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Terror 'Virus' Can Be Defeated, NATO Secretary-General Says

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2002 – Even though the virus of terrorism appears to be spreading, "it would be wrong to paint too bleak a picture," NATO's secretary-general said Oct. 22.

Terrorists "are not invincible," Lord George Robertson said in an address at the Brookings Institution here. "They will be defeated in any war where freedom-loving people are united against evil."

Providing security in a dangerous world is hard to do, he acknowledged. The "virus of insecurity and terrorism" has spread from New York, Washington and Pennsylvania to attacks on U.S. Marines in Kuwait, a French oil tanker in the Indian Ocean and to a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia.

"Geography is no barrier to terrorists," Robertson said. "Race, color and creed are no protection against their attacks."

As CIA Director George Tenet urged, he noted, the terrorist threat must be taken very seriously because further outrages are inevitable. "Even with the best intelligence, the best countermeasures, the best defenses, the lessons of decades of terrorism in Europe is that you cannot hope to foil every attack," Robertson said.

Al Qaeda is evil, brutal and fanatical, he said. The terrorist network kills innocent people and can damage free societies. "But it is a loose coalition of extremists, and it has not now nor ever been a threat comparable to fascism or Stalinism.

"It can only hope to defeat us if we connive in our own destruction," he said. "We cannot allow a small, unrepresentative network of criminal extremists to believe that by exploiting the openness of our free societies that they somehow have got us licked."

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