Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Taheriazar's Justification

The man who hit nine people with a sport utility vehicle on the University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill campus wrote a letter to a television reporter saying he read the Quran's 114 chapters 15 times and found that the Muslim holy book justified the attack.

''I did not act out of hatred for Americans, but out of love for Allah instead,'' Mohammed Taheri-azar, 22, wrote in a letter to Amber Rupinta dated March 10 posted on WTVD's Web site.
Funny, but it doesn't matter how many times you read a book, if your interpretation is wrong, rereading the same passages aren't going to give you any different result. Of course, the thornier response is that Taheriazar wasn't misinterpreting the Koran and that it indeed calls for jihad and justifies attacks on infidels. Front Page considers the problems dealing with Taheriazar's actions as a terrorist incident, including the legal hurdles.
Even if his statements trumpeting jihadist motivations are true, authorities can neither charge him with a terrorist offense, nor seek a sentencing enhancement based on his terrorist motives. This points to a significant blind spot in dealing with terrorism in the United States.

Taheri-azar is being prosecuted in state court, and North Carolina doesn't have an applicable terrorism offense that can be brought to bear against him. The state only has two statutory provisions dealing with terrorist incidents. One bans weapons of mass destruction, while the other amends the murder offense. The amendment to the murder offense doesn't apply here--not only because Taheri-azar didn't murder anybody, but also because it only applies when the murder was performed with a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon.

The federal sentencing guidelines do contain a sentencing enhancement in §3A1.4 for offenses intended to promote a federal crime of terrorism. In turn, 18 U.S.C. § 2232b(g)(5) sensibly defines the predicate intention for a federal crime of terrorism as actions "calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct." While this provision may seem at first glance to apply to Taheri-azar, it doesn't provide federal courts with independent jurisdiction. Rather, the terrorist intentions must be coupled with an independent federal crime.
And this situation isn't going to change anytime soon as more lone wolf jihadis come out of the woodwork and wreak havoc on American streets.

No comments: