February 23, 2010

"But I only support the charitable branch of Hamas...."

...or Hizballah - fill in the name of your favorite terrorist organization.

There are arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court over whether it is legal to provide money or other material support to specific subgroups of organizations that have been designated as terrorists by the American government. Although the specific case before the court involves the Kurdish Workers Party, known more commonly as the PKK, the issue applies to Hamas and Hizballah as well. Both Islamic organizations have branches that build schools, operate hospitals and provide public services - in addition to militias that kill Israelis.

There is a problem with providing money or support to the charitable branches of terrorist organizations. It's the same fiction when the U.S. government provides "non-lethal" support to a liberation or opposition group. For example, at one time, we provided this so-called non-lethal support to Iraqi opposition groups (that later was changed to include lethal support).

Here is how it works. The United States gives a particular group a sum of money with the proviso that the money can only be used to buy non-lethal items. That group then uses money from other sources to buy their weapons, and uses the money from the United States to buy other supplies. If the United States had not provided the non-lethal aid, the group would have had to spend the other money on the non-lethal supplies. It is pure fiction - money is a fungible commodity. To later claim that "no American money was used to buy weapons" is ludicrous.

The same holds true for terrorist organizations. If you give money to Hamas or Hizballah for their charitable work or public service programs, the money they would have spent on those programs is freed up to buy weapons or finance terrorist operations. Again, money is a fungible commodity and it is fiction to believe that you can support only a part of a terrorist organization.

U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan has it exactly right - her brief contends that any support the given to a terrorist group allows the group to put more of its own resources into violent activities.

Sending money to any branch of a terrorist organization is supporting a terrorist organization. It is that simple.