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US survey of global terror

US survey of global terror

Author: Barry Rubin
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 5, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/174044/US-survey-of-global-terror.html

But has Obama read his Government's report?

The US State Department has produced excellent research and analysis in its annual Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 released last week. Now the only problem is to ensure the Obama Administration reads and absorbs the contents.

What can this report teach American policymakers?

Regarding Iran, its Government has massive evidence of its continuing role as "the most significant state sponsor of terrorism." Why is Iran doing this? According to the State Department, "To advance its key national security and foreign policy interests, which include regime survival, regional dominance, opposition to Arab-Israeli peace, and countering Western influence, particularly in the Middle East." That's right, and it's not going to change, especially once Iran has nuclear weapons.

Not only does Tehran use the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (the institution most supportive of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) "to clandestinely cultivate and support" Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah, but also radical Islamist groups in Afghanistan, the Balkans and in Iraq against US forces.

As for Syria, events highlighted its "ties to the world's most notorious terrorists," including the death of Hizbullah Operations chief Imad Mugniyah, killed while under Syrian Government protection. "Among other atrocities, Mugniyah was wanted for the 1983 bombings of the Marine barracks and US Embassy in Beirut, which killed over 350." Moreover, as the report shows, Syria has been tightening its alliance with Iran and continued financing terrorism.

While US efforts reduced their numbers, terrorists destabilising Iraq continued coming in "predominantly through Syria," and "receiving weapons and training from Iran".

Here's the bottom line: Not only do Syria and Iran believe that destabilising West Asia, bullying or controlling their neighbours, and expelling US influence is in their interest, they're also directly involved in trying to kill Americans.

What about Hizbullah, the Lebanese Shia terrorist group? The report has no illusions: Hizbullah "receives training, weapons, and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic, and organisational aid from Iran, and diplomatic, political, and logistical support from Syria.... The group generally follows the religious guidance of...Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Hizbullah is closely allied with Iran and often acts at its behest, though it also acts independently....The group has helped Syria advance its political objectives in the region".

It has been involved "in numerous anti-US and anti-Israeli terrorist attacks", including "the suicide truck bombings of the US Embassy and US Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, and the US Embassy annexe in Beirut in 1984, and the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which a US Navy diver was murdered".

Now, "Hizbullah has provided training to select Iraqi Shia militants, including the construction and use of shaped charge IEDs that can penetrate heavily-armoured vehicles...".

So Hizbullah is an ally of Iran and Syria, involved in killing and kidnapping Americans. Should US policy, then, not actively oppose Hizbullah taking over Lebanon? And if Hizbullah is part of the Lebanese Government after the June elections shouldn't the United States reject dealings and stop all aid to that regime?

Regarding Israel, the report says that in response to "regular and indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza". Citing Israeli figures, the report notes that "Palestinian terrorist groups fired approximately 1,750 rockets and 1,528 mortars into Israel in 2008", double the previous year's total. "On December 18, Hamas leadership announced the end of the ceasefire," during which it had been firing without cease. Thereafter rockets of longer range and in larger quantities were shot at Israel, disrupting life in the country's south. And this was the reason why Israel had no choice but to launch a major military operation in the Gaza Strip.

In looking at other terrorist threats, the report lists positive and negative developments. On the plus side, Al Qaeda has "lost ground" in general and especially in Iraq ("significant defections, lost key mobilisation areas, suffered disruption of support infrastructure and funding...").

But, on the minus side, Al Qaeda is trying to launch operations in north Africa, its local affiliate is waging war in Somalia, and the group operates freely in Pakistan areas across the border from Afghanistan. The Taliban's threat is also increasing. Europe, too, is becoming an area of serious concern as radicalisation continues there among "immigrant populations, youth and alienated minorities...". I think that means Muslims. "Terrorists and extremists (are) manipulating the grievances of alienated youth or immigrant populations, and then cynically exploiting those grievances to subvert legitimate authority and create unrest."

How, according to the report, should terrorism be fought in the West? "Treat immigrant and youth populations not as a threat to be defended against, but as a target of enemy subversion to be protected and supported." It apologetically calls for dialogue.
Let President Barack Obama read this report. I can't think of any more effective way for challenging the idea that apologies or dialogues with the sponsors and perpetrators of terrorism is going to change their behaviour.

The writer is director of the GLORIA Center, Jerusalem, and editor of the MERIA Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader and The Truth About Syria.)


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