ISSUE:#. 26. March 24, 2002
THIS WEEK: SPECIAL REPORT ON
ISRAELI ESPIONAGE IN USA
By Bill Weinberg
With David Bloom, Special Correspondent
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. Was "Operation Anaconda" a Victory?
2. US Troops Attacked in Khost
3. US Forces Still "Flushing Out"
4. Gen. Franks Warns of More to Come
5. Bush Warns of More to Come
6. Al-Qaeda Regrouping for Spring Offensive?
7. US Forces Raid "Al-Qaeda Compound" in Kandahar
8. Ethnic Hazaras Falsely Detained by US Forces
9. Brits Back in the Breach
10. MPs Warn of "Second Vietnam"
11. "Goodwill" US-Afghan Basketball Game Ends in Violence
12. Zahir Shah Again Postpones Trip Home
13. US Embassy Staff Leave Pakistan After Church Blast
14. Pakistan Being Drawn into War?
15. Accused Pearl Slayer to be Tried in Pakistan
16. CIA Chief: Al-Qaeda Still a Threat
THE MIDDLE EAST
1. Al-Aqsa Brigades Make US "Terrorist List"
2. B'Tselem: IDF "Trigger Happy"
3. TV Footage of IDF Atrocity Bucks Israeli Censors
4. New York Times Sees "Secret Iran-Arafat Connection"
5. Top Islamic Scholar: Suicide Bombers "Holy"
6. Saudi Newspaper Revives Blood Libel
7. Unveiled Girls Burned Alive in Saudi Arabia
THE PHILIPPINE FRONT
1. Filipinos Fear "Vietnamization"
2. US Troops Near Basilan Battle
3. Moro Rebels Deny Terrorist Link
4. Bloody Politics of Mindanao
5. Who is Abu Sayyaf?
6. Indonesia Next?
1. Brits Get in on Nuclear Sabre-Rattling
2. Is Pentagon Using Depleted Uranium in Afghanistan?
3. "Mystery Metal Nightmare in Afghanistan?"
1. CIA Link to Anthrax Attacks?
2. New York Times: Al-Qaeda Anthrax Link Seen
3. UK Observer: Al-Qaeda Anthrax Link Fabricated
4. Emergency Health Powers Act in State Legislatures
THE WAR AT HOME
1. US Farms Out Torture to Terror War Allies
2. No al-Qaeda Snared in Terror Sweep?
3. Military Tribunals to Allow "Unorthodox" Evidence
4. ...and Indefinite Detention
5. More Raids on Islamic Charities and Academics
6. Two Soldiers Dead in Fort Drum Munitions Accident
GLIMMERS OF HOPE
1. Barbara Lee Gets Standing Ovation in Berkeley
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. What Did Israel Know About 9-11?
2. Behind Israeli Snooping: Terror or Ecstasy?
3. ...and Disappearing Pushcarts?
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. WAS "OPERATION ANACONDA" A VICTORY?
The Pentagon has declared victory in Operation Anaconda, the US-led campaign against presumed
Taliban/al-Qaeda forces in eastern Paktia province. The US-led coalition seized the Shah-i-Kot valley after nearly
two weeks of airstrikes and ground combat--losing eight US and three Afghan troops. (SeeWW3 REPORT #24)
"Operation Anaconda...is an incredible success," said Maj. Bryan Hilferty of the 10th Mountain Division. "It took
only 20 terrorists to kill 3,000 of the world's citizens in the World Trade Towers. We've killed hundreds and that
means we've saved hundreds of thousands of lives. This is a great success." However, local Afghan commanders
question that rosy scenario, who note that most of the enemy got away. "There will be a guerrilla war with
al-Qaeda," said Paktia warlord Commander Abdullah. "They know how to fight from the jihad [against the Soviets]
in small groups in the mountains.... In my opinion, the campaign failed." This assessment was echoed by
Commander Abdul Wali Zardran: "Americans don't listen to anyone. They do what they want. Most people
escaped. You can't call that a success." US officials publicly downplay the significance of body counts--perhaps
seeking to avoid evocation of the Vietnam experience. "I don't know why we get into a body count," said Col.
Frank Wiercinski of the 101st Airborne Division, dismissing questions about the numbers of enemy dead. Asked
about the high casualty estimates, US Special Forces troops cite an intelligence report claiming al-Qaeda
commanders sent word to a nearby village for hundreds of coffins. Abdullah contests the claim: "We heard this
thing, but it's not true. We don't put our dead in boxes. During the jihad, we buried the dead where they died
because they were martyrs. These people would do the same thing." Commander Zardran estimated up to 300
al-Qaeda fighters escaped to Pakistan. (AP, March 16)
2. US TROOPS ATTACKED IN KHOST
Presumed Taliban/al-Qaeda fighters attacked US forces at a base in the town of Khost March 20, sparking a battle
that lasted several hours, a US military spokesman said. Major Bryan Hilferty of the 10th Mountain Division,
stationed at Bagram air base, said: "Coalition forces in the Khost area were attacked by Taliban and al-Qaeda
extremists using rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine guns." Major Hilferty would not say how many
US troops were in Khost, which lies at the southeast end of Shah-i-Kot valley where Operation Anaconda was
waged. The battle took place in the city's main market, forcing people to shutter their shops, the Afghan Islamic
Press reported. (BBC, March 20) It was later reported that three US-allied Afghan fighters were killed and a US
soldier wounded in the attack. (MSNBC, March 20)
Khost is a stronghold of support for the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and has seen several bombings and shootings in
recent weeks. The region is also contested by rival warlords (See WW3 REPORT #22). The Khost attack came less
than a day after one was killed and three injured in an attack by gunmen challenging the authority of the city's
newly-appointed police chief. (BBC, March 20)
3. US FORCES STILL "FLUSHING OUT"
Pentagon officials said US forces killed 16 people on March 18 in an attack on three vehicles thought to be carrying
al-Qaeda fugitives in eastern Afghanistan. US and Canadian troops and allied Afghan forces are "flushing out"
remaining Taliban/al-Qaeda troops in the region following the end of Operation Anaconda last week. (BBC, March
4. GEN. FRANKS WARNS OF MORE TO COME
Speaking to journalists at Bagram airbase on the outskirts of Kabul after Operation Anaconda, Gen. Tommy
Franks, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, acknowledged that there could be more such battles in the near
future. "It is possible for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters to regroup in various parts of Afghanistan and that is why
we are not saying that this is over. I suspect that this kind of operation could happen again." (BBC, March 20)
Maj. Gen. Frank Hagenbeck told reporters at Bagram: "I can tell you there are al-Qaeda operatives in Paktia right
now who are going to great lengths to try to regroup or regenerate." Hagenbeck predicted more al-Qaeda
resistance in coming months as the weather improves. "This is traditionally the campaigning season. The end of
March and into April and somewhat into May. So we expect to see some increased enemy activity." (MSNBC,
5. BUSH WARNS OF MORE TO COME
As skirmishes continue in eastern Afghanistan, George Bush said the US military has "a lot more fighting to do"
against Taliban/al-Qaeda forces. "These are killers, they hate America, they are relentless. But so are we, and we will
be more relentless than they are." (BBC, March 20)
6. AL-QAEDA REGROUPING FOR SPRING OFFENSIVE?
Pakistani security forces arrested seven suspected al-Qaeda militants as they tried to slip across the border into
Afghanistan, a government official said. Pakistani border guards became suspicious of the men during a routine
search at Kurram, just across the border from where US-led forces waged Operation Anaconda. Authorities seized
three handguns and an undisclosed amount of cash from the men, who were from Uganda, Sudan, Mauritania and
Pakistan. (MSNBC, March 20)
7. US FORCES RAID "AL-QAEDA COMPOUND" IN KANDAHAR
The Pentagon said US forces detained 31 suspected Taliban or al-Qaeda fighters in a raid on a compound near the
southern city of Kandahar March 18. Large caches of weapons were reportedly found. No US or allied casualties
were reported. The detainments bring the number of prisoners in US custody in Afghanistan to 258. Another 300
are being held at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Some 30 were reportedly detained in Operation Anaconda.
