- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 9, 2004

NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a tough new anti-terrorism resolution yesterday aimed at stemming attacks against civilians by denying terrorists safe havens, weapons, financial resources and freedom of movement.

The resolution calls on all nations to prosecute or extradite persons or groups affiliated with terrorist activities and sets up a working group to consider imposing measures similar to those already in place against members of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

“The statement is that under any and all circumstances, the intentional targeting of civilians is wrong, bombing schools, bombing places of worship, car bombs driven into crowds of children, taking hostages, beheading people, the targeting of people who are noncombatants, civilians is wrong, and it’s criminal,” U.S. Ambassador John C. Danforth said.

“That is a big principle, and we sort of, you know, pussyfooted around this for a long time,” Mr. Danforth said after the vote.

The vote came at the end of a week that has seen scores of civilians killed by Islamic militants in Egypt, Pakistan and Iraq.

In their public remarks yesterday, council diplomats denounced such acts of terrorism around the world.

Russian Ambassador Andrei Denisov, whose government submitted the resolution, partly in response to last month’s massacre of more than 330 people, more than half of whom were children, at a school in southern Russia, said all terrorist acts are a crime “and should be given the harshest punishment.”

The council response, he said, “further strengthens the essential coordinating role of the United Nations in the international campaign against the terrorist threat.”

The document was circulated with the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Romania as co-sponsors.

The resolution includes potential landmark language that could eventually define terrorism — thus breaking a stalemate in the world body, where Muslim nations have demanded an exemption for so-called “freedom fighters.”

The resolution condemns “criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.”

Such acts “are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature,” the resolution says.

The council’s two Muslim members, Algeria and Pakistan, opposed language in the resolution that they said would make it a crime to fight in a liberation war.

That issue was settled with compromise language that calls on nations to prevent and punish “criminal acts” against civilians “to provoke a state of terror.”

“While we all agree that acts against civilians are terrorist acts, there is no similar consensus on what are the rights of people struggling against foreign occupation,” said Munir Akram, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Israeli U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman said the resolution and a separate council statement strongly condemning the latest beheading in Iraq and attacks in Egypt and Pakistan “sends out a very loud and clear signal to the rest of the world that the United Nations is determined to fight terrorism wherever it comes from and wherever it takes place.”

Although the resolution was widely praised, it drew fire from the human rights group Amnesty International, which warned that its language is “so broad and vague that peaceful political or human rights activists can easily be detained, prosecuted or extradited under its binding provisions.”

Amnesty International “is particularly concerned that the resolution calls on states to bring to justice or extradite any person who ‘supports,’ ‘facilitates’ or who even ‘attempts to participate in the … planning [or] preparation of terrorist attacks.’ ”

“This language casts the net so wide that people, including human rights advocates or peaceful political activists, can easily and unintentionally fall victim to the measures advocated in the resolution,” the rights group said.

Moscow initially had proposed much harsher language, including a registry of suspected terrorists, beyond the one already established for al Qaeda and Taliban members.

The resolution now simply calls for a working group to study the matter, including an asset freeze, arms embargo and other strictures.

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