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ISSUE: #71. Feb. 3, 2003











By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Special Correspondent

1. Sharon Celebrates Victory with More Demolitions
2. Israeli Forces Attack Rafah Water Supply
3. Settlers Assault Peace Activists at Yanoun
4. Will the U.S. Force Israel to Concede Settlements?
5. IDF Officer Withholds Info to Prevent Raid on Civilians
6. Ironies of Space Shuttle Disaster: IAF Osirik Bomber Disintegrates Over Palestine, TX

1. Iraqi Kurdistan: Staging Ground for War
2. Will Saddam go Into Exile?
3. Arms Inspectors Hand in Report: Message Mixed
4. Europe Divided
5. Bush, Powell: We Will Act Alone
6. IAEA Contradicts Bush on Saddam Nuke Threat
7. Blix Contradicts Bush on Saddam Bio-War Threat
8. Butler Accuses U.S. of "Shocking Double Standards"
9. "Overwhelming Irony": Iraq to Lead U.N. Disarmament Group
10. Japanese A-Bomb Survivors to Bush: Don't Use Nukes!
11. Kuwait Jihadis Pledge Resistance
12. Turkey's Elder Statesman: Don't "Destroy" the U.N.!
13. Global Anti-War Protests Mount
14. Navy Drafts Sea Lions for Sinister Porpoises

1. U.S. Troops in Fierce Battle for Cave Complex
2. Taliban/Al-Qaeda Behind Kandahar Blast?
3. Jihadis Target Germans?
4. Four Killed in Ambush on U.N. Vehicle
5. Military Mishaps Claim Lives
6. DEA Chief: Afghanistan Fails to Enforce Opium Ban
7. U.N. Documents Environmental Devastation

1. Internet Censorship in Uzbekistan
2. China Executes Tibetan Lama
3. Japan Seeks Siberia Pipeline Route

1. Colombian Armed Forces Chief: Rights Groups are Lying
2. Colombia Prepares Peasant Militias
3. U.S. Plans Biological Warfare in Colombia
4. Venezuelan Opposition Eases Strike

1. Federal Troops Raid Anti-Drug Force
2. Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda Resigns
3. Five More Dead in Chiapas Religious Violence
4. State Department Issues Chiapas Travel Advisory
5. Cartel Eyes Mexican Oil Industry

1. Nuclear Material in Space Shuttle Debris?
2. Pakistan-North Korea Axis Revealed

1. Study: Climate Destabilization Impacts Real

1. Boulder Anti-War Protest Turns Violent
2. Comcast Censors Anti-War TV Spots
3. NY Daily News: Iraqi Spies Behind Anti-War Movement!
4. FBI Targets Iraqi-Americans
5. Brookings Scholar Detained by INS
6. Homeland Security Gets Secretary
7. FBI, CIA to Merge Anti-Terror Units?

1. Seattle Passes "Don't Ask" Law on Immigration Status
2. Senate Votes to Defund "Registration"


The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), citing a lack of building permits, demolished nine houses belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron Feb. 2, leaving dozens homeless. Palestinian families hurriedly dragged refrigerators and sofas out of the houses before Israeli bulldozers began knocking down the walls. The families said they had received notices months ago that the houses would be destroyed, but had not known when the demolitions would begin. Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said the demolitions were part of Sharon's "policy of expanding settlements and putting obstacles in the way of future peace." Palestinian authorites say Israel's stringent permit policy makes it virtually impossible to build new houses.

Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinian inmates rioted at an IDF prison camp in the southern Negev Desert, and soldiers used tear gas and stun grenades to subdue them, the IDF said. Inmates at the Ketziot prison were demanding that up to 80 sick detainees receive better medical treatment, including hospitalization, according to Issa Karaka, who heads the Prisoner's Club, a Palestinian group that monitors prisoners. The inmates burned tents and threw shoes and other items at guards, he said. Most of the 1,100 prisoners were being held under "administrative detention," which allows Israel to hold them indefinitely without charges. The desert prison held a large number of inmates during the first Palestinian uprising from 1987-93 and was known for its harsh conditions, with many prisoners living in tents. It was reopened last year to hold Palestinians suspected of involvement in renewed violence against Israel.

The new violence came as Sharon prepared to meet defeated Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna Feb. 3--the first time since Sharon's Likud Party handily won last week's election. Sharon says he wants to bring Labor into his government, but Mitzna rejected an alliance unless Sharon resumes peace talks and prepares for unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Mitzna told Israeli TV that Sharon's statements show "there is nothing in common between the" two parties. Election results gave Sharon the option of a majority coalition government with hawkish and Orthodox Jewish parties. (AP, Feb. 2) [top]

IDF forces attacked Rafah's water supply at Tel el-Sultan, bulldozing the two largest of the town's six wells. This has reduced the Gaza town's water supply by 50%. At the request of Rafah's Water Municipality Director, activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) will stand guard at the remaining wells, acting as human shields. This follows a successful Jan. 29 action in which the presence of ISM activists allowed the repair of a burst water main in Rafah which had been flooding a street for six weeks in the town's Brazil district. Previous attempts at repair proved impossible because municipal workers came under fire from an IDF tank whenever they tried to repair the pipes. ISM activists stood among the workers, and between a tank and the workers. The activists are considering an action protecting workers as they install a pump in a waterworks building, which has previously proved impossible due to machine-gun fire from a tank at the nearby Gush Katif settlement overlooking the building. (ISM report, Jan. 30) (David Bloom) [top]

Two International Solidarity Movement activists, one from the UK and one from Japan, were assaulted by settlers near the West Bank colony of Itamar Jan. 30. The incident began when the ISM volunteers were informed by Palestinians that settlers from Itamar had moved tractors onto Palestinian farmland. The activists went to observe the situation, and were approached by two armed settlers who demanded to see their passports. When the activists refused, an altercation took place, and the settlers called in reinforcements from Itamar. Twenty minutes later, 3 armed settlers arrived, and the activists decided to retreat. They were overtaken by the settlers, who attacked them and confiscated their phone and camera. The activists' jackets, shoes, socks, wallets and passports were taken, and they were forced to lie face down on the ground while settlers kicked them, walked on them, and trod on their fingers. About 30 minutes into the abuse, the activists were marched towards the Itamar settlement. At the fence separating the farmland from the settlement, the settlers got a phone call and halted, making their prisoners lie face down on the ground again, and again kicking and treading on them. This continued for another 20 minutes until the Israeli army arrived. The troops set the activists free, and returned their property--except their phone and camera. The activists returned to Yanoun, but were arrested ten minutes later by the army. They were then taken to Ariel settlement and charged with trespassing on settler property. (ISM, Jan. 30)

