POLICY
 
 
INTERNATIONAL CENTER TO COMBAT TERRORISM
Terrorism is a scourge that needs to be tackled with a coordinated effort participated by all countries

From Shamim Ahmed Rizvi,
 Islamabad

Feb 14 - 20, 2005
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The timely proposal moved by Saudi Arabia for establishment of an international center to combat terrorism at the world level has won overwhelming support from all peace-loving countries of the world.

Inaugurating a four-day international conference on 'counter terrorism' held in Riyadh last week, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia said that the center will contribute greatly in dealing with the menace through exchange and instant transmission of information to prevent such attacks. He hoped that the conference will open a new chapter of effective international cooperation to curb terrorism in the world.

The conference was organized by Saudi Arabia, which began in Riyadh on February 5 is the first international moot of this scale to be held anywhere in the world to discuss this dangerous phenomenon and strive for developing a mechanism that can help the international community in dealing with this menace. The problem of terrorism is not confined to few countries it is an international phenomenon and has engulfed almost the entire world.

Saudi Arabia, hit by a wave of attacks by militants, in a draft declaration called for the establishment of an 'International Counter-Terrorism Centre" staffed by experts in order to share real time information to adequately prevent attacks.

"I call on all countries to set up an international center for combating terrorism. Those working in it would be experts in this field," Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz told delegates from some 50 countries and international bodies attending the four-day gathering. The center would "exchange and pass information instantly in a manner compatible with the speed of events and prevent them (terrorists attacks) before they occur," Abdullah said the fight against terrorism was linked to the fight against arms smuggling, drug trafficking and money laundering. "Hence, it would be difficult to prevail in our war on terrorism if it does not include a decisive confrontation with these three criminal networks," he said.

Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler said he hoped the conference would herald a new chapter in the global fight against terrorism. "I have great hope that this conference will open a new page of effective international cooperation to establish an international community free of terrorism, " he said.

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter which sits on the largest crude reserves, has been rocked by a spate of shootings and bombings by presumed al Qaeda extremists which have killed more than 100 people and wounded hundreds more since May 2003. Abdullah's "timely proposal for a global center was backed by Arab League Chief Amr Mussa, who said the league was prepared to help set it up.

"One of the main causes of violence is the frustration and anger created by despair of reaching just solutions to people's causes," said Mussa.

 

 

Arab Muslims and Western states are attending the conference, including the United States, whose delegation is led by homeland security advisor Frances Townsend, and Britain, whose team is headed by Edward Oakden, special representative for counter terrorism. International organizations on hand include the United Nations, The European Union and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), whose secretary general, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, called on the UN to "issue a resolution prohibiting the linking of terrorism with any religion." " This conference, attended by countries affiliated to various civilizations, religions and systems, proves that terrorism does not differentiate between civilizations, religions and systems when it selects its victims, he said. "We are currently in a war with terrorism and anyone who backs it or justifies it," said Abdullah, whose country has started cracked down on al Qaeda suspects since the wave of violence began 21 months ago. "We will press ahead with this (war) with God's help until we eradicate this evil." Abdullah warned that the global war on terrorism would be "bitter and protracted," but he said he was confident that "peace -loving forces" would ultimately prevail.

Terrorism is a scourge that needs to be tackled with a coordinated effort participated by all countries of the world. It's an epidemic that is fast eroding peace and sense of security in the people the world over. There can't be two opinions about the fact that it requires a center point to gather and analyse worldwide intelligence on terrorism for swift, coordinated and pre-emptive action to counter the menace. We hope that the center will bring sanity among the mighty powers and sense of security in the weaker countries. It's really unfortunate that the anti-terror war has been monopolized by the United States with obviously ulterior motives to intimidate, coerce, dominate and occupy smaller and weaker nations. The US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is the classic example of US designs under the garb of war on terror. It's time to restrain the United States from carrying out its imperialist ambitions to the detriment of international peace, security and stability. It is encouraging note that Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah has taken the initiative to hold the conference to discuss the measures for taking pre-emptive action against the terrorist activities.