In uprooting terrorism, start with the cause

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Thousands of Jordanians were in touch with American friends to convey their condolences regarding the terrorist crime on Sept. 11. It is a heinous massacre, condemned by all Jordanians and Muslims. The attack is more abominable as it targeted innocent civilians, and is rendered more sinister by using Islam as a religious pretext while pursuing other political, hidden, agenda. Manipulating Islam for pervert fanatical ideology is the worst insult to our faith.

Many Jordanians pray for the victims and their families. But as we are recovering from the impact of the assault by some faceless sky-faring terrorists on the citadels of America’s economy and military, one could not but recall that we, in Jordan, were also targets of terrorism but were spared only because of the timely intervention of our security forces and the determination of our leadership.

There have been contentions that the US got what it deserved in view of its biased and lopsided approach to the Middle East conflict. Many see the US as shouldering the bulk of the responsibility for Israel’s arrogance and intransigence and its military brutality that seems to enjoy impunity from international action. Such sentiments are not without roots. For a Palestinian who has suffered the Israeli occupation for decades, the machine-gun pointed at him by an Israeli soldier has the might of the US behind him. That gun might have deprived him of the much-needed medical facility for his pregnant wife in labour, and led to her death at an Israeli checkpoint. The collective punishment Israel imposes on the Palestinians and the impact of Israel’s stranglehold on the West Bank and Gaza would not have been possible without support from the US. As such, there are many who believe it was only fair that the US got a first-hand dose of its own medicine, practised through Israel.

However, no such sentiment ever justifies Tuesday’s attacks in New York and Washington, since those who died as a result were as innocent as the pregnant Palestinian woman who died at an Israeli checkpoint. Those who died in New York and Washington were sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, husbands and wives. No justification would ever take the pain away from their families over their loss.

The victims of Tuesday’s attack had nothing to do with the politics of the American government, as is the case always in terrorist attacks. We know well that had our security agencies been lax, then we would have seen carnage on our streets and at the Radisson SAS Hotel perpetrated by the followers of the same person who is the chief suspect in the attacks on New York and Washington.

It is a folly to think that killing innocent civilians might send a message to the world and force the US administration to rethink its policies. If anything, the slowly growing popular support for human causes subject to misguided American policies will only die down in the wake of the killing of innocent civilians.

As such, the world, we in Jordan included, has the moral responsibility to support the international fight against terrorism. Jordan’s resolve to resist and fight back against terrorism is well known. Had we been lax in our resolve, the very existence of Jordan as a country would have ended many years ago. Thanks to the solid front and determination of our late King Hussein and the brave heroes who rallied behind him then, we survived all those plots against our national security and stability, and no doubt His Majesty King Abdullah is as determined as his father to keep aloft the intolerance against terrorism.

We share the grief of the Americans without exception. The attacks shook everyone who rejects terrorism, us in Jordan included. The perpetrators should be hunted down and punished as an example to all others who might harbour the misguided notion that such attacks would help their cause. Obviously, last week’s deadly assault on the very heart of America, as represented by the landmark World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, has underlined the need to fight terrorism in all its forms and shapes. That fight, we hope, will be waged with no exclusion or exception and regardless of sources and perpetrators.

At the same time, the fight against “international terrorism,” if the US will, should include Israel’s state-sponsored terrorism against the Palestinians. The very Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories and the Jewish state’s arrogant refusal to accept and respect the legitimate rights of the people under occupation is state-sponsored terrorism. The indiscriminate use of the arms of the mighty Israeli army – battle tanks, rockets and helicopter gunships – is another naked form of state terrorism. The assassination of Palestinian leaders cannot be anything but state terrorism. Can there be any justification for the military brutality that we see every day being practised by Israeli soldiers against unarmed Palestinians?

The US and its friends across the world should not overlook the reality that Israel is waging terrorism in its bare form and they should take into consideration means to put an end to it as they go about charting and implementing measures to punish those found guilty in the attacks in New York and Washington. If they are found wanting in resolve and determination to take on the Israeli terrorism, then they would only be keeping the door open for the recurrence of Tuesday’s actions, whether in the US or another part of the world.

Mr. Musa Keilani contributed this article to the Jordan Times.

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