By Sajjad Shaukat for Veterans Today
At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 others injured on October 1, this year, when a gunman opened fire on concertgoers from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada.
An American national, Stephen Paddock was identified by the US security agencies as the shooter, who was armed with as many as 20 weapons, including automatic and semi-automatic rifles and committed suicide by turning one of the guns on himself.
Latest information disclosed, “Authorities have said that 12 of the weapons recovered from Paddock’s hotel suite were equipped with so-called bump-stock devices that enable semi-automatic rifles to be operated as if they were fully automatic machine-guns. Paddock’s ability to fire hundreds of rounds per minute over the course of his 10-minute shooting spree was a major factor in the high casualty count.”
Next day of the incident, through its Amaq propaganda agency, Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL) claimed responsibility for the incident, disclosing that “the Las Vegas attacker is a soldier of the Islamic State in response to calls to target coalition countries—converted to Islam several months ago” — but provided no evidence to support the assertion.
According to the US media, “Senior US homeland security official said that there was no evidence Paddock had links to international or domestic terror groups. Paddock’s brother Eric told Reuters, he was sure there would be no terrorism link. I will bet any amount of money that they will not find any link to anything … he did this completely by himself.”
NBC News, CNN and some other newspapers pointed out, “A lone wolf gunman carried out America’s deadliest mass shooting in a meticulously planned attack after waiting for three days in a hotel suite before striking at a festival crowd of 22,000…FBI agent Aaron Rouse, who is leading the investigation, told reporters…We have determined at this point no connection to international terrorist organization…He was reacting to a statement ISIS released earlier, which read…The Las Vegas attack was carried out by a soldier of the Islamic State…But despite…the claim, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said no motive had been found during their investigations nor was there any connection with a militant group. Stephen’s family said he had no political or religious affiliation. The extremist organisation has suffered a string of major setbacks in Iraq and Syria, where it has lost much of the territory it once claimed as part of a self-styled Islamic caliphate. But the group remains active in recruiting followers on social media, and has repeatedly called on its supporters to carry out attacks in Western nations…Within hours came the bizarre revelation that Paddock was the son of a bank robber named Patrick Benjamin Paddock, who used the alias Benjamin Hoskins Paddock and had once been on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. As has been its habit of late, ISIS claimed credit for the latest explosion of U.S. domestic terrorism. But the FBI quickly dismissed that…Nor was Paddock on law enforcement’s radar.” The girlfriend of the Las Vegas gunman said, she had no idea what her partner was planning…A shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night…the deadliest shooting in modern American history. The group’s [ISIS] claims can be difficult to confirm… deny, with one alleging that explosives were planted at Charles de Gaulle airport recently disproved after being published in its al-Naba propaganda newspaper. Conversely, Isis has also failed to claim responsibility for several attacks carried out by potential supporters, including a deadly knife rampage in Hamburg and terrorist stabbing in Finland.”
Meanwhile, Newsweek reported on October 5, 2017, “The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has published a new infographic detailing how the jihadists orchestrated the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history on Sunday night, despite serious doubts as to the group’s involvement by authorities.”
But, online news said that American investigators have, again clarified that “looking into Sunday’s massacre, they have found no known nexus to terror or connections to ISIS.”
However, since Trump took office, more Americans have been killed by white American men with no connection to the ISIS terrorists or the foreign Muslims. While,President Donald Trump signed his since-revised executive order, banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, he claimed, “it was to protect Americans from “radical Islamic terrorists…inspired or directed by groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda do pose a clear threat to the US.”
In Trump’s very first speech to Congress, he said that “the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.”
But none of the perpetrators of the major US terrorist assaults carried out in the name of Islam in the past 15 years have come from the nations on Trump’s travel ban. In fact, the country is home of the biggest number of terrorists who have carried out successful attacks inside the US is the US itself.
The NBC News said on October 4, 2017, “More Americans have died from gunshots in the last 50 years than in all of the wars in American history. Since 1968, more than 1.5 million Americans have died in gun-related incidents, according to data from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, approximately 1.2 million service members have been killed in every war in U.S. history, according to estimates from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Casualties. Org. a website that maintains an ongoing database of casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sunday’s massacre in Las Vegas—which left 59 dead and 530 others injured—is the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. And such attacks are becoming more common.”
