Is ISIL’s ‘Shock and Awe’ more Awe-ful because One Victim?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) –

The Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) burning of a captured Jordanian pilot alive produced justified revulsion globally, resulting in the terrorist organization being termed “barbarous” and similar epithets. Why did it behave this way? Because it wants to terrify its opponents into submission and underline that it is too crazy to be messed with. In short, it was a form of ‘shock and awe.’ It was all the more horrible for being inflicted on a single, known individual with a premeditated and inexorable viciousness, and for being carefully filmed and shared on the internet (successfully tempting Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News into rebroadcasting it).

“Shock and Awe” was the slogan pushed by the Bush administration for its massive bombing campaign against Iraq in March-April of 2003. It conducted 29,200 air strikes in the course of the initial invasion. Many of those missions were flown against what turned out to be empty Baath government facilities in hopes of killing high government officials (mostly that did not happen). But you can’t drop 500-pound bombs on a densely populated city without killing innocent bystanders. Likely the first two months of US bombing left at the very least 2,760 civilians dead.*

A study based on the conservative “Iraq Body Count” found that in Iraq, “46 per cent of the victims of US air strikes whose gender could be determined were female and 39 per cent were children.”

But the slaughter from the air was great not only among civilians but among military personnel, many of whom had no opportunity to surrender or run away (when US ground forces approaching the capital were surprised to come upon elements of a Republican Guard tank division they thought had been destroyed, the Iraqi tank personnel exited their vehicles and decamped en masse; those discovered by A-10 tank killers or Apache helicopters were not afforded that opportunity).

Speaking of burning people alive, one technique the US used was the BLU-82B, a 15,000 pound bomb detonated near the ground with a blast radius of about 5000 feet, but leaving no crater. It was intended to intimidate by burning up large numbers of infantrymen or armored personnel. (It is sometimes misidentified as a fuel-air bomb or ‘daisy cutter’ but is much more powerful than the latter). It was retired in 2008 in favor of something even more destructive.

In the 2003 invasion, The Guardian reported,

“The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force crossed the Tigris at the town of Kut, reporting only occasional fire from the Baghdad infantry division of the Republican Guard, which had suffered days of intense bombardment, including two massive 15,000lb “daisy-cutter” fuel-air bombs. Gen Brooks said the Baghdad division, which originally had up to 12,000 troops, had been “destroyed”.

I think a lot of the ‘destroyed’ troops were burned up alive.

The purpose of the bombing was to terrify Iraqis into submitting. That is, it was a form of state terrorism. Iraq had not attacked the US. There was no casus belli or legitimate legal grounds for war. The UN Security Council, despite wooing and arm-twisting by Bush officials, declined to authorize the use of force. It was an illegal act of unadulterated aggression with no obvious provocation that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the wounding of millions, and rendered four million of the 25 million Iraqis homeless over time (many of these remain displaced to this day; some have thrown in with Daesh as a result).

The US shock and awe campaign failed to shock or awe. The Iraqi military turned guerrilla and harried US troops for 8 1/2 years, then many of the ex-Baath officers and trained soldiers deserted secular nationalism, turned to al-Qaeda-type ideologies, formed Daesh and took over western and northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

The ex-Baath officers learned from seeing their colleagues and troops burned up by the Bush fireworks. According to that doctrine, you want to shock the enemy with your brutality and destructiveness, and awe him into submission by your crazed irrationality. But the Daesh commanders also took the lesson that dropping 15,000 pound bombs in the dead of the night away from cameras isn’t very effective, since the populace is insulated from the horror. Burning up even one captured enemy pilot alive on video, in contrast, would be broadcast by the internet and by Rupert Murdoch to the whole world, and a few thousand thugs could arrange for themselves to take on global importance and appear truly menacing to Jordan and even to the city of Rome (so they claim). All this publicity and fear accomplished not with billions in military spending but a smartphone camera, a single captive, and a few psychopaths with matches.

Now that is Shock and Awe. Shocking in its fierce savagery, awing in its wanton inhumanity. But we shouldn’t forget that that was also what Bush was going for in 2003 when he inadvertently started the process of creating Daesh as a backlash to his own monumental ruthlessness.

* Iraq Body Count gives 24,865 civilian casualties during the first two years of the Iraq War, attributing 37% of these to the US and estimating that 30% of civilian deaths occurred from the beginning of the war until May 1, 2003. Iraq Body Count statistics were gathered passively from Western newspaper reports and personally I think that they are underestimates.


