#. 55. Oct. 14, 2002
AL-QAEDA BACK? -- IN YEMEN, KUWAIT, AND BALI
CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: YELLOW
by David Bloom, Subuhi Jiwani, and Sarah Ferguson, Special Correspondents
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Deadly Missile Strike in Gaza
2. West Bank Occupation, Violence Continue
3. Suicide Attacks Continue
4. Scuffles at Al-Aksa Mosque
5. Is the IDF Practicing for Ethnic Cleansing?
6. Israel Number Two Threat to World Peace: French
7. Wife of Euro Central Bank Head under Fire for Anti-Semitism
ELSEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
1. French Tanker Attacked off Yemen Coast
2. U.S. Marines Attacked in Kuwait
1. Fractured Poll Results in Kashmir
1. Bali Blast Kills almost 200, Al-Qaeda Suspected
WAR AT HOME
1. New Jersey Groups Say Illegal Detentions are un-American
2. Peace Movement Emerges
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. DEADLY MISSILE STRIKE IN GAZA
A ten-year-old Palestinian girl was shot in killed by Israeli forces
Oct. 8 at the Gaza-Egypt border. Residents and doctors said the
soldiers fired at stone-throwing youths, and hit the girl near her
house. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said two soldiers were
injured in the clash. (AP, Oct. 9) The army said the soldiers were
attacked with machinegun fire and grenades. (Reuters, Oct. 8)
Israeli attacks on Khan Younis Oct. 7 killed sixteen, including seven
who were 17 and under. AP conducted "dozens" of interviews Oct. 9
with friends, relatives, and associates of the dead, concluding none
were of those killed could indisputably be described as members of
Hamas, who Israel said were the target of the raid. One mother of
eight, Rahima Salama,51, was shot while trying to close the door of
her house. Her husband, Sabah Salama, a nurse at a local hospital,
was handcuffed as IDF troops searched the house for their 15-year-old
son, wanted by Israel for Hamas-related activity. "She bled for more
than an hour while they prevented us from getting close to her," said
Salama. "What cuts at my heart is that I work to help save the lives
of others, and I could not save my wife."
At the end of the raid, an Israeli helicopter fired a missile at a
dense crowd of people. Israel claims the crowd directed gunfire and
grenades at withdrawing Israeli tanks. Dozens of Palestinian
witnesses disputed that, saying the tanks withdrew 15 minutes
earlier, and crowd had come out to survey the damage. "When we heard
about the withdrawal, we started to come out to see what had
happened. A huge number of people came out," said Nasser al-Astal,
who lost three nephews and a cousin in the rocket attack. "Suddenly
an Israeli helicopter fired a rocket," he said (AP, Oct. 9) Two of
the sixteen dead were killed at a local hospital. (NY Daily News,
Oct. 10) WAFA noted Oct. 11 the number of dead raised to 17, with 50
injured, some critically. (BBC Monitoring: WAFA, Oct. 11)
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pronounced the Khan Younis
mission ''important and successful,'' and promised further such
operations. ''There is a need to be certain that terrorist
organizations will not have the freedom to carry out intentional
murder,'' Sharon said. The US State Department said it was "deeply
troubled" by the use of force so close to civilians, and called for
an investigation. (NYT, Oct. 9)
Israeli forces attacked Khan Younis again on Oct. 9 with tank shells
and heavy machine-gun fire. Several houses and "civlian
installations" were damaged. (BBC Monitoring: WAFA, Oct. 9)
WAFA reported nine Palestinians, including four children, were
wounded in the Suq al-Arbi'a [Wednesday market] in the center of Khan
Younis Oct. 9 when Israeli troops fired from a 30-metre high mobile
tower in the Neve Deqalim settlement. (BBC Monitoring: WAFA, Oct. 9)
WAFA reported Oct. 9: "The Israeli occupation troops opened heavy
machine-gun fire on residential areas southwest of Dayr al-Balah, in
the central region of the Gaza Strip, this evening." Wafa added:
"Houses were heavily damaged by the shelling, which caused panic
among the population of the area, especially among the children and
elderly." (BBC Monitoring: WAFA, Oct. 9)
The pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Center web site reported Oct.
