Israel is lighting up its camels in an attempt to stop fatal collisions between the traditional ship of the desert and motorised ones. Israeli police are sticking phosphorescent strips on the bodies of the camels to serve as warning lights for desert drivers, because of growing numbers of crashes in which both people and camels have died. The Bedouin population of Israel's southern Negev desert uses both forms of transportation - camels and pickup trucks - and the mix has often been fatal when the two collide in the night. "The camel safety problem is a serious one here," said Yossi Golan, commander of the Dimona police district in the eastern Negev. "In the last two years, 10 people have died in camel-related traffic accidents and more than 50 have been injured seriously," he said.
Golan estimated that there are 5000 camels in the Negev desert. To protect them and their riders, he said, he called a desert-style council of wise people to come up with a solution. "We brought together Bedouin elders, the Transport Ministry, the Nature Reserves Authority, and camel herd owners - and the phosphorescent strip idea was born," he said. "We see it as a useful adjunct to the camel safety measures we already have in place - warning signs and guard rails at particularly dangerous road crossings." Golan said that the first 40 Negev camels were fitted with phosphorescent strips yesterday, and expressed hope that over the next several months as many of 1000 more could be lit up. "We're very serious about this operation," he said. "If only one life is saved in the process, the whole thing will have been worthwhile." Laugh if you like, but I'll bet hitting a camel would be about the same as hitting a moose. Big animal on long legs, it'll go right over the hood through the windshield. Kiss your ass goodbye if you're in the front seat.
Norwegian MoD Press Release:
The Government has approved the sending of Norwegian special forces to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Their mission will be similar in character to that previously carried out by special forces units in Afghanistan. Force deployment will take place over the next few weeks. The duration of this mission will be a minimum of three months and may possibly be extended to six months. This is the second occasion on which Norway has sent special forces to Afghanistan. Contingents from the Naval Ranger Command and the Norwegian Army's Ranger Command have previously taken part in Operation Enduring Freedom together with special forces units from a number of other nations. These personnel have undergone special training in a range of military skills. Their previous mission ended in late June last year at which time Norwegian special forces had been operating in Afghanistan for about six months.
"The special forces and the other Norwegian units contributed to Operation Enduring and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) have played, and are continuing to play, an important part in the stabilisation of Afghanistan. In the ongoing and demanding task of reconstruction in the wake of many years of war and repressive regimes, an adequate level of security is an essential prerequisite for a positive outcome, a point that the Afghan President himself has stressed to me. For Norway's part, our wish is to contribute in the areas of both security and humanitarian assistance in order to help Afghanistan to realise a better future," says the Defence minister, Kristin Krohn Devold. Norway is currently engaged in two operations in and around Afghanistan. One involves participation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) principally responsible for stabilising the situation in and around the Afghan capital Kabul. Norway will continue to participate in ISAF. The other is US-led Operation Enduring Freedom, the main aim of which is to combat the al-Qaeda terror network. The Norwegian special forces will be in place in Afghanistan at about the same time as the F-16 combat aircraft contributed by the Norwegian Air Force complete their mission. The six F-16s and their support personnel will be returning to Norway as planned at the beginning of April. Thank you, Norway.
Afghan government soldiers were trying to flush out Taliban fighters believed to be regrouping in remote mountain peaks near the Pakistan border, army commander Mungal Khan said Wednesday. A week of sporadic and at times intense fighting in Barai Ghar mountains, in the southeast corner of Zabul province, has left one soldier and a Taliban commander dead, he said. Khan estimated that as many as 100 Taliban fighters were hiding in the mountains, considered a stronghold of the former Taliban regime. There have been dozens of attacks by suspected Taliban fighters in eastern and southern Afghanistan, where Afghanistan's majority Pashtun ethnic group dominates. Most Taliban were Pashtuns. And the sun rises in the east.
"We have laid siege to the area to try to arrest the Taliban," Khan said. Both sides have been using heavy machine guns and rockets in the fighting. Pakistan has deployed thousands of troops along its border with Afghanistan in a bid to prevent remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda from escaping to its territory. Sure they are, they just aren't very good at it.
Elsewhere, a suspected terrorist was killed when a bomb he was planting exploded by accident just east of Kabul, police said Wednesday. "Work accident", somebody call OSHA.
The blast late Tuesday left a seven-foot-wide crater in a dirt road nine miles east of Kabul. No other casualties were reported, said Zaher Khan, a police chief in the district. It was unclear what the slain man was targeting. Let's see, it was on a road.......
Yemeni special counterterrorism forces are still mopping up the mountainous area of Huttat, 120 km north east of Aden governorate, hunting for over 40 affiliates of the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army (AAIA) who fled after the government forces stormed the rugged area last week where some 80 militants were camping. Security sources said that 4 elements of the AAIA, Islamic Jihad, were arrested. He added that the four were among six people arrested in Sarar region, pointing out that two were found ordinary citizens and released. The fate of the leader of the group, Khaled Abdulnabi, is still unknown although security officials said that he was killed and that his body was found among the killed.
Some of the militants are Arab Afghans. The military operation in which hundreds of soldiers used tanks, artillery, heavy machine guns, came after the militants attacked on June 21 a military medical convoy injuring a doctor, five aides and the driver. Although military officials said that military operations were over last week, local sources said that the government troops backed with helicopters and other weapons continue to mop up the area searching for over 40 militants who escaped from the military operation area. Among the fugitives are some al-Qaeda suspects who escaped last April from the intelligence prison in Aden.
