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ISSUE: #. 28. April 7, 2002 By Bill Weinberg


1. West Bank Re-Occupied
2. Ramallah, Bethlehem Under Siege
3. "Massacre" in Jenin
4. Nablus: Rock the Casbah
5. Morgues Overflowing
6. Slaughter of the Innocents
7. Method to Sharon's Madness?
8. Washington Waffles; Powell Plays Good Cop
9. Arafat Meets US Envoy in Besieged Ramallah
10. Arafat Funds Suicide Blasts--or are Documents Doctored?
11. Sharon Offers Arafat Exile; Palestinians: No Way
12. Javier Solana: Sharon and Arafat Should Resign
13. Ultra-Hardliners Join Sharon Cabinet
14. Ultra-Hardliners Call for Aerial Bombardment
15. Lebanon Next?
16. IDF "Refuseniks" Top 375
17. Israeli Protesters Gassed
18. International Peace Activists Under Fire on West Bank
19. Jose Bove Deported After Meeting Arafat in Ramallah
20. Anti-Israel/US Protests Rock Arab Capitals
21. Media Watchdog Documents Anti-Palestinian Bias
22. Nobel Committee Members Blast Laureate Peres
23. Nobel Laureate Saramago: Ramallah is Auschwitz
24. NYC Mayor Bloomberg: Suicide Bombers are Nazis

1. Northern Alliance Warlords Loot Earthquake Aid
2. Plague of Locusts
3. US Troops Under Fire
4. British "Peacekeeping" Troops in Firefight--Again
5. Navy SEAL Killed by Land Mine
6. Report: Hundreds of Secret US Casualties in Shah-i-Kot
7. Bounty on Heads of US Troops
8. 160 Jailed in Supposed Plot to Overthrow Interim Regime
9. New Jihad Declared Against Karzai
10. Opium War Looms as Karzai Pledges to Burn Bumper Crop
11. Death and Renewal for Nowruz
12. Cult of Masoud: Faithful Flock to Warlord's Grave
13. Uzbek Regime: Pakistan Shelters al-Qaeda
14. Uzbekistan Postpones Democracy
15. Pakistan Postpones Democracy
16. Kazakh Dissident Seeks Refuge in French Embassy
17. One US Carrier Sails Home; Kyrgyzstan to Pick Up Slack?
18. US to Bomb Pakistan Tribal Areas?
19. Who Really Killed Daniel Pearl?
20. Afghan Asylum Seekers Gouged by Aussies

1. Parents of Jewish Dissident Forced to Flee Brooklyn
2. Brooklyn Blast Leaves Orthodox Jew Critically Wounded
3. Al-Qaeda Suspect to get "Special" Treatment
4. John Walker Lindh Photo Reveals Brutal Treatment
5. Second "US Taliban" Moved to Virginia
6. NJ State Court: Secret Arrests "Odious to Democracy"
7. Federal Court Upholds Secret Evidence
8. Feds Hunt Muslim Immigrants
9. Anthrax Paranoia Dims Hindu Festival in Queens

1. Abdullah bin Laden, Family Patriarch, Dead at 75

1. Anti-War Newspaper Debuts With Huge Circulation
2. Passover Terror Victim Gives Life to Palestinian


On March 31, after a week of relentless terror in Israel, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and 14 others at an Arab-owned Haifa restaurant known as a meeting place for both Jews and Arabs. Two hours later, another suicide bomber killed himself and wounded four medics at the Jewish settlement of Efrat, south of Bethlehem. That night, Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat "the enemy of the entire free world," and announced, "The state of Israel is in a war, a war against terrorism." With these words, he ordered a massive re-occupation of the West Bank, sending columns of tanks and armored vehicles into Palestinian towns and villages. (NYT, April 1) Reports of abuses and even atrocities are mounting. Over 2,000 Palestinians have been detained (Haaretz, April 8). Palestinian homes throughout the West Bank have been invaded in house-to-house searches by heavily armed troops with attack dogs, the families ordered out at gunpoint, sometimes in their underwear (Newsday, April 2). Israeli tanks and bulldozers are destroying civilian cars and other property (NYT, April 3). The International Committee of the Red Cross called Israeli army attacks on its vehicles and buildings "totally unacceptable." (NYT, April 6) By weeks end, the total Palestinian death toll was upwards of 200 (UK Independent, April 8). 15 Israeli troops were also killed (Jersualem Post, April 8). More than a million Palestinians are now under renewed Israeli occupation (UK Observer, April 7).

Writes Ghassan Khatib in Jerusalem Report (April 5): "The quality and scope of the ongoing Israeli military operation in the occupied Palestinian territories indicates that Israel has made a strategic decision to end the era of the Oslo peace process that has characterized the status of Palestinian-Israeli relations for the past 10 years... [T]he Israeli army is re-occupying practically every Palestinian city, and killing or arresting any member of the police or Palestinian security that it finds there. In addition, on a grand scale, the army is systematically destroying the Palestinian infrastructure, striking at buildings, administration networks and communications systems. Most importantly, Israel has paralyzed the movement and activity of the president of the Palestinian Authority." Khatib says the operation "was not a surprise to the Palestinians. It is merely one more step in a long line of systematic attempts by the Israeli government since Ariel Sharon assumed power to slowly, but surely bring an end to the arrangements and products of the peace process... Sharon began by expressing political positions that contradicted the basic and agreed-upon terms of reference of the peace process. He then surrounded Palestinian cities and began to paralyze the security, administrative and political activities of the Palestinian Authority. He then proceeded to discredit the idea of Area A under Palestinian control, by gradually violating those areas, and is today reoccupying them entirely."

Sharon's stated objective for the operation is to "destroy the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure." But BBC stated April 5 that "reports from inside the Israeli-occupied towns suggest that the civilian infrastructure--roads, water pipes and the electricity supply--is also being badly damaged, or destroyed, by the actions of the Israeli Defense Force [IDF]." Officials from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees told BBC their staff report "wanton destruction" of infrastructure across the West Bank. There were also reports of looting of food and personal items by IDF soldiers in house-to-house searches, of homes being shot into, and rooftop water-tanks being riddled with bullets. The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said such reports were widespread, but the organization's field workers are not being allowed into the occupied areas. "We do have confirmed reports of Red Crescent ambulances not being allowed to pick up the wounded from the streets, and of a private hospital being shelled," B'Tselem spokesman Leore Yavne told BBC.

