The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:;
CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:

Double Standard on 'Terror' Counterproductive, Offensive Attack on Texas IRS Office Not Called 'Terrorism,' Despite Fitting Definition


The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), along with other
national Muslim organizations, today held a news conference in
Washington, D.C., to express concerns over a perceived double standard
on the use of the label "terrorism" as it relates to acts of political
violence committed by people who are not Muslims.

Muslim groups taking part in the news conference included MAS Freedom
and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Council for Social

CAIR's news conference was prompted by coverage of
last week's politically-motivated airborne suicide attack on an
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office in Austin, Texas, which the
Muslim civil rights and advocacy group called an act of terror."

SEE: Muslim Group Wants Government to Call Plane Attack Terrorism (The Hill)

In a statement read at today's Capitol Hill event, CAIR Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili said:

law defines 'terrorism' as 'premeditated, politically motivated
violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets' or as 'the unlawful
use of force against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a
government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in
furtherance of political or social objectives.'

"When an
act that fits these definitions is carried out by a Muslim individual
or group, there is and should be no hesitation in labeling that act

"Regrettably, when an act fitting the legal
definitions of terrorism is carried out by someone who is not Muslim,
there seems to be a general reluctance on the part of commentators,
public officials and law enforcement agencies to use the term.

week's attack on the IRS office in Texas perfectly fits either legal
definition of terrorism, yet it has not been labeled as such. This
apparent double standard only serves to render the term 'terrorism'
meaningless and imbues it with a sense of religious and ethnic bias
that is both counterproductive and offensive.

"As Glenn Greenwald wrote on,
'The term now has virtually nothing to do with the act itself and
everything to do with the identity of the actor, especially his or her
religious identity.'

"Failure to label the IRS
attack in Texas an act of terrorism has had real consequences.
Supporters of the Austin terrorist on Facebook and Twitter now claim he
is a 'true American hero.' This support would likely not have
materialized if the attacker's Internet fans believed they were
supporting terrorism.

SEE: Joe Stack is a "True American Hero"
Joe Stack's Daughter Calls Deadly Austin Attack on IRS 'Wrong,' but Labels Dad Hero

"American Muslims have consistently and repeatedly condemned acts of terrorism
and repudiated all those who seek to justify the killing of civilians
in order to achieve political or religious goals. It is time for others
to do the same.

"If we are, as a nation, to achieve the
safety and security we all seek, the terms used to describe the acts of
those who would attack the innocent in order to achieve political or
religious goals must be free of bias and applicable to all
perpetrators, regardless of race or faith.

Congressman Mike McCaul, who represents Austin, Texas, is correct when
he said 'any time you fly an airplane into a federal building to kill
people, that's an act of terror.' America should identify such acts as
terrorism whenever they are committed, wherever they are committed,
whoever commits them."

SEE: Was attack an act of terrorism, rage or spectacle murder?

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group. CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

(202) 488-8787