Mr. Lantos. If there is an attempt by a terrorist group to attack a purely civilian target like a kindergarten--does the State Department definition of civilian targets include kindergartens?
Mr. Kelly. Yes.
Mr. Lantos. I just want to be sure that we are using the same definition. So we have now defined a kindergarten as a civilian target. Let us assume that a terrorist group has a premeditated plan, as in fact several PLO terrorist groups have had over the years, as you well know. Are you aware, Mr. Kelly, of attacks at children's homes by terrorists groups in Israel?
Mr. Kelly. I am.
Mr. Lantos. So this is not a fanciful example. If a terrorist group has a premeditated plan to attack a kindergarten and Israeli troops prevent this outrage from unfolding, and they intercept the terrorist group and prevent the terrorist group from machine-gunning children, under your definition clearly this is not a terrorist attack because the children were not killed.
Now no one in his right mind can truly believe that this is a rational definition of terrorism by the major democratic nation on the face of this planet. But let me give you a purely military example. Our distinguished chairman and I and other colleagues visited our troops at Beirut Airport shortly before they were blown up. Now there was no kindergarten there. They were just American soldiers, and they were all killed. Was that a terrorist attack in your judgment, Mr. Kelly?
Mr. Kelly. Yes, indeed.
Mr. Lantos. Well, is it not time then, as a responsible official in the State Department, that you advocate the changing of this idiotic definition rather than keep repeating it. It is obvious to everybody who has eyes and ears that there is a series of terrorist attacks which the State Department attempts to sweep under the rug.
Let me quote from your report: `Since December 1988,' you say, `there have been almost 30 border and rocket attacks by Palestinian groups against Israel, at least nine of which have involved constituent groups of the PLO.' In most cases--and follow me closely now, I am quoting from your report--`the intended target of the attack was unclear.'
Well, was the intended target of the attack the Vienna Boy's Choir, was the intended target of the attack the Bolshoi Ballet, was it the Congressional Women's Caucus? No. The intended targets were targets within Israel--children, women, communities, kindergartens. Those were the intended targets. Those intended targets are clear to everybody except to the authors of this report. That is why I believe that this report is a shameless whitewash.
And the inability of the Assistant Secretary to define terrorism--when our fight against terrorism is one of the cornerstones of our foreign policy--is absolutely unbelievable. We do not want you to make a judgment case by case, because we do not trust your judgment. We want you to have criteria that rational people can apply without your judgment. Your judgment has proven flawed because you say we do not know the intended targets of unquestionably terrorist attacks.
You say in the three incidents in Israel that `civilians appeared to be the target.' Well, let me tell you why they appeared to be the target. This is what the PLO group that perpetrated the terrorist attacks against civilians said. I am quoting from the report about the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine--which is about as democratic as the Kremlin was under Stalin: `The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine has claimed responsibility for the operation. A spokesman for the Front said that a Fedayeen group from the unit carried out Operation Holy Jerusalem No. 2 along the road leading to the Zionist settlement of Zarit.' Well, the `Zionist settlement of Zarit' is made up of children and women and farmers. So you do not have to say that it appears to be an attack against a civilian target, but they say so! They named the settlement, and they named the place where the kindergarten is. But you have not made up your mind as to whether that is a terrorist attack or not. Was that a terrorist act?
Mr. Kelly. I believe it was, yes.
Mr. Ackerman. Why is that not listed in your report if that was a terrorist attack. I see nine things listed, but this act of terrorism is not among them, or can you find a definition that would now preclude it?
Mr. Kelly. Congressman, I am advised that this was an ex post facto assertion by the PFLP, and that the information--
Mr. Lantos. Well, that is good enough for me. That after the terrorist attack they claimed responsibility for it. The CIA puts out this chart saying Palestinian organizations, and on the left it says PLO member groups. And this is one of the PLO member groups. This PLO member group claims that its terrorists were on their way to a civilian settlement--presumably not to play chamber music. And on the way to the settlement, they are intercepted and killed. Is that not a terrorist act, or explain to me under what definition that this is not a terrorist act?
Mr. Kelly. The assertion by the PFLP was that they were heading for a settlement, which would imply a non-combatant target. Which would imply to me based on that assertion alone that it was an attempted terrorist attack. The people who evaluated the incident determined that, based on the available evidence, the target was unclear.
Mr. Lantos. Well, unless they are deranged, the target is not unclear. They were headed in that direction, and their statement claims that they were headed in that direction, and they were killed on their way to that civilian settlement. So why was it unclear?