Re: oh

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Posted by rabbi yitzhak from ( on Tuesday, September 10, 2002 at 11:07AM :

In Reply to: oh posted by Lilly from D007076.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu ( on Monday, September 09, 2002 at 10:57PM :

this is a letter from him to albright

: 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
: : The author is an activist in Chicago, IL.


: : by Ali Abunimah

: : From: Ali Abunimah <>
: : To:

: : 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)."

-- rabbi yitzhak
-- signature .

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