The New York Times described on October 3, 2017, “If only Stephen Paddock had been a Muslim…If only he had shouted “Allahu akbar” before he opened fire on all those concertgoers in Las Vegas…If only he had been a member of ISIS…If only we had a picture of him posing with a Quran in one hand and his semiautomatic rifle in another…If all of that had happened, no one would be telling us not to dishonor the victims and “politicize” Paddock’s mass murder by talking about preventive remedies. No, no, no. Then we know what we’d be doing. We’d be scheduling immediate hearings in Congress about the worst domestic terrorism event since 9/11. Then Donald Trump would be tweeting every hour “I told you so,” as he does minutes after every terror attack in Europe, precisely to immediately politicize them. Then there would be immediate calls for a commission of inquiry to see what new laws we need to put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Then we’d be “weighing all options” against the country of origin. But what happens when the country of origin is us? What happens when the killer was only a disturbed American armed to the teeth with military-style weapons that he bought legally or acquired easily because of us and our crazy lax gun laws? Then we know what happens: The president and the Republican Party go into overdrive to ensure that nothing happens. Then they insist — unlike with every ISIS-related terror attack — that the event must not be “politicized” by asking anyone, particularly themselves, to look in the mirror and rethink their opposition to common-sense gun laws.”
Nevertheless, American President Donald Trump described the massacre as an “act of pure evil”, but, sidestepped calls for tighter gun laws. His spokesman later said, “Mr Trump stood by the Second Amendment which guarantees the “right to bear arms”.
As President Trump departed on October 3, 2017 for a visit to Puerto Rico, he ignored shouted questions on whether the Las Vegas shooting should prompt stricter gun control laws. But, he did have harsh words for the suspected gunman, Stephen Paddock by saying, “He’s a sick man, a demented man, lot of problems, I guess…We’re dealing with a very, very sick individual.”
It is surprising that by denying the shooting at a concert in Las Vegas as an act of terrorism, US media and officials are calling it an individual act of Paddock “who acted with malice, and individually, but, he also did so by taking advantage of a nation that permits the near unbridled manufacture and distribution of high-powered weapons and ammunition that have but one purpose: to kill.”
In the wake of renewed calls for curbs on the high-powered guns which have been used to kill so many Americans, a majority of the US analysts, including law-makers describe the incident of La Vegas shooting as criminal act instead of terrorism-related event.
Nonetheless, we need to refocus on terrorism and causes of the suicide attacks in order to know that either shooting at music festival in Las Vegas amounts to terrorism or criminal act of an individual.
While, writing regarding terrorism and causes of the suicide attacks, Western psychiatrists believe that many terrorists have had a difficult childhood producing narcissistic wounds, resulting in “projecting the hated parts of the self onto the outside world”. According to another similar reasoning, “The desire to destroy the establishment is driven by the terrorist’s search for identity.” This dynamic could result in operatives taking unauthorized vengeance against society for their own reasons unrelated to the group’s cause; such acts are equivalent to military officers making politically unauthorized use of their weapons.
In his book, “The Readiness to Kill and Die: Suicidal Terrorism in the Middle East.” a professor of psychology, Ariel Merari who provides a comprehensive analysis of suicide attacks and terrorism by showing how personality characteristics interact with group pressure and public atmosphere, points out, “Most suicide terrorist attacks are carried out by sub-state groups, whether organized as terrorist groups or as self-starter cells…this is because it is easier for groups to transform susceptible individuals into terrorists by radicalizing, recruiting, indoctrinating and training them to become suicide bombers and then videotaping their commitment to martyrdom. Such groups receive their oxygen from religions and societies that glorify martyrdom into an afterlife in paradise.”
Besides mentioning other causes of terrorism, a number of writers, authors and researchers agree by remarking, “Terrorists recruit mentally unbalanced youths to carry out suicide missions.” However, some depressed operatives may follow instructions in carrying out suicide missions.
Since the US started fake global war against terrorism, after the 9/11 tragedy, various political experts have opined that terrorism comes in a variety of forms such as religious terrorism, secular terrorism, economic terrorism etc., but its main aim is to achieve political, economic and social ends.
Bruce Hoffman, in his book “Inside Terrorism” writes: “For the religious terrorism, violence is the foremost divine duty executed in direct response to some demand or imperative…the secular terrorist sense leads to a sanctioning of limitless violence against a virtually open-ended category of targets.”