Settler spokesman Ezra Rosenfeld told the Jerusalem Post that the ISM "might sound like a very nice group of sweet people, [but] are often a group of provocateurs." Rosenfeld said the Palestinians often send foreigners into the no-man's land near the settlements to provoke the settlers, who are targeted by "terrorists," and become suspicious when they see people in the prohibited area. Still, he conceded, "if they [settlers] attacked them, obviously they shouldn't have." (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 30)

The Israeli human rights group Ta'ayush was alerted, and on Feb. 2, a joint Ta'ayush-ISM team (one Briton, one Israeli, and one Japanese) obtained permission from the army to visit the farm where the attack took place. The Palestinian owners of the farm have been too frightened to visit it since the incident. Shorlty after the activists arrived at the farm, a group of soldiers arrived. Three settlers arrived a few minutes later. Victor Avery, leader of the Itamar settlement, shouted at the Ta'ayush activist in Hebrew, "You're here to put us in jail. We're going to kill you!" He then hit the activist in the face with his assault rifle, breaking his nose. The army did not restrain Avery and has not sought his arrest. Ta'ayush acitivists say Avery's immunity is due to his political connections, including friends in the Israeli cabinet. (ISM, Jan. 29) (David Bloom)

See also: "Transfer's real nightmare," Ha'aretz, Nov. 16 [top]

A Jan. 16 article in Jane's Foreign Report claims that Ariel Sharon met recently with Mahmoud Abbas, AKA Abu Mazen, the PLO's number-two man, at Sharon's farm in the Negev desert. Jane's quotes "Israeli sources in London" as saying "Sharon is not stupid. He knows very well that after the war with Iraq the USA will have to 'compensate' the Arabs and Israel will have to pay at least some of the price." Because Sharon is convinced the US administration will apply pressure to Israel once the war is over, he is preparing for that eventuality. This is why he is trying to exclude the ultra-right from his next cabinet, as "painful decisions for Israel are expected." (Jane's Foreign Report, Jan. 16)

What might those concessions be? A Jan. 18 article in Ha'aretz says US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz has indicated the post-war period will see a renewed US focus on a peace settlement. "Our stake in pushing for a Palestinian state will grow" after the war, he said, adding that he favored "concrete steps, like dealing with the settlements" over the advancing of diplomatic issues as part of a peace "process." Wolfowitz is a member of Washington's pro-Israel Jewish right, which also includes Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, and Elliot Abrams, the National Security Council adviser on the Middle East. Abrams is the administration figure overseeing preparations for "the day after" the Iraq war. Recently, he was quoted as saying, "What do they [the Israelis] want with these settlements?" However, Ha'aretz says the opinion in Israel is that the US won't rush Israel into making diplomatic concessions, as President Bush will not want to alienate the Jewish vote before the next election. A senior diplomatic source quoted by Ha'aretz believes Wolfowitz's comments are designed to garner Arab and European support for the war against Iraq. "There is no other way to explain it," the diplomat said. (Ha'aretz, Jan. 18)

(David Bloom) [top]

An Israeli army lieutanant from an elite intelligence unit delayed passing on information needed for an air strike against a Palestinian city, thus foiling the attack. The officer, who was not identified, told a military tribunal he acted according to his conscience, saying innocent people would have been killed, and called his orders illegal under international law. The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported the tribunal rejected his argument, and transferred him to a less elite intelligence unit as punishment. The army would only confirm an intelligence officer was removed from his post for disobeying a direct order and impairing a military operation. (Reuters, Jan. 27) The Jerusalem Post noted that "senior officers criticized the 'lenient' punishment and said the officer should have been demoted or even ousted from the army, but noted that he is in possession of extremely sensitive information that could damage the security of the country." (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28) (David Bloom) [top]

On Feb. 1, Israeli Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon died along with six other astronauts as the US space shuttle Columbia crumbled in the sky and scattered debris over Palestine, a town in Anderson County, TX. "You didn't know if the world was coming to an end or what was happening," said 71-year-old retired Texas rancher Rhoda Longmire. "It was horrendous. It was so loud. It was just really unbelievable," Longmire said. "We've been through hurricanes and tornadoes and have heard the booms when they used to break the sound barriers. Those didn't compare to what this was." Despite warnings not to touch the debris, residents of Palestine have been collecting bits of fallen material. Four Palestinians checked in to a local hospital after touching debris. "We were told that it's possibly radioactive and to stay away from it until the powers that be can get here," said James McDuffie, Police Chief of Rice, Texas. "This stuff is going to be showing up for years to come," declared Sheriff James Cambell of nearby Cherokee county. "There's going to be pieces on people's mantles." (Knight-Ridder, Feb. 1)

Col. Ramon started his flying career as an Israeli Air Force (IAF) fighter pilot and weapons specialist. He fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1982 war in Lebanon. In 1981, he was a member of the IAF mission that destroyed Iraq's French-built nuclear reactor at Osirik, before it became operational. The son of a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, Ramon carried on the shuttle as a tribute a small pencil drawing titled "Moon Landscape" by Peter Ginz, a 14-year-old Jewish boy who was killed at Auschwitz . (Ha'aretz, Feb. 1)

(David Bloom)

(See also, Nuclear Material in Space Shuttle Debris?
, this issue) [top]


US military and intelligence personnel are gathering in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq to prepare the region as a staging ground for an invasion that will sweep south if President Bush orders war. Gen Richard Myers confirmed their presence, but hedged that "there are not significant military forces in northern Iraq right now." Kurdish authorities reported that three US military cargo planes landed on a runway near the town of Irbil last week. Turkey has also begun massing troops along its border with Iraq, Turkish military sources confirmed. Turkish authorities are also preparing for a massive influx of war refugees, with the UN predicting 900,000 attempting to flee Iraq to Turkey and other neighboring countries. Twenty-seven governors from south and south-east Anatolia recently met in Ankara to be briefed on treatment of the refugees.

The Bush administration has reportedly agreed to a Turkish military presence in Iraqi Kurdistan, but has ruled out allowing them control of oilfields in Kirkuk and Mosul, on which Turkey has historical claims. In exchange, Turkey has reportedly agreed to allow a limited number of US troops access to Iraq via Turkish territory. A final decision is expected when the National Security Council, Turkey's top military decision-making body, meets this week. Meanwhile, the Bush administration is seeking Turkish permission to upgrade up to 10 Turkish air bases and two ports for possible use in a war, amid reports that thousands of US troops are heading for Turkey.

Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdish faction controlling Iraq's borders with Turkey [the KDP], voices strong opposition to the deployment of Turkish troops. Many Iraqi Kurds say the real reason Turkey wants to send its forces into northern Iraq is to prevent formation of the semi-independent state they want in exchange for their support for US-led action against Baghdad. (UK Telegraph, Jan. 31)

On Jan. 16, US National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice met at the White House with representatives of both the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which controls the Iranian border. (KDP press release, Jan. 19) But on a Jan. 11 visit to Tehran, PUK leader Jalal Talibani told the Iranian press that he opposes both a new war against Saddam and demands for an independent Kurdish state. (IRNA, Jan. 11)

Turkish authorities are clearly concerned that a conflagration in Iraqi Kurdistan could spread to neighboring Turkish Kurdistan. Last week saw a guerilla attack in Lice, eastern Anatolia, which killed one Turkish soldier and injured five others, leading to speculation in Turkish press about a resurgence of the ostensibly disbanded Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a separatist group with Maoist leanings which was backed by Syria. In December, Osman Ocalan, spokesman for the Kurdistan Freedom & Democracy Congress (KADEK), believed to the be the PKK's successor organization, warned that the group is preparing a new war on the Turkish state. Said Ocalan: "We give them until Feb. 15. We aren't starting war yet, but if conditions don't get better before that date, we'll start planning for war." The Turkish newspaper Milliyet last week published claims of secret contacts between the PKK/KADEK and US officials on cooperation against Saddam's forces. The claims were based on a PKK document reportedly found by a Milliyet reporter in northern Iraq. (, Jan. 27)

See also WW3 REPORT #66

Meanwhile, the sudden expulsion of families from a 20-mile border strip between the autonomous Kurdish zone and government-controlled Iraq has led to speculation that Saddam Hussein is clearing the zone to defend against a US invasion from the north. Over the past two weeks, Baghdad has moved forces of the Mujahedeen Khalq--an armed Iranian opposition group backed by Saddam--near the boundary with the Kurdish zone, according to KDP officials. "It seems like they're clearing a buffer zone," says Fawzi Hariri, a KDP spokesman. The Mujahedeen Khalq denied that its fighters were stationed in northern Iraq or assisting Saddam's forces. A spokesman for the group, Farid Soleimani, said the Mujahedeen Khalq had not deployed its fighters in northern Iraq since 1990 when they withdrew southward on the eve of Desert Storm. "It is absolutely false that we have anyone there," Soleimani said in a telephone call to the AP in Cairo. "We are absolutely not under Saddam's control... We are independent here." (AP, Feb. 1)

One unpredictable element in the volatile region is Ansar al-Islam, a fundamentalist Kurdish armed group supposedly linked to al-Qaeda, which the US and Saddam both accuse each other of supporting. The US most recently claimed that Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian who is considered one of the top al-Qaeda lieutenants still at large, passed through Baghdad last summer for medical treatment. He is currently believed to be working with Ansar al-Islam in Iraqi Kurdistan. (UK Guardian, Feb. 1)

Also known as the PIK for Partisans of Islam-Kurdistan, Ansar al-Islam is ready to trarget US forces in Iraqi Kurdistan, PUK spokesmen warned reporters at a press conference last week in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah. Bafel Talibani, the son of PUK leader Jalal Talibani, again asserted that PIK is being secretly aided by Saddam--which is denied by Ansar leaders and Baghdad alike. "We view the information as a credible threat," one anonymous US official said . (San Jose Mercury News, Jan. 29)

See also WW3 REPORT #63

In a grim reminder of the horrors already visited upon Iraqi Kurdistan, on Jan. 28 thousands of survivors of Saddam's 1988 chemical weapons attack on the city of Halabja marched on the UN headquarters in Sulaymaniyah, demanding protection from Baghdad retaliation if the US goes to war in Iraq. (Kurdistani Nuwe, Sulaymaniyah, Jan. 31, via BBC Monitoring) [top]

The London-based Arabic daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Feb. 1 that a UN source said the UN is working on a plan to avoid war and undercut US unilateralism. The plan reportedly calls for "changing Iraqi President Saddam Husayn and not the regime"--with Saddam going into exile but leaving most of his apparatus intact. (BBC Monitoring, Feb. 1) On Jan. 30, the New York Times reported on a frenzied diplomatic effort by Prince Saud al-Faisal, foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, to set a framework for Saddam's peaceful departure. The Prince has already met with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain and President Jaques Chirac of France on the question, and is seeking a meeting with President Bush. [top]

The Iraq arms inspectors handed in their reports to to the United Nations on schedule Jan. 27, claiming evidence that Iraq was not in compliance with the UN's disarmament conditions. Wrote Hans Blix, leading the team investigating chemical and biological weapons: "It is not enough to open doors. Inspection is not a game of catch as catch can. Iraq appears not to have come to genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it." (Newsday, Jan. 28) He also claimed his team had found "indications" that Iraq had built weapons using the deadly nerve agent VX. Mohamed El-Baradei, leading the team investigating nuclear weapons, was more assertive in demanding more time for the inspections. "These few months would be a valuable investment in peace because they could help us avoid a war," he said. Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri immediately denied all allegations of non-compliance, while the US seized on the reports to justify quick military action. Said Secretary of State Colin Powell in his official response to the reports: "The issue is not how much more time the inspectors need to search in the dark. It is how much more time Iraq should be given to run on the lights and to come clean. And the answer is not much more time. Iraq'' time for choosing peaceful disarmament is fast coming to an end." (NYT, Jan. 28) [top]

British Prime Minister Tony Blair flew to Washington Jan. 30 to deliver a letter signed by himself and eight other European leaders pledging their support for timely military action against Iraq. The eight others are Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, and the leaders of Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Not signing, and presumably representing the rest of Europe, are France and Germany--both now members of the UN Security Council, and likely votes against any new authorization for war. (NYT, Jan. 31)

See also WW3 REPORT #68 [top]

The day before the report was issued, US Secretary of State Colin Powell gave a bellicose speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, asserting, "We reserve our sovereign right to take military action... Multilateralism cannot become an excuse for inaction." (NYT, Jan. 27) The day after the report, Bush echoed the theme in his state-of-the-union address: "We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him." (NYT, Jan. 29) [top]

Mohamed El-Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency told BBC Radio that Iraq showed "modest or reasonable cooperation" in the nuclear field, contrary to what the US and UK have argued. Washington and London accuse Iraq of spying on UN weapons inspectors and obstructing their work, arguing that such behavior amounts to a "material breach" of UN Security Council resolution 1441--and therefore a legal green light for war. Said El-Baradei: "We are not going to say that this is a material breach unless we see a gross violation of the resolution. But even then it is for the Security Council to pronounce itself on this issue." (Reuters, Jan. 30) [top]

UN arms inspectors, who handed in their long-awaited report as scheduled on Jan. 27, have concluded that the rocket warheads found in an Iraqi bunker earlier this month did not contain any chemical agents. The inspectors sent one of the warheads that appeared to be filled to a laboratory for tests that turned out negative, chief inspector Hans Blix told UN Security Council members, diplomats said. In his critical report to the Security Council, Blix said the discovery of a few rocket warheads did not solve the problem of what happened to thousands of other warheads not accounted for in Iraq's 12,000-page arms declaration submitted to the UN on December 7. "The finding of the rockets shows that Iraq needs to make more effort to ensure that its declaration is currently accurate," he said in the report. (Reuters, Jan. 31)

