- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 5, 2000

The capture of an Algerian terrorist in Seattle and a cell of terrorists in New York City usher the penetration of Islamic terrorism into the United States.

The Algerian terrorists failed to overthrow the regime in Algeria and have been severely suppressed by the Algerian military. They have chosen the American continent as an arena to show they are capable of disrupting institutions and civilian life in the most powerful country in the world.

It is time to reassess and analyze types of radical Islamic movements and their auxiliary terrorist organizations. What are their strategies, methods, and targets, and how do they differ from each other in the deployment of resources.

There is no international radical Islamic Comintern. All act in different states and areas according to conditions and purposes that are restricted to their specific local and regional aspirations. In some areas they believe they can help overthrow secular military regimes as in Algeria and Egypt.

In other areas, they hope their action will bring upon the emergence of an Islamic political party that can replace the present government as in Jordan and Gaza.

In other areas they become surrogates and instruments of larger states and powers as is the case in Kashmir, and where the Islamic terrorists are instruments of Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is no cohesive, coherent, movement, policy, target or method. The lifespan of some is short, others more permanent.

Who and what are the targets of the disparate radical Islamic forces? First and foremost, their own homeland. As instruments of an Islamic revolutionary ideology, they are responsible for assassinating more Muslims than Christians or Jews, who are also their targets. Thousands of Muslims were killed during the Ayatollah Khomeni's regime in Iran. Pakistani Shi'ites and Taleban have killed hundreds of Muslims.

Egyptian, Jordanian and Saudi adical movements have also assassinated hundreds of Muslims. The Syrians killed 20,000 Muslims in Hama in the 1970s. In India the Kashmiri Muslim group based in Pakistan and supported by Pakistani military and intelligence, played a role in the short skirmish at Kargill between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

Next, the Islamic terrorist targets are rival Islamic religions, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism. In general, Islamic radicals aspire to terrorize the Christian Western civilization.

In the case of the Arab Middle East, their targets whether in Lebanon, Jordan or Palestine, are Israel and Zionism. They have been actively targeting Jews and blowing up Israeli embassies overseas. In India, and Kashmir in particular, the effort is to bring an end to India's rule in the majority-Muslim-populated Kashmir. These terrorists are trained in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and are motivated by a powerful pan-Islamic orientation.

The mode and method of operation are different in different places. Obviously in states where they are dedicated to overthrowing the regime, the terrorists operate clandestinely and are continuously harassed by the intelligence service, as are the cases of Egypt, Algeria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The sanctuaries for Islamic terrorists are the Muslim states of Syria, Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Syria, the Assad regime is dedicated to harassing Israel and supports the Hezbollah pro-Iranian group and the Palestinian Hamas, and other Palestinian radicals dedicated to destroying the Oslo peace process.

Afghanistan has proven to be the terrorism-supporting state par excellence. "With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI, who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad into a global war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and 1992. Tens of thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs. Eventually more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghan jihad." (Ahmed Rashid, Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999)

The Afghani Taleban movement plays a significant role in Islamic politics in Pakistan, and the relations between Afghani and Pakistani Muslim terrorists have enhanced their ability to harass India and present a threat to the region. These terrorists, as instruments of other powers, target the areas the supportive regimes consider most hostile to them. In the Middle East it is Israel, in the Indian Subcontinent it is India, and in Sudan it is Egypt. In that sense Syria, Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan have become the main hot houses of international terrorism. Last but not least is the revolutionary Islamic State of Iran.

Despite the growing popular and some clerical opposition to the clerical dominated regime, Iran still considers itself the mother of Islamic revolutions (they don't distinguish between Shi'ite and Suni Muslims), and continues to foment Islamic revolutionary terrorist groups in Europe and the United States.

The most likely radical Islamic terrorist targets in the year 2000 will be in the United States. The loose and open American immigration policy, the role played by so-called Islamic humanitarian and welfare organizations that contribute clandestinely to the terrorists, and the American media that gives them endless publicity, all facilitate their penetration and contribute to their decision to target the United States.

The week before the New Year the administration, from the president to the FBI and other security organizations, warned of potential terrorist activity in the United States. The government mustwarn and protect American citizens, but the price we pay is to unwittingly facilitating the terrorists by publicizing their potential threat to the United States, and thus giving them the attention they crave.

Unfortunately, the new millennium brings with it this new low-intensity warfare, which is being conducted on American soil.

Amos Perlmutter is a professor of political science and sociology at American University and editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies.

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