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ISSUE: #. 96. March 2004






"Radical journals are like love affairs, easier to start than sustain."

--John Patrick Diggins, quoted in the New York Times Feb. 21, in reference to the 50th anniversary of Dissent


by Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Nirit Ben-Ari and Wynde Priddy, Special Correspondents

1. Officials Spill the Beans: Intelligence Good on Kofi Annan, Bad on WMD Threat
2. Civil War Inevitable?
3. Sharia Measure Overturned in Draft Constitution
4. More Violence in Kirkuk; Turkmen Demand Peacekeepers
5. Deaths in U.S./U.K. Custody Under Scrutiny
6. Southern Marshes Face Problematic Recovery
7. Poland Seeks NATO Role
8. Russia to Write Off Iraqi Debt for Investment Rights

1. New Israeli Land Confiscations at Jayyous
2. WW3 REPORT Infiltrates Settler Rally in Tel Aviv

1. Algeria: OPEC Summit Overshadows Rights Abuses
2. Tunisia: Bush Hosts Autocrat
3. Morocco: Quake Hits Berbers Hard

1. "Rule of the Rapists"
2. Unrest May Postpone Elections
3. New Afghan Opium War
4. Al-Qaeda Lieutenant Taunts Bush
5. War Spreads to Pakistan
6. Carnage at Shiite Pilgrimage in Pakistan
7. Pakistan Proliferation Forgiven

1. "Chechen Trail" in Moscow Metro Blast: Kremlin
2. Qatar Arrests Russian Agents in Death of Chechen Exile

1. NATO Arrests Bosnian Serb Ex-Defense Minister
2. Mosque Attacked in Macedonia

1. Colombia "Certified"--Despite Para Terror
2. U.N.: "Invisible" Humanitarian Disaster in Colombia
3. Colombian Army Battles Guerillas--and Paras?
4. Barrancabermeja: Youth Activist Abducted
5. Cauca: Army Kills Indigenous
6. Vichada: Indigenous Massacre
7. Coke Libel Suit Goes Flat
8. Venezuela: Two Killed in Protests; Opposition Arming?
9. Chavez Threatens Oil Cut-Off
10. Ecuador: Indigenous Leader Attacked
11. Indigenous Block Roads in Ecuador Mobilization
13. Bolivia: Austerity Measures Imposed
14. Bolivian Prosecutor Assassinated in Car Bomb Attack

1. Dirty War Suspect Arrested
2. Chiapas: Reckoning on Army Repression Ten Years Later
3. Ecologists Call for Evictions from Chiapas Rainforest
4. Militarization Escalates on U.S. Border
5. California Rejects Border Fence

1. Guatemala: DEA Busts Ex-Enron Rep
2. Gangs Declare War on Honduran Government
3. Campesinos Seize Government Offices in Honduras
4. Nicaragua: U.S. Firms Sue Banana Workers
5. Costa Rica: Ecologists Protest Harken Talks

1. "Secret" Pentagon Report Warns of Climate Disaster
2. Bush to Open Alaska North Coast Oil Reserve

1. U.N. Atomic Chief: World Headed for Holocaust
2. Does al-Qaeda Have Ukrainian Nukes?
3. W.H.O. "Suppressed" Depleted Uranium Study

1. Rights Groups Protest Secret Gitmo Trials
2. World's Only 9-11 Convict Wins Retrial
3. Tehran Radio: Osama Captured
4. Terror War Good for Defense Contractors
5. FBI Discriminates Against Jewish Arabic Translators

1. Government Again Refuses to Release Palestinian Detainee
2. U.N. Gets Complaint on Detainees
3. Federal Judge Rules Against PATRIOT Act
4. Activists Sue NYPD

1. Feds Back Down in Subpoenas of Student Activists
2. NYC Joins Revolt Against PATRIOT Act



As charges mount that the CIA and White House doctored intelligence to make the case that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), CIA director George Tenet said in a televised speech Feb. 5: "No one told us what to say or how to say it. When the facts of Iraq are all in, we will neither be completely right nor completely wrong." (Newsday, Feb. 6)

In an interview with the UK Telegraph, Ahmad Chalabi, the the Iraqi opposition figure (and now member of the Governing Council) who was apparently the source for much faulty intelligence of Saddam's WMD capability, said: ''We are heroes in error.'' In a tacit admission that his intelligence was tainted, Chalabi said: ''As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants.'' (IPS, Feb. 21)

Former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, meanwhile, likened the use of intelligence by Bush and Blair to justify war in Iraq to the tactics of sleazy salesmen. Blix--who pleaded for more time to search Iraq for weapons before the invasion last March--said: "The intention was to dramatize it [the intelligence] just as the vendors of some merchandise are trying to exaggerate the importance of what they have," Blix told BBC television. (Reuters, Feb. 8)

Another ex-official to spill the beans was Clare Short, former member of the Blair cabinet, who resigned last April over differences on Iraq. She told reporters Feb. 26 that British spies had bugged the offices of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and monitored his communications, in the lead-up to the war. She said she recalled thinking as she talked to Annan: "Oh dear, there will be a transcript of this and people will see what he and I are saying." (BBC, Feb. 26)

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd noted the irony that US ally Pakistan has been caught red-handed supplying nuclear technology to rogue states just as the trail in Iraq is going cold: "I think President Bush has cleared up everything now. The US invaded Iraq, which turned out not to have what our pals in Pakistan did have and were giving out willy-nilly to all the bad guys except Iraq, which wouldn't take it." (NYT, Feb. 12)

And former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft--who led a classified review of US intelligence in 2001 as head of the US Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and was an outspoken critic of the Iraq invasion--took stock of what the intelligence fiasco has wrought. In an interview with the Portuguese weekly Expresso he said: "It could become a Vietnam in a way that the Vietnam war never did. Our exit from that country did not have grave consequences, while if we wanted to get out of Iraq today, the consequences would be very deep." (Sydney Morning Herald, Feb. 29)

See WW3 REPORT #95 [top]

In the face of continued chaos and terrorist attacks, Iraq's US-backed Governing Council remains divided along ethnic and religious lines. The US insists a June 30 deadline for a power transfer is fixed, but admits the original plan to select representatives by regional caucuses is unworkable due to lack of support, and there is "currently no consensus on an alternative." (NYT, Feb. 20) On Feb. 17, the US approved an interim constitution granting broad autonomy to the northern Kurdish-controlled zone, but put off key decisions such as disarmament of regional militias. (NYT, March 2) Shiite leaders have actually propoed that voting proceed in Iraq's relatively secure southern Shiite region and northern Kurdish zone, but not in the central Sunni Arab area, the traditional seat of power in Iraq and now the site of the greatest armed resistance and instability. (NYT, Feb. 18) And while Shiites on the Council are willing to compromise with advocates of a secular Iraq, the Shiite opposition leader Muktada al-Sadr demands exclusive relaince on sharia law in drafting the new constitution. (NYT, Feb. 20)

On March 2, Shiite celebrations of the Ashura holy day in Karbala were targetted for a masssacre. At least 143 were left dead in attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen with mortars and grendaes at the Karbala shrine to Imam Musa al-Khadam. The Ashura celebration brought Shiite pilgrims from as far as Uzbekistan, and Tehran officials claimed at least 20 of dead were Iranians. US officials point to Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, Jordanian-born suspected al-Qaeda militant, as mastermind of the attack. (NYT, March 3) In an earlier report, the New York Times said US officials had determined that al-Zarqawi--described as leader of Ansar al-Islam, a radical group active in Iraqi Kurdistan--had been rebuffed by al-Qaeda contacts abroad in his requests for aid in a holy war against the Shiites. One intercepted letter from al-Zarqawi reportedly read: "Some people will say that this will be a reckless and irresponsible action that will bring the Islamic nation to a battle for which the Islamic nation is unprepared. Souls will perish and blood will be spilled. This is, however, exactly what we want." (NYT, Feb. 21) On Feb. 18, US troops arrested seven men said to be al-Qaeda operatives in a raid on a suspected cell in the Sunni Triangle city of Baqouba. (NY Sun, Feb. 19) (For reportage on last year's historic Ashura celebrations, see WW3 REPORT #83)

This was but the worst of a series of recent attacks. On Feb. 10, a car bomb in the Shiite town of Iskandariya killed some 50 Iraqis lining up to join the police force. On Feb. 11 another blast in central Baghdad killed approximately 45, mostly applicants lining up to join the new Iraqi army. One survivor of the Iskandraiya attack, Hussein Raed, 20, told Newsday from his hospital bed: "The Americans did it. Can you imagine the Iraqis would do this to Iraqis? This is political. They want to control the country. They suspect that the new army would be against them." (Newsday, Feb. 12)

On Feb. 16, a bomb in a Baghdad schoolyard killed a 7-year-old boy and wounded four others. (Newsday, Feb. 17) On Feb. 18, suicide bombers in two explosive-laden trucks blew themselves up outside a Polish military base in Hillah, killing 10 Iraqis. (AP, Feb. 18) Feb. 23, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Baghdad, as a suicide attack at a Kirkuk police station killed at least 10, including a young student, and injured over 50. (NYT, Feb. 24)

Guerrillas assaulted a police station and security compound in Fallujah Feb. 12 just as the top US commander in the Middle East, Gen. John Abizaid, was visiting the site. Abizaid escaped unharmed. On Feb. 14, the base was attacked again, sparking a battle that killed 21. (AP, Feb. 14)

Amid the succession of attacks, contiued horrific social conditions in Iraq and the growing power of fundamentalists make headlines only occassionally. A front-page story in the New York Times Feb. 14, "Chaos and War Leave Iraq's Hospitals in Ruins," showed puddles of sewage collecting in a corridor at Baghdad's central pediatric hospital. The Times reported Feb. 19 that slayings of merchants and bomb attacks on liquor stores in Baghdad and especially Basra have effectively banned sales of alcohol in these cities.

