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European Press Review: Terrorism Hits Home

European editorials focused on the recent spate of letter bomb attempts and security alerts, as well as reviewed terrorism in 2003.

Within the last days of the year, letter bombs were sent to the president of the European commission, Eurojust, a European law enforcement organization, the police agency Europol and the European Central Bank. And the fact that the bombs were found and no one was hurt sounds almost unreal, said Austria’s Die Presse, but is nonetheless reassuring. Security has obviously improved. Now all that remains is to figure out where the hate is coming from and why it’s being directed at the European Union.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung said that the very real threat of terrorism has reached Germany following intelligence that militant Islamists were planning an attack on a German army hospital in Hamburg. It shows, said the paper, that a threat thus far perceived as distant has now evoked the painful memories of recent terrorist attacks. The incident in Hamburg, wrote the paper, also serves to illustrate the need for heightened security as practiced by the United States. Vigilance without hysteria can be a strong weapon against terrorism, it concluded.

Other papers looked at the terrorism challenges that marked 2003.

Switzerland’s Neue Züricher Zeitung said there are social, political and economic reasons for more Muslims becoming receptive to Islamic propaganda. The double dealing that Arabs accuse the West of is not without grounds. The West preaches and supports democracy in the Middle East but, the paper pointed out, it also backs authoritarian regimes. Many Muslims are disappointed by the fact that the U.S. hasn’t come up with a better strategy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Only by more involvement, more development co-operation and support for democratic power can al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden be stopped.

Iraq will remain the focus of international policy for some time and so will the topic of terrorism, predicted the Netherland’s Algemeen Dagblad. Washington’s assertions that the world has become a safer place since the capture of ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has yet to be backed-up with convincing proof. What has become a reality is, he’s gone from power. Next year’s turning point will be whether Americans vote George W. Bush back into office again. The paper said many Europeans are uncertain about Bush’s understanding of peace.

And Britain’s The Financial Times said if any lesson is to be learned from the capture of Saddam Hussein, it’s that betrayal is the hunter’s most valuable tool. Thousands of U.S. troops and an army of spies are less effective than an insider’s tip. But the paper said, despite the 25 million dollar bounty on the head of al Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden doesn’t appear to have turned his followers into informers. Until bin Laden becomes dispensable for those around him, he will evade capture -- unless he’s dead already, the paper said

  • Date 31.12.2003
  • Author Newslink staff
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  • Date 31.12.2003
  • Author Newslink staff
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/4Vhe