#. 38. June 16, 2002
"DIRTY BOMB"? DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE!
FBI AGENTS GUILTY IN CALIFORNIA TERRORISM COVER-UP!
ALSO: SHOWDOWN IN DIXIE! SOUTH CAROLINA JUST SAYS NO
TO UNCLE SAM'S N-WASTE!
By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom and Sarah Robbins, Special Correspondents
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. A Provisional Palestinian State?
2. Condi Rice Wants to Ditch PA
3. Daschle Wants to Ditch Arafat
4. Egyptian Academics Want to Ditch Israel
5. Suicide Bomber Asks For Water, Explodes
6. Israeli Gamblers Betting on Suicide Attacks
7. Attack On Gaza Settlement
8. Israeli Actions in West Bank
9. Israel Finding Bigger Bombs
10. Hamas to Use Chemical Weapons?
11. Israel Acquires Submarine-Based Nukes
12. UN Expert: Settlements, Demolitions Are War Crimes
13. Hague Court May Indict Settlers, Troops for War Crimes
14. IDF Troops Suspected of Stealing from Palestinian
15. Labor Angered at Oslo Probe
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. Chaos and Paralysis at Loya Jirga
2. Women Speak Out at Loya Jirga--Despite Intimidation
3. Film Alleges US Complicity in Atrocities
4. US Soldier Told to Kill Women, Children?
5. US Aid Group Flees Mazar-i-Sharif
6. US Military Operation in Helmand
7. Mullah Omar Speaks
8. Car Bomb Attack On US Consulate in Karachi
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. Muhajir/Padilla: "Dirty Bomber"?
2. White House Backpedals on Ashcroft Alarmism
3. Global Skepticism on "Dirty Bomb" Claims
4. John Ashcroft: "Minister of Fear"
5. Indefinite Military Detainment of US Citizens
6. Haaretz: Israel Had File on Muhajir/Padilla
7. A Second Bust in "Dirty Bomb" Case?
8. Pakistan Arrests Suspect in "Dirty Bomb" Case?
9. The Swiss Connection
10. Jihad Plundering Soviet Nuclear Debris in Central Asia?
11. SC in Showdown With Feds over Plutonium Shipments
12. UK Prepares New Nuclear Weapons Facility
13. Al-Qaeda Expanding Global Network?
14. "Operation Gibraltar"
15. The French Connection
16. The Italian Connection
17. The Canadian Connection--to Tunisia?
18. The Sudan Connection
19. Did Hezbollah Plan Attacks On US, Israel in Singapore?
20. INS Alert for Yemenis
21. John Walker Lindh Denied Miranda Rights
22. Moussaoui Denied Access to Data for Defense
23. Al-Qaeda: Myth or Reality?
24. CIA and FBI Agree to "Truce" in Inter-Agency Feud
25. Suspended Air Force Officer: Bush Complicit in 9-11
26. JDG Vigilantes Are Lunatics, Say Brooklynites
GLIMMERS OF HOPE
1. Victory in Judi Bari
Case: FBI Agents and Oakland Police to Pay $4.4 Million in California Terrorism Cover-Up
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. A PROVISIONAL PALESTINIAN STATE?
President George Bush plans to introduce a proposal for a "provisional" Palestinian state without recognized borders, as an interim step towards a permanent state. The proposal will include a demand Israel halt all settlement building activity. The proposal has met with little favorable response from either Israel or the Palestinians. Senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha'ath said after a June 14 meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, "There cannot be a state without defined borders... No state can be 'provisional.' It will be a state which has occupied territory, as Lebanon did." Sha'ath said the Palestinian authority expects a two-year fixed timetable for the establishment of a permanent Palestinian state. One year would be for negotiations on the final status agreement; the second for its implementation. Sha'ath said he told Powell the Palestinians believe the basis for a state should be on Israel's pre-1967 borders. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, senior aide to Yasser Arafat, also expressed skepticism about the US proposal. "All we know is that talking about an independent Palestinian state with some land still under occupation does not mean that this is a permanent state," said Rudeineh. (Haaretz, June 15)
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has also nixed the idea. Sharon told his cabinet June 16 "the conditions are not ripe for the establishment of any kind of Palestinian state." Sharon said he told Bush a Palestinian state could only come about once Palestinian violence stops, reforms are implemented, and elections held. "I clarified that this is not the time for any type of Palestinian state," Sharon said he told Bush. (Haaretz, June 16) Writing in the New York Times before his June 10 meeting with Bush, Sharon rejected the idea of a set timetable for a Palestinian state. "Movement from a long-term interim agreement to a permanent settlement can only be guided by changes in the reality of Israeli-Palestinian relations on the ground and not by a rigid timetable," Sharon wrote. (NYT, June 9)
Neither was Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher impressed with the US proposal. "This proposal means that today such a state exists, but tomorrow it might not. It's incomprehensible and no one has ever heard of such a thing," Maher said. (Ha'aretz, June 16)
The one person receptive to the proposal is Israeli Defense Minister and Labor Party chairman Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. After rightists criticized the proposal, Ben-Eliezer countered that neither a security fence nor military action would stop terrorism. "Whoever ignores the need for the existence of a Palestinian state, or for the existence of two entities, simply doesn't know what he's talking about. That's the [Israeli rightist] dream, which is coming crashing down. There's no way around it, two nations are going to have to live side by side. It would be well if they would do it very quickly, to find the basis for co-existence." (Haaretz, June 17) (David Bloom)
2. CONDI RICE WANTS TO DITCH P.A.
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice told the San Jose Mercury News June 15 that the Palestinian Authority should not be the basis for a Palestinian state. "Frankly, the Palestinian Authority, which is corrupt and cavorts with terror...is not the basis for a Palestinian state moving forward," Rice told the paper. Rice said that unless there are democratic institutions including forces currently excluded by Arafat's rule, there is little hope for a peace settlement. "We don't think of this as reform of the Palestinian Authority. We think of this as building the institutions of a state that will be capable of actually moving to statehood." (San Jose Mercury News, June 15) Arafat rejected Rice's condemnation. "We are doing what we see as good for our people and we do not accept any orders from anyone," Arafat said in Ramallah. (Haaretz, June 17) (David Bloom)
3. DASCHLE WANTS TO DITCH ARAFAT
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) told Fox News interviewer Tony Snow June 16 that Yasser Arafat has become an impediment, and recommends a "regime change." He said the impetus should come from the USA's Arab allies, and from the Palestinians themselves. On June 10, Israel army radio reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told President George Bush he would help overthrow Arafat if he turned out not be serious about reform (see WW3 REPORT # 37). The following exchange followed a discussion of "regime change" in Iraq:
DASCHLE: I do think that it is important for us to be pushing for a regime change, speaking of that, in Palestine as well--in the Palestinian movement. And I think it is critical that we get help from our Arab allies. We've got to find somebody who can make decisions on a more constructive basis than what we've seen from Mr. Arafat.
SNOW: Do you think our Arab allies are as fed up with Yasser Arafat as President Bush seems to be?
DASCHLE: Privately, Tony, they tell you they are. They are very concerned about the direction and the lack of leadership and the concern that they've got for the direction that the PLO is moving today. They'd like to see more constructive leadership, and our admonition to them is, "Help us get it."
SNOW: So in your opinion, Yasser Arafat needs to go?
DASCHLE: Well, my opinion, yes, sooner or later it has to happen (Fox, June 16) (David Bloom)
4. EGYPTIAN ACADEMICS WANT TO DITCH ISRAEL
At the June 16 opening of a seminar called "After the Demise of Israel," Egyptian academics and intellectuals discussed how to eliminate the Jewish state. "We should probe ways on how to bring that date sooner rather than later," Salah Abdel Karim, deputy head of Egypt for Culture and Dialogue, told the attendees. Speakers also called for the overthrow of the moderate Arab regimes who were trying to maintain peace with Israel. "Israel will collapse, it is doomed, but what is necessary is the collapse of the Arab system," said Islamic activist Hassan el-Sayed. Abdel Karim said "We should fight this racist pocket [Israel] planted in the heart of the Arab nation." Mohammed Hesham, a professor at the state-run Helwan University, presented a paper titled "Zionist racism: a history with no future." Professor Hesham argued that Israel, "like the racist regime in South Africa," will disappear. One speaker, poet Ali el-Qurashi, tried to promote the peace effort: "Give our brave president a chance," he shouted to a reluctant audience. (Haaretz, June 16) (David Bloom)
5. SUICIDE BOMBER ASKS FOR WATER, EXPLODES
A Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and a 15-year old girl June 11 in a restaurant in Herzliya, a town north of Tel Aviv (Haaretz, June 12). The bomber, Omar Ziada, 30, walked into the restaurant, asked for a bottle of water, and then detonated explosives under his shirt. The al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades issued a leaflet June 13 claiming responsibility. Ziada was from the village of Madama near Nablus. (AP, June 13) (David Bloom)
6. ISRAELI GAMBLERS BETTING ON SUICIDE ATTACKS
Police in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Malachi are investigating a gambling ring in which bettors wager on where the next Palestinian suicide bombing will occur. Gambling is illegal in Israel, though it is popular on cruise ships that make calls in Israeli ports, and Israeli gamblers used to flock to the casino in Jericho before the Intifada broke out. In this particular ring, gamblers fill out a weekly form which gives odds on which cities are most or least likely to be hit. The most likely: Jerusalem, at 3-2 odds. The least likely: the Red Sea resort city of Eilat (17-1), and the southern port city of Ashdod (13-1). Minimum bets are set at 10 shekels (2 US dollars). The gambling form stipulates that wagers are only valid "when there is an attack of Arabs against Jews and not vice-versa, and when the attack is reported in the media." The police are investigating the gambling ring. "We are checking into it to see if there is a violation of the gambling laws," police spokesman Gil Kleiman said. "We're not getting into the moral aspect." The newspaper Maariv concluded, "There is no limit to bad taste." ( Reuters, June 14; BBC, June 14) (David Bloom)
7. ATTACK ON GAZA SETTLEMENT
Two Israeli soldiers were killed and at least two others injured in an attack with guns and grenades on the northern Gaza Strip settlement of Dugit. One of the Palestinian attackers was shot dead in the battle. The attack came shortly after nightfall, following the discovery of a car laden with explosives near the nearby settlement of Elei Sinai. (BBC, June 15) (David Bloom)
8. ISRAELI ACTIONS IN WEST BANK
IDF troops entered The West Bank city of Jenin before dawn June 15 with tanks, armored vehicles and jeeps, according to Palestinian witnesses. They imposed a curfew, and fired heavy machine guns, the witnesses said. "There is a curfew. We received information that someone planned a terror attack from Jenin," an IDF spokeswoman said. No arrests have been made. (Haaretz, June 15)
Palestinian sources also reported June 15 that 15 jeeps, armored personnel carriers and a bulldozer entered the West Bank city of Hebron early on June 14. The troops surrounded a building an arrested six Palestinians, who were said to by wanted by the Shin Bet security service. The soldiers destroyed the building, which they claimed was an explosives factory. .(Haaretz, June 15) (David Bloom)
9. ISRAELIS FINDING BIGGER BOMBS
Israel is finding ever larger explosives devices meant for Israeli targets. On June 12, IDF troops blew up a car near the Gaza Strip settlement of Alei Sinai which, according to IDF estimates, contained a bomb weighing 150 kilograms (330 pounds). (Haaretz, June 12)
On June 14, IDF sappers disarmed a 40 kilogram (88 pound) explosive device near the northern Gaza Strip settlement of Dugit. (Haaretz, June 14) The same day, the IDF and agents of Shin Bet security service detonated an enormous bomb they found near the West Bank town of Qalqiliya. A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said the bomb was intended for a target inside Israel, and consisted of "dozens of kilograms of explosives." (Jerusalem Post, June 14)
On June 15, IDF troops opened fire on a suspicious vehicle they believed was intended to be used in an attack near the northern Gaza strip settlement of Dugit. The car was destroyed with a tank shell. According to IDF officers on the scene, the vehicle contained more than 150 kilograms of explosives, in addition to a gas tank and mortar shells. (Haaretz, June 15) (David Bloom)