As of Feb. 24, the official death toll for US troops serving in Iraq stood at 547. (NYT, Feb. 24) The rising death toll is certainly providing fodder for malcontents and paranoiacs of every stripe. A report by Joe Vialls on the website--a radical-right project linked to David Duke that masquerades in left-populist guise--quotes an unnamed "well-placed Pentagon source" who alleges that the figures are being cooked, with the actual total standing at 1,188 as of Feb. 3. These claims were unfortunately circulated on some lefty anti-war e-lists.

The entirely credible web site Iraq Body Count continues to monitor world press reports to arrive at a daily update of the total Iraqi civilian dead from war-related causes since the US campaign began last March. At press time, the minimum estimate stands at 8,473 and the maximum at 10,282. The headline on the website now reads: "Civilian deaths in 'noble' Iraq mission pass 10,000. We need a tribunal to administer justice for the victims."

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]

On Feb 27, the Governing Council, now led by Shiite woman Dr. Raja Habib Khuzai, voted to to reject a constitutional provision grating Islamic clerics power to adjuicate in domestic disputes and impose sharia law--including denial of divorce and inheritance rights to women. Five male Shiite members of the council stood up and walked out following the vote. (NYT, Feb. 28) The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) reports on its website that the measure was defeated following an activist campaign and series of public protests by women in Baghdad. The group's leader Yanar Mohammed has since been the target of repeated death threats.

See also WW3 REPORT # 95 [top]

Turkmen ethnic leaders said the Kirkuk offices of the Iraqi Turkmen Front was attacked Feb. 29 by scores of Kurds, who smashed computers and furniture. Police extended a nightly curfew, as scattered violence broke out across the city. Witnesses said Kurds ripped apart Turkmen and Iraqi flags and vandalized shops owned by Turkmen. "We demand the United Nations and the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference send peacekeeping forces to maintain security in Kirkuk to prevent events which may lead to civil war," local Turkmen leader Saad al-Din Arkij told Reuters. An official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said none of the Kurdish political parties were involved in the violence.

Under Saddam Hussein, both Turkmen and Kurds were forced from Kirkuk, but in recent months, many have started to return. The Governing Council has postponed a decision on whether Kurds will be able to expand their autonomous zone to include Kirkuk, Iraq's northern oil hub. (Reuters, March 3)

See also WW3 REPORT #s

94 ,92 [top]

British soldiers are accused of forcing a 16-year-old Iraqi boy to his death in a canal in Basra. A witness claims he and Ahmad Jabbar Kareem were among four youths captured by British troops last May, driven to the canal and ordered across. Three survived, but Ahmad, who could not swim, drowned. His case is one of seven deaths in British custody that the Defense Ministry admits it is investigating since the UK's Independent on Sunday paper revealed the story of Baha Mousa, who died after being arrested last September. In another recent case, US troops are accused of forcing a young man, Zeidun Fadhil, to his death in the Tigris river outside the city of Samarra in January. (UK Independent, Feb. 28)

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]

US AID budgeted $4 million for restoration of Iraq's southern marshlands, which were drained by Saddam Hussein in a scheme to eradicate the culture of the region's rebellious Marsh Arabs. There were some 250,000 residents of the marsh region in 1991, before Saddam's drainage program, and 40,000 in 2003. But the vision of restoring the traditional Marsh Arab way of life, based on fishing and water buffalo, faces serious obstacles. Much of the water which is flooding back in following the removal of dykes and barriers is contaminated, and many local commuities are suffering from giardia and diarrhea. (NYT, Feb. 21)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

83 39 [top]

Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski told reporters that Poland is urging that work begin to establish the level of NATO involvement in Iraq. "I suggested that we should begin informal consultations at [an] ambassadorial level, and that later on this dialogue should be continued at the level of foreign ministers," Szmajdzinski said on the sidelines of the two-day Munich Conference on Security Policy. He added that Poland wants decisions on the alliance's possible role in Iraq to be made at the NATO summit in Istanbul in June. Poland has some 2,500 servicemen in Iraq and leads a 9,000-strong division of troops from more than 20 countries in its stabilization sector there. (RFE Newsline, Feb. 9)

See also WW3 REPORT #93 [top]

Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said Feb. 7 that Russia expects to write off 65% of the $8 billion debt that Iraq owes Moscow, excluding interest. "Above all, the size of the write-off and restructuring will be determined on the basis of an assessment of [Iraq's] economic and financial condition [and] its future creditworthiness" now being carried out by the World Bank and IMF, Kudrin told a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers of the leading industrialized countries in Boca Raton, FLA. Kudrin added that a promise made by the Iraqi Governing Council to respect oil contracts made under the previous regime "is a good basis for us being flexible on write-off issues." President Putin also told a visiting Iraqi Governing Council delegation in December that Russia was ready to write off 65% of Iraq's debt, while the delegation's head, Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, declared Iraq "open for all Russian companies to carry out their activities." (RFE Newsline, Feb. 9) [top]


On March 3 at 10:30 AM, seven farmers in Jayyous, in the West Bank, received official orders from Israel's civil administration. The orders were written mostly in Hebrew, but were easy to translate. "The barracks on your land will be destroyed in 25 days because you do not have permits for them." These "barracks" are structures that house the livestock belonging to the extended Shamasny family, who live on the southeast end of Jayyous, very close to where Israel has built its "separation fence." Already, 200 dunams (dunam=one-quarter acre) of land planted with their fruit trees were destroyed for the building of the "fence." All they had left was the working part of thier farms--the areas with livestock as opposed to outlying fruit orchards. This land is owned by seven farmers and the buildings slated for further destruction are home to more than 3,000 chickens, 70 sheep and 15 cows. These animals are the main source of income for these families as these animals produce milk, yogurt and eggs.

According to the document, the destruction will take place according to a law that was enacted by Israel in 1966. The destruction of property by an occupying power is prohibited under international law. Article 23(g) of the 1907 Hague Regulations provides that the destruction or seizure of property is "especially forbidden," unless "imperatively demanded by the necessities of war." Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the destruction of real or personal property "except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operation." Under Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention the "extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly" is considered a grave breach of the Convention. In addition, article 8(2)(a)(iv) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court declares that the "Grave Breach of extensive destruction and appropriation of property is a war crime."

The Israelis are not the first occupier to have appropriated property belonging to the Shamasnys. On Jan. 14, this reporter was told by an elderly member of the clan how he remembers as a boy when the Turks during the Ottoman era came and took 20 of his family's olive trees, to be used coal for their railroad, the family was told.

The Shamasnys have often been terrorized by Israeli Border Police who have shot live ammunition into the farm. Because they live so close to the fence, they often bear the reprisals when boys tear up stakes of the fence or cut it.

Adwan Shamasny, 27, has sent a plea for help via the Internet:

"Please send this letter to all human rights in the world... My friends, the israeli government has sent on last Wednesday a warning notice to me to transfer my farm... As you know this cow farm feeds more than 15 persons in my family, and this is the only way of getting money... I don't know if my cow farm [has] become criminal according to Israeli policy."

Adwan teaches Arab culture in a school in nearby Qalqilya. The name of the school is "Salaam," or "peace" school. He was a leader in the non-violent movement against land confiscations and wall construction in Jayyous, which may explain why his land is being targeted.

When US peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed March 16, 2003 by an Israeli army bulldozer in still-unresolved circumstances in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Adwan wrote the following to WW3 REPORT: "Accept my condolences on our friend's death (Rachel Corrie) in Gaza yesterday, and we are very sad and angry in Palestine from this event, but we shouldn't surrender, we have to make everything for peace to win, and support justice in order to [have a] better future."

This writer spent many evenings resting on the beautiful Shamasny farm. Occasionally, an Israeli Merkava tank would roll by on the road next to the fence. Isolated as it is at the southeast end of the village, there was always fear it would be the next target in the ongoing cleansing of Jayyous. But this marks the first time the Israeli occupying army has served notice for demolitions on the Jayyous' side of the wall. Local hydrologist Abdel Latif Khaled notes: "The claim is that the farms and shelters are close to the wall less than 50 meters in Area C [full Israeli control]. But according to the municipality, the farms and shelters are lisenced in Area B [mixed control], and far from the border [the Green Line, 6 km away]. These farms existed since many years before the wall started. These farms and shelters are inside the village building zone."

Khaled continues: "The wall is built six kilometers away from the borders of Israel, and built adjacent to these farms, so now they are close to the wall. It is unbelievable this could happen. I have in mind an ironical instance we use in Jayyous which says: "When somebody puts his finget in your eye, you're asked to say to him, 'I am sorry man, my eye has bothered your finger.'" (WW3 REPORT sources in Jayyous) (David Bloom)

For more on Adwan's farm, see: "More Damage at Adwan's Farm ," WW3 REPORT#91

"Adwan's Farm: Seized and Denuded," WW3 REPORT # 75

For more on Jayyous: Letter From Jayyous, The Nation

And Update From Jayyous, WW3 REPORT #95

For Pictures of Adwan's farm, see:

On Jan. 10, WW3 REPORT attended the settlers' rally at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. The protest, attended by members of Sharon's own party, government ministers and members of the Knesset, was meant to prod Sharon back to his previously unambiguous support of the settlements--or to threaten him with regime change. The settlers said if they didn't bring in more than 150,000 to Tel Aviv, they would consider the rally a failure. But AFP reported police sources as saying only 80,000 were in attendence. With a settler-style beard and a Hebrew-speaking translator, this reporter had little trouble milling with the crowd and conducting numerous interviews, in an attempt to gauge the "Yesha" zeitgeist. (Yesha is a Hebrew acronym for Judea and Samaria, the settler names of the occupied Palestinian territories.)

Our first stop was the booth set up by GAMLA, a pro-settler ex-military officer's association, which once published an article on their website called "The Logistics of Transfer," about how to ethnically cleanse Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories of their Arab inhabitants. GAMLA gave us stickers which said in Hebrew, "The settlers are the real security fence," helping us further blend in. The GAMLA guys told us they didn't want to see Sharon go, just to try to strengthen him from the right, and that that's what they thought the rally was about.

