Friday, September 24, 2004

al Qaeda terrorism in Korea against US citizens?

Jeff posts an official announcement from the US Embassy about the possibility of Islamic terrorist activity and potentially violent anti-American demonstrations in Korea.

As I remarked long ago, I doubt Korean society will show the same tolerance we show in America should a terrorist act occur on Korean soil. This may be more true if it's Koreans who are attacked, but I suspect Korea would show plenty of outrage even if the terrorists went for foreigners in Korea.

The announcement gave me a bit of pause, but it's too early to analyze the situation. Plenty of Koreabloggers have already predicted that Korea will be in a huge uproar as soon as the first Korean troops are killed in Iraq. Much of this uproar will be directed, rightly or wrongly (mostly wrongly) against America, but a good measure of it will be directed at Korea's burgeoning expat Muslim population, which hails from all over the world.

While the US announcement makes me a bit more wary than usual, I think it's highly unlikely that terrorists will be able to conduct a successful operation in Seoul or elsewhere. Why?

1. Very strict control of guns and the like. South Korea's borders aren't sealed by any means, but they're a lot tighter, on this score, than America's are.

2. The fact that Muslims represent such a small minority here (as opposed to, say, the 8-10% percent of the French population who are Muslim). Arab Muslims in particular have nowhere to hide in Korea. They simply don't look Korean. Sorry, but someone's gotta say the obvious.

3. A serious attack on Korean soil would likely swing the tide of opinion heavily in favor of a Korean troop presence in Iraq, and if the "insurgents" are going to whine about the supposed brutality of American troops, wait'll they get a taste of Korean Special Forces.

As Forrest said: "And that's all I have to say about that."


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