#. 41. July 7, 2002
FOURTH OF JULY PASSES WITHOUT NUCLEAR TERROR ATTACK!
GRATEFUL THRONGS PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO POLICE STATE!
SPECIAL READER SURVEY!
CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: YELLOW
By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Special Correspondent
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Shake-Up in Palestinian Security Forces
2. Israel Wants PA Intelligence Boss, Arafat Fires Him
3. PA Forces Clash With Hamas, 17 Hurt
4. IDF Kills 3, Captures 2 In Gaza
5. Mortar Strikes Gush Katif
6. Al-Aksa Big Liquidated in Gaza Car Bombing
7. Al-Aksa: Attack Zionists and US Targets
8. Eitam: Liquidate Arafat, Barghouti
9. UK Circumventing its Own Arms Embargo of Israel
10. UK: Settlement Goods Won't Be Labeled "Made in Israel"
11. Video: Tank Fired on Fleeing Kids at Jenin
12. US Activists Barred From Israel
13. Solidarity Activists Fight Deportation
14. Israel Dismantles Security Liason Office In Beit Jala
15. IDF Lets Students Take Exams, then Questions Them
16. USAF: Israel Fifth Largest Nuke Power
THE IRAQ FRONT
1. Saddam Stepson Busted in Flordia, Sought Flight Training!
2. London Hosts Iraq Destabilization Confab
3. US Special Forces in Jordan?
4. Aziz Warns: Iraq Attack Will Backfire
5. The Real Threat: Syria, Lebanon?
6. RJ Reynolds Loves Saddam?
ELSEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
1. New Crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
2. Jordan Jails Jihadis
3. Rai Star Khaled Faces Boycott Over Pro-Peace Stance
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. Afghan Vice President Assassinated
2. US Scores High Body Count at Afghan Wedding
3. Provincial Governor Blames Faulty Intelligence
4. US Admits Mistake Five Days Later
5. Afghans Protest, Demand Compensation
6. Regime Equivocates On Compensation
7. SAS Have Killed "Scores" In Afghanistan
8. Hekmatyar Teaming up with Al-Qaeda?
1. Pakistani Police Officer Arrested in Gang-Rape Case
2. Pakistani Rights Groups Decry Tribal "Impunity"
3. "Busharraf" Figure Of Ridicule
4. Indian MP Charged Under Anti-Terror Law
THE PHILIPPINE FRONT
1. Mindanao Mission Set to Expand--Indonesia Next?
THE NEW GREAT GAME
1. Ecologists Oppose Public Financing of Caspian Pipeline
2. US in Shadow Play With Iran over Pipeline Route?
1. America Celebrates Police State on 4th of July
2. UK "First Strike" Strategy?
3. Afghanistan: Test War for US Super-Weapons
4. Russian Nuclear Whistle-Blower to Labor Camp
5. More Nuke Materials on Loose in Caucasus
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. Bush's Sleazy Oil Deals Back in the News--Barely
2. Cheney's Former Company Screws Texas Workers
3. The Sudan Connection: Did Clinton Lie?
4. Pakistani Authorities Hunting for Osama's Son?
5. Government Silencing Moussaoui?
6. Just Who is Making All These American Flags, Huh?
THE WAR AT HOME
1. LAX Gunman Link to Osama?
2. Study: Video-Snooping Ineffective; Police Unconvinced
3. Yemenis Seized In Brooklyn Raid
4. NY Post: INS Not Zealous Enough
5. FBI Snoops at Bookstores, Libraries
6. Conservative Rep Cheers Lynne Stewart Prosecution
GLIMMERS OF HOPE
1. Municipal Revolt Against Patriot Act
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. SHAKE-UP IN PALESTINIAN SECURITY FORCES
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat intends to replace 12 of his security chiefs with one, according to a source in his office. Plans to reform the PA administration unifying the various elements of Arafat's security services under Abdel-Razak
al-Yehiyeh, Arafat's new Interior Minister, a senior Fatah loyalist who had been with Arafat in exile in Tunisia in the 1980s. Mahmoud al-Alul, governor of Nablus and another Fatah loyalist from the Tunisia clique is expected to be given the post of deputy interior minister. On July 3, Arafat dismissed Palestinian Police Chief Razi Jabali from his post, replacing him with his deputy, Salim al Burdena. Egyptian intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman, who visited Arafat in his office July 7, urged him to implement the reforms quickly. Arafat also that day dismissed Civilian Defense Chief Mahmoud Abu Marzouk, and replaced him with Omar Aushur, former head of the Palestinian Security Coordination office in the West Bank. (Haaretz, July 3; Jerusalem Post, July 8)
Suleiman was not encouraged by the firing of Col. Jibril Rajoub as chief of Preventive Security on the West Bank. The Egyptians reportedly regarded Rajoub as a stabilizing figure. (Haaretz, July 8) Rajoub was replaced by Arafat loyalist and Jenin governor Zuhair Manasreh. Rajoub was offered Manasreh's old job, but rejected it. It took two days after word leaked out for Rajoub to receive formal notice that he was fired, which his men interpreted as a snub. Hundreds of Rajoub's followers gathered at his headquarters in Ramallah to protest his dismissal, saying he needs to be given a more senior appointment than Jenin governor. (Haaretz, July 7) Later, several hundred of Rajoub's officers protested in Ramallah's Manara Square, calling on Arafat to retain Rajoub in his post, and chanting slogans against Manasreh. In response, the IDF re-imposed its curfew of the city, which had been lifted earlier that day, and dispersed the crowd with stun grenades. In Hebron on July 6, 300 Preventive Security officers protested Rajoub's ouster. Protestors carried banners saying "we support Rajoub" and chanted "Down with al-Manasra." They were also heard to chant "Long live Arafat." Ahmed Salhoub, a preventive security officer, said he and the other officers could not accept anyone besides Rajoub as their leader. "He's been our leader since the first uprising. He built Preventive Security to what it is and Arafat shouldn't punish him but promote him to a better position for what he has done for the Palestinian people," Salhoub said. "We are with Arafat and his changing of corrupt people, but we will not accept al-Manasra." (Jerusalem Post, July 7) (David Bloom)
2. ISRAEL WANTS P.A. INTELLIGENCE BOSS, ARAFAT FIRES HIM
The Israeli Shin Bet internal security service says Brig.-Gen. Tewfik Tirawi, head of the Palestinian Authority General Intelligence Service in the West Bank, is responsible for giving a Kalashnikov rifle to an Iraqi-trained suspected militant, and placing him in a militant cell that operated in the Ramallah area. Shin Bet obtained the information from the militant during an interrogation last week. As a result, Tirawi is now wanted by Israel for involvement in terrorism. Considered a moderate among Palestinian security commanders, Tirawi was often referred to as a "gentleman" by senior IDF officers. Several weeks ago, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered his security forces to consider Tirawi a wanted man. (Haaretz, July 3, 8)
Tirawi is currently believed to be hiding in the Mukata'a, Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. (Jerusalem Post, July 5) On July 7, Arafat signed an order firing Tirawi from his post. Brig.-Gen. Sameh Abdel Majib, one of Tirawi's deputies, is to replace him. (Jerusalem Post, July 8) (David Bloom)
3. P.A. FORCES CLASH WITH HAMAS, 17 HURT
At lease 17 were wounded July 3 in clashes between Hamas supporters and Palestinian police in the Gaza Strip. Seven police were among the wounded. The fracas began when a crowd of some 500 Hamas supporters attacked a police station in the Rafah refugee camp with rocks and pipe bombs. The crowd demanded the execution of a suspected collaborator held in the police station. The suspect was alleged to have collaborated in Israel's assassination of four local Hamas militants June 30, and was turned over to PA authorities after being apprehended by Hamas. Police and Preventive Security troops opened fire on the crowd after some 10 pipe bombs were hurled at the station, according to witnesses. Hamas leader Dr. Abdel-Aziz Rantissi said his group had not organized the protests, calling it an expression of popular anger. "We urge people to calm down and to give a chance to the Palestinian Authority to put the collaborator on trial," Rantissi said. (Haaretz, July 3) (David Bloom)
4. IDF KILLS 3, CAPTURES 2 IN GAZA
Randa al-Hindi, a Palestinian woman and her two-year-old daughter were killed July 6 by IDF gunfire in the Gaza Strip. al-Hindi, 42, and her daughter, Nur, were hit by light-weapons fire while driving on the road from Khan Younis to Gaza, returning from a trip to see relatives, Palestinian sources said. A third Palestinian, Subhi Shurab, 40, was killed during the weekend in Khan Younis, close to the Gush Katif settlement bloc. He was hit by IDF gunfire, according to Palestinian sources.
The IDF also announced its troops had thwarted an attack on the Alei Sinai settlement in the northern Gaza Strip. The troops reportedly spotted a group of four men trying to infiltrate the settlement, and managed to catch two. The others managed to avoid capture. The men were wearing Palestinian police uniforms, and were armed with grenades and Kalashnikov rifles. (Haaretz, July 7) (David Bloom)
5. MORTAR STRIKES GUSH KATIF
On July 6, a mortar shell hit the Gush Katif bloc of settlements in the northern Gaza Strip. According to the head of the Gaza coast regional council of Jewish settlements, Avner Shimoni, 1,300 mortar shells have hit Gush Katif settlements during the current Intifada. Shimoni told Israel radio he wants Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to take tough steps "to silence the shooting." (Jerusalem Post, July 4 and 6) (David Bloom)
6. AL-AKSA BIG LIQUIDATED IN GAZA CAR BOMBING
Jihad Amerin, 38, Gaza leader of al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, was killed in a car explosion in the Gaza Strip July 4. Also killed in the explosion was Nael Namera, 27, a lieutenant in the Palestinian security forces. An anonymous Palestinian security official said police suspect Israeli agents planted explosives in the car. The loudspeaker of a local mosque where Amerin was being mourned blared the message: "Our revenge will come like an earthquake for the Zionists' dirty crime." (AP, July 4) (David Bloom)
7. AL-AKSA: ATTACK ZIONISTS AND U.S. TARGETS
A report in the Jerusalem Post claims that "Groups affiliated with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement [July 1] called upon all Palestinian organizations, including the Islamic movements, to attack Zionist and American targets everywhere in response to US efforts 'to remove the legitimate leadership of the Palestinian people.'" The Post said al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades issued a statement threatening "to strike at Zionist and American interests and installations" in Israel and elsewhere if the US maintains its rejection of Arafat. The statement also warned President Bush it would return to the 1970's style type of guerilla operations if what they called the conspiracy to remove Arafat continued. Arafat issued a statement distancing himself from the earlier al-Aksa statement, saying that it had not been made in his name. (Jerusalem Post, July 2) (David Bloom)
8. EITAM: LIQUIDATE ARAFAT, BARGHOUTI
According to Ma'ariv newspaper, Minister-without-Portofolio and National Religious Party chairman Effi Eitam has called for the death of Yasser Arafat and West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. According the report, Eitam, in remarks at a synogogue in Tel Aviv, said: "[Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser] Arafat is a murderer, he should be killed.... Six hundred [Israelis] killed [in terrorist attacks], tens of thousands of wounded.... Arafat, who is this crazy person? He should have been killed. If I [could] give the order now, he would be dead in 15 minutes, together with his whole gang.... They're interrogating Barghouti. What are you interrogating him about? Take him out to an orchard and shoot him in the head.... And Abu Ala [Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei] and Abu Mazen [Arafat's deputy Mahmoud Abbas] and all of the Abu [impure animals]...."
When Eitam was questioned on the authenticity of the remarks by Israel radio, he replied: "I am surprised you take offense on behalf of such murderers. You almost remind me of [West Bank Preventive Security Service head] Jibril Rajoub. He was also offended about the change of command in the gang [PA]...."
Eitam equivocated, saying, "I am not responsible for these statements. We are dealing with a gang of murderers that forced a war upon us.... Therefore, I am not responsible for the quotes heard by someone who sat in a synagogue and didn't understand a thing. I cannot be certain I didn't say those words, but my message was clear...."
Elaborated Eitam: "Arafat is a murderer. This man and his gang should be receiving no immunity.... After a year and a half, with 600 dead and thousands wounded, even [US] President [George. W.] Bush has said, 'Friends, get rid of this man and his gang, otherwise there will be no future for the region.' "I have always said this, and I say it now. Barghouti should have been on a list of targeted killings. He shouldn't have been brought here and interrogated."
The peace organization Gush Shalom said in a statement that Eitam spoke "like a general in a murderous South American dictatorship." The statement continued, "In a government...that guards democratic values, someone like Eitam would have been fired within five minutes [of his remarks], but clearly the present government of Israel is not like that," (Jerusalem Post, July 5) (David Bloom)
9. VIDEO: TANK FIRED ON FLEEING KIDS AT JENIN
The BBC got access to a video tape of the incident in Jenin on June 21 in which the IDF killed several people, including children--supposedly in error. The IDF has apologized for what they claim was a warning shot from a tank gone awry near a crowd of shoppers who mistakenly thought the curfew had been lifted in Jenin. The video begins with a number of civilians running towards the camera. A white car comes speeding along the road, with the driver honking its horn. This was an attempt by the car's driver, Dr. Samer al-Ahmad, to warn people to run for their lives. Moments earlier, al-Ahmad told the BBC, an Israeli officer had told him he was allowed to be on the streets. But then he said the tank opened fire on him with a machine gun, "without warning... I was hit but I drove on." When he comes onto the group of civilians, he warns them to retreat, and they do. Seconds later, the tank appears and fires on the retreating Palestinians. The army claims the crowd was approaching the tank, but the video shows a tank firing two rounds at close range at the fleeing Palestinians. The IDF says it is still investigating the incident. It has refused to comment on the video. (BBC, July 5) See the video. (David Bloom)
10. U.K. CIRCUMVENTING ITS OWN ARMS EMBARGO OF ISRAEL
The UK has been bypassing its restrictions of arms sales to Israel by selling military equipment through the US. A report in the July 7 UK Observer says that British firms made components for F16 fighter planes are allowed to be exported despite the fact they are destined for aircraft already sold to Israel. A senior British official said there was a "clear understanding" the planes could be used against the Palestinians. A government source admitted to the Observer that charges of hypocrisy would be "difficult to head off." The Ministry of Defense has been pressuring for the deal to go through, while opposition to the deal has come from Trade & Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt. Hewitt is concerned the deal will send a negative message to Arab allies and the rest of the European Union. Hewitt is backing the deal as long as future such deals through third-party countries are subject to clear rules. They are now decided on a case-to-case basis. The equipment in question: navigation and targeting systems that will allow the F16 pilots to fly with fewer distractions, and to increase the accuracy of bombing runs. The British Foreign Office has cautioned Israel against using British military equipment in the Occupied Territories. In May, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw demanded an explanation from the Israeli government as to why British military equipment has been used in tanks and attack helicopters, despite a written pledge from Israel that said "no UK-originated equipment...is used as part of the defense force's activities in the territories." ( UK Guardian, July 7) (David Bloom)
11. UK: SETTLEMENT GOODS WON'T BE LABELED "MADE IN ISRAEL"
The Israeli embassy in London was "stunned" that the UK will no longer allow goods coming from the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip or Golan Heights to be labeled as "Produce of Israel." David Holliday, chief horticultural marketing inspector of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), sent a letter last week to "all interested parties," explaining that "advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department of Trade and Industry is that produce from these occupied territories ought not be labeled as `Produce of Israel,' because these territories are not recognized as part of Israel." The solution: "it has been agreed that in this particular case, and in order to give as much information as possible, these products should be labeled with their region of production, rather than a country of origin that may be misleading." The Israeli embassy expressed its disappointment, calling it a case of discrimination, since goods from Turkish Cyprus or disputed Kashmir are not subject to similar labeling. DEFRA said the labeling change is "not a form of action" against Israel, and has no political motivation. (Haaretz, July 5) The letter explained that "Supermarket customers over here raised questions about produce with supermarkets, who raised it with us." Israeli peace activists welcomed the move. "This is a very important step because this, in fact, is the crux of the issue," said Adam Keller, of Gush Shalom. "The issue is very simple: are these territories inside Israel, or are they not part of Israel?" The EU has likewise tightened its rules of origin, so that goods from settlements will be subject to customs duty, while exports from Israel proper will remain duty-free . (UK Guardian, July 6) (David Bloom)
12. U.S. ACTIVISTS BARRED FROM ISRAEL
On July 2, Israel barred the entry of 18 US citizens who came to show solidarity with the Palestinians, placing them on a flight back to the US. It is now policy to refuse entry to international activists who come to Israel to participate in solidarity activities with the Palestinians. Interior Ministry spokeswoman Tova Ellison said the activists, who included naturalized US citizens of Iraqi, Egyptian, and Pakistani origin, arrived at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport July 1 with the intention of going to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "The State of Israel is in a state of war at the moment and no other country would allow its enemies or those who support its enemies to enter," Ellison said (AP, July 3) (David Bloom)
13. SOLIDARITY ACTIVISTS FIGHT DEPORTATION
On July 4, the Jerusalem District Court rejected an appeal by three foreign solidarity activists fighting deportation from Israel, ordering them to leave the country within seven days. The three, Darlene Wallach, 51, of the US, Josie Sandercock, 32, of the UK, and Makoto Hibino, 35, of Japan, were arrested at the Balata refugee camp outside Nablus on June 1 for being in a "closed military zone." They were part of a group of international activists who went to the camp to act as a "buffer" between IDF troops and the Palestinian civilian population. Some 40 foreign nationals have been deported since Operation Defensive Shield, but this was the first group to appeal. The defendants say they now intend to appeal to Israel's supreme court. (Jerusalem Post, July 5)
14. ISRAEL DISMANTLES SECURITY LIASON OFFICE IN BEIT JALA
According to Agence-France Press, Israeli soldiers dismantled a liaison office it shared with Palestinians for the Bethlehem region. Troops entered the building, ordered the staff of some ten people out, locked the room and left with the keys. Furniture, file cabinets and two Palestinian flags that flew over the building were removed. The liaison offices were established following the signing of the Oslo accords to coordinate between the Israeli army and Palestinian security services, which used to carry out joint patrols. Mass circulation daily Yediot Aharonot said June 30 that plans to dismantle the last elements of security cooperation between the two sides demonstrated that Israel intends to take sole responsibility for security in the occupied territories. (Albawaba.com, June 30) (David Bloom)
15. IDF LETS STUDENTS TAKE EXAMS, THEN QUESTIONS THEM
The IDF lifted its curfew of Hebron on July 2 in order to let students take exams, then detained around 300 of them for questioning, witnesses said. Troops ordered male and female students at Palestinian Polytechnic Institute, a two-year college, into separate yards. The students' ID cards were checked, and they were all questioned. There was no word as to whether any students were detained. The army did not comment. (Haaretz, July 2) (David Bloom)
16. USAF: ISRAEL FIFTH LARGEST NUKE POWER
THE IRAQ FRONT
An official institute of the US Air Force has revealed that Israel possesses over 400 nuclear weapons, some of them hydrogen bombs. According to the findings published in an article on the web site of the USAF Counter-Proliferation Center, entitled "The Third Temple's Holy Of Holies: Israel's Nuclear Weapons," Israel is the fifth largest nuclear power in the world. Up until now, only the US, Russia, Britain, France and China were officially known to possess hydrogen bombs, which are 100 to 1,000 times more powerful than ordinary atomic bombs. (Albawaba.com, Feb 2, 2002; USAF, Sept. 1999) (David Bloom)
1. SADDAM STEPSON BUSTED IN FLORDIA, SOUGHT FLIGHT TRAINING!
Federal agents in Miami announced they have arrested a stepson of Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein for entering the US to attend a flight training seminar without the proper visa. James Goldman of the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) said Mohammed Saffi was planning to take a course at Miami's Aerospace Aviation Center, where some of the 9-11 hijackers had trained.
According to Goldman, Saffi had worked as a pilot on Boeing 747s and was seeking re-certification. But FBI spokesperson Judy Orihuela said Saffi was arrested July 3 by federal anti-terrorism task force agents at a Miami hotel. A flight engineer based in New Zealand, Saffi had flown in on a commercial flight the previous day, via Los Angeles. He is being held at the Krome Detention Center south of Miami, and is being processed for deportation back to New Zealand.
According to a December 12 report in the New Zealand Herald, Saffi worked for Air New Zealand, and has lived in Auckland with his family since at least 1997. The paper said New Zealand authorities investigated his background after 9-11, but took no action. The paper quoted Saffi saying that he did not want any publicity and did not object to questioning by New Zealand authorities. According to the Herald, Saffi's mother is believed to be a former flight attendant who was Saddam's mistress in the 1980s and later married him, and that his father was a former official with Iraqi Airways . (CBS News, July 4)
2. LONDON HOSTS IRAQ DESTABILIZATION CONFAB
Scores of Iraqi opposition figures, including former military officers, will meet in London this week to co-ordinate the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Iraqi rebels, dissidents and former generals will gather at Kensington Town Hall for the three-day conference July 12. "This is an important first step," said Sharif Ali of the Iraqi National Congress. "We hope there will be others of this kind to prepare for the day when Saddam is removed. We have an opportunity to make these preparations now rather than when the regime is crumbling." Among those expected to attend are Gen. Tawfiz Yassiri, who took part in the 1991 uprising against Saddam, and General Saad Ubeidi, former chief of the Iraqi army's psychological operations. But there are fears that persistent divisions within the opposition will re-emerge.
Among the organizations expected to send representatives:
Iraqi National Congress: An umbrella group nominally including all opposition organizations. Led by Ahmed Chalabi, and founded in 1992. Based in London, but funded by Washington.
Iraqi National Accord: Set up in 1990 by defectors from the Iraqi armed forces and intelligence services. Headed by Iyad Alawi, and based in Jordan. Supported by the CIA.
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP): One of two Kurdish armed factions that control much of northern Iraq, and one of oldest opposition groups in the country. Led by Massoud Barzani.
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK): The other main Kurdish faction, headed by Jalal Talabani. In 1996, after years of war between the two factions, the KDP invited in Iraqi government forces in an attempt to grab PUK territory. The two groups have since patched up their differences and closed ranks against Saddam. The KDP and PUK have some 40,000 troops between them.
Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution: Iranian-backed Shi'ite armed rebel organization in the south. Headed by Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim from exile in Tehran.
( London Times, July 4)
3. U.S. SPECIAL FORCES IN JORDAN?
According to Stratfor, the private "global intelligence agency," credible reports suggest the US has deployed Special Forces troops to Jordan. In a statement to the Jordanian daily al-Rai, Information Minister Mohammed Edwan, responding to an unconfirmed report in the Lebanese daily al-Safir, denied there were US forces in Jordan preparing military operations against Iraq. Stratfor also cites Syrian and Russian military intelligence sources.
The US has increased military cooperation with Jordan over the past several years with an eye toward a second Iraqi campaign. Since the late 1990s, the US has given the Jordanian air force 16 F-16s as part of a $215 million arms package that Washington pledged in 1996, after Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel.
The US armed forces also conduct regular exercises with the Jordanian military. In March, a detachment from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU, held a 10-day exercise called Infinite Anvil in Jordan. Involving a reported 100 Marines and sailors, the exercise included transfer of an AV-8B Harrier fighter detachment from the USS Wasp to the King Faisal Royal Jordanian Air Base at al-Jafr in southern Jordan. (WorldNetDaily, July 3)
On July 7, the UK Observer also reported claims by Iraqi dissidents in Amman that hundreds of US military advisers have arrived in Jordan in the past few months. The Amman-based Iraqi National Accord (INA) could play a military role from Jordan, according to the account. It also cited claims by eye-witnesses that preparations are under way at Muafaq Salti air base in Azraq, 50 miles east of Amman on the road to Baghdad.
A front-page New York Times story July 5, "US Plan for Iraq is Said to Include Attack on 3 Sides," invoked assault by land, air and sea, involving tens of thousands of US troops, citing "an American military planning document." It said "as many as eight countries" would serve as a staging ground for the attack, and reported that "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited American bases in Kuwait and Qatar and the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain on his most recent to the Persian Gulf region in June." The "highly classified" document was named as "CentCom Courses of Action," and was said to be prepared by military planners at Central Command HQ in Tampa, FLA. But the article did not actually quote the document. Also named as likely staging grounds were Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, bringing the total of named countries to six. The article provided no clue as to the identity of the missing two nations.
4. AZIZ WARNS: IRAQ ATTACK WILL BACKFIRE
A US invasion of Iraq would entrench and not weaken the rule of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said on a six-day visit to South Africa. "Yes, we know they are preparing to attack Iraq... but I am not scared. We are very well prepared to protect our country, to protect our independence and to preserve our dignity," he said. "We will survive." Aziz made his comments before a small rally of ruling African National Congress supporters in a Muslim district of Cape Town. "Whoever in the Arab world and in the Third World fights the Americans will become stronger in the eyes of his people, so no other leadership is going to come to Iraq. We will continue leading Iraq," he said to applause. Aziz also met with President Thabo Mbeki to discuss cooperation on agriculture and trade, but failed to keep an appointment with former president and hero of the anti-apartheid struggle Nelson Mandela. Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who invited Aziz to the country, said at a banquet in his honor July 5 that South Africa opposed the UN sanctions against Iraq. Simultaneously, in Vienna, UN and Iraqi negotiators failed to agree on the renewal of UN weapons inspections after more than three years. No date was set for further talks. (Reuters, July 7)
5. THE REAL THREAT: SYRIA. LEBANON?
Terrorist training camps in Lebanon and Syria pose a greater threat to the US than Iraq, Sen. Bob Graham (D-FLA), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said July 7 on NBC's Meet the Press, after returning from a trip to the Middle East. Graham argued against trying to oust Saddam Hussein now, saying there is no Arab support for the move. He added: "I also believe there are some things that we need to do that are more urgent. One of those is to deal with these training camps that have developed particularly in Syria and Lebanon where the next generation of terrorists are being prepared." Graham said he was not arguing for immediate military action. "I think we should first give the Syrians and the Lebanese an opportunity to clean up their own house. But then I think that is a much more immediate threat to the security of the United States of America, in my judgment than Saddam Hussein." (Jerusalem Post, July 8)
6. RJ REYNOLDS LOVES SADDAM?
ELSEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
The US government is examining claims by the European Union that tobacco giant RJ Reynolds shipped over a billion dollars worth of cigarettes to Iraq between 1990 and 1997, in violation of trade sanctions, according to the July 5-7 edition of the New York Sun. Citing "sources familiar with the investigation," the Sun claimed the probe is led by US Customs agents operating out of the office of the US attorney for the Southern District of New York.
1. NEW CRACKDOWN ON MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IN EGYPT
Police arrested four members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood on charges of preparing for an unlicensed protest, Egyptian officials announced July 3. The Muslim Brotherhood put the number of those detained at five. Jihan el-Helfawi, the Brotherhood's first female parliamentary candidate, said the men were seized from their homes in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria. She said they were among her "strongest" campaigners in the previous week's runoff parliamentary elections.