10. HAMAS TO USE CHEMICAL WEAPONS?
The Islamic militant group Hamas is threatening to use chemical weapons in future attacks on Israeli targets, according to a June 16 report on Israel's channel 2. The report claimed Hamas issued a statement after a strategic decision to use chemical weapons in addition to conventional ones. Said the statement: "The idea of using chemical substances in explosive devices is not new, but all experiments have failed so far. The chemical substance loses its effectiveness in the heat caused by the explosion, and usually, we were using quite simple chemicals. But when we acquire the techniques of using those materials, a new gate will open in the development of suicide attacks, with the help of Allah." The movement said the intention behind the use of chemical weapons was to cause further harm than shrapnel and to "create a massacre." Hamas spokesman Abdel Aziz Rantissi said the reports were "lies," and denied any meeting on the use of chemical weapons took place. (Jerusalem Post, June 17; Haaretz, June 17) Hamas has in the past coated shrapnel with poison and pesticides. (Reuters, May 21) Mass circulation daily Yediot Aharonot reported in January that in addition to rat poison used in a December bombing, Hamas is experimenting with mustard gas. Military sources fear the organization may try to arm their Kassam-2 rockets with chemical warheards. This attempt at non-conventional weaponry is considered amateurish by the sources, but "the organization's determination in this direction is very worrisome," the sources told the paper. (Israel Insider, Jan 23) (David Bloom)
11. ISRAEL ACQUIRES SUBMARINE-BASED NUKES
According to former Pentagon and State Department officials, Israel now has three diesel submarines which are being armed with cruise missiles designed for carrying nuclear warheads. This acquisition completes for Israel the "triad" of land, sea, and air-based nuclear weapons. A former Pentagon official says, "It is above top secret knowing whether the sub-launched cruise missiles are nuclear-armed." Added another former official, "We often don't ask."
US analysts say Israel, which refuses to confirm or deny it has nuclear weapons, possesses a modest nuclear arsenal. The move to acquire sea-based nuclear capability, suggests Israel is concerned about Iraqi and Iranian efforts to acquire long-range missisles capable of knocking out Israel's land-based nuclear arsenal. A sea-based nuclear capability would give Israel an added deterrent. But analysts are concerned this development may complicate efforts to keep other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere from trying to develop a nuclear capability. (Washington Post, June 15) (David Bloom)
12. U.N. EXPERT: SETTLEMENTS, DEMOLITIONS ARE WAR CRIMES
The Israeli policy of building settlements in occupied Palestinian territory and destroying Arab homes and farms constitutes a war crime, according to a UN expert. In a 27-page report, Miloon Kothari, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing of the UN Commission on Human Rights, charges that "Israel has used the current crisis to consolidate its occupation." Kothari, an Indian architect who visited Israel and the Palestinian territories earlier this year, told reporters: "The serial and deliberate destruction of homes and property constitutes a war crime under international law." He considers the construction of new Jewish settlements to be "incendiary and provocative," and observed that settlers are "free to indulge in violence and confiscate land," (AP, June 14)
Kothari said the destruction of homes is meant to "cause optimum material and psychological harm" to Palestinian residents and communities. "A particularly destructive strategy has involved the use of missiles, tanks, and the Israeli army's practice of 'walking through the walls' used to serially damage homes," during IDF incursions. "The policies of belligerent occupation and collective punishment have been marked by land confiscations, punitive house demolitions, implantation of settlements, the dismemberment of Palestinian territories through the building of bypass roads...and the control or theft of water and other natural resources in the occupied territories." Kothari said Israel is purposely destroying olive groves, orange orchards, and other Palestinian agricultural land. Cutting off pipelines to Palestinian villages is an example of the "misuse of and hoarding of water resources." He accused Israel of "manipulating the ethnic character of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip" by settling those territories; "The active and sustained implantation of Jewish settler colonies serves the...purpose of acquiring territory and natural resources and limiting the living space of the Palestinian host population." He recommended an international protection force to protect Palestinian homes and property.
In his report, Kothari cited the 1949 Geneva Conventions which prohibit the colonization of occupied land. But Israel claims the territory it occupies is disputed, and thus is not subject to the Geneva conventions "The issue of settlements is a political issue on which Israel and the Palestinians disagree," said Ya'acov Levy, Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva. He said both sides were working towards a solution during the Oslo process: "We made detailed suggestions on how to solve the issue, but the Palestinians broke off negotiations. The difficulties were caused by a conscious Palestinian decision not to work with us and resort to a policy of violence." Levy dismissed Kothari's report as "wild compilation of one-sided accusations." ( Haaretz, June 15) (David Bloom)
13. HAGUE COURT MAY INDICT SETTLERS, TROOPS FOR WAR CRIMES
Israeli Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein has warned that the new International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague may indict Israeli settlers and soldiers for war crimes. The court, meant to judge individuals for war crimes, was established by 60 countries. Israel and the US are not signatories to the Rome Convention, which established the court. At a meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law & Justice Committee, Rubinstein said the court may discuss indictments of Israeli soldiers and officers for their conduct during Operation Defensive Shield. At the same meeting, State Prosecutor Edna Arbel said the establishment of the court could have grave implications for Israel, and that the state had to ensure that each soldier indicted would receive legal assistance. Professor Ruth Lapidot, an expert on international law, concluded after examining the list of candidates for judicial appointments to the court, that not all of them would treat Israelis appearing before the court fairly and objectively. (Haaretz, June 11) (David Bloom)
14. IDF TROOPS SUSPECTED OF STEALING FROM PALESTINIAN
The IDF's military police are investigating charges that several soldiers stole $7,000 from a Palestinian man in Ramallah, during a military operation. There have been more than 10 similar probes of IDF troops since Operation Defensive Shield took place in April. (Haaretz, June 15) (David Bloom)
15. LABOR ANGERED AT OSLO PROBE
The Labor Party suspended its cooperation with the governing coalition June 12 until Prime Minister Ariel Sharon explains why several members of his Likud party did not vote against a proposal by the far-right National Union party for a parliamentary inquiry of the Oslo process, according to Israeli Army Radio. Labor's coalition agreement with the Likud specifies it adhere to the Oslo process.
During a Knesset debate on the proposal, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of the Labor party countered that a "parliamentary probe should be set up to look into the establishment of illegal settlements, or against those who stopped the Oslo process. We entered the Oslo process because we believe that Judaism is built on a moral foundation. We were not born to be masters." Declaring the Oslo process was not over, Peres continued: "We will return to it with a large majority... It is vital for the future of the Jewish people. It is vital for a real relationship with the Arab nation." (Haaretz, June 12) (David Bloom)
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. CHAOS AND PARALYSIS AT LOYA JIRGA
Afghanistan's Loya Jirga, a traditional assembly being used to decide the country's government, began with former king Mohammad Zahir Shah withdrawing his candidacy for head of state. The surprise June 10 announcement came under pressure from the US. Former president and Northern Alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani withdrew the next day. Both former leaders threw their support behind Interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai, who ran with little opposition. (LA Times, June 13) Massouda Jalal, a female candidate, received 171 votes to Karzai's 1,295, with 89 votes for a little-known government official. Jalal said she was offered a cabinet post if she stood down, but she refused and ran anyway, despite pressure from interim Defense Minister and Northern Alliance military chief Fahiim Qasim. "This is an Islamic society," Qasim scolded Jalal's spokesman, who replied nervously: "It's [Jalal's candidacy] good for democracy, let's see what's going to happen and what's going to be the outcome." ( UK Guardian, June 14).
