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ISSUE: #. 74. Feb. 24, 2003

WAR DRIVE LOSING MOMENTUM IN WAKE OF GLOBAL PROTESTS?

NYC: PROTEST LEADERS CHALLENGE POLICE VIOLENCE

U.S. TROOPS TO FIGHT IN PHILIPPINES , COLOMBIA?

BOLIVIAN CABINET RESIGNS AS PROTESTS PARALYZE COUNTRY

BORDER WAR, TERROR, REPRESSION: BANGLADESH ON THE BRINK

CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: YELLOW

By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom and Subuhi Jiwani, Special Correspondents




THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. 43 Palestinians Killed in Eight Days; Israel Takes on Hamas
2. Senseless Death in Tul Karm Refugee Camp
3. Likud Signs Coalition Agreement
4. Leading Israelis Wanted for War Crimes in Europe?

THE IRAQ FRONT
1. Is War Drive Losing Steam?
2. Saddam's Defense Minister Under House Arrest?
3. Does Saddam Fear Popular Uprising?
4. Saudis Fomenting Coup in Iraq?
5. Opposition Groups Meet in Kurdish Zone
6. Kurds Wary of U.S. Betrayal
7. Kurds: U.S. Plans New Dictatorship
8. CIA Revisionism on Kurdish Genocide
9. Wesley Clark: U.S. Becoming "Colonial" Power
10. Rumsfeld Disses "Human Shields"
11. Amos Oz: "Protesters are Right"
12. Cyber-Protesters Plan "Virtual March" on White House
13. L.A. High School Students Protest War Drive
14. Zapatistas Say "No!" to Bush's War

THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. "Operation Viper" Underway; Casualty Count Disputed
2. U.S. Forces Face Armed Resistance
3. Bomb Attacks Target U.N. Agencies
4. Hekmatyar Makes the Bigtime: "Global Terrorist"
5. NATO to Command International Forces in Afghanistan?

THE NEW GREAT GAME
1. India Wooed for Trans-Afghan Pipeline
2. Siberian Shamans Protest Pipeline Plan

THE SUBCONTINENT
1. India's Iraq Posture: Two-Faced "Neutrality"
2. India: Pakistan Greater Threat Than Iraq
3. Forced Deportations on Bangladesh Border
4. Terror and Repression Strike Bangladesh

THE PHILIPPINE FRONT
1. More U.S. Troops to Mindanao--This Time With Combat Role?
2. Manila Expels Iraqi Diplomat for Alleged Abu Sayyaf Links

THE ANDEAN FRONT
1. U.S. Considering Direct Military Intervention in Colombia
2. Bolivian Cabinet Resigns as Protests Rock Country
3. Reprisals Against Venezuela Strike Leaders?

ELSEWHERE IN LATIN AMERICA
1. Navy Concludes Last Planned Vieques Exercises

THE WAR AT HOME
1. NYC: Activists, Police at Odds in Wake of Feb. 15 Protest
2. Farouk Abdel-Muhti Transferred to York, PA
3. Palestinian Professor Seized in Florida
4. New Yorkers Protest Third "Registration" Deadline
5. Advocacy Groups Seek Injunction to Halt Detainments
6. White House Prepares "Patriot II" Legislation
7. CIA, FBI to Launch Joint Terrorism Center
8. Burgers With a Side of Xenophobia
9. Bretton Barber: American Hero!



THE PALESTINE FRONT

1. 43 PALESTINIANS KILLED IN EIGHT DAYS; ISRAEL TAKES ON HAMAS
Following continued Kassem rocket attacks over the Gaza-Israeli border and the fourth successful attack on an Israeli tank in Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) greatly stepped up pressure on Hamas, vowing to take out its military wing, the Izzedine al-Kassem Brigades. Following the tank attack, at least 43 Palestinians were killed in the space of eight days; this compared to a total of 45 Palestinians killed in January alone. Among those killed was Hamas military leader Riyad Abu Zeid, ambushed by an IDF hit squad on a Gaza coastal road Feb. 17. Israeli forces have occupied the area of the Gaza Strip around Beit Hanoun, where Kassem rockets are frequently launched at Israel. The rockets rarely do any damage, but on Feb. 19 managed to lightly wound an Israeli in the town of Sderot near Gaza.

Hamas has not killed anyone in Israel in two and a half months, but this unspoken ceasefire was brought to a halt by Israel's intensified operations. Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin stated Feb. 19: "We ceased attacks to prove to the people that Israel didn't need any excuse to attack us, and that was shown by these attacks on us. Now all weapons and all attacks are worthy." Hours later four rockets hit Sderot.

Palestinian security forces have tried to stop the rocket attacks with little success. Israel has again cut the Gaza Strip into three and says it will hold the area it has seized around Beit Hanoun indefinitely.

In an incursion into Gaza City on Nov. 19, ostensibly to destroy metal-working shops the Israelis say are used to construct Kassem rockets, 11 Palestinians, including four civilians, were killed. More than 40 Israeli tanks and armored vehicles took part in the assault.

Eight Palestinians and one Israeli were killed on Feb. 23, all but one in the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian man returning from work in Israel was killed by Israeli forces crossing a settler road near the Jabara roadblock. Israeli authorities claimed he was crossing into Israel to carry out an attack, and failed to stop when warned. This is a common IDF claim, now greeted with skepticism by rights observers. "I can't be certain," said Lior Yavne, a spokesperson for the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, "but I have noticed over the last few months that the army has claimed a lot more people have been killed while trying to escape."

(Newsday, Feb. 18; Ha'aretz, Feb. 19; UK Independent, Feb. 22; UK Telegraph, Feb. 20, 24; Reuters, Feb. 24) (David Bloom) [top]

2. SENSELESS DEATH IN TUL KARM REFUGEE CAMP
On Feb. 20, 23-year-old Mohamed Araf Oufi, a Palestinian man living in Tul Karm refugee camp, was shot and killed by Israeli occupation forces. Wrote the Israeli daily Ha'aretz:

"In Tul Karm, IDF troops Thursday morning shot dead an armed Palestinian, Army Radio reported. The soldiers were carrying out operations in the West Bank city, when a group of armed Palestinians opened fire on them. The troops opened fire in response, killing the Palestinians. No soldiers were wounded in the incident." (Ha'aretz, Feb. 20)

That version is contradicted by activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), one of whom was in Tul Karm camp at the time of the shooting. The ISM activists claim Oufi was leaving his house to pray at the mosque, alone, at 5 AM. A neighbor who saw him warned that the army was operating in the area, to which Oufi, a very religious young man, replied, "I'm just going to pray." Around the corner, eight Israeli special forces troops were occupying a house. They had arrived at 2 AM, confining the family of six--including two grandparents, three children and their mother--to the bottom floor. They were compelled to stay silent, forbidden to use the toilet and even to get a blanket for the youngest child. Two soldiers held the frightened family at gunpoint, while the remaining six were positioned on the roof, one with a rifle capable of shooting a 25 mm shell. When Muhammed rounded the corner, he must have noticed the Israeli military vehicles at the end of the street, because he turned to leave; this is deduced from the fact that bullets pierced his right posterior neck. After the shots killed Oufi, a Palestinian man on Israel's wanted list emerged and returned fire; he in turn was shot and critically wounded in the chest.

