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ISSUE: 93, December 2003

PALESTINE FACES ROBO-OCCUPATION-- REMOTE-CONTROLLED MACHINE GUNS, CHOPPERS, BULLDOZERS

BOLIVIA: AFTER "BLACK OCTOBER"

MIAMI: FTAA BEACHES, COPS TURN IRAQ TACTICS ON PROTESTERS

SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS: MILITARY PSY-OPS TARGET PEACENIKS

CENTRAL AMERICAN DEATH SQUADS BACK?

ARNOLD'S NAZI PROBLEM--AND CALIFORNIA'S

NEW CHARGES IN LYNNE STEWART CASE; JUSTICE DEPARTMENT THREATENS TO SUBPOENA WW3 REPORT

PALESTINIAN DETAINEE FAROUK ABDEL-MUHTI BEATEN IN NEW JERSEY GULAG

SPECIAL END-OF-THE-YEAR MESSAGE TO OUR LOYAL READERS
(YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!)

"I see no other way than to begin now to speak about sharing the land that has thrust us together, and sharing it in a truly democratic way, with equal rights for each citizen. There can be no reconciliation unless both peoples, two communities of suffering, resolve that their existence is a secular fact, and that it has to be dealt with as such."

Edward Said, Palestinian scholar and freedom fighter, 1935-2003

CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: ORANGE

by Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Wynde Priddy and Orin Langelle, Special Correspondents
Photos by Maria Anguera de Sojo





THE IRAQ FRONT
1. Transition to Self-Rule Stalled; Resistance Grows
2. Shiites Grow Restive
3. What Happened in Samarra?
4. CIA: "We Could Lose"
5. Who is Behind Guerilla Attacks?
6. Press Freedom Under Attack
7. U.S. Seeks Occupation Advice from Israel
8. U.S. Troops Bulldoze Farmers' Crops
9. U.S. Generals: Bring Back Saddam's Army
10. Interim Council: Leave Us in Power
11. "Three-State Solution" for Iraq's Future?
12. Iraqi Ex-General Dies in U.S. Custody
13. G.I.s in Trouble After Marrying Iraqi Women
14. G.I. Resistance and Dissent
15. Pentagon Moves to Fill Draft Boards
16. WMD Threat: Still No Evidence
17. Iraqi Communists Reject Both Occupation and Resistance
18. Campaign for Labor Rights in Iraq
19. Private Military Outfits Stake Iraq Claim
20. War Profiteering and Corporate Colonization
21. Occupation Authority: Unaccountable Financial Sinkhole
22. Save The Children UK Silenced on Iraq Criticisms
23. Turkey Prepares to Send in Troops
24. U.S. Troops in Clash With PKK?
25. Terror in Istanbul
26. New NATO Strike Force Holds Turkey Maneuvers
27. U.S. Seeks Chilean Ex-Officers for Iraq
28. Violence at Seoul Protests Against Iraq Mobilization
29. Protesters March in "Fortress London" for Bush Visit
30. He Should Have Listened to His Old Man!

THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Annan to Israel: Dismantle the Wall
2. Pope Disses Wall
3. Elie Weisel: Wall's Willing Apologist Disses Pope
4. Gen. Clark Loves the Wall
5. U.S. Slaps Israel's Wrist: 289 Mil for Settlements and Fence
6. Remote-Control Machine Guns to be Mounted on Wall
7. Remote-Control Helicopter Stolen
8. Next: Remote-Control Bulldozers
9. UN, NGO's to Israel: Quit Hassling Us or We Leave
10. Red Cross Cuts Aid to Occupied Palestinians
11. UN: Occupation Causing Hunger
12. Israeli Universities Keep Arabs Out
13. Israeli Universities Fight Academic Boycott
14. Sharansky: U.S. Campuses Anti-Israel, but the Pie is Tasty
15. Dersh: No Diff Between Jewish ISMers and Hitler Youth
16. Settlers Launch "Peace Plan"; Likudnik Fears "Apartheid"
17. Reform Judaism Dissents?
18. Hezbollah: Beware the Israeli Left
19. The Geneva Accord: "False Hope"?
20. "Anti"-Occupation Jewish Group in Beantown Confab
21. Program to Attract Settlers to Jordan Valley
22. West Bank Settlers Ward off Attackers with Porcines
23. Gaza: Israelis Destroy U.S.-Built Wells
24. DynCorp Agents Killed in Gaza Strip
25. Short Life Span for Palestinian Collaborators
26. Israeli Chickens in Baghdad Supermarkets
27. Israel World's Third Arms Exporter
28. Intifada Spurs Boom in Israeli and Palestinian Rap

THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. Kabul Protest Turns Violent
2. Ten Killed in Kandahar Army-Police Clash
3. More Tajik-Uzbek Violence in North
4. Two CIA Operatives Killed on Pakistan Border
5. Nomads: Family Wiped Out by U.S. Air Raid
6. Taliban Resistance Continues; NATO Eyes Expanded Role
7. Gitmo to Close? Potential Bad News for Captive Uighurs

THE CAUCASUS FRONT
1. Chechens Behind New Russia Terror Blast?
2. Georgian President Resigns as Protests Rock Capital
3. Azerbaijan, U.S. Discuss Military Cooperation

THE SUBCONTINENT
1. Kashmir: Security Forces Battle Guerrillas in Srinagar
2. Refugees Flee Assam Ethnic Violence

SOUTHEAST ASIA
1. Aceh Activist Imprisoned
2. Vietnam Land Mines Keep Killing

THE AFRICA FRONT
1. Fearful Peace in Congo
2. U.N. Findings on Congo Resource Plunder to Stay Secret
3. Convictions in Rwanda Genocide Trial
4. Liberia's Invisible Nightmare Continues
5. Gas Operations Expand in Nigeria
6. U.N. Vote Removes Sanctions on Libya
7. Qaddafi Re-Makes Himself
8. Chad Gets First Payment for Oil Exports
9. Big Oil Complicit in Sudan Rights Abuses
10. Somalia: Peace Talks Collapse; U.S. Sees Terrorist Haven
11. Zimbabwe Booted from British Commonwealth
12. African Church Leaders Won't Preach Condom Use

THE ANDEAN FRONT
1. Venezuela: Chavez Charges CIA Destabilization Campaign
2. Venezuelan Indians Resist Industrial Encroachment
3. Colombia: Uribe's Government in Crisis?
4. Paras Seek Immunity
5. Para "Demobilization": Real or Farce?
6. Massacre in Tolima
7. Elections Under Seige in Arauca
8. FARC Campaign to Encircle Bogota
9. ELN Boasts of Kidnapping Tourists
10. Fumigation Plane Shot Down
11. Uribe-Allied Cattle Baron Escapes Assassination
12. U.S. to Offer Reward for FARC Leaders
13. Peru: Campesino Protesters Killed in Clash With Police
14. Bolivia: IMF Reviews Aid Following "Black October"
15. Chile Approves FTAA
16. Argentine Military Still Fears Jewish Conspiracies?
17. Kissinger Approved Argentine "Dirty War"

THE MEXICO FRONT
1. Prison for "Dirty War" Architects?
2. Mexico Second Hemispheric Recipient of U.S. Military Aid
3. Digna Ochoa Family Vows to Fight Suicide Verdict
4. Rights Worker Assassinated in Oaxaca
5. Alleged Guerillas Arrested
6. Zapatistas Mark 10-Year Anniversary of Uprising
7. Confused Violence Continues in Chiapas
8. More Chiapas Prison Riots
9. Thousands Protest Free-Market "Reforms" in Mexico City
10. Puebla-Panama Plan Advances; Campesinos Protest
11. U.N. Envoy Fired; Gringo Pressure Seen

CENTRAL AMERICA
1. Guatemala: War Criminal Loses Presidential Bid
2. Ex-Paras Kidnap Journalists in Guatemala
3. Journalist Assassinated in Honduras
4. Honduran Unionist Receives Death Squad Threat
5. Hondurans Protest IMF
6. Hondurans Protest Powell
7. Nicaraguans Protest Powell
8. Nicaraguan Campesinos Block Pan-American Highway
9. CAFTA Negotiator Gets Pied

PLANET WATCH
1. Global Hunger Rising
2. Melting Glaciers Threaten Andes
3. ANWR Narrowly Escapes--Again

WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. National Commission on 9-11 Caves in to Bush Roadblocks
2. CIA Denies Pre-9-11 Deal with Bin Laden
3. Freed 9-11 Suspect Seeks Damages
4. CIA Death Merchant Gets Conviction Overturned
5. Arrests Made in Neo-Nazi Gas Plot
6. Wall Street to Trade Terror Futures
7. Checks Demanded on Computerized Voting
8. White House Web Site Evades Searches
9. The End of the Internet as We Know It

THE WAR AT HOME
1. New Charges in Lynne Stewart Case;
Justice Department Threatens to Subpoena WW3 Report

2. Palestinian Detainee Farouk Abdel-Muhti Beaten in Jail
3. 2nd Circuit to Rule on "Enemy Combatant" Label
4. 9th Circuit Rules on "Material Support" to Terrorists
5. First of "Lackawanna Six" Gets Ten Years
6. Special Registration to End?
7. FBI Watches Anti-War Protests
8. NYPD Raids Activist Meeting
9. Sicko Psy-Ops: U.S. Hits its Own Citizens with Lee Greenwood
10. California Uber Alles

GLIMMERS OF HOPE
1. Palestinian Detainee Wins Release
2. High School Student Wins One for First Amendment



THE IRAQ FRONT

1. TRANSITION TO SELF-RULE STALLED; RESISTANCE GROWS
In a victory for the White House, on Oct. 16 the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Iraq's future. The resolution creates a US-led multinational force in Iraq and calls on the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council to produce a timeline for drawing up a constitution and holding elections--while giving no date for a transfer of power. Pakistan, considered a prime candidate for sending troops, refused to do so, saying the new multinational force created by the resolution was not distinct enough from occupation troops. (Reuters, Oct. 16) The US-backed plan for Iraq's new legislature to be chosen by regional caucasus rather than direct elections is especially meeting criticism from the majority Shiites. (See related story, below)

The UN oil-for-food program, in place since 1996, is now about to be turned over to the control of the US-led administration in Baghdad under a decision made six months ago. (Al-Jazeera, Nov. 20) Iraq's postwar reconstruction received a modest boost Oct. 24 as governments from Saudi Arabia to Japan pledged $13 billion in new aid on top of more than $20 billion from the US. But the figure fell well short of the $56 billion estimated by the World Bank as needed to rebuild Iraq. (AP, Oct. 24)

Meanwhile, armed resistance to the occupation continues to escalate. On Sept. 18, guerillas ambushed two US military convoys with remote-controlled bombs and opened fire on one of them today, unleashing a three-hour gunbattle in Khaldiyah, west of Baghdad. The US military said two soldiers were wounded. (AP, Sept. 18)

On Sept. 22, a suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint outside UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing himself and an Iraqi policeman who stopped him and wounding 19. (AP, Sept. 22)

On Sept. 25, a planted bomb damaged a hotel housing the offices of NBC News, killing a Somali guard and slightly injuring an NBC sound technician. (AP, Sept. 25)

On Sept. 26, the US activated 10,000 National Guard troops for service in Iraq and put another 5,000 on alert for likely call-up. (Reuters, Sept. 26)

Occupation forces removed the police chief of Beiji from office Oct. 6 after a weekend of fighting and riots between pro-Saddam protesters, Iraqi police and US troops in the oil refining city north of Baghdad. At least one oplice officer was killed in the violence. Occupation authorities said over 320,000 former Iraqi soldiers had received one-time payments of $40 after the army was disbanded but some were refused payment because they could not prove they had been in the military. (AP, Oct. 6)

On Oct. 9, a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle in a police station courtyard in Baghdad, killing himself and nine others. Also that day, gunmen shot dead a Spanish military attache at his home. (AP, Oct. 9)

On Oct. 11, a suicide bombing killed eight near the Baghdad Hotel, home to US and Iraqi officials. (AP, Oct. 12)

Suicide car bombers struck outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad Oct. 14. Witnesses said the driver and a bystander were killed, and hospitals said at least 13 were wounded. (AP, Oct. 14)

Also Oct. 14, guerillas launched attacks on Iraqi police in the northern city of Mosul, killing one and wounding two others in a drive-by shooting. Meanwhile in the so-called "Sunni Triangle," 100 gathered at Fallujah's main mosque to demand release of a cleric arrested Monday by U.S. troops. Sheik Jamal Shaker Nazzal is an outspoken opponent of the occupation. A spokesperson for the US 4th Infantry Division, Maj. Josslyn Aberle, denied reports that Saddam was believed to be hiding in his hometown of Tikrit, also within the Sunni heartland. (AP, Oct. 14)

On Oct. 20, in Fallujah, one US paratrooper was killed and six wounded in an ambush. Two civilians, including a Syrian truck driver, were also killed. A US military truck was set ablaze outside Fallujah the following day, as US troops were conducting house searches in the area. (AP, Oct. 21)

On Oct. 21, US troops fired in the air to disperse a crowd at the Oil Ministry after a woman objected to a search by a sniffer dog. A Polish military convoy traveling from Baghdad to Camp Babylon near Karbala was also attacked with grenades but no one was injured. (AP, Oct. 21)

On Oct. 26, guerillas fired a barrage of rockets at the heavily-guarded Al Rasheed Hotel, killing a US colonel and wounding 18 others. US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in the hotel, but was unhurt. (AP, Oct. 26)

On Oct. 27, suicide bombers staged four attacks in Baghdad on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, including outside the offices of the International Red Cross and three police stations, leaving some 35 people dead. (AP, Oct. 27) In Geneva, the International Committee Red Cross said it would reduce the number of international staff in Iraq--currently about 30. (AP, Oct. 29)

On Oct. 29, guerillas destroyed a US tank north of Baghdad, killing two troops. Seven Ukrainian troops were also wounded in an attack that day. (AP, Oct. 29)

On Oct. 31, US troops attempted to clear a road of market stalls in Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad, sparking violent protests which escalated to gun battlles. Young Iraqis threw stones at troops and tanks, set tires ablaze, and brandished Saddam portraits, shouting, "Allahu Akbar!" The violence left two Iraqis dead and 17 wounded. Two US troops were also reported wounded. (AP, Oct. 31)

On Nov. 2, guerrillas shot down a US Chinook helicopter near the village of Baisa, south of Falluja, killing at least 15 soldiers and wounding 21 in the deadliest single strike on US-led forces since they invaded to oust Saddam Hussein. That same day in Falluja, residents said a roadside bomb had hit a convoy of US personnel in civilian vehicles. At least one vehicle was ablaze at the scene, where gloating crowds shouted anti-US slogans. TV pictures showed a gleeful youth wearing a US Army helmet. Others danced on wreckage. In Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, residents said a roadside bomb exploded as a US convoy passed, hitting a bus carrying university students and wounding two women. (Reuters, Nov. 2)

On Nov. 5, guerrillas launched two grenade attacks on US convoys in Mosul, killing three Iraqis and wounding at least nine people, including two US troops. (Reuters, Oct. 5)

A Nov. 12 suicide bombing targeted the Italian military police barracks in the south-eastern city of Nasariya, leaving at least 17 Italians and eight Iraqis dead. That night saw US air strikes and armoured assaults on a suspected guerrilla stronghold near Baghdad. (UK Guardian, Nov. 13)

Backed by tanks and mortars, US forces assaulted dozens of suspected guerrilla positions in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit in pre-dawn raids Oct. 17, killing six suspected insurgents and capturing others, officials said. One suspected guerilla hideout south of Tikrit was hit with a satellite-guided missile carrying a 500-pound warhead. (AP, Nov. 17)

On Nov. 13, as the US forces pursued "Operation Iron Hammer," launching ground and air attacks on suspected guerilla strongholds around Baghdad, two US troops were killed in an exposion north of the city. (Reuters, Nov. 14)

On Nov. 21, the Palestine and Sheraton hotels in central Baghdad were hit by a volley of five rockets fired from donkey carts, wounding a US civilian. Just before the attack on the hotels, eight rockets hit the nearby Oil Ministry, setting off a fire in the upper floors. (NYT, Nov. 22)

Also Nov. 21, a Hungarian student carrying out humanitarian work in Iraq has been shot dead by US soldiers in an incident at a checkpoint. Troops reportedly opened fire when the student, Peter Varga-Balazs, failed to stop his vehicle. Varga-Balazs was the second Hungarian to die in occupied Iraq. A week earlier, a subcontractor died in a car accident in unknown circumstances. Neither were connected to the group of 300 Hungarian troops stationed in Iraq under Polish command. (AFP, Nov. 21)

On Nov. 22, a civilian aircraft flying out of Baghdad was forced to make an emergency landing with its wing on fire, after apparently being hit by a surface-to-air missile. The cargo Airbus A300, belonging to the courier company DHL, was forced to return to ground just 10 minutes after take-off from Baghdad International Airport. (UK Telegraph, Nov. 23) Occupation authorities subsequently suspended civilian flights into the Baghdad airport. (CNN, Nov. 23)

An explosion at a compound near the northern city of Kirkuk injured four employees Nov. 22, according to Iraqi Northern Oil Co. spokesman Mike McAleer. A preliminary investigation indicated that the blast at the oil company's Baba Cultural Social Club was caused by a bomb, according to McAleer. (CNN, Nov. 23)

Also Nov. 22, in Baquba, 40 miles north of Baghdad, a bomb tore a hole in the main police HQ, killing six officers and wounding at least 10 civilians. Minutes later, a second car ploughed into the gate of the police station in the market town of Khan Bani Saad, 12 miles south of Baquba, killing a further six officers and three civilians. Ten others were wounded. (UK Telegraph, Nov. 23)

Three US troops were killed Nov. 23 in two attacks on military convoys in Mosul and Ba'qubah, north of Baghdad. Vehicle accidents also claimed the lives of three other soldiers in the previous two days, and an Iraqi police colonel charged with security at oil installations was shot and killed in northern Iraq. (CNN, Nov. 23) Witnesses said that after the shooting in Mosul the soldiers were stabbed and their throats slit. A crowd looted the civilian car they were driving and tried to set it ablaze. (Reuters, Nov. 23)

Guerillas ambushed a US military convoy east of Qusaybah near Iraq's border with Syria Nov. 28, killing two soldiers and wounding another. A Colombian civilian serving as a security official of the Halliburton subsidiary KBR was shot and killed that day as he drove to a US base north of Baghdad near Balad. (CNN, Nov. 29)

Guerillas armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades ambushed a team of Spanish intelligence officers Nov. 29 as they travelled in two civilian vehicles south from Baghdad to the city of Hillah, killing seven agents. TV footage of the aftermath showed a crowd milling around several bodies near the highway. One youth--apparently aware he was being filmed--kicked his foot in the air over a body. An older youth rested his foot on a corpse, an arm raised in triumph. "We sacrifice our souls and blood for you, oh Saddam,'' some in the group chanted in Arabic, witnesses said. Two Japanese diplomats were shot to death that day when their car was ambushed near Tikrit. (AP, Nov. 29) The move came just as Japan is preparing to send military troops to Iraq in a non-combat role. (AP, Nov. 30) Also that day, two South Koreans, employees of an electric company contracted by the occupation, were killed and two others wounded, one critically, in an attack near Tikrit. (CNN, Nov. 29)

While a group of Sunni clerics issued a joint statement saying that to collaborate with occupation forces is a "betrayal of religion" (AP, Oct. 31), on Nov. 29 a hundreds-strong Alliance of Iraqi Democratic Forces marched in Baghdad with a heavy police escort and two US helicopters overhead to denounce "terrorism" and call upon Iraqis to assist the US forces in putting down the insurgents. (ABC, Nov. 29)

In a story illustrative of the trigger-happy atmosphere that reigns in Iraq, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting noted Nov. 20 that the number of Iraqis who have died as a result of "celebratory" gunfire since the fall of Saddam may soon top those who have died in actual combat. From July through September alone, 2,175 locals died from celebratory gunfire, according to Dr Faiq Amin Bakir, head of the local health authority's forensics department, which determines causes of death.

The web site Iraq Body Count continues to monitor world press reports to arrive at a daily update of the total Iraqi civilian dead. Each incident is listed separately, noting the location, number dead, weaponry used and media source. At press time, the minimum estimate stands at 7,935 and the maximum at 9,766. However, acknowledging that the violence is more chaotic than during the air campaign, the web site has added the following clarification of its work: "In the current occupation phase this database includes all deaths which the Occupying Authority has a binding responsibility to prevent under the Geneva Conventions and Hague Regulations. This includes civilian deaths resulting from the breakdown in law and order, and deaths due to inadequate health care or sanitation."

See also WW3 REPORT #92

Even with this expanded definition, Iraq Body Count's math is conservative--as early as May others were putting the civilian death toll at over 10,000. See WW3 REPORT #87

US President Goerge Bush scored a propaganda coup with his Thanksgiving visit to Iraq. The New York Times Nov. 28 sported a front-page photo of the commander-in-chief in an army jacket, holding a tray piled with a roast turkey and trimmings, surrounded by smiling troops. The lead of the front-page story said Bush flew to Baghdad "to spend Thanksgiving with United States troops and to thank them for standing up against the 'band of thugs and assassins' they are fighting in Iraq." Inside, a sidebard compared the trip to Lincoln's visits to battle-scarred Antietam and Richmond (while acknowledging that Lincoln had faced far greater dangers). Only towards the end of the front-page story, after it had jumped to page 24, do we learn that Bush was only on the ground for two-and-a-half hours, and never left Baghdad International Airport.

As of Nov. 26, 435 US service members had died in Iraq, according to Pentagon figures. (NYT, Nov. 27) The Pentagon says it is planning to maintain 100,000 US troops in Iraq until 2006. (NYT, Nov. 22) [top]

2. SHIITES GROW RESTIVE
Resistance--if more spontaneous than organized--is also spreading to Iraq's Shiites, who initially viewed the fall of Saddam as a liberation. On Oct. 9, suicide car bomber crashed into a police station in Iraq's largest Shiite Muslim enclave, Sadr City, killing eight people, himself and a passenger, and injuring up to 45 others. Later, a rumor spread that US troops were surrounding the nearby office of Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric who opposes the occupation. He was not at the office and his Baghdad representative later said that soldiers looking for weapons had wanted to search the office but left without doing so. Hundreds of al-Sadr supporters, armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, were guarding the office in the afternoon, sealing off streets leading to it and taking positions on rooftops. About 300 armed members of al-Sadr's newly-formed militia, al-Mahdi Army, paraded outside the office in a show of force. Later that night, two US troops and seven Iraqis were wounded in a clash in Sadr City. (AP, Oct. 9, 10)

A joint US-Iraqi patrol enforcing a curfew battled gunmen guarding the headquarters of Grand Ayatollah Mahmoud al-Hassani early Oct. 17 in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, triggering clashes that killed three US troops and 10 Iraqis, including two police officers. (AP, Oct. 17) Karbala also saw clashes Oct. 14 between gunmen of rival Shiite factions, with several reported killed or injured. The violence was said to be part of a power struggle between Muqtada al-Sadr and clerics who take a more moderate stand toward the US occupation. (AP, Oct. 14) On Oct. 21, US-led troops and Iraqi police arrested 32 people in raids in Karbala. (AP, Oct. 21)

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shiite Muslim cleric, issued a fatwa in June calling for general elections to select the drafters of a new constitution and dismissing US plans to appoint the authors as "fundamentally unacceptable." (WP, Nov. 26) Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, a Shiite cleric who currently serves as head of the Iraq Governiong Council (a rotating position), also opposes the US plan for Iraq's new legislative body to be selected from regional caucasus instead of directly elected. Since the Shiites form a majority in Iraq, direct elections would favor their candidates. (Newsday, Dec. 4)

See also WW3 REPORT #87 [top]

3. WHAT HAPPENED IN SAMARRA?
A Nov. 30 firefight in the Shiite holy city of Samarra reportedly left 46 guerillas dead and 18 wounded after armored convoys delivering new currency to local banks came under attack. Five US troops and a civilian were also reported wounded. Witnesses told BBC a US tank fired indiscriminately during the fighting, killing at least two factory-workers. (BBC, Nov. 30) Local Iraqis (inclduing a hospital doctor) later claimed eight civilians dead in the incident, including an Iranian pilgrim, and denied US accounts of approximately50 enemy dead. A UK Telegraph reporter on the scene a day after the attack saw wrecked cars and bullet-riddled storefronts, but was unable to track down any human remains, leading to the headline "Ferocious Gun Battle the Left No Bodies." (UK Telegraph, Dec. 2) A US soldier later died of wounds apparently sustained in the battle. The town's police chief Col. Ismail Mahmud Muhammad told al-Jazeera TV that about 20 of the injured civilians were wounded while worshipping at a mosque during sunset prayers. He also calimed that the guerillas had withdrawn when the US opened fire on the worshippers. (Al-Jazeera, Dec. 2) The eight dead reportedly included that 73-year-old Iranian pilgrim in Samarra to visit the Imam Hadi shrine, a 10-year-old boy and a female employee at Samarra pharmaceutical plant. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said "the brutal and arrogant occupiers" had "desecrated" a holy Islamic site. Both the outer perimeter walls of the al-Hadi shrine complex, and the mirrors of the shrine itself were scarred by bullets after the incident, although it was not clear who had fired them. Local witnesses also disputed claims by US military authorities that the attackers had been dressed in the black uniforms of Saddam's fedayeen militia. (Financial Times, Dec. 3)

Smarra's gold-domed sanctuary holds the tomb of two of Shia's 12 imams, the 10th, Ali al-Hadi, and the 11th, Hadi al-Askari. A second shrine in Samarra indicates where the 12th imam, Muhammed al-Mahdi, went into "concealment" or "occultation" according to Shiite tradition. Below the blue-tiled dome there is cellar, said to be the last place the 12th imam dwelled. Samarra was also the seat of the Abbasid caliphate for 56 years after it relocated from Baghdad in the 9th century, and still holds Abbasid-era relics, such as the Great Friday Mosque, with its distinctive spiral minaret. (Encyclopedia of the Orient) [top]

4. CIA: "WE COULD LOSE"
The White House reportedly drew up emergency plans to accelerate the transfer of power in Iraq after being shown a CIA report warning that the guerrilla war is in danger of escalating out of control. The report, an "appraisal of situation" commissioned by CIA director George Tenet, and written by the CIA station chief in Baghdad, found that the insurgency is gaining ground among the population, and already numbers in the tens of thousands--possibly 50,000. One intelligence source in DC who had seen the report told the UK Guardian: "It says we are going to lose the situation unless there is a rapid and dramatic change of course. There are thousands in the resistance--not just a core of Ba'athists. They are in the thousands, and growing every day. Not all those people are actually firing, but providing support, shelter and all that."

