Italian Court: Suicide Bombings Directed Against US Soldiers Not Terrorism
The AP describes the appellate court's decision as indicative of "the frequent failure by prosecutors in Italy to win cases against terror suspects." Nevertheless, the horrific nature of the acts in question notwithstanding, it's unclear whether the decision is incorrect. As Philip Carter has pointed out with reference to the infamous attacks on the four civilian contractors in Fallujah,
Indeed, the US Defense Department's definitions of "guerrilla," "insurgent," and "terrorist" seem to indicate that the Iraqi suicide bombers are guerrillas (or insurgents), not terrorists:
The Iraqi guerillas define themselves as freedom fighters fighting an unjust occupation. If the Iraqi insurgents can be categorized in some way as combatants, then they are entitled to lawfully kill in wartime just as American soldiers can. Essentially, this doctrine of "combatant immunity" allows soldiers to kill in war as a form of justifiable homicide.
Obviously, American and Iraqi authorities have branded the Iraqi insurgency a criminal -- and indeed, terrorist -- enterprise, and branded its acts unlawful as a result. But there is at least a colorable argument that there should be combatant immunity on the part of the Iraqi insurgents.
Doctrinally, we (DoD) define terrorism as “the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.”On the other hand, the Italian Penal Code's current definition of terrorism -- obviously the only relevant definition here -- does not seem to categorically exclude branding suicide bombings directed at US soldiers as terrorism:
Doctrinally, we (DoD) define insurgency as “an organized resistance movement that uses subversion, sabotage, and armed conflict to achieve its aims. Insurgencies normally seek to overthrow the existing social order and reallocate power within the country. They may also seek to: (1) Overthrow an established government without a follow-on social revolution; (2) Establish an autonomous national territory within the borders of a state; (3) Cause the withdrawal of an occupying power. (4) Extract political concessions that are unattainable through less violent means.”
Doctrinally, guerrillas are the “overt military aspect of the insurgency.” They exist alongside their counterparts, the auxiliary and the underground.
The definition of terrorism