Itsik Avichatsira, former IDF sergeant in the elite Golani Brigade, contested the allegations, telling BBC, "The Israeli army is the most moral army in the world, we never harm unarmed people unless accidental..." Danny Seaman, director of the Israeli government press office, told BBC: "There is no deliberate campaign to uproot civilian infrastructure. Such reports are part of Palestinian disinformation and propaganda..." [top]

Journalists were ordered out of Ramallah March 31 as IDF tanks and troops rolled in, and a "Closed Military Area" was declared. (UK Independent, April 2). IDF troops fired warning shots and threw stun grenades at journalists who stayed behind in defiance of the ban (NYT, April 6). Reporter Anthony Shadid of the Boston Globe was shot in the shoulder by Israeli troops in Ramallah (AP, April 1). Most houses in Ramallah now have only intermittent electricity. Israeli bulldozers gouging up the roads have smashed up water mains, and rooftop storage tanks are leaking from bullet holes. (UK Guardian, April 3) Summary execution of wounded Palestinian fighters by IDF troops has been reported (UK Observer, March 31). A March 30 Internet account by international observers trapped in Ramallah said Israeli tank positions have been established "throughout the city, in all civilian areas. We can hear explosions, tank shelling and heavy caliber gunfire throughout the night and day... Inhabitants of the city are under complete curfew. There is absolutely no freedom of movement, even for ambulances, doctors or international agencies, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)... Israeli soldiers are occupying an increasing number of private residences and detaining the residents collectively in single rooms... Israeli troops are calling upon all male residents between the ages of 16 and 40 in some neighborhoods to 'surrender.' The wounded are being treated roughly and being denied medical access... There is no food entering Ramallah and no one is allowed to restock. There will shortly be a food and drinking water crisis..." (Al-Ahram)

April 2 the IDF besieged Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity--purported birthplace of Jesus--where some 250 armed Palestinians have taken refuge. The IDF moved into Bethlehem the day before, with infantry, armored corps and engineering troops entering from several directions. Due to the curfew, Palestinian casualties remained where they fell in the streets. An Israeli army spokesperson insisted the IDF had "no interest" in obstructing the work of medical teams. A Franciscan monk inside the Church of the Nativity said they didn't have enough supplies for Palestinians taking refuge there. "We cannot care for 250 people. We have a convent for 30 to 40 people and our supplies can last us for two weeks," a German monk inside the church said. "The Israeli defense minister has assured the apostolic nuncio that the basilica will not be attacked. I hope that will remain the situation," he said. (Haaretz, April 4) At least 10 Tanzim militiamen are reportedly among those in the Church of the Nativity, and the IDF said the Tanzim men have opened fire on the occupying soldiers. The Palestinians denied it. (UK Independent. April 4)

April 2 the IDF besieged Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity--purported birthplace of Jesus--where some 250 armed Palestinians have taken refuge. The IDF moved into Bethlehem the day before, with infantry, armored corps and engineering troops entering from several directions. Due to the curfew, Palestinian casualties remained where they fell in the streets. An Israeli army spokesperson insisted the IDF had "no interest" in obstructing the work of medical teams. A Franciscan monk inside the Church of the Nativity said they didn't have enough supplies for Palestinians taking refuge there. "We cannot care for 250 people. We have a convent for 30 to 40 people and our supplies can last us for two weeks," a German monk inside the church said. "The Israeli defense minister has assured the apostolic nuncio that the basilica will not be attacked. I hope that will remain the situation," he said. (Haaretz, April 4) At least 10 Tanzim militiamen are reportedly among those in the Church of the Nativity, and the IDF said the Tanzim men have opened fire on the occupying soldiers. The Palestinians denied it. (UK Independent. April 4)

The IDF said the church "has been forcibly seized by a group of armed terrorists who have taken hostages, among them members of the clergy." But the head of a Christian humanitarian group inside the church denied anyone was being held hostage. Four priests came out of the Church April 5--leaving the Franciscans behind. Father Giacomo Bini, head of the Franciscan order, said the monks are "basically voluntary hostages trapped between two fires... They cannot leave for fear that there will be a bloodbath if they go." (CNN April 5) Already killed is Samir Ibrahim Salman, bell-ringer at the Church of the Nativity, who was caught in the crossfire and bled to death in Bethlehem's Manger Square before an ambulance could reach him. (NY Daily News, April 5)

As we go to press, the Palestinian governor of Bethlehem, Mohammed al-Madani, told Haaretz the IDF had opened fire of the Church, causing a blaze in a monastery office, and were barring firefighters from the scene. He also claimed IDF sharp-shooters wounded a local man who tried to run to the scene to offer help. In Rome, Franciscan Father David Jaeger of the Custodions of Catholic Sites in the Holy Land, condemned the reported assault as an act of "indescribable barbarity...with long-term consequences." (Haartez, April 8)

Palestinian sources said that Israeli forces also stormed a Syrian Orthodox Church in Bethlehem April 5, firing shots and critically wounding two. One of the wounded, a Palestinian security officer, was taken into custody by Israel, with eight others. (CNN April 5) [top]

April 6 the Palestine Red Crescent Society reported at least 30 civilians killed in the Jenin refugee camp, with total casualties of over 100. Eyewitnesses report IDF bulldozers leveling homes with the families inside. Al-Awda News: "Many victims are buried under rubble, while scores others have been torn to pieces by the exploding tank shells; dozens others have bled to death inside their homes and in front of their traumatized family members.... Since the early hours of the morning, Israeli Apache helicopters and tanks have been bombarding the densely populated refugee camp, where at least 150,00 people reside in an area that barely reaches 1 square kilometer." The report said Israeli F-16 fighter jets have bombarded the camp, "in an offensive clearly meant to exact the maximum number of civilian casualties." IDF dozers reportedly unearthed a mass grave of February dead, strewing bodies across the streets. Accounts are cited of Israeli tanks crushing wounded bodies. Israeli troops are also accused of announcing a cease-fire to allow women and the elderly to get water, only to seize them and strap them to armored vehicles to demand the surrender of Palestinian fighters and security forces.

In a telephone interview with Al-Jazeera TV, camp resident Umm Jihad said: "The shelling has not stopped. We are all cornered in our homes, unable to sleep, move, or help those who are they bleed in the camp's streets... When we called health officials to ask for help, we were informed that the occupation soldiers confiscated the ambulances' keys... No one is intervening to save our children, who are dying in front of our own helpless eyes." (Al-Awda News, April 6)

Jernin's three modest hospitals are now without electricity or water. A hospital in Jenin came under fire in a battle between Israeli and Palestinian forces, as the Red Cross struggled to evacuate the ill and wounded. The ICRC, World Health Organization and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees all reported deaths due to Israeli forces stopping rescuers getting through. (UK Independent, April 6) At press time, missile strikes on Jenin have been reported (NY Daily News, April 8). [top]

In Nablus, the West Bank's biggest city, fierce fighting rocks the market, or casbah, where Palestinian fighters are making a stand. The commander of the IDF Paratroopers Brigade, Colonel Aviv Kochavi, said his troops had killed over 30 armed Palestinians in house-to-house fighting over the weekend. (Haaretz, April 7). Eight Palestinians were killed and 24 wounded in Nablus earlier in the week, before Palestinian fighters massed in the casbah, the oldest section of the besieged city--crammed into streets too narrow for Israeli armored vehicles. (F2 Network, April 6) The IDF moved into Nablus the night of April 3, also occupying Tul Karm, Qalqiliya, Salfit, Tamun, Tubas, Theiser, and Faro. (Haaretz, April 4) [top]

Israeli soldiers March 31 shot US-born Palestinian Suraida Saleh in Ramallah as she held her 9-month-old baby in her lap while driving to safety with her husband. They were headed for her father's house after hearing shooting near their home. Reached on the phone in Ramallah, her father Farhan Mohammed Saleh, told Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! that Israeli soldiers ordered the husband to stop the car and immediately opened fire. He said Suraida was shot in the head and chest. The husband, badly wounded, was let go. He took the baby from his dead wife and stumbled to the home of his father-in-law, where he collapsed. With the Ramallah morgue overflowing and Israeli soldiers preventing anyone from reaching the cemetery, Saleh said he was forced to bury his daughter in the hospital parking lot--alongside dozens of other Palestinians. When Goodman contacted the State Department's Office of Consular Affairs, she was told the Department was aware that Suraida Saleh was a US citizen, but did not plan to take any action. Details of Suraida's death were obtained by American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice. ( Despite repeated faxes and e-mails to the world media, only Goodman picked up the story. (Democracy Now!, April 3) [top]