Related video:

Baghdad: Mar 21,2003

47 Responses

  1. Daesh said they burned the Jordanian pilot because his bombs were burning up civilians, so they made him suffer a similar death. Daesh terrifies people because they are crazy like the Manson family who also enjoyed slaughtering people for fun.

  2. Good point. ISIS/ISIL is just doing onto others what was done to them and a lot of others too. “Shock and awe” indeed!

    The media propaganda machine seems to rise to the occasion though and paint ISIL as heathen without ever mentioning that pilots kill people every day — in equally horrendous ways — with their bombs. It’s what they do. That’s their job.

    Unfortunately, the average citizen is simply not exposed to a different version of reality and blindly accepts the one-sided portrayal of US/good, everyone else/bad. It’s refreshing to see a different point of view but it also underscores why Americans are so politically unsophisticated — they’re fed a steady diet of lies and distortions by the corporate media.

    • Obama’s bombing campaign in Kobane saved the Kurds from being slaughtered, IMO. Daesh made a huge strategic blunder, finally conceded defeat and had to withdraw after heavy casualties. More importantly, judging from the comments of Lindsey Graham and Scott Walker, I think the Republicans want to paint Obama as an ineffective C-I-C so they can send tens of thousands of ground troops back to Iraq and into Syria. Civilian casualties are unfortunate but there are ONLY two choices: Obama’s bombs now or U.S. ground troops and a much bigger war later. Invading Iraq didn’t pan out as the neoconservatives planned, so Daesh has become very convenient plan B. If troops are sent, they can be easily used against Iran.

      Iran, not this bunch of ultra-violent”pygmies,” is real plan B.

    • The rules for the treatment of prisoners of war are not just some American bourgeoise trick. Active soldiers kill, captive soldiers are not killed in retaliation. Recall that when the Confederacy proposed to turn captured black GIs into slaves and execute their white officers for “inciting slave rebellion”, Gen. Grant made preparations for retaliatory executions, which silenced the South. You think murdering captured pilots will make war more fair? Hitler and Tojo established what kind of people are POW-killers. How fair did they make their war?

      Killing POWs means total war. No rules, no limits. That cuts both ways. Bacteriological, chemical and nuclear weapons, no longer just threats. Germany vs the USSR. Japan vs China. You don’t know the meaning of suffering.

      • US and allied air strikes on Daesh forces are more like shooting fish in a barrel than war. The airstrikes are conducted at the discretion of the air forces, without being hindered by the threat of Daesh air defenses. Of the thousands of sorties, the Jordanian loss seem to be the only one.

        The US has not declared war on Daesh, and vice versa. The US is engaged in a campaign of relentless endless punishment of Daesh by dropping bombs, and hoping for some favorable outcome on the ground.

        Given the rage, and the need for revenge, generated by the method used to execute the Jordanian pilot, one wonders what the reaction might be if Daesh had used lethal injection instead,

        • But ISIS knew that by declaring war on the Shia people of Iraq and openly campaigning to conquer them and force them to convert at swordpoint, they were going to get bombed by somebody’s air force. They just expected it to be Iran’s. So how would it be less of a crime if Iranian aircraft were trying to save the majority of Iraqis from losing all their rights? The difference is in the policy goals of the US compared to Iran, not the methods. Armies get bombed. That’s war. If Lincoln had had F-16s he would have bombed the Army of Northern Virginia out of existence. There’s no mandate that you must send your ground forces in to get slaughtered before you send your aircraft.

  3. In the last five months of 2014 US air strikes dropped about 6000 bombs or other ordinances on Daesh. Quid pro quo?

  4. Monira AlQadiri

    I would add that burning captives alive is a well-known Baathist method of intimidation, used by Saddam & still used by Assad today

  5. The scenes described in this article are shocking, but it is okay if we do it, because our god, Mammon, says so.

  6. RAF Bonber Command and the USAAF in WW2 instigated a policy of fire bombing German cities such as Hamburg and the Ruhr. The intention was to terrorsise the civilian population and so demoralise the populace that surrender was made more likely. So fierce were the firestorms that air was sucked into the inferno at such speeds that civilians – no doubt including women and children and babies – were helplessly dragged into the flames.

