Sunday, September 24, 2006

History of Terrorism Part 5 -
One Man's Terrorist Is Another's Freedom Fighter

It is one of the dirty little secrets of history - whether you are a terrorist or a freedom fighter often depends solely upon your point of view.

ETA - Basque Separatists

Basques believe their existence as a separate race can be traced to 10,000 BCE. The Basque language is one of the oldest extant tongues. It has no roots in Spanish or Latin. Scholars date it to Neolithic times. Basques live in a region along the Pyrenees Mountains including four provinces in Spain and three in France. There has not been a separate Basque country for nearly 500 years.

As a terror organization, ETA (Basque Fatherland and Liberty) dates to 1959. They are agitating for a free Basque state through bombings, kidnappings, and assassination. Since the fall of fascism in Spain, Basques have had a level of autonomy that has softened but not extinguished the separatist movement.

PKK - Kurdistan
Another ancient culture that dates back to 6,000 BCE. Kurdish independence has been an infrequent and haphazard affair for thousands of years. Occasionally, a Kurdish principality would form and survive for a few decades before it was invaded and conquered. The Kurds have never assimilated with the Turkish, Arab, or Persian cultures that dominate them.

The PKK, Kurdish Worker's Party, was in part a Russian, cold war creation to disrupt Turkey. It's goal was, and is, to create a soverign Kurdistan from parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Their tactics include roadside bombs and attacking tourists visiting Turkey.

The creation of an autonomous Kurdistan in post-Saddam Iraq has complicated regional politics. The PKK has safe haven with Iraqi Kurds. The US military considers the Kurdish Peshmerga elements to be the Iraq Army's only effective fighting force. So, while the United States supports its ally Turkey in their struggle against Kurdish terrorists, we also support Kurdish freedom fighters as our strongest allies within Iraq. Although most Kurds are Sunni Moslims, in the spirit of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, Israel is an active supporter of Kurdish separatists. Both Turkey and Iran have attacked United States allies in Iraq with no American response. For all things Kurdish, visit the Kurdistan Shop.

French Resistance
Following the German victory over France in World War Two, French "dead-enders" organized into terror cells. They opposed German efforts to help the French people with food depots and soup kitchens. Their crimes included truck bombs, poisoning the food supplies of German soldiers, blowing up bridges, derailing trains, assassinating Germans and killing innocent French citizens accused of collaboration.

See the difference. To Germans the Resistance were terrorists; to us they were heroes deserving plastic action figure dolls. The photo is of matchbooks with instructions on how to derail trains. This article is a socialist comparison of French and Iraqi resistance tactics.

Irgun - The First Palestinian Terrorists
The photo at right is of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem after the 1946 bombing by the Irgun designed to kill British civilian and military personnel. Formed in 1931, the Irgun disliked the socialist tendencies and peaceful nature of mainstream Zionists. They believed that if Arabs killed Jews then Jews should kill Arabs in greater numbers. They felt that only bloody retaliation would stop the Arab pogroms.

The events at Deir Yassin in 1948 are the perfect example of how the difference between terrorist and freedom fighter is who is telling the story. From the Arab point-of-view, Deir Yassin was a massacre where more than one hundred women, children, and elderly were butchered by the Irgun and Stern Gang. The Israeli point-of-view is that it was a military action to protect the Jerusalem Road against well armed fighters where Jewish soldiers went out of their way to protect innocent lives. What is the truth? Perhaps there is no truth, only perspective.

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