The report found that the US-picked Iraqi Governing Council has little support among the population. Although the report was an internal CIA document, it carried an endorsement by Paul Bremer, the civilian head of the US-run occupation of Iraq--which the Guardian saw as "a possible sign that he was seeking to bypass his superiors in the Pentagon and send a message directly to President George Bush on how bad the situation has become." (UK Guardian, Nov. 13) [top]

5. WHO IS BEHIND GUERILLA RESISTANCE?
Observers are divided on to what extent pro-Saddam Baathists are behind the attacks, as opposed to al-Qaeda-type jihadis, and whether the resistance is largely the work of fanatical foreign volunteers as opposed to a popular Iraqi movement.

Said Mohammed al-Kaki, who heads the military wing of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Mosul, the scene of several recent attacks: "Members of the former regime are working with Islamists in Mosul and from elsewhere, including from outside the country, and they are being paid by Saddam [Hussein] and Izzat Ibrahim [al-Duri]." Al-Duri, the occupation's second-most wanted man, was vice president of the Baath Party's Revolutionary Command Council, Iraq's highest governing body, and Saddam's closest confidant. (CSM, Nov. 28)

US military officials say 307 foreign fighters have been arrested and detained by coalition forces in Iraq since the defeat of Saddam. Of these, 140 are Syrians, 70 are Iranians, and the others were from countries including Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Palestine. (UK Telegraph, Nov. 23)

Italian and German police have arrested three North Africans in a dragnet reportedly connected with resistance in Iraq. The arrests followed a confirmation by prosecutors in Milan that they had issued arrest warrants for five suspected al-Qaeda activists, including an Algerian arrested in Germany (Mahjub Abderrazak, known as "the sheikh") and a woman apprehended in Padua. They are apparently wanted on suspicion of recruiting for the Iraqi resistance. An Iraqi and a Tunisian were said to be still at large. (AFP, Nov. 29)

Phil Reeves of the UK Independent illustrates how the US occupation is fueling resistance in a Nov. 23 report from Baghdad:

"No sooner had the Americans last week announced a '70 per cent' drop in attacks in Baghdad as a result of their "Iron Hammer" offensive against several cells than the guerrillas replied with a volley of rockets against prime city-centre targets. The Americans argued that 'Iron Hammer' won support from peaceable Iraqis. But a tragic cameo illustrated how they are at times the recruiting sergeant for their opponents. US soldiers were conducting a house-to-house weapons search in al-Dora in southern Baghdad at 10 AM on Monday. An altercation blew up between an Iraqi carpenter and an American soldier. It ended when the soldier shot the man through the heart from close range. Relatives of the dead man, Ahmed Karim al-Janabi, 36, say that he did nothing to provoke the soldier, although they admit that he was holding a small saw in his hand when he was shot. The Americans maintained that he attacked one of them. The family wanted the US troops to provide a document confirming the incident, so that they could get burial authorisation. A note was duly scrawled out and handed to the imam of the local mosque. It was 18 words long. 'Ahmed Kareem Abid was shot by US forces. The individual attacked a US soldier and was shot and killed. SSG Doe.' That was it. No polite expressions or formalities, so important in the Arab world. The sergeant didn't even have the courtesy to sign his own name. The imam, Sheikh Yassin al-Hambani, was so angry that he tore up the note. 'I told the soldiers: what are you doing? They are driving people to resist. Two young men came to me afterwards saying they wanted to avenge his death by attacking the Americans. It was difficult to dissuade them.'" (UK Indpendent, Nov. 23)

The Independent's Robert Fisk reports on a telling slip by a US officer. Fisk was in the police station in Fallujah when Cpt. Christopher Cirino of the 82nd Airborne said: "The men we are being attacked by are Syrian-trained terrorists and local freedom fighters." Fisk did a double-take when he heard the words "freedom fighters." Characteristically interjecting his own opinion, he wrote: "But that's what Captain Cirino called them--and rightly so... Captain Cirino's problem, of course, is that he knows part of the truth. Ordinary Iraqis--many of them long-term enemies of Saddam Hussein--are attacking the American occupation army 35 times a day in the Baghdad area alone. And Captain Cirino works in Fallujah's local police station, where America's newly hired Iraqi policemen are the brothers and uncles and--no doubt--fathers of some of those now waging guerrilla war against American soldiers in Fallujah. Some of them, I suspect, are indeed themselves the 'terrorists.' So if he calls the bad guys 'terrorists,' the local cops--his first line of defence--would be very angry indeed." (UK Independent, Oct. 26)

[top]

6. PRESS FREEDOM UNDER ATTACK
Al-Arabiya, one of the Middle East's largest TV news networks agreed to cease reports from Iraq after the US-appointed interim government raided its offices, banned its broadcasts and threatened to imprison journalists. The government accused Al-Arabiya of "inciting murder" for broadcasting an audio tape a week earlier of a voice it said was that of Saddam Hussein. "We have issued a warning to Al-Arabiya and we will sue," said Jalal Talabani, president of the Iraqi Governing Council. "Al-Arabiya incites murder because it's calling for killings through the voice of Saddam Hussein... Inciting murder or violence is illegal under the laws of the entire world."

In September, the Governing Council temporarily banned Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera from news conferences, accusing them of being aware of attacks on US troops before they occurred. US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld called the two stations "violently anti-coalition" as he announced the planned launch of a US-run satellite channel to compete with the popular news stations.

Al-Arabiya was launched shortly before the invasion of Iraq. The network is a new venture of the Dubai-based Middle East News, which also runs the Middle East Broadcasting Center. It is owned by the brother-in-law of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd. (AP, Nov. 24)

AP reported Nov. 12 that "jumpy US soldiers are becoming more aggressive in their treatment of journalists covering the conflict. Media people have been detained, news equipment has been confiscated and some journalists have suffered verbal and physical abuse while trying to report on events." Dallas Morning News managing editor Stuart Wilk, president of the Associated Press Managing Editors, an association of editors at over 1,700 newspapers in the US and Canada, sent a protest letter to the Pentagon on Wednesday urging officials to "immediately take the steps to end such confrontations. The effect has been to deprive the American public of crucial images from Iraq in newspapers, broadcast stations and online news operations." In October, the Belgium-based International Federation of Journalists, which includes unions representing 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries, complained of increased harassment of reporters in Iraq, including beatings of some. (AP, Nov. 12)

Reporters are also targted by the guerilla resistance, or criminal elements exploiting the chaos. Gunmen shot and wounded a Portuguese reporter and kidnapped a second in southern Iraq Nov. 14 after attacking a convoy of vehicles. The kidnapped reporter, Carlos Raleiras of private radio station TSF, made a last-minute plea for help on his mobile phone. (Reuters, Nov. 14)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

88 86 [top]

7. U.S. SEEKS OCCUPATION ADVICE FROM ISRAEL
In the last six months, US Army commanders, Pentagon officials and military trainers have sought council from Israeli intelligence and security officials on everything from how to set up roadblocks to the best way to bomb suspected guerrilla hide-outs in urban areas. "Those who have to deal with like problems tend to share information as best they can," Stephen Cambone, undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, told the LA Times in Washington. Two Israeli officials--one from the Jerusalem police force and one from the Israel Defense Forces--told the LA Times on condition of anonymity that US officials had visited Israel to gain insight into police and military tactics. They also said Israeli officials have visited Washington to discuss the issues. (LAT, Nov. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #59 [top]

8. U.S. TROOPS BULLDOZE FARMERS' CROPS
US soldiers in bulldozers have uprooted ancient groves of date palms and citrus trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops, the UK Independent reports. Patrcik Cockburn, reporting from Dhuluaya, a small town 50 miles north of Baghdad, found the stumps of palm trees, some 70 years old, protruding from earth scoured by bulldozers, as local women busily bundled together the branches of uprooted orange and lemon trees, carrying then back to their homes for firewood. Nusayef Jassim, one of 32 farmers who saw their fruit trees destroyed, said: "They told us that the resistance fighters hide in our farms, but this is not true. They didn't capture anything. They didn't find any weapons."

Farmers told Cockburn that 50 families lost their livelihoods. A petition addressed to the coalition forces in Dhuluaya pleading in poor English for compensation, lists 32 farmers. The petition says: "Tens of poor families depend completely on earning their life on these orchards and now they became very poor and have nothing and waiting for hunger and death." (UK Independent, Oct. 12)

The Washington Post also reported Dec. 3 that US forces are using the threat of bulldozing homes against residents who refuse to inform on resistance activities. [top]

9. U.S. GENERALS: BRING BACK SADDAM'S ARMY
Seeking to accelerate Iraq's transition from US control, the occupation authority is rehiring fired Iraqi army personnel--but some military officers say Washington should recall whole units. Visiting Iraq for the second time in three months, US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz stressed the importance of speeding up the formation of a new Iraqi army, police force, border guard and civil defense corps, questioning why the Iraqi civil defense corps is projected to have 22,000 personnel instead of 100,000. He asserted that "there's no prejudice against hiring officers of the former army if they have clean records." (Reuters, Oct. 24) [top]

10. INTERIM COUNCIL: LEAVE US IN POWER
Just days after vowing to dissolve the body when a new provisional Iraqi government is elected in June, leaders of the Iraqi Governing Council were lobbying to remain in power and serve as a second legislative body, perhaps a senate. Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish leader who served as president of the council in November, said in an interview that a majority of the council members "want to keep the Governing Council as it is now." The proponents of keeping the council in some manner include the leaders of its most important factions: the two major Kurdish parties, top Shiite clerics and prominent exile leaders, including Ahmad Chalabi. Chalabi is said to be promoting the idea of turning the Governing Council into a senate, while the new interim government would resemble the United States House of Representatives. Adel Abdel Mahdi, of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the main Shiite Muslim political party, is among those designated by the council to negotiate with the occupation authorities. He said in an interview: "We need the Governing Council as a safety valve for the country. One idea we are proposing is for the council to become a council of state, the final judge of conflicts within the government, the guardian of sovereignty." A minority of council members also apparently oppose the idea. "This is from people who have a fear of losing a grip on things," said Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar, an important tribal sheik and council member. He added: "They think they are entitled to a role because they believe they overthrew Saddam Hussein. It was the United States that overthrew Saddam while we were eating TV dinners." (NYT, Nov. 25) [top]

11. "THREE-STATE SOLUTION" FOR IRAQ'S FUTURE?
Former New York Times editor and president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations Leslie H. Gelb had an op-ed in the Times Nov. 25 in which he called for a "Three-State Solution" for Iraq, declaring that "A unified Iraq is not only ungovernable but also unnatural." The stylized map accompanying the piece illustrated his proposal for a Shiite state in the south, a Sunni state in the center and a Kurdish one in the north. The piece assumes that US fears of an Iraqi break-up sparking a regional war--with Turkey, Syria and Iran seeking to annex territory newly up for grabs--is outdated, and that the greater threat now comes from Baathist and/or jihadi resistance in Iraq's Sunni center, traditionally the seat of power. It also assumes that the question of whether the Kurds and Shiites should have local autonomy within a federal Iraq or actual independence is a question for the US occupiers rather than the Iraqis. Writes Gelb of his break-up proposal: "The general idea is to strengthen the Kurds and Shiites and weaken the Sunnis, then wait and see whether to stop at autonomy or encourage statehood."

Gelb also draws the inevitable analogy with Yugoslavia, arguing that "overwhelming force was the best chance for keeping Yugoslavia whole, and even that failed in the end." Not only is this a vast oversimplification of the politics of federal Yugoslavia (which employed strategies far more sophisticated than mere "overwhelming force"), but Gelb commits howlers that any good editor should have caught. He writes: "When Tito died in 1980, several parts of Yugoslavia quickly declared their independence." Actually, the first secessions were not until 1991--which, given the pace of contemporary world events, is only "quickly" in geological terms. Worse, Gelb's call for "natural states" along ethno-religious lines mirrors the logic of the ethnic cleansers--including the Serb nationalists he ostensibly decries.

Gelb's piece will doubtless provide further grist for the mill of paranoid leftists who have been seeing an imperialist conspiracy to break up Iraq (and eventually other Arab powers) since well before the US invaded. But, for the moment, the US appears to be attempting to shore up a central Iarqi state--and a break-up would be a likely result of a US pull-out. Before they rally around a centralized Iraq, lefties should recall the contemporary Iraqi state's roots in imperialist intrigues of precisely the kind we are now witnessing. Writes Gelb:

"The Ottomans ruled all the peoples of this land as they were: separately. In 1921, Winston Churchill cobbled the three parts together for oil's sake under a monarch backed by the British armed forces. The Baathist Party took over in the 1960s, with Saddam Hussein consolidating its control in 1979, maintaining unity through terror and with occassional American help."

See also WW3 REPORT #63 [top]

12. IRAQI EX-GENERAL DIES IN U.S. CUSTODY
Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, an Iraqi air defense general captured Oct. 5 in a raid near the Syrian border, was being questioned Nov. 27 while in US custody in Qaim when he lost consciousness after complaining he didn't feel well, the military said in a statement. He was pronounced dead by a US military physician. The cause of death and interrogation techniques are under investigation, but he 82nd Airborne said Mowhoush's head was not hooded during questioning. The statement did not give his age. Mowhoush, a major general in the Republican Guard, was captured in a raid at Qaim. A US military spokesperson said at the time that Mowhoush was believed to have been financing guerilla attacks. (MSNBC, Nov. 27) [top]

13. GIs IN TROUBLE AFTER MARRYING IRAQI WOMEN
Two Florida National Guardsmen who met and married Iraqi women while serving in Baghdad. The soldiers--Sgt. Sean Blackwell, 27, of Pace, FLA, and Cpl. Brett Dagen, 37, of Walnut Hill, FLA--tied the knot in a quick and discreet double-wedding ceremony (in full battle dress and lugging M-16s) in mid-August, defying their commander's orders. The two have been barred from seeing their brides, both English-speaking physicians who have been working with the US forces. They're not even permitted to phone or e-mail them, according to the GIs' mothers. "It's an embarrassment to the Army," said Dagen's mother, Laverne Warren. A week before the double wedding ceremony, both GIs converted to Islam. When news of their marriage plans reached their superiors, the two soldiers were put on limited duty. (NY Post, Oct. 8) [top]

14. G.I. RESISTANCE AND DISSENT
The Pentagon has revealed that at least 28 soldiers who have been stationed in Iraq have not reported back to duty after they were granted a 15-day leave. Meanwhile the commanding general in Iraq said attacks against the U.S. have increased greatly over the past two weeks. During the summer the US faced between 10 and 15 attacks per day. Now the daily total ranges from 20 to 35. (Pacifica's Democracy Now!, Oct. 23)

The Army Reserve's unusual move to send 160 soldiers back to Iraq and Afghanistan 10 months after many returned from a one-year tour of duty has also sparked dissent within the military. Cpt. Steve McAlpin of Rochester, NY, was relieved of his duties as a civil affairs team leader for questioning the fairness and legality of the orders in private discussions with his superiors. (USA Today, Dec. 1) [top]

15. PENTAGON MOVES TO FILL DRAFT BOARDS
A few weeks ago, on an obscure federal Web site devoted to the war on terrorism, the Bush administration quietly began a public campaign to bring the draft boards back to life. "Serve Your Community and the Nation," the announcement urges. "If a military draft becomes necessary, approximately 2,000 Local and Appeal Boards throughout America would decide which young men...receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service." Local draft board volunteers, meanwhile, report that at training sessions last summer, they were unexpectedly asked to recommend people to fill some of the estimated 16 percent of board seats that are vacant nationwide.

Not since the early Reagan administration in 1981 has the Defense Department made a push to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots. John Winkler, the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for reserve affairs, told Salon there is "no contingency plan" to ask Congress to reinstate the draft. But Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY): "The experts are all saying we're going to have to beef up our presence in Iraq. We've failed to convince our allies to send troops, we've extended deployments so morale is sinking, and the president is saying we can't cut and run. So what's left? The draft is a very sensitive subject, but at some point, we're going to need more troops, and at that point the only way to get them will be a return to the draft." (Dave Lindorff for Salon.com, November) [top]

16. WMD THREAT: STILL NO EVIDENCE
David Kay, head of the US-led team searching for evidence of Saddam's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, announced Oct. 2, upon handing in his interim report to Congress, that his probe had found no stocks of such arms. But he said there was "evidence of Saddam's continued ambition to acquire nuclear weapons... The testimony we have obtained from Iraqi scientists and senior government officials should clear up any doubts about whether Saddam still wanted to obtain nuclear weapons." Citing interviews with Iraqi scientists, Kay claimed: "They [said] Saddam Hussein remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons."

One expert close to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told Reuters on condition of anonymity: "The [Kay] report is filled with the use of the words 'belief' and 'may' and 'could have' and these sorts of things. This is not how the IAEA operates." After returning to Iraq late in 2002 for four months of inspections, the IAEA said it had found no evidence that Saddam had revived his nuclear weapons program, which the IAEA had detected in 1991 and says it had dismantled by 1995. The IAEA source also questioned Kay's reliance on testimony from senior Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission official Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Sa'id, who was killed at a Baghdad roadblock by occupation forces on April 8. In his statement to US lawmakers, Kay said: "Sa'id began several small and relatively unsophisticated research initiatives that could be applied to nuclear weapons development." Calling that limited allegation "pretty pathetic," the anonymous IAEA expert noted that since Sa'id could no longer be questioned, his supposed testimony should be met with skepticism. Kay asked for Washington to provide $600 million for his team's work in Iraq in addition to the $300 million already allocated (Reuters, Oct. 3)

In response to Kay's report, Nihad Mohammed al-Rawi, acting president of Baghdad University, said: "A country was destroyed because of weapons that don't exist!" (AP, Oct. 5)

Meanwhile, other Iraqi scientists came forward to assert that scientists ''lied to Saddam Hussein'' about how well their secret nuclear weapons program was going. Imad Khadduri, who worked for 16 years on the nuclear program, said terrified technicians resorted to ''blatant exaggeration'' before the US attacks eventually shut down the operation for good in 1991. Another leading physicist, Abdel Mehdi Talib of Baghdad University, admitted: ''It was all like building sandcastles.'' Khadduri denied Iraq had ''reconstituted'' weapons development after the 1991 attacks and dismissed claims that it was once six months from making a bomb as a ''mirage." In his book, Iraq's Nuclear Mirage, British-educated Khadduri said: ''Where are the scientific and engineering staff required for such an enormous effort? Where are the buildings and infrastructure?'' He added that the US was ''investigating mirages.'' (Glasgow Daily Record, Dec. 2)

Australian investigative journalist John Pilger also uncovered video footage of US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Cairo on February 24, 2001, stating that Saddam Hussein had been disarmed and was no threat. "He [Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors," Powell said in the footage. (Australian Associated Press, Sept. 23)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

91 85 [top]

17. IRAQI COMMUNISTS REJECT BOTH OCCUPATION AND RESISTANCE
The political bureau of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq issued the following statement on the party's position on the military resistance against the US forces:

After 12 years of the anti-human policy of the economic sanctions and disastrous wars against the people of Iraq, the US government has occupied Iraq and imposed its military authority on Iraqi society. Apart from large numbers of causalities and widespread destruction, the US war and occupation has placed the Iraqi society on the verge of a very grim and dreadful scenario. Lack of security, hunger, deprivation and increasingly oppressive conditions is the situation of millions of people. The most basic rights of the masses are under attack and the society faces a lethal political uncertainty, confusion, and chaos. Facing this situation, millions of people in Iraq are showing growing discontent and protest and demanding that the US and its allied forces leave Iraq. Various political forces are striving to capitalize on this protest to achieve their own political objectives.

On the other hand, the latest war that the US government launched against Iraq has resulted in the overthrow of the Baath regime. This war is still continuing. The resistance by the remnants of the Baath regime, nationalist, and Islamic groups is a part of this war. However, this war and those who are waging it not only have nothing to do with the rights and future of the Iraqi people, but they are completely against the interests of the masses. To achieve their own reactionary objectives, these groups victimize people and sacrifice the basis of life in the society. They attempt to win the support of the people by deception and promoting Arab nationalism and Islamic sentiments among people under the pretext of "fighting the occupiers" and conducting military operations against the occupying forces. In order to put pressure on the US, these groups resort to disrupting and exploding social services and the society's infrastructure. In so doing, they attempt to contain and steer the widespread and justified discontent among people against the US and its allies to achieve their own reactionary objectives.

Because of its bloody oppression, mass killing, and fascist policies against the people in Iraq for over 35 years, the Baath party must be dismantled and must not have any role in the in Iraqi society and the political future of Iraq. The current activities and military operations against the US forces are hopeless reactionary attempts to return to power against the interests of the people. Also, the Islamic groups, under the pretext of organizing a military movement to oust the US forces, are attempting to exploit the peoples' just struggle and demands to impose their own reactionary and oppressive rule. Thus, they too are taking part in deepening the lack of security, reaction, and the grim and dreadful scenario that is unfolding in Iraq.

In this conflict, the remnants of Baath regime and the Islamic groups resort to blowing up civil targets and attacking the sources of people's livelihood. The Worker Communist Party struggles to defeat these reactionary forces and thwart their role. It also strongly condemns attacks on social services and all terrorist actions against people and civil institutions.

The current disastrous situation in Iraq and the current war and conflicts are the direct result of the US war and occupation of Iraq. Therefore, ending this reactionary scenario relies on the withdrawal of the US and its allied troops from Iraq. The Worker Communist Party strongly insists on withdrawal of these forces and building a regime based on the will of the masses. The Worker Communist Party, with all its force, struggles to achieve this demand. It believes that political and mass struggle is the suitable form of struggle during the current situation in Iraq...

The Worker Communist Party struggles to organize the masses and develop their protests in the form of a massive political movement all over Iraq and struggles to oust the US and its allied forces and build the masses' own regime in Iraq. It calls on the masses to organize around this alternative, to strengthen the movement to remove the US forces and build the masses own regime and to eradicate the fascist Baath party and the Islamic groups and marginalize them.

Oct. 15, 2003

Thanks to: News & Letters, 36 S. Wabash, Room 1440. Chicago IL 60603 [top]

18. CAMPAIGN FOR LABOR RIGHTS IN IRAQ
US Labor Against the War (USLAW) has issued a Resolution on Labor Rights in Iraq, which it hopes to have endorsed by union locals and labor councils around the United States. The statement reads:

Whereas: Since George W. Bush declared an end to the war on Iraq in April, 2003, unemployment among Iraqi workers has reached 70%, causing many families to face hunger and dislocation, and

Whereas: Since Bush announced the war's end, the US occupying authority has frozen Iraqi wages for most workers at $60/month, while at the same time eliminating bonuses, profit sharing, and subsidies for food and housing, causing a sharp cut in the income of those Iraqi workers still employed, and

Whereas: $87 billion was appropriated by Congress supposedly for the reconstruction of Iraq, yet not a dime is set to be used for raising Iraqi wages or for unemployment benefits, and these extraordinary expenditures will come at the expense of services and jobs here in the US, and

Whereas: Since April, 2003, Iraqi workers have begun to reorganize their trade union movement, seeking a better standard of living, and to preserve their jobs and workplaces, and

Whereas: The US occupation authority has continued to enforce a 1987 law issued by Saddam Hussein prohibiting unions and collective bargaining in the pub lic sector and state enterprises where most Iraqis work, and

Whereas: The US occupation authority has announced it intends to sell off the factories, refineries, mines and other state enterprises despite the fact that these enterprises belong to the Iraqi people, not to the US, and has issued a new decree, Public Order 39, allowing 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses and the repatriation of profits--in effect making resistance to privatization illegal for Iraqi unions and preventing workers from having any voice in the future of their own jobs, and

Whereas: The privatization of Iraqi workplaces would result in massive layoffs to Iraqi workers at a time when unemployment is already at crisis levels, and

Whereas: Iraqi unions are seeking to organize despite having no resources, while the US occupying authority withholds welfare funds, buildings and other assets previously held by unions controlled by Saddam Hussein's government, and

Whereas: Workers in the United States have experienced an erosion of our own labor rights to organize and collectively bargain in defense of our jobs, rights and working conditions and thus understand what the restriction or loss of these rights means to working people,

Therefore be it resolved: This local union (or other labor body) calls for full trade union rights in Iraq--for immediate nullification of the 1987 Hussein law banning unions in public enterprises and any other restriction on the free exercise of labor rights, and

Be it further resolved: We call on the US occupation authority to immediately implement Conventions 87, 98 and 138 of the International Labor Organization guaranteeing the right to organize and bargain collectively, and prohibiting child labor, and to immediately halt the process of privatizing Iraqi workplaces and selling off the property of the Iraqi people, and

Be it further resolved: We call for an end to the US occupation of Iraq and return of US troops to their homes and families so that Iraq can be governed by its own people,

Be it further resolved: We call for a Congressional investigation of the suppression of trade union rights in Iraq and the privatization of Iraqi workplaces and selling off of the property of the Iraqi people, and

Be it finally resolved: We will encourage donations of material resources--such as computers, telephones, fax machines and office furniture, as well as money--to the Fund to Support Iraqi Labor Rights established by US Labor Against the War.

