Jerusalem Post

Dismantle terror-supporting regimes

Comment By Binyamin Netanyahu

(September 14) - In 1995, I wrote in my book, Fighting Terrorism: "Extremist Islamic terrorist organizations nullify in large measure the need to have air power or intercontinental missiles as delivery systems for an Islamic nuclear payload. The terrorists themselves will be the delivery system. In the worst of such scenarios, the consequences could be not a car bomb but a nuclear bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center.

"The rising tide of Islamic terrorism is qualitatively different from the terrorism which the West has had to face until now. The various strains of militant Islam see their ultimate destiny as leading to a final confrontation with the Great Satan, the United States.

"What this new terrorism portends for America and the world and what can be done about it has not yet been sufficiently understood. The growth of terrorism has been accompanied by a steady escalation in the means of violence, including those capable of bringing down entire buildings. The very real possibility that terrorist states and organizations may soon acquire horrific weapons of mass destruction and use them to escalate terrorism beyond our wildest nightmares has not yet been addressed properly by Western governments.

"It must be recognized that, barring firm and resolute action by the United States and the West, terrorism will expand dramatically."

Ultimately, the explosion and collapse of the World Trade Center was caused by 300 tons of jet fuel rather than by a nuclear device, and this means that the tragic horror we experienced this week was not the worst possible scenario. Down the line, a far worse catastrophe may be in the offing: terrorist regimes like Iran and Iraq wielding atomic weapons. No longer will individuals or buildings be the ones threatened by terror; entire cities may be destroyed, entire states may be held hostage. The world is on the verge of an abyss, and most political leaders have not properly gauged its depth.

The only way to fully understand this is to recall the effects of another hate-filled ideology, Nazism, which also started as a local movement, and which in just a few years became a world force. Nazism 60 years ago, like fundamentalist Islam today, was also initially directed only against Jews and other local minorities. It quickly became clear, however, that its passionate hatred was directed against our entire civilization.

Then as now, the democracies were late in appreciating the horrendous implications to our societies of a fanatic ideology bent on world domination and lacking any inhibition about destroying lives in the process.

Hitler was working to develop nuclear weapons. If he had, our civilization would have come to an end. Today, for the second time in the modern era, we are faced with the possibility that weapons of mass destruction will fall in the hands of a maniacal movement, whose leaders are blinded by their fanaticism to a sober calculation of deterrence.

We could face terror and destruction on a scale that would dwarf even the horrors of Manhattan. This is the greatest danger we have ever faced. Until recently, no one dealt with it. The democracies have wasted too much time. They are approaching the 12th hour. They cannot wait any longer.

The United States must lead the alliance of free nations to stamp out terrorism and uproot its safe havens. We must declare terrorism as a crime against humanity and the terrorist as enemies of mankind. We must destroy the terrorist organizations, punish and dismantle regimes that support or harbor them, and disarm their weapons of death.

For the suicide bombers are only the tip of the iceberg. Their actions could not have been possible without a broad infrastructure of governments, organizations, and ideological movements that support terror, directly and indirectly. The battle lines are clear. Those who support barbaric terror are dancing in Gaza and Ramallah, Beirut and Baghdad. Those who support freedom and democracy are grieving in New York and London, Paris and Tel Aviv.

Terror cannot be defeated unless it is completely uprooted. America must lead the international war against terrorism, but Israel must do its share. Here, right next to us - and in large measure, with our encouragement - a terror-supporting regime par excellence, led by Arafat and the PLO, has developed. And its capabilities grow increasingly stronger. It, too, like the entire empire of terror, must be disarmed and demilitarized - before it is too late.

The free world must defeat terror. If it does not, terror will defeat us.

Today's tragedies can either be the harbingers of much greater calamities yet to come or the turning point in which free societies once again mobilize their resources, their ingenuity, and their will to wipe out this evil from our midst. Eradicating terrorism is not a "policy option" - it is a necessity for the survival of our democratic society and our freedoms.