BIN LADEN: WANTED ALIVE


BIN LADEN: WANTED ALIVE
IPS COLUMNIST SERVICE, SEPTEMBER 2001

Editor's note:

Few would disagree that hijacking civilian airplanes to use as missiles to demolish skyscrapers and deliberately kill thousands of innocent people is a crime against humanity, writes Emma Bonino, Europarliamentarian and leader of the Italian Radical Party and ex-European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Food Security.

In this article for IPS, Bonino argues that it is the right of all humanity, not just the United States, to prosecute and punish those responsible for the September 11 attacks -- all the more so given the many signs that others fanatics are preparing similar acts of slaughter elsewhere in the world.

It is not merely for the love of justice that we must identify, capture, and try the kingpins of the new terrorism in keeping with the rule of law: it is also a preliminary and necessary condition of knowing and looking in the face the strategicians of political- religions fundamentalism and their accomplices in order to prevent this new set of enemies of humanity -- bearers of death like the architects of the gulags and lagers -- from imposing yet again their barbarity on us and their own subjects.


BIN LADEN: WANTED ALIVE
By Emma Bonino (*)

BRUSSELS, Sep. (IPS) - Few would disagree that hijacking civilian airplanes to use as missiles to demolish skyscrapers and deliberately kill thousands of innocent people is a crime against humanity. It is the right of all humanity, not just the United States, to prosecute and punish those responsible for the September 11 attacks -- all the more so given the many signs that others fanatics are preparing similar acts of slaughter elsewhere in the world.

There is a permanent International Criminal Court that could try the alleged terrorists, Osama Bin Laden, and his accomplices scattered throughout the world, but unfortunately it exists only on paper. Although in July 1998 in Rome 120 member countries of the United Nations signed the treaty establishing the first ''world criminal court'' in history, three years later -- thanks to the incomprehensible disinterest in this matter on the part of the ''major powers'' and the largest human rights organisations -- only 45 national parliaments thus far have ratified the treaty, well short of the sixty needed to render the court operational.

So what can be done to insure that Osama Bin Laden spends the rest of his days in prison, like Slobodan Milosevic, instead of dying under a rain of bombs and ending up a hero in the paradise that his delirious fundamentalism promises its ''martyrs''.

After what happened September 11, no one can deny the United States the right to pursue these enemies of humanity with every means available and to punish them. Indeed, the US would render a great service to the entire world by doing so. It would be less useful, however, to limit the fight against this new, global terrorism to a ''world anti-terrorist alliance'' that would risk becoming a equivocal alliance since any regime would be free to join (and thereby gain legitimacy), including totalitarian regimes hungry to settle accounts with their own ''terrorists'', real or presumed.

To keep even a part of the vast population of the world still condemned to live in extreme poverty from mistaking a few death worshippers for paladins of the ''wretched of the earth'', perhaps we should consider a proposition of the transnational Radical Party: creating a ''World Democracy Organisation'' (after all, we already have a World Trade Organisation) that joins those states inclined to respect the rules and principles set forth in international treaties and agreements and excludes states that trample the rule of law and the fundamental rights of its own citizens.

We might not be in the state we now find ourselves in if the international community had been aware of the hotbed of world destabilisation that Afghanistan has become. For four years now a report I wrote after my trip to Kabul under the Taliban as European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid has gathered dust in Brussels and the chanceries of 15 countries of the European Union. I argued in this paper that the illegal regime brought to power by a sect of fanatics should be rejected and fought by the international community for its massive and deliberate human rights violations and because it posed a danger to the security of the entire region.

To denounce the ''racial'' discrimination imposed on the entire female Afghan population (another crime against humanity) I launched, with the backing of the European Parliament and Commission, the international campaign ''A Flower for the Women of Kabul'' which culminated on 8 March 1998 and was dedicated to the faceless women of Afghanistan.

Given the lack of enthusiasm shown by the western diplomatic community, I said to government representatives, including Americans, ''If the fate of the women doesn't move you, think of the danger the entire world runs by abandoning to the whims of a band of allies of terrorism a country of the geo-strategic importance of Afghanistan, an essential point on the shipping routes of gas and oil, not to mention drugs. Kabul risks becoming a centre of international destabilisation.''

A similar situation was created in the early nineties when the western diplomatic establishment contorted itself trying to find a way to co-exist with Milosevic rather than fight him. Then came the moment when faced with the atrocities he provoked, from Srebrenica to Kosovo, NATO member states took responsibility for using armed force to keep the authors of those crimes from doing more harm. The entire world burned with polemics the weeks of intervention in Serbia, but from the time the Hague Tribunal got its hands on the major war criminals, no one seems inclined any longer to see Milosevic as a persecuted hero, nor his butcher generals as oppressed patriots. Today it is all humanity, not just NATO, that is judging ten years of horrors in ex-Yugoslavia.

Let us hope the same will be true after September 11. It is not merely for the love of justice that we must identify, capture, and try the kingpins of the new terrorism in keeping with the rule of law: it is also a preliminary and necessary condition of knowing and looking in the face the strategicians of political-religions fundamentalism and their accomplices in order to prevent this new set of enemies of humanity -- bearers of death like the architects of the gulags and lager -- from imposing yet again their barbarity on us and their own subjects. (END/COPYRIGHT IPS)

(*) Emma Bonino, Europarliamentarian, is leader of the Italian Radical Party and ex-European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Food Security.