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EDITORIAL - Eleven years after 9/11

(The Philippine Star) - September 11, 2012 - 12:00am

Eleven years after the worst terrorist attack on American soil left nearly 3,000 people dead and another 6,000 wounded, violence remains a problem in the old haunts of Osama bin Laden. But in many countries including the Philippines, the threat of terrorism appears to have ebbed.

This can be attributed to an unrelenting US-led campaign – in some cases employing methods that violate basic rights, the Geneva Conventions and national sovereignty – to eradicate a threat that transcends national borders. Bin Laden was killed last year and most of his top lieutenants are either dead or detained in Guantanamo, and so far his successor has not launched a major attack.

Certain measures such as tighter security at airports, seaports and train stations, which initially triggered debates about violation of privacy and other civil liberties, have become commonplace, and even reassuring for those worried about their safety. Stronger international rules and closer cooperation against money laundering have also tightened the screws on terrorist financing.

Debates continue, however, on the way the war on terror is being carried out. Concerns have also been raised that the means could undermine the values and democratic way of life that the war on terror is supposed to protect. Certain groups continue to complain about racial profiling.

In the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah, loosely linked to Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, have been decapitated in the past 11 years. It would be dangerous, however, to ignore the threat posed by extremism. Major attacks around the world were launched against soft targets, in societies that let down their guard, often by individuals who planned their operations for months and even years.

The annual commemoration of the attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 is a reminder that the threat of extremist violence persists. Security measures, already in place, must be sustained, even as they continue to be fine-tuned to address concerns about civil liberties.

ABU SAYYAF AND JEMAAH ISLAMIYAH BIN BIN LADEN CONTINUE GENEVA CONVENTIONS GUANTANAMO IN THE PHILIPPINES OSAMA QAEDA THREAT UNITED STATES
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