War against terrorists should begin at home

August 26, 1998|By Cal Thomas

IT DIDN'T take long for the recent bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the American cruise missile response on terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Sudan for some people to blame everything on Israel. That's what a delegate to an Arab conference in Cairo told one U.S. radio network.

As if that critique were not laughable enough, the newspaper of the Palestinian Authority, Al Hayat Al-Jadeeda, blamed the "Monica-gate scandal" on "the power of the Zionist lobby in the United States." She's Jewish, you see, as is the "American media, which is controlled and managed by the Jews." Then, in a mind-boggling comparison between the sexual exploits of John Kennedy and Bill Clinton, the newspaper says: "President Clinton is an angel compared to President Kennedy and his brothers . . . but Marilyn Monroe did not approach an independent prosecutor to litigate the president because she was not a Jew of Polish background and was not connected to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and Jewish pressure groups."

A futile battle

A war against this kind of ignorance, religious bigotry and historical revisionism cannot be won. But the war President Clinton says he wants to fight against terrorism, while not completely winnable, can be aggressively prosecuted to the benefit of America and American citizens, if it is properly waged.

First, it would be helpful to begin cultivating the goodwill of moderate Islam, which must be as outraged by the unfair stereotyping of an entire faith as Christians are disgusted by those who bomb buildings in Northern Ireland and abortion clinics in the United States "in the name of God." Isolating and discriminating against the extremists, while cultivating the goodwill of peaceful Muslims, would enlist moderates as soldiers in the fight against terrorism.

Second, the United States must take an active approach to international terrorism, using surrogates when possible, but striking terrorist training centers if governments that allow such activity on their territory will not act.

Third, the United States should do something about the terrorists among us. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said recently on "Meet the Press" there are an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 "known terrorists" in the United States. According to the Spring 1998 issue of the Journal of Counterterrorism and Security International, these groups are in major cities, including Boston, New York, Washington, Houston, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Raleigh, N.C.

The magazine says the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), with offices in Richardson, Texas, and Chicago, is the principal American front for Hamas, which has as its primary goal the destruction of Israel and the creation in its place of an Islamic Palestinian state. Its annual conferences have been used as vehicles to bring leading Islamic militants into the United States. At one conference in Kansas City, reports the journal, a featured speaker was the head of the military wing of Hamas. At another conference, young terrorists were taught how to make bombs. Records from the World Trade Center bombing trials show calls made to the IAP by conspirators who were later convicted.

On the record

The United Association for Studies and Research (UASR) has offices in Springfield, Va., and Chicago. It is the strategic arm of Hamas in the United States. The founding president of UASR's board was Musa Abu Marzook, the chief of Hamas' political affairs bureau who was arrested in the United States in 1995 and deported to Jordan in 1997. FBI Director Louis Freeh testified before Congress that the Marzook case demonstrated that Hamas recruited members and raised funds in the United States. The current head of UASR, Ahmed bin Yousef, is a leading Hamas ideologue who has called for the annihilation of Israel.

Similar stories are coming from other cities where Hamas and related radical organizations maintain offices. Question: Shouldn't we be deporting such people, or not letting them into the country in the first place? We do great injury to our precious civil liberties when we admit and tolerate dangerous fanatics who would undermine them, not by free speech but by force. That is sedition. A real war against terrorism needs to start on the home front.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.

Pub Date: 8/26/98

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