Accessibility links

Press Review: Anti-Terrorism Measures and the Olympic Bombing

  • Charles Recknagel

Prague, July 31 (RFE/RL) -- The world's economic powers met yesterday in Paris to find new ways to combat terrorism, and the world's newspapers focused on its results. Other papers analyzed what they see as a recent growth of terrorist attacks in the United States, most recently the Olympic Games bombing in Atlanta.


The seven most industrialized countries--known as the G-7--and Russia adopted 25 anti-terrorism measures ranging from tighter tracking of terrorist weapons and terrorist front organizations to better airport security.

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Implementing the new anti-terrorism measures won't be easy

The paper says today that the Paris conference has adopted effective measures against terrorism, but that some may be hard for governments to implement them in their own countries. Correspondent Mark Nelson writes: "Still reeling from the explosion of TWA flight 800 and the Altlanta Olympic Park bombing, the United States and seven of its key allies (have) agreed to negotiate a new treaty to combat terrorism and a series of tougher international security standards."

Nelson continues: "Nevertheless, implementing all the measures... won't be easy. Expanded wiretapping and adding so-called taggants to allow tracing of the origin of the explosives... face stiff resistance in the U.S. Congress and could prove equally difficult in parts of Europe."

THE WASHINGTON POST: No magic wand exists in the fight against terrorism

The paper reports that the agreement between the world's major powers covers many ways to increase cooperation in tracking terrorists, but is unlikely to stop terrorism as one of the scourges of this century. Correspondent Jonathan Randall writes: "Like its predecessors, the five-hour conference ended in a show of unity against terrorists and the states that support them. But with a string of recent terrorist incidents stretching form Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India through the Middle East and Europe to the Atlanta Olympic Games, (the host of the anti-terrorist conference) Herve de Charette, France's foreign minister, warned against thinking any 'magic wand' or 'miracle remedy' existed in the fight against terrorism."

LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH: European nations reject putting economic pressure on terrorist-supporting states

"How would a terrorist godfather...have viewed yesterday's (anti-terrorism) conference?" asks an editorial today in the British paper. The editorial says that terrorists will be concerned by new measures "to monitor more closely the activities of terrorist front organizations masquerading as charitable or cultural bodies...and the introduction of uniform standards for bomb detection at airports." But, the paper continues, they will be delighted "that the Summit's French hosts, along with other European nations, rejected American calls for economic pressure on (states which support terrorist organizations)." The paper concludes ironically: "Thank heaven for those German businessmen fearful of losing their contracts (with countries accused of sponsoring terrorism.)"

SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: New measures will bring speedy exchange of information between countries

The German paper says today that "the Paris meeting of the G-7 powers and Russia gives encouraging signs in the fight against terrorism." The paper welcomes the Conference's anti-terrorist measures which, it says, would "allow for speedy exchange of information between the police, secret service, and customs services of participating countries, and give examining magistrates full investigative authority in other countries." But, the paper says, for most people "a more important discussion (at the conference) was the concern over the manufacture of explosives and weapons. Airports will have better equipment to detect these dangers, especially supposedly harmless plastic and other non-metal explosives."

LE FIGARO: The G-7 gives credibility to Moscow's claim that the war in Chechnya is against terrorism

Did Russia deserve to have a seat at yesterday's Paris summit on anti-terrorism? The question is raised today by the French paper. Correspondent Irina de Chikoff says "the question (of Moscow's right to be there) is implicity posed by the Chechen separatists who accuse Moscow of having organized an assasination attempt against (rebel leader) Aslan Maskhadov, who only escaped by a miracle." The writer says that Moscow has continually claimed its own war in Chechnya is a fight against terrorism and "defends this position tooth and nail by putting Western nations on guard against the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism which only Russia can defend (them from), be it in Central Asia or the Caucuses." De Chikoff concludes: "By inviting Russia to the conference on anti-terrorism, the G-7 gives credibility to (Moscow's) story."


Turning to terrorism in the United States, several papers today look at how U.S. society, which traditionally has been spared terrorist acts, should react to a recent series of attacks culminating in last Saturday's bombing at the Olympic Games in Atlanta.

NEWSDAY: American cities are new battlefields, and Americans the combatants

"For a long time, terrorism was something we Americans mostly read about or saw on television," commented Richard Haass in the paper yesterday. "Now terrorism has come to the United States with a growing list of casualties and notorious events." Haass said that "the United States is an especially popular target because it is the dominant country in the world. There is no longer any rival, as was the case throughout the Cold War ... not surprisingly we are viewed as an enemy by all those who want the world as it is turned upside down." Haass concluded: "For a long time, the United States has been relatively and blissfully free of this plague, (but) in a world in which borders count for less and less, it should come as little surprise that terrorism has come to America. Our cities are the new battlefields, and we are the combatants."

NEWSDAY: Counterterrorism measures may impinge on civil freedoms long taken for granted

Geoffrey Kemp wrote in the paper yesterday that "the bombing in Atlanta last weekend and the destruction of TWA flight 800 over Long Island raise important and sinister questions about the changing nature of terrorism against the United States." Kemp continued: "These questions will require thorough analysis -- and possibly Draconian responses." He said that "no matter who was responsible for the latest atrocities, vigilence against terrorism should take a much higher priority on our national agenda." Kemp concluded: "Heightened measures of counterterrorism will require more intrusive interference in our daily lives and may well impinge on civil freedoms we have long taken for granted."

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS: Terrorists are willing to kill innocents to make a point

"What is going on here? Madness?" asks Donald Kaul writing today for the newspaper syndicate. He says that what unites a string of recent bombings of U.S. targets by terrorists is "the certainty (of the terrorists') vision. They are 'unreasonable' ... beyond the bounds of reason, their paths lighted by a higher morality. They are absolutely sure they know the way of righteousness and are willing to kill innocents to make a point." But Kaul says that while the terrorists behaviour is "crazy" it will not go away because it "is not as unusual as we would like to think." He says: "The history of the 20th century is pockmarked with righteous wars fought between enemies certain that God (is) on their side. Nations do it all the time."