(Boston Globe, March 19)
8. ETHNIC HAZARAS FALSELY DETAINED BY US
After two weeks of confinement in Kandahar on suspicion of being Iranian agents, 12 Afghans were ordered freed
by US military authorities. All were members of the Hezb-i-Wahdat, an organization of Shiite Muslims from the
Hazara ethnic group, which is believed to have close ties to Iran. US officials acknowledged they had been falsely
arrested by a local warlord known as Amanullah, who was reportedly trying to impress interim prime minister
Hamid Karzai. Hezb-i-Wahdat officially supports Karzai's regime. (NYT, March 21)
9. BRITS BACK IN THE BREACH
The British armed forces have dispatched an additional 1,700 ground troops to Afghanistan, in what the Boston
Globe called "the clearest sign yet that US and allied forces are repositioning for an open-ended guerrilla war." The
move constitutes Britain's largest deployment of ground-combat forces since the 1991 Gulf War. Defense Minister
Geoffrey Hoon told the House of Commons the troops will begin arriving at Bagram air base this week, and that
deployment will be complete by mid-April. "The United States has formally requested that the UK provide forces
to join in future military operations," Hoon said. (Boston Globe, March 19) The last British troops on Afghan soil
before Operation Enduring Freedom were driven out in the 1921 Third Anglo-Afghan War. For the previous 40
years, Britain had run Afghanistan as a vassal state. ( Afghanistan Online ).
10. MPs WARN OF "SECOND VIETNAM"
As more British troops were sent into Afghanistan this week, dissident MPs warned in an emergency debate in the
House of Commons that UK forces could become mired in protracted warfare. Former UK armed forces minister
Doug Henderson warned Britain might be seen by Afghans and other Muslims as being involved in an "imperial
war." Former Labour minister Peter Kilfoyle said Britain was sending troops into a "very murky, messy picture."
He added: "Of course, the precedent for the situation we find ourselves in is Vietnam and of course Harold Wilson,
under great American pressure, kept us out." But Prime Minister Tony Blair strongly defended the deployment of
1,700 Marines, telling MPs it was essential "to get the job done fully." (BBC, March 20)
11. "GOODWILL" US-AFGHAN BASKETBALL GAME ENDS IN
A Kabul basketball match between US troops and their Afghan allies, meant to promote "goodwill," ended in a
violent brawl, with one Afghan spectator shot in the leg. Flight Lt. Tony Marshall said the incident began when a
US player fell on the court and spectators surged forward and started kicking him in the head. An Afghan guard
for the US team moved in to try to push the crowd back, and his AK-47 discharged. (AP, March 22)
12. ZAHIR SHAH AGAIN POSTPONES TRIP HOME
Less than 72 hours before his scheduled arrival, former king Zahir Shah for the second time in a week postponed
his return to Afghanistan. His aides in Rome, where he lives in exile, now say he will arrive sometime in April.
Kabul's luxurious Palace No. 8 has reportedly been prepared for him, but this is not part of Arg Palace where he
lived throughout his 1933-73 reign--now the principal seat of the interim government. The New York Times wrote:
"Conflicting accounts of the reasons for the delay suggested that it might have been influenced by disagreements
over his future role." Ethnic Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara leaders from the Northern Alliance in the interim government
are said to be suspicious of any role for the former king, which they view as a re-consolidation of Pashtun power in
Afghanistan. (NYT, March 24)
13. US EMBASSY STAFF LEAVE PAKISTAN AFTER CHURCH
Families of US diplomatic personnel and nonessential workers have been ordered home from Pakistan by the State
Department. Citing threats against US interests, the order came a week after a March 17 attack on a Protestant
church near the US embassy that killed five people, including two US citizens. The US embassy in Islamabad and
consulates elsewhere in Pakistan will be closed starting Monday, March 25. No group has claimed responsibility in
the church bombing, but Pakistani strongman Gen. Pervez Musharraf promised to relentlessly hunt for those
responsible. (CNN, AP, March 24)
14. PAKISTAN BEING DRAWN INTO WAR?
Acknowledging that al-Qaeda forces could be fleeing from eastern Afghanistan into Pakistan, Maj. Gen. Franklin
Hagenbeck said US forces would follow them across the border in "hot pursuit" as a "last resort." Gen. Tommy
Franks, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, asked Pakistan's ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to take part in
joint military maneuvers to apprehend Taliban/al-Qaeda forces in the border area. (NYT, March 21)
15. ACCUSED PEARL SLAYER TO BE TRIED IN PAKISTAN
Ahmed Omar Sheikh, the young militant arrested in the kidnap-slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl,
was formally charged in Pakistan March 22, complicating US efforts to have him extradited. A federal grand jury in
New Jersey issued an indictment against Sheikh last week. (NYT, March 22)
16. CIA CHIEF: AL-QAEDA STILL A THREAT
THE MIDDLE EAST
CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee March 19 that al-Qaeda remains a threat to
US interests, despite recent gains in Afghanistan. He also broached the supposed links between al-Qaeda and "Axis
of Evil" members Iran and Iraq, while admitting he had no hard evidence: "There is no doubt there have been
contacts and linkages to the al-Qaeda organization. It would be a mistake to dismiss the possibility of state
sponsorship, whether Iranian or Iraqi, and we'll see where the evidence takes us." (Newsday, March 20)
1. AL-AQSA BRIGADES MAKE US "TERRORIST LIST"
With Vice President Dick Cheney on the ground in Israel, violence again escalated this week. On March 18, Israel
began to pull back from positions in the Palestinian territories after a rare joint meeting of Israeli and Palestinian
security chiefs, brought together by US envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni. As Zinni worked to broker a truce, Cheney
was pictured shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the front page of the New York Times
March 19. Appearing with Sharon at a press conference that day, Cheney announced he would not meet with
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat until a truce was in place (NYT, March 20). The following day, a suicide bomb
destroyed a Nazareth-Tel Aviv bus, killing seven, (NYT, March 21) and the day after that a suicide bombing killed
three in a Jerusalem shopping area (NYT, March 22). On the day of the second blast, the US State Department put
the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is linked to Arafat's Fatah political organization, on the list of "foreign terrorist
organizations." In a statement, al-Aqsa responded that making the list "is an honor for the brigades" because
"America is the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world." It vowed to step up bombings. (NYT, March 23) While
the al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the Jerusalem blast (UK Guardian, March 21), the bus blast was
claimed by Islamic Jihad (Hamas press release, March 22). Several of the 30 wounded in the bus blast were actually
Arab (UK Guardian, March 20). Arafat's Palestinian Authority has condemned the suicide attacks--winning criticism
from the more militant Hamas organization (Hamas press release, March 22). Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
said Arafat, who has been confined to Ramallah by Israeli forces, should be allowed to travel to Beirut for the Arab
summit meeting which is to convene March 27. But Sharon insisted Arafat will not be allowed to leave unless there
is a truce (NYT, March 24). Violence again broke out March 24, as four armed Palestinians were shot by Israeli
commandos as they tried to infiltrate from Jordan, and a 19-year-old Palestinian was killed in an Israeli incursion in
the Gaza Strip (BBC, March 25).
