The U.S. Federal “approach” to terrorism

Recently, Police Science Institute’s Founder and Program Director, Mr. David A. Dadoun, was asked to differentiate between the ways certain countries address their respective “laws of terrorism”:


Program Director Dadoun suggested … “When examining the ways countries around the world ‘approach’ the matter of terrorism as it relates to their laws and practical applications, we see a wide diversity ranging from substantial codified laws / policies to ‘indirect’ application of statutes and regulations.   As such, many countries have set out strict laws specifically addressing the act of terrorism itself, while others address numerous criminal acts that may or may not be as a result of terrorist activity.


For the most part, the United States Federal legal approach to the investigation and prosecution of terrorism has involved the discovery of predicate crimes which count toward conspiracy offenses comprising the material support of terrorism.   Apart from that, in America, there exists very little organized legislation that might be accurately called the ‘U.S. law(s) of terrorism’.    Typical perpetrators are not usually charged with terrorism, but instead, with other offenses predominantly criminal in nature.


Accordingly, under U.S, law, there exists a relatively long-standing legal code cited as Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113B, Section 2331, which is entitled "Terrorism".    While this is an attempt to ‘define’ terrorism, it is essentially America's version of outlawing ruinous and destructive conflict intended to protect from international conflicts that spill over onto American soil.    While this law might seem weak, it effectively protected America well up through the Clinton presidential period.


And, keep in mind, within the context of the U.S. Constitution, it is not illegal to claim that you are a terrorist, or, belong to a terrorist group, or, be suspected of being a terrorist.   Instead, ninety (90%) percent of the time, suspected terrorists do nothing wrong until they commit an indictable act.   The exceptions to this are what the criminal justice system refers to as the "suspect," the "person of interest," or, the "unindicted co-conspirator."


In the great majority of U.S. cases, indicted terrorists are charged with crimes (in lieu of “terrorism”) such as planning for violence, raising funds illegally, and, conspiring to carry out a violent act.   The most common criminal charges initially lodged against such terrorists have included bombing, arson, hijacking, assault, kidnapping, murder, theft and sabotage.   Bottom line … the ‘jury is still out’ as to the comparative, long-term effectiveness of the U.S. approach.”

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