See also WW3 REPORT #69 [top]

Former UN arms inspector Richard Butler told Reuters Jan. 28 that Washington was promoting "shocking double standards" in considering unilateral military action to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Butler, who led UN inspection teams in Iraq until they left in 1998, said Saddam Hussein undoubtedly possessed weapons of mass destruction, and was trying to "cheat" his way again out of the latest UN demand to disarm. But he added: "The spectacle of the United States, armed with its weapons of mass destruction, acting without Security Council authority to invade a country in the heartland of Arabia and, if necessary, use its weapons of mass destruction to win that battle, is something that will so deeply violate any notion of fairness in this world that I strongly suspect it could set loose forces that we would deeply live to regret." (Reuters, Jan. 28) [top]

Iraq is in line to take over as chairman of the UN Conference on Disarmament in May, prompting Richard Grenell, spokesman for US Ambassador John Negroponte, to comment, "The irony is overwhelming." India now holds the post, and will be followed by Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland and Israel as countries take the job in alphabetical order. The 66-nation Conference on Disarmament, based in Geneva, meets annually for 24 weeks in three sessions beginning in January. The UN established the conference in 1979, and it has since negotiated such major arms-limitation and disarmament agreements as the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Test Ban Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention. (AP, Jan. 30) [top]

Atom bomb survivors in Japan and issued a statement Jan. 31 urging that nuclear weapons not be used anywhere in the world in the face of a possible US attack on Iraq. The statement, composed by the Japan Confederation of A and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, was also endorsed by groups representing residents near nuclear test sites in the US, the Pacific and Russia. The confederation said it will mail the statement to President Bush and other world leaders. The joint statement says the use of weapons with a destructive power hundreds of times that of the US atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 would result in death and radiation poisoning beyond imagination. Confederation spokesperson Hidenori Yamamoto warned that use of nuclear weapons in Iraq would also set a dangerous precedent. "The use of just one nuclear weapon would lead to the use of hundreds of them," Yamamoto said. (Kyodo News Service, Jan. 31)

See also WW3 REPORT #65 [top]

Abu-Usamah al-Kuwaiti, "emir" of the Da'wah and Jihad resistance group in Kuwait, threatened new attacks on US targets in the mini-state in an interview with the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat on Jan. 29. Asked if the recent ambush on US military contract technicians in Kuwait meant that the group would start targetting civilians, the Emir replied: "We do not target civilians. We have warned them to get out of our territories and the Arabian Peninsula if they wanted to avoid the mujahidin's fire. We could not differentiate between soldiers, conscripts and civilians. Thus, they should go from our territories and let the confrontation take pace between the US soldiers and us."

He also claimed to be a follower of Osama bin Laden, while denying any direct contact with him because of "well-known circumstances." Said the Emir: "The Da'wah and Jihad group fights to expel the unbelievers from the Arabian Peninsula, liberate Kuwait from colonization, release the prisoners held in Cuba, Guantanamo Bay, and support our fraternal brothers in Iraq and Palestine. We view Shaykh Usamah Bin-Ladin as the leader and we follow all the instructions the shaykh issues to the Islamic nation's young men." (BBC Monitoring, Jan. 29)

See also WW3 REPORT #70 [top]

Suleyman Demirel--prime minister seven times, president twice, deposed by the military twice, banned from politics for a decade--is both political patriarch of Turkey's current Islamist-based rulers and the survivor of an assassination attempt by Islamic extremists. He is recognized by Turks across the spectrum as a wise leader and hero, who managed the conflicting tugs of Islam and the West, and the tensions between Islamists and secularists that constantly roil Turkish politics. In recent comments aimed at the US, he warned against unilateral action: ''You don't want Saddam, we don't want Saddam, but for years you didn't do anything,'' Demirel said. ''If you move him now'' without establishing an accepted international legal framework ''it will upset the international system... If you say 'I am a superpower, I don't care,' it will destroy the United Nations. The United Nations should not be destroyed.'' (Boston Globe, Jan. 27) [top]

On Jan. 27, the New York Times ran photos of protesters holding anti-war banners in Istanbul, and draping banners over the fence outside the air foce base at Fairford, England, which is used by US bombers.

That same day, the Times also ran a two-page ad by the anti-war group Not in Our Name, reading: "President Bush has declared: 'You're either with us or against us.' Here is our answer: NOT IN OUR NAME." It was signed by numerous writers and celebrities including Dr. Patch Adams, Laurie Anderson, Ed Asner, John Perry Barlow, Medea Benjamin, Phyllis Bennis, William Blum, Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Barbara Ehrenreich, Laura Flanders, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Barbara Kingsolver, Robin Morgan, Sylvia Plachy, Katha Pollitt, Bonnie Raitt, Margaret Randall, Edward Said, Luc Sante, Susan Sarandon, Saskia Sassen, Pete & Toshi Seeger, Rev. Al Sharpton, Gloria Steinem, Oliver Stone, Michael Taussig, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker, Wavy Gravy, Cora Weiss, Cornel West, Brian Willson and Howard Zinn. (One wonders how many of these signatories are aware that Not in Our Name is a front group for the Revolutionary Communist Party, or RCP, an ultra-orthodox Maoist cult that vigorously supports the bloodthirsty Shining Path guerillas in Peru.) [top]

The US Navy is experimenting with trained sea lions to help provide security for the huge US port complex in Bahrain. Sources say the Navy decided to acknowledge the experiment partially because the sea lions were making too much noise in their pens at Bahrain harbor, home of the Navy's largest facility in the Persian Gulf. The sea lions--along with dolphins and a few beluga whales--are trained as part of the Navy's Marine Mammal Program in San Diego to hunt for mines, to locate objects lost in deep water and to provide harbor security. They are currently being deployed for anti-terrorism surveillance at Bahrain's port. (ABC News, Jan. 30) [top]


US forces are searching a vast cave network on a steep mountain slope following the fiercest battle in Afghanistan in nearly a year. Hundreds of US and coalition ground forces fought in the battle for the caves, and B-1 bombers were called in to blast the mountainside with earth-shattering bombs. There were no reports of coalition casualties. Two men detained in the fighting are being questioned. "At least 160 caves have been counted so far, quite possibly more than that," said Col. Roger King, spokesman for the US military at Bagram Air Base. "The search will be conducted in a deliberate manner to try to ensure that we don't miss anything." US forces were led to the cave complex by an informer in the nearby town of Spinboldak. King said the military believes the men were followers of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a renegade warlord who has allegedly joined his forces with remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. "The man who was detained talked about a link to Hezb-i-Islami, which is Hekmatyar's military group. We had other intelligence that I cannot go into that also indicated the involvement of this group," King said. A former high-ranking Taliban official, known as Obeidullah, told the AP by phone that the fighting was being led by two ex-Taliban--Hafiz Abdul Rahim, the regime's former border security chief, and Sirajuddin, former district chief of Shindand in western Afghanistan. (AP, Jan. 29) [top]

A powerful bomb destroyed a bridge outside the southern Afghan city of Kandahar Jan. 31, killing 18 people travelling on a bus, local authorities said, blaming Taliban and al-Qaeda remnant forces. Nobody claimed responsibility for the blast, but Kandahar deputy police chief Ustad Nazir Jan said: "One hundred percent we are sure it was Taliban and al-Qaeda... We will get the proof." (UK Guardian, Jan. 31) [top]

Just days before a Dutch-German corps takes over command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, three explosions went off near the German ISAF camp Jan. 31. German military authorities said nobody was injured,, but speculated the explosions, within 2,000 meters of the camp on the outskirts of Kabul, were caused by missiles. (DDP, Feb. 1, via BBC Monitoring) [top]

Two UN vehicles were ambushed on a remote road in eastern Afghanistan Jan. 26, leading to a shoot-out with an accompanying police partol that left four dead--two Afghan UN employees, one police officer and one assailant. Authorities said the assailants were bandits who wanted to seize the vehicles. (Newsday, Jan. 27) [top]

All four US military personnel aboard an Army Special Operations helicopter were killed when it crashed during a training mission in Afghanistan Jan. 30, reported Pentagon Central Command. The helicopter crashed about 10 kilometers east of Bagram Air Base. (AP, Jan. 30) Meanwhile, a South Korean army major on peacekeeping duties in Afghanistan "accidentally" shot dead a junior officer, Seoul's Defense Ministry said Jan. 29. Major Lee Kyu-sang, 37, fired at Capt. Kim Hyo-sung, 33, in their barracks near Bagram Air Base when the captain refused an order to speak quietly on the telephone while Lee was discussing the leasing of construction equipment with some local Afghans. "It looks as if the major didn't know his gun was loaded and shot the captain by mistake," he said. (Reuters, Jan. 29) [top]

Afghanistan's new government lacks the manpower to stop farmers from planting opium, the Drug Enforcement Administration chief says. "Enforcement is where the gap is," said Asa Hutchinson, nominated by President Bush to become undersecretary of border and transportation security at the new Homeland Security Department. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has banned growing poppies, but Hutchinson said only about one-quarter of last year's opium harvest was destroyed. Prior to the Taliban regime's ban on opium cultivation Afghanistan was the world's biggest producer. According to the US State Department's 2000 Narcotics Control Report, the country accounts for 72% of the world's illicit opium supply. (Drug Policy Alliance newsletter, Jan. 16)

See also WW3 REPORT #58 [top]

A new UN report on the state of the environment in Afghanistan brings stark findings. Forest cover that appeared on photos of northern Afghanistan in 1977 has entirely disappeared in 2002 images. So have wetlands that were rich in bird and other wildlife just four years ago. Siberian cranes which once migrated annually to India via Afghanistan have not been seen since 1986. Flamingos have also disappeared as marshes and the Sistan river basin have dried up. "These environmental concerns are so serious that immediate support is necessary," said Pekka Haavisto, who led the study. "In a couple of years things will be worse," he added. Forests are also fast disappearing elsewhere in the country. "As for the pistachio forests of Badghis, Herat and Takhar, some areas have lost 50 percent of forest cover," said Haavisto at a Kabul press conference. "In Kunar and Nuristan there is 30 percent loss of forests from illegal logging and the timber trade." He ascribed most of the blame to pirate timber operations run by the mafias of local warlords. "The speed of deforestation is at the moment very rapid, and that has to be stopped," he said. "Reforestation, water management and stopping deseretification is very essential for the livelihoods of Afghans." Beside Haavisto at the press conference was Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, Afghan minister for water, irrigation and the environment, who warned that war and environmental decline are fueling each other in a vicious cycle, as refugees displaced by war and desertification are conscripted by warlords to plunder and fight over disappearing resources. (NYT, Jan. 30) See also WW3 REPORT #s 37, 24 , 19 & 18 [top]


A series of stories posted on the Internet before authorities in Uzbekistan cut off access alleged high-level corruption and the imminent resignation of President Islam Karimov. The first stories alleging high-level drug-dealing and a government-staged terrorist attack appeared in early January on sites based in neighboring Russia and Kazakhstan. The stories continue to be circulated in Uzbekistan via e-mail and print-outs. They include claims that Karimov was a middleman who set up drug rings between Uzbek dealers and northern Afghan warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, and that a February 1999 explosion in Tashkent that killed at least 16 people was staged by officials to justify a crackdown on opposition. (AP, Jan. 21)

A Tibetan lama convicted of plotting bomb blasts was put to death in China despite protests from international human rights groups. Lobsang Dhondup, 28, was sentenced to death in December along with Tensin Deleg Rinpoche, a 52-year-old monk, for alleged involvement in a series of bombings China blamed on Tibetan separatists. Rinpoche, whose appeal was rejected by the Sichuan Higher People's Court, was given a death sentence with a two-year reprieve, which may be commuted to life imprisonment. Lobsang Dhondup did not appeal and was executed after his sentence was upheld. The two lamas were blamed for a bomb attack last April in Sichuan's capital Chengdu, which killed one person and injured another, as well as two explosions in the Ganzi area of the Kham, a Tibetan region under Sichuan provincial administration. Rights groups claimed the two were framed in a scheme to eliminate Rinpoche, a popular leader in Tibet. Over 30,000 Tibetans signed a petition protesting his arrest. (AFP, Jan. 27)

See also WW3 REPORT #63 [top]

Nearly a century after Japan beat Russia in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, Junichiro Koizumi in early January made the first visit by a Japanese prime minister to Russia's far east, a vast, resource-rich and little-developed region. Koizumi, leader of the world's second-largest oil consumer, is seeking a deal to build a 2,500-mile oil pipeline that would by-pass China, linking Siberia's Kovykta and Verkne-Chonskoye oil fields to the Sea of Japan. "Russia, especially its Far Eastern region, has great energy potential, which must be fully used," Koizumi said in the frigid Trans-Siberian Railroad city of Khabarovsk, days after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Moscow leg of his trip. (NYT, Jan. 13) [top]


Most allegations of human rights abuses by the Colombian military are false and politically motivated, Gen. Carlos Ospina, the head of Colombia's army, told his US counterparts on a visit to the Pentagon. "That is not happening in Colombia. People are asking for our presence in all the villages, in all the cities," Ospina told reporters. "It's to the point where I don't have any more people to guard all of the villages." Gen. Ospina implied that human rights groups were dupes of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). "The FARC has political friends outside Colombia and they try to show us as abusers," Ospina said. "Honest people around the world know that we are serving our people well." He added: "If there is any abuse, it's very easy to correct. We just put the guy on trial and fire him."

