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ISSUE: #. 34. May 19, 2002

by David Bloom and Subuhi Jiwani, Special Correspondents



THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Israel Introduces New Permit System for Palestinians
2. Arafat Calls for Elections, Reform within the PA
3. Palestinian Professor to Run for President
4. Hamas to Consider Participating in Elections
5. Sheik Yassin: Hamas to Continue with Suicide Bombings
6. Suicide Attack Kills Three in Netanya
7. State Dept: No "Clear Evidence"Arafat Ordered Terror
8. Terrornaut to Attack Isronaut?
9. Poll: Israelis Support The Creation of a Palestinian State
10. B'Tselem: Settlements Control 42% of West Bank
11. Israeli Housing Ministry: 957 New Homes on West Bank
12. New IDF Incursion into Jenin Refugee Camp
13. Israeli Refusenik Speaks in New York City

THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. US Troops Kill Five, Capture 32 in Possible Botched Raid
2. US Kills Ten in Possible Botched Air Raid
3. UK Telegraph: Possible Botched Arms Cache Destruction a "Fiasco"
4. Was Operation Snipe Botched?
5. Few Bodies Recovered from Operation Anaconda
6. 25 British Royal Marines Sick; Poor Hygiene Blamed
7. US Troops Frustrated by Elusive Enemy
8. Mullah Omar: Bin Laden's Still Alive, War's Just Started
9. Deadly Raid in Kashmir
10. India Expels Pakistan's Ambassador
11. Suspect Connected with Massoud Assassination
12. US Denies Taliban/Al-Qaeda Have Captured US Troops

LATIN AMERICA
1. Cuba Making Bio-Arms?
2. Cuba Libre?
3. Bush: Embargo Won't Be Lifted

THE WAR AT HOME
1. New Jersey INS Director Cancels Meeting with Detainees' Families
2. Palestinian Activist in Bid To Avoid Deportation

WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. Did Islamic Fundamentalists Case Federal Buildings?
2. White House Confirms: Plans to Take Out al-Qaeda Predate 9/11
3. Statement of Rep. McKinney on Terrorist Warnings
4. 1999 Federal Report: al-Qaeda Could "Crash-Land" into the Pentagon



THE PALESTINE FRONT

1. ISRAEL INTRODUCES NEW PERMIT SYSTEM FOR PALESTINIANS
The Israeli army is now requiring Palestinians living in the West Bank to obtain freedom-of-movement permits in order to travel between cities and towns. Israel claims the permits are meant to ease the life of average Palestinians, and are meant to reduce the Israeli army's need of the system of closures and sieges of Palestinian towns and villages. Israel did not notify the Palestinian Authority about the change in policy; it was brought to their attention by aid donor countries and organizations that had encountered the new restrictions as their trucks carrying aid traveled around the West Bank. Under the new system, trucks carrying goods cannot travel between cities, but using a "back-to-back" system, must offload their cargo at certain locations, and load it onto another truck to take it futher. Representatives of donor countries say this has the effect of splitting the West Bank into eight separate cantons (Jenin, Nablus, Tul Karm, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron), effectively isolated from one another. It is feared the cantonization of the West Bank will further hamper the West Bank's economy, with private businesses suffering a lethal blow. Representatives from aid groups such as the Red Cross were told in a meeting with Israel authorities that from here on in they would have to appy to the civilian district office to obtain freedom-of-movement passes for the Palestinians they employ. The permits are valid from 5AM to 7PM, and require a monthly renewal. The organizations have not yet applied for the permits, and they are consulting with their home governments for a diplomatic response. Palestinian civilians are discovering the new restrictions when they approach checkpoints. Near Ramallah, when residents approach checkpoints they are told by soldiers to go to the civil administration building at Bet el to obtain permits that will allow them to leave. Teachers who live in Ramallah and work in towns and villages south of the checkpoint have been instructed by the Palestinian Ministry of Education not to apply for travel permits. (Haaretz, May 19) (David Bloom) [top]

2. ARAFAT CALLS FOR ELECTIONS, REFORM WITHIN THE PA
Facing growing pressures from Palestinian society to reform the political system, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat called in a speech May 15 for reforms, though he was not specific. Speaking before the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC), Arafat said he supported reforming the administrative and military structures of the Palestinian Authority (PA). He mentioned separating the judicial branch from the executive, a bill passed by the PLC two years ago and signed by him this week. (Haaretz, May 16). Arafat instructed the PLC to come up with a list of reforms. A committee comprised of PLC members from Gaza, Jerusalem and Ramallah have discussed decreasing the number of cabinet minsters, from the current 32 to 16, and have called for local and national elections, the setting up of a postition of Prime Minister, and a better demarcated separation between government institutions and the PLO. Fatah legislator Hatem Abdel Khader said "President Arafat will stay the president and the symbol of our authority, but he has to distribute some of his responsibilities," (Haaretz, May 17). The council has called for presidential, as well as local and parliamentary elections to take place in the first quarter of 2003 (Haaretz, May 16). President Arafat told reporters on May 17 that elections would be held only after Israeli occupation has ended. "As soon as they [the Israelis] finish this occupation from our land, according to the agreement that was supposed to be at the beginning of 1999."Arafat said, referring to the fact that a final peace deal between Israel and Palestine was supposed to have been arrived at in 1999. Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Sha'ath later clarified this, saying elections would be held when the Israelis withdraw to the positions they held before Sept. 28, 2000, the day the current Intifada began. (Haaretz, May 17) (David Bloom)[top]

