#. 47. Aug. 18, 2002
*ISRAEL PREPARES FOR NUKE WAR (WISH WE WERE JOKING!)
*WHITE HOUSE KULTIVATES KURDS FOR PESHMERGA PROXY!
*HEARTLAND PARANOIA: AL-QAEDA IN ALABAMA, OKLAHOMA!
CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: YELLOW
By Bill Weinberg
With David Bloom, special correspondent
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Human Shield Killed in IDF "Neighbor Practice"
2. IDF Takes Out Five-Year Old Boy, Tosses Grenades at Shoppers
3. Fatah vs. al-Qaeda in Lebanon Refugee Camp
4. Barghouti Indicted for Murder
5. IDF to Confiscate Land for Settler-Only Road
6. IDF Intelligence: Arafat Worth $1.3 Billion
THE IRAQ FRONT
1. Iraqi Opposition Leaders Meet in DC
2. Pentagon Weighing Three Scenarios for Iraq Attack
3. Kurdish Peshmerga Poised for Attack on Two Fronts
4. Kurds Divided on Offering Peshmerga as Proxies
5. Anthony Samson: US Imperial Interests in Iraq
6. Media Amnesia on Iraq Spy Episode
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. Rumsfeld: US to be in Afghanistan for Years
2. Two UK Troops Killed by "Non-Hostile" Fire
3. US Denies Rocket Attack Report
4. Rocket Attack in Jalalabad Injures Eight
5. 30 Detainees at Gitmo Have Attempted Suicide
6. Taliban Bomb Record and Video Store
7. New Afghan Heroin Labs Funding Warlord Resistance?
THE NEW GREAT GAME
1. Russian Gas Giant Seeks Iran-India Pipeline Route
2. Siberian Indigenous People Resist Pipeline Development
3. Wackier and Wackier in Turkmenistan
1. Powell Presides at Signing of ASEAN Terror Treaty
2. Powell Pledges Indonesia Aid
THE PHILIPPINE FRONT
1. Anti-US Protests in Mindanao
2. US Troops to Return in October?
THE ANDEAN FRONT
1. US Reviews Colombia Strategy; Violence Escalates
2. IRA Link To Inauguration Attacks?
1. Military Experts: Israel Considering Nuke Strike on Iraq
2. Israel to Distribute Anti-Nuke Pills
3. Israel to Expand Missile Defense System
4. US to Relocate Nuclear Fuel
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. Islamic Link to Oklahoma City Blast?
2. Report: FBI Searching for Mysterious Israelis
3. Jihad Camp Busted in Alabama?
THE WAR AT HOME
1. Ashcroft Detainment Camp Plan: "Constitutional Menace"
2. Video Cameras Watch Kid Drown
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. HUMAN SHIELD KILLED IN IDF OPERATION
On Aug. 14, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) troops put 19-year-old Nidal Muhsein from Tubas in a flak jacket and sent him to knock on his neighbor's door and announce that the IDF was there to arrest him. The occupant was Nasser Jerar, a wanted Hamas militant who Israel claims was planning a "mega-attack." The IDF said Muhsein was killed by gunfire emanating from inside the house, but Palestinian witness say he was killed by IDF gunfire. The IDF then destroyed the house with a bulldozer. Jerar was killed when his house collapsed on him.
The IDF calls its use of human shields, "neighbor practice." In "neighbor practice" operations, troops surround the targeted house and use megaphones to persuade the suspect to come out. This part of the operation is known as a "pressure cooker." Then, in the words of one officer quoted by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, "before the search we go to a neighbor, take him out of his house and tell him to call the people we want out of the next door house. If it works, it works, and if not we blow up the door or knock it down with a hammer. The neighbor goes in first. If they're planning something, he gets it... The neighbor does not have the option to refuse to do it. He shouts, knocks on the door and says the army's here. If nobody answers, he comes back and we go to work." The IDF then opens fire with anti-tank missiles and light weapons. Finally, bulldozers knock down the structure if the suspects remain inside.
The IDF claims "neighbor practice" operations save lives. The tactic was used in the capture of accused Tanzim militia chief Marwan Barghouti, and the IDF claims it kept Barghouti's men from defending him. Said one officer after the Aug. 14 incident: "The fact that nobody was killed until the day before yesterday is proof of how effective it is to send a neighbor to the door rather than just opening fire or risking life." Hardline Minister-without-Portofolio Effi Eitam called the use of neighbor practice "very moral."
In response to petitions by human rights organizations, the IDF promised in May to prohibit the use of human shields in its operations "if the neighbor is put at risk," but left the risk to be judged by its commanders in the field. Former Justice Minister Yossi Beilin reacted to the incident in Tubas by saying Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer "are responsible for the worst moral deterioration in the history of Israel." (Ha'aretz, Aug. 15, 16, 16, 16) (David Bloom)
2. IDF TAKES OUT FIVE-YEAR OLD BOY, TOSSES GRENADES AT SHOPPERS
The IDF shot and killed a five-year old Palestinian boy in Gaza Aug. 15, Palestinian sources say. Two others were wounded, one critically. The incident took place in Khan Younis in the central Gaza Strip. Palestinians say there was no militant activity in the area at the time. The IDF said three Palestinians shot at Israeli soldeirs, then fled in thier vehicle. Troops fired back, injuring one of the men in the car. The IDF said it was unaware of a boy being hit. According to Palestinian sources, the child was killed by IDF gunfire near his home, located close to the settlement of Ganei Tal. The two Palestinian adults were wounded when they went to help the boy. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 16)
Two homes were destroyed by the IDF Aug. 16. The homes allegedly belonged to families of militants. One was in Tul Karm, and one in the nearby village of R'ai. Human rights organizations have condemned this practice, recently stepped up by the Israel army, as collective punishment, and a violation of international law. "This is a dangerous policy, this will end in more violence," said senior Arafat aide Nabil Abu Rdainah. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 17)
The IDF rounded up at least 100 people in Hebron Aug. 17, and injured at least five with stun grenades. The injuries were caused by shrapnel or burns from the exploding casings of the grenades. According to Palestinian witnesses, Israeli soldiers threw the grenades into a crowd of shoppers in a busy market in the city center, sending people scurrying to get away. In Nablus, two Palestinians were injured in a clash with soldiers. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 17) (David Bloom)
3. FATAH VS. AL-QAEDA IN LEBANON REFUGEE CAMP
Three were killed and six wounded in an Aug. 13 gun battle in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. The confrontation began when a Fatah checkpoint was attacked by fighters from the so-called Dinnieh group and thier allies in the fundamentalist Jamaat al-Nour organization. The Dinnieh group, a small insurgent cell, has been hiding in the camp since the Lebanese Army put down an Islamic rebellion in Lebanon's northern Dinnieh mountains in Jan. 2000."We have no choice but to get rid of these people," Khaled Aref, the head of Fatah in Ain al-Hilweh, said "The nationalist and Islamic forces in the camp are united in condemning this attack and in wanting these people turned over to Lebanese authorities." Arafat ordered Fatah to seize the al-Qaeda-linked Dinnieh insurgents if they do not give themselves up. The rebels face lengthy prison sentences and possibly death at the hands of Lebanese authorities. This is the first time Palestinian groups have directly clashed with al-Qaeda-aligned forces.
