Tuesday, March 14, 2006
  Local Terrorism...
Maybe you folks outside our illustrious state have heard about it and maybe not. On March 3rd Mohammed Taheri-azar, a student at UNC - Chapel Hill, drove into a cluster of his fellow students attempting to kill them. He did this, he said, in retribution for what the US has done in other countries and to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world.

I heard on the news this morning that this act may or may not be be defined as terrorism, legally. It could be that he's suffering from a mental disorder and that he did it not as a terrorist act, but because he's sick. I can agree that whether or not he's a terrorist would depend on his mental state. Just as murder isn't murder (legally) if you are temporarily insane, I would say that terrorism isn't legally terrorism if you aren't in your right mind. (Though how you could kill a building full of people and be in your right mind is a topic for another discussion.) I'll leave that up to the judges.

Or I would if this person could be tried as a terrorist. Because he didn't commit a federal crime and because Norht Carolina doesn't have increased sentencing guidelines for terrorist acts not involving WMD's, the worst he can get is attempted murder. No doubt he will do some jail time, but it would be nice if he could stay in jail a little longer as a terrorist, since that was his expressed motive. All of this of course applying only if he isn't crazy in the legal sense.
So is he a terrorist or not? I would imagine that the would-be victims may have been terrorized.
I guess that all depends on the definition of terrorist. If it just means someone who inflicts terror on their victims then yes he is. But I don't think it's that simple.
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