KUWAIT CITY: The wife of Al Qaedaâs leading spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith has broken a two-year silence to say her husband is not a terrorist and should be tried in his own country Kuwait. âHe is with Islam and is not against Kuwait. He was an ideal husband who loved Kuwait and served it in the most difficult times, and if he made a mistake, only the Almighty doesnât,â âUmm Yussifâ told Al-Rai al-Aam in an interview published Wednesday. Abu Ghaith, reportedly detained in Iran along with top members of Osama bin Ladenâs network, was stripped of his Kuwaiti nationality in October 2001 because of links to the September 11 terror attacks on the United States. âHe did not harm or kill anyone,â said an emotional Umm Yussif. âHeâs not a terrorist, merely a spokesman.â The daily said Abu Ghaithâs wife pleaded for her husband to be returned to Kuwait, should he be detained in Iran, and not extradited elsewhere, âbecause he is a genuine Kuwaiti and his wife and children are Kuwaiti.â
There's more, if you want to read it...
Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, one of the most influential clerics in Sunni Islam, recently delivered his first sermon in three months following his recovery from surgery. Here are excerpts from his addresses that was broadcast on Qatari television.
Some Events Have Happened From Which We Can Learn Lessons From
âThe first... is that might rules the world - not the force of law, but the power of might. It is the mighty one who imposes himself, dictates his will, and demands that everyone listen and obey. This is the first lesson. America decided to invade Iraq and conquer it together with its allies, [even though] the entire world opposed it. Even in the heart of America and Europe, demonstrations were held, [with] millions of people who said 'no' to the war on Iraq. But America shut its ears, persisted in its position, invaded Iraq, conquered it, and everyone could go bang their heads against the wall if they want [as far as America was concerned]..."
America Is Acting Like A God On Earth
âAmerica is acting like a god on earth. No accounting is demanded of it, but it demands accounting from others. America wanted to enter Iraq for its own reasons â not in order to disarm it of weapons of mass destruction or in order to save the Iraqi people from the hands of Saddam. They [the Americans] announced that they would enter Iraq even if Saddam left. The U.S. launched [a war] because it wanted to destroy Iraq's military power so as to clear the way for Israel, for its weapons and arsenal, and so that no one with these weapons will remain in the region except for Israel..."
The Oppressing Arab Leaders Must Learn Their Lesson from Saddam
"The second lesson is that every oppressor comes to an end. Saddam Hussein and his regime were one of the most tyrannical oppressors on the face of the earth, particularly on our Arab and Muslim land. There is no doubt of this. Thank God I never said a word in praise of him â not before the war, not after it, and not even a long time ago â because I am against any oppressive and repressive regime and against every tyrannical dictator. The dictators are the ones who kill the people. The oppression and tyranny are what paved the way for the British and American entrance into the region, They are what caused the war in Kuwait and the previous war in Iraq... Perhaps the oppressors and tyrants who spread corruption across the earth, oppress their peoples, humiliate the people, harm honor and rights and step on the necks of the peoples with their feet â perhaps they will learn the lesson from all this, and realize that their fate [will be] that of this tyrant and oppressor [Saddam]. If only the tyrants and oppressors ruling our Arab and Muslim lands would consider what happened to Saddam Hussein and [would realize] that they are next in line..."
We can only hope...
"His weapons, army, party, palaces built with the money of the Iraqi people, and hiding places did not help Saddam â and no one wept for him... When the oppressor goes, no one weeps for him, no one in heaven and no one on earth. On the contrary; they part from him with curses; the tongues that were silent and could not talk during the time of the tyrants can now talk and curse the oppressors..."
There is No Difference Between Bush and the Mongol Leader Hulago
"The third lesson is that occupation is occupation, and invasion is invasion... This is not the first time Baghdad was taken... This city fell to the Mongols. Hulago entered Baghdad and his soldiers struck the people with the sword. Blood flowed in the streets, in the houses, and above the roofs. Even in the drainpipes, rivers of blood flowed... and the Tigris became red with blood. During this war, two million were killed, and some say a million and half, and at the very least a million... They [the invaders] reached the libraries. [Baghdad] was the capital of knowledge, education, and culture... The books were thrown into the Tigris until the river became black with their ink. There were days when it became red with blood, and there were days when it became black with ink... This was also the fate of Baghdad in the 21st century; they allowed the looters to loot the museums, the libraries, and the universities of Baghdad. They showed us some of the people while they were looting, but they did not show us who opened the locked doors. This they did not film. This was organized looting, behind which stand international gangs. Unfortunately, we did not see the U.N. acting, fiery and raging, as it acted when the Taliban destroyed the statues of Buddha... This is what the U.S. did, the country of the 21st century in the uni-polar world. What is the difference between the old Hulago and the new Hulago? What is the difference between Bush and the Mongol king?..."
Was Hulagu the one who built the pyramid of skulls? Or was that Tamerlane? Regardless, we haven't gotten around to that yet.
Do Not Go to Extremes in Vengeance Upon Ba'ath Party Members
"The fourth lesson is that I recommend to the Iraqi people, with all its communities and ethnic and religious groups â Arabs, Kurds, Turkmenis, Assyrians, and [those of] other ethnic [origins], Muslims and Christians, Sunnis, and Shi'ites - all must stand in a single row. The disasters unite those harmed. In such a disaster, there is no point in someone saying 'I am a Sunni' or 'I am a Shi'ite;' 'I am a Kurd' or 'I am a Turkmeni.' All have a common interest, one adversary, and one battle. They must forget their marginal quarrels and not listen to [those] who preach civil war. They must stand together and not go to extremes in taking vengeance upon the members of the Baath. Many thousands joined the Baath Party without believing in it. This party ruled for 35 years, and people had to get along. Many of them behaved as if they were Baath Party members but in their hearts they cursed it. There is no escape from taking this into consideration, and from refraining from taking vengeance upon anyone formally considered a Baath member. The true Baath members number no more than a few thousand, while the Iraqi people are not Baathist; they were repressed in the grip of the tyrannical regime that silenced them..."
