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‘Mistreatment of minorities likely to foment terrorism’

A terrorism expert Monday raised the possibility of home-grown terrorist attacks in Korea where social minorities struggle with prevalent discrimination against them.

“Migrant workers, children of married immigrants and North Korean defectors who may experience disgrace and discrimination against them here are more likely to vent their anger through terror attacks,” Lee Man-jong, professor of law and police at Howon University and chairman of the Korean Association for Terrorism Studies, said in his recent report.

According to Lee, recent cases such as the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the 2005 terrorist attacks in London were carried out by immigrants ― Moroccan-Spanish and Pakistani-British nationals, respectively.

“Their fundamental motive for the attacks was prejudice and discrimination against social minority groups in the countries,” he explained.

Korea’s situation is different from those countries attacked by religious extremists or children of immigrants from former colonies, Lee said.

“There is almost no religious discrimination in Korea and it has no history of invading other countries,” he added.

However, he said, “If the gaps between expectations and satisfactions deepen among social minorities in Korea, those who experience the feeling of relative deprivation are more likely to commit a terrorist crime individually or as a group.”

He also cited in his report a case involving a migrant worker who formed an anti-Korean organization after returning to his home country. He allegedly sent intimidating letters to the Korean Embassy in the country, Lee said.

He called for, among other things, strengthening of the welfare policy and a social safety net for the underprivileged, especially those entering from other countries.

“Eradicating discriminative factors that hinder social integrity would be the fundamental solution to potential home-grown terror attacks,” he said.

In order to prevent terrorist attacks, Lee also suggested that legal grounds for anti-terrorism measures such as telephone bugging be prepared and domestic groups be blocked from working with international terror networks such as al-Qaida.

He proposed that, along with government buildings and airplanes, other possible targets should be better prepared against terror attacks.

By Lee Ji-yoon (