Jamaat al-Nour, or Group of Light, which is protecting the insurgents, is a hard-line breakaway faction of Esbat al-Ansar, itself a radical Sunni fundamentalist group that authorities say has received funding from Osama bin Laden. While al-Ansar has apparently moderated its stance, Jamaat al-Nour unreservedly supports bin Laden and considers Fatah and the other Palestinian factions who wish to hand over the Dinneih rebels to be infidels. Jamaat al-Nour said if they are forced to turn over the Dinneih rebels, they will transform "not only the camp but the whole of Lebanon into a pool of blood."
The Lebanese government stands to gain either way; if the rebels aren't killed, and they are turned over to the US for interrogation, the Lebanese government will get credit for helping in the US-led War on terror. (CSMonitor, Aug. 17; London Times, Aug 14)
A meeting Aug. 15 of all Palestinian factions in the camp resulted in an agreement that the Dinneih group should leave within 15 days, and that the Islamic factions should place them under house arrest in the meantime. The armed factions will form a commando squad to root out the rebels if they do not surrender. In a joint statement, the camp's Islamic factions claimed that Jamaat al-Nour does not exist, and was fabricated to create tension among the refugees. The Lebanese MP for the Dinneih area said the insurgents, also known as the "Abu Aisha Group" are not in fact from Dinneih area, and asked that they not be identified as such.
An uneasy truce now prevails in the camp. During a funeral for one of the insurgents killed in the clash with Fatah, mourners chanted "Arafat, you swine, you should be bound with chains!" and added, "There is no god but Allah, and Arafat is his enemy. (Daily Star, Beirut, Aug. 15) (David Bloom)
4. BARGHOUTI INDICTED FOR MURDER
Fatah's Tanzim militia leader Marwan Barghouti was charged Aug. 14 in Tel Aviv District Court with "murder, incitement to murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, membership of a terrorist organization, acting as an accessory to murder, and activity in a terrorist organization." The indictment called Barghouti an "arch terrorist whose hands are bloodied by dozens of terror actions." It said in addition to commanding the Tanzim, Barghouti was the head of the al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades in the West Bank. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 15)
Former South African President Nelson Mandela has joined a "free Barghouti" committee. The committe also includes Portuguese poet and Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago (see WW3 REPORT #28) and Palestinian literary critic Professor Edward Said. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 15) According to Khader Shkirat, one of Barghouti's lawyers, who visited South Africa this week, Mandela said "What is happening to Barghouti is exactly the same as what happened to me. The government tried to de-legitimize the African National Congress and its armed struggle by putting me on trial." (Ha'aretz, Aug. 17) (David Bloom)
5. IDF TO CONFISCATE LAND FOR SETTLER-ONLY ROAD
The Israeli High Court rejected a petition Aug. 16 by 10 Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip to prevent the confiscation of their land the by IDF. The army wants to confiscate the land to build a new approach road to the Jewish settlement of Netzarim. The IDF says the road will increase the settlers' security. The court's ruling says the IDF made its decision based on security concerns, therefore the legal system cannot interfere. Justice Eliyahu Matza told the court that "the question here is whether, during a state of armed conflict, when an army officers says that he needs this area for the safety of residents and soldiers, the court can tell him: You cannot do this even at the cost of human lives. Is this the case, especially when the court does not understand security issues?" The IDF is considering compensating Fuad Wahidi, who filed the petition and was later joined by the other nine . (Ha'aretz, Aug. 16) (David Bloom)
6. IDF INTELLIGENCE: ARAFAT WORTH $1.3 BILLION
THE IRAQ FRONT
General Aharon Zeevi Farkash told the Knesset's Security and Foreign Affairs Committee Aug. 13 that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat has accumulated $1.3 billion in personal wealth. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 13) Former Palestine Liberation Organization treasurer Jaweed al-Ghussein has accused Arafat of corruption. Jaweed, recently released from house arrest in Gaza at the intercession of Britain, was himself accused of corruption and financial irregularities by the PA. Jaweed says Arafat has been after him for years because he claims he "found out how [Arafat] took aid money and contributions that were earmarked for the Palestinian people to his own account." (Ha'aretz, Aug. 16) (see also: WW3 REPORT #42) (David Bloom)
1. IRAQI OPPOSITION LEADERS MEET IN DC
After a day of meetings with six Iraqi opposition leaders at the State Department to coordinate strategy to oust Saddam Hussein, the US agreed to protect Kurds in northern Iraq during any military operation, an official said. The Kurds are seeking security gurantees to avoid a repeat of the aborted 1991 Kurdish uprising in the wake of Operation Desert Storm that Saddam brutally crushed.
A senior administration official declined to say the US would offer similar protection to dissident Shi'ite Muslims in southern Iraq, who similarly contend that Washington abandoned them after they took up arms against Saddam after Desert Storm. The anonymous official spoke with reporters after the meetings. He said that "should Saddam move against the Kurds, we would respond. Beyond that, all is hypothetical." However, he added: "We realize these Iraqis are running risks. That's why we have in place Operation Northern Watch and Southern Watch," a reference to no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq that are off-limits to Iraqi aircraft and patrolled by US and British fighter jets.
After the day of meetings at the State Department, the Iraqi dissident leaders issued a statement saying, "The Iraqi opposition had productive meetings with Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and agreed to work for the overthrow of the dictatorial regime in Iraq. We asked for the protection of all Iraqi people under UN resolutions," in case US military action sparks retaliatory measures by Saddam Hussein.
The opposition statement endorsed a "federal" government once Saddam is replaced, reflecting a desire by the ethnic and religious groups such as Kurds, Sunnis and Shi'ites for local control over their regions. The opposition leaders included Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Hoshyar Zebari of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Hamid al Bayati of the (Shi'ite) Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, Sharif Ali bin Hussein of the Constitutional Monarchy Movement and Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord. The opposition leaders are to hold a televised conference with Vice President Dick Cheney at his Wyoming residence.
Meanwhile in Baghdad, official Iraqi media warned the "cowboys" in Washington against unleashing a military campaign. "The Iraqi people will make Iraq the graveyard of US attackers and leave their bodies to be devoured by wild animals," the official al-Iraq newspaper said. "The Iraqi people will not disarm. They will go to the end to bring victory or die as martyrs." (Washington Times, Aug. 10)
2. PENTAGON WEIGHING THREE SCENARIOS FOR IRAQ ATTACK
Time magazine reported Aug. 12 that the Bush administration and Pentagon are considering three competing strategies for an attack on Iraq. Under the first, dubbed "Afghanistan Redux," Kurdish and other Iraqi opposition forces backed up by US Special Forces troops would seize a chunk of northern Iraq with the help of massive US air strikes, and march on Baghdad. The plan is contingent on use of Turkey as a staging area, and on forging unity among divided Iraqi opposition forces. Under the second, "Gulf War Lite," a massive US invasion force would sweep in from three sides to converge on Baghdad. Special Forces would be dispatched to hunt down Saddam Hussein. British troops would also participate in the invasion. The plan is contingent on the use of Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Persian Gulf states as staging areas--and Jordan's Kinf Abdullah II speaks for most of those countries when he calls this a bad idea. (Also unexplained is why this is considered "lite" in comparison to Operation Desert Storm, when it calls for actual conquest of Iraq--a far more ambitious goal than driving Saddam's troops from Kuwait.) The final and most ambitious option is dubbed "inside-Out," and calls for US troops to be parachuted into Baghdad to "decapitate" Iraq's leadership and spread out to "mop up" forces loyal to Saddam. This option entails the greatest risk to US troops, but does not require Iraq's reluctant neighbors to serve as staging grounds.
