#. 37. June 9, 2002
SPECIAL REPORT CONTINUES:
THE 9-11 COVER-UP & THE NEW FEDERAL POLICE STATE
ALSO: BRITAIN'S NEW OPIUM WAR, AFGHAN PIPELINE UPDATE
By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Special Correspondent
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Suicide Attack in Megiddo Leaves 17 Dead; Syria Blamed
2. Arab Paper: Iran to Increase Islamic Jihad Funds
3. Islamic Jihad Leader Arrested in Gaza
4. Ramallah Invaded Twice in One Week
5. Attacks on Settlements Leave Four Dead
6. IDF Imposes West Bank Curfews
7. Bush: No Time Table Set for Palestinian Statehood
8. Will Mubarak Help Ditch Arafat?
9. Israel Building Fences, Seizing Land
10. Aliyah Group Settling Immigrants in Palestinian Lands
11. Sarid to Bush: Stop the Settlements
12. Rave for Peace
13. Beilin Launches New Peace Movement
14. WFP to Fight Malnutrition in Palestine
15. Foreign Diplomats Angered by IDF Searches
16. Israeli Arabic Journalists Censored
17. Dershowitz Calls for Ethnic Cleansing
18. Lewin's Logic of Death
19. US Courts to Hear Suit Against Islamic Charity
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. US: Kabul Embassy Expects Attack
2. Warlords Subverting Loya Jigra
3. Advice to Tired "Friendly Fire" Pilots: Take Some Speed
4. Enemy Still Elusive in Afghanistan
5. Ex-Taliban Official Wanted to Oust Omar
6. Locust Plague Threatens Repatriation Efforts
7. Warlords Plunder Surviving Forest
8. Elite British Troops Burn Opium Fields
9. Regional Leaders Sign Pipeline Pact
10. Unocal Denies Interest
11. ...Despite Global Skepticism
12. Petro-Oligarchs Poker-Faced; Instability Cited
13. New Alignments in Central Asia
1. Tensions Ease as India Allows Overflights
2. Asian Proliferation Feared
THE PHILIPPINE FRONT
1. Hostage Dead in Rescue Attempt
2. Did Washington Fund Al-Qaeda via Abu Sayyaf?
3. Philippine Activists Oppose Terror and Militarization
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. Bush Calls for Homeland Security Cabinet Post
2. FBI's New Mission: A "Domestic CIA"?
3. CIA Drops Human Rights Restrictions
4. FBI Snoops Spread Thin by Terror Surveillance
5. Congressional Hearings on 9-11 Open--Behind Closed Doors
6. Unindicted Co-Conspirator Wired Money to 9-11 Gang
7. Atta Applied for USDA Loan
8. US Agents Infiltrated Al-Qaeda?
9. Egyptian Intelligence Warned of Attacks Before 9-11?
10. Italian Intelligence Warned of Attacks Before 9-11?
11. "Carnivore" Glitches Slipped Up al-Qaeda Probe
12. CIA Watched 9-11 Hijackers
13. Jihad Has $5 Billion Global Budget
14. Top al-Qaeda Lieutenant Identified?
15. New al-Qaeda Threat Reported
16. Puget Sound Scuba Threat?
17. Brooklyn Jews to Launch Armed Patrols
18. Feds Uncover "Dirty Bomb" Plot?
19. Foreign Visitors to be Screened for Fingerprinting
20. Detainee Hearings Closed to Public
21. Profiling Victims Fight Back in Court
22. "American Jihad": Right-Wing Pundit Gets it Wrong
23. Saudi Extremists Make Yellow Press Happy
24. Real "Axis of Evil": US & Israel?
25. "War On Islamists" Replaces "War On Terrorism"?
26. Pentagon Gets Exemption From Environmental Regs
27. Stats Prove: Capitalism Worse Than Terrorism
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. SUICIDE ATTACK IN MEGIDDO KILLS 17; SYRIA BLAMED
A bus carrying Israeli soldiers was destroyed when a car bomb exploded next to it June 5, killing 17, and wounding 47 at Megiddo, Israel (the biblical Armageddon). The car, driven by an Islamic Jihad militant from Jenin, carried as much as 100 kilograms of explosive, according to police. The bus was reduced to a charred frame. A caller to Agence-France Press from the militant organization said that the attack "took place on the 35th anniversary of the occupation of Jerusalem. We tell our enemies that we will continue to destroy their shields." (Haaretz, June 6) The bomber, Hamza Samudi, 18, had learned to drive just four days before the attack. His father, Arif, 94, expressed grief at his son's death: "I am very sad that my son died in this operation. If I knew he would going to carry it out, I would have prevented him," he said. "I didn't want him to die. Who allows his son to die?" Samudi's father blamed the conditions of the Israeli occupation for his son's turn to Islamic militancy: "Before the [uprising], we were living in peaceful times. Everyone had work, but now my sons have lost their jobs and the Israeli military enters the city every day, killing people and demolishing houses. That is what made my son do what he did." (AP, June 6) Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres blamed Syria for the attack: "Ramadan Shallah, the commander of Islamic Jihad who lives and operates from Syria, said he gave the order. I hold Syria, which hosts 10 terrorist headquarters in Damascus, responsible." (Israel Radio, June 6) Israel's Foreign Ministry lodged a complaint with the Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV network after it named the outlawed Jewish militant organization Kach as being responsible for the attack. (Haaretz, June 6)(David Bloom)
2. ARAB PAPER: IRAN TO INCREASE ISLAMIC JIHAD FUNDS
London-based Al-Shark al-Awsat daily reported June 8 that Iran intends to increase its funding of Islamic Jihad by 70%, to help facilitate suicide attacks. Iran's spiritual leader Ali Khamenei and Ramadan Shallah, secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad, held discussions last week in Tehran. The paper said Iran has decided to increase its funding to several Palestinian militant groups, and to Palestinians who have lost their sources of income. (Haaretz, June 6)(David Bloom)
3. ISLAMIC JIHAD LEADER ARRESTED IN GAZA
Sheikh Abdallah Shami, leader of the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, was arrested by Palestinian police June 9. Shami, who has been arrested and set free several times by Palestinian security forces in the past, had said he was unconcerned that he would be arrested by the Palestinian Authority, and that Arafat could not prevent more attacks: "All its institutions are destroyed. I couldn't imagine that," he said, as he received several reporters in his Gaza City apartment. "How can the Palestinian Authority assure the security of the Israelis when it cannot even protect its own people?" Shami told reporters that more bombers were on the way. (Haaretz, June 10; AP, June 6; NYT, June 6)(David Bloom)
4. RAMALLAH INVADED TWICE IN ONE WEEK
Israel invaded Ramallah twice in five days; the first time was in response to the June 5 suicide bombing attack in Megiddo, the second to round up and arrest suspected militants. On June 6, Israel sent a column of around 50 tanks and armored vehicles into Ramallah in the pre-dawn hours, and surrounded President Yasser Arafat's headquarters, known as the Mukata'a, and opened fire. They destroyed several buildings, and one tank shell landed five feet from Arafat's bed. The PA chief was unharmed (CSMonitor, June 7).Six buildings were destroyed and a member of Arafat's presidential guard was killed. The troops withdrew after six hours. (Haaretz, June 6)
One Palestinian policeman was killed, and two others were wounded when the Israeli troops re-entered Ramallah June 10, and surrounded the Mukata'a once again. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) arrested 20 suspected militants who it claimed were plotting attacks against Israel. Israeli officials said the incursion was aimed at "destroying terrorist infrastructure in the city." (Jerusalem Post, June 10) Palestinian residents said at least two dozen tanks, armored personnel carriers and jeeps were involved in the predawn raid, backed by Apache helicopters overhead and bursts of machine gun fire (Haaretz, June 10) Israel said it was surrounding Arafat compound so that those it wanted to arrest could not seek refuge there. Armored bulldozers entered Arafat's compound and finished the demolition of three buildings damaged during the June 6 incursion. Arafat was said to be safe inside the Mukata'a, and was reportedly calling world leaders. Loudspeakers mounted on tanks moving through the city warned residents they would be shot if they emerged from their homes, as the IDF conducted house-to-house searches. (NYT, June 10) Palestinian sources report a large concentration of IDF forces outside of Ramallah, raising the possibility Israel is considering a far wider operation. Haaretz quotes military sources as saying the terrorist infrastructure in Ramallah has managed to recover since Operation Defense Shield. (Haaretz, June 10)(David Bloom)
5. ATTACKS ON SETTLEMENTS LEAVE FOUR DEAD
An Israeli died of wounds sustained in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Ofra June 6. (Haaretz, June 6) Six Israelis, including several soldiers, were wounded and a Palestinian attacker was killed June 8 during an assault on the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar near the city of Nablus. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility, and issued a statement that it would "continue its struggle for liberating Palestine." (EFE, June 9) Also that day, Palestinian gunmen infiltrated the mobile home settlement of Karmei Tsur,hours after a curfew was placed on nearby Jenin. The gunmen killed three Israelis, including a reserve soldier, and wounded four. (AP, June 7)(David Bloom)
6. IDF IMPOSES WEST BANK CURFEWS
About 20 IDF tanks entered Jenin the morning of June 7, and imposed a curfew. The IDF described the action as a routine patrol. The tanks had earlier rolled by the outskirts of Bethlehem, without entering the town. The IDF entered Tul Karm briefly to arrest a female student (Jerusalem Post, June 7). On June 9, the IDF entered the towns of Asira al-Kabliya and Halhoul, and imposed curfews. (AP, June 9) The IDF also raided the village of Beit Awa east of Hebron, Azoun east of Kalkilya, and Zaita north of Tulkarm. (Jerusalem Post, June 10) Also on June 10, the IDF conducted operations in Tul Karm, Qalqilya, and in the Hebron area, arresting nine. (Haaretz, June 10)(David Bloom)
7. BUSH: NO TIME TABLE SET FOR PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD
President George Bush stated the US must start immediate work with the Israelis and Palestinians in establishing a Palestinian state, but failed to set a timetable. "We are not ready to lay down a specific calendar except for the fact that we've got to get started quickly, soon, so we can seize the moment," Bush said June 8 in an outdoor press conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mubark intends to press Bush for support of a Palestinian state early in 2003, but Bush only called for "an agreed time frame." Bush has been vague about the details of a plan, and is to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on June 10. (NYT, June 9)
The US is seeking to arrange a Middle East peace conference in July, to be held in Turkey. The meeting is to be attended by foreign ministers from Europe, and the region, according to a US official. The agenda has not yet been set. (AP, June 5)
The US State Department has come up with a plan that includes the establishment of a Palestinian state along the lines of the 1967 borders, with only minor corrections, and a three-year timetable to implement it. The plan would mean Israel would have to evacuate its settlements in exchange for a critical Palestinian concession on refugee return. Said Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, commenting on the plan, "There is something new emerging in the US, which says that the Palestinians will give up on the right of return in exchange for Israel giving up on all the settlements." Bush has not commented on the plan. (Haaretz, June 6) Sharon has already nixed the proposal; he plans to tell Bush "no withdrawal to the 1967 borders." (Haaretz, June 9) In an op-ed piece in the New York Times June 9, Sharon pointed out that UN Security Council Resolution 242 called for "secure and recognized boundaries." He argued that Israel was not expected, in his interpretation of the resolution, to pull back completely to the 1967 borders. (NYT, June 9)(David Bloom)
