Last month, watching news on the Islamic State's attacks in Paris, I thought to myself, “I'm surprised such terrorist attacks don't really happen here.”
Of course, I was wrong. Very wrong. Such attacks do happen in the United States. And with increasing frequency.
The June massacre of African-American parishioners at a Charleston church. The July mass shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette. The deadly November 27 attack at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic.
It's been reported that the motives for all three attacks were rooted in political beliefs: white supremacist politics, anti-feminist ideology and anti-abortion fanaticism.
That's domestic terrorism.
The term, as laid out by the FBI, fits: Domestic terrorism is characterized as acts that “appear 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 mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.”
Some are cautious to use the terminology, preferring instead “hate crime” and citing a need for proof of ties to larger, structured organizations.
But terrorism is terrorism, whether it's conducted by a group or an individual and whether it's carried out with guns or explosives. Besides, in all the cases mentioned above it seems as though the individual, even if acting alone, was moved to action by a broader political group-think.
That's terrorism, domestic or otherwise.