State Slow to Publish List of Terrorists: Political Correctness Is Blamed for Delay
Gertz, Bill, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The State Department has yet to publish a list of foreign terrorist organizations operating in the United States - more than a year after it was required to by a law meant to end fund raising by such groups as Hezbollah and Hamas.
"Piecemeal designation in the fight against terrorism would be far better than inaction," Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a letter to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. "The 15-month delay in the implementation of this statute is unacceptable."
Mr. Hyde said in an interview that the list "should have been done months ago, and many of us in Congress are wondering why" it has not been produced. Congressional aides said the State Department delayed the list because a draft provided by the FBI was not "politically correct." Most groups on the list are Arab or Islamic organizations. Supporters of the Irish Republican Army also make the list.
But State Department officials blamed the delay on the time-consuming preparation of the list and said the Justice Department also is responsible for the holdup because of concerns about lawsuits.
Mr. Hyde said he also is concerned by Mrs. Albright's failure to fill the post of counterterrorism chief at the State Department. Cutbacks in the staff and budget of the anti-terrorism office are signs that the department sees terrorism as a "low priority," he said.
"I hope the State Department will get a move on and put political correctness aside," Mr. Hyde said.
In his letter, he said the FBI "has already provided extensive material on a number of identifiable and known foreign terrorist organizations to the State Department," including Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terrorist group known to be conducting support activities in the United States.
The letter also mentions Hamas, the Palestinian group that is suspected of carrying out last week's suicide bombings in Israel.
Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, has raised up to $10 million in the United States through several groups operating charitable organizations, according to experts.
Mr. Hyde noted in his letter that President Clinton threatened to veto the terrorism legislation last year unless it contained language on designating terrorist groups. The bill was signed into law with the anti-fund-raising provisions April 24, 1996.
"Despite the administration's tough rhetoric on the issue of international terrorism, its failure to implement this provision only undercuts its stated policy," Mr. Hyde said in the July 14 letter.
Mr. Hyde also said that listing U.S. support groups for the IRA could be "politically sensitive" but is necessary.
Two groups in the United States that British officials suspect have backed IRA terrorists are Friends of Sinn Fein and the Irish Northern Aid Committee, known as Noraid. The groups raised about $1.5 million in 1995 and 1996 from U. …