Small World

Jewish World Review / August 24, 1998 / 2 Elul, 5758
A U.N. delegation, bottom left,
at a pharmaceutical
factory that was targeted
by American missiles.

Clinton Sent Right Message With Those Missiles . . .

By Richard Z. Chesnoff

THE SUPERCYNICS who insist Bill Clinton ordered Thursday's anti-terrorist attacks to draw attention away from Monicagate are dead wrong. But for the sake of argument, if it took a little dog wagging to get the Clinton administration to finally take firm defensive action against terrorists, then so be it.

The tough lessons our missile force delivered in Afghanistan and Sudan were long overdue. Terrorists understand only one language: toughness. What's more, as Secretary of State Albright succinctly put it, these criminals "have to learn that while they can hide, they can't escape."

To be sure, the host countries the U.S. targeted are busily moaning and groaning. But neither has grounds for complaint.

Afghanistan's extremist Taliban leaders who specialize in oppressing women, and whom we once supported when they fought the Soviets have been warned for months to stop giving anti-American terrorists sanctuary. That includes not only Osama Bin Laden's gangs, but other fanatics who target Americans.

Sudan, which still tolerates the slave trade and savagely oppresses its black Christian population, has prided itself on being one of the world's primary centers for terrorist training. Recent guest lists in Africa's largest country read like a veritable terrorists' Who's Who.

To name a few: the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Iranian-backed Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the outlawed Algerian Islamic Salvation Front, Tunisia's Nahda, Yemen's al-Islaq and Egypt's Gma'at Islamiya. Remember them? They bombed the World Trade Center and targeted other New York landmarks. What's more, their leader, blind cleric Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, entered the U.S. from Sudan and now is serving time in a U.S. prison.

All these groups have used training camps maintained by Sudan's Popular Defense Forces. That's the kind of activity that once helped Sudan win the dubious honor of joining Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria on the U.S. government's list of nations sponsoring international terrorism.

Then, of course, there's Osama Bin Laden himself. The Saudi megamillionaire terrorist took refuge in Sudan in the early 1990s when his own country tossed him out.

It took a lot of pressure from the United States to get the Khartoum government to finally invite him to leave in 1996. But he still has considerable holdings in Sudan and a financial hold over some important Sudanese officials (his closest political ties are with Sudan's de facto leader, Islamic extremist Hassan al-Turabi).

Intelligence sources tell me that while Bin Laden's fortune is spread among banks and front corporations from Switzerland to the gulf states, he still keeps major accounts in Sudan's Al Shimali Bank, using them to line the pockets of some Sudanese officials.

What happens now? There's no doubt terrorists plan new retaliatory attacks possibly on American soil. But that only means showing tougher resolve to battle them.

One way was shown on Thursday. Another is to cut off their financial support by getting nations and banks to freeze their assets. It also means new pressure on all countries that harbor terrorists.

That includes Iran and Syria, where Palestinian terrorists who have murdered scores of people in recent years including 13 Americans, like New Jersey student Alisa Flatow still operate and get support. Let them and their hosts learn they can hide, but they can't escape.

JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a senior correspondent at US News And World Report and a columnist at the NY Daily News.


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