The square was full of very young people, about 80% of them 18 or under. For the most part they are clean-cut except for their more active counterparts--the infamous "hilltop youth," who seize hilltops in the West Bank near other settlements, as the vanguard for settlement expansion. They are also trained by the ultra-right banned Jewish terror group Kach in special summer camps in how to seize hilltops and clash with Arabs. These kids, who sat around in drum circles in the Square, look an awful lot like members of the Hippie International, wearing scruffy hemp clothes, sporting mad Jewfros, long pony-tails and beads, but clearly don't share the same set of values as some of their more peaceable western counterparts. (See WW3 REPORT #92)

One booth peddled organic goods from some of the most infamously nasty settlements, like Yitzhar and Itamar, and Kiryat Arba in Hebron. Settlers have been known to steal Palestinian's olives, press the oil, and sell it back to the Palestinians. "Organic olive oil" is an item sold from Itamar. Pure organic honey from Tapuah. Neve Dekalim in Gaza peddles 100% natural juice. Some of this produce ends up in Israeli markets, where buyers sometimes unwittingly support the settlements by buying from a reseller.

A personal favorite: someone was selling a book that declared "Why was Baruch Goldstein framed?" on the dustcover. The late Baruch Goldstein is infamous for his massacre of 29 Palestinian Muslim worshippers in Hebron/al-Khalil's Cave of the Patriarchs on March 22, 1994, on the Jewish holiday or Purim. See also:

WW3 REPORT scanned the myriad signs and noted that very few seemed to identify cities and towns within the Green Line that had come out to support the settlers. This was confirmed by news reports. The settlers had hoped to make a show of force of Israelis living legally within the Green Line who support their countrymen's right to colonize and illegally occupy Palestinian territory; but this support failed to materialize. It was as if all the settlers had come in from "Yesha" to occupy enemy territory: Meretz-held North Tel Aviv. WW3 REPORT's GAMLA sticker got some pretty nasty stares from local "left"-Zionist Meretz party supporters when we finally left the square.

Some of the signs:"Us Here, Them There = Transfer"; "The Settlers are the Real Security Fence"; "I Only Buy From Jews" (also a popular t-shirt);"Holding Strong for God's Cities" ;"Jordan is the Palestinian State."

If transfer-themed slogans seemed widely prevalent, it showed the high level of support the crowd had for Tourism Minister Benny Elon, whose Moledet party advocates "voluntary" transfer. Indeed, Elon got by far the loudest cheers at the event when he spoke, especially so when he declared there is already a Palestinian state-- Jordan. We got to meet some giggly folks from the Moledet Youth, who wore t-shirts bearing the likeness of the assassinated former Moledet leader and Tourism Minister Rehavem Ze'evi, AKA "Ghandi"--thusly dubbed not for his political views, but his gauntness as a youth. "They have 21 countries, and we have just one!" one Moledet youth declared in the familiar canard that there's plenty of places the Palestinians could move to. "That's 22 countries," we corrected them. "Yeah, 22!!" They repled, animatedly.

Speakers also appeared from Sharon's own Likud party, including Minister-without-portolfolio Uzi Landau, who declared, "If it's possible to uproot Jewish communities to solve the problem, then it should be possible to uproot Arab communities,"

Over and over again, WW3 REPORT asked settlers if they feared they may eventually be evacuated, or relocated to other settlements. "They have been saying this," noted a religious young man with a scrappy beard, colorful kippa and an Uzi slung round his back noted. "They say. We do." He was from Homesh in the northern West Bank, a settlement that Sharon has mentioned specifically as a candidate for evacuation. When asked how he felt about the wall, he gave the same answer everyone did at the square that night: It's wrong to divide the land of Israel. He did not even know which side of the fence Homesh was on, "because it twists and turns so much, it's hard to tell." But there are those in Homesh who have figured out they will be cut off from Israel, and in a bit of twisted irony, they are cooperating with a nearby Palestinian town to protest against the wall together. For more on this, see "Hosni and Nava will walk to The Hague," by Daniel Ben-Simon in Ha'aretz.

WW3 REPORT's translator had the following observations of the event: "A very sad thing is that about three quarters of the over 100,000 settlers there were teenagers. They don't look like religious fanatics, they don't look like paramilitary, they don't look cruel. They're giggling boys and girls running around with their cliques and friends, they look and dress and act just like every Jewish teenager in a youth group, day school, or summer camp. They were born into these settlements, raised in these fortresses with these fears, and they've never sat around and hung out with a single Palestinian person."

He added: "By the way, the demonstration was supposedly against the government's plans to evacuate some settlements, but the Israeli news media are reporting that the government secretly paid for all the buses. It's so great to be here in the 'only democracy in the Middle East.'" (WW3 REPORT on the scene; AFP, Jan. 11) (David Bloom) [top]


A Feb. 16 story in the New York Times, "Algeria Shows Willingness to Abandon Its Violent Past," noted that officials were releived that the OPEC summit in Algiers was unmarred by any unrest or terrorist attacks. In December, US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited and praised Algeria's "exceptional cooperation in the war on terrorism." The article only noted towards the end that the government of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who came to power in disputed elections in 1999, has yet to account for numerous persons "disappeared" at the hands of security forces in the last ten years. Human Rights Watch puts the number of disappeared at 7,000.

See also WW3 REPORT #90 [top]

The New York Times levelled a two-shot assault on Tunisia's President Zine el-Abidine ben Ali during his visit to the White House. First, a Feb. 18 editorial called his one of the Middle East's "most unbudging autocrats... No serious political opposition is allowed, no critical coverage appears in the mass media, and hundreds of Tunisians remain jailed after unfair trials... Tunisia's political progress has all but ground to a halt since Mr. ben Ali seized power in 1987." The editorial ended by reminding Bush of his own words last fall that Middle East stability could not "be purchased at the expense of liberty."

Then, in a Feb. 12 op-ed, Kamel Labidi, ex-Amnesty International director for Tunisia called ben Ali "The Wrong Man to Promote Democracy." Wrote Labidi: "It is not obvious from Bush's public statements, but Tunisia today is one of the world's most efficient police states. Since his ouster of President Habib Bourguiba in a coup in 1987, ben Ali has quashed virtually all dissent and silenced a civil society that once was an example of vibrancy for North Africa and the neighboring Middle East. In the early 1990s, the regime cracked down on the country's Islamist movement, arbitrarily arresting thousands of suspected activists and subjecting them to torture and unfair trials. Ben Ali then extended his crackdown to human rights defenders, opposition leaders and independent journalists. (I, for example, was stripped of my accreditation after 19 years as a journalist, following the publication of an interview with a human-rights advocate.) Tunisian society is now a shell of its former self; political debate is relegated to a whisper under the gaze of the omnipresent secret police. Newspapers are filled with Soviet-style hagiography: Ben Ali is called the Architect of Change, a title that is hard to accept given that last year he won a referendum - with more than 99 percent of the vote - that will allow him to run for a fourth presidential term in 2004 and grant him immunity from prosecution for life. Meanwhile, human-rights advocates have to put up with constant surveillance, the cutting of their phone and fax lines, anonymous threats and even attack by thugs for the regime. For more than a decade, US policy has quietly ignored these excesses, focusing instead on Tunisia's role as a moderate ally in a turbulent region, a supporter of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and a model of relative prosperity for the Arab world." [top]

A powerful earthquake devastated an isolated region of northern Morocco Feb. 24, killing over 560 as they slept, injuring hundreds more and laying ruin to villages. The quake destroyed rural communities near the coastal city of Al Hoceima, between the Rif Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. Although a tourist destination because of its Mediterranean beaches, the region suffers from extreme poverty and underdevelopment because of government neglect following a Berber rebellion in 1958. The local economy is sustained by fishing and by farmers who grow cannabis. King Mohammed VI has taken steps to integrate the area more fully into his kingdom. In 2002, he issued his annual Throne Speech from Tangiers, then traveled east to Tetouan, where Berber chiefs assembled on horseback in full regalia to pay him homage. (AP, Feb 24) [top]


In the UK Guardian Feb. 12, Mariam Rawi (psuedonym) of the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) wrote from Kabul on the horrific situation faced by women in the country. When the US began bombing Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, the oppression of Afghan women was used as a justification for overthrowing the Taliban regime. Five weeks later Five weeks later US First Lady Laura Bush stated triumphantly: "Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women." In November 2001 Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, said: "The rights of women in Afghanistan will not be negotiable." But Amnesty International paints a very different picture: "Two years after the ending of the Taliban regime, the international community and the Afghan transitional administration, led by President Hamid Karzai, have proved unable to protect women. The risk of rape and sexual violence by members of armed factions and former combatants is still high. Forced marriage, particularly of girl children, and violence against women in the family are widespread in many areas of the country."

Writes Rawi: "In truth, the situation of women in Afghanistan remains appalling. Though girls and women in Kabul, and some other cities, are free to go to school and have jobs, this is not the case in most parts of the country. In the western province of Herat, the warlord Ismail Khan imposes Taliban-like decrees. Many women have no access to education and are banned from working in foreign NGOs or UN offices, and there are hardly any women in government offices. Women cannot take a taxi or walk unless accompanied by a close male relative. If seen with men who are not close relatives, women can be arrested by the 'special police' and forced to undergo a hospital examination to see if they have recently had sexual intercourse. Because of this continued oppression, every month a large number of girls commit suicide--many more than under the Taliban."

One international NGO worker told Amnesty International: "During the Taliban era, if a woman went to market and showed an inch of flesh she would have been flogged; now she's raped." Girls have been abducted on the way to school and sexual assaults on children of both sexes are now commonplace, according to Human Rights Watch.