El-Helfawi and another Brotherhood candidate lost to candidates of the ruling National Democratic Party, but claim the elections were rigged. Fourteen of el-Helfawi's campaign organizers were arrested before the elections, and 100 supporters were detained two days after. "This is making us stronger because we have popular legitimacy, and this seems to be worrying the government authorities," el-Helfawi told the AP in a telephone interview from Alexandria.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned since 1954, officially renounced violence in the 1970s but remains outlawed. Despite its banning, it continues to endorse nominally independent parliamentary candidates and issue statements. In May, police detained eight members of the group for "activities in support of the Palestinian intifada." They remain in detention . (AP, July 3)
2. JORDAN JAILS JIHADIS
New evidence of Islamic militants fleeing Afghanistan to open a new front in the Arab world has emerged in Jordan. Authorities in Amman say they have arrested 10 Jordanians accused of planning attacks on US and Israeli targets in the kingdom. The leader is believed to be Wail al-Shalabi, a Palestinian-Jordanian fighter arrested in April after returning from Afghanistan. The suspects' lawyer, Mohammed Duwaik, who is representing them for free, says, "It's a duty to defend these boys." Noting that the Afghanistan campaign has merely led Arab militants to take the struggle back to their home countries, he adds, "Why doesn't America understand that its policies are just breeding more and more violence?" The arrests come on the heels of a wave of detentions in Yemen, Tunisia and Morocco.
News of the terror plot came as the US Congress is considering boosting aid to Jordan to $500 million for 2003. Jordan is the only Arab state with a Free Trade agreement with the US, and the US earlier this year staged a military exercise in Jordan's eastern desert. Armored vehicles are dug in outside the US embassy in Amman, and US Peace Corps personnel stationed in the country have been cautioned against visiting the capital. In February, suspected al-Qaeda militants blew up the car of a key counter-terrorist official, Lt Colonel Ali Burjak, in central Amman, killing two foreigners. (BBC, July 5)
3. RAI STAR KHALED FACES BOYCOTT OVER PRO-PEACE STANCE
Accusing him of supporting "normalization" with Israel, Jordan's union leaders have called for a boycott of a concert by Algerian singer Cheb Khaled planned for July 18 at the annual Okaz cultural festival in Amman. In May, the star of Algerian rai and the Israeli singer Noa performed in support of peace at a rally organized by the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni. The rally was attended by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Mohammed Rashid, an advisor to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
"We reject Cheb Khaled's participation in the festival because he committed an act of normalization with Israel, to the detriment of the Arab nation, while Israeli tanks were bombarding the Palestinian people," the head of the Association of Professional Unions, Hashem Gharaybeh, told a press conference. He said the boycott will be lifted if the singer condemns Israel's aggression against the Palestinians and apologizes publicly for appearing with "a Jewish Zionist singer".
In a response published July 3 in the Jordanian daily al-Rai, Cheb Khaled said he rejected normalization with Israel, but would not apologize for his actions. "Is it wrong to sing for peace?", he asked. He also said he had contacted Arafat, in order to perform a concert for the Palestinians in Gaza City.
Jordan has signed a peace treaty and established normal diplomatic relations with Israel, but the unions reject these ties, and have become more militant since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000. (Jordan Times, July 5)
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. AFGHAN VICE PRESIDENT ASSASSINATED
One of Afghanistan's three vice presidents, Haji Abdul Qadir, was assassinated by unknown gunmen July 6 outside his office in the center of Kabul. Qadir was driving into his office compound when 36 rounds were fired at his car, smashing the windscreen and filling the side with holes. Qadir, who was public works minister as well as governer of Jalalabad, was a Pashtun warlord and a member of the Northern Alliance, a grouping dominated by ethnic Tajiks. He was the brother of Mujahadeen commander Abdul Haq, who was executed by the Taliban last year (see WW3 REPORT #s 6, 7). "He was one of the few Pashtuns in the Northern Alliance, so it could have been a kind of Taliban hit, because he is considered a betrayer of the Taliban," one Afghan expert said. (Reuters, July 6) The assassination is seen as a blow to President Hamid Karzai. Qadir's appointment was seen a bridge to the Pashtun community, and an effort to bring restive eastern provinces of Afghanistan under central government control. Qadir was governor of the eastern province of Nangarhar--the province at the center of Afghanistan's poppy production. A businessman himself, Qadir was estimated to be one of Afghanistan's richest men. He was part of Maulavi Younus Khalis' faction of Hezb-i-Islami, a hardline Islamist faction, from 1992-4. It was Khalis who in 1994 invited Osama bin Laden back to Afghanistan when he fled Sudan. Qadir negotiated the handover of Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province, when the Taliban entered the city in 1996. Although other elements of Hezb-i-Islami reached a rapprochement with the Taliban, Qadir fled to the Panjsher valley, where he became one of the few senior Pastun members of the Northern Alliance. He was rewarded with the return of the governership of Nangarhar when the Taliban were defeated. His association with Hezb-i-Islami caused him difficulties when members of the group, including his brother Din Muhammad, were believed to have helped members of al-Qaeda--possibly even bin Laden--escape US and allied troops at the Tora Bora cave complex. Qadir denied any involvement. (NYT, July 7)
Qadir was responsible for overseeing the Western-financed opium eradication campaign, and Afghan officials said July 7 they were investigating the possibility Qadir had been killed by drug lords. Afghan officials have been paying about $500 per acre to Afghan farmers to destroy their poppies. A senior Afghan official said Qadir had recently complained money earmarked for farmers complying with the eradication program had not reached them. The official said that Qadir's efforts, and the failure to pay some farmers, could have enraged opium barons to the point they may have decided to exact revenge. (NYT, July 8) (For more on the new Afghan opium war, see WW3 REPORT #37) (David Bloom)
2. US SCORES HIGH BODY COUNT AT AFGHAN WEDDING
On July 1, a US AC-130 helicopter gun-ship killed 48 Afghans, and wounded 117, at a wedding celebration at Kakarak in Uruzgan province. Many of the casualties were women and children. "The air crew...believed they were returning anti-aircraft fire," Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace said July 2. "It returned fire on six individual locations that were spread over many kilometers." Uruzgan is the home province of ousted Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, and the US was operating in the area to root out al-Qaeda and Taliban elements. In the course of the operation a B-52 bomber dropped seven guided JDAM precision-guided missiles on caves and bunkers in the area. One bomb reportedly went astray and hit "an intervening hill mass," but a US investigation found no one was in the area at the time. Two US teams on the ground, working in conjunction with Afghan allies and operating as "forward air controllers" for identifying targets, apparently signaled to the AC-130 to fire on what they believed was an anti-aircraft gun. In recent weeks, US planes had drawn ground fire in the area, and military authorities were certain that there were air defense sites there . (ABC, July 2)
Maj. Gary Tallman, spokesman for the US fact-finding mission, said a big anti-aircraft gun had been fired repeatedly from the Kakarak compound, which was owned by a brother of Mullah Anwar, a prominent ally of President Karzai. For two days leading up to July 1, US planes flew hourly missions over the area, and each time drew anti-aircraft fire, Tallman claimed. Tallman acknowledged no wreckage of the supposed gun was found when investigators visited the compound July 3. But he pointed out that the compound had been marked by US troops on the ground, and verified with global positioning satellites and lasers. Tallman said the six sites targeted during the raid included a mortar position, anti-aircraft guns and a cave. He claimed that hours before the attack, US troops observed people covering the mortar with a tarp, and moving women and children into the area. Afghans in the area deny any weapons were in the compound, and said those killed were attending a wedding party for the owner's son. (CBS, July 3) Local residents said ritual gunfire for the wedding celebration was misinterpreted as an attack. (ABC, July 2)
Col. Roger King, at Bagram air base, said the strikes were called in after the men in the forward teams felt threatened by the gunfire. "The easiest and best way to avoid civilian casualties is to avoid firing at coalition forces in the proximity of innocent civilians," King told reporters July 3. He also said sustained and hostile fire from several locations in the village had been directed at planes flying overhead, and that the fire was inconsistent with a wedding party. (Reuters, July 3) But the district's chief, Abdul Rahim, said he was since told by US commanders that Mullah Omar and one of his top lieutenants, Mullah Brader, were in the village, which is less than five miles from Rahim's base in Deh Rawud. Neither he nor the district's governor were apprised of the operation beforehand, and only found out about it after the air-strike. "If Mullah Omar and Mullah Bradar were sitting up the road with a whole load of soldiers, would we be sitting here?" asked Rahim, a longtime Taliban opponent.
The US troops and their Afghan allies on the ground waited till dawn, then advanced on the village, searching houses and detained residents. Then they came upon the scene of the carnage, and were reportedly shocked. "They were approaching from the neighboring village," said Pir Jan, a villager who was helping to gather up the dead. "They were very serious, and they were searching the houses and tying the hands even of the women. And then when they came right into the village and saw the dead women and children they were very sad and their attitude changed toward us." Survivors were picking up limbs and body parts from the street and the nearby orchard, and carrying the wounded to a local mosque. "They told me through a translator that they had made a mistake," Mr. Jan said. "They said, `We are sorry, but what's done cannot be undone.'"
In the orchard, a woman's torso had landed in a small almond tree. Five days after the attack, human flesh was still visible hanging on the tree. There were also remains rotting in the branches of a pomegranate tree. "They were collecting body parts in a bucket," said Uruzgan governor Jan Muhammad. Muhammad lost 21 of his own soldiers, who were loyal to Karzai's government, in a botched US raid in January. "They said they would not make a mistake again and that they would contact us and cooperate with us on future operations, but they did not," Muhammad said.
