#. 48. Aug. 26, 2002
ETHNIC WAR LOOMS IN IRAQ!
RUSSIAN GENERALS, WESTERN PETRO-OLIGRACHS:
GEORGIA ON THEIR MINDS!
IDF BLOCKS ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE ACTION--AGAIN!
CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: YELLOW
By Bill Weinberg
With David Bloom and Subuhi Jiwani, special correspondents
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Vicious Circle Goes 'Round
2. Courts Approve Demolitions
3. Hamas Cell Busted, East Jerusalem Network Revealed
4. Teddy Kollek: Divide Jerusalem
5. Seven Israeli Arabs Arrested for Helping Attacks
6. Mother of Seven Killed as Collaborator; Son is Tortured
7. Clashes Continue in Lebanon Refugee Camp
8. Widespread Looting in "Defensive Shield"
9. Ta'ayush Peace Action Again Blocked by IDF
THE IRAQ FRONT
1. Kurds Pledge to Resist Turkish Designs on their Homeland
2. Turkmen Pledge to Fight Kurds for Autonomy
3. Jihad Comes to Kurdistan
4. Berlin Embassy Stand-Off: Both Sides Charge "Terrorism"
5. Did Saddam Kill Abu Nidal?
6. Holocaust Survivor Accuses US of "Biological Warfare"
7. Forgotten History: Saddam-Rumsfeld Lovefest
ELSEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
1. Egypt to Close Suez Canal to US Warships in Iraq Attack
2. Egyptian Newspaper: Rumsfeld "New Hitler"
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. Operation Mountain Sweep Botched
2. US Forces Fired on, Call in Air-strike
3. US Soldiers, Afghan Allies in "Friendly" Fracas
4. Kandahar Air Base Guard Killed Threatening US Troops
5. Alleged al-Qaeda Chem Lab Discovered
6. Bomb Shuts Down Only Girls' School in Ghazni
7. Bomb Discovered In Kabul Market
8. Afghan Minister: Corrupt Officials Skim Aid
9. World Food Program Cuts Rations in Afghanistan
10. No al-Qaeda Leaders at Gitmo
11. Congressman: US Will be in Afghanistan for 5-10 Years
THE NEW GREAT GAME
1. CentCom Commander: Take War to Central Asia
2. Russian Defense Minister Seeks Military Control of Caspian
3. Turkmenbashi Made President for Life
4. Landmines Take Grisly Toll on Tajik-Uzbek Border
THE CAUCASUS FRONT
1. Russia and Georgia on Brink of War?
2. Pipeline Plans Fuel Georgia Unrest
3. Russian Chopper Down in Chechnya; Guerilla Factions Unite
4. Terrorists Behind Moscow Blast?
THE WAR AT HOME
1. Portland Rocks
2. Judge Stays Ruling on Detainee Name Release
3. INS Sued Over Indefinite Detention
4. INS Detainees Denied Medical Treatment at NJ Jail
5. Detainee Charges Abuse
6. Saudi Ex-Detainees to Sue US
7. Summary Mass Deportation to Pakistan
8. Human Rights Watch Blasts US
9. Documents Reveal FISA Dissent From Ashcroft
10. Anti-Muslim Terror Plot in Florida
11. Neo-Nazis March on Washington; Anti-Nazi Activists Busted
12. Drug Link to Ft. Bragg Killings?
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. "Future War" Games Rigged?
2. Agency Planned Plane-Crash Disaster Exercise for 9-11
3. FBI Cracks Down on Senate Leaks
4. 9-11 Survivors' Suit Charges Saudi-al-Qaeda Complicity
5. Islamic Link to Oklahoma City Redux
6. Jeb Appoints Terrorist Symp to Fla Supreme Court
(But It's OK, He's Cuban)
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1.VICIOUS CIRCLE GOES 'ROUND
Three Palestinians, including a 16-year old girl, were injured in the southern Gaza Strip when Israeli tanks located inside a neighboring Jewish settlement opened fire. Frequent exchanges of fire occur in the area. (AFP, Aug. 18)
A 13-year old Palestinian boy was killed Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) gunfire in the village of Birqin, 2 km southwest of Jenin. Clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in the Jenin refugee camp were reported. (AFP, Aug. 19)
Four Palestinians were wounded in fighting with the IDF Aug. 20 in the Tul Karm refugee camp. The IDF was searching for militants in the camp. (AFP, Aug. 20) In Tul Karm on Aug. 20, Issam Jayusi, a 27-year-old member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was killed in a gunfight with the IDF. (AFP, Aug. 20)
Also on Aug. 20, one Palestinian was killed and four were injured when the IDF blew up a four-story building in Khan Younis (AFP, Aug. 21)
On Aug. 20, Israeli undercover forces killed the brother of jailed PFLP leader Ahmed Saadat. He died in a shoot out while trying to escape capture, according to AFP. The PFLP vowed to avenge his death. (AFP, Aug. 22) The Palestinian human rights society LAW does not say Sa'adat was armed. They
term his death an extra-judicial execution, and say he was shot eight times
at close range. He tried to escape his attackers, but they pursued and killed him.
Because the army surrounded the area with jeeps, ambulances were unable to reach Sa'adat.
press release, Aug. 21)
Also on Aug. 20, a Palestinian teenager was shot dead by the IDF near Khan Younis
in the Southern Gaza Strip. (AFP, Aug. 20)
A Palestinian woman was killed and her son was injured when an explosion occurred when she entered the house of an Islamic Jihad leader in Tul Karm. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 23) Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer says the woman, 55, was on her way to conduct a suicide attack when her bomb exploded early. Palestinian reports say Amina Idris was killed and her son Ihab, 28, was wounded when a bomb exploded at a chicken factory belonging to Islamic Jihad member Hamdan Yassin. Islamic Jihad says Israel was responsible for Idris' death, claiming soldiers had planted the bomb, and detonated it by remote control in a failed assassination attempt on Yassin. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 23)
Also on Aug. 24, six Palestinian were wounded in an exchange of gunfire with Israeli troops. On Aug. 23, two Palestinians were killed while attacking an Israeli army post near Kfar Darom. One soldier was wounded. Israel demolished three houses and a brick building in Deir el-Balah in the Gaza Strip, near the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom. Palestinian security sources say the houses were inhabited. The IDF claims the buildings were empty, and used by Palestinian gunmen. (AFP, Aug. 24) One of the assailants was killed after a brief pursuit. A military source told AFP he had been killed after he "refused to surrender." (AFP, Aug. 23)
An al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades activist, Mohammed Hatem Hout, 26, was killed in a firefight with the IDF in Jenin Aug. 24. Four other Palestinians were wounded during the exchange. According to AFP, Hout's death brings to 2,456 the number of people killed during the Intifada since it began Sept. 2000. 1,811 of that number are Palestinian, 602 Israelis. (AFP, Aug. 24)
In Nablus Aug. 24, six Palestinians were injured by IDF tank fire. The Palestinians were throwing stones. The army claims a patrol was shot at from the direction of the stone throwers. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 24)
A Hamas sniper shot and killed a 19-year old Israeli soldier near the Gush Katif bloc of Jewish settlements in the central Gaza Strip. (AFP, Aug. 20) On Aug. 20, an Israeli was shot to death while driving near the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP, Aug. 20)
The IDF said Aug. 21 that Palestinian attempts to carry out attacks inside Israel were down, but that attacks on soldiers were on the increase. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 22)
On Aug. 23, two Palestinian were killed while attacking an Israeli army post near Kfar Darom. One soldier was wounded. Israel demolished three houses and a brick building in Deir el-Balah in the Gaza Strip, near the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom. Palestinian security sources say the houses were inhabited. the IDF claims the buildings were empty, and were used by Palestinian gunmen. (AFP, Aug. 24) (David Bloom)
2. COURTS APPROVE DEMOLITIONS
The IDF demolished a home of an accused militant in the Gaza Strip. The family of the militant appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court to stop it, but the court ruled the demolition was permissible since it might have a deterrent effect. (AFP, Aug. 21)
On Aug. 23, the IDF demolished the home of Mohand Shrem, a senior Hamas commander alleged to be responsible for the March 27 attack in Netanya, that killed 29 Israelis and spared Operation Defensive Shield. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 25) Residents say 11 were left homeless by destruction of the four-story building. (BBC, Aug. 23) (David Bloom)
3. HAMAS CELL BUSTED, EAST JERUSALEM NETWORK REVEALED
Israeli security forces arrested a 15 -person Hamas cell, including four members from East Jerusalem. The East Jerusalem activists had blue Israeli identity cards, which facilitated their logistic support for suicide bombers from the West Bank. The cards enable them to work and travel freely within Israel. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 22) Israel has begun legal proceedings to demolish the men's homes, and revoke their residency status. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 23; Aug. 25) (David Bloom)
4. TEDDY KOLLEK: DIVIDE JERUSALEM
Former longtime Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek said Aug. 22 that Palestinians should be granted control over parts of the city, including some disputed Old City holy sites. Kollek said the 200,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem should not be under Israeli control. "Listen, they [the Palestinians] have been sitting there for so many years and feel that it is theirs. You can't achieve calm if you don't give them part of what they want and can control. There's no solution without this," Kollek, mayor from 1965-1993, told Army Radio. "I think there needs to be an arrangement and we need to give something to them [the Arab residents of Jerusalem] and have part for ourselves. It will never be easy." Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, annexed to Israel after1967, have Israeli residency and receive Israeli social benefits. They are eligible to vote in municipal elections, which they boycott. (AP, Aug. 22) (David Bloom)
5. SEVEN ISRAELI ARABS ARRESTED FOR HELPING ATTACKS
Seven Israeli Arabs have been arrested under suspicion of being accomplices in the Meron Junction bus bombing on Aug. 4, which killed nine and wounded many. The seven are all from the same clan, and are alleged to have provided support to the bomber. Less than 100 Israeli Arabs have been arrested for aiding Palestinian attacks since the beginning of the Intifada, out of one million total Israeli Arabs . (H a'aretz, Aug. 27) Public Security Minister Uzi Landau may ask the defense establishment to demolish two of the suspects' homes. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 27) (David Bloom)
