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ISSUE:#. 26. March 24, 2002


By Bill Weinberg
With David Bloom, Special Correspondent

1. Was "Operation Anaconda" a Victory?
2. US Troops Attacked in Khost
3. US Forces Still "Flushing Out"
4. Gen. Franks Warns of More to Come
5. Bush Warns of More to Come
6. Al-Qaeda Regrouping for Spring Offensive?
7. US Forces Raid "Al-Qaeda Compound" in Kandahar
8. Ethnic Hazaras Falsely Detained by US Forces
9. Brits Back in the Breach
10. MPs Warn of "Second Vietnam"
11. "Goodwill" US-Afghan Basketball Game Ends in Violence
12. Zahir Shah Again Postpones Trip Home
13. US Embassy Staff Leave Pakistan After Church Blast
14. Pakistan Being Drawn into War?
15. Accused Pearl Slayer to be Tried in Pakistan
16. CIA Chief: Al-Qaeda Still a Threat

1. Al-Aqsa Brigades Make US "Terrorist List"
2. B'Tselem: IDF "Trigger Happy"
3. TV Footage of IDF Atrocity Bucks Israeli Censors
4. New York Times Sees "Secret Iran-Arafat Connection"
5. Top Islamic Scholar: Suicide Bombers "Holy"
6. Saudi Newspaper Revives Blood Libel
7. Unveiled Girls Burned Alive in Saudi Arabia

1. Filipinos Fear "Vietnamization"
2. US Troops Near Basilan Battle
3. Moro Rebels Deny Terrorist Link
4. Bloody Politics of Mindanao
5. Who is Abu Sayyaf?
6. Indonesia Next?

1. Brits Get in on Nuclear Sabre-Rattling
2. Is Pentagon Using Depleted Uranium in Afghanistan?
3. "Mystery Metal Nightmare in Afghanistan?"

1. CIA Link to Anthrax Attacks?
2. New York Times: Al-Qaeda Anthrax Link Seen
3. UK Observer: Al-Qaeda Anthrax Link Fabricated
4. Emergency Health Powers Act in State Legislatures

1. US Farms Out Torture to Terror War Allies
2. No al-Qaeda Snared in Terror Sweep?
3. Military Tribunals to Allow "Unorthodox" Evidence
4. ...and Indefinite Detention
5. More Raids on Islamic Charities and Academics
6. Two Soldiers Dead in Fort Drum Munitions Accident

1. Barbara Lee Gets Standing Ovation in Berkeley

1. What Did Israel Know About 9-11?
2. Behind Israeli Snooping: Terror or Ecstasy?
3. ...and Disappearing Pushcarts?


The Pentagon has declared victory in Operation Anaconda, the US-led campaign against presumed Taliban/al-Qaeda forces in eastern Paktia province. The US-led coalition seized the Shah-i-Kot valley after nearly two weeks of airstrikes and ground combat--losing eight US and three Afghan troops. (SeeWW3 REPORT #24) "Operation an incredible success," said Maj. Bryan Hilferty of the 10th Mountain Division. "It took only 20 terrorists to kill 3,000 of the world's citizens in the World Trade Towers. We've killed hundreds and that means we've saved hundreds of thousands of lives. This is a great success." However, local Afghan commanders question that rosy scenario, who note that most of the enemy got away. "There will be a guerrilla war with al-Qaeda," said Paktia warlord Commander Abdullah. "They know how to fight from the jihad [against the Soviets] in small groups in the mountains.... In my opinion, the campaign failed." This assessment was echoed by Commander Abdul Wali Zardran: "Americans don't listen to anyone. They do what they want. Most people escaped. You can't call that a success." US officials publicly downplay the significance of body counts--perhaps seeking to avoid evocation of the Vietnam experience. "I don't know why we get into a body count," said Col. Frank Wiercinski of the 101st Airborne Division, dismissing questions about the numbers of enemy dead. Asked about the high casualty estimates, US Special Forces troops cite an intelligence report claiming al-Qaeda commanders sent word to a nearby village for hundreds of coffins. Abdullah contests the claim: "We heard this thing, but it's not true. We don't put our dead in boxes. During the jihad, we buried the dead where they died because they were martyrs. These people would do the same thing." Commander Zardran estimated up to 300 al-Qaeda fighters escaped to Pakistan. (AP, March 16) [top]

Presumed Taliban/al-Qaeda fighters attacked US forces at a base in the town of Khost March 20, sparking a battle that lasted several hours, a US military spokesman said. Major Bryan Hilferty of the 10th Mountain Division, stationed at Bagram air base, said: "Coalition forces in the Khost area were attacked by Taliban and al-Qaeda extremists using rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine guns." Major Hilferty would not say how many US troops were in Khost, which lies at the southeast end of Shah-i-Kot valley where Operation Anaconda was waged. The battle took place in the city's main market, forcing people to shutter their shops, the Afghan Islamic Press reported. (BBC, March 20) It was later reported that three US-allied Afghan fighters were killed and a US soldier wounded in the attack. (MSNBC, March 20)

Khost is a stronghold of support for the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and has seen several bombings and shootings in recent weeks. The region is also contested by rival warlords (See WW3 REPORT #22). The Khost attack came less than a day after one was killed and three injured in an attack by gunmen challenging the authority of the city's newly-appointed police chief. (BBC, March 20) [top]

Pentagon officials said US forces killed 16 people on March 18 in an attack on three vehicles thought to be carrying al-Qaeda fugitives in eastern Afghanistan. US and Canadian troops and allied Afghan forces are "flushing out" remaining Taliban/al-Qaeda troops in the region following the end of Operation Anaconda last week. (BBC, March 20) [top]

Speaking to journalists at Bagram airbase on the outskirts of Kabul after Operation Anaconda, Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, acknowledged that there could be more such battles in the near future. "It is possible for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters to regroup in various parts of Afghanistan and that is why we are not saying that this is over. I suspect that this kind of operation could happen again." (BBC, March 20)

Maj. Gen. Frank Hagenbeck told reporters at Bagram: "I can tell you there are al-Qaeda operatives in Paktia right now who are going to great lengths to try to regroup or regenerate." Hagenbeck predicted more al-Qaeda resistance in coming months as the weather improves. "This is traditionally the campaigning season. The end of March and into April and somewhat into May. So we expect to see some increased enemy activity." (MSNBC, March 20) [top]