Those responsible for the bloodshed that has plagued Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Soviet-backed regime were not supposed to be elected delegates to the Loya Jirga under the rules of the Bonn agreement. Nonetheless, many warlords were present--including Farsiwan warlord Ismail Khan from Heart, Pashtun warlord Gul Agha Sherzai from Khandahar, Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum from Mazar-I-Sharif (who traded in his military fatigues for a jacket and tie), Hazara warlord Kharim Khalili from Bamiyan, and the Pashtun Northern Alliance warlord and hardline Wahabi Islamist Professor Abdul Rasool Sayyaf, head of the fundamentalist Ittihad-i-Islami faction. Incongruously, these rivals sat together in one corner of the assembly tent. Karzai and the members of his interim administration sat in another. (Eurasianet, June 14) Sima Samar, a former interim administration deputy prime minister for women's affairs, expressed her dismay. "This is not democracy. This is a rubber stamp. Everything here has already been decided by those with the power. This jirga includes all the warlords. None of them is left out." Her deputy, Taj Kokar, and a group of women delegates confronted former president Burhanuddin Rabbani. "Why have you killed and raped our women? Why do we have so many widows in this country?" she asked the startled Northern Alliance chief, under whose rule much of Kabul was destroyed. Rabbani had no reply. (UK Guardian, June 13)
In his first speech as president, Karzai spoke out strongly against warlordism. "The Afghan people want to get rid of warlordism," Karzai said. "They want to get rid of the gun once and for all. And once again we have a strong mandate." Warlords like Dostum and Khan have enjoyed US support, and Dostum was a deputy minister in the interim administration--but Karzai used the occasion to try to distance himself from them. "The war against warlordism will go on and the war against terrorism will go on," he told a Kabul press conference on June 14. "We need a country which will have institutions that are trusted by people." (Eurasianet, June 14)
But the assembly became distracted by another issue--what to call their nation, post-Loya Jigra. Shiite Ayatollah Asif Muhsini called on the delegates to name the new government the Islamic Transitional State of Afghanistan. All of them, including Karzai, immediately stood to signal their approval, shouting "right!" (IWPR, June 14) The only one in opposition was Khandahar governor Gul Agha, whose region was the fundamentalist Taliban's base. "I think we've had enough war since 25 years ago in the name of Islam," Shirzai said. "This government has enough of a basis in Islam and everybody knows this is an Islamic government. We admire Islam and...don't need to put its name on the transitional government." Chaos ensued, and interim Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and Jalabalabad governer Haji Qadir had to intervene between Gul Agha and an angry mob. The motion was then passed by a show of hands, deferring for another day the issue of what role regional warlords would play in the new government. (Eurasianet, June 14)
The assembly has not yet concluded, with undecided issues including the composition of Karzai's cabinet and whether the legislature should be based on geography or population. Ethnic Pashtuns fear if it is based on geography, they will be underrepresented. Disagreements over this issue deadlocked proceedings June 16. The assembly appears to be making up rules as it goes along. The process was further hampered by language difficulties. Qasim Yar, the assembly's chairman, gave instructions for the decision-making process in his native Dari, and Pashtuns complained they could not understand him, resulting in hours of chaos. (AP, June 17) The next day, June 17, frustration and anger caused 1,000 delegates to walk out. They complained about delaying tactics meant to avoid dealing with key issues. "There's no point hanging around listening to boring speeches so we're leaving," delegate Sayed Nimatullah said. "Karzai should be here discussing important issues like the new parliament."
One delegate warned fresh fighting would result if the assembly failed to agree on a new government "I am really disappointed with the Loya Jirga," delegate Mullah Abdul Karim told reporters. "Governors and officials are telling people what to say in their speeches. I myself have been threatened into supporting Karzai and my first candidate was the former king [Mohammad Zahir Shah]. This is just a Loya Jirga in name only. The main issues have not been discussed so far. If it goes on like this, fighting could restart because Karzai does not have the support of the majority of the people." Some delegates speculate Karzai may try to wait until a parliament is elected to get his cabinet approved. The Loya Jigra is schedualed to end June 17, but interim foreign minister Abdullah suggested it may drag on for extra days. (Reuters, June 17) (David Bloom)
2. WOMEN SPEAK OUT AT LOYA JIRGA--DESPITE INTIMIDATION
"The women of Afghanistan are champions," said Massouda Jalal, the first woman to ever run for head of state in Afghanistan, in her speech June 13 before more than 1,500 delegates to the Loya Jigra. "And they have to tell the world that even though they have been forced inside the home for the last five or six years, they...can free Afghanistan and the world can trust them." After her speech, several male delegates gathered around her and other women and asked their opinions on the country's future. "We see women in government positions as very patient and trustworthy, we think that if a woman was leader, Afghanistan would progress much faster," said one male delegate, a former World Food Program employee and professor of medicine at Kabul University (Eurasianet, Jun. 14). More than 150 of the delegates to the Loya Jirga are women, and not one of them wore a burqa. (UK Guardian, June 12) Despite the unprecedented presence of women at the meeting, the dominant force was the warlords who began Afghanistan's civil war a decade ago. (Globe and Mail, June 13). And despite over 170 votes and visible support for Jalal, the overwhelming majority of the vote went to Hamid Karzai, who on June 10 interrupted Jalal with his closing speech, saying "Who do you want to hear: this lady or me?" Eliciting no response, Karzai started his speech and Jalal returned to her seat (The Guardian, June 13). Such actions come after recent comments from the imam of Kabul's main mosque, Qari Abdurrahman Qarizada, maintaining that the Koran says women are too weak and unintelligent to run for president (AFP, Jun. 13). A recent Human Rights Watch report says that, despite efforts by the interim government to integrate women into the educational system and the workplace, most Afghan women have been afraid of violent reprisals. At a recent chapter meeting for the Afghan Women's Association, several members' daughters were attacked, according to one source. "They were attacked by a group of men with knives," said member Yasmin. "These former Taliban elements stopped them and beat them and carved up their faces. They said, 'This is a warning. If you try to change the role for women in Afghanistan, you will be killed.'" (Christian Science Monitor, June 14) (Sarah Robbins)
3. FILM ALLEGES U.S. COMPLICITY IN ATROCITIES
A 20-minute documentary by British filmmaker Jamie Doran accuses US troops of complicity in war crimes committed by Northern Alliance forces against thousands of surrendered Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in northern Afghanistan last fall. The film, which was screened at the Reichstag in Berlin and at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, alleges that US forces did nothing to prevent the massacre of approximately 3,000 Islamist fighters who were prisoners of the United States' Northern Alliance ally, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. The Pentagon June 14 described the allegations as "highly suspect in the face of it."
The enemy combatants had been taken prisoner after surrendering following the Nov. 21 fall of the Taliban's last northern Afghan stronghold, Kunduz. They were taken to the Kala-i-Changi fort, a headquarters belonging to Gen. Dostum. During a Nov. 25 uprising at the prison, CIA operative Johnny "Mike" Spann was killed while interrogating a prisoner. 500 prisoners were then killed by a combined force of Afghan troops, British SAS, US Special Forces, CIA operatives, and US air strikes (see WW3 REPORT # 10). 7,500 prisoners were transferred from the fort to the crowded Sheberghan prison. A witness quoted in the film alleged that US interrogators used torture on suspected al-Qaeda members in the prison. "I was a witness when an American soldier broke one prisoner's neck and poured acid on others," the witness told the film's interviewer. This was denied by Pentagon spokesman Marine Lt. Col. Dave Lapan. "Our service members don't participate in torture of any type," Lapan said. He added that US soldiers are "professional and trained in the laws of war and proper conduct."
Eyewitnesses in the film claim that 30-40 US troops were also present at the execution by Northern Alliance forces of thousands of Taliban prisoners driven into the Dasht Leili desert in shipping containers. One Afghan driver of a truck carrying 200-300 prisoners told Doran he shot holes in the containers to provide air, but over half died on the way to the desert. (UPI, June 14)
Two Afghan men in the film say they were forced to drive into the desert with the prisoners, and that the ones who survived the journey were summarily executed by Northern Alliance forces while 30 to 40 US troops stood by. The documentary alleges the prisoners were taken there on orders of the local US commander. (S. Africa Independent, June 12)
Witnesses told Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), who visited the Dasht Leili site on Jan. 20 and Feb. 10, that they had seen the shipping trucks there between late December and early January. PHR observed recent skeletal remains at the site, which "retained odor, residual fat and vestigial soft tissue." (PHR, Feb. 14) "It is absolutely essential that the site of the mass grave is protected; otherwise the evidence will disappear," filmmaker Doran told UPI at the film's Strasbourg screening. Doran also told the Scotsman June 14: "I took the footage to the European parliament because of a phone call I received from Afghanistan. I have a great fear that the graves may be tampered with. I had to take it to the highest level in Europe."
Lt. Col. Lapan said that following discovery of the mass grave, US Central Command individually interviewed US soldiers who were in the area at the time. "Central Command looked into it and found no evidence of participation or knowledge or presence," he said. "Our guys weren't there, didn't watch and didn't know about it--if indeed anything like that happened." (UPI, June 14)
But human rights lawyer and former head of Amnesty International Andrew McEntee said after seeing the film that it is "clear there is prima facie evidence of serious war crimes committed not just under international law but also under the laws of the United States itself." (Scotsman, June 14) (David Bloom)
4. US SOLDIER TOLD TO KILL WOMEN, CHILDREN?
In an April interview with upstate New York's Ithaca Journal, Army Private and Tompkins County native Matt Guckenheimer related the harsh instructions his company, part of the 10th Mountain Division, was given before participating in Operation Anaconda. "We were told there were no friendly forces," said Guckenheimer, 22, an assistant gunner. "If there was anybody there, they were the enemy. We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them." (Ithaca Journal, May 25)
Pvt. Guckenheimer wrote a letter to the Journal clarifying his statement, published June 4: "Recently your paper quoted me as saying that my unit was ordered to kill women and children. I would like to clarify this quote and provide more context. Prior to the operation, we were made aware of the fact that the hostile forces of the Whaleback [US Army lingo for a mountain ridge in eastern Afghanistan where Anaconda took place] might include women and children. In that event, if those women and children showed hostile intent, we were ordered to kill them as hostile forces, just like any other hostile force we encountered. However, this does not mean that we were ordered to slaughter noncombatants such as babies. We were further informed that some of these children are trained starting at a very young age to be soldiers. Knowing this, we could not afford to just dismiss them as noncombatants. However, I do not want anyone to get the idea that we were ever sent out to kill anyone and anything that moves. We are better than that, both as a military unit and as a society." (Ithaca Journal, June 4) (David Bloom) Acknowledgements to Dack for the tip.