6. MOTHER OF SEVEN KILLED AS COLLABORATOR; SON IS TORTURED
Al-Aksa Martyr's Brigade executed a Ikhlas Khouli, a 35-year-old mother of seven from Tul Karm Aug. 24, on charges of collaboration with the Israeli security establishment. Her son, Bakir Khouli, 17, claims he was tortured by al-Aksa into saying his mother was guilty. "They accused me of helping Israeli intelligence," he told AP. "When they started beating me with this wire, I confessed and invented a story." Bakir told his assailants his mother told the Israelis where they could find Ziad Daas, an al-Aksa leader killed Aug. 7. Ikhlas Bakir was then taken from her home, and her confession videotaped by al-Aksa before they killed her. An al-Aksa leader says Khouli admitted her guilt and admitted recruiting her son, adding the group is compelled to "strike with an iron hand" to counter collaboration with Israel. "I know that this woman had children but we had no choice. We left her son alive to take care of the children," he said. As to why his group resorted to torture, the source said: "This is the only way you can get confessions from such people who betray their people." (AP, Aug. 25, BBC 25) Although AP published a grisly picture of Bakir's back after he was beaten by al-Aksa, there is no mention of torture in the Palestine Chronicle's coverage of Khouli's execution. (PalestineChronicle.com, Aug. 25) (David Bloom)
7. CLASHES CONTINUES IN LEBANON REFUGEE CAMP
Albawaba.com reports clashes between Islamist groups in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, recently the scene of clashes between Fatah and al-Qaeda followers. No one was hurt in the Ain El-Hilweh camp near Sidon. The fighting was between Jamaat al-Nour activists from Lebanon's Dunniyeh region, allegedly linked to al-Qaeda, and Usbat al-Ansar, a radical Sunni group who have reportedly received money from bin Laden in the past, but have since distanced themselves. The Dunniyeh group threw hand grenades and fired machine guns at Usbat al-Ansar militants. Usbat al-Ansar has joined with Fatah and other Palestinian organizations at the camp in asking the Dunniyeh group to leave the camp within two weeks. (Albawaba.com, Aug. 18, UK Independent Aug. 23) (see WW3 REPORT #47) (David Bloom)
8. WIDESPREAD LOOTING IN "DEFENSIVE SHIELD"
A former IDF soldier interviewed on Israeli Radio Aug. 25 described how he and other soldiers looted Palestinian property during Operation Defensive Shield last spring. The army says it is investigating 35 such cases. The soldier, interviewed as "Danny," described how troops would steal from Palestinian homes. "During each search, the head of the family was meant to accompany the soldiers to every room. What we would do is take the man to one room as the soldiers searched other rooms, and they would pocket things while out of his sight," he said. "When it came to commanding officers, some knew about it and some were involved. When it came to squad leaders, all of them knew and were involved." In June, while still enlisted, "Danny" complained to his superiors about the looting. "They said they could not get involved until the military police arrested the soldiers. And when a soldier was caught, he was thrown out of the regiment--not for looting, but for getting caught." In one incident, the company commander demanded the men turn in their booty. "The soldiers gave up the small stuff, but kept a large quantity of handguns, jewelry and cash," Danny said. (Reuters, Aug. 25) (David Bloom)
9. TA'AYUSH PEACE ACTION AGAIN BLOCKED BY IDF
The joint Arab-Jewish activist group Ta'ayush, or Co-existence, was largely blocked by the IDF from reaching Nablus with a convoy of food. 350-400 activists with two trucks full of humanitarian aid tried to go to Nablus on Aug. 2 in response to requests from local citizens, who have been under an almost non-stop curfew since June 20. The convoy was first stopped at the Tupauh junction checkpoint, where IDF troops told the activists the area had been declared a closed military zone. The activists continued to Nablus on foot. The IDF set up frequent roadblocks, but the activists simply walked around them, heading to the village of Huuarah, whose inhabitants had also requested the activists visit. Ta'ayush and 200 villagers held a joint peace demonstration, defying a curfew. The group then continued toward Nablus. The IDF brought in 10 tanks and blocked Ta'ayush's further progress. The army ordered the buses that they previously blocked to come and get the activists. Before boarding them, the activists escorted the Palestinian villagers back to their homes to make sure they would arrive safely. The IDF did allow trucks carrying the humanitarian aid to get through to Nablus, accompanied by only one member of Ta'ayush. In Nablus, the IDF fired tear gas at Palestinian demonstrators who had gathered to meet Ta'ayush. Palestinian youths threw stones at the IDF. (AFP, AP, Aug. 24, Coalition of Women4 Peace, Aug. 26)
Shabtai Gold is the Ta'ayush activist who entered Nablus with the aid convoy. "Here the curfew has not been lifted in 65 days," Gold writes for Israeli Indymedia. "Due to this, the food here is scarce, medicine is running out, and the entire city lives in severely unsanitary conditions. The constant IDF bombings, including air-to-ground missiles, which the IDF claims not to use in civilian areas, has left parts of the city in ruins... Parts of the city look, to me, simply too hazardous to even walk through them. We arrived at the hospital with the truck containing food and medicine. The truck with the wheat went to the UNICEF warehouse. While we were unloading the contents of the truck the ambulances did not stop coming in. Mostly children who were injured by the IDF. Several had serious wounds, including head injuries caused by tank fire. Tens of other wounded people could not be cleared since the IDF did not allow it. People in Nablus could not believe that I was a Jew. I spoke Hebrew to make sure they knew this. They could not believe that a Jew could be delivering food and medicine at the same time as the 'Jewish Army' was attacking their children randomly." (Israel Indymedia, Aug. 25)
The IDF violently blocked a similar action by Ta'ayush Aug. 10 (see WW3 REPORT #46) (David Bloom)
THE IRAQ FRONT
1. KURDS PLEDGE TO RESIST TURKISH DESIGNS ON THEIR HOMELAND
Washington's plans for a new attack on Iraq is exacerbating tensions between Turkey and a main Iraqi Kurdish faction--both vital allies in any US military action against Saddam Hussein's regime. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls half of the autonomous Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, warned that it will turn northern Iraq into a "graveyard" for the Turks--while Turkey announced it will cut off the border trade which is a critical source of funding for the KDP.
Turkey has long been suspicious that Iraq's Kurds plan to turn their autonomous zone into an independent state--which could serve as an inspiration for Kurdish guerillas in Turkish territory. Turkish officials have repeatedly warned Washington that Turkey will never accept a Kurdish state and that any post-Saddam Hussein Iraq cannot include Kurdish independence. Iraq's Kurds, in turn, fear Turkish domination and are angered by Turkish politicians' recent statements suggesting that oil-rich areas of northern Iraq--including the Kurdish region--should be annexed to Turkey.
Iraq was part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire for centuries, and Kurdistan was divided between the new states of Turkey and Iraq after the empire fell in World War I (with smaller parts also going to Iran and Syria). Turkish nationalists today question the treaty that divided the region, and want the Iraqi zone back under Turkish control. "It is an area which had been forcibly separated," Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu told reporters Aug. 20. "Northern Iraq is under our safekeeping."
The KDP responded angrily to Cakmakoglu's statement. "Do they expect to implement their own filthy objective in the US attack on Iraq?" Brayeti, the KDP's newspaper, asked in an editorial. "Let them try their luck in today's Kurdistan. They will...witness that this nation will turn...Kurdistan into a graveyard for those who attack it." The Turkish press counter-responded with equal outrage. Columnist Sami Kohen wrote in the Milliyet newspaper Aug, 22 that KDP leader Massoud "Barzani should understand that he does not have the luxury to lose the support of Turkey. It would very useful for the US to remind him of this again."
Turkey has traditionally been a sponsor of the KDP in its resistance against their mutual enemy Saddam Hussein, but Turkish authorities recently cracked down on the cross-border smuggling of diesel fuel and other goods which has sustained the KDP's autonomous zone for the past ten years. Sources say that the KDP has only been able to pay half the salaries of officials due to the cutoff in trade. (AP, Aug. 22)
See also WW3 REPORT #47
2. TURKMEN PLEDGE TO FIGHT KURDS FOR AUTONOMY
A draft constitution for post-Saddam Iraq circulated by Kurdish leaders in Washington during their recent visit designated the city of Kirkuk as the capital of an autonomous Kurdish federation. Kirkuk, presently in the hands of Saddam's forces, is the heart of an oil-rich region and lies just south of the enclave currently controlled by Kurdish militias. But, as journalist Asla Aydintasbas writes in a New Republic article picked up by the website of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations, "The problem for the Bush administration is that the Kurds are not the only contenders for the city. Iraq's Turkmen minority--ethnic Turks who insist they constitute a majority in the city--vow they will not live under Kurdish rule. And Turkey, which greatly fears Kurdish nationalism (given the secessionist inclinations of the Kurds within its borders), considers itself the guardian of its ethnic brethren inside Iraq. The government in Ankara recently informed Washington that it will do whatever it takes to protect Turkmen interests--including invading Kurdish areas of northern Iraq."
