Terrorism: Finding a Way to Make the Guilty Pay

Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it ... and, sadly, the same might be said about state-sponsored terrorism.

Far from making light of problem, I am looking for solutions that might actually trigger positive change, which is especially urgent for me because I currently work in Afghanistan.

Just hours before I wrote these words, three terrorist slaughters occurred in different locations here in Afghanistan, and the Taliban took credit for two of them. All are likely cases of state-sponsored terror, as Pakistan is known to be supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In the first six months of this year, 1,095 Islamic attacks in 48 countries have been documented by the non-partisan Religion of Peace organization, in which 10,235 persons were killed and 12,168 injured. That's an average of about six terrorist attacks and 57 deaths per day.

I should point out that I am a Muslim. And I have a suggestion for one small way to help stem the tide of state-sponsored terrorism: allow the prosecution of states that sponsor terror, and punish the guilty with sanctions and reparations for survivors of the victims.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill in May that would allow families of the victims in the 9/11 terrorist attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia if it were found to have supported that conspiracy. The bill is called the "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act," and President Barack Obama has already declared that he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

Many speculate that Obama's opposition is based on his desire not to alienate Saudi Arabia, an ally with deep financial ties to the U.S. Officially, the Obama administration claims he will veto the bill only because it would expose the U.S. itself to such lawsuits, but that would require the U.S. to be guilty of sponsoring terrorist acts, which seems absurd.

President Obama already supports compensation for victims of terror, but he pays for it with U.S. taxpayer dollars, instead of demanding that the guilty pay. In December, he signed an omnibus bill that created a new "United States Victims of State Sponsors of Terrorism Fund."

Articles in the New York Times and Washington Post reported that the Fund provides over $1 billion from the U.S. Treasury to compensate victims of international terrorism and their families who have received final court judgments against Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Syria, North Korea and other state sponsors of terrorism.

As an alternative, I suggest the World Court preside over lawsuits seeking justice from states that sponsor terror. Also called the International Court of Justice, the World Court was created to settle disputes between nation-states.

It might not be difficult to prove state-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan has admitted some level of support for the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Taliban regularly claims responsibility for its acts of terror. And, as previously stated, courts have rendered terrorism judgements against at least five other countries.

Why couldn't the World Court place economic sanctions on state sponsors of terror? Sanctions have been used in the past to put pressure on bad world actors like North Korea, Iran and Russia. Sanctions work. If it weren't for sanctions, South Africa would still live under apartheid, Iran would be brandishing nuclear weapons, and Russia would have annexed Ukraine.

For decades, countries like Afghanistan have been victimized by bombings and suicide attacks. Citizens struggle to live a normal life, raise their families and send their children to school. But their cries for help have not been heard.

The West has been relatively safe from state-sponsored terrorism until recent years. Of those 1,095 Islamic terrorist attacks worldwide in the last six months, all but 17 occurred in the Middle East or Africa, out of sight and out of mind for most westerners. They only seem to make headlines if they occur in London, Paris or Florida.

Get the World Court and/or the United Nations involved. Put pressure on states that sponsor terrorism.

I'm not naïve enough to think that the threat of court judgments would deter individuals who kill in the name of Islam. But if we could slap painful economic sanctions on the governments that support them, if might nudge civilization in a better direction.