Besides, in various countries, including America, laws have been enforced to cope with the problem of terrorism. For example, in case of Pakistan, almost all the political parties unanimously had agreed on a draft of legislative measures—the 20 points National Action Plan—the bill as 22nd (Constitutional) Amendment was enforced soon after its approval from the parliament. Now, individuals will be punished in accordance with the National Action Plan which includes countering hate speech and extremist material, choking financing for terrorists and terrorist organizations, taking effective steps against religious persecution, ban on glorification of terrorism and terrorists organization through print and electronic media, measures against abuse of internet and social media for terrorism, dealing firmly with sectarian terrorists and so on.
It is worth-mentioning that war between two sovereign states is a reciprocal activity between like (though not necessarily equal) forces. War especially between the militants and state terrorists is a one way relationship between unlike. As in most of the cases, both the US-led military troops and the Muslim militants led by Al-Qaeda and ISIS also kill the innocent people, apart from the concerned combatants; war or different war might most clearly be defined as the use of violence by the armed against the unarmed. Only because the targets are unprepared by organizational training to cope with the shock of violence, are they put into terror or fear. Conventional military action through military forces against the innocent civilians as found by the Americans, Israelis and Indians in case of Iraq (During occupation), Afghanistan (By NATO), Syria and in the ‘controlled territories’ of the Palestine and Kashmir respectively may well terrify the general mass, is also terrorism, hence, part of this new style conflict.
Quincy Wright, while observing in relation to strategy and diplomacy, takes war as “the use of regulated violence for political ends.” It is an approach comfortably shared by such realist thinkers as Hobbes, Bacon, Machiavelli, Clausewitz and Morgenthau.
We must keep in mind that terrorism in all its manifestations either practiced by a group or the state or an individual is manipulation of force to meet objectives.
But, it is a terminological confusion, if we only justify the war between two rival states and do not call the induction of fear by military action in suppressing freedom movements as terrorism. It also includes the terrorist act of an individual who seeks revenge by killing innocent persons through weapons and afterwards commit suicide. It is not doubtful that fear-inducement, created by terrorist groups like ISIS, state terrorists and an individual who employ abnormal force on the unarmed amounts to terrorism. People continuously live in the shadow of fear, terror and death.
There is no denying the fact that since 9/11, the US-led global war on terror has been functioning in much the same way as terrorism. The methods of force employment overtly and covertly by the American troopers and CIA, and covertly by the Muslim fighters are the same, though difference exists only in the tactics.
It is notable that the character of Donald Trump has emerged as a political terrorist. In order to win the presidential race of the Republican Party, Trump had started exaggerating the threat of Islamophobia by manipulating various terror attacks in the US and Europe. Trump manipulated the terror attacks which occurred in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, Orlando, Nice and Munich etc., which were, in fact, false flag operations, conducted by Israeli Mossad and some agents of CIA who were playing the double game by using the terrorists of the ISIL in this respect, while, some incidents were not linked to ISIS, but were the result of self-radicalization of the individuals.
Donald Trump used each terror assault of Europe and the shooting at San Bernardino, California in fueling anti-Muslim racialism in America and to get the sympathies of a majority of the ordinary Americans and those of Europe, who did not have much time to go into depth-analysis and have been misguided by his emotional speeches, statements and false hopes. The more he exploited the threat of Islamic militants, the more popularity he got among general masses of America, who have been impressed by his stereotypes. Particularly, after the incident at San Bernardino, which resulted in the deaths of 14 persons by a Muslim couple, Donald Trump had called for a ban on Muslims, entering the United States.
Regarding the shooting at the gay night club in Orlando (Florida) which killed at least 49 individuals on June 12, 2016, The Washington Post in an article, under the caption, “Trump’s reckless, dangerous Islamophobia helps the Islamic State”, wrote on June 13, 2016, “Trump’s standards, his comments about the Orlando shooting have been reckless and self-serving. They are also dangerous for the country…the strongest remaining force that propels the Islamic State is the Islamophobia of Trump and his European counterparts, argue senior intelligence strategists for the U.S.-led coalition. Inflammatory, xenophobic statements about Muslims reinforce the jihadists’ claims that they are Muslim knights fighting against an intolerant West. Trump unwittingly gives them precisely the role they dream about.”
In this regard, Khaled A. Beydoun opined on the Aljazeera multimedia network on March 13, 2016, “The world brand Trump is becoming synonymous with expansion of racism and incitement of Islamophobia…I think Islam hate us, said Donald Trump, 24 hours before the Republican presidential debate in Miami…is a call to his voting base, to further galvanise them around a disdain for Islam that not only heightens hateful fervour at his rallies, but incites violence on American blocks and pushes bigots to the ballot box…the statement is rooted in the very ignorance and hate which made him the darling of bigots and surged him up the polls…Islamophobia…the suspicion and fear of Islam and its 1.7 billion adherent-is political ideology for Trump.”
