WASHINGTON — It is often hard to prove who is to blame for a terrorist attack. Even if an attack fits the US definition of terrorism, it is often hard to prove who threw the Molotov cocktail. Before the US denied a visa to Arafat last year, for example, officials reviewed hundreds of reported terrorist attacks allegedly linked to the PLO since 1985. In more than 90 percent of the cases, solid proof of a PLO link was reportedly missing.
Even if an attack fits the definition of terrorism and is linked to a PLO member, Washington will have to decide how much responsibility to assign to Arafat. In addition to radical anti-PLO dissidents, some of the groups and individuals associated with the PLO are very capable of independent action.
In such cases, Washington has the option of asking Arafat for some type of corrective moves against those responsible rather than breaking off the dialogue. One additional area where Washington is keeping close watch is on contacts between members of the PLO and terrorist groups outside that umbrella with an anti-US record.