Of all the types of terrorist threats we are being conditioned to live in a more or less constant state of low-level fear of, the most terrifying of all has got to be the type we’ve witnessed throughout the Summer — a Summer so terrifying The Guardian is now officially calling it “The Summer of Fear.” Orlando, Nice, Würzberg, Munich, Reutlingen, Ansbach, Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray … the Terror just keeps coming, and coming, like the monster in some blockbuster Hollywood movie. The most terrifying part of it is that these are no ordinary terrorist attacks carried out by ordinary terrorists at the behest of ordinary terrorist groups, but, rather, the work of a new breed of terrorist … a terrorist who has no connection to any type of terrorist groups, is not primarily motivated by Terrorism, and, basically, has nothing to do with Terrorism. Let’s go ahead and call him the “non-terrorist terrorist.”
According to the official narrative being propagated by the Western media, non-terrorist Terrorism officially began in late September 2014 with a statement by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, a terrorist spokesman for ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, or whatever we’re calling it this week. This statement, which has since been quoted as often as humanly possible by the press, exhorted decentralized terrorist cells, aspiring terrorists, and other random individuals, to launch attacks against innocent Westerners, to wit, to “[s]mash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with a car, or throw him down from a high place …” and so on.
According to the same official narrative, the first attack by a non-terrorist terrorist was carried out in Dijon, France — yes, the place the mustard comes from — in late December 2014, three months after the al-Adnani statement. (The 2013 Boston Marathon bomb attack apparently doesn’t count anymore, as it occurred before the al-Adnani statement, and thus doesn’t fit the official narrative.) The prosecutor in the case — the French case, of course — described the perpetrator as a “barely coherent,” mentally unbalanced, middle-aged man who used his car to mow down over a dozen innocent French pedestrians while shouting Islamic stuff out the window.
This, we are learning, is part of the cunning modus operandi of the non-terrorist terrorists, the way they are able to extensively plan and carry out terrifying terrorist attacks while posing as mentally disturbed individuals, or as sexually confused or alienated loners, who have absolutely nothing to do with Terrorism. This ruse was deployed again in Orlando, where the non-terrorist terrorist went as far as to pose as a closeted homosexual; and in Nice, where the attacker maintained his cover for years as a wife-beating petty criminal; and in Würzberg, where apparently the teenage terrorist had been masquerading as an orphaned refugee, but in fact was an insidious sleeper agent sent by ISIS to attack some random train in the middle of the German countryside.
According to knowledgeable Terrorism experts, Western governments, and the mainstream media, we’re going to be seeing more and more of this — these seemingly uncoordinated attacks, both on targets like Nice, which fit the narrative, but also on targets that make no sense, and that terrorists like ISIS have never even heard of, but to which they have nonetheless dispatched their agents to attack Asian tourists with kitchen knives and hatchets while shouting “Allahu Akbar” at the top of their lungs. Who knows where the next attack will take place? Vossevangen, Norway? Demming, New Mexico? Menomonie, Wisconsin? The Outer Hebrides? Your guess is as good as mine.
The point is, as the War on Terror — which, as you probably remember, President Obama officially ended in 2013 — enters this new and more terrifying phase, we will need to prepare ourselves, both logistically and emotionally, for the dramatically heightened level of Terror engendered by the non-terrorist terrorist threat, as well as the invasive “security measures” that will be required to pretend to combat it. Fear, as ever, will be the watchword. Everyone will need to do their part to assist the authorities in identifying, indefinitely detaining, and enhanced-interrogating potential non-terrorist terrorist suspects, and anyone else who looks kind of fishy. Let’s take a look at how that will work.
