World Needs Uniform Extradition Laws

Nabil Fahmy believes that in order to wipe out terrorism, countries will need to create a standard system for extradition.

As the Egyptian ambassador to the United States, Fahmy represents a country that was torn apart by terrorism 10 years ago. However, for four years, the terrorist activity in Egypt has stopped.

Egypt did exactly what the United States and the rest of the world now needs to do, which is “dry up the swamp,” Fahmy said at a speech given at the U Wednesday.

Freezing the financial pools terrorist rely on, tightening police surveillance of these groups and stiffening punishments for terrorists will eliminate their ability to organize themselves, he said.

“As a world, we all have to work together on this,” Fahmy said.

But working together is not easy, especially when every nation plays according to its own rules. Civil liberty laws vary drastically from nation to nation, which makes extradition extremely difficult.

Fahmy expressed his frustration with European nations that refuse to extradite terrorist suspects to Egypt for crimes committed nearly 10 years ago.

In the 1950s, many European nations signed a treaty prohibiting the extradition of suspects to countries with the death penalty and military tribunals.

The treaty limiting Egypt’s ability to try these terrorists may also limit the ability of the United States to extradite suspects linked to the al Qaeda network.

England, Italy, Spain and Germany signed the 1950s treaty and all hold suspects to the Sept. 11 bombings. Last week, Spain rejected U.S. pleas to extradite two suspects.

However, the United States has indicated it may be willing to negotiate with other countries on how these suspects will be tried in order to try them in a U.S. court.

Fahmy believes a coordinated legal system needs to be established for international crimes. As the world grows globally, the frequency of international crime will only increase, he said.

Politicians have considered such a system, but have run into roadblocks, such as how to define a terrorist and the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter.

“It’s easy to define a terrorist,” Fahmy said. “A terrorist is a person who deliberately kills civilians.”

Other politicians and academics dispute his definition.

This time around, the terrorists came from the Middle East. But they can come from anywhere. “Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist,” Fahmy said.

Many Egyptians sympathize with the Taliban and many Egyptians are fighting against U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden’s second hand-man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is Egyptian.

However, despite the ties between the Egyptian people and the al Qaeda network, Fahmy quickly pointed out it was the Egyptian government that first voiced its support of U.S. military action in Afghanistan.

Fahmy said when it comes to negotiating with terrorists, he refuses to talk to them.

“Terrorism is unjustifiable,” he said. At the same time, “it is not a problem that will go away. It is not a problem that can be pushed away. The most difficult thing is to get [terrorists] out of the cycle of violence and back to the negotiating table.”

The Middle East Center, College of the Humanities, College of Social and Behavioral Science and department of political science sponsored the ambassador’s speech.

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