Oufi's body lay in the street for 45 minutes after the soldiers confirmed he was dead, with his family was unable to retrieve the remains because they were under curfew. (ISM, Feb. 22) (David Bloom) [top]

3. LIKUD SIGNS COALITION AGREEMENT
A right-wing coalition that will freeze out both the ultra-orthodox religious parties and the Labor party from the Israeli government is taking shape. The modern orthodox (as opposed to ultra-orthodox) National Religious Party (NRP), a settler-oriented, right-wing party led by the hawkish ex-Gen. Effi Eitam has been given two ministries, Housing & Construction, and Labor & Welfare. Eitam will get the Housing portofolio, giving him wide control over settlement construction. Eitam told Army Radio Feb. 23 that as part of the NRP's agreement with Likud, settlements in the occupied territories "will be enlarged to accommodate the natural growth of their population." The NRP is also opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state. Labor MK Avraham Shochat commented that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "clearly selected a right-wing, extremist government that won't pursue a peace process." Labor Party leader Amiram Mitzna said he could not join a government with Eitam in it, so he will lead the opposition instead. The deal keeps the ultra-orthodox parties out of government, but will not result in an uncompromisingly secularist government--a key election promise of the centrist Shinui, which holds 15 Knesset seats and is also being wooed by Sharon's coalition. Shinui and the NRP both oppose religious exemptions from the draft--a key demand of the ultra-orthodox parties. (Arutz Sheva, Feb. 23; BBC, Feb. 23; Ha'aretz, Feb. 23)

One Shinui demand is that Ariel Sharon adhere to Washington's "road map" leading to a peace settlement. But Sharon is demanding over 100 changes to the road map, including a "clarification that all the initial demands are on the Palestinian side, beginning with a cease-fire, a change in leadership, and far-reaching reforms, only then to be followed by measures Israel must take." (Ha'aretz, Feb. 24) Palestinian Local Government Minister Dr Sa'ib Urayqat had this reaction: "This indicates Israel's total rejection of the road map. This is because Sharon's road map is one of settlement, destruction, confiscation of land and entrenchment of the occupation." (BBC Monitoring: Al-Jazeera TV, Feb. 21)

In remarks at a dinner held by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem on Feb. 12, Sharon said there would be "no compromise" on the issue of Jerusalem, or the right of return of Palestinians. "Israel will never accept that danger to occur, never," said Sharon, to applause. "We understand even the tragedy, but to open the gates of Israel to the families of refugees of '48--and Israel didn't have any responsibility then, Israel was attacked then--that means the destruction of Israel as independent Jewish democratic state." (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Israel, Feb. 21)

The new coalition gives Sharon a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset. If negotiations are successful, he will to bolster that majority with the seven Knesset members of the pro-"transfer" National Union party, led by Avigdor Lieberman. (Ha'aretz, Feb. 24) (David Bloom) [top]

4. LEADING ISRAELIS WANTED FOR WAR CRIMES IN EUROPE?
In the wake of a Belgian court's ruling that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can be compelled to testify about his responsibility for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Israeli legal advisors have issued a memo to ministers, warning that some Israeli officials shouldn't visit Europe--or risk arrest for war crimes. Gen. Amos Yaron, who commanded a division of paratroopers in Lebanon in 1982, has also been advised to avoid Europe. Recommendations have reportedly gone out to all Israeli officers and politicians connected to the current conflict. The Israeli peace group Gush Shalom recently published the name of the F-16 pilot responsible for dropping a half-ton bomb on Gaza, killing more than twelve civilians, including woman and children, last July. He was then instructed not to leave Israel for Europe until further notice. Jane's claims Shaul Mofaz, current defense minister, "could be taken for questioning in Belgium, France or possibly other countries." Jane's says Moshe Ya'alon, current Israeli Chief of staff, who is alleged to have played a role in the 1988 Tunis raid that killed the number-two man in the PLO, "Abu Jihad" (Khalil el-Wazir), may also have been advised to avoid Europe. (Jane's Foreign Report, Feb. 20) (David Bloom) [top]

THE IRAQ FRONT

1. IS WAR DRIVE LOSING STEAM?
A week after the historic Feb. 15 global anti-war protests, there are signals that US President George Bush's war drive is losing momentum. The White House is preparing a new Security Council resolution declaring Iraq an outlaw state for its failure to disarm, and endorsing (at least implicitly) military action--but it faces a likely veto by France, Russia and China. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, calling on the UN to approve war, said: "There's always a risk of veto of anything at the United Nations. The president believes the United Nations in the end would like to be an instrument for peace and the world..." (Newsday, Feb. 20)

In a major obstacle to war plans, the Turkish government announced it would not consider opening its territory to US troops without a major aid package. The White House has proposed a $26 billion package, but the Turkish government has still not made a commitment. (NYT, Feb. 20)

European Union leaders issued a joint statement that Iraq must disarm "immediately and fully"--but also that this should be achieved peacefully, with war as a last resort. "War is not inevitable," the statement read. (NYT, Feb. 18) French President Jacques Chirac took the opportunity of the Brussels meeting to publicly scold Eastern European governments that have closed ranks with the US war drive. He said pro-war governments such as Bulgaria and Romania had "missed a great opportunity to shut up" and had jeopardized their chances of joining the EU. (Reuters, Feb. 19)

Bush dismissed the global protests, telling reporters at the White House that formulating policy based on the "size of protests is like deciding, 'Well, I'm going to decide policy based upon a focus group.' The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security...of the people." While he acknowledged the right to protest, he said, "evidently some in the world don't view Saddam Hussein as a risk to peace... Saddam Hussein is a threat to America, and we will deal with him." (Newsday, Feb. 19)

British Foreign Secretary Jack Staw sounded slightly more conciliatory. Asked in a radio interview if the UK would go to war even if a majority of the citizenry opposed it, he replied, "It is very difficult indeed under those circumstances." He also acknowledged that the Feb. 15 protest in London was "probably the largest we have seen in our recent democratic history... and we have to take account of public opinion." (Reuters, Feb. 18) [top]

2. SADDAM'S DEFENSE MINISTER UNDER HOUSE ARREST?
Press reports in the Arab world claim the head of the Iraqi military, Lt-Gen. Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Jabburi Tai, has been placed under house arrest, with Saddam fearing an imminent coup d'etat. The defense minister is not only a member of Saddam's inner circle, but also a close relative by marriage. His daughter is wedded to Qusay Hussein, the dictator's 36-year-old younger son--considered by many his heir apparent. It was Gen. Sultan who signed a cease-fire with US-led coalition forces after the 1991 Gulf War, and more recently negotiated a resumption of military ties with Moscow. He has survived numerous purges in the Iraqi military, and rose to the top following the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988. But this is not the first time Saddam has moved against a trusted colleague and family relation. In 1996 he had his two sons-in-law executed after he persuaded them to return to Baghdad following their defection to Jordan. His estranged first wife Sajida is no longer on speaking terms with him after the mysterious death of her brother. (UK Guardian, Feb. 18) [top]

3. DOES SADDAM FEAR POPULAR UPRISING?
The fear that Iraq's 700,000-strong regular army might refuse to fight invading US troops has prompted Saddam to take unusual measures, according to press reports in the Arab world. Fearing a popular uprising, the dictator has reportedly deployed troops of the Mujahedeen Kalq, an Iraq-backed Iranian guerilla group, to police several key Iraqi cities. Mujahedeen Kalq has alo reportedly been deployed to Iraq's borders with Kuwait, Syria and the northern Kurdish zone . (UK Guardian, Feb. 18)

See also WW3 REPORT #71 [top]