Rawi calls President Hamid Karzai complicit with the new atmosphere: "Women cannot find jobs, and girls' schools often lack the most basic materials, such as books and chairs. There is no legal protection for women, and the older legal systems prohibit them from getting help when they need it. Female singers are not allowed on Kabul television, and women's songs are not played, while scenes in films of women not wearing the hijab are censored. The Karzai government has established a women's ministry just to throw dust in the eyes of the international community. In reality, this ministry has done nothing for women. There are complaints that money given to the women's ministry by foreign NGOs has been taken by powerful warlords in the Karzai cabinet... In fact, by bringing the warlords back to power, the US has replaced one misogynist fundamentalist regime with another."

Rawi had to write under a psuedonym because of the dangerous situation in her country: "There is resistance, but you have to look for it, as any serious anti-fundamentalist group has to work semi-underground. The Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), which was outlawed under the Taliban, still can't open an office in Kabul. We still can't distribute our magazine Payam-e-Zan (Women's Message) openly. Shopkeepers are still threatened with death for stocking our publications, and RAWA supporters have been tortured and imprisoned for distributing them. People who are caught reading our literature are still in danger."

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

94, 79 [top]

On Feb. 11, in the third suicide attack in Afghanistan this year, Maj. Mohammed Isa Khan, intelligence chief of Khost province, was killed in the provincial capital. (Two foriegn soldiers--one Canadian, one British--had been killed in separate attacks in Kabul in January.) (NYT, Feb. 12) At least two Afghans were killed and six wounded two days later in an explosion at a government military post near Khost in southeastern Afghanistan. Over 20 rockets were also fired on Khost's airport, where US-led forces are based. (Reuters Feb. 13) US officals admit that Afghan elections, scheduled for June, may have to be postposed due to ongoing unrest. (NYT, Feb. 16) Following US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's visit to the country Feb. 26, President Hamid Karzai announced the Taliban insurgency had been defeated. (NYT, Feb. 27) But Mullah Dadullah, a top Taliban leader, issued a statement from hiding pledging to disrupt any elections. "The people of Afghanistan must not participate in the election," he said after contacting Reuters from an undisclosed location. "If they do, they will come under Taliban attack." (Reuters, Feb. 18)

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]

The top UN counter-narctotics officials, Antonio Maria Costa, said foreign troops must move against opium growers and smugglers in Afghanistan. Costa, in Kabul for a conference on drug enforcement, said US airstrikes in January against a remote opium processing lab in the north of the country had "sent ripples" throughout Afghanistan's drug networks. Afghanistan produced three-quarters of the world's opium last year, and the UN warns it is in danger of becoming a "narco state." (AP, Feb. 10)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

29 [top]

Audiotapes said to be from Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahri aired on Arabic TV stations Feb. 24--one taunting President Bush and threatening more attacks on the US, a second criticizing France's decision to ban Islamic headscarves in schools. "We remind Bush that situation is not stable in Afghanistan, or else how do we wage, with God's support and might, our attacks on your troops and agents... How do we send our messages that challenge you and reveal your lies," the tape said. "We remind Bush that he didn't destroy two-thirds of al-Qaeda. On the contrary, thanks be to God, al-Qaeda is still in the holy war battleground raising the banner of Islam in the face of the Zionist-Crusader campaign against the Islamic community." (AP, Feb. 24)

See also WW3 REPORT #39 [top]

Pakistan authorities arrested 16 tribal chiefs in South Waziristan who they charge with failing to cooperate in rounding up Taliban and al-Qaeda elements hiding in the region. South Waziristan is part of Pakistan's western tribal areas, semi-autonomous states where most power lies with traditional chieftains. (BBC, March 4) On Feb. 28, Pakistani forces exchanged fire with gunmen in a minibus that did not stop at a roadblock in the tribal region, killing 11 and injuring six. (AP, Feb. 28) Muhammad Azam Khan, top official in South Waziristan, has asked for 8,000 paramilitary soldiers to add to the 4,000 already deployed for the hunt. "We have asked for additional paramilitary troops," Khan told Reuters. "We have one full brigade from the regular Pakistan army, but we would like to use them only as a back-up force." Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed denied media reports that Pakistan had received satellite pictures of bin Laden or his deputy, Egyptian national Ayman al-Zawahri. (Reuters, Feb. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]

Army troops are patrolling the streets, a curfew is in place and at least 46 are dead and 160 injured in the Pakistani city of Quetta following a March 2 attack on Shiite pilgrims. Assailants sprayed bullets and lobbed grenades at crowds of pilgrims gathered in the city for Ashura celebrations. Authorities are pointing to the underground group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, saying a sub-machine gun found in a room used by snipers was engraved with the group's logo. (NYT, March 3; Daily Baloochistan Express, March 5; Pakistan Daily Times, March 6)

See also WW3 REPORT #31

For more on Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, see WW3 REPORT #38 [top]

Pakistan's leading nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed to selling nuclear technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea, and was officially pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf. Days later, on a March 5 visit to Islamabad UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw heaped praise on Musharraf for his cooperation on the War on Terrorism and reopening peace talks with India. He told reporters he had a "full and thorough" discussion with Musharraf on non-proliferation. (ANI, March 5)

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]


A Feb. 6 blast on the Moscow metro left at least 39 dead over 140 wounded, with the FSB security service claiming it was likely carried out by suicide bombers. Deputy Moscow Prosecutor Vladimir Yudin said Chechen militants were "by all appearances" responsible. President Vladimir Putin said he knows "for certain" that Chechen rebel president Aslan Maskhadov and "his people" were involved. Maskhadov's representative, Akhmed Zakaev, denied responsibility and condemned terrorism. Duma hardliners are calling for a national state of emergency. FSB deputy director Vyacheslav Ushakov said that Russia needs it own version of the US PATRIOT Act. (RFE/Newsline, Feb. 9) [top]

Qatar arrested two Russian secret agents in the killing of exiled Chechen ex-president Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, blown up when a bomb destroyed his car Feb. 13. In a statement, Russia protested the arrests, while admitting the men were agents "legally assigned to the Russian Embassy, conducting analytical work in connection with countering international terrorism..." (NYT, Feb. 27) [top]


Speaking in Sarajevo on 3 March, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crime Issues Prosper called on Bosnian authorities to arrest former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, one of the world's most wanted indicted war criminals. Late that same day, troops from SFOR (NATO's Stabilization Force for Bosnia & Herzegovina) arrested former Bosnian Serb Gen. Bogdan Subotic in Banja Luka. During the 1992-95 Bosnian war, Subotic served as Bosnian Serb defense minister and Karadzic's military advisor. The arrest of Subotic is the third detention in recent weeks of persons NATO suspects of helping Karadzic evade capture (RFE Newsline, March 4).

See also WW3 REPORT #31 [top]

Two explosions went off the southern Macedonian city of Bitola in the early hours of Fb. 8, damaging a mosque and shop owned by a Macedonian Muslim. Initial investigations suggest that they were caused by thrown grenades. In April and May 2001, crowds of ethnic Macedonians stoned or burned dozens of Muslim and ethnic Albanian and homes and businesses in Bitola in revenge for the killings elsewhere of Macedonian soldiers by Albanian separatist rebels. (RFE Newsline, Feb. 10)

See also WW3 REPORT #31 [top]


On Jan. 20, the US again officially "certified" Colombia's compliance with human rights conditions, releasing $34 million in aid to the Colombian armed forces. "The U.S. certification suggests that the Bush administration sees the defense of human rights as a matter of paperwork, not concrete actions," said Josˇ Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch's Americas Division. "It also demonstrates how readily the administration sacrifices human rights concerns to other interests."

The certification is the eighth for Colombia since Congress first mandated human rights conditions on military aid. The statutory conditions on aid require the Colombian government to break ties between its military and illegal paramilitary groups, suspend officers implicated in abuses, actively pursue and arrest paramilitary leaders, and restore order to regions beset by guerrilla and paramilitary violence.

Human Rights Watch claimed abundant evidence of continued army collaboration with paramilitaries in Colombia, especially citing the case of Col. V’ctor Matamoros, who the State Department reported had been detained for alleged paramilitary ties in 2001. Colombian government investigators have evidence that Matamoros worked with paramilitaries, including leader Salvatore Mancuso, and helped arrange a series of massacres in and around the town of La Gabarra, Norte de Santander, in 1999. However, Matamoros was freed after the military failed to transfer their investigation to civilian investigators by the legal deadline--thus forcing its closure for technical reasons.

"Again and again, we see that when military officers are charged with corruption or drug trafficking, or even cowardice, they are dealt with immediately," said Vivanco. "But when officers are linked to human rights crimes, they get promotions and pay raises." He charged that paramiliatries operate with the tacit support of military commanders.

"In effect, paramilitaries are allowed to win, so they become the de facto authorities," Vivanco said. Even as the Colombian government was engaging in demobilization talks with paramilitaries in 2003, paramilitary gunmen began seizing farmland and houses at gunpoint in the Urab‡ region, forcing residents to sell their property at bargain prices. Along the Magdalena River, paramilitaries stop the boats that serve as public transportation, often detaining and sometimes killing passengers. In towns and villages across the country, the paramilitaries punish children who do badly at school or use drugs, and punish adults who break curfews, steal, or commit other infractions. The punishments include tying up alleged perpetrators, beating them, shaving their eyebrows and hair, and even executing them.

The paras are also active in the cities. On October 16, human rights worker Esperanza Amaris Miranda, who had been threatened for her community work, was dragged from her home in Barrancabermeja by armed paramilitaries. Although her adult daughter tried to stop the abduction and fought with the kidnappers, they forced Miranda into a waiting taxi. Five minutes later, they shot and killed her in front of a school. Though the authorities had been informed of previous threats against her and of the paramilitary presence in the area, they failed to protect her from paramilitary attack.

