In the days since the 22 March attack on Westminster, a number of opinion pieces have been published, calling on the media to differentiate between crimes and acts of terrorism. The point is, to a large extent, that groups such as Isis (also known as ISIL/Daesh) should not be given publicity when a lone attacker strikes and their motives are not clear.
Terrorist groups seem to be only too happy to take credit for these attacks, even where there is no proof that the perpetrator was involved with the group at all.
One commentator shared a theory that terrorism could in fact be discouraged by limiting references to terror groups, and making a point of calling attacks crimes unless a direct terrorism link is demonstrated.
It has also been pointed out that members of all religions are capable of committing crimes, and someone’s religion alone does not mean that a crime is an act of terrorism.
Three separate shooting incidents took place in the USA over the past weekend, but these were all crimes rather than acts of terrorism. Unfortunately, coverage in many cases referred to “possible terrorism” before any facts were available, and only afterwards did they clarify that the incidents were not terrorism related.
These attacks were:
- Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas – The hotel was placed under lockdown after a masked gunman “stormed” a Rolex store in the hotel.
- Bus shooting, Las Vegas – In an unrelated incident, one person was killed and another injured when a man opened fire with a handgun on a bus. The shooter surrendered to police after a 4-hour stand-off.
- Nightclub shooting, Ohio – 15 people were shot – one fatally – in a busy Cincinnati nightclub. There had apparently been a “dispute” between several men prior to the incident.
It can happen anywhere…
Another shooting incident in Lille, France, took place last week, injuring three people.
According to The Telegraph, “Initial reports suggested that the shooting was a settling of scores among local criminals.” News reports again made a point of clarifying that this was not terrorism-related.
What is terrorism?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines terrorism as “The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”
When we developed Safe Journey, we elaborated on this definition and tailored it to our changing world:
“An act of Terrorism means an act which either
a) has been declared as an act of Terrorism by either the UK Government or the government of the country where the act occurred; or
b) where in the event of a delay in declaration by governments, acts which we believe should be covered under this policy, including but not limited to the use of force or violence, of any person or group(s) of persons, whether acting alone or on behalf of or in connection with any organisation(s) or government(s), committed for political, religious, ideological or ethnic purposes or reasons including the intention to influence any government and/or to put the public, or any section of the public, in fear for such purposes. Where we exercise this discretion we shall do so acting reasonably with the information available to us at the time.”
What should we do?
We believe the lesson here is that while we must acknowledge that terrorism exists, we must remember that in general, crime is a problem now more than ever, and we shouldn’t allow terrorism to rule news headlines, or our lives.
Our aim is to balance awareness and practical information with confidence and offer financial peace of mind.