Dima Sinafta, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl, was watching from the balcony of her home as the tanks advanced into Tubas. Witnesses said she was killed when tank fire hit the balcony. In Hebron, eight-year-old Ahmed Srayer received second-degree burns when Israeli helicopters fired rockets down the street where he was playing. The target was apparently Islamic Jihad militant Ziyad Shuweiki, who was in a car on the street but ran for it and escaped. The local hospital said 11 bystanders were injured. (UK Independent, April 6) IMC Palestine reported April 4 that a newborn baby died at the Dheishe UN Medical Clinic because IDF soldiers would not allow the ambulance passage to the hospital. ( [top]

"Operation Defensive Wall," as the IDF has dubbed it, is Israel's biggest offensive in the Palestinian territories in 34 years of occupation. The Cabinet meeting that approved the invasion March 28--a day after the bloody Passover suicide attack (see WW3 REPORT #27)--called for maximum "pressure" to be exerted on Arafat. For Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, this meant neutralizing Arafat in his compound to "break the chain of terror" allegedly linking him to the Palestinian militias. For Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, it meant forcing Arafat to "accept and implement immediately" the cease-fire proposal submitted to him last week by US envoy Anthony Zinni. Sharon said, "Arafat, who established a coalition of terror against Israel, is an enemy and at this stage will be isolated." (Graham Usher for al-Ahram Egypt, April 5) The Palestinians rejected Zinni's proposal as a "one-sided" cease-fire which allowed the Israelis to continue attacks. (UK Guardian, April 4)

A senior Israeli security official told the Washington Post April 3 that Israel intends to hunt down a number of Arafat's top political and security lieutenants. Meanwhile, IDF troops laid siege to the Ramallah headquarters of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service--until now a principal point of contact for Palestinian security cooperation with both Israel and the CIA, whose Director George Tenet is pushing a peace plan predicated on re-establishing security contacts. Wrote the Post's Lee Hockstader: "Mr. Sharon seems to believe that Israel can stop Palestinian terrorism through its own force of arms--and that Mr. Arafat and his deputies eventually will be replaced by a more moderate leadership willing to accept Mr. Sharon's plan for a 'long-term interim settlement' that would indefinitely extend Israeli control of East Jerusalem and most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip."

Ultra-hawk Daniel Pipes, director of the US-based Middle East Forum, wrote in the Jerusalem Post April 3 that Israel should "achieve a comprehensive military victory over the Palestinians, so that the latter give up their goal of obliterating it... Ending the Palestinian assault will be achieved not through some negotiated breakthrough, but by Palestinians...concluding that their effort to destroy the Jewish state will fail, and so give up this ambition... There is a war under way, but nearly all observers prefer to ignore this unpleasant reality, preferring instead to suggest meaningless quick fixes. The time has come for them to face facts, which means finding ways to put a stop to Palestinian aggression." [top]

The US media now portray a Bush White House newly engaged and determined to end the violence. On April 6, Bush told Israel it should stop its military operations "without delay," and dispatched US Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region. Powell is due to arrive Monday, but says he has no plans to meet with Arafat. (BBC, April 7) And Bush's decisiveness may be too little too late.

Earlier, Powell said the Israeli offensive wouldn't work: "No matter how many tanks go through how many villages, at the end of this process you will still have suicide bombers. Ultimately, the Israeli Defense Forces will...have to leave the occupied territories..." And then, Israel will need Arafat because he "is the head of the Palestinian Authority, an organization that we helped create. He is seen as the leader of the Palestinian people. And it would not serve our purpose right now to brand him individually as a terrorist." But, wrote the Washington Post: "Unfortunately, this honest analysis is entirely at odds with the Bush administration's behavior during the past week. Though the secretary of state may be willing to publicly explain why the Israeli offensive is futile, President Bush and other senior officials have repeatedly blessed it. Even as Mr. Bush has rightly gone on repeating that it is up to Mr. Arafat to take action against the suicide bombers, he has not objected to Mr. Sharon's confinement of him. The administration still says that it wants the Palestinians to accept the cease-fire plan developed by CIA Director George Tenet; but yesterday it did not protest when the Israeli army besieged the headquarters of the West Bank security force Mr. Tenet has worked with. In effect, the administration acts as if it does not notice that Mr. Sharon's measures are destroying any chance of implementing US proposals for ending the violence." (, April 3)

Powell also seems at odds with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who this week flatly ruled out sending US forces to help enforce a cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis--a mechanism long favored by the State Department. Rumsfeld then went on to accuse Iran, Iraq and Syria of "inspiring and financing a culture of political murder and suicide bombing" in Israel. Rumsfeld in late December endorsed Sharon's view that Arafat was a "terrorist." (Asia Times, April 3)

The White House is reportedly demanding an Israeli declaration of a freeze on settlements in the West Bank, a recommendation of the Mitchell report (basis of the Tenet plan). But as Powell met with Sharon April 7, Haaretz cited Israeli government sources that the IDF could withdraw from areas where it "cleaned up the terrorist infrastructure" even "without handing over the area to a Palestinian security force." One IDF official cited the need to rebuild infrastructure as justifying a long-term Israeli presence. [top]

The US envoy, Gen. Anthony Zinni, visited Arafat in his besieged Ramallah compound, now reduced mostly to mounds of rubble ringed by barbed wire. Sharon, meanwhile, expressed displeasure and barred a European Union delegation from meeting Arafat. Troops threw stun grenades, fired rubber bullets and rammed the vehicles of journalists trying to cover Zinni's arrival. (UK Gardian, April 6) [top]

The IDF has documents it says prove Yasser Arafat funded militants who carried out suicide attacks in Israel. IDF intelligence has been displaying the evidence, which it claims was gathered from two truck-loads of documents taken from the Ramallah compound. One document is allegedly a hand-written note by Arafat approving payments to three West Bank activists the army says were involved in suicide attacks--including one which killed six at a religious celebration. Said Col. Miri Eisen: "The bottom line is that we have direct funding of money requested directly to Arafat, and by him, with his own signature, given to these people who are known terrorists." Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the documents were manufactured by Israel to discredit Arafat. (BBC April 5)

Qais Edwan, the man Israel blames for the Passover suicide bombing, was among six Hamas activists killed in a West Bank helicopter raid April 5, the IDF said (CNN, April 5). The Passover attack killed 22 at a Netanya hotel (see WW3 REPORT #27). [top]

Sharon for the first time publicly proposed sending Arafat into exile in Europe, saying he would be released to European diplomats on condition that he does not return. Sharon told Israel Radio he told European Union envoy Miguel Moratinos he could helicopter into Ramallah and remove Arafat. Sharon said Arafat "can't take anyone with him, the murderers who are located around him there. would have to be a one-way ticket. He will not be able to return." Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat responded to Reuters that Arafat would not accept exile under any circumstances, and that Sharon was laying the groundwork for an assassination attempt. (UK Guardian, April 2)

