Proposed labels for attacks
Terrorism: asymmetric warfare committed by an organization with political goals which doesn’t rise to the level of guerilla warfare. This includes attacks by the IRA in the UK and the PLO in Israel, as well as 9/11 (al Qaeda) and the Paris terrorist attacks (ISIS). Under this definition, the only terrorist attack that has happened in the U.S. in my lifetime has been the 9/11 attack. Even the Oklahoma City bombing doesn’t fall under this label because it wasn’t part of campaign by an organization. The two guys who did the attack were acting as lone wolves (described below).
Jihadism: Any type of attack in which the perpetrator, or perpetrators, believe they are acting according to the instructions of Islam. This is a very useful label, but one that the mainstream media and our government absolutely refuses to use. Jihadism can overlap with all of the other types of attacks. I am very confident that the San Bernardino attack was jihadism.
Lone wolf attack: This is commonly used to describe an attack committed by a single person in support of a group, movement, or ideology. Dylan Roof falls under this category. I think it’s a pretty useful concept even though the term has unfortunately been utilized by liberals to downplay the threat of jihadism. I don’t think that the crazy guy in Colorado Springs is a lone wolf, I think he was just a crazy person and that his attack should be grouped with other crazy-people attacks like Jiverly Wong and Adam Lanza. The Fort Hood shooting is a jihadist lone wolf attack.
Conspiracy to commit pointless violence: When there is no political motivation for the mass murder, and the violence is not committed in furtherance of a criminal enterprise (as mass murder by drug gangs and the mafia are actually quite common). Extremely rare. I can only think of: Columbine, DC Snipers (who were black Muslims but who don’t seem to have been inspired by jihad).
Conspiracy of lone wolves: I don’t really like this term because it’s an oxymoron, but I can’t think of anything better. Usually these are jihadist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the San Bernardino “rampage.” Oklahoma City is the most prominent non-jihadist example of this type of attack.
Even though these are great labels, I think that using them would be confusing so long as people seem to think that all forms are jihadism are also terrorism, and we see the mainstream media and the Obama administration trying to label jihadist attacks as something else, and right-wing people saying “no, it was terrorism!” which is something that I myself have done with the San Bernardino “rampage.”