Terrorism & Bush Jr Administration
Terrorism was an important theme during the presidential election campaign of George Bush Jr in 2000. It figured in his election platform and in the studies undertaken by think tanks associated with the Republican Party before the election.
The earliest position with specific reference to Pakistan and terrorism figured in a paper on Afghanistan prepared by the conservative Heritage Foundation of Washington DC in July, 2000, which said: “Washington’s neglect of Afghanistan’s festering problems has allowed the Taliban to dominate Afghanistan and export terrorism, revolution, and opium. Through disengagement, America squandered its influence in the region and left itself with few options besides hurling cruise missiles at Osama bin Laden’s easily replaceable training camps and bracing for further terrorist attacks.
“This ‘chuck and duck’ approach is doomed to failure. Even if the United States were fortunate enough to eliminate bin Laden by military means, other Islamic radicals will continue to threaten American security and American allies from Afghan bases as long as the Taliban prevails there.
The ultimate US goal should be a stable, tolerant, inclusive Afghan Government that poses no threats to its neighbours or to its own ethnic and religious minorities.
“Rather than focusing narrowly on bin Laden, the United States should focus on uprooting the Taliban regime that sustains him and others like him. Washington should develop a regional strategy to halt Pakistan’s support of the Taliban, build up Afghan opposition to the Taliban, and encourage defections from its ranks. The ultimate US goal should be a stable, tolerant, inclusive Afghan Government that poses no threats to its neighbours or to its own ethnic and religious minorities. To accomplish this, Washington should cooperate with the broad anti-Taliban coalition that surrounds Afghanistan and help to forge a broad anti- Taliban coalition inside Afghanistan.”
The paper made the following recommendations:
- “Specifically, the United States should:
- Maximise international pressure on the Taliban, including additional United Nations sanctions, to halt its support of terrorism;
- Pressure Pakistan to end its support of the Taliban;
- Provide military, diplomatic, and economic support to the anti-Tali ban opposition;
- Forge a regional coalition to support the anti-Taliban opposition and support an Afghan peace settlement;
- Build an internal Afghan consensus for peace;
- Designate the Taliban as a terrorist organisation to set the stage for declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism if it continues to support the Taliban;
- Provide humanitarian aid to non-Taliban areas of Afghanistan;
- Appoint a special envoy for Afghanistan to raise the priority of Afghan policy within the US Government and coordinate US policy with other governments;
- Allow the Afghan opposition to reopen the Afghan embassy in Washington, which has been closed since 1997;
- Revive bipartisan congressional activism on Afghanistan similar to the broad coalition that supported aid for the Afghans during the Cold War.”
Subsequently, in a fairly comprehensive statement on terrorism, Bush’s election manifesto, finalised in August 2000, said: “America faces a new and rapidly evolving threat from terrorism and international crime. Meeting this threat requires not just new measures, but also consistent policies and determination from America’s leaders.
America faces a new and rapidly evolving threat from terrorism and international crime. Meeting this threat requires not just new measures, but also consistent policies and determination from Americas leaders.
“Many established terrorist groups faded away in the 1990s after the Cold War ended. But the decade also witnessed a series of enormously destructive attacks against America. Increasingly, terrorists seem to be motivated by amorphous religious causes or simple hatred of America rather than by specific political aims. Terrorism crosses borders easily and frequently, including US borders, and cannot easily be categorised as either domestic or international.
“Republicans support a response to terrorism that is resolute but not impulsive. The most likely highly destructive terrorist attack remains a \/arge bomb hidden in a car or truck. Yet, as with the rest of our defence posture, we must prepare for the most dangerous threats as well as the most likely ones. Therefore, the United States must be extremely vigilant about the possibility that future terrorists might use weapons of mass destruction, which are increasingly available and present an unprecedented threat to America. In many instances, the military will have to rethink its traditional doctrine and begin to focus on counter-terrorism, human intelligence gathering, and unconventional warfare.
“Republicans endorse the four principles of US counter-terrorism policy that were laid down originally by Vice President George Bush’s Commission on Combating Terrorism in 1985. First, we will make no concessions to terrorists. Giving in simply encourages future terrorist actions and debases America’s power and moral authority. Second, we will isolate, pressure, and punish the state sponsors of terrorism. Third, we will bring individual terrorists to justice. Past and potential terrorists will know that America will never stop hunting them. Fourth, we will provide assistance to other governments combating terrorism. Fighting international terrorism requires international collaboration. Once again, allies matter.
“Republicans in the Congress have led the way in building the domestic preparedness programmes to train and equip local, state, and federal response personnel to deal with terrorist dangers in America. The administration has not offered clear leadership over these programmes. They remain scattered across many agencies, uncoordinated and poorly managed. We will streamline and improve the federal coordination of the domestic emergency preparedness programmes.
