WASHINGTON (Jan. 1)
The State Department stressed Tuesday that the United States and other countries have the right to take military action against terrorists. A day earlier, the State Department appealed to Israel to show restraint in the wake of last Friday’s terrorist attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports.
But at the same time it stressed that it was not opposed to a military response by Israel nor was the U.S. ruling out using its ” military option ” as well as diplomatic and economic pressures in the fight against terrorism.
“We and other victimized states have the right to respond to terrorist acts, “Department deputy spokesman Charles Redman said at a Department news briefing Tuesday.” To argue otherwise is to give terrorists free rein in the face of the indiscriminate barbaric acts by terrorists perpetrated against innocent victims. The international community must be able to defend itself.”
Redman’s comments came in response to a question about the resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council Monday which, while condemning the terrorist attacks against the El Al counters at the Rome and Vienna airports last Friday, urged governments to exercise restraint and refrain from any action inconsistent with their obligations under the UN Charter and other rules of international law in responding to it. The words urging caution were at the demand of non-aligned countries.
“We see no conflict between the UN Charter and international law and the right to legitimate self-defense in response to terrorism,” Redman said.
U.S. WELCOMES UN RESOLUTION
But Redman said the U.S. welcomes the resolution which, he noted, condemned the unjustifiable and criminal terrorist attacks. He called the attacks in which 18 persons were killed and more than 110 wounded deliberate and indescribable killings.
Redman noted that this was the fourth and strongest denunciation of terrorism by the Security Council or the General Assembly in the last two-and-a-half months.
“For the first time the UN has urged that those responsible for the attacks, and not only the actual perpetrators, be brought to trial, “Redman added.” This statement, another example of the movement of world opinion against terrorism, reinforces our view of the need for strong action against terrorism and parallel support for our policy of no hiding for terrorists.”
POINTS FINGER AT LIBYA
Redman reinforced the belief by the U.S., Israel and others that Libya is responsible for the attacks by its support of the Abu Nidal terrorist group which carried out the atrocities last week.
He noted that three of the terrorists had Tunisian passports which, according to reports from Tunisia, had been taken from Tunisian workers in Libya. Redman repeated that Libya had praised the attack and that Abu Nidal has been quoted as saying that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi “is a great help to us.”
Redman repeated the U.S. call for other countries to join the U.S. in exerting economic and political pressure on countries supporting terrorism.
In Libya’s case, Redman noted, the U.S. has banned the sale to it of militarily usable aircraft, spare parts, and oil-drilling equipment. “There are things that can be done if the international community is willing to come together and act,” he stressed.