Undefined Terminology in the Cooperative Effort to Fight Against Terrorism

Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid, Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Saudi-owned), London, England, September 17, 2001

Translated by Peter Valenti
Web posted Oct. 2, 2001

The United States has rebuked those who have expressed fears about its potential military strike against Afghanistan and has displayed disappointment with any conspicuous refusals to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. A majority of people—and this means there is a minority viewpoint—want to cooperate in order to hamper and prevent opposition movements that possess military capabilities.

This majority has seen the destructive capabilities of armed opposition groups across the world increase over the decades. For example, a splinter faction inside the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland, despite its limited size and resources, was able to shake London twice. A violent secessionist movement in Corsica threatens France. The Spanish must contend with a violent secessionist movement in the Basque country. Similar types of movements exist in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Pakistan.

But what of Pakistan? The country will be an important political player during the coming days. Because of its role in fostering the Taliban and because of its proximity to Afghanistan, it risks being subjected to greater pressures than any other nation. For many years, Pakistan has been preoccupied with regular, destructive, terrorist attacks that kill dozens. For years, Pakistan has attempted to persuade the British to extradite the people it suspects of engineering these attacks. Britain has refused, claiming that the suspects are in Britain as refugees, and that no clear evidence had been presented against them.

We must remember that not only Western countries have suffered from terrorist attacks. From Indonesia to the Philippines, the Arab world, and even to corners of South America, countries around the world suffer from Terrorism. These smaller nations want to join the international cooperative effort—yet the problems which impede this cooperation are numerous and complicated. The U.S. government and its Western allies must understand that if they expect less-powerful countries to arrest, prosecute, and extradite individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist acts against Washington, London, Madrid, or other Western targets, they must reciprocate. The Western powers must not hamper the efforts of less-powerful nations to bring suspected terrorists to justice for attacks elsewhere. The anti-terrorism coalition should clarify its position regarding opposition groups using peaceful means. Will their rights be safeguarded? Will the groups be eliminated? The Western leaders of the anti-terrorism coalition must also understand that, in order for this international cooperative effort to work, they must also be willing to reciprocate with their coalition partners. If such considerations are not made, the plan to fight terrorism will evaporate just as the [1996] regional security agreement signed at Sharm al-Shaykh [Egypt] evaporated when participants discovered that the agreement did not distinguish between those who were trying to liberate their foreign-occupied lands, those who were trying to shake up an existing political system, and "terrorism," which other nations claim to be fighting as a means of cloaking their territorial conquests.

Without equitable cooperation between all the coalition members, without a well-defined structure, all the current discussions we've heard about a global coalition against terrorism will vanish when the furor over the attacks on New York and Washington D.C. plays itself out.

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