Time also reports that the administration is divided into three camps over the Iraq question. The first, "the Pragmatists," include Secretary of State Colin Powell and his diplomats as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chaired by Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, and CIA Director George Tenet. They support exhausting diplomatic options to contain Saddam before resorting to force, and are supported by Democrats as well as most US allies overseas. They are opposed by "the Hardliners" around Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz as well as Vice President Dick Cheney. They believe containment has failed and want a quick, cheap removal of Saddam from power. In "the Middle" are President Bush and his National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who are said to want Saddam removed but are unwilling to risk a new conflagration in the Middle East "while the Israeli-Palestinian issue is unstable." But Time points out that Bush called for "regime change" in Iraq on the 2000 campaign trail, and has still not budged from that vow.
3. KURDISH PESHMERGA POISED FOR ATTACK ON TWO FRONTS
The UK Observer's Tim Judah in northern Iraq writes that the Kurdish militias there "are girding for war. Guerrillas, known as peshmergas, are working day and night hauling sandbags, digging trenches and bulldozing mountain roads to their front lines. In what may be the opening battle of the war for Iraq, the Kurds are preparing to crush an Islamic fundamentalist group which has seized territory on the Iraqi-Iranian border and which some claim provides evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Iraqi Kurdish sources say they need to move quickly to crush the Taliban-inspired Islamists known as Ansar al-Islam because, if a US-led attack on Saddam begins, all peshmerga forces will be needed to surge southwards into government-controlled Iraq. They do not want to face a war on two fronts."
Kurdish sources say al-Ansar al-Islam is backed by an unlikely coalition of al-Qaeda, Iran and Saddam's Iraqi regime. None of these three has any ideological sympathy with the others, but both Iran and Saddam have an interest in weakening the Kurds. Ansar has seized an enclave at the village of Darashish, and is said to include veteran al-Qaeda militants who have fled Afghanistan. According to Akbar San Ahmed, the peshmerga commander for Halabja, documents found on the body of an al-Ansar fighter after a battle last September, when 42 peshmerga prisoners were massacred, included the words: 'This is a gift to bin Laden.'
The rival peshmerga forces controlled by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have united for the impending attack on al-Ansar. According to Lt Col. Ahmad Chekha Omer, a senior peshmerga commander, positions overlooking al-Ansar were visited just over two weeks ago by nine US military intelligence officers, and days earlier by three British officers. He said he believed his high command had requested air strikes in support of a peshmerga attack.
According to Omer: 'If the Iranians don't interfere we can finish them easily.' He says Iranian military trucks were spotted in the area recently, that Iran has supplied the al-Ansar fighters with three truck-mounted Katyush rocket launchers, and that Iranian officers give them intelligence and weapons training. Iran has supported the PUK in the past--it was the Iranian-backed peshmerga capture of nearby Halabja in 1988 that resulted in Saddam's chemical attack on the city which killed 5,000. But now Tehran fears a pro-Western Iraq replacing Saddam's regime--or a federal Iraq with an autonomous Kurdish area, leading to similar demands from Iran's eight million Kurds.
Al-Ansar's connections to Saddam's regime raise the possibility of linking the Iraqi dictator and the 9-11 attacks. At a jail in Sulaimaniya, the PUK holds a man convicted of being an Iraqi government agent who told his captors he smuggled arms from Baghdad to bin Laden in Kandahar, Afghanistan--and drugs from al-Qaeda that were used to buy more arms. In an interview with The Observer , the man, an Iranian Arab named Muhammed Mansour Shahab Ali, 27, said he met bin Laden four times and carried out three murders for him. The Observer notes, "The interview was conducted in the presence of PUK officials and there is no way of checking its veracity."
Shahab Ali also claimsedthat in 2000 he smuggled 30 refrigerator motors, which he believes were filled with a gas, from Iraq to bin Laden. Given Saddam's use of chemical weapons in Kurdistan and during the Iran-Iraq war, this raises concerns that Iraq was supplying bin Laden with chemical weapons materials. Concludes the Observer: "Shahab Ali's stories, if true, provide an insight into the murky connections between al-Qaeda and Iraq and back US claims of such a link." (UK Observer, Aug. 11) (See also: "'Taliban-Like' Group in Iraqi Kurdistan," WW3 REPORT #25)
4. KURDS DIVIDED ON OFFERING PESHMERGA AS PROXIES
The most powerful Kurdish chieftain in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, refused the Bush administration's invitation to attend the meeting of Iraqi opposition figures at the White House last week, the New York Times reported Aug. 15. "The absence of Mr. Barzani, whose father, Mustafa Barzani, led the largest Kurdish rebellion of the last century and died in exile in the United States, was a blow to Bush administration officials who had orchestrated the meeting in part to demonstrate that Iraqi opposition forces were unified behind a new campaign to oust Saddam Hussein. In a feverish effort to entice Mr. Barzani to leave northern Iraq and travel to Washington, the administration offered to send a private airplane to southeastern Turkey to pick him up, according to Kurdish and American officials. In an additional inducement, American officials said that if Mr. Barzani would travel with his longtime rival, Jalal Talabani, on an American aircraft, it was likely the two Kurdish leaders would be treated to a meeting with President Bush. In the end, Mr. Talabani came by himself and the conference was hosted by Vice President Dick Cheney on video link from Wyoming. The explanation given for Mr. Barzani's refusal to attend involved both logistical problems and a response to broken American promises."
The Times also suggested that Barzani may have declined the invitation under pressure from his traditional sponsor, Turkey: "Mr. Barzani's decision to stay in Iraq indicates that a crisis may be looming with Turkey, administration officials said. Turkish officials have warned that they are prepared to go to war to prevent the Iraqi Kurds from declaring a kind of mini-Kurdish state within Iraq. The Turkish government fears that such a state with control over key oil resources around Kirkuk might incite Turkey's repressed Kurdish population to rebel."
The Times implied the US could be exploiting the rivalry between the two Kurdish leaders: "In Mr. Barzani's absence, Mr. Talabani has been more receptive to joining with the United States in a war against Baghdad. He caused a stir Monday when he offered in one television interview to turn the Kurdish region of northern Iraq into an American military base against Baghdad, and then retracted his statement saying his remarks had been misinterpreted."