In the Ramallah suburb of Beitunia, the IDF continued shelling the headquarters of the Palestinian security force until some 400 trapped inside began to emerge as part of a negotiated surrender. Palestinian sources said a European-brokered agreement paved the way for the surrender of the headquarters. Israel claimed those inside included 50 fugitives wanted in connection with attacks. But Jibril Rajoub, Palestinian security chief for the West Bank, denied there were any wanted men there. Rajoub said 20 had been wounded and medical personnel were not allowed to treat the injured. (UK Guardian, April 2) [top]

EU foreign policy head Javier Solana called on the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president to both step down. Speaking to a Spanish radio station, Solana said the battle between Sharon and Arafat appeared bitterly personal. "Sharon and Arafat...have lived through this conflict for too long. I do not wish them any harm, but it would not appear bad to me if they allowed other people to lead this conflict." (UK Guardian, April 2) [top]

The ultra-right National Religious Party (NRP) approved a plan to join Sharon's government with two cabinet ministers. At the same time, reserve Brig. Gen. Effi Eitam became head of the party, and will probably become a voting cabinet member. (Haaretz, April 6) With this development, Eitam again stated his call for relocation of 3 million Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan: "I think our Jewish conscience will be clean if we say [to the Palestinians], 'You brought war and in war there are great human tragedies' They will cross the river and go to Jordan." (AP, April 8) Eitam is author of a "security-political plan" calling for re-occupation and annexation of West Bank. (See WW3 REPORT #19) [top]

Avigdor Lieberman, who recently resigned his cabinet seat accusing Sharon of being too soft on the Palestinians (see WW3 REPORT #25), blasted the West Bank ground offensive, saying that Arafat and his headquarters should be "erased from the face of the earth" by bombs from above. Lieberman, co-leader of the far-right National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu bloc, explicitly invoked the US War on Terrorism in calling for massive aerial bombardment of the Palestinian territories. "Why should we endanger our troops? What did the armies of the United States and NATO do in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan? They didn't endanger their soldiers. They simply bombed everything from above." (Haaretz, April 4) [top]

Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerillas attacked the contested Har Dov/Shaba Farms area in the Golan Heights, seriously wounding one IDF soldier. Meanwhile, two Katyusha rockets hit Israeli territory from Syria near Kiryat Shmona. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Israel had received "alarming information" that Hezbollah had "massively reinforced its deployment in close proximity to the [Israel-Lebanon] blue line in a fashion that clearly indicates preparations are being made for further attacks against Israel." Peres petitioned Colin Powell and UN Sec-Gen. Kofi Annan to get Lebanon and Syria to restrain Hezbollah. Lebanon and Syria both claimed they were powerless to control Hezbollah. Israel is also not certain that Hezbollah is responsible for all the attacks from Lebanon. (Haaretz, April 4) [top]

The number of IDF reservists who are resisting service in the Palestinian territories has surged to 375 officers and soldiers, who have all signed the public letter of refusal (see WW3 REPORT # 18). At least 20 "refuseniks" have now been jailed, with more facing military tribunals. On March 29, a group of refuseniks demonstrated outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, carrying Israeli flags to stress their loyalty to Zionism. But Yishai Menuhin, spokesperson for Yesh Gvul, the anti-occupation draft-resistance movement, said many conscripts who have not signed the refuseniks' letter have also been jailed for conscientious objection--and the refusal movement is both more widespread and politically diverse than is being portrayed in the media. Menuhin said, "among us there are many Zionists, but also many non-Zionists and anti-Zionists. We support them all." The Forum in Support of Conscientious Objectors is distributing a brochure to draftees and reservists documenting human rights abuses in the territories, and stating: "The international community has already brought to trial soldiers who committed war crimes in the Balkans. Do you want to be next?" (Haaretz, April 1) [top]

Gush Shalom and other Israeli peace groups--both Jewish and Arab--held a March Against the War April 3, attempting to cross into the West Bank to deliver solidarity aid to the besieged communities. The marchers, dressed in white, were accompanied by trucks of food and medical supplies destined for Palestinian relief and women's organizations. The activists intended to march from Jerusalem to Ramallah, but were stopped at A-Ram Checkpoint in north Jerusalem, where they were dispersed by police and IDF troops who sprayed tear gas and swung batons and rifle butts. Among the wounded demonstrators was Member of the Knesset Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash Party), who told a reporter, "If they are ready to use the butt of a rifle on an MK, who knows what they are doing inside the territories." Also participating in the march were Bat-Shalom, Committee of Arab Students, Hakampus Lo Shotek, New Profile, Peace Now, The Fifth Mother, Taayush, Women's Coalition for a Just Peace, and Women Refuse. (Haaretz, April 4; see also: On April 6, 10,000 Israelis protested in front of the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, demanding withdrawal from the West Bank (NYT, April 7). [top]

Five volunteer international peace observers on the West Bank have been injured by live fire and are being treated at al-Hussein Hospital in Bethlehem. They include three British citizens, one US citizen and an Australian, who is said to be currently undergoing surgery. The US citizen, Zaid Khalil of New York City, was hit in the leg with shrapnel. (IMC Palestine) BBC reported April 2 that the five were wounded when a group of nearly 100 unarmed international volunteers confronted Israeli tanks at Beit Jala, near Bethlehem. A Palestinian cameraman was also wounded in the incident. [top]

French anti-globalization activist Jose Bove--who won international celebrity by demolishing a McDonalds construction site with farm equipment in his hometown of Millau, Aveyron, in 1999--faces deportation from Israel after making a dramatic show of solidarity with the Palestinians. The radical farmers' leader joined an activist delegation visiting besieged Palestinian leader Arafat in Ramallah March 31. Back in Paris three days later, Bove described conditions at a detention center for Palestinians where he was briefly held: "There we saw hundreds of men sitting on the ground, under canvas and behind barbed wire, surveyed by watchtowers. We saw 300 people kneeling down and blindfolded, waiting to be interrogated in the cold and the night. It was unbearable to behold." (BBC, April 2) [top]

Protests against Israel and the US are sweeping through Arab capitals, with police in Amman and Cairo firing water cannons and tear gas to clear the streets. But in some cases, leaders joined the protests. In Libya, Col. Mommar Qaddafi led marchers through Tripoli, and challenged Israel's Arab neighbors to open the borders to allow volunteer fighters to join the Palestinians. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein demanded that Arabs cut off oil sales to the West. Even in Kuwait, the most loyal of US allies, the Parliament issued a statement calling for Washington be fairer in mediating the conflict. (NYT, April 1) In Manama, Bahrain, police clashed with thousands of demonstrators who had gathered outside the US embassy. Protests were also reported in Lebanon, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Beyond the Arab world, 4,000 gathered outside a mosque in Istanbul in a show of solidarity with Palestine, and thousands took to the streets of Jakarta, Indonesia. (CNN, April 5) On April 3, Egypt suspended nearly all ties with the government of Israel, but is keeping open diplomatic channels that could help the Palestinians (Haaretz, April 4). Arab foreign ministers are calling for an immediate meeting of the UN Security Council, following an emergency meeting of the 22-member Arab League. The Arab ministers said they supported the "legitimate Palestinian resistance" against Israeli occupation, and they confirmed their support for Arafat as sole legitimate leader of the Palestinian people. (Haaretz, April 6) [top]

The media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) completed a survey of how the language of "retaliation" is used on the nightly news shows of the US networks ABC, CBS and NBC. Reports FAIR:

"From the start of the Intifada in Sept. 2000 through March 17, 2002, the three major networks' nightly news shows used some variation of the word 'retaliation' (retaliated, will retaliate, etc.) 150 times to describe attacks in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. About 79 percent of those references were to Israeli 'retaliation' against Palestinians. Only 9 percent referred to Palestinian 'retaliation' against Israelis. (Approximately 12 percent were ambiguous or referred to both sides simultaneously.) Both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict routinely present their attacks as being retaliation for previous attacks or actions. Both sides portray their struggle as essentially defensive. Whether one regards these justifications as credible explanations or self-serving rhetoric, the fact is that reporters make choices about whether to report them. The network news shows have characterized Israeli violence as 'retaliation' almost nine times more often than Palestinian violence."

