Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Mother's Day shootings: What constitutes an act of terror?

Posted By on Tue, May 14, 2013 at 6:00 PM

On Sunday, hours after the Mother’s Day shooting in the Seventh Ward, FBI New Orleans spokeswoman Mary Beth Romig told the Associated Press the gunfire that injured 19 people was, as far as federal investigators knew, not an act of terrorism. “It’s strictly an act of street violence,” Romig said.

Today, on the WWL Eyewitness Morning News, Mayor Mitch Landrieu disagreed. Asked by Sally-Ann Roberts if he considered the shooting to be terrorism, Landrieu said, “I think so. I’ve talked about whether people are terrorized by activities. People use that term in a dramatic way, like it has to be somebody from outside threatening us on the inside. But the truth of the matter is, every day in neighborhoods across the city — this city and other cities — you have families that are afraid of going outside.”

So what defines an "act of terror" versus an act that causes a neighborhood or a city to live in terror?

The FBI defines terror officially as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

After a press conference at New Orleans Police Department headquarters yesterday, Supervisory Special Agent Dave Riker of the VIolent Crime Division for the New Orleans field office of the FBI, expounded on that description for Gambit, saying the bureau looks into “motive, and also our suspects — where do we think they’re from? What is their beliefs? We’re believing our suspects are local, live here, aren’t politically affiliated, aren’t radicals or anything like that, and they’re not foreign individuals or nationals. For the FBI, that’s what we mean by terrorism.

“You can say this is definitely urban terrorism, it’s urban terror,” Riker added. “But from the FBI standpoint and for what we deal with on a national level, it’s not what we consider terrorism, per se.”

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