U.S. Labor Against The War, P.O. Box 153, 1718 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036

See also WW3 REPORT #86 [top]

19. PRIVATE MILITARY OUTFITS STAKE IRAQ CLAIM
Peter W. Singer, a Brookings Institution military analyst, estimates there is one contractor for every 10 foreign soldiers in Iraq--10 times the private involvement in Desert Storm. Worldwide, private military companies earn about $100 billion in yearly government contracts, Singer believes. The US defense budget is about $380 billion this year, excluding emergency spending, and is expected to rise to more than $400 billion. The Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) won a $3 million contract for the cavernous white mess tent on the base of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad, supplying the Indian and Bangladeshi cooks who feed 4,000 troops daily. Erinys, a security firm full of former South African special forces, will train 6,500 Iraqis to guard oil installations. The San Diego-based Science Applications International trains Iraqi journalists, police and soldiers. Global Risks Strategies, a security firm with about 1,100 workers on the ground--mainly armed former Nepalese and Fijian soldiers--is among security companies that have more personnel in Iraq than some other countries taking part in the occupation. Contractors' deaths aren't counted among the tally of over 350 US soldiers killed in Iraq. No one is sure how many private workers have been killed, or, even how many are toiling in Iraq for the US government. Estimates range from under 10,000 to more than 20,000--which could make private contractors the largest U.S. coalition partner ahead of Britain's 11,000 troops.

Deborah Avant, a political scientist at George Washington University, warns that the connection between companies and politicians in Washington raises the specter of executives lobbying for a hawkish US foreign policy. Iraq contractors DynCorp, Bechtel and Halliburton donated more than $2.2 million--mainly to Republican causes like the 2000 Bush presidential campaign--between 1999 and 2002, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The US hired Halliburton for Iraq without a competitive bid, after the company recommended itself in a study. Halliburton's Iraq oil services contract, worth $1.59 billion so far, will be extended until December or January. (AP, Oct. 29)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

92 84 [top]

20. WAR PROFITEERING AND CORPORATE COLONIZATION
An October report by the Center for Public Integrity finds that over 70 US companies and individuals have won up to $8 billion in contracts for work in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two years. The Center also found that those companies donated more money to the presidential campaigns of George W Bush--a little over $500,000--than to any other politician over the last dozen years. Kellogg, Brown & Root was the top recipient of federal contracts for the two countries, with more than $2.3 billion awarded to the company. Bechtel Group, a major government contractor with similarly high-ranking ties, was second at around $1.03 billion. Nearly 60% percent of the companies had employees or board members who either served in or had close ties to the executive branch for Republican and Democratic administrations, for members of Congress of both parties, or at the highest levels of the military.

Since February 2003, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the country's largest employee-owned research and engineering company, has been in charge of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council (IRDC), a Pentagon-sanctioned group of Iraqis that is effectively functioning as the country's temporary government. The senior members of IRDC hold positions at each of 23 Iraqi ministries, where they work closely with US and British officials, including L. Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. The Council's official task is to rebuild the structures of a government that are expected eventually to be handed over to the new Iraqi authority. Members of the IRDC are officially employed by SAIC, according to the contracts.

SAIC has also been hired to rebuild Iraq's mass media, including television stations, radio stations and newspapers. SAIC, which is not generally known for its media expertise, runs the "Voice of the New Iraq," the radio station established in April 2003 at Umm Qasr with US government funds.

ChevronTexaco joined five other international oil companies selected by the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization to market Iraqi oil. The expected revenue of $300 million from the sale of oil will be controlled by the US government for use in rebuilding Iraq.

JPMorgan, the nation's second-largest bank, has been contracted by the Coalition Provisional Authority to run a consortium of 13 banks from 13 countries that will constitute the Trade Bank of Iraq.

MCI, formerly WorldCom, was hired by the Pentagon to build a wireless phone network for officials and aid workers in the Baghdad area. MCI's reconstruction activities in Iraq were not disclosed in documents the Defense Department provided to the Center under a Freedom of Information Act request. However, an MCI spokesperson said the Pentagon-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) awarded the contract to MCI in late May 2003.

See also WW3 REPORT #79 [top]

21. OCCUPATION AUTHORITY: UNACCOUNTABLE FINANCIAL SINKHOLE
Efforts to establish a civilian government in Iraq were further damaged by reports that the Pentagon is investigating allegations of high-level corruption within the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). The award of lucrative licences to build and operate mobile telephone networks has been dogged by delays and recriminations. A complaint over the handling of the process was filed by Turkcell, an Istanbul-based company which, with two US partners, bid in August for the right to build mobile telephone networks in Iraq. After the mobile network contracts were awarded to three Middle Eastern companies, Turkcell lawyers said that the licensing process had been "erroneous, irrational, arbitrary and capricious." The allegations of foul play were made to the US Congress' General Accounting Office (GAO), which evaluates federal expenditure. The GAO announced last month that it had opened its own review into whether the Bush administration has followed procurement rules. (UK Telegraph, Nov. 23)

In a report issued Oct. 23 entitled, "Iraq: the missing billions," UK-based Christian Aid states that the fate of $4 out of $5 billion transferred to the CPA's Defense Fund for Iraq (DFI) remains unknown, having apparently disappeared into opaque CPA bank accounts. he only funds accounted for appear to be about $1 billion in pre-war funds transferred from the UN Oil for Food Program. (NFTF.org, Nov. 15)

In a Dec. 2 Newsday op-ed, Nomi Prins, author of the forthcoming "Other People's Money: The Corporate Mugging of America," warns of a lack of accountability for the massive sums the US is (allegedly) pouring into Iraq reconstruction. Prins writes that "the latest $87-billion injection that went predominantly into the Iraq black hole puts the total sum of 'liberation and reconstruction' funds at more than a quarter-trillion dollars..." Yet "complete financial statements on Iraq haven't been disclosed... Although the amount of public money circling Iraq is staggering, there is no way to even trace it... What's more, the CPA budget calls for another $39 billion in expenditures over the next three years... Without a paper trail, there's no way of assigning culpability for potential fraud. As it is, up to %11.2 billion in contracts have been awarded under less than competitive circumstances to companies such as Enron and Bechtel." [top]

22. SAVE THE CHILDREN UK SILENCED ON IRAQ CRITICISMS
The British charity Save the Children was ordered by its US wing to end criticism of military action in Iraq, to avoid jeopardising financial support from Washington and corporate donors, a UK Guardian investigation discovered. E-mails reveal how Save the Children UK came under enormous pressure after it accused coalition forces of breaching the Geneva convention by blocking humanitarian aid. Senior figures at Save the Children US, based in Westport, CT, demanded the withdrawal of the criticism and an effective veto on any future statements.

The row erupted in April when the London statement said coalition forces had gone back on an earlier agreement to allow a relief plane, packed with emergency food and medical supplies for 40,000 people, to land in northern Iraq. Rob MacGillivray, the UK wing's emergency program manager, released a statement that the "lack of cooperation from the coalition forces is a breach of the Geneva conventions and its protocols, but more importantly the time now being wasted is costing children their lives." Within hours of the statement appearing, the US wing was demanding its withdrawal. E-mails sent to staff in Britain by Dianne Sherman, associate vice-president for public affairs and communications in Westport, headed "Save/UK criticises US military", expressed dismay and censured the UK operation. Sherman said the Americans were "really astonished at today's release, which went out without our prior knowledge, that attacks the US military." Accounts published by Save the Children US show that "government grants and contracts" generate some 60% of its operating support and revenue. (UK Guardian, Nov. 28) [top]

23. TURKEY PREPARES TO SEND IN TROOPS
By a vote of 358 to 183, Turkey's parliament approved a government motion Oct. 7 permitting the dispatch of "peacekeepers" to Iraq as requested by its NATO ally the US. The vote followed a lengthy debate in closed session. Turkish officials have said up to 10,000 troops could be deployed. But shortly before the vote, in a statement clearly aimed at Turkey, Iraq's Governing Council said it would not accept troops from any neighboring country. Turkey is already believed to have a few thousand troops in northern Iraq to pursue armed rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). (Reuters, Oct. 7)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

92, 90, 88, 72 [top]

24. U.S. TROOPS IN CLASH WITH PKK?
The BBC reported Nov. 10 that US troops had clashed with PKK guerillas in northern Iraq. The US military only confirmed that fire was exchanged between "unknown forces" and an Iraqi border patrol supported by US forces, but Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that US forces had clashed with the PKK. A spokesman for the US 101st Airborne Division, based in Mosul, said the incident took place near Dahuk, about 10 miles from the Turkish border. One member of the Iraqi border patrol was killed, he said, adding that the "unknown forces" were dispersed with the assistance of Apache attack helicopters and a quick reaction force team. Turkey and the US have agreed an action plan to eradicate the PKK, which is thought to have about 5,000 guerillas in northern Iraq. Ever since the US occupied Iraq, Turkey has been pressing Washington to take action against the PKK. In Turkey's long counter-insurgency campaign against the PKK, over 30,000 have been killed, and more than a million displaced from their homes.

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

92, 88 [top]

25. TERROR IN ISTANBUL
Twin car bombs exploded outside Istanbul synagogues filled with worshippers during Sabbath prayers Nov. 17, killing at least 20 and wounding over 250. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said there were "international connections" to the near-simultaneous attacks--one at the city's largest synagogue, Neve Shalom, as hundreds were gathered for a bar mitzvah. (AP, Nov. 17) The Islamic Great Eastern Raiders-Front (IBDA-C), allegedly backed by Iran, claimed responsibility, but Turkish authorities are said to be skeptical. (AP, Nov. 18) The IBDA-C again claimed credit when twin suicide truck bombs struck Nov. 20, killing 30 and injuring 450 at the British consulate and the high-rise headquarters of the London-based HSBC bank. (AP, Nov. 20; NYT, Nov. 22) Days later, after a series of arrests, Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Sener told reporters the bombers "are linked to al-Qaeda." Turkish press accounts said the bombings were a direct order from Ayman al-Zawahiri, believed to be Osama bin Laden's second-in-command. (NYT, Dec. 3)

Authorities said at least two of the men behind the suicide bombings, and several suspects arrested in connection with them, are from the Kurdish town of Ingol in eatsern Turkey, and had lost family members to political violence. One apparent suicide bomber's father was killed there when he was a toddler. (NYT, Nov. 26) [top]

26. NEW NATO STRIKE FORCE HOLDS TURKEY MANEUVERS
NATO has launched a new elite rapid-reaction force, a prototype slated to become a 20,000-troop unit able to deploy on short notice worldwide by 2006. The NATO Response Force's initial core of 9,000 troops, backed by naval and air power, was inaugurated in a ceremony at NATO's Brussles command. Top NATO commander, US Marine Corps Gen. James Jones said: "The creation of the initial NATO response force... s an important sign that the alliance is rapidly changing to meet the new threats of this new century." He added that the force "will give the alliance the military capability to do what it could not do before--insert military forces into a deteriorating situation earlier in a crisis, with more speed, at greater ranges, with more sustainability than ever before." Spain will provide tmost of the troops--2,200--in the initial force, plus ships, planes and helicopters. It is followed by France with 1,700 and Germany at 1,100. The US will contribute 300 troops plus a ship and aircraft. The force will be led by UK Gen. Sir Jack Deverell, commander of NATO's Northern Forces, while a Turkish general will command the ground troops and Spanish admiral will command the naval task force. NATO's Northern Air Command at the Ramstein base in Germany will run the air component. (AP, Oct. 15)

The new unit held its first exercizes starting Nov. 20 at the Aegean Sea city of Doganbey, Turkey, involving air, sea and land forces from 11 nations. Some 1,000 participated in the exercise that included an amphibious landing, helicopter raids and Czech specialist troops who provide defenses against chemical, biological or nuclear attacks. (AP, Nov. 20) [top]

27. U.S. SEEKS CHILEAN EX-OFFICERS FOR IRAQ
The Mexican daily La Jornada reported Nov. 1 that US and British companies are recruiting retired Chilean military officers to work in Iraq guarding installations and training Iraqi police agents. The newspaper cites unnamed Chilean intelligence agencies as saying the companies are working for the CIA, and that the same companies recruited European mercenaries in the '60s, '70s and '80s to fight in Angola and Mozambique.

One of the companies is Red Tactica, headed by Jose Pizarro, who has reportedly served in both the Chilean and US militaries. On Oct. 12 Red Tactica ran advertisements for English-speaking former officers under the age of 45 to work abroad, and has already begun training some 50 recruits. Also involved in Red Tactica is former Chilean commando Christian Gatica, currently director of operations and training in Latin America for Kroll Inc., a multinational security firm formerly linked to CIA operations in Argentina. Pizarro denies that Red Tactica has any connection to the CIA, while Gatica insists that the recruitment activities are "commercial" and "public." Both Pizarro and Gatica have worked for CNN's Spanish-language company giving military analyses of the war in Iraq.

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 9: [top]

28. VIOLENCE AT SEOUL PROTESTS AGAINST IRAQ MOBILIZATION
Some 1,000 South Korean workers clashed with riot police Oct. 29 at a protest against a government decision to send additional troops to Iraq. Protesters marched in central Seoul after a rally organized by the Korea Federation of Trade Unions, breaking through police blockades wielding wooden sticks and throwing stones, witnesses said. Several people were severely injured after being hit by stones lobbed back by the riot police, organizers said. South Korea already has 700 medical and engineering personnel in Iraq. (Reuters, Oct. 29) [top]

29. PROTESTERS MARCH IN "FORTRESS LONDON" FOR BUSH VISIT
Armed police turned the British capital into "Fortress London" amid official paranoia about an impending terror attack on the eve of President Bush's visit. (Reuters, Nov. 17) But 100,000 protesters marched through London and tore down a mock papier mache statue of Bush upon his arrival Nov. 20, invoking the notorious falling statue of Saddam in Baghdad. (Reuters, Nov. 20) [top]

30. HE SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO HIS OLD MAN!
"Trying to eliminate Saddam...would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible.... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq.... there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

--George H.W. Bush, A World Transformed [top]

THE PALESTINE FRONT

1. ANNAN TO ISRAEL: DISMANTLE THE WALL
On Nov. 28, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan advised Israel to abandon its project of building a "Separation Wall" in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. "Israel has repeatedly stated that the barrier is a temporary measure. However, the scope of construction and the amount of occupied West Bank land that is either being requisitioned for its route or that will end up between the barrier and the Green Line are of serious concern and have implications for the future." Annan also clearly labeled the wall a barrier to making peace: "In the midst of the road map process, when each party should be making good-faith confidence-building gestures, the barrier's construction in the West Bank cannot, in this regard, be seen as anything but a deeply counterproductive act." (CNN, Nov. 28) (David Bloom) [top]

2. POPE DISSES WALL
Pope John Paul, frequently lauded for his attempts to make amends for the Catholic church's past treatment of Jews, has joined the chorus of critics of Israel's "Separation Wall." The pontiff started by saying: "I also renew my firm condemnation for every terrorist action carried out in these recent times in the Holy Land," but then added: "At the same time, I must note that unfortunately in those places, the dynamism of peace seems to have stopped. The construction of a wall between the Israeli and Palestinian people is seen by many as a new obstacle on the road toward peaceful cohabitation. In reality, the Holy Land doesn't need walls, but bridges." (AP,Nov. 18) (David Bloom) [top]

3. ELIE WEISEL: WALL'S WILLING APOLOGIST DISSES PONTIFF
Nobel peace laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel has taken exception to the pontiff's displeasure with the Wall. Opined Weisel to Italy's Corriere della Sera: "From the spiritual leader of one of the largest and most important religions in the world, I expected something very different, namely a statement condemning terror and the killing of innocents, without mixing in political considerations and, above all, without comparing these things to a work of pure self-defense." (AP, Nov. 18) (David Bloom) [top]

4. GEN. CLARK LOVES THE WALL
Former Gen. Wesley Clark may be the most pro-Israel candidate currently running for president. He supports "targeted killings," and Israel's Oct. 5 bombing of an alleged Syrian base for training Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants. He also supports Israel's construction of its "separation wall" on Palestinian land.

"Currently, Israel is building a security fence--not because it wants to, but because terrorism has forced its hand," the general wrote in a Nov. 10 Ha'aretz op-ed. "The fence is not a barrier to the peace process. No country can negotiate if the other side believes it has no alternatives. The fence will help contain the terrorist onslaught. It will warn other parties in the Middle East that they need to start negotiating--now. But it is not a sustainable substitute for peace. A strong, democratic Israel is the key to the future of the Middle East." (Ha'aretz, Nov. 10) (David Bloom) [top]

5. U.S. SLAPS ISRAEL'S WRIST: 289 MIL FOR SETTLEMENTS AND FENCE
After accumulated threats, the U.S. announced it will deduct $289.5 million from its nine billion dollars of loan guarantees to Israel. Since Israel does not have to account for how it spends any of the aid it receives from the US, the effect is mostly symbolic. "This is only diplomatic finger-wagging," said diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal of Israel's Channel 2. (Straits Times, Nov. 28) (David Bloom) [top]

6. REMOTE-CONTROL MACHINE GUNS TO BE MOUNTED ON THE WALL
According to Haaretz reporter Amira Hass, a Sept. 21 article on the Israeli paper Yediot Ahronoth's Web site, Ynet, states that "the separation fence to be built in the Gilboa region will include remote-control machine guns that will be operated by female soldiers from their command posts and will shoot at those suspected of being terrorists." According to Ynet's reporter, the system is be installed in the coming months in the mountainous Gilboa region, along the path of the "Separation Wall." The army's purpose in installing the system is to compensate for the small amount of troops and the difficulties of moving in the area--"and to shoot at terrorists who try to cross the fence." In a concession to humanitarian considerations, rather than making the guns fire automatically at anything that moves they will be fired "by the female soldier who manages the lookout post and has been trained for this."

Hass adds: "The report did not say how she would be trained to tell whether the figure who appears on her video screen is a terrorist or an innocent man." (Ha'aretz, Sept. 24) There is no explanation why the soldiers used will be female, but perhaps the Israeli army considers it a combat role that would be safe enough for a woman soldier. (Ha'aretz, Sept. 24) (David Bloom) [top]

7. REMOTE-CONTROL HELICOPTER STOLEN
Industrial espionage is believed to be the explanation for the theft of a state-of-the-art remote-control pilotless helicoter under developoment by an Israeli company. The unit was stolen from Steadicopter's Kefar Maccabi plant, after it had finished it's final test flights. The BBC notes that Israel has "long been a world leader in developing pilotless reconnaissance aircraft and its Pioneer drone is currently in service with US forces in Iraq." (BBC, Nov. 12) (David Bloom) [top]

8. NEXT: REMOTE-CONTROL BULLDOZERS
The fearsome armor-plated D-9 Israeli army bulldozer, used to demolish Palestinian buildings and orchards as well as international activists, is being modified to be operated by remote control, a move the army insists will "save lives." An unnamed Israeli officer was quoted by the Israel Technion Institute of Technology, which designed the remote-control version, as saying, "today the bulldozer drivers are exposed to great danger when they knock down buildings that have militants hiding in them." Palestinian spokesmen Saeb Erakat denounced the move. "The whole idea is despicable," said Erekat. "If an unmanned bulldozer is used, human life is in much greater danger." As of the Oct. 31 press time of this BBC report, the robot dozer was to go "into service in the next few weeks. " (BBC, Oct. 31)

According to the Israeli Committee of Housing Demolitions (ICAHD), 8,000 Palestinian houses have been destroyed by the Israeli occupation forces since 1967. (ICHAD:figure as of Spring, 2002)

The D-9 bulldozer is a product of the US-based Catepillar Corporation. (See also: http://www.sustaincampaign.org/cat_actionkit.html) (David Bloom)

See also WW3 REPORT #80

For more on the wall, see WW3 REPORT #s:

90, 75 [top]

9. U.N., NGO'S TO ISRAEL: QUIT HASSLING US OR WE LEAVE
A sharply-worded letter to the Israeli government by the directors of international aid agencies said that Israel's recent "security measures" in the occupied territories are making it too difficult for them to continue to provide humanitarian relief. "Several organizations indicated that they are now are seriously considering whether they should continue to work at all under these circumstances," the directors wrote. Problems aid agencies encounter include the Israeli army firing at their workers on the ground, despite prior coordination. Also cited were increases in the number of villages and towns placed under sudden closure, and the precariousness of work conditions under such closure. (Ha'aretz, Nov. 27) (David Bloom) [top]

10. RED CROSS CUTS AID TO OCCUPIED PALESTINIANS
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during the month of November has cut off most of its food aid to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The organization said it felt its aid was facilitating Israel's occupation. "This program was not designed to substitute for the responsibility of the occupying power, which is Israel," says Vincent Bernard, ICRC spokesman in Jerusalem. The ICRC had been feeding Palestinians since mid-2002.

"I know the Israeli government wants an occupation and they don't want to pay for it," says Palestine Authority minister Saeb Erekat. But Erekat believes aid refusal will "destroy the peace process." He added, addressing himself to the ICRC and other organizations: "So please, continue your help to the Palestinian people." (CSMonitor, Nov. 26) (David Bloom) [top]

11. U.N.: OCCUPATION CAUSING HUNGER
Jean Ziegler, special rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights and the UN's right-to-food expert, criticized Israeli policies for causing malnutrition among Palestinian children. Ziegler reports that 9% of Palestinian children suffer some form of brain damage as a result of chronic malnutrition. Ziegler said the Palestinians were cut off from thier land by military closure and the "Separation Wall." (UPI, Nov. 12) Ziegler warned of a "humanitarian catastrophe" as a result of "extremely harsh" conditions created by Israeli operations in the territories. Israel accused the Swiss sociologist and former parliamentarian of bias. "This will undoubtedly shade Israel's future decisions with regard to the possibility of engaging in constructive dialogues with other UN special rapporteurs," the Israeli mission said. (Reuters, Nov. 13) (David Bloom) [top]

12. ISRAELI UNIVERSITIES KEEP ARABS OUT
Israeli universities stopped using psychometric aptitude tests in their admissions process this year, but reverted back to the old system when they discovered the main beneficiaries were Palestinian Israeli students. It was thought abandoning the exams would benefit Jewish students from low-income areas, but the result was that Arab admissions increased. Explaining the reversal in policy, a committee of university heads declared Nov. 26 that "admissions policies based on [high school] grades do not make studies more accessible to [Jewish] students from the periphery. The opposite is true." The language used carefully avoided saying specifically "Jews" or "Arabs." The committee added that "since the number of places available in university enrollment has not risen, the acceptance of one population [that is, the Arab students] nudges out another population [Jews]." The minimum age for admission was raised from 18 to 20, which is the age Jewish Israelis leave army service. This puts Palestinian Israelis, who finish high school at 18, and don't do army service, at a disadvantage. (Ha'aretz, Nov. 27) (David Bloom) [top]

13. ISRAELI UNIVERSITIES FIGHT ACADEMIC BOYCOTT
Noting that international isolation of Israeli academics is "steadily worsening," the heads of Israel's universities have formed a panel to fight the boycott. Professor Joshua Jortner of the National Academy of Sciences and Humanities claimed that members of Norway's national academy have advocated treating Israel "like Germany of the 1930s." The international boycott is supported by some left-wing Israeli professors, such as Dr. Ilan Pappe of Haifa University and Professor Tanya Reinhardt of Hebrew University . (Ha'aretz, Nov. 27) (David Bloom) [top]

14. SHARANSKY: U.S. CAMPUSES ANTI-ISRAEL, BUT THE PIE IS TASTY
In his Oct.31 article "Who Lost the Campus," Jonathan Tobin in the Jewish World Review states his alarm over the state of pro-Israel organizing on North American college campuses. Tobin describes Zionist activists in colleges as few in number and under great pressure from Palestinian activist groups. "The bad news is that students who support Israel are still placed in the position of a precarious and unpopular minority as anti-Zionist radicals on faculties and in the student body make it hard to stand up for Jewish rights," wrote Tobin. He recounts how former Soviet refusenik and current Israeli Housing Minister Natan Sharansky found in a recent North American tour of campuses that they had become "enemy territory" for "affiliated Jews," as Tobin puts it. (Jewish World Review, Oct. 31)

"The overall picture is deeply worrying," concludes Sharansky in a Ma'ariv article entitled, "Tour of U.S. Schools Reveals Why Zionism Is Flunking on Campus." Sharansky writes: "On every campus I visited, Jewish students make up between 10% and 20% of the population, but no more than a tenth of them, by my estimate, take part in Jewish or pro-Israel activity. Another tiny but outspoken fraction serves as the spearhead of anti-Israel activity, for there is no better cover for hiding the racist nature of causes like an anti-Israel boycott than a Jewish professor or student eager to prove that he is holier than the pope. And the rest? The rest are simply silent. They are not identified, not active, not risk-takers. Nearly 90% of our students are Jews of silence." (Gamla, October)

One Jewish student who took a risk at Rutgers University was Abe Greenhouse, co-founder of Central New Jersey Jews Against the Occupation (JATO-CNJ) who, following the lead of the Biotic Baking Brigade (http://www.bioticbakingbrigade.org/), threw a kosher cherry pie in Sharansky's face as he extolled Israel's human rights record to a largely sympathetic crowd at Rutgers University on Sept. 25. Greenhouse was then wrestled to the ground by Sharansky's bodyguards, breaking his nose. As he was escorted from the lecture hall by Rutgers police, members of the crowd shouted "Arrest him," "Kill him!" and "You deserve to die!" In an exclusive interview with WW3 REPORT, Greehouse reported that his nose was now "slightly left-of-center."

"My opinion of Sharansky was that at one time he was, indeed, a legitimate hero," Greenhouse told the Forward. "As an Israeli politician, he has sought to thwart the peace process. He was against adopting the road map, which was accepted by Bush, Sharon and Abbas. And I believe that he has, in fact, deliberately provoked the Palestinian population at a crucial time in the negotiation process, approving 800 new settlement units in the West Bank." (The Forward, Sept. 26) (David Bloom) [top]

15. DERSH: NO DIFF BETWEEN JEWISH ISM'ERS AND HITLER YOUTH
Alan Dershowitz, noted auteur of "The Case for Israel" (Wiley, 2003), a book for which he has been accused of plagirism, was quoted in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles that members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) could not legimately be considered human rights activists, claiming they focus solely focus on the rights of Palestinians while they ignore such violations in Tibet and elsewhere. One could argue with Prof. Dershowitz, on the law faculty at Harvard University for many years, that Jewish activists in the ISM have a natural interest in the region, rather than Tibet--precisely because Israel claims to act in the name of all Jews. Referring to the Nazi-allied 1940s Mufti of Jerusalem Husseini Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, Dershowitz argues, "Why pick the one people whose leaders have been aligned with Nazis and who have used terrorism since 1949?" Dershowitz added: "They are being immoral, they are on the wrong side of morality, and they are supporting a group that has as part of its policy the murder of innocent civilians."