2. B'TSELEM: IDF "TRIGGER HAPPY"
The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem released a report entitled "Trigger Happy: Unjustified Gunfire and the
IDF's Open-Fire Regulations during the al-Aqsa Intifada." The report documents numerous incidents of unarmed
Palestinian civilians being killed by Israel Defense Forces. To cite but one incident: "On 17 December 2001, several
children from the Khan Yunis refugee camp were playing with toy weapons made of plastic. IDF soldiers at a post
some one hundred meters away fired live ammunition at them, killing Muhammad Hanaidiq, age 15."
B'Tselem writes that until the outbreak of the new intifada, or uprising, in Sept. 2000, "the Open-Fire Regulations in
the Occupied Territories were based on Israel's penal code. Soldiers were only allowed to fire live ammunition in
two situations: when soldiers were in real and immediate life threatening danger, and during the apprehension of a
suspect. When the intifada began, the IDF defined the events in the Occupied Territories as an 'armed conflict short
of war,' and expanded the range of situations in which soldiers are permitted to open fire... The new version of the
Open-Fire Regulations, which according to press reports are referred to as 'Blue Lilac,' have remained secret."
Therefore B'Tselem based its investigation primarily on testimonies from soldiers.
One Israeli soldier told B'Tselem: "You hear shooting, nothing effective. You jump and start shooting. There's
nowhere to shoot. You shoot at suspicious places, which is a bush here and a bush there, more or less. But the
soldiers take a bit of initiative and shoot at suspicious water tanks, suspicious television antennas, suspicious satellite
dishes..." ( www.btselem.org)
3. TV FOOTAGE OF IDF ATROCITY BUCKS ISRAELI CENSORS
An Israeli TV news reel from a recent IDF raid on a West Bank refugee camp depicts troops terrorizing a
Palestinian family, tearing out walls in their modest home--and leaving the mother dead. The mother had been
fatally injured when IDF troops bombed the door to enter the house. The footage shows how the troops searched
the home, holding the family at gunpoint and ignoring pleas for the mother to be taken to a hospital. Palestinian
Red Crescent ambulances were not able to get in because of the IDF blockade of the camp. The mother lay dying
as her two children looked on--the boy of around 15 admonishing his younger sister not to cry in front of the Israeli
soldiers. No weapons were found in the house. Israel's Ch. 2 ran the footage in defiance of military censors, and the
broadcast made local headlines. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has released the footage internationally.
4. NEW YORK TIMES SEES "SECRET IRAN-ARAFAT CONNECTION"
A March 24 front-page New York Times story, "A Secret Iran-Arafat Connection Is Seen Fueling the Mideast
Fire," also drew an indirect link between Arafat and Osama bin Laden, with a subtitle of "US and Israel Fear
Tehran Harbors al-Qaeda." Citing anonymous "American and Israeli intelligence officials," the article claimed a
"clandestine meeting" took place between Arafat and Iranian officials when he was in Moscow to visit Russian
President Vladimir Putin last May. But the top-billing story actually broke little new ground, mostly reiterating old
claims--such as Israel's Jan. seizure of a boat on the Red Sea, allegedly on a clandestine weapons delivery from Iran
to Arafat (seeWW3 REPORT #16), and the Feb. detention of three al-Qaeda suspects by Turkish authorities near
the Iranian border (see WW3 REPORT #23). It also reiterated Iran's denial of any involvement in arming the
5. TOP ISLAMIC SCHOLAR: SUICIDE BOMBERS "HOLY"
Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantaoui, former rector of al-Azhar University in Cairo, Islam's most prestigious school,
praised the Palestinian suicide bombers in a March 21 statement. Tantaoui said "anyone who blows himself up
among aggressors who destroy houses and kill women and children, while defending the honor of our brothers in
Palestine, is holy, because he blows himself up in the heart of an enemy who is raping his lands, disgracing our
honor and killing people."
Tantaoui asserted that "if the suicide bomber is in an Israeli town, and it is proved that there are aggressors there
and he blows himself up, killing men, women and children, he is also holy, because he cannot distinguish between
them." However, the sheikh said that the bombers should not detonate intentionally "among the weak" (women
and children). Two months ago, Tantaoui took part in an inter-religious council in Alexandria, where he signed the
closing statement that "the murder of innocents--supposedly in the name of God--is sacrilege of His holy name and
disgraces the religion worldwide." Tantaoui subsequently received death threats from Islamic extremists. (Haaretz,
6. SAUDI NEWSPAPER REVIVES BLOOD LIBEL
A prominent newspaper editor in Saudi Arabia, Turki al-Sudairy, disavowed an article that had appeared in his own
daily, Al Riyadh, repeating the centuries-old calumny that Jews use the blood of Christians and Muslims to make
holiday foods. Al-Sudairy said he was upset to discover that the paper ran a two-part series vilifying Jews while he
was away in Lebanon. In an unusual twist on the ancient lie, the paper claimed that it is hamantash for Purim rather
than matzoh for Passover which is made with the blood of gentiles. (Los Angeles Times, March 20)
7. UNVEILED GIRLS BURNED ALIVE IN SAUDI ARABIA
THE PHILIPPINE FRONT
Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from fleeing a burning building because they were not wearing
correct Islamic dress, local newspapers reported. In a rare criticism of the kingdom's powerful "mutaween" police,
the Saudi media accused them of blocking attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire March 18. About 800
students were inside the school in Mecca when the fire started. The daily al-Eqtisadiah reported that firemen
confronted police after they tried to keep the girls inside because they were not wearing the headscarves and abayas
(black robes) required by the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islamic law. One witness reportedly saw three police
"beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya." The Saudi
Gazette quoted witnesses saying the mutaween--or Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of
Vice--stopped men who tried to help the girls, warning "it is sinful to approach them." The father of one of the 15
girls claimed the school watchman even refused to open the gates to let the girls out. "Lives could have been saved
had they not been stopped by members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," the
newspaper concluded. (BBC, March 15)
1. FILIPINOS FEAR "VIETNAMIZATION"
The arrival of some 650 US troops to help the Philippine government in its battle against the Abu Sayyaf rebels
was hailed by President Gloria Arroyo's administration. But the apprehensions of many Filipinos were summed up
by former defense minister and senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who warned of the impending "Vietnamization" of the
Philippines. Ponce Enrile said the arrival of US advisors pointed to the "potentiality of a Vietnam conflict." Enrile
said the US military presence may constitute "stationing troops," which violates both the Philippine constitution and
the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the USA. But the Arroyo-appointed Supreme Court approved joint
military activities with the US troops, saying that "it is not a violation of the Philippine constitution." Arroyo has
declared those who oppose the exercise "terrorist-lovers."
