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ISSUE # 67. Jan. 6, 2003










By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Special Correspondent

1. Tel Aviv Blasts Kill 23
2. West Bank Violence Continues
3. Gaza Strip: Teen Militants Tortured?
4. Palestinian Youth Beaten to Death by Border Police?
5. US Criticizes Housing Demolitions
6. US to Restrict Israeli Aid?
7. Bush Encouraging Settlements?
8. UK Arms Restrictions May Ground Israeli Air Force Jets
9. Iran, Israel in Secret Oil Deal?
10. Kahanist Militants Recruit for "Jewish Legion"
11. National Union: Strip Dissidents, Refuseniks of Citizenship
12. Holocaust Survivors Urge End to Occupation
13. Israel Has Over 1,000 "Administrative Detainees"
14. Palestinian Prisoners Win In Hunger Strike
15. Palestinians and Internationals Clear IDF Blockade
16. New Israeli Political Party: Forget the War, Let's Get High!

1. Bombs Fall on New Years Day
2. Green Berets on the Ground in Iraq
3. Weapons Inspectors: Trail is Cold
4. Saddam: Inspectors are Spies
5. Civil Defense Exercises in Kuwait
6. Pentagon Trains Iraqi Exiles
7. Baath Militia Prepares Resistance
8. Saddam's Troops Defecting to Kurdish Rebels?
9. PUK vs. PIK in Iraqi Kurdistan
10. Turkey Threatens Intervention in Iraqi Kurdistan--Again
11. Yazidi Sect Rituals Recall Turkish Massacres
12. Pressure Builds on Saddam to Step Down
13. Anti-War Protests in Bahrain...
14. ...And Turkey
15. ...And Pakistan
16. Iran Radio: U.S. Must Pay For Saddam's Gas Attacks
17. Iraqi Exile: Investigate the Disappeared
18. What Was the Real Toll of Desert Storm?
19. Bush: War is Peace

1. Three U.S. Missionaries Killed in Yemen

1. Half Million Refugees Face Grim Winter
2. US Bombs Pakistan?
3. Russian Troops in Afghan Border Operations
4. Drug Seizures Up in Russia

1. Nine U.S. Troops Wounded in Mindanao Gun Battle

1. North Korea: U.S. "Stepping Up Preparations for War"
2. Al-Azhar Issues Nuclear Fatwa?
3. Israel Plans New Nuke Plant
4. Missing Equipment at Los Alamos
5. Dangerous Corrosion at Ohio Nuke

1. Is There a Draft in Your Future?
2. NYPD Chases Terrorists
3. Indian Man Held After 9-11 Charges Abuse
4. INS to Collect Data on All International Travelers
5. INS Holds Nicaraguan Journalist--Despite Green Card!
6. Surprised Pakistani Recognizes Self on FBI Terror List!
7. Secret Service Questions High School Student!

1. Homeland Security Loses a Round


Two suicide bombers blew themselves up about a hundred yards apart, on parallel streets near the old central bus station in Tel Aviv on Jan. 5. Twenty-three were killed, the toll expected to rise, and over 100 were injured. Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and al-Aksa's Martyrs' Brigades all took responsibility, with al-Aksa identifying the bombers as coming from Nablus.

Many of the injured were foreign workers who are in Israel illegally, and under the constant threat of deportation. As a result, many avoided going to Israeli hospitals, despite assurances from Israeli officials. "If you or any of your loved ones are hurt in this bomb blast, please don't be afraid to go to one of the Israeli hospitals in Tel Aviv, even if you are working illegally in Israel," an Israel channel two newscaster announced. "Don't worry, no one will arrest you, no one will try to harm you. Please, just go to the hospital and get treatment." (AP, Haartez, Jan 6)

(see also WW3 REPORT #43

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) helicopter gunships struck at targets in Gaza in response. Amos Harel in Ha'aretz notes that "the IDF, given its current level of forces, finds it difficult to do more than it is doing now, with troops in every Palestinian city. Despite two years of constant fighting and despite the obliteration of the Palestinian Authority, the fact remains that despair is the most fruitful hothouse for terror. "(Ha'aretz, Jan. 6) [top]

As of Jan. 6, 69 Palestinians were killed in the occupied territories since Dec. 1. Eleven of the dead were children, and one was a 95-year-old woman whose death earned an Israeli soldier a whopping 65 days in jail. (UK Guardian, Jan. 6:

Among last week's casualties on both sides:

Israel Radio reported Jan. 1 that Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian near Nablus on his way to perform a suicide bombing attack. Israeli gunfire set off the explosives on his body. (Xinhua, Jan. 1)

A Palestinian militant died in a village outside of Ramallah in Jan. 3 premature explosion of a bomb, a "work accident," according to Palestinian officials speaking on condition of anonymity. (LA Times, Jan. 3)

Five Israeli soldiers were hit by shrapnel from Palestinian gunfire as they tried to detain several Palestinians in Jenin Jan. 4. One Palestinian was wounded as well. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Israel, Jan. 4)

On Jan. 2, Israeli forces occupying Ramallah shot and wounded a 41-year-old Palestinian woman. (Xinhua, Jan. 2)

On Jan. 2, a Palestinian gunman infiltrated the village of Maor, a few miles from the West Bank border, entered the home of Roland Mori and opened fire on him. After the gunman's rifle jammed, Mori fought back with bric-a-brac. "When I heard that the terrorist had a problem with his gun, I took all that I had on the table and threw it at him," Mori said. "I shouted to my wife, in French, to flee." Mori then fought the attacker off with a pillow. Mori and his wife escaped out the window, and after a standoff, Israeli forces killed the infiltrator. (NY Daily News, Jan. 3)

The Voice of Palestine reported Jan. 4 that Israeli soldiers who came to demolish the home of Wafa Idris, the first female suicide bomber, severely beat members of her family with rifle butts and clubs (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Jan. 3). The IDF gave up the idea of demolishing the Idris family home because of the damage it would have done to neighboring houses in Nablus' al-Amari refugee camp. (AFP, Jan. 3)

On Jan. 3, A 70-year-old Israeli man was found burned to death in his car in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank. Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades took responsibility. (UK Telegraph, Jan. 3)

On Jan. 4, Muhamad Haji, 18, was critically injured by Israeli troops who opened fire on stone throwers in Burqa village, just north of Nablus. (AFP, Jan. 4)

In Jenin, 17-year-old Muhammad Bassam Nassar was wounded when Israeli troops occupying Nablus opened indiscriminate fire on Palestinian homes, after storming the eastern neighborhood of the city. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Jan. 4)

Israeli bulldozers demolished 10 houses on Jan. 4: six in Al-Salam neighborhood in Rafah, three in the area of Al-Ubayyat in Bethlehem, and one in Bayt Kahil in Hebron. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Jan. 4)

The Palestinian news agency Wafa claimed on Jan. 5 that a Jewish settler "deliberately" ran over a Palestinian woman with his car in the village of Bayt Anun, east of Hebron. The woman sustained severe wounds. (BBC Monitoring: Palestinian news agency Wafa: Jan. 5)

On Jan. 5, the Voice of Palestine reported: "In Nablus, Muhammad Hasan Hijjah, 18, was wounded when Israeli occupation soldiers opened fire at random on a group of youths in the village of Burqa in the governorate last night." (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Jan. 5) [top]

Last week in the Gaza Strip, three slimly-armed teens died in controversial circumstances while attempting to infiltrate Jewish colonies, and activists attempted to stop housing demolitions in Rafah. Here is the week's chronology of Gaza violence:

On Dec. 31, two IDF civilian employees were lightly wounded and a soldier moderately injured by a rocket-propelled grenade near the Termit outpost near the Egyptian border. The two were constructing a wall along the Israeli-Egyptian border. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Israel, Dec. 31)

A child was moderately wounded Jan. 1 in Rafah after Israeli tanks opened fire on houses in al-Jinaynah, south of Rafah. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Jan. 1)

The Voice of Israel reported Jan. 2 that IDF forces backed by fighter aircraft were attacking in three places in southern and central Gaza Strip. Two soldiers and eight Palestinians were reported injured. (Xinhua, Jan. 2)

Two 15-year-old Palestinian cousins and their 16- year-old friend were shot and killed by Israeli troops as they tried to infiltrate the Israeli settlements of Dugit and Elei Sinai in Gaza on Jan. 2. The boys were poorly armed, with only a single knife and a pair of wire-cutters. The IDF defended its actions, saying it was permissible under the rules of engagement for soldiers to fire at anyone who enters into exclusionary zones around the settlements. "Thank God, he got what he always wanted--martyrdom," Atteyeh Dawais, the father of Mohammed Dawais, one of the dead youths, told journalists in the Jabaliya refugee camp. (LA Times, Jan. 3) The Voice of Palestine radio reported: "Dr Mu'awiyah Hasanayn, director of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, confirmed that there were signs of torture on the bodies of the three children after they were martyred. He told our radio a short while ago that the occupation soldiers used knives and stones to tear the bodies of the children and that they had fired scores of bullets on them at close range. This indicates that they were most probably arrested before they were shot." (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine radio, Jan. 2)

The IDF demolished five houses in al-Salam, southeast of Rafah, on Jan. 3. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Jan. 3) AFP reported that "as the bulldozers began demolishing the houses, a group of 10 activists from the International Grassroots Protection for the Palestinian People (GIPP) attempted to stop them by lying on the ground in front of them. Troops attempted to disperse the activists by firing tear gas canisters and smoke bombs towards them, firing in the air, and trying to cover them with sand." (AFP, Jan. 4)

On Jan. 4, I'tisam Ashur Abdin, 23, was wounded by Israeli shelling of houses in al-Namsawi, east of Khan Younis. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Jan. 4) [top]

Amran Abu Hamediye, an 18-year-old Palestinian high school student who had just finished evening prayers in a Hebron mosque was detained by Israeli Border Police and taken away in their jeep on Dec. 30. Twenty minutes later, his friends found him beaten to death in the street, with gashes on his head. Hamediye's friends said they knew where to find him because they Border Police like to take their victims there for beatings. Aleh Omar Abu Turky, whose twin sons attended class wih Hamediye, said at a memorial service, "Imran was honest and beautiful, all the best things. He didn't throw stones, nothing like that. He was a gentle boy."

"Beatings by the Border Police are not new," said Abdel Salam Abu Khalaf, a spokesman at al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. "All the time since my childhood we looked at them as if they enjoyed beating us. " Countered a spokesperson for the Border Police: "It has to be said that there is no proof that this is Israeli Border Police." A Justice Ministry spokesman said, "We are checking the story. It hasn't been decided to investigate yet." But Israeli forces are rarely punished for brutality. According to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, of 49 cases reported since the beginning of the current intifada in Sept. 2000, only one has resulted in a conviction. As a result of the lack of punishment and investigation of abuses, such cases are on the rise, says B'Tselem lawyer Yael Stein. "The army does not come out with a clear message that says, 'You are not allowed to assault a civilian Palestinian.' The message is vague and ambiguous," she said. "There is a general atmosphere that enables these things to happen, and the soldiers are checking the limits all the time." (Washington Post, Dec. 31, NYT, Jan. 2) [top]

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Jan. 3 that the US is increasingly concerned about ongoing housing demolitions in the occupied territories.

"We recognize Israel's need to take legitimate anti-terrorist action and we've been very clear about the need for Palestinian action against violence and terror," he told reporters. However, steps such as the displacement of people through the demolition of homes and property exacerbate the humanitarian situation and undermine trust and confidence," he said, delivering a rare rebuke to Washington's chief Mideast ally. "We are further disturbed by reports that the demolition of homes in recent weeks has resulted in the deaths of two civilian occupants inside. We urge Israel to consider the consequences of actions such as these and take all appropriate measures to ensure that civilian casualties do not result from Israeli anti-terrorist actions," he said. Several hours after Boucher's critique, the IDF destroyed two more houses in Rafah.

110 homes have been destroyed in the West Bank since August, and many more in the Gaza Strip, where the IDF is clearing a wide swath between Rafah and the border with Egypt. Human rights groups condemn the demolitions as collective punishment. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Israeli cabinet that housing demolitions were having a demonstrable deterrent effect, boasting that 28 terrorists have turned themselves in since the policy was initiated in August. However, Voice of Israel failed to explain how that fact was influenced by the demolition policy. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Israel, Jan. 5; AFP, Jan. 3; Ha'aretz, Jan. 5) [top]

On Jan. 4, an Israeli delegation left for Washington to present a report on "the macro-economic damages accrued to Israel as a result of the intifadah and the preparations for confronting the Iraqi threat." The Israelis are asking for a $4 billion "special military grant" and $8 billion in loan guarantees. The Israeli financial paper Globes reports that "The talks, which are beginning [Jan. 6] in Washington, will be conducted out of the limelight, without press conferences. The reason for keeping the talks in the background is the Bush administration's desire to avoid angering the Arab world on the eve of the war with Iraq, which would harm efforts to recruit support for the war. " (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Israel, Jan. 3; Globes, Jan. 5)

The administration is considering placing stipulations in the aid package forbidding funds from being spent on Israeli settlements, fearing that the aid package will meet opposition in Congress. Israel is said to favor the restrictions placed on the loan guarantees imposed by the first President Bush, which required that funds spent on the settlements be deducted from the loan money. (Reuters, Dec. 31) Akiva Eldar in Ha'aretz notes that "the doubling of the number of settlers, from 100,000 to 200,000, shows that deducting shekels from the guarantees is no guarantee of cutbacks in the settlements. Secondly, government officials...know that there are creative ways to obstruct the monitoring of how the American money is used." (Ha'aretz, Jan. 6)