Originally, it was reported the bride and groom were killed, but they were apparently away at the time of the attack. The groom returned to find that 25 of his relatives had been killed. Five miles away, in the village of Siya Sang, villagers said that six people had been killed and more injured. Jamala, a local woman, pointed to the places where her son, daughter and grandson were killed. "My grandson and daughter's mouths were full of dust," she said. "Write about this so it will stop, so they leave us in peace to pray and fast." (NYT, July 8) (David Bloom)
3. PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR BLAMES FAULTY INTELLIGENCE
Jan Mohammad, governor of Uruzgan province, blamed "informants" for giving the wrong information to the US about the compound attacked July 1 at Kakarak village. "We strongly demand the US and Afghan authorities hand over their spies who conveyed wrong information to the US forces," Muhammad told the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP). "This is not the first time. Similar wrong information has led to the bombing of Uruzgan in the past, also causing deaths of many people," he said (Dawn, July 5) (David Bloom)
4. US ADMITS MISTAKE FIVE DAYS LATER
The US military did not admit it was responsible for the carnage at Kakarak until July 6, five days after the attack occurred. However, July 5, President George Bush phoned Afghan President Hamid Karzai to express his condolences. In a joint press conference with US Lt. Gen. Dan McNeill, Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah said "We should find ways and means in order to prevent tragedies" and loss of civilian life in the US-led campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. McNeill said: "Subsequent to the operation we determined there were civilian casualties. We will initiate a more formal investigation to determine what caused these civilian casualties and what we can do to make sure they do not happen again." (AP, July 6) (David Bloom)
5. AFGHANS PROTEST, DEMAND COMPENSATION
On July 4, 200 protesters staged the first anti-US demonstration in Kabul since the collapse of the Taliban regime, blocking mid-morning traffic. About half the demonstrators were women, wearing burqas. "Urgent [US] compensation should be given to the families of those who died or were injured," said Theyba, one of the protest organizers, who read a petition outside the UN headquarters in Kabul. "We support coalition measures against the Taliban regime and al-Qaida, but we cannot tolerate more innocent victims in our country and American bombardment of civilian targets," Theyba said. (AP, July 4) (David Bloom)
6. REGIME EQUIVOCATES ON COMPENSATION
Afghan officials are stepping delicately around the question of compensation. "The Afghan government will help the people, probably Americans will do the same on their own," said Karzai aide Yusuf Nuristani. "We won't ask the US officials for compensation." Nuristani did say, "We are telling Americans to be more careful in the future. With all that sophisticated military equipment they have, it should be no problem for them to evade civilian casualties." (AP, July 4) (David Bloom)
7. SAS HAVE KILLED "SCORES" IN AFGHANISTAN
While the Royal Marines move out of Afghanistan, two squads of elite British Strategic Air Service (SAS) troops, numbering about 100, have been operating across the country's south-eastern mountains. The SAS troops have been operating autonomously in these mountains for the last few months, without help from US forces, and have reportedly killed "scores" of al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. SAS operations are not discussed by the Ministry of Defence. Four SAS troops were reportedly wounded, one seriously, in an assault on caves in mountains near Khandahar. Eighteen enemy forces were also reported killed. The SAS see themselves as fitter than their US counterparts, though they envy the better communications equipment available to US Special Forces. Rivalry between the two countries' special ops units are widely reported. Last December, US commanders reportedly prevented SAS from searching caves at Tora Bora for al-Qaeda fighters. The US insisted their own Special Forces to search the caves, but by the time US commanders had assessed the risks and determined what air cover would be needed, bin Laden and his associates has fled. (UK Guardian, July 5) (David Bloom)
8. HEKMATYAR TEAMING UP WITH AL-QAEDA?
According to a report in the July 4 Boston Globe, US and Afghan officials say that warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has met with al-Qaeda leaders, and is seeking to form an alliance with them. The Globe quotes a senior Afghan military source who claims Hekmatyar has met with Osama bin Laden repeatedly in the last two months, and with fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. The official says that bin Laden and Omar are believed to be hiding in the Tirah region of Kurram, a semi-autonomous tribal region of Pakistan's northwest. These meetings have been confirmed by a US official, who says the fugitives' discussions focused on strategic issues, such as ''common targets, sharing supplies, getting information.'' Hekmatyar, who once had one of Afghanistan's largest militias, now is believed to command between 1,000 and 2,000 men, and he has access to money and supplies. ''Hekmatyar had more money than anyone, and he thought about the future,'' said Haji Abdul Zahir, a veteran Mujhadeen fighter in charge of guarding Afghanistan's eastern border. ''He invested it in business, and he saved it.'' Hekmatyar was opposed to the Taliban, and fled to Iran where he sat out the war between the US and the Taliban regime. He returned pledging support to the Afghan interim administration, but was later widely suspected in a plot of overthrow Karzai's government. The US tried to assassinate Hekmatyar with a missile from an unmanned CIA Predator drone May 5, but missed. (Boston Globe, July 4) (See WW3 REPORT #33) (David Bloom)
1. PAKISTANI POLICE OFFICER ARRESTED IN GANG-RAPE CASE
Pakistani police announced July 6 they have arrested one of their own officers for failing to stop the gang-rape of an 18-year-old woman on the order of a local village council. "We have arrested Assistant Sub-Inspector [ASI] Mohammed Iqbal and charged him with criminal negligence for failing to follow the procedure," Farman Ali. police chief for the Muzaffargarh district, told Reuters.
Mukhtaran Mai was raped by four men on the order of a village tribal jury, or panchyat, because her brother, Abdul Shakoor, allegedly had a love attachment with a girl from a higher-caste tribe. The incident in remote Meerwala village in the central province of Punjab on June 22 has sparked an international outcry. Earlier, the woman's brother Shakoor had been kidnapped by the Mastoi tribe. A police team led by Iqbal freed him but failed to arrest the tribesmen, who then took their revenge on his sister. Mai told Reuters she begged for mercy but none of the hundreds of people around helped her as four men dragged her to a room and gang-raped her. After the rape, she was sent home naked before hundreds of on-looking villagers. Authorities say another young girl of the same area committed suicide just a few days earlier after being raped. (Reuters, July 7)
Police are still searching for four men accused in the rape, and believe they have fled the village. As is frequently done in Pakistan--including in the Daniel Pearl kidnap-murder case--police have detained eight relatives of the suspects to pressure the perpetrators into surrendering. Police said the tribal council ordered the rape after the victim's 11-year-old brother was seen walking with a girl from the Mastoi tribe. The victim's family were from the Gujar tribe.
Attiya Inayatullah, Pakistan's women's affairs minister, visited the family to deliver a compensation check from the goverment of 500,000 rupees ($8,200). She also promised that President Pervez Musharraf had ordered an Islamic religious school be built in the village in the victim's name. Accepting the check, Mai appeared with Inayatullah at a news conference, saying, "I would have committed suicide if the government had not come to my help." (CBS News, July 5)
2. PAKISTANI RIGHTS GROUPS DECRY TRIBAL "IMPUNITY"
The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Sheikh Riaz Ahmed, has ordered the police chief of Punjab to appear before the Supreme Court in the Meerwala gang-rape case, along with other senior provincial officials. The case has called into question Pakistan's longstanding tradition of tribal justice, in which violations of local honor codes are punished outside official Pakistani law. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has demanded an end to punishments by tribal councils, and women's organizations are questioning the system of autonomous tribal justice. "Such a decree issued by a tribal council and carried out with impunity is not only a monumental crime and violation of the rights of the girl, but also an outrage for society and an affront to the state of Pakistan," said a statement from the Alliance against Discriminatory Laws, a women's organization. "It is barbaric," said rights activist Rashid Rehman. "It is like living in the dark ages. These tribal customs are powerful here. Whosoever within the community opposes or raises a voice is declared social outcast. The girl's family is shattered. The girl now will be treated as a leper by the community members." Said prominent rights defender Dr. Fouzia Saeed: "We must condemn institutional acceptance of women symbolizing honor and the routine rape and killing of women being carried out to dishonor or restore honor of families." (BBC, July 3)
3. "BUSHARRAF" FIGURE OF RIDICULE
A front-page New York Times story July 5 reports that a backlash is fast building in Pakistan against President Pervez Musharraf, who is increasingly perceived as a pawn of US President George Bush. Nicknamed "Busharraf," the military strongman is becoming a "figure of ridicule" in his own country. The article once again warns that the Islamic militant groups banned by Musharraf at White House behest have gone underground under the banner of a "new terror coalition," Lashkar-i-Omar (see WW3 REPORT #38). These groups were long aided by Pakistan's official Inter-Services Intelligence agency to encourage attacks in the Indian-controlled section of disputed Kashmir region, and elements of Masharraf's own security apparatus are believed to be still cooperating with them, against the president's own orders. Yahya Mujahid, leader of the outlawed Lashkar-i-Taiba, warned: "No Pakistani leader ever betrayed Kashmir and survived. We are angry."