Barzani is leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Talabani's rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has traditionally been backed Iran. The two groups have forged a fragile alliance, but continue to control their own mini-states in northern Iraq. Both have recently expressed concerns that US military action will upset their hard-won autonomy and relative prosperity. (See "Iraqi Kurds: Keep us Out of It!", WW3 REPORT #45)
The PUK's Jalal Talabani told CNN's Wolf Blitzer after weekend meetings with top Bush administration officials that he is ready to offer his forces and territory for US military action against Saddam Hussein. "We have more than 100,000 [Kurdish resistance fighters]... These forces can liberate Iraq with the support of the United States, with cooperation and coordination with American forces... The American army will be very warmly welcomed in Iraqi Kurdistan." (CNN, Aug. 13)
5. ANTHONY SAMSON: U.S. IMPERIAL INTERESTS IN IRAQ
Anthony Sampson, author of 'The Seven Sisters', an early study of the world's biggest oil companies and their role in the Middle East policy, writes in the UK Observer Aug. 11 that "recent developments in Washington suggest oil may loom larger than democracy or human rights in American calculations" on whether to attack Iraq. Samson quotes Vice-President Dick Cheney's recent comments on Saddam Hussein: "He sits on top of 10 per cent of the world's oil reserves. He has enormous wealth being generated by that. And left to his own devices, it's the judgment of many of us that in the not too distant future he will acquire nuclear weapons."
If Saddam were toppled, Samson writes, "the Western oil companies led by Exxon expect to have much readier access to those oil reserves, making them less dependent on Saudi oilfields and the future of the Saudi royal family. The US President and Vice-President, both oilmen, cannot be unaware of those interests." Samson has a sense of history repeating itself: "Of course Western policies towards Iraq have always been deeply influenced by the need for its oil, though they tried to be discreet about it. The nation of Iraq was invented in 1920, after the First World War. The allies had 'floated to victory on a sea of oil' (as the British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon put it), but they preferred to conceal their dependence on it: 'When I want oil,' said Clemenceau, the French Prime Minister, 'I go to my grocer.' But both Clemenceau and Curzon, while they talked about Arab interests and self-determination, knew that what really mattered in Iraq was the oil that was emerging in the North; and the British and French succeeded in controlling the precious oilfields at Mosul."
Samson notes that despite efforts to develop domestic sources since the oil shocks of the 1970s, "America and continental Europe still depend on uncertain developing countries, mostly Muslim, for much of their energy, and in times of crisis the concern about oil supplies returns. Western oil interests closely influence
military and diplomatic policies, and it is no accident that while American companies are competing for access to oil in Central Asia, the US is building up military bases across the region."
Concerns over a potential fundamentalist take-over of Saudi Arabia (see WW3 REPORT #45) place greater pressure on Washington to secure a compliant regime in Iraq. But Samson writes: "The crucial question remains: would toppling Saddam safeguard Iraq's oil for the West? After all, both previous American Presidents--Clinton and George Bush Snr--were persuaded not to overthrow Saddam, because the alternative could well be a more dangerous power vacuum. That danger remains. If Iraq were to split into three parts, as many expect, the new oil regions in the South might be become still less reliable, in a region dominated by Shia Muslims who have their own links with the Shia in Iran. And a destabilised Saudi Arabia could make a power vacuum still more dangerous."
Samson warns: "The history of oil wars is not encouraging, and oil companies are not necessarily the best judges of national interests. The Anglo-American coup in Iran in 1953, which toppled the radical Mossadeq and brought back the Shah, enabled Western companies to regain control of Iranian oil: but the Iranian people never forgave the intervention, and took their revenge on the Shah in 1979. The belief that invading Iraq will produce a more stable Middle East, and give the West easy access to its oil wealth, is dangerously simplistic. Westerners live in a world where most of their oil comes from Islam, and their only long-term security in energy depends on accommodating Muslims.
6. MEDIA AMNESIA ON IRAQ SPY EPISODE
In an August 8 USA Today article describing how Saddam Hussein is "complicating US plans to topple his regime," reporter John Diamond wrote that "Iraq expelled UN weapons inspectors four years ago and accused them of being spies." But the media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) writes that Iraq did not "expel" the UNSCOM weapons inspectors; in fact, they were withdrawn by Richard Butler, the head of the inspections team. FAIR points out that the Washington Post, like numerous other media outlets, reported it accurately at the time (Dec. 17, 1998): "Butler ordered his inspectors to evacuate Baghdad, in anticipation of a military attack, on Tuesday night." USA Today itself ran a timeline Dec. 17, 1998 which included the following entry for Dec. 16: "UN weapons inspectors withdraw from Baghdad one day after reporting Iraq was still not cooperating." USA Today also reported that same day that "Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov criticized Butler for evacuating inspectors from Iraq Wednesday morning without seeking permission from the Security Council."
As for Iraq accusing weapons inspectors of being spies, FAIR points out again that this accusation was proven correct. The Washington Post reported Jan. 8, 1999 that "United Nations arms inspectors helped collect eavesdropping intelligence used in American efforts to undermine the Iraqi regime." FAIR also points out that USA Today was clearly aware of the spy story, since the paper wrote an editorial excusing it. Headlined "Spying Flap Merely a Sideshow" (Jan. 8, 1999) the paper argued that "spying on Saddam Hussein is nothing new and nothing needing an apology. But the Clinton administration suddenly is scrambling to explain why it did just that." The paper added that the information gathered "no doubt found uses other than just weapons detection. That may not be playing by the books, but it's understandable and probably inevitable." (FAIR action alert, Aug. 12)
(See also: "Forgotten Fact: Weapons Inspectors Really Were Spies!", WW3 REPORT #45)
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. RUMSFELD: U.S. TO BE IN AFGHANISTAN FOR YEARS
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks expect US troops to remain in Afghanistan for years, to keep the country from turning back into "a terrorist training camp." "We are engaged in military-to-military relationships in a great many countries around the world so it does not surprise me that someone would say, 'Oh gosh, the military's going to be in Afghanistan for a long, long, time'," General Franks said at the Pentagon. Rumsfeld concurred. "We didn't go in there to leave in a way that allows it to turn back into a terrorist training camp--we went in there so that that would not happen," Rumsfeld said. "And the end state is when the Afghan government has the capability to provide for its own security." Rumsfeld cited frustration over the Afghan state's torpor in developing viable government institutions. He blamed other nations for not donating funds quickly enough. Foreign governments have pledged $4.5 billion, but little of that money has arrived, and much of it comes with stipulations that keep it from being spent on developing Afghan security forces. (TheAge.com.au, Aug. 17) (David Bloom)
2. TWO U.K. TROOPS KILLED BY "NON-HOSTILE" FIRE
Two British peacekeepers serving with the International Security Assisstance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan were killed by gunfire in an incident at the Kabul airport. The two soldiers were wounded in a "non-hostile" situation, authorities said. Enemy fire is not believed to have been involved, and military police are conducting an investigation. Three UK peacekeepers have been killed in Afghanistan so far, but none died in combat . (BBC, Aug. 17) (David Bloom)
3. U.S. DENIES ROCKET ATTACK REPORT
The US military denied a report from the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) that three rockets were fired at an airfield in Khost Aug. 13. AIP quoted area residents who said the US scrambled aircraft in response to the attack, but did not retaliate. "It didn't happen," said Tina Kroske, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military at Bagram Air Base just north of Kabul. "I don't know where these reports are coming from." AIP called this the latest in a series of mostly ineffectual attacks targetting US forces in the area. (Reuters, Aug. 13) (David Bloom)
4. ROCKET ATTACK IN JALALABAD INJURES EIGHT
Three rockets were fired at a government building in Jalalabad Aug. 14. The rockets missed thier target, but injured eight, including six children, when it exploded in a civilian neighborhood. (AP, Aug. 14) (David Bloom)
5. THIRTY DETAINEES AT GITMO HAVE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE
Doctors at Camp X-Ray, the detention center located at Guantanamo Bay naval base ("Gitmo" in military jargon), say at least 30 Taliban/al-Qaeda suspects held there have attempted suicide. Commander James Radkee, a US navy doctor, says detainees have tried to cut themselves with plastic utensils, or banged their heads against walls, or punched the walls. Radkee attributes at least some of this behavior to remorse on the part of detainees for their actions. There are now 598 detainees in Gitmo, nearly its capacity. When they first arrived, they were kept in outdoor cages, but have now been moved into a prison constructed for them. An additional 200 cells will be finished by October, with possibly more to be built after that . (BBC, Aug. 15)
The US says it is making headway in its interrogation of the detainees. Authorities will not elaborate on the interrogation process, but say no physical force is used. The US says there is no timetable on when the detainees might be released or brought to trial. (BBC, Aug. 15) (David Bloom)
6. TALIBAN BOMB RECORD AND VIDEO STORE
A shop selling audio and video cassettes was bombed in the southeastern Afghan
city of Khost. Similar attacks in Khost and the Pakistani border town of Chaman
occurred earlier this year (see WW3 REPORT #35). Remnants of the former Taliban regime were believed responsible for those attacks. When in power, the Taliban had banned music and television . (ABC.net.au, Aug. 13) (David Bloom)
