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September 23, 2006


The idea of ending (or severely limiting) terrorism by cutting off its funding is a good one - but is very hard to implement in the real world. The problem is that terrorism is cheap; and terrorism withing the Arab world is especially cheap, since transportation/assimilation costs are nonexistent or negligible.

Terrorists don't use expensive weapons like tanks or airplanes (other than the planes they occasionally hijack, at least). Their explosives are often fairly small (it doesn't take a big bomb to ignite a fuel tanker, after all) and are often "home made" from fertilizer and other relatively inexpensive ingredients. And they don't pay very high salaries!

Editor (GC): I agree Don. However, there is substantial cost involved, nonetheless. Saddam Hussein paid $25,000 to the family of each Palestinian suicide bomber to give men an incentive to commit mass homicide along with suicide against Israelis. Even "cheap" explosives like fertilizer cost money too, as do cars, detonators, weapons, "safe" houses, hush money, communications devices, etc. to defend against coalition forces. The explosives, weapons, and bribes to homicide bombers alone are costing whoever is funding this war a pretty penny, at least by Middle Eastern standards. This does not look like mere homegrown angst acting itself out. There is an element of revenge killing -- Sunnis slaughter Shiites who then take revenge -- but this is too large-scale and concerted, and too much of a full-court press, to support the theory that revenge killing is all that is going on. Someone is orchestrating and funding this concerted effort to squelch a fledling democracy. I would not be surprised to learn that Iran is funding much of this mayhem. Nor would I be surprised to learn that charitable donations from Saudis and/or Westerners sympathetic to Pakistani earthquake victims and other innocuous-sounding causes are being diverted to fund these terror attacks. It has happened before and it is probably still happening. Thanks for your comments, Don. - GC

Gina, I didn't mean to imply that what's going on in Iraq today was purely local, but only that the amounts of money involved are so small in comparison to the wealth available to the government of Iran and various wealthy Saudis (among others) that it's a relatively minor expense for them. Also, the funds can flow to Iraq without having to go through the Western financial system, so the various safeguards that have been set up to prevent terror financing are pretty much useless in this case.

Best regards,


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