Let’s call ‘terror,’ terror

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 11, 2006

Mohammed Taheri-azar just attempted to kill a large group of students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This could have been the headline from last Friday’s attack and if it had been, most Americans would have assumed this was an act of terrorism.

Apparently UNC-Chapel Hill’s chancellor, James Moeser, disagrees.

According to Moeser, it is not up to the university to declare Taheri-azar’s act as terrorism, even though he rented a silver Jeep Cherokee and plowed through &uot;The Pit&uot;, the campuses most popular and central spot, in an attempt to kill as many people as he could.

&uot;The fact is, this is not the university’s call,&uot; Moeser said. &uot;The U.S. attorney will determine whether or not this is an act of terrorism.&uot;

The local DA’s office, local law enforcement and the United States Attorney’s office should handle the legal aspects of this case, but the chancellor needs to show some leadership and call this act what it really is, terrorism.

Terrorism is defined as the systemic use of terror, violence and intimidation to achieve an end. Terror is defined as intense, overpowering fear.

As a former student at UNC and someone who walked through The Pit almost everyday, terror is exactly what I would have felt if I saw a large SUV getting ready to plow me over.

Taheri-azar admitted to police he tried to kill Americans and he meant to kill people to avenge the treatment of Muslims around the world.

Taheri-azar, 22, has been charged with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder and nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury.

In today’s world, that isn’t enough.

As the chancellor and other so-called leaders at Chapel Hill cower behind their walls of political correctness, students are left feeling confused.

How is crashing a plane into a building referred to as terrorism, but someone running over innocent students with a SUV not terrorism?

Earlier this week, a small group of students protested the university administration’s lack of response at The Pit.

&uot;The chancellor should be out here with us, to be frank,&uot; said Luke Farley, speaker of the Student Congress at UNC-CH, during a rally held earlier this week.

While some students protested the terrorist act, a few students called for increased tolerance and understanding.

I think our threshold for terrorism was crossed a long time ago.

&uot;I agree, this could feel like terrorism, especially if you’re standing in front of a Jeep that’s heading toward you trying to kill you,&uot; Moeser said. &uot;As we have investigated this, we’ve come more and more to the conclusion that this was one individual acting alone in a criminal act.&uot;

If the chancellor and officials at UNC-CH are investigating this act, which they should be, why are they incapable of labeling this act of terrorism? Whether or not the act was committed by an individual acting alone or a large, organized group is irrelevant.

Taheri-azar should also be charged with a hate crime.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines a hate crime as &uot;a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.&uot;

&uot;People all over the world are being killed in war, and now it is the people in the United States’ turn to be killed,&uot; Taheri-azar told the police after confessing to the crime.

It seems pretty obvious to me this crime was committed out of bias against people from the United States.

We all know the worldwide fury and outrage that would erupt if an American committed this same act against a group of Middle Eastern Muslims and made similar statements.

Most people would consider that act terrorism.

Apparently university leaders at UNC do not have the courage to call Taheri-azar’s act the same thing.