7. NEW AFGHAN HEROIN LABS FUNDING WARLORD RESISTANCE?
Hundreds of kilos of heroin are being manufactured each week by new production labs in eastern Afghanistan, Jason Burke reported for the UK Guardian Aug. 11, calling the development "a blow to the British-led, multimillion-pound effort to stop drugs production in the country." The Observer reports that new labs have been established in remote areas of near Jalalabad, Nangarhar province. Two labs have been established Acheen districts and one in the Adal Khel district. Local residents say the factories produce up to 100 kilos (220lb) of refined heroin a day, with the capacity to increase production if the supply of raw poppy remains constant. Afghanistan has supplied over two-thirds of the world's opium for nearly a decade. Some authorities in Afghanistan's contentious new government speculate that recent violence may be linked to struggles for control of the renewed heroin trade--including the explosion in a Jalalabad warehouse last week that killed at least 26.
The UK-led eradication program has led to the destruction of 16,500 hectares (41 acres) of poppy field, out of an estimated total of 80,000, with farmers offered $1,750 for each hectare destroyed. But the program has been marred by allegations of corruption, and huge stockpiles of opium, used as a form of credit in rural Afghanistan, have assured little interruption in supply for the heroin labs.
Abdul Wakeel,of Ghani Khel district told The Observer that heroin and heroin-refining chemicals are now openly traded in local markets. Haji Daulat Mohammad, a shopkeeper, said that prices are low because opium stocks remained high, and heroin production is expected to rise sharply in coming year. "Even if there is no cultivation of poppy next year, the existing stock is sufficient for 12 months at least," he said. "It may be haram [forbidden by Islam], but there is drought, unemployment and no other way to make my living." He also portrayed heroin as a weapon against the US: "The West say making heroin is wrong and damages human beings, but they drop bombs on innocent civilians. We have no other way except to destroy the USA through narcotics. They shall drop bombs on us, and we shall send them this gift."
THE NEW GREAT GAME
1. RUSSIAN GAS GIANT SEEKS IRAN-INDIA PIPELINE ROUTE
The Russian natural gas giant Gazprom has presented a proposal to Pakistan's Oil and Natural Resources Ministry to construct a gas pipeline from Iran to India, passing through Pakistan's territorial waters. Gazprom officials declined to comment, but analysts believe that the privatized parastatal is seeking to control a new route for Central Asian fossil fuels to international markets. Two potential competitors are the Australian-based BHP Petroleum, which seeks to build an overland pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan, and an Italian firm currently considering the feasibility of a sub-oceanic Iran-India route through the Arabian Sea . (Almaty Herald, Kazakhstan, Aug. 9)
2. SIBERIAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE RESIST PIPELINE DEVELOPMENT
Russia's Yukos oil company has proposed a 2,480-kilometer pipeline linking newly discovered oil and gas fields in eastern Siberia to markets in China. The company boasts that the new find contains reserves equal to those of Kuwait, and could make Yukos the largest oil enterprise in Russia, as well as help meet China's fast-growing energy demands. However, the new fields are on land claimed as the traditional territory of the Evenks, a reindeer-raising and hunting people who pledge to resist further development in the remote region. The Evenks have the support of the Norwegian-based Grid environmental group as well as the Russian Association of Indiegnous Peoples, and is petitioning for the support of the UN Environment Program. The Evenks' way of life was nearly destroyed under Stalin, who liquidated and "disappeared" their shamans and tribal chiefs, and forced them onto collective reindeer farms. Since the fall of communism, efforts to reclaim their land culture have been hindered by the oilmen now overrunning the region, offering vodka in exchange for reindeer meat and encouraging alcoholism. (Almaty Herald, Kazakhstan, Aug. 9)
3. WACKIER AND WACKIER IN TURKMENISTAN
Turkmenistan's increasingly idiosyncratic president Saparmurat Niyazov issued a decree that extends adolescence until age 25 and postpones old age until 85--well beyond the life-span of the average Turkmen man or woman. The strongman's edict, published in the national newspaper "Neutral Turkmenistan," divides life into 12-year cycles. Under the edict, childhood lasts until age 12. Next comes adolescence, ending at 24, followed by youth, ending at 37, and maturity, ending at 49. The next 12-year cycles are divided into periods labeled as prophetic, inspirational and wise. Niyazov, who turned 62 this year, would be in his inspirational period. Old age begins at age 85, while Turkmen who reach age 97 enter a period named for Oguzkhan--legenday founder of the Turkmen nation, who reportedly lived to 109. According to the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy for Turkmen men is 60, and 65 for women. (AP, Aug. 13)
Niyazov has built an elaborate personality cult around himself, with cities and a meteorite named after him and his portrait gracing the currency and nearly all public buildings. Last week, he proposed that months of the year be renamed, with January named "Turkmenbashi" in his honor. The word means "leader of the Turkmen," and is his semi-official title. (See also: "Megalomania Escalates in Turkmenistan," WW3 REPORT #46)
1. POWELL PRESIDES AT SIGNING OF ASEAN TERROR TREATY
At the Aug. 2 summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN in Brunei, the US signed a sweeping new anti-terrorism treaty aimed at beefing up security in the region, seen as a key front in the war on Al Qaeda. Under the agreement, Washington and the regional grouping--Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam--will share information and step up police cooperation. The treaty will also raise US technical and logistical aid to ''prevent, disrupt, and combat'' international terrorism. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, on hand for the summit. said the accord would build a ''more intimate relationship'' with the Southeast Asian countries. But he added: ''I don't anticipate that this declaration will be the basis for the stationing of new US troops." He also responded to charges that the campaign against terrorism is being used a cover to suppress legitimate dissent in Malaysia, Indonesia and eslewhere. ''If we're going to defeat the terrorists, then we have to attack them from the highest moral plane,'' Powell said. ''Human rights have to be protected.''
