- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

Leaders in the Arab world fear that the terrorist attack on America on Tuesday, and any U.S. reprisal against Muslims in Afghanistan or elsewhere, is likely to further inflame Islamist radicals and destabilize pro-American governments in the Middle East.
"Governments will worry about their own radical groups at home getting ideas about this," said Georgetown University professor John Esposito. "Countries in the Middle East like Egypt had to deal with their own radical groups."
Rafik Khoury, a columnist for Lebanon's Al-Anwar newspaper, said the kind of forceful U.S. response many expect could feed the "terrorism" that motivated the attacks.
One of the prime suspects for organizing Tuesday's suicide attacks, Osama bin Laden, began his anti-Western jihad, or holy war, to protest the presence of U.S. and other non-Muslim forces in Saudi Arabia since the end of the 1991 Gulf war.
Countries that have recently faced threats by Islamic radicals include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Algeria, said Mr. Esposito, a leading authority on the Islamic world and author of "The Islamic Threat."
Other places with radical Islamic movements include Pakistan, Turkey, the Philippines, Indonesia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Chechnya.
While leaders of all Muslim countries except Iraq have condemned Tuesday's attack, many people in those countries said the attacks are a way to punish America for supporting Israel.
The Islamic terrorist networks of bin Laden and other radical groups were deluged with volunteers imbued with hatred of America after the Gulf war.
Even though Egypt sent troops to join the U.S.-led coalition to drive Iraq from Kuwait, many Egyptians and other Arabs sided with Iraq.
Several of the terrorists who plowed hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Tuesday were of Egyptian descent.
They may be linked to the radical Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, listed as a "close partner of bin Laden's al-Qaida [the base] organization" by the State Department's 2000 Global Terrorism Report.
The group seeks to overthrow the Egyptian government as well as attack U.S. and Israeli interests, the State Department said.
Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy said that "in the early 1990s, Egypt was the subject of a terrorist campaign that has subsided."
He said tension and anti-American sentiment have been rising in the Arab world due to frustration over the deaths of about 600 Palestinians in clashes with Israel, "more than any real antipathy to the United States."
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday spoke with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, urging them to quickly meet and try to end the bloody conflict that has thrown the Middle East into turmoil for the past year.
But an Israeli official said that even if the Israeli-Palestinian peace process had remained on track, Tuesday's attacks would have taken place.
He said that deep-seated anti-Western beliefs drive terrorism in the Muslim world and that the militants hate the prospects of an Arab-Israeli peace even more than the current violence.
America's allies Egypt and Jordan swiftly condemned the suicide attacks. Even the governments of Iran, Libya, Syria and Sudan — all four on a State Department blacklist of states that sponsor terrorism — offered their condolences.
Iraq, which the United States has regularly bombed since a U.S.-led coalition drove its forces from Kuwait in 1991, was a notable exception. Iraq used its media to hail the attacks, saying the "American cowboy" deserved them for "crimes against humanity."
Most Iraqis have developed deep hatred for the United States after living for 11 years under a crippling U.N. economic embargo imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
Several Islamist organizations, while no friends of the United States, also condemned the attacks.
Egypt's main fundamentalist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, said the attacks "contradict all human and Islamic values."
Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim cleric Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a spiritual guide to Hezbollah, said: "We reject methods of this sort. No rational person can accept any people being exposed to what the American people have been exposed to."
Editor in Chief Galal Duweidar of Egypt's semiofficial al-Akhbar newspaper said the attacks were Israel's fault.


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