4. SAUDIS FOMENTING COUP IN IRAQ?
The Saudi regime is apparently taking the lead in attempting to foment unrest within Iraq. Under a proposal put forward by the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, all but Saddam's innermost circle would be granted immunity from war crimes prosecution--in the hope that such a guarantee will encourage senior members of the Iraqi government to stage a coup . (UK Guardian, Feb. 18)

See also WW3 REPORT #71 [top]

5. OPPOSITION GROUPS MEET IN KURDISH ZONE
Representatives from several Iraqi opposition groups met in the Kurdish city of Irbil last week to discuss their posture on US intervention and a post-Saddam Iraq. Four of the six major opposition groups were in attendance: the Kurdish parties KDP and PUK, the Shiite-based Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution, and the Iraqi National Congress, ostensibly representing all factions. Boycotting the talks were the Iraqi National Accord and the Constitutional Monarchy Movement, who according to the Kurdish newspaper Hawlati dissent from the other groups' consensus on rejecting US military administrators of post-Saddam Iraq. The talks follow up on a US-brokered dialogue which began last year in London. (Knight-Ridder, Jan. 28; Hawlati Feb. 19 via BBC Monitoring)

See also WW3 REPORT #41 [top]

6. KURDS WARY OF U.S. BETRAYAL
When Zalmay Khalizad, US special envoy to the Iraqi opposition, met with Kurdish leaders in Anakara earlier this month, he told them they would have to accept both US and Turkish troops on their territory--and give up their aspirations to local autonomy in a federal post-Saddam Iraq. He added that thousands of Kurds driven from their homes by Saddam's forces could not be guaranteed a right of return. Yet he insisted on Kurdish support for the military campaign against Saddam. Writes Peter W. Galbraith, former US ambassador to Croatia, in a Feb. 19 New York Times op-ed:

"For the Kurds, this brought bitter memories. They blame Henry Kissinger for encouraging them to rebel in the early 1970s and then acquiescing quietly as the shah of Iran made a deal with Iraq and stopped funneling American aid to them. (Mr. Kissinger's standing among Kurds was not helped by his explanation: 'Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.')"

This history nearly repeated itself in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm: "After the Persian Gulf war, the first President Bush called on the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam Hussein. When the Kurds tried to do just that, the American military let the Iraqis send out helicopter gunships to annihilate them. Mr. Bush partyly salvaged his standing with the Kurds a month later when he cleared Iraqi forces from the region, thus enabling the creation of the first Kurdish-governed territory in modern history."

Now, to appease Turkey (which fears the precedent set for its own Kurdish regions), Iraq's Kurds are being told they will have to give up their autonomous zone in the post-Saddam order. But the Kurds are a force to be reckoned with: "Their militias number 70,000 to 130,000, and there is a real risk of clashes with any Turkish 'humanitarian' force. The democratically elected Kurdistan assembly has already completed work on a constitution for the region that would delegate minimal powers to a central government in Baghdad, and could submit it for a popular vote. Short of arresting Kurdish leaders and the assembly, an American occupation force may have no practical way of preventing the Kurds from going ahead with their federalist project."

See also WW3 REPORT #72 [top]

7. KURDS: U.S. PLANS NEW DICTATORSHIP
After meeting with US officials, Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq told reporters Washington is abandoning plans for a democratic Iraq with autonomy for the Kurds, and hopes to merely replace one dictatorial Baghdad regime for another. "Conquerors always call themselves liberators," said Sami Abdul-Rahman, deputy prime minister of the Kurdish administration, referring to Bush's speech last week boasting that US troops were going to "liberate" Iraq. "It is very disappointing," Abdul-Rahman said. "In every Iraqi ministry they are just going to remove one or two officials and replace them with American military officers." (Patrick Cockburn for the UK Independent, Feb. 18) [top]

8. CIA REVISIONISM ON KURDISH GENOCIDE
The latest pro-war op-ed piece in the New York Times, "Last Chance to Stop Iraq" (Feb. 21), is by Kenneth M. Pollack, a former CIA analyst and author of "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq." Pollack's piece is curiously selective in its litany of Saddam Hussein's depredations. Pollack attributes the 1974 offensive against the Kurds to Saddam, when the coup that brought him to power wasn't until 1979. Yet absent from the litany is Saddam's even more brutal 1988 offensive against the Kurds, which employed chemical weapons. Perhaps Pollack wishes to forget that this offensive came at a time when the US was actively collaborating with Saddam's war machine.

See also WW3 REPORT #66 [top]

9. WESLEY CLARK: U.S. BECOMING "COLONIAL" POWER
General Wesley Clark, a former NATO commander and a potential Democratic candidate for US president, told NBC's "Meet the Press" Feb. 16 that Saddam Hussein was "finished" and having gone so far, the US could not change its plans to remove him. Drawing on his experience overseeing the 1999 NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia, Clark had a few words on the importance of multi-lateralism, saying "if you really want allies, you've got to listen to their opinions, you've got to take them seriously, you've got to work with their issues." But he added that a US occupation of Iraq is inevitable and has vast implications for the US as a global power: "We're at a turning point in American history here. We are about to embark on an operation that's going to put us in a colonial position in the Middle East following Britain, following the Ottomans," Clark said. "It's a huge change for the American people and for what this country stands for." (AP, Feb. 17) [top]

10. RUMSFELD DISSES "HUMAN SHIELDS"
Godfrey Meynell, 68, of the UK, one of 13 self-proclaimed "human shields" from several Western countries now living in a dormitory at the Baghdad South Power Plant, told the New York Times the site was chosen after a tour of the Iraqi capital's power stations, hospitals and water treatment plants. "They have shown us a number of sites and one of them was this power station. I have been pushing for this site because it seems to me that if the electricity is cut, then water treatment suffers, hospitals suffer. Of course America appears to have become so immoral now that there are few chances of making the slightest bit of difference." But the "human shield" concept still carries a bad rap from the prelude to the 1991 Gulf War, when Saddam's regime rounded up hundreds of oil workers, bankers and other resident foreigners and forced them to live for months at Iraqi industrial plants and military bases. (They were all released before the bombing actually began.)

The US warns that that even if these "human shields" are volunteers, their use would still be considered a war crime. Said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "Deploying human shields is not a military strategy, its murder. a violation of the laws of armed conflict and a crime against humanity, and it will be treated as such." Countered Ken Nichols O'Keefe, 33, an Operation Desert Storm veteran: "That is ridiculous. They are not using me. I am here voluntarily. What is Saddam Hussein supposed to say? 'No they can't do it'?"