10 that Hamas' military wing, Martyr Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades
blew up an Israeli Merkava 3 tank with a 120-kg explosive near Rafah.
"The occupation troops are still trying to collect what remains of
the tank," the statement said. It concluded by saying "Martyr
Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades asserts the continuation of jihad and
resistance until the call of prayer is heard on the coasts of Haifa."
(BBC Monitoring, Oct. 10)
IDF reservist soldiers stopped two armed Palestinians attempting to
infiltrate and Israeli agricultural settlement on the Gaza border
A three-year old boy was killed in his bed when Israeli troops blew
up the house next to his in Rafah. (Ha'aretz, Oct. 13)(David Bloom)
2. WEST BANK OCCUPATION, VIOLENCE CONTINUE
On Oct. 7, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Ahmed Eid, 42, at a
roadblock near the village of Jit. He was driving back from Nablus,
after a curfew had been partially lifted. (AFP, Oct. 7) The
Palestinian news agency, WAFA, said Eid was killed "after the Israeli
troops stationed at a checkpoint in Jit village opened fire
extensively on citizens." (BBC Monitoring: WAFA, Oct. 7)
Samir Abu Al-Rob, 37, a Palestinian freelance journalist working for
AP was wounded Oct. 7 when Israeli tanks fired down a street where
journalists had gathered. (Reuters, Oct. 7)
An Israeli was killed, and three were wounded, when their car was
attacked on Oct. 8 by Palestinian gunmen at the Zif checkpoint, near
Hebron. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in
revenge for the Oct. 7 raid in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip that
left 17 Palestinians dead. (AFP, Oct. 9) After the attack, angry
settlers surged though downtown Hebron, scuffling with Palestinians
and smashing car windshields. (NY Post, Oct. 9) Clashes between
Palestinian gunmen and the IDF ensued. Samer Badr, 12, was seriously
wounded by gunfire as he stood on the balcony of his home. The IDF
said the boy was shot "by mistake" by Palestinian gunmen. Palestinian
medical sources said it was not clear who shot the boy. (AFP, Oct. 8)
Israeli troops killed a potential suicide bomber Oct. 7 who tried to
enter Israel north of Tulkarm. Soldiers spotted him hear Hermesh and
opened fire. Palestinians in the area reported hearing a loud
explosion, possibly his bomb triggered off by the gunfire. (Jerusalem
Post, Oct. 9)
On Oct. 9, shots were fired at an IDF base near Ramallah, at the
settlement of Kadim near Jenin, and at a Border Police base near
Tulkarm. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 9)
According the Palestinian radio station Voice of Palestine, eight
students were injured by heavy machine-gun fire from Israeli tanks in
the city center of Jenin Oct. 9. (BBC Monitoring: Voice Of Palestine,
Oct. 9) WAFA said the students were headed to school when they were
hit. (BBC Monitoring: WAFA, Oct. 9)
The same day, an unidentified Palestinian youth was killed near the
town of Ya'bad. The radio station said the IDF prevented ambulances
from reaching the victim. Israeli troops also advanced into the
towns of Kfar Ra'i and Al-Ramah, and stormed residents houses. IDF
bulldozers demolished houses in Salfit city. (BBC Monitoring: Voice
Of Palestine, Oct. 9)
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) claimed
Oct. 11 "our military group ambushed two settler taxis near Nitzanit,
opened fire and threw hand grenades, injuring one settler." The
attack took place near Beit Hanoun. Following the attack, Israeli
tanks entered the area and fired heavy machine guns and five shells.
