Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, like all Americans, I was enormously encouraged with the news last night that Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials had moved so quickly, so professionally, to apprehend the suspect in the bombing of the World Trade Center.
The breathtaking pace with the arrest of this individual is a testament to their skill and courage, and it reinforces what we know about our law enforcement people--that they are, in fact, the best in the world. I am confident that should they find that others were involved in this terrible deed, they will move just as swiftly to identify and apprehend them.
Mr. President, the judicial process has begun in relation to this case, and this suspect, as with all suspects, is due his day in court. However, I am disturbed at credible reports that the individual charged with participating in this crime, Mohammed Saloma, a resident of Jersey City, NJ, is believed to be connected with violent Moslem fundamentalist groups that advocate the violent overthrow of the governments of Egypt, Israel, and other Middle Eastern nations.
These reports must serve as a clarion call for the concerted effort, in conjunction with other nations, to investigate, to identify, and to root out groups who, under the banner of Islam, perpetrate violence throughout the world and operate as enemies of peace and stability. Clearly, the majority of Moslems in the United States reject this cult of terrorists. One's religion is no mark of one's politics. The Moslems of this Nation certainly do not support violence against fellow Americans and others.
Mr. President, this brutal bombing against innocent American civilians, on U.S. territory, makes one thing crystal clear: If the long arm of Middle East terrorist groups can strike at Americans hard at work on the hundredth floor of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, then no American is safe.
I served as a commissioner on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. We had offices on the 67th floor. This was a building that harbored life. There was all kinds of activity at the center, and people from all over the world work there. It is the core of the world's financial and monetary systems. It seems impossible that someone could violate the tranquility, the business, the activity there is such a horrible way.
Nevertheless, this building, built like a fortress--and I visited the site--was torn apart, in some ways like a paper bag. Floors of steel and concrete were just demolished. Cars were flipped over on their roof, as if they were on a spit, because there was no room to turn. It is a miracle that not more than the five already identified were killed. One of them was from New Jersey. They were from all parts of the region. It was a devastating act, and just to see the damage sent a chill up and down one's spine.
It's a reminder that an ocean, no matter how vast, and that separates us from the Middle East, does not necessarily protect us against violence. If terrorism can rip our financial center apart, bring this premier city to its knees, then it can bite, wound and kill Americans anywhere.
Mr. President, in light of this arrest, and the evidence suggesting a possible link between the suspect and a violent Islamic movement, it is doubly important for Federal criminal authorities to step up the investigation of violent Islamic fundamentalist groups in the United States. We need to ensure that fundraising operations that exist in this country of this and other Islamic fundamentalist groups like Hamas are not supporting terrorist activities. We need to ensure that command and control operations of terrorist groups and groups like Hamas are not being exercised in this country.
Mr. President, terrorists cannot exist in a vacuum. They need money, supplies, and safe houses in which to hide, and to train people to perpetrate their heinous crimes. to stop terrorism in its tracks and to protect American lives, we have to cut off their sources, resources, their funding and ruthlessly root out those who support and bankroll terrorist operations from our own shores. I recently wrote to Secretary of State Christopher, commending the State Department's decision to include Hamas, a violent terrorist organization dedicated to the overthrow of Israel in its annual report on terrorist organizations.
I ask unanimous consent that the letter I sent, and a letter signed by many of my colleagues be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the letters were ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Washington, DC, February 26, 1993.
Hon. Warren Christopher,
Secretary of State, Department of State, Washington, DC.
Dear Secretary Christopher: Enclosed is a letter I have circulated in the Senate expressing support for your reported decision to include the activities of Hamas in the State Department's annual report on terrorist organizations.
The letter also urges the State Department to include the activities of other violent Islamic fundamentalist organizations in the Middle East and recommends that the report address a number of specific issues.
I hope the State Department's report will respond to the issues we have addressed in this letter. I look forward to working with you in the future on this and other issue of mutual interest.
