Was this a terror attack?

Angry tax payer, Joe Stack, flew a small plane into a US government’s tax building on Thursday in a kamikazee protest against the tax system.

He left the reasoning for his actions in this online suicide note:

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

Initial reports said that this was simply a case of a disgruntled individual seeking revenge against the system.

But the word ‘terrorism’ has entered the growing online debate about Stack’s actions.

Tim King of salem-news.com asks:

 ‘Isn’t it firmly established that people with a beef against the U.S. government who fly planes into buildings in an effort to kill Americans are terrorists? Apparently not down in Texas.’

This blogger is outraged that Stack has been ‘defamed’ as his actions have been compared to ‘actions of the 9/11 Islamic homicide terrorists’. He goes onto say he’s a hero who ‘martyred himself to avoid paying taxes to it’.

Blogger, Ankhesen Mie takes the opposite view. Her argument goes like this:

Terrorism is the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

And now that we’ve gotten that out the way, let’s start again: Andrew Joseph Stack was a terrorist.

Does Stack’s ethnicity have anything to do with how his actions were viewed? This blogger thinks so.

So lemme get this straight; a white male angry at the government flies a plane into a government building in Houston, and it is not considered an act of terrorism? … So when it’s a white guy, he’s just considered to be having a bad day, right?

So what’s in a name? Was this act an act of terrorism?

46 Responses to “Was this a terror attack?”

  1. 1 Mina
    February 19, 2010 at 20:53

    Whats going on?! another terrorist attack?? comeon.. Peace please.. That wasn’t a good way to solve such a simple prob..

  2. 2 JanB
    February 19, 2010 at 20:55

    Basically he was angry because in 1986 the government decided people in his profession (freelance software engineers) should start paying income taxes and social deductions like everyone else. He was also mad at the bankers, the lack of public health care in the US and the tax benefits religious organizations receive, but it was mostly about his own taxes.

    If the man’s intention was to change the system than he was a terrorist (he used violence), if he was simply out for revenge than it wasn’t terrorism (though still a violent, criminal attack). It’s hard to tell from the letter he left behind.

    And, please stop playing the race card, I’m getting sick of it, just because a portion of Americans is obsessed with it doesn’t mean they have to force-feed their racist paranoia to the rest of the world.

    Was Timothy McVeigh considered a terrorist? Yes.
    Was he white? Yes.
    Are the people blowing themselves up in Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya considered terrorists? Yes.
    Are some of them white? Again, yes.

    So please shut up about race and ethnicity, it’s got nothing to do with this, in fact it’s got nothing to do with most thing in life, until you make an issue out of it.

    • 3 loudobservant
      February 22, 2010 at 00:45

      Wake up, and do some research:People in Afghanistan , Chechnya,Iraq and Somalia are NOT WHITE,BUT ARE MUSLIMS,and, that is the question of RACE PRIMARILY.
      Let me set the record straight.The wars began by Bush,Blair and Braemer were primarily against Islam and Muslims all over the world, because these bunch of bigots and war-mongers are obsessed with one word,and that is :ISLAM.
      The rebellions more than half a century ago,waged by Jomo Kenyatta,Nelson Mandela,Gandhi and Nehru and M.A.Jinnah were classified by the colonial powers of the time,viz.,Britain,as TERRORISM. The whole world,except you,knows the truth behind those struggles and sacrifices.History will never forget that.

  3. 4 Clamdip
    February 19, 2010 at 21:05

    As an American, I can understand this man’s anger towards the IRS. Our government is corrupt but good meaning citizens who by little fault of their own, find themselves in hot water with the IRS are really screwed. They charge loan sharking interest and penalties and you can’t escape their Mafia clutches. They are a really horrible government agency that should be investigated. Anymore,
    the only way people can stay off the IRS radar is to be penniless and homeless otherwise they’ll come after you. Don’t ever owe the IRS money because they’ll relentlessly pursue you until you have no other option but to commit suicide.