The International Monetary Fund has said Israel can survive its current recession without additional aid. (See WW3 REPORT# 64: [top]

Akiva Eldar in Ha'aretz notes a worrying shift in US attitudes towards the peace process, warning of a White House tilt towards Sharon and away from the principles officially embraced by the diplomatic "Quartet" of the UN, US, EU and Russia:

"The most dangerous innovation in the American attitude to the settlements shouldn't be sought in their relationship to the guarantees or the problematic timing of the negotiations over the aid. There's a much more profound change in policy here: in the latest discussions of the road map, President Bush rejected the Quartet's position that terror should be fought as if there were no new settlements and the settlements should be frozen as if there were no terror. He set a new precedent, that settlements are not an absolute danger to peace... The American decision that a settlement freeze is conditional on Sharon's satisfaction with a cease-fire is, in effect, a legitimization of the deepening of the occupation, perpetuating the war and perhaps a guarantee for continued right-wing rule." (Ha'aretz, Jan. 6) [top]

Officials said Israel's fleet of 140 F-4 Phantom jets may have to be grounded for lack of spare parts, due to UK restrictions. The planes are US-made, but rely on parts manufactured by UK's Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd., that are used in pilots' ejection seats. Denying there was an embargo, A British government official said the Foreign Office last year approved 128 export licenses to Israel on military-related items, and turned down 77. "There is no official or unofficial embargo on arms exports to Israel [but] we adhere to our own and European Union criteria which says exports should not be used for internal repression or external aggression," said the official. "We have to take into account what's happening in the occupied territories." An Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman said she didn't know how long the planes might be grounded. "We are desperately searching for other sources but haven't located any yet," said Rachel Niedak-Ashkenazi. (AP, Jan. 3) [top]

A report in the London-based newspaper al-Zaman claims an advisor to Iranian president Mohammed Khatami visted Tel Aviv in December to make a deal on resuming the pumping of Iranian oil to the Israeli port of Eilat, both for Israeli consumption and re-export to European markets. "There is nothing new about the relations between Tehran and Tel Aviv," an Iranian opposition source in Paris told the paper, "but the important thing in the timing of such a consolidation in bilateral relations is concern over the outcome of the [possible] war on Iraq. Tehran is trying to pre-empt events to arrange for a more beneficial alliance." The same source noted that "the impossibility of striking a direct deal with Washington because of the opposition of the radicals had left Khatami's government with no option but to find an acceptable alternative, which is Israel..." (BBC Monitoring: Al-Zaman, Dec. 24) [top]

A shadowy Brooklyn-based group linked to the extreme-right Kach organization is recruiting US citizens to guard Jewish settlements in the West Bank from Palestinian attacks. "Help Jewish Legion prevent massacres in Jewish towns," the organization says on its website The group claims to be working "in conjunction with the IDF and the Civil Guard," but the IDF denies any link to the group. The organizations main contact is Michael Guzofsky, currently under federal investigation for membership in the outlawed Israeli-based Kahane Chai [Kahane lives] movement, which is on the US State Department list of terrorist groups. A dozen people have reportedly been recruited in the US and Australia, and trained to use bomb-sniffing dogs. Israel's Central Electoral Commission last week approved former Kach head Baruch Marzel to run on the far-right Herut list, despite the fact that papers proving he still leads the group were found in his office. The original Jewish Legion was formed by the British in Palestine to fight the Ottoman Turks during World War I. (NY Daily News, Ha'aretz, Dec. 30)

See also WW3 REPORT #66 [top]

Former Knesset member, journalist and human rights campaigner Uri Avnery--who also fought in the right-wing Irgun faction in Israel's war of independence--has been named, along with the refuseniks (military resisters), to be targeted for loss of citizenship in the election platform of the far-right National Union. Under the heading "Legislation and strict supervision of organizations and activists of the extreme left," the program says: "We shall anchor in legislation more severe measures, including the cancellation of citizenship, against people like Uri Avnery, Leah Tsemel and refuseniks of all kinds, who are defaming the country abroad." Tsemel is an Israeli lawyer that defends Palestinian prisoners. Avnery notes that National Union party leader Avigdor Lieberman was raised under totalitarian Soviet rule in Moldova, and that he has absorbed "the racist and power-hungry attitudes of the red tyrant." National Union also calls for the "transfer" of the Palestinian population of "Greater Israel" in its platform.

Avnery says on his web site: "In Israel, we don't like to make comparisons with the dark regimes. The memories are too fresh, and nobody in Israel advocates genocide. But undoubtedly, parties and leaders who openly advocate 'transfer', would have been called anywhere else in the world Neo-Fascists (even if the term 'Neo-Bolsheviks' would be more appropriate, since it was Stalin who used to transfer whole peoples in the Soviet Union.)" Avnery concludes by saying of Lieberman, "if somebody is 'defaming our country abroad,' it is surely this person." ( [top]

A new group calling itself "Forum of Holocaust survivors and descendants to halt the deterioration of Israeli humanism" is circulating a petition declaring "we cannot clear our conscience in light of the mass, arbitrary destruction of civilians' homes, uprooted olive trees, and orchards shaved to the ground. We cannot accept the extensive disruptions of daily life and abuse, for its own sake or not, at the checkpoints." Zvi Gil, the forum coordinator, says that "based on the ruthless lessons of life we have experienced," the group calls for Israel to "liberate itself" from the occupation immediately. The forum says the conflict resulting from the occupation not only endangers Israeli Jews but Jewish communities worldwide. The group asked to meet with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to explain its views. They never received a response. (Ha'aretz, Dec.31) [top]

For the first time since the first Intifada in 1987, more than 1,000 Palestinians are held in "administration detention" in Israel, according to B'Tselem. Administrative detention, permitted under international law, allows a state to hold detainees without trial or charge, authorized by a major general's order. However, there are strict guidelines on administrative detention, that B'Tselem says Israel blatantly ignores. B'Tselem urges the Israeli government to immediately release all administrative detainees, and cease widespread use of this measure. (B'Tselem press release, Jan. 5) [top]

Palestinian detainees in Ofra military prison suspended their hunger strike and boycott of the Israeli court system after the prison's administration promised to meet their demands for a guarantee of their security and dignity, and medical treatment for the ill. Prisoner Abu-Raja told Voice of Palestine the prison's administration was forced to accede to the demands due to its inability to break the prisoners' high morale, and determination to continue the strike. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Jan. 5) Around 700 prisoners are held at the camp. Violence erupted on Jan. 2 when the detainees set fire to their shelters to protest their mistreatment, according to the BBC. The army used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. (BBC, Jan. 1 However, the Voice of Palestine, in telephone contacts with prisoners, said that "fire broke out at some tents when the occupation troops, backed by tanks, fired incendiaries at the tents and besieged all sections." Voice of Palestine said stun grenades were used on the prisoners as well. Some of those wounded in the assault were elderly or boys, the report said. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Jan. 2) [top]

