Can only Muslims be terrorists?

Category: Americas, World Affairs Views: 9782

Robert Jay Goldstein

Robert Jay Goldstein is not a "Jewish terrorist." After all, neither God nor his prophets ever condoned the murder of innocent human beings. If a Jew engages in terrorism, the blame falls on him, not on his religion. 

That much we can all agree on. But that is where our paths diverge.

In August 2002 ,Goldstein was arrested near his home in St. Petersburg, Florida. In his possession were 40 weapons, 30 explosive devices, a list of 50 mosques and a detailed plan to bomb an Islamic school.  Contrary to the suggestion from defense lawyers that Goldstein is mentally ill, sheriff's Detective Cal Dennie characterized him as "a smart guy" who "knew his stuff." 

Clearly Goldstein, a terrorist, was capable of inflicting unimaginable harm. In chilling details, his mission plan stated his desire to "open fire on all 'rags' and then bolt out and let the devices do the rest."  His motive was to "to do something for 'his' people," in retaliation for 9/11 and the ongoing Israeli-Arab conflict. His goal was to "kill all rags" with "zero residual presence." 

Despite Goldstein's impressive arsenal and obvious intent, federal prosecutors say he is no terrorist, as his actions were not aimed at altering government policy. 

But the U.S. Patriot Act defines domestic terrorism as "acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; and appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States." 

Intent to alter government policy is only one part of a fairly broad definition of domestic "terrorism." Federal prosecutors ultimately charged Goldstein with lesser offenses of violating civil rights, attempting to damage religious property, obstructing people in the free exercise of religious beliefs and possessing unregistered firearms. Based on the evidence, there is no doubt that Goldstein would have received life in prison had he been charged as a terrorist. 

Goldstein will not spend his life in prison and that worries many Muslim Americans. When he is released, after serving his sentence of 12-and-a-half years, he will be only 50 years old, still capable of inflicting potential harm. 

The Goldstein terror plot remains perplexing for many other reasons. After his arrest, there was little information available about accomplices who were at large and remained a mortal threat to peace. The Muslim community naturally wanted to take appropriate measures to secure their mosques from being targeted by any of Goldstein's accomplices. Several pleas were made to law enforcement authorities for full disclosure of all mosques on Goldstein's target list. Federal and state authorities declined to honor these requests. 

American-Muslims, the targeted victims of this plot, were never asked by the prosecution to testify, a practice routine in criminal cases. In a surprising move, prosecutors argued that community members should not be allowed to speak in court. Only with the good graces of sentencing Judges Moody and Kovachevich were testimonies from the Muslim community made part of the official record.

Contrast Goldstein to the case of another terrorist, who happened to be Muslim, who also pled guilty for plotting to blow up Florida Power & Light substations and a National Guard Armory. His planning was not as extensive as Goldstein's, but federal prosecutors charged the Muslim as a "terrorist."

Do not get us wrong. We are not pleading for leniency for terrorists who happen to be Muslims. We're all safer when they're locked up. Such terrorists have no hesitation to kill innocent human beings, Muslim or non-Muslims, as they did on September 11, 2001.

What we are arguing is that non-Muslims should also be punished as terrorists if they engage or conspire to engage in terrorism. Such crimes should be taken just as seriously, even when the intended victims are "only" American Muslims.

After all, the life of a Muslim child is worth no less than the life of a Jewish or Christian child. I hope that's something we can all agree on.

Kamran Memon is a Chicago civil rights attorney. Parvez Ahmed, Ph.D., is Chairman of Board for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL).

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
Views: 9782
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Older Comments:
We usually discuss the bad aspect of people having belief other than ISLAM.The bad people whether believer or non-believer are bad because they have not seen the REAL GOOD i.e. The system of social justice of Islam at Social level,at Economic level and at Political level.
Instead of complaining for the bad guys we,muslims,should start learning the real teachings of Islam both in words as well as in spirit and try to work for the salvation.We need to set an example for the whole mankind what are the benefits of following teachings of the QURAN and the SUNNAH.

I am a American Muslimah and this is example of what people don't always see because most Americans believe our goverment instead of trying to learn the truth, Alhamdulillah I became a Muslimah I knew that 9/11 was not true Islam but we need to have more education to the public and especially putting news like this out there, people need to see I am so sick of the one sided type of news I see all over the media.


Another perfect example of the double standards of the American justice system.
Yet another shred of evidence that proves that the fourteen hundred and twenty three-year-old European hate for Muslims still exists in this "land of the free", "home of the brave" when time and time again they insist that it does not.

so true!!! great article. i wish France would charge the bombers of the 85 synagogues burnt down in the past two years on their territory with terrorism(but they didn't,claiming it's not that bad...!!!). and the US should absolutly do it for anyone who threatens Mosques or Islamic cultural centers. Inshallah north america will not continue the europeen tradition of racism. after all America believes in god, when europe dispises believers...

I totally agree with this article because it presents a case of injustice to all people who believe in a broad definition of terrorism. MUSLIMS ARE NOT TERRORISTS, lets not turn all this rhetoric of equating Islam with terrorism into a self-filling prophecy where even Muslims began to believe these evil lies. And lets not denounce Muslim terrorists simply because they are hypocrites hiding behind the veil of supposed "Muslims" TERRORISTS ARE TERRORISTS whether they be operating in America, South America, Africa, Northern Ireland,Kashmir (Hindu terrorists)China, Russia, Italy,Israel (Israeli Soldiers)This is the problem with terrorism, terrorists are every where. To declare a war on global terrorism is virtually unrealistic and impossible to achieve. But to secretly target Muslims and Islam as a political power is a much easier task. The example of Goldstein proves that the U.S. equates Muslims with terrorists and is not interested in a broad definition.

