UN Security Council should set up an international tribunal to seek out, extradite or arrest and try those responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Sunday): The Western media are expecting imminent  “devastating attacks” against Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda bases and Taliban military targets in Afghanistan by the United States, backed by Britain, with  the operation beginning with air and missile strikes to destroy the Taliban's 20-aircraft air force, remove  anti-aircraft missile batteries and destroy Taliban tanks and other armour.

Yesterday, thousands of anti-war demonstrators took to the streets of Washington and  San Francisco to protest possible US military action in response to  the Sept. 11 terror suicide attacks in New York and Washington that left some 7,000 people dead or missing, fearing that a new war would only “deepen the cycle of violence”.

With the unprecedented speed  with which the United Nations  Security Council had on Friday night approved a sweeping resolution sponsored by the United States requiring all 189 U.N.-member nations to deny money, support and sanctuary to terrorists, the United States should   rely on international law to bring to justice  the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 crimes against humanity and renounce unilateral reprisals or military action.

The launching of a war against Afghanistan by the United States would not only raise the  question of the legality of the United States employing military force, it is likely to be counter-productive as military force (I) kills civilians; (2) has the potential to destabilise countries such as Pakistan; (3) widens the divide between the United States and Islamic nations; (4) sows the seeds of future terrorism; and (5) will not make America or the world safer.

Unilateral US military actions against Afghanistan or any other country would only  undermine the significant international response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the form of the legally binding resolution adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council and the  global campaign to pursue those responsible for the attacks and any nation that harbours them.

The Security Council, in its unanimous resolution on Friday, had demanded all nations and empowered the council to take measures to restore international peace and security threatened by the terrorist attacks.

Under the resolution, all countries must make the ``wilful'' financing of terrorism a criminal offense, immediately freeze terrorist-related funds and prevent movement of individuals and groups suspected of having terrorist connections. Nations must deny terrorists any ``safe haven.''

Additionally, nations must speed the exchange of ``operational information,'' especially regarding the actions and movements of terrorists.

Since 1963, the General Assembly has adopted a dozen legal instruments to fight terrorism. But only five have been ratified by more than 100 countries and the newest - to cut off the financing of terrorism - hasn't taken effect because it has not been ratified by enough countries.

The Security Council resolution incorporated key elements from the dozen legal instruments, which means they are now legally binding on all countries, whether the protocols and conventions have been ratified or not.

With the passage of the UN Security Council resolution, the United States should respect and rely on  international law to bring the perpetrators to justice, forgo any unilateral use of military force and make the fight against terrorism a worldwide responsibility by requesting  the Security Council to firstly, establish  an international tribunal with authority to seek out, extradite or arrest and try those responsible for the September 11 attacks and those who commit or are conspiring to commit future attacks, and secondly, to establish an international military or police force under the control of United Nations to effectuate these arrests.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman