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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Analysis / A deadly common denominator

By Ze'ev Schiff


There is a line connecting this weekend's mass murder in a school in North Ossetia, the ongoing genocide in Sudan, the bomb blasts on Madrid trains, the bombing of Istanbul synagogues and the suicide bombings in Be'er Sheva. That line is Islamic - for the most part Arab - terrorism
and it endangers world peace, particularly as some of the organizations involved are trying to acquire nonconventional weapons, including nuclear arms.
This is not necessarily a 'clash of civilizations,' as a number of academic experts claim, because Islamic terrorists are carrying out murderous attacks against Muslims in Sudan, and against Muslim regimes such as Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. There is no chance of dealing with such terror without international cooperation. But such a combined effort cannot take place when most members of the United Nations support 'justified terrorism' if it is carried out in the form of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, while a blind eye is turned to the fact that countries like Syria and Iran fund terror operations and harbor the culprits. The massacre in North Ossetia also shows that there is no 'good' or 'bad' terrorism. It is also no coincidence that the last to offer assistance to those being butchered by Arab militias in Sudan are the Arab countries, including its neighbors.

The murder of children by terrorists in North Ossetia is shocking because of the large number of victims, but few remember the trauma of the attack against an Israeli school in Ma'alot nearly 30 years ago. Similarly, in that case, Palestinian terrorists took over the school and held scores of pupils hostage. Like in North Ossetia, the Ma'alot rescue effort hit a snag. The toll was 25 dead, among them 21 pupils. In both cases the murderers presented themselves and were recognized as freedom fighters.

The tendency is now to divert attention from the murderers to the failed attempt of the Russian forces that were rescuing the hostages. The root of the evil, and of the act of terrorism against civilians, lies in the premeditated takeover of the school, and the fact that the pupils were held hostage and were threatened with death if the colleagues of the terrorists were not released from Russian prisons.

The rescue operation in Russia has raised many questions because this is not the first time that dozens of hostages have been lost in that country as a result of an unimaginative and poorly executed action. In October 2002, more than 120 hostages were killed when Russian special forces stormed a Moscow theater where Chechen terrorists held hundreds of civilians. But the theater was only the second-choice target of the terrorists: The primary target had been a nuclear plant, but tight security there deterred them from carrying out their attack."