Datu Haji Alonto of the Mindanao War Victims group warned of a potential escalation scenario: "If body bags
started flying to the US with dead American soldiers, do you think they will just leave, like in Somalia? That would
be just the excuse needed by the American militarists to bomb Mindanao using state-of-the-art and untested modern
weapons and plant their bases." Former senator Wigberto Tanada now heads the activist group Gathering for
Peace, which has held public vigils in Manila to protest the troop presence. "What we gained in 1991 is in danger of
being lost," Tanada said, referring to the abrogation of the Philippine-US military bases agreement. Tanada was one
of the senators who voted to revoke the treaty. (Dawn, Pakistan, March 19)
2. US TROOPS NEAR BASILAN BATTLE
Over 100 Philippine troops clashed with some 25 rebels March 18 on Basilan island, where US advisors are training
soldiers for the campaign. At least one local militiaman fighting with the soldiers was injured in a battle that started
at dawn and dragged on through the day in coconut groves on the island, said Col. Alexander Aleo, a brigade
commander. Twelve US advisors at an army camp 4 miles away in Tipo Tipo were not allowed to venture near the
fighting, Aleo claimed. The rebels belonged to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which Aleo accused of
collaborating with the Abu Sayyaf group, top target of the US training program. Thousands of soldiers are said to
be pursuing some 60 Abu Sayyaf fighters, remnants of a force decimated since the military launched an offensive
on the island in June. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, on a tour of Southeast Asia, arrived in the Philippines
March 17 to meet with top officials and assess the mission. Two days earlier, two US-flown helicopters evacuated
three wounded Philippine soldiers and a dead comrade after they clashed with Abu Sayyaf fighters. The training
exercise runs through July 15. The Pentagon is said to be considering sending more troops. (AP, March 18) March
19 saw another clash, as Abu Sayyaf rebels hurled grenades and fired small arms at a Philippine army patrol on
Basilan, injuring two within earshot of US troops and prompting four Green Berets to enter the combat zone to
"help retrieve the wounded." (AP, March 19)
3. MORO REBELS DENY TERRORIST LINK
An Islamic separatist group in the Philippines denied having links with Malaysian militants alleged to have received
training at their military camp in Mindanao. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) spokesman Eid Kabalu said the
group did not allow foreigners into its camps. Malaysian police said they detained 23 members of the Malaysian
Militant Group (KMM) in Jan., including four Indonesians and three Singaporeans, who they claimed had with links
to al-Qaeda and other terror networks. Police Inspector-General Norian Mai told the press 19 of the detainees had
received military training outside the country--10 in Afghanistan and nine in Mindanao. The 12,500-strong MILF is
fighting for creation of an Islamic state in the south of the Catholic-majority Philippines. When asked about the
MILF's involvement in a regional radical Islamic network, Kabalu said the MILF was transparent in its operations
and had no links with any other groups in the region. (AFP, Jan. 27)
4. BLOODY POLITICS OF MINDANAO
Abu Sayyaf, the special target of US counter-terrorist efforts in the Philippines, is one of several armed factions on
the Muslim-majority southern island of Mindanao--which has seen 20 years of war. A Jan. 17 report in
Asia Times provided a synopsis of the players and the current escalation. The two largest groups aiming to
represent the 4-5 million Moros of Mindanao are the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF). The MNLF signed a peace agreement with Manila in 1996 that led to establishment of
the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Nur Misuari, then-chairman of the MNLF, became the
first ARMM governor. The MILF refused to sign the agreement because it failed to address land issues and
implementation of shariah, or Islamic law. In March 2000, then-president Joseph Estrada ordered all-out war against
the MILF, a campaign which has claimed thousands of lives. The MILF agreed to a ceasefire last Aug., and peace
talks continue--despite repeated ceasefire violations by the Philippine military. Establishment of the ARMM has
failed to ease grinding poverty on Mindanao. Growing opposition to Misuari within the MNLF led to his removal as
chair of the organization last April--a post he had held for 33 years. In Nov., Misuari was arrested in Malaysia after
he fled the Philippines in the wake of a failed uprising on the island of Jolo. Over 100 died in the fighting, which
came a week before Misuari was voted out as governor in the ARMM elections. (See WW3 REPORT#10) After
the election, Misuari supporters took 100 hostages in Zamboanga City, holding them until negotiators brokered a
deal allowing the gunmen to go free. Misuari was extradited to the Philippines to face rebellion charges, but
authorities estimate some 1,000 MNLF troops remain loyal to him. Parouk Hussin, Misuari's successor as MNLF
head, is the new governor. President Arroyo, who backed Hussin for the post, pledges $100 million in development
aid for Mindanao, with $55 million coming from a promised US aid package.
5. WHO IS ABU SAYYAF?
Abu Sayyaf, a small Moro faction which the US links to al-Qaeda, is demanding $1 million for the release of three
hostages--a US missionary couple and a Filipina nurse, who have been held since the middle of 2001. The Philippine
military has repeatedly announced deadlines for rescue of the hostages--and then failed to meet them. Over 7,000
soldiers are pursuing Abu Sayyaf, narrowing the search to a densely forested area on Basilan. Military operations in
the region have resulted in some 55,000 displaced, and pose a major challenge to the newly-elected leaders of the
Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), composed of Basilan and four other provinces. Despite
repeated offers, the Philippine government has ruled out any possibility of US troop involvement in rescue of the
hostages. But US soldiers are allowed to go to the battlefront to "assess" operations against the Abu Sayyaf.
(Asiatimes, Jan. 17) Abu Sayyaf means "father of the swordsman" in Arabic, and was reportedly named for the
nom de guerre of an Afghan Mujahedeen fighter (Dawn, Pakistan, March 19). Despite official denials that US
troops will actually participate in Philippine army operations against Abu Sayyaf, the joint military exercise is
dubbed Balikatan, which translates as "Shoulder to Shoulder." (Manila Times, Jan 17)
6. INDONESIA NEXT?
As FBI Director Robert Mueller visited Indonesia to meet with top security and law enforcement officials, the White
House announced that it would not resume military training of the Indonesian army--restricted by Congress
following the 1999 bloodshed in East Timor--but would provide aid for the country's new anti-terror police force.
Although the military training had been suspended due to human rights concerns, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz cited US respect for the "deep sense of national pride and independence on the part of the Indonesians."
