Open University

When Is A Shooting Just A Shooting?

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Darrin makes a good point about the gap between what fascist means to academics (when they're not talking about Bush) and what it means to the rest of the American public.

However, this Hassan Fattah story in the NYT points out the ways in which the administration's use of the term seems to defy both categorizations:

When Mr. Jaoura, a 38-year-old blacksmith and father of five, opened fire on Monday at a group of tourists in downtown Amman, killing a Briton and wounding six others, he became the latest in a new breed of terrorist, stirred by boiling anger and frustration, and taking matters into his own hands, security officials say.

While security officials are largely focused on organized terror groups like Al Qaeda, lone attackers like Mr. Jaoura present a new challenge. They are hard to track and even harder to stop, making them an especially difficult target for the police and security officials.

"No force on earth could have prevented an attack like this," said a senior Jordanian security official, who said Mr. Jaoura was surprisingly forthcoming under interrogation. "He was not an Islamist. He was isolated, and he did it on his own."

With tensions soaring high in much of the Middle East in the aftermath of Israel's war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the risk of copycat attacks has grown higher.

"Lone acts like this, done without any planning, reflect the general mood of anger and frustration here," said Muhammad Abu Rumman, an expert on Islamist movements at the Jordanian daily Al Ghad. "There is a huge gap between the government and the people, and the government cannot control this sort of thing anymore."

If you read the whole story, this seems like the kind of attack that, in the United States, would qualify as a drive-by shooting rather than "Islamofascism."

My question is, does the administration's brand-spanking new National Strategy for Combating Terrorism have any component that addresses this kind of problem? At first glance, I'm skeptical.

On the other hand, is this kind of lone gunman attack the current cost of doing business in the Middle East? At what point does the U.S. government need to downplay this sort of incident (without condoning it) rather than play it up as part of a "global terrorist movement"?

--Daniel Drezner

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