3. PALESTINIAN PROFESSOR TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT
Abdul Sattar Qassem, a 53-year-old Palestinian professor of political science has announced his intention to run for president against current Palestinian President Yasser Arafat "if elections are held." Qassem, who has been imprisoned three times for criticizing Arafat, says that he will would change government policy if elected. (Haaretz, May 19) (David Bloom) [top]

4. HAMAS TO CONSIDER PARTICIPATING IN ELECTIONS
A leader of Hamas's political wing, Ismail Abu Shanab, said May 18 that Hamas is considering taking part in planned Palestinian elections as long as they have nothing to do with the Oslo Peace Accords. Hamas boycotted the last set of Palestinian elections in 1996. Shanab told the Associated Press, "We do not recognize any elections that came as a result of the Oslo agreement and if the coming elections will be the same as the past we will consider it an obstacle for the participation of Hamas and other parties." Ra'anan Gissen, an advisor to Israel's Prime Minister, has not welcomed the news: "These are organizations that have stated very clearly that they want the destruction of Israel," Gissen said. "Would you imagine that a terrorist group would run for election in the United States or any other democracy?" he asked. "Who are you going to negotiate with then?" (Haaretz, May 19)(David Bloom) [top]

5. SHEIK YASSIN: HAMAS TO CONTINUE WITH SUICIDE BOMBINGS
Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin said in a May 17 interview with Reuters that his movement would continue suicide attacks against Israel as long as Israel's army continued raiding Palestinian areas. "All our attacks will go on. You cannot talk about ceasing attacks while your enemy is pursuing its incursions and its killings of civilians everywhere,"he said. Yassin said reports that Hamas had agreed to cease attacks at the request of Saudi Arabia were untrue. "There are no talks between Hamas and Saudi Arabia over suicide attacks," Yassin said. "We appreciate the status of Saudi Arabia but they have not contacted us" (see WW3 REPORT #33). Referring to calls by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and other Arab leaders to cease suicide attacks, Yassin said "I am surprised by this talk. I call on those people to ask Israel to end its occupation and not to ask Palestinians to stop defending themselves. Martyrdom attacks come only as a response to Israeli crimes. No crimes, no attacks." (Reuters, May 17) Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi told worshippers at a May 17 prayer service in a Tehran mosque that suicide attacks would continue: "The Palestinian people are determined and no one can stop martyrdom," he said. Iran is considered a backer of Hamas. (Reuters, May 17) (David Bloom) [top]

6. SUICIDE ATTACK KILLS THREE IN NETANYA
Three Israelis were killed and 56 injured, one critically, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded market in Netanya. The bomber was dressed as an Israeli soldier. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for the attack. The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack, saying it "endanger[ed] the Palestinian people, its just cause, its rights, and the future of its dream of a state." A senior defense source told Ha'aretz that one possibility under investigation by Israel is that PFLP Secretary-General Ahmed Sa'adat personally ordered the attack from his cell in a Jericho prison, where his Palestinian and British wardens do not restrict his access to phone calls or visits from PFLP activists. (Haaretz, May 20) (David Bloom) [top]

7. STATE DEPT: NO "CLEAR EVIDENCE" ARAFAT ORDERED TERROR
A report to the US Congress by the State Department says there is "no clear evidence" that Arafat or fellow senior PLO officials were involved in the planning or approval of terrorists attacks. The report notes however that "the weight of evidence" suggests that senior PA and PLO officials were aware that members of the organization, including Arafat's own bodyguards, were involved in attacks on Israel but "did little to rein them in." The report also said that when the PA did actually arrest militants, "often those arrested were quickly released or were kept under questionable conditions of arrest, "meaning those arrested were kept in comfortable conditions. (AP, May 17)(David Bloom) [top]

8. TERRORNAUT TO ATTACK ISRONAUT?
The U.S. space agency NASA is concerned that the July launch of its space shuttle, which will include for the first time an Israeli astronaut, could become a target for a terrorist attack on July 19. Sources told ABC news that suspicious activity observed around the launch complex could be surveillance for a possible attack. According to ABC, NASA is worried a small plane may try to crash into the shuttle while it is on the launchpad (ABC, May 14) (David Bloom)[top]

9. POLL: ISRAELIS SUPPORT THE CREATION OF A PALESTINIAN STATE
Sixty-three% of Israelis support Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's position that a Palestinian state should be a part of a future peace agreement, according to a poll taken by Israel's Dahaf Institute. Sharon suffered a defeat at the hands of his rival former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at a May 13 meeting of Israel's Likud Party Central Committee, when the committee voted overwhelmingly against the creation of a Palestinian state. The poll also found that 54 percent of Likud voters want Sharon to be the party's prime ministerial candidate, while only 35 percent of the right-wing party's voters support Netanyahu. (AP, May 14) (see WW3 REPORT# 33)(David Bloom) [top]