As skirmishes continue in eastern Afghanistan, George Bush said the US military has "a lot more fighting to do" against Taliban/al-Qaeda forces. "These are killers, they hate America, they are relentless. But so are we, and we will be more relentless than they are." (BBC, March 20) [top]

Pakistani security forces arrested seven suspected al-Qaeda militants as they tried to slip across the border into Afghanistan, a government official said. Pakistani border guards became suspicious of the men during a routine search at Kurram, just across the border from where US-led forces waged Operation Anaconda. Authorities seized three handguns and an undisclosed amount of cash from the men, who were from Uganda, Sudan, Mauritania and Pakistan. (MSNBC, March 20) [top]

The Pentagon said US forces detained 31 suspected Taliban or al-Qaeda fighters in a raid on a compound near the southern city of Kandahar March 18. Large caches of weapons were reportedly found. No US or allied casualties were reported. The detainments bring the number of prisoners in US custody in Afghanistan to 258. Another 300 are being held at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Some 30 were reportedly detained in Operation Anaconda. (Boston Globe, March 19) [top]

After two weeks of confinement in Kandahar on suspicion of being Iranian agents, 12 Afghans were ordered freed by US military authorities. All were members of the Hezb-i-Wahdat, an organization of Shiite Muslims from the Hazara ethnic group, which is believed to have close ties to Iran. US officials acknowledged they had been falsely arrested by a local warlord known as Amanullah, who was reportedly trying to impress interim prime minister Hamid Karzai. Hezb-i-Wahdat officially supports Karzai's regime. (NYT, March 21) [top]

The British armed forces have dispatched an additional 1,700 ground troops to Afghanistan, in what the Boston Globe called "the clearest sign yet that US and allied forces are repositioning for an open-ended guerrilla war." The move constitutes Britain's largest deployment of ground-combat forces since the 1991 Gulf War. Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon told the House of Commons the troops will begin arriving at Bagram air base this week, and that deployment will be complete by mid-April. "The United States has formally requested that the UK provide forces to join in future military operations," Hoon said. (Boston Globe, March 19) The last British troops on Afghan soil before Operation Enduring Freedom were driven out in the 1921 Third Anglo-Afghan War. For the previous 40 years, Britain had run Afghanistan as a vassal state. ( Afghanistan Online ). [top]

As more British troops were sent into Afghanistan this week, dissident MPs warned in an emergency debate in the House of Commons that UK forces could become mired in protracted warfare. Former UK armed forces minister Doug Henderson warned Britain might be seen by Afghans and other Muslims as being involved in an "imperial war." Former Labour minister Peter Kilfoyle said Britain was sending troops into a "very murky, messy picture." He added: "Of course, the precedent for the situation we find ourselves in is Vietnam and of course Harold Wilson, under great American pressure, kept us out." But Prime Minister Tony Blair strongly defended the deployment of 1,700 Marines, telling MPs it was essential "to get the job done fully." (BBC, March 20) [top]

VIOLENCE A Kabul basketball match between US troops and their Afghan allies, meant to promote "goodwill," ended in a violent brawl, with one Afghan spectator shot in the leg. Flight Lt. Tony Marshall said the incident began when a US player fell on the court and spectators surged forward and started kicking him in the head. An Afghan guard for the US team moved in to try to push the crowd back, and his AK-47 discharged. (AP, March 22) [top]

Less than 72 hours before his scheduled arrival, former king Zahir Shah for the second time in a week postponed his return to Afghanistan. His aides in Rome, where he lives in exile, now say he will arrive sometime in April. Kabul's luxurious Palace No. 8 has reportedly been prepared for him, but this is not part of Arg Palace where he lived throughout his 1933-73 reign--now the principal seat of the interim government. The New York Times wrote: "Conflicting accounts of the reasons for the delay suggested that it might have been influenced by disagreements over his future role." Ethnic Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara leaders from the Northern Alliance in the interim government are said to be suspicious of any role for the former king, which they view as a re-consolidation of Pashtun power in Afghanistan. (NYT, March 24) [top]

BLAST Families of US diplomatic personnel and nonessential workers have been ordered home from Pakistan by the State Department. Citing threats against US interests, the order came a week after a March 17 attack on a Protestant church near the US embassy that killed five people, including two US citizens. The US embassy in Islamabad and consulates elsewhere in Pakistan will be closed starting Monday, March 25. No group has claimed responsibility in the church bombing, but Pakistani strongman Gen. Pervez Musharraf promised to relentlessly hunt for those responsible. (CNN, AP, March 24) [top]

Acknowledging that al-Qaeda forces could be fleeing from eastern Afghanistan into Pakistan, Maj. Gen. Franklin Hagenbeck said US forces would follow them across the border in "hot pursuit" as a "last resort." Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, asked Pakistan's ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to take part in joint military maneuvers to apprehend Taliban/al-Qaeda forces in the border area. (NYT, March 21) [top]

Ahmed Omar Sheikh, the young militant arrested in the kidnap-slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was formally charged in Pakistan March 22, complicating US efforts to have him extradited. A federal grand jury in New Jersey issued an indictment against Sheikh last week. (NYT, March 22) [top]

CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee March 19 that al-Qaeda remains a threat to US interests, despite recent gains in Afghanistan. He also broached the supposed links between al-Qaeda and "Axis of Evil" members Iran and Iraq, while admitting he had no hard evidence: "There is no doubt there have been contacts and linkages to the al-Qaeda organization. It would be a mistake to dismiss the possibility of state sponsorship, whether Iranian or Iraqi, and we'll see where the evidence takes us." (Newsday, March 20) [top]


With Vice President Dick Cheney on the ground in Israel, violence again escalated this week. On March 18, Israel began to pull back from positions in the Palestinian territories after a rare joint meeting of Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs, brought together by US envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni. As Zinni worked to broker a truce, Cheney was pictured shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the front page of the New York Times March 19. Appearing with Sharon at a press conference that day, Cheney announced he would not meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat until a truce was in place (NYT, March 20). The following day, a suicide bomb destroyed a Nazareth-Tel Aviv bus, killing seven, (NYT, March 21) and the day after that a suicide bombing killed three in a Jerusalem shopping area (NYT, March 22). On the day of the second blast, the US State Department put the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is linked to Arafat's Fatah political organization, on the list of "foreign terrorist organizations." In a statement, al-Aqsa responded that making the list "is an honor for the brigades" because "America is the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world." It vowed to step up bombings. (NYT, March 23) While the al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the Jerusalem blast (UK Guardian, March 21), the bus blast was claimed by Islamic Jihad (Hamas press release, March 22). Several of the 30 wounded in the bus blast were actually Arab (UK Guardian, March 20). Arafat's Palestinian Authority has condemned the suicide attacks--winning criticism from the more militant Hamas organization (Hamas press release, March 22). Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Arafat, who has been confined to Ramallah by Israeli forces, should be allowed to travel to Beirut for the Arab summit meeting which is to convene March 27. But Sharon insisted Arafat will not be allowed to leave unless there is a truce (NYT, March 24). Violence again broke out March 24, as four armed Palestinians were shot by Israeli commandos as they tried to infiltrate from Jordan, and a 19-year-old Palestinian was killed in an Israeli incursion in the Gaza Strip (BBC, March 25). [top]

