Friday, 31 May 2013

Was the Iraq War "terrorism" in UK Law?

Ten years ago the term "terrorism" was bandied around in conversation by some and appeared in various parts of the media in relation to the Iraq War.

Is there any meaningful basis for using the term "terrorism" in relation to the Iraq War?

In other words, was the Iraq War really "terrorism"?

In the ten years since the Iraq War started in 2003 I'm not aware of a single part of the UK mainstream media that has seriously examined the question of whether or not the Iraq War is or is not "terrorism" as defined in UK Law.

In case you're in a hurry to know the answer, I'll put you out your misery. Yes, the Iraq War was "terrorism" as defined in UK Law.

Let me explain why I think so.

The definition of "terrorism" in UK Law is to be found in Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

For your convenience, I'll post a link to the official UK Government site where the text of the Terrorism Act 2000 is hosted, so that you can check whether or not there have been any changes since I wrote this post. The text of the Terrorism Act 2000 is to be found here: Terrorism Act 2000, and the text of Section 1 is to be found here: Terrorism: Interpretation .

Here is the full text of the definition of "terrorism" in Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000 taken from the UK Government's official site on 31st May 2013.

1 Terrorism: interpretation.(1)In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where—
(a)the action falls within subsection (2),
(b)the use or threat is designed to influence the government [F1or an international governmental organisation]F1 or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c)the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious [F2, racial]F2 or ideological cause.
(2)Action falls within this subsection if it—
(a)involves serious violence against a person,
(b)involves serious damage to property,
(c)endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d)creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e)is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
(3)The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.
(4)In this section—
(a)“action” includes action outside the United Kingdom,
(b)a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person, or to property, wherever situated,
(c)a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the United Kingdom, and
(d)“the government” means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.
(5)In this Act a reference to action taken for the purposes of terrorism includes a reference to action taken for the benefit of a proscribed organisation.
If you're not used to reading Acts of the UK Parliament the quote of Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000 may be pretty opaque to you.

I'll split consideration of what Section 1 means into lay terms to help you understand what Section 1 says that "terrorism" is.

  1. What type of action?
  2. What intent?
  3. What is its rationale?
  4. Where does it occur?
Very simple, really.

I'll look at each of these four components in turn.

1. What type of action?

Section 1 says that the type of action is relevant. See Subsection 1(1)(a) which says that the types of action are specified in Subsection 1(2).

(2)Action falls within this subsection if it—
(a)involves serious violence against a person,
(b)involves serious damage to property,
(c)endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d)creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e)is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
Notice Subsection 1(2)(a). Did the Iraq War involve serious violence against anbody? That's a Yes.

Notice Subsection 1(2)(b). Did the Iraq War involve serious damage to property? That, too, is a Yes.

Notice Subsection 1(2)(c) Did the Iraq War endanger a person's life? That, too, is a Yes.

Notice Subsection 1(2)(d). Did the Iraq War create a serious risk to the health of the public or a section of the public? Think the use of depleted uranium shells, as an example. That, too, is a Yes.

Notice Subsection 1(2)(e). Did the Iraq War interfere with or seriously disrupt an electronic system? That, too, is a Yes, I believe.

Notice the little word "or" at the end of Subsection 1(2)(d).

It's only necessary that one Subsection in Subsection 1(2) is satisfied. But, in my view at least, all five criteria are satisfied.

2. What intent?

When firearms are used it's not necessary to ask this question.

See Subsection 1(3) where that is stated.

3. What is its rationale?

This relates to the logical basis for the action in question.

In Subsection 1(1)(c) it is expressed like this:

the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious [F2, racial]F2 or ideological cause.
The idea behind the Iraq War is, in my view at least, to advance a political or ideological cause. Specifically UK and/or US foreign policy.

4. Where does it occur?

Is there anything to indicate that because the Iraq War happened outside the UK that it isn't "terrorism"?

No. The opposite is true. It's made explicit that this definition of "terorism" applies across the world.

Subsection 1(4),

(4)In this section—
(a)“action” includes action outside the United Kingdom,
(b)a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person, or to property, wherever situated,
(c)a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the United Kingdom, and
(d)“the government” means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.

makes it clear that action anywhere in the world can be "terrorism".

Conclusion

Action anywhere on planet Earth can be "terrorism" in UK Law (Subsection 1(4)).

The Iraq War meets the criteria specified in Subsection 1(1)(a).

The Iraq War meets the criteria specified in Subsection 1(1)(c).

Since firearms were used it's not necessary to examine Subsection 1(1)(b).

Since the criteria specified in both Subsection 1(1)(a) and Subsection 1(1)(c) are satisfied, THE IRAQ WAR IS "TERRORISM" IN UK LAW.

If you believe there is a flaw in my logic please feel free to post a Comment to express your question or concern.

Consequent Questions

 A host of important questions arise.

Here are a few examples:

Is Tony Blair a "terrorist"? Given the wording of Section 56 of the Terrorism Act 2000 here, Section 56, why hasn't Tony Blair been imprisoned for life?

Is Alastair Campbell a "terrorist"?

Was Lee Rigby a "terrorist"?

Why hasn't anyone in any of the UK Police forces acted to stop offences related to the Iraq War? Or offences related to Afghanistan? Or offences related to Libya?

Why hasn't Sir John Chilcot's Iraq Inquiry asked Lord Goldsmith about the relevance of Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000?

Why hasn't Sir John Chilcot asked Tony Blair (or a host of others) if they realised that the so-called "War on Terrorism" was itself "terrorism"?

 Do the British media, British Police and the Iraq Inquiry practice the "three monkeys" approach to justice? See no terrorism, hear no terrorism speak no terrorism?

I'll return to some of these related questions in future posts.