Radical preachers should be contained

"Ali al Saadani was not the first preacher the French authorities deported; France decided very early to interdict foreign imams," said a comment piece for Al Sharq al Awsat.

"Ali al Saadani was not the first preacher the French authorities deported; France decided very early to interdict foreign imams," wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed in a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat. "This decision came also to consolidate other calls to firmly address extremists after many incidents took with the involvement of al Qa'eda."

The French emerged as more daring than their British counterparts who, so far, for legal considerations or out of fear to incite undesirable reactions in Muslim communities, have failed in clearing their country of extremists. Many officials in the Arab world affirm that brochures and leaflets that circulate the most radical views come in fact from the West. "It is such a lax attitude by the British authorities that was responsible for turning a certain Nigerian, Umar Abdulmuttalib, into a criminal in Britain and not in his home country. In the UK, he met extremist preachers who manipulated him into violent action. Probably there are many others ready to board airplanes, trains or cars rigged with explosives."  It is not true that Muslim communities would complain about expelling such extremists or preventing them from entry to the UK. Rather, they would welcome any positive action aimed at drying up sources of violence and ensuring security.

Batir Wardam, in an opinion piece featured in the Jordanian daily Addustour, said that it was not a choice for Jordan to fight extremism; it was a necessity. "Al Qa'eda once infiltrated to attack both citizens and tourists in an Amman hotel. It has also tried to mastermind an attack using chemical weapons."

Jordanians may have been shocked to learn that Jordan is involved in fighting terrorism at an international level, but that was done for a good reason: containing the threat posed by sleeper cells and controlling their activity worldwide. So the outreach efforts undertaken by Jordan in this direction are valuable in affording sustainable security for the country. It is easy sometimes, however, to criticise the government for not informing the public about its moves in this regard, yet intelligence efforts should be kept at maximum secrecy. When national security is a stake, even in the most open countries and societies, such strategic information is kept away from the media and hence out of reach for the general public.   All in all, Jordan has every right to counter terror and for that it needs continuous support from all citizens, who form the first line of defence. Yet, because the world has in effect shrunk in size, there should be a clear strategic vision to define Jordan's role in the international efforts against terrorism.

The UAE daily Al Khaleej criticised the US Congress, which is examining a bill to ban Arab satellite channels on the grounds that they disseminate a hostile and terrorist ideology. In doing this, the US Congress has assumed the role of the Knesset in drafting and passing laws which the Israeli parliament cannot undertake on its own. By undertaking this step, the Congress betrays slogans that proclaim its interest to protect freedom, including freedom of expression, and demonstrate the extent of Israeli dominion in top decision-making circles in the US. The US Congress would like to ban Arabic television channels which expose Israel's crimes. "These media outlets were able to transform western opinion, especially American, to the benefit of the Palestinian cause."

Arabs should therefore intensify their efforts to counter such moves and put this point high on the agenda of the next meeting of information ministers. They also need to form a unified position against the US Congress. Any ban on Arab channels will muzzle the Arab media and restrict satellite news to the benefit of the Israelis.

Although US-Lebanese diplomatic relations are old, top-level visits only started in the late 1960s, at a time when Lebanon underwent a severe security upheaval, noted Bassam al Dhaw in an opinion article for the Qatari daily Al Watan. But visits by Lebanese presidents to the US have brought no change in the US position towards Lebanon. "This means that the US, despite all its frequent public statements declaring its respect of Lebanon's integrity, has always considered Lebanon as an experimental lab to serve its policy in the region. At times, the US has wanted Lebanon to conclude a peace treaty with Israel and to act as an enemy to Syria."  The US has never dealt with Lebanon as a fully independent state, and this explains why there is always a contradiction between what the US says and does. A good example of this ambiguous policy is the failure of the Americans to exert pressure on Israel to comply with several UN Security Council resolutions concerning the unconditional withdrawal of Israel from Lebanese territories.

The Lebanese president Michel Suleiman has tried to affect some changes, yet it is difficult to alter such a deep-rooted US opinion towards Lebanon. Nevertheless, he has managed, to a great extent, to explain Lebanon's stance to the Americans. * Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi aelbahi@thenational.ae