    I believe that Japanese cities were likewise subject to such incineration by the USAAF. How many were burned alive at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

    • American and British lawyers drawing up a list of charges in preparation for the Nuremberg Trials included fire bombing. This charge was deleted when the lists were checked in Washington and London because the accused Germans could have used the tu coq defense – you did it yourself. Victors justice still prevailed.

  7. “Shock and Awe” is all about the U.S. putting payback on its enemies. The long history of revenge includes Muslims (fire), Japanese (fire, radioactivity), Indians (starvation) and Southerners (starvation) during the Civil War.

    • It is also the basis of deterrence. At the start of our major wars, the US was derided as “soft” and “fat”. The Confederate States, Hitler and Japan all thought they could wear out the USA by sacrificing their own boys by the millions in a war of attrition. No country will last long if it has a reputation of being easy to fuck with. Although the message I’m seeing in this thread is that the US is so evil it should have been defeated and destroyed long ago, by such angels as slaveowners and fascists who surely would have made a better world in our stead.

      • Although the message I’m seeing in this thread is that the US is so evil …

        You’re missing the point. Mouthpieces for the US claim moral superiority and denigrate people who engage in despicable behavior. To put it politely the US PR folks are operating on double standards and some people who believe what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong find that offensive. Any charges against the US on this thread you find untrue?

      • Good points. Secession and slavery were the causes of the Civil War, but Southerners really thought their culture and fighting men were far superior to the “soft” Northerners. Southerners started the Civil War thinking it would be easy.

        That thinking was evident during the buildup to the war in Iraq. Americans wanted payback against Muslims and thought invading Iraq would be a cakewalk. Today, Republicans in Congress are putting the “being easy to fuck with” blame on Obama, so it will be interesting to see what happens with ISIS, Iran and Putin in Ukraine.

        • This is an interesting observation. We are becoming more like the military-worshipping regimes that used to start wars against us. But those regimes counted on easy victories against the “soft” to bring big financial dividends (the South had plans far beyond its official borders). Now we look for easy victories against the poor. But what do you win then? Wall Street already has access to billions of peasants & sweatshop workers abroad without annexation.

          However, making an example of a poor country by destroying it serves to hold 100 unoccupied countries in fear. I’ve heard it said that the later part of the Vietnam War was really the USAF bombing N. Vietnam to leave such an example since victory was impossible.

          I’ve long looked at the story of Athens’ corruption of the Delian League and the extermination it carried out in Melos as an analogy for America’s fate. Thucydides is telling the story of how Athens went bad. No foreign policy establishment or media elite or corrupt representatives to blame; the citizens themselves voted to march for conquest and loot.

  8. “Shock and Awe” is the wrong analogy. Abu Ghraib is much more apt.

    It is about killing and torturing prisoners. The willful abuse of prisoners who neither can flee nor fight back is in a category of its own when it comes to depravity.

    In fact Abu Ghraib was so bad that even the Bush administration had to follow through with some oversight. In this sense DAESH actually manged to top them in the race to the pits of hell.

  9. We also dropped a couple nuclear bombs on Japan. Did that make us morally equivalent to the Nazis in WWII? Let me know when you figure out a way to wage war that does not include the loss of civilian life. In the meantime, the rest of us will deal with reality.

    Furthermore, ISIS is a murderous organization that seeks to impose a brutal, distorted version of Islam on everyone within their reach. They proudly advertise their brutality as a means to further their grotesque ideology. Drawing equivalencies between their actions, and the actions of any liberal democracy is a tired and sad game that simply distracts from the real issue of radical Islamism.

    • Let me know when you figure out a way to wage war that does not include the loss of civilian life.

      You might check with the people who wrote the Geneva Conventions related to war. They seemed to believe wars could be fought without deliberate killing of unarmed and defenseless civilians.

    • Little good ever comes from the moral equivalence game, and I was surprised that Prof. Cole went there. In terms of utter moral failure that of my nation will hopefully never be topped (I am German), yet every nation with a free civil society should have the capability for moral introspection, and fortunately the US despite all its flaws never squashed these kinds of discussions.

      That alone illustrates how misguided it is to draw any equivalence to ISIS/DAESH who effortlessly combine modern totalitarianism with the sensibilities of medieval inquisition.

      • You probably don’t know about the sedition acts passed in the US during World War I to remove all impediment to anti-German hatemongering. Worse than anything since, then quickly forgotten.

