Despite many clear evidence pointing to the contrary, there are still some who when they hear about a hideous act of terror, they naturally think that the person or the group who committed it is in one way or another lunatic. Well, this may be true in some cases, but it is not in most other situations. Indeed, the terrorists of our time have proven to be smart, sophisticated, and well capable to highjack even our own democratic judicial and executive systems and turn them against us before our eyes. This leads me to say that to effectively combat terrorism, we need a shift in our view about terrorists and their tactics. For as long as we continue hanging to our old thinking, they (the terrorists) can easily manipulate our very system that is supposed to shield us from their acts. A recent UK court ruling in favor of de-listing an Iranian terror group speaks volumes about how easily our legal systems can be manipulated.
A common deceptive tactic that has been overlooked by EU officials is that terror groups operate under various aliases and mantles. This is an effective tactic that enables them to continue their operation on our soil even when they are banned. For example, the PMOI has many aliases such as MeK, MKO, NCRI, NLA, to name a few. But all refer to the same group, the Mojahdeen-e Khalgh (MeK). When the group was listed in the EU terror list, its members continued their activities under the façade of NCRI. The US State Department discovered this manipulative tactic by MeK and added the NCRI to the terror list in 2004. A judicial decision in Washington DC also concluded that NCRI is just an alias of the MeK, effectively rejecting the group’s claim that the two are two separate entities. 362 U.S. App. D.C. 143; 373 F.3d 152
Now the question is how long it would take for EU to realise the NCRI is the same as PMOI, and PMOI is just another name for NLA, and NLA just another alias for MKO?
Another devastating flaw in our current thinking of terrorism is even more serious when we tend to downplay or ignore terror acts perpetrated on other people or nations, and frown only when we or our interests are targeted. Thus giving terrorists another false pretext to argue that since we are not directly targeted by their acts, we cannot call them terrorists! In this distorted view and interpretation of terrorism, we seem to be content when others are targeted by the same terrorists. Terror groups like PMOI want us to be indifferent to the life and death of their victims only because these victims live outside of EU boundaries. We should not play into their hands, and we need to be aware of such manipulative tactics. The current US Secretary of State, Dr. Rice, once said that a terrorist is a terrorist, is a terrorist. Alas! This seems to have fallen on deaf ears with some EU officials.
To protect our citizens and those of other nations, we need to outsmart the terror groups, and to foil their deceptive tactics. When a terror organization like PMOI is banned, it is imperative to list all other aliases used by the group, or else expect them to be at your door the next day, albeit under a different name.
Ahmad Baaraan, Paris, June 27, 2008