The Strategy To End Terrorism
Benjamin Netanyahu is a former prime minister of Israel.
Jerusalem-Who is responsible for the terrorist
onslaught in the United States? Why? What is the motive behind these attacks?
And most importantly, what must be done to defeat these evil forces?
The first and most crucial thing to understand is this: There is no international
terrorism without the support of sovereign states. International terrorism
simply cannot be sustained for long without the regimes that aid and abet
Terrorists are not suspended in mid-air. They train, arm and indoctrinate
their killers from within safe havens on territory provided by terrorist
states. Often these regimes provide the terrorists with intelligence,
money and operational assistance, dispatching them to serve as deadly
proxies to wage a hidden war against more powerful enemies.
Take away all this state support, and the entire scaffolding of international
terrorism will collapse into the dust.
The international terrorist network is thus based on regimes -Iran, Iraq,
Syria, Taleban Afghanistan, Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority and
several other Arab regimes such as the Sudan.
These regimes are the ones that harbor the terrorist groups: Osama Bin
Laden in Afghanistan, Hizballah and others in Syrian-controlled Lebanon,
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the recently mobilized Fatah and Tanzim factions
in the Palestinian territories, and sundry other terror organizations
based in such capitals as Damascus, Baghdad and Khartoum.
These terrorist states and terror organizations together form a terror
network, whose constituent parts support each other operationally as well
For example, the Palestinian groups cooperate closely with Hezbollah,
which in turn links them to Syria, Iran and Bin Laden.
These offshoots of terror have affiliates in other states that have not
yet uprooted their presence, such as Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Now, how did this come about? The growth of this terror network is the
result of several developments in the last two decades: Chief among them
is the Khomeini Revolution and the establishment of a clerical Islamic
state in Iran.
This created a sovereign spiritual base for fomenting a strident Islamic
militancy worldwide-a militancy that was often backed by terror.
Equally important was the victory in the Afghan war of the international
This international band of zealots, whose ranks include Osama Bin Laden,
saw their victory over the Soviet Union as providential proof of the innate
supremacy of faithful Moslems over the weak infidel powers.
They believed that even the superior weapons of a superpower could not
withstand their superior will.
To this should also be added Saddam Hussein's escape from destruction
at the end of the Gulf War, his dismissal of UN monitors, and his growing
confidence that he can soon develop unconventional weapons to match those
of the West.
Finally, the creation of Yasser Arafat's terror enclave gave a safe haven
to militant Islamic terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Like their mujaheedin cousins, they drew inspiration from Israel's hasty
withdrawal from Lebanon, glorified as a great Moslem victory by the Syrian-backed
Under Arafat's rule, these Palestinian Islamic terrorist groups made repeated
use of the technique of suicide bombing, going so far as to run summer
camps in Gaza that teach Palestinian children how to become suicide martyrs.
Here is what Arafat's government controlled newspaper, Al Hayat Al Jadida,
said on September 11, the very day of the suicide bombing of the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon:
"The suicide bombers of today are the noble successors of the Lebanese
suicide bombers, who taught the US Marines a tough lesson in [Lebanon]...These
suicide bombers are the salt of the earth, the engines of history...They
are the most honorable people among us..."
A simple rule prevails here: The success of terrorists in one part of
the terror network emboldens terrorists throughout the network.
WHY? | Though its separate parts may have local
objectives and take part in local conflicts, the main motivation driving
the terror network is an anti-Western hostility that seeks to achieve
nothing less than a reversal of history.
It seeks to roll back the West and install an extremist form of Islam
as the dominant power in the world.
It seeks to do this not by means of its own advancement and progress,
but by destroying the enemy. This hatred is the product of a seething
resentment that has simmered for centuries in certain parts of the Arab
and Islamic world.
Most Moslems in the world, including the vast majority of the growing
Moslem communities in the West, are not guided by this interpretation
of history, nor are they moved by its call for a holy war against the
But some are. And though their numbers are small compared to the peaceable
majority, they nevertheless constitute a growing hinterland for this militancy.
Militant Islamists resented the West for pushing back the triumphant march
of Islam into the heart of Europe many centuries ago.
Its adherents, believing in the innate supremacy of Islam, then suffered
a series of shocks when in the last two centuries that same hated, supposedly
inferior West penetrated Islamic realms in North Africa, the Middle East
and the Persian Gulf.
For them the mission was clear: The West had to be first pushed out of
these areas. Pro-western Middle Eastern regimes were toppled in rapid
succession, including in Iran.
And Israel, the Middle East's only democracy and its purest manifestation
of Western progress and freedom, must be wiped off the face of the earth.
Thus, the soldiers of militant Islam do not hate the West because of Israel,
they hate Israel because of the West-because they see it is an island
of Western democratic values in a Moslem-Arab sea of despotism.