    • Drawing equivalencies between their actions, and the actions of any liberal democracy is a tired and sad game that simply distracts from the real issue of radical Islamism.– You play the game of ignoring that a bunch of Christians (from a putatively secular nation) attacked a putatively muslim nation under false pretences killing at minimum 100,000 innocent civilians. Does this illegal, humanitarian disaster compare in any way to torturing and killing one POW? Remember, ISIS doesn’t have the monopoly on torturing and killing detainees, as the recent torture report shows in graphic detail.

  10. Maybe ISIS understands the importance of genuine and total commitment better than we in the West do, and intended to do two things here: 1) demonstrate the depth of their commitment, and 2) unmask the lack of such commitment by the West, by challenging us to come get down and get dirty with them directly. This strikes me as totally rational. The are essentially calling a very lame bluff on Obama et al.

    The notion of pilots delivering fiery death in a distanced, intellectual, and more palatable way is, of-course, the sort of effete, intellectual approach which is shown for what it is when they do these things in person. As when hacking off someones head, this shows a depth of commitment the West simply lacks, with its pathetic set of transparently commercial/neocolonial motivations.

    In any fight, the side that is less committed ultimately caves, or otherwise declares victory and goes home. The biggest thing the US has at stake here is its (rather large and not insignificant) ego. Even if a weakling is restrained by a bouncer, if he’s really committed he’ll go buy an equalizer with which to return and finish the fight. They’ll just keep coming back in some form, as has been pointed out in how ISIS came to be in the first place.

    • This is not a bar brawl. Commitment does not equate depravity. The US was fully committed to victory in WW2 as well as to respecting the Geneva convention.

      The cheap machismo that seems to motivate your stance is echoed by the more stupid utterances from DC. Nicely illustrates how far the US has already sunken. You could do DAESH no better favour than to embrace them in their cult of death, so as to being pulled down to their level.

      • I think you’re missing T. Bickle’s point. We live in a fantasy in which all wars are equally important and follow the same rules. In fact we did some horrible things in WW2 by exploiting the inability of the rules of war to keep up with our aircraft technology. But that was a war for all the marbles. Since then we’ve fought wars that were for us just colonial maintenance, but for the other side were Total War. Since we’re not as committed as they are, they can play PR angles hurting our interests in other theaters. We want to enforce a profitable status quo; others must gamble on total destruction and rebirth.

        Recall Col. Kurtz telling Willard in “Apocalypse Now” about the Viet Cong cutting off the arms of children vaccinated by the Green Berets’ propaganda program? He wanted that purity of purpose, but America couldn’t provide it, so he turned to those for whom wars really are for survival – savages.

  11. The current alarm re lone wolf terrorism relates to this one as well. link to

    The thing to let sink in is how a few guys, or one “lone wolf” leveraged with simple technology, can be so asymmetrically effective.

    There is a fight shaping up between the Machine and the People, and this conflict is only showing the tools at work. Each person stands to make an enormous difference today, and once a system emerges that honestly and properly serves the people, the more fascist pretenders will drop away.

    • Lone wolves can be hellishly “effective” at killing people, frightening the general population (and targets) and enabling (in “shock doctrine” fashion) the propagation of government repression — effective in the actual furtherance of their cause, I’m not seeing it. [Note must be made of multiple-casuality single-gunman non-terrorism related killings that occur weekly even daily in the United States, including family and workplace killings — remarkably ineffective at either solving the apparent dispute at hand or encouraging gun control regulations).

      DAESH/ISIS is believed to believe that these gruesome no-holds-barred acts of savagery are attractive to their audience of would-be volunteers … This last — wrt to being blasphemic in overreach, using fire as punishment — may be a bridge too far.
      Elsewhere the stories of beheadings and torture of children and, this morning, the selling of children into slavery have re-arisen — all fertilized by very poor ability to corroborate anything and the natural problems of word-of-mouth and eye-witness testimony (7 people who saw 1 child killed can easily become 7 child victims, even more if everyone who heard testimony of those 7 actual witnesses claims to have known of a child killing — as apparently happened wrt some Taliban/Afghan atrocities).