For his own part, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz made clear the foreign volunteers were welcome: "They should come and set themselves up around places that we need to survive, to aid civil defense." (NYT, Feb. 21) [top]

11. AMOS OZ: "PROTESTERS ARE RIGHT"
Israeli author Amoz Oz declared in a New York Times op-ed Feb. 19 that the anti-war protesters who took to the streets all over the planet last Saturday are "Right for the Wrong Reasons." While distancing himself from some of the more strident anti-US and anti-Israeli rhetoric of the protesters, Oz warned: "An American war against Iraq, even if it ended in victory, is liable to heighten the sense of affront, humiliation, hatred and desire for vengeance that much of the world feels toward the United States. It threatens to arouse a wave of fanaticism with the power to undermine the very existence of moderate governments in the Middle East and beyond. This pending war is already splitting the alliance of democratic states and cracking the ramshackle edifice of the United Nations and its institutions. Ultimately, this will benefit only the violent and fanatical forces menacing the peace of the world." [top]

12. CYBER-PROTESTERS PLAN "VIRTUAL MARCH" ON WHITE HOUSE
In the wake of the Feb. 15 international anti-war mobilization, the group Win Without War is planning to deluge the White House and Congress with pro-peace faxes and e-mails in a "virtual march" Feb. 26. "Last weekend we marched in the streets," said the group's director Tom Andrews. "Next week we're taking it to the streets of official Washington. One of the group's celebrity supporters in actor Martin Sheen, who plays the president on "The West Wing." He told reporters in a televised message at a press conference: "Our message to Washington will be clear. Don't invade Iraq. We can contain Saddam Hussein without killing innocent people, diverting us from the war on terrorism and putting us all at risk." (AP, Feb. 20) [top]

13. L.A. HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS PROTEST WAR DRIVE
About 250 students walked out of class at downtown Los Angeles' Magnets High School Feb. 21 to protest the pending war with Iraq. The students marched three miles to City Hall, where the City Council had just approved a resolution also opposing war drive. Police reported no arrests. School authorities distanced themselves from the protest, with an assistant principal saying, "We don't feel that leaving class and disrupting school is the appropriate way to address their concerns." (San Jose Mercury News, Feb. 22) [top]

14. ZAPATISTAS SAY "NO!" TO BUSH'S WAR
Mexico's Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) sent a letter to supporters in Italy denouncing Bush's war drive. The letter, penned by the EZLN's Subcommander Marcos, was read from the stage at the massive Feb. 15 rally in Rome by Heidi Giuliani, the mother of activist Carlo Giuliani, who was killed by police during protests against the G8 summit in Genoa in July 2001. The letter read:

Brothers and Sisters of Rebel Italy:

Greetings from the men, women, children and elders of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation... We know that today demonstrations are being held throughout the world in order to say "No" to Bush's war against the people of Iraq. And it must be said like that, because it is not a war by the North American people, nor is it a war against Saddam Hussein. It is a war by money, which is represented by Seľor Bush (perhaps in order to emphasize that he is completely lacking in intelligence). And it is against humanity, whose fate is now at stake on the soil of Iraq. This is the war of fear. Its objective is not to defeat Hussein in Iraq. Its goal is not to do away with al-Qaeda. Nor does it seek to liberate the people of Iraq. It is not justice, nor democracy, nor liberty which drives this terror. It is fear. Fear that the entire world will refuse to accept a policeman which tells it what it should do, how it should do it and when it should do it... Fear that the world will refuse to be treated like plunder. Fear of that human essence which is called rebellion. Fear that the millions of human beings who are mobilizing today throughout the world will be victorious in raising the cause of peace...

The person leading this stupidity (which is supported by Berlusconi in Italy, Blair in England and Aznar in Spain), Senor Bush...is the head of the self-proclaimed world police, thanks to a fraud which was so immense that it could only be covered up by the shadows of the twin towers in New York, and by the blood of the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Neither Hussein nor the Iraqi people matter to the North American government. What matters to it is demonstrating that it can commit its crimes in any part of the world, at any moment, and that it can do so with absolute impunity. The bombs which are to fall in Iraq seek also to fall on all the nations of earth...

This war is against all humanity, against all honest men and women. For us there is but one dignified word and one conscientious action in the face of this war. The word "NO," and the rebel action. That is why we must say "NO" to war. A "NO" without conditions or excuses. A "NO" without half measures. A "NO" untarnished by gray areas. A "NO" with all the colors which paint the world. A "NO" which is clear, categorical, resounding, definitive, worldwide. Today there is a "NO" which shall weaken the powerful and strengthen the weak: the "NO" to war...

And, if the powerful wish to universalize fear through death and destruction, we must universalize the "NO." Because the "NO" to this war is also a "NO" to fear, a "NO" to resignation, a "NO" to surrender, a "NO" to forgetting, a "NO" to renouncing our humanity...

We would hope that this "NO" would transcend borders, that it would sneak past customs, that it would overcome differences of language and culture, and that it would unite the honest and noble part of humanity, which is also, and it must not be forgotten, the majority. Allow our "NO" to unite with yours and with all the "NO's" which are flourishing today throughout the earth. Viva the rebellion which says "NO!" Death to death!

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

For the General Command of the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Insurgent Subcommander Marcos [top]

THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT

1. "OPERATION VIPER" UNDERWAY; CASUALTY COUNT DISPUTED
The US military announced Feb. 21 it has expanded operations in southern Afghanistan in an area where fugitive leaders of the ousted Taliban regime are believed to be hiding. US military spokesman Col. Roger King said troops primarily from the 82nd Airborne division launched "Operation Viper" in Helmand province. King told a news briefing at Bagram Air Base, the US headquarters north of Kabul, that 25 have been detained in the operation, but said he could not give numbers killed. Local officials and villagers in Helmand said last week that 17 civilians had been killed in bombing raids in the mountainous region. The US military says the only non-combatant casualty was an eight-year-old boy who was wounded. The US currently has some 8,000 troops in Afghanistan, backed up by several thousands allied and Afghan troops, searching out Taliban remnant forces. ( Reuters, Feb 22) [top]

2. U.S. FORCES FACE ARMED RESISTANCE
A US soldier was injured in eastern Afghanistan Feb. 19 when the military vehicle he was traveling in struck a land-mine near the city of Gardez. The soldier's right foot was blown off by the explosion, the military said in a statement from Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul. "He is in currently undergoing surgery at the forward operating base in Khost and is in stable condition," the statement said.

Meanwhile, a gunman opened fire on US Special Forces troops in Urgun in eastern Afghanistan, military spokeswoman Capt. Alayne Cramer said at Bagram. No one was injured, but Urgun remains a tense area for US forces operating there, who have faced regular attacks. Usually the gunmen, operating in small groups, flee the area, perhpas into neighboring Pakistan. There are reports that fresh Taliban/al-Qaeda training camps have been set up in the mountainous Urgun region of Paktika province. The US military is also investigating two explosions that struck the outside a US military compound in northern Kunduz province Feb. 18. (AP, Feb. 19) [top]

3. BOMB ATTACKS TARGET U.N. AGENCIES
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), a UN-recognized agency that assists in refugee resettlement, reported that its offices in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz had come under bomb attack Feb. 18. "On Tuesday night there were two explosions, one inside and the other just outside the IOM compound," Jarrett Blanc, an IOM program manager in the Afghan capital, Kabul, said. "Nobody was hurt. Only seventeen windows of the compound building were blown out." The attack comes approximately one month after a similar attack on the UN Mine Action Center for Afghanistan (MACA) in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, whicb also left staff shaken by no casualties . (IRIN, Feb. 20) [top]

4. HEKMATYAR MAKES THE BIGTIME: "GLOBAL TERRORIST"
The US has designated Pashtun warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, head of the Hezb-i-Islami party, a "global terrorist," charging links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Hekmatyar, a protege of the CIA during the war against the Soviet intervention in the '80s, has a history of shifting allegiances, and reports now connect him to recent attacks on US troops in Afghanistan. "The US has information indicating that Hekmatyar has participated in and supported terrorist acts committed by the al-Qaeda and the Taliban," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. "Because of his terrorist activity, the United States is designating Hekmatyar as a 'Specially Designated Global Terrorist' under executive order 13224." The designation enables the US to seize Hekmatyar's properties and assets in the United States. The US will also request the UN Committee on Terrorism include him on its global list of entities and individuals associated with al-Qaeda, which would impose worldwide sanctions on Hekmatyar's financial activities. (Rediff.com, Feb. 20) [top]