But Dershowitz has still unkinder words for Jewish ISMers, who comprise 25% of the movement by some estimates. "I don't see any difference between naive young Jews who join ISM, and naive young Germans who joined the Nazi youth," he told the Journal. "But ignorance is no excuse. The ISM provides legitimacy to terrorists, and they make it harder for Israel to fight terrorism. There is a word for what they are, and it is not patsies, it is criminals." (Jewish Journal, Oct. 5)

Norman Finklestein has accused Dershowitz of plagirizing passages of a discredited book by Joan Peters in his "Case for Israel." See: http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/id141.htm

(David Bloom) [top]

16. SETTLERS LAUNCH "PEACE PLAN"; LIKUDNIK FEARS "APARTHEID"
Not to be outdone by the recent flurry of initiatives to put an and to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel's right-wing settler movement is set to launch its own peace plan. The plan is being drawn up by the Yesha council (Hebrew acronym for "Judea, Samaria and Gaza," the settler name for the occupied territories) and its 15 allies in the 120-member Israeli Knesset, the UK Financial Times reported Nov. 26. The plan looks something like this: no Palestinian state between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea, no Palestinian right of return to what is now Israel, and Jerusalem would forever be the undivided capital of Israel. Palestinians might be given self-rule in cantons with the option of Jordanian citizenship (should Jordan agree.) One idea being floated: Palestinians would be allowed to vote for the Knesset, but under a system that would guarantee a Jewish parliamentary majority, and a Jewish Prime Minister. MK Zehava Gal-on of the left-Zionist Meretz party denounced the plan on Israel Radio: "The idea is delusional, put forth by people who have thier head in the sand and think that it is possible to reach some sort of arrangement with proposals that only countries like South Africa used to think could be implemented. This is an apartheid policy." (FT, Nov. 26)

Left-leaning Israelis like Gal-on are not the only ones concerned with Israel turning into an apartheid state. Vice-Premier Ehud Olmert, a stalwart of the right-wing Likud party and seen as being close to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, floated his own idea of giving up on "Greater Israel," and setting unilateral borders. Some have noted that the "Separation Wall" currently being built could serve as the unilaterally-drawn borders of just such a state. Olmert stressed the importance of maintaining an 80-20 ratio of Jews-to-Arabs within any future Israeli state, in order for the world to consider it democratic. Olmert is concerned with the possibility of international dissent. "I shudder to think that liberal Jewish organizations that shouldered the burden of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa will lead the struggle against us," Olmert said, in an interview with Israel's largest circulation newspaper, Yediot Ahronot. (NYT, Dec. 6) (David Bloom) [top]

17. REFORM JUDAISM DISSENTS?
Rabbi Eric Yoffie is the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish denomination in the US with 320,000 households in 900 synagogues across the country. Never a fan of settlements, he has now decided to speak out against them, as an existential threat to the State of Israel. "Continuing to build settlements is to threaten the Jewish character of the state and is to undermine the Zionist dream," Yoffie told Ha'aretz in an interview published Nov. 11. Yoffie is worried that the settlement project will make a two-state solution impossible. "My fear is that very soon, it is going to be too late," he declared, adding: "Israel will need to choose between a democratic state with an Arab majority, or an apartheid state, and this is not what Zionism is about. We didn't dream of Zion for 2,000 years in order to be a minority in somebody else's state." Yoffie called on members of the Reform movement to pressure the US government to pressure Israel to curtail settlements. (Ha'aretz, Nov. 24) (David Bloom)

In a Dec. 6 article, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) asks, was a Reform "Rabbi ditched for Israel stance?" Rabbi Paul Joseph recently said in a Yom Kippur sermon that Israel and the US "have lost their moral compass and slipped back into more primitive modes of acting." Temple Emanuel, a 600-family reform congregation on New York's Long Island, chose not to renew Rabbi Joseph's contract after the sermon, claiming his remarks "divided the congregation." Joseph maintains he was canned because he had attacked "sacred cows." (JTA, Dec. 6)(David Bloom) [top]

18. HEZBOLLAH: BEWARE THE ZIONIST LEFT
"The Israeli left is more dangerous than any other political camp," declared Ayatollah Sayyed Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual leader of the Shia Lebanese resistence movement Hezbollah to the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv. Reacting to the new "Geneva Accords" now being negotiated, the Shia cleric told the paper, "This type of agreement tries to get the Palestinians to move towards strategic concessions under the motto of peace. We want the Palestinians to be aware of what is happening around them... While everyone is celebrating, Sharon will complete the partition fence--especially since [Geneva] ignores the 'right of return.'" (ArutzSheva.com, Dec. 6) (David Bloom) [top]

19. THE GENEVA ACCORD: "FALSE HOPE"?
Ali Abunimah, editor and co-founder of the Electronic Intifada web site, had an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune Dec. 3 deflating "the so-called Geneva Accord, a virtual peace agreement negotiated by former Israeli and Palestinian officials." While the world media have lavished much attention on this latest proposal, Abunimad writes that it "offers only false hope. Many Palestinians oppose it because they see it as being fundamentally unfair and unworkable, a rehash of the failed Oslo agreements. The initiative proposes that Israel annex the vast majority of its settlements on Palestinian land, and almost all of Jerusalem. At the same time, Palestinian refugees, forced from their homes since 1947, are expected to give up their right to return. Israel's government and its hard-line supporters reject the deal because they see it as being too generous to Palestinians. In short, this accord looks superficially promising, but close-up it fails to resolve any of the key issues that have torpedoed every earlier peace plan."

Abunimah finds a greater signal of hope from the unlikely world of reality TV:

"Some Israelis and Palestinians acknowledge a need to seek a radically different solution: If dividing the land between two peoples is impossible, then why not give 100 percent of the land to both peoples? In practice this means a single democratic state with a constitution that guarantees the political, cultural and religious rights of Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims. A common homeland where Jews and Palestinians can flourish instead of fight... Israeli youth this week demonstrated the kind of integration and normality that such a future promises when they voted a 21-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, Firas Khoury, the winner of the Israeli version of the TV show 'American Idol.' A tiny sign of hope, perhaps. But hope, nevertheless." [top]

20. "ANTI"-OCCUPATION JEWISH GROUP IN BEANTOWN CONFAB
Chicago-based Brit Tzedek V'Shalom, or Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, met at a November conference in Boston, attracting 600 to hear speakers including Gen. Amram Mitzna, the dovish Israeli former general and Haifa mayor who lost the last Israeli election to Ariel Sharon by a landslide. Brit Tzedek president, former Meretz MK Marcia Freedman declared before the conferees, "We cannot maintain the occupation and the existence of a Jewish democratic state." (JTA, Nov. 10)

But is Brit Tzedek really against the occupation, or is it just out to consolidate illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories? The organization has been running a much-ballyhooed " Call to Bring the Settlers Home" campaign, "For the Sake of Israel's Security." Brit Tzedek recommends financial assistance to induce settlers to return to Israel.

However, the number of settlers Brit Tzedek lists as living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip is 200,000. The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, however, puts the number at 375,000. What explains the discrepancy? Brit Tzedek does not recognize settlements in occupied East Jerusalem in the same category as the rest of the West Bank, instead referring to them as "neighborhoods." "We envision a negotiated settlement that would include in Jewish Jerusalem those Jewish neighborhoods built in East Jerusalem after the 1967 war," declares the organization on its website. (See http://www.btvshalom.org/aboutus/FAQ.html#policies4).

According to international law, all the settlements, including those in East Jerusalem, are illegal, as is the occupation itself. (David Bloom) [top]

21. PROGRAM TO ATTRACT SETTLERS TO JORDAN VALLEY
An Oct. 24 article in the settler newsite Arutz Sheva declares the Israeli government's "ambitious plan to increase the population of the Jordan Valley has gotten off to a sparkling start." On day one of the campaign, 110 couples signed up for the chance to get a $22,500 stipend to move into sparsely-populated and remote Jordan Valley settlements. 3,500 Israeli settlers now live in the area. Not all the applicants will be approved: "They have to be within five years of completing their army or national service," said Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Levy. Arutz Sheva also notes that "Peace Now, predictably, is critical of the campaign, saying that the money should have been invested instead in the underprivileged classes." (Arutz Sheva, Oct. 24)

The Hebrew daily Ma'ariv noted Aug. 7 that young couples who commit to living in the Jordan Valley for "at least 4 years will get a free apartment, one full scholarship for academic studies and if one of them works in the valley, also an annual stipend of 12,000 shekels [$2,700]." (David Bloom)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

22. WEST BANK SETTLERS TO WARD OFF ATTACKERS WITH PORCINES
According to the Ma'ariv newspaper, Israeli security guard companies intend to use pigs in the place of dogs to ward of attackers at settlements. Said Yekutiel Ben-Yaakov, hief executive of Gdud Haivri, an organization that supplies guard dogs to settlement: "Pigs' sense of smell is far more developed than that of dogs. The pigs will also be able to identify weapons from huge distances and walk in the direction of the terrorist, thereby pointing him out. Moreover, this animal is considered to be dangerous by Islam and, according to the Muslim faith, a terrorist who touches a pig is not eligible for the 70 virgins in heaven." Rabbi Daniel Shilo, chairman of the rabinnical council for "Judea and Samaria" (the West Bank), said that although Jewish law forbids raising them, the law could be reconsidered under extraodinary circumstances. "Since this is a matter of saving lives, it will be permissible to have the animal," the rabbi said. (AFP, Oct. 28) (David Bloom) [top]

23. GAZA: ISRAELIS DESTROY U.S.-BUILT WELLS
The Israeli armed forces have detroyed $20 million in wells, roads, electrical lines and sewers built by the US Agency for International Development (US AID) in the Gaza Strip. The works were part of a project to rebuild civilian infrastructure in the Occupied Territories. The Israeli military said it destroyed the wells and infrastructure because Palestinian militants were hiding amongst them. Official US criticism was muted. The Israeli daily Ma'ariv reported that US officials threatened to stop all construction work in the Occupied Territories, but embassy spokesman Paul Patin claimed, "We don't have any plans to leave." (UK Independent, Nov. 5) [top]

24. DYNCORP AGENTS KILLED IN GAZA STRIP
Three US citizens killed in an Oct. 15 attack in the Gaza Strip worked for the Virginia-based elite security firm DynCorp. All three were working as security guards protecting a convoy of US diplomats interviewing Palestinian students for Fulbright Scholarships. A State Department spokesperson said they were part of a team of contractors supplementing the Diplomatic Security Service. They were killed when a remotely detonated bomb exploded shortly after the convoy entered the Gaza Strip, with a group calling itself the Popular Resistance Committees claiming credit for the attack. It is the first successful attack against a US target in Occupied Palestine. The State Department has urged US citizens in the Gaza Strip to leave, and those in the West Bank to exercise caution. The California-based Computer Sciences Corp. acquired DynCorp for nearly $1 billion earlier this year. (Washington Business Journal, Oct. 15)

25. SHORT LIFE SPAN FOR PALESTIAN COLLABORATORS
In the past three years, more than 70 Palestinian collaborators with Israeli security services have been killed extrajudicially by their own comrades, according to Palestinian human rights workers. A Nov. 3 BBC article by Orla Guerin describes how two young Palestinian men were killed as suspected collaborators in Tul Karm. Guerin asked the al-Aksa Brigades commander responsible for the killings, "How do we know you didn't torture them--make them say anything you wanted?" The commander, called Abu Amsha, answered: "From the minute we kidnapped Mohammed, a guy sat with him just holding a gun. We all drank tea. Mohammed admitted what he had done immediately and we taped his confession." But Guerin was shown photographs of the executed young man by his family, who claim that he was tortured into making his confession after 21 days of captivity. One photograph shows the back of Mohammed's legs "covered in marks," with blood and scars visible. "They put metal rods in the fire and then they stuck them into his legs," said Mohammed's mother, Masoosa. "They melted plastic and dropped it onto his body to burn him. Mohammed was in the al-Aqsa Brigades with these other guys. Then he got promoted and they got jealous--that's why they killed him."

Guerin asked Moshe Govati, special advisor to Israel's interior ministry, if he felt any guilt about the fate of these men. "Why we should feel like this?" Govati replied. "If he wants money, he gets his money. If he had some political ideology, it's his decision. If we succeeded to blackmail him because we could do it--well he knows why." He added: "You have to understand that once a Palestinian got the decision to collaborate with the Israeli agencies, he knows that maybe he will not die as an old man. He is a traitor--I need him--but he's a traitor." (BBC, Nov. 3) (David Bloom)

See also WW3 REPORT #49 [top]

26. ISRAELI CHICKENS IN BAGHDAD SUPERMARKETS
A Nov. 7 article in Israel's most widely read daily, Yediot Aharanot entitled "Israeli chicken in a Supermarket in Baghdad," describes how Israeli products are making their way to market in Iraq: "Water purifiers made by Tami, an Israeli company, iron doors of Shiryoni Hosem, frozen meat, and even vegtables are on their way from Israel to Baghdad. Cooperation with corporations in East Europe and Jordan make the origin of the products unclear. Also, Israeli politicians Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and Moshe Shachal are reportedly trying to take part in business in Iraq. (Yediot, Nov.7)(Translation by Nirit Ben-Ari) [top]

27. ISRAEL WORLD'S THIRD ARMS EXPORTER
Israel has become one of the world's top defense exporters ith an arsenal ranging from the Uzi to attack drones and airborne early warning systems. The trade journal Defense News ranks Israel as number three in the industry based on 2002 contracts, after the US and Russia. Growing sales to Turkey and India, two major new markets for Israel, have driven the surge. Until this summer, Israel's Defense Ministry refused to publish statistics on arms sales. Defense Ministry figures now show Israeli weapons export contracts were worth $4.1 billion in 2002--up from $2.6 billion the previous year. Israel's overall exports are around $30 billion. Some 200 arms manufacturers operate in Israel, but five companies--the state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), Israel Military Industries and Rafael, and privately held Elbit and Elrisa--account for about 90% of all foreign sales. In September, India agreed to purchase four PHALCON airborne early warning systems, which consist of IAI avionics fitted onto Russian Ilyushin airliners. (AP, Nov. 19)

See also WW3 REPORT #73 [top]

28. INTIFADA SPURS BOOM IN ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN RAP
A Nov. 7 article in USA Today describes how US hip-hop music has made inroads amoung Israeli and Palestinian young recording artists. The Intifada has spurred both right-wing Jewish rappers to widespread success, and also inspired Palestinian Israelis to express themselves through the alienated lingo of African-American rappers. Tamer Nafer, a Palestinian Israeli from the Tel Aviv suburb Lod, says he is is influenced by the US rapper-shaheed Tupac Shakur. "I said, 'Damn, if we removed the word n----- and you put [in] the word Arab, it's like singing about us,'" said Nafer, who raps in an Arab-Hebrew hybrid, his lyrics challenging Israeli stereotypes of all Palestinians as terrorists. "It's delivering the message to a younger generation," continued Nafer. "Politicians don't talk to our generation. But politics is the way of our life, so I'm bringing the way of our life in their language."

Palestinian-Israeli hip-hop group DAM (blood) have a graphic and searing video to their song "Meen Erhabe" (Who's the terrorist) by Palestinian-American artist Jackie Solloum. The song asks, "Who's the terrorist--I'm the terrorist? How am I the terrorist when you've taken my land? Who's the terrorist? You're the terrorist! You've taken everything I've owned while I'm living on my homeland." The video can be viewed on-line .

Meanwhile, a Jewish rapper named Subliminal has been wowing them at right-wing Zionist concerts. Dressed in baggy sweats, baseball cap askew, and a "rhinestone-studded Star-of-David necklace," Subliminal struts onto the stage in front of an Israeli flag, and shouts, "Who has an Israeli army dog tag, put your hands in the air!" Hundreds of hands spring up. Added Subliminal in a mixed English-Hebrew patois, "Who is proud to be a Zionist in the state of Israel, put your hands in the air! Hell yeah!" (USA Today, Nov. 7) (David Bloom) [top]

THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT

1. KABUL PROTEST TURNS VIOLENT
A Kabul demonstration by some 1,000 Afghan ex-army officers and other former Defense Ministry employees demanding back pay turned violent Nov. 23, with protesters shooting out windows at the ministry building and soldiers firing into the crowd. At least four people were hurt, witnesses and authorities said. The Defense Ministry has undergone widespread reforms in recent months aimed at making it more ethnically balanced. Over 50,000 people are to be fired under the reforms, and 20,000 have been dismissed in the last 10 months. (AP, Nov. 23) [top]

2. TEN KILLED IN KANDAHAR ARMY-POLICE CLASH
Fighting between Afghan soldiers and police in Kandahar left two military commanders and up to eight police dead before US troops and helicopters intervened Nov. 1. A local Afghan army official, speaking anonymously, also said three women and six male shop owners were killed when rockets slammed into their homes and businesses. During the five-hour battle, dozens of men fired rockets and heavy weapons in a residential area of Geriesh district. (AP, Nov. 2) [top]

3. MORE TAJIK-UZBEK VIOLENCE IN NORTH
Fighting again broke out between rival warlords in northern Afghanistan, killing at least three fighters, local commanders said Nov. 1. The violence began in Kohistanat district of Sari Pul province, with forces under Uzbek Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and his Tajik rival Gen. Atta Mohammed clashing with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. (AP, Nov. 2) Earlier fighting between the two was tentatively ended three weeks earlier when they signed a cease-fire brokered by the central government after a day of fierce battles left scores dead. (AP, Oct. 9)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

4. TWO CIA OPERATIVES KILLED ON PAKISTAN BORDER
The CIA announced Oct. 29 that William Carlson, 43, of Southern Pines, NC, and Christopher Glenn Mueller, 32, of San Diego, were ambushed and killed near the village in Shkin in Paktika province near the Pakistan border while "tracking terrorists." Both were veterans of military special operations forces, the agency said, who were working for the CIA's Directorate of Operations that conducts clandestine intelligence-gathering and covert operations. The ambush happened on the same day and in the same area as a six-hour firefight where US-led forces and Afghan militia killed 18 fighters. Six Afghan militia were wounded in the fighting, and coalition warplanes and helicopters were called in for airstrikes. (AP, Oct. 29) [top]

5. NOMADS: FAMILY WIPED OUT BY U.S. AIR RAID
Senior Afghan officials in Kandahar blamed US forces for an air attack that reportedly left up to 10 nomads dead. The US military said one of its helicopters attacked a tent the night of Sept. 18 in Naubahar district and killed two Taliban militants, including a commander who had been leading attacks against US-led forces in the province for the past year. The military initially said it was "highly confident" that only enemy fighters had been killed. Later, it said it was investigating reports of "non-combatant casualties." The official version of events was disputed by Haji Lawang, a surviving nomad, who went to Kandahar in a borrowed truck to report the air strike that he said wipes out a local nomad camp. "They were not Taliban. They had nothing to do with politics," Lawang told reporters on a windy desert plain at the scene of the bombing, about three miles from Roghani. "This is a disaster. People said the Americans came here to help us build our country, but they are not. They are killing our people." At Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar, 17-year-old Bibi Sara, wounded by shrapnel, said the bombing killed her brother, two sisters, her mother, and her father's second wife. "When the bombs started falling I just fled," she said. "My whole family is dead because of this American bombing." She started crying and said she didn't want to answer any more questions. Roghani village chief Abdul Khaliq Khan confirmed that the dead nomads had been buried, and said locals donated $120 to transport the wounded to Kandahar for medical treatment. Rights groups remain concerned about civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict, which has largely disappeared from the world's headlines. "Civilian deaths are happening all the time in very remote places in the country and there are no eyes or ears to report on them," said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. "We remain convinced that military operations end up causing great numbers of civilian casualties." (AP, Sept. 25)

See also WW3 REPORT #59 [top]

6. TALIBAN RESISTANCE CONTINUES; NATO EYES EXPANDED ROLE
Taliban guerrillas killed seven bodyguards of Sher Mohammad Akhundzada, governor of southern Helmand province of Helmand over the weekend on Sept. 28. In other attacks that week, apparent Taliban guerrillas ambushed a vehicle of the Voluntary Association for the Rehabilitation of Afghanistan in Helmand, killing two Afghan aid workers, and burned down a secondary school in the southeastern province of Nangarhar that taught girls as well as boys. NATO Secretary-General George Robertson visited Kabul that weekend and said the alliance was looking at options for a possible expansion of the peacekeeping force from the capital into the provinces. (AP, Sept. 28) NATO recently assumed command of the formerly UN-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that patrols Kabul. On a visit to Brussels for a NATO summit, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested that NATO take over all military operations in Afghanistan. (AP, Dec. 1)

Taliban guerrillas also claimed responsibility for the Oct. 10 killing of a French aid worker that has prompted the UN refugee agency to withdraw staff from the south and east of Afghanistan. The Taliban's deputy commander for southern Afghanistan, Mullah Sabir, alias Momin, warned it was ready to kill Turkish engineer Hassan Onal, kidnapped a month earlier while working on a road project in the south. Momin demanded the release of Taliban fighters in jail in Ghazni in return for Onal's freedom. (Reuters, Oct. 11) Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a senior US official denied reports in October that former Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil had been freed from US custody to set up secret talks with the guerillas. (Reuters, Oct. 8)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

7. GITMO TO CLOSE? POTENTIAL BAD NEWS FOR CAPTIVE UIGHURS
Amid rumors that the US is planning to close the prison for Afghanistan war captives at Guantanamo Bay Naval base in Cuba, Human Rights Watch warned against repatriation of captive Uighur militants to China "where they are likely to face mistreatment and possibly torture." Over a dozen Uighurs are said to be held at Guantanamo after being captured in Afghanistan, where they were reportedly training for separatist guerilla activities in China's northwestern province of Xinjiang. Warned Human Rights Watch: "China has a long and well-documented history of repression of the Uighurs, a Muslim, Turkic-speaking community. The government has systematically tortured and otherwise mistreated suspected separatists. The death penalty has been used against those found guilty of separatist activities after trials that do not meet international fair trial standards."

HRW cites the case of Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, who was transferred by the United States to Syria after being detained in New York. On Nov. 4, Arar publicly asserted that while held in Syrian prisons for ten months he was repeatedly tortured by being whipped with a thick electric cable and threatened with electric shocks. The US claimed that it had received assurances from Syria that Arar would not be mistreated.

"As with Arar and Syria, it is a fallacy to believe that a state that systematically practices torture will magically transform itself simply because it has offered diplomatic assurances," said Brad Adams, director of HRW's Asia division. "It would be extremely reckless to accept written assurances from China in these cases. If these men are returned and anything happens to them, it will be the responsibility of the United States."

"The United States operates a system in Guantanamo in which detainees are held without charges and without access to lawyers or family members," said Adams. "It now proposes to compound this travesty of justice by sending these men to a country in which the presumption of innocence is routinely turned on its head." Human Rights Watch has condemned separatist violence, as well as the systematic repression by China against Uighurs and Muslims in Xinjiang. It notes that "China has opportunistically used the international 'war on terror' to conflate armed separatists with those advocating peaceful efforts to obtain independence or greater autonomy." (HRW, Nov. 26)

See also WW3 REPORT # 52 [top]

THE CAUCASUS FRONT

1. CHECHENS BEHIND NEW RUSSIA TERROR BLAST?
An apparent suicide bombing killed at least 40 and injured some 170 on a crowded commuter train near the spa town of Yessentuki in southern Russia, close to Chechnya. It was the second attack on the line since September. Justice Minister Yuri Chaika said evidence pointed to "Chechen terrorism." Nikolai Patrushev, director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), said the attack appeared to have been carried out by a male suicide attacker and three women accomplices. Two of the female attackers reportedly leapt from the train seconds before the explosion, while the third woman was seriously injured. Patrushev said hand grenades were attached to the legs of the suicide attacker. No claims of responsibility for the blast were immediately reported, but a string of similar attacks in recent years has been blamed on Chechen separatist rebels. Putin described the attack as "international terrorism" and said it was a clear attempt to destabilise the situation two days ahead of State Duma elections. Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov vowed to track down the culprits. "The ground will burn under their feet. These animals will never be able to feel safe," he told a gathering of war veterans. (BBC, Dec. 5)

The rebel Chechen government led by Aslan Maskhadov denied it was responsible for the explosion. "We repeat that the Chechen government is guided by the principles of international humanitarian law," said a statement. "We therefore condemn any acts of violence that directly or indirectly target the civilian population anywhere in the world." (The Scotsman, Dec, 5)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

92 86 [top]

2. GEORGIAN PRESIDENT RESIGNS AS PROTESTS ROCK CAPITAL
Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze stepped down Nov. 23 following Russia-mediated talks with opposition leaders. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov was dispatched to the Georgian capital Tbilisi late on Nov. 22 following the storming of the Georgian parliament by up to 30,000 opposition supporters led by Mikhail Saakashvili. In accordance with the Georgian constitution, parliament speaker Nino Burdjanadze assumed the presidency pending new elections, to be held within 45 days. Shevardnadze, who had initially declared a state of emergency in reposne to the protests and pledged to use the army to restore order, said he has "never betrayed his country," and that he decided to resign after realizing the standoff would otherwise lead to bloodshed. The turning point apparently came when Saakashvili threatened to have his followers storm the presidential residence. (RFE Newsline, Nov. 24)

Russians quickly pointed to the hand of Washington behind the power shift in Georgia, a country which has become strategic as a route for the Trans-Caucasus Pipeline now under construction. "I think there are enough facts proving that what happened in those days wasn't spontaneous, it didn't arise suddenly,'' said Foreign Minister Ivanov. ``Of course, there were preparations and the US ambassador was involved, as Shevardnadze himself admitted.'' Ivanov also said that a fund set up by billionaire philanthropist George Soros ostensibly to bolster civil society and the rule of law in former Soviet republics played a critical role. Shevardnadze had accused Soros of funding the opposition, and noted that the US Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Miles, was posted in Yugoslavia before the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic.

