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ISSUE: #. 35. May 26, 2002

THIS WEEK: XENOPHOBIA AND REACTION IN EUROPE



by Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom and Sarah Robbins, Special Correspondents


THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Bombing Attacks Increase in Israel; New Wave Predicted
2. IDF Cuts Gaza in Half, Raids West Bank Villages
3. Saudi Papers Drop Use of the Term "Shaheed"
4. Haaretz: Syria Pressuring Hamas, Islamic Jihad to Attack
5. Hamas: No Coordinated Attacks with Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah
6. Mossad: Bin Laden Targeting Diaspora
7. Ramsey Clark Defending Palestine in US Court
8. Jewish Terror Suspects to be Charged
9. PFLP-GC Blames Israel for Assassination of Leader's Son
10. Barghouti Allegedly Tortured; Urges Continued Resistance
11. Journalists Under Fire in The Middle East
12. Refusenik Speaks In Madison
13. No More Internet Pizzas for IDF

THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. Royal Marines in First Afghan Firefight
2. US Raids Taliban Compound
3. Pashtun Threaten to Boycott Loya Jigra
4. Candidate for Loya Jigra Assassinated
5. Dostum's Forces Attack Fahim's
6. Afghan Government Gives Ultimatum to Warlord
7. UN Renews ISAF; Troops Remain Restricted to Kabul
8. Congress Skeptical of Bush's Afghan Plan
9. Taliban Arson Attacks On Video and Music Stores

SOUTH ASIA
1. India's War Rhetoric Cools
2. Musharraf: No More Incursions into Kashmir
3. ISI-Backed Militants Plan New Kashmir Attacks
4. Pakistan to Shift Troops from Afghan to Indian Border
5. Pakistan Carries out Missile Tests
6. Pakistan Prepared for Nuclear Strike in 1999
7. Moderate Kashmiri Separatist Assassinated
8. UK Pares Down Embassy Staff after Bomb Threats

EUROPE
1. Bush Exhorts Skeptical Germans to Fight the War on Terror
2. Al-Qaeda on the Way to Britain?
3. Xenophobe Right Gains Power in the Netherlands
4. Concern Over the Rise of Islamophobia in Europe
5. Financial Times: Immigration Essential for European Economy
6. Support for Xenophobe Right Grows amongst European Jews
7. French Muslim Leader Speaks Out against Anti-Semitism
8. Italian Riot Police Accused of Brutality Exonerated
9. Jewish Leader Indicted for Calling out Italian Fascists
10. 80,000 March for Middle East Peace in Italy
11. Terrorism Scare Continues in Italy
12. Mafia Terrorism Re-Emerges in Italy?
13. Rigoberta Menchu in Calabria
14. Anti-Crime Militarization in France
15. Swiss Pissed; UK Calls Banking Secrecy Cover for Terrorism

THE WAR AT HOME
1. A Flurry of Terror Warnings



THE PALESTINE FRONT

1. BOMBING ATTACKS INCREASE IN ISRAEL; NEW WAVE PREDICTED
On May 20, one day after a suicide bombing attack killed three in Netanya, a suicide attacker blew himself up when approached by Border Police near the Ta'anachim junction in northern Israel (Ha'aretz, May 20). In Rishon Letzion, where 15 were killed in an attack on a pool hall, on May 7, a 16-year-old bomber with bleach-blond hair blew himself up at a park gazebo, killing two Israelis and injuring 27. Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a group linked to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, took responsibility. The group's statement said the attack was in revenge for the killing of a 30-year-old brigade leader, Mahmoud Titi, by an Israeli tank shell at a cemetery in Nablus. The bomber, who an Israeli police commander described as having "hair dyed blond, short, punk looking" to disguise himself, was the youngest yet to conduct a suicide bombing attack in the conflict ( NYT, May 23; Haaretz, May 23). Recently, both the PA and Hamas have disavowed the use of underage suicide bombers (see WW3 REPORT# 31). In response to the attack, the Palestinian Authority issued a statement "calling upon the Palestinian people to declare their condemnation of such terrorist attacks, which constitute a certain danger on the Palestinian people" (WAFA, May 23). Later that night, a bomber detonated a booby-trapped car bomb at the entrance to a discotheque in Tel Aviv. He parked the car and tried to enter the club, but security guard Eli Federman, the brother of Noam Federman -- who is alleged to be the ringleader of a Jewish terrorist group, found the bomber suspicious and shot and killed him. As he was shot, the bomber detonated his device, but only one person was hurt, as no one was near the car (Haaretz, May 24). On May 27, two people were killed and 53 were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to a café in Petah Tikva. The Al Aqsa Martys Brigades claimed responsibility. The PA condemned the attack (Haaretz, May 28)

In what was seen as an attempt by Palestinians to increase the level of destruction caused by their attacks inside Israeli, a bomb exploded underneath a tanker at Pli Glilot Israel's fuel depot near Tel Aviv on May 23. The explosion failed to ignite a larger conflagration at the depot, and caused no injuries (CBS, May 23) During a raid on the West Bank city of Tul Karm, a plot was uncovered to destroy Israel's tallest buildings, the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv. A Palestinian militant arrested in the raid made a full confession to the plan, in which a large explosive device hidden in a truck would be detonated in the parking garage below the buildings (CNN, May 24). Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said after the Pli Glilot attack that Israel is "facing waves of suicide bombers, men and women, and believe me that when I say waves I know what I'm talking about." (Jerusalem Post, May 24)(David Bloom) [top]

2. IDF CUTS GAZA IN HALF, RAIDS WEST BANK VILLAGES
Israel cut the Gaza Strip in half May 22, preventing north-south travel for Palestinians. Israel said the move was in reprisal for raids on Jewish settlements in the strip. On the same day, Israel raided two West Bank villages, Salfit and Burkin, in searches for militants (Ap, May 22) On May 26, the IDF invaded Qalqilyah and Tul Karm, placed the towns under curfew and carried out searches. The IDF pulled out of Bethlehem a day after entering the city on May 25. Two explosions and gunfire were heard during the Israeli incursion. (Haaretz, May 26) (David Bloom) [top]

3. SAUDI PAPERS DROP USE OF THE TERM "SHAHEED"
Newspapers in Saudi Arabia have stopped using the term "shaheed," or martyr, in reference to suicide attackers. This is reflective of a Saudi government attempt to cool pro-suicide bombing attack sentiment in Saudi Arabia. In Egypt, the pro-government daily Al-Riad called for an end to "suicide bombings," suggesting instead that the Palestinians look to their "supreme national interests." (Haaretz, May 22) (David Bloom) [top]

4. HAARETZ: SYRIA PRESSURING HAMAS, ISLAMIC JIHAD TO ATTACK
According to Israeli military analyst Ze'ev Schiff, UN Security Council member Syria is trying to convince Hamas and Islamic Jihad to resume their suicide attacks on Israel, presumably in coordination with Iran. Schiff claims that while publicly supporting the Saudi peace initiative, Syria has promised additional funds to Hamas if the group steps up attacks. Hamas is reportedly split on whether to follow Saudi requests to desist from conducting attacks, with some elements within the group recommending a temporary, tactical halt. Schiff also claims that Islamic Jihad has already agreed to the Syrian offer. (Haaretz, May 20) (David Bloom) [top]