US intelligence claims the group Jemaah Islamiyah, linked to al-Qaeda, has cells in Indonesia. (NYT, March 22)
1. BRITS GET IN ON NUCLEAR SABRE-RATTLING
The UK is prepared to use nuclear weapons against rogue states such as Iraq if they used "weapons of mass
destruction" against British troops, defense secretary Geoff Hoon told MPs. Hoon was briefing MPs on the threat
posed by four countries identified by the UK as "states of concern"--Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea. He added:
"They can be absolutely confident that in the right conditions we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons.
What I can not be absolutely confident about is whether or not that would be sufficient to deter them from using a
weapon of mass destruction in the first place." (BBC, March 20)
2. IS PENTAGON USING DEPLETED URANIUM IN AFGHANISTAN?
Village Voice columnist James Ridgeway discussed reports that the US is using bombs containing depleted uranium
(DU), a low-level nuclear waste product, in Afghanistan--as it did in Iraq and Yugoslavia. The March 20 piece,
"Radioactive Bombs Rain Down on Asia," reviewed world press accounts of the controversy.
"The use of reprocessed nuclear waste in the US air strikes against the Taliban poses a serious risk of radiation
poisoning to the human lives in Afghanistan and Pakistan," said the Pakistan Weekly Independent last Nov. Added
Dawn, Pakistan's English-language paper, on Nov. 12: "A leading military expert told Dawn that since Oct. 7 the
United States Air Force has been raining down depleted uranium shells at targets inside Afghanistan, especially
against the Taliban front lines in the north... 'There is widespread radiation in many areas that could adversely affect
tens and thousands of people...for generations to come,' he said."
A 1994 report to Congress by the secretary of the army said, "Like naturally occurring uranium, DU has
toxicological and radiological health risks... Based on the lessons learned in Desert Storm, the army is developing
procedures to better manage the internal exposure potential for DU during combat." The report mentioned
tungsten as a possible alternative.
Carl Conetta of the Project on Defense Alternatives in Washington told the Voice that while experts argue, depleted
uranium inhaled by a child could result in cancer later in life. A spokesperson for the US Central Command this
week said the Pentagon has "not used depleted uranium in Afghanistan." But Conetta suspects that hundreds of
bombs containing DU have been used in Afghanistan, noting that DU remains cheaper than alternatives the
Pentagon is considering such as tungsten.
Ridgeway writes that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told a French publication in Jan. that the US had
found radiation in Afghanistan--but that it was from DU bombs belonging to al-Qaeda, possibly of Russian origin.
3. "MYSTERY METAL NIGHTMARE IN AFGHANSTAN?"
The March Le Monde Diplomatique cited the findings of researcher Dai Williams that, despite Pentagon denials, the
US is using depleted uranium bombs in Afghanistan. "The immediate concern for medical professionals and
employees of aid organizations remains the threat of extensive depleted uranium (DU) contamination in
Afghanistan," states the 130-page report, "Mystery Metal Nightmare in Afghanistan?," which was recently
presented to international organizations in Geneva. But only MŽdecins sans FrontiŽres (Doctors without Borders)
say they fear an environmental and health catastrophe from the use of DU in Afghanistan. In March and April
2001, UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO) published reports on DU, which are frequently cited by
those claiming DU is harmless. The Pentagon emphasizes that the organizations are independent and neutral. But
Le Monde Diplomatique writes that "the UNEP study is, at best, compromised... The Kosovo assessment mission
that provided the basis for the UNEP analysis was organized using maps supplied by NATO; NATO troops
accompanied the researchers to protect them from unexploded munitions, including cluster bomb sub-munitions...
NATO troops prevented researchers from any contact with DU sub-munitions, even from discovering their
Le Monde Diplomatique claims the Pentagon has "admitted" that DU is used in Raytheon's "bunker
buster"--GBU-28--which was used extensively in the battle for Tora Bora (see WW3 REPORT #14). The article
discusses the limitations of tungsten, which the Pentagon is said to be considering as a replacement for DU:
"Tungsten poses problems. Its melting point (3,422ˇC) makes it very hard to work; it is expensive; it is produced
mostly by China; and it does not burn. DU is pyrophoric, burning on impact or if it is ignited, with a melting point
of 1,132ˇC; it is much easier to process; and as nuclear waste, it is available free to arms manufacturers. Further,
using it in a range of weapons significantly reduces the US nuclear waste storage problem."
The article also notes the radioactive legacy of DU production in the US: "In Jefferson County, Indiana, the
Pentagon has closed the 200-acre (80-hectare) proving ground where it used to test-fire DU rounds. The lowest
estimate for cleaning up the site comes to $7.8bn, not including permanent storage of the earth to a depth of six
meters and of all the vegetation. Considering the cost too high, the military finally decided to give the tract to the
National Park Service for a nature preserve--an offer that was promptly refused. Now there is talk of turning it into
a National Sacrifice Zone and closing it forever. This gives an idea of the fate awaiting those regions of the planet
where the US has used and will use depleted uranium." ( see Issues on the Use and Effects of Depleted Uranium Weapons)
1. CIA LINK TO ANTHRAX ATTACKS?
A BBC Newsnight investigation has raised the possibility that the fall anthrax attacks were part of a secret CIA
project to simulate bio-terror attacks which went "madly out of control." The report centered on the findings of
Federation of American Scientists researcher Barbara Rosenberg, who has recently maintained that the FBI has a
suspect in the case but is "dragging its heels" because an arrest would be embarrassing to the US authorities. (see
WW3 REPORT #22) On the March 14 BBC Newsnight, Hatch went further, alleging that the anthrax attacks
which killed five people may have originated in a covert CIA experiment.
The report also cited a New York Times series on secret bio-defense projects which ran Sept. 2-4, mere days before
the 9-11 attacks. The Sept. 4 New York Times story noted a 1997 CIA program code-named Clear Vision, which
built and tested a model of a "Soviet-designed germ bomb that agency officials feared was being sold on the
international market." The device was developed and tested at Battelle Memorial Institute, a defense contractor
based in West Jefferson, OH. In another Clinton-era program, Project Jefferson--this one led by the Pentagon's
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)--Battelle was contracted to replicate a hybrid form of anthrax believed to have
been developed by the Russians which is resistant to the anthrax vaccine the Pentagon uses on all US troops.