The new US aid pays for training and supplying of the Colombian army's aviation and helicopter units, its ground forces in Arauca, and its Counter-Drug Brigade. The aid also supports the Air Bridge Denial program, which seeks to prevent drug shipments via airplane in or out of the country. ( HRW press release, Jan. 23) [top]

Millions are fleeing violence in Colombia, assistant UN High Commissioner for Refugees Kamel Morjane said Feb. 4, calling it the world's worst humanitarian crisis outside Africa. "This is the worst humanitarian situation in the Western hemisphere, and the third-worst in the world after the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] and Sudan," he told a news conference after a visit to the region. Morjane said the UNHCR hopes to draw world attention to up to 3 million displaced people within Colombia and the nearly 300,000 more who have fled to Ecuador, Venezuela or elsewhere. The internally displaced are largely Afro-Colombians or indigenous peoples driven from their homes by paramilitaries. "The problem with this crisis is that it is relatively invisible," he said. "Even in the Colombian capital, Bogota, people are hardly even aware of it." (Reuters, Feb. 4) [top]

Colombian troops reportedly clashed with both leftist guerillas and rightist paramilitaries over the weekend of Feb. 22, killing 38 fighters. Ten soldiers were also killed, the army said. The heaviest combat took place near Villanueva (Casanare department), as the army launched an operation against a unit of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), that had allegedly been attacking villages. At least 21 paramilitaries and 10 soldiers were killed in that engagement, an army statement said. Meanwhile 17 fighters from Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), were reported killed in clashes near Llano Grande (Atioquia). (AP, Feb. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]

On Jan. 28, rightwing paramilitaries abducted youth activist and television host Ines Pena in the Colombian river port city of Barrancabermeja, Santander department. The 22-year old activist is a youth leader with the Popular Women's Organization (OFP), based in Barrancabermeja, as well as a host and editorial team member of the La Mohana television program and a member of the Human Rights Youth Network of the Regional Office of the Defender of the People. The paramilitaries drove Pena around the city for an hour and a half, torturing her while questioning her about her political activities. They shaved her head and burned her feet with hot water before releasing her. It was the second attack against the OFP in less than a week: on Jan. 26, paramilitaries fired at a commission of the Norwegian Council for Refugees while it was accompanying OFP members on a boat trip to visit housing projects in the south of neighboring Bolivar department. (OFP, Jan. 30)

On Jan. 29, the OFP joined with other organizations including the Campesino Association of the Cimitarra River Valley (ACVC) and the human rights commission of the United Union of Workers (USO), which represents workers at the state-run oil company Ecopetrol, in announcing a humanitarian action designed to get food, healthcare and education services to some 500 families suffering under a paramilitary blockade in the municipalities of Segovia and Remedios in the eastern region of Antioquia department, bordering on Bolivar (Vanguardia Liberal, Bucaramanga, Santander, Jan. 30)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 1) [top]

On Feb. 7, the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN) reported that army troops had shot to death Olmedo Ul Secue, an indigenous resident of the village of Los Chorros and a member of the Huellas Caloto reservation, on Dec. 31 in the southern department of Cauca. According to ACIN, Ul Secue was shot when he and Edinson Conda were riding a motorcycle along a road lined by army troops. The soldiers issued no command to stop, but fired at the two men as they rode away, hitting Ul Secue in the back. Conda was wounded but got away. (ACIN 2/7/04 via Colombia Indymedia)

( From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 8) [top]

On Jan. 14, unidentified armed assailants massacred 25 indigenous people in the village of El Palmarito, Vichada department, mutilating many of the victims. Luis Evelis Andrade, president of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), reported the massacre, which some witnesses apparently said was sparked by a tribal dispute. (Reuters, Jan. 19)

( From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 8) [top]

Colombia's Attorney General's office has invalidated libel charges brought by local Coca-Cola bottling companies Panamco Colombia and Embotelladora Santander against the National Union of Food Industry Workers (SINALTRAINAL). Along with supporters in the US, the union brought a suit against the Coca-Cola Company and its Colombian affiliates in 2001 for murders and other crimes against union members by paramilitaries who the union says were in the companies' pay. The Attorney General's office investigated the companies' complaint against SINALTRAINAL but ultimately ruled that lawsuits for damages could not be considered libels. A number of local and foreign organizations began a boycott of Coca-Cola on July 22, 2003, a date which the 2003 World Social Forum declared the "World Day Against Coca-Cola."(Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyer's Collective press release Feb. 10)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 29)

See also WW3 REPORT #94 [top]

On Feb. 27, Venezuelan National Guard troops used tear gas and rubber bullets against opposition protesters who were trying to reach the Teresa Carreno theater in Caracas, where President Hugo Chavez was hosting the 12th summit of the "Group of 15" nations. (The date also coincided with the 15th anniversary of the Feb. 27, 1989 "Caracazo," in which government troops under President Carlos Andres Perez killed hundreds of protesters in the capital.)

The opposition claimed to have collected over 3.4 million signatures on a petition demanding a recall vote against Chavez. The protest was called after the National Elections Council (CNE) voted 3-2 late on Feb. 24 to seek verification of about 700,000 signatures. Numbering 30,000 according to AFP, the protesters marched from the eastern suburbs to the theater to press for Chavez' resignation. Two people were killed and at least 14 people were wounded by bullets. Some reports said a third person was killed. Most news sources failed to say whether most of the victims were Chavez supporters or opponents. Interior Minister Lucas Rincon said a military police officer was shot in the sporadic clashes with protesters. "There is a group of gentlemen, an opposition group, that wants violence," Rincon said. The government blamed the outbursts on radical members of the Red Flag group and the Democratic Action party.

(Miami Herald, Feb. 26, 28, and wire services)

On Feb. 17, Venezuelan vice president Jose Vincente Rangel announced that the opposition group Sumate would be prosecuted in the courts on charges of treason for accepting financing from US government agencies. (Green Left Weekly, Feb. 25)

On Feb. 18, a hired killer shot to death Venezuelan teacher and activist Jose Gregorio Jimenez Perez as he was getting out of his car in the coastal city of Puerto La Cruz, east of Caracas in Anzoategui state. Jimenez was a pro-Chavez activist with the "We Can" (Podemos) political party, the state teachers' union and the Bolivarian Workers Force. The killer and two accomplices escaped in a vehicle. (Aporrea, Feb. 19 via Colombia Indymedia]

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 29)

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]

President Hugo Chavez personally dissed Bush in a rally before some 30,000 supporters in Caracas Feb. 29, accusing him of meddling in Venezuelan affaris and pointing out that he "is not even the legitimate president of the United States." He warned that if US aggression against his regime continued, "the people of the United States should know that they will not get another drop of oil from Venezuela." Personally addressing Bush, he said, "Let's bet on who will last longer, George W. Bush, you in the White House or me in the Miraflores Palace." Venezuela is a top oil supplier to the US. Chavez' speech came a day before the National Electoral Council announced that over 1 million signatures gathered by the opposition to force a presidential recall referendum were flawed. (NYT, March 1)

See WW3 Report # 68 [top]

At 10:15 PM Feb. 1, two assailants attacked Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) leader Leonidas Iza and his family as they arrived at the CONAIE offices in Quito. Iza, his wife Josefina Anguisaca and Gilberto Talahua, coordinator of the indigenous Pachakutik party, had just arrived from the Quito airport in a taxi after returning from the 3rd Hemispheric Encounter of Struggle against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), held in Havana, Cuba. They were met at the airport and accompanied in the taxi by Iza and Anguisaca's son Xavier Leonidas Iza Anguisaca, and by Iza's nephew, Daniel Camilo Tixe.

The assailants followed the taxi in a Suzuki vehicle; after the taxi dropped the family at the CONAIE offices and departed with Talahua, the assailants got out, grabbed one of the family's suitcases, then went after Leonidas Iza, shouting "We're going to kill you," and pointing a gun at his head. His son and nephew pushed Iza away from the gun and managed to shut the door on the assailants, with the help of Rodrigo Iza, Leonidas Iza's brother, who was inside. Aguisaca remained outside; the assailants hit her in the face with a pistol, bruising her. The assailants fired at least 20 shots into the building. Xavier Iza was hit with five bullets and remains hospitalized with severe damage to his liver, kidneys and pancreas. His spleen was removed after six hours of surgery. Rodrigo Iza and Daniel Tixe suffered bullet wounds to the legs and feet, but were out of danger.

Iza said he had received death threats, and indigenous leaders immediately described the attack as politically motivated, blaming President Lucio Gutierrez for fostering a climate of repression against opposition activists. Pachakutik deputy Ricardo Ulcuango said his party will call for investigations into paramilitary groups which Gutierrez'brother-in-law, Napoleon Villa, is allegedly forming to defend the ruling Patriotic Society party, and will look into private security firms owned by Gutierrez' cousin, Hernan Borbua.

CONAIE and other groups also pointed to an alleged "blacklist" of targeted activists and opposition leaders, published by Alejandro Najera of Gutierrez' Patriotic Society party. Grassroots organizations noted that the attack on Iza came just two days after the Jan. 30 assassination of Petroecuador employee Patricio Campana, who was investigating the theft of gasoline from pipelines. (La Hora, Quito; El Telegrafo, Guayaquil, Feb. 3; CONAIE press release, Feb. 2; wire services)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 8) [top]

On Feb. 16, indigenous and grassroots groups in Ecuador began a mobilization to protest government economic policies. The list of demands includes the resignation of President Lucio Gutierrez, an end to the US-led Plan Colombia, rejection of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and IMF-sponsored economic measures. They also demand withdrawal of a proposed "biodiversity" law which would restrict the rights of indigenous communities, and the withdrawal of security forces from the Sarayaku indigenous community in the Amazon. The protests were called by Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and other Ecuadoran indigenous, grassroots and labor organizations.

The protests were largest in Ecuador's Andean region, especially in Cotopaxi province, where a general strike shut down schools and peasants blocked major highways. On Feb. 16 in Latacunga, protesters occupied the offices of the Cotopaxi Provincial Council. On Feb. 17, protesters in Cotopaxi seized 10 buses and took two soldiers hostage; 17 demonstrators were wounded and nearly a dozen were arrested.