Frank R. Lautenberg.
Washington, DC, February 25, 1993.
Hon. Warren Christopher,
Secretary of State, Department of State, Washington, DC.
Dear Secretary Christopher: We are writing to express our support for your reported decision to include the activities of Hamas in the State Department's annual report on terrorist organizations. We also believe the State Department report should include the activities of other extremist Islamic fundamentalist groups, also supported by Iran, which use violent tactics and have increased in strength in the Middle East in the last year.
It is important to obtain a better understanding of Hamas, which opposes the Middle East peace process, and other violent Islamic fundamentalist groups, which are destabilizing forces in the region. When the report is issued in April we believe it should address a number of important issues.
First, in light of recent news reports that fund-raising for Hamas may be taking place in the United States, we believe the report should include a thorough review of the organization's activities and operations--including fund-raising--in the United States. Such review should be carried out by the appropriate domestic law enforcement agencies.
Second, we believe the report should include information on the level of financial assistance and other support Hamas and other violent Islamic fundamentalist organizations receive from foreign governments, particularly Iran.
Third, we believe the report should include information on the level of assistance and support provided to Hamas and other violent Islamic fundamentalist organizations by non-governmental organizations and individuals in foreign countries, such as Jordan, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.
Fourth, we believe the report should include an analysis of the location of the command and control of Hamas and other violent fundamentalist Islamic organizations, and an overview of military and training operations both inside Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Finally, we would appreciate receiving supplementary reports on Hamas and other violent Islamic fundamentalist organizations. It is important for the Congress and the public to have a fuller understanding of these newly emerging groups which support violence and terrorism.
The militant Islamic Hamas, which supports violent tactics, is a dangerously destabilizing force in the Middle East. It is clear that this group rejects the peace process and supports violence. The Hamas convenant reads `* * * There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals, and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.'
Additionally, the group is irrevocably opposed to Israel's existence. Numerous Israelis have been brutally killed by Hamas terrorists and the group claims responsibility for the recent kidnapping and murder of Moshe Toledano, a civilian border patrolman. When Hamas recently took responsibility for the brutal killing of two Israeli soldiers, Hamas issued a statement saying `* * * Hamas and its armed wing `Izz-al-din al-Qassam will continue to wage a merciless war until the total liberation of all the land of Palestine.'
Israel is not the only country that is threatened by the increasing support from militant Islamic fundamentalist groups similar to Hamas which use terrorist tactics. Violent fundamentalist Islamic organizations are a destabilizing force throughout the Middle East. In the last year, these groups have grown in strength in the region, particularly in Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia. Like Hamas, these groups are supported by Iran, are committed to overthrowing governments across the region, and raise the specter of destabilization in the region.
We believe that including Hamas and similar Islamic fundamentalist groups that use violent tactics in the annual report on terrorist organizations is a useful step which will provide a greater understanding of the problems these groups pose in the Middle East. Ultimately, other governments and their citizens must be discouraged from providing financial support for organizations which foster terrorist activities. We encourage you to work toward that end. The United States and the international community must be vigilant in efforts to rid the world of terrorism.
We look forward to working with you on this vital matter, and appreciate your attention to this request.
Chuck Grassley, Edward M. Kennedy, Jay Rockefeller, Conrad Burns, Alfonse D'Amato, Larry Pressler, Slade Gorton, Arlen Specter, Phil Gramm,
Frank R. Lautenberg, Chris Dodd, Paul Simon, Herb Kohl, Patty Murray, Russ Feingold, Dale Bumpers, Daniel Inouye, Tom Harkin.
Carol Moseley-Braun, Joseph Lieberman, John C. Danforth, Dirk Kempthorne, Larry E. Craig, Chuck Robb, Richard Shelby, Harris Wofford, Kit Bond, J. Bennett Johnston,
Barbara Boxer, Howard M. Metzenbaum, Dianne Feinstein, Hank Brown, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Bob Kerrey, Dick Lugar, Bill Bradley.