On Jan. 5, over 200 residents of Nablus, assisted by 30 members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) cleared a path through a large dirt-and-rubble roadblock the Israeli army had constructed on a Jerusalem road. The blockade, known to local residents as al-Moqata, was erected by the Israeli army to impede movement from the Balata and Askar refugee camps into the Nablus city center. Men, women, and children, using shovels, picks, their hands and a bulldozer, cleared the a path through the mounds, as onlookers sang and chanted. The IDF watched the action from the high ground they occupy over Nablus, but did not interfere. Nablus ISM member Saif Salem said, "This action is helping to bring the city to life." Traffic began to flow again through the path. Nablus remains under a dusk-to-dawn curfew. (ISM, [top]

Israel's pro-marijuana Green Leaf Party failed to get the 1.5% of the vote needed to enter the Knesset in 1999, but polls predict it might get two seats in this year's upcoming elections. Said Shmuel Sandler, political science professor at Tel Aviv University: "People are very disappointed by the peace process, and it's sort of an escape. They are frustrated with the Left, but they're not going to vote for the Right, so this is a nice way of getting out of this dilemma." Biking through Jerusalem, Green Leaf activists hand out stickers to cheering motorists. Party chairman Boaz Wachtel is no typical hippie. He was the assistant military attache at the embassy in Washington in the 1980s and served on a team of representatives to President Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" program. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 2) [top]


Iraq's official INA news agency reported Jan. 1 that US and British aircraft "attacked our civilian and services installations in Basra governorate today, martyring a citizen and wounding two others." The report said 14 sorties were flown over southern Iraq that day from bases in Kuwait. (BBC Monitoring, Jan. 3) [top]

About 100 US Special Forces troops and over 50 CIA officers have been operating in small groups within Iraq for at least four months, seeking out Scud missile launchers, monitoring oil fields, identifying minefields, and using lasers to help US pilots bomb Iraqi air-defense systems, according to intelligence officials and military analysts who have spoken with members of the teams. The operations, which have also included British, Australian and Jordanian commandos, are considered by many analysts to be part of the opening phase of a war against Iraq, even though the Bush administration has agreed to a schedule of UN weapons inspections. ''We're bombing practically every day as we patrol the no-fly zones, taking out air defense batteries, and there are all kinds of CIA and Special Forces operations going on. So I would call it the beginning of a war,'' said Timur J. Eads, a 20-year veteran US special operations officer who took part in missions inside Iraq in the 1990s. (Boston Globe, Jan. 5) [top]

UN weapons inspectors in Iraq admit that the trail is cold five weeks into their mission to uncover evidence that Saddam Hussein regime's is preparing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The inspection teams have found two technical violations of UN resolutions on Iraq, but both concerned procurement of conventional missile parts, not WMD. One team of 100 is searching for evidence of chemical and biological programs; another of ten is searching for nuclear materials. Admitted one inspector on condition of anonymity: "If our goal is to catch them with their pants down, we are definitely losing. We haven't found one iota of concealed material yet." (LAT, Jan. 2) [top]

In a televised speech to mark Army Day, Saddam Hussien charged that the UN weapons inspectors are once again engaged in espionage: "Instead of searching for so-called weapons of mass destruction to reveal the lies of liars...the inspection teams compile lists of Iraqi scientists, ask workers questions that are not what they seem and gather information about army camps and legitimate military production... These things...are pure intelligence work." He described threats by President Bush to disarm Iraq by force as the "hiss of snakes and bark of dogs," and voiced defiance to Washington's military threats: "There is no doubt that the righteous will be victorious in their homeland while their enemy face certain defeat." (BBC, Jan. 6) [top]

Sirens blared, smoke swept across the palm trees and emergency vehicles descended on a luxury beachside hotel in Kuwait days before New Years Eve in what turned out to be a civil defense exercise testing government responses to a potential Iraqi missile or chemical warfare attack. But instead of being taken to the decontamination tent erected outside the hotel, the "survivors" were escorted to a dining room for a dessert of walnut-ginger cookies and coffee. (NYT, Jan. 4) [top]

The US military is training a 5000-strong force of Iraqi opposition fighters at Taszar airbase in Hungary. The recruits, Iraqi dissidents and other Arab nationals, are receiving arms and guerrilla warfare training, and being trained to serve as scouts and interpreters for US troops. The Iraqi government calls the recruits "mercenaries," and says the training program violates international guarantees on the sovereignty of nations. (Glasgow Sunday Herald, Jan. 5) [top]

In central Iraq, where Saddam Hussein has the most support, a citizen militia organized by Saddam's ruling Baath Party is mobilizing to defend Baghdad in the event of a US invasion. The official daily al-Iraq said the militia carried out an exercise Jan. 4 in Babil province, just south of the capital. Militiamen practiced fighting in urban and rural areas, the paper said. Baath party official Fadhil Mahmoud al-Mishiykhi praised the fighters' efficiency and morale in preparing to resist a campaign against Iraq launched by the US and "its Zionist ally"--meaning Israel. Late last month, Iraq's official press reported a similar exercise in Babil province. (AP, Jan. 5) [top]

The press in northern Iraq's Kurdish-controlled autonomous zone reports a wave of defections among Saddam's troops. The independent Iraqi Kurdish newspaper Hawlati reported Dec. 30 that "As the time for a strike on Iraq gets closer, desertion is gradually on the increase among the ranks of the Iraqi army." On two separate occasions the previous week, an Iraqi army officer and four soldiers surrendered to the forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the region of Chamchamal. (BBC Monitoring, Dec. 30) [top]

The Iraqi Kurdish newspaper Hawlati reported Dec. 30 that skirmishes continue between militia forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and guerilla forces of the Partisans of Islam of Kurdistan (PIK), Kurdish wing of Ansar al-Islam, an Iraqi fundamentalist group allegedly linked to al-Qaeda. Both sides are exchanging artillery fire as PUK battles to re-take the PIK-held Churl-Biyarah Road. Residents of several villages have been displaced by the fighting. (BBC Monitoring, Dec. 30)

See also WW3 REPORT #63 [top]

Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis announced that Turkey may send troops into northern Iraq to protect ethnic Turkmen. He said in a TV interview that if order collapses in Iraq after a US military attack, Turkey is prepared act to protect what he called "our Turkmen brothers." Yakis also said he opposes allowing US troops to use Turkish bases for an attack on Iraq, but does support the US military build-up in the Persian Gulf to pressure Iraq. (RFE/RL, Jan 3)