8. WILL MUBARAK HELP DITCH ARAFAT?
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was quoted by Israel's Army radio as having told President Bush that if Yasser Arafat failed to carry out reforms in the Palestinian Authority, he would personally work to oust the Palestinian president. The report was not confirmed by other media outlets. Mubarak reportedly told Bush Arafat had caused great suffering to his own people, and had disappointed Arab leaders. Mubarak added that Arafat should be given a final chance to be an effective leader. (Haaretz, June 10)(David Bloom)
9. ISRAEL BUILDING FENCES, SEIZING LAND
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have started to take over land privately owned by Palestinians in the West Bank, a move they describe as temporary. According to Israeli military documents obtained by the Associated Press, some of the land will be used to build a security fence on that will divide the West Bank from Israel, a move intended to prevent the infiltration of Palestinian militants. The fence will be 110 kilometres long, cost one million dollars per kilometer, and will take a year to complete (Haaretz, June 4) Some of the land being seized will be used to create "buffer zones" between Jewish settlements and Palestinian towns, some deep within the West Bank. Critics fear the land seizures, some of them sizable, will carve up the West Bank in such a way as to make it very difficult to establish a viable Palestinian state. 27 square miles were seized near Jenin, another three south of Tul Karm. These two areas alone comprise one percent of the West Bank. Elsewhere in the West Bank, letters in Hebrew have been found posted near village entrances announcing seizures. They read: "By the authority vested in me as the Israeli army commander of Judea and Samaria, and as I believe it is a military necessity given the special security circumstances now prevailing in the area, I hereby order the following: ..."
The seizures are supposed to last from one to four years, but an Israel civil rights lawyer, Manal Hazan, who is representing farmers from the town of Salfit, said that "It's true the orders have expiration dates but they are always renewed." This procedure is similar to how Israel used to garner land for settlements until Israel's supreme court put a halt to the practice in 1979. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said around a dozen mayors and village elders have received these letters in the last month. "We have stacks of these letters," he said. "They're taking land around Jenin, Salfit, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and the Jordan Valley."
An Israeli army spokesman, Lt. Col. Olivier Rafowicz, said the land, needed for security measures, would be returned: "The Israeli army says the seizures are necessary to counter suicide bombers. There is a military need to command some areas for security reasons in order to control and observe areas where threats emanate from," he said. "This is not annexation of territory." A researcher with the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said the army needs the land to build checkpoints to enforce the closure of towns and villages, and the settlers now "need bypass roads for their bypass roads."
The landowners have the right to challenge a seizure order in a military court, and the letters say they "are eligible to request information on compensation and user fees," but few do. "It's not a question of money for us," says Salfit's mayor, Shaher Eshteih. "This has been our land for generations." (AP, June 3)
The Peace Index, a poll taken by researchers at Tel Aviv University, shows that only 14% of Israeli Jews believe a fence can totally prevent attacks. 60% believe it will reduce them significantly, while 24% do not believe a fence will affect it. But only 24% favor a similar fence dividing Arab from Jewish sectors in Jerusalem, and 69% oppose it. (Haaretz, June 6) Benzi Lieberman, head of the Yesha Council, or the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, favors a fence dividing Israel from Palestinian territories, but only for security, and not to demarcate a future border: "The location of the fence must not be connected to any government that will be perceived as a border," he said. "It must be related to as a pure security necessity, something that will enhance continued military action on the ground." (Jerusalem Post, June 6)(David Bloom)
10. ALIYAH GROUP SETTLING IMMIGRANTS IN PALESTINIAN LANDS
The settlement department of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), a group affiliated with the Jewish Agency, has been settling immigrants directly to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to a report. The Jewish Agency has been running a program for several years to transplant entire religious communities, consisting of dozens of families and their rabbis. According to Ma'ariv, the settlement department of the WZO has been sending some of these communities into the occupied territories. Of the current nine communities it has ready to be transplanted, three are to be placed in the territories. A group of 70 orthodox families from Monsey, NY, is considering a move to Kochav Ya'akov, a settlement in the Ramallah area. "In principle, we are trying to encourage Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and Gaza.," Ezra Rosenfeld, a spokesman for West Bank communities told AP. "This is part of our ideology."
The report has embarrassed officials of the Jewish Agency, and it is feared Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon may face tough questioning from US officials in Washington about the wisdom of strengthening settlements during this period of high tension, and about the use of US immigrants in the project. Jewish Agency Chairman Sallai Meridor issued this statement about agency policy: "The Zionist movement has no plan whose goal is to bring communities to settle precisely beyond the Green Line." (Haaretz, June 9; AP, June 10)(David Bloom)
11. SARID TO BUSH: STOP THE SETTLEMENTS
Israeli opposition leader and Meretz head Yossi Sarid Called on President George Bush to pressure Prime Minister Ariel Sharon freeze settlement activity, when the two meet June 10. Sarid said assurances from Sharon, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer to stop expanding settlements have not been carried out. Using "diverse tricks," the current government has allowed dozens of new settlements to be founded, Sarid said. "Just as Arafat lies to the entire world about terror, so do Sharon and his men about the settlements." (Jerusalem Post, June 9)(David Bloom)
12. RAVE FOR PEACE
Thousands of young Israelis held a "rave for peace" to protest the occupation of Palestinian territory. The dance party, held at the plaza of the Tel Aviv art museum, drew more than 3,000, mostly in their twenties. One 25-year old raver said Two giant video screens spliced together images of the occupation with violent children's cartoons as techno music blasted away in the background. Some wore mock army uniforms and squirted dancers with squirt guns. "The rave idea brought many people here today who are not identified with activism, to bring in clubbers and ecstasy eaters," said one attendant, a 30-year old graduate student with spiked black hair and a nose ring. (AFP, May 24)(David Bloom)
13. BEILIN LAUNCHES NEW PEACE MOVEMENT
Oslo peace accords architect and former Labor MK Yossi Beilin has announced he is starting a new peace movement, called Shahar (Dawn). The movement will consist of dovish elements of the Labor party, Meretz, the Democratic Choice party, and Arab activists. "You called on me to run, and I call on you to join me in forming a new movement with the goal of uniting the peace camp and guaranteeing that the state will be founded on democracy, social justice, and peace," Beilin told a crowd of 1,000 in Tel Aviv who were chanting, "run Beilin, run." Beilin told the crowd, "achieving peace is not difficult at all." Beilin's argument for his movement is that polls are showing that a majority of the Israeli public favors a peace plan along the lines of the ones that the left in Israel has been promoting for years. (Haaretz, June 5; Jerusalem Post, June 3)(David Bloom)
14. WFP TO FIGHT MALNUTRITION IN PALESTINE
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) inaugurated a plan to provide emergency food aid to about 500,000 Palestinians who can no longer afford to buy enough food for a day. "Hunger and malnutrition are rapidly increasing among the Palestinians. Even when food is available in some of the markets, many impoverished Palestinians have become increasingly unable to meet all their food needs," said WFP Regional Director Khaled Adly. "The latest Israeli military incursions have dealt a hard blow to an already vulnerable economy pushing many Palestinians into destitution." Fishing and agriculture production has been hampered by Israeli closures and security procedures. According to the World Bank, up to 50% of Palestinians in the occupied territories earn less than two dollars a day. WFP will deliver 70,000 tons of food aid for the rest of the year, at a cost of 18 million dollars. (WFP, May 21)(David Bloom)
15. FOREIGN DIPLOMATS ANGERED BY IDF SEARCHES
In recent weeks, tension has mounted between foreign diplomats posted in Israel and the IDF over the searching of diplomats' cars in Gaza. The IDF has not acceded to strong protests from diplomats and is continuing the practice. Foreign military attaches who recently protested to the IDF were told that intelligence information said that terrorists were trying to exploit the free passage of diplomatic vehicles to smuggle weapons, explosives, and wanted men from place to place. A recent search of a Canadian car yielded a British citizen and remnants of TNT. The British woman was held for a while, then released. The attaches warned the IDF of the ramifications of such searches, saying they were in contravention of international law, and would not be accepted by diplomats. Some suspect the IDF's intention is to dissuade them from making independent fact-finding trips into Gaza. (Haaretz, June 8)(David Bloom)
16. ISRAELI ARABIC JOURNALISTS CENSORED
Reshet Daled, The Arab section of Israel radio was issued a new set of guidelines for terminology they can use in broadcasts. According to the guidelines, journalists may not use the word "victim" when referring to Palestinian civilians killed in the Intifada. Instead of "victim," broadcasters are supposed to say "the dead." In addition, the guidelines say that "Quotations of Palestinians or Arabs should not be preceded by the word 'akkada'" which means "underscored." The guide says this might "give the impression that you support or identify with the quote." The Broadcasters also may no longer use the word "version" to describe statements by "official Israeli spokespersons," such as the IDF, "because this gives the impression you are casting doubt on the statement." However, "there is no restriction on using the word when referring to the Palestinian side." When any official Israeli spokesman, or IDF spokesman denies "lies and slander like the massacre in Jenin, it is not sufficient to use the expression 'nafa' [denied] as has been done in some broadcasts." Journalists must instead use verbiage indicating the allegations are a lie, to be reiterated by adding at the end: "The spokesman underscored that these slanderous allegations are entirely false and baseless."
