1. The use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims."
MY TAKE ON SAN BERNARDINO:
Sayeed Rizwan Farouk planned, prepared and executed this attack as a terrorist act, and by definition, it can be called nothing but a terrorist act. However, even in the bloody wake of this attack, there is more evil: We have now seen possibly the first widely-known attack where terrorism was used not just for political capital, but for selfish personal vengeance.
TERRORISM AS A CONCEPT:
The use of terrorism, in my opinion, invalidates an individual's opinion about what they are fighting for, unless their cause happens to be senseless violence, sadism or the worship of Satan, the only causes I can think of quickly which align with terrorism in general.
If an individual uses terrorism as a means to achieve a goal, then that goal, AS THAT INDIVIDUAL UNDERSTANDS IT, is invalidated. (This is not to say that a person engaging in terrorism in the name of Christ has the power to nullify Christ or his teachings. Neither do Islamic terrorists have the power in and of themselves to invalidate the teachings of Islam.) People who do violence in the name of Christ do not know him. Those who do violence in the name of 'Allah' are at odds with Islam. The "cause" for which they fight exists only in their own minds.
Christ would never condone violence in his name. Anybody who kills in Jesus' name does not know him, is fighting for a "name" that does not represent Christ, and is in fact AN ENEMY OF CHRIST. Muslim terrorists are enemies of Islam.
That said, if terrorists in general had a conscience, clarity of thought or understood purity of motive, then they would understand that the attack in San Bernardino made terrorism even less legitimate--if that were possible. Why?
Terrorism (as so succinctly defined above) is the "use of violence...in the pursuit of political aims." So, if I as a terrorist, use terrorism to settle PERSONAL debts, I have invalidated my actions, even by the standards of terrorism. My actions are no longer for the "greater good" (as obscene as that sounds in this case), but for my own personal good. My act would still be terrorism, but I have philosophically deligitimized my violence.
In San Bernardino, Sayeed Farouk used "terrorism" as an opportunity and justification to settle personal scores. He didn't attack strangers at a baseball game, a mall or a soccer field. He didn't attack strangers at all. He attacked people he knew and people with whom he had differences. And he hid behind terrorism as his motive to justify his actions. Even by terrorism standards, that's a new low.
If I, as a Christian, collected donations from you so I could go overseas and do missions work, and you found that I ended up in Monaco handing out pamphlets at the Formula 1 race in Monaco while I sipped champagne in a sponsor's chalet, would you not think you had been robbed? Of course, because I had used alleged Christian motivations to satisfy personal cravings.
My trip to Monaco would be looked on (and correctly so) as fraudulent by everyone who knew me, especially Christians, who would know that I was not really concerned about the cause of Christ. I was concerned with the cause of 'Steve.'
The fact that Farouk used terrorism to achieve selfish 'gain,' does not change the fact that a terrorist attack occurred, and only the choice of target degraded it's "philosophical purity." If terrorists had human emotion, they would feel betrayal at what Farouk did.
If I were still in the FBI and still investigating terrorism, and if this was my case (and let me tell you it would be), then I would suggest that we not dignify it by prosecuting it solely as terrorism, though (and make no mistake about this) it IS terrorism, was 'justified' by terrorism, and was intended as terrorism. But it was terrorism used tangentially to settle personal scores; the wanton act of a vengeful, depraved man, "justified" by the aegis of 'terrorism.' It is important that we call out the hypocrisy of this act.
I find it sadly ironic that Muslim terrorists, who abuse Islam by hiding behind her burka skirts to conduct their vile massacres, now have somebody abusing them, by hiding behind the skirts of their sick 'cause.'
Our concern now should be that radical Muslims "on the fence" about conducting a terrorist attack and likely losing their lives, now have another incentive to kill--the opportunity to settle personal scores. And this incentive would certainly increase the number of people willing to cloak murder as martyrdom.