On Feb. 17 in the southern province of Azuay, soldiers used gunfire, tear gas and firebombs to try to break up a protest in Shina, near Nabon, where more than 2,000 members of the Union of Indigenous Communities of Azuay (UCIA) were blocking the main highway. Four protesters were wounded by bullets and 19 were arrested; the protesters seized two soldiers as hostages. (CONAIE press release, Feb. 16, 17, and wire services)

Negotiations between the military and representatives of 22 local indigenous communities brought an accord later the same day, under which the army agreed to free the 19 detainees and cover all medical costs of those wounded. The indigenous communities released the two hostage soldiers and suspended their protests. The army also pledged to reforest the areas burned by their firebombs, and to return vehicles, cell phones and other properties confiscated during the conflict. One of the wounded protesters, 65-year old Maria Moraliza Lalvay Alta, died later on Feb. 17 while being operated on at a Cuenca hospital; she had been hit by a bullet in the chest. (Agencia de Noticias Plurinacional del Ecuador, ANPE, Feb. 17)

On Feb. 17, CONAIE leader Leonidas Iza announced that the national mobilization was being suspended, and would be resumed at a later date if the government ignored the demands of indigenous and grassroots sectors. The protests in Cotopaxi, meanwhile, continued through Feb. 18. On the morning of Feb. 19, after 11 hours of dialogue, leaders of the Cotopaxi provincial strike reached an agreement with the government. The government promised to spend $100 million in the province on education, social projects and public works, including sewer construction and highway repairs. At noon, the Provincial Assembly of Cotopaxi agreed to suspend the strike on the condition that the Cotopaxi Electrical Company be excluded from a government bidding process by Feb. 26. If this condition is not fulfilled, the strike will resume on Feb. 27, the organizers say. (El Telegrafo, Guayaquil, Feb. 20; wire services)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #92 [top]

Prisoners at the Garcia Moreno jail in Quito ended a four-day protest on Feb. 18 and began releasing more than 300 visitors who had remained in the prison since Feb. 15--in solidarity according to the prisoners; as hostages according to the government. The standoff ended after prisoners negotiated an agreement with Interior Ministry officials to address demands concerning a new sentence reduction law and the problem of overcrowding. The Garcia Moreno prison was designed to hold 400 prisoners but now holds about 1,100, and the facility has no running water.

Protests at prisons have become a nearly daily occurrence in Ecuador. On Jan. 15, after a series of prison protests, the Ecuadoran government declared a state of emergency in the prison system and released some 1,500 prisoners who had been held for more than a year without trial. (Miami Herald, Feb 19; La Hora, Feb. 19, 17)

On Feb. 19, a gun battle left one prisoner dead and four wounded in the maximum security cellblock F of the Garcia Moreno prison. The violence erupted during a protest over corruption at the facility. (El Telegrafo, Feb. 20)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 22) [top]

In a prerecorded television address on Feb. 1, Bolivian president Carlos Mesa unveiled new economic austerity measures, prompting grassroots, labor and indigenous groups to threaten mass mobilizations. In an apparent effort to ward off protests, Mesa did not immediately impose fuel tax hikes or halt subsidies on cooking gas for the poor. Instead, he announced plans to free government-controlled prices over time, allowing for a gradual increase of up to 6% depending on price factors. The new measures also include a 5% across-the-board cut in government spending and less unpopular measures such as salary cuts of 10% for himself and 5% for members of Congress. The measures are contained in 23 decrees and three reforms needing congressional authorization--including a new hydrocarbons tax proposal.

Roberto de la Cruz, representative of the Regional Workers Federation (COR) of El Alto, called Mesa's plan a "trap," while leftist legislative deputy Evo Morales called it "demagogy." Both Morales and De la Cruz said their own proposals include deeper salary cuts for top-level officials. The Bolivian Workers Central (COB) is planning an open-ended general strike against the measures for an unspecified future date.(Los Tiempos, Cochabamba, Feb. 3; wire services)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 8)

WW3 REPORT #93 [top]

Bolivian prosecutor Monica von Borries was killed Feb. 27 when a bomb blew up her vehicle outside her home in the eastern city of Santa Cruz. The explosion was triggered when she got in her car and turned on the ignition. President Carlos Mesa called an emergency meeting of his security ministers and ordered an investigation into the assassination. FBI agent arrived in Bolivia Feb. 29 to assist with the probe.

Von Borries had most recently received threats in connection to a tax evasion case in which she was investigating the irregular division of lands by several prominent members of Bolivia's Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR). While working for the Special Force of Struggle Against Drug Trafficking (FELCN) from 1995 to 2000, Von Borries aggressively prosecuted Italian mafia kingpin Marco Marino Diodato on charges of drug trafficking and of carrying out telephone espionage at the presidential palace in La Paz. Diodato remained jailed at Palmasola prison from 1999 until last Jan. 31, when he escaped from a clinic where he was allegedly receiving treatment--under guard--for a heart problem. He left a note at the clinic, criticizing those who convict "innocents," and warning: "The time has come to return to the struggle to die as a soldier." (El Diario, Bolivia, Feb. 29; wire services)

Santa Cruz police commander Col. Freddy Soruco said on Feb. 28 that three suspects--a US citizen, a Bolivian and a Peruvian--had been detained for questioning in connection to the bombing. (El Nuevo Herald, Miami, Feb. 29)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 8) [top]


Miguel Nazar Haro, former head of Mexico's Federal Security Directorate (DFS), was arrested in Mexico City on Feb. 18 in connection with the 1975 disappearance of leftist activist Jesus Piedra Ibarra. Nazar Haro's arrest was the first major success for special federal prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo Prieto, who has been conducting a two-year investigation into some 275 disappearances during the government's "dirty war" against suspected rebels in the 1970s and 1980s. His effort to arrest former Guerrero police chief Isidro Galeana Abarca ended in failure when Galeana apparently died at home of a heart attack on Jan. 2.

Piedra, whose mother is well-known human rights activist Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, was said to be a leader of the Sept. 23 League guerilla group. Witnesses told Carrillo that Nazar Haro and his predecessor at the since-dissolved DFS, Luis de la Barreda, ordered police commander Juventino Romero to arrest Piedra on the outskirts of the northern city of Monterrey; Piedra was never seen again. Judges finally issued warrants for the three men in December 2003. (AP, Feb. 1)

Many Mexicans have complained that the investigation is not reaching up to the "big ones" at the time of the dirty war, such as former presidents Luis Echeverria Alvarez (1970-1976) and Jose Lopez Portillo (1976-1982). Lopez Portillo died in Mexico City on Feb. 17 at the age of 83, apparently of pneumonia. (NYT, Feb. 18)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]

On Feb. 13, the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas state released their first-ever list of the 46 rebels killed during the group's 12 days of fighting against the Mexican army in January 1994. In a statement, the rebels' Subcomandante Marcos said the group has honored those who died in combat, or were tortured and killed by government soldiers away from the battlefield, every Feb. 14 for the past 10 years. Marcos said 34 rebels were killed during the battle for the town of Ocosingo. "Two Zapatistas died in our tent hospitals and the other 32 disappeared during combat," the statement said.

The statement accuses Brigadier General Luis Humberto Portillo Leal, who was head of the 30th Military Region in 1994, of ordering the execution of five rebels who tried to surrender. It also accuses army Captain Lodegario Salvador Estrada of overseeing the killing of three other Zapatistas under similar circumstances. "The orders take no prisoners and to kill whether the victims were armed or not," the statement said. Marcos also accuses the same general of ordering another officer to shoot and kill eight Chiapas police officers who were mistaken for Zapatista fighters and were slain while receiving treatment at a hospital in Ocosingo. Marcos said the claims are based on a Mexican army investigation into those killed in the Chiapas fighting that was turned over to Zapatista leaders by a federal soldier who deserted.

The statement says the Zapatista army lost three men during fighting at Las Margaritas, including Subcomandante Pedro, a rebel from the central state of Michoacan who was a key member of the Zapatistas' military high command.

Marcos also contends 27 federal army soldiers were killed in the fighting--a tally much lower than government estimates.

The statement concludes: "Ten years after the beginning of the war against oblivion [we] salute the memories of those Zapatistas, most of whom were poor Indians, who died in Indian villages for..." (EZLN communique, Feb. 13; AP, Feb. 13)

The Zapatista communique is on-line

Meanwhile, NGOs working in Chiapas demanded more information on 47 tombs of presumed fallen Zapatista troops and other victims of the 1994 violence, recently discovered at a graveyard in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capiral. (Estesur, Feb. 18)

In recent years, army-groomed unofficial paramilitary groups have carried out much of the bloodshed in Chiapas. At a Feb. 6 ceremony in Tuxtla marking the opening of the new Francisco Enriquez Guzman Human Rights Center, former Chiapas Bishop Samuel Ruiz warned that paramilitaries are being "reactivated" in the state. (Proceso, Feb. 6)

Citing up to 20,000 internally displaced in Chiapas, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is appealing to the Mexican government for cooperation in internatioanl programs to aid internal refugees. It would be the first UN program for Mexican refugees. (Milenio, Feb. 20)

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]

Luis Gabriel Sanchez, head of the Chiapas legislature's Ecological Commission, called for the deportation of dozens of foreigners who live in Zapatista-held areas inside the Montes Azules ecological reserve and provide moral and logistical support to the rebel group. Sanchez said foreigners providing assistance to the guerrillas were violating their tourist visas, which prohibit visitors from participating in any kind of political activity. Sanchez asked the Immigration Institute to intervene, saying "constitutionally, any foreigner who is here in our country who violates the law or takes part in causes which do so should be expelled." Sanchez, of the Ecological Green Party, echoed concerns previously raised by officials in the Chiapas delegation of the federal environmental protection agency, PROFEPA. Numerous Zapatista communities pledge to resist any move to expell them from Montes Azules. (AP, Feb. 5)

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]

On Feb. 20, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Mexican Interior Secretary Santiago Creel Miranda signed an agreement under which undocumented Mexican migrants captured crossing the border are to be repatriated to their "places of origin" in Mexico's interior, instead of to border towns. The pact was signed at the close of Ridge's two-day visit to Mexico. (AP, Feb. 20)

