Middle East Research and Information Project: Critical Coverage of the Middle East Since 1971

Terrorism

Deflating Middle East Extremism

Joel Beinin 08.10.2006

President Bush and many other supporters of the current Israeli assault on Lebanon and its reoccupation of the Gaza Strip justify these military actions on the grounds that Hamas and Hezbollah do not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Negotiating with “terrorists” is impossible, they claim, because Hamas and Hezbollah exist only to destroy Israel.

Bush’s Flawed Flypaper Theory

Chris Toensing 07.29.2005

Forget for a moment how shamelessly President George W. Bush tried to manipulate Americans’ emotions by invoking September 11 six times during his recent prime-time sales pitch for staying the course in Iraq. There is no need to recall the reports finding no connection between that day’s terrorist attacks and Iraq, and no call for repeating that Iraq was not in danger of becoming a “safe haven” for al-Qaida until after it was invaded. The president doesn’t really claim otherwise.

The Death and Life of Jarallah Omar

News of the shooting deaths of three American health professionals working for a Southern Baptist mission hospital in Yemen follows closely on the heels of the very public murder of a highly regarded figure in the Yemeni opposition.

Jarallah Omar, deputy secretary general of the Yemeni Socialist Party, was assassinated December 28, 2002, minutes after delivering a conciliatory speech to the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, known as al-Tajammu` al-Yemeni lil-Islah or simply Islah.

My Hairdresser Is a Sniper

Two months ago, my hairdresser confessed to me that he was a sniper. During his last trip to downtown Jerusalem, Jake told me, he had seen sharpshooters on top of all the buildings.

"I had never noticed them," I admitted. "How did you know they were there?"

"Well, if you really want to know," he said haltingly, "I was a sniper during the first intifada. They used to put me on top of a building and say, 'See that guy in the yellow shirt? Take him out.' Now the Palestinians are doing the same thing in our cities, only using live bullets instead of rubber-coated ones."

The Band Played On

On May 8, a bomb blast rocked central Karachi, killing at least 14 people, including a number of French nationals. This suicide bombing comes on the heels of the brutal murder of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, allegedly by Islamist extremist groups who had recently fallen out of the favor of the Pakistani military government. Similar explosions have hit churches and other places of worship around the country this spring. In Karachi, Shia professionals have been assassinated in escalating sectarian violence that has gripped the larger cities of Pakistan.

Ruminations on Political Violence

Texts Reviewed

Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998).
Joseba Zulaika and William A. Douglass, Terror and Taboo: The Follies, Fables and Faces of Terrorism (New York: Routledge, 1996).
Meredith Turshen and Clotilde Twagiramariya, eds., What Women Do in Wartime: Gender and Conflict in Africa (London: Zed Books, 1998).
Suha Sabbagh, ed., Palestinian Women of Gaza and the West Bank (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998).

Adams, The Financing of Terror

James Adams, The Financing of Terror, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986.)

 

I don’t care what anyone says: I liked Claire Sterling’s 1981 classic, The Terror Network. Sure, the plot was weak and the characterization a bit sketchy — but what imagination! Soviet-supplied attack helicopters in the service of the Irish Republican Army! A Palestine “floating on oil”! A KGB terrorist conspiracy to subvert the free world! Ronald Reagan must have liked it too, because he reportedly asked the United States Information Agency to make copies available worldwide.

Melman, The Master Terrorist

Yossi Melman, The Master Terrorist: The True Story Behind Abu Nidal (New York: Adama Books, 1986).

 

Yossi Melman has pieced together “an interim report” that provides, within limits, a substantial sketch of Abu Nidal and his Palestinian fringe group, most widely known as the Abu Nidal group, or the Fatah Revolutionary Council. As the correspondent of the Israeli daily Ha-aretz, Melman covered the trial of Abu Nidal group members whose assassination attempt upon the Israeli ambassador in London served as Israel’s pretext for its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Melman uses that trial as both the primary source and the framework for The Master Terrorist.

Comprehending Terror

Let us begin with the dictionary definition of terror — “intense, overpowering fear” — and of terrorism — “the use of terrorizing methods of governing or resisting a government.” This simple definition has the virtue of fairness; it focuses on the use of coercive violence and its effects on the victims of terror without regard to the status of the perpetrator. Terrorism does not refer to the mutual fear of armed adversaries, but only to acts of intimidating and injuring unarmed, presumably innocent civilians. Therein lies the revulsion over terrorist acts. This definition leaves out the question of motivation. Motives have varied, and so have methods. Many terrorists in our time have no identifiable goals.

From the Editors (March/April 1985)

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