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One Democracy’s Terrorist is Another Democracy’s Terrorist

by Ronald Rouhier

The subject heading was taken from Paul Wilkinson’s article for the Canadian Security Services posted on the TRC Research page. One of the cornerstones that Professor Wilkinson stressed in the fight against international terrorism is that one country should automatically accept the definition of the title of this opinion.

The United States government allows political asylum for persons who have a well-founded fear of persecution should they be returned to their home governments. A few members of the IRA have foundtheir way into the American judicial system and have applied for asylum on the grounds that the British government will subject them to further persecution. Their belief is in a fight for a united Ireland free of British rule.

The British government has maintained that these are members of an internationally recognized terrorist group and were prosecuted for criminal acts and should be returned to serve their sentences for which they were convicted under a democratic system.

Professor Wilkinson also stressed the need for “tough measures to penalize state sponsors who give terrorist movements safe haven, explosives, cash and moral and diplomatic support.” Does the United States when they give temporary visas to representatives of well-established terrorist organization to raise ‘humanitarian or fundraising’ support for the terrorist cause not acknowledge some legitimacy for the cause.

The US government could rightfully claim a separation of powers when the courts uphold a request for asylum from a suspected terrorist, but not when the US leaders take a direct involvement in granting visas to allow known terrorists to raise funding.

The British government under John Major was vocal that the United States government should not allow any meeting between the US government and the leadership of Sinn Fein under Jerry Adams lest it give a tacit recognition. This the US President did when overturning the State Department visa denial and thru executive authority allowed a ‘reformed terrorist’ to visit the White House for personal talks with the head of state.

The US government in their recent actions under the Clinton administration has shown that the US has given in one perspective “cash and moral and diplomatic support” for a terrorist movement. It would appear that ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ is more valid than ‘one democracy’sterrorist is another democracy’s terrorist.”

The views and opinions expressed in the following essay are those of the contributor and not necessarily of the Terrorism Research Center.

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