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Spain - The 9-11 of Al-Andalus


The horror of Islamist terror struck once again today, March 11, 2004. This time the attacks took place in the heart of Europe, killing over 190 people and injuring over a thousand, as blasts of TNT hit the Madrid subway. For several hours it was not clear who had perpetrated the outrage. The Spanish government tried to place blame on the ETA separatists. The horror, however, had the signature marks of Al-Qaeda. Late in the day, the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newpaper received a message announcing that the explosions were the work of Al-Qaeda.

The message from the "Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades" said, in part, We have succeeded in infiltrating the heart of crusader Europe and struck one of the bases of the crusader alliance.

The same group also claimed responsibility for the bombing of two synagogues in Turkey last November, and the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad in August.

It was, of course, only a matter of time before Al-Qaeda terrorism arrived in Europe. Spain is a natural target, both because of its support for the invasion of Iraq and because for Islamists, Spain is part of "Arabia irredenta." It is "Al-Andalus," the first part of the Muslim empire, Dar al-Islam, that was lost to the Christians and reverted to being part of "Dar al Harb" - the dwelling place of war.

However, almost any country is a potential target of the Islamists, as Islamist attacks have killed masses of innocent civilians in Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and the USA, and of course Iraq and Israel. Nor is Islamism the only originator of such attacks. The Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka have probably committed more suicide bombings than any other group. A Japanese group, Aum Shinrikyo, used Sarin gas to kill 12 and injure over 6,000 in the Tokyo subway system in 1995.

Today's attack is a clear indication that the "war on terror," specifically launched against the Islamist variety of terror, is far from over. In part, the rash of terror attacks is due to the incredible lightness of international morality associated with such activities.

Mass terror attacks such as those in Spain, killing of civilians by non-government groups, is not defined as a crime under international law. A soldier who kills an unarmed noncombatant civilian reason is a war criminal under international law. A civilian group that kills civilians of any nation is not necessarily guilty of breaking any international law, though Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch consider such crimes to be Crimes Against Humanity. They cannot be "war crimes," because only a state can wage war under international law. Although the UN passed Security Council Resolution 1373 to organize international efforts to fight terror, officials admitted recently that in fact very little had been done, and, as the attacks in Spain show, that assessment was accurate. In part, this reflects the complexity of the problem. However, it also reflects the fact that such terror goups have often been, and still are, a convenient means that states can use to fight a war without declaring a war. Terrorist groups can usually find a state or states that will allow them to set up base, procure arms, recruit people, and disseminate propaganda inciting to terror. The state looks the other way because their message and activities are useful in some way to the host state. There is always a rationale of some sort that allow the perpetration of such outrages in the guise of "religious duties" or "resistance" or points to one or another problem as the "root cause" of the terror.

It is time to wake up. The root causes of terror are terrorists, those who support terrorists, those who look the other way to allow terrorist operations, and those who legitimize terror attacks using one or another rationale.

It is long past time to promulgate an International Convention on Terrorism similar to the UN Convention on Genocide. The convention will define terror as mass attacks on unarmed civilians, and makes all of the following punishable:

(a) Terror attacks;
(b) Conspiracy to commit terror attacks;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit terror attacks;
(d ) Attempt to commit terror attacks;
(e) Complicity in terror attacks.

Because modern weapons make it incredibly easy to kill of masses of people it will most likely be impossible to eradicate terror entirely. However, a convention such as the one suggested here, with suitable enforcement provisions will go far to delegitimize terror and deny bases of operations and shelters for terrorists.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000221.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 2 comments

An International Convention on Terrorism will not occur until the UN defines terrorism. This will not happen due to the influence of the Muslim block and Non-aligned Nations. No definition that does not exclude the mass murder of Israelis as terrorism will ever pass in the UN. The only definitions we can look forward to will be completely toothless ones that justify terrorism in territorial conflicts, or ones so broad that all military actions in populated areas could be defined as terrorism. In other words definitions that make whole convention meaningless.

Posted by Marcus Stoll @ 03/20/2004 01:14 PM CST

as long you imagine that a peace treaty is just a sheet of paper with less use than any toilet paper, as long you imagine that 56 years of hatred is the only fault of arabs, as long you're not fed up with war and don't strive with all your heard, your mind, your body and your material means to construct peace, you will not get peace.

Posted by willibrord oomen @ 03/24/2004 05:00 PM CST

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