The above examples concern traditional terrorist groups with a well-defined political ideology who are only involved in organized crime on a secondary level. However, two of the main emerging threats today seem to emanate, on the one hand, from more hybrid groups who operate in highly unstable, often war-torn countries or regions, and, on the other hand, loose alliances and cooperation among different, already existing transnational criminal organizations. Albanian crime groups are highly representative of this trend.
Finally, Albanian criminal groups frequently engage in burglaries, armed robberies and car theft in Europe and the United States.
There might still be links between political/military Kosovar Albanian groups (especially the KLA) and Albanian organized crime. Of the almost 900 million DM which reached Kosovo between 1996 and 1999, half was thought to be illegal drug money. Legitimate fundraising activities for the Kosovo and the KLA could have been be used to launder drug money. In 1998, the U.S. State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization, indicating that it was financing its operations with money from the international heroin trade and loans from Islamic countries and individuals, among them allegedly Usama bin Laden. Another link to bin Laden is the fact that the brother of a leader in an Egyptian Djihad organization and also a military commander of Usama bin Laden, was leading an elite KLA unit during the Kosovo conflict. In 1998, the KLA was described as a key player in the drugs for arms business in 1998, "helping to transport 2 billion USD worth of drugs annually into Western Europe". The KLA and other Albanian groups seem to utilize a sophisticated network of accounts and companies to process funds. In 1998, Germany froze two bank accounts belonging to the "United Kosova" organization after it had been discovered that several hundred thousand dollars had been deposited into those accounts by a convicted Kosovar Albanian drug trafficker.
The possibility of an Albanian/Kosovar drugs for arms connection is confirmed by at least two affairs in 1999:an Italian court in Brindisi (Italy) convicted an Albanian heroin trafficker who admitted obtaining weapons for the KLA from the Mafia in exchange for drugs.It is difficult to predict the further development of Albanian organized crime. Being a recent phenomenon, its stability is difficult to estimate. Nevertheless, future threats are realistic given the ruthlessness and lack of scruples displayed by Albanian crime groups, the international links which already exist, the professionalism which characterizes most of their activities and the strong ties created by ethnic Albanian origins. Moreover, the strong position of Albanian crime groups in Kosovo, F.Y.R.O.M. and the Albanian republic itself, is definitely a cause of concern to the international community, especially when one takes into account the geo-political instability in the region and the presence of a UN peacekeeping force.
An Albanian individual placed orders in the Czech Republic for light infantry weapons and rocket systems. According to Czech police sources, the arms were bound for the KLA.
Each KLA commander seems to have had funds at his disposal in order to be able to pay directly for weapons and ammunition for his local units’ need.
Terrorists are bandits.
Terrorists are international outlaws.
Terrorists commit acts of war as a law unto themselves.
My, this isn't leading into the 'new lexicon' at all, now, is it? This 'defining groups by the activities they commit' is really moving away from terrorists and into an international brigandage situation... oh! That does bring up brigands and we must get some idea of that little word, too, and this time I will use the die.net look-up for this, which gets us the 1913 Webster's Dictionary, so we can have something before WWI to help us understand what we are seeing today:
Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)There you go! Now far be it from me to say that living in the caves of Northern Waziristan, making war unaccountably and profiting by criminal activities of affiliated groups makes one a brigand! Or one of a band of robbers! I mean living in 'mountain retreats' and living off the bounty gained by ones confederates doesn't make one a terrorist, does it?
Brigand \Brig"and\ (br[i^]g"and), n. [F. brigand, OF. brigant
light-armed soldier, fr. LL. brigans light-armed soldier (cf.
It. brigante.) fr. brigare to strive, contend, fr. briga
quarrel; prob. of German origin, and akin to E. break; cf.
Goth. brikan to break, brakja strife. Cf. Brigue.]
1. A light-armed, irregular foot soldier. [Obs.]
2. A lawless fellow who lives by plunder; one of a band of
robbers; especially, one of a gang living in mountain
retreats; a highwayman; a freebooter.
Oh! 'Confederates'! Well, back to die.net for this one, and their Word.net answer should do just fine:
ConfederateAnd you thought this was going to be *simple* didn't you? Just rustle up a few words from Islam, say that they mean something to undermine al Qaeda and Hezbollah and *miss* the entire problem of terrorism. Ah, if we go that route then we leave ourselves wide open to the others out there doing bad things. But by looking at what terrorists DO we define who they ARE without having to try and undermine their INTENT. Because what they DO is something that is an abomination to all Nations and all Peoples without having to get fancy about it.