Citing a figure of 300 Israelis and 1,200 Palestinians killed since the current Intifada began in Sept. 2000 (Boston Globe, March 31), FAIR writes:

"The devastating human toll of such 'retaliations' makes these imbalances are all the more striking. According to the latest estimates from the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, 897 of the Palestinians killed from Sept. 29, 2000 though March 30, 2002 have been civilians. Israeli security forces killed 823 of those 897 people, including 192 children. B'Tselem records that 253 Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinians in the same period, including 48 children. At least 16 of those 253 people were killed by Palestinian National Authority security forces or persons reportedly linked to them. B''selem notes that these figures include neither suicide bombers nor Palestinians who 'died after medical treatment was delayed' by Israeli forces. (See Figures like these, highlighting the targeting of non-combatants and even children, make clear that it is simply inaccurate to cast either side as acting purely defensively." (FAIR, April 4) [top]

Members of the Norwegian committee that awards the annual Nobel Peace Prize launched an unprecedented verbal assault on Israeli foreign minister and Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres. Peres accepted the peace prize jointly with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel's late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1994. In an interview with a Norwegian newspaper, committee members said they regretted that Peres' prize could not be recalled because, as a member of the Israeli cabinet, he had not acted to prevent Israel's re-occupation of Palestinian territory. "What is happening today in Palestine is grotesque and unbelievable," said Hanna Kvanmo. "Peres is responsible, as part of the government. He has expressed his agreement with what Sharon is doing." Committee chairman Geir Lundestad noted that if Arafat were to be killed in the Israeli siege, one Nobel laureate would in effect have killed the other. (BBC, April 5) [top]

Israeli intellectuals and Holocaust survivors reacted with outrage to statements by Portuguese Nobel Literature Prize laureate Jose Saramago comparing Israel's siege of Ramallah to the mass murder at Auschwitz. Saramago, who recently visited the Palestinian city as part of an International Parliament of Writers (IPW) delegation, told the Israeli press that "the spirit of Auschwitz" could be seen in the assault on Ramallah. "This place is being turned into a concentration camp," he said. According to Haaretz, when asked where the gas chambers were, he replied "so far, there are none." Israeli legislator Yosef Lapid, a Holocaust survivor, said: "There is nothing more despicable than to use the Holocaust and its victims in such a way as this novelist with a worldwide reputation has done." In a reaction published in the daily Yediot Aharanot, Israel's best-known novelist Amos Oz said Saramago's comments demonstrated "terrible moral blindness... As a member of the Israeli left, as someone who fights for the Palestinian people's right to an independent state alongside Israel, I consider Saramago's statements a spit in the face of the Nazis' victims, a spit in the face of the peace camp, and a spit in the face of humanity in its entirety." Prof. Menahem Peri, who edited the Hebrew translation of Saramago's works, was quoted in Yediot as saying "I was surprised he does not understand what the Holocaust was. Only if we were to send 6 million Arabs to the furnaces would he have the right to make such a comparison." According to Haaretz, IPW executive director Christian Salmon said Saramago's comparison did not reflect the views of the organization. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 26) [top]

Speaking at a ceremony commemorating Holocaust victims at New York's Temple Emanu-El, Mayor Mike Bloomberg said: "Jewish people today are confronted by a new twisted ideology of hatred--that is Islamic extremism. Suicide bombers...are just the same thing as the concentration camps of the Nazis." (NY Daily News, April 8) [top]


International aid agencies rushed to Afghanistan's remote Baghlan Province after the devastating March 25 earthquake (see WW3 REPORT # 27). The town of Nahrin and about 80 surrounding villages were hit by the quake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale. Nahrin's old section was completely leveled. The UN's preliminary death toll is 800, and thousands of families are left homeless. ISAF peacekeeping troops and US-led combat forces helped transport supplies by helicopter. Russia also sent in a truck convoy with supplies for a field hospital. Most of the survivors now have rudimentary shelter and enough to eat. But residents complain that local warlords are diverting much of the aid for private use. Survivor Husain Sediqi lost three children in the disaster and is now living with his wife and three remaining children in a tent. Sediqi said Northern Alliance commanders took supplies from the aid agencies with promises to deliver them to survivors. Instead, he says, the commanders either distributed exclusively to their own supporters or sold them for profit. Similar complaints were voiced by many survivors, who are still sifting through the rubble of their homes. Said Shareen Zaghowa of the French group ACTED, which specializes in helping earthquake victims: "Agencies here are trying to help--however, local commanders are not being controlled and are taking materials that are [meant to be] going to the people. Sometimes you have commanders come in with guns and say, 'We're going to take five tents.' Usually what you have is local staff who are scared and they give it." (RFE, April 1) [top]

An intensive campaign to fight locust infestations is in full swing across nine provinces of northern Afghanistan. The Irish NGO Goal expects a locust explosion this year, and says the next few weeks will be crucial in limiting damage. Swarms turn the skies black, destroying a field in a few hours. Farmers say it is the worst infestation for at least a decade. Lack of resources to fight locusts, and drought conditions are behind the locust boom. Some farmers decided not to plant at all this season, saying there's no point in wasting seed. Goal's low-tech approach puts residents to work digging trenches to catch and bury the locusts. But this requires a massive mobilization--and many areas have been depopulated by drought and war. (BBC, April 4) [top]

"Dozens" of US Special Forces troops and several allied Afghan fighters were targeted--but apparently unharmed--by five tube-launched rockets in Paktia province April 3. A US military spokesman said the attack was a "good indication" that Taliban/al-Qaeda forces are still active in the region. (BBC, April 5) [top]

British "peacekeepers" with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) exchanged gunfire with "neighborhood watch" members in the west of Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, April 6. The patrol allegedly mistook the British troops for members of a criminal gang which has been preying on local residents, and opened fire. No injuries were reported. British paratroopers in Kabul got into fire-fights twice in February. On Feb. 20 there was a brief exchange of gunfire when suspected bandits were accosted by the troops. Four days earlier troops from the same regiment fired at an Afghan car, killing a young man and wounding four others, including a pregnant woman. The British peacekeepers said they were responding to gunfire, but witnesses said the shooting was unprovoked. The 18-nation, 4,500-member ISAF is helping "maintain security" in Kabul during the transition to a permanent government in Afghanistan. (BBC, April 6) [top]

