Just who is a terrorist and what is terrorism?

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At a press conference, the DG of National intelligence coordinating committee (Nicoc) Barry Gilder claimed that… “foreign Muslim terrorists” from “Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh and Jordan” were in South Africa and that …”that there could be training grounds on a small scale”.

This xenophobic statement fuels the climate of Islamophobia in our country, contributing to the false and iniquitous image of SA Muslims as “terrorists” and being supportive of “terrorists”. This will no doubt be considered a major boon for the purveyors of the American-led “war on terror” brigade.

The exclusion of those struggling for freedom in Palestine as striving in a “legitimate” cause does not exonerate Gilder from making such sweeping generalisations about Muslims entering SA. Neither does the mention of “some Afrikaner farmers…" on physical training and handling of small arms diminish the gravity and danger of his statement.

By what standard, and who’s definition, does Gilder attach the label “terrorist” to a Somalian or Pakistani? Who decides that the Palestinian cause is “legitimate”, and an Iraqi’s not? Is it not true that the very culprits occupying and invading Muslim lands today, USA, Israel and Britain, were complicit with the Apartheid regime and accused most of our current government leaders as “terrorists”?

Former and present Israeli leaders including Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert have repeatedly pressurized the US administration to destroy any organisation or country that dares contradict and oppose American/Zionist foreign policy.

At a Hearing of the US House Government Reform Committee Netanyahu said that “Islamic militants truly cling to this mad fantasy of destroying America”. Olmert urged the US based United Jewish Communities General Assembly in 2006 to expose “the dangers of radical Islam”.

By presenting Islam as evil and prone to violence, the Zionists are trying to justify their own illegitimate, immoral usurpation and annexation of Palestinian land. President Bush declared “our war on terror begins with Al-Qaeda but does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

Just who is a terrorist and what is terrorism? The United Nations, International bodies and academics have spent almost 20 years in trying to draw up a definition of “terrorism”. It failed. To exclude the “state” from being defined as the perpetrators of terror, violence and intimidation causing fear and death amongst civilians seems to be the difficulty.

Phil Rees, renowned author of Dining with Terrorists wrote: “The failure to define ‘terrorist’ means that the ‘war on terror’ can be used as a cloak to legitimise American military power because it portrays the challenge as a loosely defined threat that will never disappear. By being unable to explain exactly who is a terrorist, the ‘war on terror’ can mutate into a war against any ideology that challenges America and her allies”.

The United States of America has to coerce as many countries as possible to join it in “its confused idea of an endless conflict against an undefined enemy”. In its voracious greed for resources, Africa has now become its hunting ground. It is not just access to energy to maintain its world hegemony, but the absolute control of resources to deter potential challengers for these resources that drives America.

Investigative journalist Michael Schmidt revealed the formation of ACOTA, USA’s Africa Contingency Operations Training Assistance programme which is aimed at integrating African armed forces into US strategic objectives. The US bombing of Somalia in support of the Ethiopian invasion took place from such a base in Djibouti.

Schmidt elaborated that the US has already trained spies in four North African countries; that it would train 40,000 “African peace-keepers” to “preserve justice and order in Africa”; and that it has already trained 20,000 troops in 12 African countries. Whilst dismantling military bases in Germany and South Korea, it is relocating these bases to Africa in order to “combat terrorism” and “protect oil resources”.

The USA has several military bases in many African countries and has concluded military pacts with many more, including South Africa. Jendayi Fraser, the former US ambassador to SA, works for the Department of Defence and National Security Council, and is responsible for the military educational training programmes.

What is frightening is the establishment of the “School of Africa’s”, resembling the infamous “School of America’s”, whose death-squads murdered tens of thousands grass root activists, trade unionists, students and political opponents. The setting up of a stand-by force for the African Union should cause jitters to shudder down our spines.

Given our particular history, South Africans of all persuasions, not only Muslims, should never be coerced into abandoning our support for victims of State Terrorism, wherever it may be practiced, be it in Afghanistan, Israel, Iraq, Chechnya or Somalia.

Solidarity and activism for just causes should, in fact, be encouraged.

Unless Gilder intends positioning Nicoc and the cluster of security agencies to pursue so-called "terrorists" within our borders on behalf of Uncle Sam, it is critical that he dismisses the faulty paradigm whereby America defines and determines the parameters of “terrorism”. And since his hasty allegations have placed the entire Muslim community under a cloud of suspicion, it is of paramount importance that every South African is reassured that the provisions of the Bill of Rights will not be sacrificed at the altar of American imperialism.

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