5. HAMAS: NO COORDINATED ATTACKS WITH AL-QAEDA, HEZBOLLAH
The radical Islamic militant group Hamas on May 21 denied an ABC news report that the group had attended meetings in Lebanon with the al-Qaeda terrorist network and Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah to plan coordinated attacks against the United States. A Senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, said "This statement is completely false and is a media fabrication. It is aimed at giving a bad image to Islamic movements and making them a target of law enforcement agencies fighting terrorism." Haniya accused US officials of concocting the story in order to "do a favour to Israel to help it maintain its occupation of the Palestine." He added that Hamas was only interested in fighting Israel and ending its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "We will not move the fight outside Palestine," Haniya said. (AFP, May 21)(David Bloom) [top]

6. MOSSAD: BIN LADEN TARGETING DIASPORA
A senior Mossad official referred to as "Y" warned May 22 that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network is the most serious security threat to Jewish communities worldwide. "Y" said Islamist extremist arrested in Europe told investigators al-Qaeda is planning attacks on Jewish communities such as the April 11 attack on the Ghriba synagogue on the Island of Djerba, Tunisia that killed 16. (ITIM, May 23) (Haaretz, May 23)(David Bloom) [top]

7. RAMSEY CLARK DEFENDING PALESTINE IN US COURT
Former US Attorney General and International Action Center (IAC) head Ramsey Clark, whose clients include Radovan Karadzic and Slobodon Milosevic, is defending the Palestinian Authority, the PLO, and PA President Yasser Arafat in a Rhode Island court. The three defendants are being sued for $250 million by the families of three US citizens who were terror victims. The defense Clark is providing: Palestine is a sovereign state, and as such, is immune from prosecution in a US court. Clark has asked a federal judge to dismiss the suit, arguing that "Palestine meets the criteria for Statehood." Clark cited Palestine's Nov. 15, 1988 declaration of independence and its establishment of embassies. A former legal advisor to Israel's Foreign Ministry, Joel Singer, counters that "they [the Palestinians] don't have a state; they are precluded from declaring a state; they don't meet the legal criteria for statehood; and the factual situation on the ground currently leaves no doubt" that Palestine is not a state. David Strachman, the families' lawyer, is not so sanguine: "A judge in Rhode Island could give birth to the Palestinian state," he said. (Jerusalem Post, May 23) (David Bloom) [top]

8. JEWISH TERROR SUSPECTS TO BE CHARGED
Police have recommended that four suspected members of a Jewish terror group be charged with attempting to blow up an Arab girls' school in Jerusalem on April 29. Among the four is former Kach activist Noam Federman, whose brother Eli foiled a car bombing attack in Tel Aviv on May 23. Federman denied taking part in plotting the attempted attack on the girls' school, but refused to condemn it: "In the last 18 months, the blood of Jewish children and women has been spilled, and nothing has been done about it," Federman told a Jerusalem court. (see WW3 REPORT #33) (Haaretz, May 23)(David Bloom) [top]

9. PFLP-GC BLAMES ISRAEL FOR ASSASSINATION OF LEADER'S SON
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) has blamed Israel for the assassination of Jihad Jibril, son of the organization's leader Ahmed Jibril, in Beirut May 19. Jihad Jibril was the operations officer of the militant group. He was to have orchestrated the "Night of the Hang Gliders" attack near Kiryat Shmona in 1987, in which six IDF soldiers were killed by PFLP-GC commandos who flew into the north of Israel from Lebanon on hang gliders. A day after Jibril was killed, the decomposed body of Ramzi Ayrani, a Christian Forces student activist, was discovered in a car trunk, prompting fears of a return to civil strife. Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper has speculated that Jibril's killing was part of feud between rival Palestinian factions. A previously unknown group calling itself the "Movement of Lebanese Nationalists" took responsibility for the assassination. The PFLP-GC is based in Damascus.(Jerusalem Post, May 21)(David Bloom) [top]

10. BARGHOUTI ALLEGEDLY TORTURED; URGES CONTINUED RESISTANCE
Marwan Barghouti, the West Bank Fatah leader captured April 13, who is to be tried by Israel, has sent a message through his lawyer urging Palestinians to keep up their resistance to Israeli occupation (Jerusalem Post, May 22). LAW, the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, has released a statement called "Torture and ill-treatment of PLC member Marwan Barghouti," claiming that Barghouti has been abused by his Israeli captors. Barghouti, LAW claims, was taken to a prison clinic because "he suffers from pain in his back and hands, caused by position abuse." The statement continues, saying that "Barghouti's and legs are shackled to a small chair, angled to slant forward so that he cannot sit in a stable position. Due to nails sticking out of the chair on which is he is forced to sit for prolonged hours his back is bleeding. This position abuse, also known as "shabeh" is the most common method of physical abuse applied by the Israeli General Security Service "Shin Bet" LAW also claims Barghouti is kept in solitary confinement and is only allowed four hours a day to sleep, the deprivation of which is known to be a common tactic employed by the Shin Bet. He has been told his son is in Israeli detention and they have threatened Barghouti by saying they may kill his son. The Shin Bet told Barghouti that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has decided Barghouti must confess to being a terrorist (LAW statement, May 23). In April, an Israeli security source was quoted by the ITIM press agency as saying, "Marwan Barghouti is losing his self-confidence, and we expect he will break soon" (ITIM, Apr. 24)(David Bloom) [top]

11. JOURNALISTS UNDER FIRE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
The Israel Annual Report from Reporters Without Borders, an organization that defends journalistic freedom, reports that since the start of the second Intifada in September 2000, 45 journalists have been injured by bullets, several seriously wounded. Since the Israeli occupation began on March 29, at least 20 Palestinian journalists have been arrested, according to RSF. Yola Monakhov, a New Yorker on assignment for the AP, was shot and nearly killed on November 11, 2000, in Bethlehem, photographing Palestinian children throwing rocks at an Israeli Army post. The Israeli solider, who fired at Monakhov from 50 yards away, said he though he was aiming at a Palestinian combatant. His mistake sent a bullet that fractured her pelvis, damaged her bladder, colon, and bowels, and severed a nerve in her leg. (Newsday, May 5)

Others who elude harm are still at risk of having their press passes revoked. Danny Seaman, director of Israel's Government Press Office, revoked the passes of two Abu Dhabi television reporters-and expelled one of them-for failure to cover the conflict in an unbiased manner. Said Seaman: "It's the Interior Ministry, not me, that decides on deportations, but I certainly recommended it. Why should we be fair to them if they served as the enemy's mouthpiece? There's a limit to freedom of expression even in a democratic country." (Haaretz, April 25) The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) recently has said the Israeli government has gone to unnecessary extremes in order to deter reporters covering the incursion. (BBC, May 3) On May 15, Reporters Without Borders called on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to release five Palestinian journalists who have been held without explanation for several weeks. "Some of them have been detained for nearly a month without being charged with any offence and one is being held in an unknown place, which is unacceptable," RSF secretary-general Robert Ménard said. "All of them were apparently simply doing their job of informing the public." (RSF, May 23)(Sarah Robbins) [top]

12. REFUSENIK SPEAKS IN MADISON
When Israeli refusenik Haggai Matar spoke in Madison, WI on May 13, he told the audience at the First Unitarian Society: "It's not an easy thing to refuse induction in Israel -- people there grow up knowing they're going to serve in the army." He said he first questioned the morality of his country's defense tactics when he started to become "aware of something different from the history they taught us in school, different from what we see on the news. From listening to alternative information sources, through knowing Palestinians and talking to them, through going to territories -- with time, I've realized that the entire Israeli army is devoted to the cause of prolonging the occupation." Born in Israel in 1984, he has been politically active since Rabin's assassination, when he was 11. Last August, Matar co-authored the "seniors letter," an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, signed by 62 16-18 year olds soon to be called up for mandatory service, which stated the signatories would "obey their conscience" and refuse to take part in acts of oppression against Palestinians. He's since been denied release from mandatory service, and expects jail time this July.