The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem released a report entitled "Trigger Happy: Unjustified Gunfire and the IDF's Open-Fire Regulations during the al-Aqsa Intifada." The report documents numerous incidents of unarmed Palestinian civilians being killed by Israel Defense Forces. To cite but one incident: "On 17 December 2001, several children from the Khan Yunis refugee camp were playing with toy weapons made of plastic. IDF soldiers at a post some one hundred meters away fired live ammunition at them, killing Muhammad Hanaidiq, age 15."

B'Tselem writes that until the outbreak of the new intifada, or uprising, in Sept. 2000, "the Open-Fire Regulations in the Occupied Territories were based on Israel's penal code. Soldiers were only allowed to fire live ammunition in two situations: when soldiers were in real and immediate life threatening danger, and during the apprehension of a suspect. When the intifada began, the IDF defined the events in the Occupied Territories as an 'armed conflict short of war,' and expanded the range of situations in which soldiers are permitted to open fire... The new version of the Open-Fire Regulations, which according to press reports are referred to as 'Blue Lilac,' have remained secret." Therefore B'Tselem based its investigation primarily on testimonies from soldiers.

One Israeli soldier told B'Tselem: "You hear shooting, nothing effective. You jump and start shooting. There's nowhere to shoot. You shoot at suspicious places, which is a bush here and a bush there, more or less. But the soldiers take a bit of initiative and shoot at suspicious water tanks, suspicious television antennas, suspicious satellite dishes..." ( [top]

An Israeli TV news reel from a recent IDF raid on a West Bank refugee camp depicts troops terrorizing a Palestinian family, tearing out walls in their modest home--and leaving the mother dead. The mother had been fatally injured when IDF troops bombed the door to enter the house. The footage shows how the troops searched the home, holding the family at gunpoint and ignoring pleas for the mother to be taken to a hospital. Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances were not able to get in because of the IDF blockade of the camp. The mother lay dying as her two children looked on--the boy of around 15 admonishing his younger sister not to cry in front of the Israeli soldiers. No weapons were found in the house. Israel's Ch. 2 ran the footage in defiance of military censors, and the broadcast made local headlines. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has released the footage internationally. [top]

A March 24 front-page New York Times story, "A Secret Iran-Arafat Connection Is Seen Fueling the Mideast Fire," also drew an indirect link between Arafat and Osama bin Laden, with a subtitle of "US and Israel Fear Tehran Harbors al-Qaeda." Citing anonymous "American and Israeli intelligence officials," the article claimed a "clandestine meeting" took place between Arafat and Iranian officials when he was in Moscow to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin last May. But the top-billing story actually broke little new ground, mostly reiterating old claims--such as Israel's Jan. seizure of a boat on the Red Sea, allegedly on a clandestine weapons delivery from Iran to Arafat (seeWW3 REPORT #16), and the Feb. detention of three al-Qaeda suspects by Turkish authorities near the Iranian border (see WW3 REPORT #23). It also reiterated Iran's denial of any involvement in arming the Palestinians. [top]

Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantaoui, former rector of al-Azhar University in Cairo, Islam's most prestigious school, praised the Palestinian suicide bombers in a March 21 statement. Tantaoui said "anyone who blows himself up among aggressors who destroy houses and kill women and children, while defending the honor of our brothers in Palestine, is holy, because he blows himself up in the heart of an enemy who is raping his lands, disgracing our honor and killing people."

Tantaoui asserted that "if the suicide bomber is in an Israeli town, and it is proved that there are aggressors there and he blows himself up, killing men, women and children, he is also holy, because he cannot distinguish between them." However, the sheikh said that the bombers should not detonate intentionally "among the weak" (women and children). Two months ago, Tantaoui took part in an inter-religious council in Alexandria, where he signed the closing statement that "the murder of innocents--supposedly in the name of God--is sacrilege of His holy name and disgraces the religion worldwide." Tantaoui subsequently received death threats from Islamic extremists. (Haaretz, March 22) [top]

A prominent newspaper editor in Saudi Arabia, Turki al-Sudairy, disavowed an article that had appeared in his own daily, Al Riyadh, repeating the centuries-old calumny that Jews use the blood of Christians and Muslims to make holiday foods. Al-Sudairy said he was upset to discover that the paper ran a two-part series vilifying Jews while he was away in Lebanon. In an unusual twist on the ancient lie, the paper claimed that it is hamantash for Purim rather than matzoh for Passover which is made with the blood of gentiles. (Los Angeles Times, March 20) [top]

Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from fleeing a burning building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, local newspapers reported. In a rare criticism of the kingdom's powerful "mutaween" police, the Saudi media accused them of blocking attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire March 18. About 800 students were inside the school in Mecca when the fire started. The daily al-Eqtisadiah reported that firemen confronted police after they tried to keep the girls inside because they were not wearing the headscarves and abayas (black robes) required by the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islamic law. One witness reportedly saw three police "beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya." The Saudi Gazette quoted witnesses saying the mutaween--or Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice--stopped men who tried to help the girls, warning "it is sinful to approach them." The father of one of the 15 girls claimed the school watchman even refused to open the gates to let the girls out. "Lives could have been saved had they not been stopped by members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," the newspaper concluded. (BBC, March 15) [top]


The arrival of some 650 US troops to help the Philippine government in its battle against the Abu Sayyaf rebels was hailed by President Gloria Arroyo's administration. But the apprehensions of many Filipinos were summed up by former defense minister and senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who warned of the impending "Vietnamization" of the Philippines. Ponce Enrile said the arrival of US advisors pointed to the "potentiality of a Vietnam conflict." Enrile said the US military presence may constitute "stationing troops," which violates both the Philippine constitution and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the USA. But the Arroyo-appointed Supreme Court approved joint military activities with the US troops, saying that "it is not a violation of the Philippine constitution." Arroyo has declared those who oppose the exercise "terrorist-lovers."

