ter·ror·ist (ter'er-ist) n. 1. One who engages in acts or an act of terrorism.
2. One who leads an armed group that kills civilians as a means of political intimidation -- unless he terrorizes Haitians while on the CIA-payroll, as did 1990s death squad leader Emmanuel Constant, in which case the U.S. refuses to extradite him to Haiti, even after Sept. 11, 2001.
3. One who targets civilian airliners and ships -- unless he blows up a Cuban civilian airliner, killing 73 people, and fires at a Polish freighter, like Orlando Bosch, in which case he is coddled and paroled by the Bush Justice Department in 1990, and his extradition is blocked.
4. One who leads a group that engages in kidnapping and murder -- unless the victims are Hondurans attacked by CIA-backed death squad Battalion 316, in which case Battalion architect Gustavo Alvarez becomes a Pentagon consultant, while the then-ambassador to Honduras who downplayed the terror, John Negroponte, is appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations days after Sept. 11.
5. One who uses rape and murder for political purposes -- unless the victims are four U.S. church women sexually assaulted and killed in 1980 by members of El Salvador’s U.S.-backed military, in which case excuses and distortions pour forth from then-U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick (“these nuns were not just nuns; they were also political activists”) and Secretary of State Al Haig (the nuns “may have tried to run a roadblock”).
6. One who designates civilians as “soft targets” to be attacked in the cause of political transformation -- unless the targets are Nicaraguans killed by Contra guerrillas armed and directed by the U.S who, according to Human Rights Watch, “systematically engage in violent abuses…so prevalent that these may be said to be their principal means of waging war.”
7. One who facilitates a massacre of civilians -- unless the victims are 900 Palestinians shot and hacked to death in the Sabra and Shatila camps by Lebanese Christian militia as Israeli soldiers stood guard, in which case Israel’s then-Defense Minster (now Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon remains a U.S. “War on Terrorism” ally after being censured as indirectly responsible for the massacre by an Israeli commission of inquiry.
Jeff Cohen is a media critic and author.