5. US AID GROUP FLEES MAZAR-I-SHARIF
A US aid organization is pulling out of the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif after assaults on its members and those of other aid groups. "We regret the loss of life and security," said Ashraf Ghani, a special adviser to Karzai. "And this government will not stand for insecurity. Anyone, regardless of their position, will not be treated as a friend if they continue to disregard security." According to United Nations spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva, the attacks included the gang rape of a French aid worker on June 8 and a number of armed assaults, robberies, and beatings. Other aid organizations operating in Mazar-i-Sharif are also considering leaving. De Almeida e Silva declined to name the US organization, but a source identified it as Young Nak, a Korean-American Presbyterian charity. Some of the organization's workers were fired upon in their vehicles while traveling to a refugee camp to distribute bread. (Daily News, June 16) (David Bloom)
6. U.S. MILITARY OPERATION IN HELMAND
According to the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP), coalition forces have launched a new operation in southwestern Afghanistan in a bid to flush out remaining Taliban or al-Qaeda fighters. One hundred troops are taking part in the operation in Helmand province. US-led forces have been seen in tanks and armored vehicles moving through the Garmawak mountains in Sangeen district. A traveler who arrived at the Pakistani border town of Chaman told AIP "US troops carried out several raids in Maywand in Kandahar in recent days and rounded up number of people." (AFP, June 11) (David Bloom)
7. MULLAH OMAR SPEAKS
Travelers coming from Khandahar and southern Afghanistan report audio cassettes with a 15-minute speech by fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar claiming he is safe, according to Reuters. "American bombing cannot hurt us, even if they carry it out for 10 years," Omar says on the tape. It is not clear when the tape was recorded. He also justifies the strict application of his version of Islamic code during Taliban rule, which he claimed was better than the previous rule of the warlords. "I challenge all the countries of the world, including the United States, to establish Taliban-like peace in Afghanistan even for a day," Omar declares on the tapes. Other clerics heard on the tape describe Omar as the savior of the Afghan people. (Reuters, June 16) (David Bloom)
8. CAR BOMB ATTACK ON U.S. CONSULATE IN KARACHI
A car bomb exploded outside the US consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, June 14, killing at least 11 and injuring over 25. None of the killed were US citizens, but five workers in the heavily-fortified building were slightly injured. The blast left a three-foot crater in the asphault and a gaping hole in the consulate's thick outer wall. Windows in the nearby Marriott Hotel were blown out. Authorities say the bomb was set off by remote control, and that the car's occupants were themselves victims.
News agencies received a statement claiming responsibility for the attack from a previously unknown group, al-Qanoon, which authorities say is a new name for militants driven underground by President Pervez Musharraf's crackdown. The attack came a day after a visit to Pakistan by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as part of a diplomatic mission to ease tensions between Pakistan and India. He had pressured Musharraf to rein in Islamic militants in Kashmir.
It was the second car-bombing in Karachi in a month. In May, a bomb outside the Sheraton Hotel killed 11 French engineers working on a submarine project for Pakistan's government and three others in what authorities call a suicide attack.
Authorities had recently identified a new underground Islamic militant group, Lashkar-i-Omar, formed by survivors of the three militant groups targeted in Musharraf's crackdown: Lashkar-i-Taiba, Jaish-i-Muhammad and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. The new group is reportedly named for Ahmed Omar Sheikh, the former leader of Jaish-i-Muhammad accused of masterminding the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl (see WW3 REPORT #s 20,23). While Lashkar-i-Taiba and Jaish-i-Muhammad focussed their attacks on India and the West, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi is believed responsible for the wave of attacks on Pakistan's Shiite minority . (NYT, June 15)
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. MUHAJIR/PADILLA: "DIRTY BOMBER"?
Attorney General John Ashcroft's June 10 announcement of the arrest a month earlier of Abdullah al-Muhajir--allegedly on a mission to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the US--triggered front-page headlines and media nightmare scenarios about the consequences of a radioactive explosion. Al-Muhajir, 31, is being held in solitary confinement in a military brig in Charleston, SC, and has been labeled an "enemy combatant" by the government--even though he is a US citizen.
Al-Muhajir was arrested May 8 as he arrived at Chicago's O'Hare airport, returning from a trip that had taken him to Pakistan, Egypt and Switzerland. On June 9, Bush approved a recommendation by Ashcroft to transfer his case from the Justice Department to the military, citing information allegedly provided by Abu Zubaydah, bin Laden's chief lieutenant, who was captured in Pakistan in March and is considered the highest-ranking al-Qaeda leader in US custody. US officials told Reuters al-Muhajir and Zubaydah discussed various possible attacks against US targets, including a "dirty bomb"--a conventional explosion which would spread radioactive material. For months before the arrest, there had been much government speculation about an al-Qaeda "dirty bomb" attack in the media (see WW3 REPORTS #s 24, 27).
Abdullah al-Muhajir is not the stereotypical al-Qaeda operative. Born in Brooklyn under the name Jose Padilla, he is of Puerto Rican descent and was raised in Chicago, where he was reportedly involved in street gangs and jacked up an impressive rap sheet--including a murder conviction as a teenager. One theory is that al-Muhajir converted to Islam during a yearlong prison stay in Florida, but investigators have found no strong evidence. The FBI is looking into records of his time in Florida, where he served a sentence for aggravated assault.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, al-Muhajir told a former supervisor at a Davie, FLA, Taco Bell that he converted to Islam after he got out of jail in 1992. Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne said there was no record of Padilla attending any Muslim services while he served his sentence. His Taco Bell supervisor, Mohammed Javed Qureshi, told the Sun-Sentinel that he was a good employee who seemed interested in making a better life for himself and his new family. "He did everything that I asked him to do, maybe more," Qureshi told the newspaper.
Government officials said their first priority was to get information from al Muhajir--not to prosecute him. "We are not interested in trying him at the moment," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "We are not interested in punishing him at the moment. We are interested in finding out what in the world he knows."
Al-Muhajir's lawyer, Donna Newman, filed a petition in federal court in Manhattan June 11 claiming the government's case was "weak at best" and demanding his release. US District Judge Michael Mukasey set a June 21 deadline for the government to respond. Al-Muhajir was moved from Justice Department custody in New York to the military detention facility in South Carolina. Newman, who has not been allowed to see him, said his constitutional rights were being violated. "It impacts upon everyone's rights when they violate a citizen's constitutional rights, who is not being charged with any crime, and decide to hold him incommunicado," she said. "He was moved everywhere in a three-piece suit of irons. The circumstances were very, very upsetting. He is no different than any other American; he is a human being and a citizen." She said al-Muhajir is a father and has a "very loving family." (ABC News, June 12)
Administration figures were breathless in their initial comments on the arrest. "While in Afghanistan and Pakistan, al-Muhajir trained with the enemy, including studying how to wire explosive devices and researching radiological dispersion devices," Ashcroft said. "Al-Qaeda officials knew that as a citizen of the United States, as a citizen of the United States holding a valid US passport, al-Muhajir would be able to travel freely in the United States without drawing attention to himself," the attorney general stammered redundantly. Rumsfeld, speaking during a stopover in Qatar on his way to India, said Padilla "was unquestionably involved in terrorist activities." Bush told Congressmen at the White House: "This guy, Padilla, is a bad guy. And he is where he needs to be--detained."
Al-Muhajir/Padilla's mother, Estrella Ojeda-Lebron, received a subpoena from a federal grand jury in New York while her son was originally being held on a material witness warrant. Her court-appointed attorney, Victor Olds, said she only discovered her son had been designated an "enemy combatant" on the news. "We don't know the basis on which they're taking these actions. It's a little unusual to say the least," Olds said. "We don't know a lot about what the government is basing their actions on." (CNN, June 11)
2. WHITE HOUSE BACKPEDALS ON ASHCROFT ALARMISM
One day after Ashcroft's announcement, administration and law enforcement officials said the Attorney General had overstated the potential threat posed by "dirty bomb" suspect Abdullah al-Muhajir. "I don't think there was actually a plot beyond some fairly loose talk and [al-Muhajir's] coming in here obviously to plan further deeds," said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. FBI Director Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson also backed away from Ashcroft's descriptions of the alleged plot, while emphasizing that al-Muhajir was dangerous and that his arrest was a victory against terrorism.
When he announced al-Muhajir's May 8 arrest, Ashcroft said authorities had "disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot to attack the United States by exploding a radioactive 'dirty bomb.'" His 14-paragraph statement mentioned radiation or dirty bombs five times, and said al-Muhajir was being detained by the military "for the safety of all Americans." (USA Today, June 11)
The most damning evidence came in the unaccountable form of leaks from anonymous officials, who told the LA Times al-Muhajir used the Internet at a home in Lahore, Pakistan, to learn how to build a "dirty bomb." (LAT, June 12) Unnamed Pakistani intelligence agents also leaked to the Christian Science Monitor that al-Muhajir traveled to a Central Asian country in April seeking to buy radioactive materials. (CSM June 13) The claims Ashcroft and other officials were willing to take responsibility for were considerably more vague.
3. GLOBAL SKEPTICISM ON "DIRTY BOMB" CLAIMS
Ashcroft's "dirty bomb" claims were greeted with skepticism by European allies, the media and US Democrats alike, and many smelled political ends behind the timing of the announcement.
