And indeed, according to Nevada state law, Paddock’s act, which caused “great bodily harm or death to the general population,” qualifies as terrorism because Nevada doesn’t require a political motivation to label it as such. Although the Islamic State claims Paddock converted to Islam within the past year and carried out the atrocity in its name, senior U.S. officials are skeptical, and the Islamist group infamous for its own craven brutality has provided no evidence to back up its claim.
If Paddock does turn out to be just a “lone angry white guy” who snapped, most Americans probably won’t view him as a terrorist. Instead, the political fallout from the tragedy will likely be focused exclusively on gun control, and perhaps mental illness. However, should Paddock be revealed to have had any affiliation with Islamic extremists, it would not be hard to imagine such information being used as a pretext for a massive crackdown on civil liberties, as well as escalation of foreign military conflict, all in the name of combating “terrorism.”