adj 1: of or having to do with the southern Confederacy during the
Civil War; "Confederate soldiers" [syn: Confederate]
2: united in a confederacy or league [syn: allied, confederative]
n 1: a supporter of the Confederate States of America [syn: Confederate]
2: someone who assists in a plot [syn: collaborator, henchman,
partner in crime]
3: a person who joins with another in carrying out some plan
(especially an unethical or illegal plan) [syn: accomplice]
v 1: form a group or unite; "The groups banded together" [syn: band
2: form a confederation with; of nations
Now we have a few other terms picked up on this jaunt and we really do have to see if they fit this 'terrorism' label, also. A simple 'highwayman', or individual or group of same with AK-47s to rob is pretty self-explanatory, really. But, 'freebooter'? Ooooo! I love the sound of that! So lets see if 'terrorists' are 'freebooters' also! So back to die.net and Webster's (although the temptation for the Devil's Dictionary is hard to pass up):
Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)Hmmm... plunder, pillage and such without the authority of national warfare... predatory band... buccaneer... sea robber. Apparently not... but, wait! These go under the heading of Pirate! Anyone who has read anything on that topic here will now get some short and sweet of US Federal Code! Because, believe it or not, this *is* important. I have looked at this topic with these posts: When terrorists are Pirates, A deeper look at Terrorism and Piracy, and Why do we refuse to call terrorism what it is? Yes, a long look at that and so you will get the sweetened condensed version, and for the pure, raw stuff you will need to read those previous three posts.
Freebooter \Free"boot`er\, n. [D. vrijbuiter, fr. vrijbuiten to
plunder; vrij free + buit booty, akin to E. booty. See
Free, and Booty, and cf. Filibuster.]
One who plunders or pillages without the authority of
national warfare; a member of a predatory band; a pillager; a
buccaneer; a sea robber. --Bacon.
Under 18 USC 1651 we get the first and broadest view of Piracy:
Sec. 1651. Piracy under law of nationsBlunt, direct, to the point. This is under the High Seas and commerce regularization power given to Congress for making law, and the Laws of the High Seas are for open an free transport across the waterways and being unassailed by outside organizations and Nations. When attacked on the High Seas without warrant or declaration of open warfare, or by groups not a part of any Nation, you can go to the Piracy laws to get relief via the US Admiralty courts. Yes, the Navy. As in: military law and justice. Suffice it to say I will point out one attack by al Qaeda that justifies this designation from this law alone: USS Cole bombing. Further, all of Hezbollah can be considered for its sinking of a merchantman vessel at sea last year. Any organization that attacks without warrant upon the High Seas is a Pirate.
Whoever, on the high seas, commits the crime of piracy as defined by the law of nations, and is afterwards brought into or found in the United States, shall be imprisoned for life.
Doesn't matter if they have a ship or not, either. The commission of the crimes against the High Seas Laws for freedom of navigation for commerce and of National military craft adhering to Treaty obligations makes them sacrosanct against unwarranted attack as they sail. If Pirates, in days of yore, had set up cannon in frequently passaged straights to sink ships (both merchant or war vessel) they would be considered to be Pirates. Probably brigands, too, come to that. And their 'confederates' would also be Pirates.
As the Laws of the High Seas were made before air navigation the Congress has amended the US Code in 49 USC 40120 to extend the Laws of the High Seas into overlaying airspace, with compensations for navigation due to the way things work and a bit of amending for underwater and underground to be part of this, also. Now, think of every, single aircraft hijacking outside the United States and its territories that involved any of the following: US Citizens, US Armed Forces personnel, aircraft owned in whole or in part by the US or its companies or its citizen's investments. We have a term for those that take over aircraft to reroute them for personal gain and notoriety: Pirates. The aim is to gain cash and media attention for their cause, when they just aren't destroying them or killing the folks on board. That act of 'air piracy' outside the United States is Piracy in the air, not 'air piracy' due to the extension of the High Seas Law. Now think of every terrorist organization and group that has done THAT in its history. We now can name them as Pirates. You may peruse the articles to see the extensiveness of Piracy laws to cover lawful US commerce overseas, its property and individuals employed in same. Because they are all covered. Along with Admiralty offices which, due to the USMC presence at Embassies, includes each and every US Embassy - attack an Embassy and you are a Pirate in addition to being a 'terrorist'.
My, this is getting pointed now, isn't it? No longer just trying to 'undermine memes' but calling attention to the activity, the law and the fact that it is military law that is being broken, not civil law. It is almost like we didn't want to pay any attention to this for a few decades and it came back to bite us with a few thousand dead on a bright September morn. And we still don't.
Looking to 'undermine memes' of Islamic Terrorist organizations is 'undermining memes' of our civilization by trying to fight our enemies on their semantic turf.
To hell with that!
I have plenty of things I can call 'terrorists' without even having to resort to specializing them by Islamic or narcotics or blended-mode mafioso: outlaw, bandits, brigands, and Pirates.
They are these on the international scale an old nemesis of civilization rising up in modern form, but its form is still of that same shape and outline that can be easily described by our ancestors. No need to import new words for old criminal concepts, in fact that undermines the very basis of what the Law of Nations is founded upon: set concepts that one transgresses at their peril.
And since we already have what should be done with them, we should be doing it.
Not trying to play sweet semantic games, but using the blunderbuss of ancient terms so that barbarians can be named and brought to heel. They wish to live and rule by the sword.
It is up to us to make sure they die by the sword.
Or we are worthless descendants of worthy forebearers, unwilling to name enemies and do what is right for ourselves, our Nation and our civilization.