The Fall of Baghdad Was Due to Ba'ath Party Secularism
"When the Americans entered, the forces of the Ba'ath Party fled. Unfortunately, there was no one to stand fast against the advance [of the enemy], because it was a secular party not based on implanting faith in hearts and confidence in souls, and faith in the strength of Allah, in predestination, and in the world to come. They did not stand fast, and we were surprised to see that they collapsed overnight. Where are the hundreds of thousands? Where is the Republican Guard? Where are Saddam's Fedayeen? Where are the warriors of the party? All these evaporated..."
Saudi Arabia will host an international conference on human rights on Oct. 14, the first conference of its kind to be organized with the help of the Saudi government. To see the Saudi government do anything for human rights would be a first.
The announcement comes against the background of steps in the Kingdom to set up two human rights commissions. A commission, that'll do it! Two will be even better!
Saudi Red Crescent Society (SRCS) official Abdullah Al-Hazza, who is also the conferenceâs secretary-general, said the event was being organized in cooperation with the Ministries of the Interior, Justice and Foreign Affairs. Al-Hazza said a number of international organizations would participate in the conference, whose theme is âhuman rights at the time of peace and war.â The conference will also shed light on the Islamic approach toward human rights. Must...control...self..maintain.......Bwahahahahahaha
The SRCS official said invitations had been sent to many local and international organizations. A number of universities, the Shoura Council, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the King Faisal Foundation, the International Red Cross Society, the Muslim World League (MWL), the Italy-based International Institute for Human Rights and some UN organizations including UNESCO and UNICEF have been invited to attend. Got to have the UN, I mean, look what a good job they have done promoting human rights, right? The conference, the SRCS sources said, seeks to promote Islam as the religion of peace, tolerance and love. Islam is the first to acknowledge the rights of human being â a fact, which can be substantiated by historical evidence, they said. Fish - Barrel - go for it.
Saudi leaders are planning to revise the ruling Wahhabi ideology said to have spawned Al Qaeda and related insurgency movements. They better start burning the midnight oil on this oneâŠâŠOn Tuesday, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz cited what he termed extremist ideas among young Saudis for the emergence of the Al Qaida network in the kingdom. Prince Nayef said these ideas have deviated from mainstream Islam and led to the attacks in Saudi Arabia, Middle East Newsline reported. I would like to see a little pamphlet describing Mainstream Islamâ¢
"Why are these things happenings?" Prince Nayef told the Shura Council on Tuesday. "What are the motives behind them? We need to ask: Did the source of this ideology come from this land or was it imported from outside? Follow the money and look in the mirror, not necessarily in that orderâŠâŠ.
Was it the result of fanatical ideas from people who have been brainwashed? Or is it a combination of factors, inside and out? But above all, how powerful is this ideology and how widespread is it?"
"They blame us for being Wahhabis," Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz told military commanders on Tuesday. "Everybody knows who was Mohammed Bin Abdul Wahab. He was a worldly man who studied Islamic culture in India, Pakistan and Egypt." Nayef said the kingdom must focus on the beliefs and behavior of young Saudis. He said a government priority is to return these youngsters to what he termed the straight path of the Muslim nation. Whatever that straight path isâŠâŠPD, this ought to get your blood pressure upâŠâŠ..
"We have witnessed the criminal acts of some of our youth, who are citizens of this country," Nayef said. "They have killed people, destroyed property and terrorized families. If a person does something wrong and is convinced it is right, then we have to look at the root causes."
Oh, Gawd. They're doing the "root causes" thing...
Saudi leaders said Al Qaida and related insurgency groups have distorted Wahabi beliefs and focused only on jihad. They said this has hurt both the domestic and foreign interests of the kingdom. Western diplomatic sources said the Saudi royal family have discussed the prospect of removing elements of Wahabi doctrine taught in mosques and schools around the kingdom. They said Saudi security and intelligence agencies have concluded that Wahabi teachings were exploited to launch insurgency operations against the kingdom. So far, up to 1,000 Saudi clerics regarded as being linked to Al Qaida have been either dismissed or restricted in their activities, the sources said. They said Riyadh has also drafted regulations that would restrict the references to jihad, or holy war, in radio and television broadcasts. Saudi officials, who have not denied the report, said at least 124 people were arrested in the kingdom since the May 12 suicide strikes by Al Qaida in Riyadh. Many of those arrested, the officials said, were minors who had been recruited by Al Qaida. They said in many cases the parents were either uninformed or pressured into allowing their children to help carry weapons or relay messages within the Al Qaida network. Nayef said the recent crackdown of Al Qaida suspects included many foreign nationals. He said many of the suspects were under age 25 and appeared to have been brainwashed. Saudi Arabia has also bolstered its security and intelligence apparatus. King Fahd appointed Prince Faisal Ibn Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Saud as deputy national intelligence chief. The Saudi Royal Court said in a statement that Al Saud will be responsible to Prince Nawaf, appointed chief of domestic intelligence in August 2001. The problem, gentlemen, is whether the disease of Wahhabism is a tapeworm or a cancer. I vote for No. 2.
