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Suicide Terror

War on suicide terrorism goes on Photo: AP
War on suicide terrorism goes on Photo: AP
 
 

The pope and the terrorist

Op-ed: Late pope's endorsement of anti-suicide terrorism convention a great act

Shimon Samuels
Published: 05.09.11, 00:08 / Israel Opinion

It is perhaps no irony that the late Pope was beatified the day that justice caught up with the architect of global terrorism.

Closer to Sainthood
Pope John Paul officially beatified / News agencies
Masses pack St. Peter's Square as Pope Benedict XVI presides over ceremony moving former pontiff closer to possible sainthood
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Memories during this momentous week returned to earlier days when The Simon Wiesenthal Center, in the midst of an ever-multiplying number of suicide bombings - launched a campaign to adopt its Draft Convention to Criminalize Suicide Terrorism.

 

Pope John Paul II's support was sought early on to bolster the effort's moral imperative. At a Vatican audience a few months before his death, the frail pontiff endorsed the document with his ring finger. The next morning, he repeated to a Muslim delegation his admonition to us: "No one has the right or the pretext to take human life in the name of the deity."

 

A key Convention had been adapted from the 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal, the principle of military vertical responsibility of officers for their men's illegal acts and vice-versa, up and down the chain of command.

 

Our new initiative and document applied the concept to terrorism as a horizontal chain of complicity, thus criminalizing all its sponsors: those who inculcate and preach, who recruit, train, arm, finance, house and glorify the murderers.

 

We focused on "suicide terrorism" as the most costly in terms of human life, an increasingly global phenomenon - including targets across the Muslim world - and a distortion of the religious value of the sanctity of human life into a culture of death.

 

Turkey's then-Foreign Minister, now President, Abdullah Gül, privately endorsed the document but declined to follow up. The Australian Parliament passed a resolution in its favor.

 

Had the Convention been ratified, accomplices in the chain of terror might have been prosecuted in jurisdictions beyond their own.

 

As it is, seven Iranians sought by INTERPOL in the 1994 AMIA Jewish Centre in Argentina bombing sit safely at home or feel free to travel in the Muslim world with impunity.

 

'No impunity for mass murder' 

This week's actions, perhaps, may put the global sponsors and facilitators of terrorism on notice – from Ahmadinejad to Nasrallah, from Al-Awlaki to Al-Quaradawi.

 

They should understand, during these historic days, that the pursuit of justice is inexorable.

 

Simon Wiesenthal noted that "there can be no impunity for mass murder or terrorism, nor time limits for the prosecution of their perpetrators."

 

The beatified Pope John Paul II, with a trembling hand pressed his Pontifical ring as a seal into our Convention. For this benediction alone he deserves Sainthood.

 

Bin Laden is gone, but his seeds lay dormant. May they be rendered stillborn.

 

Dr. Shimon Samuels is Director for International Relations, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Paris, France

 

 

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