  12. While perfectly possible to employ instant history and connect this immolation to drone or other Western activities, it doesn’t explain how similar barbaric behaviour is as old as life and thriving on every continent. What is different today is the sophistication of the media in feeding graphic, carefully presented examples of mankind’s more extreme behaviour. With all the build up of a theatrical Chorus our emotional response is orchestrated to a pitch and held for a while until dissipated in analysis and comment. The sequence is classic, not unlike the Roman games and circuses where men and animals fought to their bloody deaths by the thousand to keep the populace quiescent. It works by first presenting the circumstances in all their brutality so as to arose a strong emotional response, and then objectivizing them to distance them from any suggestion of personal ‘we’ involvement. If you read comments in other less restrained places you will readily encounter retributive attitudes hardly distinguishable from these executioners.

  13. The analogy between the US in Iraq and Daesh doesn’t work. The US declared war on Iraq, on false pretenses, but still it was a declaration. This war was supported by several Arab countries and many Iraqis. I know many Iraqi-Americans who supported this war and intervened with the Bush administration to invade Iraq. There were human casualties–military and civilian–and some were in fact incinerated; but there is no evidence that the US went after civilian targets. Daesh, on the other hand, is a weaponized death cult with links to jihadist Islam. They target the weakest; kill them in the vilest manner; and steal their resources and possessions. Their burning of the Jordanian pilot and the killing of the two Japanese hostages are a form of “shock and awe” but more likely intended as a feeble show of strength following their defeat in Kobane.

    • If the argument is that forewarning mitigates the brutality then Daesh have certainly announced in advance what would happen to their US and other victims were they not ransomed. We don’t know the details that passed between them and the Jordanians but it is not inconceivable that the US put pressure on Jordan to refuse a deal; an awful lot of money suddenly appears to be set to flow into the king’s military coffers.

    • “There were human casualties–military and civilian–and some were in fact incinerated; but there is no evidence that the US went after civilian targets.”
      The US declaration of war was simply a unilateral proclamation to invade Iraq and dictate its future. To suppose that such actions would not inflict extreme harm on Iraqi civilians, including death and maiming of hundreds of thousands, and dislocation to millions, is either a case of profound stupidity, or the crass disregard mountains of worldwide contrary opinions.

      The US went right after the Baaths and the Sunni minority, aka rejectionists. Our allies were the majority Shiites who in turn instigated the bloody civil war to gain dominance and control of Iraq.

      Maybe there is no evidence that the US went after civilian targets but there is massive evidence that declaring war on Iraq, then invading, would cause extreme harm and hardship to a country of 30 million civilians. After disbanding the Iraqi Army, civilians were all that was left.

    • I find the argument that somehow because civilians were not deliberately targeted, the US is somehow relieved of the moral consequences of acting in a way that assured that 100,000s of thousands of civilians would be killed to be flawed. Remember the UN (theoretically the “sheriff” in international disputes) stated that the Iraq invasion was not “legal” and in that sense was as lawless as DAESH. There are copious examples of extremely poor fire control (the blackwater killing comes to mind, the killing of journalists by helicopter shown on video ad infinitum) I think that DAESH has made it abundantly clear that it is at war with Iraq and Syria. How can a stateless group, that is allegedly fighting for its own liberation formally declare war?

      • Missing the point. This is not about how to “formally declare war” as a guerrilla force. The question if DAESH is a proper nation fighting a proper war has absolutely no bearing on the culpability with regards to how they treat prisoners.

      • More importantly, the US as a sovereign state has to be expected to take responsibility for infrastructure destruction, elimination of government services, etc. which caused more deaths than the actual civil war and probably helped trigger it. Disease and death from chronic illness was rampant in 2004. We made it impossible in places for people to get clean water or hospital care. All of that was foreseeable. This is before we even get into Naomi Klein’s accusations that it was intentional.

        Now ISIS has the advantage that it is rejecting the nation-state system; thus it is not a “foreign” power but an armed movement within the Islamic community, the umma. If you buy the argument, which is the whole point of years of Islamist indoctrination, then you judge ISIS as fellow citizens who won’t take it anymore. It’s bull, but it’s always different when it’s done by “foreigners”.

  14. Gruesome killings are bait. ISIS wants to tempt its enemies to put its forces into harm’s way; the best way to do that is to make the enemy very, very angry. ISIS would like opposition soldiers on the ground where it can have a chance to hit them. Former President Bush had it all wrong. ISIS’s motto is “Goad them into coming over here to get killed, so we don’t have to go over there to kill them.” ISIS needs only to keep recruiting enough young blood to form strike teams of 20-200 fighters. If it does that long enough, it will bleed nations like the U.S. dry because we must spend millions of dollars to annihilate a dozen fighters who can be replaced the very next day.
    link to

    The West needs to wake up, realize that it is getting suckered into a war strategy that grows terrorists, and treat groups like ISIS as criminal street gangs. Now that a big mess exists, and ISIS has gained power, the West needs to get creative. ISIS knows our weaknesses. Do we know theirs? We need to identify the weak points in their chain of command, their lines of recruitment, and their supply chain—and identify the most cost effective and sneaky ways to disrupt their plans. We need to think of what they have (not about what we have and want to use) and craft strategies that match the threat.