And I vote "yes."
Posted by: Alaska Paul ||
07/02/2003 4:30:45 PM ||
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Police arrested a suspected militant linked to May suicide attacks in Riyadh, the official Saudi Press Agency reported Wednesday. The man, Zafer Abdul Rahman al-Shehri, was arrested Tuesday night in an abandoned house in the southern province of al-Namas, the agency said. He was found with 50 assault rifles, ammunition, a personal computer and fake identification papers. BUSTED!
Al-Shehri eluded police Saturday when they tried to arrest him at work. He allegedly shot and wounded a police officer, the agency reported. On Sunday, a helicopter chasing al-Shehri crashed, wounding 10 soldiers on board. Let's see if he goes to the block.
Britain continues to play a significant role as a support base for al-Qaeda, the Government conceded yesterday. But while it was once a haven for Islamic fundamentalists, it was now a prime target, a court heard. Unprecedented detail about the activities of British-based Muslim fanatics was given during the first of a series of appeals by suspected foreign terrorists against their detention without trial. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission, sitting in London, heard how a dozen terrorist attacks and planned attacks around the world could be traced in part to Britain. They included the 1998 bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Mozambique, in which hundreds were killed and thousands injured, and a thwarted plot to bomb the Christmas market in Strasbourg three years ago. At the centre of the network was a number of radical clerics, including Abu Hamza, the hook-handed north London imam who faces the loss of his British citizenship. I vote for him to lose his head.
The principal figure was another cleric with well-documented links to Islamic fundamentalism. But as he is among the 15 who have been detained, the court ruled that he could not be identified. Known only as K, he and Abu Hamza "acted as a focal point for extreme Islamist groupings, networks and individuals in the UK", Wyn Williams, QC, for the Home Office, said. Anyone know who "K" might be?
Mr Williams said that Abu Hamza, who as a British citizen could not be detained as the emergency powers applied only to foreign nationals, had been a prominent supporter of the GIA, a banned Algerian Islamist group with close links to al-Qaeda. The Government is arguing for the continued detention of the foreign nationals, who are free to leave the country but cannot be deported because the European Convention on Human Rights forbids their removal to a place where they could be ill-treated. God forbid that these murderers be ill-treated.
Of the first three appellants, one has returned to Morocco. Another, identified as B, was taken to the court from prison but declined to appear. A North African identified as A was the only one to appear in person behind a glass screen, accompanied by three guards. Mr Williams said that many of the 15 detainees had provided support for international terrorist groups, including money, forged papers, funds and satellite phones. He said: "Prior to the September 11 atrocity, the UK was a significant base for support activity for the Islamic extremist terrorist networks. The UK has continued to be a significant base for such support activity since September 11, but there has also been a shift from being seen as a haven for such groups to being a prime target for direct terrorist action." After Britain's stand during the Iraq war, it's only a matter of time. Ben Emmerson, QC, for the detainees, accused the Government of presenting "fragmentary" evidence to hold them. The court procedures are unusually secretive to protect intelligence sources. An MI5 officer gave evidence from behind a curtain. The hearing continues.
Australia has rebuffed French interest in joining the military and police intervention in the Solomon Islands, as fears rise a warlord could use human shields against the Australian-led force. France, which has two South Pacific territories, said that it would look favourably on an invitation to help restore order in the troubled islands. "And please kiss our ring".
But Prime Minister John Howard, citing his concern to avoid charges of neo-colonialism, said the Solomons was a matter for the Pacific Forum, the 16-nation group that does not include France or its territories. "Kiss my ass!"
In Paris, Serge Degallaix, foreign affairs adviser to French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, told AAP that France would look favourably on any invitation for its Pacific-based force to join the 2,000-strong military and police contingent. France has forces in New Caledonia and French Polynesia, including about 2,000 troops, naval marines and paramilitary gendarmes. Mr Degallaix said French involvement in the Solomons could help restore relations with Australia, which have been strained over Iraq and farm subsidies. A senior French Foreign Ministry official said there had been consultations over the Solomons, but no invitation to help. "We are not ruling out anything," the official said. "Please invite us, we are a world power too, honest!"
But when asked about European Union and French help to solve the problems of the Pacific, Mr Howard was clearly unenthusiastic. "Go pound cheese!"
Followers of a notorious Solomon Islands warlord tortured then beheaded at least three men and razed an entire village, said survivors who fear being used as human shields against an Australian-led intervention force. With Australia planning to lead 2,000 police and troops to quell violence in the lawless and near-bankrupt South Pacific state, survivors told Reuters this week of an attack 10 days ago by warlord Harold Keke in his Weathercoast stronghold. Augustine Manakako, a former senior government official, said every house in Marasa, a village of about 500 people south of the capital Honiara, was burned to the ground. ``It was on a Sunday afternoon... when the militants came, grabbed three men and took them to the beach, took their clothes off and started parading them in front of the rest of the villagers,'' a tearful Manakako said. ``Bit by bit they broke their bones and finally cut their necks off,'' he said.
Manakako said he and hundreds of other villagers fled after the attack and trekked 50 km (30 miles) overland to reach refugee camps outside Honiara. Manakako said villagers feared that Keke would use them as human shields to block any advance of the Australian-led force, which could be in the Solomons by the end of July after the local government makes a formal request for help.
