Document:Yonah Alexander, extract from The "Terrorism" Industry

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Disclaimer (#3)Document.png book extract  by Edward S. Herman dated 1989
Subjects: Yonah Alexander
Source: The "Terrorism" Industry

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Alexander, a professor of International Studies at the State University of New York, has run his own institute since 1977, but he has also been affiliated with many other institutions within the terrorism industry as visiting fellow (CSIS), as member (the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies), and as a participant in numerous programs and studies. He was selected as director of terrorism research of the NFF in the mid-1980s, and he has been co-director with Ray Cline of the program on terrorism and low-intensity warfare at the U.S. Global Strategy Council. Also in collaboration with Cline, Alexander has been in the risk analysis business for private corporate clients.[1] In addition to the thirty conferences and seminars on terrorism sponsored by his own institute, Alexander has been a regular participant in conferences staged by others, including that put on by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv in 1979, the Brookings seminar of 1982, the Nuclear Terrorism conference of 1985, and others. He has testified as an expert witness before the Denton committee. Alexander also edits the journal 'Terrorism'.

The funding sources of Alexander's institute are not in the public domain, but his continuous appearance in government-sponsored and government-related conferences, seminars, and hearings in both Israel and the United States, and his views - which never depart from the right-wing version of the Western model - show a close spiritual affinity with the official Israeli and Reagan-era U.S. doctrine, whatever the formal and financial connections. His tie with Israel is also shown by the fact that his book 'Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?', coauthored with E. Tavin, was published in cooperation with the World Zionist Organization. His book written with Ray Cline, 'State-Sponsored Terrorism', was commissioned by the U.S. Army in 1984 and was eventually published as a report of the Denton committee in 1985. Another Alexander-Cline collaboration, 'Terrorism: The Soviet Connection', was distributed freely by the State Department in response to public requests for information on the subject of terrorism.[2]

Alexander has been a fertile producer on the subject of terrorism, his curriculum vitae listing thirty-one books. Fifteen of these works, however, were edited or co-edited volumes, and all but two of the remainder were co-authored. Still, Alexander has written a great deal on terrorism, which he is able to do rather easily, given his continual recycling of a simple message. The quality of his work may be illustrated by examining his (and Ray Cline's) 'State-Sponsored Terrorism'.[3] The main goal of state-sponsored terrorists, the authors claim, is to undermine "pluralist states with democratic governments." This may be the goal of the Reagan-era U.S. sponsorship of the contra attacks on Nicaragua, but Alexander and Cline do not list this as a case in point. On the other hand, as South Africa and Guatemala are on their list of states being subverted by Soviet proxies, the implication is that these are pluralistic and democratic states. This point is not clarified by the authors. They explain that a merit of their statement of the goal of state-sponsored terrorists is that it reflects "the recent policy positions voiced by President Ronald Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz."[4] The gearing of their analysis of terrorism to the policy needs of their own state could not be more explicit.

No cliche or fabrication on Soviet sponsorship is left untouched in this volume - the PLO is the Soviet "transmission belt" for the export of terrorism (p. 10); the North Koreans "fought the first Soviet-sponsored proxy war of the century in the 1950s" (p. 57); the Pope was shot in May 1981 by a Turkish terrorist "trained and armed by the Bulgarian secret intelligence services" (p. 13);[5] Cuba and Nicaragua "closely coordinate in the supply, staging, and training of the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front (FMLN) guerrilla war effort in El Salvador" (p. 64); [6] and Nicaragua "has been attacking its neighbors since August 1979 in a revolution without borders" (p. 88).[7]

Equally significant is the Alexander-Cline view of national liberation movements. A war of national liberation for 'them is a "communist propaganda term" and is a "term that can be applied to any low-intensity conflict the Soviet Union chooses to support" (pp. 56 and xiii). Nowhere do they admit the possibility of rebel autonomy and the legitimacy of such movements; their uniform stress is on Soviet support, which delegitimizes these movements. They use the analogy of an "infection, a virulent disease" spread by Moscow against "successive open societies" to characterize national liberation movements. They have no hesitancy in calling the ANC and SWAPO "terrorist groups. . . based on the Cuban model," "extremist organizations," who "launch terrorist attacks against South Africa" (pp. 64-65).

In brief, this is an extreme right-wing propaganda tract that ties all liberation movements to Moscow and apologizes for South African as well as any other Western-state primary terror. The authors engage in shameless lying. None of these considerations, however, have detracted from Alexander's status as an expert for both the Western media or other experts who cite and collaborate with him as a serious scholar.


  1. Peter H, Stone, "High Times in the 'Political Risk' Business," Nation, Dec, 25, 1982. p, 688.
  2. Stephen Segaller Invisible Armies: Terrorism into the 1990s (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987), p. 123.
  3. This is not an unrepresentative effort by Alexander. Any other of his books would serve as well. He was not the choice of the Dentons as research director for NFF for nothing!
  4. State-Sponsored Terrorism Report Prepared for the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 99th Cong., 1st sess., 1985, p. xiii.
  5. Their book was written in 1984, at a time when Claire Sterling and Paul Henze were riding high with aggressive claims of Bulgarian involvement in the shooting of the pope. The investigative report by Judge Marcella and the lengthy trial in Rome produced no evidence whatever that Agca was trained or armed by tbe Bulgarians. There was, of course, no evidence of a Bulgarian connection available to a serious scholar back in 1984. There were only the assured claims of Western propagandists. See Herman and Brodhead. Bulgarian Connection.
  6. The CIA analyst of that arms flow, David McMichael, denied that there was any significant arms flow from Nicaragua after 1981, let alone coordinated supply, staging. and training. See the interview with McMichael in Sojourners, August 1984; Morley and Petras, Reagan Administration and Nicaragua, pp. 40-45.
  7. The phrase "revolution without borders" was used by Tomas Borges explicitly in reference to "ideas." The Reagan administration, in a major propaganda lie, transformed this into a claim of an admitted plan to move physically across borders. Although the administration eventually admitted its claim was a fraud, this piece of disinformation persisted in the propaganda of disinformationists who thought they could get away with keeping a convenient lie in service. See Morley and Petras, Reagan Administration and Nicaragua. p. 41.