The signing came on the heels of new violence on the US-Mexican border, Early on Feb. 15, a US Border Patrol agent fired a shotgun at fleeing migrants about a mile east of the Douglas, AZ, port of entry, wounding Mexican citizen Juan Fernando Espinoza Maya. The agent, whose name has not been released, claimed he was defending himself from rock throwers. But neither he nor his partner were hurt, and migrants who witnessed the incident said rocks were only thrown after the agent fired his gun. The FBI is investigating the case as an assault on a federal officer, said FBI spokesperson Susan Herskovits. An FBI agent went to Mexico on Feb. 15 to question Espinoza and a companion who had crossed with him and witnessed the shooting. As of Feb. 17, the FBI had not questioned the agent who fired the weapon. (Arizona Daily Star, Feb. 18; AP, Feb. 19)

On Jan. 20, an unidentified assailant shot Mexican migrant Jose Alberto Romero Marin in the back while he was lost with other migrants in Arizona's Baboquivari mountains. "Someone turned a bright light on us and in the next second, I heard a shot, then my nephew screaming," said Saul Romero Casillos, Romero's uncle. The bullet pierced several of Romero's organs, including his kidney; he was airlifted to University Medical Center in Tucson, where he was listed in critical condition. The Pima County Sheriff's Department is investigating the shooting. (ADS, Jan. 23)

The Border Patrol is now under control of the Homeland Security Department. See WW3 REPORT #61

(From Immigration News Briefs, Feb. 21)

See also WW3 REPORT #59 [top]

On Feb. 18, citing environmental concerns, California's Coastal Commission unanimously rejected a proposal by the Homeland Security Department's Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP) to build a final 3.5 mile segment of a triple-fenced security zone along a 14-mile stretch from the Otay Mesa border crossing to the Pacific Ocean. The plan would have added two fences and patrolling roads through an area which feeds a federally protected estuary. The Border Patrol had hoped to start the project in 2005 and finish by 2009.

If the Homeland Security Department ignores the ruling, the commission could seek an injunction in federal court. However, under federal law governing coastal management, the US president can override a court ruling on national security grounds. Thomas Diaforli of the BCBP said he hopes to reach a compromise with the commission through further negotiations. "We want the fence; we need the fence," said Diarforli.

The National Guard and other federal agencies have already completed about nine miles of double fencing. Border Patrol officials said arrests of illegal crossers in the newly fenced sector have fallen 88% since 1994. (San Diego Union-Tribune, Feb. 19)

Migrant advocates said the fencing has not stopped border crossers, but has instead pushed them to the more dangerous Arizona desert and eastern California mountains, where hundreds have died of heatstroke or exposure. "This triple fence is the center of untold human rights violations," said Christian Ramirez of the American Friends Service Committee. (AP, Feb. 19)

(From Immigration News Briefs, Feb. 21) [top]


On Dec. 15, agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) arrested former Enron-Guatemala representative Marco Antonio Lara Paiz in West Palm Beach, Florida. Lara faces charges in a New York federal court for cocaine importing and possession with intent to distribute. His arrest apparently got no publicity until it was reported in Miami's Spanish-language daily El Nuevo Herald on Feb. 11. According to the Herald, Lara was named in a July 2003 US congressional investigation into Enron's illegal activities outside the US. Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Max Baucus (D-MT), who led the probe, said Lara and other individuals took payments from Enron in exchange for guaranteeing an energy contract with Guatemala. The administration of President Jorge Serrano Elias (1991-1993) granted Enron the contract; $450,000 of the illegal payment ended up in 1993 in a Miami account of the Deutsch-Suedamerikanische AG bank.

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 15) [top]

The mutilated body of a young man was found in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Feb. 21-- along with a message threatening President Ricardo Maduro. The discovery marks the 10th such slaying apparently carried about by gangs protesting a government crackdown. Last year, the Honduran Congress followed the Maduro's recommendation to outlaw the youth gangs and established prison penalties of up to 12 years for their members. More than 1,000 gang members have been detained. (AP, Feb. 22) [top]

On Jan. 21 hundreds of Honduran campesinos seized the offices of the National Agrarian Institute in Tegucigalpa to protest the elimination of a fund designated for the resolution of land conflicts. The action was organized by the Coordinating Council of Campesino Organizations (COCOCH), which is also seeking passage of an agrarian, forestry and property law submitted to Congress on Apr. 17, 2002. COCOCH says the legislature's agriculture commission abruptly halted discussion of the bill without explanation. (Tiempo, Honduras, Jan. 22)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 1)

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]

On Jan. 21 the US-based Shell Oil, Shell Chemical and Dow Chemical Companies joined a suit Dole Food Company brought against a group of Nicaraguan banana workers in a California court on Dec. 23. The farmworkers sought compensation from the companies for damages they suffered--including cancer, infertility and birth defects in their children--when they were exposed to the pesticide Nemagon (DBCP) in the 1970s. In December 2002 a Managua court ordered the companies to pay some 500 former employees a total of $489 million. In the countersuit, brought under the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO), the companies charge the farmworkers conspired with lawyers and doctors to make a fraudulent claim. The companies are seeking $17 billion in compensation. (La Prensa, Managua, Jan. 30)

The farmworkers responded by organizing a 170-km march from Chinandega to Managua to demand the support of the Nicaraguan government in their case. More than 2,000 people, including workers and their families, started the march on Jan. 31. Medical workers said many of the marchers are suffering from malnutrition.(La Prensa, Feb. 6)

On Feb. 17, 130 former banana workers began a hunger strike in an encampment in front of Nicaragua's National Assembly in Managua to press their demand for President Enrique Bolanos to meet with them. Another 100 workers joined the hunger strike on Feb. 18. Strike leader Victorino Espinales said workers plan to join the strike gradually until a total of 1,000 are participating. (La Prensa, Feb. 17-9)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 8, Feb. 22) [top]

Costa Rican environmental activists demonstrated with drums and large banners in San Jose on Jan. 29 to protest the presence of former US senator Robert Torricelli, who was representing the Houston-based Harken Energy Corporation in negotiations with the government. The company is seeking some $9 million in compensation from Costa Rica, which in 2002 cancelled an exploration contract because of problems with the company's environmental impact study. On Jan. 30 Environment Minister Carlos Manuel Rodriguez announced that he expected to find a mechanism for paying the company between $3 million and $12 million--in part, it appeared, to avoid a lawsuit in US courts. (AP, Jan. 29, 30)

US President George W. Bush was on Harken's board in the late 1980s and early 1990s; he was also paid some $80,000 a year for work as a consultant. (Mother Jones, September 1992)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 8, Feb. 1)

See WW3 REPORT #43 [top]


The UK Observer reported Feb. 22 that it had obtained a secret Pentagon report obtained warning of imminent global climate destabilization. Major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a "Siberian" climate by 2020. Mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world, the report predicts, with conflicts over dwindling food and water resources eventually leading to nuclear wars. The report, commissioned by Pentagon adviser Andrew Marshall, states that an imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is "plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately." As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions, the report predicts. Climate change "should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern", state the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.

The report was leaked a week after the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists (acting through the Union of Concerned Scientists) who claimed the White House "cherry-picked" science to suit its policy agenda--especially on global climate change. Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change. (UK Observer, Feb. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #95

An account on the Submerging Markets website, a watchdog on development issues, denied that the report, entitled "Imagining the Unthinkable", was actually "secret," claiming to have actually obtained a copy of the Executive Summary. It also claimed Forbes Magazine had obtained the report. It also asserted that the report was not a "forecast" but a "what if?" scenario. [top]

A Feb. 14 report on the Counterpunch web site by Jeffrey St. Clair notes that with attention focused on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), few have noted the Bush administraion's plans to open a vast area of Alaska's North Coast further to the west to oil drilling. These lands lie within the so-called National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). Writes St. Clair: "Under the Bush plan, 9 million acres would be opened to drilling almost immediately and another 3 million acres, near the Inupiat village of Wainwright, would be opened later in the decade. The plan, tailored to meet the needs of ConocoPhillips, will call for 1,000s of wells, hundreds of miles of road, dozens of waste dumps and a network of pipelines to transport the oil to Prudhoe Bay and the trans-Alaska pipeline."

The National Petroleum Reserve covers 23.5 million acres of public land on Alaska's North Slope, and is administrated by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM's website says the agency is "currently preparing plans for three major areas in the NPR-A."

The ANWR itself covers only 19 million acres, with only 17.5 permanently closed to development (according to the pro-industry web site

A US Geological Survey web site states that the NPR-A was first established as the Naval Petroleum Reserve Number 4 by President Warren G. Harding in 1923. It was renamed in 1976 after the first oil shock, with the Navy (which had maintained its own exploration program there) turning control over to the Interior Department.

See also WW3 REPORT #95 [top]


Mohamed El-Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned the world could be headed for destruction if it does not stop the spread of nuclear weapons technology. In a Feb. 12 opinion piece in the New York Times, El-Baradei wrote that nuclear technology is now obtainable through "a sophisticated worldwide network able to deliver systems for producing material usable in weapons.... If the world does not change course, we risk self-destruction." While calling for stregnthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty, El-Baradei also had a clear jab at the United States: "We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security - and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use," he wrote. (Reuters, Feb. 12) [top]

Cairo's pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper reprots that al-Qaeda bought tactical nuclear weapons from Ukraine in 1998 and is storing them in safe places for possible use. The report appeared under an Islamabad dateline and cited anonymous sources close to al-Qaeda. The newspaper said al-Qaeda bought the suitcase-sized weapons in a deal arranged when Ukrainian scientists visited the Afghan city of Kandahar in 1998. Ukraine inherited nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union but in 1994 agreed to send 1,900 nuclear warheads to Russia and sign on to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. After the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, former Russian National Security Adviser Alexander Lebed, said that up to 100 portable suitcase-sized bombs were unaccounted for. Lebed said each one was equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT and could kill as many as 100,000 people. Moscow has denied such weapons existed. (Reuters, Feb. 8) [top]

A study by three leading radiation scientists cautioned that children and adults could contract cancer after breathing in dust containing depleted uranium (DU), which is radioactive and chemically toxic. But it was blocked from publication by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which employed the main author, Dr Keith Baverstock, as a senior radiation advisor. He alleges that it was deliberately suppressed, though this is denied by WHO.