Chief Petty Officer Matthew Bourgeois of the Navy SEALs was killed when he stepped on a mine near the US base at Kandahar--making him the 31st US soldier to die in the Afghanistan campaign. (AP, March 29) [top]

The US army suffered heavy losses in an offensive against Taliban/al-Qaeda fighters in eastern Afghanistan's Shah-i-Kot valley April 4, said one report apparently originating in Russia. Nearly 100 US Special Forces troops were killed and about 200 injured, and four Apache helicopters destroyed in the battle at the scene of last month's Operation Anaconda, according to Russian on-line newspaper Strana.Ru, citing Kremlin sources. The claim was picked up by Indian Abroad News Service, and then by Pakistan's NNI service. Local Taliban commander Zalaludin Hakkani is said to be leading the resistance with the help of Chechen and Arab fighters. Hakkani keeps his men in small groups dispersed among the local population, changing their location frequently. He has also promised a reward of $100,000 to the local people for catching a US soldier. Hakkani, a legendary Mujahedeen commander, is believed to have wide support among the local Pashtun tribal militias. (NNI, April 7) The Pentagon claimed Operation Anaconda an "incredible success" in routing local Taliban/al-Qaeda forces (See WW3 REPORT #26) [top]

The US military in Afghanistan says it has found leaflets offering rewards for capturing or killing foreign soldiers. An spokesman told reporters the leaflets had been distributed in the eastern province of Paktia, where US-led forces recently fought Taliban/al-Qaeda. The spokesman, Maj. Bryan Hilferty, said he believed the reward is more than $1,000. US forces have themselves dropped leaflets urging Afghans to cooperate with them and offering rewards for the capture of Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda figures. (BBC, April 5) [top]

The Afghan interim administration said it uncovered an anti-government plot and arrested up to 160 suspects in Kabul. Kabul police chief Gen. Din Mohammed Jurat, said the detainees had been plotting to plant bombs. Many of the suspects were picked up from the house of a senior Hezb-i-Islami commander, Wahidullah Saba-Unn, where they had been staying as guests. The Interior Ministry said 300 people had originally been arrested. Most were released, and Interior Minister Younis Qanooni said the remainder are being screened. The security forces are now dominated by another old Mujahedeen faction, Jamaat-i-Islami. A spokesperson for Hezb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is reported to be back in Afghanistan (see WW3 REPORT #25), denied that he is involved with those arrested. (BBC, April 4) [top]

A previously unknown Afghan group launched a tirade against Hamid Karzai's interim government, branding it an un-Islamic body whose leaders deserve death, the Afghan Islamic Press reported. The ferociously-worded fax was sent to the Pakistan-based news agency by an organization calling itself Tehreek-i-Afghaniat Islami (Afghan Islamic Movement). The unsigned statement, typed in the Dari language, said Karzai and his ministers are traitors, and fatwas (religious edicts) have been issued against them. "They are apostates and hypocrites because they have abandoned their religion and joined Christianity," AIP quoted. The fax, which also named the governor of southern Kandahar province Gul Agha, and Hazrat Ali, who is security head of several eastern provinces, also warned against disrespecting the beard and the veil. It said fatwas issued by against communist rulers during the Soviet occupation now apply to the new regime. The organization said jihad is mandatory after foreign aggression, and that every active member of the interim regime deserves death. (AFP, April 1) [top]

The New York Times reported April 1 that US officials "have quietly abandoned their hopes to reduce Afghanistan's opium production substantially this year and are now bracing for a harvest large enough to inundate the world's heroin and opium markets with cheap drugs." The front-page story by Tim Golden noted the decline in opium production following the Taliban's 2000 ban (see WW3 REPORT #25), but said "the decline left many small landowners and sharecroppers deep in debt. In the absence of a credit system, larger landholders customarily loan smaller farmers and laborers food, cooking oil or money for the winter, to be paid back after the harvest of opium gum. The landholders also offer fertilizer and seed in return for a portion of the crop." So debt-laden farmers are forced back to opium. In a preliminary survey, the UN International Drug Control Program estimated Afghanistan's poppy fields could reach 160,000 acres, about the area cultivated in the mid-'90's before the Taliban crackdown. Germany has taken responsibility for training and equipping a new Afghan police force, but officials say that it will be five years before the force can operate effectively across the country. A drug-enforcement unit in the Afghan Interior Ministry could be running much sooner, officials said--but not soon enough to act against this year's harvest.

Then, on April 5, the Times headline (this time on page 8) announced, "Afghanistan to Pay Farmers for Uprooted Poppies" Under the plan, the Afghan officials will offer poppy farmers some $500/acre to destroy their plants. If the farmers refuse, officials will destroy the crops anyway, said Ashraf Ghani, a senior adviser to Hamid Karzai. Racing to beat the harvest, officials are set to hand out cash in Badakshan, Helmand and Nangarhar provinces. But the on-the-spot payments are designed to compensate the farmer slightly more than he would have earned had he grown wheat--not opium. Still, Ghani said if the farmers refused to burn their poppies, the government was prepared to do it for them. "State power is based on the legitimate use of force," Ghani said. "We hope it doesn't reach that point." The Times said the program "raises the possibility of a confrontation between the fledgling government and the poppy farmers, who are known for their sometimes violent resistance... In impoverished, drought-stricken Afghanistan, the crop has proved to be one of the few reliable sources of a decent income. Poppies also use far less water than wheat or corn." The undisclosed cost of the program will be picked up by the US, UK and other Western countries. Ghani denied that Western nations conditioned aid on opium eradication efforts. But did Karzai's regime cave in after having been spooked by the first Times story?

An April 4 AP account provided further details. Beginning March 8, farmers will be offered $250 per "jirib" of poppy, an Afghan land measure equaling about a half-acre. Poppy farmers said they expect at least $1,700 per jirib of opium--which they depended on to meet expenses. Ghani said the government would immediately institute a program of labor-intensive projects, especially on roads and irrigation systems, to help employ farm laborers. [top]

Nowruz, the Zoroastrian New Year, was celebrated across Afghanistan again this year after having been banned by the Taliban. A March 22 New York Times story displayed photos of the festivities, with revelers climbing the high janda or ritual pole. But there was also wariness: "In a reminder of continuing clashes, American officers said today that more than 10 bodies were found by search parties in the area of an American bombing strike...about 50 miles south of Shah-i-Kot. One wounded man was detained for questioning."