Newsnight said that "in recent weeks, the focus of the investigation has been the US army medical research institute
at Fort Detrick near Washington." Col. David Franz, who was in charge of research at Fort Detrick for 11 years,
told Newsnight the perpetrator was likely a high-level researcher: "It's not someone who just got on the Internet or
went to the library and got a book and held the book in one hand and a big wooden spoon in the other and stirred
2. NEW YORK TIMES: AL-QAEDA ANTHRAX LINK SEEN
A front-page New York Times story March 23 cited a "confidential assessment" by Pentagon Central Command
that a laboratory discovered by US forces in Kandahar, Afghanistan, was intended to produce anthrax. The
assessment was "based on documents and equipment found at the site." No further details were given on evidence,
but CIA Director George Tenet was quoted: "Documents recovered from al-Qaeda facilities in Afghanistan show
that bin Laden was pursuing a sophisticated biological weapons research program. We also believe that bin laden
was seeking to acquire or develop a nuclear device. Al-Qaeda may be pursuing a radioactive dispersal device, which
some call a 'dirty bomb.'" US officials say over 60 sites suspected of links to unconventional weapons have been
investigated in Afghanistan, with over 370 samples taken. In only five cases were there any apparent indication of
biological agents, and then only in miniscule amounts. A second story related how a Dr. Christos Tsonas of Holy
Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale treated a man identified as a pilot last June for an ugly lesion on his leg, which he
said had developed when he bumped into a suitcase. The antibiotics Dr. Tsonas prescribed later emerged among the
possessions of 9-11 hijacker Ahmed Alhaznawi, who died when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Tsonas subsequently said that the lesion "was consistent with cutaneous anthrax." A memo on the matter at the
Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies said, "Such a conclusion of course raises the possibility that
the hijackers were handling anthrax and were the perpetrators of the anthrax letter attacks."
3. UK OBSERVER: AL-QAEDA ANTHRAX LINK FABRICATED
Reports in the British press say a March 22 briefing by a senior Downing Street official claimed US forces had
discovered a biological weapons laboratory in a cave in eastern Afghanistan after Operation Anaconda. A "senior
Whitehall source" gave details of how US soldiers had found the cave following heavy fighting for al-Qaeda
positions around Shah-i-Kot. One intelligence report was quoted as saying: "We know from documents found in
Kabul and the lab in the cave that Osama bin Laden has acquired a chemical and biological weapons capability."
Newspapers reported the find as a key reason the British government had decided to send 1,700 Royal Marines to
Afghanistan. But the claim was denied emphatically by Pentagon and State Department sources. A White House
spokesman said "no evidence" had yet been uncovered in Afghanistan that al-Qaeda had succeeded in producing
anthrax or other biological/chemical agents. A US Army official in Washington told The Observer: "I don't know
what they're saying in London but we have received no specific intelligence on that kind of development or
capability in the Shah-i-Kot valley region--I mean a chemical or biological weapons facility."
The US rebuttal came as opposition MPs demanded that Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon "clarify" the claims before
the House of Commons. Liberal Democrat Menzies Campbell said: "The House will feel, with some justification,
that this claim was leaked to the media to justify the deployment after the event." The Observer said it had
"established that the source of the claims was an off-the-record briefing by Tony Blair's senior foreign policy
adviser, David Manning." A Blair spokesman said the government "stuck by the thrust of the story"--that it had
evidence al-Qaeda was "interested" in acquiring bio-weapons--but said Manning had "not actually told" reporters a
cave lab had been discovered. (UK Observer, March 24)
4. EMERGENCY HEALTH POWERS ACT IN STATE LEGISLATURES
THE WAR AT HOME
The Emergency Health Powers Act, based on a model drawn up by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC),
would permit forced vaccinations, abolish patient privacy, criminalize the refusal of medical treatment, and allow
state governments to seize and destroy private property and take control of all communications media, food and
fuel resources, and drugs. (See WW3 REPORT #15). The act is now pending in several state legislatures. New York
State Assembly Bill A-9508 would allow the governor to call out the state militia to enforce "isolation" of target
communities, which is defined as "physical separation and confinement of an individual or groups of individuals
who are infected or reasonably believed to be infected with a contagious disease or possibly contagious disease."
New Yorkers for Vaccine Information and Choice is mobilizing opposition to the bill.
1. US FARMS OUT TORTURE TO TERROR WAR ALLIES
Since Sept. 11, the US has been routinely sending al-Qaeda suspects overseas to countries that use torture as part
of their interrogation process. Bypassing normal extradition procedures, the suspects are denied due process and
flown to countries such as Egypt or Jordan, where they are subject to torture and threats to their families. One US
diplomat told the Washington Post, "After Sept. 11, these sorts of movements have been occurring all the time. It
allows us to get information from terrorists in a way we can't do on US soil." According the UK Guardian, "dozens
of prisoners" have been transferred to terror war allies. (UK Guardian, March 12)
The process, known as "rendition," predates Sept. 11. Diplomats say the US uses "rendition" as "an attempt to
avoid highly publicized cases that could lead to a further backlash from Islamist extremists." US intelligence agents
have been present at the interrogations of "rendered" suspects in Egypt and elsewhere, according to the
Washington Post. "Rendition"--which falls short of the legal standards for actual extradition--goes both ways, to and
from the US. From 1993 to 1999, terrorism suspects were "rendered" to the US from Kenya, the Philippines,
Nigeria and South Africa. These were only the operations acknowledged by US officials; many more covert
"renditions"--often with Egyptian cooperation--were also carried out, officials told the Washington Post. Muhammad
Saad Iqbal Madni, 24, linked to suspected al-Qaeda "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, was seized by authorities in
Indonesia and flown to Egypt on an unmarked US-registered jet from an Indonesian military airfield. The CIA had
requested the Indonesian government apprehend Iqbal and turn him over to Egypt, where he was wanted for
unspecified charges not related to Reid. (see WW3 REPORT #5)(Washington Post, Mar. 12) (David Bloom)
2. NO AL-QAEDA SNARED IN TERROR SWEEP?
Despite having taken 1,300 suspects into custody since Sept. 11, the FBI has ostensibly failed to find any al-Qaeda
cells operating on US soil. When asked in a March 10 interview with the Fox network if there were any al-Qaeda
cells in the US, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge replied, "We can't say conclusively that there are." Ridge
went on to caution: "I think we should assume and we should operate under the notion that some still are in the
United States." (Fox News, March 10) According to the March 11 London Times, al-Qaeda suspects have been
detained in 60 countries since Sept. 11, "but none of the hundreds detained has yet been found to have any links
with terrorism." (David Bloom)
3. MILITARY TRIBUNALS TO ALLOW "UNORTHODOX" EVIDENCE
As US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that rules had been completed for the special anti-terrorist
military tribunals, an anonymous source leaked some of the details of the rules to the Associated Press. The source
AP that suspects tried by the tribunals would have many of the legal rights of defendants in civilian courts--but
prosecutors could use evidence that would be inadmissible in an ordinary US court. Speaking on condition of
anonymity, the official said defendants would be presumed innocent and have the right to a lawyer and to see the
evidence against them. Key differences would be a suspension of Fourth Amendment restrictions on evidence
gathering, and an extremely limited right to appeal. The seven-officer tribunals might allow prosecutors to use
hearsay or evidence gathered through "unorthodox means." Proceedings would be largely open to the press,
although TV cameras would be barred. If prosecutors requested to present classified material, the courtroom would
be ordered closed. Conviction in most cases would require only a two-thirds majority of the tribunal, unlike civilian
trials which require unanimity. Death sentences would require a unanimous verdict. Some 300 suspected al-Qaeda
and Taliban prisoners are being held at Guantanamo Bay Naval base, and 244 more are in US custody in
Afghanistan. Amnesty International, which opposes the military tribunals, protested: "The proposed commissions
would be inherently discriminatory by affording foreign nationals a lower standard of justice than US nationals."