10. B'TSELEM: SETTLEMENTS CONTROL 42% OF WEST BANK
Israeli Human Rights group B'Tselem released a report on May 13 claiming that while Israeli settlements in the West Bank are built on only 1.7% of the land, the settlements actually control 41.9% of the area. The report, titled "Land Grab: Israel's Settlement Policy in the West Bank,"which used research from information obtained with difficulty from the civil administration, found that "while the built-up areas of the settlements constitute only 1.7% of the land in the West Bank, the municipal boundaries are over three times as large: 6.8%. Regional councils constitute an additional 35.1%. Thus, a total of 41.9% of the area in the West Bank is controlled by the settlements."B'Tselem also notes that "International humanitarian law prohibits an occupying power from transferring citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory. An occupying power is also prohibited from undertaking permanent changes in the occupied area, unless they are undertaken for the benefit of the local population or are for urgent military needs. Israel's settlement policy violates these regulations."Since the settlements are illegal, B'Tselem calls on the Israeli government to take the following steps to work towards dismantling them:

"Halt all new construction in the settlements;

Halt the planning and construction of new by-pass roads;

Return to Palestinian communities all the non-built-up areas attached to settlements and regional councils.

Halt the policy of providing incentives to encourage Israeli citizens to move to the settlements, and allocate resources instead to encourage settlers to relocate to within the borders of the State of Israel." (B'Tselem press release, May 13)(David Bloom) [top]

11. ISRAELI HOUSING MINISTRY: 957 NEW HOMES ON WEST BANK
The Israeli Housing and Construction Ministry has published tenders for 957 new homes to be built in the West Bank. In 2001 a total of 810 tenders were published. Member of the Knesset Mossi Raz (Meretz) called the settlements an economic and security burden on Israel. (Haaretz, May 19)(David Bloom) [top]

12. NEW IDF INCURSION INTO JENIN REFUGEE CAMP
Soldiers and tanks from the Israeli Defense Forces re-entered the Jenin refugee camp May 17 to search for militants who had evaded capture during Israel's Operation Defensive Shield. The Israelis surrounded the house of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas leader Jamal Abu al-Haija. He did not appear, but his wife and children left the house. Witnesses said soldiers threw hand grenades inside and the house caught fire (Haaretz, May 17). Several other loud explosions were heard, according to the BBC, possibly indicated the demolition of homes. The army withdrew after making 20 arrests. (BBC, May 17)(David Bloom) [top]

13. REFUSENIK SPEAKS IN NEW YORK CITY
Israeli Refusenik Haggai Matar is appearing this week in New York City. Matar, co-author of the Senior's Letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is making the following appearances:

Tuesday, May 21, 2002 8:00 PM
Riverside Church Global Justice and Peace Ministry
490 Riverside Drive (between 120th and 122nd Streets)
contact: Global Justice Ministry, 212-870-6853
Cosponsorsed by the Interfaith Community.

Saturday, May 25, 2002 (morning service)
Congregation B'nai Jeshurun
Church of Saint Paul & Saint Andrew
86th Street and West End Avenue
For more nformation call 212-787-7600
Haggai Matar will speak briefly during the morning service and meet with
members of the congregation afterwards.

For more information, see Courage to Refuse [top]

THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT

1. US TROOPS KILL FIVE, CAPTURE 32 IN POSSIBLE BOTCHED RAID
US Special Forces killed five people suspected of being al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters and captured 32 on May 12. But the raid, in the village of Derwahd in Oruzgan Province, fifty miles north of Khandahar, may have killed Afghans unaffiliated with either group. US officials acknowledged that interrogation of the captives found no trace of either al-Qaeda or Taliban elements among them. "So far we haven't found anyone of great interest in this group," a senior military official said. "If they prove not to be bad guys, and were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, we'll release them" (NYT, May 13). Some officials were reminded of a Jan. 23 raid in which US commandos mistakenly killed 16 anti-Taliban fighters in Hazar Qadam village in Oruzgan province. US Gen. Tommy Franks offered their bereaved families $1,000 each in compensation.(see WW3 REPORT #20) (NYT,Feb. 8)(David Bloom) [top]

2. US KILLS TEN IN POSSIBLE BOTCHED AIR RAID
A US airstrike supporting Australian special forces troops that had come under fire may have killed nine tribesman unaffiliated with either al-Qaeda or the Taliban. The raid by a US C-130 gunship, slightly north of Khost in Paktia Province, occurred on May16 after the Australian troops reported a group of armed Afghan men had fired on them for a period of several hours. Afghan officials in Khost allied with the government in Kabul said the men were serving as sentries mediating a dispute between two local groups, in the villages Bul Khil and Sabari. Taj Muhammad Wardak, Governor of Gardez Province, told Reuters, "There was fighting between two tribes and they probably fired at the Australian soldiers, and then the helicopters came." US military spokesman Maj. Bryan Hilferty admitted it was possible that those killed were local tribesmen. "I don't have evidence who shot at us," he said, referring to the Australian soldiers allied with the US. "It could be tribesmen, but if you shoot at us in a known Al Qaeda area we have a right to defend ourselves." Hilferty noted that earlier in the week, men who were suspected of being al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters moved through the area. He said that the way in which the men moved through the area was suspicious. One thousand British Royal Marines were dispatched to back up the Australian troops, but they have yet to encounter any al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters. (NYT, May 19) (CNN, May 18)(David Bloom) [top]