4. INDIAN MP CHARGED UNDER ANTI-TERROR LAW
Indian police have filed charges against an MP in India's governing coalition under anti-terrorism laws. The charges concern a speech the MP, Vaiko, gave at a public meeting in which he allegedly expressed support for Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger guerillas. Vaiko is leader of the MDMK party, based in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Eight other members of the party who attended the June meeting have also been charged. Police say they will decide whether to arrest Vaiko when he returns from a visit to the US . (BBC, July 4)
1. MINDANAO MISSION SET TO EXPAND--INDONESIA NEXT?
Weeks before its scheduled conclusion, the US mission in the southern Philippines region of Mindanao--the Bush administration's largest military deployment outside Afghanistan--has accomplished nearly all of its objectives. The Abu Sayyaf rebels, who were holding two US citizens hostage, are reportedly reduced to scattered remnants on a few small islands. But now, US forces are taking a more active role in the combat--and there is talk of extending the mission
US forces on the island of Basilan have now received official permission to assist Philippine troops on the frontlines. Last week, US spy planes guided Philippine troops to Abu Sayyaf hideouts in the Sulu Archipelago, which were then hit by mortar and rocket fire. The White House is asking Congress to approve new missions to the Philippines, which is home to a number of other kidnap-for-ransom outfits. Analysts say the intervention is about far more than Abu Sayyaf, and that the Philippines have become a proving ground for the Bush administration's new anti-terrorism strategy. "Basically, we want to add military heft through training and cooperation to friendly governments who have Muslim insurgencies that might or might not be fertile ground for Al Qaeda,'' said Robert Rotberg, director of the Harvard Kennedy School's Program on Intrastate Conflict. "The idea is a kind of cordon sanitaire--an expression of US muscle by proxy." Added Roger Baker, a military analyst at Stratfor, a Texas-based private intelligence company: "What the Philippines does really offer is a nice location for other operations in Southeast Asia.'' Baker singled out Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, which the US administration believes harbors terrorists with al-Qaeda sympathies.
Some 160 US Special Forces officers and 850 supporting troops are training Philippine commando units from the relative safety of battalion headquarters. In June, those units freed Gracia Burnham, one of three US hostages the Abu Sayyaf took at the Dos Palmas resort last year. Gracia's husband, Martin, was killed in the rescue attempt, as was Deborah Yap, a Filipina nurse who was also taken hostage. (See WW3 REPORT # 37) The third US hostage, Guillermo Sobero, was reportedly murdered by Abu Sabaya, the commander of the Abu Sayyaf unit that led the kidnapping. Last month, Philippine authorities reported that Sabaya was killed in an army operation supported by US intelligence and communications equipment. Though Sabaya was not at the top of Abu Sayyaf's loose organizational structure, his frequent threats against US interests and boasts of ties to Osama bin Laden made him a particular target. The US had a $5 million price on his head.
(Christian Science Monitor, July 3)
Maj. Cynthia Teramae, spokesperson for the US troops in the Basilan operation, said that following approval from the Philippine government, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "will determine, upon his discretion," when US forces join local troops on patrol. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo still maintains at this time that the US mission will end as scheduled on July 31. (AP, July 2)
THE NEW GREAT GAME
1. ECOLOGISTS OPPOSE PUBLIC FINANCING OF CASPIAN PIPELINE
Sixty-four non-governmental organizations from 37 countries are asking international financial institutions like the World Bank and export credit agencies like the US Export-Import Bank to deny funding for the multi-billion-dollar oil pipeline to run over 1,000 miles from the Caspian Sea to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. In a three-page June 25 letter to the heads of the World Bank, European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and US and Japanese export credit agencies, the NGOs protest that few of the most important project documents have been released publicly, and that the project's social, environmental and security impacts have yet to be fully assessed. (OneWorld US, June 26)
World Bank boss James Wolfensohn, on an official visit to Afghanistan in May, spoke in support of funding for an Afghan pipeline route. (See WW3 REPORT #40)
2. U.S. IN SHADOW PLAY WITH IRAN OVER PIPELINE ROUTE?
Writes Pratap Chatterjee for CorpWatch this month: "A proposed natural gas pipeline that would traverse Afghanistan has created a power play in the region with governments jockeying for political control as well as a share in the billions of dollars that would accompany such a scheme. So far, however, international oil and gas corporations are sniffing around the region and the World Bank has hinted it might give it's blessing to the plan, but none has committed to a pipeline project."
Chatterjee suggests that oil companies skittish about investing in the restive region may be dragging their heels. Meanwhile, the White House fears that regional rivals hostile to US interests may beat Western firms to the punch--further tilting the balance of power in Central Asia away from the US.
"The people who peddle fossil fuels are the most interested and most active in seeking to influence the United States government," John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org and former military analyst for the Federation of American Scientists, told Chatterjee. "But right now I think the US policy is to keep a new pipeline out of Iran at any costs."
1. AMERICA CELEBRATES POLICE STATE ON 4TH OF JULY
Chemical detectors were in place on Washington's Metro subway system, and radiation detectors were installed throughout the nation's capitol ahead of the Independence Day celebrations. National Guard units were also deployed, equipped with larger, more sophisticated devices that can detect and identify sources of radioactivity . (ABC News, July 4)
A new network of security cameras also monitored the Mall during July 4 festivities, the US Park Police announced--moving up by months the introduction of video surveillance. Under plans announced to the press days before the festivities, visitors entered fenced-off sections of the Mall through 24 checkpoints, where bags were be searched and spectators scanned by metal-detector wands. (Washington Post, July 2)
Adding to the fear level, the FBI issued a "very vague" alert warning that people with suspected terrorist ties have used the Internet to access information on stadiums in the US and Europe. FBI officials said images of the RCA Dome in Indianapolis and the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis were downloaded from WorldStadiums.com, a web site with information about sports venues around the world. "There's no specific threat," said Bill Eubanks, head of the FBI's St. Louis office. "They just simply accessed the Web site." (CBS News, July 4)
2. U.K. "FIRST STRIKE" STRATEGY?
The UK's Defense Chiefs are drawing up plans for a "first strike" nuclear strategy, the Daily Mirror reported July 4. For the first time, the UK could use battlefield or "tactical" nuclear weapons against enemy troops or terrorist targets believed to be armed with chemical or biological weapons. Small nuclear warheads would also be used against fortified bunkers and deep cave complexes like those used by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. A senior Westminster source told the Mirror: "If you are dealing with forces with weapons of mass destruction and the willingness to use them, then we also need to look at new sorts of weapons technology. Destroying deep cave complexes can take huge amounts of manpower and military force."
Donald Anderson, chair of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, called for Ministers to come clean about the proposals: "The development of a new generation of tactical nuclear weapons in response to the terrorist threat would have implications for arms control policy." There was an argument for updating the nuclear strike policy from the Cold War era, he said, but added, "If it is to be revised it needs to be done with full public debate, not by a few mandarins talking among themselves." He was backed by a report from his committee, stating: "The Government must state clearly what is its policy on the first use of nuclear weapons."
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon had made clear the position to the House of Commons two weeks earlier. Hoon said then: "There has been no change in the essential rules we follow on the use of nuclear weapons. They would be used in only what are described as extreme conditions of self-defense... proportionately and consistently with our obligations in international law."
Hoon sparked controversy earlier this year when he said the UK would be ready to use long-range nuclear weapons against Iraq (see WW3 REPORT #26) In March it was revealed that US President George Bush had ordered a "nuclear posture review" calling for a new generation of battlefield nuclear weapons to be developed within three years to attack deep underground facilities beyond the reach of conventional weapons. (See WW3 REPORT #24) [top]
3. AFGHANISTAN: TEST WAR FOR U.S. SUPER-WEAPONS
Within weeks of the 9-11 attacks, the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency began working virtually around the clock to develop a powerful new bomb to penetrate al-Qaeda's cave complexes in the mountains of Afghanistan. By mid-December, the scientists were ready, detonating the world's first "thermobaric" bomb near the Nuclear Test Site in the Nevada desert. Ten were quickly dispatched to US forces in Afghanistan, and the first one was fired by an F-15 at at the start of Operation Anaconda (see WW3 REPORT #23). This is just one example of how the War on Terrorism is proving a potent laboratory for military innovation. Thirty new technologies--from armed aerial drones to dosimeters that measure exposure to toxic chemicals--have been rushed into use at home and abroad since Sept. 11.
Eight days after the 9-11 attacks, Ronald Sega, Pentagon research and development director, called a dozen military technology officials together to discuss what projects should be accelerated to support the looming war. Sega said three top priorities emerged: the thermobaric bomb, a bunker-busting air-launched cruise missile, and a "nuclear quadrapole resonance" sensor to detect explosive materials. The thermobaric bomb releases and detonates a fine cloud of high-explosive chemicals, creating devastating shock waves that destroy everything inside a cave or bunker. Only one has been dropped in Afghanistan, according to Sega. (Dawn, Pakistan, March 28):
Thermobaric bombs are the most powerful in the Pentagon's new class of "bunker-buster" weapons, and the most powerful "conventional" weapons in the world. A new nuclear "bunker-buster" or "mini-nuke" is next under development. See WW3 REPORT #s 14, 24.
4. RUSSIAN NUCLEAR WHISTLE-BLOWER TO LABOR CAMP
On June 25, the Russian Supreme Court's military collegium upheld a treason verdict against Vladivostok-based military journalist and environmental whistle-blower Grigory Pasko. The appeal was Pasko's last chance to avoid spending the next four years in one of Russia's crumbling, Soviet-era work camps for the crime of bringing to light the brewing nuclear disaster represented by the Russian Navy's aging Pacific Fleet and its negligent waste disposal practices. Human right activists and some 70 journalists were evacuated from the courtroom during the proceedings. In the original verdict on Dec. 25, Pasko, a reporter for the Boyevaya Vakhta newspaper, was convicted of treason in a Pacific Fleet military court and sentenced to four years in prison for attending a meeting of naval brass and possessing notes he made there. The Federal Security Service (FSB), successor to the Soviet-era KGB, maintained that Pasko had intended to pass information on "secret naval manoeuvres" to the Japanese media--though he was never accused of actually having done so. (Socio-Ecological Union International, June 26)
5. MORE NUKE MATERIALS ON LOOSE IN CAUCASUS
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigators are searching for two highly radioactive thermoelectric generators in remote areas of Georgia, the former Soviet republic. The generators, weighing one ton each, contain as much of the radioactive element strontium-90 as was released in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The IAEA's Mark Gwozdecky warned that strontium-90 can be used in a so-called "dirty bomb" to contaminate a sizable area.