Matar recounted an experience during a recent humanitarian mission in a besieged Palestinian village. Matar and 150 peace activists went to the village with several truckloads of food. The group, Tayush (coexistence), is comprised of both Arabs and Jews. While the activists were working, three Israeli border policemen charged them with trespassing and asked them to leave. The Arab members of the group were singled out and arrested for alleged violence that Matar insists did not take place. As an act of solidarity, the group forced the Israelis to arrest some Jews, as well. Later they learned that while they were detained at a police station at a nearby Jewish settlement, settlers from there went to the Palestinian village and burned several shops "for punishment." Matar spoke of the "apartheid regime Israel is running in the occupied territories, where settlers can do whatever they want without being held accountable." He added: "When Jews and Arabs come to try and bridge over the gaps, to try and show that Israel is not only settlements and soldiers, these efforts are being torpedoed." (Sarah Robbins)

For more information and details about future refusenik speaking arrangements, see Courage to Refuse [top]

13. NO MORE INTERNET PIZZAS FOR IDF
The Israeli army has barred troops serving in the occupied territories from accepting pizza deliveries they did not order themselves. The army said it feared the pizza boxes could be booby-trapped. Israeli pizzerias began last month to deliver through an Internet site where customers could order pizzas as gifts to the soldiers. More than 4,000 pizzas had been sent by this method, with 90% of the orders being sent by Americans. Orders also came from Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Customers could choose between ordering a "Pizza and Pepsi for a patrol," or up to six pizzas in order to feed a whole platoon. The army stopped this practice, "due to concern that hostile elements may exploit the pizza deliveries to soldiers." (AP, May 22)

The Internet site, PizzaIDF.org, contains messages sent with pizza orders to the Israeli soldiers. Many are from fundamentalist Christians, who support Israel out of their belief that the Jews must rule over the Holy Land in the End of Days in order for Christ to come again. One such message reads:

"Shalom, from California-USA, Ignore most of the negative comments and opinions you hear from the Press, they are so anti-Israel it makes me sick. Most Americans are pro-Israel. I am a Christian who supports the heroic effort you brave men are doing!! I have written President Bush, Cheney & old Foggy Bottom, Colin Powell to stop the deep denial about why your war isn't the same as ours. Powell & his State Dept nit-wits are the root of this problem. Love to see your beautiful blue star flag flying at all the rallys. It's more than a nice thing to say to you when I tell you I stop & pray for Israel when first waking up and when going to bed. Many thousands of Evangelical Christians like me ask our Heavenly Father to keep His arms around you day & night. YES, indeed, you DO matter very much. You need leaders who will get rid of raghead Arafat period. He will never keep his word! This pizza doesn't seem good enough for such precious people like you. Hope it is fixed extra good." (David Bloom) [top]

AFGHANISTAN FRONT

1. ROYAL MARINES IN FIRST AFGHAN FIREFIGHT
British Royal Marines say their first action of their Afghanistan campaign occurred when a carload of gunmen opened fire on their observation post. There were at least three gunmen in the car who drove up to the post, stopped, and fired at least ten shots. There were 12 marines in the post, who returned fire, wounding two of the gunmen. A second car drove by and retrieved the injured gunmen's bodies. The car then sped off. Two French Mirage fighter jets called in to pursue the car subsequently lost sight of it. (UK Guardian, May 24) (David Bloom) [top]

2. US RAIDS TALIBAN COMPOUND
US forces raided a suspected Taliban leadership compound May 24, killing one, wounding two and taking 57 others captive, according to US military officials. One hundred and fifty troops from coalition forces took part in the raid at the compound, which is located 50 miles west of Khandahar. No one taken into custody has yet been identified, but according to Army Lt. Col. Jim Yonts, a spokesman for Centcom, "We don't know who we have, but we hope we've got some senior Taliban or at least some Taliban folks there." The casualties had opened fire on the coalition troops. Large amounts of weapons and money were reportedly seized. (Washington Post, May 25)(David Bloom) [top]

3. PASHTUN THREATEN TO BOYCOTT LOYA JIGRA
Eighteen Pashtun-dominated provinces are threatening to boycott the Loya Jigra assembly, a traditional Afghan consensus-building body that is to select a new Afghan government in June. Pashtun leaders are reportedly unhappy with the composition of the 21-member commission that will chose the composition of the 1,600 member assembly, saying it violates provisions of the Bonn agreement. They feel too many members of the commission are from northern provinces and are from minority groups, and that the Pashtun are under-represented. The 18 provinces, whose leaders have agreed to the boycott, are: Farah and Ghor, Ghazni, Helmand, Heart, Kandahar, Khost, Kunar, Laghman, Logar, Maidan, Nangrahar, Nioz, Nooristan, Orazghan, Paktia, Paktika, Wardak and Zabel. The Province leaders made a formal complaint two months ago to the UN, Washington, and London, but still have not heard back. The Chief of the Zazisub tribe, Mohammed Gul Ayubwal, said the boycott threat should be taken seriously: "We will have no option but to boycott the process if our genuine concerns are not heard," he said. "If the majority community is not given its democratic rights there will be a long and variegated struggle to secure those rights." (Friday Times, May 24) (David Bloom) [top]

4. CANDIDATE FOR LOYA JIGRA ASSASSINATED
Mohammad Raheem, a candidate for Afghanistan's Loya Jigra assembly,was assassinated in the western district of Chaghcharan on May 20, according to officals. Raheem was elected to be a delegate in the first two rounds of voting. "Mohammad Raheem, from Aodak village, was selected in the Chaghcharan district shura. When he went home in the evening, a group of people came into his house and shot him," the official said. This marked the first assassination in selection process. United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi confirmed recently there have been reports of intimidation and bribery in the process. (South Nexus, May 21)(David Bloom) [top]

5. DOSTUM'S FORCES ATTACK FAHIM'S
Forces loyal to Afghanistan's Defense Minister General Mohammad Fahim and his deputy, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, battled each other at Zal fort, 40 miles west of the northern Afghan town of Kunduz, starting on May 22. Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) said six people were killed and some were wounded as Dostum's forces attacked the fort, backed by heavy artillery. The AIP said that Jamiat-I-Islami, Fahim's party, has sent in 250 reinforcements. Dostum and Fahim's forces have clashed in the past. The AIP quoted a source as saying, "Differences between Fahim and Dostum still exist." Dostum, an Uzbek who once ruled the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, had coveted the position of Defense Minister, but it went to the Tajik Fahim instead. Fahim took over the command of the Northern Alliance after General Ahmed Shah Masood was assassinated by al-Qaeda operatives on Sept. 9. (Reuters, May 23) (David Bloom) [top]

6. AFGHAN GOVERNMENT GIVES ULTIMATUM TO WARLORD
The interim government of Afghan Prime Minister Hamid Karzai threatened to remove warlord Bacha Khan from power if he did not agree to the government's terms of capitulation, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Omar Samad. Samad told reporters that Khan "has been given an ultimatum. He needs to agree to the terms laid out by the interim administration. If he doesn't, any and every measure will be taken to resolve this issue, including military." The rebellious warlord was sacked as governor of Paktia province by Karzai after Khan launched fighting there that killed 60 people, but he has refused to step down (see WW3 REPORT #31) Government troops have been put on alert for a possible assault. "I would expect action taken before the Loya Jirga" if Khan doesn't capitulate, Samad said. (Washington Post, May 23)(David Bloom) [top]