Officials say Southeast Asia has seen a rise in Islamic extremism in recent years, with some regional militant groups linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. US officials maintain that some of the planning for th 9-11 attacks may have taken place in Malaysia, visited by at least two of the hijackers a year earlier. Plots against US interests in Indonesia and Singapore were also exposed and thwarted in the past year, according to officials . (AP, Aug. 2)
2. POWELL PLEDGES INDONESIA AID
In a Jarkata stopover on his tour os South Asia, Secretary of State Colin Powell pledged that the US will give Indonesia about $50 million over several years to help the country fight terrorism, with nearly all the money pledged slated for the Indonesian police. But he also signalled his support for restoring military aid to Indonesia, suspended in 1999 over human rights concerns. "I am pleased that as a result of the leadership shown by President Megawati [Sukarnoputri], we are able now to start down a road towards greater military to military cooperation," Powell said. While he said the US was "very satisfied and pleased" with Indonesia's anti-terrorism efforts since the 9-11 attacks, Powell added: "We think that more can be done." The Bush administration is said to view Indonesia, the world's most populous Islamic nation, as the weakest link in Southeast Asia's fight against terrorism.
Human Rights Watch called on Powell to make it clear that military assistance will only be given if there is progress in human rights in Indonesia. In a statement, the group said that "until the Indonesian armed forces demonstrate commitment to accountability and civilian control, they will be an unreliable partner in fighting terrorism ." (BBC, Aug. 2)
THE PHILIPPINE FRONT
1. ANTI-U.S. PROTESTS IN MINDANAO
Reported MSNBC Aug. 2: "In booking Colin Powell's current tour of Asia, the State Department sought to ensure the trip would end on a positive note--in the Philippines. It's not that U.S. operations on this 'second front' in the war on terror have been an unqualified success--they haven't been. But in Manila, the secretary of state will be on hand to celebrate the revival of military ties with a key Asia Pacific ally, one that only a decade ago expelled US forces from its territory. In the long run, that accomplishment may be more significant than the battle with bandits raging in the jungle."
But on July 31, Pakistan's Jang newspaper reported that as US troops prepared to leave the Philippines at the end of their six-month training mission, a street protest against the US military presense turned violent in Zamboanga City, Mindanao province. At least five people were injured when residents threw rocks at a convoy of some 1,000 leftist protesters from other provinces who had come aboard 32 buses to oppose the US military deployment. The protesters were barred by police and military roadblocks from marching on the southern Philippines military headquarters in the city. However, local residents were allowed to stage a pro-US rally in front of the military base.
The protesters, from the leftist coalition Bayan-New Nationalist Alliance, charged that the US military exercizes violated the Philippines' sovereignty, and accused at least one US troop of human rights violations. Bayan secretary general Teodoro Casino charged in a statement that the police and military agents instigated the stone-throwing violence at the protest.
Maj. Gen. Ernesto Carolina, head of military forces in the southern Philippines, dismissed the anti-US protests saying, "We are not going to waste our time and let them distract us from the higher mission of protecting the people from terrorism." Casino insisted that Bayan is not supportive of the Abu Sayyaf, the Islamist armed group which was the target of the maneuvers.
Maj. Gen. Carolina warned leftist congressman Satur Ocampo, organizer of the anti-US rally, against marching on the local military base. "Whatever blood [is spilled] will be on his hands because of his irresponsible actions," Carolina said.
2. U.S. TROOPS TO RETURN IN OCTOBER?
US military forces will resume training Philippine troops in October to help defeat the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas, Philippine armed forces chief Gen. Roy Cimatu told reporters. About 400 US troops will take part in the second phase of the joint effort in the southern province of Mindanao. Over 1,000 US troops, including Special Forces, took part in counter-terrorism exercises on the Mindanao island of Basilan in the first phase, which lasted six months and just ended. About eight Philippine battalions--estimated at 4,000 troops--would be trained by U.S. special forces in the exercises to begin Oct. 1, and possibly lasting till next June, according to Cimatu.
Gen. Cimatu said Abu Sayyaf is grooming boys as young as 10 for a new terror campaign. "The dangerous part...is that the next generation of Abu Sayyaf would be harder and more difficult [to deal with]," Cimatu said. "There are already children undertaking some indoctrination in Basilan and these are more radical, hard-hitting and more modern fighters... Twelve, 11 and 10 year olds were joining them already."
Funding for the new training will come from a $55-million military assistance
program pledged by Secretary of State Colin Powell during a visit to Manila on his recent tour of Southeast Asia. Cimatu also said skills learned by Philippine troops in the training should also be used to fight the communist New People's Army (NPA) guerillas, which has been waging an insurgency for over three decades elsewhere in the country. (Reuters, Aug. 6)
THE ANDEAN FRONT
1. U.S. REVIEWS COLOMBIA STRATEGY; VIOLENCE ESCALATES
The US Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman is in Colombia to review military strategy for the war-torn Andean nation. The country's newly-elected President Alvaro Uribe has declared a state of emergency to fight the guerrillas, and the US Congress vrecently oted to allow his government to use military aid against the guerrillas. The Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Uribe's inauguration last week with a new offensive that left over 100 dead in five days. Meanwhile, the US ambassador in Bogota, Ann Patterson, indicates that Washington is preparing to freeze bank accounts linked to Colombian guerrillas that have been traced in the American banking system. The US Drugs Czar John Walters maintains that US drug surveillance flights in the Andean nations could resume by the end of the year. The program was suspended in April 2001, when the Peruvian Air Force, using intelligence provided by CIA air monitors, accidentally shot down a small civilian plane, killing a US missionary and her child . (BBC, Aug. 14)
2. IRA LINK TO INAUGURATION ATTACKS?
Colombian security forces say the guilt of three accused IRA bomb-makers who have just marked their first year in a Colombian prison is proven with each new urban attack by the country's FARC guerrillas. James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley were arrested last August as they stepped off a plane that had just come from the FARC-controlled demilitarized zone the government had ceded the rebels as a peace gesture. The men, who deny all links with the IRA or FARC, are awaiting trial on charges of training the guerrillas in explosives and urban terrorism.
The demilitarized sone has since been re-taken by the Colombian army after the
previous president, Andres Pastrana, called off the three-year peace process with
the FARC in February. Since then, the guerrillas have brought their 38-year war, previously restricted to the countryside, into the cities. In their most daring operation to date, the FARC greeted the new president Alvaro Uribe, an Oxford-educated right-winger, by firing mortars at the presidential palace as he was sworn in--despite the most intensive security operation the capital had ever seen. "There is no doubt that behind this attack is the training of the
IRA," said Colombian Gen. Reynaldo Castellanos. The IRA has
repeatedly denied any "military" involvement in Colombia.
