Will the Central American nation of El Salvador - one of the United States' strongest friends in the hemisphere - soon join the terrorist axis of evil?
Thankfully, they (and we) have been spared that fate. But they would have if Salvadoran voters elected Shafik Handal their president in Sunday's election.
Handal is a die-hard enemy of the United States and a lifelong ally of this country's enemies. Polls had him and his FMLN party running second behind the candidate of the ruling ARENA party, Tony Saca, who was elected president yesterday. But many worried, as ARENA voters are notorious for not bothering to vote - potentially handing victory to lifetime terrorism supporter Handal, just as they did in previous legislative elections.
As one of the five top commanders of the FMLN guerrillas in the 1980s, Handal bears personal responsibility for having plunged his country into a terrible internal war that cost tens of thousands of lives. As longtime head of the Salvadoran Communist Party, the millionaire Handal devoted his political life in the service of the Soviet Union. He used his ethnic Palestinian roots to make common cause with the PLO during its worst years of terrorist violence. And more recently, he has joined a new terrorist international, the Foro de Sao Paulo, to maintain networks with radical political groups and terrorists across the hemisphere and around the world.
If Handal had won, the U.S. would have been forced to reassess its entire political, diplomatic, economic and security relationships with El Salvador. That spelled trouble for a long-suffering country has, until now, been making a remarkable recovery.