Counter-Terrorism: The Torture Kings Consider Reform


December 25, 2009: While Arab countries have been fighting Islamic terrorism for over three decades now, they have also realized that the terrorists often work with common criminals, and that the bad guys often switch between criminal and terrorist activities. So the Arab nations have united to track down criminals, especially those involved with drug smuggling and distribution. Jordan is now the base for the Arab Office for Drug Affairs. Here is maintained a database, compiled from all member countries, of what is known about all criminals dealing drugs. This makes it more difficult for these criminals to simply move to another Arab country and "disappear." Now, if you have a criminal record in one Arab country, all the others know about it. The next step is to work out similar deals with European and Western Hemisphere nations (where these Arab criminals also operate), to further reduce the number of places they can hide.

This joint effort has also bumped into a growing campaign to eliminate torture and corrupt police practices in many Arab nations. The regular use of torture by Arab police is an open secret, as is the corruption in many Arab police forces. While it didn't get much play in the West, the rebuilding of the Iraqi police force was accompanied by stories, that did get a lot of play in the Arab press, where criminals and terrorist made no secret of preferring getting arrested by the Americans, rather than the Iraqi police. The Americans treated you better, and tortured you not at all. While the Abu Ghraib photos, of American military police tormenting (by Arab standards) Iraqi prisoners angered many Arabs, they also made the point that, at their worst, the Americans were much easier on prisoners than their Arab counterparts. When the details of what regularly went on inside Abu Ghraib (better prison conditions than in any Arab nation), there began a public discussion, which even the censors couldn't stop, about the difference between policing and imprisonment in the West, and in the Arab world. That's only a trend, not a lot of change. But for the Arab world, that's a big deal.




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