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Here’s a really simple way to view terrorist versus
criminal.  An act of terrorism is a criminal act, and
any criminal act can have an element, or elements,
of terror.

When you hear the lawyers and diplomats trying to
distinguish acts of terror from criminal acts, they’re
only debating politics.  It’s just a turf war between
our nation’s lawyer class and military professionals.  
There’s a very simple reason why the lawyer class
wants to treat all terrorist acts against Americans
anywhere in the world as a matter for law
enforcement.  In the United States, all law
enforcement is controlled by the lawyer class
through prosecutors and judges who are… lawyers.

Let’s look at the Samolian pirate attack on the
Maersk Alabama -- an American flagged cargo ship
carrying humanitarian aid to Africa.  After 20
unarmed American merchant seamen fought off
four pirates armed with AK-47 automatic assault
rifles, the pirates ended up on the ship’s life boat
holding only the ship’s captain as a hostage.  Do
you think it’s fair to say that the ship's crew and
captain would find much difference between a
terrorist or criminal act when applied to their
situation?

Prior to the resolution of the Alabama’s pirate
attack, much was made about the F.B.I’s
involvement in hostage negotiation and crime scene
investigation aboard the Alabama while its captain
floated in the middle of the Indian Ocean with
AK-47’s pointed at him.  In the end, resolution
came from the muzzles of U.S. Navy Seal snipers
which can only be described as an extraordinary
display of marksmanship skill and coordination.

There’s not a thing wrong with close cooperation
and coordination between law enforcement and the
military.  In the case of the Alabama, it was clear
that the United States government was viewing the
pirate attack as a criminal act to be addressed with
law enforcement.  Theoretically, the Seal snipers
could have been replaced by F.B.I. snipers.  Had
that been done, the whole operation could have
been a law enforcement show with the Navy acting
only in a supporting role.  Of course, the lawyer
class isn’t that stupid.  So many things could have
gone wrong with the sniper assault on the pirates.  
Taking nothing from the skill of F.B.I. snipers, the
lawyer class realized that – politically -- any risk of
failure would be better borne by the military.

When you become a police officer, you’re going to
be exposed to a lot of ridiculous arguments.  In
almost every instance, if you rely on logic and
remove the politics, a simple and efficient solution
will become obvious.
Terrorist vs
Criminal
"Terrorism and criminality are synonymous by
degree... The degree of the effect is dictated
only by the degree of the act."
~ Barry M. Baker
This one drives me nuts.  When you hear people,
particularly lawyers and diplomats, argue the
definitions of terrorist versus criminal, it’s an
argument in search of a distinction not worth
contemplating.

Terrorism and criminality are synonymous by
degree.  If you become a victim of a terrorist or
criminal act, you’ll experience physiological and
psychological effects.  The degree of the effect is
dictated only by the degree of the act.

Imagine yourself as a sales clerk in the jewelry
section of a department store.  You notice a woman
browsing the various displays.  You’re about to
approach the woman to offer assistance when you
see her remove a necklace from a display and slip
the necklace into her coat pocket.  You’ve just
witnessed a criminal act of theft/shoplifting.  Even
though this is a non-violent and arguably low level
criminal act, your mere observation will have a
physiological effect on you evidenced by an increase
in your pulse rate.  Your pulse rate may even
increase further as you return to your counter to
call for store security.
This scenario could end with the woman weeping
and claiming she was only stealing to feed her
babies.  However, this scenario is going to go a little
differently:

A store security officer responds to your call, and
you point out the suspect to the officer.  As soon
as the officer identifies himself to the suspect, she
swings her shoulder bag at the officer.  The officer
blocks the blow with his forearm, and a violent
struggle ensues.  It’s clear to you that the officer
was surprised by the violent response as he and
the suspect fall to the floor with the suspect
kicking, scratching and attempting to bite the
officer.  You also notice that the suspect is trying to
open her shoulder bag with the clear intent to
remove something.  That action doesn’t go
unnoticed by the officer as he gains control of the
bag and throws it across the floor in your direction
successfully denying the suspect any further access
to the bag.

By now you can feel your heart pounding in your
chest as you call for further assistance.  Only
seconds pass before another security officer
arrives.  You begin to relax as the suspect is finally
subdued and handcuffed.  But it’s not over yet.  
The suspect, now in custody, begins a profanity
laced verbal assault on everyone.  She looks directly
at you screaming that she knows you’re the one
who “ratted” her out.  As the suspect is dragged
away kicking and screaming, she continues calling
you every four letter word imaginable and promising
vengeance on you.  Oh yea… you’re wondering
about the suspect’s bag.  Well, after all the
excitement, you point out the bag to another
security officer who opens the bag and removes a
very large butcher knife.

Now, would you say that this criminal act escalated
to a point where you felt a degree of terror?  How
about the psychological effects you felt from the
verbal threats only to find out that the suspect was
in possession of a weapon enabling her to carry out
such threats.  Of course, she could have just
shoplifted the knife from the house wares section,
but the duct tape holding together the knife’s
broken handle sort of precluded that possibility.

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