(AP, March 20)
4. ...AND INDEFINITE DETENTION
Pentagon officials raised the possibility that prisoners from the Afghan war and terrorist suspects could be held
indefinitely by presidential order--even after acquittal by the special military tribunals. Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfled called the provisions "far and balanced." Countered Jamie Fellner of Human Rights Watch: "Not to have
an independent court of appeals and then to have the president have the final say potentially undercuts whatever
fairness they've sought to provide at the trial level." (NYT, March 22)
5. MORE RAIDS ON ISLAMIC CHARITIES AND ACADEMICS
Federal agents raided 15 organizations and individuals in Virginia and a chicken farm in Georgia March 20--all of
them, authorities said, suspected by the Treasury Department of laundering money for al-Qaeda or other terrorist
groups. The raids were the first overseen by the Treasury Department's counter-terrorism task force. The
Department would not identify the targets, but sources indicated one was a commercial building at 555 Grove
Street in Herndon, VA, where the SAAR Foundation, a now-defunct Saudi-financed charity, had an office until
recently. No representative of the foundation could be located for comment. The building also houses the offices of
several other Islamic charities. The office of the International Islamic Relief Organization at 360 South Washington
Street in Falls Church, VA, was also searched, sources said. That charity's parent organization, the Muslim World
League, was also apparently searched. In Oct., the Treasury Department listed another charity financed by the
Muslim World League, the Rabita Trust, as having links to al-Qaeda. (NYT, March 21)
Search warrants were also reportedly served on the International Institute for Islamic Thought, which is located
across the street from the SAAR Foundation. An employee there, Tarik Hamdi, whose home was also raided, was
mentioned in the New York trial of suspects in the 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Officials said SAAR was largely financed by Suleiman Abdel Aziz al-Rajhi, a Saudi banker who is said to be close
to the Saudi royal family. Agents from several Treasury Department branches, including the Customs Service and
IRS, participated in the raids. (NYT, March 21)
The raids continued into the night, as federal agents seized documents, files, a manuscript and three computers from
the home of Taha Al-Awani and Mona Abul-Fadl, both associated with the Graduate School of Islamic and Social
Sciences in Leesburg, VA. Abul-Fadl, who teaches political science and women's studies, said agents stormed into
their home in Herndon, where she was alone and asleep, at 10:30 PM, breaking in the front door with guns drawn.
"They claimed to have knocked," she said. "Normally, if one is in that situation, one would call the police. But now,
there is something ironic, even pathetic about it. What police would you call now?" (NYT, March 22)
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) protested "the use of secret, or classified, documents in
this operation" and demanded "that individuals being investigated be afforded their right to confront the evidence
collected against them in open court." (www.adc.org, March 21) Said Dr. Nedzib Sacirbey, spokesperson for the
American Muslim Council: "These raids and the manner in which they were conducted are un-American and hurt
our image in the world as a nation with rules, and respect for human dignity. They are painful for the American
Muslim community, which has sided with the President and our united country in our war against terrorism."
(AMC press release, March 20)
6. TWO SOLDIERS DEAD IN FORT DRUM MUNITIONS ACCIDENT
GLIMMERS OF HOPE
Pfc. William Hamm of Ocala, FL, and Staff Sgt. Eric Hall of Phoenix, AZ, a linguist in the 110th Military
Intelligence Battalion, were killed when two shells landed short of their target during military exercises at the
Army's Fort Drum in upstate New York. They were in the midst of a battalion eating breakfast when the shells hit.
(NYT, March 22)
1. BARBARA LEE GETS STANDING OVATION IN BERKELEY
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
Rep. Barbara Lee, who cast the lone vote against war following the Sept. 11 attacks, got a warm welcome when
she spoke March 18 at the University of California at Berkeley. "Peace must be a policy option," she said. "It's got
to be on the table at all times...if we want to turn over to our children a world that is less dangerous and more
secure." After her Sept. 14 vote against the resolution giving sweeping war powers to President Bush, Lee faced
bitter criticism--and even death threats. But AP reported that the prolonged applause prefacing her speech--and the
standing ovation that followed it--made clear that Lee is a hero in the San Francisco Bay Area. "She voted her
conscience in Congress," Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl said as he introduced Lee. The Oakland Democrat
was on campus to deliver the first lecture in a series named for her political mentor and predecessor, ex-Rep. Ron
Dellums. Lee, who has a master's degree from Berkeley, called the new federal budget "a disaster" that delivers too
much to the military at the expense of domestic social programs. Lee said terrorists must be "brought to justice,"
but "we cannot let the terrible events of September derail our efforts to contemplate and complete the unfinished
business of America. We still live in a country where more than 44 million people have no health care." The real
danger of the post-9-11 atmosphere is not dissent but the lack of it, Lee asserted. "The lifeblood of democracy is
really the right to dissent," she said. "What has happened since Sept. 11 is people have been fearful, naturally,
they've been scared and that's probably why we don't hear an overwhelming amount of questioning at this point
and that is a very dangerous place to be." The AP account of her speech noted a lone protester outside the lecture
hall, Berkeley junior Kelly Nordli, who held up a sign that read "Drop Barbara Lee." (AP, March 18)
1. WHAT DID ISRAEL KNOW ABOUT 9-11?
Recent reports in Le Monde and the French website Intelligence Online have confirmed accounts of a US
government investigation into a probable Israeli espionage operation in the United States prior to Sept. 11, possibly trailing Islamic fundamentalists --raising
the question of whether the Israelis knew about the impending attack. The claims were first aired on the Fox
network between Dec. 11 and 15. Fox alleged that a spy ring of up to 200 Israelis was operating in the US prior to
9-11. The common modus operandi was young Israelis posing as art students, and trying to breach security
measures at federal facilities across the country under the pretext of selling art. The March 5 story in Le Monde
notes a leaked DEA internal security report, "Suspicious Activities Involving Israeli Art Students at DEA Facilities,"
detailing incidents at "several DEA Field Offices in the continental United States" in Jan. 2001.
Intelligence Online says the June 2001 report was prepared for the Justice Department by a "task force" made up
of DEA and some INS agents, "who were associated with the FBI and the office of investigation of the US Air
Force." Questioned by Le Monde, DEA rep Will Glaspy confirmed that the report exists. (Le Monde, March 5)
Also of concern to security officials is the fact that wiretapping and phone record technologies used in the US are
largely run by private Israeli firms. One, Amdocs, generates a record every time a call is made--with the exception
of the White House and other secure government lines. Another, Comverse Infosys, provides wiretapping to law
enforcement agencies throughout the US. Fox reporter Carl Cameron says the wiretap system contains
vulnerabilities which could have been exploited by al-Qaeda terrorists (Fox News, Dec. 12). According to Cameron,
"what troubles investigators most, particularly in New York, in the counter-terrorism investigation of the World
Trade Center attack, is that on a number of cases, suspects that they had sought to wiretap and surveil immediately
changed their telecommunications processes. They started acting much differently as soon as those supposedly
secret wiretaps went into place" (Fox News, Dec.13).
