Counter-Terrorism Law and Practice: An International Handbook

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Unformatted text preview: VOLUME 54 | 2009/10 CAROL A. BAHAN International Terrorism: The Legitimization of Safe Harbor States in International Law ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Bahan received her J.D. from New York Law School in June of 2009. 333 334 INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM A terrorist attack on one country is an attack on humanity as a whole. All nations of the world must work together to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. 1 I. INTRODUCTION On September 11, 2001, hijackers used commercial airplanes as “deadly guided missiles” to attack the United States. 2 Two planes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, causing their collapse, while another plane hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. 3 A fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania, never making it to its target. 4 There were more than 3,000 fatalities. 5 Osama bin Laden eventually claimed responsibility for the attacks, although al-Qaeda, the international terrorist group he led, was almost instantly suspected. 6 Despite the magnitude of these attacks as well as their far reaching international implications, where bin Laden is captured may prove to be more vexing than how or when he is captured. Under the current international legal framework governing international terrorism, 7 the locus of capture will dictate the extent to which bin Laden and other international terrorists will face a legitimate prosecution. For example, if bin Laden is captured in Saudi Arabia by Saudi law-enforcement officials, the United States may seek extradition under the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation for trial by U.S. courts under U.S. law. 8 Saudi Arabia, however, could invoke its legal option under this convention 1. Press Release, Kofi Annan, Sec’y-Gen., Sec’y-Gen. Condemns Terrorist Attacks on U.S. ‘in Strongest Possible Terms,’ U.N. Doc. SG/SM/7949 SC/7142 (Sept. 12, 2001). 2. Nat’l Comm’n on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report: Executive Summary 1–2 (2004), 3. Id. at 1. 4. Id. 5. Id. at 1–2. 6. See Douglas Jehl & David Johnston, In Video Message, Bin Laden Issues Warning to U.S ., N.Y. Times, Oct. 30, 2004, at A1; see also Nat’l Comm’n on Terrorist Attacks Upon the U.S., The 9/11 Commission Report 115–16 (1st ed. 2004). Prior to the 9/11 attacks, the U.N. Security Council already recognized the threat of Al-Qaeda as well as the Taliban. See, e.g. , S.C. Res. 1267, U.N. Doc. S/ RES/1267 (Oct. 15, 1999) (condemning, inter alia , the Taliban’s safe haven for bin Laden and creating “the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee”). 7. “Terrorism is generally understood as a method of violence that is intended to ‘create a climate of fear’ in order to ‘service political ends’ by coercing a targeted group or government into acceding to the attackers’ aims.” Tim Stephens, International Criminal Law and the Response to International Terrorism...
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