3. UK TELEGRAPH: POSSIBLE BOTCHED ARMS CACHE DESTRUCTION A "FIASCO"
Right-of-center British daily the Telegraph reported May 14 that an arms cache of thirty truckloads destroyed by British Royal Marines with great hype at the end of Operation Snipe probably did not belong to either al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Ibrahim Omari, a former mujahadeen in the anti-Soviet resistance, said the four caves at Gerdaserai, in south-eastern Paktia Province where the detonations occurred contained weapons and ammunition he had stored there 15 years ago. He told the Americans about the cache four months ago, a week before its destruction, has taken British officers to the site and warned them about land mines he had placed in the vicinity. The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the cache's destruction was a major blow to al-Qaeda, and that the arms had been placed there recently, suggesting that forces under Osama bin-Laden's command had just used them. The MoD said the arm's destruction was the largest controlled explosion carried out by British forces since World War II. Recently British Brig. Gen. Roger Lane declared that the war against al-Qaeda was "all but won. "No shots were fired by British soldiers during the recently ended Operation Snipe. (see WW3 REPORT #33)

"The weaponry was nothing to do with al-Qa'eda; my own people had been guarding it for years. I had been hoping to save it for when we have a national army established, but never mind,"Ibrahim said, laughing. He said much of the arms cache had been supplied by the US for use during the anti-Soviet resistance. "Now the Americans' friends, the British, are blowing it up. I don' know why they did that, perhaps they have other considerations," he said . (UK Telegraph, May 14) (David Bloom) [top]

4. WAS OPERATION SNIPE BOTCHED?
The massive destruction of an arms cache in Paktia Province marked the end of Operation Snipe. While the Operation was in progress, British Brig. Gen. Roger Lane declared that the war against al-Qaeda was "all but won." No shots were fired by British soldiers during the recently ended operation. The UK Guardian says that the deployment of the British Royal Marines came too late to ensure the defeat of al-Qaeda forces that have slipped across the border into Pakistan, a fact admitted by British diplomatic and defense forces on May 14. They said the belated deployment of the marines followed a US request to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and that it came on the heels of the failure of earlier US operations. Military and intelligence circles are questioning whether the operations were well-conceived. The fear is that al-Qaeda forces will return to their hideouts after the British troops have left, possibly in July. The US now admits the decision to not commit ground troops at the battle of Tora Bora and instead rely on Afghan allies and bombing runs was a mistake, and allowed al-Qaeda forces to escape.

Paul Keetch, the defence spokesman of the British Liberal Democrat Party said on May 14: "If the Royal Marines were deployed on an arms decommissioning exercise, then some success can be claimed. But the aim of the exercise was finding terrorists. If a substantial victory can be claimed for such an insubstantial result, the suspicion that this deployment was more a political exercise than a military operation will remain." (UK Guardian, May 16)(David Bloom) [top]

5. FEW BODIES RECOVERED FROM OPERATION ANACONDA
US claims of 500 enemy fighters dead in Operation Anaconda are in dispute as few bodies have been recovered in the region where the battle took place. This indicates that body counts were inflated or that many of the dead were either trapped in caves when killed or incinerated by US bombs. A US Special Operations soldier at the scene of the battle in Baber Khail, identified only as Chris, sunburned and sporting a beard to blend in with Afghan allies, said "I can tell you there are a few more people visiting Allah." (USA Today, May 14) (David Bloom)[top]

6. 25 BRITISH ROYAL MARINES SICK; POOR HYGIENE BLAMED
Twenty-five British Royal Marines in Afghanistan have been struck down with an illness thought to be the non-lethal "Winter Vomiting" bug. The bug causes server vomiting and diarrhea. Fourteen other troops are thought to have unrelated stomach bugs. The bug exists worldwide and occurs in conditions of poor hygine. Food supplies brought in by Pakistani contractors may be the culprit. (BBC, May 18) (David Bloom) [top]

7. US TROOPS FRUSTRATED BY EVASIVE ENEMY
US forces participating in a three-day mission called Operation Iron Mountain were frustrated by their inability to find and kill mobile enemy forces. According to the Washington Post, the enemy in question perform hit-and-run attacks, firing rockets at US forces and then scampering away. One hundred forces from the US's 101st Airborne Division tried and failed to find enemy forces near the Pakistan border at Khushai Lalmi Ghar in eastern Afghanistan. At one point US troops saw three men acting suspiciously, and then running away. But the soldiers could not fire at the men, because according their rules of engagement, they cannot shoot unless the subjects in question point weapons at the soldiers first, or otherwise demonstrate hostile intent. "That's one of the frustrating parts of being over here," said 1st Lt. Quinn Eddy. Eventually the soldiers found mortar-firing stakes set up by the suspicious men, thus preventing another attack, but the men simply moved to another spot and fired from there.

