- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

The devastating terror attacks that rocked New York and Washington yesterday will produce aftershocks that will be felt in U.S. foreign policy for decades to come.
President Bush faced intense pressure to respond to the attacks before U.S. officials could even hazard a guess as to who had orchestrated and carried out the world's worst act of terrorism.
"Everything changes," said Thomas Henriksen, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a specialist on states accused of harboring terrorists. "Terrorism has always been remote, but now it has touched us."
"This was clearly not an isolated attack," former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in an interview yesterday on CNN. "It can't be dealt with by just one retaliatory blow."
Foreign policy experts predicted a vastly heightened sense of urgency in the global war against terrorism. With much of the early speculation focusing on Islamic fundamentalist groups with links to Saudi financier Osama bin Laden, the attacks could foreshadow a profound change in the dynamics of the Middle East peace process.
Some predict that current U.S. laws forbidding the use of assassination and infiltration of suspect terrorist groups abroad may be amended or repealed in the wake of the attacks.
"There was clearly an intelligence failure of massive, international proportions here," said George Friedman, chairman of the Texas-based forecasting service Stratfor. "It really raises question of whether our intelligence capabilities are up to par."
As expressions of sympathy and outrage poured in from leaders around the globe, several pointed to the attacks as proof of the need to coordinate the response to terrorism. Many of the calls came from states who fear the resurgence of militant Islamic fundamentalist movements on their own borders.
Said Russian President Vladimir Putin: "What happened today underlines the relevance of the offer of Russia to unite the powers of the international community in the fight against terrorism, the plague of the 21st century."
Scrambling for clues yesterday, U.S. officials said in private briefings they suspected the attacks were the handiwork of bin Laden, whom intelligence officials accuse of running an anti-American terrorist network from his sanctuary in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is run by the Taliban, a strict Muslim fundamentalist movement.
"We need to call our allies on the carpet, especially those like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that recognize the Taliban," said Jim Prince of Control Risks Group, a former Middle East specialist for the House International Relations Committee and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, suggested yesterday that the United States must strike hard at the Taliban if bin Laden and his supporters are linked to the attack.
"Bin Laden sits in Afghanistan," said Mr. Barak. "We know where the terror sites are. It's time for action."
Taliban spokesman Wakil Ahmed Mutawakel denied in a brief press conference in Kabul yesterday that his government had any knowledge of yesterday's events. He condemned the attacks but said his own government had been the target of terrorist activity as well.
Pakistan's military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, issued his own statement condemning the "brutal and horrible" attacks in New York and Washington.
"The world must unite to fight against terrorism in all its forms and root out this modern-day evil," Gen. Musharraf said.
Ariel Cohen, a defense analyst at the Heritage Foundation, noted that U.S. relations with both Saudi Arabia and Yemen have been strained over friction in the investigation of past terrorist attacks on U.S. targets.
"We may be in for a period of protracted turbulence in the Middle East because of these attacks," said Mr. Cohen, although he and others cautioned that the identities of the terrorists still had not been determined.
Stratfor's Mr. Friedman said Israel, which is dealing with its own wave of suicide bombers in the latest violent stand-off with the Palestinians, could emerge as a "big winner" from yesterday's events.
"I can see this changing the whole dynamic of the American approach to that conflict," he said.
"If [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat had been counting on U.S. pressure on Tel Aviv on the terms of a cease-fire, he can pretty much forget it now. The whole game has changed," he said.
Several analysts and lawmakers said Mr. Bush was under pressure to respond more effectively than President Clinton did after previous bin Laden attacks, which they said had barely dented the Saudi terrorist's network.
"This cannot be a Clintonesque response, a slap on the wrist," said the Hoover Institution's Mr. Henriksen.
Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, has authored legislation to lift the ban on assassinations of foreign leaders deemed a threat to the United States. "We have to be smart about our retaliation," said Mr. Barr. "It needs to be swift and decisive."
Virtually every observer agreed that the attacks have pushed intelligence and security to the top of the American foreign policy agenda.
"This is the kind of shock that can be a turning point," said Edward S. Walker Jr., president of the Washington-based Middle East Institute and former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs.
"The fact that we are so vulnerable to such an extraordinarily well-conceived attack is going to bring a sense of urgency and cooperation to the terrorism issue that wasn't there before," he said.
* This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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