Political Terrorism: The Latest Threat to American Security

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By Dr. Monique M. Chouraeshkenazi

Photo Source: Bernie Suarez

On October 24, it was announced that suspicious packages, contained with possible explosives, were delivered to former presidential, political leaders, and CNN’s New York division. Former President Obama, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan, Democratic Representative Maxine Waters, Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman, and Business Magnate and philanthropist George Soros were targets of what seems to be a premeditated assassination attempt of American leaders. All packages were intercepted and no one was harmed. Secret Service continues to investigate the case by sending the explosives to Quantico for additional review.

As law enforcement continues to investigate, there have been unnerving developments of the bomber’s methodical pattern: American figures, who were targeted, are political leftists.  Additionally, the perpetrator targeted prominent officials, who have publicly criticized, and condemned the actions of the Trump administration. Is it a coincidence the individuals threatened have been publicly targeted in POTUS’s political rhetoric? 

Americans are angered that President Donald Trump “missed the mark” to step up and be a true leader in the aftermath of terrorist attacks. In fact, he verbally attacked his political opponents and the news media the same evening the bombs were intercepted. The president addressed that nation by stating, “in these times we have to unify. We have to come together and send one very clear strong unmistakable message; that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.” Though, the same day, he criticized his political leaders and news outlets expressing both are the cause for the turbulent national political environment.

To this day, President Trump has not outwardly condemned discrimination, hatred, racism, or division within the United States. He has consistently demonized media outlets as “fake news” and “enemy of the people,” undermined and verbally abused American leaders, and has made a mockery of the free world. This latest attack on leaders of the most powerful country in the world is another testament to the lack of oversight and accountability within the presidential administration and Congress.

All news outlets have covered this event, but it was the interview between CNN television journalist, Chris Cuomo, and his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Their perspective on the incident has heightened the reality of terrorism in America. Governor Cuomo stated President Trump and other agencies have labeled this incident as an act of domestic terrorism. The governor was emphatic on identifying the attempted attacks as a form of political terrorism. Once again, we’ve reached an impasse when it comes to defining and understanding the philosophical and scientific act of terrorism. It would be instinctual to consider this an act of domestic terrorism, as the incidents targeted are American leaders and the incident happened on U.S. soil. However, since the origin of the bombs has not been determined and the perpetrator(s) is/are not identified, it cannot be deduced as a form of domestic or even an international terroristic act. Because of the ambiguity on what terrorism entails and what constitutes an act, I defined terrorism as the following:

The premeditated and deliberate use of extreme violence to pursue a specific goal that is predicated on a self-belief system of ideological, religious, and/or sociopolitical principles by a nation state, non-nation state, or radical extremists to instill fear within an assembly, which practices governance over large population.

The definition includes radical/extreme and violent acts that are predicated on sociopolitical views, which constitutes the conceptualization of terrorism. Nevertheless, this attack is a direct correlation to instill fear in the democratic margin for various reasons. As the midterm elections are less than two weeks away, it can be assumed that this was an act to shake the “lefts” to mitigate maximum participation in the voting and imparting fear within the Democratic party to cause a distraction of the goal, which is increase voting registrations as a step to winning the major within Congress.

In my Global Terrorism course, I teach Rapoport’s theory on the four modern waves of terrorism, which is predicated on political violence through distinctive periods. Erin Walls of Georgetown University, states political extremism is indicative of generational sociopolitical views that resulted from anarchism, anti-colonialism, socialism, and religious fundamentalism. The conceptualization of the scholar’s wave theory postulated idiosyncratic paradigms that aligned with concurrent international terrorism events based on common views, methodologies, and strategic plans. Political terrorism has played a significant role in domestic and international security concerns and strategic efforts have been identified in the manipulation for religious and ideologies extremism to disguise political intentions.

Identifying political terrorism and controlling the narrative is the key to mitigating future attacks. It is up to America’s leadership to take control and face top homeland security concerns that impact and/or negative influences legislative initiatives. Additionally, it is vital to provide congressional and law enforcement oversight and demand accountability to condemn those who dissipates the conceptualization of American values, rights, freedoms, and protections. Finally, it is up to Congress to mitigate the oblivion of an unstable administration and clearly condemn actions that fail to protect our leaders and the American public from all types of terrorism and ostensibly have severe consequences those who do not.

Dr. Monique Chouraeshkenazi