This issue seems oddly confusing to many people, so let me clear it up:
If a Muslim individual robs a bank because he wants to buy himself a bigger flatscreen TV, he or she is a bank robber, not an “Islamist” bank robber. Unless a desire to fund violent jihad prompted the need for cash, the person’s muslimhood has nothing to do with the crime.
If, on the other hand, a Muslim individual blows himself and dozens of others to pieces while screaming Allahu Akbar, he or she is an “Islamist” terrorist, as the act was faith-based.
Jeffrey Dahmer and Adolf Hitler were Christians and homicidal—genocidal in the case of the latter—sociopaths, but not “Christian” sociopaths, as their deeds were hardly motivated by religion.
I’m a Catholic and I once got a traffic ticket, but that didn’t make me a Christian offender. I may have listened to a Stones tape and erroneously thought I was in London, but it certainly wasn’t my denomination which caused me to drive on the wrong side of the road that night.
But any nutjob who waltzes into an abortion clinic with a Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other and opens fire while reciting the Lord’s Prayer is a “Christian” terrorist, as the deed was fueled by that individual’s religious views.
Crusades and Spanish Inquisition? Christian madness all day long.
Whether or not the powder munchkin who tried to blow up a van in Times Square last Saturday is an “Islamist” terrorist depends on whether (a) he is merely a failed actor who holds a grudge against the Theater District or (b) he believed himself to execute the will of Allah.
If a Buddhist plants himself in the middle of a highway in order to become one with a bus, he’s a Buddhist fanatic. If he’s just wants to kill himself because his girlfriend ran off with the mailman, different story.
So if an act was religiously motivated, appending a religious label makes sense. If it wasn’t, it doesn’t.
The simple isn’t always the best, but the best is always simple.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. (Martin Luther King Jr.)
In the end, we will judge a religion not by the violent acts committed in its name by of some of its adherents, but by the volume of condemnation bestowed upon such acts by its majority.