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Posted by Lilly from D007076.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu ( on Monday, September 09, 2002 at 10:57PM :

In Reply to: Re: who are you to call anyone that? posted by rabbi yitzhak from adsl-67-117-51-162.dsl.lsan03.pacbell.net ( on Monday, September 09, 2002 at 7:42PM :

xxx Yeah, well, a lot of things can be said that will seem dated, even in a few days. I'd like you to point out exactly what you think is wrong with what he says in his response - refute it point by point. None of this implication that something-must-be-wrong-with-it-because-say-so crap, please. Form an argument & then we can debate.

: Open Letter to Albright re: New Report on Global Terrorism
: Lexington Area Muslim Network lexington@leb.net
: The author is an activist in Chicago, IL.


: by Ali Abunimah

: From: Ali Abunimah <ahabunim@midway.uchicago.edu>
: To: secretary@state.gov

: Dear Secretary Albright,

: I read with interest the State Department's latest report, "Patterns of
: Global Terrorism: 1999," published on May 1. I would like to thank you for
: this report, and assure you of my full support for all genuine efforts to
: combat terrorism, and to bring those who deliberately harm innocent people
: for political gain to justice. To the extent that you actually do this,
: you can be certain of my full and unequivocal backing.

: Allow me, however to make a few comments about your report, publication of
: which was widely reported in the media.

: 1) The main conclusions of your report are not supported by the data you
: provide

: The introduction to the report and the conclusion most widely covered,
: states that, "The primary terrorist threats to the United States emanate
: from two regions, South Asia and the Middle East. Supported by state
: sponsors, terrorists live in and operate out of areas in these regions
: with impunity. They find refuge and support in countries that are
: sympathetic to their use of violence for political gain, derive mutual
: benefit from harboring terrorists, or simply are weakly governed."

: Yet, the statistics and narrative you provide about anti-US attacks, and
: "terrorist" activities in and from these regions tell a different story.

: Of the 169 anti-US attacks reported for 1999, Latin America accounted for
: 96, Western Europe for 30, Eurasia for 9, and Africa 16. The Middle East
: accounted for only 11, and Asia for 6. Most of these attacks were
: bombings. The figures you provide for the total number of terrorist
: attacks by region indicate that in recent years, Latin America and Europe
: have each accounted for a greater number of terrorist attacks than either
: the Middle East or Asia. 1999 is consistent with this pattern.

: The chapter on the Middle East does not provide any insight into why your
: report headlines that region as presenting one of the two major threats to
: the United States today. On the contrary, it details widespread and
: "vigorous" "counter-terrorism" efforts by Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen,
: Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Although you continue to list Syria,
: Iran, Iraq and Libya as "state sponsors" of terrorism, the report does not
: detail any activity by these states that would support the conclusion that
: the Middle East region represents one of the two main threats to the
: United States.

: To the extent you allege that "terrorist" activity persists in the Middle
: East, this is principally directed not at the United States, but at
: Israel, a country that is illegally occupying the territory of several
: others. You also categorize resistance against combatant Israeli
: occupation forces in Lebanon as terrorism, [this activity is cited in the
: section on Lebanon, and the section on Iran accuses that country of
: encouraging Hizballah and other groups "to use violence, especially
: terrorist attacks, in Israel to undermine the peace process"].

: The definition of Hizballah's activities as "terrorist" is at odds with
: the internationally recognized right to resist foreign occupation, but it
: could possibly be justified if you were at least applying a consistent
: standard. Yet, while you term Hizballah a "terrorist" organization, you do
: not use this designation for the Israeli-controlled "South Lebanon Army,"
: a sub-state group that frequently carries out attacks on Lebanese
: civilians, seizes and tortures noncombatant hostages, and threatens and
: uses other forms of violence and coercion against Lebanese civilians.

: The continued designation of certain countries as "state sponsors" of
: terrorism appears to be politically motivated. Your report states, for
: example, "A Middle East peace agreement necessarily would address
: terrorist issues and would lead to Syria being considered for removal from
: the list of state sponsors." This may suggest to seasoned observers that
: Syria's continued designation as a "state sponsor of terrorism" is simply
: a stick to get Syria to sign an agreement with Israel consonant with US
: preferences, rather than a designation arising from an objective analysis
: of that state's policies. This view may be supported by the fact that you
: do not allege any activities being planned from Syria, and you say that
: Syria "continued to restrain" groups operating in Damascus from any but
: political activities.

: The section on Iran claims that that country was "the most active state
: sponsor of terrorism" in 1999. Yet all the alleged activities were
: directed not at the United States, but were assistance to groups fighting
: the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. Iran's other alleged principal
: activity was assistance to the PKK, the group fighting Turkey's repressive
: policies against Kurds. Again, none of the reported activities appear to
: directly threaten the United States.

: None of the other sections on Middle East countries list any activities by
: states or groups that would seem to justify the assertion that the Middle
: East represents a major threat of terrorism to the United States.
: Certainly this assertion is not borne out by the actual data on terrorist
: attacks and casualties, which consistent with recent years, shows the
: Middle East accounting for a relatively tiny number of "anti-US attacks,"
: and US casualties.