7. UN RENEWS ISAF; TROOPS REMAIN RESTRICTED TO KABUL
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously May 23 to keep the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan, for another six months. Calls to extend the force's mandate to regions beyond Kabul were rejected. During that time, Turkey is to take over the command of ISAF from the British. Hamid Karzai's interim Afghan government had asked that the force be extended beyond the capital to regions where Kabul has little control. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan backed this request, but the Bush administration opposes any expansion of ISAF while it is still trying to root out remnants of the al-Qaeda network. (CBS, May 23)(David Bloom) [top]

8. CONGRESS SKEPTICAL OF BUSH'S AFGHAN PLAN
The almost universal support the Bush administration once enjoyed in Congress for the manner in which it prosecuted the War on Terror has shown further signs of disunity as key legislators are questioning the administration's strategy for dealing with post-Taliban Afghanistan. Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), chairman of the International Relations Committee, is backing an amendment that would compel President Bush to explain how the administration will address Afghanistan's deteriorating security situation. "We accompany the funds with a rather strong request that the administration give us a plan that is effective," Hyde said. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Ca.), the sponsor of the amendment, said "a failure to act on this important issue may well lead to a failure to win the war on terrorism in Afghanistan." A senior Democratic congressional aide said,"there is a real concern that the administration is seizing defeat from the jaws of victory," pointing out the Kabul government will not succeed unless it can impose order on the fractious country. Republican Senator John McCain is circulating a letter in which he argues for expanding the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond Kabul. A recent report by the International Crisis Group, a research organization based in Brussels, said "an unstable security situation coupled with a hurried, high-stakes political process is a recipe for potential disaster, and the signs that the country could once again come apart at the seams are evident." But Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said the administration's policy of dealing directly with regional leaders in Afghanistan takes into account Afghanistan's culture, which he said is one of "regional powers with a great deal of autonomy." (Washington Post, May 21)(David Bloom) [top]

9. TALIBAN ARSON ATTACKS ON VIDEO AND MUSIC STORES
Suspected Taliban activists from Afghanistan set fire to music stores and video game clubs in the Pakistani border town of Chaman. Journalists in Chaman from various newspapers and foreign press agencies received death threat letters and phone calls from anonymous sources, telling them not to work for US citizens. One source said if they disobeyed, journalists would suffer the same fate as Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by Pakistani religious extremists. The arsonists, wearing the distinctive turbans common to the Taliban, poured gasoline on three music stores selling audio and video cassettes, two pool halls, and two computer games stores. (Reuters, May 24) (David Bloom) [top]

SOUTH ASIA

1. INDIA'S WAR RHETORIC COOLS
India's influential Hindustan Times reported May 24 that the Indian government would give Pakistan two months to curtail "cross border terrorism" before it embarks on military action. Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee told frontline troops facing Pakistan's army in Kashmir on May 22: "It's time to fight a decisive battle." But on May 23, he indicated war might not be inevitable: "Sometimes lightning can strike even when the sky is clear. I hope there will be no lightning," he said. In reaction, stock markets in Pakistan and India both surged on May 24. Cross-border exchanges of fire continue despite the change of rhetoric. India and Pakistan have one million troops facing each other across the Line of Control separating Indian Kashmir from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. (UK Guardian, May 24) (David Bloom) [top]

2. MUSHARRAF: NO MORE INCURSIONS INTO KASHMIR
While in St. Petersburg, Russia, US President George Bush stepped into the crisis between India and Pakistan, pressuring Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to curb militant activity: "It's very important for President Musharraf to do what he said he was going to do ... and that is to stop the incursions across the border." Bush said in a May 25 press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bush added, "It's important that India know that he is going to fulfill his promise"(BBC, May 25). In response, President Musharraf said in a May 25 interview that Islamic militants were no longer infiltrating Kashmir from Pakistan, and requested that India respond to his request for the renewal of direct talks between the two countries. Musharraf rejected accusations that his government had not implemented its pledge to crack down on Islamic radicals backed by Pakistan's Inter-service Intelligence Agency (ISI). "We will ensure that terrorism does not go from Pakistan anywhere outside into the world," Musharraf said. "That is our stand, and we adhere to it." Musharraf said that he realized his sincerity on the issue was doubted by many, but he said, "Let me assure you, there is no backtracking."

Musharraf accused India of using the threat of war "to destabilize me, my government and Pakistan." He also said that if war began: "We'll take the offensive into Indian territory." (Washington Post, May 26)(David Bloom) [top]

3. ISI-BACKED MILITANTS PLAN NEW KASHMIR ATTACKS
Kashmiri Islamist extremists backed by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) are planning new guerrilla attacks in Kashmir, even as Pakistanti President Pervez Musharraf pledges to curb such attacks. Militants backed by the ISI described how they are receiving funds and training for the conflict, which violates Musharraf's ban. Although Musharraf announced a crackdown on militants in January and arrested 2,000 of them, evidence shows Pakistani groups are still involved in the Kashmir conflict. Several hundred ISI officers who oppose Musharraf's participation in the US-led War on Terror have survived a recent purge of the agency's leadership, according to a Senior Pakistani Military source. (UK Guardian, May 25) (David Bloom) [top]

4. PAKISTAN TO SHIFT TROOPS FROM AFGHAN TO INDIAN BORDER
Pakistani government sources said that Pakistan has begun preparations to shift troops from the border area with Afghanistan, where they are engaged in searching for Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, to the Line of Control with India in the disputed Indian state of Kashmir. The move is to counter the buildup of Indian troops and the threat of war between Pakistan and India. If the troops are indeed shifted, it will constitute a serious blow to US efforts to ferret out the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, reacting to the news, said: "We could be getting a lot more help from the Pakistanis if there were not the tense situation with respect to the two countries. They have forces along the Indian borders that we could use along the Afghan border. And it's unfortunate." (NYT, May 24)(David Bloom) [top]

5. PAKISTAN CARRIES OUT MISSILE TESTS
Pakistan carried out two unannounced missile tests over a space of two days, while the international community attempted to ease tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. Pakistan's state-run media said that on May 26, Pakistan completed a test of its Hatf-3 (Ghaznavi) missile, a short-range surface-to-surface missile with a range of 180 miles that is believed to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. On May 25, Pakistan successfully completed the testing of its medium-range Ghauri missile. The Ghauri missile has a range of 1,000 miles and is capable of striking the Indian cities of Mumbai and New Delhi (CNN, May 26). Indian defense spokesman P.K. Bandyopadhyay said about the missile tests: "We are not impressed by this. It has been done for demonstrative effect keeping in view the domestic audience. And, to quote the defense minister, it also indicates some kind of nervousness on part of the Pakistan establishment" (Jang, May 27) The US criticized the missile launches: "We are very disappointed in this," a State Department spokesman said. "We continue to urge both sides to take steps to restrain their missile programmes and their nuclear weapons programmes." (BBC, May 25)(David Bloom) [top]

