by Montserrat Boix - Journalist*

 Europe and the United States seem at last to be resolved to fight against  Islamic terror and bring to an end some networks, which they themselves have been nourishing. From the sphere of feminist networks and political activism  for women's rights we know a lot about the situation that we have been denouncing over the last decade concerning the aggressions of these radical  fundamentalist groups against countless women in different Muslim countries  (Afghanistan, Sudan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran) who have been brutally  assaulted and on numerous occasions killed.

 Up until now the West had been deaf to these denunciations. Thousands of  people in the heart of Western civilization (New York) have had to die in
 order for the international community to react and consider putting an end  to these situations of privilege, which these fundamentalist leaders have
 enjoyed and continue to enjoy.

 For over four years the international organization WLUML (Women Living Under  Muslim Laws) have been denouncing the presence and in some instances the
 protection by the West of certain individuals such as Anuar Haddam, first of  all member of FIS and afterwards member of the Algerian GIA - a group which
 at the moment is being investigated due to its links with Ben Laden and is responsible for countless terrorist attacks in Algeria - who today is processing his political asylum papers in the USA.

 It was in 1993 after the first terrorist attack on the Twin Towers when for  the first time the United States began to fear that the "monster" which in  the 1980's they had been feeding - via Pakistan in the fratricidal Afghan  fighting - was beginning to turn against them in an uncontrollable manner.  The United States reacted by cutting off funding and mobility of numerous  groups that made up  the Islam International but the USA did not act in a decisive way perhaps because they hoped to overcome difficulties and  continue to manipulate such movements that could be very "useful" in their actions on the ground.

France had to bear the hijacking of a plane in Algeria and afterwards become the victim of a bombing campaign on the Paris metro (July 1995) before it was able to weigh up and gauge the real threat posed by maintaining such networks on its territory. Up until then it had always seemed worth France's while. Indeed, France maintained excellent relations with the Sudan regime in spite of the fact - documentation exists - that it was in this country that the first meeting of Islam International took place and that Sudan in the last decade had been one of the focal points for the training of Islamic terrorists and one of the last countries before Afghanistan to play host to Ben Laden and his entourage.

 But Sudan paid France dearly for its ambiguity and tolerance towards the radical Islamic movement allowing the secret services to hunt inside Sudanese territory for "Carlos" one of the most historic and most sought after terrorists. The arrest of "Carlos" was considered to be one of the greatest successes of the French secret services in recent years. it seems nobody worried about the price that would have to be paid for this.

 And it was France who after the terrorist attacks of 95 alerted the Spanish about the movement of Islamic radicals in Spain. Up until now Spain did not consider these Islamic networks to be particularly dangerous given that they only used Spanish territory for "passing through" and not as their base. France had then to remind the Spanish government of its problem with ETA. France would be prepared to control ETA terrorism within its territory if Spain controlled the Islamic radical networks within its own.

 One could continue with numerous examples of hypocrisy in international politics where these networks, which finally seem to be severely castigated,
 have been used as common currency. The Israeli security services for years stoked up Hamas because they considered the PLO and Arafat to be the "true
 enemy". a view that is very far from the one held now. Both Europe and the  United States were ambiguous towards and tolerant of the radical Islamic
 movement in Algeria so that they could exert pressure on the Algerian  government.

 Great Britain is at present the key European centre of Islamic networks where Pakistanis and Saudi Arabians have established their main communications headquarters (press, radio, television) This country and Germany have harboured many of those expelled from France and Belgium in recent years.

 And what is to be said about Saudi Arabia, directly responsible for the  funding of many Islamic groups who under the cover of offering supposed humanitarian aid to the poorest of Muslim countries have been working to reinforce some of the most recalcitrant fundamentalist Islamic movements in the world? Is it just  coincidence that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are two of the only three, until yesterday, defenders of the Taliban in international politics?

 Countless documents drawn up by international women's groups bear witness to the denunciations of all of this in recent years. Denunciations that not
 only fell on deaf ears but also suffered attempts of being silenced through the use of pressure and threats.

 Western governments are the prime responsible ones for the creation of these big and small monsters that now it is attempted to fight against. The West never cared when the Talibans attacked Afghan women's rights, when they assaulted them, when they killed them, it has looked in the other direction while in Algeria the radical Islamic groups have kidnapped, raped, killed and ripped to pieces scores of women - the latest aggressions taking place barely two months ago -  when in Bangladesh many women have to live with their faces scarred by the acid thrown in their faces by fundamentalists.

 And now. Is an end to western hypocrisy going to come to an end with the resounding measures about to be taken against the terrorism of the radical Islamic networks? Will they be compatible with measures of justice? It does not seem that the carpet-bombing of a people, the Afghan people, who in the last years have been the prime victim of a regime which has been indirectly tolerated and harboured. There must be another way of achieving justice and the ones who have all the information to hand know that there is.

 Montserrat Boix

Journalist TVE - Specialist in the Arab world and Islamic movements
Coordinator of Mujeres en Red - Spain