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Flaws in State Department Global Terrorism Report
Friday, May 18, 2001

The US State Department report, Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000, illustrates the imbalance in current US counterterrorism policy. While 172 anti-American terrorist attacks took place in Latin America, only 2 occurred in the Middle East and 9 in Asia.

Additionally, of the 282 deaths occurring in Asia from terrorist incidents, more than 100 resulted from the works of the Hindu militant Tamil Tigers. What Serbia and Russia have done to the Muslim populations is nothing short of a holocaust. India is systematically implementing a genocide against the Kashmiri people, a tragedy that has gone largely unreported. Israel is ethnically cleansing the Occupied Territories from Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

Even so, Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000 contains a section on the Middle East that is more than double that on Latin America. Domestic counterterrorism efforts, such as the unconstitutional use of secret evidence, also disproportionately target Muslims. Muslims do sometimes engage in terrorism, such as the suicide bomb attack in Netanya, Israel today.

Yet effective counterterrorism policy calls for dispassionate objectivity. If terrorism is defined as the use of violence against noncombatants to achieve a political goal, then US policy is aiding and abetting the worst terrorists of the world. When Israeli civilians are killed, it is called terrorism. When Palestinian civilians are killed, it is called security. Israel has met the Palestinian struggle for freedom, in the form of civilian demonstrations, with helicopter gunships -- and as of today F16 fighter jets, home demolitions, the destruction of olive groves and other forms of collective punishment. These actions constitute state-sponsored terrorism and escalate the cycle of violence. Yet Israel is not found on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in the State Department report. No mention is made of Israel's indiscriminate use of military force against civilians, for example:

"Amnesty International is concerned that in policing demonstrations since 29 September 2000, Israeli security forces repeatedly resorted to excessive use of lethal force in circumstances in which neither their lives nor the lives of others, were in imminent danger, resulting in unlawful killings. …The security forces consistently breached international human rights standards and Israeli rules of engagement, which allow use of firearms only when life is in imminent danger." Amnesty International, Israel and the Occupied Territories Excessive Use of Lethal Force, October 2000

Furthermore, no mention is made of Israeli assassinations of political officials, the use of civilian hostages as political bargaining chips, or other gross human rights violations, which continue today.

"Within three weeks, more than 120 Palestinians were killed and 4800 injured in clashes with Israeli security forces that began on September 29. Most of the deaths were the result of excessive, and often indiscriminate, use of lethal force by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, police, and border police against unarmed civilian demonstrators, including children." Human Rights Watch, World Report 2001: Israel, the Occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip and Palestinian Authority Territories

In view of these gross violations, the United States needs to adopt a more even-handed application of counterterrorism policy, and to bring itself into alignment with the international community. Clearly, it flouts both reason and justice to ignore large-scale state-sponsored terrorism when perpetrated by Israel, to focus solely on the acts of Palestinians. Until the United States sponsors and supports more credible policies, its counterterrorism policy will remain ineffective. And the credibility of the US will dwindle even further, as evidenced by the recent vote excluding the US from the UN Human Rights Commission.



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