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is also protected by the newspeak; if any statements of his are refuted or contradicted by a member of the Knesset, "never use expressions such as 'refuted' or 'contradicted,' but say instead: 'The Knesset member objected, or expressed his objections to, the prime minister's statement.'"
The word "assassination" may not be used in regard to Israel's assassinations of Palestinian activists. Instead, the word "killing" [katal in Arabic] should be used. The IDF itself calls these actions "targeted assassinations." (AP, Apr. 26) (See also: WW3 REPORT #36)(David Bloom)
17. DERSHOWITZ CALLS FOR ETHNIC CLEANSING
Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz is meeting with student protests over his proposal that Israel put Palestinian villages on notice that they will be destroyed in the event of a terrorist attack. Some two dozen students gathered on campus to challenge Dershowitz over the column published in the Jerusalem Post. They carried signs, some with pictures of demolished homes, and passed out copies of Dershowitz's column, with a list of counter-arguments on the back. In the column, Dershowitz proposed that Israel circulate a list of locations that would be demolished if Palestinians carried out attacks. Dershowitz said he is willing to debate the matter. Justice for Palestine, the student group which held the protests, said it has not decided whether to accept the offer. "The terrorist has to know that when he gets on the bus and blows up Israeli citizens, he's also blowing up buildings in his village. If any one can think of a better way to do this, I'm open," Dershowitz said in an interview. (AP, March 20)
In the March 11 column, Dershowitz called for Israel to instate a five-day moratorium on retaliatory measures, giving Palestinian militants time to call off any planned attacks in response to the new policy. "Following the end of the moratorium, Israel would institute the following new policy if Palestinian terrorism were to resume. It will announce precisely what it will do in response to the next act of terrorism. For example, it could announce the first act of terrorism following the moratorium will result in the destruction of a small village which has been used as a base for terrorist operations. The residents would be given 24 hours to leave, and then troops will come in and bulldoze all of the buildings."
18. LEWIN'S LOGIC OF DEATH
Prominent Washington attorney and Jewish leader, Nathan Lewin, oft-mentioned candidate for a federal judgeship and legal advisor to several Orthodox organizations, wrote in the Jewish opinion journal Sh'ma that Israel should put to death the families of suicide bombers. Under the proposal, family members would be spared if they immediately condemned the bombing and refused financial compensation for the loss of their relative. "If executing some suicide-bomber families saves the lives of even an equal number of potential civilian victims, the exchange is, I believe, ethically permissible," wrote Lewin, who served as president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers & Jurists. He adds: "It is a policy born of necessity--the need to find a true deterrent when capital punishment is demonstrably ineffective." Lewin argued that the biblical injunction to destroy the ancient tribe of Amalek serves as a precedent in Judaism for taking measures that are "ordinarily unacceptable" in the face of a mortal threat.
Several leading Jewish figures, including Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, were sympathetic to the plan despite misgivings. Dershowitz, author of "Why Terrorism Works" (Yale University Press, 2002), and terrorism "expert" Steven Emerson both favor the "limited use of torture" to extract information about an impending terrorist attack, but said they balked at the execution of innocent civilians. Still, Emerson added, "all bets are off" if terrorists were to target thousands of people with non-conventional weapons.
But the proposal was strongly condemned by the head of the Reform movement, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, and the executive vice chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Hannah Rosenthal. In an article that appeared in Sh'ma alongside Lewin's essay, Brandeis University Jewish studies professor Arthur Green wrote, "I only wonder how long it will take [Lewin], by the force of this proof-text, to go all the way and suggest that the Palestinian nation as a whole has earned the fate of Amalek." Green, former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, wrote that his first desire upon reading Lewin's essay was to "tear my garments, as a sign of mourning on hearing the desecration of God's name." (The Forward, June 7)
19. U.S. COURTS TO HEAR SUIT AGAINST ISLAMIC CHARITY
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
The US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago refused to dismiss a case brought by the family of David Boim, a 17-year-old Israeli-American killed in a 1996 shooting attack at a Jersualem bus stop, against Islamic charities accused of being fronts for Hamas. The Boim family is seeking $600 million from the charities, including Holy Land Foundation for Relief & Development and the Quranic Literacy Institute. (NYT, June 6)(David Bloom)
1. US: KABUL EMBASSY EXPECTS ATTACK
US officials expect an attack on the US embassy in Kabul to occur one day after the end of the Loya Jigra (traditional council to determine Afghanistan's future government) taking place in Kabul from June 10-16. June 5, US Marines guarding the walled and fortified embassy compound detained a man who was taking photographs while driving by in a slow-moving white van. According to military intelligence, it was the second incident of its kind in two weeks. (UPI, June 6)(David Bloom)
2. WARLORDS SUBVERTING LOYA JIGRA
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a news brief June 6 claiming that Afghan warlords, associated either with the Taliban or Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (see WW3 REPORT #36) are subverting the Loya Jigra process. The brief, titled "Afghanistan: Return of the Warlords," says that warlords are stepping into a power vacuum created by the refusal of the US-led coalition to expand the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) outside of Kabul. "Warlords are making a power grab by brazenly manipulating the loya jigra selection process. If they succeed, Afghans will again be denied the ability to choose their own leaders and build civil society," said Sam Zia-Zarifi, a senior researcher with HRW. "This is a make-or-break time for Afghanistan's future." In five provinces, Kandahar, Helmand, Nimroz, Oruzgan, and Zabul, HRW found that violence, intimidation, and general insecurity were undermining the process of selecting representatives for the Loya Jigra. HRW cites independent candidates who were beaten or detained by local commanders who wanted to substitute their own candidates. Warlords also drew up their own lists and insisted the people under their rule approve the delegates they chose. HRW found the mechanisms used to screen out those with human rights abuses, criminal acts and drug-trade related pasts to be inadequate. "Without proper international security support, the monitors could not be expected to prevent the warlords from subverting the process," Zia-Zarifi said. "The UN and the Special Commission now have one week to exclude delegates with abusive pasts and to select other delegates who are committed to the rule of law in Afghanistan." Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum was selected despite guidelines meant to blackball militia leaders responsible for civilian deaths in the past. (HRW, June 6: Reuters, June 6)(David Bloom)
3. ADVICE TO TIRED "FRIENDLY FIRE" PILOTS: TAKE SOME SPEED
The US fighter pilots who mistakenly killed Canadian troops in Afghanistan were advised to take amphetamines when they complained they were too tired to fly another mission. It is unknown whether or not any took them. The pilots, reservists in the Air National Guard's 183rd fighter wing, had in the previous week flown missions over Iraq, and told their commanders they were exhausted and needed more time to rest. The request for down time took place in an informal meeting to discuss a misidentified bombing target over Iraq. Instead, the pilots were told to go speak to a flight surgeon, and obtain "no/go" pills--amphetamines to stay awake while on long missions, and sedatives to put them to sleep. On April 17, a plane from the 183rd fighter wing mistakenly dropped a smart bomb on four Canadian soldiers engaged in a live-fire exercise south of Khandahar. A joint Canadian-US board of inquiry has been convened to figure out the cause of the mishap. The Canadian members of the board say the Canadian troops did nothing to provoke the bombing. (Vancouver Sun, June 3)(David Bloom)
4. ENEMY STILL ELUSIVE IN AFGHANISTAN
A search of caves and buildings on a mountain ridge near the Afghan border with Pakistan proved futile for US troops. The US had hoped to find Taliban or al-Qaeda fighters, but found only empty caves, the entrances of which they sealed shut with explosives. One US soldier, Cpl. Sam Watkins, expressed dissappointment. "We were at least hoping to find, if not people there, at least information about people or some of their equipment," he said. "Something to show that we did something." Farther south, British troops were involved in a similar fruitless endeavor. "We're here to conduct war fighting and kill al-Qaeda. That is fantastic if only any would come out," said British Maj. Rich Stephens, leading a unit near Khost. "They're all away in Pakistan, it would appear to me." Since March, the British have conducted four such sweeps in the border region with Pakistan without finding any enemy fighters. Outgoing US commander of ground forces in Afghanistan Maj. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck has said almost the entire leadership of the Taliban and al-Qaeda have taken refuge in Pakistan. Cpl Watkins concluded: "If they don't want to be found, I don't think we're going to find them. There's a lot of places to hide up there. We just have to get on line at double-arm interval and walk across the country if we want to find them." (AP, June 3)(David Bloom)
5. EX-TALIBAN OFFICIAL WANTED TO OUST OMAR
Former Taliban intelligence chief and deputy interior minister Mullah Mohammed Khaksar claims he pleaded for help from the US in a bid to oust Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, but was rebuffed. Khaskar told AP he met with US diplomats Gregory Marchese and J. Peter McIllwain in Peshawar, Pakistan, in April 1999. He said he told the diplomats he wanted to overthrow Omar because of his support for Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terror network. Marchese reportedly told Khaskar the US did not want to be involved in a civil war, and was skittish about backing Afghan factions because of its experience supporting hard-liners during Afghanistan's struggle against the Soviets. Marchese confirmed the meeting took place, but would not say what was discussed. It is not known whether Khaskar's plea reached the upper levels of the Clinton administration. Khaksar said he contacted the US because he felt the Islamic movement had been hijacked--first by Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency, and then by bin Laden and al-Qaeda. (AP, June 10)(David Bloom)
6. LOCUST PLAGUE THREATENS REPATRIATION EFFORTS
A plague of locusts is threatening to devastate large areas of Afghanistan's farmland, just as tens of thousands of refugees are returning from exile. Farmers, aid organizations and militia troops are working round the clock to kill off the last of the spring locust nymphs before they can take to the air and ravage more of Afghanistan's much-needed harvest. FAO Red Cross Lack of equipment and pesticides, as well as little coordination between national and local authorities are all taking their toll, with locust swarms already causing damage in many areas. (See WW3 REPORT #28)