During a recent visit to Ankara, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was told by Turkey's military brass that if Kirkuk is promised to the Kurds, they won't back an attack on Iraq. Aydintasbas reports that one senior Turkish official told him that protection of Iraq's Turkmen (also rendered "Turkomans") is "a red line for us."
At Ankara's urging, the US State Department is negotiating with Turkmen leaders about their interests in a post-Saddam Iraq. The Turkmen Front, a coalition of Turkmen groups, is active within the Iraqi opposition to Saddam. But Turkmen complain they never get as much attention as the Kurds--despite the fact that they too suffer repression and mass deportations at the hands of Iraq's brutal regime. "Whenever Iraq is mentioned, it is about Saddam, the oil, or the plight of the Kurds. We are absent from the debate," protested Kirkuk-born Orhan Ketene, Washington representative of the Iraqi Turkmen Front. Backed by Ankara, Turkmen oppose Kurdish proposals for a federal Iraq divided between Kurdish and Arab entities. They demand that any federative Iraq include a Turkmen entity on the "Turkmen strip" stretching from the Syrian to Iranian border--and including Kirkuk. A recent Turkmen Front statement reads: "Turkmen areas in Iraq cannot be the subject of negotiations... The world has to know that if there is an attempt to negotiate the land we live on, we would protect it at all costs."
The Kurds are just as adamant that a US-backed overthrow of Saddam leave Kirkuk in their hands. "Turkmen are really overreacting," said Dr. Najmaldin Karim, president of the Washington Kurdish Institute (www.kurd.org), arguing that the decade of Kurdish rule in northern Iraq has benefited the country's Turkmen and that Kurd-Turkmen tensions stem from meddling by Ankara. At a conference at American University earlier this summer on the future of Iraqi Kurdistan, someone from the audience asked the panelists, "If there is a Kurdish federation in future Iraq, will you demand Kirkuk to be part of that?" The audience erupted in boisterous applause.
But Aydintasbas writes that it's virtually impossible to determine which side has a better claim to the city. "The 1957 census--the sole reliable count in Iraq and the only one in which Iraqis were allowed to declare their mother tongue--placed Turkmen as the country's third-largest ethnic group, after Arabs and Kurds (8.5 percent to 21 percent of the nation as a whole). Based on that ratio, Iraq today is estimated to contain between 1.5 million and two million Turkmen, largely city dwellers who live in
areas still controlled by Baghdad--including Kirkuk." Turkmen leader Ketene told Aydintasbas, "despite years of Arabization, we still have the majority inside the city."
"Starting from the fourteenth and fifteenth century, the area around Kirkuk has been dominated by Turkmen, and that remained unchanged till the establishment of the modern state," concurred Magnus Bernhardsson, Hofstra University historian and author of an upcoming book on the use of archaeology in forging nationalism in modern Iraq. But Bernhardsson notes that Kirkuk's demographics started tilting toward the Kurds in the 1930s, with an influx of migrant workers to the region's oilfields. This influx continued into the 1980s--when Kurds fled to Kirkuk after their villages were destroyed by Saddam. Bernhardsson believes the city may now have more Kurds than Turkmen. He calls Kirkuk "a classic case of demographic reality versus historic rights."
Tensions between Kurds and Turkmen have more than once exploded into violence. In 1998 and 2000, there were clashes between the Turkmen Front and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Erbil. Since 1991's Operation Desert Storm, the Kurdish-controlled autonomous zone to Kirkuk's north has experienced a kind of renaissance--"the Kurdish spring"--which has benefited Turkmen and other ethnic minorities. Liberalizing of education and media in the Kurdish zone has meant the emergence of a private Turkmen TV station and 19 Turkish-language schools--something unthinkable in areas under Baghdad's control. But Aydintasbas reports growing instances of harassment of Turkmen by Kurdish authorities--especially in the zone controlled by the KDP. Local Turkmen complain of discrimination in hiring, not being allowed to sing the Turkmen national anthem, and being forced to fly the KDP flag in Turkmen schools. Ketene fears that a Kurdish takeover of Kirkuk could bring similar repression--or eve a repeat of a grisly incident in 1959, when the city's Turkmen community was violently attacked by Kurdish mobs, leaving several dead.
Michael Rubin, an Iraq expert at the American Enterprise Institute, said the US "won't be able to solve this problem ahead of time, especially with no reliable data. What is needed is a census with an independent body after the city is occupied by someone other than Saddam Hussein." But getting either side to compromise is not going to be easy. Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two Kurdish factions which control the northern autonomous zone, recently said, "Kirkuk is our Jerusalem."
Meanwhile, Kurds and Turkmen alike are being purged from Kirkuk under Saddam's policy of "Arabization"--as are Assyrians, a smaller ethnic minority who follow the Chaldean Christian church and are also mobilizing to defend their interests in the post-Saddam order. (See "Saddam 'Cleansing" Kurds, Assyrians," WW3 REPORT #45)
3. JIHAD COMES TO KURDISTAN
Didar Mohammed, 19, was arrested by Kurdish authorities in the northern Iraq town of Sulaimaniya, with TNT strapped to his chest--apparently in preparation for Iraq's first suicide bombing. He changed his mind at the last minute, and was taken into custody by the security forces he intended to blow up. "I believed it was right to kill the officials because they were unbelievers. I was doing my duty in the holy struggle for a true Islamic state in Kurdistan," he said in a jailhouse interview with the UK's Observer. "Until the last moment I was happy to die." Kurdish authorities say Didar was a member of the Jund-ul-Islam, a new extremist group operating in the region . (UK Observer, Aug. 25)
See also WW3 REPORT #47
4. BERLIN EMBASSY STAND-OFF: BOTH SIDES CHARGE "TERRORISM"
Iraq condemned the occupation of its embassy in Berlin by a dissident group as "terrorist aggression" by agents of the Israeli and US intelligence services. "Armed terrorists from the mercenaries of the American and Zionist intelligence services attacked our embassy in Berlin, hurting an employee and holding the rest of the employees inside the building," the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement. A previously unknown group, the Democratic Iraqi Opposition of Germany, said in its statement: "In the name of the Iraqi people and their legitimate leadership, the Iraqi opposition, we declare that the liberation of Iraqi soil begins today. We are taking over the Iraqi Embassy in Berlin and with this the first step in the liberation of our beloved fatherland. This first step against the terrorist regime of Saddam Hussein and his killers, which is taking place with a peaceful purpose, is intended to make the German people, its organizations and its political powers understand that our people have a desire to be free and will act on it." (CNN, Aug. 20)
A spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress, an Iraqi exile group, condemned the hostage-taking and said it did not represent the Iraqi opposition. ''We confine our war of liberation to Iraq proper,'' the spokesman said in London. ''We are trying to get more information on these people. We do not condone such violence.'' But he added: "The attack shows the frustration felt by the Iraqis, especially from the German government, which is opposing the removal of the dictator.'' Germany has refused to support George Bush's calls for military action against Saddam Hussein. German police stormed the embassy and arrested five hostage-takers, ending the six-hour stand-off. (Indian Express, Aug. 20)
5. DID SADDAM KILL ABU NIDAL?
Palestinian arch-terrorist Abu Nidal, 65, was found shot to death in his Baghdad apartment Aug. 20, in what Iraqi authorities called a suicide. But the UK Telegraph reported Aug. 25 that Abu Nidal was murdered on the orders of Saddam Hussein after refusing to train al-Qaeda fighters based in Iraq. The paper claimed that "Despite claims by Iraqi officials that Abu Nidal committed suicide after being implicated in a plot to overthrow Saddam, Western diplomats now believe he was killed for refusing to reactivate his international terrorist network." Abu Nidal, whose real name was Sabri al-Banna, had been in Baghdad for months as Saddam's personal guest, and was being treated for skin cancer. The Telegraph claimed he came under pressure from Saddam to help train al-Qaeda fighters who moved to northern Iraq after fleeing Afghanistan. When Abu Nidal refused, Saddam ordered his intelligence chiefs to assassinate him. He was shot dead by Iraqi security forces who burst into his Baghdad apartment. "There is no doubt that Abu Nidal was murdered on Saddam's orders," the paper quoted an anonymous US official who had studied intelligence reports on the death. "He paid the price for not co-operating with Saddam's wishes."
During its 30-year history, the Abu Nidal organization--also known as Black September and the Fatah Revolutionary Council--was responsible for nearly 1,000 deaths in 20 countries including the US, UK, Israel, and various Arab states. One of Abu Nidal's most infamous attacks--though not his bloodiest--was the 1982 attempted assassination of Israeli ambassador to Britain Shlomo Argov, which sparked Israel's invasion of Lebanon to clear out Palestinian militants. Argov was gunned down outside his home, but survived. Abu Nidal was also held responsible for the massacre of 22 Jews at an Istanbul synagogue in 1986, and coordinated attacks on El Al ticket desks in Rome and Vienna which killed 18 and wounded 120 in 1985. He also targeted leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organizaiton (PLO), which he broke from in the early '70s. Abu Nidal was held responsible for the 1991 assassination of Yasser Arafat's deputy, Abu Iyad (Salah Khalaf), who had called on the PLO to condemn Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Abu Nidal was also believed responsible for the murder of several Jordanian officials following Jordan's 1970 crackdown on the PLO, known as Black September. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 20)
6. HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR ACCUSES U.S. OF "BIOLOGICAL WARFARE"
An article by Ramzi Kysia on the Common Dreams website shows US claims that Iraq is developing biological weapons in a stark light. According to UNICEF reports, at least 500,000 Iraqi children have died over the last 11 years as a result of Operation Desert Storm and subsequent sanctions. Dr. Thomas Nagy, a Holocaust survivor and professor at George Washington University in Washington DC, claims the US is perpetrating a new holocaust in Iraq. After analyzing recently declassified U.S. military documents describing plans to destroy Iraq's civilian water supply during the Gulf War, Dr. Nagy presented a report to the US chapter of the Association of Genocide Scholars last summer, arguing that the purposeful destruction of Iraq's water treatment facilities amounted to "a plan for achieving extermination without the need of constructing extermination camps."
Dr. Rania Masri, an environmental scientist at the US Institute for Southern Studies, also believes that the United States is waging what amounts to biological warfare against Iraqi civilians. Says Dr. Masri, "When the United States bombed water and sewage treatment centers throughout Iraq during the Gulf War, and then blockaded their repair with the sanctions, it was entirely predictable that massive numbers of people would get sick and die. This is a form of biological warfare, and it is both illegal and profoundly immoral."
According to a report by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the Security Council in September, "[a]ccess to clean water is still far less than the demand, and sewage-flooded streets, caused by sewer blockages, have become a common phenomenon..." Another report by Annan found that "despite the availability of drugs against amoebic dysentery, hydatidosis, toxoplasmosis, typhoid and visceral leishmaniasis, these diseases are not under control due to the poor state of water, environmental sanitation and related infrastructures." Both reports also repeatedly criticize the "unacceptably high level of holds" placed on humanitarian supplies in the UN Sanctions Committee. Although Iraq has sold over $50 billion worth of oil under the "Oil-for-Food" prorgam, less than $23 billion worth of supplies have been received.
Faris al-Asam, director-general for Planning and Monitoring for Baghdad's Water and Sewage Authority, complained bitterly about the UN's bureaucratic obstacles: "This is one of the basic reasons why we have deficiency. When you start working on any positive move ╔you will find difficulties. Hundreds and hundreds of silly questions ╔ You answer them, they give you more questions."
Writer Ramzi Kysia is a Muslim-American peace activist working with the Education for Peace in Iraq Center . He filed his report from Iraq, where he is working with the group Voices in the Wilderness to help set up an Iraq Peace Team , an effort to place 100 US activists in Iraq prior to any military attack.
See also: "Did US Plot to Poison Iraq's Water?", WW3 REPORT #23
7. FORGOTTEN HISTORY: SADDAM-RUMSFELD LOVEFEST
"Saddam Hussein is a man who is willing to gas his own people, willing to use weapons of mass destruction against Iraq citizens," President Bush reminded the world in a March 22 White House press release. True enough. But there's just one hitch: the US was supporting the dictator, when he did so--and continued that support straight through to Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait!
Finally, a US newspaper reminded readers of this reality Aug. 18, with a front-page New York Times story, "Officers Say US Aided Iraq in War Despite Use Of Gas." Citing dissident Pentagon sources, the article detailed US military and intelligence assistance to Saddam for his war against Iran--even after his March 1988 gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja, which killed 5,000. The article also asserted the White House knew that Saddam was using chemical weapons against Iranian troops, in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Read the lead paragraph: "A covert American program during the Reagan administration provided Iraq with critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war, according to senior military officers with direct knowledge of the program. Those officers, most of whom agreed to speak on the condition that they not be identified, spoke in response to a reporter's questions about the nature of gas warfare on both sides of the conflict between Iran and Iraq from 1981 to 1988. Iraq's use of gas in that conflict is repeatedly cited by President Bush and, this week, by his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, as justification for 'regime change' in Iraq."
But the article could have gone much further. It failed to point out the complicity of current top White House officials in supporting Saddam's genocidal dictatorship in the 1980s. Writes Jeremy Scahill in an Aug. 2 story for the CommonDreams website, "The Saddam in Rumsfeld's Closet":
"Five years before Saddam Hussein's now infamous 1988 gassing of the Kurds, a key meeting took place in Baghdad that would play a significant role in forging close ties between Saddam Hussein and Washington. It happened at a time when Saddam was first alleged to have used chemical weapons. The meeting in late December 1983 paved the way for an official restoration of relations between Iraq and the US, which had been severed since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. With the Iran-Iraq war escalating, President Ronald Reagan dispatched his Middle East envoy, a former secretary of defense, to Baghdad with a hand-written letter to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and a message that Washington was willing at any moment to resume diplomatic relations. That envoy was Donald Rumsfeld."
Rumsfeld's December 1983 visit to Baghdad made him the highest-ranking US official to visit Iraq in 6 years. "[Saddam] made it clear that Iraq was not interested in making mischief in the world," Rumsfeld later told The New York Times. "It struck us as useful to have a relationship, given that we were interested in solving the Mideast problems." Just 12 days after the meeting, on January 1, 1984, the Washington Post reported that the US "in a shift in policy, has informed friendly Persian Gulf nations that the defeat of Iraq in the 3-year-old war with Iran would be 'contrary to U.S. interests' and has made several moves to prevent that result." In March 1984, Rumsfeld was back in Baghdad for meetings with Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. On March 24, UPI reported: "Mustard gas laced with a nerve agent has been used on Iranian soldiers in the 43-month Persian Gulf War between Iran and Iraq, a team of UN experts has concluded... Meanwhile, in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, US presidential envoy Donald Rumsfeld held talks with Foreign Minister Tarek Aziz [sic] on the Gulf war before leaving for an unspecified destination." The very day before, the Iranian news agency alleged that Iraq launched another chemical weapons assault
on the battlefront, injuring 600 Iranian soldiers.
Commenting on the UN report, US Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick was quoted by the New York Times saying, "We think that the use of chemical weapons is a very serious matter. We've made that clear in general and particular." Comments Scahill: "Compared with the rhetoric emanating from the current administration, based on speculations about what Saddam might have, Kirkpatrick's reaction was hardly a call to action." Scahill also notes that on hi Baghdad visit, Rumsfeld "said nothing about the allegations of chemical weapons use." On the contrary, the New York Times reported from Baghdad on March 29, 1984, "American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with relations between Iraq and the United States and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been restored in all but name." Full diplomatic ties were restored later that year, shortly after Rumsfeld resigned. Two years later, in an article about Rumsfeld's aspirations to run for the 1988 Republican Presidential nomination, the Chicago Tribune Magazine listed among his achievements helping to "reopen US relations with Iraq." The Tribune failed to mention that this help came at a time when--according to both the UN and State Department--Iraq was actively using chemical weapons.
Scahill also notes: "Throughout the period that Rumsfeld was Reagan's Middle East envoy, Iraq was frantically purchasing hardware from American firms, empowered by the White House to sell. The buying frenzy began immediately after Iraq was removed from the list of alleged sponsors of terrorism in 1982." According to a Feb. 13, 1991 Los Angeles Times article: "First on Hussein's shopping list was helicopters--he bought 60 Hughes helicopters and trainers with little notice. However, a second order of 10 twin-engine Bell 'Huey' helicopters, like those used to carry combat troops in Vietnam, prompted congressional opposition in August, 1983... Nonetheless, the sale was approved."
In response to the Halabja gassing, sweeping sanctions were unanimously passed by the US Senate that would have denied Iraq access to most US technology. The measure was killed by the White House. Writes Scahill: "Extensive research uncovered no public statements by Donald Rumsfeld publicly expressing even remote concern about Iraq's use or possession of chemical weapons until the week Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990..."
See also: "Historical Revisionism and the Halabja Massacre--Again!", WW3 REPORT #39
ELSEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
1. EGYPT TO CLOSE SUEZ CANAL TO U.S. WARSHIPS IN IRAQ ATTACK
Dr. Oasma al-Baz, political advisor to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said Egypt will not allow US warships headed for Iraq to pass through the Suez Canal. Al-Baz said Egypt rejects any military operation against Iraq, calling any attack a dangerous step endangering the security of the Middle East region. (IPS, Aug. 17)
2. EGYPTIAN NEWSPAPER: RUMSFELD "NEW HITLER"
Egypt's pro-government press have launched a series of vitriolic attacks on the US following the Bush administration's decision not to increase financial aid to the North African nation--even comparing some White House officials to the Nazis. "[Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld is a new Hitler in America," wrote columnist Kamal Abd Al-Raouf for the government weekly Akhbar Al-Yaum last week, predicting he would soon "meet his fate, like the other crazies relegated to the dustbin of history." (WorldNetDaily.com, Aug. 23)
The US halted delivery of new economic aid to Egypt last week after Cairo had Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a rights campaigner with joint US-Egyptian citizenship, imprisoned on charges of "tarnishing" the image of the Egyptian state . (BBC, Aug. 15)
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. OPERATION MOUNTAIN SWEEP BOTCHED
Since Aug. 18, the US military has been conducting its largest operation since March's Operation Anaconda--this time called Operation Mountain Sweep. 1,000 troops are taking part in the operation. So far, Mountain Sweep has netted a Soviet-made T-55 tank and a BTR-60 armored personnel carrier in a cave in Sobol Province. It has also netted other arms caches, and copious documents belonging to the former Taliban regime. (UPI, Aug. 23) It has not netted any al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders. The two top intended targets, a Taliban intelligence officer in the Khost region, and an suspected al-Qaeda financier, have eluded capture. The financier apparently escaped to Pakistan Eleven minor Taliban and al-Qaeda suspects were captured. "Nobody was there, no enemy," said US Army Cpl. Ryan Stran. "At our first objective, we got to the compound and cleared it. It was just a school. It was either misinformation, or whatever was there, they pulled out." (CNN, Aug. 25) Mountain Sweep's commander indicated the suspects may have been tipped off: "It was clear to me there was advance warning at each site we went to," said Colonel James Huggins, commander the 3rd Brigade taskforce of the 82nd Airborne division. (UK Guardian, Aug. 26) (David Bloom)
2. US FORCES FIRED ON, CALL IN AIR-STRIKE
US forces taking part in operations in eastern Afghanistan came under rocket attack Aug. 25 and called in air support. A US A-10 Warthog attack aircraft came and strafed the position from where the rockets were fired. There are no reports of casualties from the strike near Asadabad in Kunar province, close to the Pakistan border. (Reuters, Aug. 25) (David Bloom)
3. U.S. SOLDIERS, AFGHAN ALLIES IN "FRIENDLY" FRACAS
US troops on patrol in southeastern Afghanistan got into a gun-battle with their Afghan allies at a checkpoint on Aug. 20. The firefight, which lasted ten minutes, occurred when US soldiers could not come up with the password at the checkpoint that would allow them to use the road at night. It is not clear who shot first. No one was hurt. Husainkhil, a commander loyal to Hamid Karzai, called the incident a "misunderstanding." (AP, Aug. 23) (David Bloom)
4. KANDAHAR AIR BASE GUARD KILLED THREATENING U.S. TROOPS
A man who was hired to guard a checkpoint near Khandahar air base was killed in a firefight by Afghan forces who tried to arrest him after he threatened to attack US nationals. Two Afgan militiamen were also killed in the firefight. When militiamen tried to get the guard to surrender, he said "You are sons of Americans. I want to kill them and you,'' and opened fire. The militiamen returned fire and killed him, hanging his body from a post for two hours, until it was removed by authorities. (AP, Aug. 22) (David Bloom)
5. ALLEGED AL-QAEDA CHEM LAB DISCOVERED
Radio Kabul reports that Afghan security forces discovered a cache of 16 types of chemicals and explosives from a suspected al-Qaeda laboratory in Kabul. The Laboratory was found in a house formerly occupied by Saudi non-governmental organization Wafa. Wafa is an organization linked to al-Qaeda by the US. (Las Vegas Sun, Aug. 2) CNN also aired tapes of dogs dying after being exposed to chemical agents, allegedly uncovered from an al-Qaeda video library in Afghanistan. (NYT, Aug. 19) (David Bloom)
6. BOMB SHUTS DOWN ONLY GIRLS' SCHOOL IN GHAZNI
The blast from a bomb planted by likely Taliban remnants has closed the only girls' school in the town of Ghazni, west of Kabul, according to residents. No one was hurt in the explosion, but several classrooms were badly damaged. The blast occurred two days after rockets had been fired on US forces on the southern edge of the town. Leaflets warning women would be killed if they returned to the school were spread around town after the attack. "The leaflets said that the Taliban have not gone," said Shireen Agha, a local restauranteur. "They said: 'We are still here. We will kill women if they come to school again'. So now the school is shut as women students and lecturers are too frightened to open it." (Aug. 24)(David Bloom)
7. BOMB DISCOVERED IN KABUL MARKET
Afghan security officials found a bomb Aug. 20 in a crowded bazaar about a third of a mile from the US embassy in Kabul. The device, a gas container packed with several pounds of explosives, was found in a shop in the bazaar. The shop's owner is being questioned. "We would have seen a lot of destruction and killing if the explosives had gone off in the bazaar," one official said. On July 31, a car laden with several hundred pounds of explosives was discovered by authorities in Kabul, part of a likely assassination plot on government leaders. (see WW3 REPORT #45). A small bomb went off outside the tele-communications ministry Aug. 15. (Reuters, Aug. 20) On Aug. 25 one person was hurt when a bomb went off in front of a UN guest house in Kabul. (AP, Aug. 25) (David Bloom)
8. AFGHAN MINISTER: CORRUPT OFFICIALS SKIM AID
Afghan Planning Minister Mohamed Mohaqeq says his ministry is being bypassed and that aid money is being funneled through well-connected people in the government instead. While a UN official says the system is accountable, Mohaqeq counters that it is in chaos, and he personally knows of a group of people who are receiving $10,000 to $15,000 a month from aid earmarked for reconstruction. Large amounts of money are being spent on luxury goods, he asserts . (BBC, Aug. 23) (David Bloom)
9. WORLD FOOD PROGRAM CUTS RATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN
A lack of funds promised by donor nations is forcing the UN World Food Program (WFP) to cut rations for millions of Afghans it currently feeds. Six million Afghans will require food aid in the next year, according to the UN. The WFP requested $285 million for the year, but is short $90 million. (LA Times, Aug. 19) (David Bloom)
10. NO AL-QAEDA LEADERS AT GITMO
The US has been unable to identify any senior al-Qaeda leaders among the nearly 600 prisoners it has been holding at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Intelligence, law enforcement and military authorities are said to be frustrated by this failure. They had hoped to get more useful information about global terrorist structures. Although useful information has been obtained, none of the it has helped uncover new al-Qaeda cells or uncover specific terror plots. "It's not roll-up-plots, knock-your-socks-off-kind of stuff," said a US intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Another official said the US had "no big fish" at Gitmo. "Some of these guys literally don't know the world is round," the official said. (LA Times, Aug. 18)
The US is holding the 598 prisoners from 43 countries indefinitely. Nearly 20 foreign delegations have visited Gitmo, to check on thier citizen's treatment and welfare, and sometimes demand thier release. But the US does not appear to be close to determining an official status for the prisoners. "Despite our tight ties with the United States...we demand that the American government consider defendants innocent until proven guilty," Kuwaiti Parliament Speaker Jassem al-Kharafi told reporters last month. The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) is demanding the detainees be brought to trial. There have been reports of 30 suicide attempts amongst inmates, which OMCT attributes partly to the "ongoing incertitude" about their fate. A US Navy doctor attributed the suicide attempts to remorse for their actions. (see WW3 REPORT # 47) (MSNBC, Aug. 22) (David Bloom)
11. CONGRESSMAN: U.S. WILL BE IN AFGHANISTAN FOR 5-10 YEARS
THE NEW GREAT GAME
James Barcia (D-WI) part of a delegation of 11 congressmen who traveled to Afghanistan to meet with President Hamid Karzai, says the US will be in Afghanistan for a long time: "We will not relent until this mission is complete--that is the complete elimination of terrorism in Central Asia and throughout the world," Barcia told reporters at the US embassy. "We know [we] will be there in the long term, the five to 10 years of presence minimum that will be required to stabilize all of the aspects that affect this region." Senior military officials have already indicated the US would be in Afghanistan for years. (Reuters, Aug. 24) (David Bloom)
1. CENTCOM COMMANDER: TAKE WAR TO CENTRAL ASIA
General Tommy Franks, head of Pentagon Central Command, told reporters the US War on Terror could not be limited to Afghanistan, but involved a military commitment in the post-Soviet states of Central Asia. "The relationships that we have with surrounding states around Afghanistan will permit us over time to do the work that...all of us recognize needs to be done,'' he told reporters in Kabul. "It won't be finished until it's all done." (Reuters, Aug. 25)
2. RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SEEKS MILITARY CONTROL OF CASPIAN
Sergei Ivanov, supervising a major military exercise on the Caspian Sea, told reporters August 10 that Moscow should launch a permanent military group in the region because of "real" threats to its national security. Ivanov said units from Kazakhstan could form part of this regional military group. Admiral Muhammad Abrakhim Dakhkani, the Iranian military observer at the exercises, told reporters that his country will probably participate in the next such exercises. (RFE Newsline, Aug. 12)
3. TURKMENBASHI MADE PRESIDENT FOR LIFE
Turkmenistan's strongman Saparmurat Niyazov has been appointed president-for-life by the country's Khalk Maslakhaty, or People's Council. A 1999 law gave Niyazov the right to remain in his post indefinitely. The new life status awarded by the council rules out all possibility of future elections. "With long and excited applause, delegates to the supreme governmental body literally forced Niyazov to accept the title of president for life," the official news bulletins claimed. Niyazov is known as Turkmenbashi, Father of all Turkmen, and the People's Council was held in Turkmenabat, formerly known as Chardjou, in the east of the country--one of several places he has renamed in his own honor. Turkmenbashi opened the council with a presentation of his latest poetry collection entitled "Long May My Native People Prosper". He was duly awarded the title of "Great Writer of Turkmenistan".
However, not all of Turkmenbashi's people are so enthusiastic. The people's council was preceded by a demonstration of more than 200 women outside the presidential palace in Ashgabat, in protest against policies they claim have left them impoverished. "We want to give a letter to the president. Does he not know what is happening in his country? We are tired of poverty," one demonstrator said. Protests were also reported in Bezmein, where several of the ubiquitous portrait-posters of Turkmenbashi were torn down and burned.
But Turkmenbashi is more concerned with assuring that his corps of bureaucrats are all pure ethnic Turkmen. Under a new presidential order, in order to cleanse the republic of "filth and uncleanliness", all candidates for work at state institutions will now have their genealogical records checked back three generations, ensuring that top posts will only be filled by those deemed to be "most worthy." (Institute for War & Peace Reporting, Aug. 13) For more on Turkmenbashi's personality cult, see this website.