6. PAKISTAN PREPARED FOR NUCLEAR STRIKE IN 1999
Pakistan deployed nuclear weapons during the Kargil crisis of 1999 and was prepared to use them against India, but was persuaded not to use them by the US, according to former White House aide Bruce Riedel. According to Riedel, the US knew Pakistan's armed forces were preparing to deploy the weapons, when in late June the possibility of Pakistan's defeat was raised by successful Indian counter-attacks on Pakistani positions around Kargil, and Pakistan's diplomatic isolation. On a trip to Washington on July 4, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sought the intercession of US President Bill Clinton to prevent an escalation with India. Clinton insisted that Pakistan first pull back to the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir and accept blame for causing the conflict. According to Reidel's account, when Clinton asked Sharif if he had ordered Pakistan's army to prepare nuclear missiles for deployment, Sharif replied, taken aback, that the Indian army could be doing the same. Clinton then told Sharif, "You've put me in the middle today, set the US up to fail and I won't let it happen," he said. "Pakistan is messing with nuclear war." Clinton offered to help with the Kashmir dispute after Pakistan withdrew, and Sharif agreed, ordering his army to withdraw from Kashmir once he returned home. Reidel said this order led to the military coup that deposed Sharif from power and into exile.(BBC, May 16)(David Bloom) [top]

7. MODERATE KASHMIRI SEPARATIST ASSASSINATED
India and Pakistan have blamed each other for the assassination of Muslim Kashmiri separatist leader Abdul Ghani Lone. Lone was killed by gunmen in police uniforms as he spoke at a memorial rally commemorating the assassination of another Kashmiri separatist leader. Lone was a leader of the All Parties Hurriyet Conference, a group of religious and political parties that call for the separation of predominately Muslim Kashmir from predominately Hindu India. Lone favored dialogue with India, called for a cease-fire, and voiced opposition to the participation of Pakistani militants in the separatist campaign, which angered hard-line militant groups. Likewise his decision to field candidates in upcoming legislative election was unpopular with the militants, who considered the move a sell-out. A Senior Hurriyet member, Abdul Ghani Bhatt, said the assassination was "a great tragedy. It is a hard blow not only to the Hurriyet Conference but also to the people of Kashmir. We have lost a seasoned leader who could blend his experience with political reality." Lone's son Sajjad, addressing mourners at his father's funeral, blamed Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) and conservative Hurriyet leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, for the assassination: "The ISI is behind this," Sajjad Lone said "Mr. Geelani and Pakistan is behind this."

In a December interview with the Washington Post, Lone said of the Pakistani militants in Kashmir: "There was a time when we wanted them, but now they should just go home.They don't support an independent Kashmir. It's just part of their international struggle to Islamicize the world." Last month, at a meeting in Dubai, Lone reportedly told the ISI chief and the governor of the Pakistani-controlled section of Kashmir that militants not of Kashmiri origin should no longer participate in the struggle. One official who knew of the meeting said "It did not go down well." (Washington Post, May 21)(David Bloom) [top]

8. UK PARES DOWN EMBASSY STAFF IN ISLAMABAD AFTER BOMB THREATS
The British government has ordered 150 diplomats, aid workers and other government workers out of Pakistan and warned thousands of British citizen to leave after suicide bomb threats by the al-Qaeda network, or one of the Pakistan-based militant groups associated with it. The workers will start leaving with their families within days. The Foreign Office has advised against travel to Pakistan. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the decision was taken in reaction to "an acute and growing threat from terrorism to British interests in Pakistan" and had nothing to do with the possible war between Pakistan and India. (UK Guardian, May 23)(David Bloom) [top]

EUROPE

1. BUSH EXHORTS SKEPTICAL GERMANS TO FIGHT THE WAR ON TERROR
Before leaving for his current European tour, US President George Bush said "I will remind our friends that this war is far from over." (London Times, May 23) Ten thousand German policemen were mobilized for protests in Berlin that turned out to be milder than expected, with 20,000 anti-US demonstrators. While Bush was speaking in the Reichstag, members of the former Communist party unfurled an anti-war banner (UK Guardian, May 23). Bush later told German television "Iraq ought to be on the minds of the German people . . . because the Iraq government is a dangerous government," but a poll showed Germans are deeply skeptical of the US: 76% of Germans think the US interferes too much in other countries' affairs; and only 48% trust the US' ability to defend global security (Times (London) May 20)(David Bloom) [top]

2. AL-QAEDA ON THE WAY TO BRITAIN?
A letter from Interpol to the German police said that more than 30 Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives have been smuggled into Eastern Europe and are on there way to Britain, according to the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "A warning letter ... based on information gathered two months ago by Interpol and Europol, says that more than 30 'important people from the Taliban and Al Qaeda' are in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Austria on the way to Britain, where they want to regroup and plan possible action," the newspaper wrote. A spokesman for Europol in Brussels confirmed that a "threat assessment" on Islamic extremists has been sent to the organization's constituent states. (Reuters, May 23)(BBC, May 25)(David Bloom) [top]

3. XENOPHOBE RIGHT GAINS POWER IN THE NETHERLANDS
On May 16 the Dutch people elected as the second-largest party in parliament a right-wing party that could only exist in the Netherlands, combining tolerance for lifestyles -- its assassinated leader was gay -- but not for immigrants. Pim Fortuyn, a flamboyant former Marxist-Leninist sociology professor and frequent talk show guest who liked to be called "professor Pim," was assassinated by an animal-rights activist days before the election. Fortyun's party, Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF), was created in February when his previous party found his anti-immigrant views too extreme. LPF went on to become the second-largest party in its stronghold of Rotterdam, on the strength of its anti-immigrant message. The Netherlands, Europe's most densely populated country, has 10% immigrants, or people of non-western descent, and Fortuyn proposed halting all immigration to the country. Fortuyn, who didn't like to be called a rightist (he found "intolerable" the fact that he was compared with Austria's Jorg Haider or France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, and didn't care for the Flemish Vlaams Blok) wanted to integrate all immigrants currently in Holland into Dutch society, and a third of his supporters were immigrants. Fortuyn especially objected to Islam, calling it a "backward culture" because of its intolerance of his sexuality ("In Holland homosexuality is treated the same as heterosexuality. In what Islamic country does that happen?" he said), and the other liberal elements of Dutch society he favored -- including legalized prostitution and decriminalized drug use. Fortuyn explained his views in his book, "Against The Islamisation Of Our Culture." (BBC, May 16; BBC, May 6; Financial Times, April 10)

The election proceeded with LPF headed by Fortuyn's second-in-command, a dark-skinned Cape Verde islander named Joao Varela. The 27-year-old businessman had himself immigrated to the Netherlands at age six. "The Netherlands does have a problem with asylum seekers, refugees, illegal and other immigrants," Varela told the UK Guardian. "I'm fully behind Fortuyn on this. Stop people coming in for the moment till we can sort out this conflict." Stressing integration and the learning of the Dutch language, Varela complained, "I see too many satellite dishes, too much trading in goods imported from the countries they come from." (UK Guardian, May 10)

It is not yet known why Volkert van der Graaf, 32, killed Fortuyn. A vegan animal- rights activist, Van de Graaf said in an interview two years ago that he didn't care for fishing with worms as a kid because he felt it was cruel both to the worms and the fish. He had a strong objection to factory farming, but Fortuyn did not have a well-thought out policy on the issue. (BBC, May 16)(David Bloom) [top]