The attack was months in the planning, and the FARC had rented two houses--one near the capital's military academy, the other just four blocks from the Presidential Palace and Congress buildings. Mortar were set up there, aimed at the respective targets. The first went off hours before Uribe's inauguration, hitting the military academy ain the north of the city and several houses around it, injuring a dozen people. Just as Uribe stepped up to make his inaugural address, the second set of mortars went off--fired by a sophisticated radio-activated detonation system. Only four of the 16 mortar tubes fired, but 20 people, all civilians, were killed and over 60 wounded, and two of the mortar rounds hit the presidential palace.
"It seems to be a classic IRA operation," said a former British army major reviewing the scene. "The first set of rounds was designed to distract the security forces, focus their attention far from the principal target." He added that "The FARC operation reminds me of
the IRA mortaring of Downing Street in 1991."
Jairo Parra, an explosives expert with the DAS, Colombia's version of the FBI, said the quality of the homemade mortars represented a "technological leap" for the FARC. National Police Gen. Hector Castro made an explicit analogy to the 9-11 attacks. "This type of attack was very difficult to prevent, because we didn't realise that it was within the capacity of the Colombian terrorists to do it," he said. "It's like what happened to the twin towers in the United States. You
knew that an attack was possible, but the method of the terrorists was never discovered." (BBC, Aug. 11)
(See also: "FARC-IRA Connection?", WW3 REPORT #43)
1. MILITARY EXPERTS: ISRAEL CONSIDERING NUKE STRIKE ON IRAQ
If Iraq strikes at Israel with biological or other non-conventional weapons, Israel could respond with massive nuclear retaliation that would eradicate Iraq as a country, according to a study presented to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Dr. Anthony Cordesman, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a high-level DC think-tank. During the 1991 Gulf War, then US defense secretary Dick Cheney (now vice-president) told CNN that Israel could respond with nuclear weapons to an Iraqi strike that included the use of chemical weapons. This assessment has only been strengthened since then, because military experts now claim Iraq has biological weapons that could cause mass casualties. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 15)
2. ISRAEL TO DISTRIBUTE ANTI-NUKE PILLS
Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron on Aug. 13 said Israel
would provide its citizens with an antidote to radioactive fallout. The government will distribute Lugol's iodine capsules, at a cost of $1 each. The pills are supposed to block the effects of radioactive iodine by strengthening the thyroid gland, which helps to sustain the body's immune system. "We must institute all necessary measures of caution," Yaron told Israel Radio. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 14)
Prof. Aryeh Eldad, head of the team advising the Israeli Health Ministry on epidemiological control, has resigned over the ministry's
refusal to accept his team's proposal that the entire Israeli
population receive smallpox inoculations. Health Ministry official said Eldad's resignation would force the ministry to reverse thier decision and inoculate the whole population, because his resignation would cause panic. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 14)
3. ISRAEL TO EXPAND MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM
The IDF confirmed it plans to deploy a second Arrow anti-missile system in the center of the country, east of the town of Hadera. The army said the deployment was part of a multi-year planned expansion of the system, and in its statement made no reference to growing tensions between the US and Iraq. During the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel. Under intense US pressure, Israel did not retaliate. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9)
Israel could get more batteries of Patriot missiles before any US attack on Iraq, acording to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. Israel has built its new Arrow missile defense system since 1991, but experts doubt it is sufficient to handle a "saturated" multi-missile attack. Washington has a political interest in supplying the Patriots because it will help the administration restrain Israel from retaliating to an Iraqi missile attack. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 15)
4. U.S. TO RELOCATE NUCLEAR FUEL
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
The US is moving rapidly to ship tons of bomb-grade plutonium and uranium out of Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory in New Mexico, according to Energy Department officials and internal documents. Experts said it would be the first time the government has relocated nuclear weapons fuel to reduce the risk of theft by terrorists. The plutonium and uranium would be shipped from Technical Area 18, or TA-18, at Los Alamos, to a complex at the Nevada Test Site, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, that was formerly used to assemble nuclear devices for detonation. It would be taken from a place called Nuclear Laboratory. Energy Department documents describing the plan were obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, a DC-based watchdog group which is lobbying for better security at nuclear weapons sites. In one June 28 document, the director of Los Alamos wrote to a deputy administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration that the lab supported moving the material as "the best overall decision to meet the post-September 11th challenges for the long-term security of nuclear activities." (NYT, Aug. 12)
1. ISLAMIC LINK TO OKLAHOMA CITY BLAST?
The LA Weekly has uncovered a new FBI whistle-blower, Chicago-based special agent Robert Wright, who accuses the agency of shutting down his 1998 criminal probe into alleged terrorist-training camps in Chicago and Kansas City. The apparent goal of the camps was to recruit and train Palestinian-American youths, who would then slip into Israel. Recruits at these camps reportedly received weapons training and instruction in bomb-making techniques in the early 1990s. The bomb-making curriculum included the sort of explosives later used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing--and government documents sobtained by the Weekly tate that two trainees came from the Oklahoma City area.
One alleged trainer at the terror camps is now fending off a government
lawsuit to seize his bank accounts, car and property for alleged money laundering on behalf of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, but no one has been prosecuted for involement in the alleged training camps. This still-active case centers on Mohammed Abdul Hamid Khalil Salah, 49, a naturalized US citizen who was born in Jerusalem. Salah describes himself as a humanitarian who distributed money collected in the US to needy West Bank families.
Wright, a 12-year bureau veteran, has written a book, but the agency won't let him publish it or even give it to anyone. The Weekly reports Wright has followed proper procedure, sending his book off for an internal review and asking for permission to respond to reporters' queries, and has launched suit against the agency over the publication ban. Ar a May 30 press conference in Washington DC, Wright said FBI bureaucrats "intentionally and repeatedly thwarted" his "attempts to launch a more comprehensive investigation to identify and neutralize terrorists."
Salah's earlier trial in Israel, which received widespread media coverage there, may shed some light on the case. In 1993, Israeli intelligence arrested Salah and another naturalized American, Mohammed Jarad, on suspicion of transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hamas. Salah was interrogated by Israeli military intelligence, and says he was tortured--a claim the Israelis deny. Under interrogation, Salah reportedly confessed to recruiting Islamic militants and helping to instruct them in the use of poisons, chemical weapons and explosives in 1980s. In the '90s, Salah allegedly served as a financial agent for Hamas, opening accounts at a number of Chicago-area banks. Wright's affidavit states that between June 1991 and December 1992, Salah spent more than $100,000 in direct support of Hamas military activities. Wright claimed the weapons purchased were used in Hamas attacks on Israelis--including suicide bombings.
In 1994, at Salah's secret military trial, Israeli prosecutors introduced a statement signed by another Palestinian detainee, Naser Hidmi, formerly a student at Kansas State University, stating that he accepted Salah's invitation to a four-day "retreat" at a camp in the Chicago area in June 1990, where he reportedly received explosives training. Hidmi's statement also claimed he met Salah presided over further instruction and indoctrination at a Muslim youth conference in Kansas City in December of that year. In 1995, Salah pleaded guilty to funneling funds to Hamas and he served some five years in an Israeli prison before being released and deported to the US. Mohammed Jarah served six months in jail following a plea bargain to a lesser charge.