4. LANDMINES TAKE GRISLY TOLL ON TAJIK-UZBEK BORDER
THE CAUCASUS FRONT
Two girls were killed after setting off a landmine on Tajikistan's northern border with Uzbekistan, AFP reported. The 18-year-old girls were illegally crossing the mountainous border, said a Tajik interior ministry spokesman. Some 25 civilians, including women and children, have been killed and as many seriously injured since Uzbek border guards mined the border last year in an attempt to halt infiltration of Islamic rebels. The border is still not clearly defined by the two former Soviet republics, and the mined areas are not visibly marked--even those near villages. Ironically, Tajik officials said no Islamic militants have yet been killed by the mines. (AFP, Aug. 24)
1. RUSSIA AND GEORGIA ON BRINK OF WAR?
Fighting between the Russian army and Chechen guerillas has led to tensions with neighboring Georgia, which accuses Moscow of taking the war across the border and bombing Georgian territory. Russia is massing troops along the Georgian border near the Pankisi Gorge, a rugged piece of Georgian territory where hundreds of Chechen rebels are said to have taken refuge. Georgia refuses Moscow's calls for a joint military operation to clear out the guerillas.
Meanwhile, the Russian government has angrily condemned Georgia's refusal to hand over 13 Chechen fighters detained by Georgian troops in the Pankisi Gorge. Russian prosecutor general Vladimir Ustinov personally visited Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, on August 6 with a request for their extradition. Moscow stepped up the pressure by imposing a ban on Georgian aircraft using Russian airspace, except between the hours of 3 and 8 AM. Moscow says the ban was imposed because the Russian military is conducting missile-training exercises in the region, and cannot guarantee the safety of the aircraft. However, the ban, in force until Sept. 1, does not apply to Russian or Armenian aircraft. On August 8, Georgia retaliated, closing Georgian airspace to Russian aircraft between 2 and 8 AM. The Georgians say they will lift the ban, if Moscow removes its own restrictions. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Aug. 9)
Georgian officials said a woman and child were killed and seven others injured when four presumably Russian military aircraft bombed the Pankisi Gorge Aug. 23. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman denied that Russian aircraft flew any such bombing raid. (RFE Newsline, Aug. 23)
Following reports of Russian bombing raids near the Pankisi Gorge, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze warned that "if the attacks continue, Georgia will have to use every possible means to put an end to them." His Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili denounced what he said was a "bloody crime by the Russian army." (AFP, Aug. 24)
Speaking at an emergency parliament session on August 24, Georgia's Parliament Speaker Nino Burdjanadze described the Russian bombing raid as "outrageous" and argued that Georgia should shoot down aircraft that violate its airspace. (RFE Newsline, Aug. 26)
Shevardnadze also announced that he will launch his own "anti-criminal and anti-terrorist" operation to establish "peace and stability" in the Pankisi Gorge and expel Chechen fighters. (RFE Newsline, Aug. 20)
Unappeased, Moscow demanded that Georgia break all contacts with the Chechen separatist leadership and close any office the rebels may have set up in Georgia. A statement from the Russian foreign ministry accused Georgia's government of regular contacts with Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov through a semi-official Chechen consulate office in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital. (Times of India, Aug. 16)
Eight Russian border guards were found shot dead from close range on the border between Georgia and the Russian region of Ingushetia Aug. 24. Two other members of the same patrol are missing. A spokesman for the North Caucasus regional office of the Federal Border Service told reporters it is not clear if the men were ambushed. (RFE Newsline, Aug. 26)
2. PIPELINE PLANS FUEL GEORGIA UNREST
British Petroleum, top investor in the planned trans-Caspian pipeline, held a series of public meetings with local villagers in Georgia during a two-week social and environmental assessment project carried out by the petroleum giant in the Gardabani region, south of the capital Tbilisi. The consultation process is one of Georgia's preconditions for work to begin on the ambitious $2 billion international double-pipeline project. The Baku-Ceyhan pipeline is intended as the main export route for Caspian Sea oil to western markets. Construction is due to begin early next year and the first oil is projected to flow through it at the end of 2004. A gas pipeline from Baku to the Turkish city of Erzerum, running parallel to the oil duct, is to be completed the following year. The Georgian government has proclaimed the pipeline the "project of the century," which will strengthen the country's independence and help its integration into the West. But many of the public meetings have turned rowdy, with Georgian villagers voicing concerns about the local impacts of the mega-project. Valery Avaliani, a local official from the village of Lemshveniera, said his villagers would not allow construction to go ahead if they did not receive anything in return. "Until BP--or whoever it is--repairs the kindergarten or puts in a pumping plant or fixes the roads, we won't let them do anything, " he said.
Neither the Georgian government nor BP have yet outlined publicly how they plan to guarantee the safety of the pipeline route, but a military exercise is currently simulating pipeline security operations. It is the third such exercise along the pipeline route, and a corps of specially-trained officers is being created for the mission. "If there are unforeseen situations in Georgia, there will be at least 60 officers, capable of acting in these circumstances," said Irakli Batkuashvili, who runs NATO's Partnership for Peace program for the Georgian general staff.
BP will turn in its final social/environmental assessment to the Georgian government by the end of August. It will then be handed to villagers along the pipeline route . (Giorgy Kupatadze for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting. Aug. 1)
3. RUSSIAN CHOPPER DOWN IN CHECHNYA; GUERILLA FACTIONS UNITE
Russia's prosecutor general Vladimir Ustinov said a rebel rocket probably downed a Russian Mi-26 helicopter in Chechnya on August 19. The death toll in the incident--put at 116--approaches that in the Kursk submarine tragedy two years ago, and is Moscow's single biggest loss of life in Chechnya in a single day since war resumed there in 1999. The helicopter fell into a minefield near the Russian military base at Khankala outside Grozny, the Chechen capital. Built to carry 80 people, it was holding nearly twice that number--"an indication in itself that the Russian military is reluctant to travel by road, even in areas like northern Chechnya far from the rebel heartlands," writes Timur Aliev for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting.
Aliev also reports that Chechen rebel forces are overcoming their internal divisions in preparation for a new assault on the Russian troops that hold Grozny. In July, the guerrillas' website kavkaz.org announced that rebel president Aslan Maskhadov and prominent guerilla warlord Shamil Basayev had met and agreed on a new division of powers. While Maskhadov remained president and commander-in-chief, Basayev was proclaimed head of a newly-created "defense council", placing him in charge of military operations . (IWPR, Aug. 23)
The claim contradicts earlier reports of Basayev's death. See WW3 REPORT #32
4. TERRORISTS BEHIND MOSCOW BLAST?
Authorities are blaming a gas leak for a blast at a Moscow apartment building that left eight dead, but many suspect a terror attack. A wave of bombings at Moscow apartment buildings in 1999 left over 300 dead, and led to Russia's new military campaign in Chechnya. (NYT, Aug. 22)
See also WW3 REPORT #31
THE WAR AT HOME
1. PORTLAND ROCKS
Riot police fired pepper spray and swung batons to clear the streets outside the Hilton Hotel in Portland, OR, as President Bush arrived for a visit Aug. 22. Hundreds of protesters massed outside the hotel, angered by both Bush's war moves in Iraq and Afghanistan and his use of the Western forest fires as an excuse to expand corporate logging in the National Forests. "The new policy is classic doublespeak," said protester Kenneth Kreuschu of the Cascadia Forest Alliance. "It has been shown time and again that more cutting leads to more fire. The new policy is a hoax." Protesters carried signs reading "Drop Bush, Not Bombs," and "More forests, less Bush." (AP, Aug. 22)
When reports of police firing rubber bullets to clear the protesters emerged, the National Lawyers Guild called on Mayor Vera Katz to fire Police Chief Mark Kroeker, calling the police actions "atrocities against humanity." (AP, Aug 24)
2. JUDGE STAYS RULING ON DETAINEE NAME RELEASE
On Aug. 9, the Justice Department announced it would appeal an Aug. 2 ruling by US District Judge Gladys Kessler which had ordered the release within 15 days of the names of those detained in the post-9-11 sweeps. On Aug. 15 Kessler issued a stay of her Aug. 2 ruling, granting the government more time to appeal. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for National Security Studies and other organizations sued the government in December for the release of the detainees' names and other information.
( Immigration News
Briefs,Aug. 16, from AP, UPI)
See also WW3 REPORT #45
3. INS SUED OVER INDEFINITE DETENTION
On July 25, the Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center filed a class action suit in Chicago (Hmaidan v. Ashcroft) charging the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) with violating the Supreme Court's June 28, 2001 ruling in Zadvydas v. Davis. The ruling barred indefinite detention of "non- removable" immigrants--those ordered deported but who cannot find a country to accept them. To continue detaining non-removable immigrants beyond six months, the INS must show there is a "significant likelihood" of deportation in the foreseeable future. Immigration advocates say the INS keeps people in jail by claiming that papers from their countries of origin are on their way, or that the detainees aren't cooperating with their deportation. ( Immigration News
Briefs ,Aug. 16, from National Law Journal, Aug. 12)
4. INS DETAINEES DENIED MEDICAL TREATMENT AT NJ JAIL
Supporters of Farouk Abdel-Muhti, a well-known Palestinian activist from New York City who was detained on immigration charges in April, report that inmates are being denied medical care at the Camden County Jail in New Jersey where he is being held. Detainees at the jail are kept in extremely low temperatures and are only allowed to have one blanket. Abdel-Muhti has had chest pains on his left side because of the extreme cold.
Wilfredo Pineda, a Salvadoran immigrant who is being held in INS detention at the jail, has had a throat infection for 4 weeks. He has been repeatedly denied the right to see a doctor. On the night of Aug. 19 he had a choking fit and collapsed on the floor. Abdel-Muhti, Pineda's cellmate, banged on the door demanding that Pineda receive medical attention. Pineda was denied medical care and has not received any commitment that he can see a doctor. Additionally, Charles Mora, a Cuban immigrant, has a hernia that requires surgery. The jail has only provided pain killers, and his condition will deteriorate without adequate care.
