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Letters to the Editor 10/1

Profiling excludes several types of terrorists

This is in reference to Mr. Wade Tatangelo?s Thursday column article “To profile passengers or not to profile,” which explained why it?s logical to profile Muslims and Arab Americans. Mr. Tatangelo highlighted some incidents as evidence to back his statements and explained how it was worth the risk to profile them in order to ensure safety.

Mr. Tatangelo suggests that he means no bias and is merely being objective, which is why I?m going to highlight some facts and incidents in order to refute his statement and prove why he is using biased evidence to reach his “logical” conclusion. That bias against Arab Americans and Muslims had always existed even before the Sept .11 attacks.

It is popularly believed that “Muslims” or “Islamic Terrorism” are the source of the majority of the terrorism in the world. After all, why were Muslims suspected for the TWA 800 and the Oklahoma bombing? However, the statistics given in the State Department?s report “Pattern of Global Terrorism, 1999” which was published on May 1, 2000, states that “Of the 169 anti-U.S. attacks reported for 1999, Latin America accounted for 96, Western Europe for 30, Eurasia for 9 and Africa 16. The Middle East accounted for only 11 and Asia for 6.”

Most of these attacks were bombings. The report?s figures for the total number of terrorist attacks by region indicate that in recent years, Latin America and Europe have each accounted for a greater number of terrorist attacks than the Middle East and Asia combined ?1999 is consistent with this pattern.

Not only that, your article fails to point out that “terrorist” activity in the Middle East is principally directed not at the United States, but at Israel, a country that is illegally occupying the territory of several others (I really wonder why people keep on forgetting this particular fact?).

Your article also fails to mention the Israeli-controlled “South Lebanon Army,” a sub-state group that frequently carries out attacks on Lebanese civilians, seizes and tortures noncombatant coercion against Lebanese civilians, which, by the way, were expelled in May 2000 by Hezbollah guerrillas from Lebanon.

This “army” has not been called “terrorist” despite its activities, and its omission from the discussion about terrorism in the Middle East helps put the blame on Muslims and also omits a non-Muslim role in the terrorist activities, thus giving you an excuse to profile Muslims.

Not only that, but you fail to observe that a majority of “terrorist activities” in the Middle East are not against America, but are directed against “Israeli occupation” (which included South Lebanon until May 2000), “Turkey?s repressive policies” by the Kurds and the PKK. None of these activities appear to directly threaten the United States.

Such violence is related to local political conflict and not to generalized “hatred of the West” as it has been popularly portrayed by the media. My point here is that the Middle East and Asia are not the “locus of terrorism against the United States” despite the Sept. 11 attack; why else would we get the support of Muslim countries against bin Laden?

Let me also point out that the actual size of bin Laden?s operation is just an assumption, so you can?t use that argument since no substantial evidence has ever been provided. Also, if we look at the past history of the U.S. government, these specific claims have often turned out to be exaggerated or false, i.e. the bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan.

Did you know that the U.S. government chose not to contest a lawsuit brought against it by the owner of the factory who wanted to recover control of his assets frozen by the United States on the grounds that he was linked to bin Laden?

Much terrorism, which includes bombings and kidnappings, is committed in Colombia and Peru by leftist-rebels and right-wing paramilitary groups.

American citizens and commercial interests have been attacked partly for ransom money to help finance insurgencies and partly to attack Americans and their property and abroad, but these attacks get less attention than groups with Arab or Muslim orientations. Moreover, Colombia and Peru are not designated as major threats to the United States.

I wonder why the media fails to cover this.

There seems to be a clear bias here, otherwise, before the attack on Sept. 11, TWA 800 and Oklahoma City were both linked to Muslims and, even though the allegations turned out to be false, they were victimized by repressive measures such as the use of secret evidence which does not even allow the accused to defend themselves (Whatever happened to “due process”?) and passenger profiling.

Also “increased Islamic terrorist” attacks were falsely linked with the month of Ramadan without any evidence, thus creating hysteria against Arab Americans and Muslims.

An excellent example of the bias is the media sensation caused by the arrest of Ahmed Ressam at the U.S.- Canadian border in late 1999, allegedly for carrying explosives. This caused increased harassment of Muslims and Arabs by airlines and Arabs with visa violations were treated as “terrorist suspects.” Not only that, but for two weeks it was top news, and there was much speculation of his links to bin Laden, as well as about the global Muslim conspiracy against the United States.

Yet, on December 28, 1999, the very year Ressam was arrested, an American Airlines mechanic was arrested for allegedly having a large arms and explosives cache in his home. This man, with access to commercial aircraft, also allegedly had white supremacist and racist literature in his home.

And yet, after brief mentions only on the day of his arrest, the story disappeared. No endless speculation about his motives, “no terrorist experts” questioning him about being part of a wider conspiracy.

This double standard is very strange, given that in 1999, the deadliest attack on U.S. soil was by Tim McVeigh.

Not only that, but there is no mention in his article about “feared violence by millennialist Christians,” who, back in 2000, were presented as extremists or loonies, and were not generalized as representatives of “Christian terrorism.”

There is a clear double standard that exists and there is a lot of evidence for it. If Mr. Tatangelo wants to focus on anti-U.S. terrorism, then he should also profile Latin Americans and white supremacists because the threat of in-land terrorism originating from there also exists.

The truth is that barbarism has no ethnicity and the Sept. 11 attacks only helped create a justification for a bias against Arab Americans and Muslims that had already existed long before we were all shaken and distressed.

  • Adnan Arif is a senior majoring in marketing and management information systems.

    Professor a poor, misleadingrepresentation for USF

    This is the first letter of what could be many. On Wednesday, USF professor Sami Al-Arian appeared on The O?Reilly Factor, which airs on Fox News. I sat there in amazement as Bill O?Reilly interviewed Mr. Al-Arian. O?Reilly and Al-Arian discussed Al-Arian?s relationships with known terrorist leaders. Al-Arian described the relationships as ones of intellectual colleagues. I, for one, believe that Mr. Al-Arian should not be held accountable for the acts of men he once knew that were living here in America.

    However, Mr. Al-Arian must be held accountable, like all of us, for his own actions. Near the end of the interview, Bill O?Reilly asked Al-Arian about a speech Al-Arian gave in 1988 in Cleveland. Here is a sampling of the speech, “Jihad is our path ? Death to Israel ?”

    Jihad is the holy war for the militant Muslims. Bin Laden explains the terrorists attacks that have happened over the last decade as “this is jihad.” I am not accusing Mr. Al-Arian of being a terrorist. His own words have defined him as a racist.

    “Death to Israel” ? those words can not be tolerated at an institution of higher learning. These words can not be tolerated by the students, faculty and administration of a public university that is trying to grow and become well respected in this nation. This man caused the University of South Florida to be portrayed in a negative light. There can be no room at this school for men with hidden agendas.

  • Michael F. Fulford is a junior majoring in business management.