Some houses were damaged. (AFP, Sept. 11)
In Nablus, Israeli soldiers in a jeep stopped in front of the home of
a Palestinian woman, Shaden Abu Hisli, 60. A soldier opened fire at
her as she had coffee on her porch with her husband and son,
according to Palestinian medical sources, her family, and Electronic
Intifada diarist Sam Bahour. (AFP, Oct. 11; Electronic Intifada, Oct.
On Oct. 12, the IDF shot and killed a 21-year-old Palestinian man
they said was with a group digging in a "forbidden area" where bombs
were previously planted. They fired at the group, who ran away, only
to return soon after. At this point, the army fired again and killed
the man. His family said he was working at the family farm. (AP, Oct.
3. SUICIDE ATTACKS CONTINUE
A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up Oct. 10 in suburban Tel
Aviv, killing an Israeli woman, and wounding 29 others. The bombing
would have been worse, but the bomber slipped and fell before
boarding a bus, and was thrown off by the bus' driver and passengers
who saw his explosive belt. They shouted and fled, and the bomber ran
off to a group of people standing nearby, and blew himself up amongst
them. (AFP, Oct. 11)
Also on Oct. 11, a suicide attack was averted on a Tel Aviv cafe,
located near the US embassy. "At first the terrorist tried to enter
the Hatayelet cafe. It's a very large cafe," said police spokeswoman
"The security guard at the entrance to the cafe searched him and when
he found the explosive vest, the man ran away and the guard chased
him while calling for help from security personnel of the American
embassy." The guard at the cafe was Michael Sarkisov, a recent
immigrant from Turkmenistan. "He tried to come in and I checked him
with a metal detector and he beeped," said Sarkisov.
"I asked him, 'What's that?' And he said, 'It's mine.'
"I said, 'I didn't ask whose it was, I said what is it?'" recalled Sarkisov.
"He put his hand in his pocket. I know what a bomb is. I was an
officer in the Russian army."
Sarkisov tried to grab the attacker, who rushed off towards the US
embassy. "I yelled, 'Terrorist!' and ran after him," he said.
Sarkisov and US embassy guards subdued the man, who was then taken
away by police. (Ha'aretz, Oct. 12) Israeli security sources claim
the last three suicide missions were carried out by the same Hamas
cell, from Nablus. (Ha'aretz, Oct. 14)(David Bloom)
4. SCUFFLES AT AL-AKSA MOSQUE
On Oct. 11, a scuffle broke out between Palestinians attempting to
enter al-Aksa Mosque compound for prayers. About 200 angry young
Palestinians were driven back by police. Israel has temporarily
barred male Muslim worshippers under age 40 from entering the
compound after the events of the previous week, in which Palestinian
worshippers stoned police guarding the Western Wall plaza below.
Police then stormed the compound, dispersing the stone-throwers with
stun grenades. (Reuters, Oct. 11)(David Bloom)
6. IS THE IDF PRACTICING FOR ETHNIC CLEANSING?
A post on Israel Indymedia titled, "Is the IDF practicing for ethnic
cleansing?" is based on the poster's translation of an article in the
Hebrew-language daily Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot. The poster,
identified only as Daniel, writes:
"There is an article about the IDF's preparations for the coming
'crucial year' in its fight to crush the Palestinian uprising. The
article begins by describing an exercise performed the day before for
an audience including the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, and
roughly half of Sharon's cabinet.
"The scenario for the exercise was an all-out assault on a village
that has been abandoned by its inhabitants, with only armed fighters
remaining. The Israeli soldiers come in with the newest and heaviest
weaponry and bulldozers they have, and basically flatten the place.
"To anyone that has been observing the fighting of the last two
years, and the Israeli incursions into Palestinian towns under the
pretext of chasing terrorists since early 2002, this scene should
seem very strange. The IDF, in all the recent fighting, has been
operating in more or less heavily populated civilian areas, and has
never had the luxury of assaulting a village that had been cleared of
its residents. This exercise is certainly not practice for the kind
of situations these soldiers have found themselves in up to now.