Datu Haji Alonto of the Mindanao War Victims group warned of a potential escalation scenario: "If body bags started flying to the US with dead American soldiers, do you think they will just leave, like in Somalia? That would be just the excuse needed by the American militarists to bomb Mindanao using state-of-the-art and untested modern weapons and plant their bases." Former senator Wigberto Tanada now heads the activist group Gathering for Peace, which has held public vigils in Manila to protest the troop presence. "What we gained in 1991 is in danger of being lost," Tanada said, referring to the abrogation of the Philippine-US military bases agreement. Tanada was one of the senators who voted to revoke the treaty. (Dawn, Pakistan, March 19) [top]

Over 100 Philippine troops clashed with some 25 rebels March 18 on Basilan island, where US advisors are training soldiers for the campaign. At least one local militiaman fighting with the soldiers was injured in a battle that started at dawn and dragged on through the day in coconut groves on the island, said Col. Alexander Aleo, a brigade commander. Twelve US advisors at an army camp 4 miles away in Tipo Tipo were not allowed to venture near the fighting, Aleo claimed. The rebels belonged to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which Aleo accused of collaborating with the Abu Sayyaf group, top target of the US training program. Thousands of soldiers are said to be pursuing some 60 Abu Sayyaf fighters, remnants of a force decimated since the military launched an offensive on the island in June. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, on a tour of Southeast Asia, arrived in the Philippines March 17 to meet with top officials and assess the mission. Two days earlier, two US-flown helicopters evacuated three wounded Philippine soldiers and a dead comrade after they clashed with Abu Sayyaf fighters. The training exercise runs through July 15. The Pentagon is said to be considering sending more troops. (AP, March 18) March 19 saw another clash, as Abu Sayyaf rebels hurled grenades and fired small arms at a Philippine army patrol on Basilan, injuring two within earshot of US troops and prompting four Green Berets to enter the combat zone to "help retrieve the wounded." (AP, March 19) [top]

An Islamic separatist group in the Philippines denied having links with Malaysian militants alleged to have received training at their military camp in Mindanao. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) spokesman Eid Kabalu said the group did not allow foreigners into its camps. Malaysian police said they detained 23 members of the Malaysian Militant Group (KMM) in Jan., including four Indonesians and three Singaporeans, who they claimed had with links to al-Qaeda and other terror networks. Police Inspector-General Norian Mai told the press 19 of the detainees had received military training outside the country--10 in Afghanistan and nine in Mindanao. The 12,500-strong MILF is fighting for creation of an Islamic state in the south of the Catholic-majority Philippines. When asked about the MILF's involvement in a regional radical Islamic network, Kabalu said the MILF was transparent in its operations and had no links with any other groups in the region. (AFP, Jan. 27) [top]

Abu Sayyaf, the special target of US counter-terrorist efforts in the Philippines, is one of several armed factions on the Muslim-majority southern island of Mindanao--which has seen 20 years of war. A Jan. 17 report in Asia Times provided a synopsis of the players and the current escalation. The two largest groups aiming to represent the 4-5 million Moros of Mindanao are the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The MNLF signed a peace agreement with Manila in 1996 that led to establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Nur Misuari, then-chairman of the MNLF, became the first ARMM governor. The MILF refused to sign the agreement because it failed to address land issues and implementation of shariah, or Islamic law. In March 2000, then-president Joseph Estrada ordered all-out war against the MILF, a campaign which has claimed thousands of lives. The MILF agreed to a ceasefire last Aug., and peace talks continue--despite repeated ceasefire violations by the Philippine military. Establishment of the ARMM has failed to ease grinding poverty on Mindanao. Growing opposition to Misuari within the MNLF led to his removal as chair of the organization last April--a post he had held for 33 years. In Nov., Misuari was arrested in Malaysia after he fled the Philippines in the wake of a failed uprising on the island of Jolo. Over 100 died in the fighting, which came a week before Misuari was voted out as governor in the ARMM elections. (See WW3 REPORT#10) After the election, Misuari supporters took 100 hostages in Zamboanga City, holding them until negotiators brokered a deal allowing the gunmen to go free. Misuari was extradited to the Philippines to face rebellion charges, but authorities estimate some 1,000 MNLF troops remain loyal to him. Parouk Hussin, Misuari's successor as MNLF head, is the new governor. President Arroyo, who backed Hussin for the post, pledges $100 million in development aid for Mindanao, with $55 million coming from a promised US aid package. [top]

Abu Sayyaf, a small Moro faction which the US links to al-Qaeda, is demanding $1 million for the release of three hostages--a US missionary couple and a Filipina nurse, who have been held since the middle of 2001. The Philippine military has repeatedly announced deadlines for rescue of the hostages--and then failed to meet them. Over 7,000 soldiers are pursuing Abu Sayyaf, narrowing the search to a densely forested area on Basilan. Military operations in the region have resulted in some 55,000 displaced, and pose a major challenge to the newly-elected leaders of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), composed of Basilan and four other provinces. Despite repeated offers, the Philippine government has ruled out any possibility of US troop involvement in rescue of the hostages. But US soldiers are allowed to go to the battlefront to "assess" operations against the Abu Sayyaf. (Asiatimes, Jan. 17) Abu Sayyaf means "father of the swordsman" in Arabic, and was reportedly named for the nom de guerre of an Afghan Mujahedeen fighter (Dawn, Pakistan, March 19). Despite official denials that US troops will actually participate in Philippine army operations against Abu Sayyaf, the joint military exercise is dubbed Balikatan, which translates as "Shoulder to Shoulder." (Manila Times, Jan 17) [top]

As FBI Director Robert Mueller visited Indonesia to meet with top security and law enforcement officials, the White House announced that it would not resume military training of the Indonesian army--restricted by Congress following the 1999 bloodshed in East Timor--but would provide aid for the country's new anti-terror police force. Although the military training had been suspended due to human rights concerns, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz cited US respect for the "deep sense of national pride and independence on the part of the Indonesians." US intelligence claims the group Jemaah Islamiyah, linked to al-Qaeda, has cells in Indonesia. (NYT, March 22) [top]


The UK is prepared to use nuclear weapons against rogue states such as Iraq if they used "weapons of mass destruction" against British troops, defense secretary Geoff Hoon told MPs. Hoon was briefing MPs on the threat posed by four countries identified by the UK as "states of concern"--Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea. He added: "They can be absolutely confident that in the right conditions we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons. What I can not be absolutely confident about is whether or not that would be sufficient to deter them from using a weapon of mass destruction in the first place." (BBC, March 20) [top]

Village Voice columnist James Ridgeway discussed reports that the US is using bombs containing depleted uranium (DU), a low-level nuclear waste product, in Afghanistan--as it did in Iraq and Yugoslavia. The March 20 piece, "Radioactive Bombs Rain Down on Asia," reviewed world press accounts of the controversy.

