Testing the Definition of a Terrorist

Listen / Download

It was a heart-wrenching crime: A 10-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet during a gang fight outside a Bronx church. 11 months later, no one had been charged with her death. One reputed gang member was released from jail after pleading guilty to trespassing, and the alleged killer had reportedly fled to Mexico.

Now, though, the Bronx District Attorney is resurrecting the case using a tool unique to post-9/11 America: a state anti-terrorism law. The same tactic was tried in North Carolina where prosecutors went after methamphetamine makers claiming they were producing chemical weapons. While some hail these new additions to the legal toolbox — other say they invite the abuse of power. The terrorist on the street where you live.


Lewis Alperin, New York attorney representing one of several alleged Bronx gang members who have been charged with terrorism

Jerry Wilson, district attorney in Boone, North Carolina, who tried unsuccessfully to charge methamphetamine producers under the state’s anti-terrorism statute

Mark Sidel, associate law professor at University of Iowa and the author of “More Secure, Less Free? Antiterrorism Policy and Civil Liberties After September 11.”