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memri
October 10, 2004 No.
796

Director-General of Al-Arabiya TV Channel: 'There is No Difference Between the Suicide Attacks in Kabul, Al-Anbar, Islamabad, Riyadh, Algiers, Paris, Damascus, or Taba'

In an article in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on October 9, 2004, Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, director-general of the Al-Arabiya TV channel and former editor of the paper, discusses the common denominator between the recent terrorist attacks worldwide. The following are excerpts from the article:

"One cannot understand the nature of the attack in Taba, Egypt, unless we put it in the broader context. That same week the world map was drenched with blood: the bombing [in Taba] was preceded a few hours earlier by an explosion in the French capital. The explosion hit the embassy of Indonesia, the Islamic nation with the largest [Muslim] population, and as a result there were many victims. Two bombings occurred in Pakistan - in the first, an extremist blew up a mosque full of Shiites while they were praying, and a few days later another extremist attacked a group of Sunnis in response. In both bombings many innocent people were killed. In the center of the Algerian capital the militant Salafi group [i.e. Al-Jama'a Al-Salafiyya Li-Al-Da'wah Wa-Al-Qital] carried out an attack. During the exchange of fire, which lasted two hours, two people were killed and eight were wounded. Add to this the long list of cars containing suicide bombers, which led to the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis. [The car bombings] recurred in a number of towns [in Iraq], and such news items have become commonplace.

"Being in the midst of this mass destruction, we can understand the nature of the problem only by looking at [all the attacks] from the same perspective. Without doing so, it will never be possible to grasp the truth. The problem can be summed up in one word - extremism. Without dealing with the extremist way of thinking, which is on the rise, both in terms of its circulation and in terms of its violence, we cannot envisage an improvement occurring in the security situation…

"It may be that what occurred yesterday in Egypt is no more than [an act] of [non-Egyptian] suicide groups that crossed the Egyptian coastline. It does not necessarily mean the return from the local cemeteries of the extremists who were crushed in the nineties. That period of bloodshed ended with a true defeat of the radical organization, and this led the extremists [in Egypt], who were fighting lost battles on both the security level and the ideological level, to leave Egypt and flee to Sudan and Afghanistan and to join the other groups in regions that they consider easier [to operate in].

"As long as the Arab and Muslim intellectuals are not convinced of the reality of the problem, which is first and foremost the existence of extremism, [and are not convinced of the need] to fight it, whether it is clothed in national or religious terms – this bloodshed, destruction and fear will not cease.

"It is inconceivable for us to justify one terrorist bombing while denouncing another. [The terror attacks] are interconnected ideologically, if not by the affiliation of their perpetrators. A solution solely concerned with security can never succeed in bringing terrorism to a halt. This sheds light once again on [the position of] the Arab intellectuals, who not only are silent but even justify terror, for they in reality supply terrorism with what it most needs – propaganda and legitimacy. Therefore they are embarrassed when [such an] incident takes place on their own land and they hasten to make distinctions and clarifications.

"The danger of extremism threatens almost all the Arab and Islamic societies. There is no difference between the suicide attacks in Kabul, Al-Anbar, Islamabad, Riyadh, Algiers, Paris, Damascus, Tripoli, or Taba. They all embody one reality: that their perpetrators hold extremist views."