"The use of reprocessed nuclear waste in the US air strikes against the Taliban poses a serious risk of radiation poisoning to the human lives in Afghanistan and Pakistan," said the Pakistan Weekly Independent last Nov. Added Dawn, Pakistan's English-language paper, on Nov. 12: "A leading military expert told Dawn that since Oct. 7 the United States Air Force has been raining down depleted uranium shells at targets inside Afghanistan, especially against the Taliban front lines in the north... 'There is widespread radiation in many areas that could adversely affect tens and thousands of people...for generations to come,' he said."

A 1994 report to Congress by the secretary of the army said, "Like naturally occurring uranium, DU has toxicological and radiological health risks... Based on the lessons learned in Desert Storm, the army is developing procedures to better manage the internal exposure potential for DU during combat." The report mentioned tungsten as a possible alternative.

Carl Conetta of the Project on Defense Alternatives in Washington told the Voice that while experts argue, depleted uranium inhaled by a child could result in cancer later in life. A spokesperson for the US Central Command this week said the Pentagon has "not used depleted uranium in Afghanistan." But Conetta suspects that hundreds of bombs containing DU have been used in Afghanistan, noting that DU remains cheaper than alternatives the Pentagon is considering such as tungsten.

Ridgeway writes that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told a French publication in Jan. that the US had found radiation in Afghanistan--but that it was from DU bombs belonging to al-Qaeda, possibly of Russian origin. [top]

The March Le Monde Diplomatique cited the findings of researcher Dai Williams that, despite Pentagon denials, the US is using depleted uranium bombs in Afghanistan. "The immediate concern for medical professionals and employees of aid organizations remains the threat of extensive depleted uranium (DU) contamination in Afghanistan," states the 130-page report, "Mystery Metal Nightmare in Afghanistan?," which was recently presented to international organizations in Geneva. But only MŽdecins sans FrontiŽres (Doctors without Borders) say they fear an environmental and health catastrophe from the use of DU in Afghanistan. In March and April 2001, UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO) published reports on DU, which are frequently cited by those claiming DU is harmless. The Pentagon emphasizes that the organizations are independent and neutral. But Le Monde Diplomatique writes that "the UNEP study is, at best, compromised... The Kosovo assessment mission that provided the basis for the UNEP analysis was organized using maps supplied by NATO; NATO troops accompanied the researchers to protect them from unexploded munitions, including cluster bomb sub-munitions... NATO troops prevented researchers from any contact with DU sub-munitions, even from discovering their existence."

Le Monde Diplomatique claims the Pentagon has "admitted" that DU is used in Raytheon's "bunker buster"--GBU-28--which was used extensively in the battle for Tora Bora (see WW3 REPORT #14). The article discusses the limitations of tungsten, which the Pentagon is said to be considering as a replacement for DU: "Tungsten poses problems. Its melting point (3,422ˇC) makes it very hard to work; it is expensive; it is produced mostly by China; and it does not burn. DU is pyrophoric, burning on impact or if it is ignited, with a melting point of 1,132ˇC; it is much easier to process; and as nuclear waste, it is available free to arms manufacturers. Further, using it in a range of weapons significantly reduces the US nuclear waste storage problem."

The article also notes the radioactive legacy of DU production in the US: "In Jefferson County, Indiana, the Pentagon has closed the 200-acre (80-hectare) proving ground where it used to test-fire DU rounds. The lowest estimate for cleaning up the site comes to $7.8bn, not including permanent storage of the earth to a depth of six meters and of all the vegetation. Considering the cost too high, the military finally decided to give the tract to the National Park Service for a nature preserve--an offer that was promptly refused. Now there is talk of turning it into a National Sacrifice Zone and closing it forever. This gives an idea of the fate awaiting those regions of the planet where the US has used and will use depleted uranium." ( see Issues on the Use and Effects of Depleted Uranium Weapons) [top]


A BBC Newsnight investigation has raised the possibility that the fall anthrax attacks were part of a secret CIA project to simulate bio-terror attacks which went "madly out of control." The report centered on the findings of Federation of American Scientists researcher Barbara Rosenberg, who has recently maintained that the FBI has a suspect in the case but is "dragging its heels" because an arrest would be embarrassing to the US authorities. (see WW3 REPORT #22) On the March 14 BBC Newsnight, Hatch went further, alleging that the anthrax attacks which killed five people may have originated in a covert CIA experiment.

The report also cited a New York Times series on secret bio-defense projects which ran Sept. 2-4, mere days before the 9-11 attacks. The Sept. 4 New York Times story noted a 1997 CIA program code-named Clear Vision, which built and tested a model of a "Soviet-designed germ bomb that agency officials feared was being sold on the international market." The device was developed and tested at Battelle Memorial Institute, a defense contractor based in West Jefferson, OH. In another Clinton-era program, Project Jefferson--this one led by the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)--Battelle was contracted to replicate a hybrid form of anthrax believed to have been developed by the Russians which is resistant to the anthrax vaccine the Pentagon uses on all US troops.