Mr. LAUTENBERG. The World Trade Center bombing indicates that our Government must go further. To that end, I urge the State Department in my letter to investigate the activities and sources of funding of other extremist Islamic fundamentalist groups which use violent tactics and which threaten America and our allies, Israel, and other Middle Eastern governments. The group that, according to the press reports and investigators, may be connected with the World Trade Center bombing, appears to fall into that category. Hamas and other violent groups of that ilk support violence as a means of achieving their goals. They are also completely opposed to the peace process and are committed to wiping Israel off of the face of the Earth.
They are committed to establishing Islamic fundamentalist groups throughout the Middle East.
I had occasion to see Hamas charter recently. I recently appeared on a CNN program with Larry King about Hamas. The image that is portrayed in the press of the Hamas people who are in Lebanon is of a group of innocents suddenly swept from their homes, deported, and held in confinement without food or medicine. But when the individual representing Hamas was asked by Larry King whether or not the sections of the Hamas charter that commits Hamas to kill every Jew, that commits Hamas to make Palestine an Islamic fundamentalist state were true, he would not say no.
Those kinds of violent groups have no place anywhere in the world. But particularly they ought not to be encouraged or able to support terrorist activities in this, our country.
Violent Islamic fundamentalist organizations are committed to overthrowing governments and establishing Islamic fundamentalist governments throughout the Middle East region. Whether it is Algeria, Tunisia, or Egypt, it does not matter; they want to overthrow those governments. They do not want the democratic process to be working. As such, Hamas and other violent groups are a dangerous, destablishing force in the Middle East and could become a potent force of terrorism here in America, as we have seen.
In the last year, violent Islamic fundamentalist groups have grown in strength in the region, particularly in the countries that I named before: Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria. Israelis have been brutally killed by Hamas terrorists. And like Hamas, these affiliated groups, are supported by Iran and are committed to overthrowing governments across the region. And now it appears that they want to strike us here at home.
Mr. President, we cannot afford to wait until violent Islamic fundamentalist organizations or compatriot organizations strike again in the United States or in Egypt or in Israel, or anywhere else in the world. And strike again they will, unless we stop them. We have to cut them off at the knees, starve them from funding, and clean them out of our land.
If you read today's Washington Post, you saw comments by President Mubarak of Egypt. They will not tolerate in Egypt this kind of violent activity.
If these people are indeed operating and fundraising here to support violence, we have to stop it as quickly as we can.
I call on the Justice Department and the State Department to redouble their efforts in this area, and to work with peace-loving nations around the world to similarly deal with this threat.
Mr. President, I have here a copy of a book, `Patterns on Global Terrorism.' It is issued each year. And one of the things that we asked for is to make sure that Hamas and other violent fundamentalist groups are included in this list.
I ask unanimous consent that the cover page of this publication be printed in the Record to confirm a point of reference.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, it is very obvious that there was a great deal of satisfaction in the detection and the arrest of the suspect who may have committed or been partially responsible, for this crime. And as I said, everyone is entitled to his day in court. This individual is as well. That a suspect as charged so quickly is again a testament to the quality of the work of the law enforcement groups involved.
Our heart goes out to those who lost family members and friends. It goes out to those who were frightened beyond imagination in elevators, 50-some stories in the air. Our heart goes out to the youngsters and their teachers who were jammed in the elevator, in darkness, for hours. The children were brave, and they summoned up courage because their teachers helped inspire them to do so.
But there are many people who are still afraid.
So, Mr. President, while again we are delighted and pleased with the response of law enforcement, the fact is that we must do everything we can in this free Nation of ours to stamp out these terrorists, to cut off their funding, and to eliminate their ability to perpetrate violence.
I yield the floor.
Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I want to thank the Chair for recognizing me. I ask unanimous consent that I may be allowed to speak as in morning business.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.