Most Americans have a stereotypical image of a terrorist as a religious fanatic from the Middle East who straps explosives around his body or flies airplanes into buildings. I have a few more definitions of the word terrorist.
One who drops cancer-inducing substances like Agent Orange and uranium-238 on civilian populations.
One who trains foreign soldiers in torture techniques at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia and organizes death squads to assassinate leftists and union leaders.
One who uses the CIA to overthrow democratically elected leaders like Mossadegh in Iran, Arbenz in Guatemala and Allende in Chile, leading to the deaths of thousands of innocent people.
One who arms, trains and finances proxy terrorist armies like the Contras in Nicaragua, UNITA in Angola and Renamo in Mozambique that attack “socialist” targets like schools, medical clinics and farm cooperatives, torturing and killing thousands of innocent men, women and children.
One whose embassy provided lists of communists to be murdered to Suharto in Indonesia, resulting in the deaths of nearly a million people in the massacre of 1965 that brought Suharto to power.
One who bombs the water, sewage and electricity infrastructure of a country like Iraq or Yugoslavia and then institutes an embargo prohibiting the import of spare parts to repair these systems, leading to outbreaks of disease and death.
One who transfers the Phoenix program of assassination, torture and mutilation from Vietnam to Argentina causing an estimated thirty-thousand people to be killed or “disappeared.” Leftists were pushed out of airplanes over the Atlantic ocean and pregnant women leftists were allowed to give birth, then killed and the babies given to military or police families. The United States subsequently used these Argentine butchers to train the Contras and the death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala.
One who uses the CIA to bring Nazi war criminals like Klaus Barbie, Walter Rauff, Otto Skorzeny and others to Latin America to impart their knowledge of repression to the police and military forces there.
One who attempts to assassinate foreign leaders like Fidel Castro and introduces diseases like African swine fever into Cuba to ruin Cuban agriculture, sabotages Cuban factories and adulterates Cuban sugar shipments.
One who supplies 70% of the world’s weapons, refuses to sign treaties banning land mines and biological weapons, continues to conduct research on new forms of atomic weapons and wants to extend weapons systems into space.
One who harbors terrorists like Haitian death squad leader Emmanuel Constant and refuses to extradite him to Haiti. Also, one who harbors and protects many Cuban exile terrorists like Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, who bombed a Cubana airlines plane in 1976, killing 73 people, including all of Cuba’s fencing team.
One whose psychopathic corporations create environmental and human catastrophes like the disastrous leak of methyl isocyanate at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. This easily preventable accident in a highly populated area killed 8,000 people in a short period of time and made tens of thousands more sick with lifetime maladies. Furthermore, it has resulted in birth defects, which extend the problem to future generations. There has been no attempt by Union Carbide, now Dow Chemical, to clean up the polluted area, so the water and soil are poisonous and continue to make people ill. Also, the compensation that Union Carbide corporation has given to the victims is a very paltry sum varying from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. People think of the large disasters like Bhopal or the Exxon Valdez oil spill, but these accidents happen much more frequently and are simply not reported. Corporations greatly relax their safety and environmental standards in Third World countries as they can make more profit by these means, and they value human life in those areas less because of racism. This is a very significant form of terrorism.
One who creates torture centers like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners are waterboarded and subjected to all sorts of other physical and psychological torture. Such torture includes hooding and light and sleep deprivation, which can lead to severe depression and suicidal thoughts, humiliation such as piling up naked prisoners and violating their cultural and religious beliefs. Desecrating the Koran in various ways is also a part of the humiliation phase of torture of Islamic prisoners. Standing in stress positions for hours can be unimaginably painful.
One who conducted and probably still conducts the more physical methods of torture used in Central and South America by the United States like electrical shock to the genitals, pulling out fingernails, torturing children in front of their parents and inserting various objects into the anus and vagina including bayonets, which would cause internal bleeding and often death. In Brazil one peasant’s penis was tied so he could not urinate, ruining his kidneys. Sister Diana Ortiz in Guatemala was lowered into a pit of wounded and dying people covered with rats and forced to stab another person with a machete. She testified before Congress that another American was present as an observer. Jennifer Harbury went on a hunger strike in Washington, D.C. in order to be heard, and she testified about the torture in Guatemala and asked the CIA about the fate of her husband, Everado, who was a guerrilla leader in Guatemala and had disappeared. All this material appears in books like Turning the Tide by Noam Chomsky, the Sword and the Dollar by Michael Parenti and Bridge of Courage by Jennifer Harbury. It is also verified in numerous reports of victims and eyewitnesses collected by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations.
Finally, one who controls the media and keeps the American people in the dark about all these facts and concentrates on sensationalistic and celebrity journalism or, if necessary, convinces them that these things are either crazy “conspiracy theories” or past “mistakes” that will never reoccur.