The US has just cut off aid to a Colombian air force unit suspected in the killing of 17 civilians over four years ago. While military officials say a rebel car bomb was responsible for the deaths near Santo Domingo, an FBI forensic analysis found the shrapnel was consistent with a bomb designed to be dropped from the air. Survivors also said they were attacked from the air. The US has given nearly $2 billion to Colombia in the past few years, mostly in military aid. (AP, Jan. 28) [top]

Colombia will start deploying troops in February under a controversial program to train peasants to defend their villages against guerrilla attacks. The program is part of an ambitious plan by President Alvaro Uribe to post 15,000 armed peasant-soldiers in remote villages--a move that human rights groups fear could lead to excesses. ''On Feb. 5 they [the peasants] will finish their training and then be deployed,'' said army commander Carlos Ospina, in Washington on a Pentagon-sponsored program for foreign military chiefs. He said 5,000 peasant-soldiers had been trained and armed, and will now be returned to their villages in 36-man platoons. The units will be deployed in 144 villages, with an additional 400 villages getting fresh recruits over the next months. ''Our purpose is to occupy villages that have no security, with campesinos, with our soldiers and with police officers so we will regain control over some areas,'' Ospina told reporters. But on Jan. 14, Human Rights Watch issued a highly critical report on Colombia, saying it was ''especially preoccupied'' with the peasant militia program which could lead to ''a legalization of the paramilitary partners of the army.'' (AP, Jan. 28) [top]

In December, a plan resurfaced in the House of Representatives to employ an untested pathogenic fungus, Fusarium oxysporum in Colombia's US-funded coca crop eradication program Critics say the plan amounts to an illegal act of biological warfare, poses major ecological risks to some of the world's most bio-diverse forests, and will escalate the human costs of a the eradication policy, which currently employs the herbicide glyphosate. The new fungal agents, dubbed "Agent Green" by the Sunshine Project, a group opposed to the use of biological weapons, were developed by the US Department of Agriculture, and by two other facilities using US government funding--a private company in Montana, and a former Soviet biological weapons facility in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The lead agents are types of Fusarium oxysporum (to kill coca and cannabis) and Pleospora papaveracea (to kill opium poppy). Their ecological and human health safety is very poorly tested, and they are known to impact non-target species.

In June 1999, the U.S. Senate approved a $1.3 billion aid package in support of Colombia's "War on Drugs," that required testing of the fungal pathogen, along with conventional pesticides. The plan was widely opposed by environmental groups in Colombia and worldwide, and President Clinton eventually waived this requirement, citing concerns for the proliferation of biological weapons. Colombia also rejected proposals to test this pathogen due to environmental risks.

But at a Dec. 13, 2002 House Committee on Government Reform hearing on "Plan Colombia," Rep. John Mica (R-FL), a senior drug policy legislator, repeatedly pushed for the US to move ahead with the fungal program. "We have to restore our...mycoherbicide," said Mica, adding that "things that have been studied for too long need to be put into action." In response, US Ambassador to Colombia Anne Patterson stated that she thought that the US had already tested anti-crop biological agents in Colombia. She later retracted the statement, saying that it was made under duress. The Department of State supports using the fungal bioweapons on Colombia. Rand Beers, the Assistant Secretary of State for narcotics, pushed the program during the Clinton administration, and still serves under George Bush. In 2001, the US defended the plan at the Biological Weapons Convention, where US Ambassador Don Mahley, chief US negotiator for bio-weapons, said it is needed in order "to fight the Medellin Cartel", an anachronistic reference to a criminal organization dismembered by Colombian police a decade ago.

Writes the Sunshine Project: "Mica may be preparing to repeat an old trick--inserting language in legislation to require use of bioweapons in order for Colombia to receive US money."

(Sunshine Project press release, Dec. 17)

For more information

See also WW3 REPORT #6 [top]

Opponents of President Hugo Chavez said they will ease the general strike which has crippled the nation since Dec. 2, and focus instead on a petition drive to cut his term in power. The opposition hopes a petition for a constitutional amendment to reduce Chavez's term from six to four years will succeed, paving the way for general elections later this year. Under the constitution, organizers need signatures from 15 percent, or about 1.8 million, of the country's 12 million registered voters. "Our idea is to get 5 million signatures," Carlos Ocariz, a member of the opposition party Justice First, said Feb. 1 on Globovision TV. Most small businesses never joined the strike, and many companies have opened their doors in recent days, as strike leaders announced that factories, schools and restaurants would be urged to re-open. Effects of the strike remain greatest in the vital oil industry, which makes up a third of the economyand provides half of government income. Despite government efforts to restart the industry, production remains just over 1 million barrels a day, about a third of pre-strike levels . (AP, Feb. 1)

See also WW3 REPORT #70 [top]


Army troops and federal police raided anti-narcotics offices in 11 Mexican states where agents are suspected of colluding with drug traffickers. The raids followed the arrest of seven drug agents in the border city of Tijuana, charged with trafficking, extortion and kidnapping. Ordered by Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha, the operation to disband top drug-fighting agency--the Federal Prosecutors Office for Drug Crimes (or FEADS)--was the largest anti-corruption strike in recent Mexican history. There were no arrests, but hundreds of federal police officers and employees were placed under military control while they are investigated for possible offenses including bribery and abuse of authority. "FEADS is going to disappear," Macedo de la Concha said. "We're going to get rid of these people. They're going to the street or to jail." (Drug Policy Alliance newsletter, Jan. 23)

See also WW3 REPORT #60 [top]

Mexican President Vicente Fox accepted the resignation of his foreign minister, Jorge Castaneda, and named Economy Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez to replace him. Castaneda cited the failure to achieve an immigration accord with the US as a main reason for stepping down. During the just over two years that he served, Castaneda became a controversial member of the Fox cabinet. A former leftist academic and outspoken critic of the Drug War, Castaneda ruffled the feathers of nationalists and leftists by seeking closer relations with the US and cooling relations with Cuba. But in a Sept. 1999 Newsweek column Castaneda asked, "What is the purpose of investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the fight against drugs, plunging countries into civil war, strengthening guerilla groups and unleashing enormous violence and corruption upon entire societies, if American leaders can simply brush off questions about drug use in their youth?" Castaneda subsequently tempered his criticism of the US Drug War during his tenure as foreign minister. (Drug Policy Alliance newsletter, Jan. 16)

In one of his last acts as foreign minister, Castaneda filed a petition with the World Court seeking to stop the executions of 54 Mexicans on death row in the US. The petition says the condemned men were denied the rights to be represented by Mexican consular officials after they were arrested. That right is guaranteed by the Vienna Convention, an 1963 treaty that says foreigners under arrest must be told they have the right to legal help from their consulates. (NYT, Jan. 11) [top]

Gunmen ambushed police trying to arrest murder suspects at the conflicted Chiapas village of San Juan Chamula Jan. 28, sparking a gun battle that left five dead. The Chiapas state attorney general's office said gunmen attacked two state police and two municipal officers. Police returned fire, killing a suspect. Four other people were reported wounded. The clash broke out at Tres Cruces in Chamula, which for decades has seen violence between followers of Catholic traditionalists and evangelical Protestant converts. The police had come to the farm to arrest suspects in the slaying two days earlier of two traditionalists, shot along a road in Chamula, apparently in a dispute over ownership of a well. Chamula traditionalists sent a letter to President Vicente Fox warning they would take justice into their own hands if the government did not capture the killers.