The Soviets called this sort of elusive and rarely visible enemy "Dukhi,"or ghosts, during their long campaign in Afghanistan. The Allied ground forces in Afghanistan are discovering that their technological and numerical advantages are not helpful in a battle against an enemy they rarely see.

"It's a frustrating war," said Lt. Col. Patrick L. Fetterman, the commander of Operation Iron Mountain."The reason it's so frustrating and aggravating is because the enemy is not fighting. We're trying to find him and he's trying to avoid us. So any time we go out, he fades away. It's just like Vietnam. Any time he finds a weak spot, he flows in like water."

The Post reporter followed US troops during Operation Iron Mountain as they hunted for weapons and hostile forces. "We're going to have some fun," Fetterman told them. "Maybe do a little hunting. Just listen to your NCOs [noncommissioned officers] and we'll all be back here slapping high fives in two, three days." As they traveled along in trucks, one soldier said, "I feel like I'm on safari."The unit's chief NCO, Sgt. Maj. Jim Smith, saw a group of shepherds in the distance and said. "There was a bunch of Habibs [the soldiers' name for Afghans] over there a few minutes ago, I bet I could takedown four with my M-4 and two more with my 9 millimeter before they could chamber a round. What do you think?" At one point, the troops stopped a truck, but it turned out to contain UNICEF workers. They searched caves, but found only dung and trash. They tried to collapse four caves with explosives, but only succeeded in enlarging them: "We made it bigger for them," LT. Jason Bartlett, who threw a grenade into one, sighed. "Now you know why they beat the Soviets."

At the end of the mission, Lt. Col.Fetterman reflected: "It's very much like Vietnam – partial success," he said. "We pushed them out but they're smart enough to figure out how to react to what we're doing." (Washington Post, May 15)(David Bloom) [top]

8. MULLAH OMAR: BIN LADEN'S STILL ALIVE, WAR'S JUST STARTED
In an interview with the London-based pan-Arabic daily Sharq Al-Awsat, Mullah Muhammed Omar, the deposed leader of the fundamentalist Taliban militia, said that Osama bin Laden was still alive: "Sheikh Osama is still alive, praise God, and this is causing anguish to [US President George W.] Bush who promised his people to kill Osama not knowing that lives are in the hands of God," (Reuters, May 18). Omar had this to say about the war in Afghanistan: "I can say that the war has just started, its fires have been kindled. That fire will reach the White House because it is the seat of all injustice and oppression and where they launched a war against Islam without any legitimate reason. . The future of America in Afghanistan is fire, hell and a certain loss as had been the case with the Soviet Union and before that with the British occupation. When the killing of the oppressed people increased in number we decided to withdraw from the land and start the phase of guerilla war in the mountains, so that the lives of the people and the poor Mujahadeen may be spared" About Sept. 11, Omar said : "There were reasons behind these great deeds. America should seek to remove these reasons -- and it knows them well -- so that such accidents do not reoccur." (Dawn, May 18; Reuters, May 18) (David Bloom) [top]

9. DEADLY RAID IN KASHMIR
A raid by suspected Islamic militants on an Indian army camp in Kasmir May 14 ended with 34 people dead, including women and 10 children. Many were eating breakfast during the morning raid on the Kaluchak army camp near Jammu, the winter capital of the contested Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The three attackers were among the dead. The militants had earlier boarded a tourist bus near the camp. They ordered the bus to stop and the passengers to stand up, and then fired everywhere, killing seven. India blamed Pakistani extremist Muslim group Lashkar-i-Toiba for the attack. While war is not believed to be imminent, the incident strengthens the hand of Hindu hardliners in India's parliament who believe it is time to retaliate against Pakistan. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, announced a crackdown on militants in January after an attack by Pakistani Islamists on the Indian parliament building. Thousands were arrested, but many have subsequently been freed. There is little support amongst his armed forces for a crackdown. Musharraf's spokesman Major-General Rashid Qureshi explained the context of the militants' strike on the Indian army camp: "We know that the atrocities of the Indian armed forces ... have increased so much they were killing 10 to 15 Kashmiris every day. Obviously that would give rise to frustration and anger." (UK Guardian, May 15, AP, May 19)(David Bloom) [top]

10. INDIA EXPELS PAKISTAN'S AMBASSADOR
In response to an attack by Islamic militants on an Indian army camp in the contested state of Jammu and Kashmir, India has expelled Pakistan's ambassador. India, which withdrew its ambassador to Pakistan in January, said the expulsion was "for the sake of parity of representation between the two countries," according to India's External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh. As fears of impending war between the two countries escalate, thousands on both sides of the border have fled their homes. In the most intense cross-border firing this year, four have been killed on the Indian side and two on the Pakistani side, with 10 wounded. Amitabh Mattoo, a member of India's National Security Advisory Board, said "We're facing probably the most severe crisis since Kargil. The Indian public and the strategic community are agreed that Pakistan has to be made to pay for such roguish behavior. Pakistan has to clamp down on terrorists sponsoring violence in Kashmir before the situation can change. Until that happens, India will continue to exert both diplomatic and military pressure."He added, "The ball's firmly in Pakistan's court." (AP,May 19)(David Bloom) [top]