“We will ensure that federal law enforcement agencies have every lawful resource and authority they require to combat international organised crime. A Republican administration will work to improve international cooperation against all forms of cross-border criminality, especially the burgeoning threat of cyber-crime that threatens the vitality of American industries as diverse as aerospace and entertainment.
“Enhance efforts to promote international cooperation against violent Islamist extremist networks. Take an active role in organising intelligence cooperation ““ if necessary, playing an intermediary role among countries that do not want to be seen openly sharing information.”
“Nowhere has the administration been more timid in protecting America’s national interests than in cyberspace. Americans have recently glimpsed the full vulnerability of their information systems to penetration and massive disruption by amateurs. A sophisticated terrorist or adversary government could potentially cripple a critical US infrastructure, such as the electrical grid or a military logistics system, in time of crisis. A new Republican government will work closely with our international partners and the private sector to conceive and implement a viable strategy for reducing America’s vulnerability to the spectrum of cyber threats, from the adolescent hacker launching a contagious computer virus to the most advanced threat of strategic information warfare.”
Christina Rocca, who has replaced Karl Inderfurth as the new US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia in the Bush Administration, was a member of a bipartisan group of Washington academics and former government officials constituted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which, in a report on West Asia submitted on January 16, 2001, advised the incoming Bush Administration on terrorism as follows:
“In recent years, state sponsorship of terrorism has become less prominent, just as the region has witnessed an increased threat from non-state actors. The new President should lend high-level encouragement to counter-terrorism cooperation among US allies and friends in order to deal with threats, new and old.
“Learn from anti-terrorism success stories. These include the successes of Turkey against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), Egypt against the Gama’a Islamiyya, and, to some extent, Algeria against the GIA (Groupe Islamique Armee).
“Insulate anti-terrorism efforts from peace process dynamics. Work to convince all parties in the peace process that anti-terrorism efforts should be delinked from the ups-and-downs of diplomacy. In this regard, Jordan presents a positive model, whereas the record of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been uneven. When lax on counter-terrorism, the PA needs to pay a price in terms of its relationship with the United States.
“Strengthen response to continuing challenges. Enhance efforts to promote international cooperation against violent Islamist extremist networks. Take an active role in organising intelligence cooperation – if necessary, playing an intermediary role among countries that do not want to be seen openly sharing information. Work with European and Middle Eastern countries to apply collective pressure on the few remaining states that provide refuge or turn a blind eye to such terrorists, ie Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“Make more effective use of existing US policy instruments. Follow through on official pledges to pursue terrorists for their crimes even when diplomatically inconvenient, for instance, the Khobar Towers bombing suspects in Iran. At the same time, be prepared to use military force against” countries that provide safe haven to terrorists.
Report for 2000
The report on the Patterns of Global Terrorism during 2000 prepared by the Counter-Terrorism Division of the State Department, which was released to the media on April 30, 2001, by General Colin Powell, Secretary of State, made the following salient points:
“In 2000, South Asia remained a focal point for terrorism directed against the United States, further confirming the trend of terrorism shifting from the Middle East to South Asia. The Taliban continued to provide a safe haven for international terrorists, particularly Osama bin Laden and his network, in the portions of Afghanistan it controlled.
Islamic extremists from around the world continued to use Afghanistan as a training ground and a base for operations for their worldwide terrorist activities”¦
“The Government of Pakistan increased its support to the Taliban and continued its support to militant groups active in Indian held Kashmir, such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), some of which engaged in terrorism.
“Islamic extremists from around the world – including North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Central, South, and Southeast Asia – continued to use Afghanistan as a training ground and a base for operations for their worldwide terrorist activities in 2000. The Taliban, which controlled most Afghan territory, permitted the operation of training and indoctrination facilities for non-Afghans and provided logistics support to members of various terrorist organisations and Mujahideen, including those waging jehads (holy wars) in Central Asia, Chechnya, and Kashmir.
“Throughout 2000 the Taliban continued to host Osama bin Laden despite UN sanctions and international pressure to hand him over to stand trial in the United States or a third country. In a serious and ongoing dialogue with the Taliban, the United States repeatedly made clear to the Taliban that it would be held responsible for any terrorist attacks undertaken by bin Laden while he is in its territory.
“¦Pakistan Governments support of the Kashmir insurgency, and Kashmiri militant groups continued to operate in Pakistan, raising funds and recruiting new cadre. Several of these groups were responsible for attacks against civilians in Indian-held Kashmir”¦
“In October, a terrorist bomb attack against the USS Cole in Aden Harbour, Yemen, killed 17 US sailors and injured scores of others. Although no definitive link has been made to bin Laden’s organisation, Yemeni authorities have determined that some suspects in custody and at large are veterans of Afghan training camps.