Over 15,000 Protestants and some Catholic dissidents have been forced to flee Chamula in recent decades, sometimes after being beaten or raped or having their homes destroyed. Many have settled on the steep mountain slopes that separate Chamula from the city of San Cristobal de las Casas, about 10 miles to the south, and there have been frequent clashes between followers of Chamula's political bosses and the refugee settlements. (AP, Jan. 28)

See also WW3 REPORT #62 [top]

The US. State Department has officially warned US citizens to exercise caution while traveling in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, citing threats against foreigners and businesses that serve them. The warning states that in many parts of Chiapas "there also is no effective law enforcement of police protection." The travel advisory says US citizens should avoid traveling in areas where disputes are known to be ongoing, including rural areas east of Ocosingo, and the entire southeastern jungle portion of the state to the east of Comitan. (VOA, Feb. 1) [top]

A Jan. 21 front-page story in the New York Times, "Corruption and Waste Are Bleeding Mexico's Oil Lifeline," detailed the inefficient mess that is now the state oil monopoly Pemex--the world's fifth-largest oil company. At 1,501 barrels a day in 2002, Mexico remains the third biggest provider of US oil imports after Canada (1,895 barrels a day) and Saudi Arabia (1,505), and ahead of Venezuela (1,385) and Nigeria (600). But Pemex loses at least $1 billion a year to corruption, by its own executives' estimates. Its safety record is abysmal, with two major explosions--one in 1984 in Mexico City and another in 1992 in Guadalajara--killing at least 800 neighborhood residents, and hundreds more killed in lesser industrial accidents in recent years. The institutionalized corruption was a pillar of power under the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Pemex's last director, Rogelio Montemayor (a former PRI governor), and the oil union boss, Carlos Romero (a PRI senator), both now stand accused of stealing tens of millions of dollars from the company to finance the PRI's 2000 presidential campaign. Despite such efforts, the PRI lost, and the free-market-oriented reformer Vicente Fox became president, pledging to break up the old machine and purge Pemex of corruption. But Edward Morse, executive advisor at Hess Energy Trading and former publisher of Petroleum Intelligence Weekly, told the Times "the effort to reform the beast" has failed, and that Fox does not "understand how thoroughly ingrained in the national political culture the monopoly of Pemex is." Of course, the Times takes it for granted that the solution is to "permit foreign investment" in the oil sector--but this would mean changing the constitution, a move barred by the PRI's plurality in congress. Nonetheless, the Times warns that unless Fox meets this challenge, "the company's production will start to plunge... By 2030, perhaps sooner, Mexico will have to import oil. It will not be able to sell a single barrel to the United States."

Pemex managers apparently took the hint. In a Feb. 1 follow-up story, the Times reported that new Pemex director Raul Munoz Leos, former chief executive of DuPont Mexico, "faces a major challenge in February, when he plans to begin offering a group of contracts, potentially worth billions of dollars, for work that would help Pemex tap natural gas in the giant Burgos basin in northeastern Mexico, near the Texas border... He says that by bringing in private capital and technology that Mexico lacks, the contracts, called multiple service contracts, will help Pemex develop the Burgos field and deliver one billion cubic feet of gas a day by 2005... Mexico opened the storage, distribution and transportation of natural gas to private investment in 1995, and private companies are allowed to export and import natural gas. But the contracts that Mr. Munoz Leos says are crucial to Mexico's future are seen by the PRI as a form of political treason." [top]


"Once again we see that space technology can fail," said Bruce Gagnon, international coordinator for the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, commenting on the Feb. 1 space shuttle disaster. "I'm troubled because the Bush administration has recently announced a program called the 'Nuclear Systems Initiative,' a $1 billion research and development program to expand the launching of nuclear power into space. The problem is that as you increase the numbers of launches carrying nuclear payloads into space, you are also going to dramatically increase the chances of a catastrophic Chernobyl in the sky."

Asked why NASA was advising extra caution at the crash sites, Gagnon said: "We haven't heard that there was a nuclear payload on this shuttle, but one of the great hallmarks of the Bush administration is increased secrecy. I must admit that when NASA said no one should go near a site because of the toxic potential of the fuels and 'other reasons,' I couldn't help but wonder what those reasons are." (, Feb. 1)

(David Bloom)

(See also Ironies of Space Shuttle Disaster,
this issue) [top]

Last June, four months before the current crisis over North Korea's nuclear capabilities became public, the CIA delivered a comprehensive analysis of the situation to President Bush. The document, known as a National Intelligence Estimate, was classified Top Secret SCI (for "senstive compartmented information"), but a copy was obtained by journalist Seymour Hersh, who revealed its contents in the Jan. 27 edition of the New Yorker magazine. Most alarmingly, the report details the close nuclear cooperation between "Axis of Evil" member North Korea and the USA's close terror war ally Pakistan. North Korea was ahead in missile technology but lacked nuclear warheads, while Pakistan was in the reverse position, so a cooperative arrangement was worked out. In 1997, according to the report, Pakistan began paying for missile systems from North Korea in part by sharing its nuclear-weapons secrets.

Hersh also implies the US government hushed up the affair--both to protect Pakistan and to keep attention focused on Iraq instead of North Korea. In early October last year, James A. Kelly, assistant secretary of state of East Asian and Pacific affairs, flew to Pyongyang to confront North Korean leaders over the nuclear program. It was then that North Korean leaders admitted that they had acheived nuclear capability. Writes Hersh: "But, as with the June CIA report, the Administration kept quiet about the Pyongyang admission. It did not inform the public until October 16th, five days after Congress voted to authorize military force against Iraq. Even then, according to Administration sources quoted in the Washington Post, the Administration went public only after learning that the North Korean admission--with obvious implications for the debate on Iraq--was being leaked to the press." On Oct. 20, National Security Advisor Condileezza Rice went on CBS' "Face the Nation" to deny that the news of the Kelly meeting had been deliberately withheld until after the vote.

Even if the focus is currently on Iraq, one anonymous US intelligence official quoted by Hersh insisted that North Korean strongman Kim Jong Il is next on the White House military hit-list: "Bush and Cheney want this guy's head on a platter. Don't be distracted by all this talk about negotiations. There will be negotiations, but they have a plan, and they are going to get this guy after Iraq. He's their version of Hitler."

