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Countering Suicide Terrorism

"Suicide Terrorism" is the last decade"s tool of genocide, a "new" invention of the Palestinian liberation movements. It is also the epitome of the Muslim fundamentalists. It is a pre-meditated mass murder of Israeli civilians, mainly, children and women. The first suicide terrorism took place in Tel Aviv in October 1995 when a Palestinian terrorist exploded in Bus No. 5. Israelis were shocked but their leaders at the time told them: "We will have to live with it."

Perhaps they did not predict then that they were facing a new weapon of mass murder, a new chapter with the Palestinian and the Arab dream to destroy Israel for good. Today, the entire Western civilization should feel that this weapon is an international issue, not just an Israeli issue. It is clear today that counter-terrorism is a burning challenge to the world"s democratic way of life.

The new Israeli center, The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, a member of the Interdisciplinary Center Hertzlia, in cooperation with the ADL, organized one of the first international conferences on the issues of international terrorism and on suicide terrorism in particular. The ADL recently published the papers of this pioneer conference at Hertzlia, Israel. It should be noted that the conference convened before Sept. 11 which demonstrate the fact that suicide terrorism can spread all over our globe as a tool of terrorists which use the openness of our democratic regimes.

We dream of the job of dismantling this "balance of horror." No more cold war. But in this vacuum we, suddenly, have to face the horrors or the potential horrors of Muslim terrorism. What happened here on Sept. 11 should motivate us to look for the answers to Muslim terrorism and to suicide terrorism as well. This Herzlian Institute is a new one. Its founding president is Shabtai Shavit, Israel"s ex-Mossad chief. Its executive director is Boaz Ganor.

The following experts participated at the 2001 conference: Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Uzi Arad, Martha Crenshaw (USA), Eli Carmon, Frank Anderson (USA), Michael Sheehan (USA), Abdul Hadi Palazzi (Italy), Yoram Schweitzer, Reuvan Paz, Rohan Gunaratna (Scotland), Dogu Ergil (Turkey), Shaul Shai, Boaz Ganor, and Kalil Shiqaqi (Nablus Palestinian Authority).

We should welcome research and education which will help us to combat terrorism. Right now scholars did not provide us with the proper response. We can only work on damage control. But one can learn from this conference. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak confessed: "Thus I fear that suicide terrorism is the kind of act that we may be forced to face in the future too."

Martha Crenshaw concluded that the 1990"s terrorism is not a new phenomenon because of the fact that self-sacrifice is not a new kind of terrorist behavior. Frank Anderson, ex-CIA expert, pointed out that we need an effective cooperation among the various states. Globalism is a must to counter international terrorism. Ambassador Michael Sheehan, coordinator for counter-terrorism, at the State Department, briefed the convention on the fundamentalist terrorism and its organizations. Sheehan remarked the following:

"Fundamentalist terrorist groups have demonstrated that they can easily recruit new members from disillusioned elements of society. In some cases, the prospect of martyrdom actually increases these groups" appeal among the youth, who feel disenfranchised and are looking for way to make a name of themselves and achieve special treatment for their families. Hamas and Hizbullah have created parallel public institutions such as clinics, public health services and social-welfare organizations. This outreach to the community gives these groups a veneer of legitimacy and new avenues for recruitment of people willing to sacrifice their lives.

Osama bin-Ladin and his organization represent perhaps the most alarming trend in suicide terrorism emanating from the Middle East and South Asia. Bin-Ladin has created the first truly transnational fundamentalist terrorist enterprise, drawing recruits from Muslims across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Willingness to be martyred in action appears to be the hallmark of some of these terrorists. Bin-Ladin has cultivated an unholy alliance among Islamic fundamentalist groups from different regions. And his organization has also avowed its intention to attain weapons of mass-destruction. The prospect of a fundamentalist suicide bomber with one of these weapons is indeed terrifying."

Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi discussed the contradictions between Jihad and Martyrdom and the Orthodox Islamic perceptions. He is not the only scholar who pointed out the fact that the new Muslim fundamentalist movement invented their own interpretation of Islam or the Koran.

Prof. Palazzi said: "As a Muslim scholar, I must point out from the outset that I reject the definitions of Islamic fundamentalism common in the contemporary media. As a matter of fact, I personally never use the terms Islamic fundamentalism or Islamic radicalism, but rather what I call "pseudo-Islamic radicalism." And this is because, in my humble opinion, fundamentalism is not one of the legitimate keys to understanding the Islamic message, but an evident distortion of Islamic values, an attempt to transform Islam from a religious tradition to a political ideology. Some Muslims who are deeply involved in the study of fundamentalism, support this view."

He also said: "I want to conclude by noting that my friend, Dr. Asher Eder, the Jewish Co-Chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship has written an illuminating paper called "Peace is Possible between Ishmael and Israel according to the Qur"an." I truly believe that this paper is of supreme importance and I was honored when asked to write its preface This paper can help non-Muslims to understand that the teachings of the Qur"an are radically different than the claims made by the fundamentalists. It can also show Muslims that the hatred targeted at Israel and Jews, which features so prominently in their propaganda is by no means supported by their religion."

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