|Call For Universal Definition Of Terrorism To Stop Bias
KUALA LUMPUR, 17 (Bernama) -- There must be a universal definition of terrorism before governments could embark on counter-terrorism measures based on fact-finding and intelligence-sharing.
South-East Asia Regional Centre For Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) director-general Datuk Md Hussin Nayan said this was to give the global community a basic understanding of what terrorism and terrorist groups were all about, but right now the west tended to associate these with Muslims.
"Right now the term does not differentiate terrorist groups from insurgent groups, or human rights or freedom fighters. And as long as there is no firm definition, people will continue to have problems with the matter."
Md Hussin even said that there should be an attempt to rebrand some of these groups as human rights or freedom fighters. "However, Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah have been branded as terrorists."
He said this via teleconferencing with the Pacific Area Special Operation Conference 2007 (PASOC 07) in Honolulu, Hawaii, from the United States embassy here.
Earlier, he said counter-terrorism should not merely be based on perceptions and assumptions but by fact-finding to ensure effectiveness of the plans and measures.
"Repeated use of assumptions would make people believe that something is fact, consequently creating public fear of Muslims or Islamophobia."
The other speakers were US Special Operations Command vice-commander Major- General Donald C. Wurster and Philippines' ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs senior vice-president Maria Ressa.
Wurster said the global community generally shared the same view of who were the terrorists.
"In your own country, I would hesitate to define terrorist for you, but you would know one when you see one by his conduct," he said, citing a group blowing up a ferry, killing hundreds of civilians, as terrorists.
"I do not care what they call themselves. I don't care what their ideology and the race or faith they are from. They are terrorists. It (the action) is illegal," he said.
Meanwhile, Ressa said Mantiki, a Jemaah Islamiyah sub-section terror group in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia was now trying to replenish its leadership and morphing its organisation following the arrest of some of its leaders and members.
"In the Philippines, there are some 300 members of Mantiki and their cells are still in many places. They are even members of the Abu Sayaf and Darul Islam groups," said Ressa who authored the book, "Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia".
Hussin said Mantiki was basically a group trying to uphold the ideology of creating an Islamic state, which to Malaysians, was polemic and "such idea has been harped for hundreds of years. Everybody knows no one (the terrorist groups) has succeeded".
Wurster praised Malaysia for its ability in fighting terrorist groups and had detained 110 suspected terrorists under the Internal Security Act since May 2001.
"I had the privilege of witnessing how Malaysian anti-terrorism operators reacted against terror groups after 9/11. They were terrific operators," he said, adding that the US would like to participate with Malaysia in counter-terrorism measures.