"In my mind this raises the question: is this a situation that the
IDF expects to encounter in the coming rounds of fighting? And what
basis do they have for expecting to encounter villages emptied of
their inhabitants, other than a plan to actively drive out the
civilian inhabitants before flushing out the remaining fighters,
demolishing many of the homes in the process? The exercise described
in the article looks eerily like 1948, when the Israeli army cleared
hundreds of villages of their inhabitants through scare tactics,
before coming in and trashing what remained." (Indymedia Israel, Oct.
7. ISRAEL NUMBER TWO THREAT TO WORLD PEACE: FRENCH
A recent survey conducted by French newspapers concluded the state
of Israel ranks just behind Iraq as a threat to world peace. After
Iraq and Israel, in order, the French fear Afghanistan, the United
States, Palestine, Iran, Pakistan, Algeria, and Libya. Syria is
ranked number 12 on the list. "There is no doubt that distortions in
the French media influence the survey," Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi
Michael Melchior said in response to the list. "Even if there is a
legitimate criticism of Israel, in many cases we see a distortion of
reality in the French media, which explains the absurd results of the
survey. In any event, we do not apologize for our existence."
(Ha'aretz, Oct. 8)(David Bloom)
8. WIFE OF EURO CENTRAL BANK HEAD UNDER FIRE FOR ANTI-SEMITISM
Gretta Duisenberg-Bedier de Prairie, the wife of European Central
Bank President Wim Duisenberg is being sued by a prominent Dutch
lawyer for alleged anti-Semitic remarks. Duisenberg-Bedier de
Prairie, who supports the Palestinian cause, recently initiated a
petition against Israeli military action against the Palestinians. A
radio reporter asked how many signatures she hoped to collect. After
a pause, she answered, "Six million," and laughed.
Recently, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat suggested naming a new
human rights institute after Duisenberg-Bedier de Prairie. (AP, Oct.
ELSEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
1. FRENCH TANKER ATTACKED OFF YEMEN COAST
On Oct. 6, the Limburg, a French tanker off the coast of Yemen was
hit with an explosion that killed one crew member. Yemeni authorities
are ruling out the possibility of a suicide attack from an
explosives-laden boat, such as the one used on the USS Cole two years
ago off the coast of Yemen. At least seven fishermen saw a flash when
the explosion occurred, but saw no boat speeding towards it, Yemeni
officials said. Authorities are considering whether the blast may
have been triggered by remote control. (AP, Oct. 14)(David Bloom)
A spokesman for the Islamic Army of Aden,who claimed responsibility, told the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper
yesterday: "We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because
they are all infidels." (London Times, Oct.12)
2. U.S. MARINES ATTACKED IN KUWAIT
Three attacks on US Marines in the last week in Kuwait are being
blamed on al-Qaeda. On Oct. 8, one marine was killed and a second was
wounded when two Kuwaitis ambushed them during a training exercise.
The attackers were killed by marines. On Oct. 9, US soldiers
traveling in a Humvee shot a vehicle trying to overtake theirs. An
occupant of that vehicle had reportedly pointed a gun at the troops.
The occupants claim they were only holding a cell phone. On Oct. 13,
US troops again came under fire, this time from two civilian vehicles
in a training area in northern Kuwait. There were no injuries. Kuwait
is holding 15 men it says have confessed to the Oct. 8 shooting, and
that "five or ten" of them are affiliated with the al-Qaeda network.