4. CONCERN OVER THE RISE OF ISLAMOPHOBIA IN EUROPE
A study by the Vienna-based European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) warns about rising anti-Muslim prejudice across Europe. The EUMC report cited rises in violent assault, abuse and attacks on Muslim property, even in tolerant Denmark and the Netherlands. In Sweden, incidents of verbal abuse toward women wearing the hijab were reported. EUMC Chairman Bob Purkis said "September 11 has in some cases merely acted as a detonator of feelings that we have failed to adequately address," and blamed the British government for stoking these feelings in Britain. According to Purkis, "by demonising refugees and asylum seekers you legitimize racism and xenophobia. There are mixed messages coming from the prime minister, from the Foreign Office. In the discussion about asylum seekers we have to make sure we are not operating in ways that legitimise the debate that racists are having" (UK Guardian, May 24). Other European political leaders have also stoked anti-Islamic sentiment. Six million voted for France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, who once praised Serbian paramilitary leader Voijislav Seselj for the defense of "near enough the same things that we defend." Seselj's White Eagles perpetrated pogroms of Bosnian Muslims during the Bosnian war. Italy's Silvio Berlusconi once claimed "the superiority of Western culture over Islam." His government colleague Italian Northern League leader Umberto Bossi has objected to the use of public land for mosques for the "Muslim invaders," and his party has called for Muslims to be refused entry into Italy. Pim Fortuyn, the recently assassinated right-wing Dutch politician, who campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform, called Islam a "backward culture." The Belgian far-right party, Vlaams Blok, has enjoyed electoral success while campaigning to reduce the number of mosques and for the institutionalization of discrimination against Islam. Danish People's party leader Pia Kjaersgaard, who has declared a "holy war" on Islam, campaigned using a poster that read: "By the time you retire, Denmark will be a majority-Muslim nation." In 1999, Jorg Haider of Austria's xenophobic Freedom Party rode to power using the term "Uberfremdung" (foreigner-swamping) in its campaign rhetoric. (UK Guardian, May 14; EUMC report, May 2002)(David Bloom) [top]

5. FINANCIAL TIMES: IMMIGRATION ESSENTIAL FOR EUROPEAN ECONOMY
A May 13 article in the Financial Times argues that immigration is necessary and essential for European economies to function and grow. The Times article points out that by 2015, 20% of the European population will be 65 or older, and by 2050, that figure will be 33%. At the same time, fertility rates will be declining, creating a constantly increasing retirement-age population that will have to be sustained by a shrinking workforce. The Times says that this gap cannot be bridged with immigration alone, but that it will help. Labour shortages for both skilled and unskilled workers are expected to occur. In Germany, by the 1980's, half of all miners and sanitation workers were immigrants. The Stuttgart city council calculated that its public transit system, schools and day care would not be able to function without immigrant labor. The Times recommends welcoming Immigration, and seeking to manage it, rather than calling for a halt. (Financial Times, May 13)(David Bloom) [top]

6. SUPPORT FOR XENOPHOBE RIGHT GROWS AMONGST EUROPEAN JEWS
Faced with growing anti-Semitic violence from Muslim immigrant quarters, some European Jews have gone so far as to express support for the xenophobic, anti-Muslim right-wing politicians of Europe, even though they have been associated with anti-Semitism in the past. In Belgium, where the Flemish nationalist Vlaams Blok (VB) is the largest party in its stronghold of Antwerp with 27% of the vote and 15.5% of the Belgian parliament, party leader Filip Dewinter has recently reached out to Jews, condemning anti-Semitism. The VB has campaigned to name a street in Antwerp after a wartime Flemish SS officer. (AP, Apr. 24; Xinhua, Aug, 15 1997). The VB does not repudiate, in fact, looks nostalgically to Flemish nationalism of the 1930's, Flemish-Nazi Germany collaboration, and glorifies the Vlaanderen Division of the Waffen SS. While the VB voted for a 1995 law prohibiting holocaust denial, there are VB members who are known holocaust deniers. VB ideologists also use the term "Flamande," or Flemish race in discussing their theory of nationalism. (Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism, Tel Aviv U., 1997)

Despite the VB's open neo-fascism, the party has recently been making inroads among Belgian Jews, according to a May 1 article in the Jerusalem Post. The article,"Antwerp Jews switching support to Flemish far-right party," describes how a combination of a perception of pro-Palestinian bias amongst Belgium's political elite, recent attacks against Jewish targets by Muslim immigrants in Antwerp, and a charm offensive by VB head Filip Dewinter are spurring this trend. Dewinter is one of only a few European far-rightists to support France's National Front leader Jean-Marie le Pen, who once referred to the Holocaust as a mere "detail" of World War II. Andre Gantman, a Jewish lawyer and former Liberal member of the Antwerp city council, said "My heart is bleeding, but I understand the reaction of my Jewish friends who regard the Vlaams Blok as the last straw they can clutch." Gantman said that elements within the 30,000-strong Antwerp Arab community were pushing for what he referred to as a showdown with the Jews. While no surveys have been conducted among Antwerp's 20,000 Jews, recent attacks, including the firebombing of two synagogues and a third raked with gunfire, a rabbi beaten up, and a Jewish bookstore burned down has fueled this trend towards support for the VB, and it has been helped by Dewinter's outreach to the Jewish community: "I heard him [Dewinter] say: 'How is it possible that Jews are being persecuted in our town in the year 2002.' That deeply touched me," Gantman said. His colleague Claude Marinower, one ofAntwerp's few Jewish politicians, acknowledged the trend towards the VB and said Gantman was worsening the trend by not speaking out against the VB: "The potential danger certainly exists, because of what is happening and the indisputable charm offensive that was launched some time ago by the Vlaams Blok toward the Jewish community," Marinower said. Dewinter, claiming that his party has gained strong support in the Jewish community, blamed Belgium's left-wing parties for the trend: "A big part of the Jewish community no longer wants to be used by the Left as a weapon against the Vlaams Blok," he said. (Jerusalem Post, May 1)

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the French Front National leader who took second place in the recent French presidential election, has also made improbable inroads into the Jewish community of France. The reason is similar to that of the Jews of Belgium; the French Jewish community has been victimized by hundreds of anti-Semitic attacks from Muslim quarters, and Le Pen has a strong law-and-order and anti-immigrant message, and is hostile towards France's large Muslim community. In the face of synagogues being set on fire, damage to Jewish institutions, anti-Semitic slogans scrawled on walls, and cursing at people who look Jewish, quite a number of Jews are known to have voted for Le Pen. Some rabbis said the rise of Le Pen was a divine miracle. A few called on Jews to vote for Le Pen, reasoning that his election would bring chaos to France and accelerate emigration to Israel. Leaders of the Likud party of Israel suggested casting a blank ballot in the election, rather than voting for Chirac, who has been seen as hostile to Israel. One listener of Radio Shalom, a Jewish community call-in show, said: "I'm speaking emotionally because I am ashamed of our community leaders and of some of our intellectuals. I saw many demonstrations against Israel and at all of them there were only leftist Jews and Christians and Muslims. Nor did I see Le Pen demonstrating against Israel. I'm not afraid of a government of the National Front because it won't allow people to demonstrate and call out `Death to the Jews.' I beg all the Jews who are listening to me. Don't vote for Chirac, who is a hypocrite and a Jew-hater. Cast a blank ballot. And anyway, how do you know that Le Pen will be a bad president?" A Jew from Marseilles called Haaretz's reporter and said: "I so much wanted [Le Pen] to be elected. The fact is that during the two weeks between the two election rounds, there were no attacks against us. We could walk around the city freely, with heads held high. The Arabs were even afraid to leave their homes. I'll tell you the truth, I enjoyed seeing them sitting in the cafes with long faces." (Haaretz, May 7)

