Big talk against terrorism Summit of Seven: Real cooperation between nations is hard to achieve.

June 29, 1996

TERRORISM KNOWS no borders. Its money, operatives, training, materials and advocacy slither from one nation to another, exploiting the gaps between national police efforts. President Clinton was right to divert the Group of Seven summit from its economic agenda long enough to achieve a joint statement promising to combine to fight terrorism by all legal means. A conference at the justice minister level in July should make this promise real.

Partly this was electioneering by Mr. Clinton, but it was still the right thing to do. The terrorism provoking summit action took American victims with an aim of destabilizing Saudi Arabia. Every member of the Group of Seven has terrorism concerns of its own. Britain's is the IRA. Germany's is domestic against swarthy immigrants, Jews, Muslims and the disabled. France's is Corsican secessionist and Algeria's civil war fought in France. Japan's is domestic and cultist. Most have had violent spillovers of Islamic extremism and hostility to Israel on their soil.

The 40 measures for discussion that the Clinton administration brought to the table were warmed-over proposals to combat international crime at the Group of Seven summit in Nova Scotia last year, and proposals to counter terrorism made at the Sinai summit in March. The official statement specified cooperation against "fund-raising, the planning of terrorist acts, procurement weapons, calling for violence and incitements to commit terrorist acts."

Such actions as speedy extradition and sharing of intelligence are needed. But several nations including the United States have protections against political persecution that delay procedures. Many enforcement agencies are jealous of shared information. Virtually all nations repudiate U.S. unilateral economic embargoes on nations the U.S. finds guilty of terrorism.

Many governments harbor guilt for having fomented terrorism somewhere sometime. The U.S. promoted Islamic terrorism against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, which boomeranged in the 1990s in Egypt, the United States and Bosnia. Iran is not alone.

But some gains are possible next month if the governments do not allow disagreements they cannot resolve to obstruct agreements they are capable of reaching. In particular, sharing of intelligence on money laundering and training and movements of terrorists is possible and should be improved.

Pub date: 06/29/96

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