After years of deliberations, the Arab League Nations have reached a provisional agreement on what constitutes a terrorist act. On April 22, 1998, in Cairo, interior and justice ministers from the 22-member Arab League, will for the first time, sign an accord calling for a coordinated effort in fighting terrorism against member nations. The accord is due to take effect 30 days after it is signed.
The draft accord will require that the signatories "pledge not to order, finance or commit terrorist acts in accordance with the national laws of each country." They will also agree to cooperate with other signatories on security matters, such as the exchange of information on terrorist activities and extradition of terrorist suspects.
The accord differentiates between acts of terrorism and "political crimes". Actions to be considered "criminal acts" include "any attack on presidents, kings, crown princes, vice presidents and ministers" of Arab League members, as well as attacks on diplomatic personnel
However, attacks against Israel or Israeli citizens are excluded from consideration as "terrorist acts". The accord differentiates between terrorist acts and “the armed struggle against foreign occupation or for liberation and self-determination.” On the other hand, “any act harmful to the territorial integrity of a signatory country" is not considered a legitimate struggle for liberation, but an act of terrorism. According to the Jordan Times, this clause was included at the behest of Morocco in order to prevent the battle for Western Sahara by the separatist Polisario Front from being considered a legitimate struggle for liberation. In addition, the accord specifically exempts militant action against Israel, or Israeli citizens on the grounds that Israel is a "terrorist state", built illegally on Arab lands.
The original inspiration for the accord came from Egypt, where Islamic fundamentalists are a constant threat to the stability of the regime. Since 1992, over a thousand people have lost their lives to fundamentalist violence. The accord is also actively supported by Algeria, where over 70,000 people have died at the hands of the fundamentalists.
For an English translation of the main terms of the Accord, and further commentary, Click Here
Sources: Jordan Times, Associated Press