Wednesday, October 16, 2002 says:

ter·ror·ism (n. )

The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

Clearly what differentiates terrorism from other crimes is the intent . That's it. Period. I've long said that advocates of Hate Crimes legislation would do better by calling it "Domestic Terrorism Legislation." People who have no problem with elevating the importance of an act of terrorism simply due to its intent begin screaming about "thought crimes" whenever Hate Crimes legislation is proposed.

But, in any case, back to the sniper. All this back and forth about "is it or isn't terrorism" doesn't rest on whether or not the perps are al-Qaeda. And, the fact that the sniper is "causing terror" also doesn't make him a terrorist. All that matters is his motive - whether or not he is doing this "with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments."