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ISSUE: #. 65. Dec. 23, 2002







"Are you taking orders? Or are you taking over? Are you going backwards? Or are you going forward?"

RIP Joe Strummer, 1952-2002

By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom and Subuhi Jiwani, Special Correspondents

1. West Bank "Re-Occupation" Reaches Six Month Mark
2. Palestinians, Internationals Destroy Nablus Checkpoint
3. Gaza: More Children, Elderly Killed
4. Israel Prepares for Iraq War
5. US, Israeli Academics Warn Against Ethnic Cleansing
6. Is the Chief Deputy Republican Whip Pro-Transfer?
7. Rabin's Assassin Says MK Benny Elon Knew of Plot
8. Palestinian Student to Foreign Jews: Don't Join IDF!
9. Israeli Army Short of Soldiers
10. Amnesty: IDF Treats War Criminals Better than Refuseniks
11. 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli Detention
12. Mitzna to Palestinians: "We'll Beat You to a Pulp"
13. Palestinians Forced to Choose Which Limb to be Broken
14. Jewish Anti-Occupation Group Lobbies US
15. Enron Screws Palestine

1. Reporter: Censored Iraq Arms Dossier Names U.S. Companies
2. January 27: Deadline for War?
3. Bush Orders Doubling of Troops Around Iraq
4. U.S. Peace Activists on the Ground in Baghdad
5. More Arrests at United Nations
6. Vatican Dissents from War Drive
7. British Bishops Dissent from War Drive
8. Japanese A-Bomb Survivors Protest Nuclear Threats
9. Sierra Club Split on Iraq War Stance
10. Iraq Pledges to Strike U.S. Allies
11. Jordan Opposition Organizes Iraq Solidarity Brigade
12. U.S. Covering Up Attacks on Troops in Kuwait?
13. U.S. Tank Kills French Journalist in Kuwait
14. U.S. Steps Up Psy-Op Broadcasts

1. Afghan Refugees Protest in Islamabad
2. German Chopper Down Near Kabul, Seven Dead
3. Car Bomb Rocks Kandahar; U.S. Serviceman Shot Dead

1. Kazakh President Suspected in Oil Cartel Kickback Scam
2. Amnesty in Uzbekistan--Sort Of
3. Turkmenistan: "Mercenaries" Blamed in Plot

1. Hindu Right Exults in Gujarat Victory
2. British Charities Linked to Gujarat Terror

1. Class War in Venezuela
2. Powell Does Bogota, Pledges More Aid
3. Alvaro Uribe: Lord of the Shadows

1. Mass Detention of Muslims in Southern California
2. ...Jews Too
3. INS: Armenians OK After All
4. Palestinians Deported to Gaza?
5. White House Hypocrisy on Trent Lott
6. Fear on New York Subways

1. Extremoid Wonks Set Military Policy
2. North Korea Next?
3. Bush: Missile Shield to be Up by 2004
4. Dissident FBI Agents Charge Incompetence in al-Qaeda Hunt
5. WTC Surveillance Tapes Missing

1. Federal Judge: Padilla Has Constitutional Rights
2. Municipal Revolt Against Police State Spreads


The "re-occupation" of West Bank cities and towns by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has now lasted half a year. Commenting on the Israeli occupation of Nablus, the town's governor, Mahmud al-Aalul, said: "The Israeli army is trying with its current offensive on the city, which is now nearing six months, to coerce civilians into accepting life under occupationÉ But this too will fail and the proof is that street clashes in the city continue, with even children leaving their homes to hurl stones at Israeli tanks to express their refusal of the occupation." He said the curfew imposed on Nablus was the longest in the city's history with "110 days of curfew in a row and only 70 hours during which it was lifted." (AFP, Dec. 19)

In Nablus on Dec. 16, five Palestinians were injured by Israeli gunfire after leaving their houses after curfew had been lifted. (BBC, Voice of Palestine Radio, Dec. 16) Palestinian boys throwing rocks at Israeli tanks were also met with heavy machine-gun fire in Nablus Dec. 16. Ten of the boys were wounded, three critically. (AFP, Dec. 16)

Voice of Palestine radio reported Dec. 17 that Israeli troops were besieging the students' dormitory at Bir Zeit University. Hundreds of students were reported to be inside. The station also reported 300 Palestinians, mainly women and children, were held in the rain and severe cold at the Qalandia military checkpoint. Some were beaten and had thier identity cards confiscated, the station said. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Dec. 17)

A 16-year old Palestinian youth was shot and killed in Nablus on Dec. 18. The Israeli army said the youth was about to throw a Molotov cocktail. Nine other Palestinians were wounded. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 19) AFP said Fatah confirmed that two of the injured were Fatah gunmen who had joined the fray, triggering the battle. (AFP, Dec. 18)

Also on Dec. 18, Israeli troops shot and wounded a Palestinian who failed to stop at a checkpoint near Burka in the northern West Bank, according to the Jerusalem Post. (Jerusalempost, Dec. 19) And Bakr Hijjah, from the village of Burqa, east of Nablus, was seriously wounded by Israeli gunfire while working his farmland. (BBC Monitoring, Dec. 18) On Dec. 19. an Israeli tank drove over a Palestinian car in Jenin on Dec. 19, killing its occupant. (Xinhua, Dec. 20) (David Bloom) [top]

The first permanent checkpoint established by the IDF in Nablus recently was destroyed by Palestinian residents with the aid of international activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). The checkpoint, which used a metal gate that crossed the road, effectively cut the city in two. A few days after the gate was put in place, a woman was shot dead and her family was injured by snipers as they opened the gate themselves, while it was unmanned. A march on the gate was organized by various groups including the Union of Palestinian Medical relief Committees (UPMRC).Over 20 internationals from the ISM took part. The nine-meter gate was unbolted and levered off its hinge by the crowd, who then dragged it across the road and threw it over a cliff, to great celebration. (ISM press release, Dec. 20) Xinhua reported "Palestinian drivers in the town expressed happiness and satisfaction by pressing on the horns of their cars after the gate was removed." (Xinhua, Dec. 20) (David Bloom)

See also WW3 REPORT #63 [top]

Two Palestinians were killed by IDF gunfire east of Beit Hanoun on Dec. 16. The army said the two were trying to cross the green line into Israel. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Dec. 16)

On Dec. 17, Jaouad Zidane, 16-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and another was wounded by a tank shell directed at a house in Khan Younes in the southern Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian security officials. AFP notes his death brings to 2,045 the number of Palestinians killed since the start of the current Intifada in Sept. 2000. 680 Israelis have been killed in the same time period. (AFP, Dec. 17) A 65-year-old Palestinian man was injured Israeli fire at the same time. (Xinhua, Dec. 18) The IDF said Zidane was killed while firing at Israeli troops, but a Reuters reporter was shown Zidane's blood-stained mattress and bullet holes, where his relatives say he was killed in his bedroom. 2,000 attended his funeral, many shouting for revenge. "Since death is coming anyway, I believe we should choose how to die... To die and bring death to the enemy too," a gunman said. (Reuters, Dec. 18)

On Dec. 17, Israeli forces killed a mentally ill young Palestinian man. The IDF thought the man was trying to infiltrate a military outpost on the border with Egypt at Rafah. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Dec. 17)

Voice of Israel radio reported two civilian employees of the Defense Ministry's construction department were wounded when a mortar shell was fired at the Termit outpost near Rafah on Dec. 17. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Israel, Dec. 17)

A Palestinian man was killed near the Jewish settlement of Neve Deqalim in Khan Younis on Dec. 16. The army said he was trying to infiltrate the settlement. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Dec. 16) The Birmingham Post says the man was killed when he went out to check on the irrigation system of his family's farm. (Birmingham Post, Dec. 17)

Israeli troops shot and killed a teenage boy and wounded two others in Rafah on Dec. 18. The boys were part of a group that pelted soldiers with rocks and bottles. (AP, Dec. 18) AFP says an IDF bulldozer flattening land close to Israeli positions broke down, and was set upon by the youths. Troops responded with smoke grenades and gunfire. Israeli tanks and bulldozers leave heavily fortified positions frequently to hunt down gunmen who fire at their watchtowers, and destroy tunnels dug under the border to smuggle weapons. They frequently destroy houses along the border, many of them empty because their residents have fled the daily clashes. (AFP, Dec. 18)

