Tags: 'State | Department | Lying' | About | Terrorism

'State Department Is Lying' About Terrorism

Friday, 24 May 2002 12:00 AM

The lengthy annual report, the first since the Sept. 11 terror attacks against the U.S., gives a regional and country-by-country overview of the fight against terrorism, terrorist groups, and terror attacks. This year it listed Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism.

But Dr. Aaron Lerner, director of Independent Media Review and Analysis in Israel, said this year's report on Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is so lacking that it needs to be investigated by a congressional oversight committee.

"They've reached a new low," said Lerner in a telephone interview. "I am hoping that the appropriate forces in the Senate and House will use this report as a vehicle to really do house cleaning. The State Department is lying in reports mandated by the Senate."

Traditionally, the White House and Congress have been viewed as more pro-Israel leaning, while the State Department has been seen as more pro-Arab.

Periodically, the State Department is obliged by law to submit reports to Congress on whether the Palestinian Authority has complied with its agreements with Israel – a finding that has an impact on U.S. funding for the PA.

"The State Department has consistently lied, saying that the PA complied," Lerner charged.

"It had a very detrimental effect," he said. "It sent the signal [to the PA] that they could keep violating their agreements. It had a very negative impact on the situation in the Middle East."

Pointing to this year's global terrorism report, Lerner noted that only a handful of terror attacks against Israelis are listed in Appendix A, which is titled "Chronology of Significant Terrorist Incidents, 2001."

According to the appendix note, "An International Terrorist Incident is judged significant if it results in loss of life or serious injury to persons, abduction or kidnapping of persons, major property damage, and/or is an act or attempted act that could reasonably be expected to create the conditions noted."

Nine attacks against Israelis in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are listed on the State Department's 2001 roster, whereas Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs listed 81 attacks, according to research conducted by IMRA.

One of the glaring omissions, Lerner said, was the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze'evy last fall.

The report lists an attack in Kashmir, India, noting, "A grenade thrown at the private residence of the Forest Minister fell short of its target, landing outside the main gate, resulting in no injuries or damage."

But, "When an Israeli minister is murdered in cold blood it doesn't count," Lerner said.

According to Lerner, another problem with the report is that it "completely ignores" any role of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat in terror attacks.

"Yasser Arafat is the paymaster for terrorist activities in this area," Lerner charged. "Contrary to the impression given [that the situation is] out of control, [Arafat] is a micro-manager that signs off on every dime that goes to terror."

The report said that even though there is evidence that elements linked to the PLO are involved in terror, "there is no conclusive evidence that the senior leaderships of the PA and the PLO were involved in planning or approving specific acts of violence."

On his recent trip to Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took with him a dossier of documents, which among other things showed Arafat's signature on requests to give funds to known terrorists. The documents had been seized primarily from PA headquarters in Ramallah during Israel's recent military incursion into PA areas.

Palestinian officials have charged that the documents are forgeries.

But according to State Department counter-terrorism coordinator Frank Taylor, the U.S. does not doubt their veracity.

"We don't have any question about the authenticity of the documents," Taylor told reporters at a briefing when the terrorism report was released. "We are continuing to study those documents and to draw our own conclusions about what they mean. We have not completed that."

The report notes that the Tanzim gunmen cells – responsible for many shooting attacks – are made up of militants from Arafat's Fatah faction and that some of them are involved in the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, which has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks.

But Taylor said that Washington has not "been able to determine or to make final judgment on how far up and who in the PA may be or could be and had been directing this activity."

Earlier this week, the Israeli government said the report had whitewashed Arafat's role in terrorism.

The report also charged, "Israel's destruction of the PA's security infrastructure contributed to the ineffectiveness of the PA [and] significantly reduced Israeli-PA security cooperation, and a lax security environment allowed Hamas and other groups to rebuild terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian territories."

Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs in Washington criticized the idea of

"The State Department appears to believe that: (a) recognizing that terrorists have a state-like support system in the PA; (b) going after their infrastructure; and (c) making local sponsors of terrorism angry; will (d) make terrorists less willing to stop themselves and more likely to blow themselves and Israelis up," JINSA said in a statement this week.

"So, perhaps Israel should: (a) take a low profile, (b) die quietly, and (c) try not to make the bad guys mad," the statement said. "It didn't work when the US tried it."

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The lengthy annual report, the first since the Sept. 11 terror attacks against the U.S., gives a regional and country-by-country overview of the fight against terrorism, terrorist groups, and terror attacks. This year it listed Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan...
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2002-00-24
Friday, 24 May 2002 12:00 AM
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