- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2001

Just when did Libyan terrorism end?

It was nice to learn from Ed Feulner's Sept. 19 Commentary column, "At war awaiting a declaration" that the "bombing of Libyan targets [in 1986] caused that regime to think twice about terrorism. It minimized Libya's sponsorship of terrorism." And here all the rest of us were convinced that Libya was behind the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. And the destruction of a French airliner over the Sahara in 1989. Not to mention the attempted attack on Israeli beaches in 1990. And we have apparently hallucinated the 1990 annual report on international terrorism from the State Department, stating that Libya was still giving support to approximately 30 terrorist groups. And President George Bush's address to Congress in 1991, in which he stated that the "Libyan government continues to employ international terrorism and to support it, in violation of international law and international rules of conduct," must have come from a Tom Clancy novel, I suppose?
Mr. Feulner should check his facts before he sits down at the keyboard.

PARRISH S. KNIGHT
Silver Spring

Albania is friend to U.S., enemy of terrorism

Your Sept. 18 article, "Hijackers connected to Albanian terrorist cell, CIA says," provides an account of suspect Muslim individuals who have passed through or stayed in Albania in the last decade and links this with the destruction terrorists wreaked upon New York and Washington. Unfortunately, the headline of the story does not correspond with the information presented in the body of the article. Rather, the headline suggests erroneously to readers that there is a connection between the hijackers and Albania.
Dealing with the scourge of terrorism requires responsible media reporting, with more sensitivity and less sensationalism. Journalists are responsible for creating what passes for conventional wisdom, and citizens look to journalists for intellectual leadership. Once created, however, conventional wisdom often feeds upon itself. Many journalists, for instance, still view Albania as a nation of would-be boat people seeking to flee poverty; or they see it as a land of lawless people roaming the countryside and obeying no government rules. Nothing could be further from the truth. Albania is very much a country of the 21st century, with all the blessings and sufferings that that entails.
You fail to understand the dramatic changes that have taken place in Albania in recent years. For instance, you refer to Albania as a "formerly communist nation" and not as a newly emerging democracy, as it is commonly known. Your presentation of Albania belongs to the period in its history prior to 1997 and reflects little of Albania's life today.
As a new democracy, Albania faces a number of challenges as it strives to strengthen democratic institutions, the rule of law and the market economy. Democratic Albania is a loyal ally of the United States and the European democracies. Recent crises in the Balkans have also shown that Albania makes no trouble in the region; on the contrary, it plays an important part in the international effort to establish peace and stability in southeast Europe.
As President Bush wrote in a message to Prime Minister Ilir Meta after Mr. Meta's recent election for a second term, "The close friendship between the Albanian and American peoples remains at the heart of the excellent relations between our two countries. Please know that you have the support of the United States as you continue to work for a prosperous, democratic and stable Albania."
In a statement issued on behalf of the Albanian government after the terrorist attacks, Mr. Meta once again affirmed Albania's determination "to line up with the United States of America and other Western democracies in an alliance to fight international terrorism." This we intend to do. The government of the Republic of Albania has pledged unconditionally to put at the disposal of this coalition everything that is necessary to achieve this end.
The Albanian government has committed itself to increase maximally its efforts to make the border of Albania impermeable to any terrorist element, as well as to continue to contribute with all its capabilities in strengthening regional and European security, in the example of a factor for peace and stability. For the United States of America and all other democratic countries in the world, Albania will remain, as always, a reliable partner and determined ally in the common fight against a common enemy: international terrorism.
The tragic events of last week have deeply touched the feelings of all Albanians around the world, who have expressed their strong indignation toward the perpetrators of these criminal acts and share the pain and grief of the American people for the thousands of innocent victims. On Sept. 14, thousands of Albanians joined a silent march in the capital of Albania, Tirana. The marchers, including Albanian leaders, U.S. diplomats and expatriates, reached the central Skanderbeg Square at midday and stood silent before a national flag at half-staff for three minutes to honor the victims in the United States.
On behalf of the government of the Republic of Albania, I wish to express our sorrow and sympathy to all victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy. I express solidarity with the leadership of the Free World in combating the scourge of terrorism.

FATOS TARIFA
Ambassador
Republic of Albania
Washington

Don't blame God for terrorist attacks

Sept. 11 was a day of horror unparalleled in American history. The ruthless attack on our country has generated feelings of grief, revulsion and justifiable anger. Some of our learned Christian leaders have made statements to the effect that they don't know how such evil could occur; others have said that they do not know how a loving God could allow this; and still others say that this is a judgment of God on America, in response to the immoral behavior of some specific groups.
While I, like others, do not have the ultimate answer, I strongly disagree with the positions outlined above. God had nothing to do with this calamity. This is no more the judgment of God on America than the almost daily attacks on Israel are God's judgment upon that country. This was mass murder committed by a small group of single-minded individuals.
Those "leaders" who claim ignorance as to "how God could allow this" demonstrate, in my opinion, ignorance of a great fundamental truth: Man is a sovereign immortal. Sovereigns are, by nature, design and office, free to act as they please, when they choose, without external restraint.
It is the power of choice the ability to choose or free will which makes man sovereign. The rest of creation must operate according to design or instinct. Only man, as a free moral agent, has the ability to act according to his choices.
Why would God allow such a tragedy? God is not a cosmic cop. He put man in charge, and His plan is that man should be secure in his person and free from acts of aggression against his person. So committed to this principle is God that He ordained capital punishment to those who violate it.
This act of ruthless, merciless carnage is not the judgment of God, but one more example of man's inhumanity to man. Regardless of the motives attributed to them by their leaders or others, these men are mass murderers. Their actions cannot be, nor should they be, justified by any standard of civilized behavior. Their motive was not liberation, retaliation or even an act of war (such as the attack on Pearl Harbor). It was hatred, pure and simple.
Much will be made of the terrorists' religious convictions by commentators who understand little of what they affirm. No major orthodox religion professes to approve of the kind of hate demonstrated by these mass murderers. We must be clear in our understanding and exact in our approach. Since this small band of individuals acted of their own free will, it is the duty of every human being who opposes such acts to publicly condemn them and to provide assistance and support in bringing those responsible to justice.
Pray that our leaders will act with wisdom, courage and boldness. Pray for speedy resolution and swift justice. Pray for solace and comfort for those who mourn. Pray but don't blame God.

BEN KINCHLOW
Virginia Beach

Ben Kinchlow is the former co-host of The 700 Club.


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