Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|You don't have to go to Afghanistan to find terrorists|
|12/19/01 at 11:07:29|
|You don't have to go to Afghanistan to find terrorists|
The United States has led the world in its self-declared 'War against Terrorism' abroad, but continues ignoring terrorist groups on its home front.
Some avowed supporters of terrorism are much less elusive than the Afghan-based Al Qaeda group and their leaders easier to track down than Osama Bin Laden, the chief suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
One only needs to look on America's own turf.
Extremists are plotting their violence not in remote mountain and jungle strongholds, but in easily accessible places such as Long Beach and Orange County in California and Miami, Florida.
The irony isn't lost on American civil rights organizations.
"We say that terrorism is not good for some and bad for others," Max Lesnik, leader of Miami human rights group Alianza Martiana, told The Washington Post after terrorists struck Washington and New York.
"The fight against terrorism should start in Miami, here at home. They don't have to go to Afghanistan to find terrorists."
Unlike Bin Laden and other sworn enemies of the United States, the U.S.-based groups are waging terrorism campaigns against former communist enemies – Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. None of these countries pose a threat to the United States.
Since the end of the Cold War, Washington has gradually normalized diplomatic relations with all three governments in Indochina.
Cuba remains Washington's only enemy targeted by U.S. terrorists. American Cubans continue to plot the violent overthrow of Fidel Castro's government in Havana.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is fully aware that the Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF) – which staged a bloody coup attempt in Phnom Penh last November - is based in Long Beach, under the leadership of American-Khmer Chhun Yasith.
Like-minded anti-communist Vietnamese exiles, calling themselves the Government of Free Vietnam, plot the violent overthrow of Hanoi's government from Orange County.
Both groups openly admit to deploying their insurgent forces in Cambodia and Thailand, with the aim of carrying out sabotage attacks designed to overthrow the two governments now accepted by Washington.
Free Vietnam's leader, Nguyen Huu Chanh, recently boasted in an interview that his supporters planted several bombs around Hanoi in October to protest the arrest of a dissident.
A member of the group was arrested and charged in Thailand for placing explosives outside the Vietnamese Embassy in Bangkok on June 19.
Still, the United States has not included them on its list of worldwide terrorist organizations – to Vietnam's annoyance.
In Laos, the normally sleepy and peaceful capital of Vientiane has been rocked this year by a series of bomb attacks, believed to be financed and supported by U.S.-based Laotian exiles who want to overthrow the communist regime.
Exile groups, once suspected of receiving covert support from Washington during the Cold War, continue to conduct cross-border raids from Thailand.
In Cuba, Castro has long complained that his country has been the victim of terrorist acts carried out by Cuban exiles based in Miami, who he says are frequently backed by the U.S. government's Central Intelligence Agency.
Barbados deputy prime minister Billie Miller reminded the United Nations General Assembly in mid-November that in 1976 a Cuban airliner was blown up shortly after takeoff from his Caribbean island, killing 73 passengers.
Speaking just after the 25th anniversary of the attack, Miller condemned the lack of legal action against the Cuban émigré perpetrators. Although reportedly well known to U.S. intelligence and police authorities, the suspects who allegedly planned this attack are yet to be punished.
A key figure in a network of terrorism, drug trafficking and an illegal war against Nicaragua was identified in a Miami Herald investigation as the central figure in 11 bombing attempts against Cuba's tourist industry in 1997.
South Florida Cuban exile groups were shown to have collected at least $15,000 to help finance the bombings.
The democratically-elected Cambodian government is also dismayed by Washington's lack of action against the CFF. After a coup attempt in November 2000, Cambodia issued an arrest warrant against CFF leader Chhun Yasith and requested American cooperation to find, detain and extradite him.
Although there is no extradition treaty between the United States and Cambodia, any attempt to plot a violent overthrow of another government is recognized by America as a violation of its Neutrality Act.
"We expect that America will recognize one standard for justice, not two," argued Cambodia's Deputy Minister of Information Khieu Kanarith.
The U.S. State Department has declared that it "strongly deplores and condemns" the abortive coup attempt, "and will seek to prosecute those involved."
But one year on, Yasith continues to operate from his Orange County office.
Hanoi's government is equally frustrated that its enemies in California enjoy a similar impunity.
FBI agents twice visited the headquarters of the Government of Free Vietnam in early November and spent hours questioning members about its activities, said the group's leader, Chanh Huu Nguyen.
Nguyen, 52, claims he has not broken any U.S. laws by conducting operations from other countries, including Thailand, and states that its U.S. office is "only a liaison office."
Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara is not impressed by any suggestion that the United States is unable to take legal action against these groups.
"How can the United States say it promotes democracy and peace around the world if it lets these groups operate?" he asked.
A former U.S. ambassador in Central America who is dealing with the issue, quipped: "If they do it, it's terrorism; if we do it, it's fighting for freedom."
Southeast Asia's longest-serving leader, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad, has also issued a call for an international definition of terrorism.
In a recent speech, he said: "If we want the world to join in the fight against terrorists, then we must ensure that a terrorist is a terrorist to all and everyone at all times."
Source: Middle East Times
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