- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2005

In defense of the Arab Bank

Allow me to present facts to counter some of the misinformation contained in Joel Mowbray’s Op-Ed (“The case against Arab Bank,” Dec. 30). First, the Arab Bank has been allowed by Israel to operate in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Permission to operate would have been rescinded if the bank were indeed involved in funding “terrorism.” Moreover, it is not clear why the bank, with 400 branches and offices in more than 30 countries, would choose New York of all places to channel funds to “terrorists.”

And what is Mr. Mowbray’s source for this bit of startling news? Why, of course, documents captured by the Israelis.

Where and when were these “documents” captured is left unstated. This is somewhat reminiscent of all those documents conveniently found after the fall of Baghdad.

But the worst bit of disinformation is to confuse the intifada with terrorism. The right to resist brutal occupation is enshrined in international law and practice, and that is precisely what the Palestinians have been doing: exercising their God-given right to defend themselves.

Finally, do not let us kid ourselves that the “legendary” trial lawyer Ron Motley and his crew are fighting terrorism. They are just working at lining their pockets.


Chappaqua, N.Y.

Bangladesh: A resilient country

Our attention was drawn to two articles: “Historians salute first heritage park” in Bangladesh by Salim Mia and “Bomb culture threatens Bangladesh” by Dan Morrison (World, Saturday). These articles indicate that your readers want to know and learn more about Bangladesh. We’re a moderate Muslim, democratic country the size of the state of Wisconsin, with a population of 120 million.

The hallmark of Bangladesh’s success is women’s empowerment through micro-credit programs. Bangladesh is acclaimed for its contribution to the U.N. peacekeeping operations worldwide and as a staunch ally of the United States in fighting global terrorism.

Mr. Morrison found it convenient to dwell afresh on the theme of religious extremism and terrorism, but informed opinion does not support his views. The State Department’s Patterns of Global Terrorism report for 2003 did not find any organized terrorist group’s presence in Bangladesh.

We thank The Washington Times for its keen interest in Bangladesh. We would hope your readers might be given the opportunity to know about the courage and resilience of the people of Bangladesh.

Our people are fighting poverty and natural calamities, managing the devastation of recent flooding with their own resources and helping tsunami-hit Sri Lanka and Maldives.

The current government of President Iajuddin Ahmed has been successful in drastically reducing violence and remains committed to curbing corruption that has marred the country in the past.

Bangladesh acknowledges with gratitude the support and friendship of the people and the government of the United States.


Press minister

Bangladesh Embassy


Timely inaugural columns

Tony Blankley’s Wednesday Op-Ed column (“Espionage by any other name” ) was particularly fitting at this time of our national inauguration, as was the Op-Ed column by Helle Dale (“Letting freedoms ring”) and the Commentary column by Cal Thomas (“Inaugural anxieties”), both also on Wednesday.

Mr. Blankley’s column, in response to egregious disclosures by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, shows that Mr. Hersh’s action probably qualifies as espionage, or at least reflects the “creeping normalcy of subversive journalism” among the Washington political class. Barely six column inches away, Mrs. Dale attributes such threats to our democratic system to “Human failings — like ambition, envy and greed.”

Mr. Thomas’ column provides a broad and chilling rationale for our current national anxiety, including an abbreviated review of the recent book by Harvey Kushner: “Holy War on the Home Front.” Mr. Thomas expands on the author’s contention that “our government and media are not doing enough to protect us.”

All three columns on the same day, in unison, stress and underscore the inherent threats to and fragility of our democracy’s foundation.

Perhaps Mr. Blankley might be an alarmist, but most certainly on this day, he’s in good company. May all three keep up the good work.


Stafford, Va.

Watchdog barks at U.S.

Human Rights Watch in our recent World Report argued that the Bush administration’s use of torture and other coercive interrogation undermines the defense of human rights. It’s not, we explained, that the United States is the worst abuser in the world — the straw man you knock down in your Tuesday editorial “Watching the watchdogs” — but that it’s the most influential. When most other governments abuse prisoners, an international prohibition is violated, but when the United States does so, the prohibition is also undermined. To make matters worse, the credibility of the U.S. government — a traditionally important promoter of human rights — is weakened.

You note that the United States benefits from “a capacity for vigorous self-criticism.” That, unfortunately, has not been evident in the Bush administration’s handling of the prisoner abuse scandal. Its flurry of self-investigations has been designed to avoid serious scrutiny of whether the policy decisions taken by senior officials created an atmosphere that encouraged the coercive interrogation of prisoners. That’s why we need an independent, special prosecutor.

You also complain that our discussion of North Korea — clearly one of the world’s worst abusers — appears on page 309 of our 527-page, 60-country World Report. For that, you should blame the alphabet.


Executive director

Human Rights Watch

New York

Heading off terrorism

The National Intelligence Council, as reported in “Attacks by Islamists projected to continue” (Nation, Jan. 14), makes several critical points about global terrorism that should not be overlooked.

First, the NIC predicts the continued growth of radical Islam and the numbers of terrorist sympathizers, financiers and collaborators. As a result, the NIC says terrorist groups are becoming self-sufficient, no longer needing state sponsors to plan and carry out operations.

Second, the report states, “The success of the U.S.-led counterterrorism campaign will hinge on the capabilities and resolve of individual countries to fight terrorism on their own soil.” However, the NIC notes that many countries lack the ability and will to cooperate with the United States.

Finally, the NIC correctly points out that the Middle East will not be the only battleground between Islamist extremists and reformers; the report notes that Western Europe; Central Asia; and Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, are also areas of growing concern. This places particular importance on U.S. efforts to help Indonesians recover from the tsunami disaster.


Vice president

Terror Free Tomorrow




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