Papers in countries tormented by terrorists cheered President Bush’s Thursday promise to defeat all terrorist groups “of global reach,” and the European Union’s pledge, Friday, to counter terrorism across the continent. Spain’s ABC said that the world’s newfound resolve means that the Basque separatist group ETA, which has killed some 800 people since its inception in 1968, “will immediately see a loss of sympathy toward its aims of independence, as Europe delegitimizes the terrorist methods it uses to achieve them.”
The Irish Independent attacked Sinn Fein leaders’ statements that there was no comparison to be made between the attacks on the United States and the IRA’s history of violence. For author Ruth Dudley Edwards, the only difference was one of scale: Both targeted “armed forces,” both targeted civilians, both used human beings as human bombs, both targeted the center of the democratic state and centers of commerce, and both are involved in global terrorism. “And as for the bombers being prepared to commit suicide. Are not Sinn Féin always demanding we honour Bobby Sands and all his colleagues who starved themselves to death for the cause?” Britain’s Independent said American attitudes to the IRA had been changed by the events of Sept. 11: “Simply by raising awareness in the US of the links between very different terrorist organizations—and the IRA has had links with Eta and Libya—it will make Gerry Adams an even less convincing ambassador for peace.” The Sunday Telegraph amplified:
All those brave Donnelleys, O’Donnells, O’Connells, and Murphys who perished doing their duty in the big hats of the New York Fire Department: their families will turn on any terrorist group anywhere now, and with a vengeance that will be Irish in its passion, but thoroughly American in its sense of purpose. Their country is at war with all terrorism everywhere, war to the death: not a time to be rattling Noraid collection boxes in New York bars.
The Financial Times speculated that the new attitude might also affect the relationship between the United States and Colombia, the third-largest recipient of U.S. military aid. Three years ago, President Andrés Pastrana handed over a Switzerland-sized chunk of southern Colombia to the guerrilla group FARC as a precursor to peace talks. Since then there has been little progress toward a settlement, and in August three Irishmen said to be connected with the IRA were charged with “training for illegal activities” while visiting “Farclandia” (see this “International Papers” column for more on the IRA connection). The FT said Colombia’s armed forces have stressed FARC’s terrorist credentials, “taking out newspaper advertisements comparing frequent guerrilla assaults on Colombian towns with the attack on the World Trade Center.”
An op-ed in the Colombian daily El Tiempo compared the new war on terrorism to the war on drugs. According to Francisco Santos, the hunt for Osama Bin Laden is similar to the pursuit of Pablo Escobar; just as 30 new Escobars appeared to take the Colombian drug lord’s place, Bin Laden would easily and quickly be replaced, “Individuals are not the problem.” Like the war on terrorism, the struggle against drug trafficking can only be won if the international community unites against it, and if, in the battle against terrorism, governments clamp down on dirty money, they’ll also intercept funds belonging to drug cartels and paramilitary organizations. Santos also predicted:
Waiting in long lines and accepting with resignation innumerable searches just to get on an airplane heading to the United States—and later being treated like a criminal on arrival—will no longer be the exclusive fate of those of us who hold Colombian passports. Europeans and even the gringos themselves will have to suffer this treatment, which, unfortunately, we are now used to.
A Jerusalem Post op-ed columnist who was one of 38 Americans hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1970 implored Washington to be selective when forming its international alliance to fight terrorism:
[I]t would be a disgrace to the United States if Syria and Iran were part of that coalition at this time. Syria to this day harbors the same PFLP that hijacked me, as it does other terrorist organizations which have attacked US and Israeli citizens. … Iran is a prime sponsor of terrorism, providing funds and arms to Hizbullah, Hamas, and other virulent terrorist groups. The inclusion in the coalition of either country, which are both currently designated by the State Department as state sponsors of international terrorism, would sully its moral mission.
Useful resources: Britain’s Sunday Times profiled “Terror Inc.,” eight international Islamic terrorist organizations ranging from Bin Laden’s al-Qaida to the Filipino Abu Sayyaf Group, and the Moscow Times provided an excellent primer on the central Asian states of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, which all border Afghanistan.
Lost property? The Financial Times reported that Osama Bin Laden’s stepmother viewed luxury property in London earlier this month. Although Mrs. Bin Laden, who like most family members has disowned Osama, has not contacted real estate agents since the Sept. 11 atrocities, the paper said several Saudis currently living in California were interested in relocating to London “for reasons of personal safety.” Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post said the attack on the World Trade Center had stimulated debate in Beijing about plans to build the world’s two tallest buildings on the edge of the 2008 Olympic village. A designer told the paper, “Such buildings have many drawbacks, like the risk of accidents. The towers would block the sunlight and wind flow. They would also destroy the landscape of Beijing, an ancient city with a beautiful natural design.”