According to the Intelligence Online report: "The role played by the DEA in the case takes on a wider dimension
because of the fact that in September 1997 it purchased $25 million worth of interception equipment from a
number of Israeli companies which were named in the report. In assigning so many resources to the inquiry (all
DEA offices were asked to contribute) the agency was clearly worried that its own systems might have been
Numerous Israelis were detained in the post-9-11 sweeps. Reported Fox's Cameron: "Beyond the 60 apprehended
or detained, and many deported since Sept. 11, another group of 140 Israeli individuals have been arrested and
detained in this year in what government documents describe as--quote--'an organized intelligence gathering
operation,' designed to--quote--'penetrate government facilities.' Most of those individuals said they had served in
the Israeli military, which is compulsory there." (Fox News, Dec. 15) (See also: WW3 REPORT, #s 4, 11)
New York's Jewish weekly The Forward March 15 portrayed close cooperation between US and Israeli intelligence,
claiming that "Israeli intelligence played a key role in helping the Bush administration to crack down on Islamic
charities suspected of funneling money to terrorist groups, most notably the Richardson, Texas-based Holy Land
Foundation last December." The Forward quoted Peter Unsinger, an intelligence expert at San Jose University: "I
have no doubt Israel has an interest in spying on those groups. The Israelis give us good stuff, like on the Hamas
charities." Ami Ayalon, former head of Israel's Shin Bet internal security service, dismissed the notion that Israel
was spying on the US government as "ridiculous."
But The Forward also wrote: "According to one former high-ranking American intelligence official, who asked not
to be named, the FBI came to the conclusion at the end of its investigation that the five Israelis arrested in New
Jersey last Sept. were conducting a Mossad surveillance mission and that their employer, Urban Moving Systems of
Weehawken, N.J., served as a front. After their arrest, the men were held in detention for two-and-a-half months
and were deported at the end of Nov., officially for visa violations. However, a counterintelligence investigation by
the FBI concluded that at least two of them were in fact Mossad operatives, according to the former American
official, who said he was regularly briefed on the investigation by two separate law enforcement officials. 'The
assessment was that Urban Moving Systems was a front for the Mossad and operatives employed by it,' he said.
'The conclusion of the FBI was that they were spying on local Arabs but that that they could leave because they did
not know anything about 9/11.' However, he added, the bureau was 'very irritated because it was a case of so-called
unilateral espionage, meaning they didn't know about it.'"
Fox, Le Monde and Intelligence Online all ask whether Israel was forthcoming enough about any potential
foreknowledge of terrorist attacks on US soil. The London Daily Telegraph reported Sept. 16 that "two senior
experts with Mossad, the Israeli military intelligence service, were sent to Washington in August to alert the CIA
and FBI to the existence of a cell of as many as 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation. They had no
specific information about what was being planned but linked the plot to Osama bin Laden and told the Americans
that there were strong grounds for suspecting Iraqi involvement..." (See WW3 REPORT #2) But was this tip-off
sufficient? According to Fox, "investigators are saying...the warning from the Mossad was nonspecific and general,
and they believe that it may have had something to do with the desire to protect what are called sources and
methods in the intelligence community. The suspicion being, perhaps those sources and methods were taking place
right here in the United States."
A 1996 GAO report on Israeli espionage activity in the US stated: "According to a US intelligence agency, the
government of Country A conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the US of any US ally." (Fox
News, Dec. 11) That same year, a Defense Investigative Services (DIS) memo warned of Israeli "espionage
intentions and capabilities" aimed at the US defense contractors. The Pentagon repudiated the memo after the
Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman protested that it "impugns American Jews and borders on
anti-Semitism" by referring to the potential security threat posed by individuals with "strong ethnic ties" to Israel.
(Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 1996)
The June 2001 DEA report alleges that Israelis repeatedly approached federal buildings and homes of
federal officials under the guise of being art students from Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem,
aggressively soliciting opinions about their artwork, and trying to bypass security measures at these
facilities. A March 2001 public report from the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive
(NCIX), "Suspicious Visitors to Federal Facilities," describes the same method, but says "the
individuals state that they are delivering artwork from a studio in Miami, Florida, called Universal
Art, Inc." There is no directory listing for a Universal Art, Inc. anywhere in the Miami area.
The NCIX report also poses the possibility of a double operation, with "two groups involved" in the "art student"
incidents--"the second, perhaps a non-Israeli group, may have ties to a Middle Eastern Islamic fundamentalist group.
This may provide an explanation for the
assumption on the part of Fox, Le Monde and Intelligence Online that snooping on DEA and other federal facilities
could indicate Israeli foreknowledge of the 9-11 attacks.
Now that the scandal has re-emerged in the foreign press, Fox News has removed the reports from its website,
although the transcripts are still obtainable through its archiving services. Other than reporting on Israeli
detainees--and quoting US and Isreali denials that they are related to espionage--no major US daily has covered the
story. WW3 REPORT asks why there is an unofficial press embargo of this story. (David Bloom)
2. BEHIND ISRAELI SNOOPING: TERROR OR ECSTASY?
According to the June 2001 report by the DEA's internal security (IS) office on the wave of mysterious visits to
federal installations by supposed Israeli "art students," one young Isreali arrested in such an incident in Florida
possessed telephone numbers which "have been linked to several ongoing DEA MDMA (Ecstasy) investigations in
Florida, California and New York." The report also points out that "the nature of the individuals' conduct, combined
with intelligence information and historical information regarding past incidents involving Israeli Organized Crime,
leads IS to believe the incidents my well be an organized intelligence activity" (DEA report, June 2001)
Carl Cameron, reporting on Fox news (Dec. 14), describes official concerns that the Israeli snoop-tech firms
contracted by US law enforcement, Amdocs and Comverse Infosys, were not secure, and that information from
these sources was winding up in the hands of Israeli criminal networks: "The problem: according to classified law
enforcement documents obtained by Fox News, the bad guys had the cops' beepers, cell phones, even home
phones under surveillance. Some who did get caught admitted to having hundreds of numbers and using them to
avoid arrest." (David Bloom)
3. ...AND DISAPPEARING PUSHCARTS?
According to the Dec. 11 Fox report, thousands of pushcarts in malls in several states, "selling toys called Puzzle
Car and Zoom Copter," were abandoned en masse after the detention of Israelis in the post-9-11 sweeps. Fox said
that "dozens" of Israeli pushcart vendors were arrested at malls in Nov., before the mass exodus of the vendors.
Fox also reported that Zoom Copter's web site stated: "We are aware of the situation caused by thousands of mall
carts being closed at the last minute. This in no way reflects the quality of the toy or its salability. The problem lies
in the operators' business policies." The March 15 edition of The Forward, New York's Jewish weekly, made light
of the disappearances: "Many young Israelis finishing military service take several months off for world travel
before returning to start work or enroll in a university. They often take temporary jobs to fund the trips, and there
is an informal network of companies around the world willing to hire them." (David Bloom)
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EXIT POLL: Does the detention of nearly 200 Israelis by US authorities last year indicate that Israeli intelligence
knew more than it said about the 9-11 attacks? Or does it indicate that the position of Jews in this society is not
necessarily much more secure than that of Arabs? Or both?
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