How to Spot a Non-Terrorist Terrorist
The non-terrorist terrorist is difficult to identify and place on a secret government watch-list as he exhibits few — and sometimes none — of the characteristics of the conventional terrorist. Whereas the conventional terrorist is typically a devout Muslim, and a member of some notorious terrorist group, like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, or Al-Nusra Front (although the latter may not be terrorists, currently, depending on what’s going on in Syria), the non-terrorist terrorist is usually not at all religious, is not a member of any terrorist group, and has absolutely no connection to Terrorism. This lack of any type of terrorist background, or any other ties to actual Terrorism, given the current restrictive limits imposed on anti-Terror professionals by laws, national constitutions, and the like, effectively renders the non-terrorist terrorist undetainable in advance by government agents, anti-Terror police units, and corporate mercenaries, at least in developed Western countries, so they’re going to need all the help they can get in terms of surveilling and profiling everyone. With that in mind, here are some tips for identifying potential non-terrorist terrorists.
The most important thing to remember is that the non-terrorist terrorist is definitely a Muslim, or at least is vaguely Muslim-looking, or has a Muslim-sounding name. White supremacists, neo-Nazis, heavily-armed fundamentalist Christians, and garden-variety white-skinned criminals, unattractive and dangerous though they may be, do not fall into the Terror category, unless, that is, they blow up something like the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, but even that might not count anymore, as it happened before the War on Terror, and … well, once you start calling white people “terrorists,” the distinctions between things get really confusing.
In spite of the fact that he is definitely a Muslim, the non-terrorist terrorist exhibits any or all of an assortment of “non-Muslim behaviors.” He drinks, smokes, abuses drugs, is sexually promiscuous (or aspires to promiscuity), does not attend mosque, rarely prays, and otherwise appears to be just another stressed-out, debt-burdened Western consumer struggling to make sense of late-capitalist society, and to support himself — and, in some cases, his family — with some soul-crushing job at the foreign subsidiary of some global corporation he isn’t even aware of, or as an Uber-driver, or temporary security guard, or with some other type of micro-entrepreneurial activity that’s making his life a living hell, which feeds right into his other cover.
The non-terrorist terrorist often goes to great lengths to create the appearance of having had a long history of psychological and emotional problems. This cover (which the non-terrorist terrorist may begin constructing as early as his late-adolescence) may involve the feigning of a series of nervous breakdowns, or episodes of clinical depression, or suicide attempts, or other such symptoms. Don’t let this “emotionally unstable” act fool you by playing on your empathy for other human beings. If ever in doubt about a disturbed individual, or anyone expressing extremist views, or acting in any way unusual, best to just go ahead and report him, and let the authorities sort it out. You could be dealing with a non-terrorist terrorist in the process of “sudden self-radicalization.”
The “Suddenly Self-Radicalized” Non-Terrorist Terrorist
Unlike the conventional, or “actual” terrorist, the non-terrorist terrorist is often radicalized shortly before the time of his attack, or during his attack, or shortly thereafter. “Radicalization” is a tricky process, which can occur in any number of ways, e.g., over time, in structured settings, but also in purely imaginary ways that only exist in the minds of the terrorists, or the media, or anti-Terrorism experts. In any event, it’s not like the old days, when aspiring terrorists were forced to attend those terrorist training camps out in the desert, and actually get involved with Terrorism. Nowadays all it takes is the Internet, and sincere desire to radicalize yourself.
“Self-radicalization” is a growing problem, and not just among Islamic terrorists. “Radicalism” in any form that opposes or questions global Capitalism, Neoliberalism, and other Western values, is spreading like a mass psychological disorder (see Jonathan Rauch’s recent article in The Atlantic, where he diagnoses the American public’s pathological resentment of the political class). Like the child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, sometimes even the non-terrorist terrorist — or whatever type of “self-radicalized” person — doesn’t even realize he’s becoming a terrorist, or a non-terrorist terrorist, until it’s too late.