British and European security officials are unconvinced on the radioactive attack theory, according to the UK Independent. "British sources point out that despite extensive inquiries, no evidence has been produced to show that he had access to the radioactive material needed to build the bomb, or indeed that he had even worked out a time or place to launch the attack." The paper cited unnamed "security sources" saying that al-Muhajir's "intention" to launch such an attack is the most that can be said. Al-Muhajir was arrested with $10,500, and British security sources believe he might have been acting as a courier. The paper said the sources believed "the highly publicized announcement of the arrest only came after the failure to find anything more incriminating." (UK Independent, June 12)
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote: "Both the bad guys and good guys are playing with our heads and ratcheting up the fear factor." The Boston Globe quoted a former CIA official saying, "The facts of the story don't merit the hype given to it." AP asked "whether the threat...posed was initially exaggerated to deflect attention from questions about terrorism-related intelligence failures." (Boston Globe, June 13)
Democrats also joined the choir of skepticism. "The information was available earlier--why was it not announced?" asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), adding that he wants to know why Ashcroft actually took time to disclose the May 8 arrest while in Russia on an official visit. "There may have been a rush to bring it before the news media" in the wake of the previous week's criticisms of US intelligence agencies, Daschle said. But he was quick to add, "I am certainly confident that the administration would not politicize this issue." Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said, "I'm very concerned about rumors that there might not be much to it. I want to check it out." Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) protested: "Everything is secret. They've got to hold people in secret. We've got to have secret meetings about homeland security. I'm getting concerned that this is a little hype here." But some Democrats stuck by the administration. "If you aid and abet the enemy, whether you're a citizen or not, you're not entitled to the right of due process," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We don't give prisoners of war due process. There's the Geneva Convention and other rules. With this terrorism, that man is like a prisoner of war." (Washington Times, June 12)
4. JOHN ASHCROFT: "MINISTER OF FEAR"
In his latest "Against the Grain" commentary, CBSNews.com's Dick Meyer calls John Ashcroft the USA's "Minister of Fear," and says its time for President Bush to rein him in. "Who needs terrorists when we have John Ashcroft to scare us out of our pants? The way the attorney general detonated the 'dirty bomber' case this week completes his metamorphosis from a common press hog to a genuine fear monger." In his June 10 statement, Ashcroft said "a radioactive 'dirty bomb' involves exploding a conventional bomb that not only kills victims in the immediate vicinity, but also spreads radioactive material that is highly toxic to humans and can cause mass death and injury." But Meyer points out that the immediate deaths from a "dirty bomb" are the same a conventional bomb. The effects of the radiation "are long-term and very uncertain." Concludes Meyer: "Perhaps the worst effects of a 'dirty bomb' are fear and panic. Ashcroft did his part." Meyer says Ashcroft is "turning the Justice Department into the Ministry of Fear." As for the accusations of political timing, Meyers writes that the "Minister of Propaganda," White House press chief Ari Fleischer, denied everything. "Look," Fleischer said, "these very few people who want to make such an outlandish political accusation represent the most cynical among the most partisan, and they're not to be taken seriously." (CBSNews.com, June 12)
5. INDEFINITE MILITARY DETAINMENT OF U.S. CITIZENS
The indefinite detention of al-Muhajir/Padilla raises constitutional questions that could undermine the administration's legal war on terrorism, experts say. Attorney General Ashcroft says both the laws of war and a 1942 Supreme Court precedent "establish that the military may detain a United States citizen who has joined the enemy and has entered our country to carry out hostile acts." But who decides who qualifies as "an enemy combatant"? What level of belligerence is necessary to trigger "enemy combatant" status? Asks the Christian Science Monitor: "Would speaking in support of al-Qaeda and critically of the Bush administration in a monitored telephone call, for instance, render a US citizen vulnerable to summary arrest and indefinite detention?" Unlike the combatants the Geneva Convention was written for, al-Qaeda operatives have no ranks, serial numbers or official command.
At least one other US citizen al-Qaeda suspect is being held indefinitely, without formal charges. Yasser Esam Hamdi is in a Navy brig in Norfolk, VA. He is seeking access to legal counsel, but the administration is opposed. "They are trying to carve out some kind of quasi-legal status, not giving [US citizens who are suspected al-Qaeda supporters] the benefit of the US Constitution," said Francis Boyle, an international law professor at the University of Illinois College of Law at Champaign. He notes that 9-11 defendant Zacarias Moussaoui, a French national standing trial in federal court in Alexandria, VA, is afforded full protection of the US Constitution, while US citizen al-Muhajir/Padilla is denied many constitutional rights.
Said Alfred Rubin, international law professor at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy: "The United States has a legal system of which we are proud, but it has resulted in horrible miscarriages of justice in the past. I don't know what the authority is for the federal government to hold anybody without trial."
The administration cites a 1942 Supreme Court precedent in the case of eight Nazi saboteurs who were tried and convicted by a secret military tribunal in Washington. Six of the saboteurs, including a US citizen of German heritage, were executed. The Supreme Court upheld the trial and executions. But the case, Ex Parte Quirin, remains controversial among legal scholars. A Congressional Research Service analysis of the Quirin decision completed in late March quoted two of the justices who ruled in the case as expressing reservations about the court's actions. Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote in 1953 that "the Quirin experience was not a happy precedent." And Justice William Douglas in a 1962 interview said: "The experience with Ex Parte Quirin indicated, I think, to all of us that it is extremely undesirable to announce a decision on the merits without an opinion accompanying it. Because once the search for the grounds, the examination of the grounds that had been advanced is made, sometimes those grounds crumble." (CSM, June 12)
Discussion of the controversy has also overlooked the earlier relevant Supreme Court case, the 1866 Ex Parte Milligan, concerning the military trial of an Indiana man for disloyal activities in the Civil War. The high court held that civilians could not be tried in military courts in areas which had not been invaded. (See "The Supreme Court," Philip Weinberg, ed., Macmillan 1999, p. 481) For more on Supreme Court precedent for the military tribunals, see WW 3 REPORT #11.
6. HAARETZ: ISRAEL HAD FILE ON MUHAJIR/PADILLA
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz claims Israeli intelligence had a case file on al-Muhajir/Padilla before Sept. 11. But the paper spells his Muslim name "Abu Mujahir," in contrast to nearly all other media sources, which render it Abdullah al-Muhajir. The paper said Padilla's arrest vindicates warnings from Israeli Military Intelligence anti-terror chief "Col. P." of a "world jihad." Haaretz writes that Col. P.'s warnings "focused on the multi-cell, transcontinental deployment of the organization, such that the capture of a cell in Afghanistan does not disturb the activities of another cell in Germany and a third in the Philippines. The warnings indicated the organic patience of Islamic terror, which can invest years in a single large attack, and does not feel pressured to prove its existence with frequent attacks that could expose it to danger." P. also warned about the increasing use of operatives with ID and physical attributes not recognizable as Arab or Muslim.
The paper also boasts that the "main Israeli accomplishment is the tight coordination" between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the internal security agency Shin Bet, and notes that the move to consolidate US agencies in a Homelands Security Department is a step in the right direction--but decries that the Pentagon, CIA and FBI are not included in the consolidation . (Haaretz, June 11)
7. A SECOND BUST IN "DIRTY BOMB" CASE?
Federal officials in Miami told CNN they have arrested a Florida Muslim activist with ties to "dirty bomb" suspect Muhajir/Padilla. Adham Amin Hassoun was arrested in a traffic stop June 12 by members of South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force, according to FBI and INS spokespersons. Hassoun, 40, is being held at the Krome Avenue Detention Facility near Miami on an immigration violation charge. (CNN June 15)
8. PAKISTAN ARRESTS SUSPECT IN "DIRTY BOMB" CASE?
At least one associate of al-Muhajir/Padilla has been arrested in a foreign country, an anonymous US official told the Los Angeles Times. The associate allegedly worked with al-Muhajir/Padilla on researching "dirty bombs" in Lahore, Pakistan. The official said the suspect is not a US citizen, but did not name him--or the country where he is being held. In Islamabad, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said one Benjamin Ahmed Mohammed is being held and questioned by FBI agents for his connection to al-Muhajir/Padilla. His nationality was not identified. (LAT, June 12)
Anonymous Pakistani officials told the Christian Science Monitor at least two associates of al-Muhajir/Padilla are now in custody in Pakistan, and FBI agents are questioning them at an undisclosed location. The officials said at least a half dozen US citizens were among the 300 al-Qaeda suspects handed over to the US by Pakistan in the past six months. (CSM June 13)
9. THE SWISS CONNECTION
Authorities say al-Muhajir/Padilla left Pakistan in early April and briefly went to Zurich, Switzerland, before heading to Cairo. He spent several weeks in Cairo, returned to Zurich, and then flew to Chicago, where he was arrested. Padilla was carrying more than $10,000 cash, believed to have come from al-Qaeda contacts in Switzerland, according to a US official. Swiss authorities confirmed they were investigating al-Muhajir/Padilla's visit. (LAT, June 12)
10. JIHAD PLUNDERING SOVIET NUCLEAR DEBRIS IN CENTRAL ASIA?
Unnamed Pakistani officials say al-Muhajir/Padilla traveled to a Central Asian country in April to buy radioactive materials. US officials would not confirm the claim, and Pakistani officials would not name the country or say whether the mission was successful. But international authorities are increasingly concerned that Islamic extremists could plunder the nuclear debris left behind in Central Asia by the Soviet Union. The only nuclear weapons in the region, in Kazakhstan, were withdrawn to Russia in the early 1990s. In 1994, a half-ton of highly enriched uranium was spirited out of Kazakhstan in a US operation. But radioactive materials remain scattered in the region--including cesium, strontium, cobalt and low-grade uranium--and there is ample evidence that they are poorly controlled.
*In March, a radiation check on a bus crossing into Russia from Kazakhstan turned up a Russian passenger who had packed at least 22 pounds of thorium-232 powder in his luggage. The radiation was "hundreds of times" normal background levels, authorities said. Its origin and destination were not reported.
*In July 2000, two brothers from Kazakhstan were arrested after purportedly smuggling radium-226 into Russia to sell to Chechens
*In April 2000, six men were convicted in Tajikistan in the theft of 3 pounds of uranium mixed with cesium-137.
