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Explaining the unexplainable

If a terrorist wants to find out how to build a nuclear bomb all he needs is a good Internet search engine, said Fareed Zakaria, editor for Newsweek International, at USF Thursday.

Media representatives from Southeast Asia were among students, faculty and alumni that attended the lecture, ?The Politics of Rage ? Why Do They Hate Us?? in Cooper Hall. The journalists, from Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia were in the United States as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored visit to allow journalists from Muslim countries to see how Muslims are treated in the U.S.

Zakaria said that globalization and advances in information technology were being utilized by terrorist organizations like al-Qaida.

?One of the interesting things we noticed when raiding the al-Qaida safe houses in Kabul, and in the caves of Afghanistan, was that Osama bin Laden and his associates had been planning a serious bio-weapons programs,? Zakaria said. ?The hundreds of pages of documents were not stolen from government laboratories but was stuff downloaded from the Internet.?

Zakaria said the recent terrorist attacks were an example of terrorists groups using religion to further their causes.

?How is it possible to get people motivated by an intense sense of mission, a cause of rage, of passion? Because, right or wrong, that is what it is. Osama bin Laden has an answer, and that is religion,? Zakaria said.

Zakaria said the television pictures of Muslims celebrating after Sept. 11 were not representative of Muslims generally.

?There are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. If all of them were on bin Laden?s side, we would be in serious trouble,? Zakaria said.

Zakaria said that the ?curse? of oil destabilized the Middle East. He said the revenue from oil allowed Middle East regimes to neglect the modernization of their societies and create a fertile breeding ground for terrorism.

?The governments of the Middle East do not need to tax the people ? they have the wealth in the ground,? he said. ?It is the inverse of the American Revolution ? no taxation, no representation.?

After the lecture a lengthy question and answer session was conducted.

Alumnus Pilar Saad asked what the United States could do to promote democracy in the Middle East.

Zakaria said that promoting democracy was not the correct policy at the moment.

?Some of these societies are not prepared for democracy,? Zakaria said. ?First there needs to be a process of liberalization, first the economy, then political openness, and a greater level of freedom of speech to move towards democracy,? Zakaria said.

Senior Musat Alyahin stood up and delivered an impromptu speech during the question and answer session.

?Everyone in the Middle East sees America as nothing but a country who is supplying Israel with bullets, with Apaches, with F-16s,? Alyahin said. ?They don?t see America as a country that fights for freedom.?

Zakaria did not respond to Alyahin?s comments.

Senior Ada Chicas said the lecture had helped her understanding of the processes behind terrorist recruitment.

?He described the seduction of desperate people,? she said.

Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin, assistant editor for TV3 in Malaysia, said the lecture had a Western bias.

?It tended to express the general Bush administration view, an American view,? he said. Kamaruddin said he believed that Zakaria had previously worked as a presidential adviser.

Zakaria said that military solutions alone were not sufficient to defeat terrorism.

?At the end of the day if there are people willing to die for a cause, there aren?t enough jails in America, and there aren?t enough bullets in the American arsenal,? Zakaria said. ?You have to confront terrorism, but you also have to confront it politically and intellectually.?