Unionist Terrorism or Harmless White Powder


By Jason Michael

“Terrorism” is something that foreigners do. If we are to trust the BBC and the rest of the UK’s unionist media, we would think that violent unionist extremists in Scotland were not committing acts of terrorism. They’re only pranksters having a joke.

Earlier this week mail containing “suspicious” white powder was delivered to a number of SNP offices across Scotland including the party headquarters near Holyrood and the constituency offices of John Nicolson in Kirkintilloch, raising concerns of a possible anthrax attack. Emergency services were alerted immediately, and thankfully no one was hurt. It has since transpired that the attack was a hoax, but many have become upset over the British media’s underreporting of the incident – pointing out that had this been linked to Islamic militants or directed against Westminster government politicians it would have been ramped up to ninety by the British media.


This does raise some interesting questions about the nature of terrorism as it is presented by the media and the British media establishment’s attitude to politicians in favour of Scottish independence. Terrorism has become something of a protected term in the British media, deployed only when the perpetrators of violence against civilians and non-combatants are Muslim. When the BBC reported this incident, knowing that those responsible were likely unionist extremists, no mention was made of terrorism – despite the fact that this is precisely what it was. Terrorism is:

…any action, in addition to actions already specified by the existing conventions on aspects of terrorism, the Geneva Conventions and Security Council resolution 1566 (2004), that is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants, when the purpose of such an act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.
– A more secure world: Our shared responsibility (United Nations, 2004)

Whilst it is true that this white powder was not toxic, it is clear that the purpose of these packages was to create the impression of an actual threat. As the recipients could not have known the packages were harmless, it must be assumed that they understood this as a real and immediate threat to their lives and well-beings – therefore constituting an act of violence. This kind of threat is inherently violent, and – as its intention was clearly political, directed towards compelling elected representatives to behave according to the implied wishes of the attacker – must be considered an act of terrorism.

What is most disturbing is that unionist extremism in Scotland appears to be sanctioned by the British state and its unionist media. So far the only political violence in Scotland connected to the independence debate – which thankfully has been minimal – has been committed by unionist criminals, but this is not how the British media is presenting it. In this case, where this story was reported in the BBC and on SKY News, no context was given – giving the impression that this attack had nothing to do with the politics of independence and the violent behaviour of Scottish unionists. This is encouraging violent unionist extremists by letting them know that the British unionist establishment has their backs. This is tantamount to state-sponsored terrorism.

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What Is The Definition Of Terrorism?


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