*In Kyrgyzstan, airport guards detained an Uzbek man who looked ill as he boarded a flight to the United Arab Emirates in 1999. He was found to have pocketed a smuggled capsule of what he was told was plutonium.
Last year, the US Customs Service conducted a three-week nuclear substance detection course in Texas for 80 border officers from the five Central Asian republics. The US has also dispatched detection equipment to the Russian-Kazakh border and to Uzbekistan. Last month, Washington and Moscow announced the formation of a joint task force to study nuclear materials security in Russia. This "shows how serious this issue is and that we're ready to solve it," Russian atomic energy minister Alexander Rumyantsev said. No such comprehensive approach has been organized for Central Asia. (AP, June 15)
For more such incidents see: WORLD WAR 3 REPORT #s 4 & 1
11. S.C. IN SHOWDOWN WITH FEDS OVER PLUTONIUM SHIPMENTS
Gov. Jim Hodges has ordered state troopers to South Carolina's borders to stop the federal government's shipments of plutonium into the state. Federal officials say they will hold off on the shipments for at least a week, but will seek a court order forcing Hodges to back down. Citing the terrorist threat, Hodges issued a state of emergency after US District Judge Cameron Currie refused to block the shipments of weapons-grade plutonium to the US Energy Department's complex at Savannah River, SC. 60 tons of plutonium are slated to be delivered to Savannah River from the closing Rocky Flats facility in Colorado, to be re-processed into commercial reactor fuel. Gov. Hodges' June 14 declaration stated that "the transportation of plutonium on South Carolina roads and highways is prohibited. I order that any persons transporting plutonium shall not enter the state of South Carolina." The original case is currently before the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA. It charges that the Energy Department failed to conduct complete environmental impact statements for the reprocessing program. MSNBC, June 14)
12. U.K. PREPARES NEW NUCLEAR WEAPONS FACILITY
A massive nuclear weapons plant is being planned for Aldermaston, West Berkshire, raising concern that the UK is heading towards a new era of warhead production. William Peden, nuclear disarmament expert at Greenpeace, said: "We are talking a massive nuclear bomb-making factory." Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment has confirmed that the plans exist. They apparently call for closure of the 270-acre Burghfield site, where the UK's warheads have been produced for almost 50 years. Burghfield will be replaced by a futuristic complex capable of designing new nuclear weapons as well as storing existing Trident warheads. Emphasis will reportedly be on developing a new generation of smaller warheads for use against terrorist groups and rogue states. (UK Observer, June 16)
13. AL-QAEDA EXPANDING GLOBAL NETWORK?
Al-Qaeda has been cleared out of Afghanistan--but this has just meant an increase in activity in other countries, as operatives scattered across the globe, an anonymous Bush administration official told AP June 15. The official cited al-Qaeda "affiliates" in several countries, including: Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan, Egypt's al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya and Jemaah Islamiyah in Southeast Asia. Intelligence officials say they observe a "flattening out" of al-Qaeda's command structure, with greater autonomy for local operatives to plan terror attacks without the direct leadership from bin Laden and his inner circle. Alleged al-Qaeda operations chief Abu Zubaydah, who officials say had a hand in the 9-11 planning, was captured in Pakistan in March. Other leaders, like bin Laden and top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, remain missing. Officials say Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, another operational planner who allegedly oversaw the 9-11 attacks, continues to plot terrorist strikes. (AP, June 15)
Rohan Gunaratna, author of "Inside al-Qaeda: Global Network of Terror" and an analyst with the Center for the Study of Terrorism at St. Andrews University in Scotland, also says al-Qaeda has "decentralized its network," and has opened new training facilities in Algeria, Chechnya, Georgia and Somalia. "Not to mention the northern areas of Pakistan." He said there are "sleeper cells" in Europe, and a group operating in a remote part of South America. But he maintains that "Osama bin Laden continues to operate, and in fact, his messages continue to be transmitted to his followers through the Internet. What we need desperately is human intelligence, human intelligence, human intelligence." (CBSNews.com, June 11)
14. "OPERATION GIBRALTAR"
MI6 and other western intelligence agencies are reportedly engaged in an international operation into the first targeting of British military forces by al-Qaeda. Whitehall sources said they had evidence that suicide attacks were planned against both British and US warships in the Strait of Gibraltar and on the Rock itself. Moroccan officials boasted that a three-man al-Qaeda cell, made up of Saudi nationals living in Morocco, was broken, and had been preparing attacks similar to that which killed 17 US sailors on the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000. The three men were arrested May 11 after being followed for several weeks. The Moroccan interior ministry said: "The group was preparing for acts of violence...against western ships crossing the Strait of Gibraltar." The cell was allegedly preparing to pack rubber speedboats with explosives and send them crashing against the hulls of passing warships.
The five detainees, being held in Casablanca, reportedly admitted to belonging to al-Qaeda. Moroccan authorities have not yet made public any evidence against them. The Moroccan wives of two of the men, who allegedly worked as couriers for the cell, were also arrested June 10 as part of "Operation Gibraltar," which involved Moroccan, British, US, French and Spanish intelligence services. The operation, centered in Casablanca, Fez and Tangiers, reportedly followed a tip from US authorities in Guantanamo Bay--where 17 Moroccans captured in Afghanistan are being held. According to an article in L'Express, the cell visited Gibraltar to reconnoiter Royal Navy installations. The US Sixth Fleet also has one of its most important bases on the southwest coast of Spain at Rota. (UK Guardian, June 12)
15. THE FRENCH CONNECTION
French special anti-terrorist police arrested two Pakistanis and three North Africans in connection with the investigation into accused shoe-bomber Richard C. Reid. The suspects are believed to have assisted Reid during his stay in Paris, before he reportedly tried to ignite his explosive-laden shoes on a Paris-Miami flight, (see WW3 REPORT #14). During searches in the suburbs of Mantes-la-Jolie and Evry, authorities found radical pamphlets and three guns, one of them with a scope, police said. The suspects were being questioned at police headquarters in Paris. In April, French police and security agents arrested seven others suspected of providing Reid with logistical help. The seven Pakistanis, six of whom have been released, pointed police to the new suspects, Le Monde reported. One of those taken into custody in April was sent back to Pakistan and imprisoned there, the newspaper said.
Reid, a 28-year-old British citizen, has been in custody in the US since Dec. 22, when authorities say he attempted to ignite explosives in his shoes during the trans-Atlantic flight. He has pleaded innocent to nine charges, including attempted murder. He is being tried in Boston, where the plane was diverted. The indictment claims Reid received training from al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. In December, French police seized material from Paris cyber-cafes where Reid allegedly communicated over the Internet with his al-Qaeda handlers. (CBSNews.com, June 12)
16. THE ITALIAN CONNECTION
Italian intelligence services are watching hundreds of Islamic militants in the country, Italy's interior minister Claudio Scajola said, calling for greater scrutiny of air passengers. Speaking to reporters after testifying before Parliament's Oversight Committee for Secret Services, Scajola said, "In a report [to the committee] we pointed out how in Italy there are several hundred supporters of Islamic terrorism and how this scenario is under the control of the intelligence and security forces of our country." Last month, Italian military jets scrambled to escort out of Italian airspace a Sudanese commercial jet which was flying near a NATO summit site and did not respond to radio contact. (AP, June 12)
17. THE CANADIAN CONNECTION--TO TUNISIA?
International police and intelligence agencies are reportedly investigating whether an al-Qaeda cell based in Canada plotted the April 11 attack on an ancient synagogue in Tunisia, which killed 19 people in what authorities call the worst terrorist strike attributed to Osama bin Laden followers since Sept. 11. (See WW3 REPORT #30)Islamic militant Niser bin Muhammad Nasr Nawar is said to have planned the attack from Montreal, fueling fears that Canada remains an al-Qaeda haven--despite new antiterrorist measures approved by Parliament under intense pressure from the United States (see WW3 REPORT #4).
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed that "at the request of a foreign government"--believed to be France or Germany--it has launched a full-scale investigation into a possible Canadian connection to the attack. Most of the victims were German and French tourists visiting the synagogue, which is North Africa's oldest. Nawar, a Tunisian, died in the blast. A purported al-Qaeda statement called the blast "reprisal for the refusal of Arab governments to launch holy war against the Jews" and identified Nawar by his real name and a nom de guerre, Seif al-Din al-Tunsie. Nawar, identified by dental records, drove a tanker truck loaded with cooking gas into the synagogue's outer wall. An anonymous French counter-terrorism official said Nawar made his way to Montreal in late 1999, possibly with help from the Tunisian Fighting Group, a faction believed to be loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda. Canadian officials say they have no record of Nawar living in Montreal. But Canadian officials admit they have lost track of scores of Tunisians who entered the country in 1999 and 2000 under fraudulent student visas. "Montreal has emerged as one of the four or five main Western hubs of al-Qaeda activity," said a senior French official. "So many terror threads lead to or from Canada. The [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] seem concerned, but the indifference shown at higher political levels is alarming." (Boston Globe, June 13)
18. THE SUDAN CONNECTION
A suspected al-Qaeda operative was arrested in Sudan, accused of firing a surface-to-air missile at a US aircraft at the Prince Sultan air base in Saudi Arabia last month, according to anonymous US officials. The LA Times said the suspect "is no longer believed to be in Sudanese custody, but he has not been turned over to US authorities." The paper said he does appear to be cooperating with investigators. (LAT, June 13)
