Dismantle terror-supporting regimes
Comment By Binyamin Netanyahu
Jerusalem Post, September 14, 2001
In 1995, I wrote in my book, Fighting Terrorism:
“Extremist Islamic terrorist organizations nullify in large measure the
need to have air power or intercontinental missiles as delivery systems
for an Islamic nuclear payload. The terrorists themselves will be the
delivery system. In the worst of such scenarios, the consequences could be
not a car bomb but a nuclear bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center.
The rising tide of Islamic terrorism is qualitatively different from the
terrorism which the West has had to face until now. The various strains of
militant Islam see their ultimate destiny as leading to a final
confrontation with the Great Satan, the United States.
What this new terrorism portends for America and the world and what can
be done about it has not yet been sufficiently understood. The growth of
terrorism has been accompanied by a steady escalation in the means of
violence, including those capable of bringing down entire buildings. The
very real possibility that terrorist states and organizations may soon
acquire horrific weapons of mass destruction and use them to escalate
terrorism beyond our wildest nightmares has not yet been addressed
properly by Western governments.
It must be recognized that, barring firm and resolute action by the
United States and the West, terrorism will expand dramatically.”
Ultimately, the explosion and collapse of the World Trade Center was caused by
300 tons of jet fuel rather than by a nuclear device, and this means that the
tragic horror we experienced this week was not the worst possible scenario.
Down the line, a far worse catastrophe may be in the offing: terrorist
regimes like Iran and Iraq wielding atomic weapons. No longer will individuals or
buildings be the ones threatened by terror; entire cities may be destroyed,
entire states may be held hostage. The world is on the verge of an abyss, and
most political leaders have not properly gauged its depth.
The only way to fully understand this is to recall the effects of another
hate-filled ideology, Nazism, which also started as a local movement, and
which in just a few years became a world force. Nazism 60 years ago, like
fundamentalist Islam today, was also initially directed only against Jews
and other local minorities. It quickly became clear, however, that its
passionate hatred was directed against our entire civilization.
Then as now, the democracies were late in appreciating the horrendous
implications to our societies of a fanatic ideology bent on world domination and
lacking any inhibition about destroying lives in the process.
Hitler was working to develop nuclear weapons. If he had, our civilization would
have come to an end. Today, for the second time in the modern era, we are
faced with the possibility that weapons of mass destruction will fall in the
hands of a maniacal movement, whose leaders are blinded by their fanaticism
to a sober calculation of deterrence.
We could face terror and destruction on a scale that would dwarf even the
horrors of Manhattan. This is the greatest danger we have ever faced.
Until recently, no one dealt with it. The democracies have wasted too much
time. They are approaching the 12th hour. They cannot wait any longer.
The United States must lead the alliance of free nations to stamp out terrorism
and uproot its safe havens. We must declare terrorism as a crime against
humanity and the terrorist as enemies of mankind. We must destroy the
terrorist organizations, punish and dismantle regimes that support or harbor
them, and disarm their weapons of death.
For the suicide bombers are only the tip of the iceberg. Their actions could not
have been possible without a broad infrastructure of governments,
organizations, and ideological movements that support terror, directly and
The battle lines are clear. Those who support barbaric terror are dancing
in Gaza and Ramallah, Beirut and Baghdad. Those who support freedom and
democracy are grieving in New York and London, Paris and Tel Aviv.
Terror cannot be defeated unless it is completely uprooted. America must lead
the international war against terrorism, but Israel must do its share. Here, right
next to us – and in large measure, with our encouragement – a terror-supporting
regime par excellence, led by Arafat and the PLO, has developed. And its
capabilities grow increasingly stronger.
It, too, like the entire empire of terror, must be disarmed and
demilitarized – before it is too late.
The free world must defeat terror. If it does not, terror will defeat us.
Today’s tragedies can either be the harbingers of much greater calamities yet to
come or the turning point in which free societies once again mobilize their
resources, their ingenuity, and their will to wipe out this evil from our midst.
Eradicating terrorism is not a “policy option” – it is a necessity for the survival
of our democratic society and our freedoms.