What’s the Difference Between a Gunman and a Terrorist?

Michael Zehaf-BibeauCompare the following reports – the first from the Ottawa Sun describing the recent terrorist attack in Ottawa and the second from the Jerusalem Post detailing the also recent terrorist attack in Jerusalem:

Two people are dead after at least one gunman stormed Parliament Hill on Wednesday morning. One of the dead is a soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, a reservist with Argylls of Canada – 91st Canadian Highlanders in Hamilton, Ont., who was standing guard at the National War Memorial. The other is the gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, born in 1982, who opened fire in Centre Block across the street. Two U.S. officials said that U.S. agencies have been advised that Zehaf-Bibeau was a Canadian convert to Islam. One of the officials said that the man was from Quebec. Police continued to search vehicles in downtown Ottawa, where blocks of the city’s core were locked down all day. Gunfire exploded shortly before 10 a.m., just outside where the Conservative caucus was meeting. The shooter was met with return fire — dozens of shots were heard — and was killed outside the parliamentary library.

A three-month-old girl, identified by her grandfather as Chaya Zissel, was killed and several US citizens and Israelis were wounded Wednesday evening when a convicted Palestinian terrorist from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people in the capital. The attack, which was captured by a security camera, took place at the Ammunition Hill light-rail stop a few hundred meters from Israel’s national police headquarters, situated across a densely traveled thoroughfare, shortly after 6 p.m., a senior police official said. The terrorist was shot by police and late Wednesday evening he died in hospital.

In both instances, a lone-wolf terrorist, motivated by his rabid Islamist ideology, committed an act of wanton and indiscriminate murder of an innocent person and then was killed by authorities. In the Canadian account, the perpetrator is identified as a gunman, as might be an armed intruder in a bank robbery. In the Israeli account the perpetrator is clearly identified as a terrorist. In the Canadian report, the murderer’s Islamist background is handled gently and nonjudgmentally. In the Israel report it is made clear that the murderer’s background included previous violent attempts. In the former, it is never stated explicitly that the gunman killed the victim; only that “two people are dead.” Whereas in the Israeli report, it is abundantly clear who killed whom.

The behavior of Muslim terrorists in the United States is treated even more gingerly by the American media than by the Canadian press. And in fact, the Israeli report is if anything on the more circumspect side than is usually seen in the Israeli press. All of us in the West are the object of a holy (in fact, unholy) war perpetrated by radical Islamists. Terror is the main weapon they deploy. If we cannot recognize that – as the Israelis do, then we are going to have a very difficult time galvanizing ourselves to fight and obliterate the Islamist menace that threatens our countries and our lives.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was not a gunman; he was a terrorist, on a mission to murder and maim in the name of his religion, or at least in some bloody interpretation of it that he had in his mind. Unfortunately, there are literally millions of his ilk out there. They have declared war on the US, on Canada, on Israel and on the entire West. The longer we try to pretend that this is not so, the longer and more costly will be our ultimate battle to defeat them.

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