Meanwhile, over 10,000 displaced Afghans thronged the makeshift stadium at Pakistan's Khewa refugee camp for a Nowruz Sports Festival organized by youth groups and Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). Spectators clapped, whistled and yelled, undeterred by a faulty sound system and frequent power breakdowns. "It took a great deal of persuasion and efforts to convince the organizers to let women participate in the sports festival," said RAWA spokesperson Marina. "It was extremely difficult but we succeeded in the end." (Dawn, April 3) [top]

The cult surrounding martyred Northern Alliance military commander Ahmed Shah Massoud (see WW3 REPORT #15) has escalated to new heights, with his grave now said to work miracles. The tomb of Massoud, who was assassinated days before the 9-11 attacks (see WW3 REPORT #2), is now a shrine reputedly capable of miraculous healing powers. Thousands flock to the hilltop gravesite in the Panshir Valley to pay respects to the "Lion of the Panshir" and seek recovery for everything from epilepsy to mental illness. Many come from far beyond the valley where Massoud spent over 20 years successfully resisting the Soviets and then the Taliban. Pligrims believe simply touching his grave and praying beside it will cure them. "A lot of people have been coming here with their sick relatives," said Mehrullah, one of two young soldiers tending the grave. "We don't know if they have been cured yet, but we believe it's possible." Mehrullah said there were plans to build a marble mausoleum in place of the current tin-roofed brick structure. Visitors to the grave are now welcomed by a sign reading, "The Hill of the Chief of the Martyrs" in Dari and English. Green flags--the Islamic color which marks martyrs' graves--snap in the wind. At the entrance, a poem welcomes "everyone from everywhere" to the grave of "the flower that was very sweet, who dedicated himself and his body only to the way of Allah." (Washington Times, April 2) A similar cult has sprung up at al-Qaeda graves in Kandahar (see WW3 REPORT #22) [top]

Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov accused Pakistan of harboring Uzbek al-Qaeda militants who fled Afghanistan last month. "The Pakistani authorities have done nothing to detain bandits from Uzbekistan who were trained in Afghanistan and took part in the al-Qaeda terrorist network," Karimov said, specifically mentioning Tahir Yuldash, leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (see WW3 REPORT #18). Karimov said Yuldash, who has been wanted in Uzbekistan since Dec. 1991, fled Afghanistan's Paktia province after Operation Anaconda. "Now he only can be in Pakistan," Karimov said. "Uzbekistan has an extradition agreement with Pakistan, but we haven't seen its practical implementation." There was no comment from Pakistan, but police there arrested another 21 al-Qaeda suspects in northern areas, officials said. An eight-day operation has netted more than 100 al-Qaeda suspects, reportedly including a top deputy of Osama bin Laden. Karimov's government blamed the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan for a series of 1999 bombings in Tashkent, part of its campaign to establish an Islamic caliphate across Central Asia. Uzbekistan was the first of the former Soviet republics to allow the United States to use its military facilities for the Afghanistan war. More than 1,000 US troops have been deployed at the Khanabad air base. (AP, April 4) [top]

Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov had his five-year term extended to almost eight years as Parliament rubber-stamped the results of a recent referendum which was harshly criticized by the West. The government claims over 90% of the voters supported a constitutional amendment in Jan. extending Karimov's term. US criticism of the move was tempered by Karimov's willingness to open Uzbekistan's military bases to US forces for the war in Afghanistan. (NYT, April 6) [top]

Asserting "I am not power-hungry," Pakistan's ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup, announced he would hold a referendum next month allowing him to stay in power after Pakistan elects a new civilian Parliament in six months. October will mark the third anniversary of Musharraf's coup, a date set by the Supreme Court for the return of democracy. (NYT, April 6) [top]

Kazakh dissident Galymzhan Zhakiyanov is holed up in the country's French embassy after fleeing a hotel that had been surrounded by police sent to arrest him. Zhakiyanov is a former governor of Pavlodar region, and faces abuse of power charges. But rights groups say the charges were launched when he started organizing unauthorized demonstrations and refused to cooperate in the investigation of a fellow member of the group Democratic Choice. (NYT, April 1) [top]

Since the Afghanistan campaign began in Oct., the Pentagon has maintained two aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea, the John F. Kennedy and the John C. Stennis. Now the latter has been ordered to return home as air missions over Afghanistan wind down. But air-strikes can be launched from newly-established US bases in Kyrgyzstan. Some 6,500 US troops remain in Afghanistan. (NYT, April 6) [top]

The US has mapped out plans for aerial bombardment of alleged Taliban/al-Qaeda hideouts in the tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. Sources told Pakistan's Frontier Post the "US has already spelled out their intentions of bombing some areas close to the Durand Line inside Pakistan where they have strong suspicions that al-Qaeda and Taliban members have taken refuge." Sources said a visit by a seven-member high-level US army delegation to Torkhum on the border early last month was to plan the strikes. The delegation was led by a Maj. Gen. Edwards, and also included a Pashtun US servicemember, Army Col. Khan. Earlier, on Jan. 18, a delegation of US Senators also visited the border zone and met with the Inspector-General of the Frontier Constabulary, Maj-Gen Tajul Haq. US Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain was also reportedly with the delegation. Sources also said the US requested the services of the Khyber Rifles in hunting for militants in the mountains. The Khyber Rifles, a local tribal militia recognized by the Pakistani government, have a long history of policing the 180-km Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Their effective control over the Khyber Agency, which controls the pass to Kabul, is a matter of pride for the force which was first raised in 1878 by the British. Officers and "jawans" of Khyber Rifles enjoy a worldwide reputation as the best fighters in mountainous terrain. (Frontier Post, April 1) [top]

In recent months, Pakistan's Islamist underground scored three big hits: the murder/kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, the assassination of the interior minister's brother, and the bombing of a church in the heart of Islamabad's diplomatic enclave. There have also been targeted killings of professionals in Karachi, with over a dozen doctors belonging to the Shi'a minority shot. These acts were intended as a warning to Pakistan's military ruler Pervez Musharraf not to go too far in accommodating Washington. Some senior journalists believe an attempt on Musharraf's life has already taken place. Are these really just the acts of underground groups like Jaish-i-Mohammed and Harkatul Ansar? Or do they have the complicity of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)? Sectors of the ISI were livid at "the betrayal of the Taliban." Colin Powell's March 3 statement exonerating the ISI of any responsibility for Pearl's murder is laughed at by many in Pakistan. Musharraf himself referred to Pearl as an "over- intrusive journalist" caught up in an "intelligence game." Any Western journalist in Pakistan is watched and followed. Pearl, setting up contacts with extremist groups, was doubtless being carefully monitored by ISI. The group which claimed responsibility for the kidnapping--the National Youth Movement for the Sovereignty of Pakistan--is a suspected of being an ISI creation. One of its demands was the resumption of F-16 sales to Pakistan (see WW3 REPORT #21). The principal kidnapper, Omar Saeed Sheikh--whose trial just began in Karachi--surrendered to the provincial home secretary (a former ISI operative) on Feb. 5. Sheikh is widely believed to be an experienced ISI "asset" with a history of operations in Kashmir. His family are fearful that he might be summarily convicted and executed to keep him silent. (Tariq Ali for the UK Guardian, April 5) [top]

Asylum seekers from Afghanistan are being billed up to $191 a day for the time they are kept in Australia's detention centers. The bills, some of which top $100,000, are handed to refugees as they leave the centers. Australia's Sunday Herald Sun obtained three of the bills--one for over $80,000. The three men billed all have cases for refugee status before courts or tribunals and are forbidden from working or studying. The Immigration Department has admitted that asylum seekers are charged daily rates of between $60 and $191--the cost of a luxury hotel. Melbourne lobby group Spare Rooms for Refugees has condemned the policy: "It's a strategic form of financial torture, designed to make them feel they can never succeed here, that their success is not in Australia's interests," said spokesperson Kate Durham. (Courier Mail, March 31) [top]