Six of eight missing generators were found by an IAEA team in Georgia earlier this year. But Sergei Kakushadze, head of Georgia's Nuclear and Radiation Safety Service, told EurasiaNet that at least two more are still on the loose: "We are in a very difficult situation because we don't have exact information--about where they are or even how many there are--we have no official information from Russia." The generators were apparently used to power communications towers in the Soviet era, but Russian officials claimed at an April 8 meeting in Paris that they had no information about them because such documentation is routinely destroyed every five years, Kakushadze said.
The search for the missing generators is concentrated along northwestern Georgia's Inguri River valley, where the other six were discovered, beginning in May 1999. The effort has been slowed by the need for security guarantees from local separatist forces to search areas near the breakaway region of Abkhazia.
According to Gwozdecky, some 280 radiation sources have been recovered in Georgia since the country gained independence in 1991, mostly from former Soviet military installations. The IAEA announced in Vienna on June 26 a new US-Russian cooperative effort to track down "orphaned" radioactive materials throughout the former Soviet Union. US President George Bush has pledged $25 million to the project for the first year. (See WW3 REPORT #40) (EurasiaNet, June 28)
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. BUSH'S SLEAZY OIL DEALS BACK IN THE NEWS--BARELY
In the wake of several headline-grabbing corporate scandals, the White House is pledging to clean up sleazy business practices. But as a Texas oilman, President Bush engaged in some of those same kinds of practices. In one of the few media accounts to note this irony, a July 3 AP story related how Bush was a board member of Harken Energy Corp. in 1989 when the company engaged in a loss-hiding transaction that later prompted an inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC forced the company to amend its books to reflect millions of dollars in losses that had been masked by the sale of a subsidiary to a group of insiders. And Bush, who was on the company's audit committee, was also the subject of a separate insider stock trade investigation by the SEC. Questioned by AP, the White House acknowledged that Bush had failed to promptly disclose the 1990 sale of his Harken stock as required by law. Notice of the sale was filed with the SEC 34 weeks after it took place. A Bush spokesperson blamed a clerical mistake by company lawyers. Bush had previously stated that he filed the disclosure form and government regulators lost it. Bush sold his Harken stock for $848,000 two months before the company reported millions of dollars in losses, prompting an SEC insider trading investigation. The stock price plunged from $4 when Bush sold it in June 1990 to a dollar a share by year-end. Bush was censured by the SEC, but did not face criminal charges.
The White House dismissed comparisons between Bush's Harken dealings and the current corporate scandals. "To compare a $12 million sale of a subsidiary company by Harken to a deliberate attempt to hide $3.8 billion in losses is ridiculous," said White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett, referring to the WorldCom scandal. But another fact links Harken with the current debacle. The accounting firm Arthur Andersen, auditor for both WorldCom and Enron, was found guilty of obstruction of justice in the Enron investigation (see WW3 REPORT #19). Andersen also was the accountant for Harken Energy when Bush sold his stock. (AP, July 3)
Paul Krugman wrote on the New York Times op-ed page July 2 that Bush's "sudden outbreak of moral clarity" on corporate corruption is a "poll-induced epiphany" which will soon pass. He quoted the web site Dailyenron.com that last week "the foxes assured Americans that they are hot on the trail of those missing chickens." He also noted that Bush's profit when he dumped his Harken stock was "about four times bigger than the sale that has Martha Stewart in hot water."
Even now that the scandal is being (minimally) rehashed, commentators are ignoring Harken's link to the campaign against Iraq, and the decade-old BCCI scandal. In 1990, just before Harken stock went plunging, the company signed a deal for exclusive offshore rights with the Persian Gulf island emirate of Bahrain--the southern half of which would soon be turned into a rest-and-relaxation playhouse for US troops in Operation Desert Storm. Many commentators then speculated that Bahrain's motive in the Harken deal was to buy the protection of the White House--then occupied by Bush's father. Leading figures in the Bahrain monarchy were top investors in the Pakistan-based Bank of Credit & Commerce International (BCCI), which collapsed in 1991 after it was exposed as the top global laundromat for terrorist groups, drug cartels and corrupt dictatorships worldwide--including that of Saddam Hussein. In 1987, Harken was also underwritten to the tune of $25 million by a Swiss bank which was in a joint venture with BCCI. (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 6, 1991)
2. CHENEY'S FORMER COMPANY SCREWS TEXAS WORKERS
Another case of corporate sleaze involving top White House figures comes from Texas, where in a sweeping decision undermining worker rights, the state supreme court June 21 upheld the Halliburton company's controversial policy of forcing its employees into binding arbitration to resolve discrimination claims--a policy adopted under then-CEO (now Vice President) Dick Cheney. (Texans for Public Justice)
3. THE SUDAN CONNECTION: DID CLINTON LIE?
Former US Ambassador to the Sudan Tim Carney claims that the Clinton administration refused an offer from the Sudanese government to hand over accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s--contradicting former Clinton administration officials who have dismissed the story. "In fact, what was offered [by the Sudanese] was to expel bin Laden to Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis, because he was such a hot potato, simply refused to handle him," Carney told Alan Colmes Fox News. "Then, as I understand it, there was an offer to send him to us." The Clinton administration rebuffed the overture because, Carney said, "we did not have an indictment [against bin Laden] at the time."
Carney's account supports the claims of Pakistani-American "freelance diplomat" Mansour Ijaz that the Clinton administration blew the opportunity to capture bin Laden--and ultimately prevent the 9-11 attacks. While the press has largely ignored Ijaz's claims, former Clinton officials have launched a campaign to undermine his credibility. "He's lying," former Clinton spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri, now the chief representative for the Democratic National Committee, said in May. "The guy has absolutely no credibility. It's a joke. He's a crackpot."
( NewsMax.com, July 2)
4. PAKISTANI AUTHORITIES HUNTING FOR OSAMA'S SON?
Pakistani agencies are preparing a search operation in Faisalabad in response to reports about the presence of Osama bin Laden's son, Saeed bin Laden, in the central Punjabi city. US authorities reportedly obtained information about the presence of Saeed bin Laden and other al-Qaeda contacts in Faisalabad following the arrest of accused al-Qaeda operation chief Abu Zubaydah in March. (PNS, July 7)
5. GOVERNMENT SILENCING MOUSSAOUI?
Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man charged as a 9-11 conspirator, wants to testify before Congress. Moussaoui said he wants to tell lawmakers how the FBI had him and the 19 hijackers under surveillance before the attacks--and is responsible for allowing them to go ahead. "I, slave of Allah must be free to appear in front of the Congress hearing relating to the September 11 attack and the FBI," he said. Moussaoui requested the appearance in one of five handwritten motions released July 2 by US District Judge Leonie Brinkema. Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, is acting as his own lawyer.
Moussaoui was arrested in August after his conduct at a Minnesota flight school prompted employees to call the FBI. Moussaoui said the government chose not to arrest hijacker Hani Hanjour last summer because that would have tipped off the attackers that the FBI had them under surveillance.
"They arrested me and not Hanjour who was a few week before me at Pan Am Flight School...because they knew that I was not with the 19 hijackers and therefore they will not be alerted...by my arrest," the motion said, adding that the US government "cynically allow Sept. 11 in order to destroy Afghanistan." (Sic) (AP, July 3)
Moussaoui also contends the case against him is based on the unproven thesis that Osama bin Laden masterminded the 9-11 attacks. In a handwritten motion, Moussaoui called bin Laden "my brother in Islam and my Father in Jihad" adding, "May Allah protect him." He said both his court-appointed lawyers and Judge Brinkema "are trying to deceive me (and everybody else) by turning a speculation, an assumption, an hypothesis into a proof or theory, namely that Sept. 11 is an Osama bin Laden operation." Moussaoui suggested that if the theory is accepted as fact, the government could use his admission that he was in Afghanistan to assure his conviction. "So I am a Mujahadeen, if Allah accept me, I am a terrorist in your eyes (as terrorism is like beauty, it is in the eyes of the beholder)," Moussaoui wrote. "But it does not mean that I took part in Sept. 11. And the FBI knows it as they were monitoring all my movement and communications for quite a long time in the US and abroad."
"The U.S. government did not facilitate the movement of any of the 19 hijackers," Assistant US Attorney Robert Spencer said in response to Moussaoui's claim. "The US government did not have any of the 19 under surveillance while they were in the US." (CBS News, July 2) (However, the CIA has admitted to watching them overseas: see WW3 REPORT #37)
Moussaoui says he wants a reporter to conduct a jailhouse interview with him--a request which is unlikely to be granted. Moussaoui is held in near-total isolation in the Alexandria Detention Center, and is barred from seeing anyone but lawyers and family. (CSM, July 4) WW3 REPORT offers to interview Moussaoui, and appeals to the Justice Department for permission.