The LA Weekly reports that unbeknownst to Wright, an investigation of Salah was also undertaken by the House of Representatives Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. This task force issued alerts to law enforcement and US intelligence agencies in the months prior to the Oklahoma City bombing, warning of an impending Islamist terror campaign, to be run by Hamas and directed by Iran.
After the 1995 blast, Oklahoma City-based television reporter Jayna Davis spoke numerous times with task-force executive director Yossef Bodansky, who turned over to her a memo claiming that Iranian intelligence had ordered Hamas to develop cadres from among Palestinian youth living in the US. "The idea," Bodansky wrote, "was to build a group of highly trained Arabs with US passports who can be inserted into Israel to replace local cadres killed or arrested by Israeli Forces." The memo also alleged that the first round of training took place in Chicago, "organized by Muhammad Salah" in 1990. Bodansky stated that "25 trainees" took part and all were given code names.
The LA Weekly claims that last October, the Justice Department blocked the court appearance of retired Oklahoma City FBI agent Dan Vogel at a hearing in the state murder case against convicted Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols. In an interview with the Weekly, Vogel said he intended to tell the court that he had accepted evidence from former TV reporter Jayna Davis that tied Timothy McVeigh, Nichols and a group of Iraqis working in Oklahoma City to a larger bombing conspiracy . (LA Weekly, Aug. 2)
2. REPORT: FBI SEARCHING FOR MYSTERIOUS ISRAELIS
The FBI is reportedly carrying out a manhunt for six men carrying Israeli passports who are suspected of plotting terror attacks in the United States--and who were released by the INS after having been arrested earlier this summer in a Midest state. The men were arrested while traveling in two cars, and were found to have photographs and information about a Florida nuclear reactor and the Alaska pipeline, the Knight-Ridder news agency reported. But the six, who were decribed as having a "Middle Eastern look," were released after INS officials decided that their passports and visas were valid. The Miami Herald cited an "unconfirmed" report that the INS released the men without consulting the FBI--or reporting the arrests. When FBI director Robert Mueller heard about the incident, he was said to be "furious." (Ha'aretz, Aug. 4)
3. JIHAD CAMP BUSTED IN ALABAMA?
A training camp linked to Islamic militants has been operating in Alabama, ABC News reported July 25. The suspected terror ties of the Alabama camp were unknown until after Sept. 11, when authorities in London arrested an accused al-Qaeda supporter, Zain-ul-Albidin, who is charged with operation of a Web site, under the name of Sakina Security, allegedly recruiting Muslims for an Islamic jihad. He is now on trial in London. The site, taken down by British authorities, described the Alabama camp, including live-fire exercises at a state-of-the-art shooting range.
An investigation by Britain's Scotland Yard led to the discovery of the camp in Marion, AL. The facility is called "Ground Zero USA." Bullet-riddled police cars and a school bus with mannequin targets are scattered around the property. Inside a huge shed is a macabre scene of shot-up mannequins, male and female, in domestic settings, some with red, blood-like stains on them. "It was rumored that the camp here was used as training site for possible people that were sent here to do bodily harm to Americans," said Marion Police Chief Tony Buford. Sources told ABC that British authorities also thought that militants from overseas were training in the US to take advantage of relaxed gun laws. The most radical and belligerent of London's Islamic clerics, Abu Hamza, told ABC News in a phone call that the USA's laws make such paramilitary training easy, "like a picnic." (ABC News, July 25)
The revelation may shed light on the recent mobilization of an Alabama National Guard tank unit for an unspecified "homelands defense" mission. See WW3 REPORT #44.
THE WAR AT HOME
1. ASHCROFT DETAINMENT CAMP PLAN: "CONSTITUTIONAL MENACE"
Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University, writes in the LA Times Aug. 14 that "Attorney General John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps for U.S. citizens he deems to be 'enemy combatants' has moved him from merely being a political embarrassment to being a constitutional menace. Ashcroft's plan, disclosed last week but little publicized, would allow him to order the indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily strip them of their constitutional rights and access to the courts by declaring them enemy combatants. The proposed camp plan should trigger immediate congressional hearings and reconsideration of Ashcroft's fitness for this important office. Whereas al-Qaeda is a threat to the lives of our citizens, Ashcroft has become a clear and present threat to our liberties."
Two test cases--Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi--will determine whether US citizens can be held without charges and subject to the arbitrary and unchecked authority of the government. Writes Turley: "Hamdi has been held without charge even though the facts of his case are virtually identical to those in the case of John Walker Lindh. Both Hamdi and Lindh were captured in Afghanistan as foot soldiers in Taliban units. Yet Lindh was given a lawyer and a trial, while Hamdi rots in a floating Navy brig in Norfolk, VA. This week, the government refused to comply with a federal judge who ordered that he be given the underlying evidence justifying Hamdi's treatment. The Justice Department has insisted that the judge must simply accept its declaration and cannot interfere with the president's absolute authority in 'a time of war.'" (See "Hamdi Incommunicado,", WW3 REPORT #43)
Turley fears that "Ashcroft hopes to use his self-made 'enemy combatant' stamp for any citizen whom he deems to be part of a wider terrorist conspiracy... Few would have imagined any attorney general seeking to reestablish such camps for citizens. Of course, Ashcroft is not considering camps on the order of the internment camps used to incarcerate Japanese American citizens in World War II. But he can be credited only with thinking smaller; we have learned from painful experience that unchecked authority, once tasted, easily becomes insatiable."
2. VIDEO CAMERAS WATCH KID DROWN
Last year, a French company, Poseidon Technologies, boasted it has developed an electronic lifeguard that can spot when swimmers are drowning. BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward crowed that "The system is likely to prove a boon for lifeguards at crowded pools who often have a tough task keeping an eye on every swimmer... The Poseidon system uses a network of underwater and overhead cameras to constantly monitor what is happening in a swimming pool." (BBC, March 22, 2001)
Now, a grisly incident in Surrey, England, shows this latest justification for ubiquitous video surveillance in a stark light. At St Nicholas School in the city's Merstham district, a closed-circuit TV camera recorded the last moments of seven-year-old Joshua Lakirham's life as he drowned to death in the pool. The BBC reported that "Video footage from unmanned cameras at the site show Joshua, who could not swim, struggling in vain for his life." (BBC, Aug. 3)
IF YOU READ ANY PART OF THIS REPORT, YOU MUST SEND US MONEY OR ANSWER THE EXIT POLL (UNLESS YOU ARE AN INSENSITIVE JERK)
EXIT POLL: Are the White House "Pragmatists" or "Hardliners"
going to prevail on Iraq?
MEGALOPIG OF THE WEEK (Please pick one):
1. Justice Eliyahu Matza
2. Maj. Gen. Ernesto Carolina
3. Saparmurat "Turkmenbashi" Niyazov
4. John Ashcroft
Megalopig: Exactly what it sounds like. A prejorative coined by Zacarias Moussaoui to describe his court-appointed lawyer, Frank Dunham. (see WW3 REPORT #46)
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