Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How to Win Against Terrorists? Don't Fight a War

Fighting terrorism with justice "What is remarkable is how American policy-makers have refused to learn from the historical experiences of Great Britain, a country that faced terror threats for decades in Northern Ireland, from no surrender zealots motivated by religious and nationalist fervor. In the case of the IRA, several hundred terrorists were organized after 1978 into secret cells that could wage terror pretty much indefinitely. The IRA was embedded within a global terror network that included Marxist guerrillas in South America, ETA in Spain and foreign governments, such as Libya. Not so different from al Qaeda.

Even a passing familiarity with the history of Northern Ireland would provide us with pointers on how not to deal with Islamist terrorists. First, between 1761 and 1972 the British government passed 26 legislative acts containing features designed to combat Irish nationalists, including measures seen in the US Patriot Act such as detention without trial and the suspension of habeas corpus. In the 1970s, the war model led British security services to use harsh interrogation techniques such as hooding, subjecting suspects to loud noises, sleep deprivation, prolonged standing, slaps to the face and slow starvation of detainees. When this severe ill treatment eventually [as it always does] becomes public knowledge, it undermined the legitimacy of government counter-terror policies, and created new constituencies of sympathizers in Northern Ireland. Repressive British government policy in the 1970s-from massacre of 'Bloody Sunday' to the internment of terror suspects without trial and a 'shoot-to-kill' policy in the 1980s, opened up a wellspring of support for a militaristic and Marxist-inspired IRA, which may not have existed otherwise.

In the end, it was only in the 1980s, late 1980's, when the British government moved from a 'war on terror' model to a law enforcement model that it began to win the struggle against Irish nationalist terror groups."

A BBC article supports this: "...the most recent example happened in 1971, when the British Government introduced the internment of hundreds of republican suspects in an attempt to shut down the IRA. The tactic was abandoned four years later and is thought to have increased support for the IRA."

See previous post from 2002, "Using the American model to solve all acts of terrorism".
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