“Self-radicalization” often begins with irrational and inappropriate resentment, which is typically projected onto affluent individuals, major corporations, investment banks, politicians, billionaires, members of the media, or the populations of other countries that happen to be invading or bombing the country of the “self-radicalizing” person in question. This misdirected pathological resentment, if allowed to fester, inevitably leads to the thinking of extremist or terrorist thoughts, which leads to the tweeting of terrorist tweets, and to terrorist Facebook posts, and so on. In no time at all, the self-radicalizing person has transformed into a full-blown non-terrorist terrorist, and is snorting up lines of pulverized Captagon, drawing half-assed ISIS flags on the walls of his apartment with indelible markers, and loading up on weapons at Walmart, or whatever passes for Walmart in his country.
This is just a preliminary check-list of the hallmark features of the non-terrorist terrorist, which the mainstream media will be adding to as The Summer of Fear approaches its climax, and presumably throughout the indefinite future, as the Age of Non-Terrorist Terrorism continues, possibly until the end of Time.
A Word of Warning Regarding Terminology
All right, I know what you’re probably thinking … you’re thinking we’ve finally reached some level of absurdity with this calling people “terrorists” thing where the term completely loses its meaning, and its ability to scare the bejesus out of people. Fortunately, this is not the case. In fact, it’s almost exactly the obverse — the more nonsensical, oxymoronic and utterly meaningless the terms we use to describe the heinous, subhuman enemies (who want to slaughter us because of our freedom) are, the more meaningful, effective and terrifying they are. This is crucial when distinguishing between, for example, our friends in Saudi Arabia and barbarous mad-dog terrorists like ISIS, both of whom chop off people’s heads for crimes like apostasy, idolatry, and adultery … but, of course, the Saudis are not savage terrorists, despite their involvement in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and … well, you can see the danger here, when you start to actually think about things.
The point is, our new “non-terrorist terrorist” designation should not in any way call into question the widely-acknowledged definition, and constant repetition, of the terms “terrorist,” “Terror,” and “Terrorism,” when applied to terrorists, whether of the “non-terrorist” or “terrorist” type. Terrorism is not a word game, or some specious semiotic construct, or an essentially arbitrary made-up label that can be slapped onto any type of violent activity or ideology we want to demonize. Terrorism is Terrorism. The word means exactly what it means … whatever that might be at this point. You can look it up on the Internet, on Google, or Wikipedia, or whatever.
And as for the “non-terrorist terrorist” designation, let’s not get all freaked out about it and make it any more confusing than it is. We can sit around and argue forever over whether the “non-terrorist terrorist” is a terrorist, but, honestly, where is that going to get us? The simple fact of the matter is, as the adjectival in the term denotes, the non-terrorist terrorist is not a terrorist … nevertheless he is a terrorist, and the fact that he is and is not a terrorist simultaneously defines what he is and makes absolutely no difference at all, at least not within the official narrative.
No, despite what terrorist apologists will tell you, calling some terrorists “non-terrorist terrorists” doesn’t mean they aren’t terrorists, or that there isn’t any such thing as “Terrorism,” except within the simulation of “reality” the global capitalist ruling classes need to maintain to keep the masses entertained and borderline paranoid, as they — i.e., the capitalists, not the masses — transform the rest of the entire planet into a combination shopping mall/labor camp.
If that were true, the “War on Terror” would be nothing but an elaborate farce, a simulacrum that was there to distract us from the sociopolitical and economic dynamics of the historical period we were actually living through … which dynamics might have something to do with something a bit more complex than “Terror,” “Evil,” “Hate,” and other empty but terror-inspiring words like that.
As stressful as things are at the moment, imagine how exhausting that would be … having to think about all that stuff, transnational Capitalism’s ideology, the manufacturing of consensus reality, all the childish narratives we would be being fed moment by moment by the corporate-owned media, and the amount of mental energy it would take to try to resist it on a daily basis … but then, seeing as you’ve made it to the end of this piece, I’m pretty sure you already have.
(first published in CounterPunch, August 1, 2016)
DISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our self-appointed political pundit and in-house satirist, CJ Hopkins, and does not reflect the views or opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its management, staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns.