SLUG: 1-01384 OTL Terrorists United 08-22-03.rtf
TYPE=ON THE LINE
EDITOR=OFFICE OF POLICY 619-0038
CONTENT= Transcript for OTL released Friday UTC
THEME: UP, HOLD UNDER AND FADE
Host: Terrorists United? Next, On the Line.
Host: Terrorist attacks continue in Iraq. A week after a massive bomb killed over twenty people at the United Nations compound in Baghdad, a small homemade bomb was used in a failed assassination attempt against a prominent Shi'ite cleric. Three Iraqis died in that blast. In a speech Tuesday, President George W. Bush said that terrorists, whether in Iraq, Southeast Asia or Israel are united in their "deep hatred for the values of the civilized world."
[Bush SOT August 26, 2003]
"On a single day last week we saw the true nature of the terrorists once again. In Baghdad, they attacked a symbol of the civilized world -- the United Nations headquarters and killed men and women who were there to bring humanitarian help to the Iraqi people. They killed a respected U-N special representative, Sergio Vieira deMello, from Brazil. And on the same day in Jerusalem, a terrorist murdered 21 innocent people who were riding a bus, including little children and five
Host: Paul Bremmer, the U-S-civilian administrator for Iraq says that terrorists are drawn to Iraq. "From the point of view of the al-Qaida types," he said, "this is a pretty important battlefield." Will the outcome of the war on terrorism be determined in Iraq? I'll ask my guests, Khalil Jahshan, a consultant on Middle East Affairs; defense analyst David Isby; and Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy. Welcome and thanks for joining us today. Khalil Jahshan, President Bush says that the terrorism going on in Iraq right now and in Israel are essentially the same. Is he right about that?
Jahshan: I don't think so, unless of course the President might have access to information that I don't have access to, but as far as I'm concerned, I think these are different groups. They might have participated in the same heinous crimes, attacks against civilian targets, but they have different objectives, they come from different backgrounds. Certainly the situation in Palestine is totally different from that of Iraq. And I would hesitate to lump the two together.
Host: David Isby?
Isby: Well, I would say yes and no and to the both Israel and Iraq, I would add Afghanistan. Also where we see resurgences in terrorist violence, indeed, in the subcontinent. Recently we've seen bomb blasts in Bombay in India. So, both Afghanistan, where there's been a resurgence of terrorist activity and India these things also have an impact going beyond them. And even though each conflict has to be looked at as a distinct event and distinct terrorist forces, you think you can see the issues cutting across them.
Host: Frank Gaffney, is there more in common or more separate between these different terrorist groups and different terrorist activities?
Gaffney: Look, I think the president got it exactly right when he said that what they have in common is an antipathy to Western values, which at their root believe in the dignity of individual human beings, the sanctity of their lives and their rights. And whether these are from different groups or different theologies or as David said, different regions, that common antipathy to what we stand for as a people in the United States and for that matter in free nations elsewhere, is something that unifies these terrorists and I think, makes them our mortal enemies in this war.
Jahshan: That's what precisely I disagree with. I think this is an ideological answer. Certainly, one is entitled to have that perspective, but I do not believe that these people, all of them, across the board are necessarily motivated by hatred for what we stand for in the Western civilized world, hatred for America, hatred for democracy. It's not -- in fact, when one looks at the rationale for many of these groups in terms of their political activities and even their militant activities and their terrorist activities -- on the contrary, they are obsessed with their own lack of freedom, their own lack of democracy, their own lack of, if you will, a role in the decision-making process in their own countries. So, to simply dismiss them ideologically as groups committed [against] everything we stand for, I think is a simplistic approach.
Gaffney: I would argue that this has nothing to do with the theology. These are just the facts.
Jahshan: Your facts, not my facts.
Gaffney: No, evidently your facts are different than mine. The facts that I think we have on the table, is we have people murdering individuals in Jerusalem. We have people murdering individuals in Baghdad and Bombay and Afghanistan. The people who are murdering these people have in common a view that the individuals they are murdering are tools in some larger game, purpose if you will. And, excuse me, but one of the other facts is that quite a number of the people that you seem to be trying to make distinctions between are people who have as well, a view that they're not interested in democracy. They're not interested in their participation. They're interested in dominating everyone else in their society. Not, the least from a theocratic point of view, imposing upon them their view of a virulently Islamist strain of the Muslim faith. This is, I think a common thread that connects a number of these and I think makes them indeed objectively our enemies in this war.
Host: David Isby?
Isby: Well, certainly, I don't know if this necessarily, certainly Islamism has not led to terrorism. We had [Islamic soldiers] in the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s -- the largest popular rising of the twentieth century and there was no terrorism in third countries involved in that. So, certainly it does not cross. And there is very little popularity of terrorism per se in much of the Islamic world. Look at a place like Algeria, Egypt, Bahrain. The people there have seen the bodies. They've seen what terrorism, whether it uses religious or other motivation can do. And there's very little popularity for that.
Host: Khalil Jahshan, are there any connections though between activities against coalition troops in Iraq and activities in Israel? Is there any Hezbollah connection to both of those?
Jahshan: The evidence is not there. If the evidence is there, we would love to hear it. Certainly there are some loose connections. In recent years there has been some cooperation between Hezbollah, including training with some of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad elements in the West Bank and Gaza. There might be some relationship with other Islamic groups throughout the Arab and Muslim world, but there isn't a direct clear connection that what is taking place today in Iraq is directly connected to what is taking place in Palestine. People in Palestine are fighting against an occupation which they deem as a foreign occupation. They are not happy living under that occupation, one might agree or disagree with their methods. Certainly, when Hamas bombs a bus full of civilians, regardless of their identity, that's terrorism and that harms the Palestinian cause. But that has nothing to do with what is taking place [in Iraq]. They might share some philosophical underpinnings in terms of their own kind of view of the world with some others, but that does not necessarily negate the subjective kind of conditions under which they operate and they work.
Host: Let's hear a little bit more from President Bush's speech and what he had to say about this:
[Bush SOT]: Murderers will not determine the future of Iraq, and they will not
determine the future of the Middle East. In Jerusalem, as in Baghdad, terrorists are trying to undermine the hopes of peace with acts of
violence. Their desperation also grows as the parties move closer to a just settlement. But terrorists do not speak for the Palestinian people. They do not serve the Palestinian cause. And a Palestinian state will never be built on the foundation of violence.
Host: Frank Gaffney, what does George Bush mean by that?
Gaffney: I hope he's right, first of all. And what I think he means when he says that is that he is not going to be party to an effort now under way, clearly, by Palestinian terrorists, some of whom are in the Palestinian Authority, some of whom are in these various other groups: Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, for example, who are trying not only to liberate part of the area that they consider to be occupied by Israel, but who are unabashedly trying to liberate all of what they consider to be occupied, including the area that Israel itself exists upon. And just to go back to something that was said earlier, one of the themes that I think is becoming increasingly clear is the role of Saudi Arabia in funding terrorist organizations, whether they're Hamas in the Palestinian areas, whether they're operatives now coming into Iraq from Syria, from Saudi Arabia itself, from Iran perhaps and elsewhere around the world that are engaged with this very inhumane activity we call terrorism. And I think again, that's the point that is common, whether their ideology is the same, whether their strain of Islam is the same, whether their religious background at all is the same. They do share this view that murdering innocents is fair game. And that makes them, I think, our enemies. That's abhorrent to our values and should be.
Host: David Isby, is what's been going on in Baghdad and Israel brought out the funneling of money from other countries in the region as Frank Gaffney suggests?
Isby: Certainly in money and support. And part of it we see first with Al-Qaida. Al-Qaida has had to demonstrate its continued relevance. There have been reports that it may have been involved with the attack on the U-N facilities in Baghdad. Certainly, this attack on a soft target, one which didn't have armed troops guarding it, is consistent with what Al-Qaida has been doing in recent months. So that's it. Certainly money has been coming across borders at international terrorists. Al-Qaida here is very much trying to use the Iraq situation to recast itself as a champion against foreign occupation, against foreign troops in an Islamic country and away from its position as a terrorist, which is hurting it, even in the "Arab Street."
Host: Khalil Jahshan, one of the things that President Bush talked about there is that the terrorist groups don't speak for the Palestinian people. What kind of support is there within the Palestinian territories for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
Jahshan: Hamas and Hezbollah, not Hezbollah, but Hamas and Islamic Jihad -- Hezbollah is not a Palestinian group -- it's a Lebanese group, but let's say Hamas and Islamic Jihad have a constituent of support within the Palestinian body politic. They've enjoyed, I would say, observing them over the past ten or twelve years, between nine to fifteen percent of support of the Palestinian body-politic including public opinion surveys that have been conducted recently in Palestine. They show them and their leadership within that bracket. Those numbers go up and down depending on the circumstances under which the Palestinians are living. When the Israeli occupation was being exulted, if you will, or being shown visibly everyday against the Palestinian people, you see, their numbers or support for them and their actions increase. And then if there is a peace process that succeeded, there are some ongoing negotiations, you see, if you will, that support receding in the opposite direction. But they are -- again typical of many of these groups -- they have a political side and they have a militant side or a terrorist side, in this respect. And their political side enjoys the support and is recognized by the recipients, whether they be schools, kindergartens, clinics, what-have-you, they have always, the Islamic movement, been engaged in philanthropic and that's typical of groups, not necessarily unique to the Middle East. We've had this situation with the I-R-A and again, we had opposition to I-R-A policy in this country, yet we had individuals and churches in this country supporting them on the basis of religious or confessional or ideological affiliation over the years. But then, things have changed. And the same thing is happening with regard to these groups. The president is right that they do not speak for the Palestinian people or for a majority of the Palestinian people by any stretch of the imagination, but they certainly represent a constituency with regard to their policy vis-à-vis Israel and their political platform if you will.
Host: Frank Gaffney.
Gaffney: Unfortunately quite a number of polls of this community suggest that they speak for a large majority of the Palestinians on this point that I was talking about a moment ago and that is this "rejectionist" view that Israel is entitled to live side-by-side with a Palestinian entity of some kind. That is what I think undermines this roadmap, this "peace process" that the president has been talking about and trying to pursue is so widely shared by the Palestinian people, not just Hamas and not just it's political side.
Jahshan: That's not the case. If that were the case there wouldn't be an Abu Mazen run under the Palestinian Authority. [crosstalk]
Gaffney: It's actually irrelevant.
Jahshan: It's not. Look. Have you seen the public opinion surveys that have been conducted over the past seven, eight, nine years? Have you've seen the fact that there has been a consistent sixty to seventy percent of support for a two-state solution? What is left?
Gaffney: I have. But what it usually masks is a continuing view that the right of return must be honored, which is effectively the same thing as saying there will be no Israel.
Jahshan: That's not true.
Gaffney: It is absolutely true.
Jahshan: Did you see the last survey done by Khalil Shikaki on the right of return and where the refugees..
Gaffney: I did and I saw what was done to Khalil Shikaki and his institute, the trashing of it by people who wanted nothing .
Jahshan: How many?
Gaffney: I have no idea how why people were unhappy with his results but. [crosstalk]
Jahshan: About fifteen people. But the fact of the matter.
Gaffney: That's my point. People who were unhappy with his results, are the influential people you are commending.
Jahshan: They are people in the Palestinian society who are a fringe.
Host: Let's move on and look at a little bit more of President Bush's speech.
"Ultimately, the security of Iraq will be won by the Iraqi people themselves. They must reject terror, and they must join in their own
defense. And they're stepping forward. More than 38,000 Iraqis have been hired as police officers. Iraqi police and border guards and security
forces are increasingly taking on critical duties. Over 1,400 Iraqi civil defense corps volunteers are being trained to work closely with coalition forces; 12,000 Iraqis will be trained in the next year for the country's new army."
