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Let Arson = Terrorism

Bru, stuffce
It's a simple statement. Arson should be treated as terrorism. The only significant difference between an act of political terrorism and an act of arson is the intent. A fire is essentially a slow bomb.

I was reading about the current Greek tragedy that is the inferno engulfing Greece and noted this little comment:
Greek police have arrested 32 arson suspects, as investigations continue into the origins of the blazes.

A 1m euro (678,000) reward has been offered to help catch fire-starters.

Dozens of new fires continue to break out, fanned by hot, dry winds.

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant, in Athens, says the police and intelligence services will be keen to discover if there is any link between the suspected arsonists, and whether they are part of an organised scorched earth campaign.

Apart from my original "WTF?" reaction upon reading this, and wondering why one does this, I saw that the Greeks are considering "an inquiry into whether arson attacks can be considered terrorism, and prosecuted under Greece's anti-terror laws." According to the BBC Treating arson as a potential act of terrorism would give authorities broader powers of investigation and arrest.

Well, I get the point. At the moment 64 people are known dead, 2 for each of the arrested arsonists. That's good enough for a murder conviction, but the damage to property, wildlife, industry and tourism would be worth another few million Euros per head. This makes these attacks as dangerous as an ordinary terrorist attack.

It reminds me of a fire near Sydney about 4-5 years ago. A colleague lost his home in it, thousands of animals were killed, I believe that a colony of Koalas was wiped out. This one was started by a teenage girl, not for gain, just out of idiocy. I can't find a link, but I understand that she was going to be charged with each individual offence she committed, so Arson : 1, killing an endangered species : 2, destruction of property worth n-million dollars : 3. etc. You would hope that she would go down forever.

Starting a fire is like planting a bomb. Once you have done it the danger is inestimable; it could lead to hundreds of deaths or none. It is exactly like a terrorist attack except in intent. In fact it is a subset of the terrorists' weapons.

I think that arsonists, except those burning their own empty old buildings miles from anywhere in a concrete jungle should be treated as terrorists. The charge is terrorism plus arson, plus whatever damage is done and the sentence should be the sum of the sentences for the individual crimes. Every person killed is a manslaughter (Murder 2), every car torched is a grand theft auto, etc.

Send the bastards away forever.
Well, are they trying to make a point? making demands? trying to inflict terror on the populace at large? If so, then it is terrorism. Otherwise, it is just strange... Are they all just doing it for fun or what? Is this some strange and dangerous fad?
I heard that Greece has laws that you cannot build on any forested land.
And that the organized suspects are under the direction of land developers.
If they couldn't change the laws, I guess they were taking matters into their own hands,
and now it's gotten way out of control.
But, someone will be making money on all the new non-forested land.
I don't think arson should be considered terrorism ... intent might be the "only significant difference" but that's kind of the whole point. If there's no evidence it was done to inspire terror, it's not terrorism. If you start looking at crimes that way then any crime without a clear motive could be terrorism.
Tim Graham
Terrorism, though, is violence on civilian targets for political purposes - it has to be considered political really otherwise it's not terrorism.

That said, people who light fires deserve to have the book thrown at them - I'm not advocating the death penalty or anything, but the kind of destruction that bushfires wreak is simply astonishing. I lived for a few years in Canberra, Australia's capital city, which is/was surrounded by bushland and pine plantations - all it took was one idiot, or a lightning strike, to start a fire that wiped out two entire suburbs within days. Ask anyone who lives in regional Australia and they'll have had similar experiences with local firebugs (that's another word for arsonist, really) and the threats they pose.

This is the kind of thing that's going on in Greece and while I can't say you could call it terrorism as such, it certainly deserves stern punishment.

That said, the very fact that these forests exist, or that there are houses in/next to them, that they may not have undertaken backburning or other methods of threat minimisation, could be considered quite irresponsible as well - that I'm not totally sure of though.
To me, the difference is intention. Arsonists usually don't intend to kill or otherwise injure, whereas that is the goal of terrorism. An interesting point raised, for sure.
Terrorism is defined by the intent to cause terror, and most arsonists set fires for personal reasons, pyromania, Oedipus Conflicts, short man syndrome. It's a bit of a stretch, but I can see the possibilities.
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