Italy's "post-fascist" Allianza Nazionale (AN) leader Gianfranco Fini, Deputy Prime Minister in Silvio Berlusconi's center-right government, hasn't been embraced by the Italian Jewish community, but has made inroads with the Israeli government with his pro-Israel stance. Italian Jewish leader Amos Luzzatto has not agreed to meet with Fini, saying that while it's good that Fini apologized for referring to Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who deported thousands of Italy's Jews to their death in WWll, as "the greatest statesman of the 20th century," but that he suspected Fini and his party had not entirely rejected Fascism. When Fini re-formed the surviving remnant of Mussolini's Fascist party, the Italian Socialist Movement (MSI), as the AN, he rejected the party's anti-Semitic and racist doctrines. But while Italy's Jews remain unconvinced, against their advice Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has said he would welcome Fini's long-sought after visit to Israel: "We do not judge people on their pasts, but on their current positions," Peres told Italy's RAI International radio. "The recent declarations of the vice prime minister are in perfect agreement with our positions. Furthermore, Fini has expressed his respect for the Israeli people and has spoken in a clear manner about his relations with us," (AFP, May 9; AFP, Jan 30)(David Bloom)

A reader from Belgium writes:

"In Antwerp I live on the 'border' between a Moroccan and Jewish neighborhood. There are many Eastern Europeans in this area as well. Flemish people are in the minority on my street. I'd say that there is next to no sense of community here, with the exception of Moroccan shop keepers who are friendly to their customers. In general I'd say that the various groups keep to themselves, and regard each other with suspicion.

"Although most Belgians do not like Arabs, the Intifada has made many here pro-Palestinian and been used to justify anti-Semitism. There have been attacks in Antwerp and other cities against Jewish property (most likely by Moroccan youths, at least in Antwerp, where a synagogue was fire bombed the same day as an anti-Israel protest). Jews have been assaulted by Arabs on the streets here as well (I haven't heard of Jews being physically attacked by Belgians). It's possible that some Jews have been scared into support for Vlaams Blok.

"As for the anti-Semitic attacks here, I've been surprised by the reactions. When a synagogue in Antwerp was fire-bombed, there was hardly any mention in the press here. Antwerp is small. Belgium is small. The local news usually dwells on tedious local events (fires, auto accidents, etc.), so I was amazed that the local press didn't make a big deal out of this. I learned more from the foreign press than I did from the Belgian press (not that I did a thorough, scholarly search, but I did check some local papers and listen to the radio).

"I don't think people are sympathetic to anti-Semitic attacks in Belgium per se, but pretty much everyone is pro-Palestinian (and express sympathy for the suicide bombers), and many make anti-Semitic remarks. This was true before the current Intifada as well. Most people think that all Jews think alike, are militantly racist against Arabs (and compare Israeli Jews with the Nazis), that all Jews are rich and 'arrogant,' etc. The usual stereotypes. They think of Americans as racists, but don't see it in themselves. One other point: for a while after the anti-Israel protest and the synagogue bombing (which occurred on the same day), a police helicopter circled Antwerp on a daily basis, and armored police vehicles patrolled the streets. Most people I spoke with were more angry about this show of force than about the anti-Semitic attacks." -Michael Laird [top]

7. FRENCH MUSLIM LEADER SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM
A group of 57 Muslim, Christian and Jewish intellectuals and religious leaders published a call in the French media decrying the war in Israel and Palestine which included a protest about growing anti-Semitism in France: "the Israeli-Palestinian war has awakened criminal tendencies in France that endanger human lives and places of worship, including Jewish synagogues." One of the signatories to this document was Tariq Ramadan, who lectures on philosophy at the College of Geneva, on Islamic Studies at Fribourg, Switzerland. Ramadan, a grandson of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Bana , told Haaretz: "Too few Muslims have spoken out against these anti-Semitic and Judeophobic phenomena." Ramadan claims that anti-Semitism has no place in Islam:

"To my regret, anti-Semitic utterances have been heard not only from frustrated and confused young Muslims, but also from certain Muslim intellectuals and imams," he says, "who in every crisis or political backsliding see the hand of the 'Jewish lobby.' There is nothing in Islam that gives legitimization to Judeophobia, xenophobia and the rejection of any human being because of his religion or the group to which he belongs. Anti-Semitism has no justification in Islam, the message of which demands respect for the Jewish religion and spirit, which is considered a noble expression of the People of the Book." (Haaretz, May 26)(David Bloom) [top]

8. ITALIAN RIOT POLICE ACCUSED OF BRUTALITY EXONERATED
Citing insufficient evidence, an Italian court freed eight riot policemen who had been under house arrest while accused of brutalizing anti-globalization protesters in Naples at the March 2001 meeting of the Global Forum. The officers were also immediately re-instated to duty. Italian Interior Minister Claudio Scajola of Silvio Berlusoconi's center-right government was pleased by the decision, saying "I never had any doubts."(AFP, May 12)

Berlusconi's government had been angered by the house arrests, and "post-Fascist" Allianza Nazionale (AN) leader Gianfranco Fini had warned of repercussions if the arrests proved to be unjustified. Left-wing leaders, however, blamed Italy's shift to the right for encouraging fascist tendencies within the police.

The eight policemen were accused of taking 80 young people from hospitals, many of whom said they had nothing to do with the rioting, and subjecting them to physical and sexual abuse. Thirteen other officers were investigated, and reports say that over 100 took part in the beatings. The officers denied any wrongdoing when questioned by magistrates.

An investigator's report said that the police barracks has been used as "a torture chamber...a fetid cesspit of urine, feces, vomit, and blood." The report quoted a female protester who now suffers from panic attacks after she was stripped and sexually humiliated by both male and female police officers. Some who were beaten so badly they became disabled testified to being punched, kicked, and sexually threatened or assaulted. Some were forced to sing pro-fascist songs, strip naked, or kiss portraits of Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. (London Times, April 29; DPA, April 30)(David Bloom) [top]

9. JEWISH LEADER INDICTED FOR CALLING OUT ITALIAN FASCISTS
A Rome court approved defamation charges against Leone Passerman, president of the city's Jewish community, for accusing the far-right Forza Nuova party and its leader Roberto Fiore of "encouraging Nazism, Fascism and racism." Prosecutor Franco Ionta said Passerman had "offended the reputation and honor of Forza Nuova and thus also of Roberto Fiore" in a statement printed in Oct. 2000 by La Repubblica. Passerman was quoted as saying that Forza Nuova pamphlets were "aberrant and highly violent," and accused party militants of anti-Semitism. (International Herald-Tribune, May 11-12) Forza Nuova posters spotted by WW3 REPORT in Naples read: "LE PEN IN FRANCE, HAIDER IN AUSTRIA, FORZA NUOVA IN ITALY."

