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March 7, 2006
Can We Call This Terrorism Yet?

Terrorism, in its most objective definition, is the use of violence or the threat of violence against civilian populations in order to advance a political or religious philosophy. Under this definition, doesn't the admission of Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar make his attempt to murder dozens of people with his rented SUV an act of terrorism? So far, the FBI and prosecutors still won't say:

University of North Carolina graduate from Iran, accused of running down nine people on campus to avenge the treatment of Muslims, said at a hearing Monday that he was "thankful for the opportunity to spread the will of Allah."

Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar was accused of driving a sport-utility vehicle through the Pit, a popular campus gathering spot, injuring nine people Friday. None of the victims was seriously hurt.

University Police Chief Derek Poarch said Taheri-azar told investigators he intentionally hit people to "avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world." In a 911 call after the incident, Taheri-azar said he wanted to "punish the government of the United States for their actions around the world."

Michelle Malkin has followed this case from the beginning. She has noted that UNC students don't seem to have a problem determining that Taheri-azar is a terrorist, as a number of Tarheels protested against political violence yesterday. They wonder why law enforcement can't make the common-sense determination that a man who rented the biggest car he could get in order to inflict the most damage possible on civilian pedestrians in order to make his political statement against the US is indeed a terrorist. If he had a bomb in the car and it injured the same amount of people, no one would dispute the characterization at all.

Will such a designation change much? It would make Taheri-azar vulnerable to federal charges and longer prison sentencing, although North Carolina could probably send him away for the rest of his life as it is. But it's beginning to look like some government officials don't want to have this rampage counted as a terrorist attack on their watch. It's the only explanation for their reluctance to bring the appropriate charges.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 7, 2006 6:59 AM

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