See also WW3 REPORT #56 [top]


The journal Nature has published two new studies by a team of international experts from the University of Texas, Wesleyan, Stanford and elsewhere, determining that the impacts of global warming are already evident. Average global temperatures have risen 0.6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years, and are liley to rise by nine degrees C over the next 100. Tropical species are expanidng north and south away from the equatorial zone at a rate of 3.7 miles per decade, and lowland species are similarly spreading to higher elevations. Measured by plant blooms and animal migrations, spring is arriving an average 2.3 days earlier each decade. Mt. Kilmanjaro has lost 80% of its ice cap in the past century. One of the investigators, Dr. Gary Yohe of Wesleyan, said the changes have a 95% chance of being the result of global warming. "You're seeing the impact of climate on natural systems now," he told the New York Times. "It's really important to take that seriously." (NYT, Newsday, Jan. 2) [top]


Police in Boulder used pepper spray to disperse hundreds of anti-war protestors on the University of Colorado campus Jan. 29. The university said one police officer was hospitalized after a protester sprayed him with Mace during the confrontation. The incident began when some 400 students gathered at the Dalton Trumbo Fountain near the student union to rally against a possible war in Iraq. The peaceful protest turned violent after university authorities turned off the sound system under school policy to prevent disruption of classes after 1 PM. University police moved in to disperse the crowd and the students pushed back. (, Jan. 29) [top]

The Comcast cable TV company rejected ads that an anti-war group, Peace Action Education Fund, wanted to air during President Bush's State of the Union speech, saying they included unsubstantiated claims. "Comcast runs advertisements from many sources representing a wide range of viewpoints, pro and con," Comcast spokesman Mitchell Schmale said in a statement. "However, we must decline to run any spot that fails to substantiate certain claims or charges. In our view, this spot raises such questions." The statement did not specify what Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, objected to. The ads show citizens expressing opposition to war with Iraq. "This is an outrageous infringement on our First Amendment rights," said the Rev. Robert Moore, executive director of the 2,000-member peace group, which is based in Princeton, NJ. (AP, Jan. 28) [top]

New York City's Daily News tabloid reported Jan. 30 that Iraq sent spies from Canada to New York and Washington in January "to snoop and stir up anti-war demonstrations," citing a government report obtained by the newspaper. The classified document also allegedly reveals a plot by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Zimbabwe to attack American targets in Africa if the US declares war on Iraq. It suggests the group, Tablik Ja'maat, could be a "conduit for communication" between Osama bin Laden's terror network and Iraqi leaders. The secret report was allegedly prepared by an intelligence unit in the new Homeland Security Department. A source identified as a member of the Iraqi opposition reportedly told US agents that Iraqis in Canada were ordered to recruit Arabs and Muslims for espionage missions in the US. The Iraqi embassy in Ottawa sent operatives to New York and DC with instructions to "intensify spying activities and to carry out anti-US demonstrations to stop a war against Iraq," the report allegedly said, claiming the Iraqis were to spend "large sums" to back the effort. [top]

The FBI announced it is seeking to question up to 50,000 Iraqis living in the US to root out potential spies and terror cells--specifically targetting those who emigrated since 1991's Operation Desert Storm. "As we get closer to hostilities, we'll pump it up and be more aggressive in finding these people," said one FBI official. The search begins with an official order to the FBI's 56 filed offices to create demographic profiles--including a count of local mosques--to set numerical goals for investigations and wiretaps. Dalia Hashad, the ACLU's Arab, Muslim and South Asian advocate, protested the move as "blatant religious and ethnic profiling." (Newsday, Jan. 28) [top]

Ejaz Haider, an editor with Pakistan's most respected English-language newsweekly and a visiting research scholar at the Brookings Institution, was detained in the government's "registration" program for temporary foreign visitors when two armed INS agents accosted him on the street and took him into custody. "We were stunned. I never thought I'd see this in my own country: people grabbed on the street and taken away," said Stephen P. Cohen, head of the Brookings South Asia program where Haider worked. The Justice Department claims Haider missed a deadline to check in with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Haider said officials at the State Department and INS had both told him he could ignore the requirement to check back within 40 days of registering upon arrival at Dulles International Airport. (Washington Post, Jan. 30) [top]

On Jan. 24, a day after his nomination was confirmed by the Senate, former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge was sworn in as the first secretary of the Homeland Security Department, created by legislation signed by President Bush on Nov. 25. On Jan. 30, Ridge detailed the restructuring plan that will combine 22 federal agencies into the new department. A first step will merge units of the INS, Customs Service, Border Patrol and the agricultural inspection service into a new entity, the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, to be headed by former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) chief Asa Hutchinson. Ridge swore in Hutchinson on Jan. 29 as his undersecretary for border security and transportation. (Orange County Register, Jan. 30; Miami Herald, Jan. 31)

( Immigration News Briefs, Jan. 31)

See also WW3 REPORT #61 [top]

President Bush's state-of-the-union address mentioned that he was instructing the nation's intelligence agencies "to merge and analyze all threat information in a single location." Anonymous "national security officials" cited by the New York Times Jan. 30 said this refers to a plan under consideration to consoldate the CIA and FBI counter-terrorism units at a single center to be housed at a new complex in northern Virginia. [top]


On Jan. 27, the Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to adopt a policy barring police and other city workers from asking residents about their immigration status. The measure states that unless otherwise required by law, no city employee or officer shall "engage in activities designed to ascertain the immigration status of any person." The policy allows police to investigate an individual's immigration status only if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person has previously been deported or committed a felony. Police may also assist Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agents as required by law.

Immigrant rights groups had lobbied for the measure. "In this climate of secret detentions and special registration, it's clearly important to have a city council that takes a strong proactive stance," said Anita Sinha, attorney with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. City Council member Jim Compton said the ordinance was largely symbolic because Seattle city workers and police do not currently try to enforce immigration laws. But the Seattle Times cited recent examples where police stopped people for minor offenses such as jaywalking or drinking in public, then checked their immigration status and handed them to INS. (Seattle Times, Jan. 28)

( Immigration News Briefs, Jan. 31)

See also WW3 REPORT #61 [top]

An appropriations bill approved by the Senate Jan. 23 includes an amendment that would cut off funding for the Justice Department's "special registration" program, which requires male visitors from 25 countries to report to the INS to get photographed, fingerprinted and interviewed. The amendment restored funding for a separate congressionally-mandated program that is designed to track all visitors when they enter and leave the US by 2005. But it barred the use of any of that money for the controversial "registration" program. The amendment--which is not included in the House version of the bill--would also require Attorney General John Ashcroft to provide Congress with an assessment on the effectiveness of the registration program, along with information on its operation. Republicans say they will fight to remove the amendment in the conference committee, where a compromise version of the bill will be worked out. The group South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT) urges people to contact their senators and representatives to push for the amendment to be kept in the final bill. More information is at (SAALT Action Alert, Jan. 29; Washington Post, Jan. 25; Washington Times, Jan. 29)

( Immigration News Briefs, Jan. 31)

See also WW3 REPORT #69 [top]


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