Australia and New Zealand have said Keke, a mysterious figure who rose to prominence after a 2000 coup, would have to be dealt with by the intervention force. Keke refused to sign an Australian-brokered peace deal after the coup that stemmed some of the violence between rival ethnic militias from Guadalcanal and neighboring Malaita islands. Leader of the Guadalcanal Liberation Front, Keke is accused of killing dozens of people, including government minister Father Augustine Geve last year. His militia began fighting Malaitan rivals in 1998 in land disputes around Honiara. Hundreds died in the fighting and 30,000 people were driven from their homes.
The 1,000-island Solomons archipelago scene of some of the fiercest Pacific battles of World War II has slipped deeper into chaos since the 2000 coup and is teetering on bankruptcy.
Posted by: Paul Moloney ||
07/02/2003 3:47:31 AM ||
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Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi provoked an uproar during a Wednesday speech to the European Parliament by telling a German critic he should star as a Nazi concentration camp guard in a movie. Tactless? yes. Uproar? play-acting cuz they didn't like Silvio in the first place
The remark prompted a rebuke from the parliament president, Pat Cox, who suspended the session after the flamboyant Berlusconi refused to withdraw his comment, saying it was meant as an "ironic joke." ;-)
Berlusconi, in his first appearance before the assembly since Italy assumed the European Union presidency on Tuesday, made his remark during a question-and-answer session following his speech. During that session, German socialist Martin Schulz referred to Berlusconi's use of an Italian immunity law to sidestep bribery charges in a Milan court. "In Italy, they are making a movie on Nazi concentration camps," Berlusconi snapped back. "I will propose you for the role of capo," or chief.
The comment triggered outrage among the 626-members of the EU assembly. Schulz said the remark showed Berlusconi was unfit to represent Europe. Berlusconi's words "debase the presidency of the (EU) council and offend Europe," said Graham Watson, leader of the Liberal Democrat group in the European Parliament. Schulz and Cox demanded an apology, but Berlusconi would only say it was meant as an "ironic joke."
Cox then closed the parliamentary debate, saying, "I regret the offense caused to a respected member, my colleague Mr. Schulz. It would be appropriate to correct the record in this regard. The debate is now closed." During a news conference, Berlusconi again refused to apologize, insisting his Nazi comment was meant as a joke inspired by the German legislator's "tone and gestures."
"My joke wasn't meant to be offensive," Berlusconi said. "It was an ironic joke, perhaps the translation wasn't done in an ironic sense." Berlusconi appeared before the parliament in Strasbourg, France, to outline his government's plans for the EU's six-month rotating presidency. He promised to work to improve ties with the United States following the Iraq war and to involve Europe in the quest for Middle East peace. Berlusconi, a staunch supporter of President Bush, said boosting the EU's role on the world stage would only work if the bloc renewed ties with Washington. However, attention quickly focused on Berlusconi's wheeler-dealer image and allegations by critics he is unfit to represent Europe.
On Monday, a Milan court suspended Berlusconi's trial for allegedly bribing Italian judges in the 1980s, years before he went into politics, to sway a ruling in the sale of state-held food conglomerate SME. The billionaire media mogul has denied the charges. The trial was halted after the Italian Parliament last month adopted legislation granting legal immunity to top officials. As Berlusconi rose to address the 626-member European Parliament, seven Green party members held up placards saying "everybody is equal under the law." Berlusconi responded: "If this is your idea of democracy, you ought to visit Italy as tourists. You are behaving as tourists." and not very well-raised ones either
Berlusconi also pledged that his government would complete negotiations on the first constitution for an expanded EU and would combat illegal immigration. The bloc grows from 15 to 25 members next year. "The Italian presidency will do all in its power ... to take responsible decisions on our future," Berlusconi said. "There is a great deal of moral and intellectual responsibility on our shoulders." He also pointed to the need to kick-start the sputtering EU economy by investing in bloc-wide upgrades of transportation networks, which he said would create new jobs and investment.
Even before the concentration camp remark, the debate focused as much on Berlusconi's personal suitability for the EU's top job as on his presidential agenda. Green leader Monica Frassoni likened Berlusconi to Attila the Hun, whose barbarian hordes ravished Europe in the 5th century without regard for the law. "Many people have been worried at your arrival, as an 'Attila of the Union,'" Frassoni said. "Political power, I'm afraid, leads to temptations to be above the law." Berlusconi is Italy's richest man. He controls a $7.8 billion media empire that includes the nation's largest private television broadcaster, Mediaset. Together with state-run RAI, he controls about 90 percent of Italy's television market, leading critics to charge he has too much influence over information that can be use for political and personal gains. the future of the EuroParliaments? heh heh bickering and backstabbing, just like everywhere else. Kumbaya anyone?
Posted by: Frank G ||
07/02/2003 1:35:37 PM ||
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There is confusion in Spain over the seizure off the Mediterranean coast of hundreds of firearms from a container ship destined for Africa. South Korean Defence Ministry officials said the cargo was legal, apparently contradicting Spanish police reports that the weapons were being transported with false documentation. The cargo, which included 280 K1A machine guns, 100 K2 assault rifles and 760 weapon cartridges, was intercepted off Barcelona on Tuesday on the basis of intelligence reports. It was said to be on its way from the South Korean port of Pusan to the Senegalese capital, Dakar. "The shipment is a legal export approved by the [South Korean] Defence Ministry on 12 May," spokesman Major Kim Ki-bum said. He added that the Spanish authorities might have thought the ship was North Korean. Better safe than sorry.
"We are dumbfounded," an official for Daewoo Precision Industries Company, the company which exported the guns, told the Associated Press news agency. Show them your papers and the nice Spanish cops will let you go. Just don't make any sudden moves.