  4. 5 jamily5
    February 19, 2010 at 21:40

    Yes, I believe that it was.
    And, I am surprised with all the bbc bashing that I am the first to say so.

  5. 6 Nate, Portland OR
    February 19, 2010 at 21:40

    I’m a white American male and I’ll say that this jerk is unambiguously a terrorist. Further, the blogger linked in the post who argues that Joe Stack is not a terrorist is no better than al Queda supporters. In fact, he sounds an awful lot like them: “he martyred himself” instead of “he murdered x people and destroyed y property in addition to himself.” (The blog entry url includes a directory called “humor-satire”, so maybe he’s not serious)

    This doesn’t mean anti-tax zealots are the equivalent of militant Islamists in terms of the threat to innocents. At least not right now. We’ll see how this tea-party thing shakes out…

  6. 7 Richard in Arkansas (USA)
    February 19, 2010 at 21:48

    Sec. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano early on last year warned Americans about this. She was totally lampooned by the hard right and the Washington Republicans. She has been totally vendicated.

    • 8 kamalanii
      February 24, 2010 at 00:26

      Vindicated? only in the eyes of the liberals. and yes borders still open to anybody . what happen to the terrorist who try to blow the plane for Christmas? and Napolitano answers? oops!! they did it again!!

  7. 9 loudobservant
    February 19, 2010 at 23:44

    It appears that any violent actions, whether by an American white citizen,an Arab or an African, is labelled as an act of terrorism.
    These actions,though deplorable,are representing an individual’s thoughts,and, according to the constitution of the country,he or she has a right to expression of thoughts or beliefs.
    If you keep on stretching the word to such an extent that it will ultimately sound like a joke !!

  8. February 20, 2010 at 06:17

    Interesting to know how race actualy plays a part in the so called “war on terror”. How the tag “terrorist” is reserved for a specific group of people. Am disgusted. Some bloggers say he is a hero for fighting the course, i mean cant we say the same thing to all the terrorist out there? Aren they all fighting for a course? Does this justify their actions?

  9. 11 Mahjoub Ali
    February 20, 2010 at 07:09

    yeah I believe it is,
    the only difference between this and the the 9/11 is the cause of the attack.
    I mean if we had 4 of him then four buildings would still be attacked, innocent people would die.

  10. 12 Ronald Almeida
    February 20, 2010 at 09:21

    Of course this was an act of terrorism, regardless of the fact that the perpetrator was not an Al Qaida Moslem. Makes one think doesn’t it? Think of the causes for it. Nothing but a complete breakdown in understanding between a system and the individual.

  11. 13 Roberto
    February 20, 2010 at 13:06

    RE “” Was this act an act of terrorism? “”

    ——– Sounds like a great question for “experts” to debate endlessly until the sands of time run out or treasuries are bled dry.

    Mr. Stack may well be the proverbial canary in the coal mine or the warning shot across the bow.

    Don’t know if it’s “The Great Depression,” or “The Revolution” or perhaps just “The Dark Ages” that I’m smelling in the wind, but “life as everyone knows it” has an increasingly short shelf life in the here and now.

    There are no shortage of high value targets in Austin which is the Capitol of Texas, so it’s significant that this particular IRS office was chosen.

    Don’t think it’s a stretch to add that had Mr. Stack been truly interested in carnage, he could’ve packed the plane with a fertilizer bomb if not TNT or other explosives.

    Or perhaps this act launches “The 3rd Millennium Age of Enlightenment,” but I certainly don’t expect much enlightened dialogue to come out of the zero sum political and and economic global expansion currently being carried out.

  12. 14 Subhash C Mehta
    February 20, 2010 at 14:23

    The term ‘terrorism’ needs to be redefined as: Terrorism is the evil and bloody use or threatened use of force by an evilly motivated person or an organized extremist or radical/fanatic group against peace-loving people and/or their properties, with the intentions of terrorizing, benumbing, paralyzing and intimidating societies and governments, with the sole purpose of achieving their evil/inhuman/rigid ideological or political goals by way of creating fear-psychosis and chaos.
    The attack on the tax-building was an insane act motivated by extreme resentment and disgust; since it was not evil in its nature, it can be best described as an act of senseless violence.