On Dec. 20, Israeli troops raided the town of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip and demolished several houses. A Palestinian gunman, Majdi Moussa, was killed in an exchange of fire with the IDF. Seven others were wounded in the gunbattle.. (AP, Dec. 20) Hours later, Islamic Jihad took credit for the shooting death of Rabbi Yitzhak Arameh of the Netzer Hazani settlement, traveling in a settler convoy on Dec. 20. Israeli troops reacted by cutting the Gaza Strip into three parts. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 20) On Dec. 22, Israeli troops and armored cars launched an incursion into Rafah, dynamiting two homes of alleged Palestinian militants, and damaging three others. One belonged to the Ziad Abed el-Al, who allegedly took part in the killing of Rabbi Arameh. (AFP, Dec. 22)

On Dec. 21, an 11-year-old Palestinian girl was killed by Israeli gunfire as she walked home from school in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Army radio said the soldiers were responding to a grenade being thrown at their outpost, which guards the settlement of Morag, just to the north of Rafah. (AP, Dec. 22)

A Palestinian police officer was shot in the leg by and Islamic Jihad militant on Dec. 21. The injured man and fellow officers had stopped a car carrying militants on their way to fire mortars at the Israel border, north of Beit Hanoun. (AP, Dec. 21)

On Dec. 21, An Israeli soldier was slightly injured when a Palestinian militant threw grenades and opened fire while trying to infiltrate the Jewish settlement of Morag. The militant was killed. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) took responsibility (AP, Dec. 22). Voice of Palestine radio said that six Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Dec. 21) Also on Dec. 21, an armed Palestinian was shot and injured while trying to infiltrate the settlement of Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip. (AP, Dec. 22) (David Bloom) [top]

Some 1,000 US soldiers are due to arrive in Israel, to participate in a joint exercise with the IDF's anti-aircraft division. A US frigate will be positioned off Israel's Mediterranean coast. Accompanying the troops will be batteries of Patriot missiles, which were used to shoot down Scud missiles fired from Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War. Six thousand Israelis will receive smallpox vaccinations, in addition to the 15,000 emergency workers who have received them in the last few months. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 22) Within the next two weeks, the Israeli Health Ministry will decide whether or not to inoculate the whole country against smallpox. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 23)

A secret 1992 CIA document released for publication Dec. 23 by the National Security Archive in Washington says that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had a secret plan to use biological weapons against Israel in the first stage of the 1991 Gulf War, but was unable to carry it out. The document says the Iraq sent three MiG-21 planes to bomb Israeli targets, to see if they could penetrate Israeli air defense systems. In the second stage, three MiGs armed with conventional weapons were to be sent to Israel as a diversion, along with a Sukhoi plane armed with biological weapons--but the operation failed during the first stage, when the three MiGs were shot down over the Persian Gulf shortly after takeoff. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 23)

30% of the Israeli public, about 2 million people, will not get sufficient protection from their army-provided gas masks, defense officials have secretly admitted. The black Simplex masks distributed to the public were for past threats, but since the end of the 80's, there has not been much testing as to their efficacy. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 16)

Growing numbers of Israelis are planning to go overseas for the duration of the war with Iraq. "We'll travel abroad for two months, until it ends," said one plane ticket purchaser. ( Ha'aretz, Dec. 23) (David Bloom) [top]

More than 800 US professors have signed the following letter against the looming expulsion of the Palestinians:

"We, American academics and intellectuals, applaud our courageous Israeli colleagues for their recent warning of the possibility of ethnic cleansing in Israel and the Occupied Territories. The 187 Israeli signatories express concern that the 'fog of war' [against Iraq] 'could be exploited by the Israeli government to commit further crimes against the Palestinian people, up to full- fledged ethnic cleansing.'

"The Israeli professors point out that: 'The Israeli ruling coalition includes parties that promote "transfer" of the Palestinian population as a solution to what they call "the demographic problem." Politicians are regularly quoted in the media as suggesting forcible expulsion, most recently MKs [members of the Israeli Knesset] Michael Kleiner and Benny Elon, as reported on Yediot Ahronot website on September 19, 2002. In a recent interview in Israeli daily Ha'aretz, Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon described the Palestinians as a "cancerous manifestation" and equated the military actions in the Occupied Territories with "chemotherapy," suggesting that more radical "treatment" may be necessary. Prime Minister Sharon has backed this "assessment of reality." Escalating racist demagoguery concerning the Palestinian citizens of Israel may indicate the scope of the crimes that are possibly being contemplated.'

"Benjamin Netanyahu, the newly appointed Israeli foreign minister, previously advocated expelling Palestinians while the world was distracted with events at Tiananmen Square. (See WW3 REPORT #63)

"We join with our Israeli colleagues in calling for vigilance as events unfold in Israel and the Occupied Territories. With an average of more than $10 million dollars per day of American tax dollars going to Israel, we believe Americans cannot remain silent while crimes as abhorrent as ethnic cleansing are being openly advocated.

"We urge our government to communicate clearly to the government of Israel that the expulsion of people according to race, religion or nationality would constitute crimes against humanity and will not be tolerated."

The signatories include some 800 professors

To download anti-transfer flyers for education and handouts, see

(David Bloom) [top]

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) was named Chief Deputy Whip of the House of Representatives on Dec. 2, making him the fourth-ranking Republican in Congress. He is also the only Jewish Republican in Congress. As head of the House Republicans' Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Cantor, during his first term, championed pro-Israel initiatives and often called Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat an ill-suited partner for peace.

"We must insist on the complete cessation of terrorism and violence in Israel by the Palestinians before moving ahead with any peace talks," Cantor told the Jerusalem Post on Dec. 20. "The creation of a Palestinian state will do nothing to stop the violence so long as you have somebody like Arafat and his cronies intent on destroying the Jewish state."

Cantor also met with National Union MK Benny Elon during the latter's trip to Washington last June. Elon came to DC to lobby politicians and Jewish groups on his "Elon Peace Initiative,"( intiative, presented in a glossy, eight-page manual, has seven points, including nullification of the Oslo Accords, permanent resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the countries where they currently reside (to be aided by an international fund), and a "Jordanian-Palestinian" state with Amman as its capital. Those who violate the terms of the agreement "will be expelled to their state on the other side of the Jordan River," according to the plan. Those who accept the plan will be able to remain in the West Bank and Gaza, with "Jordanian-Palestinian" citizenship. Elon declined to say who he met with. "I can say one thing: Dick Armey is not alone," said Elon, referring to the House majority leader who said he supported transfer in a May 2 interview on MSNBC (see WW3 REPORT #32). (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 20; June 27) However, Cantor's press secretary happily to confirmed to WW3 REPORT that the Congressman met with Elon in June. Cantor declined to be interviewed. (David Bloom)

Yigal Amir, the assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, said in court that far-right MK Benny Elon heard him say that Rabin needed to be murdered--a charge Elon disputes. "I don't know what is going on in Amir's twisted mind," Elon said. "Seven years ago he assassinated the prime minister, and today he's trying to perform character assassination." Amir made the charge at the trial of Shin Bet agent Avishai Raviv. According to Amir, Elon warned him that Raviv might be a Shin Bet agent. Raviv is also known to have set up an "underground" group called Eyal with Shin Bet funding. The group routinely beat Palestinians, and once Raviv even invited an Israel Channel 1 crew to film a beating. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 19) (David Bloom) [top]

Young foreign Jews are being recruited to join the IDF for 18 months, through a program called Mahal2000. Mahal is a Hebrew acronym for "Volunteers From Outside Israel," the webiste says. A poster on Indymedia Israel from Nablus wrote the following message to would-be recruits:

"Idealistic and misinformed, Jewish students are actively being recruited through the Mahal2000 Programme, on campuses in the U.S. and Canada. The International Hillel Student Organization is actively distributing information for Mahal and has recently been expelled by the Students' Union at Concordia University in Montreal. Hillel, the last I heard,is suing Concordia University Students Union for reinstatement and punitive damages. In Canada it's apparently illegal to recruit for the military of a foreign country. Maybe Israel's an exception? Why? See the Mahal Website at Israel is not under threat. Their economy is in the toilet because of increased military spending and for the ceaseless settlement building in the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli Armed Forces are conducting a war against an essentially unarmed civilian population in the occupied territories. It's not about protecting the security of Israel--it's about continuing the ethnic cleansing of the Arab population--to finish what was begun in 1948--what Palestinians remember as the Naqba (catastrophe) Do you really want to be a part of this? Thanks, Dhoud" (Indymedia Israel, Dec. 13) (David Bloom) [top]