The parents of Adam Shapiro, a humanitarian worker in the Middle East, fled their home in Brooklyn's Sheepshead Bay neighborhood to stay with friends out-of-state when they started receiving death threats following their son's meeting with Yasser Arafat while trapped behind lines in Ramallah. Said Adam's brother Hoah Shapiro, a Manhattan lawyer: "I don't even think we can measure the emotional toll. People in New York have interpreted my brother's actions to say that he is a terrorist, a traitor, an aide to Arafat. And none of that is based on fact." Abraham Foxman, national director of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, confirmed calling law enforcement officials on the family's behalf. "This is serious and sinister," Foxman said. "We find it reprehensible to target anybody based on what they believe and what they stand for, whether or not we believe in their actions." (NYT, April 3) On April 1, Andrea Peyser's column in the New York Post ran a photo of Adam Shapiro above the caption "A self-hating Jew." The text described him as the "Jewish Taliban." [top]

Israel Halberstam, 46, had his right leg blown off below the knee when he opened the door of a rented van parked in front of his home in Brooklyn's Hasidic enclave of Borough Park. With Halberstam in critical condition at Bellevue Hospital, NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced that his home would be searched and patrols increased in Borough Park. Police would not say if the incendiary device had been left for Halberstam or if they suspected him of carrying it. "We have to consider what's going on in Israel, we have to consider that we're six months out from the horrendous World Trade Center attacks, so we're taking special precautions in this regard," said Kelly. (Newsday, March 25) [top]

Abu Zubaydah, the highest-ranking al-Qaeda operative in US custody, will be treated differently than other detainees, but will not be tortured, officials said. Zubaydah, a Palestinian who allegedly oversaw recruiting and training for al-Qaeda, is being held at an undisclosed location. US authorities are concerned that his life is in danger because of what he knows. They signaled that his interrogation would be conducted under "special circumstances"--including possible questioning by authorities from other countries. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pledged Zubaydah--who was shot three times during a March 28 raid in Pakistan--would be treated "humanely." But Rumsfeld, who was earlier reluctant to confirm Zubaydah's capture, said his case will proceed differently than those of hundreds of other suspects. He said Pakistan, where Zubaydah may now be receiving medical treatment, could play a role in the interrogation. (Boston Globe, April 4) [top]

The defense team for John Walker Lindh, the Californian accused of fighting for al-Qaeda (see WW3 REPORT #12 & WW3 REPORT 17), released a photo of the young man after his detention at Camp Rhino in Afghanistan--stripped naked, blindfolded and tightly bound to a stretcher. "The government said they treated John the same as American soldiers," said attorney James Brosnahan. "The picture might indicate to the casual observer that was not the case." (Newsday, April 2) [top]

Yasser Esam Hamdi, a US-born prisoner captured in Afghanistan, has been moved from the military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay to a base in Virginia, the Pentagon said. Hamidi will stay in military custody until the Justice Department decides what to do with him. Officials are currently investigating Hamdi's claim to US citizenship. His birth certificate, which states he was born in Baton Rouge, LA, appears to corroborate his claim. (BBC, April 5) [top]

Saying that secret arrests are "odious to a democracy," a New Jersey state court granted the state ACLU chapter access to records of INS detainees held in Hudson and Passaic county jails. The decision by Superior Court Judge Arthur D'Italia is the first such ruling concerning detainees held since Sept. 11. The NJ ACLU sought names and nationalities of the detainees under a state law stipulating that the names and the dates of entry of all inmates in county jails "shall be open to public inspection." Both counties cited a directive from the INS in their refusal to disclose the names. The national ACLU still awaits a ruling in a similar case brought in federal court on behalf of detainees nationwide, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. (NJ ACLU press release, March 27, (NJ ACLU press release, March 27) [top]

In a test of the federal government's new anti-terrorist powers, US District Judge Wayne Anderson in Chicago ruled that secret evidence is permissible in defending a freeze on the assets of an Islamic charity. The case involved the Illinois-based Global Relief Foundation, which challenged the freeze and demanded to see the evidence against it. But Anderson allowed federal prosecutors to present the evidence to him in private, upholding controversial provisions of the new USA PATRIOT Act (see WW3 REPORT #6). (Newsday, April 7) [top]

In an unprecedented move, the federal INS has targeted 6,000 immigrants with Arab or Muslim last names who have failed to comply with deportation orders. The 6,000 have been singled out--apparently for their ethnicity or religion--among 320,000 resident foreigners of all nationalities who the INS labels "alien absconders" for remaining in the country after deportation orders. (NYT, April 2) [top]

Police asked participants in the annual Festival of Colors, a traditional Hindu festival celebrated with a parade in Queens, NY, not to engage in the usual rite of tossing colored powder at each other as a symbol of love and friendship--because of fears about anthrax. The ancient rite of Phagwah annually draws thousands of Hindus, mostly Guyanese immigrants, to Liberty Ave. in the Richmond Hill neighborhood. Tara Singh of the local Guyana Youth Corps protested the police decision as "arbitrary," saying "it takes away a lot from the festivities because all these things symbolize important religious tenets. During a vigil, police don't take away candles and say it's because they're going to burn down buildings." (Newsday, March 19) [top]


A small and discreet obituary, with no photo, announced the death of Abdullah bin Laden, patriarch of Saudi-based dynasty, in the New York Times April 1. While the obit quoted profuse expressions of sorrow for the 9-11 victims, the Times said no cause of death or list of survivors was made available. Abdullah, originally an immigrant from neighboring Yemen, founded the Saudi Binladen Group as a construction company with his younger brother Mohammed in the 1930s. Binladen Group has now branched into mining and telecommunications and has annual revenues of up to $5 billion. It is now run by Bakr bin Laden, one of Mohammed's 54 sons. Another one of those 54 sons is Osama. Writes the Times: "The bin Laden family disavowed any links with Osama bin Laden in1994, the year Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship for his opposition activities." The obit did not mention that the bin laden family's bank records have been subpoenaed by the FBI in the 9-11 investigation (see WW3 REPORT #2). [top]


War Times, a newspaper aimed at covering the war in Afghanistan from an anti-war perspective, was launched in California this month. Its editors argue the mainstream media are not providing a full picture of the war and its effects. War Times, produced in San Francisco, will make its first bi-weekly appearance April 12. It will be published in English and Spanish and will be distributed throughout the US. The venture is supported by a number of academics, including Noam Chomsky, labor organizations and peace groups. Managing editor Bob Wing said the response has been extraordinary. "We originally planned to print only 7,500 copies of the pilot, but the demand was so great that we printed and distributed 100,000." He said the aim was "to report hidden truths, to put a human face on events, and explore the real interests behind the 'permanent war.'" The pilot issue carries an interview with actor Danny Glover, who said: "Bombing Afghanistan and creating the idea that the US is the judge, the jury and the executioner is the wrong way to respond. It's hard because of the anger, the pain and the humiliation we feel about Sept. 11. But we have to understand that other people have faced the same kind of pain, the same kind of anger. Their lives have been transformed by acts of terrorism and violence, often supported or perpetrated by the US." (UK Guardian March 30; see : [top]

The family of Zeev Vieder, 50, killed in the Passover suicide attack at the seaside resort of Netanya, allowed his organs to be donated, and recipients included Aisha Abu, a Palestinian woman from the Jerusalem suburb of Shuafat in need of a kidney. Abu's son Khader told Reuetrs April 5: "Only today did I learn that my mother benefited from a victim of the Netanya attack. I hope they think my thanks are sincere." The death toll from the Netanya attack has now reached 26. [top]




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