  13. February 20, 2010 at 14:48

    Definitely not.I,too feel anger toward the government especially the C.I.A.who go around the world and orquestrate assasinations and violent demonstrations and operate with vitual impunity.

  14. 16 James Ian
    February 20, 2010 at 15:05

    I thought it was awesome! Think it kind of sucks that he left his child with that kind of pain but other then that I thought it was awesome! I do feel bad for the child though, to grow up without a father and to have to deal what he did, you know that will be hard. I also feel bad for the children of the victim if they had one.
    Other then that, the guy rocks as far as I’m concerned.

  15. 17 Andrew in Australia
    February 20, 2010 at 15:57

    Of course it is a terrorist attack.

    Or does a terrorist attack need to involve a religious motive or be conducted by those of ‘middle eastern appearance’?

    It may just have been a case of revenge or expression of anger against the tax department, but these sorts of events are designed to cause maximum devastation and to terrorise people.

    Let’s not try to sugar coat what happened here, this was not a suicide attempt, had it benn then this indivdual would have topped himself in some dark corner. There was malice aforethought here and a clear intent to injure, maim, kill and terrorise others.

    Hard to believe this is a debate for some people who want to make it sound better than it was. A suicide bomber with a vest strapped to his chest does the same thing, goes out to kill others along with himself. Stack did exactly the same thing or maybe the rednecks in the States want to turn him into a folk hero who was sticking it to the man?

    February 20, 2010 at 17:20

    I think yes it was an act of terrorisem, whatever his colour!

  17. February 20, 2010 at 23:56

    this is not a terror attack. it is a criminal destruction of private property. this person acted alone and was not part of a terror network. thank you.

  18. 21 Bert
    February 21, 2010 at 01:12

    Of COURSE it was an act of terrorism. He attacked defenseless civilians who had nothing to do with any supposed complaint he had with the IRS. Of COURSE Timothy McVeigh was equally a terrorist. He did very much the same thing, only with far greater loss of life.

    This guy was a suicidal terrorist, but I don’t think there’s anything in the definition of terrorist that demands suicide.

    And the idea that this guy is a martyr twists the meaning of martyr. You’re no martryr when you deliberately take innocent people to their graves, even if that’s along with yourself. Martyrs, if anything, are those who die in someone else’s place.

  19. 22 viola
    February 21, 2010 at 01:59

    Unless the man’s act was part of an organized movement, it was not terrorism. Someone who blows up a building but not himself, so that he remains free to commit other such acts, is a terrorist. If he is dead, he cannot commit other such acts. Therefore, a single act of suicide murder is not terrorism unless it is part of a conspiracy (between 2 or more persons) to terrorize.

    His skin color is not an issue.

    If, for instance, Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a conspiracy, he was a terrorist. If he was not, he was simply an angry person out for vengeance.


  20. 23 Peter of Calabar
    February 21, 2010 at 07:34

    Ah, yes, I always knew our dear Sept 11th “fly-into-building” bozos would spawn copycats. The world hardly knows the effect of never condemning hard-enough Arab terrorist antics. You remember they (Arabs) also planted a bomb in a baby-pram with a real-life baby inside? They gleefully called it their “first baby-martyr”. How sick. And now this!

    Well, look out for more fellas. Any intending suicide with an implement large enough to cause mass harm may well say “well, why go alone and why not try out the latest fad from the middle-east?”


  21. 24 stanleymalaware
    February 21, 2010 at 07:40

    No….he was an ERRORist

  22. February 21, 2010 at 10:27

    No. It wasn’t “terrorism.” Terrorists are religious fanatics who don’t have real jobs. They get money by taking other people’s stuff, selling drugs, and donations from rich twisted relatives.

    There is a good word for what happened to Joe Stack… he went postal.