5. NATO TO COMMAND INTERNATIONAL FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN?
NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson is advocating a military role for the alliance in Afghanistan. Under one proposal, NATO would establish a permanent command for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the foreign "peacekeeping" mission based in Kabul. ISAF currently has a rotating command, with the UK turning it over to Turkey last year, and Germany now in a joint command with the Netherlands. Canada is scheduled to take over from the German-Dutch command. (NYT, Feb. 21) [top]

THE NEW GREAT GAME

1. INDIA WOOED FOR TRANS-AFGHAN PIPELINE
On Feb. 22, the oil ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan reached an agreement to invite India to join the multi-billion pipeline project to carry Turkmenistan's natural gas to the Indian Ocean. The ministerial committee for the Trans-Afghan Pipeline (TAP) formally invited New Delhi to sign on and approve extension of the pipeline to India. The pipeline is slated to cross Afghanistan, connecting Turkmenistan's Davletabad gas fields to the city of Multan in central Pakistan, and then to points south. Construction costs are pegged to exceed $3.2 billion, with some 750 kilometers of the line to be built across Afghanistan. The ministers announced the decision at a press conference in Islamabad. Representatives from Asian Development Bank (ADB) also attended the meeting and briefed the participants of the feasibility study of the project. (PNS, Feb. 22) [top]

2. SIBERIAN SHAMANS PROTEST PIPELINE PLAN
The Russian firm Yukos plans to build a new pipeline to feed the booming Chinese energy market, linking oil fields near Lake Baikal to China's northeastern city of Daqing. But the pipeline would cut close to the small settlement of Zun-Murino, just north of the Mongolian border, where many villagers still practice Buryat shamanism and consider the surrounding mountains and forest sacred. Said village schoolteacher Nellya Prushenova: "Bad things happen when trees are cut down. A child can get sick, or all of our cattle might die. Maybe there will be a flood. Our nature is very easily offended." Residents also fear oil spills and industrial accidents, and note that compensation fees for degraded lands were set in Soviet times and have been practically obliterated by inflation. Ecologists also protest that the proposed pipeline route cuts through Tunkinsky National Park, and Yukos has proposed changing the park's boundaries to allow this. Commented Yukos regional production chief Mikhail Zamyatin: "You can't stop progress. They did it in Alaska. Why can't we do it here?" (NYT, Feb. 19)

See also WW3 REPORT #47 [top]

THE SUBCONTINENT

1. INDIA'S IRAQ POSTURE: TWO-FACED "NEUTRALITY"
Asking the Security Council to consider the humanitarian impact of a US war on Iraq, VK Nambiar, Indian Ambassador to the UN, said Feb 18 that force should only be used as a "last, unavoidable option." Invoking the dismantling of Iraq in an imperialist carve-up, he added: "Apart from the immediate consequences of military action in a region which is already volatile, the Council would need to take into account the impact of possible break-up the concerned state on neighboring states and its larger implications for peace, stability and security of the region as well as the dangers of radicalization of the public opinion around the world." (The Hindu, Feb 19)

Indian Premier Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha--who attended a Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, last weekend--made similar statements. India contends that Iraq should disarm in compliance with UN Resolution 1441, and any weapons found by inspectors should be voluntarily destroyed by Iraq. Yashwant Sinha proudly boasted about India's friendship with the US and its avid support for the US-led "War Against Terrorism," as well as India's own program of defense co-operation with Israel. (See WW3 Report #57) (Reuters, Feb 23)

But India's seemingly neutral posture on war against Iraq is driven by concrete economic concerns. Following new deals established under the UN's oil-for-food program, Iraq is now India's largest supplier of oil. In 2000, Iraq leased out two new oil fields to a private Indian company, the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation. A war in the region would adversely affect 3 million-plus Indian nationals living the Gulf, and cause chaos in the region. This would drastically affect the remittances that India collects from its overseas nationals. India assumed its current fence-sitting position during Operation Desert Storm--although New Delhi finally succumbed to US pressure and allowed US fighter jets access to its air bases for refueling. In an article posted on Antiwar.com, Praful Bidwai says, "India is likely to stay neutral in the event of a US-led war on Iraq, but will qualify its position if there is strong multilateral support for military action, with a specific new UN resolution authorizing the use of force." (Praful Bidwai, Feb 3, Antiwar.com)

Last summer, after Iraq signed new deals with India's Oil & Natural Gas Corporation, New Delhi's oil minister Ram Naik met with his Iraqi counterpart Amir Mohammed Rasheed in Baghdad. Naik spoke out in opposition to the sanctions against Iraq, and Rasheed hailed India as a "strategic partner ." (BBC, July 8, 2002)

Iraq also supports India's stance on the Kashmir dispute, and rival Pakistan is inching closer to supporting the US war drive. Pakistan's ruling Gen. Pervez Mushraff recently stated that a "heavy responsibility" rested on Iraq to disarm. The possibility of Pakistani diplomatic support for war on Iraq is silently elbowing India--since it could result in Washington favoring Islamabad over New Delhi in the Kashmir dispute.

(Subuhi Jiwani)

See also WW3 REPORT #63 [top]

2. INDIA: PAKISTAN GREATER THREAT THAN IRAQ
India's Ambassador to the US Lalit Mansingh told a gathering in Washington Feb. 21 that the White House has its priorities wrong and Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf represents a more immediate threat to global security than Iraq's Saddam Hussein. "General Musharraf has gone back on every single commitment to end crossborder terrorism, Pakistan continues to pass on nuclear technology to North Korea and Iraq and it was they who nurtured Taliban," said Mansingh. (Press Trust of India, Feb. 22) [top]

3. MORE FORCED DEPORATIONS ON BANGLADESH BORDER
Six individuals--a man, his family of four, and another man--who claim Bangladeshi citizenship remain stranded in a no-man's land on the India-Bangladesh border after trying to enter India. On Feb. 20 they were intercepted by India's Border Security Forces (BSF)--who then attempted to forcefully deport them back to Bangladesh. The BSF alleged they were Bangladeshis visiting a holy Muslim site in Rajasthan, in the extreme west of India. However, Bangladesh authorities refused to acknowledge the documentary proof of residence provided by the migrants, such as electricity bills from Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi Rifles (BDR) border patrol forces denied the migrants entry. Caught between the BSF and BDR, the stranded migrants spent the night in the open at a border check point. They were provided food by neighboring villagers. (Kerala Next, Feb. 21)

India's BSF unlawfully deported 213 "illegal" Bangladeshi immigrants across the border earlier this month, leading to border violence between civilians on both sides and exchanges of fire between the BSF and BDR. India's Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani insisted that all "illegal" immigrants should return to Bangladesh. "It's [the government's] determination to reverse the trend," said Advani, referring to spill-over of Bangladeshis into India. (Rediff.com, Feb 8)

Currently, 15 million Bangladeshis and 11,500 Pakistanis are thought to be living illegally in India. In January, New Delhi in coordination with state governments began introducing identity cards for Indian nationals--part of an effort to detect and deport Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. L.K. Advani said, "There is no reason why our states be soft on them. Immediate steps should be taken to identify them, locate them and throw them out." Advani echoed the rationale of the US INS and Justice Department in the post-9-11 immigrant sweeps, stating that deporting illegal immigrants helps protect India from terrorism. "No country, however big and powerful it may be, can feel safe from terrorist activities. The September 11 attacks on the US have proved this. All countries should join hands to fight the menace." (Rediff.com, Jan 8)

(Subuhi Jiwani)

See also WW3 REPORT #73 [top]