(CBS, Oct. 14)(David Bloom)
1. FRACTURED POLL RESULTS IN KASHMIR
State elections in Indian-controlled Kashmir ended Oct. 12 with a
defeat for the ruling party, the National Conference, which has
governed the state for the last 50 years. The NC won a total of 28
seats in the State Assembly, preceded by the post-election coalition
of the Congress Party and the People's Democratic Party, which won a
total of 36 seats. The hardline Hindu Nationalist Bhartiya Janata
Party (BJP) ended up winning only one seat. (BBC, Oct. 11)
While the Congress Party and the PDP were to form the state
government, the election of Ghulam Nabi Azad by Congress party
members as the new chief minister
for the state has made relations between the two parties tense. The
PDP holds that it can best represent the wishes of Kashmiris and that
the new chief minister should be a PDP member. Omar Abdullah, the NC
candidate urged the governer of Jammu and Kashmir G.C. Saxena to
ensure that the NC form the next state government since it has the
largest number of seats. (Hindustan Times, Oct. 14)
Former All Parties Hurriet Conference (APHC) chariman, Mirwaiz Umar
Farooq issued a statement Oct. 13 saying that the elections could not
guarantee peace for Jammu and Kashmir; a dialogue process needed to
be initiated between India, Pakistan and Kashmiri political parties.
"Prime Minister Vajpayee has been talking repeatedly of free and fair
elections but it is not a solution to the crisis at all. Unless New
Delhi enters into a dialogue with the people of the state and
Pakistan, no free and fair election can bring peace to Jammu and
Kashmir." (Kashmir Times, Oct. 13)
Current APHC chairman Prof. Abdul Gani, who considers the elections
insignificant said Oct. 12 that a referendum should be declared in
Jammu and Kashmir as promised by the UN resolution of 1949. The APHC
stated that it would respect the result of the referndum, which would
allow Kashmiris to democratically vote to become a part of India,
Pakistan or simply independent. "Elections cannot be misconstrued as
a substitute for plebiscite. Prime Minister of India claims that
people have voted for democracy and for the unity of the country. But
we contest [the elections]. I challenge [the government of India] to
organize a referendum here and if people will vote for it, we will
respect the verdict." (Kashmir Times, Oct. 12)
The third round of polling was marked by waves of violence from
suspected separatist militant outfits such as the Hizbul Mujahideen,
who not only boycotted the election but also threatened voters from
visiting polling stations with violence. The Independent notes that
the number of individuals killed since August 22 when the elections
were announced is 600; the dead include civilians, political
activists, workers at polling stations, militants and members of the
armed forces. From Oct. 1 to Oct. 3, almost 30 people were killed in
bombings and shootings carried out by the different militant outfits,
the bloodiest onslaught since the elections began. (UK Independent,
Oct.3) (Subuhi Jiwani)
1. BALI BLAST KILLS ALMOST 200, AL-QAEDA SUSPECTED
Two bombs went off at Kuta beach, a tourist resort popular with
westerners on the Indonesian island of Bali Oct. 12. At least 182
were killed, and hundreds injured. A third bomb went off near the
honorary US consulate in Sanur, 30 minutes from Kuta. No one was hurt
in that explosion. No one has claimed responsibility. (Reuters, Oct.
"I believe the attack on the French vessel was a terrorist attack,"
Mr. Bush said. "Obviously, the attack on our marines in Kuwait was a
terrorist attack. The attack in Bali appears to be an Al Qaeda-type
terrorist - definitely a terrorist attack, whether it's Al
Qaeda-related or not, I would assume it is. And therefore it does
look like a pattern of attacks that the enemy, albeit on the run, is
trying to once again frighten and kill freedom-loving people." (NYT,
Previously Indonesia has been reluctant to acknowledge the threat of
Islamic extremism. "I am not afraid to say, though many have refused
to say, that an al-Qaeda network exists in Indonesia," Defense
Minister Matori Abdul Djalil said in Jakarta. "The Bali bomb blast is
related to al-Qaeda with the co-operation of local terrorists." (BBC,
Oct. 15)(David Bloom)
WAR AT HOME
1. NEW JERSEY GROUPS SAY ILLEGAL DETENTIONS ARE UN-AMERICAN
Fifty energetic protestors rallied outside the Passaic County Jail in
Paterson, NJ on a drizzly October 13 to demonstrate the illegal
detention of hundreds of South Asian, Arab and Muslim immigrants in
county jails throughout New Jersey since September 11. While the
coalition had a permit to demonstrate on Main Ave, in front of jail,
the Paterson police and Sheriff's department forced protestors to
move to the back of the jail. They had blocked off the street and
posted snipers on the fourth floor roof of a building on that same
The first protest organized by New Jersey Action Network, a
coalition of Jersey-based community organizations and student groups.