Newsnight said that "in recent weeks, the focus of the investigation has been the US army medical research institute at Fort Detrick near Washington." Col. David Franz, who was in charge of research at Fort Detrick for 11 years, told Newsnight the perpetrator was likely a high-level researcher: "It's not someone who just got on the Internet or went to the library and got a book and held the book in one hand and a big wooden spoon in the other and stirred up batches..." [top]

A front-page New York Times story March 23 cited a "confidential assessment" by Pentagon Central Command that a laboratory discovered by US forces in Kandahar, Afghanistan, was intended to produce anthrax. The assessment was "based on documents and equipment found at the site." No further details were given on evidence, but CIA Director George Tenet was quoted: "Documents recovered from al-Qaeda facilities in Afghanistan show that bin Laden was pursuing a sophisticated biological weapons research program. We also believe that bin laden was seeking to acquire or develop a nuclear device. Al-Qaeda may be pursuing a radioactive dispersal device, which some call a 'dirty bomb.'" US officials say over 60 sites suspected of links to unconventional weapons have been investigated in Afghanistan, with over 370 samples taken. In only five cases were there any apparent indication of biological agents, and then only in miniscule amounts. A second story related how a Dr. Christos Tsonas of Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale treated a man identified as a pilot last June for an ugly lesion on his leg, which he said had developed when he bumped into a suitcase. The antibiotics Dr. Tsonas prescribed later emerged among the possessions of 9-11 hijacker Ahmed Alhaznawi, who died when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. Dr. Tsonas subsequently said that the lesion "was consistent with cutaneous anthrax." A memo on the matter at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies said, "Such a conclusion of course raises the possibility that the hijackers were handling anthrax and were the perpetrators of the anthrax letter attacks." [top]

Reports in the British press say a March 22 briefing by a senior Downing Street official claimed US forces had discovered a biological weapons laboratory in a cave in eastern Afghanistan after Operation Anaconda. A "senior Whitehall source" gave details of how US soldiers had found the cave following heavy fighting for al-Qaeda positions around Shah-i-Kot. One intelligence report was quoted as saying: "We know from documents found in Kabul and the lab in the cave that Osama bin Laden has acquired a chemical and biological weapons capability." Newspapers reported the find as a key reason the British government had decided to send 1,700 Royal Marines to Afghanistan. But the claim was denied emphatically by Pentagon and State Department sources. A White House spokesman said "no evidence" had yet been uncovered in Afghanistan that al-Qaeda had succeeded in producing anthrax or other biological/chemical agents. A US Army official in Washington told The Observer: "I don't know what they're saying in London but we have received no specific intelligence on that kind of development or capability in the Shah-i-Kot valley region--I mean a chemical or biological weapons facility."

The US rebuttal came as opposition MPs demanded that Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon "clarify" the claims before the House of Commons. Liberal Democrat Menzies Campbell said: "The House will feel, with some justification, that this claim was leaked to the media to justify the deployment after the event." The Observer said it had "established that the source of the claims was an off-the-record briefing by Tony Blair's senior foreign policy adviser, David Manning." A Blair spokesman said the government "stuck by the thrust of the story"--that it had evidence al-Qaeda was "interested" in acquiring bio-weapons--but said Manning had "not actually told" reporters a cave lab had been discovered. (UK Observer, March 24) [top]

The Emergency Health Powers Act, based on a model drawn up by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), would permit forced vaccinations, abolish patient privacy, criminalize the refusal of medical treatment, and allow state governments to seize and destroy private property and take control of all communications media, food and fuel resources, and drugs. (See WW3 REPORT #15). The act is now pending in several state legislatures. New York State Assembly Bill A-9508 would allow the governor to call out the state militia to enforce "isolation" of target communities, which is defined as "physical separation and confinement of an individual or groups of individuals who are infected or reasonably believed to be infected with a contagious disease or possibly contagious disease." New Yorkers for Vaccine Information and Choice is mobilizing opposition to the bill. [top]


Since Sept. 11, the US has been routinely sending al-Qaeda suspects overseas to countries that use torture as part of their interrogation process. Bypassing normal extradition procedures, the suspects are denied due process and flown to countries such as Egypt or Jordan, where they are subject to torture and threats to their families. One US diplomat told the Washington Post, "After Sept. 11, these sorts of movements have been occurring all the time. It allows us to get information from terrorists in a way we can't do on US soil." According the UK Guardian, "dozens of prisoners" have been transferred to terror war allies. (UK Guardian, March 12)

The process, known as "rendition," predates Sept. 11. Diplomats say the US uses "rendition" as "an attempt to avoid highly publicized cases that could lead to a further backlash from Islamist extremists." US intelligence agents have been present at the interrogations of "rendered" suspects in Egypt and elsewhere, according to the Washington Post. "Rendition"--which falls short of the legal standards for actual extradition--goes both ways, to and from the US. From 1993 to 1999, terrorism suspects were "rendered" to the US from Kenya, the Philippines, Nigeria and South Africa. These were only the operations acknowledged by US officials; many more covert "renditions"--often with Egyptian cooperation--were also carried out, officials told the Washington Post. Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, 24, linked to suspected al-Qaeda "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, was seized by authorities in Indonesia and flown to Egypt on an unmarked US-registered jet from an Indonesian military airfield. The CIA had requested the Indonesian government apprehend Iqbal and turn him over to Egypt, where he was wanted for unspecified charges not related to Reid. (see WW3 REPORT #5)(Washington Post, Mar. 12) (David Bloom) [top]

Despite having taken 1,300 suspects into custody since Sept. 11, the FBI has ostensibly failed to find any al-Qaeda cells operating on US soil. When asked in a March 10 interview with the Fox network if there were any al-Qaeda cells in the US, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge replied, "We can't say conclusively that there are." Ridge went on to caution: "I think we should assume and we should operate under the notion that some still are in the United States." (Fox News, March 10) According to the March 11 London Times, al-Qaeda suspects have been detained in 60 countries since Sept. 11, "but none of the hundreds detained has yet been found to have any links with terrorism." (David Bloom) [top]

As US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that rules had been completed for the special anti-terrorist military tribunals, an anonymous source leaked some of the details of the rules to the Associated Press. The source told the AP that suspects tried by the tribunals would have many of the legal rights of defendants in civilian courts--but prosecutors could use evidence that would be inadmissible in an ordinary US court. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said defendants would be presumed innocent and have the right to a lawyer and to see the evidence against them. Key differences would be a suspension of Fourth Amendment restrictions on evidence gathering, and an extremely limited right to appeal. The seven-officer tribunals might allow prosecutors to use hearsay or evidence gathered through "unorthodox means." Proceedings would be largely open to the press, although TV cameras would be barred. If prosecutors requested to present classified material, the courtroom would be ordered closed. Conviction in most cases would require only a two-thirds majority of the tribunal, unlike civilian trials which require unanimity. Death sentences would require a unanimous verdict. Some 300 suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners are being held at Guantanamo Bay Naval base, and 244 more are in US custody in Afghanistan. Amnesty International, which opposes the military tribunals, protested: "The proposed commissions would be inherently discriminatory by affording foreign nationals a lower standard of justice than US nationals." (AP, March 20) [top]

