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Go Back: Home > Earth Island Journal > Issues > Spring 2002 > A Response to Terror

A Response to Terror

Stop All Terrorism: Including US Terrorism

"Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or 'disappeared' at the hands of governments or armed political groups. More often than not, the United States shares the blame."

- Amnesty International, 1998



The US has a long history of financing and training its own terrorist armies, including anti-Castro Cubans, the anti-Sandinista Contras and Osama bin Laden and other anti-Soviet Afghan rebels. US presidents have authorized the subversion and overthrow of numerous foreign governments.

     The CIA has murdered - or attempted to assassinate - a litany of foreign leaders including: Iraqi General Abdul Karim Kassem, Congolese President Patrice Lumumba, South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh, Cuban President Fidel Castro, democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende and Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi.

     In March 8, 1985, it is widely speculated that the CIA tried to assassinate Sheik Mohammed Fadlallah by exploding a car bomb outside a Beirut Mosque. The blast killed 81 innocents.

     In 1989, 27,000 US soldiers invaded Panama to seize General Manuel Noriega (a former CIA "asset" who rebeled against US meddling in Panama). In the opening salvo of "Operation Just Cause," US bombs rained down on three civilian neighborhoods - Colon, San Miguelito and El Chorillo- killing between 2,000 and 4,000 civilians. Some 20,000 survivors were left homeless.

     In Nicaragua, the US secretly funded an illegal war against the Sandinista government by funding the Contras, a group of terrorists that targeted civilians for death and financed its operations through drug trafficking.

     On April 28, 1987, Ben Linder, a 27-year-old American environmental activist, was murdered in a Contra ambush while working on a small hydropower project near San Jose de Bocay. Two Nicaraguan friends, Sergio Hernandez and Pablo Rosales were also gunned down. Ben was first wounded by a grenade and then shot at point-blank range in the head.

      "This was not an accidental death," former UN Ambassador Andrew Young declared at Ben's funeral. "There were eight other foreign volunteer workers killed before Ben Linder. Approximately 100 medical workers were killed. And a Baptist Center burned to the ground. There were more than 300 school teachers that have been killed." Young concluded with this observation: "The United States of America cannot consider itself a bastion of freedom and human dignity if it continues to support the likes of these Contras...."

      "During my four years as a Contra director," Contra leader Edgar Chamorro later testified, "it was premeditated policy to terrorize civilian noncombatants to prevent them from cooperating with the [Sandinista] government. Hundreds of civilian murders, tortures and rapes were committed in pursuit of this policy, of which the Contra leaders and their CIA superiors were well aware."

     The US mined Nicaragua's harbors in violation of international law and CIA-backed Contras attacked the port city of Corinto. Nicaragua brought these crimes to the attention of the World Court and, in 1987, the court ruled that the US was guilty of supporting and directing terrorist acts. The US was ordered to pay Nicaragua $17 billion in damages for lost lives and property. The Reagan Administration ignored the World Court ruling.

     The US is not the only Western nation that has engaged in state-sponsored terrorism. On July 10, 1985, two French secret agents bombed and sank the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in a New Zealand harbor. The bomb was set to explode 30 minutes before midnight while the crew (including several Americans) was asleep onboard. Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira died in the attack. When France's role in the attack was revealed, the government was forced to pay Greenpeace millions in reparations.

     What would have happened had we applied Bush's anti-terrorist strategy to this crime? France not only "harbored" these terrorists, it financed, trained and directed them. Would it have helped matters if the US had bombed Paris?

   

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