The Israeli army has been "stretched to the limit" because of a shortage of soldiers over the past two years, according to Gen. Gil Rege, human resources chief for the Central Command, which covers the West Bank. In an interview with Israel public radio, Gil said: "We lack combatants...when the army has important and dangerous tasks to undertake and complex and substantial fronts to defend." (AFP, Dec. 19) (David Bloom) [top]

Amnesty International wrote to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Dec. 19 expressing concern over the treatment of soldiers who refuse to serve in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Amnesty noted that while 180 "refuseniks" had been jailed in the last 26 months, "the IDF does not try soldiers and officers responsible for grave breaches of human rights and genuine war crimes, such as killing children and other unarmed civilians, indiscriminate shooting, shelling and bombing of densely populated areas, and demolition of homes with residents inside them who are left to die under the ruins." (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 19) (David Bloom) [top]

In the past six month, during roundups in the occupied territories, the IDF has detained 5,000 Palestinian men. 1,000 of those face indefinite detention without trial, a status that can be renewed every six months. "These arrests have directly contributed to the reduction in terror attacks we have witnessed in recent months," the army said in a written reply to AP. "The arrests also provide us with an opportunity to question terrorists and foil future planned attacks." Israeli human rights groups have protested the detentions, but there is broad public support in Israel for the policy. (AP, Dec. 19) (David Bloom) [top]

In an apparent attempt to counter his dovish image with Israeli voters, Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna issued a stark warning to the Palestinians. "If you continue with terror, we will beat you to a pulp," said Mitzna, an ex-general, explaining to group of high school students what his response would be to Palestinian attacks. (Washington Post, Dec. 17) (David Bloom) [top]

A Dec. 22 AP report charges that Israeli forces are making Palestinians choose which of their limbs will be broken, in a macabre "lottery." Since the Nov. 11 guerilla attack in which nine Israeli soldiers and settler militiamen were killed in Hebron, beatings and violence towards Palestinians have increased, say Palestinian medical and security sources. Rujdi al-Jamal was among a group of Palestinians caught outside after a curfew by Israeli border police. "When they stopped us they were really angry and you could see the fire in their eyes and they were tough," al-Jamal told the AP. The border police forced the Palestinians to decide which part of their bodies they wanted broken; the nose, an arm or a leg, Jamal said. Or they could choose to be shot, Jamal said the police told them. Jamal choose his hand, and the policemen broke it with a rifle butt, he said.

Another Palestinian told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot that he and four of his friends were detained by border police, who took them to a Jewish settlement in the city. The officers prepared bits of paper for a "lottery" to decide which part of their bodies would be broken. The Palestinians were also allowed to decide themselves. "I chose the nose because nothing hurts as much as a broken arm or broken leg," the student of Islamic studies told the paper. Another Palestinian told the paper he was stopped by border police while driving, and given the choice of a broken car or a broken arm. He choose his arm because he did not think they would carry through on their threat. They did.

An army spokesman said that after an initial investigation, no truth was found to the charges. However, he said the investigation would continue. The injured Palestinians are to meet with a police investigative unit. (AP, Dec. 22) (David Bloom) [top]

Jews for Peace and in Palestine and Israel (JPPI), a 1,200 member-strong organization that opposes the Israeli occupation of Palestine, is trying to get the US to enforce the Arms Export Control Act. Josh Ruebner, one of the group's co-founders, says, "We're gearing up for a difficult session in Congress. The big issue is how Congress is going to respond to Israel's request of $14 billion in economic and military aid."

JPPI's position is clear: "As long as Israel is getting military assistance from the US, it should abide by the US Arms Export Control Act, which prohibitsÉUS weapons being used against civilians. Nationally, and internationally, the targeting of innocent civilians is considered a war crime." Ruebner admits JPPI is less radical than some anti-occupation groups who want to end all military aid. "We don't think that's realistic in the current political system. We believe it's more realistic to hold Israel accountable to existing US laws."

JPPI took a group of congressional staffers to the West Bank last summer to see conditions for themselves. "We found ourselves thrust into an international diplomatic controversy, when Israel refused to allow the delegation into the West Bank. I explained to the police and border officials, in Hebrew, that this was an official American government delegation, but when an Israeli policeman came over to us and threatened us, we decided to leave for our own safety."

Ruebner said the staffers "were astounded," as "nobody had ever heard of anything like this happening to a congressional delegation before." He said what made it especially ironic was a week before Saddam Hussein had urged members of Congress to come to Iraq. "Israel was being less transparent and open than Iraq."

"As a Jew, I take seriously our religious obligation to work for justice, and I cannot be silent about the oppression that my brothers and sisters in Israel are guilty of," Ruebner says. But it has come at a price. Ruebner says former friends refuse to speak to him. "And there is the ridiculous hate mail and occasional death threats, but all that is just a signal to me that we are on the right track." (Palestine Chronicle, Dec. 18) (David Bloom) [top]

The new board of directors of US energy giant Enron, operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, is reportedly reconsidering its stake in the company's Gaza power plant. The plant, which began operating in August 2002, is the Palestinian Authority's first independent power plant. Until the plant began producing electricity, the Palestinians received electricity from the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC). Two of the plant's four production units are currently operational. Enron is still scheduled to begin operating the other two units. Enron chairman Ron W. Haddock, a guest at a recent Israel Business Conference 2002, said the company would resolve the matter soon. The power station is designed to produce 140 megawatts, but is currently producing only 50. Two months ago, Palestinian Energy Authority chairman and Minister of Energy Abdel Rahman Hamed said that Enron's collapse had not affected the opening of the power plant, but it now appears that Enron is reconsidering any further investment or maintenance of the plant. (Dow Jones, Dec. 17) [top]


The US edited out more than 8,000 crucial pages of Iraq's 11,800-page dossier on weapons, before passing on a sanitized version to the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. Secretary General Kofi Annan admitted that it was "unfortunate" that the UN allowed the US to take the only complete dossier and edit it, while Norway protested that it was being treated like a "second-class country." While US Secretary of State Colin Powell called the Iraqi dossier a "catalogue of recycled information and flagrant omissions," the non-permanent members of the Security Council will have no way of testing these claims for themselves. (UK Sunday Herald, Dec. 22)

But reporter Andreas Zumach of the Berlin-based paper Die Tageszeitung obtained top-secret portions of the weapons declaration that the US had censored from the released version. "We have 24 major US companies listed in the report who gave very substantial support especially to the biological weapons program but also to the missile and nuclear weapons program," Zumach told Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!" Dec. 18. "Pretty much everything was illegal in the case of nuclear and biological weapons. Every form of cooperation and suppliesÉwas outlawed in the 1970s." Zumach says the list of US corporations includes Hewlett Packard, DuPont, Honeywell, Rockwell, Tectronics, Bechtel, International Computer Systems, Unisys, Sperry and TI Coating. Zumach also said the US Departments of Energy, Defense, Commerce and Agriculture quietly helped arm Iraq, and the US government nuclear weapons laboratories at Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia even trained Iraqi scientists. According to Zumach, only Germany had more business ties to Iraq than the US, with up to 80 German companies listed in Iraq's report. [top]

The US has set the last week in January as the deadline in the long standoff with Iraq. Administration officials are pointing to Jan. 27, when Hans Blix, the UN chief weapons inspector, is scheduled to make his first substantive report to the Security Council. That date falls within the winter window US military planners have said is the optimum moment to launch an invasion of Iraq. US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Dec. 18 that other Security Council members share the US assessment that the Iraqi declaration contains "troublesome" omissions. Once Blix and Mohammed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, make their preliminary report, Powell said, "We' with our partners in the Security Council to determine the way to go forward." White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that "the United States will continue to be deliberative in this matter, but this was Saddam Hussain's last chance." Noting Bush's Sept. 12 speech to the General Assembly in which he challenged the UN to confront Iraq on its outlawed weapons programs, Fleischer said, "I think it's important to allow a process that the president asked to begin, to take its course." (Washington Post, Dec. 20) [top]