It is not clear exactly where the weapons were destined to end up, but a rebellion is under way in southern Senegal, and there are numerous other armed conflicts in West Africa. It would be easier to list the countries that don't have a armed conflict.
A Marine general in Iraq ripped front-line journalists for "Chicken Little" coverage of the March invasion, and advised military leaders to "never forget how quickly the press jumped on the bandwagon of doom and gloom," a critical internal study of the war reveals. "Visions of Vietnam danced in reporters' heads" during halts in the march to Baghdad, griped the commanding general of the 1st Marine Division in a 67-page draft report obtained by WorldNetDaily. Read it yourself as they say...I just loved the Chicken Little image and wanted to share. Press corps have taken it to such an extreme that is becoming comical. Note Drudge this morning ... typical sky falling Reuters. (link split with return entered after "news?")
Also liked this bit: Joel Campagna of the Committee to Protect Journalists says ....
"There was a disturbing attitude from the Pentagon toward unilaterals," said Campagna, Islamist funded hack Mideast program coordinator for the nonprofit group . "They gave the perception that if you weren't embedded, you covered the war at your own risk, and that U.S. troops were under no obligation to at least avoid endangering you." Well....if not your own risk, whose risk? The troops? No doubt he thinks so.
DHAKA: Police and paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) on Tuesday seized another cache of 26,500 bullets and 32 kilograms of RDX from Bogra in the northern Bangladesh, a place where the biggest ever cache of arms and explosives were recovered on Friday. Officials said police and BDR recovered the arms and explosives from a pond, under a bush and houses in Kahalu village. Over 62,000 bullets and 114kg explosives were recovered from the same locality only four days ago. Meanwhile, the law enforcers recovered some bullets and 32kg explosives from different houses in Jogarpara village.
It doesn't say anything about the Long Arm of the Law ™ recovering any owners of all those implements of destruction...
was arrested by the security agencies on Tuesday along with five of his comrades from Sargodha. He had been named as chief of the splinter of Khuddam-ul-Islam after their leader Maulana Masood Azhar (Indian Airlines hijacking fame) expelled him and eleven other commanders of the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammad.
"Out! Out, damned turban!"
Jabbar is said to be a key suspect in three terror attacks on Christian targets last year. Investigators believe Jabbar provided weapons, intelligence and funds for a suicide attack on a church in Islamabad. It is also learnt that the police in Karachi was also looking for him to interrogate in a high profile bombing case reported last year. Sources said some suspects in the case had informed the investigators that in that case too Jabbar had assisted them. Sources said after his arrest his comrades in Karachi have gone underground to evade an imminent drive against them. Sources in the police said they had got orders from the top to catch them.
Pakistani authorities have detained a suspected Islamic militant who allegedly masterminded three attacks on Christians last year, killing nearly a dozen people including two Americans, intelligence officials said Wednesday. Abdul Jabbar was picked up during a raid in a remote village near the city of Sargodha, 120 miles southwest of Islamabad, the capital, an intelligence official told The Associated Press. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Jabbar played a key role in organizing the attacks on two churches and a missionary school in 2002. The Interior Ministry refused to confirm or deny the arrest. But officials familiar with the suspect's interrogations said Jabbar was being questioned about his alleged role in the attacks. Truncheon alert!
Five people, including two Americans, were killed on March 17, 2002, when a militant hurled grenades into a Protestant church in Islamabad attended by members of the diplomatic community. The attack also wounded 45 worshippers. The dead Americans were Barbara Green, a U.S. Embassy staffer, and her daughter Kristen Wormsley. The others killed included one Afghan, one Pakistani and one of unknown nationality. On Aug. 5, masked assailants stormed a Christian school campus in Murree, about 30 miles east of Islamabad, killing six Pakistanis and wounding two others. Four days later, three militants tossed grenades at a church on the grounds of a Presbyterian hospital in Taxila, about 25 miles west of Islamabad, killing four nurses and wounding about 25 people. Jabbar allegedly heads a faction of the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed group. A very busy outlawed faction.
We ran this yesterday, but I'll leave this one because it has a little more detail...
From Andrew Sullivan's blog - AndrewSullivan.com
As usual, Sullivan succintly hits the underlying rationale.
The inevitable outbreaks of violence and dissension in Iraq are obviously worth covering and important news. But there's an under-current of complete gloom in news reports that seems to me to be more fueled by ideological fervor than sober analysis.
Given the magnitude and complexity of the task of rebuilding post-Saddam Iraq, it seems to me we're making slow but decent progress. The lack of a complete social implosion or exploding civil war is itself a huge achievement. And no one said the post-war reconstruction was going to be easy.
Also, let's keep in mind that the objective in Iraq was to take away from terrorists another state that provides/would provide succor and support. After Afghanistan and Iraq, where will the rats flee to next? Iran? Things are getting kind of shaky for the mullahs there. Syria? I think Assad is getting the message that state-supported terrorism isn't good for one's resume.
So what's behind this drumbeat of apocalypse? I think it's a good rule among boomer journalists that every story they ever edit or write or film about warfare will at some point be squeezed into a Vietnam prism. The modern military has denied these people the chance to be vindicated during actual combat; so they will try and present the occupation in exactly the same light.
Yes, there is probably considerable discontent in Iraq right now; yes, every death is awful; but no, this isn't even close to being combat; let alone Vietnam. Of course, I won't be completely certain about this until Johnny Apple writes a front-page NYT news analysis piece laying out the new consensus. Tick, tock. Or is he too busy touring Devon? [I love Sullivan's sarcasm.]