19. DID HEZBOLLAH PLAN ATTACKS ON U.S., ISRAEL IN SINGAPORE?
According to the Singapore paper Straits Times, the Lebanese Shiite resistance group Hezbollah recruited Singaporean Muslims in a plot to attack US and Israeli ships, a charge the group has dismissed as "ridiculous and baseless." (AP, June 12) Singapore's Internal Security Department (ISD) claimed Hizbollah planned to fill a small boat with explosives in order to blow up ships in the Singapore Straits. The ISD alleged that five men recruited by the Lebanese group shot video of Singapore's coastline in preparation for the attack. (Straits Times, June 9) In January, Singapore busted a ring of 13 al-Qaeda agents who planned an attack on the US embassy there (see WW3 REPORT # 18) Hizbollah accused the US and other intelligence agencies of making up to the report to accuse it of terrorism. Hizbollah is on the US list of terrorist organizations. (AP, June 12) Long hated by the US defense establishment for its anti-US attacks in the 1980's, the group is now widely seen as focusing its efforts against Israel. "The question is how we treat groups that are traditionally considered terrorist but have not lately targeted US interests," says a Mideast-based US official. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon brought an anti-Hizbollah dossier on his trip to Washington last week. Augustus Richard Norton, a professor of international relations at Boston University and an expert on Hizbullah, says US support for an Israeli move against Hizbollah would prove problematic, having "important negative ramifications for the US role in the region. Yet another brilliant move in America's charm campaign vis-a-vis the Muslim world," he says. "I have no doubt that there are voices in the Pentagon these days calling for unilateral US action, but, for now at least, adult supervision prevails." (CSM, June 14) (David Bloom)
20. INS ALERT FOR YEMENIS
The Immigration & Naturalization Service has instructed agents to inspect baggage belonging to Yemeni citizens for large sums of money, thermos bottles, and night-vision goggles, according to an anonymous official. A recent raid on an apartment where a number of Yemenis lived somewhere in the Northeast turned up thermos bottles outfitted with wires and batteries, the official said. Yemenis carrying diplomatic passports are said to be exempt from the searches. An INS spokesman declined to confirm the report. "We do at times conduct these heightened levels of inspection activities when provided intelligence or investigative information either that we've developed ourselves or that has provided to us," said Russ Bergeron. Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, a Yemeni who was a roommate of suspected 9-11 ringleader Mohammed Atta, couldn't join the attacks because his requests for a visa had been rejected four times. In February, the FBI distributed photos of 16 people the bureau suspected of planning a new terrorist attack. Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeei, a 22-year-old Yemeni citizen, was believed to be the leader. Most of the others were from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. (ABC News, June 12)
21. JOHN WALKER LINDH DENIED MIRANDA RIGHTS
Attorneys for accused "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh say US authorities in Afghanistan failed to advise him of his legal rights and ignored his pleas for a lawyer. They have filed a motion to bar use of his statements in the trial. "The suppression issue is the whole ballgame in this case," says CBSNews.com Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "If Lindh's lawyers convince the judge that what their client said to the government in early December should not be heard by a jury because it was improperly obtained, the government's case probably falls apart. It's a tough enough case with Lindh's statements--without them it's virtually non-existent."
of the interrogation indicate Lindh was threatened with death by CIA officers in Afghanistan. (See WW3 REPORT #12)
According to the prosecution, Lindh told interrogators he personally met with Osama bin Laden at a training camp and learned from an instructor in June 2001 that bin Laden had sent agents to the US for suicide operations. The case raises the unique issue of a US citizen's rights when he's questioned abroad as a captured soldier, and subsequently brought into the criminal justice system.
Lindh's motion discounted his signature on a form waiving his rights to a lawyer when he was questioned by an FBI agent in Afghanistan. He was carried to the interrogation blindfolded, shackled and bound to a stretcher after two days in a metal shipping container with neither heat nor light, the motion said. "The law is clear that any statements elicited without Miranda warnings cannot be used against Mr. Lindh in this criminal proceeding," the motion said. (CBSNews.com, June 14)
22. MOUSSAOUI DENIED ACCESS TO DATA FOR DEFENSE
Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the US with conspiracy in the 9-11 attack, has been denied access to any "sensitive" aviation security information during his trial. US District Judge Leonie Brinkema also denied a request by Moussaoui's attorneys that a hearing on whether he is competent to represent himself be held in private. Prosecutors asked the judge to bar Moussaoui's attorneys from passing on any printed information on aviation security, or telling him about it in private. The motion argued that the information was a national security concern and its release would be "detrimental to the safety of passengers in transportation." Brinkema's ruling represents the first time Moussaoui has been barred from obtaining information to conduct his defense. The charges he is facing could result in the death penalty. (AP, June 12)
23. AL-QAEDA: MYTH OR REALITY?
Kimberly A. McCloud and Adam Dolnik, research associates at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, "debunk the myth of al-Qaeda" in the Christian Science Monitor May 23. While the White House and media portray al-Qaeda as a global terrorist network which since 9-11 has been responsible for the synagogue attack in Tunisia, multiple explosions in Yemen (including one at the US Embassy compound), attacks in the Philippines, and a fire in the Milan metro. "But is al-Qaeda really behind all these attacks?" the authors ask. "Would-be terrorists the world over may be inspired to perpetrate attacks, seeking to feel they are part of what they perceive as a large, powerful terrorist movement. The public perception that al-Qaeda is running wild is likely to increase fear, especially among Americans... [U]nchecked public fear, taken to an extreme, could immobilize citizens, jeopardize civil liberties, and lead America into too many fights abroad."
McCloud and Dolnik say officials "must defuse the widespread image of al-Qaeda as a ubiquitous, super-organized terror network and call it as it is: a loose collection of groups and individuals that doesn't even refer to itself as 'al-Qaeda'... Washington must also be careful not to imply that any attack anywhere is by definition, or likely, the work of al-Qaeda..." Meaning "the base" in Arabic, al-Qaeda originally referred to an Afghan operational base for Mujahedeen volunteers during the war against Soviet occupation in the '80s. "In the current context of Osama bin Laden's terror network, this name was imposed externally by Western officials and media sources. Mr. bin Laden has, in fact, never mentioned 'al-Qaeda' publicly."
McCloud and Dolnik argue that Washington's propaganda is counter-productive: "In the quest to define the enemy, the US and its allies have helped to blow it out of proportion. Posters and matchbooks featuring bin Laden's face and the reward for his capture in a dozen languages transformed this little-known 'jihadist' into a household name and, in some places, a symbol of heroic defiance.... By allowing al-Qaeda to become the top brand name of international terrorism, Washington has packaged the 'enemy' into something with a structure, a leader, and a main area of operation. An invisible, amorphous enemy may be even more frightening. But we must be honest with the facts in order to construct a viable long-term strategy to combat terrorism."
24. CIA AND FBI AGREE TO "TRUCE" IN INTER-AGENCY FEUD
Top CIA and FBI officials have "quietly negotiated a cease-fire between the two agencies, which have been in a war of news leaks and finger-pointing about the intelligence failures leading to the Sept. 11 attacks," the New York Times reported June 13. After a briefing with President Bush last week, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and CIA deputy director John E. McLaughlin met outside the Oval Office, where Mueller asked for a truce, officials said. "The leadership of the FBI and the CIA came together and realized that people, most likely buried deep in their bureaucracies, were engaging in mutually assured destruction," a senior White House official said. "They recognized that it was hurting the CIA, hurting the FBI, and it had reached the point where they were making themselves look bad." Officials said the White House did not broker the talks, but made it clear that President Bush was not happy about the inter-agency feud. "Leaks are never a helpful way to end up on the good side of this president," the White House official said. In an effort to play up inter-agency cooperation, Attorney General John Ashcroft said June 10 that the FBI and CIA worked together to catch accused "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla.
According to the CIA, the FBI was responsible for the first leak, about the CIA's poor handling of information it had collected about two hijackers months before the 9-11 attacks, given front-page treatment in Newsweek (see WW3 REPORT #37). The FBI denies the allegation, but CIA officials are reportedly convinced the FBI leaked the information to draw attention away from the Coleen Rowley imbroglio (see WW3 REPORT #36).
The day after the Newsweek article appeared, the CIA told reporters from the New York Times and elsewhere about CIA-FBI e-mail messages showing that the agency had shared its concerns about 9-11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar as soon as it began to track him. Mueller was dismayed by the disclosures, officials said, and called the agency to complain. CIA officials, in turn, were reportedly outraged by Mueller's call, arguing that they had simply responded to criticism prompted by leaks from the Bureau. "It wasn't a leak, it was a clarification," one intelligence official said. Sen. Bob Graham (D-FLA), co-chair of the Sept. 11 committee, called the inter-agency fracas a "schoolyard fight."
The cease-fire reportedly came after Mueller and McLaughlin gave a joint terrorism
briefing to President Bush. (CIA Director George Tenet was in the Middle East) After leaving the Oval Office, McLaughlin apparently showed Mueller an agency cable documenting that it had given the Bureau information about Almidhar as early as January 2000. At that point, Mueller pressed for a truce.
25. SUSPENDED AIR FORCE OFFICER: BUSH COMPLICIT IN 9-11
Lt. Col. Steve Butler, a suspended Air Force officer who accused President Bush of allowing the 9-11 attacks to prop up his presidency, will face "nonjudicial" punishment but will not be court martialed. Punishment could include a fine or a letter of reprimand, Air Force spokeswoman Wendy Varhegyi told Reuters. "The investigation is over and the matter has been resolved," she said. Butler, a 24-year Air Force veteran who served as a combat pilot in Operation Desert Storm and was most recently posted at Monterey's Defense Language Institute, published his letter on May 26 in the local newspaper accusing Bush of "sleazy and contemptible" conduct aimed at boosting his political ends. "Of course Bush knew about the impending attacks on America," Butler wrote. "He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism. His daddy had Saddam and he needed Osama." Butler was suspended as vice chancellor of the Defense Language Institute under Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which states that any commissioned officer who uses "contemptuous words" against the president or other senior officials may be punished by a court-martial. The last Article 88 court-martial came in 1965, when an Army second lieutenant was prosecuted for taking part in an anti-war protest in Texas. (Reuters, June 15)
26. JDG VIGILANTES ARE LUNATICS, SAY BROOKLYNITES
Rabbi Yakove Lloyd, chairman of the little-known Jewish Defense Group (JDG), an offshoot of Meir Kahane's Jewish Defense League, has given up plans for anti-terrorist vigilante patrols in Brooklyn, due to a vehemently negative reaction from area residents and political leaders. "The response was so overwhelmingly negative, but God forbid anything should happen and then I'll have to say, 'I told you so,'" Lloyd said.