  23. 26 subra
    February 21, 2010 at 18:43

    To the pro-terrorists who are accused of terrorism at each and every attack threatening life of others, this is definitely an act of terrorism. But to a person who is unduly harassed by the taxman, this is a desperate action undertaken to redress a situation that is silently suffered by many tax payers.

    The taxman usually shows no remorse in penalising the people and they are unattainable. So he just tried to make amends in his own way. And this is unacceptable.

  24. 27 stephen/portland
    February 21, 2010 at 20:14

    He was not affiliated to any political group or originations so I would have to say “No”.

    He is just one of many people who cant take responsibility for his own mistakes and listened to one two many Sarah Palin speech or Rush Limbaugh broadcast.

    It’s always the government or the immigrants or something with these people, they’re always harping back to an imaginary time in American history.

    What’s more disturbing is that I guarantee at least 30% of certain people living here think this dude is some sort of people’s hero.:(

  25. 28 loudobservant
    February 22, 2010 at 00:48

    Ankhesen Mie,congrats on speaking out so aloud.Your views are absolutely right,

  26. 29 Dennis Junior
    February 22, 2010 at 03:28


    The recent “terror attack” in Texas should’ve had been classified as (a) terror attack, since he :technically: committed a terror related crime with the usage of a “plane”

    ~Dennis Junior~

  27. 30 Buchi Asogwa
    February 22, 2010 at 07:36

    I am black, and Nigerian. The dec 25th attempt by my compatriot on US was definetly Terrorism! But if Joe’s action (as extreme as it was) is tagged same, then Americans have been wiped into paranoria by the real terrorist.

  28. 31 Scott in Washington
    February 22, 2010 at 08:18

    People do not have to be affiliated with organizations to be terrorists. Timothy McVeigh acted alone and committed an atrocious act of terror on US soil. The same goes for the likes of the Unabomber and Marvin Heemeyer as well.

    Voicing disgust can be done in a way that does not jeopardize the lives of innocent people. I would be the last person on Earth to defend the umbrella-terminology of ‘terrorist’ as the new ‘communist’. Strictly speaking according to dictionary definitions here, a terrorist is someone who commits a violent act against civilians for personal or political gain. The man’s a terrorist.

    Just imagine if the disgruntled person who had committed the act was of another color or religion and you can begin to see where the biases lie.

  29. 32 Buchi Asogwa
    February 22, 2010 at 10:10

    Agreed, terrorism isn’t same as communism. But not all mass homicide, no matter how sensational) is a terrorist act. Terrorism is always targeted at destroying or inflicting pains on someone’s or a peoples’ psyche or ideology.

  30. 33 Jeff Wadulo
    February 22, 2010 at 13:42

    This begs the question – What then is America doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, when we have terrorist minds right on its soil? Joe Stack, Timothy McVeigh Bin Laden, Abdulmutallab and many others like them, who may be disgruntled with a system and its policies do not need to be targeted and fought with conventional warfare. America just needs to put its act together and address the several injustices of its actions both at home and abroad against individuals and nations through dialogue. Joe Stack’s action redefines the “War against Terror” and takes the debate to another level. Who is going to be the next terrorist? An old white christian lady blowing herself up in the white house over failure by the System to address problems of the senior citizens in America? Watch this space!

    Jeff in Kampala

  31. 34 patti in cape coral
    February 22, 2010 at 14:08

    There is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism, so maybe it’s like that famous quote about child porn “I know it when I see it.” I always thought of terrorism as violent acts that have some kind of idealogical goal and deliberately targets civilians. I’m not sure about this case, I think it’s borderline terrorism, but it really depends on his ultimate goal. It’s worrisome that a lot of people share his feelings and this act may inspire them to be more “proactive.”