Anti-Muslim rhetoric of Trump could be judged from his several other statements. Trump’s opposition to Muslim refugees, especially from Syria is very well known. During his appearance with the National Border Patrol Council’s Green Line radio show on May 15, 2016, Donald Trump predicted that refugees with ISIS-funded cell phones will conduct another 9/11-like terrorist attack in the US. During a GOP debate in December, 2016, he had already expressed similar thoughts by giving “Americans wake-up call about border security and to take it seriously,” elaborating that he had “no doubt, the attackers were already entering the country.” On February 14, 2016, CIA Director John Brennan warned that ISIS attacks on “U.S. soil is inevitable.” However, these warnings were exploited by the Israeli Mossad and its affiliated CIA operatives to target the night club of Orlando so as to provide Donald Trump with an opportunity to accelerate his campaign against the Muslims.
After the shooting in Orlando, he also criticized the US President Obama to resign, slamming him for having “disgracefully refused to even say the words “Radical Islam.” Calling on his opponent-candidate Clinton to get out of the general election race for the same reason, Trump said, “Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen…we cannot afford.” Trump again remarked that he would decrease immigration from the Middle East because “since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States.” He, once again, asked for the ban of any Muslims, entering the US. On June 19, 2016, during his interview with the CBC News, he called for racial “profiling of Muslims inside the United States to combat terrorism.” He reiterated his call for more surveillance of mosques and warned that radical Muslims were trying to take over our children.
Trump continued move against Muslims. In this context, toughening immigration checks for the French and Germans in the US, questioning NATO obligations and hinting at an exit from the World Trade Organization, Donald Trump stated on July 24, 2017, “We have problems in Germany and we have problems in France…they have totally been compromised by deadly Islamist attacks in Nice and last year in Paris…you know why? It’s their own fault…because they allowed people to come into their countries.”
Nonetheless, the incident of shooting at the gay club in Orlando not only exposed that false flag operation, but also endorsed other false flag terror-attacks in the US and Europe. In this connection, in an interview with Brazilian TV on June 14, 2016, the ex-wife of the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen Sitora Yusufiy revealed that American FBI pressurized her to keep quiet about his homosexuality. While, Mateen had been dubbed as an Islamic terrorist by the American politicians, senior officials and commentators, following reports that he had pledged allegiance to the ISIS, but FBI wanted to downplay the personal and self-hating nature of the assault.
Notably, President Obama stated on June 12, 2016, “Federal authorities had made no definitive judgment on the killer’s motivation, and whether he was inspired by or directed by Islamic State or other terrorist groups.” Obama clarified by explaining “Orlando shooting was the result of Mateen’s personal resentment in relation to the gay club.”
In this respect, on June 28, 2016, The New York Times wrote, “The mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12 included a curious phrase: false flag…the victims in the shooting? They were “crisis actors” hired to promote the story as a pretext to impose tighter gun restrictions, the theory goes…the term false flag relates to naval warfare when a ship would fly a flag that would conceal its true identity as a way to lure an enemy closer. Today, it is commonly a shorthand for an act of deception…conspiracy theorists have applied the label to high-profile attacks, including the shootings by a husband and wife last year in San Bernardino, Calif, that killed 14…the phrase has even been used to doubt the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”
Similarly, the teenager Ali David Sonboly who killed 9 people in Munich had no connection with the ISIS. Police investigation revealed that he was “a mentally troubled person” and police also discovered extremist material, linked to the attack by Andres Behring Brevik, the white supremacist who murdered 77 persons in Norway in 2011. And the shooting in the French city of Nice was also a false flag terror-act, as CIA-Mossad arranged it with help of ISIS which used homegrown terrorists of France.
However, various terrorism-related attacks in the US and Europe, which occurred in 2015, 2016 and 2017 were false flag operations, managed by Mossad in connivance with the homegrown terrorists of the target-countries so as to obtain secret goals of America and Israel against Russia and the Muslims, and to provide Trump equal chance to exploit the same.
Trump remains silence about the American homegrown militants who have killed more innocent persons than those massacred by Al-Qaeda and ISIS inside the US. He has also set aside the assaults by the extremist Americans on mosques.
