- The Washington Times - Monday, October 29, 2001

Winning Afghan people should be priority

Thank you for the Oct. 27 report on the capture and execution of mujahideen commander Abdul Haq by the Taliban ("Guerrilla leader's death 'regrettable,' but not major loss," World). The report accurately reflected this Afghan hero's history, with one exception. He did not, as claimed in the article, fight in the anti-Soviet jihad under the command of the notorious Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He was a commander under Mulwai Khallis' Hezbi Islami, a jihad formation with the same name but separate and different in its command structure and political leaning.

Mr. Haq, in fact, was publicly critical of U.S. favoritism toward the Pakistani intelligence-backed Hekmatyar, who once introduced Osama bin Laden to a Western journalist as "a great hero of the jihad and the man who handles our finances."

As the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan from 1988 to '89, I shared Mr. Haq's exasperation with the U.S. policy of secretly favoring fundamentalist commanders, which reflected a misconceived emphasis on military strategy and de-emphasis of political and humanitarian considerations.

Mr. Haq's criticism of our bombing campaign reflects a similar concern that the United States is again failing to weigh political and humanitarian concerns in the context of its military strategy.

Our policy must recognize our need for the support of the Afghan people in the international effort to eliminate the al Qaeda network and the Taliban. To win that support, we must pursue a course that convinces the Afghan people that we perceive them as allies and not as regrettable but ultimately acceptable collateral damage.


Falls Church

Trimble concerns about IRA arms was 'selfish sideshow'

The latest move in the Irish conflict arms disposal by the IRA prompts editorial praise of loyalist leader David Trimble ("Trimble's Triumph," Editorials, Oct. 26). You believe he resigned in protest over the failure of the IRA to move on arms.

In fact, several months ago, Mr. Trimble ignored the IRA's proposal to disarm. Not for the first time, he walked away from his democratic responsibilities.

We believe Mr. Trimble hoped to bring down the Belfast agreement and came perilously close to doing so. He wanted a better deal and direct rule from London, but the IRA's actions have put an end to his selfish sideshow. Now let us see what he can whine about for his next act.


National president

Ancient Order of Hibernians

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Butchers of Tiananmen Square are now allies?

At last week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Shanghai, which Taiwan boycotted, President Bush stood united with the Chinese communist dictator, President Jiang Zemin. Even more appalling, Mr. Zemin warned Mr. Bush to avoid "innocent casualties" in Afghanistan, a country with whom the United States is at war for its role in the murder of thousands of Americans on Sept. 11.

In his search for allies, Mr. Bush continues to coddle enemies while snubbing real friends of the United States, such as Israel and now Taiwan. The butchers of Tiananmen Square continue to threaten Taiwan with invasion, conducting war games to frighten the island nation into surrendering its freedom and democracy.

After Sept. 11, Mr. Bush let the world choose: Either you are with us or with the terrorists. He continues to violate his own principle. His choice to befriend Asia's biggest terrorist China has added yet another unfriendly member to his coalition against terrorism.


New York

Don't generalize about Muslim response to attacks

In an era in which we Americans and our global neighbors need to nurture a greater understanding of each other's beliefs, customs and ways of life, columnist Diana West does nothing to forward that dialogue. In her Oct. 26 Op-Ed column, "Islam is in Dark Ages," she does nothing more than propagandize and try to marginalize the world's 1.2 billion Muslims.

Mrs. West asks where the world's Muslims were in categorically condemning the horrific acts of Sept. 11. During this time, the 7 million American Muslims were organizing hundreds of blood drives all around the country. We had thousands of mosque open houses in which we had interfaith dialogues and explained the true essence of Islam.

Since Sept. 11, I have been on numerous TV and radio shows in the Midwest categorically condemning the acts and educating people about Islam. I know there are hundreds of Muslims better than me who have been doing the same on national television. We have written hundreds of editorials and been interviewed countless times, always repeating emphatically, "This is not Islam, and we condemn it."

Alas, that still is not enough. Will it ever be enough? Must there be a Muslim on every street corner with a megaphone repeating over and over again, "This was not Islam"?

When Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City, did we question the motives of Christians? When Yigal Amir assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, did we say that all Jews were against the Middle East peace process? Of course not. That would have been absurd.

Why is it that when most people commit crimes, their religion is not brought into it, but when a Muslim commits a crime, Islam is the enemy?

We live in a country that offers more freedoms than any country in the world, but this deadly double standard has to stop. On behalf of the American Muslim community, Mrs. West: We condemn any acts of terrorism as against Islam.


Midwest communications director

Council on American-Islamic Relations

St. Louis

Diana West is simply cloaking her bigotry when she says that all Muslims should fill the streets to show unity in the war against terrorism. She thinks Muslims are not genuine in their offerings of condolence for the Sept. 11 attacks. She is old enough, however, to know that just like Christians and Jews, no two Muslims are alike. Some Muslims took to the streets to condemn the attacks, while some sat and wept in front of their TVs. Some Muslims thought the United States got what it deserved; others berated them for thinking such a thing. Some Muslims were too busy protecting their families from the backlash to grieve, while others drove to New York to help feed the firefighters. Personally, I am the type of man who has difficulty expressing my innermost feelings; I did not offer any condolences for the attacks, but my heart wept an ocean.

Mrs. West, If you hate Muslims for not expressing the same feelings as you, what makes you different from Osama bin Laden?


Spring, Texas

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