The European Union referred to a number of political movements in Turkey, Palestine and Sri Lanka as terrorist groups. They are assumed to have been established with the aim of committing terrorist offences. Support for such an association is being prosecuted in European states as a criminal offence. On the basis of the same criteria, NATO would also have to be described as a terrorist organisation. What’s wrong here?
The title of this article may seem provocative, abstruse or even outrageous. I accept this, although I did not intend to provoke provocation or indignation with this title.
The question has not gone out of the air. It’s legitimate. After all, NATO is a powerful Organisation whose charter is based on military or security policy principles.
Under the flag of NATO wars have been fought and many people have been killed. Wars are known to terrorize entire populations. In this respect, the question is justified.
The title question will be answered in two stages. First of all, I quote how the term “terrorist association” is defined in European and German law. The question of title is then examined in the light of these terms.
According to Article 2 (3) of the definitions of the European counter-terrorism guidelines of 15 March 2017, a terrorist organisation is referred to as ' a longer-term organised grouping of more than two persons cooperating to commit terrorist offences; ( … )’.
Article 3, paragraph 1 and 2 describe what is meant by “terrorist offences”: Terrorist offences are, therefore, all sorts of crimes, including murder, attacks on physical integrity, movement and provision of explosives or weapons, release of dangerous substances, failure, or interruption of the water- and other vital natural resources, and so on, " which, by the nature of their commission or the context in which they are carried out, constitutes a country (…) can cause serious damage (…( … ) (C) the basic political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country ( … )..) seriously destabilize or destroy”. The excluded parts are irrelevant for our analysis.
According to the German penal code, Paragraph 129a provides that a terrorist organisation is regarded as a terrorist organisation if “its purposes or activities are directed at committing crimes such as murder, homicide or offences against personal freedom.
Legal evaluation of terminology
Several lawyers have pointed out that the introduction of the concept of a terrorist organisation has partially transformed criminal law into a right of coercion. The reason for this is easy to explain. By the construct “Terrorist organisation” can track the state of every Person criminally liable, has committed no actual Crime, if this Person is somehow in a concrete relationship to a state-defined terrorist organisation, for instance through membership, financial support, distribution of leaflets, the help to members of the Association, and so on.
The idea of punishing someone for his relationship with alleged offenders contradicts civilized law. In addition, associations are not referred to as “terrorist” after a judicial review, but by the political executive of the state. For example, the African National Congress was once stamped as a terrorist organisation, but today it is the largest people’s party in South Africa. Similarly, the Palestinian liberation organization, PLO, or the Zionist terrorist organizations prior to the establishment of the state of Israel severe terrorist attacks committed and whose leaders were later celebrated as great statesmen. The creation of a direct relationship between political opportunism and criminal law is rightly criticised by many lawyers.
But this is not about this legitimate criticism of criminal law, but about whether NATO meets the criteria of a terrorist organisation.
A key condition for the designation of an association as a “terrorist association” is the alleged purpose in both the above definitions. The “terrorist group” is supposed to have according to the definition of European directives, to commit crimes such as murder, or to commit the Organisation in accordance with German criminal law purposes or activities, which are directed to criminal offences. Accordingly, these two definitions are similar. I will here use those of the European directives.
Does NATO meet the legal criteria of a terrorist organisation?
The fact that NATO is an association is indisputable. But are the purposes or activities of NATO “directed” to commit murder, homicide or crimes against personal freedom? Those who look for such objectives in the Charter of NATO will of course not find them. It is also against common sense that NATO should be accused of such purposes.
But what about all those organisations that are referred to by Germany or the EU as “terrorist associations”? Are these organizations “directed” at committing murder, homicide or crimes against personal freedom? I do not know of any organization in the world that is directed at such crimes. Not even Al-Qaeda-if there is or has ever been such an organization-or the infamous Islamic State have declared such actions as their purpose or purpose. Each of these organizations has political or religious goals. Murder and manslaughter are neither their goals nor their purpose, but reprehensible or criminal means for other purposes.
Let’s take a look at associations, which are referred to by the European Union as “terrorist organisations”. Among them are:
- the Communist party of the Philippines
- the Palestinian organization " Hamas”
- the Kurdish workers ' party “PKK”
- the Palestinian organization “popular front for the liberation of Palestine”
- the sri Lankan organization “Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam — -” LTTE”
All these organizations are primarily political movements that seek to achieve their objectives through cultural, political, diplomatic and military means. From time to time, these organizations also attack civilians. This is reprehensible and criminal. These actions are, of course, to be punished because they either contradict state legal norms or violate international humanitarian law. However, this is not a justification for calling the respective organisations “terrorist associations”, let alone reporting to them the commission of terrorist offences as their purpose.
NATO is also trying to achieve its objectives through cultural, political and diplomatic means. Also the NATO attacks, from time to time civilians.
In the debate on the nature of NATO, it is often assumed that NATO — unlike the above — mentioned organisations-will never deliberately attack civilians or civilian installations. That’s wrong. NATO member states have repeatedly deployed weapons against civilians.
At the meeting of the NATO Council in Washington, D.C. on 23 April 1999, NATO’s armed forces were also empowered to attack civilian installations, in particular media houses. On the same day, the Television RTS in Belgrade was attacked, where 16 people died.
This was not a slip-up. In NATO’s war of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, civilians and civilian bodies were attacked several times, without any legal consequences for the perpetrators. But even if no civilians are attacked as such, war of aggression is basically terrorism high two. They terrorize entire populations and destroy whole countries. None of the above-mentioned “terrorist associations” destroyed whole countries.
The result is that, if it should be called the Communist party of the Philippines, the “Hamas”, the “PKK”, the “referred to popular front for the liberation of Palestine” and the “LTTE” as a terrorist organisations, NATO as a terrorist organisation. It is doubtful whether this would make political sense.
It would be much better, in my opinion, to completely eliminate the term “terrorist association” from language and code, because no organization is established with the purpose of committing murder and homicide. Most “terrorist offences” are defined as criminal offences anyway and can therefore be punished without politicization of criminal law. Get out of here.