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Virginia Tech. - Massacre or Terrorism?

Virginia Tech Massacre or Terrorism?

By Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Sydney
April 22, 2007

The mass shooting by 23-years old, Cho Seung-Hui, at Virginia Technical University in the United States has been described as the worst massacre in an educational institute in US history, which left 33 people dead and more than 50 injured.

Local, state and federal investigators and the people who knew Cho are now investigating and emerging stories about his life. Cho’s English teacher scared of his English writings had warned the administration to take notice. According to the English Professor, Cho wrote troubling plays spotlighting death and killing in a deeply disturbing way. He is being defined by many as being mentally ill who had psychiatric disorder.

Prior to the crime Cho posted a package to NBC containing 1,800 words of text, 43 photos and his own made 28 video clips. In one of the video clips, Cho was shown ranting at the camera and rallying against rich, privileged students. He blamed others for forcing him to kill. He said, ‘You had 100 billion chances and ways to have avoided today. But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off… I didn't have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled. But now I will no longer run...’ He said, he wanted to crucify himself like Jesus. According to experts his video clips showed that he had been suffering due to deep hatred, isolation and ignorance.

Some experts described Cho as a person who was ignored and needed attention. Nonetheless, he ended as a mass murderer of innocent people who were not ordinary people but the educationists, students and future hope for many.

Terrorizing and Killing people ruthlessly is an act of terrorism and the ones who commit these acts are the terrorists. So, should we call Cho Seung-Hui ‘a terrorist’? Well, the media and the crime control authorities did not refer him as a terrorist nor the act was called as terrorism – Why?

Is the reason because this massacre of innocent people at a public place was not related to any religious-political issue linking with Muslims or Islam?

Talking about the massacre, President George Bush said "Our nation is shocked and saddened" by the shootings at Virginia Tech and pledged federal assistance in investigating the shootings with sympathy to the families of the victims. Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prime Minister John Howard also expressed only words of condolence for the people of United States especially to the love ones of the victims.

Imagine; had the killer carried a Muslim name or belonged to the Islamic faith! President George Bush might have already declared another war against terrorism, increased the home security levels in United States and found the deadly incident as an opportunity to gain his falling popularity at least within United States. And current trend shows, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prime Minister John Howard would have endorsed Bush’s actions.

Many blamed the availability of guns and gun-holding laws in the United States. One blogger wrote on a Chinese popular internet site; whether the rampage was motivated by a grudge against the United States…why are there were so many shooting incidents in American schools and universities…people should think why an American-educated student would take revenge against America?.

What exactly triggered the massacre in Virginia Tech is yet blurred but Cho Sung-Hui’s case can be a very interesting example to understand why people commit deadly acts of violence and terror and set themselves to kill other people.

Virginia Tech massacre proved that the act of deadly repulsion by those who fuel with negative thoughts can happen in any part of the world. To neglect them or control them by force will never work to bring them to peace rather their wrong ideas or negative thoughts get stronger and stronger and lead them to explode with horrific crime. Equally, others exploit these sick mind people in their own vested interest on the name of religion or patriotism.

Cho came to the United States when he was only 8 years old. He grew up with his parents. He had his parent’s house to live in, money to spend and opportunity to study in one of the most reputable Universities in the world. Then what lead him to become violent?

According to psychiatrics; the violent state of mind, where people are ready to commit murders, is a reaction of ignorance, physical or mental torture, pushing aside, labeling as outcasts and suppressing human rights. This could happen to an individual, group, community or even a nation.

When asked to a young Palestinian, carrying a gun and ready to attack Israelis solders, what made him to kill others and throw out his life? His answer was many annoying questions; what is a choice left for an 18 years old youth who has lost a father, brother, sister and all his relatives by the shelling from tanks and bullets by Israeli snipers? What can one expect from a youngster who is grown-up in a refugee camp in his own motherland? For the rest it is terrorism but for Palestinians, it is the reaction against the 50 years oppression and occupation by Israeli forces that now an entire generation think that their lives have no meaning except to fight and a fight that may lead to the freedom of their next generation.

Certainly, terrorism in any form cannot be justified but terrorism cannot be eliminated for acts of terror and army operations instead to eliminate the causes which compel and encourage people to involve in terrorists activities.

President George Bush claimed to provide freedom and peace to the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein when Iraq was attacked by US-led forces almost 4 years ago. US administration announced that the arrival of US-led forced in Baghdad was treated as sign of peace by the people of Iraq.

So what happed after 4 years? According to reports; more than 600 thousand people have been killed until now and the numbers are continuously increasing by 10s and 100s in result of every day bloody suicide attacks. There has been no dispute with the fact that there was no existence of Al Qaeda network or supporters of Osama Bin Laden in Iraq prior to US-led attack on Iraq. Today, Iraq has the most suicide attacks than anywhere else in world.

These acts of mass killings by individuals especially in US and in the West can be the lessons for the dominant world powers to understand that it is the most dangerous stage for any society when individuals are ready to throw their lives on the cost of others. The act of terrorism is the extreme state of negative thoughts developed over the period by isolation, hatred, abuse and repression.

To end terrorism wherever it is taking place the world’s powers need to eliminate its reasons and provide people justice and confidence by negotiations rather than the use of military might which makes negative thoughts stronger. The dominant powers of the world will have to eventually go back to the basic principle to bring back peace and humanity in the world – peace and love can only be delivered by peace and love.


(The writer is a Sydney-based Journalist, media analyst and a foreign correspondent. His homepage is ).

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