11. SUSPECT CONNECTED WITH MASSOUD ASSASSINATION
US postal worker Ahmed Abdel Sattar, currently in custody in New York, is believed by authorities to have helped draft a letter of introduction used by two al-Qaeda agents to assassinate Afghan Northern Alliance Gen. Ahmed Shah Massoud last fall. Satter is charged with serving as the "communications center" for the Egyptian terrorist organization led by blind Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. Authorities believe that Sattar helped write the letter with Yassir Sirri, an Egyptian National who has been charged with conspiring to murder Massoud. Sattar, a naturalized American citizen, is not charged with the murder. A US official who asked not to be identified said "It's clear that this was a letter for these two guys [who killed Massoud]. But how much Sattar knew about the mission isn't clear." (Washington Post, May 13)(David Bloom) [top]

12. US DENIES TALIBAN/AL-QAEDA HAVE CAPTURED US TROOPS
Pakistan's Frontier Post reported March 21 that US Special Forces were searching for 18 US soldiers supposedly captured by Taliban/al-Qaeda forces during Operation Anaconda in March. The captives were to be used bargaining chips in negotiations to secure the release of 350 prisoners form Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Post said "reliable and informed sources" had given them this information (see WW3 REPORT #27). The story was repeated shortly thereafter by the Pakistani news agency NNI. Pakistan news daily Dawn reported May 10 that US forces, along with Pakistani sources, were searching a refugee camp in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal area the South Waziristan Agency (SWA) for the allegedly missing troops (see WW3 REPORT #33). No news organization outside of Pakistan has picked up the story, except for some bulletin boards and discussion groups on the Internet. US Central Command Spokesperson Commander Frank Merriman told WW3 REPORT that the story was false: "There is no truth to that," he said. "Totally made up. The news media got it from the Taliban. The Taliban was broadcasting that. This is nothing more than propaganda on the part of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, it's wishful thinking on their part. They've made a number of claims, this just being the most outrageous. They also at the same time had indicated that they had shot down a number of US helicopters, which also was inaccurate. The US and coalition forces as soon as they have any kind of casualty, they report it immediately. There's no way to hide that sort of information. "When asked if the US might be trying to keep the incident quiet for the sake of the troops, Merriman replied, "No, we don't do that. That is not our policy" (David Bloom) [top]

LATIN AMERICA

1. CUBA MAKING BIO-ARMS?
John R. Bolton, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, charged May 6 that Cuba had developed "at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort" and also "provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states." These accusations came just prior to former US President Jimmy Carter's historic visit to the island nation. After visiting a bio-tech lab in Havana on May 13, the former President said there was no evidence of Cuba exporting technology that could be used for terrorist purposes. Carter responded to Bolton's charges, saying: "With some degree of reluctance, I would like to comment on the allegations of bioterrorism," Mr. Carter said. "I do this because the allegations were made, perhaps not coincidentally, just before our visit to Cuba."

Carter said the Bush administration didn't mention biological weapons when they briefed the former President prior to his Cuba visit. Speaking at a Cuban biological research center before an audience that included President Fidel Castro, Carter said: "There were absolutely no such allegations made or questions raised. I asked them myself on more than one occasion if there was any evidence that Cuba has been involved in sharing any information with any country on earth that could be used for terrorist purposes. And the answer from our experts on intelligence was no."

US Secretary of State Colin Powell clarified the US State Department's position later, saying: "We do believe Cuba has a biological offensive research capability. We didn't say it actually had some weapons, but it has the capacity and capability to conduct such research." While US National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, questioned the thoroughness of Carter's investigation, saying: "You can't show someone a biotech lab and be assured they're not creating weapons of mass destruction. That's not how biotech weapons work. And they're actually very easy to conceal and you need multiple measures to make certain biotech weapons aren't being developed and transferred." (NYT, May 14)(WW3 REPORT Special Correspondent) [top]

2. CUBA LIBRE?
In an address broadcast live on Cuban television, former US President Jimmy Carter called for an end to the four-decades-long US trade embargo on the country. He also encouraged broad political reforms and harshly criticized the Cuban system for its lack of basic freedoms. "Cuba has adopted a socialist government where one political party dominates, and people are not permitted to organize any opposition movements," Carter said. (NYT, May 15)

"I think an American private citizen or an American company should have the right to visit any place on earth and the right to trade with any other purchaser or supplier on earth," Carter told a news conference immediately before leaving Cuba. "I see the embargo and travel restraints as an imposition on the human rights of American citizens," he added.