Ivanov also noted that the White House dispatched a team led by former US Secretary of State James W. Baker to Georgia ahead of the Nov. 2 parliamentary elections. Baker, who knew Shevardnadze well, pressed the Georgian leader to ensure that the vote was free and fair. The protests that led to Shevardnadze's resignation came amid widespread allegations that the elections had been rigged. ``I don't have any information or documents about what the aim of their mission was,'' Ivanov was quoted as saying. ``But today it has become obvious that one of their goals was to convince Shevardnadze to resign his seat.''

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld arrived in Georgia Dec. 6, a trip apparently intended to signal US support for post-Shevardnadze Georgia. (UK Guardian, Dec. 6)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

86 52 [top]

3. AZERBAIJAN, U.S. DISCUSS MILITARY COOPERATION
US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld visited Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, Dec. 3 to discuss military cooperation with President Ilham Aliyev and Defense Minister Safar Abiyev. Rumsfeld warned that the Caspian Sea is becoming an artery for terrorist infiltration, and the US is said to be seeking access to Azerbaijan's military bases. Azerbaijan opened its airspace to US planes during the war in Afghanistan. (NYT, Dec. 4)

Ten days earlier, Gen. Charles Wald, deputy commander US forces in Europe, met with Aliyev and Abiyev to discuss expanding bilateral military cooperation. Wald said the US plans to assist Azerbaijan in protecting its sector of the Caspian and will launch a program for the Azerbaijani military analogous to the "Train and Equip" program the US maintains in Georgia.

But Abiyev warned Wald of likely renewed war with neighboring Armenia. Abiyev said that as long as Armenia "refuses to liberate the Azerbaijani territories it has occupied," the threat of war will increase. At issue is the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (NKR), an Armenian-controlled enclave within Azerbaijan. NKR President Arkadii Ghukasian told journalists Nov. 18 that he considers Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev's recent statement that Baku will not agree to talks with the Karabakh leadership to be "blackmail." (RFE Newsline, Nov. 24)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

86 40 [top]

THE SUBCONTINENT

1. KASHMIR: SECURITY FORCES BATTLE GUERRILLAS IN SRINAGAR
Indian troops in Srinagar, Kashmir, blasted a building with bombs in an effort to flush out suspected guerillas and end a 24-hour siege near an army headquarters. The fighting began after rebels attacked a police post and subsequently took refuge in a nearby house. The fighting left two police officers dead. A little-known Kashmiri militant group, al-Mansurain, called newspaper offices, claiming responsibility for the attack near the Indian army's 15th Corps headquarters. (Reuters, Nov. 19)

See also WW3 REPORT #90 [top]

2. REFUGEES FLEE ASSAM ETHNIC VIOLENCE
Thousands of migrants rushed to leave India's northeast state of Assam after days of violence that left at least 34 dead and hundreds of homes torched. Most of the dead are settlers from neighboring Bihar state. Thousands of refugees, many leaving behind their possessions, crowded railway stations across the state to catch trains for Bihar. The separatist United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) issued an order for' Biharis to leave or be killed, and has been blamed for most of the subsequent bloodshed. The violence was triggered by attacks on Assamese train travelers in Bihar after reports of assaults on Bihari student migrant laborers. Authorities responded to the violence by banning public meetings, and sending the army into suspected ULFA strongholds, leading to at least 700 arrests. (Reuters, Nov. 22) [top]

SOUTHEAST ASIA

1. ACEH ACTIVIST IMPRISONED
Human rights activist Cut Nur Asikin, 47, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in Indonesia Oct. 26 for her calls for an independence vote for war-torn Aceh province. Judges at Aceh District Court announced she was found guilty of treason and spreading hatred through a series of public speeches. Clad in a white headscarf, Nur Asikin reacted to the verdict by shouting: "Long live Aceh! Allah destroy Indonesia!" In their verdict, judges invoked a November 1999 meeting at a local university where Nur Asikin called for a vote on independence in Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island. Indonesia placed the resource-rich territory under martial law in May and launched a military operation to crush separatist rebels. The conflict has killed over 10,000 since 1976. (Reuters, Oct. 26)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

2. VIETNAM LAND MINES KEEP KILLING
Nearly three decades after the Vietnam War ended, land mines kill and maim farmers and others nearly weekly, according to the first comprehensive post-war study, conducted over a three-week period in August 2002, funded by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. At the rice-farming community of Trieu Phong, many villagers are missing one or more limbs. Some 1,270 people have been killed or injured in the district since 1975. Nearly half the victims were aged 16 to 30, the study found. (AP, Nov. 25) [top]

THE AFRICA FRONT

1. FEARFUL PEACE IN CONGO
One of Congo's new vice presidents, Jean-Pierre Bemba, until recently a Ugandan-backed rebel leader, keeps a helicopter on his front lawn in case of an assassination attempt. Another vice president, Azarias Ruberwa, former leader of a Rwandan-backed rebel group, has young rebels armed with guns and binoculars on watch at his riverside office and patrolling the neighborhood. The two other vice presidents take the necessary security measures too. They feel they must in order to stay alive during a peace process that has everyone afraid of more war.

The newly instituted two-year power-sharing government is bringing together four vice presidents, 60 ministers, 620 legislators and at least a dozen armed factions, and safety is a tangible issue for everyone involved--especially because many of the participants are acknowledged enemies.

This endeavor may prove to be one of Africa's toughest peace deals. The Democratic Republic of Congo, potentially Africa's richest country, has plenty of reason to seek peace and a prosperity, but its 55 million inhabitants have thought of little but survival for decades. The five-year war that followed the fall of entrenched dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 took an estimated 3.3 million to 4.1 million lives, mostly from disease and hunger--a human catastrophe fought largely outside the view of the West. While pockets of fighting continue, the government is seeking to form a united army out of enemy soldiers.

President Joseph Kabila, 32, was a soldier who came to power after the assassination of his father, President (and former guerilla leader) Laurent Kabila, two years ago. He said in a recent interview: "This is quite an important moment. We are turning the page on a very dark chapter. The process of unification is underway. People who at different times were shooting at each other on the front lines, who each believed they had their own kingdom, are now sitting together." But the peace process is extremely complex. Kabila went on to say: "We have been in more or less a confused state throughout modern history, with a century of abuse and foreign powers launching unjust wars on the Congolese people. Everyone all along has taken Congo's resources." This central African nation is rich in diamonds, gold, coltan, cobalt and other minerals.

Lt. Col. Subhash Yadav of the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo said: "To be very frank, a key issue in peace in the Congo is getting foreign-backed armed groups out of this country." Kabila hopes to have elections soon saying, "I think it's a pretty legitimate demand of the people at this point." (Washington Post, November 5) (Wynde Priddy)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

2. U.N. FINDINGS ON CONGO RESOURCE PLUNDER TO STAY SECRET
The UN Security Council is expected to keep secret critical sections of a controversial report on the plunder of minerals in Congo, naming foreign governments and multinational firms, diplomats said told Reuters. The UN report places the diamond giant De Beers on a list of unresolved cases, and proposes the break-up of large state-owned mining firms. But one section was given to the 15 Security Council members only, with UN officials apparently fearing it would wreck the peace process with its charges of resource pillage against Rwanda, Uganda and elements of the Kinshasa government. Four reports since 2001 have followed the scramble to exploit mineral wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo amid the raging civil war. Both foreign governments and corporations are accused of fueling the war and using forced labor to exploit gems and minerals. Among the resources in the Congo are gold, diamonds, niobium, cassiterite, medicinal barks, cobalt, copper and coltan, used in mobile phones and nuclear reactor parts.

Public sections of the report placed De Beers and several other firms in the category of "unresolved" cases for possibly violating standards from the Organization of for Economic Cooperation and Development. Another in this group include Avient Air, which supplies equipment to the Zimbabwean and Congo military. The panel last year said the company had been contracted to organize bombing raids into eastern Congo in 1999 and 2000. It also put in categories 85 multinationals in South Africa, Europe and elsewhere it said had violated ethical guidelines and human rights standards. The new report also recommended the break up of two large state-owned mineral enterprises, it called "grossly inefficient" firms that "channeled away" revenues that should be used by the Congolese people. One was the copper producer Gecamines, technically owned by the government but once largely controlled by Zimbabwean interests and now considering joint ventures with Canadian and South African firms. The other is MIBA, a diamond company largely owned by the state, with additional shares controlled by De Beers.

"So far, the findings of the UN panel, implicating Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe as well as many companies worldwide, have not led to investigations or action against these actors," Amnesty International said of the panel, headed by Egyptian diplomat Mahmoud Kassem. "It is of the utmost importance that the UN Security Council establishes a mechanism to continue to monitor actively the resource exploitation to ensure that it is not tainted with human rights abuses." (Reuters, Oct. 27)

See also WW3 REPORT #89 [top]

3. CONVICTIONS IN RWANDA GENOCIDE TRIAL
On Dec. 3, the UN-led international tribunal on the 1994 Rwanda genocide delivered its first three convictions--not of soldiers or politicians, but of the owners and operators of a radio station and newspaper. The Tanzania-based court held that the three men led a media campaign that incited and coordinated the killing of some 800,000 ethnic Tutsi. Two were sentenced to life in prison, while the third received 27 years, acknowledging that his rights had been violated early in the case. (NYT, Dec. 4)

It was the world's first conviction for genocide since the Nuremburg Trial, and the charges against media operators recalled the case against Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher, hanged at Nuremburg Prison in 1946. Streicher was acquitted on "aggressive warfare" charges as a civilian and non-combatant, but convicted of "crimes against humanity" largely on the basis of his writing and publishing activities. (See Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, Marlowe, NY, 1976, p. 337) [top]

4. LIBERIA'S INVISIBLE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES
After months of violence, and continuous pleas for help, rebel fighters still control war-torn Monrovia. In spite of the peace deal that called for them to give up their weapons, the rebels remain armed, and Liberian citizens are afraid for their safety. Fannah Tartieh, pastor of a local Methodist Church, says he still prays for US intervention: "We still want them to come. Despite all we have suffered, we believe in America, even now." But Tartieh's hopes seem to be empty, and his sentiment surprising in light of the Bush administration's noncommital attitude towards Liberia's dire situation.

The UN Security Council recently approved 15,000 peacekeeping troops for Liberia, but a US Defense Department official said the United States would not be part of that force. Earlier this summer, when hundreds of civilians were being killed, many Liberians along with UN officials called on President Bush to send troops. Critics charge that his failure to act cost many lives. The US did reluctantly sent in a small force of Marines, but after only 11 days the last 150 Marines were sent back to three warships off the coast. At one point, the Marines guarding the US Embassy handed out pamphlets with illustrations warning Liberians to keep away from the Marines. (Washington Post, September 21)

Meanwhile, Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for ousted Liberian leader Charles Taylor, posting a "red notice" on its website, charging him with "crimes against humanity" and "grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions." A message in bold type warns "Person may be dangerous." Taylor fled Liberia in August after rebels attacked the capital Monrovia, and is now believed to be in Nigeria. He is also wanted by a UN-backed court for war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone, which is seeking his extradition. (CBC, Dec. 4) (Wynde Priddy)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

92, 91, 90, 86 [top]

5. GAS OPERATIONS EXPAND IN NIGERIA
The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company has signed a second sales and purchase agreement (SPA) with Royal Dutch Shell for the supply of 1.4 million tons-per-annum (mtpa) of liquefied natural gas for export to Europe and America. In September, NLNG had signed another SPA with French oil major Total SA. The $3.6 billion NLNG, sub-Saharan Africa's biggest single industrial project, is operated by Shell, which holds a 25.6 percent equity. The contract will last for 20 years. (Reuters, allafrica.com, Nov. 27) (Wynde Priddy)

The expansion in the gas sector comes at a time when oil operations in Nigeria have been interrupted by ethnic warfare and popular resistance. See WW3 REPORT #s:

92 86 [top]

6. U.N. VOTE REMOVES SANCTIONS ON LIBYA
The UN Security Council voted to lift economic sanctions against Libya, 15 years after a bomb plot allegedly directed by a Libyan agent destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 in midair over Lockerbie, Scotland. By a 13-to-0 vote, the council rewarded Libya for its pledge to renounce terrorism, its belated acceptance of responsibility and its promise to pay as much as $2.7 billion to the families of 259 people killed aboard the jetliner and 11 Lockerbie residents who died on the ground.

The US and France abstained from the vote, which followed a last-minute agreement by Libya to increase payments to the relatives of victims of a second bombing--a 1989 attack that killed 170 people aboard a French UTA airliner.

For Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi, the UN action represents another small step toward respectability after nearly two decades of international isolation. The vote sets the stage for Libya's more difficult quest of ending separate US sanctions.

While Washington did not block the UN vote, US authorities are skeptical about trusting Qaddafi. Although analysis suggests that he has delivered on his promise to halt support for terrorists, the Bush administration is concerned about his backing of African rebel movements and his alleged pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. "Our decision must not be misconstrued by Libya or by the world community as a tacit US acceptance that the government of Libya has rehabilitated itself," said James B. Cunningham, deputy US ambassador to the United Nations. He told council members that Libya is "actively developing" chemical and biological weapons.

The practical effects of the UN vote are minimal, as Libya still faces sanctions from the world's biggest economic power. US officials say the Libyan leader must demonstrate "tangible changes in behavior" if he wants to build closer relations with the United States. (Washington Post, Sept. 13) (Wynde Priddy)

See also WW3 REPORT #25 [top]

7. QADDAFI RE-MAKES HIMSELF
Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi, heretofore seen as a fierece Arab nationalist, has recently recast himself as a pan-Africanist--and posed the two perspectives as irreconcilable. "Arabs are completely useless," he told a meeting in Sabha Oct. 4, in comments reported by the Libyan newspaper al-Shams. "You are African... You are part of this continent. If Africa is not your land, go back to the Arabian Peninsula. If only all the Arabs, from Mauritania to Egypt, would return to the Arabian peninsula...." Qaddafi's analysis of the Arab world began with a nostalgic look at the 1948 war against the newly-formed Israeli state--"the only time that all the Arabs fought as one people and as one nation." The Arab leaders of the day, Qaddafi claimed, "were 1,000 times better than the Arabs of today, who have no courage, honor, blood or pride." He declared that today "you cannot speak of Arab unity and pan-Arab nationalism ." (Arutz Sheva, Israel, Oct. 16) [top]

8. CHAD GETS FIRST PAYMENT FOR OIL EXPORTS
The government of Chad has received its first $6.5 million payment for oil exports since crude began flowing down a 1,070 km long pipeline to the coast of Cameroon in July, the World Bank has announced.

The money was deposited in a special escrow account at Citibank in London, where the government can only access it to pay for what the World Bank considers socially useful projects. The system demands that all withdrawals from the account be sanctioned by a special oversight committee, consisting of representatives of the executive branch, the supreme court, parliament and civil society. This watchdog mechanism was put in place by Chad's parliament in 1999 with the direction of the World Bank to prevent the oil revenues from being squandered on military spending or siphoned off into private pockets.

The oil revenue management law also stipulated that 10% of net government revenues from the new Doba oil field in southern Chad must be paid into a Future Generations Fund. Most of the remainder is earmarked for health, education, social and infrastructural projects and rural development. 13% of the money is allocated to the Treasury's current account for other projects of the government's choosing.

The World Bank said the $3.7 billion oil development project in Chad, led by ExxonMobil, should generate $2 billion in revenue for the country over the next 25 years. The Doba oilfield is expected to reach full production of 225,000 barrels per day by the end of March 2004, but ExxonMobil and its partners ChevronTexaco and Petronas of Malaysia are continuing to search for more commercially exploitable oil deposits elswhere in the country. (allafrica.com, Nov. 27)

Chad's government came to power in a 1990 guerilla victory backed by Libya, which maintained troops in the country until 1994--the same year the World Court rejected a territorial claim by Libya to Chad's resource-rich Aozou Strip. (World Almanac, 2003)

(Wynde Priddy) [top]

9. BIG OIL COMPLICIT IN SUDAN RIGHTS ABUSES
International oil company executives in Sudan have turned a blind eye to well-documented government attacks on civilian targets, including aerial bombardment of hospitals, churches, relief operations and schools, Human Rights Watch says in a recent report. The Sudanese government's efforts to control oilfields in the war-torn south have resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians, HRW says, charging foreign oil companies with complicity in this displacement. The report documents how the government has used the roads, bridges and airfields built by the oil companies to launch attacks on civilians in the southern oil region of Western Upper Nile.

"Oil companies operating in Sudan were aware of the killing, bombing, and looting that took place in the south, all in the name of opening up the oilfields," said HRW Sudan researcher Jemera Rone. "These facts were repeatedly brought to their attention in public and private meetings, but they continued to operate and make a profit as the devastation went on."

Statistics from the Sudanese government and the oil companies show how the major share of the $580 million in Sudan's oil revenue in 2001 was absorbed by its military, for both foreign weapons purchases and for the development of a domestic arms industry.

Conditions for civilians in the oilfields actually worsened when the Canadian company Talisman Energy and the Swedish company Lundin Oil were lead partners in two concessions in southern Sudan. Amid mounting pressure from rights groups, Talisman sold its interest in its Sudanese concessions in late 2002 and Lundin followed in June. These Western-based corporations were replaced by China's state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation and Malaysia's Petronas (CNPC), which had already been partners with Talisman and Lundin. Following CNPC and Petronas, a third state-owned Asian oil company, India's ONGC Videsh began operations in Sudan. "The Sudanese government has used the oil money in conducting scorched-earth campaigns to drive hundreds of thousands of farmers and pastoralists from their homes atop the oil fields," said Rone.

The 20-year civil war in Sudan pits the Islamist, northern-based and Arabized government against the marginalized populations of the south, where the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) is the largest rebel group. The war has spread to eastern and central Sudan, and while the parties signed a cease-fire agreement in October 2002 western Sudan remains engulfed in war.

Peace talks promoted by a the US, UK and Norway have been underway in Kenya since June 2002. But the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A, the only parties attending the talks, have yet to agree on how to share revenue from the oil reserves, most of which lie in the south. The government has agreed to a self-determination referendum for the south, but not until six years after the peace agreement is signed.

( Al-Bawaba, Dec. 2)

See also WW3 REPORT #90 [top]

10. SOMALIA: PEACE TALKS COLLAPSE; U.S. SEES TERRORIST HAVEN
Somali peace talks in Kenya are disarray after a group of warlords walked out and set up a rival gathering. Twelve southern Somali factios, including two of Mogadishu's most powerful warlords, said they had quit the talks to set up the Somali Salvation National Alliance, saying this group would organize a rival peace conference. Muse Sudi Yalahow, the leader of the new group, said it would try to forge an alliance with Abdiqassim Salad Hassan, the leader of a defunct transitional government who accuses Ethiopia of interfering in the talks. "We ask people to come to Somalia for the national reconciliation conference we are preparing. We will welcome them with cheers," Muse Sudi told Reuters in Somalia. "Those who cannot come to the country have no right to lead the people." (Reuters, Oct. 2)

Meanwhile, citing reports from anonymous Western officials and Somalis, AP says US agents working through proxies have recruited a network of informants to watch al-Qaeda and other terrorist operations in Somalia. Rewards of up to $5 million have reportedly been offered for information leading to the apprehension of terrorist figures. So far, those efforts have apparently netted at least one al-Qaeda suspect--Suleiman Abdalla Salim Hemed, accused of a top role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa. A Somali warlord, Mohammed Dheere, led the March capture of Hemed, according to confidential sources. Kenya's national security minister, Chris Murungaru, also claimed credit for Hemed's capture, but US authorities have refused to comment. Somali gunmen told AP US agents regularly visit Dheere at his Mogadishu home. Rumors abound of gunmen kidnapping Arabs and turning them over to US agents in Somalia. One of the most-wanted al-Qaeda suspects, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, is thought to be hiding in Somalia, a senior Kenyan security official told AP. Mohammed, a native of Comoros, has also been indicted in the embassy bombings. While US and German planes and warships patrol the coastline, US officials are reluctant to send troops back into Somalia, where 18 US servicemen were slain by gunmen in 1993. (AP, Nov. 5)

On Sept. 21, over 3,000 Somalis, organized by students and women's groups, staged a rare anti-war demonstration in Mogadishu. While the demonstration was mostly confined to schoolyards for security reasons, at one point several hundred students ventured into shell-pocked streets and walked to a central junction in protest of 12 years of militia warfare in the country. (Reuters, Sept. 21)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

86, 52 [top]

11. ZIMBABWE BOOTED FROM BRITISH COMMONWEALTH
Commonwealth leaders meeting in Nigeria named a six-nation task force to decide whether to lift Zimbabwe's suspension from the 54-nation group. The summit of mainly former British colonies opened in the Nigerian capital Abuja Dec. 5 with a ceremony led by Queen Elizabeth. Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth last year following charges that President Robert Mugabe rigged his re-election and harassed opponents. The panel--made up of representatives from Australia, Canada, India, Jamaica, Mozambique and South Africa--is expected to report its findings before the four-day summit is over. The dispute over Zimbabwe dominated the first day of the summit, eclipsing other issues like trade, terrorism and AIDS. The only other suspended Commonwealth nation, Pakistan, sent a delegation at the summit to lobby for its reinstatement. (VOA, Dec. 5) When the task force brought back a decision to extend the suspension, Zimbabwe abbounced it was withdrawing from the Commonwealth. (AP, Dec. 7)

See also WW3 REPORT #90 [top]

12. AFRICAN CHURCH LEADERS WON'T PREACH CONDOM USE
Leaders of World AIDS Day met resistance from African church leaders when they agreed to call for the promotion of condom use to fight the disease. The All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), which groups 120 million faithful across the continent, closed a conference in Cameroon Nov. 28 after adopting a resolution to promote "protected sex" that did not mention condoms. Condom advocates said the churches' reliance on encouraging people to abstain from sex and be faithful to spouses had failed to stop the epidemic's march in Africa, where the disease killed 2.3 million people this year.

Joseph K'Amolo, a Kenyan lay Christian, told Reuters, "Is it better to prescribe condom use and save lives of people with the hope that if we continue ministering to them they may change one day, or wait and watch them die and we come to preach over their graves?" Opponents of condoms within churches often argue that they promote promiscuity which will lead to more people becoming infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. An estimated 26.6 million Africans carry the HIV virus, while the continent is struggling to cope with 11 million children orphaned by the scourge.

The mainly-Protestant AACC, which is based in Kenya and has members in 39 countries, is backing "protected sex" as part of a 10-point pledge to fight AIDS, including speaking out against stigma linked to the disease and encouraging people to take HIV tests. "As far as we are concerned this is war," the AACC General Secretary, Bishop Hamilton Mvume Dandala, told the six-day conference ahead of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1. (Reuters, November 28) (Wynde Priddy) [top]

THE ANDEAN FRONT

1. VENEZUELA: CHAVEZ CHARGES CIA DESTABILIZATION CAMPAIGN
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denounced an alleged plot to topple his government Nov. 7 after security forces reported seizing weapons, ammunition and camouflage uniforms in several raids. Government agents seized caches of firearms, ammunition, plastic explosives, uniforms and cash in three cities, Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said. Chavez said two people were arrested, but he gave no details. Government agents seized more than 144,000 assault-rifle bullets at a warehouse in Catia La Mar, near the Caracas international airport, said Miguel Rodriguez, director of Venezuela's secret police. Agents also seized weapons in the central cities of Maracay and La Victoria, officials said. (AP, Nov. 7)

Days earlier, lawmakers allied with President Chavez showed a videotape which they claim was evidence the CIA was working with the Venezuelan opposition to overthrow the government. The US Embassy denied the allegations. The video, played at a news conference, showed three unidentified men speaking in Spanish about making contacts with an unspecified embassy. They discussed "blending in" and changing cars to avoid detection. Interpreting the roughly six-minute and apparently editied video, ruling party lawmaker Nicolas Maduro said it showed US agents training dissident military officers and police in "terrorist" tactics. He said it was filmed in Venezuela in June. The Embassy said in a statement that the video showed a private security company, not CIA agents, and said the US government did not participate in the event. "Accusations that the Central Intelligence Agency is conspiring against the Venezuelan government don't have any foundation," read the statement. "The policy of the United States is to support democracy." Retired Army Gen. Enrique Medina, a leader of the opposition, denied the group maintained ties with the CIA or took part in recent bombings. "Those events have not even been investigated in an adequate manner," Medina told local Globovision television. (AP, Oct. 23)

In late September, citing security threats, Chavez canceled a planned visit to New York and called on the US to crack down on what he described as Cuban and Venezuelan terrorists training in Florida to kill him. Meanwhile a report in US News and World Report, "Terror Close to Home," charges that Venezuela is emerging as "a potential hub of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere," claiming Chavez has provided assistance to Islamic fundamentalists. The magazine claims Venezuela has given ID cards to thousands of foreigners, including many from Middle Eastern nations including Syria, Pakistan, Egypt and Lebanon. The US government has warned that by giving out these ID documents, Venezuela could enable terrorists to obtain passports and US visas. US News and World Report also claims that US intelligence officials are investigating whether a Venezuelan of Arab descent named Hakim Mamad al Diab Fatah had ties to any of the 9-11 hijackers. The article also claims close ties between Chavez's government and the Columbian rebel group FARC. (Democracy Now, Oct. 3)

See also WW3 REPORT #89 [top]

2. VENEZUELAN INDIANS RESIST INDUSTRIAL ENCROACHMENT
Pemon Indians in Venezuela's remote Gran Sabana are working to prevent further unwanted development by mapping ancestral lands and claiming legal title to them, assisted by a Cornell University doctoral candidate. Venezuela's 1999 constitution, championed by President Hugo Chavez, granted the country's more than 300,000 indigenous people the right to control ancestral lands--and to be involved in demarcating that territory. Venezuela's new constitution devotes a chapter to indigenous rights. The previous version referred only to "protection of indigenous people and their progressive incorporation into national life." But the cash-strapped government has yet to fund a commission to work with Venezuelan Indians on demarcation. Indian leaders worry that opposition efforts to oust Chavez could jeopardize their new territorial rights. Cornell's Bjorn Sletto is training Fidelio Perez and other Pemon in cartography, as a tool to get collective land titles. So far, his team has helped 15 villages map their territories. Perez and others from Vista Alegre village traveled to Caracas and even toppled pylon towers to protest a power-line project through their territory, recently completed by the Chavez government.

