updated 9/12/2006 7:24:20 PM ET 2006-09-12T23:24:20

Iran, Syria, North Korea and more than 100 other nations are pushing to broaden the world’s definition of “terrorism” to include the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Converging on Fidel Castro’s communist Cuba for a summit this week, members of the Nonaligned Movement complain of a double standard: powerful nations like the United States and Israel decide for the world who the terrorists are, but face no punishment for their own acts of aggression.

A draft of the group’s joint declaration condemns “terrorism in all its forms,” especially violence that targets civilians.

Terrorism should not be associated with any religion or nationality, says the draft. It singles out a favored phrase of President Bush in declaring that member countries “totally reject the use of the term ’axis of evil’ by a certain state to target other states under the pretext of combating terrorism.”

A Cuban official said sarcastically on Tuesday that the U.S. could one day accuse the entire Nonaligned Movement of supporting terrorism.

“Reading some news reports ... I’m left to believe that the axis of evil is growing,” said Abelardo Moreno, Cuba’s vice foreign minister. “Soon, the (axis of evil) will be made up of 118 countries.”

U.S., Israel accused of hypocricy
Cuba says the U.S. is particularly hypocritical in the case of a former CIA operative and Castro foe wanted in Venezuela in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner from Caracas that killed 73 people.

On Monday, as the U.S. sought global support for its response to the Sept. 11 attacks five years ago, a federal magistrate in Texas said Luis Posada Carriles should be released while he waits to be deported anywhere but Cuba or Venezuela, where the U.S. fears he could be tortured.

The draft declaration condemns Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, with no balancing comments about Hezbollah’s missile attacks on Israel.

It also hails the Lebanese people’s “heroic resistance to the Israeli aggression” and demands that Israel compensate the Lebanese government and people for the deaths, injuries and destruction the war caused.

Despite the recent spotlight on Lebanon, many representatives from nonaligned countries said much of the world’s terrorist activity won’t end until a solution is found for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“This issue is at the core of so many problems that it would help stop some terrorism if it were resolved,” said Khalid A. al-Akwa, a Yemeni Foreign Ministry official.

Drawing lines
If Israel and its neighbors respect each other’s borders and recognize the right of both states to exist, Palestinian resistance groups could eventually disappear, he predicted.

Many Arab officials say al-Qaida is in a different category, one representing true terrorists. Al-Akwa agreed.

“They target civilians, they lack the cause and the justification, they don’t distinguish among anyone — they’re even attacking us Muslims,” he said. “And they have a different political agenda, to extend an Islamist system that doesn’t really have anything to do with our religion.”

The document could be muted in this week’s debate. A North African diplomat described the section on terrorism as “alphabet soup,” because it tries to include all members’ perspectives. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

And while many Arab diplomats privately describe the military actions of the United States and Israel as examples of “state terrorism,” a specific reference to this was eliminated during Monday’s discussion, according to al-Akwa.

He said he did not know why the section was taken out, but he didn’t hear very much objection, “not even by the Palestinian delegation.”

Iraq sends delegation
Terrorist acts against civilians in Iraq are also condemned in the summit document, which offers support for the current Iraqi government — also backed by the United States. But many nonaligned countries have sharply criticized the invasion of Iraq, and the current U.S. occupation is sure to be addressed this week.

Iraq has a delegation to the summit, though it was not immediately clear who was leading it.

Even India and other countries that have good relations with the West called for less labeling and more cultural sensitivity, citing racial profiling and discrimination against people from Middle Eastern and Asian countries.

Debate is expected to get particularly lively after the arrival of outspoken anti-American leaders including presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Bashar Assad of Syria, and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. North Korea is sending its No. 2 leader, Kim Yong Nam.

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