3. TERROR AND REPRESSION STRIKE BANGLADESH
On Dec. 7, the night of the Eid-ul-Fitr feast marking the end of Ramadan, bombs exploded simultaneously at four movie theaters in the Bangladesh city of Mymensingh, leaving 20 dead and 200 injured. The downtown area was quickly sealed off by army troops patrolling the city under "Operation Clean Heart," a joint army-police campaign against crime and terror sparked by a wave of similar attacks in recent months. Another theater bombing in Satkhira in September left scores dead. The terror wave comes at a time of deteriorating relations between India and Bangladesh, with New Delhi accusing Dhaka of harboring al-Qaeda networks. Denying such accusations has become a regular feature of Bangladesh Foreign Office press briefings. Dhaka has also reacted to the claims with a clampdown on press freedom. Two journalists from the UK's Channel 4 TV were recently arrested and charged with portraying Bangladesh as a "Taliban state." Two Bangladeshi journalists were arrested as well on charges of collaborating with the Britons. Meanwhile, Amnesty International expressed "concern" for some 15 opposition politicians who have been "arrested without a warrant, and are at risk of torture." (Haroon Habib for Frontline biweekly, Chennai, India, Jan. 3, from World Press Review, March 2003) [top]

THE PHILIPPINE FRONT

1. MORE U.S. TROOPS TO MINDANAO--THIS TIME WITH COMBAT ROLE?
The Philippines government is trying to calm a brewing political storm amid reports that US forces will actively participate in the war against the Abu Sayyaf Islamic rebels in the southern region of Mindanao. US defense officials recently announced plans to send 1,700 combat troops, including 350 Special Forces, to the Philippines to help suppress the Abu Sayyaf guerillas on Mindanao's Jolo Island. The Philippine constitution prohibits foreign troops from engaging in combat within the country's territory. However, Pentagon officials say the ban is limited to unilateral operations, and excludes joint maneuvers. Philippine Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes told reporters Feb. 22 no action that violates the country's constitution will be permitted. He met with local officials on Jolo Island to assure them that the US military role in the island is limited to assisting and advising local troops--contradicting the public US position that the troops will have a direct combat role. Reyes then left for Washington for talks with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Last year, about 1,300 US troops participated in what US officials called a six-month training mission aimed at improving Philippine military readiness to combat terrorism on Mindanao's Basilan Island, another rebel stronghold. That mission officially ended last July 31. (VOA, Feb. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #67

For more background, see WW3 REPORT #26 [top]

2. MANILA EXPELS IRAQI DIPLOMAT FOR ALLEGED ABU SAYYAF LINKS
On Feb. 12, the Philippine government expelled an Iraqi diplomat, claiming he was linked to an October bomb attack in Zamboanga City that killed a US soldier and wounded another. Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople gave Iraq embassy second secretary Husham Hussain 48 hours to leave the country after declaring the diplomat persona non grata for his alleged links to the Abu Sayyaf rebel group. The move came one day after George Bush phoned President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to express concern over Saddam's alleged terrorist ties in the archipelago, but government spokespersons denied Bush had suggested expelling the diplomat. (The Philippine Star, Feb. 13, via BBC Monitoring) [top]

THE ANDEAN FRONT

1. U.S. CONSIDERING DIRECT MILITARY INTERVENTION IN COLOMBIA
Following the murder of a US citizen and the kidnapping of three others--all suspected CIA agents--there are signals the White House is considering direct military intervention in Colombia. The US embassy in Bogota has recommended Washington make a 'major response' to the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the guerilla group believed responsible. US officials have confirmed that military action is being considered to recover the two surviving men, now being held in the southern province of Caqueta. The men were captured after their plane crashed into the jungle suffering engine trouble. Despite the swift arrival of the Colombian army, the rebels spirited three survivors away after killing one US citizen and the Colombian pilot. Washington has refused to release any information about the men. The Caqueta town of San Vicente del Caguan, formerly the site of peace talks between the FARC and the government, is just a few miles from the site of the crash, and is uneasily awaiting possible military action . (UK Observer, Feb. 23) [top]

2. BOLIVIAN CABINET RESIGNS AS PROTESTS ROCK COUNTRY
On Feb. 18, the Bolivian cabinet resigned amid a wave of nationwide protests which has left more than 30 dead over the past month. The resignation of 18 cabinet ministers came as President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada backtracked on promises made to the International Monetary Fund to raise taxes and impose austerity. He said a new budget is in the works and it is "not going to be an IMF budget." (NYT, Feb. 19) One day earlier, thousands marched through streets of the capital, La Paz, demanding Sanchez de Lozado's own resignation. (NYT, Feb. 18) On Feb. 12, at least ten were killed when striking police officers and civilian protesters alike clashed with army troops in La Paz. Troops opened fire with tear gas and rubber bullets as protesters attempted to storm the presidential palace. Several buildings went up in flames, including the president's party headquarters. (NYT, Feb. 13)

A rural mobilization has also paralyzed much of the Bolivian countryside, with peasant protesters throwing up roadblocks. On Jan. 22 near Sucre in Chuquisaca deptartment, security forces attacked a campesino roadblock, sparking an armed confrontation that left one dead on each side. On Jan. 26 in Matamojos, Cochabamba department, a coca grower was shot to death by troops of the elite Joint Task Force on a coca eradication mission--one of several such incidents since the protests began. The government has opened a dialogue with the loose coalition of national protest movements. The talks are brokered by human rights groups and involve seven working groups tackling different issues: land reform, coca eradication, privatization, Bolivia's inclusion in the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a review of the national legal code, the national budget and a planned pipeline to transport Bolivian natural gas through Chile for export to US . (Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 2)

See also WW3 REPORT #69

For more on the Bolivia-Chile pipeline project, see WW3 REPORT #43 [top]

3. REPRISALS AGAINST VENEZUELA STRIKE LEADERS?
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denied a political motive in the controversial killing of three Venezuelan soldiers and an opposition protest leader--all of whom had called for "civil disobedeince" against the government. Police called the killings the result of factionalism within the opposition, saying they were kidnapped by unidentified armed men after leaving a protest at which an internecine scuffle had broken out. The bodies were found 18 miles outside Caracas with the hands tied and faces wrapped in tape. Relatives of the victims slammed the investigation as corrupt and said the men had clearly been targeted for opposing Chavez. (AP, F 18, 20)

See also WW3 REPORT #72 [top]

ELSEWHERE IN LATIN AMERICA

1. NAVY CONCLUDES LAST PLANNED VIEQUES EXERCISES
On Feb. 9, the US Navy concluded its last scheduled round of exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, with guided-missile cruiser USS Ticonderoga firing inert shells at the bombing range. Dozens of protesters drive across civilian areas of Vieques in a caravan to mark the end of training. The Navy says it will withdraw from Vieques by May 1, turning over the island's eastern third to the US Interior Department and moving training to locations in Florida and elsewhere on the US mainland. But many protesters have expressed skepticism that the Navy will leave as planned. Activists say the bombing exercises, which began in 1947, have harmed the environment and the health of the island's 9,100 residents. Since off-target bombs killed a civilian guard on the firing range in 1999, over 1,000 protesters have been arrested for trespassing on Navy lands. Nineteen demonstrators were detained for trespassing during the latest 27 days of training, while one man was detained for cutting a Navy fence, Dixon said. (AP, Feb. 9)

Parts of the island will remain indefinitely closed due to toxic contamination left over by the Navy. Studies by the Puerto Rico commonwealth government have indicated elevated levels of contaminants in the water, food chain and human population, and higher-than-normal rates of cancer. Islanders say they also suffer abnormally from asthma, skin conditions, neonatal mortality and birth defects. The Navy denies any link between these findings and their activities can be proven. (Hartford Courant, Feb. 9)

