Sunday, June 05, 2005

When does terrorism become"that kind of behaviour"?

There has been an interesting turn of events over the past few weeks downunder.

First there was judgement on the Corby case in Indonesia. There's a good summary from young Nic White at 52nd State (BTW must link him).

My feeling on the matter are as a sometimes surfer, you'd somehow know the difference between the weight of a half kilo foam bodyboard and the weight of a couple of laptops in your body board cover. Call me overly pragmatic but that's one way I see it..... the pundit in me admits there are still a lot of unknowns on this one. So again I'll leave it at that.

What is interesting, is what is happening on the periphery.

I left a comment somehwere that I thought it was a media beat-up, whipping the Australian public into a frenzy of opinion on how bad our Indonesian neighbours are and how their justice system sucks. For what purpose the media-fest was for, I don't know. The Murdoch owned Telegraph had a field day before it suddenly did a U-turn, winding its efforts backs a bit which was attributed to a bit of government pressure.

Anyway, emotions were at such a level, some nutjob decided to send some white powder described as a "biological agent" to the Indonesian embassy in Canberra in some weird and twisted reponse. Latest reports seem to indicate a bacillus bacteria.

The thing is, that this hasn't been described as an "act of terrorism"® and yet it seems to fill the criteria.

The unlawful use or threat of violence esp. against the state or the public as a politically motivated means of attack or coercion.

A search for "biological agent" and "embassy" shows 403 reults on Google news. A search on "biological agent" and "terrorism" shows only 55 results. Therefore the word "terrorism" seems to have been effectively CUT or not used in 348 articles.

Mr Howard doesn't describe this as terrorism.

"Let me say that I'm staggered that it's happened but I'm afraid that we have to recognise that there's a dark corner in every country and you can get that kind of behaviour in every country,"

Perhaps if the receiver is of an Islamic nature, the definition of terrorism doesn't apply. For example in a larger case, the alleged chemical bombing of Fallujah by the US armed forces would not be considered an act of terrorism but maybe it could be a case of "that kind of behaviour". However the use of biological or chemical agents by "terrorist organizations" in Iraq would and could not be considered "that kind of behaviour" but "terrorism".

The DOD definition of terrorism is

"(DOD) The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological."

The DOD has no definition for "that kind of behaviour".

So I 'spose if napalm was used in Fallujah, it must have been lawful violence which I'm unsure if it fits into "that kind of behaviour" or not. This is not a case of me justifying any violence from the other side (whatever that is), I find it interesting how this "terrorist" meme is used or not used depending on the perpetrator and victim of violence or threat of violence.

Is there (as Mr Howard describes it) a "that kind of behaviour alert" now at the National Security Centre? Or is this merely a case of of bit of diplomacy towards our northern neighbours? How would a "biological agent" sent to an Australian embassy in Indonesia be described by the Aussie media?

Maybe those clever people at the Telegraph could educate me on this one. I'm a little confused.


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