Regarding Castro, Carter said in an interview with CNN: "He wants to retain complete control over the system and not take any chance that dissident or disagreeing groups could gain enough support to endanger his power as the undisputed leader of the Cuban government -- I don't see any change in the future in his willingness to permit dissident expression from Cubans, although he has been amazingly gracious, I think, in letting my views, however critical on occasion, be expressed." (WW3 REPORT Special Correspondent) [top]

3. BUSH: EMBARGO WON'T BE LIFTED
President Bush has said he won't lift the Cuban trade embargo unless Fidel Castro releases political prisoners, conducts independently monitored elections and accepts a list of US conditions for a "new government that is fully democratic." The President did suggest the possibility of resuming direct mail service to and from Cuba. (AP, May 20)(WW3 REPORT Special Correspondent) [top]

THE WAR AT HOME

1. NEW JERSEY INS DIRECTOR CANCELS MEETING WITH DETAINEES' FAMILIES
A public forum that was supposed include New Jersey Immmigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Director Andrea Quarantillo and Sheriff Jerry Speziale of The Passaic County Jail was held at the Paterson, New Jersey Public Library May 13. Organized by the human rights organizations Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants and Prison Moratorium Project, the forum sought accountability from the INS for its allegedly poor treatment of detainees and transparency in judicial proceedings.

Quarantillo, who had agreed to meet with the Coalition in late January, stated in a letter dated April 21, 2002 that she would not attend a forum with public media. The reason she stipulated was a lawsuit being filed against the INS for its alleged maltreatment of detainees. However, Ed Barocas of the New Jersey Chapter of the ACLU, who is involved in the litigation process himself made the following statement at a press conference in Newark on May 8, 2002: "It is legally permissible for them to speak about many issues regarding the detainees. This litigation shouldn't provide the INS with an excuse. If the director is willing to speak in public, there's no reason the media cannot be there too. It's simply an excuse to back out of this meeting. I'm part of the litigation, yet I'm here answering questions." INS actions, the groups surmise, assist the project of federal secrecy regarding the detainment of South Asian and Middle Eastern community members post Sept 11. This was the third time Director Quarantillo had agreed to a meeting and then not shown up.(The Bergen Record, May 8).

Monami Maulik of DRUM expressed disappointment over Quarantillo's absence and said that it was a "disgrace to our [South Asian and Middle Eastern] communities." The questions directed towards the INS, Maulik said, needed to focus on the collaboration between local and national law enforcement agencies, the INS and FBI and local police departments. She demanded immediate compliance with INS standards of incarceration in the Passaic County Jail, an open report on the collaboration between the INS and the Justice Department as well as the immediate deportation of detainees who have already been authorized to leave the country.

Subhash Kateel, another member of DRUM, said, "It is yet another display of how unaccountable and non-transparent the INS is. It is difficult for them to keep their word."

Sheriff Speziale contended that his job required him to follow orders given to him by the INS. He underlined the changes he had issued after his appointment in Jan 2002, which included issuing phone cards to detainees at lower costs, providing halal meat to detainees, appointing a full-time doctor for the jail, providing the Quran as reading material, opening the jail to organizations like DRUM and HELP, and allowing the an Imam to enter the facility and conduct prayers on Friday. When questioned by the public about the use of dogs to intimidate detainees, he cited gang threats and fires as reasons for using dogs to maintain the security of his officers.

Also present were families of detainees who gave testimony about how their lives had been affected by the detainment of their family members for minor visa violations. Mohamed Akram expressed fear of displacement because of his father's deportation to Pakistan and his family's impending relocation there. Bibi Parveen, Akram's grandmother, said through a translator that the detainment of her son has caused her family severe economic hardship and emotional turmoil.(Subuhi Jiwani) [top]

2. PALESTINIAN ACTIVIST IN BID TO AVOID DEPORTATION
Gilma Carmago, the lawyer for imprisoned Palestinian activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti has filed an application for stay of deportation on her client's behalf. The INS arrested Abdel-Muhti on April 26 on the basis of a 1995 deportation order, athough they told him specifically he was being arrested for his political activism. Carmago points out that because Abdel-Muhti is a stateless person, he cannot be deported because he has no where to be sent to. Often Palestinians have either a passport from another country or United Nations Refugee Works Administration (UNRWA) passports, but Abdel-Muhti does not possess either of these. The Application for stay of deportation points this out, and that Abdel-Muhti is entitled to register as a permanent resident in the US, and that he is entitled to political asylum, that his case be re-opened because of changes of circumstances in the Middle East, and that he not be deported because the Geneva convention against torture does not allow him to be deported to countries where torture is practiced.

When Carmago asked the INS if there was a problem with Abdel-Muhti, she was told that he was "not a nice person." Carmago had difficulty finding out where Abdel-Muhti was to appear before a special investigation team for detainees of the INS, because the INS does not acknowledge that this team exists.(see WW3 REPORT #33)(David Bloom)

Abdel-Muhti suffers from high blood pressure and has been experiencing chest pains,yet the prison has been denying him proper medical treatment, and he has complained about lack of adequate heat where he is kept.