Jeanette Gabriel, of the Workers Democracy Network said its purpose was not just to bring attention to the "overcrowded and horrible" living
conditions inside the jail, but rather to free all INS detainees.
"People are being illegally held without being convicted of any crime
and without any charges being brought against them," Gabriel said.
"We do not want to make conditions better for the detainees. We want
to free the detainees."
Other protestors expressed that it was "un-American" to strip away
the civil rights guaranteed to individuals residing in the US by the
Constitution: the right to due process, the right to adequate legal
counsel, the right to open and public hearings.
The 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled October 8 that the Attorney
General can close any hearings of INS detainees for reasons of
national security, overturning a May 29 ruling by Judge John W.
Bissell of New Jersey, which stated that the Justice Department could
not categorically close all deportation hearings.
(from Immigration News Briefs, Oct. 11)
County jails receive $139 per day for holding one INS detainee: $77
from the INS and $62 as reimbursement from the state, which according
to Gabriel explains the overcrowded living conditions. "Many county
jails are not equipped to handle the INS cases, which they are
getting." Gabriel said. "But they are getting so much money from the
INS that they are willing to put the detainees in totally overcrowded
An evocative and powerful speaker at the rally was Hani Awadallah,
President of the Paterson-based Arab-American Civic Organization.
Awadallah made statements about Bush's policy of military aggression
towards Iraq, now approved by the U.S. Senate (NY Times, Oct. 11).
"Iraq is saying come in, bring the inspectors’ team, we are open.
This guy [Bush] cannot take 'yes' for an answer." Awadallah reminded
protestors of an October 11 article in the NY Times which detailed
the Bush’s plan to appoint an US-led military government in
Iraq after Saddam Hussein had been toppled, a plan similar to the one
drawn up for the post World War II occupation of Japan. (NY Times,
He emphasized a message of peace, as a Muslim and as a protestor
contradicting bigoted statements made by Reverend Jerry Falwell, a
leading member of the Southern Baptist Convention, who said in a
television interview that the Prophet Mohammed was "a terrorist, a
violent man, a man of war." (BBC, Oct. 7) Awadallah reiterated the
words of the Prophet for the audience and underlined Islam's message
of peace. "He who kills a single person, kills the whole world."
2. PEACE MOVEMENT EMERGES
In the first major sign of popular opposition to a unilateral war
with Iraq, an estimated 20,000 people filled the East Meadow of
Central Park on Sunday to pledge their resistance to President George
Bush's military plans.
The diverse crowd ranged from seasoned activists--many of them
veterans of Vietnam War protests--to college and high school
students, business professionals, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and
concerned parents, some of whom traveled from the Midwest to voice
"I've been waiting for this since 9/12," said Bruce Olin, 52, who
flew in from Springfield, Illinois. "The reason the terrorists did
what they did was to provoke the exact response that America has had.
They were relying on the fact that we have an idiot for a president,"
said Olin, who owns a pharmaceutical testing verification firm.
Beverly Walker, a 50-year-old customer service rep from Crown
Heights, had never attended an antiwar rally. But she felt compelled
to come out on behalf of her sons who are of draft age.
"I think there should be long and patient negotiations in the U.N. to
decide how to best deal with Iraq. We need to give peace a chance,"
said Walker, adding, "People are suffering already in Iraq. This is
going to make it 10 times worse." The rally, which was organized by a
diverse coalition of groups operating as the Not In Our Name project,
coincided with smaller peace rallies in Chicago, Los Angeles, San
Francisco, Seattle, and other communities.
In New York, organizers were joined by Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
of Georgia and several celebrity activists, including Martin Sheen,
who plays the U.S. president on NBC's The West Wing.