President George Bush has ordered the Pentagon to double the number of US troops encircling Iraq to over 100,000 in the coming weeks. These troops will join those already stationed in Kuwait, Bahrian, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Diego Garcia, Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan Air Base, Turkey's Incirlik Air Base and aborad the US Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf. (Newsday, Dec. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 52 and 45 [top]

If US bombs fall on Baghdad, peace activist Cynthia Banas, a retired librarian from Vernon, NY, will to be alongside Iraqis in the target zone. "Some people just can't understand how I can go to Iraq," she told the Christian Science Monitor Dec. 17. "But if you can risk your life in a war [as a soldier], why can't you risk your life for peace?" Some 30 members of the Iraq Peace Team, most of them US citizens, have arrived in the past week. The team was organized by the Chicago-based Voices in the Wilderness, which has sent over 50 peace delegations to Iraq since the mid-1990s. The group argues that Operation Desert Storm and 12 years of strict sanctions have caused a surge in child mortality to 2.5 times the 1980s level (according to UNICEF figures). When asked whether Saddam Hussein's prolific spending on new presidential palaces and mosques might also be responsible for child-mortality rates, David Hilfiker, a doctor on his first trip to Iraq, replied: "There are great inequalities [in every country]. What the American people are not aware of is that before sanctions, Iraq was highly successful. It had free health care, education was universally available. They had reduced the infant mortality rate." Hilfiker argues that the trauma of 9-11 has made many in the US lose their moral moorings. "The question is: Can we separate out this fear, that overrides people's compassion?" asks Hilfiker, who says his Christian beliefs impel him to speak out. "There are lots of people trying to tell the truth about the government here, about the weapons of mass destruction, but almost nobody is trying to tell the truth about the suffering of innocent people. Can Saddam use that? Sure...but that doesn't negate the value of the truth." [top]

Ninety-nine protesters were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after blocking the entrance to the US Mission to the United Nations Dec. 10--including Daniel Ellsberg, known for leaking the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. Several members of the clergy were also arrested, including Rev. Peter Laarman of Manhattan's Judson Memorial Church, and Dominican nuns with the Intercommunity Center for Justice and Peace. Said Rev. Laarman: "Religious leaders understand that humanity is one, and that what war does is disfigures and destroys the human face, which is our face." (Newsday, Dec. 11)

See also WW3 REPORT #59 [top]

On Dec. 17, a senior Vatican prelate condemned any so-called "preventive war" against Iraq as "aggression." Archbishop Renato Martino, who heads the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said: "Preventive war is a war of aggression and does not come under the definition of a just war." Martino was referring to the current US military build-up for a possible war with Iraq, which US officials call a "preventive war." The prelate, the Holy See's former representative at the UN, where it has observer status, made the comments as he presented Pope John Paul II's message for World Peace Day on January 1 . (AFP, Dec. 17)

Martino added that inspections should be extended to the human rights situations in other countries such as Israel "which the UN had taken a decision against it that has been forgotten." (, Dec. 18) [top]

Leading bishops in the UK are to preach this Christmas against a war with Iraq in messages that openly defy Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government. The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rev. Peter Price, will tell worshippers on Christmas Eve: "The sanctity of life precludes all war and violence. We must be guided by a vision of the world in which nations stop seeking to resolve their problems through violence." And in his Christmas message, the Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rev. Richard Lewis, will warn against the desire for revenge in the wake of 9-11. "The question for all of us is whether we give in to that knee-jerk need for revenge and respond in that sort of way, or whether we address the essential questions of justice and peace that underlie that need. We must not let a desire for revenge affect our relations." The statements came in a survey carried out by The Independent of all 44 Church of England senior bishops. Of the 34 who responded, seven said they were unconditionally opposed to war. A further 25 were against war unless military action was sanctioned by the UN, and then only as a last resort. (UK Independent, Dec. 22) [top]

On Dec. 16, a regional chapter of one of Japan's largest organizations for atomic bomb survivors demanded the US refrain from using nuclear weapons in any attack on Iraq. The Tokai and Hokuriku bloc of the Japan Confederation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Sufferers Organizations sent a letter with the demand to US President George Bush. The Bush administration has warned that it would use "overwhelming force" to counter the use of weapons of mass destruction against the US and its allies (see WW3 REPORT # 64: ). The letter, also sent to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, warned that the possible use of nuclear weapons in Iraq could lead to their unlimited use worldwide. (Kyodo News Service, Dec. 16, via BBC Monitoring) Some two dozen Japanese peace activists also gathered in central Baghdad on Dec. 19 for a protest march against a possible US attack on Iraq. Protester Tomoko Abe, a Japanese House of Representatives member of the opposition Social Democratic Party, said the demonstration was "a continuation of anti-war protests in Tokyo last week." Japanese people, she said, "feel the horrors of war more than any other people." The demonstrators marched to the Baghdad office of the UN Development Program, where they handed over an anti-war petition addressed to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. (Kyodo News Service, Dec. 19, via BBC Monitoring) [top]

The Sierra Club is threatening to disband a Utah chapter whose leaders are speaking out against the pending military attack on Iraq--in open defiance a decision by the national organization to avoid a formal stance on the question. The Sierra Club's 175-member Glen Canyon chapter in southern Utah is challenging what they call a gag order on anti-war opinions imposed by the San Francisco-based executive board of the nation's oldest environmental group. Although the club hasn't taken a poll, the Glen Canyon group says its views mirror those of the majority of the 700,000 national members. ''War is not healthy for children and other living things,'' said a recent statement from Dan Kent, secretary of the Sierra Club's Glen Canyon Group. ''It is the ultimate act of environmental destruction.... For the board to compel our silence plays right into Bush's mad world, where a nation of police, prisons, bombs, bunkers is better than lowering oneself to diplomacy to save lives.'' The Sierra Club's 15-member national board has come out in support of stripping Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction, but declined to take a position for or against military action. Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope has threatened to remove the Utah activists from their regional board and disband their group. (LAT, Dec. 3) [top]

Iraqi Trade Minister Mahdi Salih warned that Baghdad will hit any country that provides bases for the US troops taking part in an attack on Iraq. Speaking at a meeting with the Egyptian Businessmen Community, Salih said the Iraqi people "do not care about the media campaign led by the USA to brainwash Arabs and foreigners." He pledged that Baghdad will supply the Iraqi people with all weapons in the event of an attack on Iraqi. "In the event of aggression, Iraq will be a graveyard for the Americans, as it was for the British." He noted that "the tombs of more than 100,000 British people" are in Iraq, a reference to the British troops killed in Iraq during World War I and the 1920 revolution. (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, Dec. 20, via BBC Monitoring) [top]

The Jordanian National Mobilization Committee in Defense of Iraq, formed by Jordanian opposition groups in 1996, announced a campaign to gather 100,000 Jordanian volunteers to be sent to defend Iraq in the event of a US attack. In a statement signed by head of the committee, Hakim al-Fayiz, the group also pledged to carry out civil disobedience within Jordan. (Al-Thawrah web site, Baghdad, Dec. 17, via BBC Monitoring) [top]

Attacks on US forces in Kuwait are being covered up, a senior Kuwaiti government official told the UK Telegraph Dec. 22. "The Americans have told us to downplay these incidents for fear of creating the sort of climate in which further attacks can happen," the official said. One US Marine has been reported killed and five seriously injured in Kuwait terrorist attacks over the past two months. The US troop presence in Kuwait has recently risen from 10,000 to 15,000 and several new camps have been built in readiness for the campaign against Iraq. As part of a government crackdown on extremists, there have been over 70 arrests in recent weeks, in addition to several "sedition" trials in which Kuwaitis are accused of advocating attacks against US forces and interests. [top]

Top French TV journalist Patrick Bourrat died in a Kuwait hospital one day after being struck by a US tank in a desert military exercise. Battalion commander Lt. Col. Eric Schwartz said Bourrat, who worked for France's TF1 station, was hit when he leaned into a tank's path to shoot footage. (NY Daily News, Dec. 23)

France recently said it would come to the defense of Kuwait if Iraq attacked again, but still takes a wait-and-see attitude on the question of the weapons inspections-and remains distant from the US-British war drive. (BBC, Dec. 19) [top]

The US has stepped up psychological operations in Iraq with radio broadcasts targeted at both civilians and military commanders. The broadcasts, launched on Dec. 12, are transmitted by Commando Solo planes flying over northern Iraq. They urge the Iraqi people not to support Saddam Hussein, and accuse him of diverting revenue from oil sales from food to weapons purchases. The broadcasts say: "Saddam lives like a king, while his soldiers are underpaid and underequipped... Saddam does not wish the soldiers of Iraq to have the honor and dignity that their profession warrants." The broadcast urged Iraqi troops not to repair communications facilities damaged in recent air strikes. Other broadcasts, directed at civilians, point to the many monuments and portraits of Saddam dotted around the country, and ask: "How much longer will this corrupt rule be allowed to exploit and oppress the Iraqi people?"

