The apex court in the US is scheduled to hear a case which is expected to redefine the differences between humanitarian aid and aiding and abetting terrorist groups like Hamas, al-Qaeda and Tamil Tigers, as we reported yesterday quoting The Examiner. The lawsuit filed by a left-wing special interest group known as the Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) is said to be the first constitutional test of the so-called `material support` provision of the US Patriot Act, which came into being as a response to terrorist threats following the 9/11 attacks.
The Patriot Act does not permit material support to any of the terrorist groups listed by the State Department. Violations of these laws carry jail terms of ten years or more.
US Solicitor-General has stated that there is nothing ill-defined about the Patriot Act. One may both agree and disagree with him. He is certainly au fait with that legislation but non-American victims of terrorism certainly know better than he does, where its application to terrorist groups outside the US is concerned.
No questions about the letter and spirit of the Patriot Act arise when it is applied to the Islamic and `Marxist` terrorist outfits that pose threats to the US. But, strangely, it becomes silent as regards terrorist groups not considered a threat to America`s interests. How the US has chosen to tackle the LTTE is a case in point.
As for Sri Lanka s terrorism, the Obama administration has driven a coach and horses through the Patriot Act. It looks as if the US under the present political dispensation had mistaken a democratically elected government for a terrorist outfit and vice versa. How Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ably assisted by a cabal of former US ambassadors to this country, has been handling America`s Sri Lanka policy is appalling, to say the least! She, in our book, is America`s version of India`s J. N. Dixit, mutatis mutandis, who exuded hubris and contempt from every pore and mollycoddled LTTEterrorists unashamedly until India was hoist with its own petard. (The same is true of David Miliband, Bernard Kouchner et al who became de facto ambassadors at large for the LTTE on its last legs.)
HLP is reported to have said in the lawsuit at issue that it is difficult to determine who terrorists are and asked whether assisting them by conducting lectures about peace proposals, teaching English and providing medical care is tantamount to supporting terrorists and terrorism. Hillary, too, had a similar problem about the definition of terrorism during her failed presidential campaign. She audaciously argued that all terrorists could not be lumped together. In Feb. 2008, she said, ` and I think one of our mistakes has been painting with such a broad brush, which has not been particularly helpful in understanding what it is we were up against when it comes to those who pursue terrorism for whichever ends they`re seeking.` How could there be any confusion over the definition of terrorism? One does not have to be a rocket scientist to define it. Terrorism is the use of violence for political or other purposes. And, of course, teaching English to terrorists amounts to aiding and abetting terrorism in that they are sure to put the newly acquired language skill to a macabre use maybe to read weapons catalogues or, in the case of budding terrorists, to surf the Net and learn how to assemble bombs like the one that rocked Oklahoma in 1995. The same goes for the provision of medical care or any other humanitarian assistance to terrorists. After the LTTE-held areas were finally opened up, damning evidence of abuse of humanitarian aid to further terrorist interests emerged. Even bags of rice distributed by humanitarian groups for the benefit of civilians had been used to reinforce LTTE bunkers!
But, the West is convinced otherwise. It wants terrorists given humanitarian assistance etc so long as they do not pose a threat to its interests. If they do, it considers itself as having every right to carpet bomb, torture and murder in dealing with terrorism.
Anyone who is desirous of circumventing the Patriot Act may make use of the precedents that the US government has created in Sri Lanka by rushing to the rescue of the LTTE albeit in vain. A few weeks before the troops dealt a decapitating blow to the LTTE the Pacific Command had flown a special team here even without obtaining prior permission from Colombo for landing at the BIA. Their mission was to negotiate the evacuation of cornered LTTE leaders. Had President Mahinda Rajapaksa given in to pressure from the US, the EU and the UN, we would have certainly made a rod for our own back. He stood his ground and the US team flew back empty-handed, in a huff. No wonder there has been a US-led war crimes witch hunt against this country ever since.
Now that the US government has made a mockery of its Patriot Act by trying to rescue an outlawed terrorist outfit in Sri Lanka, there is no reason why anyone should be debarred from teaching terrorists English or giving them medical treatment elsewhere.