Abdel-Muhti's supporters are asking people to contact the warden at Camden County Jail and the INS New Jersey district director and voice concerns. Politely but firmly ask that: 1) Wilfredo Pineda (I# 91436) and Farouk Abdel-Muhti (I# 99870) receive the medical care they need from a qualified doctor; 2) Charles Mora (I# 92347) receive appropriate surgery; 3) adequate medical treatment be provided to all detainees who request it.
David S. Owens, Warden, Camden County Jail
330 Federal Street, Camden, NJ 08103-1121
Andrea Quarantillo, District Director, INS Newark District Office
970 Broad Street, Rm. 136, Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: 973-645-4421 Fax: 973-297-4848
Send copies to: Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel-Muhti,
PO Box 20587, Tompkins Square Station, New York, NY 10009.
See also: "Palestinian Activist in Bid to Avoid Deportation," WW3 REPORT #34
5. DETAINEE CHARGES ABUSE
Nabil al-Marabh, arrested as a terrorism suspect after the 9-11 attacks, told BBC he was beaten and held for months without legal representation. For the first eight months, al-Marabh was held in a special unit at New York's Metropolitan Detention Center, along with 40 other detainees. Speaking from custody elsewhere in the state, he told BBC that he was held in isolation and went on hunger strike in protest against his confinement in a tiny cell. "It was like nothing worse than hell and I did five times hunger strikes, asking for a lawyer, for a judge," said al-Marabh. He says that he was punished for his hunger strikes, forced to sleep on a urine soaked mattress for 10 days, without enough water to wash himself. He also asserted that he was beaten twice. "On 7 November they beat me, they hid everything and then they refused to take any notes, they crack my finger and they beat my head. It's been too hard, I've been taking medication. My brain is not functioning any more, I forget a lot and I get shocks at night because they used to bang the door and they never let us sleep." The government refused to comment on the case, but is believed to suspect al-Marabh of terrorist connections in Afghanistan, where he spent time. Al-Marabh claims he was doing humanitarian work there with the Muslim World League. (BBC, Aug. 24)
6. SAUDI EX-DETAINEES TO SUE U.S.
Dozens of Saudis who were detained in the post-9-11 sweeps will sue the US government, police and the media for maltreatment and abuse, their lawyer announced. "I have already made contacts with Saudi and US legal consultants to prepare for filing lawsuits in several US states," Saudi lawyer Kateb al-Shemmari told AFP. He said he has received "tens of cases," mainly from students who were detained without reason or prevented from returning to the US to complete their studies. Around 300 Saudis, mostly students, were arrested in the US after 9-11, mostly for immigration violations. (AFP, Aug. 23)
7. SUMMARY MASS DEPORTATION TO PAKISTAN
95 Pakistani immigrants were deported to Islamabad Aug. 22 on a US-chartered private plane, in a second mass deportation of immigrants who have been termed "deportation absconders." The detainees--including one woman--had been held in INS detention centers for several months because they had failed to comply with previous deportation orders. They were sent from across the US to the Tensas Detention Facility in Louisiana before being flown to Islamabad. 14 had been accused of criminal
offenses. Several deportees were forced to leave behind their spouses and children, who are US citizens. It is unclear whether the detainees were shackled throughout the 22-hour flight to Islamabad as had been done during a similar June 27 mass deportation. (See WW3 REPORT #40): (UPI, August 22)
A coalition of 15 civil liberties and human rights organizations spearheaded by Council on American Islamic Relations-New York (CAIR-NY) issued a press release Aug. 21 expressing concern about the mass deportation. A week earlier, the coalition sent a letter to Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, Pakistan's ambassador-designate to the US, asking him to ensure that the abusive conditions--such as shackling, withholding of documents, and removal of detainees with open cases--not be repeated.
Adem Caroll of the Islamic Circle of North America told WW3 REPORT, "In most cases the detainees truly wish to leave their confinement. Yet, one must urge the Pakistani officials to be careful, given the INS track record in deporting people without papers and in miserable health following their ordeal. In some cases, detainees continue to be mistreated by US marshals or other escorts until they reach the borders of their country. I trust the Pakistani authorities will not let that happen." (Subuhi Jiwani)
8. HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH BLASTS U.S.
On Aug. 15, Human Rights Watch released a report charging that the US government's investigation of the 9-11 attacks "has been marred by arbitrary detentions, due process violations, and secret arrests." The 95-page report, " Presumption of Guilt: Human Rights Abuses of Post-September 11 Detainees," is available online.
9. DOCUMENTS REVEAL FISA DISSENT FROM ASHCROFT
Documents released by a Congressional probe show that judges on a special federal court that oversees intelligence cases have expressed deep misgivings about the way the Justice Department handles classified wiretaps and searches in terrorism cases. The documents reveal that the FBI gave false information in more than 75 requests for top-secret warrants before the special court, established by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to oversee investigations linked to international terrorism and espionage probes. On Aug. 22, the Senate Judiciary Committee, which had asked the FISA court for access to the documents in July, released 55 pages. In one case, the documents said, former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh falsely certified to the FISA court that the target of the warrant was not under criminal investigation, when in fact he was. Under FISA, the power to issue warrants for "criminal" and "intelligence" investigations is strictly separated. In other instances, information was improperly shared between criminal and intelligence investigations. The FISA court apparently convened a special session in November 2000 to consider "the troubling number of inaccurate FBI affidavits." One FBI agent was even barred from appearing before the FISA court to present warrant requests, the document indicated.
In a plan presented to the FISA court in March, Attorney General John Ashcroft moved to give criminal prosecutors broad new powers to take part in intelligence operations. "The attorney general seized authority that has not been granted to him by the Constitution or the Congress," charged Marc Rotenberg, head of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center. The FISA court, in its May 17 ruling, seemed to agree, and scaled back Ashcroft's plan, writing that provisions "are NOT reasonably designed" to safeguard privacy rights.
"We think [the judges] got it wrong," said a senior Justice Department official, claiming the faulty warrant requests occurred before Ashcroft took office and that reforms have been instituted to correct the problem. FISA court Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said that it was the first time in its 23-year history that the court has released an unclassified opinion. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, hailed the release of the documents as a "ray of sunshine for the judicial branch." (LA Times, Aug. 23)
The PATRIOT Act, passed by Congress in the aftermath of 9-11, established the first major revision of FISA, expanding the FISA court's role in criminal investigations. See WW3 REPORT #6
10. ANTI-MUSLIM TERROR PLOT IN FLORIDA
A suburban St. Petersburg podiatrist arrested when authorities found guns and explosives in his home planned to blow up an Islamic education center and dozens of mosques, court documents say. Deputies who searched the home of Dr. Robert J. Goldstein found up to 40 weapons, 30 explosive devices, a list of some 50 Florida mosques, and detailed plans to bomb an Islamic education center, according to the document. Dr. Goldstein, 37, is charged with possession of a non-registered destructive device and attempting to use an explosive to damage and destroy Islamic centers. He is being held without bond at Hillsborough County jail. (AP, Aug. 23) Israel Radio described Goldstein as a member of the "Jews for Jesus" cult, with no ties to Florida's Jewish community . (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 25)
11. NEO-NAZIS MARCH ON WASHINGTON; ANTI-NAZI ACTIVISTS BUSTED
Hundreds of neo-Nazis and white separatists led by the West Virginia-based National Alliance marched on the Capitol Aug. 24 to protest US support of Israel. Chanting, "What do we want? Jews out! When do we want it? Now!", many carried giant Nazi flags and pumped their arms in the air shouting, "Sieg Heil!" Speakers and slogans linked calls for halting non-European immigration to the US with demands for Palestinian independence. They were confronted by an equal number of counter-demonstrators. (Washington Post, Aug. 25) Nazi metal bands also performed at a "Rock Against Israel" concert held at an active-duty DC-area armory. Bands included Brutal Attack, Celtic Warrior, Max Resist, Intimidation One, Hate Machine and Definite Hate . (Stormfront.org)
A group of 28 anti-Nazi activists were arrested in Baltimore as they attempted to prevent National Alliance-chartered buses from leaving for the rally in DC. They are currently in Baltimore city jails, with bails set as high as $20,000. Baltimore police also reportedly carried out a warrantless raid on a community center the anti-Nazi activists were using to coordinate the counter-protests. Anti-Racist Action, one of the groups organizing the anti-Nazi protests, is seeking donations for the bail fund. Checks should be made payable to Black Planet Books and mailed to 1621 Fleet St., Baltimore MD 21231. E-mail: email@example.com.
(Anti-Racist Action alert, Aug. 25)
12. DRUG LINK TO FT. BRAGG KILLINGS?
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
The Pentagon says it is considering sending a medical team to investigate a possible link between a wave of domestic killings at Ft. Bragg and an anti-malaria drug. The army's anti-malaria drug, Laraim, can have side effects including agitation, aggression and depression. Three of the four soldiers who investigators say killed their wives this summer were Special Operations troops who had been in Afghanistan. Officials would not say if they had taken Lariam. (AP, Aug. 21)
1. "FUTURE WAR" GAMES RIGGED?
A retired general who commanded "enemy" forces in a recently-concluded $250 million Pentagon war game says the exercise was rigged to validate new war-fighting concepts it was supposed to test. Paul Van Riper, who headed the Marine Corps Combat Development Command when he retired in 1997 as a three-star general, said he became so frustrated that he quit the role midway through Millennium Challenge 2002, which ended Aug. 15. Army Times, a private newspaper that covers Army issues, obtained a copy of an e-mail Van Riper sent to colleagues explaining why he had quit. "It was in actuality an exercise that was almost entirely scripted to ensure a Blue [friendly forces] 'win,'" he wrote. Van Riper was in command of the Red force, representing the enemy.