New threats remain from oil companies, miners and ranchers. In the western state of Zulia, a century of oil exploitation has displaced entire communities. Yukpa Indians have tried to seize ranches they consider to be on their ancestral homeland. In the eastern Orinoco River delta, activists say mining, logging and oil projects have driven thousands of Warao Indians to the cities. Along Venezuela's border with Brazil, legal and illegal gold miners encroach on Pemon territory. While it awaits funding, the government demarcation commission is trying to arrive at ways to address these conflicts. Officials haven't determined how much of Venezuela's land is at stake--but just the territory Sletto is helping map is 2.47 million acres. "This is an extremely difficult and complex process," said Maria Carmen Diaz, the Environment Ministry's representative to the commission. "It's not advancing as quickly as we would like but every step has to be solid so there will be no turning back... After you've given a population certain rights, it's very difficult to take them away. They won't allow it." (AP, Nov. 24)

Indigenous Land Rights in Latin America

Venezuelan Environment Ministry:

Guri power line

International Labor Organization's Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention:

See also WW3 REPORT #30 [top]

3. COLOMBIA: URIBE'S GOVERNMENT IN CRISIS?
In a major setback for President Alvaro Uribe, most of the 15 reforms put before Colombian voters on Oct. 26, aimed at saving $7 billion over seven years, were ruled invalid because the minimum 25% of the electorate had not voted--in part due to a popular boycott. The referendum sought to cut congressional seats from 268 to 218, cap government spending and salaries for two years, and speed privatization of education and state industries--all to free up cash for the war against leftist guerrillas. (Reuters, Oct. 27)

Leftists and independents opposed to Uribe also fared well in the elections. Bogota Mayor-elect Luis Eduardo Garzon pledged to work for the poor after becoming the first leftist to win the top office in Colombia's capital. Garzon, the former head of Colombia's biggest labor federation, declared after his victory that Jan. 2, his first day in office, would be "a day without hunger," indicating a mass distribution of free food. One of the election's biggest upsets came in Medellin's mayoral race, where the right-wing pre-election favorite lost to an independent with no political experience. In Cali, a blind lawyer running on an independent ticket beat out a conservative member of one of the city's most influential families. Voters in the coastal city of Soledad elected as mayor a woman who ran in place of her husband, assassinated Sept. 30. And Hugo Aguilar, a former police officer who killed drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in a shootout in 1993, won the race for governor of Santander department, pledging to root out corruption and fight "terrorism." (AP, Oct. 27)

In subsequent weeks, Uribe's Defense Minister Martha Lucia Ramirez, Interior and Justice Minister Fernando Londono, Environment Minister Cecilia Rodriguez and National Police commander Gen. Teodoro Campo all handed in their resignations. Uribe quickly appointed Sandra Suarez, his key anti-drug strategist since his inauguration in August 2002, to replace Rodriguez. Suarez has had high-level involvement in the implementation of Plan Colombia--ironic background for an Environment Minister, given the Plan's program of aerial herbicide spraying. National police chief Campo was replaced by General Jorge Castro, head of police for the Bogota region. Londono, a right hand man to Uribe, had sparked a controversy by suggesting the president might cut short his term in office and call early elections. (AAP, Nov. 12)

Ramirez, who oversaw a huge military buildup in her 15-month term, was Colombia's first woman defense minister. A former trade minister and ambassador to France, she also led efforts to improve Colombia's military intelligence, which analysts say have paid off with the recent killings of mid-level commanders of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). But the fashionable Ramirez, who as a youngster posed for the cover of a society magazine, also quarreled with top military generals. Uribe named Jorge Alberto Uribe Echavarria, a 63-year-old US-trained businessman, as the new defense minister. Uribe Echavarria, who headed a leading insurance company for 13 years, is not related to the president. (Reuters, Nov. 9)

Colombia's armed forces commander, Gen. Jorge Enrique Mora, announced just three days after Ramirez stepped down that he also was resigning-- saying he would leave the military on Nov. 20 after a 42-year career. Ramirez and Mora had openly clashed in recent weeks. (AP, Nov. 12) Uribe's replacement for Mora, Gen. Carlos Alberto Ospina Ovalle, was immediately protested by human rights groups. (See below)

Following the wave of resignations, five of Colombia's ten top National Police generals were sacked, accused of spending US aid money--meant for paying snitches and fighting guerrillas--on diamonds, booze and chocolate during a three-year-long fiesta. (ANNCOL, Nov. 18) [top]

4. PARAS SEEK IMMUNITY
On Nov. 25 in Medellin, the Cacique Nutibara paramilitary bloc officially "demobilized" as part of a deal signed on July 15 between the government and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). The Santa Fe de Ralito Accord provides for the demobilization of 13,000 paramilitaries before Dec. 31, 2005. (CNN en Espanol , Nov. 23 from AP)

On Nov. 17, AUC political chief Carlos Castano asked President Alvaro Uribe's government to sign an agreement with the US which would grant immunity from prosecution to paramilitaries who take part in the demobilization process. Noting that Colombia recently signed an agreement with the US promising not to bring charges in the International Criminal Court against US officials who commit rights abuses in Colombia, Castano suggested that an immunity agreement for the paramilitaries could be "in the same vein." (El Nuevo Herald, Nov. 18, from AFP)

President Uribe warned Nov. 23 that police need to stop collaborating with paramilitary groups. He repeated an accusation made by the mayor of a town in Antioquia department that National Police were sitting in the town square drinking whisky with paramilitaries and helping them charge a forced "tax" on local vendors. Antioquia police commander Col. Dagoberto Garcia said there had been a police shakeup in Ituango municipality following the incident Uribe described, and two paramilitaries were arrested, but there have been no judicial investigations into wrongdoing. (CNN en Espanol , Nov. 23 from AP)

Uribe's commitment to ending collaboration between government forces and paramilitaries was put into doubt by his designation of Gen. Carlos Alberto Ospina Ovalle--a graduate of the US Army School of the Americas (SOA)--as commander of the country's armed forces. According to a communique from Amnesty International, "Ospina has a long history of collaboration with paramilitary forces responsible for barbarous attacks against civilians." When Ospina was commander of the army's 4th Brigade in 1997 and 1998, Amnesty said, "troops under his command committed a series of massacres, executions and tortures." Amnesty said the selection of Ospina was a new signal of Uribe's "disdain" for human rights and his inclination to tolerate abusive commanders. (Colombia Indymedia, Nov. 20)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 23:

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

5. PARA "DEMOBILIZATION": REAL OR FARCE?
After singing the national anthem, 800 fighters of the AUC's Cacique Nutibara bloc piled their weapons and ammunition on the floor before national TV cameras in Medellin. But critics immediately denounced the ceremony as a choreographed show that lets killers, kidnappers and drug dealers off the hook. "Admittedly, we have committed some excesses," AUC leader Carlos Castano, wanted by the US on drug trafficking charges, said in a videotaped message played at the ceremony. Giovanni Marin, Cacique Nutibara bloc commander, stood before the gathered fighters and dignitaries in the convention center and apologized to the Colombian nation for "the suffering caused." Jose Miguel Vivanco, head of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, called the event "a travesty." Said Vivanco in a staement: "Instead of handing these criminals a microphone, the government should be concentrating on arresting them and bringing them to justice."

Under a pact signed with the government in July, the AUC agreed to demobilize all its 13,000 fighters by the end of 2005. But critics point out that no clear guidelines have been set to ensure that those guilty of serious crimes are brought to justice, and there is no mechanism to ensure that demobilized fighters don't join other illegal groups. The top leader of the Cacique Nutibara bloc is Diego Murillo, who allegedly used to work for a crime family associated with Pablo Escobar, leader of the Medellin cartel killed in a shootout with police in 1993. Murillo's fate with Colombia's justice also remained unclear. (AP, Nov. 25)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

6. MASSACRE IN TOLIMA
On Nov. 2, armed men wearing army uniforms abducted three campesinos in the community of Potosi in Cajamarca municipality, Tolima department. On Nov. 6 the same armed men abducted Marco Antonio Rodriguez Moreno and Ricardo Espejo, also in Potosi. On Nov. 11 the dismembered bodies of Rodriguez, Espejo and two others were found in the community. One man who apparently survived the massacre said the army was responsible and local authorities were complicit. At least five other local campesinos are said to be missing. Espejo was a leader of the Cajamarca section of the Union of Agricultural Workers of Tolima (SINTRAGRITOL). Most of the victims and their surviving family members were among a group of local residents who occupied a farm last March belonging to the Colombian ambassador to Australia, Armando Hecheverry Jimenez. While talks were ongoing to resolve the occupation, the army militarized the zone and evicted the campesinos, arresting over 50. (Message from Colombian Communist Party posted on Colombia Indymedia Nov. 18)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 23: [top]

7. ELECTIONS UNDER SEIGE IN ARAUCA
Police and soldiers rounded up at least 25 politicians with suspected ties to leftist guerrillas in pre-dawn raids across violence-wracked Arauca department just days ahead of the Oct. 26 election--a move rights groups denounced as a government attempt to stifle opposition. Two former Arauca governors were also arrested in Bogota. "Unfortunately, terrorist groups have infiltrated the department of Arauca at every level," Defense Minister Martha Lucia Ramirez said. (AP, Oct. 21) On Oct. 14, a car bomb exploded several blocks from the town hall in the Arauca town of Saravena, injuring five. (AP, Oct. 15) Despite intimidation, a candidate for mayor of Saravena won from his prison cell a week after police arrested him on charges of financing a guerilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN). (AP, Oct. 27) [top]

8. FARC CAMPAIGN TO ENCIRCLE BOGOTA
The Colombian military announced Nov. 7 it had defeated an unprecedented guerrilla campaign to encircle Bogota and cut off major roads leading into the capital. Over 1,300 guerrillas had massed in the forested mountains along the capital's outskirts with orders to seize roads, and set up bases to carry out attacks and kidnappings. "If the terrorists had taken control of those highways, it would have been a seriously complicated situation," said Gen. Reinaldo Castellanos, who led the operation to remove the threat, dubbed "Freedom One."

Castellanos said the FARC's top military chief, Jorge Briceno, dispatched a trusted commander, Marco Urelio Rodriguez Buendia, to unite the FARC fronts and surround the capital. "It was a strategic objective for them to extend their presence in the center of the country," said Castellanos, the commander of the Fifth Division. "With God's help, we have neutralized the threat." Colombian Special Forces troops killed Buendia in a surprise raid on a guerrilla camp 45 miles northeast of Bogota Oct 30. Over the past month, army troops also killed three other FARC front commanders. On Nov. 2, elite Colombian troops gunned down another regional FARC commander, Luis Alexis Castellanos Garzon, in a village 30 miles east of Bogota. Since operation "Freedom One" was launched in June, 164 guerrillas have been killed, the army said. The fighting has claimed the lives of 20 soldiers and injured another 30. (AP, Nov. 7)

But shortly after the defeat of the FARC campaign was announced, guerillas launched dramatic attacks within the capital. On Nov. 15, suspected FARC rebels threw grenades at two crowded bars in the Zona Rosa, a popular Bogota nightclub district, injuring at least 42. Police announced one arrest in the attack, and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was called in to help gather evidence. (AP, Nov. 16)

Deadly explosions are becoming a fact of life in Colombia's cities. On Oct. 8, at least six, including two police, were killed and 12 civilians injured when a car bomb exploded in San Andresito, a working class Bogota district known for selling smuggled goods. (Reuters, Oct. 8) On Sept. 28, a remote-control bomb attached to a motorcycle was detonated in the Zoan Rosa district of Florencia city, killing 10 and wounding 48 in a crowded street lined with restaurants and discos. (Reuters, Sept. 28) [top]

9. ELN BOASTS OF KIDNAPPING TOURISTS
Colombian guerillas who kidnapped seven foreign backpackers in September hailed it as a propaganda victory, vowing to free the remaining five hostages soon. "This has been one of the best political operations we have carried out for years in the northern coast of Colombia," said Dairo Martinez, local commander of the National Liberation Army (ELN), in an interview with Reuters in the Sierra Nevada mountains. His face covered by a red-and-black ELN bandanna, Martinez spoke to Reuters shortly after guerillas freed German tourist Reinhilt Weigel and Spaniard Asier Huegun. The rebels are still holding an Englishman and four Israelis. "To the families of those who are still detained, they should relax," said Martinez. "The ELN is extremely responsible, we respect human rights and the moment we get the order, they will be freed." (Reuters, Nov. 28)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

10. FUMIGATION PLANE SHOT DOWN
On Sept. 21, an OV-10 plane belonging to the US State Department crashed while carrying out an aerial coca eradication mission in the Catatumbo region of northeastern Colombia, killing the pilot, Mario Alberto Alvarado, a Costa Rican citizen. Alvarado was employed by an unidentified company subcontracted by the Virginia-based DynCorp, which runs the spraying program in Colombia under contract to the State Department. Colombian president Alvaro Uribe said Sept. 21 that the plane's pilot was a US citizen born in Costa Rica. On Sept. 22 a US Embassy spokesperson said there was no indication Alvarado was a US citizen. According to the Costa Rican daily La Nacion, most of Dyncorp's pilots in Colombia are Central American.

DynCorp spokesperson Chuck Wilkins said Sept. 22 that according to a statement received from the State Department, "preliminary information indicates the aircraft was struck by hostile ground fire." The plane was downed near the municipality of La Gabarra, in Norte de Santander department, near the Venezuelan border. Colombian army commander Gen. Eduardo Morales said the spraying campaign will continue until all drug crops in the region have been sprayed. (Miami Herald, Sept. 23; La Nacion, Costa Rica, Sept. 22; La Republica, Lima, Sept. 24; El Nuevo Herald, Miami, Sept. 27; La Opinion, Cucuta, Colombia, Sept. 22)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 28: [top]

11. URIBE-ALLIED CATTLE BARON ESCAPES ASSASSINATION
Suspected guerillas fired a shoulder-held rocket at Jorge Visbal, president of Colombia's National Livestock Federation and a close ally of President Alvaro Uribe, narrowly missing in a bold attack in the heart of the Colombian capital Oct. 15. Police detained two of three suspects, recovered the rocket launcher and confiscated the assailants' vehicle. One of the two suspects, a woman, was wounded in a shootout with security forces and taken under police escort to a hospital. Defense Minister Martha Lucia Ramirez offered a $17,500 reward for information leading to more arrests. Visbal is a leading advocate of Uribe's hardline stance against the guerillas.

The FARC was also blamed for killing two city council members in central Colombia, one in Rio Blanco, Huila department, and the other in Murillo, Tolima. Police said gunmen killed Hermogenes Vargas Oct. 14 after dragging him out of his vehicle while he was driving outside Rio Blanco. Vargas, running for re-election, was but the latest in a long list of politicians killed by the rebels and right-wing paramilitaries in the run-up to the Oct. 26 state and mayoral elections. The body of Rigoberto Hernandez, the Murillo council member, was found the same day in a rural area outside the town. He had been abducted from his home along with his brother by armed men two days earlier. (AP, Oct. 15) [top]

12. U.S. TO OFFER REWARD FOR FARC LEADERS
The State Department plans to offer a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in the murder of a US pilot in Colombia and the kidnapping of three US defense contractors. Engine trouble forced the Cessna aircraft carrying the group to make an emergency landing in February, and the plane was quickly surrounded by FARC guerillas. Rebels killed the pilot, Thomas Janis, and Luis Alcides Cruz, a Colombian army sergeant on board. Keith Stansell of Georgia, and Thomas Howes and Marc Gonsalves, both of Florida, were taken captive. State Department spokeswoman Amanda Batt confirmed that the reward is being developed, saying the Department also planned "an aggressive publicity campaign throughout Colombia that includes targeting key FARC leaders believed to be associated with these crimes." Batt said the new reward program will expand upon an existing program run by the Pentagon and the US Embassy in Colombia. It would provide up to $340,000 and the possibility of a US visa for information leading to the location of the captives.

Stansell, Howes and Gonsalves were in Colombia for California Microwave Systems, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corp. The company was measuring and photographing coca fields under contract for the US State Department. In a taped interview, the three captives discouraged a rescue operation, fearing it would cost them their lives. Excerpts of the interview, obtained by a Colombian journalist, were broadcast by CBS 60 Minutes II. The videotape shows FARC commander Jorge Briceno telling the captives they will only be released in exchange for guerillas being held in Colombia's prisons. (AP, Oct. 13)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

79, 74 [top]

13. PERU: CAMPESINO PROTESTERS KILLED IN CLASH WITH POLICE
Police clashed with highland peasants blocking an Andean highway Nov. 27 during a protest against mining pollution, leaving two demonstrators dead and over 20 injured. Community leaders in the town of Carhuamayo, Junin department, called the protest to force local mining companies to clean up nearby Lago Junin, which they say is contaminated by mining runoff. Some 500 campesinos blocked the main highway in the region with rocks and boulders until police moved in. An Interior Ministry spokesman said the two men died after they were struck by rocks thrown by fellow protesters. But witnesses said the two were shot by police. The violence came a day after Manuel Duarte, the leader of Junin department, called a strike demanding the government hand over $58 million from the sale of a state electricity company and pave a stretch of highway. Duarte called off the strike after meeting with government negotiators. But Carhuamayo Mayor Raul Arias told Radioprogramas del Peru that the truce did not apply to his constituency, since Duarte failed to address mining pollution. (AP, Nov. 27) [top]

14. BOLIVIA: IMF REVIEWS AID FOLLOWING "BLACK OCTOBER"
International Monetary Fund officials met with the Bolivian government Nov. 27 to discuss the country's aid package in the light of growing budget deficit and October's wave of popular protests that brought down President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. It was the second IMF visit since new President Carlos Mesa took power in mid October. Bolivia is anxious for aid money to fund social programs aimed at easing tensions following the revolt in South America's poorest country, where residents earn an average of $880 per year per capita. (Reuters, Nov. 27)

See also WW3 REPORTS # 92, 74 [top]

15. CHILE APPROVES FTAA
Chile's Senate overwhelmingly approved the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) treaty with the US, paving the way for the accord to become effective Jan. 1. In an Oct. 22 session interrupted by noisy protests, 34 senators approved the treaty, five opposed and five abstained. Police removed about 50 protesters from the public stands. The Bush administration sees the accord as a key step toward a hemisphere-wide free trade region. The accord will eliminate customs fees for much of the two countries' current $6.3 billion annual exchange. Chile signed similar free trade accords earlier this year with the European Union and South Korea. (AP, Oct. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #46 [top]

16. ARGENTINE MILITARY STILL FEARS JEWISH CONSPIRACIES?
Argentine President Nestor Kirchner faces a new scandal involving accusations of resurgent anti-Semitism within the military--at a time when his government is seeking to heal relations with the Jewish community, boasting progress in the probe of the 1994 Buenos Aires Jewish center bombing, which left 85 dead. On Aug. 13, the head of the Argentine army, Roberto Bendini, was giving a class to second-year captains at the War School when he said that "small Israeli groups" disguised as tourists were planning to invade Argentina's southern Patagonia region with an eye towards colonizing and annexing it, according to reports in the Argentine press. Since the story appeared, government officials have repeatedly met with Jewish leaders and created a special military commission to investigate the reports--but many have expressed their support for Bendini. The remarks recall allegations of a supposed Jewish plot to take over Patagonia which featured prominently in the interrogations of many Argentine Jews arrested under the military dictatorship of the 1970s. Bendini did make a phone call to Abraham Kaul, president of the Jewish center that was attacked in 1994, in which he denied making the reported remarks, but has otherwise remained silent. (JTA, Sept. 29)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

92, 46 [top]

17. KISSINGER APPROVED ARGENTINE "DIRTY WAR"
At the height of the Argentine military dictatorship's ''dirty war'' against leftist dissidents in the 1970s, then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told the Argentine foreign minister that ''we would like you to succeed,'' a newly declassified document reveals. The transcript of the meeting between Kissinger and Navy Adm. Cesar Augusto Guzzetti in New York on Oct. 7, 1976, is the first documentary evidence that the Gerald Ford administration approved of the regime's brutal campaign, which led to the deaths or ''disappearance'' of some 30,000 between 1976 and 1983.

Among the 4,667 documents declassified by the State Department in 2002 were diplomatic cables showing that the Argentine military believed it had Kissinger's approval. The information was requested by the families of victims and human-rights groups.

A transcript of the 1976 Kissinger-Guzzetti meeting was declassified under a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive, a research group based in DC. ''Look, our basic attitude is that we would like you to succeed,'' Kissinger reassured Guzzetti in the seven-page transcript, marked SECRET. ``I have an old-fashioned view that friends ought to be supported. What is not understood in the United States is that you have a civil war. We read about human rights problems but not the context. The quicker you succeed, the better.''

Guzzetti told Kissinger that the ''struggle'' against ''terrorist organizations'' would be over by the end of 1976, the same year the military took power in a coup d'etat. But a 1983 report by an Argentine truth commission showed that the killings accelerated in late 1976 and continued for years.

''This is final, definitive evidence that Kissinger gave a green light to Argentine generals,'' said Carlos Osorio, director of the Argentina Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. (Miami Herald, Dec. 4)

For full transcript of Kissinger's conversation:

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

92, 31 [top]

THE MEXICO FRONT

1.PRISON FOR "DIRTY WAR" ARCHITECTS?
In a case brought by the Comite '68, made up of the relatives of those murdered or "disappeared" in Mexico's "Dirty War" of the 1970s, the country's Supreme Court ruled that Miguel Nazar Haro, former national intelligence chief, and his collaborators are not protected by immunity and may face prison time. (Proceso, Nov. 6)

On Nov. 26, the first arrest orders were issued in the "Dirty War" investigation, against a former police officer charged with carrying out the "disappearance" of a schoolteacher in Guerrero state in 1974. President Vicente Fox has appointed a special prosecutor, Ignacio Carrillo, to lead the investigation. (NYT, Nov. 27)

See also WW3 REPORT #64 [top]

2. MEXICO SECOND HEMISPHERIC RECIPIENT OF U.S. MILITARY AID
Since the 9-11 disaster, Mexico has become the second biggest recipient of US military aid in the Western Hemisphere, after Colombia, according to a new report by Amnesty International. Since the disaster, some 5,000 Mexican army and federal police officers have received training from the Pentagon, CIA or FBI. Amnesty called for an investigation into claims that Latin American officers received instruction in torture techniques at the US Army's School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, GA, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001. (Milenio, Oct. 25) [top]

3. DIGNA OCHOA FAMILY VOWS TO FIGHT SUICIDE VERDICT
The family of slain activist attorney Digna Ochoa travelled to Washington DC in October to formally complain to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about irregularities in the investigation of the murder. The attorney general for Mexico's Federal District formally found that Ochoa committed suicide, and declared the case closed, but named a special investigator to review the findings after the family announced they would take the case to the Commission. (La Jornada, Oct. 5; Milenio, Oct. 10)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

4. RIGHTS WORKER ASSASSINATED IN OAXACA
Estela Ambrosio Luna, a human rights observor and health promoter in the remote Zapotec Indian village of Cerro Cantor in the southern state of Oaxaca, was found shot to death with four bullets Oct. 4. Cerro Cantor is in the conflicted municipality of San Augustin Loxicha, where community leaders have been imprisoned on charges of collaboration with the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) guerilla group, and where the army maintains a strong presence. (Milenio, Oct. 10)

The murder came just as local campesino groups issued a joint statement warning of resugrent paramilitary activity in remote areas of Oaxaca, citing numerous slayings over the past year that have not been adequately investigated. (FZLN press release, Oct. 28)

Some 200 Loxicha residents have been linked by the authorities to the EPR, and federal police recently announced that arrest orders against many would be re-activated despite an amnesty declared by Oaxaca Gov. Jose Murat. (Proceso, Nov. 19)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

5. ALLEGED GUERILLAS ARRESTED
In late October, the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) broke a silence of many months with a communique denying charges by the Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI) that two men arrested on narco-trafficking and kidnapping charges, Nicanor Cervantes and Omar Guerrero Solis, are linked to the group. Cervantes is said to be held at the Federal District's Military Camp Number One, reserved for top-level political prisoners. (Proceso, Oct. 24)

Meanwhile, federal authorities imposed a prison sentence in the case of Jose Isabel Bibiano Hernandez and Everardo Casarrubias Juarez, two men arrested on kidnapping and other charges who are allegedly linked to another guerilla faction, the Popular Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI). Both groups are active in Oaxaca and Guerrero. (Proceso, Oct. 12)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

90, 88 [top]

6. ZAPATISTAS MARK 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF UPRISING
On Nov. 10, the Zapatista rebels in southern Chiapas state began commemorations of the 10th anniversary of their Jan. 1, 1994, armed uprising by looking into their past and revealing new details about how the movement was founded 20 years ago. In a taped message to supporters, Subcomandante Marcos said the Zapatista Army was founded by a group of six inexperienced leftists on Nov. 17, 1983--nine months before he himself joined.

"Imagine a group of people in a safe house somewhere, preparing their equipment to go to Chiapas," Marcos said of the founders--five men and a woman. "They were going to found the Zapatista army... They had waited 15 years to say those words." This was an apparent reference to the 1968 student movement that inspired them.

Unused to the jungle and not yet accepted by local Indians, they survived for over two years in primitive camps, hunting and fishing for food, and studying martial arts and military tactics from US and Mexican army manuals. He recounted how one guerrilla column in the '80s was scared off by a herd of wild pigs. "Some climbed up trees with an agility never shown before, while others courageously took to their heels," Marcos said. But by December 1993 the movement had grown to 4,500 combatants and 2,000 reserves, according to Marcos, who also confirmed that the guerrillas were involved in a May, 1993 clash with Mexican army troops. His voice took on an emotional tone when he spoke of his colleague Subcomandante Pedro, who died in the 1994 uprising. (AP, Nov. 10)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

7. CONFUSED VIOLENCE CONTINUES IN CHIAPAS
Chaotic violence persists in the mountains and jungles of Chiapas, where the Zapatistas are pitted against remnants of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) political machine, which still has a loyal following among Chiapas Indians despite being voted out of power at both state and national levels in 2000. Disputed accounts of recent conflicts have appeared in the Mexican press, with Zapatistas and PRI loyalists offering different versions of events.