"We are poor people," said Mohammad Alim, a subsistence farmer in Kunduz province. "After all we have suffered--war, drought, earthquakes--now we must endure this. The locusts destroy our farms and the grass our livestock feed on. By the end of spring you will think that no plant has ever grown here. It is another plague." Locusts, which lay their eggs in the soil, hatch as flightless nymphs and grow wings as adults--but a band of nymphs or "hoppers" can cover several kilometers and cause serious damage. Afghanistan is especially susceptible to locusts because 85% of its arable land is concentrated in just 5% of the country. When war broke out in 1978, Afghanistan was virtually self-sufficient in food but within a dozen years, 70% of its farmland had been destroyed. (See WW3 REPORT #24) (Mohammad Shafiq Haqpal for Institute for War and Peace Reporting, May 28)
7. WARLORDS PLUNDER SURVIVING FOREST
The Kunar Forest, one of Afghanistan's national treasures, has been devastated by illegal timber operations. It has been stripped of nearly half its viable stocks, with the booty smuggled to Pakistan for export to the Persian Gulf and Europe. In the lawlessness following fall of the Taliban, the illegal timber trade has massively expanded. "According to our last survey, in May 2001, as much of 48% of the Kunar Forest may have been ruined," said Gul Agha Ahmadi of the Afghan NGO Protect the Environment. "Since then the problem can only have got worse." The trade is controlled by local warlords, and the interim regime is apparently powerless to stop it. Scores of trucks loaded with illegal timber cross the frontier daily into Pakistan. "It is depressing to think of the Pakistani traders just buying all our forests," said the tribal elder of Sarkani district in Kunar. "They get the advantage, not the Afghans." Kunar warlord ("provincial governor") Jandad Khan denies there's a problem, claiming the trade is just in old wood cleared from the forest and that new trees were not being illegally logged. Timber thieves are also at work in the border provinces of Paktia, Ghor and the Speen Ghar (White Mountains) of Nangarhar. (Daud Wafa for IWPR, April 16)
8. ELITE BRITISH TROOPS BURN OPIUM FIELDS
Elite British SAS troops are tracking down and burning huge stockpiles of freshly-harvested opium in Afghanistan. A special SAS detachment of around 50 troops known as "The Increment" is backed up by agents from the MI6 intelligence agency in what is called a highly dangerous mission, overwhelming opium farmers and opium lords at heavily-fortified locations. (UK Sun, May 4)
British forces have distributed £30million to hundreds of Afghan poppy growers in return for having their opium fields destroyed, and boast that up to 30% of the poppy harvest has been destroyed in the first six weeks of the cash-for-crop program. The program is expected to last for several more months, because many farmers have still not agreed to submit to eradication, and pledge resistance. (See WW3 REPORT #30). Britain is the only country to have come forward with the cash to pay the poppy growers directly. The European Union declined to put up money because it was felt to be too difficult to account for the funds, but has allocated millions of euros to help opium farmers switch to wheat crops, and for roads to bring their legal produce to markets. (London Times, May 25)
Warlords have also been conscripted for the new Opium War. The New York Times reports that Ghanikhel in eastern Afghanistan was a local opium lord's "company town," boasting the world's largest open-air market for raw opium and heroin, until a late-April raid on the town by a US-backed warlord from Jalalabad. Three truckloads of drugs, cash and processing chemicals were seized. Writes the Times: "Seventy traders were arrested and thrown into a dank, fetid detention cell--with no windows, no lighting and no sanitation--in the wall of an old royal palace in Jalalabad." The warlord assigned to the mission was blatant about his motives: "America and the rest of the international community told us flatly, 'Either you do this, or we won't give you the help that was promised at Tokyo,'" said Hajji Adbul Qadir, the warlord who sent his son, Zahir, to lead the Ghanikhel raid.
Jalalabad is contested by three rival warlords, and while all nominally support the opium eradication, the issue is an easy one to exploit in the internecine power struggle. In April, a powerful bomb exploded in a central Jalalabad plaza just as two of the warlords, Qadir and Hazrat Ali, were driving into the square with Afghanistan's interim defense minister, Muhammad Fahim, on his first official visit to the city. The bomb, hidden in a construction crew's generator, narrowly missed the vehicle carrying the three men, but killed 27 bystanders and injured over 60. ( NYT, May 5)
9. REGIONAL LEADERS SIGN PIPELINE PACT
At a summit in Islamabad, the presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan signed an agreement to jointly exploit Central Asia's vast gas reserves. Pakistan's Gen. Pervez Musharraf, interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov agreed on construction of a $2 billion, 950-mile pipeline to bring gas from Turkmenistan's Daulatabad fields to the Pakistani port of Gawadar. Pakistan's APP news agency said construction of a parallel oil pipeline as well as rail and road links was also on the agenda. (BBC, May 30)
"This mega-project has been on the anvil for the past many years but it could not be implemented because of instability in Afghanistan," Musharraf told a press conference. President Niyazov suggested Afghanistan would earn $300 million by providing conduit for the pipeline. In reply to an inevitable question about the recent violence in parts of Afghanistan where the proposed pipeline would pass, Karzai said peace and stability are fast returning to his country. (Dawn, May 31)
Niyazov publicly called for the UN to support the pipeline project, calling it the key to stability in Afghanistan. "I have proposed that the United Nations approve the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan gas pipeline. This is one of the measures that will permit the stabilization of Afghanistan. It is a large project that will create jobs and income for the population. But this project should not have a political character." (RFE/RL, May 2) The Australian resources giant BHP is slated to conduct the study for the proposed pipeline. (Dawn, April 29)
10. UNOCAL DENIES INTEREST
The Unocal Corp. denied it has any plans to revive the abandoned Central Asia gas pipeline ("CentGas") project, despite renewed interest by Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. "We have no plans or interest in the CentGas pipeline project," said Unocal spokesperson Teresa Covington. Beginning late 1997, Unocal was leading member of a multinational consortium for construction of the CentGas pipeline, which was to cross western Afghanistan. Unocal suspended its participation in the CentGas consortium in August 1998 and formally withdrew in December 1998. In a statement at the time, the company said it "had no further role in developing or funding that project or any other project that might involve the Taliban." (Dow Jones, May 21)
11. ...DESPITE GLOBAL SKEPTICISM
Despite corporate denials, skeptics worldwide think Unocal and other top US energy firms still hope to control a pipeline route across Afghanistan--and that this is the hidden agenda behind Bush's military campaign in the country.
In an Oct. 22 article in the UK Guardian, "A pro-western regime in Kabul should give the US an Afghan route for Caspian oil," George Monbiot wrote: "The invasion of Afghanistan is certainly a campaign against terrorism, but it may also be a late colonial adventure." He cited Ahmed Rashid's book "Taliban, Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia" as a source that Unocal backed the Taliban in the mid-'90s when the ultra-fundamentalist militia seemed willing to play ball on a pipeline route. (See WW3 REPORT #s 5, 15)
"The war against terrorism is a fraud," exclaimed John Pilger in an Oct. 29 commentary in the UK Mirror. Pilger, the paper's former chief foreign correspondent, wrote, "Bush's concealed agenda is to exploit the oil and gas reserves in the Caspian basin, the greatest source of untapped fossil fuel on earth."
"Osama Bin Laden did not comprehend that his actions serve American interests," wrote Uri Averny, in a Feb. 14 column in Israel's daily Maariv. Averny, a former member of the Israeli Knesset and noted peace activist, stated, "If I were a believer in conspiracy theory, I would think that Bin Laden is an American agent. Not being one I can only wonder at the coincidence." Averny argues that the war on terrorism provides a perfect pretext for US imperial interests. "If one looks at the map of the big American bases created for the war, one is struck by the fact that they are completely identical to the route of the projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean." (Compiled by Salim Muwakkil for OutlookIndia.com, Mar 21)
12. PETRO-OLIGARCHS POKER-FACED; INSTABILITY CITED
EurasiaNet writes that Karzai's "pipeline of peace" would "essentially reassemble the CentGas Consortium," the $2 billion project led by Houston oil giant Unocal in the mid-1990s. But EurasiaNet warns that "regional conditions have changed significantly since Unocal dissolved the CentGas Consortium in 1998. Beyond Afghanistan's devastation, Pakistan's energy needs and its relations to India have changed, making a trans-Afghanistan pipeline largely a fantasy." Global elites explicitly snub the new effort. "There is no new interest right now in the area," said Leonard Coburn, Director of the Office of Newly Independent States, Russian and Middle Eastern Affairs at the US Energy Department. "ExxonMobil is pulling out of Turkmenistan. They didn't find anything and they feel that they cannot operate there. Chevron-Texaco has not really looked into Turkmenistan because they are pretty tied up in Pakistan and Azerbaijan." Unocal spokesperson Terry Covington said the company has no interest in another pipeline project through Afghanistan. She says after withdrawing from the CentGas consortium in 1998, Unocal invested in Southeast Asia and elsewhere instead. "We can't make any decisions based on a snapshot of a country," Covington told EurasiaNet. "There are several things we look for before we invest in a country: an internationally recognized government, peace and stability, and social [standards]." EurasiaNet emphasizes that demand from India would be critical in making the gas pipeline viable. But India is unlikely to depend on supply via Pakistan for its energy needs as the two countries remain on the brink of war. EurasiaNet also repeats the widespread claim that interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai worked as a Unocal consultant in the '90s--a claim the company denies (see WW3 REPORT #18). (Halima Kazem for EurasiaNet.org, June 6)
13. NEW ALIGNMENTS IN CENTRAL ASIA
Exploitation of the Central Asian oil depends on regional cooperation. And as analyst Dr. Maqsudul Hasan Nuri writes for Pakistan's Jang newspaper, the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is riven by rival alignments. First, in Moscow's orbit, is the regional alliance of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This is countered by the pro-Western GUUAM, consisting of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova. GUUAM was known as GUAM until the admission of Uzbekistan in April 1999--on the occasion of NATO's 50th anniversary celebration in Washington. "It is significant that the members of GUAM chose Washington as a venue to formalize and institutionalize the expanded grouping." GUUAM members also back a regional trade plan with multinational investment called the TRACECA project, aimed at reviving the trans-Asian Silk Road as a new artery for commerce. The related Initiative for Oil & Gas to Europe (INGATE) is attempting to portray a climate of regional cooperation and stability for Western investment. INGATE member Georgia is slated to host the trans-Caspian gas pipeline linking Baku, Azerbaijan, to Ceyhan, Turkey. Georgia therefore supports Azerbaijan's efforts to isolate its traditional enemy Armenia, which also shares a border with Turkey and offers a rival route to Western markets.