That is why they call Israel the Little Satan, to distinguish it clearly
from the country that has always been and will always be the Great Satan-The
United States of America.
Nothing better illustrates this then Osama bin Laden's call for Jihad
against the US in 1998. He gave as his primary reason not Israel, not
the Palestinians, not the "peace process," but rather the very
presence of the US "occupying the Land of Islam in the holiest of
places"-and where is that?-"the Arabian peninsula" says
Bin Laden, where America is "plundering its riches, dictating to
its rulers, and humiliating its people." Israel, by the way, comes
a distant third, after "the continuing aggression against the Iraqi
people." [Al Quds al Arabi-February 23, 1998]
For the Bin Ladens of the world Israel is merely a sideshow. America is
But reestablishing a resurgent Islam requires not just rolling back the
West; it requires destroying its main engine, the US.
And if the US cannot be destroyed just now, it can be first humiliated-as
in the Teheran hostage crisis two decades ago-and then ferociously attacked
again and again, until it is brought to its knees.
But the ultimate goal remains the same: Destroy America and win eternity.
It may be hard to believe that Islamic militants truly cling to the mad
fantasy of destroying America. Make no mistake about it. They do. And
unless they are stopped now, their attacks will continue, and become even
more lethal in the future.
To understand the true dangers of Islamic militancy, we can compare it
to another ideology which sought world domination-communism.
Both movements pursued irrational goals, but the communists at least pursued
theirs in a rational way.
Anytime they had to choose between ideology and their own survival, as
in Cuba or Berlin, they backed off and chose survival.
Not so for the Islamic militants. They pursue an irrational ideology irrationally-with
no apparent regard for human life, neither their own lives nor the lives
of their enemies. The Communists seldom, if ever, produced suicide bombers,
while Islamic militancy produces hordes of them, glorifying them and promising
them that their dastardly deeds will earn them a glorious afterlife.
This highly pathological aspect of Islamic militancy is what makes it
so deadly for mankind.
When in 1996, I wrote a book about fighting terrorism, I warned about
the militant Islamic groups operating in the West with the support of
foreign powers-serving as a new breed of "domestic-international"
terrorists, basing themselves in America to wage Jihad against America:
Such groups, I wrote then, nullify in large measure the need to have air
power or intercontinental missiles as delivery systems for an Islamic
nuclear payload. They will be the delivery system. In the worst of such
scenarios, I wrote, the consequences could be not a car bomb but a nuclear
bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center.
Well, they did not use a nuclear bomb. They used two 150 ton fully fueled
jetliners to wipe out the Twin Towers. But does anyone doubt that given
the chance, they will throw atom bombs at America and its allies? And
perhaps long before that, chemical and biological weapons?
This is the greatest danger facing our common future. Some states of the
terror network already possess chemical and biological capabilities, and
some are feverishly developing nuclear weapons.
Can one rule out the possibility that they will be tempted to use such
weapons, openly or through terror proxies, or that their weapons might
fall into the hands of the terrorist groups they harbor?
We have received a wake up call from hell. Now the question is simple:
Do we rally to defeat this evil, while there is still time, or do we press
a collective snooze button and go back to business as usual?
Today the terrorists have the will to destroy us, but they do not have
the power. There is no doubt that we have the power to crush them. Now
we must also show that we have the will to do just that.
Once any part of the terror network acquires nuclear weapons, this equation
will fundamentally change, and with it the course of human affairs.
This is the historical imperative that now confronts all of us.
WHAT TO DO? | We must make no distinction between
the terrorists and the states that support them. It is not enough to root
out the terrorists who committed this horrific act of war. We must dismantle
the entire terrorist network.
If any part of it remains intact, it will rebuild itself, and the specter
of terrorism will reemerge and strike again.
Bin Laden, for example, has shuttled over the last decade from Saudi Arabia
to Afghanistan to the Sudan and back again. So we must not leave any base
To achieve this goal we must first have moral clarity. We must fight terror
wherever and whenever it appears. We must make all states play by the
same rules. We must declare terrorism a crime against humanity, and we
must consider the terrorists enemies of mankind, to be given no quarter
and no consideration for their purported grievances.
If we begin to distinguish between acts of terror, justifying some and
repudiating others based on sympathy with this or that cause, we will
lose the moral clarity that is so essential for victory.
This clarity is what enabled America and Britain to root out piracy in
the nineteenth century. This is how the Allies rooted out Nazism in the
They did not look for the "root cause" of piracy or the "root
cause" of Nazism-because they knew that some acts are evil in and
of themselves, and do not deserve any consideration or "understanding."
