- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 14, 2002

A leading Senate Republican said yesterday that suicide attacks could spread to this country because representatives of some terrorist organizations that have "fostered suicide bombings" are now living in the United States.
Sen. Jon Kyl confirmed warnings former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave U.S. officials in Washington last week that the United States, like Israel, could face the horror of suicide bombings if such acts of terrorism are not stopped in his country.
"I think Netanyahu is correct. You've got to stop terrorism or it will spread," said Mr. Kyl, Arizona Republican and a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence on CNN's "Saturday Edition with Kate Snow."
Asked if suicide bombings could occur on American soil, the lawmaker said, "Yes, it could happen. As a member of the Intelligence Committee, I can tell you there are organizations every bit as bad, if not worse, than al Qaeda, and they have a presence in the United States, and they have fostered suicide bombings."
Mr. Kyl was not asked by his interviewer to identify those organizations.
But Palestinian Islamic miitant groups that have taken responsibility for some of the recent massacres in Israel have included Hamas; Palestinian Islamic Jihad; Hezbollah; Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a new group directly linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement; and the PFLP, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Mr. Kyl said there is considerable concern in Congress about the possibility of suicide bombings erupting in this country, and that he himself addressed that possibility in a position paper on April 5.
In the position paper, the Republican lawmaker discussed the tough response that could be expected if the United States faced almost daily suicide bombings at "crowded shopping malls in Denver, Cleveland, or Scottsdale [Ariz]," or other terrorist atrocities that "threatened our existence."
"The American people would demand strong action, and our government would be entitled to take it," Mr. Kyl wrote, adding:
"There should be no question, then, that Israel has that same right and obligation to act to protect its people."
Mr. Kyl expressed concern that groups in the Arab world that sponsor terrorism would be "encouraged to export violence and hatred to the United States," if "we suddenly compromise the clarity of our war against terrorism" and excuse Palestinian terrorists for "acts of murder aimed at [Israeli] civilians."
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, interviewed on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields," was not asked about Mr. Netanyahu's warning that suicide bombings could spread to this country.
But Mr. Biden did say he thought it was "inappropriate" for Mr. Netanyahu to have been invited to Capitol Hill to lobby against the Bush administration's efforts to pressure Israel to withdraw from West Bank Palestinian cities it entered in response to suicide bombings and other Palestinian terrorist attacks. The intent of the Israeli incursions has been to root out terrorist cells in the Palestinian territories.
Reminded that a fellow Democrat, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, was one of those responsible for inviting Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Biden said, "I think it was inappropriate to give a forum to Bibi in the United States Capitol for the purpose of countering the initiative of the president of the United States."
He added that the former Israeli prime minister's visit was an attempt to "undercut" Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's mission to the Middle East.
The televised interviews with Mr. Biden and Mr. Kyl were conducted before the announcement of Mr. Arafat's denunciation of terrorism in a statement the White House had demanded. Neither senator was asked about the significance of that statement.
The Arafat statement called for immediate implementation of a shelved cease-fire plan prepared by CIA Director George J. Tenet. But Mr. Biden said yesterday he believes both the Tenet plan and one drafted by former Sen. George J. Mitchell, Maine Democrat, are "no longer relevant."
Mr. Biden said the Bush administration has been too focused on "tactical" responses to the Middle East crisis, at the expense of "strategic" solutions. What is needed is a "broad outline for a final settlement," he said.
Mr. Kyl questioned why the White House has focused so much public attention on getting Israeli forces to withdraw from Palestinian areas and so little on the outcome of Mr. Powell's attempts to get leaders of Arab states "to stop supporting terrorists." The Republican lawmaker said Mr. Powell apparently "didn't get very far" in that campaign.

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