It was reported Oct. 15 that hundreds of presumed Zapatistas in Yulumchuntic, Chalchihuitan municipality, in the Tzotzil Maya highland region, detained some 30 federal army troops for up to 10 hours, to protest army patrols in their village and demand the dismantling of a military camp at nearby Tzacucun. But days later the local Zapatista Good Government Junta issued a statement denying that any troops had been detained. (La Jornada, Oct. 15, 19) Simultaneously, Zapatista authorities in the "autonomous municipality" of Santa Catarina issued a statement accusing PRI followers of burning down the Zapatista chapel of San Francisco El Triunfo. (La Jornada, Oct. 15)

Conflicts between the Zapatistas and rival leftist campesino groups are also escalating. A member of the Independent Central of Agricultural Workers & Campesinos (CIOAC), Armin Morales, was detained by Zapatistas at the jungle village of La Realidad from Sept. 2 to Oct. 12 in a dispute over a stolen truck. CIOAC militants had threatened to free Morales by force before a settlement was negotiated. (La Jornada, Oct. 11, 13) On Oct. 13, five CIOAC members were killed when their truck skidded off the road between Comitan and Las Margaritas on the way to an anti-Zapatista protest. (Proceso, Oct. 14)

The religious dimension to the Chiapas violence also persists, with traditional Catholic political bosses, often linked to the PRI, targetting evangelical Protestant converts. On Oct. 28, over 300 Chiapas state police were mobilized to the Tzotzil municipality of Chamula to arrest two Indians accused in the death of an evangelical preacher--the most recent in a string of sectarian murders in the municipality. (Proceso, Oct. 29)

The local Catholic diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas has recently taken some moves to win over Indians estranged from the church because of its association with the corrupt political bosses. On Sunday Oct. 5, mass was performed in the Tzotzil language for the first time in the cathedral of San Cristobal. (La Jornada, Oct. 6)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

8. MORE CHIAPAS PRISON RIOTS
Prisoners at a juvenile detention center in Chiapas hurled stones and homemade bombs Oct. 14 as fighting between gang members sparked a riot that injured 13 inmates and three police officers. The uprising began when about 90 members of rival factions of the Mara Salvatrucha gang attacked each other with homemade knives and clubs at the Villas Crisol center in Berriozabal, 20 miles west of the state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez. Prison authorities called in the state police, who sent nearly 500 agents in riot gear to retake the prison. Mara Salvatrucha is a Central American gang that is strongest in Honduras. Most of the inmates involved in the uprising were Central Americans who were captured near Chiapas' border with Guatemala, authorities said. (AP, Oct. 14)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

9. THOUSANDS PROTEST FREE-MARKET "REFORMS" IN MEXICO CITY
Tens of thousands of Mexicans marched Nov. 27 to oppose the 2004 budget proposed by president Vicente Fox. Police estimated that 80,000 people joined in the Mexico City march, while organizers put the number at 200,000, making it one of the largest protests of the past 20 years. There were also local marches in nine states: Baja California Sur, Coahuila, Jalisco, Nuevo Leon, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Veracruz and Yucatan. The protesters threatened to call a general strike in the event that the budget package is approved by Congress.

The demonstrations were organized mostly by labor, campesino and left groups, with support from a wide range of political forces, including several politicians from the formerly ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The proposed budget would raise taxes on food and medicine, and open the way to sale of public assets. (La Jornada, Nov. 30)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 30: [top]

10. PUEBLA-PANAMA PLAN ADVANCES; CAMPESINOS PROTEST
At a Mexico City summit with his counterparts from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica, as well as high-level representatives from Nicaragua and Panama, Mexico's Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista held a joint press conference Oct. 30 in which he said that the assembled governments are committed to $3 billion in development projects under the regional Puebla-Panama Plan (PPP). He also said that the governments have not done enough to emphasize the benefits of the development project to civil society. (La Jornada, Oct. 30)

After the meeting, the Mexican Alliance for Peoples' Self-Determination (AMAP), representing various indigenous and campesino groups in Puebla, Veracruz, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas, issued a statement protesting the "silent imposition" of the PPP. The statement charged that development projects are advancing "without even minimal consultation with indigenous peoples and campesino communities." The statement especially cited expansion of the Benito Juarez hydro-electric plant in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and construction of the Oaxaca-Huatulco super-highway, cutting through Oaxaca's marginalized Sierra del Sur. The statement also demanded liberation for political prisoners arrested after involvement in building Zapatista-style "autonomous municipalities" in Veracruz and other states. (La Jornada, Nov. 21)

See also WW3 REPORTS #:

92, 87 [top]

11. U.N. ENVOY FIRED; GRINGO PRESSURE SEEN
Adolfo Aguilar Zinser resigned from his post as Mexico's ambassador to the UN Nov. 20. Three days earlier, the government of President Vicente Fox had announced that Aguilar Zinser would be leaving at the end of the year, when Mexico's two-year term on the UN Security Council is set to end. Fox decided to let Aguilar Zinser go after he made remarks about the U.S. at a Nov. 11 session with students at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City. Said Aguilar Zinser: "The United States has never viewed Mexico as a partner, the way it does with its European associates... They see us as a backyard... Sometimes we have a bigger strategic relevance, sometimes less." He said US interest in Mexico is like "a weekend love affair." US secretary of state Colin Powell denounced the remarks as "outrageous." In an angry public letter to Fox on Nov. 21, Aguilar Zinser wrote: "My activities in the UN annoyed some members of a government, that of the US, which exercises its power over and above collective agreements and international law." (Miami Herald, Nov. 19, 22)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 23:

NOTE: Before being appointed UN ambassador, Aguilar Zinser filled the new post of National Security Advisor, first created by President Vicente Fox in 2001.

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

59, 1 [top]

CENTRAL AMERICA

1. GUATEMALA: WAR CRIMINAL LOSES PRESIDENTIAL BID
Former military dictator Efrain Rios Montt lost his bid to regain power by the ballot as Guatemalans voted in large numbers Nov. 9 to throw out his corruption-tainted ruling party. Rios Montt, accused of war crimes during his ditatorship in the early '80s, was running for the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG), the party of outgoing President Alfonso Portillo. But he scored third with just 11% of the vote, behind conservative former Guatemala City mayor Oscar Berger and leftist Alvaro Colom. Berger and Colom now face a run-off race.

Observers applauded the high turnout against a backdrop of rising political violence, a boom in organized crime and drug trafficking and attacks on journalists, judges and activists. "The success is that people went out to vote," said Maya Indian leader Rigoberta Menchu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. "This first round was to say 'no' to violence." As the ruling party's leader in Congress, Rios Montt has parliamentary immunity from prosecution, but his term ends in January and a group of survivors is building a case against him, accusing him of genocide. (Reuters, Nov. 11; Toronto Star, Dec. 2) [top]

2. EX-PARAS KIDNAP JOURNALISTS IN GUATEMALA
Several hundred ex-members of the Guatemalan military's Civil Self-Defense Patrols (PACs) took four journalists hostage in La Libertad, Huehuetenango department, on Oct. 26 as part of an ongoing campaign to demand compensation from the Guatemalan government. The journalists--Fredy Lopez, Emerson Diaz, Alberto Ramirez and Mario Linares--work for the Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre. Lopez and Diaz had gone to La Libertad to cover a rally by the rightist Guatemalan Republican Front of (FRG), which many ex-PAC members support; Ramirez and Linares came to La Libertad to cover the abduction of their colleagues. Two or three others, including a government official, were also taken hostage.

The military created the PACs in 1982 as paramilitary units to provide support for the brutal counter-insurgency war. The former PAC members began demanding compensation as veterans once a 1996 peace treaty concluded the war. A series of militant demonstrations by the ex-paramilitaries ended with the government--currently controlled by the FRG--agreeing to pay some $672 to each former PAC member. But Huehuetenango Gov. Carlos Morales is accused of failed to start paying compensation to the ex-paras in La Libertad at the agreed time in September, precipitating the crisis.

The hostages were released on Oct. 28 after negotiators worked out an agreement for payments to begin. The ex-paras also agreed to end their blockade of the Pan-American Highway. (Prensa Libre, Guatemala, Oct. 27, 28; and wire services)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 2: [top]

3. JOURNALIST ASSASSINATED IN HONDURAS
Honduran journalist and media owner German Antonio Rivas was killed by a gunshot wound to the head on the evening of Nov. 26 as he got out of his vehicle at the Corporacion Maya (Channel 34) TV station in Santa Rosa de Copan, near the Guatemalan border. Rivas was the owner, manager and news presenter of the TV station, and also owned a local radio station. He was killed just minutes before he was to present the evening news on Channel 34.

On Feb. 24 of this year Rivas was fired at by an unidentified assailant outside his home, but managed to escape unharmed. Rivas said at the time that he had received anonymous threats months earlier. According to the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), the February attack may have been prompted by Rivas' reports condemning the Occidente Mineral Company (MINOSA) for spilling cyanide in the Lara river, which feeds the Higuito river, source of drinking water for Santa Rosa de Copan. His reporting on the spill led the government to fine the company one million lempiras ($56,529).

The group Journalists Confronting Corruption (PFC) raised another possible motive: a series of TV reports which Rivas assigned to journalist Xiomara Orellana, about the operation of coffee and livestock contraband gangs on the border between Honduras and Guatemala.

During the 1980s Rivas was an active supporter of the human rights movement in Santa Rosa de Copan. A colleague in Copan, radio journalist Rene Rojas, described Rivas as "identified with social causes," saying the murder has spread fear among journalists.

COFADEH and the Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre) are asking supporters of human rights and freedom of speech to contact Public Security Minister Oscar Alvarez (fax +504-220-4352) and National Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Ramon Custodio Lopez (fax +504 231-0204 or 235-7697) to urge an exhaustive investigation into the Rivas murder.

(EFE, Nov. 27; COFADEH, Nov. 27; PFC, Nov. 27)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 30: [top]

4. HONDURAN UNIONIST RECEIVES DEATH SQUAD THREAT
Carlos H. Reyes, president of the Honduran Union of Beverage Industry and Similar Workers (STIBYS), announced Nov. 3 that he had been informed via anonymous phone calls of a plan by former members of the Battalion 3-16 death squad--trained by the CIA in Honduras during the 1980s--and the National Investigations Department (DNI) to assassinate grassroots leaders. The callers apparently told Reyes that the new plan followed the failure of an effort to plant cocaine on him and other grassroots leaders. "They told me that I should watch out for myself because they will do their work very well, in such a way that no one will suspect it's an action promoted by the state," said Reyes. (Tiempo, Honduras, Nov. 4)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 9:

The Battalion 3-16 is said to have received training from Israeli private-sector ex-spies as well as the CIA. See WW3 REPORT # 42:

Note: This summer Honduras was the scene of a wave of killings against campesino and indigenous activists. See "Central America: Indigenous Opposition To Puebla-Panama Plan Faces Repression" [top]

5. HONDURANS PROTEST IMF
On Nov. 25 hundreds of Hondurans from organizations affiliated with the National Coordinating Committee of Popular Resistance staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the Congress building in Tegucigalpa to protest an economic plan being pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which would impose new taxes on the informal sector, freeze salaries and reduce subsidies for public transport and electricity. (Tiempo, Honduras, Nov. 26)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 30:

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

6. HONDURANS PROTEST POWELL
Dozens of indigenous people and grassroots activists demonstrated outside the Honduran government headquarters in Tegucigalpa on Nov. 4 as President Ricardo Maduro and US Secretary of State Colin Powell staged a joint press conference in the building. It was Powell's first official visit to Honduras; he was accompanied by a delegation including Under-Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega. Maduro apologized to Powell for the fact that the protesters' chants could be heard from the press conference. Chants filtering in from outside included "Colin Powell, fascist, you're a terrorist," and "Powell and IMF, get out of here."(Tiempo, Honduras, Nov. 5)

The demonstration was organized by the Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), which issued a communique demanding an end to the continuing US presence at Palmerola air base in Comayagua department, and the return of Honduran troops from Iraq, where they are part of a Spanish-led force supporting the US occupation. COPINH also warned that the US government is seeking to set up a new military base on indigenous land in Gracias a Dios department. Just before the demonstration, eight Lenca indigenous activists began a 28-hour hunger strike in support of COPINH's demands. (Tiempo, Nov. 5)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 9: [top]

7. NICARAGUANS PROTEST POWELL
Colin Powell paid an official visit to Nicaragua following a brief stop in Panama Nov. 3 to attend celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Panamanian independence from Colombia. It was the first visit to Nicaragua by a US secretary of state since 1992. (Washington Post, Nov. 4)

The focus of Powell's talks with the Nicaraguan government was reportedly a US demand that the army "completely eliminate" its stock of some 2,000 Soviet-made surface to air SAM-7 missiles. Nicaraguan president Enrique Bolanos was non-committal. On Nov. 4 Defense Minister Jose Adan Guerra Pastora and Army head Gen. Javier Carrion McDonough told Powell that Nicaragua would not eliminate all the missiles. In a newspaper interview with the Nicaraguan daily El Nuevo Diario on Nov. 4, Carrion insisted the missiles were safe in Nicaragua and would not fall into the hands of terrorists, and asked why the US seemed more concerned about Nicaragua's missiles than about the SAM-7s in the possession of other Latin American armies. (La Prensa, Nicaragua, Nov. 5)

As he flew from Nicaragua to Honduras on the afternoon of Nov. 4, Powell reminisced with reporters on the plane about the time he spent lobbying the US Congress in 1987 for aid for the US-sponsored contra rebels, who were seeking to overthrow the elected government of Nicaragua, then headed by the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). He expressed satisfaction that "the dictatorial Sandinista regime at least isn't in power.... And we hope to keep them out of power and to help the Nicaraguan people have power." (WP, Nov. 6)

The night of Nov. 5 US ambassador Barbara Moore officially apologized to the Nicaraguan government for a paper embassy staff had provided to reporters accompanying Powell during his visit. Entitled "Nicaraguan Public Opinion on the Eve of the Visit of Secretary of State Colin Powell," the paper said the "majority of Nicaraguans" are "overwhelmed by the struggle to find the next plate of rice and beans and therefore have little time to think about the US or world affairs in general." (La Prensa, Nicaragua, Nov. 6)

Several hours after Powell left on Nov. 4, some 5,000 university students marched in Managua to protest the visit and to demand that National Assembly deputies not approve a budget cut for state-run universities. The Nicaraguan Constitution, passed under the FSLN government, calls for 6% of the national budget to be allocated to state universities, but the Finance Ministry has announced further cuts as part of a general austerity plan the IMF is demanding as a condition for loans. The students carried a giant banner reading: "Colin Powell, you are the terrorist, Out of Iraq!" (La Prensa, Nov. 5, and wire services)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 9: [top]

8. NICARAGUAN CAMPESINOS BLOCK PAN-AMERICAN HIGHWAY
Nicaraguan campesinos ended a protest blockade of the Pan-American highway at the Ocotal bridge in Nueva Segovia department on Nov. 7 after reaching an agreement with the government over demands for rural road repairs. The Segovian Movement for Dignity, representing several campesino and civic organizations, began the protest on Nov. 3, blocking cargo and passenger traffic by placing rocks and tree trunks across the highway. The government also pledged to upgrade a local health clinic, hire more teachers and review teacher salaries. Authorities also promised to resolve land conflicts involving cooperative properties and those held by ex-contras; and agreed to modernize the telephone network. (AP, Nov. 7)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 9: [top]

9. CAFTA NEGOTIATOR GETS PIED
The top US negotiator for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was the target of a successful pie attack during a summit in Houston. Reads the most recent communique from the Biotic Baking Brigade, dated October 22:

"Regina Vargo, the Chief US Trade Negotiator for the Central American Free Trade Area, got her just desserts in the form of a banana cream pie delivered to her from an anti-CAFTA activist in Houston. Bananas were specially chosen to signify the agricultural products of Latin America which at this point represent the most contentious issue at the talks. Ms. Vargo was in Houston for the eighth round of negotiations on CAFTA which is due to be passed by the end of this year. The pieing took place at the Westin Galleria Hotel where the talks were happening during the reception following the opening ceremonies. When the activist pied her they declared 'No More NAFTAs!'"

The communique is signed:

"Much love and solidarity, Agent Banana Cream, Confeiteiros Sem Fronteiras (Bakers without Borders)--Texas Cell"

Look for "Let Slip the Pies of War: The BBB Cookbook," to be published by AK Press (akpress.org) in early 2004.

( Biotic Baking Brigade communique, Oct. 25) [top]

PLANET WATCH

1. GLOBAL HUNGER RISING
Hunger is on the rise again after falling steadily during the first half of the 1990s, according to a new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Nearly 850 million people go to bed hungry every night, the vast majority in Africa and Asia, and the number of undernourished people in the developing world is climbing at a rate of almost 5 million a year. "The State of Food Insecurity in the World," an annual report by the FAO, paints a grim picture of a failing global campaign against hunger. The latest estimates from 1999-2001 "signal a setback in the war on hunger," the report said, finding the prospect of meeting the UN goal of cutting in half the number of malnourished people by 2015 "increasingly remote."

According to the report, during the first half of the 1990s, the number of chronically hungry decreased by 37 million. But since the 1995-1997 period, the number has increased by over 18 million. This means the overall decline since 1990-1992 was only 19 million. The 26 countries where hunger increased by almost 60 million from 1990-1992 include Afghanistan, Congo, Burundi, North Korea, Somalia, Tanzania, Guatemala, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The report also warned that a closer analysis of the figures revealed "an even more alarming trend"--that the number of undernourished people in the developing world actually increased by 4.5 million per year between 1995 and 2001. The FAO said it is time for nations to examine why hundreds of millions of people go hungry in a world that produces more than enough food for every man, woman and child. "Bluntly stated, the problem is not so much a lack of food as a lack of political will," the report said. (AP, Nov. 25) [top]

2. MELTING GLACIERS THREATEN ANDES
Thousands of people in the Peruvian Andes are affected by the melting of local glaciers as a probable result of global warming. In the last three decades Peruvian glaciers have lost almost a quarter of their area. "This is an indicator which gave us some concern on how the future was going to be on these tropical glaciers," Patricia Iturregui, head of the Climate Change Unit of Peru's National Council for the Environment, told BBC World Service's One Planet program. "All our estimations on the basis of this data are that in the next ten years the top tropical glaciers of Peru--and eventually other Andean countries--above 5,500 metres will disappear if climate conditions remain as the last ten years."

The most immediate threat comes from the change to water supplies. During the dry season, river water comes exclusively from the glaciers, which normally melt at that time of year, replenishing in the wet season. But the glaciers are now melting faster than they can replenish. As they thaw, dozens of new lakes have spread all over the highland. Irrigation canals are overwhelmed as the glaciers melt, while communities that depend on the glaciers for dry-season water may face crisis as they disappear.

NASA satellites had detected a crack in the glacier overlooking Lake Palcacocha, threatening a devastating flood that could inundate Huaraz, with a population of 100,000. Some in Huarez recall when a chunk of ice did melt off in 1941, destroying around a third of the city, and killing up to 7,000.

Ancient spiritual traditions are also under threat. Every year thousands of pilgrims from across the Andes flock to Sinakara mountain to attend the Qoyllur Riti religious festival. Local tradition holds that the Christ child appeared in 1870 to a shepherd boy named Marianito Mayta--on the same glacial site that the Incas held sacred as an abode of water spirits. Pilgrims traditionally come down from the glacier with pieces of ice, which they believe has curative properties. But now the the local guardians of the ceremony--known as Pablitos--have called a halt to this practice, as the glacier shrinks. Said one Pablito: "In a few years' time we might not have any ice. I don't know where the Andean people will be able to go for their rituals." (BBC, Oct. 9)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

62, 42 [top]

3. ANWR NARROWLY ESCAPES--AGAIN
A new Republican-backed energy bill specifically did not include the Bush administration's long-stated goal of opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploitation, in a bid to win bipartisan support. But the bill was laden with a slew of other controversial measures, including liability protection for the manufacturers of fuel additive MTBE and numerous tax breaks for energy corporations--including some aimed at jump-starting the languishing nuclear industry. The bill was blocked by a bipartisan group of senators. Republican Senate leaders vowed to try again. (WSJ, Nov. 18; Newsday, Nov. 23)

See also WW3 REPORT #86 [top]

WATCHING THE SHADOWS

1. NATIONAL COMMISSION ON 9-11 CAVES IN TO BUSH ROADBLOCKS
On Oct. 26, ex-Sen. Max Cleland, member of the National Commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks (the Kean Commission), told the New York Times that the White House and President Bush's re-election campaign had reason to fear what the commission was uncovering in its investigation of intelligence and law enforcement "failures" before Sept. 11. "As each day goes by," Cleland said, "we learn that this government knew a whole lot more about these terrorists before Sept. 11 than it has ever admitted."

Meanwhile, the Kean Commission has accepted a deal to radically limit their access to the White House documents detailing just what high-level administration officials knew in advance of the attacks--the Presidential Daily Briefings or PDBs, including the one from Aug. 6, 2001 we know was entitled "BIN LADEN DETERMINED TO STRIKE IN U.S.," which warned of imminent hijackings.

The only two delegates of the Commission who will be allowed to see pre-edited versions of these documents both have obvious conflicts of interest: Philip Zelikow has advised the Bush administration and wrote a book with Condoleeza Rice last year, while Jamie Gorelick is a former high-level adviser to President Clinton, whose PDBs will also come under scrutiny. The other commissioners will know only what Zelikow and Gorelick report back to them, based on their notes, which the White House will also be allowed to "edit."

Cleland and commission member Tim Roemer, a former congressman, both objected to the deal. "A majority of the commission has agreed to a bad deal," Cleland said in a stunning interview, reproduced below, in which he invokes the sorry history of the Warren Commission. "It is a national scandal... the Warren Commission blew it. I'm not going to be part of that. I'm not going to be part of looking at information only partially. I'm not going to be part of just coming to quick conclusions. I'm not going to be part of political pressure to do this or not do that..."

Cleland is frank about the possible darker implications of the White House's secrecy fetish: "Let's chase this rabbit into the ground here. They had a plan to go to war and when 9/11 happened that's what they did; they went to war."

Then, on Nov. 23 came the news that Bush suddenly appointed Cleland to the board of the Export-Import Bank, as a result of which "he will have to leave the commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks." So far only the Washington Times has reported details of this story (Nov. 23); the rest of the media have completely ignored it.

Observes the web site 911truth.org: "Just when the White House invokes a Nixonian 'executive privilege' in the struggle to keep its secrets, how is it possible that Bush can simply act to remove the most outspoken member of the Kean Commission by means of a cushy appointment? What other inducements were applied to Cleland to get him to leave the Commission? This is tantamount to a confession that Cleland is right - the White House has serious dirt to hide! And Cleland is hardly the first high-level representative to pose these questions... For asking, starting in March 2002, what the Bush administration may have known in advance of Sept. 11, Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was attacked from all sides and run out of Congress on a wave of millions in Republican campaign contributions."

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle is expected to nominate Cleland's replacement on the Kean Commission. 911truth.org is calling for pressure on Daschle to appoint as Cleland's replacement a member of the 9/11 Family Steering Committee, a group appointed by relatives of people who died in the attacks which has been serving as a watchdog on the official investigation.

www.911truth.org/ Nov. 29)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

91, 64 [top]

2. CIA DENIES PRE-9-11 DEAL WITH BIN LADEN
The CIA rejected claims in a new book that it attempted to negotiate a non-aggression pact with Osama bin Laden just two months before the 9-11 attacks. Richard Labeviere, author of "The Corridors of Terror," says the CIA's Dubai station chief Larry Mitchell met with bin Laden while he was being treated for a kidney complaint in the United Arab Emirates. He claims the meeting took place in the American Hospital in Dubai on July 12, 2001. "Such an allegation is sheer fantasy, no such thing occurred," CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said, echoing an earlier rebuttal by the Agency of French media reports in October 2001 about the alleged Dubai meeting. Labeviere said he learned of an encounter from a contact in the Dubai hospital, and said the event was confirmed in detail during a separate interview in New York with a Gulf prince who presented himself as an adviser to the Emir of Bahrain. Labeviere claims the prince told him the meeting had been arranged by Prince Turki al-Faisal, the head of the Saudi General Intelligence Department. He quoted the second contact as saying: "By organizing this meeting...Turki thought he could start direct negotiations between the Saudi millionaire and the CIA on one fundamental point: that bin Laden and his supporters end their hostilities against American interests." At the time, bin Laden had a multi-million dollar price on his head for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa. (Reuters, Nov. 13)

See also WW3 REPORT #6 [top]

3. FREED 9-11 SUSPECT SEEKS DAMAGES
A pilot who spent five months in a UK prison, accused of training 9-11 hijackers, has filed $10 million claims against both the FBI and US Justice Department. Lotfi Raissi, a British-based Algerian who studied at a flight school in Arizona, was arrested in London 10 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and held at the high-security Belmarsh prison. He was later cleared of wrongdoing by a British judge, who said US officials had failed to present any evidence to back up accusations that he had links to terrorism. (Reuters, Sept. 16) [top]

4. CIA DEATH MERCHANT GETS CONVICTION OVERTURNED
A federal judge threw out the conviction of Edwin P. Wilson, a former CIA agent who has spent 20 years in prison for selling arms to Libya, saying the government knowingly used false evidence against him. Wilson, 75, was convicted in 1983 of shipping 20 tons of C-4 plastic explosives to Libya. He will not be immediately freed from prison because he is also serving time for two other convictions--including one for conspiring to have prosecutors killed. At his 1983 trial in Texas, prosecutors introduced a sworn statement from a top-ranking official that Wilson didn't do anything for the CIA after his retirement in 1971. "It was just a flat-out lie," defense attorney David Adler said. "He did a lot." According to Adler, the Reagan-era officials who pushed the case were embarrassed by revelations they were trading arms for information and made Wilson a scapegoat. Days after his conviction, but before his sentencing, the CIA forwarded a memo to the US attorney's office saying at least five projects Wilson had worked on for the CIA after 1971 had surfaced--including a planned trip to Iran with the CIA's deputy director. US Judge Lynn Hughes, who ruled to overturn the conviction, said officials failed to inform Wilson's attorneys of the memo, and suppressed evidence in his appeal. Prosecutors now have the option of appealing Hughes' ruling or retrying Wilson. (AP, Oct. 29) [top]

5. ARRESTS MADE IN NEO-NAZI GAS PLOT
Federal authorities launched one of the widest domestic terrorism investigations since the Oklahoma City bombing this year, arresting three linked to white supremacist and far-right anti-government groups. At least one weapon of mass destruction--a sodium cyanide bomb capable of delivering a deadly gas cloud--has been seized. Investigators also seized at least 100 other bombs, bomb components, chemical agents, machine guns and 500,000 rounds of ammunition. Authorities say seized documents indicate unknown co-conspirators may still be free to carry out what appeared to be an advanced plot. Agents believe more cyanide bombs may be in circulation.

