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Foreign or domestic, terrorism is terrorism


THE RECENT FAILED terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow, Scotland, underscore the importance of quickly resolving a key issue in the debate over extending the United States' federal terrorism insurance backstop. That's the issue of whether the backstop should respond to terrorism attacks of domestic as well as foreign origin.

We believe it should, even though current law limits the backstop's protections to acts of foreign terrorism. The nature of the U.K. attacks demonstrates just how difficult it can be to classify an attack in terms of foreign vs. domestic. The alleged terrorists were legal residents of the United Kingdom, living and working there openly. An argument can certainly be made that the attempted attacks were acts of domestic rather than foreign terrorism.

The House bill to extend the U.S. backstop 10 years beyond its scheduled Dec. 31 sunset wisely eliminates the increasingly difficult and artificial distinction. The measure focuses on how great the damage would be rather than whence the perpetrators operated.

We were fortunate that the planned U.K. attacks failed. We may not be so fortunate in the future. The situation would be unfortunate indeed if the aftermath of a truly catastrophic terrorist attack would be marked by avoidable squabbling over whether compensation for losses depended on the terrorists' home addresses.