By Dr Tafataona Mahoso
THE British Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 defines terrorism in Part 4, Section 21 Subsection (1):
A terrorist is person who —
a) “is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of international terrorism” or
b) “ is a member of or belongs to an international terrorist group,” or
c) “has links with an international terrorist group.”
Moreover, “…a group is an international terrorist group” if –
a) “it is subject to the control or influence of persons outside the United Kingdom” and
b) “the (UK) Secretary of State suspects that it is concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”
The British Terrorism Act of 2000 defines terrorism as:
“…the use or threat of action designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public”, and
“…the use or threat of action made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.”
An action is defined as fitting the definition of a terrorist act if it:
“ involves serious violence against a person;”
a) “ involves serious damage to property;”
b) “endangers a person’s life;”
c) “creates a serious risk to health or safety of the public or a section of the public;” or
d) “is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.”
We can conclude from these definitions that, when the terror which imperialism always exported began to come home to roost, especially after September 11 2001, the North Atlantic states adopted definitions which were meant more to protect their people than to protect an ideology or a doctrine, as in the Cold War.
However, the more down-to-earth definitions are still not being applied to all peoples or all societies.
The British definitions of a terrorist organisation as a political organisation which is controlled and influenced from outside fits the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe, which is financed and guided by the British and US Governments.
But the two governments will never agree to have the MDC declared a terrorist organisation.
Even the violence which the MDC unleashed on Zimbabweans in March 2007 and January 2019 has not made the US or UK change their view of their political project in Zimbabwe, the MDC.
In the last instalment, I pointed out that there were two problems the people of Zimbabwe needed to deal with in the wake of the terrorist violence perpetrated against them in January 2019 which was a larger version of what was perpetrated by more or less the same organisations in April 2007.
The first problem was defining acts of terrorism and distinguishing them from legitimate responses of the state to acts of violence and terror which can also be defined as either measured or excessive.
The second problem was to outline regulatory and other measures which the state can institute within the limits of the Constitution in order to prevent both domestic and international terrorism.
The definition problem was dealt with by citing the provisions of the US Patriot Act of 2004 (in the last instalment) and the British Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 as well as the British Terrorism Act of 2000 (in this instalment).
These citations are necessary because the parties and groups accused of terrorist violence in Zimbabwe have routinely enjoyed sympathy and support from Western governments and the Western press without any detailed investigations into what really happened on the ground.
These citations are necessary because in the Western-instigated wars of destabilisation against Libya, Syria and Yemen, Western governments and their media accused governments in those countries of over-reacting to otherwise ‘…unarmed demonstrators’.
It was only after the conflicts had reached levels of full-blown war that the ‘…unarmed demonstrators’ vanished from the reportage and everyone admitted that they had always been combatants armed and supported by the very same Western governments who first misrepresented them as ‘unarmed demonstrators’ or ‘protestors’.
The same double standards applied to definitions of terrorism also apply to acceptance or condemnation of appropriate means to stem terrorism internally or externally.
The terror bombing of New York and the Pentagon, given a different system and a different mass media, should have brought the white society of North America closer to the rest of the world (Cuba, Chile, Iran, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Guatemala, Panama) where the US or US surrogates had inflicted terror on innocent populations for decades.
But that is not what happened.
September 11 2001 helped imperialism to implement, indeed digitalise, George Orwell’s vision of totalitarian society at home while preaching free flow of information and open society abroad.
September 11 2001 helped imperialism to bring home, in the form of the Department of Homeland Security, the total surveillance system and society which the US had employed in the many war zones it maintained on other people’s soil for decades.
According to Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism:
“The document that launched the US Department of Homeland Security (in the aftermath of September 11 2001) declares, ‘Today’s terrorists can strike at any place, at any time, and with virtually any weapon’ — which conveniently means that the security services required must protect against every imaginable risk in every conceivable place at every possible time.
And it’s not necessary to prove that a threat is real for it to merit a full-scale response — not with (Dick) Cheyney’s famous ‘(one) percent doctrine,’ which justified the invasion of Iraq (two years later) on the grounds that if there is a one percent chance that something is a threat, it requires that the US respond as if the threat is a 100 percent certainty.”
But in the case of Zimbabwe, in April 2007 and January 2019, there is no need to forecast or to speculate: Terrorist acts were premeditated, planned and carried out.
What is lacking is adequate respect for the African victims, together with resources, to bring their testimonies to world attention which would be done if they were British, European or North American and white.
The War on Terror
The external, indefinite ‘war on terror’ declared by George W. Bush was not just one of the results of September 11 2001. It had its own tragic features.
It was a programme for the US to outsource terror to already repressive regimes, especially in Europe and the Middle East, which became responsible for providing secret bases to which kidnapped suspects were brought and tortured to extract forced confessions which were then brought home and used to further frighten the home population into submission.
The regimes to which the US outsourced its terror projects accepted the job in exchange for having their own forces armed and trained to keep their own populations down.
Some of these regimes are now being overthrown in the current wave of uprisings.
Another feature of the so-called war on terror was the Bush dictum: “You are either with us or with the terrorists,” which was to say that other countries should respond to the US in only two ways; join the Western stampede and crusade or be targeted as supporting terrorism against US and other Western interests.
This approach had a bearing on Libya, especially at the time of the US/UK illegal war on Iraq.
Libya was forced to make many compromises with the North Atlantic states in exchange for being spared, but it became too relaxed thereafter to notice that the same countries still entertained the idea of getting rid of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s movement sooner or later.
This was done in 2011 by combined US and European forces under the umbrella of NATO.
But the people of Zimbabwe need to pay attention to what exactly is involved in the US doctrine and infrastructure of Homeland Security as described by Naomi Klein.
The use of pretty euphemisms to erase or downplay the violence perpetrated against Zimbabweans by the MDC-Alliance’s supporters can only mean that in the eyes of the journalists and their editors, African lives in Zimbabwe do not count the same as white lives in Western countries.
Therefore terror against the former should be accepted, even praised as mere ‘protests’.