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Terror in Jordan kills 57: Enough is Enough


Wednesday evening, terror attacks at three hotels in Jordan killed 57 people and wounded up to 200. At least two of the explosions are believed to have been suicide bombings, but in reality it makes no difference how they were carried out. Our hearts go out to the victims and to the people of Jordan.

These depraved attacks should be a wake-up call to those who have temporized about fighting terror, and to those who have dignified murder of civilians as "resistance" and extolled the perpetrators as martyrs.

Terrorism did not begin in Jordan, and it not begin with last night's attacks. It has been carefully nurtured and coddled for many years. UN resolutions and Arab League resolutions characterized massacre of innocent civilians as part of the "legitimate right to resistance". Foolish would-be intellectuals praised suicide bombers as altruists. Imams abused religious authority and freedom of expression to encourage acts of terror. Governments, peace organizations and human rights groups have been mostly silent. The UN is still working on its convention against terror. Unless we all do something, they will probably still be working on it when Al-Qaeda blows up the UN.

Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed "credit" for these acts in a demented announcement that stated the attacks were directed against "enemies of the faith, the Jews and crusaders." The "enemies of the faith" that they killed included four Palestinian officials and many Jordanians attending a wedding reception. Al-Qaeda and all others like them are enemies of all faiths and all decent people.

Attacks such as these make a mockery of Richard Pape's fantasies that suicide attacks are related to occupation and oppression. Jordan doesn't occupy any country. Jordan has no soldiers in Iraq. Jordan's only crime is that it opposes Al-Qaeda and other terror groups.

It should have been clear long ago that terror attacks are not about liberating anyone. Nobody who is really seeking justice kills innocent people. It should also be clear to everyone that nobody is immune from these madmen. Jordan joins a long and eclectic list of countries around the world that have been targeted by Al-Qaeda or by other groups. Spain, Indonesia, the United States, Britain, Turkey, India, Israel and Saudi Arabia are among the victims. Surely not all of those countries, or all the victims, were Jews or crusaders!

Have no illusions. Your country could be next. Something that your government does will provide an excuse for some power hungry lunatic to blow up your family in a hotel or a supermarket or a train or a shopping center. If you have not unequivocally condemned acts of terror and terror groups, whom can you blame?

Putting the terrorists out of fashion and out of business must become the top priority of everyone, especially in the Middle East. It is a key condition for the success of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, because terrorists will do their best to wreck any peace, as they demonstrated in Jordan. It is a key condition for democratization, because people who speak out for democracy will be branded "enemies of the faith" and targeted.

To stop terror we must point out the root causes. The root causes of terror, like the root causes of genocide and similar crimes, are the megalomania and cruelty of the perpetrators and the forgiving or indifferent attitude of everyone else. There are many grievances that require urgent redress, but none of the problems can be corrected by blowing up innocent people. Terrorists aren't out to correct problems. They are part of the problem.

Effective action by the UN and governments can stop terror. It can make the perpetrators international outlaws just as war criminals are outlaws. It can stop the flow of arms and funds to terrorists. It can outlaw incitement to terror, just as international law outlaws incitement to genocide. It can get terror and hate propaganda off the Web and out of the schools and Madrassahs.

It won't happen unless we all make it happen.

Ami Isseroff

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Replies: 3 comments

Ami, your insistence on there not being any justification for terrorism rings true and I truly commend you for this. Thank you for another reinforcement.

On the other hand, there is a question at the back of my mind which asks if the term "terrorism" is unhelpful if it excludes other instances of indiscriminate violence or killings, or other atrocities perpetrated not by terrorists but by national defence forces with the seal of approval from leaders? It seems that because these often cannot be named under a single umbrella term like "terrorism" that it can become difficult for people to condemn them, especially as news of these actions is sometimes filtered through a supportive media (unlike the case with the majority of terrorist attacks - though Al Jazeera may be an exception).

Posted by Lisa @ 11/12/2005 04:10 AM CST

I don’t think the term ‘terrorist’ excludes governments at all. Regimes and heads of states that had committed their countries resources to the systematic slaughter of civilians are subject to world pressure, sanction, removal, and trial for war crimes and crime against humanity.
I do think the term ‘terrorist’ is insufficient because many think there is some truth in “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” line - I personally do not buy it. But in this case we are not dealing with terrorists or freedom fighters debate, but with people and groups who deliberately target as many civilians as possible. Theses are acts of mass murder and they are mass murdered and their organizations are mass murder organizations, and should be called as such – MASS MURDERES.

Posted by Dvar Dea @ 11/13/2005 08:46 AM CST

There is violence in the home, violence by governments, repressive regimes, lethal pit bulls and dogs biting cats. As long as people insist on confuting these with terrorism the terrorists will be able to do their thing. There was all sorts of thievery in ancient times, but it didn't prevent Pompeii from stopping piracy, regardless of all other sorts of thievery (and Pompeii was not amateur thief himself of course).

It is reminiscent of excuses such as "but other people ran the red light and didn't get a ticket." The terror in Jordan or the explosions in Turkey were not aimed against occupying regimes, but against innocent people.

Anyone who justifies or makes excuses for these criminals is an accessory after the fact in murder, no matter how well intentioned they might be.

Ami Isseroff

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 11/15/2005 05:46 PM CST

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