- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2003

Terrorists and heroes

The Algerian ambassador carefully considered the differences between terrorists and freedom fighters and rejected the moral equivalence that some pundits try to apply to both.

Ambassador Idriss Jazairy concluded that freedom fighters, regardless of their tactics, conduct a legitimate war against foreign occupation, while terrorists, who strike mostly civilian targets, pursue an illegitimate goal by trying to impose their will by force on a population.

Mr. Jazairy drew this distinction as he addressed guests at an Algerian Embassy reception to mark the 49th anniversary of Algeria’s declaration of independence from France, which marked the beginning of a bloody seven-year struggle.

The ambassador praised Algeria’s “visionary leaders” who led the northern African country to break “the shackles of colonial occupation.” France ruled Algeria from 1830 to 1962. France, which tortured captive insurgents and herded whole villages into camps, called the rebels “terrorists.”

Mr. Jazairy worried that “some commentators” today are blurring the distinction between freedom fighters and terrorists. Even the State Department, in its latest background report on Algeria, said “both sides used terrorist tactics” in the Algerian war of independence.

“We noted, therefore, with some concern in the aftermath of the dastardly attacks on the U.S. by terrorists on September 11, 2001, that some commentators in this country attempted to reinterpret history in the light of these tragic events,” he said.

“In the process, they fudged the difference between vile terrorists and noble freedom-fighters.”

Mr. Jazairy complained that the 1965 film “The Battle of Algiers,” which was screened at the Pentagon in August, “dubbed as terrorists those we consider heroes.” The Pentagon said the film is a lesson in “how to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas.”

“The outbreak of our liberation struggle caused a chain reaction across Africa, empowering peoples under colonial rule to claim and obtain the right to exercise their right to self-determination and to nationhood,” Mr. Jazairy said.

“At the time, we claimed this right for ourselves and for them, and we continue to claim the same right today for all peoples remaining under colonial rule.”

Closed in Sudan

The U.S. Embassy in Sudan, closed today for Veterans Day, will be shut for a week because of a threat to American interests in the eastern African country.

In Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Embassy and two consulates will remain closed for the rest of the week, after the Saturday night bombing of a housing complex in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain, home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, said it has no information about an imminent threat to Americans, after the British Embassy there issued a warning of a “high threat of terrorism” in the Gulf nation.

In the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, the embassy said the closure “is the result of a credible and specific threat to U.S. interests.”

“We urge all U.S. citizens in Sudan to exercise extra caution and to avoid gatherings of foreigners that may attract outside attention.”

The embassy also thanked Sudanese authorities for their cooperation but gave no further explanation for the announcement.

“The U.S. Embassy wishes to express its appreciation for the strategic support provided by Sudanese authorities in confronting the present threat,” the statement said.

In Bahrain, the embassy issued its statement to “counterbalance” the British warning.

“The embassy has reviewed all available threat indicators following [the Saudi] attack and has determined that there continues to be no credible threat information specific to Bahrain,” the statement said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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