16 April 2000. Thanks to WM.
March 18, 2000
Federation of American Scientists
307 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20002
I have long been impressed by the work of your organization. However, a recent perusal of your web site indicated something very disturbing. A list called "Liberation Movements, Terrorist Organizations, Substance Cartels, and Other Para-State Entities," includes some very legitimate human rights-based organizations under the pirate "skull and crossbones" flag. The list is found at http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/index.html. Moreover, some of the listed organizations are or have been led by Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. This is even more perplexing when one considers that your own Board of Sponsors includes half of America's living Nobel Laureates.
Political movements, such as the African National Congress (of which Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela was a leader) and the Timor Council of National Resistance (of which Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos Horta is a leader), are lumped together with Osama Bin Laden's terrorist organization, the Cosa Nostra, and the Russian mafia.
Other organizations with legitimate human rights and self-determination goals are included with some of the most violent extremist groups in the world. The Free Aceh Movement, which is based in Sweden and is a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) non-governmental organization (NGO) based in The Hague, is listed as a terroristic group.
Other members of UNPO that are found on the list are the East Turkestan National Freedom Center, the Free Papua Movement, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and the Karen, Shan, and Mon movements of Burma (Myanmar). Your site's entry for the Free Papua Movement states that the movement "has committed human rights abuses including hostage-taking and summary executions, and it may be targeting US citizens or US companies in [Indonesia's] Irian Jaya Province for hostage taking or for sabotage." This statement is patently untrue and reflects banal Indonesian government propaganda. To the contrary, it is the U.S.-trained Indonesian Special Forces (KOMPASSUS) and the U.S. mining conglomerate Freeport McMoRan that have been responsible for human rights and environmental abuses directed at the native peoples of West Papua.
Other legitimate political parties are also included on your web site's "rogue list." These include the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) which leads the internationally-recognized government of Eritrea; El Salvador's Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, which peacefully contests elections and has deputies in that country's national legislature; Sinn Fein, which is a partner in the Northern Ireland government; Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), which is the official opposition in the Mozambican legislature; and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which represents the interests of the Ndebele people of southern Zimbabwe. None of these organizations are terrorist groups.
Neither are those that represent efforts to seek democratic representation for minorities. However, several of them are found on your "terrorist" list, including the East Caprivi Liberation Front (which is fighting for the legitimate independence of the Lozi people of Namibia and Zambia but is emblazoned with a pirate flag on your site); the Mai Mai and Burundi's Conseil national pour la dÃ©fense de la democratie (both are fighting U.S.-backed Tutsi hegemony in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, respectively); the Sudan People's Liberation Army (fighting for the interests of southern Sudan's minority Christian and animist population against an Islamic theocracy); and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (champions of Mexico's Chiapas Indian minority against a brutal oligarchy). The legitimate social and political goals of the Moros of Mindanao, the Dayaks of Borneo, and Yorubas of Nigeria are similarly disparaged by being included on a list of terrorist organizations.
Perhaps this list originated with the U.S. government or military. If so, it should be dropped from your site because it is tainted with perception management mischief. If it is your list, it should be drastically altered. I am sure you will appreciate that the history of list keepers, whether it has been the FBI or Stasi, has shown us that oftentimes innocent people and organizations are caught up in snares in an effort make such lists as complete as possible.
I want to bring what I believe is a potentially embarrassing situation to your attention in order that your otherwise fine reputation is not adversely affected.
Author and Journalist