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2/13/03 - HAMAS THREAT - 2003-02-13

A leader of the terrorist group Hamas has issued a threat against the United States and other Western countries. If the U.S. and its allies take action to force Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction, said Sheik Ahmed Yassin [shake AH-mehd yah-SEEN], “Muslims should threaten Western interests and strike them everywhere.” Sheik Yassin, the so-called “spiritual leader” of Hamas, made the threat in a letter released to reporters on February 7th. He falsely claimed that any military action against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq would be “a Crusaders’ war” against Islam by “the envious West and the U.S. first among them.”

The truth, of course, is quite different. If the U.S. leads a coalition, it will be for the purpose of disarming Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction. This has nothing to do with religion. If there is an aggressor in the region, it is Saddam Hussein, who waged brutal wars against Muslims in Iran and in Kuwait. And by his repressive rule, he continues to wage war against the Muslim people of Iraq. By contrast, the U.S. led the coalition that liberated Kuwait a dozen years ago. And as President George W. Bush said, “the day [Saddam Hussein] and his regime are removed from power will be the day of [Iraq’s] liberation.” As for the U.S. war against al-Qaida and other terrorists, said President Bush, “Our nation is waging a war on a radical network of terrorists, not on a religion and not on a civilization. . . . We thank the many Muslim nations who stand with us against terror -- nations that are often victims of terror, themselves.”

Hamas, as President Bush has pointed out, “is one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world today.” It calls for the total destruction of Israel, and up to now, Hamas has generally conducted its terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. But the statement by Sheik Yassin indicates that Hamas is now calling for terrorist attacks against the U.S., its friends and allies.

Sheik Yassin’s threat shows why the world must unite in opposing all terrorists, not just some of them. This means not only al-Qaida, but also Hamas, Hezbollah, and other groups that carry out murderous attacks on civilians. As President Bush said at the United Nations after the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the U.S., “It is our task. . .to provide the response to aggression and terror. We have no other choice.”