Counter-Terrorism: We Forgive You


October 24, 2008:  Israel has found that amnesty deals are an increasingly effective way to dismantle terrorist organizations. Last year, a deal was made with the Al-Aqsa brigade, one of the major Palestinian terrorist organizations, and hundreds accepted amnesty. The terms included cash payments (of $15,000 or more) to members who accepted, as well as offers of jobs or job training. Some of those who were guilty of the worst crimes had to agree to spending their nights in jail for months. But the offer attracted 270 members, about 20 percent of them actively being sought by Israeli police. A hard core of the group refused to surrender, but because so many have surrendered, the police have an easier time tracking down the holdouts.

Israel has noted that many Islamic terrorists, like common criminals, grow out of their violent ways. Some want to get married, but others lose heart. Palestinians have been using terror against Israel for over four decades. Israel is still there, apparently undiminished by all the terrorists efforts. Amnesty offers, if carefully crafted and carried out, can accelerate this process.

There are still thousands of Palestinians involved in terrorist activity, especially in Gaza. Here, Hamas actively encourages terrorism as a way to destroy Israel. Most Palestinians say they believe this is still a goal they favor. But throughout the Arab world, terrorism has sharply declined in popularity. The spectacular al Qaeda defeat in Iraq played a large role, as did the failed al Qaeda attempts to use terror in places like Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan. The Palestinians are feeling more isolated than usual. Then there is the Arab Reform Movement, which is calling for reforms in the Arab world, and recognition that the biggest problems in the Arab world are caused by internal issues. For decades, Arabs blamed external forces (past colonialism, the CIA, Western culture in general) for their lack of economic progress and good government. Change is in the air, and an amnesty to enable active terrorists to try another solution is a growing trend.




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