Host: David Isby, are Iraqi security forces going to be the answer to terrorism in Iraq?
Isby: Well they're certainly going to have to be part of the answer. As the president said, in the long-term, Iraqis are going to have to secure Iraq, just as Afghans are going to have to secure Afghanistan. And one of the reasons the U-S presence is there, is to allow the institutions that permit a secure state of which military police forces, a functioning and legitimate judiciary system, certainly none of it. And both of those countries are looking towards having constitutions, elections, that will give them the legitimacy that's going to be very hard for terrorists or insurgents to disrupt.
Host: Khalil Jahshan, what about this question with regard to the Palestinian territories. What's going to have to happen for Mahmod Abbas to have the security ability to crack down on terrorism?
Jahshan: The Israeli occupation has to end. I think the question is not Mahmod Abbas or any other person. I mean, you can bring any other person on the Palestinian political spectrum and he would face the same difficulty or she would face the same difficulty. There is no way a Palestinian leader, right now, can deliver security to Israel while the Palestinians are under this strict occupation system that has been experienced or practiced against the Palestinian people, particularly over the last three-and-a-half years. There is a road map. It's not a perfect or an ideal proposal. As a matter of fact, it's a weak one. And full of all kinds of contradictions and weaknesses. But it's an attempt to kind of disengage the two parties from that hug of death in which they've found themselves over the past thirty-six months. I think there is a political will to support here in Washington, to support the road map. I think we can probably separate the two parties, this engagement, so they can begin to implement a few of these steps to ensure that the Palestinian Authority has enough credibility and enough authority to implement the steps that are being demanded from it and at the same time the Israelis can also step back from the daily oppression that they practice against the Palestinian people. Short of that, they are, I think going to continue in the cycle of violence.
Host: Frank Gaffney, is that the answer getting enough security in the Palestinian Authority?
Gaffney: Well, first of all, I think on Iraq, it's clearly the case that getting Iraqis running this country as quickly as possible in a responsible, peaceable way, is in everybody's interest. That's what we're trying to do and I think the President's right to emphasize this as the way ahead. And in the Palestinian and Israeli situation, I think we ought to stop this nonsense. It's not the Israeli occupation that is generating this violence. It is the determination of the Palestinians to destroy the state of Israel that is generating this violence and I think Israel is as a result, in a situation very like the one we're in, which is confronting people determined to inflict mayhem and if possible mass destruction on civilians and other innocents. And we should be standing with Israel in that fight, not insisting that it follow this kind of prescription and make itself even more vulnerable to this sort of murderous attack than it currently is under present circumstances.
Host: We only have about a minute left. David Isby, I just want to get to a big picture question about Iraq. Paul Bremmer and the president have both talked about Iraq being sort of a major battleground, but another author, Jessica Stern in the New York Times said that this is America's fault. America has taken a country that is not a terrorist threat and turned it into one by creating this battlefield. Is she right?
Isby: No. The battlefield has been there for many years. In the rejection, it was first in Afghanistan, where Al-Qaida basically took over a country defeating the Islamic state of Afghanistan and the Islamic government which ran Sharia law. So it is again, not just aimed at Americans, but aimed at those of all religions who are opposed to terrorism.
Host: We only have about fifteen seconds, Khalil Jahshan, what do you think about that?
Jahshan: Basically, I disagree with the disingenuous attempt to equate the two situations of Palestine and Iraq. The Israelis in the West Bank are not there to liberate the Palestinians. They are not there to remove, necessarily, a tyrant, a corrupt regime like that of Saddam Hussein -- and they're [the U-S soldiers in Iraq] not there to stay. They're not building settlements.
Host: I'm afraid that's going to have to be the last word for today. We're out of time. I'd like to thank my guests: Khalil Jahshan, a consultant on Middle East affairs; Defense Analyst David Isby and Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy. Before we go, I'd like to invite you to send us your questions or comments. You can e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. For On the Line, I'm Eric Felten.
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