Leaflets printed in Arabic and English dropped over Iraq say the US "Information Radio" broadcasts are on the air from 15:00-20:00 GMT on the following frequencies: 693 and 756 kHz mediumwave, 9715 and 11292 kHz shortwave, and 100.4 MHz FM. These are all frequencies that have been used at some stage by Republic of Iraq Radio. (BBC Monitoring, Dec. 17)

One WW3 REPORT reader, upon hearing a report of the broadcast, noted the irony that such propaganda is coming from the United States, a country with some of the greatest wealth disparities on the planet: "I want to write to a mainstream paper that one CEO earns more than the average American does in about 10,000 lives." [top]


Hundreds of Afghan refugees demonstrated outside the UN office in Islamabad, Pakistan, against human rights abuses in their homeland Dec. 10. The protest comes as the Afghan minister for refugees Enayatullah Nazari arrived in Islamabad to discuss repatriation. The demonstrators, chanting "Long live democracy, long live freedom and down with fundamentalism!", insisted they do not want to go back home, saying they are afraid. Some were dressed in shrouds, and held signs naming Afghan warlords they said killed their loved ones. The Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) staged the protest to coincide with international human rights day. A RAWA statement criticized the US and its allies for allowing warlords from the Northern Alliance and other factions to take power after the Taliban was overthrown last year. RAWA's Marina Tareen called for UN intervention in Afghanistan: "We want first of all the disarmament of all the warring factions because the war is still going on." (VOA, Dec. 10) [top]

Seven German servicemen were killed Dec. 21 when their helicopter crashed just outside Kabul. The cause of the crash was unknown, but officials from the 22-nation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said they believed it may have been caused by engine trouble rather than a missile attack or sabotage. (Reuters, Dec. 21) [top]

A bomb exploded Dec. 22 in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing an Afghan soldier and injuring at least three other people, according to local authorities. Reports say the device was detonated by remote control as a group of soldiers were marching towards a training ground. Al-Jazeera TV said the bomb was planted in a car. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but authorities said they suspected it was the work of Taliban/al-Qaeda remnant forces. The incident occurred on the first anniversary of the swearing-in of the government of the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai. In related news, on Dec. 21, a US soldier died of gunshot wounds after suspected Taliban/al-Qaeda militants fired on a patrol near the Afghan border with Pakistan. (BBC, Dec. 22) [top]


President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan formally protested in a letter to the US Justice Department that federal prosecutors are investigating him in relation to possible bribery by multinational oil companies seeking access to the giant new fields at Karachaganak. The Justice Department allegations against Nazarbayev come in a sealed motion, but are discussed in the letter, which was provided to the New York Times. The letter says Kazakhstan is willing to cooperate in the investigation, but demands "a formal assurance that President Nazarbayev will not be indicted." The oil companies under suspicion, including Mobil (now part of Exxon-Mobil), Amoco (now part of BP) and Phillips Petroleum (now part of ConocoPhillips), all deny any wrongdoing. (NYT, Dec. 11) [top]

Long criticized for human rights violations, Uzbekistan plans to grant amnesty to over half its prisoners, including those jailed for dissent--on condition that they publicly repent. Uzbekistan's prison population is around 40,000, with rights groups placing the number of political prisoners at 6,400. Rights observers say torture is widespread in Uzbekistan's prisons. (Reuters, Dec. 5) [top]

Turkmenistan's government said an international network of "mercenaries" was behind the recent attempt on the life of the president, Saparmurat ("Turkmenbashi") Niyazov, and charged that several Russians and Turks were among the plotters. State TV broadcast footage of one suspect, prominent local businessman Guvanch Dzhumayev, confessing that the had acted on orders of exiled opposition leaders to kill Niyazov. The government accused Russia of protecting the plotters after Niyazov's motorcade was sprayed with machine-gun fire Nov. 25. Dzhumayev confessed to planning the assassination with three ex-officials: an ambassador to Turkey, a central banker and a deputy agriculture minister. Khudaiberdy Orazov, the former central banker, reached on a mobile phone in a country he declined to identify, said he opposes Niyazov's dictatorship but denied involvement in any assassination plot. "Yes, we want to topple him," he said. "Yes, we want to establish a secular, democratic state in our motherland. But we will never resort to such methods." (NYT, Nov. 27; Dec. 5) [top]


The Bhartiya Janata Party's Dec. 17 re-election in the conflicted Indian state of Gujarat came after much divisive campaigning by incumbent Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whose rule saw a wave of violent Hindu rightist pogroms against Muslims earlier this year. Modi repeatedly appealed to "Hindu pride" and "Hindu sacrifice"--a clear reference to the February train-burning at Godhra that cost the lives of 59 Hindus and sparked the weeks of violence. The BJP won by over 50%, claiming 126 seats in the 182-member legislative assembly. The rival Indian National Congress won only 51 seats. An exultant Praveen Togadia, general secretary of the Hindu militant Vishwa Hindu Parishad, said Dec. 15: "Hindu Rashtra [Nation] could be expected in the next two years--We will change Indian history and Pakistan's geography by then." The VHP declared that BJP's victory proved that the "Gujarat experiment"--referring to the massacre of some 2,000 Muslims in the wake of the Godhra attack--had been "successful," and was a "victory for Hindutva," the ideology of Hindu supremacy. Added Togadia: "We will make a laboratory of the whole country. This is our promise and our resolve. If madrassas, the jihadi laboratory, are allowed to educate to kill non-Muslims, why can't we have our own laboratory?" (Press Trust of India, Dec 15; Hindustan Times, Dec. 15)

Praful Bidwai, a columnist for South Asia Citizens Web, compared the BJP's victory to that of Hitler's National Socialist Party in the 1930s. Bidwai notes that most of the BJP votes came from the central and northern parts of Gujarat, which were the worst struck by the anti-Musilm violence in February. Modi, according to Bidwai, has emerged from the elections as the "torchbearer of a muscular, hardline version of Hindu nationalism." Bidawi writes: "The 'Modi Formula,' of instigating large-scale violence in a communally charged situation, is in some ways specific to Gujarat. It assumes a high level of penetration and acceptance of Hindutva in civil society, and a situation marked by a visceral hatred of non-Hindus, communalization of the administration, and social toleration of extreme brutality against one group of citizens." He is therefore optimistic that the VHP's "laboratory" will not be firmly established in other states that go to election next year, such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Delhi.

(Subuhi Jiwani)

See also WW3 REPORT #60 [top]

Dec 13, the UK Charity Commission--a government-funded charity watchdog--filed a formal investigation into allegations made by Britain's Channel 4 about the channeling of funds from British charities Sewa International and Hindu Swayamsevak Sabha (HSS) into sectarian violence in India. The HSS is the sister organization of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sabha (RSS), ideological think tank of the Sangh Parivar, an umbrella organization of Hindu nationalist groups including the ruling Bharitya Janata Party (BJP), the Vishwa Hindu Parhishad (VHP), the Bajrang Dal, and others. Sewa International is the service arm of the HSS and claims that it collects funds for "relief and development" projects in India.

In its expose, Channel 4 profiled the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, an organization which claims it has converted thousands of tribal people to Hinduism. Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram's purpose, as stated on its website, is to "[wean] tribal people away from the evil influence of foreign missionaries and anti-national forces." Sewa International, the expose reveals, filed its accounts with the Charity Commission in 1997, the same year the conversion campaign began.