Another grouping, the Shanghai Five, or Shanghai Forum (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan), is an effort by Moscow and Beijing to challenge US dominance in the region. The group has launched regional cooperation initiatives against drug trafficking and terrorism. This overlaps with the more apolitical Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), also including Uzbekistan, launched at a June 2001 summit in that city to "promote peace, stability, economic and trade ties." The SCO also signed a convention on "combating terrorism, separatism and extremism." Moscow clients and Washington clients meet in the SCO. Members Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are hosting US troops for the Afghanistan campaign. Uzbekistan is quickly moving closer to the US, supporting all US war aims in Central Asia and the Middle East.
US and Russian aims now coincide in Afghanistan, where they face a mutual enemy in Taliban/al-Qaeda and allied Islamic militants. But Central Asia stands at the crossroads between two paths: "broad cooperation on the basis of international law or power-based political alliances among selected and like-minded countries." ( Jang, May 2)
1. TENSIONS EASE AS INDIA ALLOWS OVERFLIGHTS
The Indian government says it will allow Pakistani civilian aircraft to resume flying over Indian airspace to third countries immediately. The move marked the easing of tensions between the two nuclear armed nations, who have one million troops facing each other across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. Cross-border shelling has eased. Officials also said they had observed a reduction in the infiltration of Pakistani-based militants into Indian-controlled Kashmir, a key Indian demand. The Indian government said further confidence building measures would occur when it was clear the infiltrations had stopped for good. "This is a sequenced reaction," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao said. A Kashmiri separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani, was arrested by Indian authorities, a move criticized by Pakistan. (BBC, June 10)(David Bloom)
2. ASIAN PROLIFERATION FEARED
Despite assurances from India and Pakistan that their dispute over Kashmir will not escalate to nuclear war, officials in the West fear the crisis could prompt other Asian nations to seek nuclear capability. "The mere fact of the first use of nuclear weapons since Hiroshima and Nagasaki could have the effect of lowering the threshold for nuclear engagements in the future," said Robert Einhorn, a former US assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation, now an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "That would be a very damaging precedent."
Einhorn, speaking to a reporter at a Singapore summit of Asian defense ministers, said that a subcontinental nuclear exchange would destabilize the entire region even under the most optimistic scenario. The Pentagon estimates that between 9 million and 12 million people would die in a "worst-case" nuclear war between India and Pakistan. "But if it looked as if the world had lived through a nuclear exchange and it wasn't as horrific as people thought, I think that could have very dangerous consequences because people could figure: 'Well, these are weapons like other weapons and we can use them as instruments of war.'"
Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems estimates that India has between 50 and 150 nuclear weapons and Pakistan between 25 and 50. US defense officials say India's nuclear weapons are estimated to be in the 10-kiloton range while Pakistan's were in the 20-kiloton range. The atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima in 1945 was about 14 kilotons, with each kiloton equal to 1,000 pounds of TNT.
China has nuclear weapons, while Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are all considered able to build them quickly if they decided to do so. In a move that alarmed Japan's neighbors, the chief secretary of the Japanese cabinet, Yasuo Fukuda, said this month that Tokyo could review its ban on nuclear arms. But US officials are most worried about North Korea. "They have dangerous technologies in almost every category you can imagine," said US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz. "They seem to show willingness to sell anything to anybody who can pay them enough. So it is a source of great concern." (International Herald Tribune, June 6)
1. HOSTAGE DEAD IN RESCUE ATTEMPT
US missionary Martin Burnham, held hostage by Islamic militants in the
Philippines for over a year, was killed during a rescue attempt, and his
wife Gracia injured but freed. The raid was carried out by a US-trained Philippine military unit, but officials deny there was any direct US combat role in the operation. Filipina nurse Deborah Yap was also killed in the rescue attempt, as well as four kidnappers.
The Kansas couple, one other US national and 17 Filipinos were kidnapped from a luxury resort by Abu Sayyaf guerrillas in May, 2001. The Burnhams had been celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary. The other US citizen taken during that raid, California tourist Guillermo Sobero, was beheaded last year. All the other original hostages have been killed or released.
In April, the US helped arrange a ransom agreement that included $300,000 in privately raised money for the release of the couple. The cash was handed to an individual who claimed ties to the group, but officials were never able to verify that he actually delivered the money. The Burnhams have three children, between 11 to 15 years, who are being taken care of by the grandparents. (ABC, June 7)
2. DID WASHINGTON FUND AL-QAEDA VIA ABU SAYYAF?
Phillipine prosecutors and banking regulators are investigating reports that millions of dollars paid by Libya to Abu Sayyaf have been funneled to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. The probe comes amid reports that the Bush administration acquiesced to a payment of $3 million to the kidnappers in a failed attempt to win the release of the two US hostages. "The volume of money is apparently significant," said Justice Secretary Hernando Perez, citing a tip from FBI investigators who had visited the Philippines. "We were told that perhaps money already here in the hands of terrorists is going toward the way of bin Laden."
In Sept. 2000, Abu Sayyaf received the final installment of a $20 million ransom payment for the release of 21 hostages taken from a diving resort in Sipadan, Malaysia. Most of the money is believed to have come from Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi. Philippine officials briefed by the FBI now believe a large portion of the payments may have been funneled to al-Qaeda. Fox News reported in March that the US had facilitated the payment of an additional $3 million, raised by private groups for the release of the Burnhams. (Washington Times, April 4)
3. PHILIPPINE ACTIVISTS OPPOSE TERROR AND MILITARIZATION
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
A New York Times photo showed members of the Philippine Movement for Democracy (KPD), a worker-peasant alliance opposed to the US military presence in the country, at a vigil outside the US embassy in Manila after the death of Burham. The KPD (identified by the Times only as "a leftist militant group") left flowers, as well as a sign reading: "We grieve for the death of Martin and Deborah even as we grieve for the death of Philippine sovereignty." (NYT, June 9)
1. BUSH CALLS FOR HOMELAND SECURITY CABINET POST
President Bush called on Congress to set up a Cabinet-level Homeland Security Department to protect the nation in "a titanic struggle against terror." In a televised White House address, Bush told the nation that a sweeping reorganization of the federal government is needed. The new department would consolidate responsibilities now spread across nine departments. With an estimated 169,000 employees, Homeland Security would be second only to the Defense Department in size. "Tonight, I ask the Congress to join me in creating a single permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission--securing the American homeland and protecting the American people," Bush said. Congressional leaders in both parties applauded Bush's plan and vowed quick legislative action to make it happen. The White House estimated the new agency's budget at $37 billion, which the administration says would be paid for through eliminating redundancies among current agencies. "By ending duplication and overlap, we will spend less on overhead, and more on protecting America," Bush said. "This reorganization will give the good people of our government their best opportunity to succeed, by organizing our resources in a way that is thorough and unified." Bush called his proposal the largest reorganization of the federal government since the 1947 National Security Act that created the Defense Department, the National Security Council and the CIA. He called on Congress to have the new department in place by year's end. (CNN, June 6)
The Homeland Security Department would combine 22 federal agencies. It would have 170,000 employees, and an initial annual budget of $37.5 million (NYT, June 7). Among the agencies to be brought under the new Department are the Coast Guard, Immigraiton & Naturalization Service, Transportation Security Administration, Customs Service, FEMA, Office of Domestic Preparedness, bio-chemical and nuclear emergency response units, Livermore National Laboratories, the National Biological Warfare Defense Analysis Center, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the National Infrastructure Protection Center and the Federal Computer Incident Response Center. (Boston Globe, June 7)
2. FBI'S NEW MISSION: A "DOMESTIC CIA"?
The Homeland Security Department is not to include either the FBI or CIA, the two agencies which have come under the closest scrutiny in the 9-11 scandal. But Jane's Defense Weekly reported June 3 that the FBI re-organization announced May 29 "would complete the FBI's transition from a primarily domestic law enforcement agency to an intelligence organization pre-occupied with counter-terrorism and counter-espionage operations both abroad and at home--unlike the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)." The CIA is barred by its charter from domestic operations, but the new plan for closer cooperation with the FBI erodes that restriction. The number of FBI intelligence analysts is to jump to 682 by 2004 (from 153 before 11 September), and 25 CIA officers will be added to the intelligence analysis division immediately. The plan calls for closer information-sharing between the FBI and CIA. It also calls for creation of a National Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington, made up of FBI agents and rotating law enforcement officers from across the country "to improve communication among federal, state and local agencies."
3. CIA DROPS HUMAN RIGHTS RESTRICTIONS
The CIA has officially relaxed an internal regulation, making it easier for its overseas officers to work with human rights abusers, officials announced. "If you're going to deal with terrorism, the kind of people we seek information from are not at embassy parties," said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (AL-R) . "You've got to get down in the dirt with them." The 1995 guideline was sparked by the Guatemala scandal of the 1990s, when the CIA failed to inform Congress of paid informants who were torturers, murderers and kidnappers.
The agency also plans to vastly expand clandestine operations, with a threefold increase in case workers (now estimated at 900), who recruit and oversee foreign assets and informants, known as "agents." Shelby said there will be a "substantial increase" in CIA funds to train and equip new officers and pay foreign agents. While lawmakers declined to specify a sum, officials said funding is expected to reach at least several hundred million dollars for next year alone. The entire annual intelligence budget--which covers the CIA, NSA and National Reconnaissance Office--is now about $35 billion.
CIA critics are worried about the planned expansion and the easing of restrictions. "I'm very concerned about it. I believe the CIA has been a government unto itself," said Jennifer Harbury, a Baltimore-born lawyer and widow of a Guatemalan guerrilla whose 1992 murder in a clandestine prison led to the 1995 rule. A Congressional hearing revealed the killing was overseen by a Guatemalan colonel on the CIA payroll. "I think a number of things are necessary to properly protect national security," said Harbury. "Aiding and abetting terrorism abroad is not one of them." (Baltimore Sun, June 4)
4. FBI SNOOPS SPREAD THIN BY TERROR SURVEILLANCE
The FBI has placed a "substantial" number of people suspected of terrorist ties under constant surveillance, sending special teams of agents across the US in a mission that is seriously taxing the agency's resources, FBI Director Robert Mueller said. Mueller would not specify how many people the agency is tracking, but said the Bureau has been "pushed, really pushed" to keep up with them. (WP, June 5)
5. CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ON 9-11 OPEN--BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Joint House-Senate hearings on pre-9-11 intelligence failures by the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency began June 4 behind closed doors--in the most secure part of the Capitol building, a fourth-floor hideaway under constant police guard. Inside the windowless, soundproof room, intelligence committee members are combing through 360,000 pages of information gathered by informants, phone-taps and spy satellites. The probe may take all summer. (CBS News, June 4)
6. UNIDICTED CO-CONSPIRATOR WIRED MONEY TO 9-11 GANG
The government kept suspected 9-11 ringleader Mohammed Atta's roommate from entering the US, but didn't track his money transfers that were used by the hijackers, law enforcement officials say. Ramzi bin al-Shibh--named as an unindicted co-conspirator and the focus of a worldwide manhunt--intended to join the hijackers on 9-11 but shifted to logistical support when he couldn't get into the US, authorities claim. Officials said the Yemen citizen was refused a visa four times in 2000, simply because of suspicions he wouldn't leave if allowed let in. Now the FBI claims it has reconstructed wire transfers he made from Germany and Yemen, some under an alias, that went to the eventual hijackers, and one of the flight schools where they trained. Two of those transfers last summer went to Zacarias Moussaoui, who US officials say was chosen to replace bin al-Shibh as a hijacker, but was arrested at a Minnesota flight school in August. Bin al-Shibh apparently went undetected as he wired money to the eventual hijackers, keeping most of the transfers below the $10,000 limit that triggers reports to the government. US prosecutors allege in court papers that Atta, bin al-Shibh, and hijackers Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah "formed and maintained an al-Qaida terrorist cell in Germany" beginning in the late 1990s. (AP, June 6)
7. ATTA APPLIED FOR USDA LOAN
Mohamed Atta, Marwan Al-Shehhi, Ahmed Alghamdi and Fayez Rashid Ahmed
Hassan al Qadi Banihammad--all hijackers killed in the 9-11 attacks--tried to get loans from the US Department of Agriculture, bureaucrat Johnelle Bryant told ABC News June 6. Bryant says Atta arrived in her office sometime between the end of April and the middle of May 2000, inquiring about a loan to finance an aircraft. "At first, he refused to speak with me," said Bryant, remembering that Atta called her "but a female." Bryant explained that she was the manager, but he still refused to talk business with her. Finally, she said, "I told him that if he was interested in getting a farm-service agency loan in my servicing area, then he would need to deal with me." Atta said he had just arrived in the US from Afghanistan "to start his dream, which was to go flight school and get his pilot's license, and work both as a charter pilot and a crop duster too," Bryant said. Atta said he was seeking $650,000 for a crop-dusting business. Brynat recounted how Atta railed against her when the loan was denied, asking her how she would like to see the destruction of Washington, DC's landmarks, which he observed in a picture on the wall of her Florida office. He also remarked about the lack of security in the building, pointing to a safe behind Bryant's desk. "He asked me what would prevent him from going behind my desk and cutting my throat and making off with the millions of dollars in that safe," said Bryant, who explained that there was no money in the safe, and that she was trained in karate. "He wanted to know how, once he became settled down in the United States, how he could take that kind of training," she said. Bryant turned Atta down for the loan as a non-citizen. But she referred him to other government agencies and to a bank downstairs. Only after seeing Atta's picture in the newspaper did she realize who the visitor was, and alerted the FBI of the interaction.
8. U.S. AGENTS INFILTRATED AL-QAEDA?
US intelligence intercepted a conversation in which al-Qaeda operatives discussed a major pending terrorist attack in the weeks prior to 9-11, and had agents inside the terror group. But officials insist the intercepts and field reports didn't specify where or when a strike might occur. The disclosures add to a growing body of evidence to be examined in closed congressional hearings. In electronic intercepts as late as Sept. 10, al-Qaeda members apparently spoke of a major attack. Two anonymous US intelligence officials, paraphrasing highly classified intercepts, said they include such remarks as, "Good things are coming," "Watch the news" and "Tomorrow will be a great day for us." (USA Today, June 3;
Boston Globe, June 5)
9. EGYPTIAN INTELLIGENCE WARNED OF ATTACKS BEFORE 9-11?
Egyptian intelligence warned US officials a week before 9-11 that Osama bin Laden's network was in the advance stages of executing a major operation against a US target, President Hosni Mubarak said in an interview. Using a secret agent in close contact with al-Qaeda, Mubarak said, his intelligence chiefs tried unsuccessfully to halt the operation. Mubarak said his intelligence officials had no indication what the target would be and had no idea of the magnitude of the coming attack. "We didn't know that such a thing could take place," he said. "We thought it was an embassy, an airplane, something, the usual thing." A senior US intelligence official denied any warning was received from Egypt. But Mubarak said he believed that security at the US Embassy in Cairo was tightened in early September as a result of the warning. "We informed them about everything," he said, referring to US intelligence officials. (NYT, June 4)
10. ITALIAN INTELLIGENCE WARNED OF ATTACKS BEFORE 9-11?
Suspected al-Qaeda operatives wiretapped by Italian police in the 13 months preceding 9-11 made apparent references to plans for major attacks involving airplanes in the US, according to transcripts revealed by the LA Times. In one conversation, a Yemeni terrorist suspect tells an Egyptian based in Italy about a massive strike against the enemies of Islam involving aircraft, a blow that "will be written about in all the newspapers of the world."
"This will be one of those strikes that will never be forgotten.... This is a terrifying thing. This is a thing that will spread from south to north, from east to west: The person who came up with this program is a madman from a madhouse, a madman but a genius. He is fixated on this program; it will leave everyone turned to ice," he said.
The dialogue took place Aug. 12, 2000, in a Citroen driven by Abdelkader Mahmoud Es Sayed, an Egyptian accused of being al-Qaeda's top operative in Italy. Es Sayed had just picked up the Yemeni, Abdulsalam Ali Ali Abdulrahman, at the Bologna airport, according to a transcript contained in a report by the Milan prosecutor.
Italy's Corriere della Sera reported May 28 that FBI experts helped Italian police analyze the intercepts, whose sound quality was impaired by background noise. Es Sayed fled Italy to Afghanistan in July 2001, after Italian police rounded up his accomplices in a Tunisian-dominated network accused of plotting against US targets. He is also believed linked to al-Qaeda cells in Germany. (LAT, May 29)
11. "CARNIVORE" GLITCHES SLIPPED UP AL-QAEDA PROBE
The FBI mishandled a surveillance operation involving al-Qaeda two years ago because of technical problems with the controversial "Carnivore" e-mail snooping program, part of a "pattern" indicating that the Bureau was unable to manage its intelligence wiretaps, according to an internal memo. Carnivore (DCS1000) is a computer program that allows investigators to capture e-mails sent to and from suspects. But the newly released memo indicates that, in at least one case, the program also retrieved e-mails from innocent people not involved in the investigation.
"Carnivore is a powerful but clumsy tool that endangers the privacy of innocent American citizens," said David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which obtained the memo through a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act. "We have now learned that its imprecision can also jeopardize important investigations, including those involving terrorism."
FBI spokesman John Collingwood said, "This is an uncommon instance where a surveillance tool, despite being tested and employed with the assistance of a service provider, did not collect information as intended."
The April 5, 2000 e-mail memo to Marion "Spike" Bowman, the FBI's associate general counsel for national security, was intended to outline problems that had arisen in a Denver terrorism case. Bowman declined to comment and authorities declined to identify the memo's author or provide further details.
