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3/7/03 - EFFORTS AGAINST TERRORISM - 2003-03-07

Citizens from some ninety countries died in the attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. Israel and other countries of the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and Asia have suffered terrorist attacks often for years. The bombing of the Bali nightclub district in Indonesia in October 2002 demonstrates that terrorism is also a serious threat in Southeast Asia.

The U.S. and its allies are fighting global terrorism with all means at their disposal. In Afghanistan, the U.S.-led coalition is using military force to root out remnants of al-Qaida and the extremist Taleban regime that shielded it. But many terrorist threats will be dealt with through joint law enforcement and intelligence efforts by countries around the world.

Efforts by Singapore and Malaysia are a case in point. Jemaah Islamiyah is a terrorist group with cells throughout Southeast Asia. In 1997, Jemaah Islamiyah began developing plans to target Western interests in Singapore. In December 2001, Singapore authorities arrested fifteen Jemaah Islamiyah members, some of whom had trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan. They had planned to attack the U.S. and Israeli embassies and British and Australian diplomatic buildings in Singapore. And Malaysia is currently assisting Indonesia in identifying those responsible for the 2002 nightclub bombing in Bali.

Another way to fight terrorism is to work with moderate Muslim governments to reverse the spread of extremist ideology. That strategy includes promoting market-based economies, good governance, and the rule of law. It is harder for terrorists to operate in countries that are democratic and prosperous.

The U.S. and its allies are committed to fighting those who strive to subvert the rule of law and bring about radical change through violence. The battle is against those who share the misguided belief that killing, kidnapping, extorting, and wreaking havoc to terrorize people are legitimate forms of political action. As U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Marie Huhtala said, “The war against terrorism is not a sort of clash of civilizations. Rather it is a clash between civilization itself and those who would destroy it.”