P.B. Sawant, a retired Supreme Court Judge, who has heard the testimonies of several Gujarat massacre survivors, had this say: "The organization called Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, through which the tribals are being indoctrinated into communal philosophy, was roped in [for the violent attacks], and all those who were trained there were also enrolled for violence."

The HSS and Sewa International, which share a common charity registration number, have denied the allegations--much like their US counterpart, the India Development and Relief Fund. Sewa International which had collected 2.5 million pounds for the Gujarat earthquake relief, admitted that it had donated "a couple of thousand pounds to the Kalyan Ashram for sponsoring one or two students for education." (Times of India, Dec. 13; Channel 4, Dec. 12)

(Subuhi Jiwani)

See also "Activists Tell Corporations: 'Stop Funding Hate' in India" [top]


Foes and supporters of Venezuela's populist President Hugo Chavez are both claiming victory in a Dec. 17 resolution by the Organization of American States (OAS) supporting the "democratic and constitutional institutionality" of the Venezuelan government. Chavez supporters note that the resolution explicitly names him as leader of Venezuela's government, and "categorically rejects" any coup attempt against him. Chavez opponents note that the resolution calls on him to safeguard the freedom of the press and seek a "constitutional, democratic, pacific and electoral solution" to the crisis. The US, which has embraced the opposition's demand for early elections in Venezuela, issued a statement of strong support for the resolution.

The resolution came as the general strike paralyzing Venezuela entered its 16th day--especially affecting the critical oil sector. Venezuela's oil reserves are believed to be the world's largest outside the Middle East, and oil earns the country up to 70% of its hard currency income. It is also the source of up to 15% of US imports. (AP, Dec. 17; Miami Herald, Dec. 18)

Many fear the situation could be escalating towards a return to the chaos of the abortive anti-Chavez coup of April, in which some 20 were killed in street violence. On Dec. 6, shots were fired at an opposition rally at Plaza Francia in Caracas, leaving at least three people dead and some 30 wounded. That same day, hundreds of Chavez supporters attacked the newspaper El Siglo in the central city of Maracay, and two employees were reportedly hospitalized with gunshot wounds. The US Embassy denounced the attack as "criminal aggression" and OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria called it "an assault on freedom of expression." (AP, Dec. 7)

In any case, evidence is legion that Venezuela faces a paradoxical general strike which is supported by the upper and middle classes and opposed by most of the workers themselves. The strike was called by the leadership of the country's main labor union, the Venezuelan Workers Confederation (CTV) in concert with business leaders in the Chamber of Commerce Federation (FEDECAMARAS). But rank-and-file workers are often resisting the strike and keeping businesses and industries open in defiance of both labor and management bosses. Indymedia Colombia reports that on Dec. 3, as the strike began, workers seized the Pepsi-Cola plant in Villa de Cura, southwest of Caracas in Aragua state, to keep the owners from closing it. Workers also seized a Parmalat milk processing plant in Barinas to keep it open. There were also reports of teachers and parents keeping Caracas schools open in defiance of directors seeking to join the strike. (Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 8)

On Dec. 19, 18 days into the strike, Venezuela's Supreme Court ordered the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela back to work. Strike leaders vowed to defy the decision. "There is no step back," Juan Fernandez, former financial planning manager at the company, declared at a press conference that evening. (NYT, Dec. 20) President Chavez pledged that striking managers at the state oil company will be fired and prosecuted, vowing to break the work stoppage. (AP, Dec. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #64

For coverage of the April coup attempt, see WW3 REPORT # 30 [top]

On Dec. 4, Secretary of State Colin Powell touched down in Bogota for a one-day visit to Colombia, where he met with President Alvaro Uribe and promised more aid for the country's military and police forces. After touring drug eradication equipment at a military airfield, he told reporters, "I am very impressed by what I have seen." The Bush administration is asking Congress for $537 million in the current fiscal year, up from $411 million last year. (NYT, Dec. 5) [top]

An explosive new biography of Colombia's new hardline president, Alvaro Uribe Velez, accuses him of years of collaboration with the drug cartels and death squads. From 1980 to 1982, as kingpin Pablo Escobar was consolidating his cocaine cartel in Antioquia Province, Alvaro Uribe served in his first political post, director of the province's Civil Aviation Authority. On Uribe's watch, the agency issued 562 piloting licenses and 95 airstrip licenses--numbers unprecedented for such a short period. The new biography, El Senor de las Sombras (Lord of the Shadows), makes a convincing case that many of the licenses were granted to known drug traffickers and cartel associates. El Senor de las Sombras was co-authored by Joseph Contreras, Newsweek's Latin America correspondent, and Fernando Garavito, a veteran columnist of the Bogota weekly El Espectador. Their independent Colombian publisher rushed to release the book before the May election, which Uribe won by a landslide. Under the slogan "Firm hand, big heart," Uribe's campaign promoted him as untainted by the drug corruption that has marked many Colombian politicians.

The biography also depicts the nature of Uribe's "firm hand." From 1995 to 1997, when Uribe served as Antioquia governor, he presided over an unprecedented number of civilian massacres by paramilitary groups and army units in the province. Uribe promoted the growth of civilian watch groups, known collectively as Convivir, that eventually carried out massacres. And he supported the brutal 1996 reconquest of the Antioquia region of Uraba, a stronghold of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The effort was led by Gen. Rito Alejo del Rio, commander of the army's 17th Brigade, who was forced into early retirement in 1999 and briefly jailed last year for sponsoring death squads during Uribe's term there.

El Senor also looks at Uribe's presidential campaign manager, Juan Pedro Moreno Villa. When he was chief of staff for Uribe's gubernatorial administration in Antioquia, Moreno was one of Colombia's top importers of potassium permanganate, a chemical used in cocaine processing.

Uribe calls the biography's accusations groundless. Questioned about the air licenses, he denies responsibility and says they were the domain of his assistant at the aviation agency. Colombia's largest book chain, Libreria Nacional, refused to carry El Senor. Many booksellers who did carry it have received threatening calls. Garavito himself has been in exile from Colombia since March, having fled amid death threats after one of his columns criticized Uribe's candidacy. (Reviewed by David Pegg for [top]


Immigration officials in southern California have detained hundreds of Iranians and other Muslim men who turned up to register under new residence regulations. Muslim groups estimated that at least 500 men-and possibly many more--were detained in and around Los Angeles after they complied with an order to register by Dec. 16. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) initially refused to give numbers for the arrests, saying only that detainees were being held for immigration violations or other offences. Community groups said men had been arrested in LA, Orange County and San Diego. Islamic community leaders said many detainees had been living, working and paying taxes in the US for up to a decade, and have families in the LA area. "Terrorists most likely wouldn't come to the INS to register," said Sabiha Khan of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. "They are being treated as criminals and that really goes against American ideals of fairness, and justice and democracy." (BBC, Dec. 19)

Attorneys for the detained reported that hundreds of Muslim men and boys are being subjected to strip searches in freezing, standing-room-only detention centers. Rueters aired reports Dec. 19 that up to 2,500 males, some as young as 16, were spending their fourth day locked up in inhumane conditions after voluntarily presenting themselves at immigration offices to register. "The situation in the detention centers is absolutely horrifying," Iranian-American lawyer Sohelia Jonoubi told Reuters. "In one center, they were ordered to strip down and given a strip search. They were only given a prison jumpsuit, without any underwear, T-shirts, socks or shoes. They were not given blankets. They are freezing."

Justice Department officials in Washington, breaking an almost week-long silence on the arrests, said 227 people had been detained in California for overstaying their visas. But the official figures differ widely from anecdotal evidence from families in the LA area. "We have estimated anywhere between 1,000 to 2,500 detained in southern California," Iranian-American Lawyers Association spokesman Kayhan Shakib told Reuters. Lawyers battling to get the men released on bail said many were law-abiding immigrants who were in the process of getting green cards under a lengthy and complex INS procedure. "These people came to the INS centers voluntarily. They are not flight risks. They were led to believe it was routine registration and now this is the biggest trap I have ever seen," Jonoubi said. Some 3,000 people staged a peaceful protest in Los Angeles on Dec. 18, snarling traffic on Wilshire Boulevard, with banners reading, "What's next? Concentration camps?" and "Free our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons." Meanwhile, hundreds more waited for hours to try to get their relatives released on bail.