While, such a discriminatory policy towards Muslims is already annoying Islamic community in the multicultural societies of the US-led West and is causing more recruitment in the militant outfits like Al-Qaeda and especially ISIS, Donald Trump has left no stone unturned by providing new ammunition to these terrorist groups. He has, deliberately, taken his anti-Muslim rhetoric to a climax, inspiring the moderate Muslims to join the extremists or terrorist outfits.
It is mentionable that as part of the anti-Muslim approach, and with the support of its Western allies, American President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama deliberately created chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria, including other Islamic countries such as Somalia, Yemen etc. where Washington was indirectly involved to obtain the illegitimate political and economic interests of the Zionist Jews and Israel. The US President Trump who wants to complete the unfinished agenda of Israel continues anti-Muslim policies.
It is of particular attention that the most important cause behind the suicide attacks is that when real brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, parents and the fellows of the Muslims, demanding independence from the Zionist-Israeli-led colonialism, and neo-imperialism are being killed due to state terrorism, extremism develops in the concerned persons who feel psychologically compelled to commit violent acts (or suicide attacks) and the political objectives they espouse are only a rationalization. Psychologically speaking, when a person crosses the stage of fear towards non-fear in these adverse circumstances, the previous one can never be achieved and in such a case, even a coward person becomes bold to commit suicide or any violent act. A number of suicide missions in Iraq (During occupation), Afghanistan, Israel and the Indian-held Kashmir verify this fact. Particularly, some events of women committing suicide also testify this fact. It is because of these reasons that human lives themselves become bombs, supplying the requisites of new style deterrence.
When the US and other pro-American coalition troops including Israeli and Indian forces kill the innocent Afghans, Palestinians, Syrians and Kashmiris through aerial bombardment, ground shelling and special operations, Europeans and Americans do not consider the same as terrorism, because they are rational actors, but, when Muslim freedom fighters seek revenge through ambush attacks and suicide operations, term of terrorism is being used against them, because these acts are committed by irrational actors.
Washington and Western media like Israel and India conveniently defines terrorism as actions by the parties which operate against their own interests and ignore any other kind. On the other hand, Muslims equate the use of force by America and its partners in the occupied territories with state terrorism.
Like other religions, Islam is a religion of peace and Jihad does not permit acts of terrorism or suicide attacks. But, it owing to the double game and religious fervour, created by the US-led state terrorism in Afghanistan, Syria and occupied territories of Palestine and Kashmir that the militant groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS and their affiliated terror-outfits will further misinterpret the concept of Jihad to motivate the common Muslims to target Christians, Westerners and especially Americans. It is what President Trump, Tel Aviv and New Delhi want.
It is worth-mentioning that by following the double standards of the US in its worst form, President Trump also brushed aside the ground realities that Indian Prime Minister Narindra Modi led by the ruling fundamentalist party BJP has been implementing anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda, while encouraging Hindutva (Hindu nationalism). Besides Muslims, BJP and other extremist outfits have also been targeting the Christians and their places of worship. Donald Trump has further encouraged Hindu terrorism inside India where other religious minorities are living under perennial fear. And the US-led Western countries have ignored Hindu terrorism.
It is owing to the dual policy of the US-led Europe, Israel and India that ISIS which is most dangerous terrorist group than Al-Qaeda has accelerated terrorism-related attacks in the US, Europe, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Iran, Iraq etc. and in some African countries which besides Muslims also targeted the Christians.
After its defeat by the Russian-led coalition of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon-based Hezbollah in Syria and Iraq, Daesh is rapidly spreading its tentacles in Asia and particularly South Asia.
Taking cognizance of Trump’s political follies—terror-hysteria, religious bigotry and racialism which are well-penetrated in his personality, some writers and researches, including American politicians call him a “crazy person” and some call him, a “mad man.” In these terms, his character itself falls in the category of terrorism.
As regards Las Vegas shooting, BBC said on October 3, 2017, “According to to Nevada Law, an “act of terrorism” is described as…Any act that involves the use of violence intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population…At federal level, the US defines “domestic terrorism” as activities that meet three criteria-dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law”, those that are intended to intimidate or coerce civilians or governments, and which occur primarily within the US.”
Returning to our main discussion, we may conclude in light of various forms of terrorism and causes of suicide attacks that mentally unbalanced youths or individuals carry out suicide missions. In these terms, Stephen Paddock’s horrible act by shooting on concertgoers in Las Vegas and afterwards, committing suicide by killing himself amounts to terrorism.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations
Email: [email protected]