: As for the assertion that the "locus of terrorism" has shifted from the
: Middle East to South Asia, and particularly Afghanistan, your entire case
: seems to rest on assertions that Usama Bin Ladin is operating a vast,
: international terrorism network. It is difficult for observers to evaluate
: these claims, because you do not publish any substantial evidence or
: sources, merely assertions. We do know that in cases where the US
: government has made specific claims, these have often turned out to be
: exaggerated or false. Investigative reporting by The New York Times and
: others, of which you are surely aware, severely and compellingly
: questioned the factual basis, and process of President Clinton's decision
: to bomb the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan in August
: 1998. I also note that the United States government chose not to contest a
: lawsuit brought against it by the owner of that factory who sought to
: recover control of his assets, frozen by the United States on the grounds
: that he was linked with Mr. Bin Ladin. Hence, in the absence of any
: compelling evidence to the contrary, the US government's past record with
: regard to claims about Mr. Bin Ladin suggests that a responsible observer
: should at the very least be deeply skeptical. Some observers have
: suggested that the threat from Mr. Bin Laden has been deliberately
: exaggerated to justify limits on civil liberties in the United States, and
: an expanded US role in the Middle East.

: Again, as in the case of the Middle East, the principal events in South
: Asia, such as the hijacking of an Indian airliner and bombings in India
: and Pakistan which claimed many lives, were unrelated to the United
: States, and seemed to be related to local or regional conflicts such as
: that in Kashmir or Sri Lanka.

: In conclusion, it appears from the data in your report, that the only
: region where a large number of anti-US attacks is occurring or originating
: is Latin America, and particularly Colombia. Yet, this country is not
: designated as a major threat to the United States. The reasoning for this
: is absent.

: 2) The report makes disturbing assertions that may fuel anti-Muslim
: prejudice in the United States and around the world

: The report assures the reader that, "Adverse mention in this report of
: individual members of any political, social, ethnic, religious, or
: national group is not meant to imply that all members of that group are
: terrorists. Indeed, terrorists represent a small minority of dedicated,
: often fanatical, individuals in most such groups. It is those small
: groups--and their actions--that are the subject of this report."

: Yet it appears to do quite the opposite. For example it states:

: "Islamist extremists from around the world--including North America;
: Europe; Africa; the Middle East; and Central, South, and Southeast
: Asia--continued to use Afghanistan as a training ground and base of
: operations for their worldwide terrorist activities in 1999. The Taliban,
: which controlled most Afghan territory, permitted the operation of
: training and indoctrination facilities for non-Afghans and provided
: logistic support to members of various terrorist organizations and
: mujahidin, including those waging jihads in Chechnya, Lebanon, Kosovo,
: Kashmir, and elsewhere."

: This paragraph appears to cast any Muslim person fighting any battle, for
: any reason as an "Islamic extremist." It also uses the Arabic words
: "jihad," and "mujahidin," which have very specific definitions, to be
: synonyms for terrorism. Is it not possible to imagine that a Muslim in
: Kosovo, or Chechnya could be engaged in a legitimate battle? [I certainly
: think the United States would have thought so when it provided substantial
: state sponsorship to groups in Afghanistan and when it designated such
: people as "freedom fighters," using them to fight against Soviet
: intervention. Unfortunately the report is silent about US state
: sponsorship of these groups, so again it is difficult to evaluate how much
: of the presently observed phenomena are a direct result of United States
: activities in South Asia over the past two decades. Certainly an objective
: analysis would have to take this into account.]

: Careless references to Islam, "jihad" and "terrorism" are unfortunate and
: damaging. This report comes in the context of US officials late in 1999
: openly linking the Muslim feast of Ramadan with an increased threat of
: "terrorism" around the world. The threat did not materialize, but the
: hysteria generated by the government warnings was particularly damaging to
: Arab Americans and Muslims in the United States who already face enormous
: obstacles due to sterotyping and misrepresentation in popular media. The
: panic and media sensation created by the arrest of an Algerian man at the
: United States-Canada border, allegedly for carrying explosives, reportedly
: caused an increase of harassment of Arab Americans and Muslims by airlines
: and others, and allegations by law enforcement officials, later retracted,
: that other Arabs arrested at the border for visa violations were terrorist
: suspects.

: 3) The definition of "terrorism"

: The report states:

: "The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence
: perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or
: clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience."

: This definition may be overly narrow, since it defines "terrorism"
: principally on the basis of the identity of its perpetrator rather than by
: the action and motive of the perpetrator. Hence, if Israel launches a
: massive attack on Lebanon and deliberately drives several hundred thousand
: people from their homes, openly threatens and targets civilians, and
: states that all of this is intended to pressure the Lebanese or Syrian
: government, as Israel did in April 1996, it does not fall under the
: definition of terrorism, solely because you recognize Israel to be a
: state.

: If, by contrast, Lebanese people organize themselves to resist an
: internationally condemned foreign occupation of their soil, you term this
: "terrorism," even when such people restrict their targets to enemy
: combatants in occupied territory.

: May I suggest that you broaden your definition of terrorism to include
: state terrorism? While terrorism as you define it is certainly disturbing,
: compared with the number of victims of state terrorism, it is a relatively
: minor concern. If you included statistics for state terrorism, observers
: could then objectively evaluate, for example, PKK activities on the one
: hand against premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated
: against noncombatants carried out by the Turkish government. Or we could
: out into perspective a "jihad" by "Islamic extremists" in Chechnya against
: premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against
: noncombatants by the Russian army.

: This would provide the public with a fuller picture of the problem, and
: analysts and policymakers with better information to make policy
: recommendations which could end the political conflicts, injustices, and
: occupations which in nearly every case seem to generate the phenomenon
: known as "terrorism."

: I thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

: Sincerely,

: Ali Abunimah

: : Have you ever read anything Abunimah actually wrote, not an interview in which his thoughts are contorted by some supposedly "center" right wing ideologue? You are falling for propaganda.

: : The conservatives throw their nets far & wide to catch every gullible fish.

: : Try experiencing this saying: "To look at someone again (twice)."

-- Lilly
-- signature .

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