INS spokesman Francisco Arcaute responded to claims of inhumane conditions: "They have access to telephones, they have access to restrooms, they are given snacks. We understand there has been a bit of crowding, but my understanding is that we are meeting basic needs." The southern California chapter of the ACLU said the detentions were "reminiscent of what happened in the past with Japanese-Americans" during World War II. "The Iranian community is not going to sit and not respond to this outrage," said Jonoubi. "I cannot believe that I lived to see the day that such human rights violations occur in the United States of America in the 21st century." (Reuters, Dec. 19)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 64 , 19 [top]

2. ...JEWS TOO
Numerous Iranian Jews were apparently among the several hundred immigrants detained by the INS in Southern California. "We know of some Iranian-born Jews who are being held under subhuman conditions, even worse than those found in Third World countries," said Sam Kermanian, secretary general of the Iranian American Jewish Federation in Los Angeles. Attorney Beck Saffary said he was trying to raise bail--at $1,500 per person--for 35 detained Iranian Jews. Bita Yaghoubian said that her uncle, a 45-year-old businessman with a wife and two children, reported to the downtown federal building because he had not yet completed the process of obtaining a green card. "He was arrested like a criminal," Yaghoubian said. "They taped his wrists and ankles, put him in a room with the air conditioning way up, with no blankets or mattress." Yaghoubian also reported terrible sanitary conditions and little food--which the uncle, a kosher-observant Jew, had to decline. She said her family put up the $1,500 bail on Dec. 16 when he was detained, but he was still being held by the 18th.

With some 10,000 men required to register nationwide, INS spokesman Jorge Martinez said that some of the detention rooms "may have been a little crowded," but insisted the detentions "have been blown way out of proportion." Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) charged: "The INS has really messed up. They are using a sledgehammer approach and jeopardizing the goal of tracking visa holders." Waxman said he had vigorously protested to the INS, but had not yet received any response. The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles also expressed its concern to the INS. There are some 30,000 Iranian Jews and over 500,000 Iranian Muslims in Southern California. The group Persian Jews United joined the protest against the detentions in Los Angeles Dec. 18 . (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 19) [top]

On Dec. 16 the INS issued an order signed by Attorney General John Ashcroft notifying "non-immigrant aliens" from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to register with the INS by Feb. 21, 2003. The notice rescinded a Dec. 12 order which "incorrectly listed Armenia as a designated country." The reversal came after Armenian Americans responded to an action alert issued by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) by sending more than 10,000 web-faxes to the White House within 24 hours. ANCA says it also worked to "resolve this issue with senior Administration officials...and key foreign policy figures." (ANCA press release, Dec. 16) US government officials denied political pressure was behind the switch, claiming it was the result of a routine review. (AP, Dec. 19)

( Immigration News Briefs, Dec. 20) [top]

An unknown number of Palestinians detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) have been deported to the Gaza Strip, Justice Department officials said on Dec. 20. The group of Palestinians was flown to Egypt, then taken by land to Gaza. (AP, Dec. 20)

In a Dec. 9 statement, Detention and Deportation Officer Bret A. Bradford said the INS would soon begin "repatriating" Palestinians to the Gaza Strip. "The INS, with assistance from the Department of State, recently obtained authorization from the Governments of Egypt and Israel to repatriate Palestinians who are from the Gaza Strip" via Egypt, wrote Bradford. "The repatriation flight is tentatively scheduled for December 16, 2002." Bradford also said the State Department "expects to receive the authorization in the near future" to repatriate Palestinians to the West Bank, via Jordan. Bradford's statement was submitted as part of the government's response to a lawsuit by Palestinian activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti, detained by the INS since April. The lawsuit charges that Abdel-Muhti is stateless and cannot be legally deported, and that the INS has held him longer than allowed. Assuming Abdel-Muhti can prove he was born in Ramallah, Bradford said, "it is highly likely that he can be repatriated to the West Bank in the very near future." (AP, Dec. 19; Bradford Declaration, Dec. 9)

( Immigration News Briefs, Dec. 20)

For more on Farouk Abdel-Muhti, see WW3 REPORT #62 [top]

White House officials right up to George Bush ritually distanced themselves from Trent Lott, who was shamed into stepping down as Senate Majority Leader following an outcry over a tribute he'd given Strom Thurmond that positively invoked his 1948 presidential run on the pro-segregation Dixiecrat ticket. Few commentators seemed to recall that the Bush administration itself is crawling with white supremacists and Confederacy-nostalgists. Nobody seems to remember now, but shortly after his appointment as Attorney General, John Ashcroft briefly drew fire for his apparent sympathy for the Confederacy in the US Civil War. The media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting ( cites his contribution to the Southern Partisan, a white separatist magazine based in South Carolina. In 1998, the following endorsement from Sen. Ashcroft appeared in the Southern Partisan: "Your magazine...helps set the record straight. You've got a heritage of doing that, of defending Southern patriots like [Robert E.] Lee, [Stonewall] Jackson and [Jefferson] Davis... We've all got to stand up and speak...or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda."

FAIR charges that Ashcroft "was endorsing a publication that defends slavery, white separatism, apartheid and David Duke; a publication that celebrates the assassination of Abraham Lincoln..." FAIR cites a series of quotes from Southern Partisan articles that said Southern slave-owners sought "to further the slaves' peace and happiness," called Abraham Lincoln a "consummate conniver, manipulator and a liar," referred to "the sinister Emancipation Proclamation" as "an invitation to the slaves to rise against their masters," characterized Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth as "not only sane, but sensible," praised former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke as "a Populist spokesperson for a recapturing of the American ideal," blasted feminism as a "revolt against god," charged the University of Georgia "promotes perversion" by sponsoring gay and lesbian programs, hailed AIDS as "a sign of God's wrath," dissed Miami as full of "cocaine-pushing trigger-happy Colombians," and proclaimed that non-whites "have no temperament for democracy."

Southern Partisan senior advisors have included Pat Buchanan and Boyd Cathey--who simultaneously served as editorial advisor to the Holocaust-revisionist Journal of Historical Review. The magazine also sells t-shirts with Lincoln's image over the words "sic semper tyrannis" ("ever thus to tyrants")--John Wilkes Booth's cry as he fled the Ford Theatre after shooting Lincoln. Timothy McVeigh was wearing this t-shirt when he was arrested for the Oklahoma City bombing. (FAIR media alert, Jan. 12, 2001)

Ashcroft isn't the only Bush appointment with a soft spot for the Confederacy. Prompted by a speech in which she likened her states' rights crusade to the cause of Virginia soldiers in the Civil War, the NAACP joined with environmental groups opposing the confirmation of former then-Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton as Interior Secretary. In 1996, Norton told Denver's ultra-conservative Independence Institute, "we lost too much" in the defeat of the Confederacy. "We lost the idea that the states were to stand against the federal government gaining too much power over our lives." Norton did concede that "defending state sovereignty by defending slavery" was an example of the kind of "bad facts" that can undermine a legitimate case. (Washington Post, Jan. 13, 2001) [top]

Clinton Boisvert, a freshman at New York City's School for Visual Arts, was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct after he left 37 small black boxes stenciled with the word "fear" around the Union Square subway station as part of a public-art assignment. Boisvert's all-too-effective public statement prompted authorities to shut down and evacuate the transit hub for over five hours, fearing a terrorist attack or sabotage by transit workers at a time when a strike is pending. Police said Boisvert didn't even know about the pending strike and described him as "clueless." (Newsday, Dec. 17) Could be, but WW3 REPORT asks whether the NYPD is "clueless" about the First Amendment.

