May 1, 2001
Don't let states get away with terror
Of all the fascinating esoterica in the report released yesterday, the most interesting is the section on State-Sponsored Terrorism, which catalogues those countries that "repeatedly provide support for acts of international terrorism."
The List includes
Another school of criticism believes The List is skewed. Why
Then, most influentially, there are those critics who feel
The List is becoming obsolete. This has been the read-between-the-lines view of
-- surprisingly – the State Department since the
First, as Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday, "terrorism shows the dark side of globalization, as it exploits the easing of travel restrictions, the improvements of communication or the internationalization of banking and finance, making it easier for terrorists to do some of their work." Secondly, for years the report has been declaring that "state sponsorship has decreased over the past several decades."
In its place is the New Terrorism, which is one of "amorphous cells" comprising small numbers of "independent actors" performing their self-selected [Image] attacks and only vaguely connected to each other via the Internet and cellphones. Terrorism, so the theory goes, is reflecting the alleged erosion of state sovereignty in this borderless, wired world. The most terrifying of these entities is Al-Qaeda, the "movement" -- because it's not an organization – of Osama bin Laden.
Among opinion-makers, State's boys and various instant media experts, this theory represents reality. After all, there have been some remarkable successes against these independent actors lately.
A conviction was obtained for the accused in the Libyan bombing of Pan Am 103; the alleged East Africa embassy bombers were brought to trial in New York; Ahmed Ressam was sentenced the same day in two courtrooms in two countries for terrorist offences; another three Islamists were arrested in Yemen in connection with the USS Cole attack; and the Italians have rounded up an Islamist cell with suspected links to bin Laden. Not bad, eh?
Well, yes, but only if you believe these semi-literate men possessed the wherewithal and initiative to plan and execute complex operations, smuggle explosives, acquire false papers and recruit conspirators all by themselves.
In the most perceptive book on terrorism in years, Study of
Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America, Iraq expert Laurie Mylroie
demonstrates that Baghdad covertly sponsored the 1993 World Trade Centre
bombing, which the Clinton administration later claimed was the work of a
small, shadowy cell. In actuality, it was a false-flag operation: The bombers
were first manipulated, then sacrificed by a state --
acts are false-flags?
Essentially, by falling into the Clintonite trap of conflating
the guilt and innocence of accused individuals with the weightier security
aspects of state-sponsorship, the State Department can avoid tackling the very
real problem of
While The List should be modified to take into account current realities, it would be shortsighted to retire it for the sake of some illusory New Terrorists.