TCS Daily

Spy vs. Shy

By Stefania Lapenna - August 9, 2006 12:00 AM

"War is never the answer." That's the official motto of the world's left wing in response to the war on terror's military option. True to form, the Italian left has always advocated a "non-military" approach to the war on the global jihad, saying that intelligence could be a better option to dismantle clandestine home-grown terrorist networks.

Yet, sometimes action doesn't match even this lame sloganeering. This is the case with Italy's center-left government. Last month, the government ordered the arrest of two officials of the intelligence services, better known as SISMI. The arrests took place amidst a fierce political debate over the role SISMI had in what is being called the kidnapping of a radical Islamist imam, Abu Omar. The latter was a notorious preacher of hatred and jihad in the mosque of Viale Jenner, in Milan, and was accused of sending money to Al Qaeda. The government claims that the two SISMI officials knew about the CIA's main role in the kidnapping.

In what Magdi Allam, the Egyptian-born investigative journalist and deputy editor of Il Corriere della Sera, calls a governmental operation against counter-terrorist activities, another investigation has been opened against Renato Farina, a columnist for the right-wing daily Libero. Farina has been accused of helping SISMI find the imam. The journalist has admitting doing so and, in an op-ed published in Libero, apologized. But he noted that "it's sad that terrorists walk free and journalists are arrested for warning the intelligence about the danger these [terror-preaching imams] pose to our national security".

While it is true that the search for those responsible for the kidnapping of the cleric had started in the final days of the previous center-right government, the current administration has indiscriminately opted to arrest two intelligence officials who so far had done exemplary work. As Magdi Allam wrote again in one of his brilliant editorials in the Corriere della Sera, the officials are being prosecuted for doing their duty, which was to unmask the preachers of hatred. This is exactly what Renato Farina tried to do.

The Italian government and the mainstream media in Italy keep calling this episode a CIA "kidnapping". But this is a complete distortion. The imam was handed over to the CIA by the Italian intelligence service and taken into custody for questioning. The prosecution of the SISMI officials and the Libero journalist is considered a huge blow to the war on terror and a victory for the Islamist terrorists and their supporters.

Nevertheless, Italy seems to have no problem with those who use mosques and Islamic cultural centers to spread hatred and Jihadist ideology among their followers. So far, Italy had no problem with the mosque of Viale Jenner in Milan, even though it is well-known for turning previously moderate Muslims into terror supporters, some them even ended up fighting Jihad in Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya. Before coming to Italy, Abu Omar was expelled from Egypt for his extremist activities.

Italy has decided to wage a subtle but dangerous war on those who fight terrorism through intelligence. Many Italians are expressing concern about the long-term impact of this appalling policy toward anti-terrorism officials. And they are right to worry.

How does the government intend to protect its citizens from terror? The Italian authorities fail to understand how deadly the threat of the global jihadist movements is. These dangerous policies can still be reversed, but time is running out. It is up to the Italian government to decide whether to protect its citizens or those who want to murder them.

Stefania Lapenna is an Italian political activist and blogger. She blogs at Free Thoughts. She wrote for several newspapers, such as the Jerusalem Post. In Italy, she wrote for L'Opinione and Il Foglio and is a contributor to Ragion Politica.



Typical Leftism
Churchill said that those who appease the crocodile by feeding it, in the vain hope of not being eaten are doomed.
Obviously the Italians are reading the croc's menu and hoping.


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