Pentagon officials raised the possibility that prisoners from the Afghan war and terrorist suspects could be held indefinitely by presidential order--even after acquittal by the special military tribunals. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfled called the provisions "far and balanced." Countered Jamie Fellner of Human Rights Watch: "Not to have an independent court of appeals and then to have the president have the final say potentially undercuts whatever fairness they've sought to provide at the trial level." (NYT, March 22) [top]

Federal agents raided 15 organizations and individuals in Virginia and a chicken farm in Georgia March 20--all of them, authorities said, suspected by the Treasury Department of laundering money for al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups. The raids were the first overseen by the Treasury Department's counter-terrorism task force. The Department would not identify the targets, but sources indicated one was a commercial building at 555 Grove Street in Herndon, VA, where the SAAR Foundation, a now-defunct Saudi-financed charity, had an office until recently. No representative of the foundation could be located for comment. The building also houses the offices of several other Islamic charities. The office of the International Islamic Relief Organization at 360 South Washington Street in Falls Church, VA, was also searched, sources said. That charity's parent organization, the Muslim World League, was also apparently searched. In Oct., the Treasury Department listed another charity financed by the Muslim World League, the Rabita Trust, as having links to al-Qaeda. (NYT, March 21)

Search warrants were also reportedly served on the International Institute for Islamic Thought, which is located across the street from the SAAR Foundation. An employee there, Tarik Hamdi, whose home was also raided, was mentioned in the New York trial of suspects in the 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Officials said SAAR was largely financed by Suleiman Abdel Aziz al-Rajhi, a Saudi banker who is said to be close to the Saudi royal family. Agents from several Treasury Department branches, including the Customs Service and IRS, participated in the raids. (NYT, March 21)

The raids continued into the night, as federal agents seized documents, files, a manuscript and three computers from the home of Taha Al-Awani and Mona Abul-Fadl, both associated with the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Leesburg, VA. Abul-Fadl, who teaches political science and women's studies, said agents stormed into their home in Herndon, where she was alone and asleep, at 10:30 PM, breaking in the front door with guns drawn. "They claimed to have knocked," she said. "Normally, if one is in that situation, one would call the police. But now, there is something ironic, even pathetic about it. What police would you call now?" (NYT, March 22)

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) protested "the use of secret, or classified, documents in this operation" and demanded "that individuals being investigated be afforded their right to confront the evidence collected against them in open court." (, March 21) Said Dr. Nedzib Sacirbey, spokesperson for the American Muslim Council: "These raids and the manner in which they were conducted are un-American and hurt our image in the world as a nation with rules, and respect for human dignity. They are painful for the American Muslim community, which has sided with the President and our united country in our war against terrorism." (AMC press release, March 20) [top]

Pfc. William Hamm of Ocala, FL, and Staff Sgt. Eric Hall of Phoenix, AZ, a linguist in the 110th Military Intelligence Battalion, were killed when two shells landed short of their target during military exercises at the Army's Fort Drum in upstate New York. They were in the midst of a battalion eating breakfast when the shells hit. (NYT, March 22) [top]


Rep. Barbara Lee, who cast the lone vote against war following the Sept. 11 attacks, got a warm welcome when she spoke March 18 at the University of California at Berkeley. "Peace must be a policy option," she said. "It's got to be on the table at all times...if we want to turn over to our children a world that is less dangerous and more secure." After her Sept. 14 vote against the resolution giving sweeping war powers to President Bush, Lee faced bitter criticism--and even death threats. But AP reported that the prolonged applause prefacing her speech--and the standing ovation that followed it--made clear that Lee is a hero in the San Francisco Bay Area. "She voted her conscience in Congress," Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl said as he introduced Lee. The Oakland Democrat was on campus to deliver the first lecture in a series named for her political mentor and predecessor, ex-Rep. Ron Dellums. Lee, who has a master's degree from Berkeley, called the new federal budget "a disaster" that delivers too much to the military at the expense of domestic social programs. Lee said terrorists must be "brought to justice," but "we cannot let the terrible events of September derail our efforts to contemplate and complete the unfinished business of America. We still live in a country where more than 44 million people have no health care." The real danger of the post-9-11 atmosphere is not dissent but the lack of it, Lee asserted. "The lifeblood of democracy is really the right to dissent," she said. "What has happened since Sept. 11 is people have been fearful, naturally, they've been scared and that's probably why we don't hear an overwhelming amount of questioning at this point and that is a very dangerous place to be." The AP account of her speech noted a lone protester outside the lecture hall, Berkeley junior Kelly Nordli, who held up a sign that read "Drop Barbara Lee." (AP, March 18) [top]


Recent reports in Le Monde and the French website Intelligence Online have confirmed accounts of a US government investigation into a probable Israeli espionage operation in the United States prior to Sept. 11, possibly trailing Islamic fundamentalists --raising the question of whether the Israelis knew about the impending attack. The claims were first aired on the Fox network between Dec. 11 and 15. Fox alleged that a spy ring of up to 200 Israelis was operating in the US prior to 9-11. The common modus operandi was young Israelis posing as art students, and trying to breach security measures at federal facilities across the country under the pretext of selling art. The March 5 story in Le Monde notes a leaked DEA internal security report, "Suspicious Activities Involving Israeli Art Students at DEA Facilities," detailing incidents at "several DEA Field Offices in the continental United States" in Jan. 2001.

Intelligence Online says the June 2001 report was prepared for the Justice Department by a "task force" made up of DEA and some INS agents, "who were associated with the FBI and the office of investigation of the US Air Force." Questioned by Le Monde, DEA rep Will Glaspy confirmed that the report exists. (Le Monde, March 5)

Also of concern to security officials is the fact that wiretapping and phone record technologies used in the US are largely run by private Israeli firms. One, Amdocs, generates a record every time a call is made--with the exception of the White House and other secure government lines. Another, Comverse Infosys, provides wiretapping to law enforcement agencies throughout the US. Fox reporter Carl Cameron says the wiretap system contains vulnerabilities which could have been exploited by al-Qaeda terrorists (Fox News, Dec. 12). According to Cameron, "what troubles investigators most, particularly in New York, in the counter-terrorism investigation of the World Trade Center attack, is that on a number of cases, suspects that they had sought to wiretap and surveil immediately changed their telecommunications processes. They started acting much differently as soon as those supposedly secret wiretaps went into place" (Fox News, Dec.13).

