MAY 29, 2008
Although the U.S. has revised its longstanding policy of not talking to the Maoists, (the party which will lead Nepal’s government), Washington has decided to keep the Maoists on it’s Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL). This designation will bar Maoist officials from visiting the United States, among other sanctions.
According to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Evan Feigenbaum, “In terms of next steps, I really wouldn't want to speculate. It is going to depend. They are on the (terrorism) list, they remain on the list for the moment."
Feigenbaum just returned from Kathmandu after meeting Maoist chief Prachanda, who had prior talks with US ambassador to Nepal Nancy Powell about three weeks ago -- a clear softening of the previous Washington position. Feigenbaum explained: "There has been a policy that we had of not making contact with the Maoists. The fact that Nancy Powell met them and that I met them should suggest…that we have just revised that policy with respect to this group.” According to Feigenbaum, it was based on the Maoists’ recent participation in the legitimate political process. Indeed, even the Maoists' longtime rival, interim Prime Minister G.P. Koirala, has acknowledged Prachanda's legitimate right to take the reins of the government.
To understand this better, it may be helpful to show how the State Department differentiates between “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (FTO), such as Al Qaeda, and the “Terrorist Exclusion List” (TEL), which includes Nepal’s Maoist Party.
The difference between a “FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION” (FTO) and the “TERRORIST EXCLUSION LIST” (TEL)
An FTO is described by the State Department as follows:
“The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.”
A TEL is described by the State Department as follows:
>commits or incites to commit, under circumstances indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily injury, a terrorist activity;
>prepares of plans a terrorist activity;
>gathers information on potential targets for terrorist activity; or
>provides material support to further terrorist activity.
Under the statute, “terrorist activity” means any activity that is unlawful under U.S. law or the laws of the place where it was committed and involves: hijacking or sabotage of an aircraft, vessel, vehicle or other conveyance; hostage taking; a violent attack on an internationally protected person; assassination; or the use of any biological agent, chemical agent, nuclear weapon or devise, or explosive, firearm, or other weapon or dangerous device (other than for mere personal monetary gain), with intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property. The definition also captures any threat, attempt, or conspiracy to do any of these activities.
DESIGNATION PROCESS OF A TEL
The Secretary of State is authorized to designate groups as TEL organizations in consultation with, or upon the request of the Attorney General. Once an organization of concern is identified, or a request is received from the Attorney General to designate a particular organization, the State Department works closely with the Department of Justice and the intelligence community to prepare a detailed “administrative record,” which is a compilation of information, typically including both classified and open sources information, demonstrating that the statutory criteria for designation have been satisfied. Once completed the administrative record is sent to the Secretary of State who decides whether to designate the organization. Notices of designations are published in the Federal Register.
EFFECTS OF DESIGNATION OF A TEL
Individual aliens providing support to or associated with TEL-designated organizations my be found “inadmissible” to the U.S., i.e., such aliens may be prevented from entering the U.S. or, if already in U.S. territory, may in certain circumstances be deported. Examples of activity that may render an alien inadmissible as a result of an organization’s TEL designation include:
>membership in a TEL-designated organization;
>use of the alien’s position of prominence within any country to persuade others to support an organization on the TEL list;
>solicitation of funds or other things of value for an organization on the TEL list;
>solicitation of any individual for membership in an organization on the TEL list; and
>commission of an act that the alien knows, or reasonably should have known, affords material support, including a safe house, transportation, communications, funds, transfer of funds or other material for financial benefit, false documentation or identification, weapons (including chemical, biological, or radiological weapons), explosives, or training to an organization on the TEL list.
1. Deters donation or contributions to named organizations.
2. Heightens public awareness and knowledge of terrorist organization.
3. Alerts other governments to U.S. concerns about organizations engaged in terrorist activities.
4. Stigmatizes and isolates designated terrorist organizations.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN NEPAL…
The main palace in Kathmandu lowered the flag of the country's royal family yesterday, a day after lawmakers, led by the Maoists, abolished the monarchy that had reigned over Nepal for 239 years.
Palace staff took down the small red standard with a flag-waving lion and replaced it with Nepal's national flag, a red banner of two triangles adorned with a sun and moon.
The fact remains, with or without Washington’s stamp of approval, the Maoists are now the most viable political force in Nepal. It is they who are poised to compass Nepal’s future. And it is they who the American government will be obliged to deal with. The level of U.S. antagonism remains to be seen, but it is certain that China and India will play by different rule books.