In even stranger news, at least twice this year, heart or thyroid patients who have been treated with radioactive materials inadvertently activated radiation-detectors on New York's road tunnels and subway stations. In both cases, they were halted and searched by police. (NYT, Dec. 4) [top]


An August 2002 briefing by the Pentagon's Defense Science Board (DSB) foresaw "a long, at times violent, and borderless war" against a "committed, resourceful, globally dispersed adversary with strategic reach" which will require "new strategies, postures and organization." The latest issue of Jane's Intelligence Review argues that this new posture has set the stage for a turf war between the CIA and Pentagon's Special Operations Forces (SOF). Richard Perle, chair of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, argues that "much of what appeared to be CIA activity in Afghanistan was in fact conducted by US military forces who were assigned over to the CIA for reasons that had to do with that particular conflict at that particular moment." Most of the members of the CIA's Special Activities Division--the agency's paramilitary wing--are drawn from former SOF. Marc Reuel Gerecht, a former member of the CIA's Clandestine Service, also argues that reporting on the CIA's "overarching role" in Afghanistan has been "overwrought" and that it was actually difficulties--particularly a poor linguistic base in the CIA--that led to the Pentagon introducing more of its own officers to co-ordinate paramilitary activity. (JIR, Jan. 1, 2003)

But the very "experts" that Jane's turns to for quotes indicates the degree to which the most extreme exponents of US unilateralism have become the voice of policy. Back in March, IPS reported that White House speechwriter David Frum, who coined the "axis of evil" moniker used by George Bush, was leaving the president's employ for the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The staunchly unilateralist AEI--and its foreign-policy honcho, Richard Perle --have never had such access to White House power. At the Pentagon, followers of the AEI camp include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Under Secretary for Policy Douglas Feith, who denounced the 1978 Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt as a sell-out to the Arabs. They also include Vice President Dick Cheney's powerful and outspoken chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, and several senior members of the National Security Council staff. In the State Department, the same network succeeded in imposing AEI's then-senior vice president, John Bolton, as under-secretary for arms control and international security.

The AEI's most prominent players are Michael Ledeen and former Central Intelligence Agency Mideast operative Marc Reuel Gerecht. They have used the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard to agitate for including Iran with Iraq in Washington's policy of "regime removal." "On to Iran!" was the title of a recent Gerecht column in the Standard. On North Korea, the AEI's Nicholas Eberstadt and another former CIA official, James Lilly, are among the strongest voices against US engagement of Pyongyang since then President Bill Clinton signed an accord to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for aid in 1994. AEI is part of a network of like-minded policy groups with overlapping boards of directors, such as the Center for Security Policy (CSP), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). (IPS, March 7)

See also WW3 REPORT #63 [top]

Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon Defense Policy Board, said in an interview with the Seoul newspaper Chosun Ilbo that the military option should not be eliminated in dealing with North Korea. Perle said: "The Bush administration will consider all the alternatives, because the dangers involved are so substantial." He added that "the danger to be brought upon us by North Korea's nuclear development is so great that it will result in a quarantine of unprecedented comprehensiveness." (Chosun Ilbo, Dec. 19)

In a defiant declaration, North Korea said Dec. 22 that it had begun removing UN seals and surveillance cameras from its nuclear facilities. The US says these facilities could produce a nuclear weapon in a matter of months. (AP, Dec. 22) [top]

President Bush has ordered the Pentagon to have a missile defense system operational by 2004. The plan calls for batteries of anti-missile interceptors based at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Ft. Greely in Alaska, as well as up to 20 sea-based interceptors patrolling the Pacific, a sensor station at Shemya Island, Alaska, and a series of space-based sensors. The US one year ago formally withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which banned such systems. (NYT, Dec. 18) While the West Coast system is ostensibly aimed at a hypothetical missile threat from North Korea, the Pentagon is also planning on a similar system for the East Coast or Europe to intercept missiles launched from the Middle East. (Washington Times, Dec. 19) [top]

In an interview with ABCNEWS, veteran FBI investigators Robert Wright and John Vincent say they were called off criminal investigations of suspected terrorists tied to the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa. US officials maintain that al-Qaeda was responsible for both the embassy attacks and the 9-11 disaster. "September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit," Wright said. "No doubt about that. Absolutely no doubt about that. You can't know the things I know and not go public."

In the mid-1990s, the two agents were assigned to track a connection to Chicago, a suspected terrorist cell that would later lead them to a link with Osama bin Laden. Wright said that when he pressed for authorization to open a criminal investigation into the money trail, his supervisor stopped him. "Do you know what his response was? 'I think it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie,'" said Wright. "Those dogs weren't sleeping. They were training. They were getting ready."

Wright, who is still with the FBI, says the agency's intelligence division wanted him to follow the suspects and file reports--but make no arrests. Said Wright: "The supervisor who was there from headquarters was right straight across from me and started yelling at me: 'You will not open criminal investigations. I forbid any of you. You will not open criminal investigations against any of these intelligence subjects.'"

The agents said some of the money for the African embassy attacks led back to the people they had been tracking in Chicago--and to a Yassin al-Kadi, one of 12 powerful Saudi businessmen suspected of funneling millions of dollars to al-Qaeda. Chicago federal prosecutor Mark Flessner said Wright and Vincent were helping him build a strong criminal case against al-Kadi and others--but approval was blocked by superiors. "There were powers bigger than I was in the Justice Department and within the FBI that simply were not going to let it [the building of a criminal case] happen. And it didn't happen, " Flessner said.

According to Flessner and an affidavit filed by Wright, an FBI agent named Gamal Abdel-Hafiz damaged the investigation by refusing to secretly record one of al-Kadi's suspected associates, also a Muslim. Wright said Abdel-Hafiz told him "a Muslim doesn't record another Muslim." Wright said he "was floored" by Abdel-Hafiz's refusal and immediately called the FBI headquarters. "The supervisor from headquarters says, 'Well, you have to understand where he's coming from, Bob.' I said no, no, no, no, no. I understand where I'm coming from," said Wright. "We both took the same damn oath to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic, and he just said no? No way in hell." But Abdel-Hafiz was promoted to one of the FBI's most important anti-terrorism posts, the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia. Reached by ABCNEWS, the FBI said it was unaware of the allegations against Abdel-Hafiz. The FBI also defended the agent, saying he had a right to refuse because the undercover recording was supposed to take place in a mosque. But ex-prosecutor Flessner said that was a lie and the mosque was never part of the plan.

>From his office in Riyadh, al-Kadi told ABCNEWS he can prove his total innocence, repeatedly denying any connection to al-Qaeda. "Not even one cent went to Osama bin Laden," he said. But on Dec. 6, US Customs agents conducted a midnight search of a Boston-area company believed to be secretly owned by al-Kadi. The company provides computer software to the FBI and other key federal agencies, which means al-Kadi and his employees could have had access to some of the government's most sensitive secrets. Al-Kadi is reportedly on the US government's "dirty dozen" list of leading terror financiers being investigated by the CIA. The federal government says it is pursuing possible criminal charges. (ABCNEWS, Dec. 19) The federal government says it is pursuing possible criminal charges.

See also WW3 REPORT #47: [top]

Investigators with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are searching New York City agencies and the offices of the World Trade Center's owners for copies of missing surveillance tapes and maintenance logs for the ongoing investigation into why the Twin Towers collapsed. Lead investigator Shyam Sunder said video tapes and documents never recovered from the wreckage "are pretty key in carrying out the work." (Newsday, Dec. 10)

See also WW3 REPORT #50 [top]


US District Judge Michael Mukasey in Manhattan ruled Dec. 4 that Abdullah al-Muhajir (formerly Jose Padilla), the suspect in the so-called "dirty bomber" case, is entitled to a trial and attorney, rejecting the government's argument that as a designated "enemy combatant," he can be held indefinitely without trial. Al-Muhajir/Padilla has been held incommunicado at a Naval brig in Charleston, SC, since his June arrest. He is accused of seeking to detonate a "dirty bomb," which would spread radioactive materials. (Newsday, Dec. 5)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 47 and 40 [top]

Oakland, CA, and Flagstaff, AZ, could join 18 other municipalities around the country that have officially voiced concerns about the USA PATRIOT Act's implications for constitutional rights. The council resolution pending in Oakland would order city employees not to cooperate with federal investigations that violate civil liberties. Flagstaff is to vote on a less strongly-worded resolution that voices concern, but stops short of withdrawing the city's cooperation. Similar resolutions have already passed in 18 other communities, including Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Sebastopol, CA; Denver and Boulder, CO; four cities in Massachusetts; Ann Arbor, MI; Santa Fe, NM; Eugene, OR; Burlington, VT; and Madison, WI. Similar votes are scheduled early next year in Davis and Fairfax, CA, and New Paltz, NY. (ABCNEWS, Dec. 17)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 61 , 41 [top]


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