According to the Intelligence Online report: "The role played by the DEA in the case takes on a wider dimension because of the fact that in September 1997 it purchased $25 million worth of interception equipment from a number of Israeli companies which were named in the report. In assigning so many resources to the inquiry (all DEA offices were asked to contribute) the agency was clearly worried that its own systems might have been compromised."

Numerous Israelis were detained in the post-9-11 sweeps. Reported Fox's Cameron: "Beyond the 60 apprehended or detained, and many deported since Sept. 11, another group of 140 Israeli individuals have been arrested and detained in this year in what government documents describe as--quote--'an organized intelligence gathering operation,' designed to--quote--'penetrate government facilities.' Most of those individuals said they had served in the Israeli military, which is compulsory there." (Fox News, Dec. 15) (See also: WW3 REPORT, #s 4, 11)

New York's Jewish weekly The Forward March 15 portrayed close cooperation between US and Israeli intelligence, claiming that "Israeli intelligence played a key role in helping the Bush administration to crack down on Islamic charities suspected of funneling money to terrorist groups, most notably the Richardson, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation last December." The Forward quoted Peter Unsinger, an intelligence expert at San Jose University: "I have no doubt Israel has an interest in spying on those groups. The Israelis give us good stuff, like on the Hamas charities." Ami Ayalon, former head of Israel's Shin Bet internal security service, dismissed the notion that Israel was spying on the US government as "ridiculous."

But The Forward also wrote: "According to one former high-ranking American intelligence official, who asked not to be named, the FBI came to the conclusion at the end of its investigation that the five Israelis arrested in New Jersey last Sept. were conducting a Mossad surveillance mission and that their employer, Urban Moving Systems of Weehawken, N.J., served as a front. After their arrest, the men were held in detention for two-and-a-half months and were deported at the end of Nov., officially for visa violations. However, a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI concluded that at least two of them were in fact Mossad operatives, according to the former American official, who said he was regularly briefed on the investigation by two separate law enforcement officials. 'The assessment was that Urban Moving Systems was a front for the Mossad and operatives employed by it,' he said. 'The conclusion of the FBI was that they were spying on local Arabs but that that they could leave because they did not know anything about 9/11.' However, he added, the bureau was 'very irritated because it was a case of so-called unilateral espionage, meaning they didn't know about it.'"

Fox, Le Monde and Intelligence Online all ask whether Israel was forthcoming enough about any potential foreknowledge of terrorist attacks on US soil. The London Daily Telegraph reported Sept. 16 that "two senior experts with Mossad, the Israeli military intelligence service, were sent to Washington in August to alert the CIA and FBI to the existence of a cell of as many as 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation. They had no specific information about what was being planned but linked the plot to Osama bin Laden and told the Americans that there were strong grounds for suspecting Iraqi involvement..." (See WW3 REPORT #2) But was this tip-off sufficient? According to Fox, "investigators are saying...the warning from the Mossad was nonspecific and general, and they believe that it may have had something to do with the desire to protect what are called sources and methods in the intelligence community. The suspicion being, perhaps those sources and methods were taking place right here in the United States."

A 1996 GAO report on Israeli espionage activity in the US stated: "According to a US intelligence agency, the government of Country A conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the US of any US ally." (Fox News, Dec. 11) That same year, a Defense Investigative Services (DIS) memo warned of Israeli "espionage intentions and capabilities" aimed at the US defense contractors. The Pentagon repudiated the memo after the Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman protested that it "impugns American Jews and borders on anti-Semitism" by referring to the potential security threat posed by individuals with "strong ethnic ties" to Israel. (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 1996)

The June 2001 DEA report alleges that Israelis repeatedly approached federal buildings and homes of federal officials under the guise of being art students from Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem, aggressively soliciting opinions about their artwork, and trying to bypass security measures at these facilities. A March 2001 public report from the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX), "Suspicious Visitors to Federal Facilities," describes the same method, but says "the individuals state that they are delivering artwork from a studio in Miami, Florida, called Universal Art, Inc." There is no directory listing for a Universal Art, Inc. anywhere in the Miami area.

The NCIX report also poses the possibility of a double operation, with "two groups involved" in the "art student" incidents--"the second, perhaps a non-Israeli group, may have ties to a Middle Eastern Islamic fundamentalist group. This may provide an explanation for the assumption on the part of Fox, Le Monde and Intelligence Online that snooping on DEA and other federal facilities could indicate Israeli foreknowledge of the 9-11 attacks.

Now that the scandal has re-emerged in the foreign press, Fox News has removed the reports from its website, although the transcripts are still obtainable through its archiving services. Other than reporting on Israeli detainees--and quoting US and Isreali denials that they are related to espionage--no major US daily has covered the story. WW3 REPORT asks why there is an unofficial press embargo of this story. (David Bloom) [top]

According to the June 2001 report by the DEA's internal security (IS) office on the wave of mysterious visits to federal installations by supposed Israeli "art students," one young Isreali arrested in such an incident in Florida possessed telephone numbers which "have been linked to several ongoing DEA MDMA (Ecstasy) investigations in Florida, California and New York." The report also points out that "the nature of the individuals' conduct, combined with intelligence information and historical information regarding past incidents involving Israeli Organized Crime, leads IS to believe the incidents my well be an organized intelligence activity" (DEA report, June 2001)

Carl Cameron, reporting on Fox news (Dec. 14), describes official concerns that the Israeli snoop-tech firms contracted by US law enforcement, Amdocs and Comverse Infosys, were not secure, and that information from these sources was winding up in the hands of Israeli criminal networks: "The problem: according to classified law enforcement documents obtained by Fox News, the bad guys had the cops' beepers, cell phones, even home phones under surveillance. Some who did get caught admitted to having hundreds of numbers and using them to avoid arrest." (David Bloom) [top]

According to the Dec. 11 Fox report, thousands of pushcarts in malls in several states, "selling toys called Puzzle Car and Zoom Copter," were abandoned en masse after the detention of Israelis in the post-9-11 sweeps. Fox said that "dozens" of Israeli pushcart vendors were arrested at malls in Nov., before the mass exodus of the vendors. Fox also reported that Zoom Copter's web site stated: "We are aware of the situation caused by thousands of mall carts being closed at the last minute. This in no way reflects the quality of the toy or its salability. The problem lies in the operators' business policies." The March 15 edition of The Forward, New York's Jewish weekly, made light of the disappearances: "Many young Israelis finishing military service take several months off for world travel before returning to start work or enroll in a university. They often take temporary jobs to fund the trips, and there is an informal network of companies around the world willing to hire them." (David Bloom)




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