See also WW3 REPORT #48 [top]

Northern Iraq is an intricate patchwork of ancient ethnic and religious groups little known to the outside world--Kurds, Turkmen, Mandeans, Assyrians, Chaldeans. On Jan. 3, the New York Times reported on another obscure element in this mix--the Kurdish Yazidi sect, whose center of Bashiqa lies between the city of Mosul and the borders of the Kurdish autonomous zone. Incorporating elements of Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, the Yazidis venerate Sheik Adi bin Musafir, a 12th-century Lebanese-born Arab mystic whose tomb at Lalish in northern Iraq is their point of pilgrimage. The sect is led by an hereditary prince and has no written text, but keeps its historical memories alive through elaborate rituals interwoven into daily life. These rituals especially recall centuries of bloody campaigns to exterminate the sect by the Ottoman Turkish authorities that ruled Iraq from the 16th century until after World War I. The Yazidis eat no lettuce in remembrance of massacres carried out by Turkish troops in the lettuce fields that covered much of northern Iraq in the 19th century, and the wearing of blue is taboo during religious festivals in remembrance of the uniforms of Ottoman military units.

See also WW3 REPORT #45 [top]

About a dozen Arab writers and lawyers have published an appeal to the Arab world to put pressure on Saddam Hussein to step down in order to avert a war. ''We call upon public opinion in the Arab world to exercise pressure for the dismissal from power of Saddam Hussein and his close aides in order to stop a war that threatens catastrophe for the people of the region,'' reads the appeal. ''The immediate resignation of Saddam, whose rule over three decades has been a nightmare for Iraq and the Arab world, is the only way around further violence.'' Signatories inclue Lebanese lawyer Chibli Mallat, Egyptian writer Yussri Nasrallah, and Elias al-Khoury, an editor of Beirut's influential an-Naha daily. But Abdulwahab Badrakhan, deputy editor of the leading pan-Arab daily al-Hayat, said Hussein would not relinquish power. ''Saddam will keep gambling,'' Badrakhan said. ''He might respond to pressure at the last moment by letting one of his sons take his place, in the hope that the Americans would accept. But this would not change the nature of the regime." (Reuters, Jan. 3)

Hisham Yusuf, spokesman for the Arab League, denied reports that Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa and Arab foreign ministers are mediating to convince Saddam to step down. Yusuf added that changing the Iraqi regime must be decided by the Iraqi people themselves. (MENA news agency, Cairo, via BBC Monitoring, Dec. 31)

See also WW3 REPORT #66 [top]

Following noon prayers on Jan. 3, a massive demonstration was staged in Bahrain to protest pending US military strikes against Iraq. Protesters raised the Bahraini, Iraqi and Palestinian flags and urged Arab leaders and the UN to intervene to halt any possible attack on Iraq. (MENA news agency, Cairo, Jan. 3, via BBC Monitoring)

The rally came just two days after hundreds of New Year's Eve revelers in Bahrain smashed cars, attacked tourists, smashed hotel windows and ransacked a KFC outlet. The government blamed drunken teen-agers, but investigators suggested "Islamic radicals" instigated the riot to exploit popular anger over US plans to attack Iraq. Forty-one youths were arrested. (Daily Star, Beirut, Jan. 4) [top]

Demonstrations were held Dec. 30 in Istanbul and Ankara to protest pending military strikes against Iraq. The Istanbul protest was led by a No to War Coordination, and supported by Greenpeace, whose ship Esperanza was in port. The Ankara protest was led by a women's association, whose leader Senal Sarihan said "this war should be definitely prevented." (Anatolia news agency, Dec. 30, via BBC Monitoring) [top]

In Pakistan, thousands protested against pending military attacks on Iraq in six cities Jan. 3, at rallies organized by a coalition of hard-line religious parties. Protests in Peshawar, Karachi, Quetta, Lahore and Multan drew crowds of several thousand each, according to Pakistani news reports. A smaller march in Islamabad, the capital, also drew a few hundred people. (Daily Star, Beirut, Jan. 4) [top]

Following recent revelations in the Washington Post that the US provided the Saddam Hussein regime with "dual use" chemical weapons technology at a time when Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iranian troops, a commentator on Iran's state radio network called for Washington to pay restitution to Iran: "America stands alongside the Ba'thist Iraqi government as an accomplice to these war crimes and must pay blood money for the hundreds of thousands of combatants who were martyred by American chemical weapons and compensate the millions of family members of these victims for their psychological and moral suffering." (Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jan. 1, via BBC Monitoring)

See also WW3 REPORT #66 [top]

An Iraqi Kurd human rights activist now based in Scotland challenged UN teams searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction to investigate the fate of Kurdish and other detainees he says were used as human guinea pigs in chemical and biological weapons experiments. Dr Kamal Ketuly, head of the Committee for the Release of Hostages and Detainees in Iraq, has spent 20 years drawing attention to the fate of civilians arbitrarily arrested in Iraq, including his own brother. Said Ketuly: "We would ask [chief weapons inspector] Mr. Hans Blix to arrange a special team to search for those hostages on which tests were conducted." (Glasgow Sunday Herald, Jan. 4)

See also WW3 REPORT #64 [top]

As a new air campaign against Iraq looms, California's Dissident Voice News Service compiled a number of sources to try to arrive at an accurate death count from 1991's Operation Desert Storm.

* In the aftermath of the US slaughter in Iraq of 1991, then UN Under-Secretary General Martii Ahtisaari led a fact-finding team to Iraq and reported: "[N]othing we had seen or read had quite prepared us for the particular form of devastation that has now befallen the country. The recent conflict has wrought near-apocalyptic results upon the economic infrastructure of what had been...a rather highly urbanized and mechanized society... Iraq has, for some time to come, been relegated to a pre-industrial age... " As could be expected following Secretary of State James Baker's promise to Iraq that, "We will return you to the pre-industrial age" (January 9, 1991), or General Schwarzkopf's warning that "The United States might obliterate Iraq." (November 1, 1990).

* The UK Guardian reported a quote from an anonymous military intelligence official giving an estimate of 100,000 killed, 300,000 wounded. (September 19, 1991). Paul Flynn, then a British Member of Parliament, estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Iraqis killed, 300,000 to 700,000 wounded (Guardian, June 21, 1991), while a French military specialist estimated 150,000 killed (Guardian, March 1, 1991).(Dissident Voice, Santa Rosa, CA, Jan 5)

* And on Jan. 5, 2003, the Philadelphia Inquirer recalled the story of Beth Osborne Daponte, senior researcher at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, who as a Census Bureau demographer determined in 1991 that 158,000 Iraqi men, women and children died during and shortly after Desert Storm--and more civilians than soldiers. In return, she was reprimanded by the government, and saw her report re-written and her career sidetracked. Daponte was assigned to estimate Iraq's population as part of a country-by-country world overview. She found that 86,194 men, 39,612 women, and 32,195 children died in one year as a direct or indirect result of Desert Storm and the ensuing Kurdish and Shi'ite revolts. Only 40,000 were Iraqi soldiers killed in combat. The rest were civilians, including 13,000 directly killed by bullets or bombs. About 70,000 civilians died after the war due to the destruction of water and power plants. A Greenpeace activist made Daponte's tally public, just after the White House and Pentagon had said no Iraqi casualty estimate was possible. Within days, the Census Bureau notified Daponte that she was going to be fired, saying she had falsified data and skirted peer review. Her report was rewritten to suggest fewer civilian deaths, although it eventually survived as one of the few expert casualty estimates. Daponte challenged her dismissal and eventually refuted the charges. But she found herself without any assignments and forbidden to speak or write about Iraq. This time around, Daponte says she has no intention of trying to estimate Iraqi deaths. "On some level, is it going to matter if it's 10,000 dead versus 80,000 dead?" Daponte said.

(Dissident Voice, Santa Rosa, CA, Jan 5) [top]

In his first public statement since Christmas, President George Bush's told reporters at his ranch in Crawford, Texas: "This government will continue to lead the world toward more peace. And we hope to resolve all the situations in which we find ourselves in a peaceful way. That's my commitment." (UK Guardian, Jan. 2) [top]


A suspected Islamist militant killed three US missionaries and wounded a fourth at a Baptist charity hospital in Yemen Dec. 30. The assailant, Abed Abdul-Razzaq al-Kamil, surrendered to hospital authorities after his gun apparently jammed after the shooting. He reportedly leveled his gun at a Filipino nurse after shooting the US nationals, but the gun did not fire. Investigators are trying to determine if the attack is connected to the al-Qaeda network. The killings are the latest in a string of anti-western attacks in Yemen, where a CIA "Predator" drone assassinated six al-Qaeda operative with a missile from an unmanned predator drone on Nov. 3. The attack follows the Dec. 28 assassination of the Yemeni Socialist Party's deputy leader, who is pro-secular. Arrested for questioning in the wake of the attack was Ali al-Jarallah, suspected member of the militant group al-Jarallah. (Washington Post, Dec. 31) (David Bloom)

See also WW3 REPORT #59 [top]


The New York Times reported Jan. 1 that half a million returning Afghan refugees have "fallen through the aid net over the last year" and face the freezing winter in inadequate shelter in urban shanty-towns and makeshift rural camps. For all the much-touted reconstruction efforts, not one hospital has been rebuilt in Kabul, the devastated capital where over 78,000 buildings have been destroyed in years of war.

See also WW3 REPORT # 66 [top]

Following a skirmish between US and Pakistani troops near the Afghan border, Washington and Islamabad agreed to step up coordination to avoid a replay of the ugly incident. On Dec. 29, a US soldier was shot and wounded by a Pakistani guard along the border. A US warplane responded by bombing a building the attacker ran into for cover, and the guard was taken into custody. US officials said the incident took place within Afghanistan, but Pakistani officials said they are still investigating witness reports that at least one of the bombs landed inside Pakistan. The Pakistani government also denied that the US military has been given permission to chase Taliban/al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan into Pakistan. "Absolutely not. The Americans cannot cross the Pakistani border from Afghanistan to chase what they say are vestiges of Taliban and al-Qaeda," Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said. (AP, Jan. 5) [top]

Russian troops destroyed over 840 kg of drugs seized by border guards in the Shuroobod zone of the Tajik-Afghan border. Lt-Gen Aleksandr Markin, commander of the Russian Border Group, which assists the Tajik authorities, said "the result was achieved in the course of a nine-day operation, which had begun after obtaining operational information about the prepared transfer simultaneously of several batches of narcotics from Afghanistan to Tajikistan." Up to 300 soldiers and several armored vehicles were involved in the operation, with helicopters sent in to inaccessible gorges. The operation was carried out in heavy snowfall. Authorities said the traffickers were heavily armed. Seizures included over 250 kg of opium, 212 kg of marijuana and 380 kg of heroin, said the be the "largest haul" ever in Tajikistan. (ITAR-TASS, via BBC Monitoring, Dec. 6)

See also WW3 REPORT # 58 [top]

Russian police seized over 77 tons of drugs in 2002, up 30% from the previous year. Oleg Kharichkin of the Interior Ministry anti-narcotics department said the seized drugs included 55 tons of marijuana, 13 tons of opium and 600 kg heroin. He also announced an arrest total of 102,000 [a figure that falls far short of recent annual US drug arrests.-BW]. (ITAR-TASS, via BBC Monitoring, Dec. 6) [top]


At least nine US soldiers were wounded in a gun battle with suspected Islamic guerrillas on the southern Philippine island of Jolo, Mindanao, Jan 4. The troops were sent to a village outside Maimbung town on Jolo to check on the reported presence of Abu Sayyaf rebels when they encountered some 50 guerrillas. The gun battle lasted over an hour before the rebels escaped in small groups. Military sources claimed the guerrillas suffered a number of casualties. The wounded were flown to a hospital in Jolo town. Abu Sayyaf is currently holding four female Jehovah's Witnesses and three Indonesian sailors kidnapped last year. It has also been blamed for a series of bombings in Zamboanga late last year that killed 12, including a US Green Beret. Philippine authorities credit a six-month joint US-Philippine operation last year with weakening Abu Sayyaf and hunting down its key leaders. Officials claim the group is linked to al-Qaeda. (AP, Jan. 4)

See also WW3 REPORT # 56 [top]


On Dec. 31, North Korea accused the US of planning an invasion and vowed to annihilate any invader. The declaration came just hours after North Korea expelled UN monitors who had been assigned to watch the country's nuclear program. "The US is stepping up preparations for a war against [North Korea], persistently turning aside the latter's constructive proposal for concluding a non-aggression treaty," said the official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun. "If the enemy invades even an inch of the inviolable territory of [North Korea], the people's army and people of [North Korea] will wipe out the aggressors to the last man."

And in a signal of a significant crack in the 50-year-old US-South Korean alliance, a top aide to South Korea's president-elect Roh Moo-hyun echoed demands from North Korea that the US should sign a formal non-aggression treaty. "We are working on a mediation proposal that asks for a concession from both US President George Bush and the North Korean leader," he said. (AP, Jan 1)

Despite months of pledges not to use food as a weapon against North Korea, the Bush administration is currently withholding approval of grain shipments sought by humanitarian groups to avert starvation on the Korean peninsula. The UN World Food Program, an arm of the United Nations, says that food aid suspensions by the US and Japan, and severe cutbacks by South Korea, mean that for the first time in many years, it will miss its food-distribution targets in North Korea this winter "by a wide margin." (NYT, Jan. 6)

Days into the new year, North Korean generals ordered their forces to a heightened alert, with state media saying the crisis has entered a "very serious and unpredictable" stage. The announcement came as South Korean diplomats prepared to present a compromise plan to the White House, under which the US would resume aid in exchange for closing of the re-activated reactor at Yongbyon. (UK Guardian, Jan. 6)

See also WW3 REPORT #66 [top]

The web site reported Jan. 4 that religious scholars at the prestigious al-Azhar University in Egypt have issued a fatwa stating that it is a religious obligation for Islamic nations to possess nuclear weapons. "Allah Almighty urges the Muslim Ummah to have the necessary means of power and logistics that are capable of securing its interests, and preserving its sanctity against any violation," reads the fatwa. "With these necessary measures in effect, the whole Ummah [Islamic community] will stand erect and will undoubtedly put fear in the hearts of its enemies, who leave no stone unturned in encroaching on the whole Ummah and backing all Muslims into a corner." The fatwa recalls that the Koran "urges the Ummah to be fully aware of its enemies in order to enable Muslims to prepare and to have at least equal means of deterrence, if not greater means." Sheikh Alaa el-Shanawihi, member of al-Azhar House of Fatwa, asserted that "when Islam orders Muslims to equip themselves with modern means of deterrence, its aim is not to tell Muslims to make mischief on the earth" but to "dismay the enemy of Allah."

Cairo's al-Azhar University is the most respected doctrinal authority in Sunni Islam. At press time, it had still not responded to a query from WW3 REPORT seeking confirmation of the fatwa's authenticity. [top]

Israeli ecology groups are vowing to fight Infrastructure Minister Effi Eitam's newly revealed plan to build a nuclear power plant in the Negev Desert. The group Life and Environment said "Eitam is turning his brief term in the ministry into a production line for national disasters." According to Eitam's plan, a nuclear reactor would be operational at the Shifta site by 2020. Life and Environment attorney Or Karson said "the decision to build the plant would endanger our lives here," and he called the ministry's claims that it would provide the cheapest, cleanest form of energy "a terrible deception." (Ha'artez, Nov. 28) [top]

Amid investigations of corruption and missing equipment, John C. Browne, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the nation's pre-eminent nuclear weapons lab, submitted his resignation on Dec. 23. Joseph Salgado, the lab's principal deputy director, also resigned. "These changes reflect the university's deep concern about the allegations that have been made about Los Alamos business practices and our absolute and steadfast commitment to addressing them in a timely manner," said Richard C. Atkinson, president of the University of California, which manages the lab for the Energy Department. In a sharply-worded Dec. 24 letter to Atkinson, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said he was "deeply concerned" about the situation at Los Alamos. Noting that in November the laboratory fired two investigators probing the accusations, Abraham wrote that the reported abuses "reflect a systematic management failure, one for which laboratory management must be held accountable." George P. Nanos, a retired Navy admiral and deputy associate director at Los Alamos, was appointed interim director. In March, Glenn Walp, former chief of the Arizona Capitol police hired by the lab, wrote a memo to Los Alamos administrators outlining over $3 million worth of equipment than had been reported lost between 1998 and 2001. An investigation also found credit card abuses, including an attempt by one employee to buy a $30,000 Ford Mustang. Another investigator, Steven Doran, former police chief of Idaho City, said lab employees (primarily support staff rather than scientists) had bought expensive lawn furniture, barbecue grills, gift certificates for massages, jewelry and even $9,000 worth of military knives. "We found just an extensive abuse and misuse of taxpayer dollars, in the millions," he said. "It's part of the culture. Even now, they truly cannot see the error of their ways." Doran said that when he was fired he was told only that he "did not fit in with lab culture." A lab spokesperson denied his accusations. (NYT, Jan 3) [top]

A Dec. 30 Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) report, leaked to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, reveals that an order drafted by NRC staff a year earlier to close Ohio's Davis-Bisse reactor for inspection was never issued. Three months after the order was drafted, the reactor was halted for refueling, and workers discovered that its lid had rusted nearly all the way through--the most extensive corrosion ever found at a US nuclear power plant. The report faulted an NRC policy adopted in the mid-1990s to take costs into account when setting regulatory requirements. It was under this policy that the decision was made not to issue the order. Shutdown orders were far more common in the 1970s and '80s before the "risk-informed regulation" policy was imposed. (NYT, Jan. 4) [top]


Two prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus spoke out in support of a nationwide military draft, saying the children of the rich should serve alongside economic conscripts in the War on Terrorism. Reps. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) and John Conyers Jr. (D-MI.), both military veterans, said they would ask the House to consider legislation to re-institute the draft at the start of the 108th Congress. The draft last ended in 1973. "If indeed the president believes war is necessary in terms of our national welfare, then he has to believe that sacrifices need to be made, and those sacrifices need to be shared," Rangel said. "We have to kick up a notch the sense of patriotism and the sense of obligation." Conyers said in a statement that "once the conscription process for service in the military becomes universal and mandatory for all those who meet the removes the long-held stigma that people of color and persons from low-income backgrounds are disproportionately killed and injured while serving as ground troops on the front line."

Pentagon officials maintain that between active duty soldiers, National Guard and reserves, they have more than enough troops to fight a war against Iraq. University of Maryland political science professor Ron Walters said the call for a draft by two senior black Congressmen "was a way of bringing home...a sensitivity to the stakes that are involved in war... I look at it as a political move to call attention to whose ox is gored in a war." In the Vietnam War, black soldiers represented more than 12% of the dead, according to a study by Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler, authors of "All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Racial Integration the Army Way." Blacks only reached 12% of the US population in the 1990 Census. Pentagon statistics say minorities represent about 37% of the military's 1.3 million troops.

Retired Army colonel Larry Wortzel, defense analyst at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, said military combat roles for African Americans have decreased dramatically since the Vietnam War. "If you take a look at the distribution of minorities by military specialty, you will find that it's not blacks who are going to die in combat, it's whites and Hispanics," Wortzel said. "That's who's in infantry and armor. Blacks are underrepresented in infantry and armor. They're clustered in support services...where you're not in direct combat." But Wortzel said he supported a draft--apparently agreeing with Rangel and Conyers for different reasons. (Washington Post, Jan. 3) [top]

David Cohen, a 35-year CIA veteran who is now the New York Police Department's deputy commissioner for intelligence, says in court papers that a $100 million Fifth Avenue charitable organization is a front for the government of Iran, and "funds a variety of anti-American causes." Cohen--the CIA's deputy director for operations from 1995 to 1997 and the deputy director for intelligence from 1991 to 1995--made his declaration in a federal court case to determine how much power the NYPD should have to investigate individuals or groups without specific information about criminal activity.