“In August, Bangladesh authorities uncovered a bomb plot to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a public rally. Bangladesh police maintained that Islamic terrorists trained in Afghanistan planted the bomb.
“Massacres of civilians in Kashmir during March and August were attributed to LET and other militant groups.
“The Indian Government continued cooperative efforts with the United States against terrorism. During the year, the US -India Joint Counter-Terrorism Working Group – founded in November 1999 – met twice and agreed to increased cooperation on mutual counter-terrorism interests. New Delhi continued to cooperate with US officials to ascertain the fate of four Western hostages – including one US citizen -kidnapped in Indian-held Kashmir in 1995, although the hostages’ whereabouts remained unknown.
“Pakistan’s military government, headed by General Pervez Musharraf, continued previous Pakistan Government support of the Kashmir insurgency, and Kashmiri militant groups continued to operate in Pakistan, raising funds and recruiting new cadre. Several of these groups were responsible for attacks against civilians in Indian-held Kashmir, and the largest of the groups, the LET claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack against an Indian garrison in Sri nagar in April.
The United States remains concerned about reports of continued Pakistani support for the Talibans military operations in Afghanistan. Credible reporting indicates that Pakistan is providing the Taliban with materiel, fuel, funding, technical assistance, and military advisers.
“In addition, the HUM, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation, continues to be active in Pakistan without discouragement by the Government of Pakistan. Members of the group were associated with the hijacking in December 1999 of an Air India flight (Author’s comment: It was actually an Indian Airlines flight) that resulted in the release from an Indian jail of former HUM leader Maulana Masood Azhar. Azhar has since founded his own Kashmiri militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and has publicly threatened the United States.
“The United States remains concerned about reports of continued Pakistani support for the Taliban’s military operations in Afghanistan. Credible reporting indicates that Pakistan is providing the Taliban with materiel, fuel, funding, technical assistance, and military advisers. Pakistan has not prevented large numbers of Pakistani nationals from moving into Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban. Islamabad also failed to take effective steps to curb the activities of certain madrasas, or religious schools, that serve as recruiting grounds for terrorism. Pakistan publicly and privately said it intends to comply fully with UNSCR 1333, which imposes an arms embargo on the Taliban.
“The attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in October prompted fears of US retaliatory strikes against bin Laden’s organisation and targets in Afghanistan if the investigation pointed in that direction. Pakistani religious party leaders and militant groups threatened US citizens and facilities if such an action were to occur, much as they did after the US attacks on training camps in Afghanistan in August 1998 and following the US diplomatic intervention in the Kargil conflict between Pakistan and India in 1999. The Government of Pakistan generally has cooperated with US requests to enhance security for ‘US facilities and personnel.
“The designation of state sponsors of terrorism by the United States – and the imposition of sanctions – is a mechanism for isolating nations that use terrorism as a means of political expression. US policy seeks to pressure and isolate state sponsors so they will renounce the use of terrorism, end support to terrorists, and bring terrorists to justice for past crimes. The United States is committed to holding terrorists and those who harbour them accountable for past attacks, regardless of when the acts occurred.
The US Government has a long memory and will not simply expunge a terrorists record because time has passed.
“The US Government has a long memory and will not simply expunge a terrorist’s record because time has passed. The states that choose to harbour terrorists are like accomplices who provide shelter for criminals. They will be held accountable for their ‘guests’ actions. International terrorists should know, before they contemplate a crime, that they cannot hunker down in a safe haven for a period of time and be absolved of their crimes.
“The United States is firmly committed to removing countries from the list once they have taken necessary steps to end their link to terrorism. In fact, the Department of State is engaged in ongoing discussions with North Korea and Sudan with the object of getting those governments completely out of the terrorism business and off the terrorism list. Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan continue to be the seven governments that the US Secretary of State has designated as state sponsors of international terrorism.
“State sponsorship has decreased over the past several decades. As it decreases, it becomes increasingly important for all countries to adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ for terrorist activity within their borders. Terrorists will seek a safe haven in those areas where they are able to avoid the rule of law and to travel, prepare, raise funds, and operate. The United States continued actively researching and gathering intelligence on other states that will be considered for designation as state sponsors. If the United States deems a country to ‘repeatedly provide support for acts of international terrorism,’ the US Government is required by law to add it to the list. In South Asia, the United States has been increasingly concerned about reports of Pakistani support to terrorist groups and elements active in Kashmir, as well as Pakistani support, especially military support, to the Taliban, which continues to harbour terrorist groups, including Al-Qaida, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
“We also consider as acts of terrorism attacks on military installations or on armed military personnel when a state of military hostilities does not exist at the site, such as bombings against US bases in Europe, the Philippines, or elsewhere.”
Continued…: How Pakistan’s Proxy War Began – VII