The probe involved the FBI team known as the Usama bin Laden, or UBL, unit for the agency's spelling of the al-Qaeda leader's name. The same unit has come under congressional scrutiny for apparently shelving a July 2001 memo from Phoenix FBI agent Kenneth Williams (see WW3 REPORT #36). In this latest scandal, it is revealed that in March 2000 the UBL unit acquired a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for use against a suspect in the Denver investigation. The memo says that on March 16, 2000, the Carnivore "software was turned on and did not work properly," capturing e-mails involving both the target and others unconnected to the case. The memo makes clear that the Justice Department's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR), which oversees FISA warrants, was enraged by the blunders in the case, in part because OIPR was apparently not told that Carnivore was considered experimental at the time. Referring to an official at OIPR, the memo says: "[To] state that she is unhappy with [the International Terrorism Operations Section] and the UBL Unit would be an understatement of incredible proportions." (WP, May 29)
12. CIA WATCHED 9-11 HIJACKERS
A few days after an al-Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur January 2000, the CIA tracked one of the terrorist suspects, Nawaf Alhazmi (see WW3 REPORT #33), as he flew from the meeting to Los Angeles. Agents also discovered that another of the men, Khalid Almihdhar (see WW3 REPORT #36), had already obtained a multiple-entry visa. "Yet astonishingly," wrote Newsweek in its June 2 cover story, "the CIA did nothing with this information. Agency officials didn't tell the INS, which could have turned them away at the border, nor did they notify the FBI, which could have covertly tracked them to find out their mission. Instead, during the year and nine months after the CIA identified them as terrorists, Alhazmi and Almihdhar lived openly in the United States, using their real names, obtaining driver's licenses, opening bank accounts and enrolling in flight schools--until the morning of Sept. 11, when they walked aboard American Airlines Flight 77 and crashed it into the Pentagon.
"Until now, the many questions about intelligence shortcomings leading up to the attacks have focused on the FBI's clear failure to connect various vague clues that might have put them on the trail of the terrorists... All along, however, the CIA's Counter-terrorism Center--base camp for the agency's war on bin Laden--was sitting on information that could have led federal agents right to the terrorists' doorstep. Almihdhar and Alhazmi, parading across America in plain sight, could not have been easier to find."
Newsweek found that when Almihdhar's visa expired, the State Department simply issued him a new one in June 2001--even though by then the CIA had linked him to one of the suspected bombers of the USS Cole in October 2000. "The two terrorists' frequent meetings with the other September 11 perpetrators could have provided federal agents with a road map to the entire cast of 9-11 hijackers. But the FBI didn't know it was supposed to be looking for them until three weeks before the strikes, when CIA Director George Tenet, worried an attack was imminent, ordered agency analysts to review their files. It was only then, on Aug. 23, 2001, that the agency sent out an all-points bulletin, launching law-enforcement agents on a frantic and futile search for the two men. Why didn't the CIA share its information sooner?"
Almihdhar's name and face re-surfaced in the aftermath of the Cole bombing. Within days of the attack, an FBI team flew to Yemen to investigate. One early suspect was a man called Tawfiq bin Attash, a.k.a. Khallad, "a fierce, one-legged Qaeda fighter." When analysts at the CIA's Counter-terrorism Center in Langley, VA, pulled out the file on Khallad, they discovered pictures of him taken at the Kuala Lumpur meeting. In one of the shots, he is standing next to Almihdhar.
Meanwhile, Alhazmi, having flunked out of two California flight schools, decided to try his luck in Phoenix in early 2001. There he hooked up with another Qaeda terrorist in training, Hani Hanjour, who eventually piloted Flight 77. In April 2001 Alhazmi headed east, and was pulled over for speeding. Oklahoma State Trooper C. L. Parkins ran Alhazmi's California driver's license through the computer. When nothing came up, he issued two tickets, totaling $138, and sent him on his way.
The Washington Post reported June 4 that the CIA told the FBI in January 2000 that Almihdhar was attending the Kuala Lumpur meeting. The disclosure contradicts repeated assertions by senior FBI officials that bureau headquarters had no information about Khalid Almihdhar before Aug. 23, 2001, when the CIA issued an urgent cable that he and Alhazmi, should be stopped at the U.S border. Both were already in the US by then. The FBI officials declined to comment on the allegation, which is reportedly backed by e-mail on file at the CIA. "Director Mueller has every desire to let the congressional review process continue, and no desire to engage in finger-pointing," one law enforcement official said.
13. JIHAD HAS $5 BILLION GLOBAL BUDGET
The author of a French intelligence report on al-Qaeda funding estimates that around US$5 billion reaches extremist Islamic groups annually. The 72-page report, drafted by a financial analyst with long-standing connections to the French intelligence community, concluded that the main funding for al-Qaeda came from Saudi Arabia's business establishment--and specifically from three major Saudi sources: the banking system, charitable organizations and the bin Laden family itself.
Jean-Charles Brisard was commissioned in the mid-'90s by the French domestic intelligence agency, Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST), to gather material for the report,a entitled "The Economic Environment of Osama Bin Laden." The final version was released in June, 2001. With the DST's blessing, Brisard also handed the finished report to a senior FBI agent, John O'Neill, who would quit the FBI shortly after and die in the World Trade Center attack (see WW3 REPORT #36).
Brisard's report formed the backbone of a book entitled "Bin Laden: La Verite Interdite" (Bin Laden: the Forbidden Truth). published in mid-November in association with Guillaume Dasquie, editor of the Paris-based newsletter Intelligence Online. (See WW3 REPORT #13) (Jane's Intelligence Review, Jan., 2002)
14. TOP AL-QAEDA LIEUTENANT IDENTIFIED?
US investigators say they have identified a Kuwaiti lieutenant of Osama bin Laden as the likely mastermind of the 9-11 attacks. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the FBI's most-wanted terrorists, is at large in Afghanistan or nearby, an anonymous counter-terrorism official told AP June 6. A second US official, also speaking anonymously, said Mohammed played a key role in planning the attacks-- as did Abu Zubaydah, the accused al-Qaeda leader now in US custody.
Abu Zubaydah, captured in Pakistan in March, has alleged several threats against US targets in recent months. Officials acknowledge Zubaydah may not be telling the whole truth, but warnings have been issued on the basis of his statements. Some of the hijackers trained at Zubaydah's Khalden camp in Afghanistan, the official said.
Mohammed is accused of working with Ramzi Yousef, now serving a life term, in the first bombing of the World Trade Center, which left six dead in 1993. He is now believed to have helped fund the 9-11 attacks . (CBS News, June 6)
15. NEW AL-QAEDA THREAT REPORTED
The London-based pan-Arab daily, Al-Hayat, published June 3 what it claimed was a statement from an al-Qaeda spokesman warning the US to get ready for another attack. "What is coming to the Americans will not, by the will of God, be less than what has come," the paper quoted Bu Ghaith, a Kuwaiti-born cleric, who emerged as an al-Qaeda spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. Ghaith said al-Qaeda would continue to hit Americans, Jews and their assets, either "individuals or institutions." (Reuters, June 3)
The statement was also carried on the website www.alneda.com, which has in the past issued statements purpotedly from al-Qaeda. "We are still at the beginning of the road," the statement said. "The Americans have not yet suffered from us what we have suffered from them." He said the US and its clients have killed thousands in Iraq, Palestinian territories, Afghanistan, Sudan, Philippines, Bosnia and Kashmir. "So we have the right to kill four million Americans, including one million children, displace double that figure and injure and cripple hundreds of thousands," the statement said. (Reuters, June 9)
16. PUGET SOUNDS SCUBA THREAT?
The US Coast Guard issued a warning of a "credible" maritime threat from terrorist divers in Washington's Puget Sound. "The Captain of the Port has notified individual maritime industry and port authority stakeholders throughout the region," said Coast Guard Lt. Scott Casad. "Based on information received across the US government, there is a credible threat to maritime interests from swimmers and divers." He said the warning did not change the threat level of the Homeland Security Advisory System, currently at yellow, or elevated. (CNN, June 9)
17. BROOKLYN JEWS TO LAUNCH ARMED PATROLS
Private citizens armed with shotguns, bats, pipes, cell phones, and walkie-talkies plan to start nightly patrols in heavily Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The patrols will consist mostly of Jews, and will walk the streets with shotguns in bags from 9 PM to 4 AM every night but Friday, the Jewish Sabbath. The Jewish Defense Group (JDG), which says it follows the principals of the late rabbi Meir Kahane, said the patrols are in response to comments made by Abdul Rahman Yasin on 60 minutes that he and his accomplices that bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 originally planned to target Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Rabbi Yakove Lloyd, founder of and president of the right-wing JDG, said "This will be a very effective deterrent against terrorism directed at American Jews and other targets." Lloyd criticized the local police for not providing enough protection, and said "the only people who will view us as vigilantes already look at us that way anyway." A community leader Williamsburg, Isaac Abraham, was critical of the idea of armed patrols: "The Jewish community condemns such a thing. We don't need it. We can't have civilians running around with guns. It's going to look like Beirut here." (AP, June 10) (David Bloom)
18. FEDS UNCOVER "DIRTY BOMB" PLOT?
US officials have foiled an "unfolding terror plot" to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" on US soil, and arrested a US citizen in connection to the plot, according to US Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft. Ashcroft said Abdullah al Mujahir, AKA Jose Padilla of Chicago, was trained by al-Qaeda in the organization's camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al Mujahir is a former Chicago street gang member who converted to Islam in prison in the early 90's. In 2001, he met with senior al-Qaeda offcials, Ashcroft said. On May 8, he was arrested by authorities at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport after returning from Pakistan. Currently in military custody, he is being treated as an enemy combatant. Authorities were alerted to al Mujahir by top al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, who is being interrogated at an undisclosed location. (ABC, June 10)(David Bloom)
19. FOREIGN VISITORS TO BE SCREENED FOR FINGERPRINTING
On June 5 the Justice Department announced plans for fingerprinting and photographing visitors to the US who pose "national security concerns," starting with those from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Attorney General John Ashcroft said the "National Security Entry-Exit Registration System" will eventually cover anyone targeted as a security concern, based on secret criteria which may include age, gender and country of origin. (Iranians are already routinely fingerprinted and photographed upon entering the US.)
The new regulation, due to take effect in the fall after a public comment period, requires visitors over age 14 who hold non-immigrant visas and fit "security risk criteria" to be fingerprinted and photographed, and to provide detailed background information before being allowed into the US. Their fingerprints will be matched against a database of terrorist suspects, and added to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The checks are likely to affect 100,000 new visitors the first year.
