- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2008

UNITED NATIONS The head of a United Nations panel looking into security risks said Thursday the global organization must adapt to becoming a target of attacks, especially following the bombing of the U.N. offices in Algeria.

“Our flag that used to be a protection is becoming now a target. And I’m not sure whether we have really absorbed that reality and acted on it,” veteran Algerian diplomat and U.N. troubleshooter Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters.

“People question the independence of the United Nations. They say, ‘It’s taking sides.’ A lot of people are some rightly, some not rightly angry with the United Nations,” he said.

Brahimi was appointed panel chairman by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in early February. Ban created the panel in response to the twin truck bombings in the Algerian capital, Algiers, that killed 17 U.N. staff and at least 20 other people on Dec. 11.

The Algerian government had initially opposed a U.N. probe, saying it was investigating.

But Brahimi suggested he had worked out a deal with the Algerian authorities to allow the investigation.

“My understanding now is that they are fully on board,” Brahimi said. “The Algerians and the U.N. have been victims of this terrorist attack, and they have both the same interests in understanding what has happened, why it has happened, and how to protect themselves in the future.”

An al-Qaida-affiliated group claimed responsibility for what was the deadliest single attack against U.N. staff and facilities since a 2003 attack on the world body’s headquarters in Baghdad. The top U.N. envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was killed in that attack, along with 21 others, most of them U.N. staffers.

Brahimi promised a vigorous examination of U.N. security issues in Algeria and elsewhere over the next six weeks, and said that his personal ties to that nation would not bias the panel’s work but would work to the U.N.’s benefit.

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