NYPD snooping is limited by a 1985 consent decree that Cohen argues "dangerously limits the ability of the NYPD to protect the people it is sworn to serve." The rules set by that decree are known as the Handschu Guidelines, after Barbara Handschu, a plaintiff in a 1971 case against NYPD. Wrote Cohen: "As was made apparent by the success of the attacks on September 11th, terrorists engage in a prolonged period of often lawful activity in preparation for their criminal acts. They escape detection by blending into American society. They may own homes, live in communities with families, belong to religious or social organizations and attend educational institutions. They typically display enormous patience, often waiting years until the components of their plans are perfectly aligned... It is apparent to me that the Handschu guidelines place daunting obstacles in our way. The continued applicability of the Guidelines places this city, our nation and its people at heightened and unjustifiable risk." In another brief, Cohen said that without changes to the guidelines, "the counter-terrorism efforts of the NYPD will be severely compromised."

In a Sept. 12 document, signed under penalty of perjury, Cohen wrote: "The Alavi Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization ostensibly run by an independent board of directors but totally controlled by the government of Iran. The foundation has assets of about $100,000,000 in the U.S. and an annual income of between $10-15 million. The foundation funds a variety of anti-American causes, including the four Islamic education centers it owns in New York, Maryland, Texas and California The Maryland center is headed by Mohammad Al Asi, an American convert to Islam who, during the Kuwait crisis, called on Muslims to strike against American interests in the Middle East. Mosques funded by Alavi have organizations which support Hezbollah and Hamas."

Alavi Foundation attorney John Winter said he was "angry" over the accusations. "That guy's affidavit is bogus," he said of Cohen's declaration. "I don't know where that guy is coming from, but it's wrong." In at least two federal court cases, US citizens suing Iran failed in their efforts to show that the foundation was an "agency or instrumentality of a foreign state." In both a 2000 case by a man whose daughter was killed by purportedly Iran-backed terrorists and a 1998 case by a businessman whose carpet factory was seized by the Iranian government, litigants failed to win a judgement against the Alavi Foundation. (New York Sun, Dec. 5)

Cohen was appointed to the newly-created NYPD counter-terrorism post last January by Mayor Mike Bloomberg. (Mayor's press release, Jan. 24, 2002)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 53 and 59 [top]

Syed Gul Mohammed Shah, 36, one of two Muslim men from Hyderabad, India, detained on Sept. 12, 2001 for carrying box-cutters, lots of cash and having been on a flight that was grounded after the 9-11 attacks, is now charging US authorities with intentional sleep-deprivation, unhealthy food and solitary confinement during his 15 months of confinement at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center. "Every ten minutes a guard would come and bang on the steel door of my cell with his baton to ensure that I did not sleep," he told reporters. "The light bulb was on 24 hours." Eventually deported upon conviction on credit card fraud, his stateside lawyer has filed suit in federal court charging psychological torture. "Nothing could be more painful and punishing than having to spend such a long time without any company or anything to do," Shah said. "The only thing which enabled me to come out with my senses intact was my faith in Allah." (AP, Jan. 3) [top]

US citizens traveling abroad would have to give the government detailed personal information before leaving or reentering the country under a new rule proposed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Airlines and shipping companies would also have to give the government the name, date of birth, gender, passport number, country of residence and address of every passenger and crew member. "It's another way to enhance security for travelers," INS spokeswoman Kimberly Weismann said. The rule would apply to passengers and crew members aboard commercial airlines, cargo flights, cruise ships and other vessels carrying crew or passengers, with the exception of most ferry boats, buses or trains. The changes are part of a border security bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in May. (AP, Jan. 4) [top]

On Dec. 3, Roger Calero, associate editor of Perspectiva Mundial, a left-wing New York Spanish-language news magazine, was returning home to the US from a one-week reporting assignment in Havana, Cuba, and Guadalajara, Mexico. At Houston International Airport, Calero was seized by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and taken to a local immigration jail run by the private Corrections Corporation of America. Calero has lived in the US for 17 years, and held permanent residence since 1990. In addition to being an editor of Perspectiva Mundial, Calero works as a staff writer for the Militant, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). The Newark SWP said in a statement: "This attempt by the INS to exclude Calero from the United States and deport him to Nicaragua is an attack on his rights as a permanent resident, on his right to exercise his work as a journalist, and on the rights of all." Calero's assignment for Perspectiva Mundial brought him to an international conference in Havana on the Free Trade Area of the Americas, attended by trade unionists and activists from throughout the hemisphere. He then spent several days covering an international student conference in Guadalajara.

The INS is seeking to "exclude" Calero--denying him re-entry into the US--and deport him to Nicaragua based on a minor marijuana sale conviction from 1988, when he was a high school student in Los Angeles. Calero copped a plea and received a suspended 60-day sentence with three years probation. When Calero applied for permanent residency in 1989 he specifically included full disclosure of his conviction. The INS granted him a green card, giving him the right to live and work in the US, based on that application, and renewed the card in 2000. Calero is today married to a US citizen, and lives in Newark, NJ.

Calero's supporters are asking for polite but firm letters of protest to be sent to:

Hipolito Acosta, District Director, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 126 Northpoint Drive, Houston, TX, 77060. Please send copies to Perspectiva Mundial, 410 West Street, New York, NY 10014.

Please make tax-deductible contributions payable to the Political Rights Defense Fund, POB 761, Church St. Station, New York, NY 10007. [top]

Mohammed Asghar, a jeweler in Lahore, Pakistan, protested that his photo is among those just released by the FBI, purportedly showing five men who illegally entered the US just before the holidays, possibly to carry out terror attacks. Asghar admitted that he did travel to the United Arab Emirates on forged documents last year, and suspects the forgers he patronized could have saved a copy of his photo to create false documents for another man. He claims he has never set foot in the United States. The FBI identified the man in the photo as Mustafa Khan Owasi. (AP, Jan. 2) [top]

Secret Service Agents were called in to question a student at Ohio's Bellbrook High School who was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of President Bush and the words "not my president." School authorities said the student had worn the shirt before, and they only called the Secret Service after cross-hairs appeared on the president's head. The student's name was not released to the press. (WHIO-TV, Dec. 9) [top]


The Office of Homeland Security lost the first round in a legal battle to keep its activities secret as US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled it will have to answer questions about its power over other federal agencies. Kollar-Kotelly ordered the office to prove it has no authority other than advising President Bush if it wants to dismiss a lawsuit seeking access to its records. The ruling favors the DC-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, which is trying to get Homeland Security records on proposals for a national driver's license and a "trusted flyer" program that relies on bio-metric information to identify airline passengers. (AP, Jan. 1) [top]


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