New York – For the war against terror to succeed, the United Nations must take the lead, said Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. For he believes that the world body is the only institution which has the means to galvanise a global fight against terrorism.
"We need effective multilateralism to successfully fight terrorism in all forms and manifestations," he told a meeting of the 60th session of the United Nations' General Assembly on Sept 14.
While condemning terrorists and saying that they deserved neither compassion nor sympathy, Mr Abdullah said it was important to identify the root causes of their actions.
"These could be political injustice, the denial of human rights, a brutish life entrenched in pervasive poverty, or something else yet to be uncovered.
"We must take action to address the root causes so as to render their motivations irrelevant. It is possible to disrupt, capture and kill individual terrorists. However, unless the root causes are addressed and removed, new recruits will take the place of leaders and groups killed or destroyed in the fight against terrorism."
The Malaysian Premier also urged countries to differentiate between acts of terrorism and the rights of people fighting for self-determination.
"It is equally unjustifiable to associate terrorism with any particular race or religion. Terrorists must be singled out only by their acts of terror and nothing else," said Mr Abdullah, who also cautioned against Islamphobia.
In an editorial, the New Straits Times notes that Islam – or rather in the words of British Prime Minister Tony Blair "a perverted and poisonous misinterpretation of Islam" – has been identified as one of the root causes of terrorism.
But the newspaper also notes that some studies have also concluded that US policy in the Middle East itself has contributed to the terrorism problem. For example, the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London says that the invasion and occupation of Iraq provided Al-Qaeda with a bigger pool of recruits, supporters, sympathisers and funds.
"While the proponents of the 'war on terror' dismiss attempts to link it to the increase in terrorism, it seems to have fanned the flames of fanaticism instead of knocking the stuffing out of the militants. This suggests that the solution to the problem has been part of the problem."
* No meeting of minds (New Straits Times, Sept 18)
* Abdullah: Multilateralism the best option to fight terrorism (The Star, Sept 16)
* Probe terrorists' minds, says PM (New Straits Times, Sept 16)