    Perhaps the insertion of a Special Forces unit to capture one high value target would be more productive than bombing an apartment complex suspected of housing dozens of fighters. Perhaps a weakness in how ISIS resupplies with water could be exploited. And so on. It makes no sense to use bombs, missiles, and troops on the ground simply because that is our image of how wars are won. Shipping over tons of weapons and turning cities into rubble only creates the kind of broken environment that allows ISIS to thrive. We need to honestly look at the situation on the ground, including local politics, culture, religion, logistics, environment—and be innovative. If we don’t get away from the idea that we must fight with the latest and greatest of our military “toys”, we will waste time, treasure, and troops on the wrong strategies.

    • It is not about fighting effectively. It is all about moving stockpiles of munitions off the shelves so that more can be procured. It is always about money …

    • “… treat groups like ISIS as criminal street gangs.”

      That’s exactly the kind of mindset that is required to find appropriate responses. Well put.

  15. It’s strange because I remember Greenwald and other scoffing when the United States asserted (statistically correctly) that, for instance, the Taliban was responsible for waaaaaaaaay more civilian deaths than we were and how pathetic it was to consider making this sort of “equivalence” … and now I am seeing Greenwald and others offering up an “but we do it toooooo” response to this and other terrorism. They use petrol, we use white phosphorus, napalm, and drones.
    The use of terrorist tactics, violence against free speech and this sort of grotesque brutality should be condemned … not mitigated… at least in my humble opinion.
    Terrorism is revolting — as a tactic, that’s a feature not a bug — and, even worse in its way, remarkable ineffective.
    At some point, we can only hope that the barbarity of these acts registers with those who are considering answering the pied piper’s call of ISIS to a personal new beginning in the new caliphate.

  16. “Speaking of burning people alive, one technique the US used was the BLU-82B, a 15,000 pound bomb detonated near the ground with a blast radius of about 5000 feet, but leaving no crater.—It(the BLU-82B) was retired in 2008 in favor of something even more destructive.”

    These bombs or its replacement are weapons of mass destruction resulting in crimes against humanity. Evidently the bomb burns all living creatures with little chance of surrendering or escape for soldiers, civilians, women, babies. Use of these bombs are crimes against humanity. No discussion!

    Couldn’t confirm the blast radius of 5000 feet. Perhaps it’s only 1000 feet. But, imagine you and your family being burned to death.

    The United Nations should immediately declare such bombs as weapons of mass destruction resulting in crimes against humanity and have all countries sign treaties or whatever declaring they will not use such . I’m sure that many if not a majority of Americans would agree to declaring use of such bombs as crimes against humanity.

    The United States government and military, Congress and producers of such bombs are guilty of crimes against humanity, not the majority of Americans. Average Americans have not heard about these bombs from the useless major news medias.

    • Interestingly, the bar for declaring an explosive device to be “a weapon of mass destruction” is quite low.

      The indictment of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston marathon bomber, includes this count:
      “knowingly conspired with Tamerlan Tsarnaev to use a weapon of mass destruction, namely, a destructive device as defined by
      Title 18, United States Code, Section 921,……..”

      And here is the weapon’s description in the indictment:
      “The IEDs that exploded at the Marathon were
      constructed from pressure cookers, low explosive powder,
      shrapnel, adhesive, and other materials.”

      Maybe there is a distinction between between whether the weapon is used by terrorists/enemies, or used by the US. If this is not the case,BLU-82B should certainly qualify,..

  17. It’s important and necessary to point out the acts of terror by our own U.S. government. An analogy between those and the death of the Jordanian pilot doesn’t quite work, probably because the latter was staged and distributed, while the former doesn’t get much attention from the press. Different “kinds” of terror. Perhaps a comparison of the torture at Abu Ghraib and ISIS’ executions is more relevant, given that ISIS’ leaders are said to have come from the U.S. prisons in Iraq.

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