Navy Capt. John Carman, chief spokesman at Joint Forces Command at Norfolk, VA, which sponsored Millennium Challenge, told AP there is no record of Van Riper having quit his role as "enemy" commander. He said the retired general is "held in high regard" and entitled to his opinions, but added, "We don't agree with his conclusions." Van Riper, who participated as a TRW contract employee, said he was concerned the Pentagon would implement new global strategies on the basis of faulty conclusions from the three-week exercise.
Robert Oakley, a retired ambassador who played the role of civilian leader of the Red force, told Army Times that Van Riper was outwitting the Blue force. For example, in the computer simulations, Van Riper used motorcycle messengers to transmit orders, bypassing the Blue forces' high-tech eavesdropping capabilities. When the Blue naval forces sailed into the Persian Gulf, Van Riper's Red forces surrounded the ships with small boats and planes--sending many to the bottom of the sea. Oakley said Joint Forces Command officials stopped the exercise to "refloat" the fleet and continue.
Vice Adm. Marty Mayer, deputy commander of Joint Forces Command, defended the war games. "I want to disabuse anybody of any notion that somehow the books were cooked," he told Army Times. But he said in some parts of the exercise Van Riper was constrained "in order to facilitate the conduct of the experiment." (AP, Aug. 16)
See also: "'Future War' Games Underway," WW3 REPORT #44
2. AGENCY PLANNED PLANE-CRASH DISASTER EXERCISE FOR 9-11
In what the government describes as a bizarre coincidence, a US intelligence agency was planning an exercise last Sept. 11 in which an errant aircraft would crash into an office tower. Officials at the National Reconnaissance Office, the Air Force spy satellite agency based in Chantilly, VA, had scheduled an exercise that morning in which a small corporate jet would crash into one of the four towers at the agency's headquarters building after experiencing a mechanical failure. The agency is about 4 miles from the runways of Washington's Dulles International Airport. The agency chiefs came up with the scenario to test employees' ability to respond to a disaster, said spokesman Art Haubold. No actual plane was to be involved--to simulate the damage from the crash, some stairwells and exits were to be closed off, forcing employees to find other ways to evacuate the building. American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, took off from Dulles at 8:10 AM on Sept. 11--50 minutes before the exercise was to begin. "It was just an incredible coincidence that this happened to involve an aircraft crashing into our facility," Haubold said. "As soon as the real world events began, we canceled the exercise." (AP, Aug. 21)
3. FBI CRACKS DOWN ON SENATE LEAKS
The FBI intensified its probe of a classified intelligence leak, asking 17 members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to turn over phone records, appointment calendars and schedules that would reveal their possible contact with reporters. In an Aug. 7 memo sent to the senators through the Senate general counsel's office, the FBI asked them to submit all records from June 18 and 19--the day and day after a classified hearing in which National Security Agency director Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, spoke to lawmakers about two messages that alluded to an impending terrorist that the agency intercepted on the eve of Sept. 11 but did not translate until Sept. 12. (Washington Post, Aug. 24)
The intercepts were reported in the Washington Post in June. See WW3 REPORT #39
4. 9-11 SURVIVORS' SUIT CHARGES SAUDI-AL-QAEDA COMPLICITY
Senior members of the Saudi royal family paid al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's Taliban regime at least 200 million pounds so that they would not attack targets in Saudi Arabia, the UK Sunday Times reported Aug. 25. The report is based on affidavits and testimonies in a lawsuit by the families of 9-11 victims charging the Saudi government with complicity in the attacks. The alleged Saudi-al-Qaeda agreement also stipulated that bin Laden's network would not attempt to overthrow the Saudi regime. In return, the Saudis promised not to extradite al-Qaeda members. The report also claims the Saudis promised to provide oil to the Taliban regime and al-Qaeda. The documents say the agreement was drafted after two secret meetings between the Saudi royal family and Taliban/al-Qaeda leaders. The first was in Paris in 1996. Another was reportedly held in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 1998. The second meeting was attended by Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal al-Saud, Taliban leaders, senior Pakistani security officials and Osama bin Laden. The documents, based on private investigations carried out by the families' attorneys, claim the money paid by the Saudi royal family was used for terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
5. ISLAMIC LINK TO OKLAHOMA CITY REDUX
In the July/August issue of Extra!, the magazine of the lefty media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), Cate McCauley attempts to debunk conspiracy theorizing about a Middle East connection to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Strangely, the piece is entitled "The Thrill of a Good Conspiracy: Iraq and the Oklahoma City Bombing Case"--but barely mentions Iraq! It also fails to provide sources in repudiating media allegations that the Oklahoma City conspirators met with Islamic militants--which makes the repudiations worthless. For instance, she dismisses claims by Fox News on May 7 and Insight magazine on April 22 that Oklahoma City co-conspirator Terry Nichols met with convicted 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef in the Philippines in 1992 and early 1993. The claims originate from Edwin Angeles, a captured member of the Islamic rebel group Abu Sayyaf. Angeles said rebel leaders met with a US citizen known as "the farmer"--now assumed by some to have been Nichols. The claim was even been picked by former State Department official-turned-private-terrorism expert Larry Johnson, who told Fox, "In fact, the groups that were operating in the Philippines, Abu Sayyaf in particular, were involved with Terry Nichols and Tim McVeigh." Counters McCauley: "But Nichols was not in the Philippines at all in 1992. The only time he was there in 1993, from late January to mid-February, Yousef was in the New York City area executing his attack on the World Trade Center, which occurred on Feb. 26, 1993. Therefore, at the time Angeles claimed to have attended a meeting with Nichols and Yousef, these two men were half a world apart." Could be, but McCauley doesn't say how she knows this.
Similarly, she dismisses a Feb. 23 report by James Patterson in the Indianapolis Star, citing allegations in the Manila Times that McVeigh himself met with Islamic militants in the Philippines--"even though," McCauley writes, "in reality, he never traveled to the Philippines." McCauley is scrupulous about sourcing the articles she attempts to debunk, but fails to source her own contrary information. Again, no source is provided when she contradicts Johnson's claim that, as flight students in Oklahoma, Zacarias Moussaoui and other 9-11 conspirators "tried to check into" the same Oklahoma City motel where the "bombing against the Murrah building was planned and executed..." McCauley says there was "no connection" between that motel and the Oklahoma City bombing. Of course, it is nearly impossible to prove a negative, but McCauley should at least detail what efforts she made to find a connection.
McCauley's only mention of Iraq comes up when she attempts to discredit the Manila Times by noting that the paper's reporter Dorian Sicat (according to Insight magazine) is "serving as an investigative liaison in the Philippines and the Pacific Rim for Oklahoma City lawyer Mike Johnston." McCauley finds that "Johnston is one of the attorneys who, along with Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch, filed a lawsuit in March 20002 on behalf of a few Oklahoma bombing survivors, seeking $1.5 billion in damages from Iraq. If Sicat is working for a lawyer engaged in a suit against Iraq, that would seriously compromise his stance as an impartial journalist."
"Islamic Link to Oklahoma City Blast?", WW3 REPORT #47
"Osama & McVeigh," WW3 REPORT #6
6. JEB APPOINTS TERRORIST SYMP TO FLA SUPREME COURT
(BUT IT'S OK, HE'S CUBAN)
A seat is opening up on the Florida Supreme Court, and Gov. Jeb Bush's selection is Raoul Cantero, the only finalist who is not a judge. But he does have certain ideological qualifications. Cantero is the grandson of Cuba's brutal former dictator, General Batista, and his father served granddad as an intelligence officer in Batista's notorious Bureau for Repression of Communist Activities--who through their legacy of political torture and murder, eventually did more to incite communist revolution than to repress it. Raoul Cantero has continued this legacy, serving as a lawyer for Orlando Bosch, identified by the Justice Department, the CIA and the FBI as a terrorist who "has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to cause indiscriminate injury and death." Bosch's terrorist attacks are said to have taken place in Cuba and Panama, as well as on US soil both in Puerto Rico and on the mainland--where he is associated with more terrorist attacks than al-Qaeda. Cantero did more than defend Bosch--he also served as a spokesperson for Bosch and an advocate for his terrorist ideology. Cantero argued that Bosch, who along with Luis Posada, was charged with blowing up an Air Cubana jetliner, killing 73 people, was conducting a "heroic fight" against the Cuban government. Al-Qaeda made similar arguments, calling the architects of the 9-11 attacks heroes as well. (Michael I. Niman for ArtVoice, Buffalo, NY, Aug. 22)
See also: "US Protects Cuban Terrorist," WW3 REPORT #16
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EXIT POLL: : Is the 500,000 UNICEF figure for Iraqi children killed by the sanctions exaggerated? Does Saddam Hussein share any guilt for these deaths? Why won't the anti-sanctions movement address this question?
MEGALOPIG OF THE WEEK (Please
1. Jeb Bush
2. John Ashcroft
3. Donald Rumsfeld
4. Police Chief Mark Kroeker
5. Sabahattin Cakmakoglu
6. Prince Turki al-Faisal al-Saud
7. Saparmurat ("Turkmenbashi") Niyazov
8. Raoul Cantero
Megalopig: Exactly what it sounds like. A prejorative coined by Zacarias
Moussaoui to describe his court-appointed lawyer, Frank Dunham. (see WW3 REPORT #46)
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