Targeted visitors who stay more than 30 days will have to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and report on their activities. Joint state-federal "anti-terrorism" teams, which have already "interviewed" 5,000 mostly Middle Eastern men since 9-11, will track down targeted people already living in the US. Authority for the new rule comes from an un-enforced provision of the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), requiring visa holders to register with the government if they are in the US 30 days or more.
"It is shocking that the freest nation on Earth could engage in a system of racial and ethnic profiling," said Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who is on the House Judiciary Committee. "It is as though the equal protection clause had no meaning or context whatsoever to the authors of this Orwellian proposal." (Immigration News Briefs, June 7)
Ashcroft said the "special registration" system would eventually cover any of the 35 million people who enter the US each year if they pose a security concern. Criteria for determining that threat will be kept secret. Ashcroft said terrorists are moving through the US "with impunity," and added that the new system "will expand substantially America's scrutiny of those visitors who may pose a national security concern and enter our country." Ashcroft responded to critics that "on Sept. 11, the American definition of national security changed and changed forever." (Washington Post, June 6)
20. DETAINEE HEARINGS CLOSED TO PUBLIC
Without notice or public comment, the Justice Department's Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) adopted a rule May 21 allowing government lawyers to ask judges to close immigration court proceedings and issue gag orders barring detainees or their lawyers from talking about cases. The regulation, published May 28, seems designed to circumvent recent decisions by federal judges in Detroit and New Jersey who deemed secret hearings unconstitutional. "The rule calls for the closing of immigration hearings in their entirety whenever any information covered by a protective order will be considered, no matter how tangential," according to Nancy Chang of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). (Immigration News Briefs, June 7, from Newsday, May 31)
21. PROFILING VICITMS FIGHT BACK IN COURT
On New Year's Eve, JP Morgan consultant Michael Dasrath was settling into his first-class seat on a Continental Airlines flight from Newark to Tampa, on his way back to his native Guyana to visit family for the holiday. Two other swarthy men were sitting in front of him, talking. A woman seated nearby watched them nervously, finally getting the captain's attention to tell him, "those three brown men" are acting suspiciously, according to Dasrath's account. The captain asked the three men to get off the plane. Dasrath is now a plaintiff in one of five major discrimination suits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), on behalf of five men and the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), against United, American, Continental, and Northwest airlines. The men contend they were ejected from flights based purely on the prejudice of airline employees and passengers. "I was working downtown on Wall Street on Sept. 11, and I will never forget the horror of that day," said Dasrath. "But ejecting me from a flight to make a passenger feel better isn't going to make anyone safer." (CSM, June 5)
22. "AMERICAN JIHAD": RIGHT-WING PUNDIT GETS IT WRONG
Harvard senior Zayed Yasin's commencement speech "My American Jihad" (the titled changed at the last minute to "Of Faith and Citizenship"), generated national controversy, despite the student's insistence that the word's legitimate Islamic meaning has nothing to do with terrorism. (CNN, June 6) Professional Islamophobes made hay bigtime off the incident--such as ultra-hawk pundit Daniel Pipes (see WW3 REPORT #23). The following exchange ran on ABC News Nightline June 4:
CHRIS BURY: Joining me now, Dr. Maher Hathout is a senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a civil rights organization for American Muslims. A retired cardiologist, Dr. Hathout is the author of a new book entitled "Jihad Versus Terrorism." He joins us from Los Angeles. Daniel Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum, a think tank, and the author of "Militant Islam Reaches America," a book being published later this summer. He joins us from Livingston, New Jersey.
And Mr. Pipes, this young man at Harvard, is giving a speech in which he says, look, the definition of "jihad" has been, essentially, corrupted by militant Islamists, and that doesn't have much to do with moderates like me. What's wrong with him saying that at Harvard?
DANIEL PIPES: What's wrong, Chris, is that it's a fabrication. Jihad has historically meant, almost always one thing-which is expanding the territories ruled by Muslims through armed warfare. That's what it's meant. Now I'm happy to see a development occur whereby it means something more spiritual. But we have to start by acknowledging that that's the real meaning of the word, the historic meaning of the word, the traditional meaning of the word, and we can't ignore it. And this young man is ignoring it.
BURY: Dr. Hathout, one of the criticisms that is being leveled at this speech is that while it tries to install a new definition of jihad, it fails to criticize the more violent strain of that word.
Dr. MAHER HATHOUT: Yeah, let me address a couple of basic things. I don't think that the definition of Islam is up to Daniel Pipes or to anybody else, it is up to the Muslims according to their text and according to the language of their text, to put their definitions...
PIPES: I'm sure that Dr. Hathout...is an excellent cardiologist, but he knows very little about the history of Islam which is my subject. And by the way, I got my BA and....
Dr. HATHOUT: It's my subject, too. It is my subject, too.
And so on. The complete text is at: www.danielpipes.org/article/416
23. SAUDI EXTREMISTS MAKE YELLOW PRESS HAPPY
"Saudi Arabia's top Muslim cleric has called on the Islamic world to unite against a worldwide conspiracy of Hindus, Christians, Jews and secularists threatening Islamic moral values," gloated he right-wing Washington Times June 3.
In a televised sermon, Sheik Abd-al-Rahman al-Sudays, imam of the Mosque of Mecca, Islam's holiest shrine, blasted US-led "globalization" as well other religions. "The idol-worshipping Hindus indulge in their open hatred against our brothers and sanctities in Muslim Kashmir, threatening an imminent danger and a fierce war in the whole Indian subcontinent," he said. Though he was particularly scornful of Jews, whom he said had been cursed and turned into "pigs and monkeys" by Allah, he turned his ire on Christians and capitalists as well. "Their course is supported by the advocates of credit and worshippers of the Cross," the imam asserted, "as well as by those who are infatuated with them and influenced by their rotten ideas and poisonous culture among the advocates of secularism and Westernization."
On April 20, the New York Post reported on a similar sermon in which the Sheik prayed for Allah to "terminate Jews" and urged all Muslims to "say farewell to peace initiatives with these people [Jews]." He also called Jews "the scum of humanity, the rats of the world, prophet killers, pigs and monkeys."
The Post also noted a recent Saudi government-sponsored telethon raised $85 million to support "martyrs" of the Palestinian uprising, and reminded readers that Saudi ambassador to Britain Ghazi Algosaibi published a poem that week asserting the Palestinian homicide bombers "died to honor my God's world."
24. REAL "AXIS OF EVIL": U.S. & ISRAEL?
A group of Saudi intellectuals and writers condemned the US and Israel, describing them as the "axis of evil in the world"--borrowing a phrase US President George Bush used for Iran, Iraq and North Korea. The 113 Saudis, including prominent writers for respected Saudi papers, said the US role in Israeli military operations against the Palestinians was "shameful," and that "Israeli massacres do not differ in shape or form from what the Nazis did." The statement called on all Arab governments to severe diplomatic ties with Israel and urged Arabs to boycott all US products. "We consider the United States and the current American administration the nurturer of international terrorism with distinction and it, along with Israel, form the axis of terrorism and evil in the world," said the statement. (AP, April 21)
25. "WAR ON ISLAMISTS" REPLACES "WAR ON TERRORISM"?
Lou Dobbs, host of the nightly CNN business show "Moneyline," said on the air June 5 that he is abandoning the phrase "War on Terror" in favor of the more specific "War on Islamists." He said the enemy is not terror, but radical "Islamists" who argue that non-believers should be killed. "This is not a war against Muslims or Islam or Islamics," Dobbs said. "It is a war against Islamists and all who support them, and if ever there were a time for clarity, it is now. We hope this new policy is a step in the right direction."
A spokesperson for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said he disagrees with use of the phrase "Islamists" and believes it is no more precise than current terminology. "The problem is there are Islamists who are not terrorists, and there are plenty of terrorists who are not Islamists," said Hussein Ibish. "As I understand it, our objective here is to go after people who are violent. If you want precision, you should probably call it the war against al-Qaeda." (CNN, June 6)
26. PENTAGON GETS EXEMPTION FROM ENVIRONMENTAL REGS
In a move Pentagon officials call necessary for maintaining readiness in the War on Terrorism, the House has adopted a measure exempting the military from key environmental laws on its vast land holdings. The exemptions from the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act are contained in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2003, which passed the House in May and is now scheduled to go before the Senate. The Defense Department controls 25 million acres of land--equivalent to the total area of Maine and New Hampshire combined. More than 425 military installations provide sanctuary to 300 species listed as endangered or threatened. Among the Pentagon gripes which resulted in the exemption:
* In California's Mojave Desert, Marine commanders say they can train only in the daytime because endangered desert tortoises might be trampled at night.
*Navy SEALs on Coronado Island say the snowy plover has restricted beach exercises.
*In Camp Lejeune, NC, nesting turtles hamper amphibious landing practice, and a rare species of woodpecker restricts inland training.
*In the Northern Marianas, a court injunction has banned live-fire exercises because migratory birds might be hit.
(Christian Science Monitor, June 3)
27. STATS PROVE: CAPITALISM WORSE THAN TERRORISM
Two million workers die each year due to accidents and illness caused by workplace-related hazards including chemicals, accidents and stress, the International Labor Organization reports. The annual toll includes 12,000 children, according to the report issued for the annual World Congress on Occupational Safety & Health at Work, now underway in Vienna. Agriculture, which employs more than half of the world's workers, claims more than 50% of occupational fatalities, injuries and diseases, the report said. Construction, logging, fishing and mining are also among the most hazardous industries. The overall toll has clearly risen since 1990. The biggest killer in the workplace is cancer, causing about 640,000 or 32% of deaths. It is followed by circulatory diseases (23%), accidents (19%), communicable diseases (17%) and respiratory diseases (7%). Hazardous substances kill 340,000 workers each year, with asbestos alone claiming about 100,000 lives. (Reuters, May 24)
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