Posted by: ColoradoConservative ||
07/02/2003 11:02:33 AM ||
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The U.S. military said Wednesday a deadly explosion in a mosque that enraged the Iraqi town of Falluja was triggered by a bomb-making class inside the building. "The explosion was apparently related to a bomb manufacturing class that was being taught inside the mosque," the U.S. Central Command said in a statement. Giving new meaning to "final exams".
Falluja residents had accused U.S. forces of attacking the mosque late Monday. Residents said the blast killed nine people, including the mosque's imam, or prayer leader. No doubt he used to be a very holy man.
They had blamed it on an American air strike -- an accusation U.S. military officials flatly denied.
Three witnesses said Wednesday that alleged Bali bombing mastermind Imam Samudra had asked them if they were willing to become suicide bombers.
"Hey, you guys! I gotta great idea! How 'bout if you become suicide bombers?"
"Yeah. We gotta great idea, too. How 'bout if you go have sex with yourself?"
They were testifying in the trial of Samudra, 33, who is accused of plotting the terror bombing of two Bali nightspots last October. Two of the witnesses said they had only discussed with Samudra plans to help Muslims in the religiously divided Ambon and Poso regions and had no knowledge about any plans to stage bombings in Bali. "I was hesitant. Shahid (martyrdom) bombing? In Indonesia?" asked Abdul Rauf.
"Me? Flying bits of meat? I dun' think' so..."
Another witness, Junaedi, alias Amin, testified that Samudra once asked him: "Are you ready to carry a martyr's bomb?" Junaedi, an accomplice in a robbery to help fund the bombings, said he did not reply.
"Ummm... Nope. How 'bout you?"
Police accused regional terror group the Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), which is believed linked to al-Qaeda, of staging the bombing of nightspots crowded with Western holidaymakers to avenge perceived injustices against Muslims worldwide. Rauf is on trial for robbing a jewellery shop in Banten to fund the Bali bombings. Like Samudra, he has been described as a computer expert. One of Rauf's accomplices in the robbery, Andri Oktavia, said he was "doubtful" about the possibility of staging a suicide attack. "It was only Iqbal who expressed readiness," Oktavia told judges.
What the hell kind of Indon name is "Andri Oktavia"?
Prosecutors say Iqbal detonated an explosives-stuffed vest he was wearing inside Paddy's Bar. Seconds later a man called Arnasan detonated a huge van bomb outside the nearby Sari Club. Arnasan died but it was unclear if he intended to be a suicide bomber.
"Hokay. What was the routine? Red to... [BOOM!]"
The disclosure that at least one suicide bomber was involved in the Bali attack heightened concern among security forces in Southeast Asia, where such tactics were previously unknown.
Police in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan said Wednesday they have quelled a fresh outbreak of ethnic violence in which members of the local Malay community attacked migrants from Madura island. "The police acted quickly and were able to prevent the violence in Karimunting from spreading further on Monday," said West Kalimantan police spokesman Didi Hardi. He said angry Malay villagers had set three houses of Madurese ablaze after a Madurese man stabbed a Malay. Some 200 Madurese fled their homes and police were now trying to get them to return. The man who stabbed the Malay following a misunderstanding was now in police custody in the nearby town of Singkawang, Hardi said. The wounded Malay is recovering in hospital in the province on Borneo island. An estimated 3,000 people died in 1999 during months of clashes in the province between indigenous Dayak tribesmen, supported by Malays, and the Madurese. Similar bloody clashes erupted in the neighbouring province of Central Kalimantan in 2000.
A suspected Muslim militant linked to bombings in Manila in December 2000 told a Philippine court on Wednesday he would rather die by firing squad than go to jail. Hadji Moklis Yunos broke down when prosecutors showed him photographs of the more than 20 people killed in the bombing of a train and other attacks he is accused of planning. "I cry every time I see it," Yunos, who wore orange prison garb, said at the preliminary hearing after looking at the photos. "I prefer the firing squad than be jailed." Give him what he wants.
Also at the hearing was self-confessed Jemaah Islamiah member Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, an Indonesian linked to the attacks in Manila. He is serving a 17-year term in a Philippine prison for illegal possession of explosives and falsifying travel documents. The Philippines, an overwhelmingly Christian nation, is also battling a number of homegrown Muslim and communist rebel groups. State prosecutor Peter Ong told reporters al-Ghozi's lawyer submitted an affidavit on Wednesday reaffirming a confession by the Indonesian that he and Moklis brought the explosives to Manila for the train bombing. Moklis told reporters he had been a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's largest Muslim guerrilla group, but was asked to leave at the time of the Manila attacks. He did not elaborate. Must have been too soft for them, they don't like people who cry at the sight of blood.
The United States has cut military aid to 35 countries over their refusal to exempt US troops from prosecution by the new International Criminal Court (ICC). The US, which is not a signatory to the ICC, has asked nations that recognise the court to exempt Americans from its provisions over fears they could be subject to politically-motivated prosecution by the court. Think Belgium writ large.
US officials says the suspension affects US allies like Brazil, Colombia and South Africa, the Baltic states as well as NATO hopefuls such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia. The EU-crats have been going nutz over this and have put serious pressure on these countries not to sign such agreements.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the US government will never accept the court. "It's important to protect American service men and women and others in government," Mr Fleischer said.
Our Washington correspondent John Shovelan says the decision to punish countries that have refused to exempt US troops from prosecution is the latest in a series of attacks on the court by the Bush administration. We're not attacking it, John, we're pointing out that we don't recognize its authority. And we won't allow our people to be persecuted prosecuted by it.