Muslaims are never terrorists. This is against the dignity of a muslim n our religion. A muslim will fight when ever some 1 would attack on his country or talk against his religion.

I want to thank everyone involved with this site for being a last refuge of reason in a world that seems determined to hate people because of their faith. Thanks to the author for underscoring the incredible double standard between dealing with muslims and non-muslims with violent intentions.


I believe this is just another case of the American Justice system using a "double-standard" methodology in order to hide their true objective: smearing the religion of Islam.

It troubles me that situations like this are looked at in a case-by-case manner. There is no uniformity when it comes down to convictions, or even accusations. I believe that if a person does something wrong, the punishment should fit the crime. Not because of skin color, religious background, or political status. None should be above the law.

I do disagree with the author of this article, simply because his premise is wrong. In my opinion Goldstein should be charged with hate crime, because he was targeting a group of people he hated. This is no different than when the nazi or KKK groups target non white groups out of hate. These kinds of hate crimes do not aim to influence government policies.

On the other hand the Muslim who targeted government owned facilities is indeed a terrorist because his target is the government and by damaging government property and killing civilians he is sending the message he is against what the government is doing.

Yet, regardless of their differing goals I do believe hate crimes and terrorism should be punished in the same way, because they both target innocent people.

This huge problem occurred because of Muslim mistake itself. Muslim did'nt trust to his own brother anymore. they prefer to unite with NonMuslim rather than other Muslim.

What they think are: that Muslim is wrong and not represent the truth of Islamic Value, and we are the true Muslim must united with NonMuslim becuase this NonMuslim willing to help us to do correction on that Muslim. So... what happen to Muslim world? (think this!)

Only Muslim understand what Muslim problem and what suppose to do................

It is no surprise. We (the Muslims) have been told more than 1400 years ago, that Jews will always be our enemies until the end of time. So now what? Are we still going to sit back and watch our Muslim world being destroyed everyday?

We must unit and support our Muslim brothers/sisters, when they are being wronged or are wrong. America may be the most powerful country of its time now, but it will fall one day, just like the other great nations before. Like the saying goes "what goes up, must come down". However, we the Muslim have the greatest power of all, Allah, on our side. We must revive our faith and stand firm against injustice to all of humanity, not just for the Muslims.

Here's a very simple thing that all Muslims can do to make our voice heard. For those of you in US, get involved in politics and create your own local Political Action Committee. It is time for us to play and beat them with their own game All these elected officals want is be to be re-elected, so if we can unit and control who gets elected, we can make a huge change.

Allah will only help us if we want to be helped. So the Choice is YOURS.

May Allah, open our hearts to one another brings us together as ONE Ummah. Ameen.

I really don't think think this is a issue that is even worth writing about. By the mere fact that it does not deserve any credibility that is given to it by writing about it.


In our World, be you a Muslim,Christian etc "Conscience is an open wound and only the truth can heal it" so said Usman Dan Fodio.If Govts dont have at least individuals should have.All will be judged accordingly.

Philippine Muslim Terrorist has shame the islamic too far, and I heard rumors that this MILF (muslim islamic liberation front) are supported by some corrupt government. somebody must have pull the string... we can't blame the people.

I mean sometimes the muslims doesn't trust each other anymore. thats why people has impressions that muslims can anytime become a terrorist...

But at least those muslims woman and children are protected and well cared by non-muslim friends and neighbors.



The law has proved and with substantial evidence that Robert Goldstein was planning to terrorize many American citizens. I think that the American judicial system has done fairly well by sentencing his "head" to twelve and a half years in prision. In our opinion, he deserves more; however, the fact that he is locked up for many years to come definitely sends out a stern message to the rest of the Goldsteins who were intent on harming a peaceful community, one which is no less American than any other community. God's justice is always served one way or the other. Now, should our community get scared because of the presence of the Goldstein clan? Of course not. Our faith in God should give us more courage and determination to face any threat there is. Keep praying, have faith, and God will protect you; that is all.

May peace be unto all. It is of no surprise that Goldstein is not being charged as a terrorist. Timothy McVeigh was never really called a terrorist. I am really shocked that this article has not come under fire as being anti semitic. he has not been classified as a terrorist because US policy when it comes to Jews/Israelis has been consistently soft and vague. I am surprised that Goldstein has not been released to the custody of Israel to preside over a "trial" of his peers. Only Allah Knows what it will take to have justice in this world. Until then, we will have to continue to make others aware of the state of emergency we all live in through avenues provided by sites like Thank you. And may we all achieve peace.

Unfortunately this country has a history of ignoring the enemy from among it's own when the enemy is a member of the social and racial privilaged class. That's a bitter by-product of the cancer of white supremacy and racism. Racism and bigotry blinds the human being and he/she becomes the victom of their own twisted logic and thus becomes void of their humanity. We must eradicate the roots of this Satanic evil if we are truly to be a just society.

Unfortunately, the public doesn't get news about such people. Since we only hear about muslim terrorists. We are made to belive that others aren't doing as much, or to such a scale. Truth is, like a cancer, others are chipping away at the block with their terroristic activities. It just doesn't seem as bitter when the bite is not as big. Violence is a copout way to resolve an issue. Peace is more of a challenge, not enough people make efforts with. Where there is no fear of God and sense of accountability, the devil embellishes, and takes over. Leading people to act on their emotions, rather than reason and intellect. This is accross the board, with all people.