Should the assassination of Kim Jong-nam prompt the US to put North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism? Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress want the matter taken up for open debate, nine years after the Bush administration lifted that designation as part of negotiations with the Kim regime. It might not be that simple, however:
House lawmakers are pushing for a fresh review of the evidence. The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s exiled elder brother could make the case more persuasive. A pair of female assailants reportedly accosted Kim Jong Nam at an international airport in Malaysia on Monday, and he told medical workers that he had been sprayed with a chemical.
“We should never have taken North Korea off the state sponsor of terrorism list,” Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman of California told a congressional hearing Thursday. …
Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who chairs a Senate panel on Asia, is among six Republican senators who this week urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to take more steps to cut off North Korea’s access to hard currency. They also sought for the administration to review the terror designation.
“The murder once again highlights the treachery of North Korea,” Gardner told The Associated Press in an interview. He said there is evidence of North Korean “actions and relationships that would meet the criteria of state sponsor of terror.”
That may not be possible. As the Associated Press points out, US law restricts those listings for states which repeatedly provide support for acts of international terrorism. That is why the list only has three nations on it — Iran, Sudan, and Syria, which are not coincidentally three of the seven states on Donald Trump’s executive order. It’s easier to get off the list than to get back on it.
The reason North Korea got listed in the first place was the bombing of a KAL flight to Japan in 1987, which killed 115 people. It’s not clear whether evidence exists of support for terrorism as the term is understood now. North Korea trades (or attempts to trade) with Cuba and Iran in defiance of international sanctions, and of course conducts its nuclear and missile development despite numerous UN resolutions forbidding both. That’s more of a rogue-nation status than that of a terror-sponsoring state. Given the multitude of sanctions on Pyongyang already, adding them back to the terror-sponsor list might have only slight practical consequences for the Kim regime.
Still, one cannot let a public assassination like that of Jong-nam go without severe consequences of some sort. ABC News has new video of the assassination itself and the last few moments of Jong-nam’s life, taken from airport video surveillance systems:
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 20, 2017
Did North Korean intelligence dupe a pair of unsuspecting women into thinking this was a prank for television? That might explain the “LOL” shirt:
Aishah said she was “not aware it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents,” Indonesian police chief Tito Karnavian told reporters in Aceh Province. Aishah is Indonesian.
Four people have been arrested in the killing: the Indonesian woman, a North Korean man, a Malaysian man and another woman carrying Vietnamese identification.
The woman said she had sprayed others in a similar manner “three to four times [before].”
However, Karnavian told journalists, in this case, “there was allegedly a dangerous substance in the sprayer.”
The woman said “she was given a few dollars for the job,” Karnavian said. “She was used but she didn’t know what it was for.”
That seems a little far-fetched, especially if the woman used a cloth laced with a poison powerful enough to kill with only a few moments of contact to the face. They would have had to wear gloves and take special precautions to keep from coming into contact with the poison themselves. And if it was a prank, why didn’t they stick around for the big laughs at the reveal?
If this doesn’t get North Korea added to the list of state sponsors of terrorism, we should at least start a new list of states that repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot. North Korea is as diplomatically isolated as any country in the world, but they have diplomatic relations with Malaysia — or rather, had. CNN reports that Malaysia has recalled its ambassador in Pyongyang over the assassination in their country and after North Korea’s ambassador accused Malaysia of “being in collusion with South Korea” earlier today. Combine that with China’s decision to cut off coal imports from the Kim regime and it’s looking like a very bad year in Pyongyang — all to take out a dissipated half-brother who posed no real threat. Smooooooooooooooth.