Why police don’t call the Las Vegas shooting terrorism

With 59 people now confirmed dead, Sunday night’s gun attack in Las Vegas is the worst mass shooting in recent history – yet the authorities are not treating it as a terrorist incident.

When asked if the killing was terror-related, Clark County sheriff Joseph Lombardo said: “No, not at this point, we believe it is a local individual, he resides here locally.”

Asked why he did not then regard the attack as domestic terrorism, Lombardo said: “We have to establish what his motivation is first. There’s motivating factors associated with terrorism other than a distraught person just intending to cause mass casualty.

“Before we label with that, it will be a matter of process. We don’t know what his belief system was at this time.”

The FBI dismissed claims made by Islamic State in the immediate aftermath of the shooting that it was responsible for the attack, saying gunman Stephen Paddock had “no connection to international terrorist organisations”. Isis had said the 64-year-old had converted to Islam a few months ago.

Political motive?

Terrorism is often defined as being politically motivated – yet Nevada law “does not require a motivation to be established in order for an attack to be called an ‘act of terrorism’”, says Newsweek.

Nevada statutes merely define terrorism as “any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population”.

Responding to the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, Barack Obama defined terrorism, saying: “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.” Yet “the term has not always been consistently applied”, says Newsweek.

 

 

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