  32. 35 Gary Paudler
    February 22, 2010 at 15:22

    Yup, terrorism. Now we have to bomb Texas for harboring and training terrorists and accidentally kill his neighbors and drive scared people from their homes and make sure that they can’t make a living and support their injured families and lock up hundreds of people without charges and torture them into telling us whatever they need to say to stop being tortured. The worst part for me will be the profiling at airports of grumpy white American men but that’s just the price of freedom.

  33. 36 teej
    February 22, 2010 at 17:53

    I agree with Patti. A terror act should be quantified when it is backed up by a moral/philosophical standpoint. Individual anger and revenge are just that. The term terrorism has been so politicized that it has attained a convenient ambiguity.
    This was just a another sad manifestation of the anger and helplessness felt by so many today.

  34. February 22, 2010 at 18:46

    Newt Gringich says ‘yea’.

  35. 38 JanB
    February 22, 2010 at 19:00

    “Wake up, and do some research:People in Afghanistan , Chechnya,Iraq and Somalia are NOT WHITE,BUT ARE MUSLIMS,and, that is the question of RACE PRIMARILY.


    Some of them are white, there is no question about that, we’ve had European and American converts and white Chechnyans blowing themselves up across the world. There is no point in denying that. Secondly, “Islam” is not a race, it’s an ideology, just like fascism or communism. No one is born a Muslim, it’s a choice, sometimes it’s based on serious indoctrination, but it’s a choice nevertheless, unlike race.

    • 39 Kev in Canada
      February 24, 2010 at 16:14

      well said, Islam is based on total indoctrination or death to non believers and its something you choose or are forced into. Notice how he places being Muslim above all else, ethnicity, race, skin colour whatever you want he puts it all in being Muslim..now that is why that extremist ideology is such a curse.

  36. 40 Abdul
    February 23, 2010 at 01:40

    Some folks are up to some chicaney here. If the guy were a muslim it would be labelled a terrorist outright, now that he’s not we are trying to find a ‘good’name for him.hmm . . . laughable

  37. 41 TomK in Mpls
    February 23, 2010 at 16:12

    He attacked a government establishment. I think the fact that it was a non military one as being irrelevant. Hopefully the government will realize it is a time for change before others feel a similar need. Clearly this person was rational. In a war, when a rational person engages in a suicidal act to help others it is called heroic. While I’m not calling this an act of heroism, I think it should be considered a wakeup call.

    We need less government, less debt, and to restore personal rights. I wish people would quit trying to encourage the government to micromanage their lives.

  38. 42 Irene in Texas
    February 23, 2010 at 17:24

    Strange how, according to the right wing hate speakers, there was no question that the Ft. Hood shooter was a terrorist, but this guy is not. I don’t appreciate the way HALF my tax dollars go support wars (present and previous) but I would never dream of taking it out on IRS employees who are just doing their NECESSARY jobs and supporting their families. This man was a terrorist, he was incited by hate radio. It’s high time the right wing showed some responsible leadership and toned down their rhetoric.

  39. 43 viola
    February 23, 2010 at 18:46

    I begin to think this is bogus. It’s not that hard to tell the difference between terrorism that plans and executes a mission that targets uninvolved persons in order to inspire terror in everyone and an individual not connected to any group who goes on a desperate, destructive revenge rampage.

    I conclude that anyone who can’t make the distinction is doing so with some kind of intentional or, possibly, unintentional bias for believing that every killing is an act of terror.

    • 44 Irene in Texas
      February 24, 2010 at 01:55

      You seem to have your own bias (intentional or otherwise). My dictionary (Webster’s New World) does not stipulate that there must be a group behind an act of terrorism. Where did you get your definition?

  40. 45 loudobservant
    February 23, 2010 at 23:44

    Today’s comments from someone from Memphis are worth making note of , as, they foretell a lot of things to come,POLITICALLY.!!

  41. February 24, 2010 at 17:53

    well…. I think the world is changing to something different. The governments should change for the sake of peace. This is an individual ritaliation. If everyone is begining to retaliate what the govenments do then ………….. only God knows. It may be a real fight for his right. Anyway, its wrong. This is a real terrorism.

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