Since arresting the three in May, federal agents have served hundreds of subpoenas across the country in an investigation that made it onto President Bush's daily intelligence briefings. William J. Krar, originally of New Hampshire, pleaded guilty in federal court in Tyler, TX, to possession of a chemical weapon, and faces up to ten years in prison. His common-law wife, Judith Bruey, pleaded guilty to lesser weapons charges and faces up to five years. Also arrested was Newark, NJ, resident Edward Feltus, a New Jersey Militia member who pleaded guilty to attempting to purchase fake UN and Defense Department identity cards from Krar. (CBS, Nov. 26)

See also WW3 REPORT #6 [top]

6. WALL STREET TO TRADE TERROR FUTURES
A US government plan to create a market allowing traders to bet on the likelihood of terror attacks is being pushed by the private firm that helped develop it. The proposed Policy Analysis Market (PAM) will allow traders to buy and sell contracts on political and economic events in the Middle East, including assassinations, regime changes and terrorist attacks. The market is scheduled to start trading next spring. It was originally developed and funded with the aid of the Defense Department, where officials cited the uncanny ability of other futures markets to predict election results, weather patterns and other complex events. Harsh criticism forced the Pentagon to end its association with the project, but the project Web site, which had been idle for several months, now has an announcement saying it will be open for business in March 2004.

The project was speaheaded by San Diego-based market technology firm Net Exchange and the Economist Intelligence Unit, publisher of the Economist magazine. The Economist is no longer involved, and Net Exchange is now pursuing the venture alone, according to its president, Charles Polk. Former Admiral John Poindexter, who was prompted to leave the Pentagon in part because of his association with the project, will not be involved, Polk said. (CNN, Nov. 17)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

92, 59, 11 [top]

7. CHECKS DEMANDED ON COMPUTERIZED VOTING
VerifiedVoting.com is urging support for HR 2239, sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) which would mandate paper verification for the new computerized voting machines that are to be in place nationwide for the 2004 vote. Critics warn that the new electronic voting machines are vulnerable to tampering, are overwhelmingly produced by Republicans, and protect information with a propietary code that no one else--including state officials--can know. The votes are tallied by the companies that produce the machines.

An Oct. 19 story in the UK Independent raises the possibility that the upset victory of Republican challenger Saxby Chambliss over Sen. Max Cleland, the popular Democrat up for re-election in Georgia last November, was the result of electronic fraud. Georgia was the first state in the country to conduct an election entirely with touch-screen voting machines. [top]

8. WHITE HOUSE WEB SITE EVADES SEARCHES
Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now reported Oct. 29 that the White House has manipulated its web site to prevent Internet search engines including Google from archiving portions of the White House website related to Iraq. Over the past few months the White House has come under criticism for altering archived pages as the situation in Iraq worsens. In the most widely noted case the White House altered the headline for its coverage of Bush's speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. The web page originally read: "President Bush announces combat operations in Iraq have ended." Several months later the text "combat operations" was changed to "major combat operations" as it became evident that the fighting in Iraq had not ended. [top]

9. THE END OF THE INTERNET AS WE KNOW IT
"Can the Internet Crash?" asked a story in the Nov. 3 Newsweek, and answered its own question--yes, probably, if terrorists employed a combination of virus-bearing mass e-mailings and bomb attacks on computer hubs. Helpfully offered expert John Naughton of Britain's Open University:"If I were al-Qaeda, I would not waste time with nuclear weapons. I would be going to Microsoft courses." Newsweek itself closed by touting the inevitability of protective measures that would change the Internet beyond recognition: "Imagine having to pay postage for e-mail. And imagine governments around the world coming together to regulate this medium, which conquered the world precisely because it was decentralized and open to all comers. Its hard to imagine summoning the political will to undertake such a project, unless some crisis makes the need for it apparent to all." [top]

THE WAR AT HOME

1. NEW CHARGES IN LYNNE STEWART CASE;
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT THREATENS TO SUBPOENA WW3 REPORT

On Nov. 22, the US government filed fresh charges against New York civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart and two alleged co-conspirators--postal worker Ahmed Sattar and translator Mohammed Yousry. The new indictment comes after a federal judge in July dismissed charges that the three had conspired to provide material support to Egypt's Islamic Group, which is designated a terrorist organization by the US State Department. US Judge John Koetl said the original charges were unconstitutionally vague and "reveal a lack of prosecutorial standards."

Federal prosecutors initially accused Stewart of passing messages between her client, Sheikh Abdel Rahman, and Egyptian supporters from his prison cell, where he is serving a life term on charges of conspiring to blow up several New York landmarks. The new indictment charges that Stewart helped conceal from prison guards conversations in which Rahman told his translator and assisstant to call upon "Muslims everywhere" to free him from prison and "Kill them [Americans] anywhere you find them." According to the new indictment, Stewart "pretended to be participating in the conversation with Abdel Rahman by making extraneous comments such as 'chocolate' and 'heart attack.'" (Democracy Now, Nov. 20; AP, Nov. 19)

Just as the new indictment was brought, WW3 REPORT editor Bill Weinberg received a letter by Federal Express, dated Nov. 14, from James B. Comey, then US Attorney for Manhattan (and since promoted to deputy attorney general). The letter said that the US government is seeking Weinberg's "voluntary cooperation" in turning over the complete text of an interview with Stewart which ran in the June 30, 2002 issue of WW3 REPORT, as well as testimony and "unpublished outtakes, notes, or tapes from the same interview..." The letter states: "If you do not comply voluntarily, this Office may seek approval from the Attorney General for the issuance of a subpoena to compel you to produce the materials and to testify."

On the advice of his attorney, Weinberg is not cooperating with the request at this time, and does not wish to acknowledge whether any materials exist other than the published text. He has had his attorney reply to the US Attoney's office with a letter to this effect.

The Lynne Stewart interview can be seen on-line [top]

2. PALESTINIAN DETAINEE FAROUK ABDEL-MUHTI BEATEN IN JAIL
On the evening of Nov. 19 law enforcement officers assaulted New York-area Palestinian activist, Farouk Abdel-Muhti, in the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack, NJ, after finding leftist publications in his cell. Prison authorities have confiscated his personal possessions and filed a disciplinary report against him. As of Nov. 24, they were still denying him medical treatment. Abdel-Muhti and his supporters say that the assault follows a pattern of harassment of Abdel-Muhti for his political activities. Abdel-Muhti has been detained for over a year and a half by US immigration authorities, who claim they need to hold him while they attempt to carry out a 1995 deportation order.

The Nov. 19 incident began with an investigation in the prison wing where Abdel-Muhti is being held along with 61 other immigration detainees. Abdel-Muhti was not the target of the investigation, but officers searched all detainees' cells. Among Abdel-Muhti's papers two officers found several leftist publications--including The Militant, the Revolutionary Worker, Northstar Compass and pamphlets by the Partisan Defense Committee--which the publishers regularly send to Abdel-Muhti for free.

The two officers became abusive, calling the publications "anti-government" and telling Abdel-Muhti to "shut the fuck up" and to "go back to Palestine." The officers, who were not wearing name tags, pushed Abdel-Muhti against the wall at least twice, kicked him to the ground, and punched him on the side of the head. They then confiscated his personal property, including papers, address books and medicine, which was prescribed by the prison clinic for high blood pressure and a thyroid condition. Abdel-Muhti, who is 56 and in poor health, did not resist in any way.

The next day the prison filed a disciplinary report claiming that Abdel-Muhti was concealing medicine. As of Nov. 24 he had still not received new medicine, and the clinic had not examined him for injuries he may have received from the officers. He had first requested an examination on Nov. 19. He has since been once again placed in solitary confinement.

The government detained Abdel-Muhti in April 2002, one month after he began helping New York community radio station WBAI set up interviews with Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Abdel-Muhti's legal team, which includes attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild, argues that the government must release the activist since he is stateless and no country has accepted him. In October the team filed an updated brief in Abdel-Muhti's year-old habeas corpus petition, which is based on the Supreme Court's June 2001 ruling in Zadvydas v. Davis, which holds that the government should eaither deport or release an immigration detainee after six months. In late October, Abdel-Muhti was transferred from York County Prison in Pennsylvania--where he had been held in a segregation unit (solitary confinement) since February--to the Bergen County Jail, the fifth facility where he has been held since his arrest 18 months earlier.

The Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel-Muhti is asking supporters to send a message to David Venturella at the Homealnd Security Department's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) Office of Detention & Removal (phone 202-514-8663; fax 202-353-9435; email david.venturella@dhs.gov with copies to freefarouk@yahoo.com). Tell Venturella:

"I am asking you to please release Farouk Abdel-Muhti from detention immediately. He is not a threat to society or a flight risk. He is a promoter of peace and an asset to society."

Supporters can also write Farouk at:

Farouk Abdel-Muhti
#D-23751
Bergen County Jail Annex
PO Box 0369
Hackensack, NJ 07601-0369

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
Email freefarouk@yahoo.com
Website: www.freefarouk.org

See also WW3 REPORT #91 [top]

3. 2nd CIRCUIT TO RULE ON "ENEMY COMBATANT" LABEL
A three-judge panel of 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York will consider whether the president has the power to declare a US citizen an "enemy combatant" without Congressional authorization to indefinitely hold Jose Padilla, 33, accused in a so-called "dirty bomb" plot and designated an "enemy combatant." Giving such power exclusively to the executive branch with only limited judicial review would be "a sea change in the constitutional life of this country and...unprecedented in civilized society," said Judge Barrington D. Parker Jr. The panel is hearing an appeal of a lower-court ruling establishing that Padilla is entitled to see his lawyers and challenge his designation as an enemy combatant. He has not seen a lawyer in 17 months. Only two other people have been designated enemy combatants since the 2001 terrorist attacks: Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar accused of being an al-Qaida "sleeper" agent, and Esam Hamdi, a Louisiana native of Saudi descent captured during the fighting in Afghanistan. (AP, Nov. 18)

Note: After denying accused "enemy combatants" the right to legal counsel, the Pentagon announced Dec. 3 that it would allow Hamdi to see a lawyer for the first time. A Justice Department spokesman said the move would give the government a "more sustainable position" in court. Hamdi is being held at a Navy brig in Charleston, SC. (NYT, Dec. 4)

See also WW3 REPORT #65 [top]

4. 9th CIRCUIT RULES ON "MATERIAL SUPPORT" TO TERRORISTS
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down part of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, saying the government's definition of what constituted "material support" to foreign terror groups was too vague. "The prohibition on providing 'training' and 'personnel' is impermissibly overbroad and thus void for vagueness under the First and Fifth Amendments," the court ruled. That "personnel" provision was used to indict "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh and six men in Buffalo, NY, known as the "Lackawanna Six," according to David Cole, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights which brought the case. "Virtually all of the terrorism criminal prosecutions since 9-11 have relied on this material support statute," Cole said. The case stemmed from a suit brought by two individuals who sought to provide "material support" for the nonviolent political activities of Kurdish and Tamil groups designated as "foreign terrorist organizations" by the US State Department. That lawsuit challenged the 1996 law which made it a crime punishable by 10 years in prison to train representatives of "terrorist" organizations in the US, even to lobby peacefully for their cause. (Reuters, Dec. 4)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

56, 47

Note: The once-sensationalized John Walker Lindh largely disappeared from the headlines before the government's case against him collapsed. Held in isolation under tight security at Alexandria, VA--the same facility as accused 9-11 "20th hikacker" Zacarias Moussaoui--he was initially charged by Attorney General John Ashcrift with being "an al-Qaeda-trained terrorist." But in a last-minute flurry of negotiations in Summer 2002, just before key evidence was to be presented against him in court, the Justice Department agreed to accept a plea bargain, dropping nine charges--including all those related to terrorism. Lindh pleaded guilty to violating a 1999 executive order forbidding US citizens from contributing "services" to the Taliban. Instead of facing three life sentences plus an additional 90 years in prison, Lindh was sentenced to 22 years and transfered to a medium-security facility in California, where he now has a roomate and a window. Nonetheless, Ashcroft called the plea agreement "an important victory in the war on terrorism." But even the judge, TS Ellis II, noted that the case linking Lindh to al-Qaeda "was not strong" and that there was "no evidence" linking him to the death of CIA man Johnny Spann, who interrogated Lindh at an Afghan prison moments before being killed in a prisoner uprising. When Spann's father objected to this statement, Judge Ellis responded gently but strongly. "He is clearly a hero," he said, speaking of Spann. "Of all the things he fought for, one of them is that we don't convict people in the absence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt." (See Jane Meyer in The New Yorker, March 10, 2003)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

43, 38, 31, 28 [top]

5. FIRST OF "LACKAWANNA SIX" GETS TEN YEARS
Mukhtar al-Bakri, 23, a Yemeni-American who allegedly attended an al-Qaeda training camp and met with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan shortly before the 9-11 attacks was sentenced to 10 years in prison Dec. 3. He was the first defendant to be sentenced in the "Lackawanna Six," pursued by the Bush administration as a model in prosecuting terrorism suspects. Al-Bakri, the youngest of the group, was the last to accept a plea bargain earlier this year. His sentence for providing "material support" to al-Qaeda was expected to be among the harshest, as he is one of only two who purportedly completed the camp's training program. Also fined $2,000, he declined the opportunity to speak at his sentencing. Unlike his co-defendants, who were arrested in Lackawanna and Buffalo, NY, al-Bakri was seized in Bahrain on Sept. 10, 2002, a day after his wedding. Authorities pointed to a July e-mail he sent titled "The Big Meal," purportedly suggesting an imminent attack, and to an intercepted phone call in which al-Bakri joked that his friends would not be seeing him anymore. His attorney John Molloy maintains al-Bakri was referring to his impending wedding.

In a sworn document in May, al-Bakri described meeting with bin Laden at the al-Farooq camp in Afghanistan and hearing a bin Laden speech to the camp's trainees. Al-Bakri claimed he was trained in assault weapons and explosives and stood guard duty before returning home to Lackawanna on Aug. 11, 2001. Al-Bakri supporters said he and the others were tricked into attending the camp by recruiters who told them they would be receiving religious instruction. Federal prosecutors admitted they had no evidence the men were involved in planning any imminent terrorist act. (AP, Dec. 3)

See also WW3 REPORT #68 [top]

6. SPECIAL REGISTRATION TO END?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is reportedly preparing to abandon its "special registration" program, which requires male "visitors" over 16 years old from 24 primarily Muslim countries and North Korea to appear at immigration offices to be fingerprinted, photographed and questioned. Over 83,000 visitors have registered under the program, and deportation proceedings were brought against nearly 14,000 registrants. Authorities claim the program resulted in the identification of dozens of criminals and seven with possible links to terrorism.

DHS officially says they "are continuing to evaluate the effectiveness" of special registration, but government sources told the Washington Post a decision to end the program could be announced within days. DHS spokesperson Bill Strassberger suggested special registration might be superseded by the US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US VISIT) program, set to begin Jan. 5. Under US VISIT, immigration officials at 115 airports and 14 seaports will begin collecting digital fingerprints and photographs from foreign visitors who enter the US with visas. According to the Washington Post, many DHS officials see special registration as ineffective. The program was implemented by Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Justice Department. The immigration service stopped being part of the Justice Department and was split into three bureaus of the DHS on March 1, 2003.

From Immigration News Briefs, Nov. 22

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

74, 69 [top]

7. FBI WATCHES ANTI-WAR PROTESTS
The FBI has collected extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of anti-war protesters, and advised local law enforcement officials to report any suspicious activity at protests to its counter-terrorism squads, according to a secret bureau memo obtained by the New York Times. The memo, sent to local law enforcement agencies in October ahead of anti-war rallies in Washington and San Francisco, detailed how protesters have used "training camps" to prepare for demonstrations, the Internet to raise money, and gas masks to defend against tear gas. Bureau officials said in interviews the intelligence-gathering effort was aimed at identifying anarchists and "extremist elements" plotting violence, not at monitoring the political speech of law-abiding protesters. But rights advocates fear the program could signal a return to the abuses of the 1960's and 1970's, when J. Edgar Hoover was FBI director and agents routinely spied on peaceful protesters like Martin Luther King Jr.

"The FBI is dangerously targeting Americans who are engaged in nothing more than lawful protest and dissent," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "The line between terrorism and legitimate civil disobedience is blurred, and I have a serious concern about whether we're going back to the days of Hoover."

The Hoover-era abuses led to tight restrictions on FBI investigations of political activities. But those restrictions were relaxed significantly last year, when Attorney General John Ashcroft issued guidelines giving agents authority to attend political rallies, mosques and any event "open to the public." Rights advocates have accused federal and local authorities in Denver and Fresno of spying on anti-war demonstrators and infiltrating planning meetings.

The Oct. 15 memo admitted that the bureau "possesses no information indicating that violent or terrorist activities are being planned as part of these protests" and that "most protests are peaceful events." But it urged law enforcement officials "to be alert to these possible indicators of protest activity and report any potentially illegal acts." It warned about an array of threats, including homemade bombs and the formation of human chains. The memorandum discussed protestors' "innovative strategies," like videotaping arrests as a means of "intimidation" against the police. And it noted that protesters "often use the Internet to recruit, raise funds and coordinate their activities prior to demonstrations." It also warned: "Activists may also make use of training camps to rehearse tactics and counter-strategies for dealing with the police..." (NYT, Nov. 23) [top]

8. NYPD RAIDS ACTIVIST MEETING
A private fundraising event in Brooklyn for the activist group Critical Resistance was raided by the New York Police Department Nov. 16. Up to 100 people in attendance were indiscriminately sprayed with chemical agents, beaten with nightsticks, and otherwise harassed by a throng of police officers. Witnesses say there was no provocation for the assaults and the subsequent arrests.

Over 25 police vehicles arrived at 968 Atlantic Ave., the location of the event, at around 2 AM, to investigate an officer's report of someone standing outside the party holding an "open container." Within minutes, attendees said, the police attacked the crowd, beating attendees who were not resisting their orders. Over 20 people experienced effects of the pepper spray that was erratically sprayed into the air by the officers.

All tenants of the private residential building were present at the event, did not request police assistance, and no one in the building placed a complaint with either the local precinct or the emergency response system. Witnesses report that no warrant was presented upon police entrance. At least eight arrests were made on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and inciting riot. The 77th Precinct, where the arrestees were initially held, refused to provide any information about the status of those arrested. Emergency medical technicians visited the precinct to attend to those who sustained serious injuries, which reportedlt include bruised ribs, a spinal injury, and severe blows to the head.

Critical Resistance is a national grassroots group that focuses on prisons and police brutality, and challenges the belief that policing, surveillance, imprisonment, and similar forms of control make our communities safer. (Critical Resistance action alert, Nov. 16) [top]

9. SICKO PSY-OPS: U.S. HITS ITS OWN CITIZENS WITH LEE GREENWOOD
10,000 people protested at Fort Benning, GA, against the School of Americas (SOA) on Nov. 23. The SOA, now officially called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, has been called the "school of assassins" by its critics for its many graduates who went on to become dictators and death-squad leaders. Officially, the school is a US military training program which instructs Latin American officers in combat techniques, including "counter-insurgency" training. But during this protest, the army brought out a potent psy-ops technique--blasting incredibly loud music at the demonstrators. This technique was made notorious during the US seige of Panamanian strongman (and SOA graduate) Manuel Noriega as he sought refuge in the Papal Nuncio compound during the 1989 US invasion. While US forces waited for Noriega to surrender, they blasted loud rock music 24-hours a day at the compound, including, "I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)" by the Bobby Fuller Four.

But for the protest, the army used a song that could have been written specifically to send demonstrators in seizures, C&W crooner Lee Greenwood's syrupy patriot standby, "God Bless the USA." The speakers were placed 50 yards from where activists were trying to address a large crowd. Organizers at School of the Americas Watch are planning to sue the army, accusing it of mounting a "psychological operation." It is worth quoting the first two verses of the song to get an idea of how it may have been received:

"If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
I'd thank my lucky stars to be livin' here today,
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away.

"And I'm PROUD to be an American where as least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA."

( Democracy Now, Nov. 24)

(David Bloom) [top]

10. CALIFORNIA UBER ALLES
It's deja vu all over again as the state that gave us Gov. Ronald Reagan has sent another reactionary Tinseltown lug-head to Sacramento--the muscle-bound Arnold Schwarzenegger, elected in an unprecedented recall vote with an unprecedented voter turn-out due to his stardom, recalling the old adage that we get the government we deserve. Most of the controversy since his Oct. 7 election has centered on numerous accusations of having groped women on movie sets. But many in the state's Mexican-American community fear he will resurrect and expand the xenophobic policies of former governor Pete Wilson. Immediately upon taking office he followed through on a campaign pledge to sign the repeal of a new law that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licences. (CNSNews.com, Dec. 4)

Fortunately, the Terminator can never follow Reagan to the White House, as he was not born in the USA himself. A profile in the Aug. 20 edition of Newsweek en Espanol reminded readers of the great--but ultimately equivocal--lengths he went to in an effort to distance himself from his family's Nazi past. In 1990, upon being appointed to the symbolic post of physical education chief by President George HW Bush, Schwarzenegger enlisted the Simon Weisenthal Center, the LA-based watchdog on anti-Semtism, to investigate his own late father, Gustav Schwarzenegger, who joined the Nazi Party after Germany annexed his native Austria in 1938. Arnold also lavished large donations on the Weisenthal Center. In August 2003, in the midst of the gubernatorial campaign, the Center's Rabbi Marvin Hier went on TV to announce that Gustav had been minutely investigated and completely exonerated of war crimes. Neatly forgotten was Arnold's public defense of Kurt Waldheim, the former Austrian president and UN secretary-general who came under fire in the 1980s for covering up war crimes committed by his German army unit in World War II.

Timothy Noah, writing on "Arnold's Nazi Problem" in the on-line magazine Slate.com in August, points out that Schwarzenegger still refuses to repudiate Waldheim--whose wartime crimes are documented in the 1992 book "Betrayal: The Untold Story of the Kurt Waldheim Investigation and Cover-Up" by Eli M. Rosenbaum and William Hoffer. Waldheim had always maintained that he was wounded early in the war and returned to Vienna to attend law school. But during his 1986 presidential bid it was revealed that he had been an intelligence officer in Germany's Army Group E when it committed mass murder in Bosnia. In 1944, Waldheim had also personally reviewed and approved a packet of anti-Semitic propaganda leaflets to be dropped behind Russian lines, one of which ended, "Enough of the Jewish war, kill the Jews, come over." The revelations didn't prevent Waldheim from winning the election, but the US Justice Department put the new Austrian president on its watch list denying entry to "any foreign national who assisted or otherwise participated in activities amounting to persecution during World War II." The international community largely shunned Waldheim, and he didn't run again.

Throughout the1986 election, Schwarzenegger's name remained on Waldheim's campaign posters. After Waldheim was elected, Schwarzenegger paid him a visit and was photographed with him. According to the New York Post's "Page Six" gossip column, Schwarzenegger was seen sitting beside Waldheim as recently as 1998, when the two attended the second inauguration of Waldheim's successor as president, Thomas Klestil. In 1988, Schwarzenegger was asked in a Playboy interview what he thought of Waldheim. He replied:

"I hate to talk about it, because it's a no-win situation. Without going into details, I can say that being half-Austrian and half-American, I don't like the idea that these two countries that mean so much to me are in such a disagreement... With a little bit of good will, the problem will be straightened out. I think it's well on the way."

Since the election, numerous "Recall Arnold" web sites have popped up around the Internet, e.g. http://www.slumdance.com/recallarnold/ [top]

GLIMMERS OF HOPE

1. PALESTINIAN DETAINEE WINS RELEASE
On Aug. 29, immigration authorities released Mohammad Bachir from the Batavia Federal Detention Facility near Buffalo, NY, and allowed him to return home to southern California. Bachir is a stateless Palestinian refugee who has resided legally in the US for 23 years. He had been in federal custody since February 2002, when he was falsely arrested for missing an appointment--even though he had called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on the day of the appointment to explain that he was in the hospital, a fact later verified by the INS. Immigration officials then defied a federal court's order to release Bachir, and instead transferred him to the Batavia facility. Bachir is now out of custody and at his home in Orange County, CA. He expresses his thanks to supporters who made phone calls and sent faxes to immigration officials advocating his release. (Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants, Oct. 10) [top]

2. HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT WINS ONE FOR FIRST AMENDMENT
A federal judge ruled that a Michigan high school student has the right to wear a T-shirt to school with the face of President Bush and the words "International Terrorist" on the front. "There is no evidence that the T-shirt created any disturbance or disruption," US District Judge Patrick J. Duggan said, ruling in favor of the Michigan ACLU, which sued the Dearborn school district on behalf of student Bretton Barber. An assistant principal had ordered Barber in February to conceal the anti-Bush message or go home. Dearborn High said it worried about inflaming passions at the suburban Detroit school, where a majority of students are Arab-American. "The court's decision reaffirms the principle that students don't give up their right to express opinions on matters of public importance once they enter school," Kary Moss, executive director of the state ACLU, said in a news release. (AP, Oct. 10)

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