To protest Abdel-Muhti's conditions and to demand proper medical treatment for him, please call the warden at the Middlesex Adult Correctional Center:

732-297-3636

Abdel-Muhti would appreciate letters:

Middlesex Adult Correctional Center
Housing Unit 87408-HPAT
PO Box 266
New Brunswick NJ 08903

To demand Abdel-Muhti's immediate and unconditional release:

Write/Call/Fax:
Andrea J. Quarantillo
NJ District Director
INS Newark District Office
970 Broad St. Rm. 136
Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: 973-645-4421
Fax: 973-645-2304

Listen to an April 29 interview with Farouk Abdel-Muhti and Gilma Carmago on WBAI [top]


WATCHING THE SHADOWS

1. DID ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISTS CASE FEDERAL BUILDINGS?
According to a March 2001 news release from the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX), for a six-week period leading up to March 2001, individuals claiming to be Israeli art students tried to bypass normal security procedures to get inside federal buildings. The report, titled "Suspicious Visitors to Federal Facilities"stated there may in fact have been two groups involved, one apparently having a "legitimate money-making goal. "The second, "perhaps a non-Israeli group, may have ties to a Middle Eastern Islamic fundamentalist group." (NCIX, March 2001) (see WW3 REPORT #26) (David Bloom) [top]

2. WHITE HOUSE CONFIRMS: PLANS TO TAKE OUT AL-QAEDA PREDATE 9/11
On Aug. 10 President Bush was presented with a plan for his approval to remove al-Qaeda from power, the White House has confirmed. An anonymous senior US official said the memo was prepared by Bush's foreign policy team as terrorist threats increased. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said the memo suggested al-Qaeda be neutralized "through what you saw put into place frankly, rather quickly in our operations in Afghanistan-- through work with the Northern Alliance to dismantle al-Qaeda and the Taliban." (AP, May 17)(David Bloom) [top]

3. STATEMENT OF REP. MCKINNEY ON TERRORIST WARNINGS
"Several weeks ago, I called for a congressional investigation into what warnings the Bush Administration received before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I was derided by the White House, right wing talk radio, and spokespersons for the military-industrial complex as a conspiracy theorist. Even my patriotism was questioned because I dared to suggest that Congress should conduct a full and complete investigation into the most disastrous intelligence failure in American history. Georgia Senator Zell Miller even went so far as to characterize my call for hearings as ‘dangerous, loony and irresponsible.'"

"Today's revelations that the administration, and President Bush, were given months of notice that a terrorist attack was a distinct possibility points out the critical need for a full and complete congressional investigation.

"It now becomes clear why the Bush Administration has been vigorously opposing congressional hearings. The Bush Administration has been engaged in a conspiracy of silence. If committed and patriotic people had not been pushing for disclosure today's revelations would have been hidden by the White House.

"Because I love my country, because I am a patriot, and because the American people deserve the truth, I believe it would be dangerous, loony and irresponsible not to hold full congressional hearings on any warnings the Bush Administration had before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

"Ever since I came to Congress in 1992, there are those who have been trying to silence my voice. I've been told to "sit down and shut up" over and over again. Well, I won't sit down and I won't shut up until the full and unvarnished truth is placed before the American people."(see WW3 REPORT# 29) (press release, May 16) The press release can be seen online (David Bloom) [top]

4. 1999 FEDERAL REPORT: AL-QAEDA COULD "CRASH-LAND" INTO THE PENTAGON
A 1999 federal report warned that Osama bin-Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network could fly a plane laden with explosives in the Pentagon or other federal buildings. The report, titled "The Sociology And Psychology Of Terrorism: Who Becomes A Terrorist And Why,?"was prepared "under an interagency agreement" by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress for the National Intelligence Council, an inter-agency body. The report states that "Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House." The report also noted that Ramzi Yousef, convicted for his participation in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, had wanted to fly into the CIA: "Ramzi Yousef had planned to do this against the CIA headquarters," This information stands in contrast to US National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice's assertion at a May 16 news conference that "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."

Robert L. Worden, Chief of the Federal Research Division, said that information was based on widely available open-source material. "This information was out there, certainly to those who study the in-depth subject of terrorism and al-Qaida," Worden said. "We knew it was an insightful report. Then after Sept. 11 we said, 'My gosh, that [suicide hijacking] was in there.'" White House spokesman Ari Fleischer described the report as a psychological and sociological evaluation of terrorism: "I don't think it's a surprise to anybody that terrorists think in evil ways," he said. "It is not a piece of intelligence information suggesting that we had information about a specific plan."

Former CIA Deputy Director John Gannon, who was chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the time the report was written, said US intelligence was aware for a long while that a suicide hijacker was a real possibility. "If you ask anybody: Could terrorists convert a plane into a missile? Nobody would have ruled that out," he said. He called the 1999 report part of a broader effort by his council to identify for U.S. intelligence the full range of attack options for terrorists and U.S. enemies. Gannon said the report was part of his council's effort to identify the range of options available for terrorists to attack the US. "It became such a rich threat environment that it was almost too much for Congress and the administration to absorb," he said. "They couldn't prioritize what was the most significant threat." Gannon said that criticism of the Bush administration for not acting on the information from the August 6 briefing by the CIA was "egregiously unfair,"and added, "The president wasn't given actionable intelligence," he said. (AP, May 17; Federal Research Division, Sept 1999)(David Bloom) [top]

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EXIT POLL: Did the Bushites ignore prior warnings about 9/11 so they'd have an excuse to depose the Taliban/al-Qaeda and install a petro-oligarch-friendly regime led by ex-Unocal consultant Hamid Karzai?

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