6. JUST WHO IS MAKING ALL THESE AMERICAN FLAGS, HUH?
The post 9-11 patriotic fervor has meant a windfall for manufacturers and retailers of the American flag. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokesman Tom Williams said the world's largest retail chain saw an unusual spike in patriotic items last fall. Wal-Mart sold 5 million flags from Sept. 11 through May 2002, more than tripling what it sold in the same period the year before. Smaller retailers also are benefiting, such as the Little Rock-based FlagandBanner.com, which has seen a 15% increase in net income since last year. To meet the surge in demand, the company hired seven new employees to augment its staff of 18. Its store, Arkansas Flag and Banner, has expanded by 1,000 square feet. And sales have predictably peaked in the prelude to Independence Day. "The flag business was once a quiet, predictable industry, but that all changed with Sept. 11," said Thomas D'Amico, president of online retailer American Flags Express, which has also hired more personnel to meet soaring demand. (AP, July 3)
However, the perennially paranoid Huey Freeman of "The Boondocks" comic strip had a typically sinister take on the booming flag industry: "I've been thinkin'," he mused to his sidekick Michael Caesar Oct. 15. "You know how they've frozen terrorist bank accounts all over the world? So pretend you're a terrorist organization strapped for cash. What would you do to get money...? Just who *is* making all these American flags, huh?"
THE WAR AT HOME
1. LAX GUNMAN LINK TO OSAMA?
US authorities, anxious to reassure the beleaguered air industry, have been slow to assign a terrorist motive to the July 4 shooting attack that left two dead at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport. Meanwhile, Israeli authorities, anxious to expand the US War on Terrorism to the Arab world, have been quick to find terrorist connections to the LAX gunman. On July 7, the Israeli paper Haaretz reported claims in the London-based al-Hayat Arabic daily that the gunman, Egyptian immigrant Hesham Mohammed Hadayet, met in the US with Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Al-Zawahiri in 1995 and again in 1998, while the latter was head of the al-Jihad organization in Egypt. Al-Zawahiri, who visited California in 1998, reportedly went on to become bin Laden's right-hand man. His current whereabouts are unknown. Hadayet, 41, was shot dead by an El Al security official soon after opening fire on the line at the ticket counter of Israel's national airline.
The US government had started deportation proceedings against Hadayet in 1996 but he gained US residency the following year when his wife received a visa. It is not clear what caused the Immigration & Naturalization Service to reject Hadayet's first petition for residency and begin deportation proceedings. Hadayet's uncle, Hassan Mostaffa Mahfouz, told AP in Egypt that Hadayet was happy in the US and planned to become a citizen. "I don't believe what happened," Mahfouz said. Egypt's al-Ahram daily reported July 6 that Egyptian authorities had no information about Hadayet and there was no evidence he had any links to extremist activities when he lived in Egypt.
2. STUDY: VIDEO-SNOOPING INEFFECTIVE; POLICE UNCONVINCED
Placing closed-circuit TV cameras in public places has little effect on crime, according to a new British report, but the UK government insists the cameras dissuade criminals and make people feel safe. The study came out just as police turned on a $4.5-million system blanketing the downtown area of Manchester, England's third largest city, with 400 video cameras. The report by the National Association for the Care & Resettlement of Offenders (NARCO) found that in 14 British cities using video surveillance, six recorded falling crime. In two others, crime actually increased. (CNSNews.com, June 28)
3. YEMENIS SEIZED IN BROOKLYN RAID
On June 26, federal and local agents from a joint terrorism task force arrested 19, mostly of Yemeni origin, in a series of early-morning raids near Atlantic Avenue in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The federal agents, who were heavily armed and clad in body armor, were from the FBI, INS and Customs Service. At least 16 of those arrested are charged with illegally transferring money abroad, and appear to have been operating transfer services for immigrants sending money home to family members. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly described the raids as focused on "a white-collar, money laundering case mostly centered in Brooklyn," which he said was "not necessarily related to terrorism." (Newsday, June 26, 27; Los Angeles Times July 1)
4. NY POST: INS NOT ZEALOUS ENOUGH
Frustrated patrolmen in New York had to free a suspicious gang of undocumented Middle Eastern immigrants because the INS "didn't want to be bothered" on the Memorial Day weekend, the New York Post griped May 30. Not knowing whether the detained men were "the hard-working immigrants they claimed to be or a terror gang plotting to wreak havoc, the local authorities had to let them walk," the Post reported. "The mystery men--some with phony ID and all admitted illegal immigrants
--could have been held if agents from the Immigration and Naturalization Service had bothered to show up." The paper quoted "one angry lawman" saying, "What's the point of stopping vans and risking your life when the one agency with power blows you off? And this is after Sept. 11." The van was stopped by Transit Police on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel because it had four men jammed in front--one more than is legal. On June 1, the Post quoted Rep. Mark Foley (R-FLA) saying in response to the incident that the INS "is about as salvageable as the Titanic."
5. FBI SNOOPS AT BOOKSTORES, LIBRARIES
For the first time since the Cold War, the FBI is visiting public libraries and bookstores to monitor the reading habits of those the government considers dangerous. Searches of library and bookstore records were authorized in Section 215 of the USA PATROIT Act, approved by Congress six weeks after 9-11. The FBI need not show evidence of criminal activity, or that the target is actually involved is terrorism or spying. Targets can include US citizens. The court that authorizes the searches--first established by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)--meets in secret, and librarians and booksellers are prohibited under threat of prosecution from revealing an FBI visit to anyone--including those whose records were seized. The only limitation is that the investigation cannot be based solely on First Amendment-protected activities, like speech or political organizing. The American Library Association, in guidelines adopted in January, advised the nation's librarians to "avoid creating unnecessary records" and to record information identifying patrons only "when necessary for the efficient operation of the library." Said Anne M. Turner, president of the California Library Association and director of the Santa Cruz library: "They can't find what we don't have."
Some librarians recall a similar showdown over a Cold War initiative that began in 1973. Herbert Foerstel was the head of College Park branch libraries at the University of Maryland in 1986 when he learned that FBI agents had approached staff at two science libraries and asked about the reading habits of anyone with a foreign-sounding name or foreign accent. Foerstel launched a Freedom of Information Act suit, and found that the FBI had been visiting science libraries around the nation for 13 years under a project called the Library Awareness Program. Foerstel testified at Congressional hearings on the program, and later wrote a book about it titled "Surveillance in the Stacks." He said the fears of library users began to subside when state governments passed laws making library records confidential--now in effect in every state except Kentucky and Hawaii. But the federal PATRIOT Act overrides state confidentiality laws. (San Francisco Chronicle, June 23) (For more on the PATRIOT Act's library monitoring program, see WW3 REPORT #17)
6. CONSERVATIVE REP CHEERS LYNNE STEWART PROSECUTION
GLIMMERS OF HOPE
In an April 9 letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) applauded him for that day's arrest and indictment of radical attorney Lynne Stewart (see interview, WW3 REPORT #40) for "materially aiding terrorism." The letter encouraged the Justice Department to look into possible connections between an alleged October 2000 call by her client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, for Muslims to "fight the Jews and kill them wherever they are" and the attempted fire-bombing of a synagogue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx that same month. Stewart was also representing the three defendants in the Riverdale synagogue attack. According to the letter, the teenagers defended their attempt to destroy the synagogue by stating "I did this because of the Palestinian/Jewish conflict."
1. MUNICIPAL REVOLT AGAINST PATRIOT ACT
Towns and cities across the country are staging a municipal revolt against the USA PATRIOT Act, saying it threatens civil rights. Over the last three months, the Massachusetts municipalities of Cambridge, Northampton, Amherst and Leverett all passed resolutions dissenting from the PATRIOT Act. The Massachusetts cities join Berkeley, CA, and Ann Arbor, MI, in taking a public stance against the PATRIOT Act. In Cambridge, where the measure passed the city council by 5-4 on June 17, the resolution reads, "We believe these civil liberties [freedom of speech, assembly and privacy; equality before the law; due process; and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures] are now threatened by the USA Patriot Act." The resolutions are largely symbolic, because local governments have no authority to compel federal law enforcement to comply. But Cambridge councilman Brian Murphy said, "We feel it is important that communities send a message that there is opposition to this act."
Even before the PATRIOT Act was passed, Portland, OR, announced that it's police would not cooperate with the FBI on investigations of Middle Eastern students in the city, maintaining that state law barred authorities from questioning immigrants who are not suspected of a crime. (See WW3 REPORT #11)
The city council of Boulder, CO, is considering a resolution similar to the ones passed in the six other cities, and Denver has passed a milder resolution expressing concerns that the PATRIOT Act could be implemented in a way that threatens civil liberties. The resolution "reaffirms Denver's commitment to unbiased policing," and states that the police should adhere to the policy that "no information about political, religious or social views, associations or activities should be collected unless the information relates to criminal activity and the subject is suspected of criminal activity."
Said Ann Arbor councilwoman Heidi Herrell: "At times like these, I think our constitutional rights are even more important. There have been times when we relaxed these things--the McCarthy era, the '60s civil rights struggle, the detention of the Japanese-Americans in World War II. We look back at those times with shame... I think this will be another time we look back on with shame. That's what I fear." (ABC News, July 1)
NEXT WEEK: THE FORGOTTEN FRONT IN LATIN AMERICA
COMING SOON: OUR LONG-DELAYED SPECIAL NYC REPORT--
THE CLOSING OF GROUND ZERO & THE NEW BATTLE FOR DOWNTOWN
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