They did not ask if Hitler was right about the alleged wrong done to Germany
at Versailles. That they left to the historians. The leaders of the Western
Alliance said something else: Nothing justifies Nazism. Nothing!
We must be equally clear cut today: Nothing justifies terrorism, Nothing!
Terrorism is defined not by the identity of its perpetrators nor by the
cause they espouse. Rather, it is defined by the nature of the act.
Terrorism is the deliberate attack on innocent civilians. In this it must
be distinguished from legitimate acts of war that target combatants and
may unintentionally harm civilians.
When the British bombed a Gestapo headquarters in 1944, and one of their
bombs unintentionally struck a children's hospital that was a tragedy,
but it was not terrorism.
When Israel fired a missile that killed two Hamas arch-terrorists, and
two Palestinians children who were playing nearby were tragically struck
down, that is not terrorism.
But terrorists do not unintentionally harm civilians. They deliberately
murder, maim, and menace civilians-as many as possible.
No cause, no grievance, no apology can ever justify terrorism. Terrorism
against Americans, Israelis, Spaniards, Britons, Russians, or anyone else,
is all part of the same evil and must be treated as such.
It is time to establish a fixed principle for the international community:
any cause that uses terrorism to advance its aims will not be rewarded.
On the contrary, it will be punished and placed the pale.
Armed with this moral clarity in defining terrorism, we must possess an
equal moral clarity in fighting it.
If we include Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority in the coalition
to fight terror-even though they currently harbor, sponsor and dispatch
terrorists-then the alliance against terror will be defeated from within.
Perhaps we might achieve a short-term objective of destroying one terrorist
fiefdom, but it will preclude the possibility of overall victory. Such
a coalition will melt down because of its own internal contradictions.
We might win a battle. We will certainly lose the war.
These regimes, like all terrorist states, must be given a forthright demand:
Stop terrorism, permanently, or you will face the wrath of the free world-through
harsh and sustained political, economic and military sanctions.
Obviously, some of these regimes will scramble in fear and issue platitudes
about their opposition to terror, just as Arafat, Iran and Syria did,
while they keep their terror apparatus intact. We should not be fooled.
These regimes are already on the US lists of states supporting terrorism-and
if they're not, they should be.
The price of admission for any state into the coalition against terror
must be to first completely dismantle the terrorist infrastructures within
Iran will have to dismantle a worldwide network of terrorism and incitement
based in Teheran.
Syria will have to shut down Hizballah and the dozen terrorist organizations
that operate freely in Damascus and in Lebanon.
Arafat will have to crush Hamas and Islamic Jihad, close down their suicide
factories and training grounds, rein in his own Fatah and Tanzim terrorists
and cease the endless incitement to violence.
To win this war, we must fight on many fronts. The most obvious one is
direct military action against the terrorists themselves. Israel's policy
of preemptively striking at those who seek to murder its people is, I
believe, better understood today and requires no further elaboration.
But there is no substitute for the key action that we must take: Imposing
the most punishing diplomatic, economic and military sanction on all terrorist
states. To this must be added these measures:
-- Freeze financial assets in the West of terrorist regimes and organizations;
-- Revise legislation, subject to periodic renewal, to enable better surveillance
against organizations inciting violence;
-- Keep convicted terrorist behind bars. Do not negotiate with terrorists;
-- Train special forces to fight terror.
-- And, not least important, impose sanctions on suppliers of nuclear
technology to terrorist states.
Victory over terrorism is not, at its most fundamental level, a matter
of law enforcement or intelligence. However important these functions
may be, they can only reduce the dangers, not eliminate them.
The immediate objective is to end all state support for, and complicity
with, terror. If vigorously and continuously challenged, most of these
regimes can be deterred from sponsoring terrorism.
But there is a real possibility that some will not be deterred-and those
may be ones that possess weapons of mass destruction.
Again, we cannot dismiss the possibility that a militant terrorist state
will use its proxies to threaten or launch a nuclear attack with apparent
Nor can we completely dismiss the possibility that a militant regime,
like its terrorist proxies, will commit collective suicide for the sake
of its fanatical ideology.
In this case, we might face not thousands of dead, but hundreds of thousands
and possibly millions. This is why the US must do everything in its power
to prevent regimes like Iran and Iraq from developing nuclear weapons,
and disarm them of their weapons of mass destruction.
This is the great mission that now stands before the free world. That
mission must not be watered down to allow certain states to participate
in the coalition that is now being organized. Rather, the coalition must
be built around this mission.
It may be that some will shy away from adopting such an uncompromising
stance against terrorism. If some free states choose to remain on the
sidelines, America must be prepared to march forward without them-for
there is no substitute for moral and strategic clarity.
I believe that if the US stands on principle, all the democracies will
eventually join the war on terrorism. The easy route may be tempting,
but it will not win the day.
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