- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2001

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that made Sept. 11, 2001, one of the bloodiest days in American history, President George W. Bush has met with the leaders of almost every civilized nation that can offer substantive help in prosecuting a worldwide campaign against terrorists. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan apparently feels slighted and has invited us to seek his help instead. It's help we don't need.

Just days before terrorists hijacked four airliners and killed more than 6,500 Americans and hundreds of other nationals, Mr. Annan's merry minions gathered in Durban, South Africa, to pillory the United States and Israel at their so-called World Conference Against Racism. Now, this same, self-described "world diplomat" is waging a major public relations campaign aimed at allowing the United Nations to lead a global response to the threat posed by international terrorism.

In a Sept. 21 opinion piece in the New York Times, Mr. Annan baldly stated that Sept. 11 was "an attack on all humanity, and all humanity has a stake in defeating the forces behind it." He then boldly suggested that when it comes to responding to the attack and deterring future acts of terrorism, "The United Nations is uniquely positioned to advance this effort." If the pain we feel wasn't so great and if the danger we face wasn't so serious, Mr. Annan's proposal would be laughable.

Unfortunately, that hasn't prevented some from embracing the Annan proposal as a way out of prior commitments made to President Bush to join the United States in dealing forcefully with terrorists and their supporters. On Sept. 24, while Mr. Bush was in the White House Rose Garden describing new financial and economic weapons for shutting off funding for terror, Mr. Annan was in New York presiding over a scaled-down convocation of the U.N. General Assembly. He used the occasion to urge that all countries cement "the ties among nations and not subject them to new strains," and reiterated that "United Nations conventions already provide a legal framework for extradition and prosecution of offenders and the suppression of money laundering."

The "SG," as his staff lovingly refers to him, was no sooner finished with his diatribe undermining U.S. counterterrorism efforts, than Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov rose to urge that the U.N. lead any global action against terrorism "as an indispensable instrument for maintaining international peace" and preventing "an erosion of international law." Hogwash.

Apparently, Messrs. Annan and Ivanov think we should set aside the U.N.'s lack of concern when terrorists attacked the USS Cole in October 2000, killing 17 and wounding 39. Evidently, they want us to ignore the U.N.'s deafening silence after the June 1996 terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that killed 19 and wounded more than 500. And perhaps they think we have forgotten the U.N.'s muted response when a terrorist killed two and wounded three others at the CIA Headquarters in January 1993. But then, those who died then were just Americans serving their country.

Now, in one day of carnage, terrorists have killed people from 63 nations and, in Afghanistan, the Taliban has threatened to execute any U.N. relief worker who uses a computer or communications equipment. Suddenly, Kofi Annan and his cronies want the U.N. to take the lead and grant "global legitimacy" to the struggle against "the unspeakable horror" of terrorism. It would be a terrible mistake.

Not only does the United Nations have an abysmal record of expressing "righteous outrage" when it comes to Americans dying at the hands of terrorists, but the U.N. itself has contributed to the problem for decades. The 59 "Camps" administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, have long been used as recruiting centers for terrorists. The Islamic Jihad Organization, Abu Nidal, Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda have all had free rein in these training grounds for decades. Elsewhere around the world, though it gets scant attention, the U.N. record is, if anything, worse.

In Italy, a military prosecutor is investigating accusations that U.N. "Peacekeepers" from Denmark and Slovakia have been purchasing Ethiopian and Eritrean child prostitutes. In Cambodia, "Commander" Kofi's 15,000 U.N. troops are reportedly responsible for $500 million in prostitution. In Somalia, the U.N.'s planetary paladins are said to be complicit in the torture and deaths of hundreds. And in Bosnia, where United Nations troops disregarded the cry of "murder" while thousands perished in Srebrenica in July 1995, there are fresh charges of U.N. official complicity in the drug trade.

This is the United Nations that Kofi Annan wants to "lead the fight against terrorism." By its record, the U.N. has earned the right to be ignored. Mr. Annan's plea should fall on deaf ears in Washington.

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist and the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance.

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