Current plans call for most of Camp Garcia, the 12,000-acre military reservation that sprawls across the eastern third of the island, to be transferred to the Department of the Interior to manage as a wildlife refuge--which carries a lower standard of clean-up than if developed for public use. Plans call for the 900-acre "live impact area" where Navy bombs rained down to be fenced off and access permanently denied. 8,100 acres on the western side, also under Navy control, are to be turned over to the municipality of Vieques. (Reuters, Feb. 19; EPA)

For more information, see Vieques Libre

See also the EPA's report on the Vieques clean-up [top]

THE WAR AT HOME

1. NYC: ACTIVISTS, POLICE AT ODDS IN WAKE OF FEB. 15 PROTEST
The aftermath of the massive Feb. 15 anti-war march in New York City saw both the worst blizzard in seven years and a storm of controversy over police violence against protestors. New York's Independent Media Center released footage of police using pepper spray on penned-in protesters, and backing kicking horses into crowds. "That makes you feel good, doesn't it?" one officer is recorded saying as he blasts a protester in the face with pepper spray. The protester responds: "I can't breathe! My eyes!" Set to the soundtrack of Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York," the video was shown to reporters at the midtown office of United for Peace & Justice (UPJ), the main organizers of the march. NYPD spokesman Michael O'Looney dismissed the video as "edited and filled with special effects." He asserted: "Force was used by police as a last resort." Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighed in for the NYPD: "Given that this is dangerous world, I think the Police Dept did an excellent job."

Activists and the NYPD remain at odds over several other issues. UPJ claims 500,000 showed up for the event; the police claim 100,000. Organizers say 348 were arrested at the rally; police say 274. Activists said several protesters were hospitalized; police say all injuries were minor. Those arrested say they were held up to 12 hours in unheated buses, denied food, drink, bathroom breaks, medical attention and meetings with legal counsel. Police say all defendants' needs were met and buses were heated.

Protest leaders also complained that many marchers were unable to ever reach the "official" protest site on First Ave. because of police shutting off surrounding streets to pedestrian traffic. O'Looney countered: "Some of the frustrations over access to the protest area may have been avoided had the organizers done a better job of communicating that they moved the stage from 47th Street north to 51st Street." (Newsday, Feb. 19)

UPJ spokesman Jason Kafouri told WW3 REPORT the stage was moved because 49th and First, the location suggested by city authorities in the legal battle leading up to the protests, is at the bottom of a hill. Kafouri denied that the move had any impact on the NYPD's ability to police the crowd.

Arrested activists also told WW3 REPORT that they were repeatedly interrogated in custody about what political organizations they belonged to.

UPJ leader Leslie Cagan hinted at federal pressure behind the police over-reach, telling the New York Times Feb. 19 she suspected that orders came from "higher up."

On Tuesday Feb. 25 at City Hall, the New York City Council governmental operations committee will hold public hearings on police conduct during the march. The UPJ is calling for witnesses to show up and testify before the Council.

Many of the same city labor leaders who endorsed the protest also spoke out Feb. 19 for a City Council resolution putting New York on record against the war drive and asserting that the Bush administration has not justified an attack on Iraq. Endorsing the resolution were SEIU 1199 leader Dennis Rivera, TWU Local 100 president Roger Toussaint, and AFSCME Local 1930 chief Ray Markey. "We have the majority," said Rivera. "And we believe this war can be stopped."(Newsday, Feb. 20) [top]

2. FAROUK ABDEL-MUHTI TRANSFERRED TO YORK, PA
On Feb. 19, detained Palestinian activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti was transferred by the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) from Paterson, NJ, to York, PA, in a move his supporters call a blatant effort to disrupt his legal case and cut him off from his community in the New York metropolitan area. The INS has held Abdel-Muhti since last April without criminal charges on the basis of a 1995 deportation order. Abdel-Muhti's legal team filed a habeas corpus petition in Newark in November charging that as a stateless Palestinian he cannot be deported and that his lengthy detention is unlawful under the Supreme Court's 2001 ruling in Zadvydas v. Davis. The case is pending.

"This transfer interferes with Farouk's constitutional right to legal representation," said Macdonald Scott of the National Lawyers Guild, an assistant on the case with Abdel-Muhti's attorney Joel Kupferman. Abdel-Muhti has lived in the New York area for over 25 years. The INS arrested him just one month after he began working regularly with WBAI Radio's morning program, "Wake-Up Call," to arrange live interviews with Palestinians in the occupied territories. New York-area activists call Abdel-Muhti a political prisoner and have organized protests in Paterson, Newark and New York demanding his release. Farouk also led a seven-day hunger strike at Patterson's Passaic County Jail in January to protest conditions there.

Farouk's supporters urge readers to call, fax or e-mail INS assistant commissioner David J. Venturella (tel: 202-305-2734; fax: 202-353-9435; e-mail: David.j.venturella@usdoj.gov) to protest the transfer. Tell Venturella that Farouk Abdel-Muhti has long-standing ties to the NYC area, and is neither a flight risk nor a threat to society. Demand that Farouk Abdel-Muhti be immediately released from INS detention.

Farouk also requests correspondence and reading materials. Write him at:

Farouk Abdel-Muhti #75122
York County Jail
3400 Concord St
York, PA 17402

For more information:

Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel-Muhti
PO Box 20587, Tompkins Square Station, New York, NY 10009
Phone: 212-674-9499; e-mail: freefarouk@yahoo.com
www.freefarouk.org

See also WW3 REPORT #72 [top]

3. PALESTINIAN PROFESSOR SEIZED IN FLORIDA
On Feb. 20, federal agents arrested University of South Florida (USF) professor Sami Al-Arian at his home in a Tampa suburb. In a 50-count indictment unsealed later that day, a Tampa federal grand jury charged al-Arian and seven others with running a criminal racketeering enterprise that supported activities of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad. Three of the others charged were arrested in FBI sweeps in Florida and Illinois. The remaining four live outside the US.

Al-Arian, a Palestinian born in Kuwait, has lived in the US since 1975 and is a legal permanent resident. He has been under investigation since 1995, when the FBI raided the World and Islam Studies Enterprises (WISE), founded by Al-Arian and his brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar. Al-Arian has denied any support for violent activities. "It's all about politics," he told reporters as he was led into the FBI building in Tampa.

Abdullah Ramadan Shallah, who taught at USF from 1991 to 1995 and headed WISE before it was raided, was among those indicted. He has since moved to Damascus, where he heads Islamic Jihad. He told AP Feb. 21 that Al-Arian has no connection to Islamic Jihad, which he called "a movement resisting Israeli occupation."

The St. Petersburg Times reported Feb. 21 that the indictment against Al-Arian repeatedly refers to his brother-in-law al-Najjar--without naming him--as "Unindicted Co-conspirator Twelve." Al-Najjar, a stateless Palestinian, was detained by the INS in May 1997 on the basis of secret evidence. He was released in December 2000, after an immigration judge ruled there was no evidence that WISE was a front for Islamic Jihad. On Nov. 24, 2001, the INS re-arrested Al-Najjar; he was held in solitary confinement until Aug. 22, 2002, when the INS deported him to Beirut. Lebanese officials, angry that the US "illegally dumped" Al-Najjar there, expelled him a few weeks later.. Al-Arian said on Feb. 5 that his brother-in-law had finally been admitted to an undisclosed "US-friendly Arab country" where he was reunited with his wife and three daughters. (From combined sources)

( Immigration News Briefs, Feb. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #53 [top]

4. NEW YORKERS PROTEST THIRD "REGISTRATION" DEADLINE
Feb. 21 was the Immigration & Naturalization Service's "Special Registration" deadline for Pakistani and Saudi Arabian men over the age of 16 living in the US. Outside the Federal Building in downtown Manhattan, hundreds of men stood for hours in the cold, forming long lines with family members, which extended for a block and a half. About 50 protestors also gathered, chanting "One nation! No registration!" and "INS! *You* go home!"

The Coalition Against Special Registration--made up of 40 immigrants' groups and civil liberties organizations--called the protest. Dalia Hashad, the American Civil Liberties Union's South Asian, Arab and Muslim advocate, called INS detention of immigrants part of "the other war, the secret war extending to all Americans." Addressing the INS and Justice Department, she said, "You cannot spy, you cannot racially profile, you cannot deport in the middle of the night."

Emira Habiby Browne, executive director of the Arab-American Family Support Center, spoke about the experience some of the 500 men who came to register Jan. 10--the last deadline, for immigrants from 13 countries including Lebanon, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Somalia and North Korea. "The INS was unprepared for the volume of people that showed up to register. They were completely disorganized." She criticized overcrowding and long waits in INS waiting rooms, calling them "detention camps." According to Habiby Browne, men were made to wait over 30 hours without food.

Saurav Sarkar of the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, also invoked the specter of detainment camps, warning: "America is dangerously close to what it did in World War II," a reference to the internment of Japanese-Americans. Remembering last summer's sweeps at DC area airports, she added: "What will not end is the agenda of Operation Tarmac, the agenda of secret arrests and the policies of profiling immigrants--until we stand up and do something."

The Coney Island Avenue Project, another coalition member, has launched a Registration Witness Program to observe registration procedures and give registrants legal advice. Only registrants and their attorneys are allowed to enter the Federal Building, where they wait in a room on the third floor for an INS interview. Some are sent to the tenth floor for further FBI interrogation. Coney Island Avenue Project organizer Bobby Khan told WW3 REPORT: "People are made to wait on the third floor for five to six hours. If they're taken to the tenth floor, they wait for another ten to twelve hours before being interviewed. People are being detained on the tenth floor, after which they disappear." Attorneys can accompany registrants on the third floor, but are denied access to the tenth floor.

Mac Scott of the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants described the INS process to WW3 REPORT: "The interviewee is questioned regarding his political affiliations, job history, and other major personal details; photographed, fingerprinted, a full criminal check run, and is sometimes detained briefly." Registrants who are not immediately detained are often given notices to appear before an immigration judge, at which point they may face detainment again. "It is an attempt to detain people in a situation where there is less light and public exposure on the process."

(Subuhi Jiwani on the scene) [top]

5. ADVOCACY GROUPS SEEK INJUNCTION TO HALT DETAINMENTS
In response to INS detentions of hundreds of Iranian-Americans during the first round of registrations Dec. 16-18, a coalition of four Muslim advocacy groups--the Alliance of Iranian Americans, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Council on American Islamic Relations, and the National Council of Pakistani Americans--have filed a class action lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft. The groups are seeking an injunction to prevent the INS detention without bond of registrants who are in the process of legalizing their status. (Washington Times, Feb. 13, 2003) (Subuhi Jiwani)

See also WW3 REPORT #65 [top]

6. WHITE HOUSE PREPARES "PATRIOT II" LEGISLATION
The 2001 PATRIOT Act, passed in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, vastly expanded federal surveillance powers, unleashed the CIA to spy on US citizens and gave the FBI warrantless access to medical and financial data. The White House is now preparing to follow up with the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003--the closely-guarded contents of which were just revealed when the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a DC advocacy group, published a leaked copy. The new law--nick-named PATRIOT II--would remove all standing court orders restricting police surveillance enacted before 9-11, set up a "Terrorist Identification Database" which would collect DNA samples from suspect citizens and immigrants, allow the government to strip Americans of their citizenship if they are deemed to be collaborating with a "terrorist organization" (as loosely defined under the PATRIOT Act), and gut the Freedom of Information Act, allowing the government to keep secret any records which could be of use to "terrorists." The bill has not been introduced yet, but civil rights groups fear the administration will push it through Congress in the confusion and war fever as bombs start falling on Iraq. Perhaps most ominously, at a time when immigrants are being rounded up and indefinitely detained for simple visa violations, the Domestic Security Enhancement Act would give the government the power to hold detainees in secret, withholding all information on who has been arrested and their whereabouts. (Seattle Weekly, Feb. 12)

For the basics on the PATRIOT Act, see WW3 REPORT #6 [top]

7. CIA, FBI TO LAUNCH JOINT TERRORISM CENTER
With the CIA freed to engage in domestic intelligence-gathering by the PATRIOT Act, the agency is to move its counter-terrorism staff into a new northern Virginia headquarters to be shared with the FBI's counter-terrorism staff. The joint staff will total over 2,000. The Defense and Homeland Security departments will also be represented at the headquarters, dubbed the Terrorist Threat Integration Center. The center is to begin operation May 1, and will initially be housed at the CIA's Langely headquarters. (NYT, Feb. 15)

See also WW3 REPORT #71 [top]

8. BURGERS WITH A SIDE OF XENOPHOBIA
Neal Rowland, the owner of the Cubbie's restaurant in Beaufort, NC, now only sells "freedom fries" instead of French fries--citing France's refusal to back Washington's war drive. "It's our way of showing our patriotic pride," he said, noting that his business has a lot of local military troops as customers. Says a sign in the restaurant's window: "Because of Cubbie's support for our troops, we no longer serve French fries. We now serve freedom fries."

Rowland said the switch came to mind after a conversation about World War I when anti-German sentiment prompted the name-change from frankfurters and sauerkraut to hot dogs and "liberty cabbage ." (CBS, Feb. 19) [top]

9. BRETTON BARBER: AMERICAN HERO!
School officials in Dearborn, MI, ordered 16-year-old Bretton Barber to either remove his T-shirt--emblazoned with the words "International Terrorist" and a picture of President Bush--or go home. Officials said they feared the shirt would inflame passions at the school where a majority of students are Arab-American. Barber chose to go home. He said he wore the shirt to express his anti-war position and for a class assignment in which he wrote a compare-contrast essay on Bush and Saddam Hussein. (CBS, Feb. 19)

Check out other WW3 REPORT American heroes:

Yusra Awawdeh
Katie Sierra

### [top]

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EXIT POLL:
1. The White House is currently preparing follow-up legislation to 2001's PATRIOT Act, which stands for Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. Do you think the new bill should be entitled the Help Interdict Terrorism Law Enforcement Revitalization Act of 2003?

2. Is this the best-case scenario, and how likely is it: The French, Russians, Chinese and Germans hold out and refuse to approve a new Security Council resolution until spring--when the weather in the Middle East starts getting too hot for US forces to comfortably wage war. The White House multi-lateralists prevail and the war gets put off until next winter--by which time Saddam will be overthrown by his own people (with some help from the Saudis, CIA, whoever). Saddam goes into opulent exile in Saudi Arabia, and the whole thing blows over.

3. If a popular uprising breaks out in Iraq, will all these Western peaceniks who went there as "human shields" side with the Iraqi people, or will they rally around the dictatorship on the grounds that the uprising is fomented by imperialists?



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