With today’s political climate, the word “terror” has taken on many meanings. Violent attacks have spread nationwide, leaving behind more questions than answers. As many states, including West Virginia, have begun to reassess domestic terrorism laws, countless individuals are wrongly accused of terrorist acts. Where does one drawn the line in such circumstances, and where does an individual turn when he or she is accused of a threat or crime they did not commit?
WV Public Broadcasting reported last month the constituents that make up domestic terrorism, first acknowledging America’s general anxiety on the matter. And while many officials have provided their opinions on violent attacks — including President Trump in response to the Las Vegas shooting in October — there is no clear definition of domestic terrorism. WV points out that it is crucial to consider the attacker’s motive, nodding toward The Patriot Act’s definition of the crime. It is also worth mentioning that there is no clear federal charge on domestic terrorism. Unless an attacker is linked to one of the State Department’s defined foreign terrorist groups, that person may avoid a federal terrorism charge altogether.
An article in Odyssey magazine provides a more critical stance on the issue of terrorism in the country, pointing out the hurtful stereotypes many have solidified. It is evident that a dark shadow has been cast over Islam in America for years, and Odyssey reminds its readers that, out of the millions of Muslims in America, an overwhelming amount have been falsely accused of terrorist acts. To a great number of Americans, a jihad represents destruction; to Muslims, it represents peace and prosperity. While the laws surrounding domestic terrorism specifically may currently be more ambiguous than defined, some voice the importance of understanding before placing judgment.