Mark Turner / Financial Times – 2004-10-09 00:32:41
UNITED NATIONS (October 7 2004) — Russia was on Thursday facing a challenge from Islamic nations to its attempts to secure United Nations legislation against all acts of terror, including those committed by separatist movements such as in Chechnya.
Moscow, with British and Spanish backing, has proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution could be an important step towards a single definition of terrorism — something that has eluded the UN General Assembly for years.
The move threatened to highlight disagreements between Muslim and other countries as what constitutes legitimate resistance, and which acts should be universally condemned.
Algeria and Pakistan, the only two Islamic nations on the Security Council, have expressed concern at any move banning what they consider legitimate acts of resistance against occupying powers.
The UN will debate the proposal this morning. Abdallah Baali, the Algerian ambassador, said: “We should find a way to make sure this resolution is not going to criminalise acts of resistance”. But Algeria and Pakistan agreed that acts of terror against civilians were unacceptable.
The draft text demands all states prevent or punish “criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public, intimidate a population or compel a government or international organisation to do or abstain from doing any act”.
It asserts that these, and acts covered by previous anti-terror laws, “are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature”.
Islamic countries fear the phrase “including civilians” might imply that the resolution also applies to fighters against occupying militaries, and want the text to apply only to civilians. Spain, however, is resisting the redraft. The text would also ask an expert group to consider drawing up a list of all terrorists, who would be subject to a financial freeze, movement restrictions and an arms embargo.
Pakistan on Thursday expressed concern at the proposal. The move would expand on current UN action against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, established after the 9/11 attacks. The Russian push follows global outrage at the Beslan school massacre. But it also comes amid concern at its government’s perceived erosion of democratic checks and balances.
n A British computer specialist arrested in London in August has been charged in the US with terror-related offences, reports Rohit Jaggi in London.
Babar Ahmad, 30, who is being held pending extradition proceedings, is accused of conspiracy to support the Taliban, the Chechen Mujahideen and related terrorist groups; providing material support to terrorists; conspiring to kill persons in a foreign country; and money laundering.
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