Baverstock believes that if the study had been published when it was completed in 2001, there would have been greater pressure on the US and UK to limit their use of DU weapons in the air war against Iraq, and to clean up afterwards. Hundreds of thousands of DU shells were fired by coalition tanks and planes during the conflict, and there has been no comprehensive decontamination. Experts from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have so far not been allowed into Iraq to assess the pollution. "Our study suggests that the widespread use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq could pose a unique health hazard to the civilian population," Baverstock told Scotland's Sunday Herald. "There is increasing scientific evidence the radio activity and the chemical toxicity of DU could cause more damage to human cells than is assumed." (Sunday Herald, Feb. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #s:

87, 86, 81 [top]


Three human rights groups protest that the Pentagon denied their request to observe upcoming military tribunal trials of terrorism suspects at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First sought to send representatives to observe the trials, but the Pentagon said it planned to provide courtroom seating only for certain journalists and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Amnesty International's Alistair Hodgett noted that the State Department annually criticizes other countries for closing trials to international monitors. "It seems like that medicine can't be taken at home despite us prescribing it abroad," said Hodgett, adding that his organization has been permitted to observe trials in such nations as Libya and Egypt. Hodgett said other countries that have refused to allow observers for trials include North Korea, China, Cuba and Burma. "There's a contrast here that ought to startle people who care about open-trial processes." (Reuters, Feb. 24)

The Pentagon has brought charges against two Guantanamo detainees, who will face the first US military tribunals since World War II. They are Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi of Sudan, accused al-Qaeda paymaster, and Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman al Bahlul of Yemen, accused al-Qaeda propagandist. Neither is accused of attacks against US citizens. (AP, Feb. 25)

See also WW3 REPORT # 11 [top]

Mounir el-Motassadeq, the only person in the world convicted in the 9-11 attacks, won a retrial March 4 after a German appeals court faulted Washington for refusing to allow testimony from a key al-Qaeda captive. A month earlier, el-Motassadeq's friend Abdelghani Mzoudi was acquitted by a German court of identical charges of giving logistical aid to the cell that carried out the attacks. El Motassadeq, 29, remains in the Hamburg prison where he was serving the maximum 15-year sentence for more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Ramzi Binalshibh, a Yemeni believed to have been the Hamburg cell's contact with al-Qaeda, was the key to the ruling. He has been in US custody since his Sept. 11, 2002, arrest in Pakistan. The US Justice Department turned down court requests in both Hamburg trials to let him testify, saying he was "not available.'' (AP, March 4) [top]

Osama bin Laden has been captured along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to a Feb. 28 report on Tehran Radio. There was no confirmation of the report from any other media sources. The claim comes just as Pakistani troops, under close US direction, have launched a major sweep of the border region in search of al-Qaeda fugitives. (See related story, this issue.) (Haaretz, Feb. 28) [top]

William D. Hartung writes on The Nation web site: "We all know that Halliburton is raking in billions from the Bush Administration's occupation and rebuilding of Iraq. But in the long run, the biggest beneficiaries of the Administration's 'war on terror' may be the 'destroyers,' not the rebuilders. The nation's 'Big Three' weapons makers--Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman--are cashing in on the Bush policies of regime change abroad and surveillance at home... In fiscal year 2002, the Big Three received a total of more than $42 billion in Pentagon contracts, of which Lockheed Martin got $17 billion, Boeing $16.6 billion and Northrop Grumman $8.7 billion. This is an increase of nearly one-third from 2000, Clinton's final year. These firms get one out of every four dollars the Pentagon doles out." [top]

Four congressmen are demanding the FBI to explain why it has not hired Sephardi Jews applying for Arabic translator jobs. Reps. Anthony Weiner of New York, Peter Deutsch of Florida, and Frank Pallone and Robert Andrews of New Jersey, all Democrats, submitted a list in November of 59 New York-area Jews of Syrian origin who applied for translation jobs with the FBI in the months following 9-11. US officials at the time blamed the failure to stop the attacks in part on the low number of Arabic translators working for intelligence agencies. The Brooklyn-based Sephardi group Bikur Holim organized a job-application drive in response. None of the applicants has been hired, however. "It is time for the FBI to give a full accounting of their hiring decisions in these cases," Weiner said. (JTA, March 2) [top]


Late on February 4, attorneys for the US government filed a response to US District Judge Yvette Kane's Jan. 21 order that immigration authorities explain the continued detention of New York-based Palestinian immigrant Farouk Abdel-Muhti. The government claimed that the continued detention of Abdel-Muhti is justified because he has not "cooperated" with his own removal from the US.

Abdel-Muhti is a stateless Palestinian, born in Ramallah district in 1947; under Israeli law he is not permitted to return to the West Bank, and no other country has agreed to accept him. The government has kept him in jail for more than 21 months, claiming it needs to hold him while arranging his deportation. Abdel-Muhti is 56 years old and his health is deteriorating.

Kane issued the January 21 order in response to Abdel-Muhti v. Ashcroft, a habeas corpus suit first filed in New Jersey in November 2002 and transferred in June 2003 to the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Judge Kane also gave the government 10 days to provide documentation relating to Abdel-Muhti's "file custody review," an administrative proceeding in which the government determines whether an immigration detainee should be released.

Abdel-Muhti's lead attorney, Shayana Kadidal of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), is seeking an order from Judge Kane for his client's immediate release. Kadidal says papers previously filed show conclusively that Abdel-Muhti's detention is not lawful under the US Supreme Court's June 2001 Zadvydas v. Davis ruling, which mandates the release of detainees whose deportation orders cannot be carried out within a reasonable period of time--generally six months.

The government says Abdel-Muhti should be actively seeking to prove his identity and to obtain travel documents--but it provides no explanation of how he could do so. In earlier filings, the government claimed that Abdel-Muhti may be either Palestinian or Honduran and that in either case he could easily be deported. Honduras has now backed Abdel-Muhti's insistence that he is not Honduran, while the Palestine Authority representation in Washington DC has reiterated that it cannot issue travel documents for him.

Abdel-Muhti's lengthy detention has generated significant media attention and a public pressure campaign that includes rallies, pickets and numerous letters and calls to immigration officials. His supporters say the government is holding him because of his constitutionally protected advocacy for an equitable, negotiated solution to the conflict in his homeland. Abdel-Muhti was arrested on April 26, 2002, one month after he began working regularly at the New York radio station WBAI-FM arranging interviews with Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

Farouk's support committe urges calls, faxes and e-mails to immigration officials. Tell them: "No more pretexts! Free Farouk Abdel-Muhti NOW!" Contact David Venturella, deputy director of the Office of Detention & Removal at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): phone 202-514-8663 or 202-305-2734; fax 202-353-2435; e-mail (with copies to

(Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel-Muhti press releases, Feb. 5, Jan. 25)


See also WW3 REPORT #94 [top]

On Jan. 27, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, charging that the US government's treatment of immigrants detained following the 9-11 attacks violates international law. "Literally hundreds of immigrants were denied basic due-process rights," said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero. "The government used race, religion and national origin as proxies for suspicion." ACLU filed the complaint on behalf of 13 people arrested shortly after the attacks; 10 of them were deported and three are still in jail. The ACLU asked the UN working group to declare the detentions "arbitrary," pointing out that many detainees were not immediately told of the charges they faced, were denied access to attorneys and were not given "meaningful judicial review of their confinement." (Newsday, Jan. 28; AP, Jan. 27)

(From Immigration News Briefs, Feb. 1)

See also WW3 REPORT #94 [top]

In a Jan. 23 decision, US District Judge Audrey Collins of Los Angeles ruled that a provision of the PATRIOT Act barring certain types of support for terrorist groups was "impermissibly vague" and could be construed to include "unequivocally pure speech and advocacy protected by the First Amendment." Collins blocked the Justice Department from enforcing that clause against the plaintiffs, but declined to issue a nationwide injunction against its application. The suit was brought by the Humanitarian Law Project and other groups and individuals working with Kurds in Turkey and Tamils in Sri Lanka. The plaintiffs argued that they had stopped writing political material and helping organize peace conferences for fear they would be prosecuted under the law. On Dec. 3, many of the same plaintiffs won a victory in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a related case challenging the material support clause of the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. (NYT, Jan. 27l; AP, Jan. 26)

(From Immigration News Briefs, Feb. 1)

See also WW3 REPORT #93 [top]

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) announced a law suit against the New York Police Department for violating activists' rights during last year's Feb. 15 anti-war protest. CCR is seeking unspecified damages and a declaration from the court that the police violated the First and Fourth Amendment rights of 52 protesters arrested at the march. "The real concern for our clients is not money," said CCR attorney Nancy Chang. "They want to know that this will not happen again. When they protest the Republican National Convention, or anywhere else, they want to know that they will not be swept off the streets by police for lawfully picketing." (Newsday, Feb. 13)

See also WW3 REPORT #74 [top]


The Justice Department withdrew subpoenas that had been issued in early February against four student activists at Drake University in Des Moines, IA, as well as subpoenas seeking records related to the National Lawyers Guild chapter at the campus. NLG President Michael Avery said: "The government was forced to back down in this case and it shows that people can and should stand up to the government when it is abusing its powers. The Lawyers Guild is grateful to our many friends and allies who supported us in the face of this attack by the government. This experience demonstrates that the American people cherish their right of free expression and the right of political groups to dissent from government policies." (NLG press release, Feb. 10) [top]

On Feb. 4, the New York City Council passed a resolution protesting provisions of the PATRIOT Act, and calling on local officials not to comply with it where it runs counter to New York state law. The measure also calls on local librarians to inform patrons that Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act gives the government access to library records on book borrowings and Internet use. (NY City Council press release, Feb. 4)

See also WW3 REPORT #65 [top]



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