As the nation tries to process the attack in Las Vegas, we keep seeing one question repeated on social media: was this attack terrorism?
Investigators say it's too early to know. So, our VERIFY team looked into the possibilities.
There are two things you need to know up front:
1. While the U.S. Criminal Code defines domestic terrorism, there isn't a criminal charge of domestic terrorism. People are usually charged with murder or other federal charges.
2. To be able to rule something as terrorism, investigators need to know the motive.
Here's what the U.S. Criminal code and the Patriot Act say qualifies as domestic terrorism:
"the term 'domestic terrorism' means activities that-
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended-
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States."
So, without a motive, and only looking at the federal law -- we can't definitively say yes.
But when you look at Nevada state law, this attack absolutely fits the description:
"NRS 202.4415 'Act of terrorism' defined.
1. "Act of terrorism" means any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to:
(a) Cause great bodily harm or death to the general population; or
(b) Cause substantial destruction, contamination or impairment of:
(1) Any building or infrastructure, communications, transportation, utilities or services; or
(2) Any natural resource or the environment.
2. As used in this section, "coercion" does not include an act of civil disobedience.
(Added to NRS by 2003, 2947)"
While investigators say it's too early to know, we can VERIFY -- this attack could very well end up being deemed domestic terrorism.