Sheen read an excerpt of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream"
speech and invoked the diplomacy used by President Kennedy to avert
war during the Cuban missile crisis.
"This is the first public debate that I've really seen," Sheen
commented backstage, "so I'm grateful to New Yorkers for being here
today. I can't remember a time in my country, in my life, when there
has been such an overall stifling of public debate on such a critical
Taking on Bush's effort to impose a new U.S. doctrine of preemptive
strikes, actress Susan Sarandon demanded, "Do we the people really
want to be a new Rome that imposes its rule by the use of
overwhelming force whenever its interests are threatened? Even
perceived potential threats? We do not want endless warfare."
Calling the proposed military action in Iraq a "war for oil,"
Sarandon gave out the phone numbers for local Congress members and
urged people to "make trouble!"
But Sarandon's companion, Tim Robbins, also cautioned the antiwar
crowd to be careful in the way it frames its dissent. "This is not
the chickens coming home to roost," Robbins said. "Al Qaeda's actions
have hurt this burgeoning peace movement more than any other.
"Our resistance to this war should be our resistance to profit at the
cost of human life," Robbins argued. "Because that is what these
drums beating over Iraq are all about . . . . In the name of fear and
fighting terror, we are giving the reins to oil men looking for a
distraction from their disastrous economic performance."
There were also heartrending testimonials from relatives of victims
of the World Trade Center attacks who oppose military action, and
Afghan women who had lost family members during the bombing campaigns
against Al Qeada.
Shokriea Yaghi, an Afghan immigrant, spoke out on behalf of her
Jordanian husband, a pizza parlor owner in New York for the last 15
years who was deported in July after being detained for nine months
"I have not seen my husband for 15 months," said Yaghi, a mother of
three. "Now we are being told that he cannot return to this country
for 10 years. I am here to fight for my husband's rights," she cried
in tears. "I am here to fight for my children's rights. My father and
brother died in Afghanistan trying to run away from the civil war
there. I was orphaned at 10. I do not want that to happen to my
children or to the children in Iraq. I want my husband home."
At a time when polls show the majority of Americans do not support a
unilateral invasion of Iraq, many in the crowd voiced their
frustration with Congress for not representing their views.
"We were promised a real debate and a statement from the president
about why Iraq is such a threat now, and we're not getting it," said
Rick Jones of Highlands, New Jersey, who sported a homemade sandwich
board that read: "Hey Congress! Killing Iraqis for Votes Is Pathetic!"
Jones said he had been calling his New Jersey representatives every
day for the last three weeks to ask their position on a war with
Iraq, but has so far received no responses. "Getting re-elected seems
to be their only concern. They're all sitting on the fence, hoping to
wait it out."
There was also widespread anger at the mainstream media for failing
to represent antiwar views. "The establishment--AOL, Disney, GE,
Viacom, Murdoch media--they're not going to bring us pictures of the
Iraqi dead and dying any more than they did in 1991 [during the Gulf
War]," said Laura Flanders of New Yorkers Say No to War.
"They aren't going to show us Iraq any more than we've seen the
bombings of Kandahar or Tora Bora or Mazar-e Sharif," she told the
cheering crowd. Many said they were skeptical about the real motives
behind President Bush's stepped-up campaign against Saddam Hussein.
"If he had the proof of all of what he's been saying about Saddam,
why would the rest of the U.N. be against him? It doesn't make
sense," said Mark Shafer, an 86-year-old veteran of World War II.
There were some off-key moments on stage, like the anti-cop rhetoric
of some Boston rappers, or the throwback stridency of one young woman
from the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade.
Her curse-filled tirade was overshadowed by the simple speech given
by a nine-year-old girl: "We have more than enough money to buy oil,"
she told the crowd. "So why do we choose to steal it?" (Sarah
RESIST THE MEGALOPIGS!!
Boycotting ANSWER/IAC's march on Washington doesn't seem
too popular an idea. How about we all just moon Ramsey Clark as he speaks,
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