Terrorism and counter‐terrorism in a multi‐centric world: Challenges and opportunities

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    Terrorism andcounterterrorismin a multicentricworld: Challenges andopportunitiesRonald D. Crelinsten a ba Professor of Criminology at the University ofOttawa , Canadab Visiting Professor in the Department ofPolitical Science and Public Administration ,Middle East Technical University , Ankara,TurkeyPublished online: 21 Dec 2007.

    To cite this article: Ronald D. Crelinsten (1999) Terrorism and counterterrorismin a multicentric world: Challenges and opportunities, Terrorism and PoliticalViolence, 11:4, 170-196, DOI: 10.1080/09546559908427539

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  • 15

    Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism ina Multi-Centric World: Challenges

    and Opportunities1

    RONALD D. CRELINSTEN

    Introduction

    This article looks at the future of terrorism and counter-terrorism byexamining the past. It does this in two ways. First, I compare twoincidents that happened 22 years apart: one in 1999 and one in 1977.The capture in Nairobi, Kenya, of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of theKurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) by Turkish intelligence agents inFebruary 1999 highlights some of the most salient features of thecurrent environment in which terrorism and counter-terrorism unfoldtoday, especially when we compare it with a similar incident thatoccurred some two decades previously involving the Palestinianterrorist, Abu Daoud. Second, I examine two discourses that happenedsome 18 years apart: one in 1980 (and the late seventies) and one in1999 (and the late nineties). The current discourse over whetherterrorists will use weapons of mass destruction (WMD terrorism) iscompared with an article that was published in 1980 concerning thesame topic. The 1999 discourse, like the 1999 incident, reveals otherfeatures of the environment in which terrorism and counter-terrorisminteract today, especially when compared with the 1980 discourse. It isthese features as revealed in the comparative incidents and thecomparative discourses - that may provide important clues to futuredevelopments in terrorism and its control over the coming decade,particularly as they may affect Europe and the Middle East as opposedto the United States. In addition, they may also explain why current(primarily American) discourse on the future of terrorism may be both

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  • TERRORISM IN A MULTI-CENTRIC WORLD 171

    misleading as far as Europe is concerned and, more importantly,dangerous in terms of misrepresenting future threats and blindingeveryone to more likely scenarios. It is both at the level of phenomena(incidents) and at the level of discourse (analysis, prediction, threatassessment) that future developments in terrorism and counter-terrorism will be played out and the interaction between the two levelsis a crucial part of understanding them.

    1999 vs. 1977 - The Abdullah Ocalan and Abu Daoud CasesCompared

    After some 12 days of peripatetic travel by Abdullah Ocalan, leader ofthe Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), in the vain search for somecountry that would accept his request for political asylum, he wasfinally flown to the Greek embassy in Nairobi, where the circumstancesof his capture on February 15 remain uncertain. From the time he wasexpelled from Syria some months before, his whereabouts were thesubject of intense media speculation. First he was in Russia. Russiadenied this. Then he appeared in Italy and the newly elected socialistcoalition government refused to extradite him to Turkey. Germany,which had an international arrest warrant out for the Kurdish leader,ultimately decided to rescind the warrant and refrain from requestingextradition. The newly elected socialist government was trying to passlegislation allowing dual citizenship for Turks who had lived in thecountry for decades - or had even been born there and did not wantthe spectacle of Kurdish/Turkish confrontations turning the Germanpublic against this legislative initiative. Germany had already witnesseda wave of violent protest by Kurdish groups and did not relish any more.Meanwhile, Turkish-Italian relationships deteriorated and a Turkishboycott of Italian goods and services began. Tourist travel from Turkeyto Italy plummeted as travel agents in Turkey claimed a significant dropin business to Italy. Italian imports were affected as well.2 Finally,Ocalan was refused refugee status in Italy but was allowed to leave thecountry and he disappeared again. He was said to be back in Russia.Russia denied this. Then he was said to have gone to The Netherlands,presumably to seek a hearing from the International Court of Justice inThe Hague. The Dutch government claimed they refused him access.Belgium revealed that they had prevented a private plane with Ocalanaboard from landing there. When the Turks seized him in Nairobi,

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  • 172 THE FUTURE OF TERRORISM

    Ocalan was carrying a fake Greek Cypriot passport with a false nameand had been a 'guest' of the Greek government which had secretlyflown him to its embassy there. According to one rumour circulating inthe wake of his capture, Ocalan had used his cellular telephone to makea call, despite Greek warnings not to do so, and either Israeli or USintelligence was thereby able to locate him and notify the Turks of hiswhereabouts. Some two weeks later, CNN Interactive, the Internetversion of CNN, carried an article on CIA 'disruption operations'against terrorism, in which it was revealed that it was the CIA that hadhelped the Turks: 'Typically, a disruption operation begins with a scrapof information - an intercepted cellphone call, word that a knownterrorist has crossed into another country, a report from a fieldsurveillance team'.3 The article goes on:

    The recent arrest by Turkish forces in Kenya of Kurdish rebelleader Abdullah Ocalan is one of the rare examples where thedisruption tactic gained public notice. The CIA and otherintelligence agencies refuse to comment on whether they played arole in assisting Turkey. But other US officials say the UnitedStates provided Turkey with critical information about Ocalan'swhereabouts.4

    As soon as Ocalan's seizure became public knowledge, Greekembassies in London and Copenhagen were attacked by Kurdishprotesters. The London embassy was occupied for several days. TheGreek embassy in The Hague was occupied and the Ambassador's wifeand child were held hostage for 24 hours, until the incident wasresolved peacefully. The Dutch government promised to pressure theTurkish government to give Ocalan a fair trial and not to invoke thedeath penalty. While most protests were concentrated in Europe, therewere incidents as far away as Vancouver, Canada and Sydney,Australia. Kurdish protesters appeared outside the Kosovo talks inRambouillet, France, calling for similar international intervention insupport of their cause. Then rumours spread that Israeli intelligence hadprovided information to Turkish intelligence that helped them traceOcalan to Nairobi (see above). The Israeli consulate in Berlin wasattacked by Kurdish protesters and three of them were shot dead bysecurity guards. The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu,categorically denied the rumour, but Israel temporarily closed allconsulates across Germany. Kurdish protesters outside the Greek

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