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Exchange With Reporters on Terrorism

January 18, 1982

Q. What about the shooting, Mr. President? What about the killing of the American? Is there anything we can do about these outbreaks of terrorism, or are we just helpless?

The President. Well, I think terrorism is the hardest thing to curtail. As a matter of fact, I've said for many years that probably the only defense you have against terrorist attacks is really infiltration to try and find out in advance what their plans are. And in the last few years that's been made more difficult. We're doing our best to try and correct something like that.

Q. Why would anyone want to shoot an obscure lieutenant colonel? What's the advantage?

The President. Well, why would anyone want to just park a car with a bomb in a street where they don't even know the people that are going to be killed and blow them up? That's exactly why they have the word "terrorist." Their belief is—there isn't a motive in the individual that they're killing. The great, senseless cruelty and tragedy of it is simply to create terror by making people generally feel unsafe.

Q. Is there enough international cooperation on this issue of terrorism, Mr. President, between countries to try to stop it?

The President. I would say that there is. We've been having the greatest cooperation with Italy so far.

Q. Is General Dozier still alive, in your belief?.

Deputy Press Secretary Speakes. Thank you.

The President. What?

Q. General Dozier? Is he still alive?

The President. We don't know.

Note: The exchange began at approximately 1:15 p.m. as the President was beginning a meeting with Mike Mansfield, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, in the Oval Office at the White House.

Ronald Reagan, Exchange With Reporters on Terrorism Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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