In Nov. 2000, Italian Police shut down an anti-Semitic internet site managed by Forza Nuova militants. The site's homepage depicted a large spider, meant to portray Zionist power, with the words: "Dark forces rule the world," and entreated the the site's visitors to start a holy war against "ZOG" (Zionist Occupied Government). (AFP,Nov 8, 2000)

Fiore has a long history of far-right activism, in Italy and elsewhere. He was given a 12-year sentence in absentia in Italy for his membership in Third Position, a far-right group which a Rome court determined was the political wing of the Armed Revolutionary Nuclei, the fascist terror group believed responsible for the 1980 bombing at the Bologna train station which killed 85 people. Fiore has avoided extradition and lives in London. (UK Sunday Express, Jan. 14 2001)

Searchlight magazine, an anti-fascist publication, says that links with the British intelligence organization MI6 have protected Fiore against extradition, because of his usefulness as an intelligence asset; links between Third Position and the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia allowed Fiore to visit Phalangist training camps and provide useful information to British Intelligence. Searchlight also says that at the time of publication, Fiore lived in a London flat owned by a Britsh National Front member. His accounts are managed by Edgar Griffin, father of far-right politician and Holocaust denier Nick Griffin. Griffin is formerly the leader of the National Front , and is now the leader of the British National Party (BNP). (Searchlight, June 1989 ; BBC, 2001)

Although Fiore has denied membership in International Third Position (ITP), which evolved from Third Postion, he said he sympathized with its views: "I recognize that fascism is good on certain issues." Asked whether he supported repatriation of non-white people, he said: "There is a fundamental lack of natural justice if people are brought to live in different countries to where they were born. Everyone should be staying in the place where they live; it is wrong to have Islamic immigration to Italy and thank God in Italy we recognize that" (UK Guardian, Sept.18, 2000). ITP's website displays the logo of Forza Nuova and has a link to the group's website. See also: article on far-right violence in Italy in this month's Searchlight (Bill Weinberg with David Bloom) [top]

10. 80,000 MARCH FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE IN ITALY
80,000 marched 24 kilometers from Perugia to the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi to call for a peaceful resolution to the Middle East crisis. Marchers carried the flags of both Israel and Palestine, and signs condemned both Palestinian terrorism and Israeli state terror. Both Palestinian activist Huda Imam and Israeli activist Dror Etkes, of the group Peace Now, addressed the crowd. A message of support from the Pope was also delivered. (La Repubblica, May 13) [top]

11. TERRORISM SCARE CONTINUES IN ITALY
A homemade propane-benzene bomb exploded at the Piazza del Duomo subway station in Milan, and police are looking for a still-unidentified man caught dropping the device by a video surveillance camera five minutes before it detonated. Although nobody was injured and little damage caused, the press speculated the blast was the work of Islamic militants, citing a hand-written note found in a nearby trashcan reading "Allah U Agbar" (sic). Authorities noted the amateurish spelling error ("God is great" in Arabic is actually "Allah U Akbar"), and speculated provocateurs might be behind the incident. Homemade devices also exploded on public streets in Agrigento, Sicily, on Nov. 5 and Feb. 15, the first damaging a car. In both cases, hand-written statements referring to Allah or Islam were found near the scene. (La Repubblica, May 13) [top]

12. MAFIA TERRORISM RE-EMERGES IN ITALY?
Ex-Mafia boss Giuseppe Insolito was killed when a homemade explosive device detonated at his home in the southern Italian city of Cosenza, 20 years after he had agreed to cooperate with authorities in a crackdown on the ruling criminal organization of his home city of Messina, Sicily. Insolito was "exiled" to Cosenza under police protection after "singing" to authorities on the workings of the Messina Mafia in 1982. His death signals a possible resurgence of the Mafia terror that shook Italy ten years ago. (Gazzetta del Sud, May 21) [top]

13. RIGOBERTA MENCHU IN CALABRIA
Maya Indian activist and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, who helped bring the genocide in her native Guatemala to the world's attention in the 1980s, was hosted by supporters in the southern Italian city of Reggio Calabria, where the local "Vento e Sole" committee has assisted in development projects for her home village of Chimel. In her remarks, Menchu drew a parallel between the struggle in Guatemala and citizen demands for public accountability in southern Italy, where a resurgence of violence by the Sicilian Mafia and Calabria's 'Ndrangheta criminal machine have recently been in the news. "Impunity is a crime against humanity, whether it is the Mafia, state terrorism or genocide against an indigenous population," said Menchu. Raoul Bova of the Vento e Sole committee also told the reception at the city's Excelsior Hotel, "To defend the rights of the Maya is part of the same struggle we wage against the Mafia." He also invoked the 10th anniversary of the death of Giovanni Falcone, an anti-Mafia prosecuter killed in a bomb attack on a highway in Sicily on May 23, 1992, at the height of a wave of Mafia terror throughout Italy. (Il Domani Calabria, May 21) [top]

14. ANTI-CRIME MILITARIZATION IN FRANCE
The French government announced the formation of 28 new elite crime-busting squads, in a clear attempt to appease supporters of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the far-right leader who eliminated former Socialist prime minister Lionel Jospin in the first round of the presidential election in April. The new anti-crime "intervention groups" will be sent into "no-go" zones in suburban housing projects controlled by North African gangs. Ordinary police will also be authorized to use rubber bullets in anti-gang operations. Le Pen links his anti-immigration campaign to fears of crime and domestic terrorism. The anti-crime units were announced the day after Gaullist leader Jacques Chirac was sworn in as president, having won the second round on a law-and-order platform strongly influenced by Le Pen's upset victory in the first round. Rightist Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has been appointed number-two man in Chirac's transition government, and pledges to centralize national command of the 100,000-strong gendarmerie to fight criminal gangs. (Financial Times, May 17) [top]

15. SWISS PISSED; UK CALLS BANKING SECRECY COVER FOR TERRORISM
Swiss officials reacted angrily to a call by the United Kingdom for an overhaul of banking secrecy laws, which London charges are exploited by terrorists. At the annual meeting of the OECD in Paris, Switzerland's economic minister Pascal Couchepin blasted UK financial secretary Paul Boateng for suggesting the Swiss tradition of banking secrecy assists terrorist money-laundering operations. "To pretend that Swiss banking secrecy is an obstacle to fighting terrorism is a lie," said Couchepin. Switzerland opposed a UK-backed proposal for greater transparency in exchange of information on tax matters. Switzerland is said to manage one-third of the world's private individual wealth, or some $1,860 billion. (Financial Times, May 17) [top]

THE WAR AT HOME

1. A FLURRY OF TERROR WARNINGS
Since the revelations that US President George Bush did not act on a memo he was shown on Aug. 6, 2001, stating that an al-Qaeda attack on the US was possible, the US public has been barraged with a flurry of warnings of possible terror attacks. Nuclear power plants, boats, trains, subways, banks in northeastern U.S. states, supermarkets, shopping malls, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and apartment buildings have all been mentioned as possible targets. The attacks could come in the form of walk-in suicide bombers, terrorists in small planes, even terrorists trained as scuba divers. On May 20, FBI Director Robert Mueller said another attack was "inevitable." President Bush spoke of the difficulty of preventing another attack. Many of these threats come from senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah, currently in US custody. Official do not know how trustworthy his information is, but have decided to err on the side of caution and publicize the warnings. (CBS, May 24) One subway rider in New York said he was unperturbed by the threat to subways: "You keep your eyes out and I think you look for people that just might be some unsavory characters, but I think anybody that rides the subway is always very much on guard." (CNN, May 24) (David Bloom) [top]

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EXIT POLL: Is Europe more xenophobic than the US?

ONGEPATSHKET OF THE WEEK: Have Belgian and French Jewry gone ongepatshket?

ongepatshket: ...disordered, scribbled, sloppy, littered, confusing, muddled; overly-done... (A Dictionary of Yiddish Slang & Idioms by Fred Koggs, Citadel Press 1966)

(Alternative anglicized spelling: ungepatch)

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