The supreme court upheld the government's authority Monday to ban aid to designated terrorist groups, even if such support may be intended to direct groups toward peaceful and legal activities.
Once the State Department places a group on the list, it is illegal for Americans or others in the country to provide ''material support or resources'' to the group. The law also bars travel to the U.S. by representatives or by members of the group and freezes any assets that the organization has in U.S. jurisdictions.
The justices voted 6-3 to reject a free-speech challenge from humanitarian aid groups to the law that bars ''material support'' — everything from money to technical know-how to legal advice — to foreign terrorist organizations.
Human rights organizations say the law's ban on providing training and advice to nearly four dozen organizations on a State Department list squanders a chance to persuade people to renounce extremism.
Chief Justice John Roberts said in his opinion for the court that material support intended even for benign purposes can help a terrorist group in other ways.
I add my voice to the decision of the Supreme Court, as meeting with terrorist groups and giving them any form of support (even humanitarian) can have several negative consequences. These include the following:
- Terrorist groups who have a humanitarian wing can do different forms of money laundering to use the money given to them under the banner of a humanitarian "aid" to ultimately support their terrorism agenda.
- More humanitarian support for terrorist groups decreases the pressure on them to spend part of their own money to support the humanitarian needs of their own societies. This actually allows such groups to have more available money to spend on their violent activities.
- Giving humanitarian aid to these groups can help them improve their image among their local population and thus allow them to get more votes in democratic elections. For example, giving support to Hamas in the form of a humanitarian aid can help them to win in the next election against the PLO. To the contrary, depriving these groups from such an aid can help turn their society against them for failure to provide the basic needs of the population. The latter approach can also send a clear and strong message to the societies that choose terrorists to represent them (such as the Palestinians who chose Hamas in their last election), that violence and barbarism will not solve their problems.
- Giving aid or support to Islamist terrorist groups under the banner of humanitarian purposes can be perceived by the jihadists as a sign of weakness by the U.S. The jihadists can interpret this humanitarian American hand as a failure of its anti-terrorism and military measures and thus may aggravate the desire of the radical groups to further attack the “weak” U.S. at the military front.
- Giving the terrorist the advantage of getting humanitarian support for their local population is a form of acknowledging the legitimacy of these groups. This can make such terrorist groups more reluctant to accept the decisions of the international community as they simply get what they want in the form of aid and some element of recognition without accepting the international laws.
Depriving the terrorists of all forms of support including the humanitarian one is crucial to defeat terrorism. Any form of support or recognition given to these groups can be counterproductive and can actually give more fuel to the radicals to continue using violence.
This is like giving a humanitarian aid to the Nazi regime in Germany during WWII. It can only help this regime to continue fighting.
The above decision of the Supreme Court is certainly a correct one to help the U.S. defeat terrorism. The next step that needs to be addressed by both the executive and legislative branches is the formal definition of “material support” to include ideological support in the phenomenon of terrorism.
Persons, organizations, and governments that promote publishing or promoting material that undervalue the lives of non-Muslims and dehumanize them must be held accountable for giving material support for terrorism, as these texts help terrorists to lure young Muslims and recruit more people to their groups.
For example, best-selling mainstream Islamic books that are written by leading Muslim scholars and mainstream Islamic institutes and mosques promote the idea that the lives of non-Muslims have less value than that of Muslims. Also, they promote the idea that fighting and killing non-Muslims to subjugate them to Islam is a religious duty and that dying as a martyr in violent jihad is the greatest deed for a Muslim person.
This form of teaching to young Muslims is probably one of the — or the
— most important support factor for the terrorists, as it guarantees a continuous breeding ground for jihadists and suicide bombings.
A decision by the Supreme Court to consider the promotion of such an ideology and value system that disrespects human life as a material support for the terrorist groups is desperately needed.
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