Newsday (New York)

	October 25, 2002 Friday ALL EDITIONS

	Terrorism Has Many Faces, Causes

	BYLINE: By Jack Levin and James Alan Fox. Jack Levin is a
	professor of sociology and James Alan Fox is a professor of
	criminal justice at Northeastern University, Boston.


	LENGTH: 792 words

	As Washington-area residents begin to breathe a collective sigh of
	relief following the arrest of two men allegedly tied to the
	sniper case, the focus moves from blind speculation about motive
	to an attempt at understanding the will to kill. Why would a
	former U.S. soldier and a teenage boy, described as his stepson,
	harbor such bitterness toward the American way of life that they
	would target total strangers to further their beliefs?  
	Even though the suspects, John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo,
	may have expressed sympathy for the Arab terrorists responsible
	for Sept. 11, it appears fairly certain that the pair are not tied
	to any organized terrorist group, such as al-Qaida. Surely,
	communications from the suspects through letters and phone calls
	to the task force failed to show any degree of political
	Yet, the term terrorist is fitting nonetheless. While lacking in
	political motivation, the shooting spree may have been inspired
	instead by the shooter's need to feel powerful and be in control.  
	Having failed in other aspects of life, Muhammad, presumably the
	one in charge, would have exalted in his ability to turn the
	region into a personal shooting gallery.  
	But deciding who lives and dies - playing God - is only a small
	part of the thrill the shooter would derive from the murder spree.
	He also would seek to feel important and superior by winning his
	cat-and-mouse game with police, by becoming a media celebrity,
	even if anonymously, and by wreaking havoc on an entire region.

	Unlike many serial killers who shoot their victims at a single
	location, a sniper aims to get revenge not against a wife, a boss
	or a class of people, but against all humankind. By serially
	targeting strangers, he is able to demonstrate his skill with a
	firearm, as well as his elusiveness and cunning.  
	Before the sniper launched his killing spree, many Americans
	associated terrorism with violence originating in Afghanistan,
	Iraq and Iran.  The Sept. 11 attacks on America focused our
	national resolve on efforts to counteract threats of terrorism.  
	Yet, as the sniper should remind us, violence has long been a fact
	of life in America, and our resolve is just as critical in
	responding to problems within our social fabric.  
	Our national homicide rate has long led the Western industrialized
	world. Moreover, there are on average 20 mass killings in this
	country every year, taking the lives of some 100 Americans. Most
	are committed with high-powered semi-automatic rifles. In 20
	percent of these cases, the victims are total strangers. To be
	sure, the Washington-region sniper has some unique
	characteristics, but he is hardly anomalous with respect to
	weapon, victim characteristics or likely motivation.
	Actually, terrorism comes from a variety of sources. Not every act
	of terror results in thousands of deaths, originates with an
	organized group or has political motivation. The largest number of
	terrorist acts do not come from the Mideast, but from our own
	The FBI estimates there were 457 acts of terrorism in this country
	between 1980 and 1999, the majority of which were committed by
	right- and left-wing extremists or radical environmentalists. In
	1995, for example, Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building in
	Oklahoma City, killing 168. In 1996, a deadly explosion ripped
	through Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta and a fugitive, Eric
	Rudolph, is being sought for that act. In 1999, Benjamin Smith
	went on a shooting rampage in Illinois and Indiana, killing a
	Korean graduate student and an African-American basketball coach
	and wounding nine other persons. And in 2000, out-of-work
	immigration attorney Richard Baumhammers shot to death five
	residents of suburban Pittsburgh because he despised immigrants.  
	At the same time, there have been numerous terrorist acts not
	officially considered as such because they were inspired more by
	pathology than politics. In 1981, for example, John Hinckley
	attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to impress
	actress Jodie Foster. In 1984, James Huberty said he thought he
	was killing gophers when he shot to death 20 customers in a
	California McDonald's.  
	Terrorists come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If it is smart
	to keep an eye on suspicious foreigners, then we should also keep
	an eye on one another.
	Experts in political terrorism have traced anti-American sentiment
	to deficiencies in our policies toward underdeveloped nations
	around the globe. Similarly, we might examine how our domestic
	agenda - in particular, our approach to the welfare recipients,
	veterans, the homeless, the unemployed, the mentally ill, and
	other disenfranchised and dispirited groups in our midst - can
	inspire homegrown terrorists like the sniper.

	LOAD-DATE: October 25, 2002


	GRAPHIC: Photos -1) Jack Levin and 2) James Alan Fox. Newsday/Gary
	Viskupic - The American flag with bullet holes attached to a

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