The JDG wanted to patrol with six armed men, Lloyd said. The men have permits for the guns, either handguns or shotguns, to be carried in bags. "We are activists not vigilantes," Lloyd told a news conference June 16. "But if you want to call us vigilantes, that's OK with us. We are working within legal parameters." A crowd of 100 supporters Lloyd promised would accompany him to the news conference never materialized. But a crowd of local residents and political leaders gathered across the street in Brooklyn's Midwood section to denounce Lloyd. "He's not wanted here and he's not welcomed here," said Brooklyn City Councilman Bill DiBlasio. "His brand of terrorism we don't accept." State assemblyman Dov Hikind advised Lloyd to return to Queens, where he comes from. "You are here to take advantage of our community. Go back home. We will fight against you," Hikind said.
Members of Shomrim, a blue-jacketed group of civilian police auxiliaries who carry official department ID's, also made clear they were unhappy with Lloyd's intentions. "He's a lunatic looking for publicity," said Sam Follman, a Shomrim coordinator. "We have patrolled here for the past 15 years. We don't need guys with guns and bats walking on our streets. Nobody in our group agrees with him." (Reuters, June 16; AP, June 16)(see WW3 REPORT#37)(David Bloom)
GLIMMERS OF HOPE
1. VICTORY IN JUDI BARI CASE: FBI AGENTS & OAKLAND POLICE TO PAY $4.4 MILLION IN CALIFORNIA TERRORISM COVER-UP
On June 11, a federal jury in Oakland, CA, awarded $4.4 million in damages to two Earth First! activists who were injured in a 1990 car-bomb blast. The jury agreed with plaintiffs' arguments that FBI agents and Oakland police violated their constitutional rights by focusing on them as suspects. Awarding $2.9 million to the estate of the late Judi Bari and $1.5 million to Darryl Cherney, the jury found four FBI men and three Oakland police liable for First and Fourth amendment violations. Cherney told the San Francisco Chronicle, "The American public needs to understand that the FBI can't be trusted. Ten jurors got a good, hard look at the FBI and they didn't like what they saw. It's not about the money."
Robert Bloom, attorney for the activists, said the ruling "shows what the FBI did then, it shows America what the FBI does now." The jury found that six of the seven defendants violated civil rights by arresting the activists, conducting searches of their homes, and carrying out a smear campaign in the press, calling Earth First! a terrorist organization and calling the activists bombers
Two of the Oakland police named in the suit said they were heavily influenced by FBI agents who arrived at the scene of the bombing and told them the two victims were tied to domestic terrorism. FBI agents, in turn, maintained the Oakland police pushed for the swift arrests. US Distict Judge Claudia Wilken denied a government request for dismissal, rejecting claims by government attorneys that remarks at a rally organized by supporters of Cherney and Bari tainted the jury's deliberations.
The defendants included current and former agents Frank Doyle, John Reikes, Phil Sena and Stockton Buck; Oakland police Sgt. Robert Chenault, retired Oakland police Sgt. Michael Sitterud and former Oakland Lt. Mike Sims. Two retired FBI agents were dropped from the case by Judge Wilken, citing lack of evidence. Only one defendant, Buck, was cleared of all wrongdoing. The jury also failed to find that the FBI and Oakland police engaged in a conspiracy against the plaintiffs.
But Cherney was ecstatic at the verdict. "We lived for years under the cloud of suspicion--Judi died without ever being officially exonerated," he told the Chronicle. "We waited a long time for the chance to show our innocence. I hope now that we will finally get an investigation into who really committed the bombing. I think the government owes us an apology. They have owed us an apology for 12 years." (SF Chronicle, June 11; Bari vs. FBI Media Office press release, June 11)
A statement from the Bari/Cherney defense committee said, "This verdict is a referendum against the FBI s gross interference with people's right to dissent at a time when Attorney General Ashcroft, FBI Director Mueller and the Bush administration are arrogating huge power to themselves and the FBI to spy on legitimate groups and organizers and infringe the Constitutional rights of the public."
The case points to possible collusion between FBI agents and the actual perpetrators. Defendant Doyle was the agent in charge at the 1990 bomb scene, and relief supervisor of Squad 13, the joint terrorism unit made up of FBI and Oakland officers which collected extensive files on political groups in the Bay Area. Reikes was the head of the FBI terrorist squad who came to Oakland Police headquarters the day of the bombing to give an inflammatory briefing on Earth First! Sena was already engaged in a secret investigation of Earth First! and concocted a fake informant tip. Sims was an Oakland homicide lieutenant in charge of other officers investigating the bombing, and the decision-maker for the arrests of the activists. Sitterud was charged with ignoring evidence at the scene and concocting information to implicate the activists. Chenault was charged with writing the first fraudulent search warrant affidavit. (Bari vs. FBI press release, June 11)
In 1990, Judi and Darryl were organizing Redwood Summer, a national mobilization inspired by the civil rights movement's 1964 Mississippi Summer--this time calling for idealistic young people to help save California's ancient redwoods from the chainsaws of Pacific Lumber, Georgia Pacific and Louisiana Pacific. (Bari and Cherney had publicly repudiated the Earth First! tactic of "monkey-wrenching," or sabotage of wilderness development sites, in favor of nonviolent mass action.) On May 24, while driving through Oakland on the way to a rally, Judi's old station wagon exploded. The bomb had been placed under the drivers' seat, and Judi was at the wheel. It was later determined that the bomb was motion-activated.
Judi woke up in the hospital with a fractured pelvis and pulverized tailbone. She also found that she and Darryl, who suffered a facial cut, were under arrest--on charges of making the bomb. Simultaneously, her home, Darryl's home and the Oakland house where they were staying were ransacked by the FBI. From the first, the FBI and Oakland police focused on Judi, Darryl and Earth First! in their investigation of the bombing. The voluminous evidence pointing to the timber industry was completely overlooked.
Judi had long been receiving death threats from anti-environmental paramilitary groups made up of timber workers, with names like the Sahara Club (a play on Sierra Club). One threatening letter even showed her own face in a cross-hairs. The previous year, her car--with her young daughters Lisa and Jessica on board--was rammed from behind by a logging truck, totaling the car and sending her and the kids to a hospital with minor injuries. A fundamentalist zealot calling himself The Lord's Avenger sent a letter to a local newspaper threatening Judi after she helped organize a counter-protest against an anti-abortion campaign at the Ukiah Planned Parenthood Clinic. In the course of Redwood Summer--which continued despite the bombing--a bomb (which turned out to be a dud) was planted at the Earth First! office in Arcata.
Judi later wrote: "I cannot even describe the terror of finding myself in agony in the hospital, crippled for life, reading headlines like BOMB MADE AT BARI'S HOUSE and fearing that I would spend the rest of my life in jail and not get to raise my two small children."
After six weeks, the Alameda County DA decided not to press charges against Judi and Darryl. Originally told she would never walk again, Judi surprized her doctors by walking in a matter of months, albeit with a cane. But the true perpetrators of the bombing remained at large.
In May 1991, one year after the blast, Judi and Darryl launched their suit against the FBI for violating their civil rights. The suit especially targeted the FBI's San Francisco chief Richard W. Held who headed the investigation-a veteran of "dirty tricks" campaigns against the Black Panthers, American Indian Movement and Puerto Rican independence struggle. In 1997, Judge Wilken removed Held from the case on grounds of government immunity. But the discovery process in the suit proved that the FBI was up to dirty tricks again--this time against Earth First!
The FBI initially said they weren't watching Judi and Darryl. But documents released in the case (first released completely blacked out until the judge ordered the FBI to release them for real) proved otherwise. There were surveillance reports for the months leading up to and following the bombing. Those for the month of bombing were mysteriously "missing."
It was also revealed that the same agents who investigated the bombing had one month earlier led a "bomb school" on a Louisiana Pacific clear-cut in Eureka, where they practiced detonating car bombs. On video tape, FBI instructor Frank Doyle told other agents at the Oakland bomb site, "This is the final exam."
On March 2, 1999, Judi Bari died at her home in Mendocino County, of breast cancer which had metastasized to her liver. Darryl carried on the case. ("Timber Wars" by Judi Bari, Common Courage Press, 1994. For more information on the Judi Bari case, see WW3 REPORT #33, www.judibari.org)
FREE FAROUK! FREE PALESTINE!
Benefit for the Release of Farouk Abdel Muhti, a Palestinian Political
Prisoner in the United States
An Evening of Entertainment, Education and Information on Political
Prisoners in the United States, INS Detainees, and the Liberation of
Palestine. Hosted by the Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel Muhti.
Date: Saturday, June 22, 2002
Time: 7 p.m.
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Featuring the New York Tarab Ensemble with George Ziadeh, a Palestinian
band, and speakers including Gilma Camargo, human rights lawyer; Bobby
Khan, for Pakistani human rights; Hakim Hussein, Palestine Aid Society;
Amanda Holmes, Native Americans-Wakening Indigenous Nations Defense and
Support; radio host from WBAI-FM, speaker to be announced.
For information: Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI),
Endorsed by: Palestine Aid Society, Coney Island Avenue Project, Nicaragua
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EXIT POLL: Are the CIA and FBI leaking their own blunders in an effort to intentionally make themselves look incompetent so that their budgets will be increased and restraints on domestic snooping lifted?
ONGEPATSHKET OF THE WEEK: Did Ashcroft go ongepatshket?
ongepatshket: From Russian pachkat, "to soil, to sully." 1. Slapped together or assembled without form or sense. 2. Messed-up; excessively and unesthetically decorated; overly baroque. ("She wore her new diamond earrings, a necklace, bracelet, two rings and a brooch. Oy, she was ongepatshket!") (The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten, Simon & Schuster, 1968)
(Alternative anglicized spelling: ungepatch)
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