Moral qualities of 'terrorists'

Although terrorist events in themselves are murder, and so grave evils, I wonder if the moral quality of the people involved themselves can easily by judged?

Let assume:

  • a lot of terrorists actually sincerely believe they are doing God’s will
  • most of them are making a sacrifice (their lives), in carrying out their actions
  • those whom they regard as religious or moral authorities seem to give approval of their actions.

So, when a terrorist faces the Heavenly tribunal- and he tells God that he sincerely believed he was giving his life to do His will- would such a person be judged favourably?

And, if not, why not?

Even the ignorant know intuitively that deliberately murdering innocent civilians is wrong. It is not God that inspires terrorism, it is Satan.

If the terrorist is this misguided wouldn’t it be great if we could all agree on one of the 10 commandments??? Thou shall not kill?

It probably depends on who is calling who a terrorist…I’m sure the American Indian would have no problem branding white Americans (who didn’t even consider them human beings…let alone heathens… and systematically slaughtered men…women and children…stole their lands and finally subdued them to reservations)…as terrorists…same goes for probably all countries at some point in history

You are exactly right…one mans terrorist is anothers freedom fighter.

I read a piece awhile back that looked into things done around the time of the American Revolution, that are revered and celebrated, but if they were done or attempted today, it would be seen as domestic terrorism.

I think one of the differences between terrorist and military actions is who is targeted. Terrorism targets civilians to cause… well, terror.

Anyway, at some point, we have to not speculate. God knows what is in the hearts of each of us, and He will judge with perfect jutice and perfect mercy. What is the point in speculating, if this or that, then maybe…? when we can never in this life know?

Obviously there is some subjectivity to the definition of “terrorist”, while most CAFers would agree that ISIS members are terrorists, many would disagree that IRA members or even PLO members are. I recall a pretty contentious topic about the IRA where 2 posters came up with defenses for every questionable IRA action.

However, it seems to me that a 12 year old boy who joins ISIS after his whole family is killed in a bomb attack and has nowhere else to go, would certainly be LESS culpable than, say, a 24 year old in the US who’s inspired to join ISIS by some Internet videos.

This is the meaning of not judging anyone’s soul. Even the church does not dare claim the ability to determine the state of the soul so neither can anyone else. The church declares some people saints based on the witness of the faithful of the fruit of this person’s faith but that is the limit of it. The church even refuses to say that Judas is in hell even though it seems heavily implied in the Bible. No one can read the soul of another, even if they have done terrible things like genocide, slavery, terrorism, war crimes, rape and murder. Only God can do this.

I wonder what the American Indians thought about the other tribes like the Huron, the Iroquois, the Comanches, the Seminoles, etc. who were blood thirsty and made brutal, savage war against the gentler tribes?

I hope most people are not this naive. All of these assumptions are wrong. Most of ISIL is made up of young men who are compelled by ISIL to fight, they are not fighting of their own free will; or they are criminals from all over the world who have come to places like Mosul to plunder. Most Islamic leaders do not sanction ISIL. Most who die for ISIL have nothing to lose; their options are to fight and die, or not fight and be executed … there is no sacrifice. The terrorists who use God as a front are doing just that. They are using God as a front to recruit, deceive and gain approval of as handful of warped religious leaders. I assure you, ISIL has to do with the establishment of territory, power and control; Islam is a convenient front to them.

I agree that many in ISIL are coerced into their actions, and I know they recruit children as well, most are likely past the age of reason but I doubt most of the child “terrorists” or even child soldiers in general are morally culpable to the point of damnation. Patty Hearst would be another example.

Social norms also have to be considered for acts of war. I also think that a WWII bomber pilot who caused the deaths of thousands of civilians is less culpable than a modern bomber pilot who did the same, because minimizing civilian casualties is considered to be more important now, and is also more practical technologically.

So maybe they could be defined as terrorist attacks by todays definition…so what!

Its called “moral relativism.”

Not just any fighting is terrorism. It specifically refers to using terror as a weapon for some broader aim. Fighting the government of a state is not terrorism by itself. Killing civilians to induce terror in the population in order to put pressure on a government is terrorism. Attacking that government’s forces is not automatically terrorism, nor is all politically/ideologically/religiously motivated murder terrorism. Most of the popularly cited examples of “terrorism” in the American Revolution fail this test because they were directed at the British government directly and were not committed against the civilian population (which makes sense; revolutionaries need the civilian population behind them).

Governments try to classify anything that is a threat to their power as terrorism because they can claim the moral high ground among the population, but that does not make it terrorism.

Wasn’t there a thread where a former ISIS member died momentarily after sustaining wounds during a skirmish and was judged by God? He had to relieve the last moments of all his victims, those who he beheaded.

After that he repented and now lives as a monk in a Christian monastery.

Someone defended the IRA by saying that by targeting department stores, they were hitting economic targets. Allied strategic bombing in World War II does the same thing. The IRA also attacked soldiers.

Identifying and detaining traitors and informants is a responsibility of any government. The IRA also did this too, but they were seen as murders. Moreover, the intelligence agencies against an insurgency would also serve to foment mistrust among the group and that would lead to paranoia to kill innocent supporters.

I would say that there is no such thing as “terrorism”. I am a terrorism-eliminativist. “Terrorism” is used demonize a particular group, and hence it is not neutral. It is just a propaganda term.

As for “terrorists” targeting civilian targets, some groups want to capacity and resources to hit harder (i.e. military) targets, but since they do not have that, their only recourse is to hit parts of the civilian infrastructure such as administrative buildings and lightly guarded economic targets such as stores and power lines.

Some groups, such as the Contras, specifically target civilians, not to coerce concessions, such as ransom or a release of prisoners, but the intimidate supporters of a rival power. In this way, they are like the mafia or drug cartel who rely on intimidation, but while attempting to influence politics (which the mafia does not do, except to influence a few corrupt officials).

That sounds apocryphal. Color me suspect.

Anyway, yes, I suppose it’s possible that a member of ISIS could be found not culpable if he lacked sufficient knowledge about the nature of what he was doing. Up to God to sort that out, though.

No, I don’t accept that torture or killing people not aligned with your beliefs as being a matter of ignorance.

Bombing a department store or crashing a plane into the WTC in order to draw the US into Afghanistan so they could be defeated like the Soviet Union is understandable in some strategic sense and can ostensibly justified for achieving some greater good. In the case of the latter, the hijackers genuinely believe that the US was evil and that the strategic end of drawing them into a war would achieve a greater good.

After all, using the atomic bomb is an act of “terrorism” since it mostly affected civilians and was intended to compel the Japanese to surrender. It fits the standard definition of terrorism since it was intended to influence a change in policy, Japanese surrender, although it was conducted by a state actor. If we justify the atomic bombing, who are we to judge from a neutral perspective Al Qaeda?

Indiscriminate killing of civilians (which is what the “new” wave of Islamic militancy advocates as promoted in Inspire) would not give you any sympathy. (The WTC wasn’t indiscriminate because it targeted a symbolic or economic target.)

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing any specific act of “terrorism”. I am just pointing out that the moral reasoning for justifying some forms of “terrorism” can be tenable.

None of those forms of moral reasoning for justifying terrorism are tenable. The end never justifies the means. It doesn’t matter what the end is, or whether one believes it to be good.

I do agree that they do not always act out of ignorance. They often know full well what they are doing, making it even more evil.

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