Posted by: Steve White ||
07/02/2003 6:13:59 PM ||
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The US government said Wednesday it will refuse to allow an Al Qaeda leader to give evidence at the trial of Zacharias Moussaoui, the only person formally charged for the September 11 attacks. Moussaoui had wanted to question Ramzi bin al-Shibh, an accused coordinator of the 2001 attacks who has been held in secret US detention since his arrest in Pakistan in September. But the Justice Department has argued that the testimony jeopardized national security.
BISHKEK: Members of an armed Islamic group crushed by US-led forces in 2001 have regrouped under a new name in Central Asia and are forging fresh ties with other militant organisations, Kyrgyz officials warned Wednesday. Having received 400,000 dollars (346,000 euros) from international terror funds, remnants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) which staged cross-border incursions until 2001, âare attempting to penetrate Central Asia from Afghanistan,â said Tokon Mamytov, chairman of Kyrgyzstanâs national security service. The secular leadership of this former Soviet republic has long been concerned at the possibility of a resurgence by the IMU, whose leader, Uzbek warlord Juma Namangani, was reportedly killed during the US-led overthrow of Afghanistanâs Taliban leadership. There is solid evidence of involvement in recent bombings in Bishkek and the second city Osh by former IMU members who have renamed themselves the Islamic Movement of Turkestan, Boris Poluektov, another official of the national security service, said.
Well, that oughta throw anybody chasing them off their trail. The false noses and chin whiskers help, too, but I'm not sure about the blond wigs...
Poluektov added that this reformed movement had âformed close tiesâ with Western Chinese Islamic separatists and with the Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation, a group which Western observers have always considered non-violent despite its ambition to create an Islamic state in Central Asia.
Hey! I'm western. I'm an observer! I don't consider them non-violent...
Madani, 72, has been under house-arrest since 1997, while Belhadj, 47, has served 12 years in prison. Mourad Dhina, the acting chief of the FIS, said in a statement that two Algerian officials had visited Madani in his father's house, where he was under house arrest, and asked him to sign his release papers. He added that anther two Algerian officials also visited Belhadj for the same purpose. However, former Algerian government minister Saida Benhabyles criticized the release of the two FIS leaders. Interviewed by Al-Jazeera satellite channel, she argued that Madani and Belhaj "have not paid the price of their crimes against humnanity, which are still being committed against children, women and the elderly due to their fatwas."
But now they'll have the liesure to compose more of them...
"These fatwas had their impacts on the economy and different aspects of the Algerian lifeâŠWe should mourn their release," she said. The former minister also voiced concern that FIS activists might win in the coming elections, adding that in such case "we will be allowing criminals to rule our country." The FIS party came to light in 1989 thanks to the 1988 constitutional amendments which allowed partisan plurality in the country. The party was recognized by the Algerian government in March 1989 and run the first free elections in the country after its independence and achieved a landslide victory in 853 municipalities out of 1539 and 32 states out of 48. It was banned in March 1992, two months after the army called off the second round of legislative elections which the Islamic party was poised to win. In May, 10 leading political and religious figures, including former president Ahmed Ben Bella, urged the government to release the two leaders to promote national reconciliation after a decade of civil war.
Thousands of residents who fled inter-militia fighting in the town of Bunia in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have begun returning to their homes, the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, known as MONUC, reported on Tuesday. "With a general calm now prevailing in town, people have been returning since last Thursday," Leocardio Salmeron, the MONUC spokesman, told IRIN. "They are arriving in small groups 1,000 one day, 1,200 another day and 1,300 the next but we do not yet have definitive figures and we are trying to compile a more accurate estimate," he said.
The humanitarian situation had not worsened, he said, because of the small number of daily arrivals. "Daily activities are restarting little by little, vegetables and meat are available at the market, so it seems there is a sufficient food supply at the moment," he said. Humanitarian agencies had estimated that between 200,000 and 350,000 people fled Bunia and the surrounding region when fighting between Hema and Lendu militias took a turn for the worse in May. For its part, MONUC estimated that at the height of the fighting, between 10,000 and 17,000 people sought refuge in its Bunia compound and at the airport, which was also under its control. "The majority of these people are trying to figure out when they can return home, because many of their homes were damaged," Salmeron said. "Humanitarian organisations had done a tremendous amount of work to ensure the restoration of water purification facilities, and the Congolese Red Cross have removed all corpses from the city," he added.
President Bush told Liberian President Charles Taylor on Wednesday to leave his West African country and said the United States was looking at ways to end nearly 14 years of violence there.
Step one is seeing what Chuck's back looks like...
Strife in Liberia hangs over Bush's first visit to Africa next week, with the United States under pressure to act because of its historical ties to a country founded by freed American slaves more than 150 years ago. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Britain, France, West African countries and thousands of desperate Liberians have all called for U.S. troops to take the lead in restoring peace. "We are exploring all options as to how to keep the situation peaceful and stable," Bush told reporters at the White House. "One thing needs to happen... Mr. Taylor needs to leave the country." When a Texan tells you to git out of town, you better git.
Bush had previously demanded simply that Taylor step down. An increasing number of people have suggested that Taylor could go into exile elsewhere in the region to try to end the bloody crisis, but the situation is complicated by an indictment for war crimes brought against him by a U.N.-backed court in Sierra Leone. And we have to do what the U.N. tells us to do, right?
As a practical matter, if Chuck's not dead or in jug he's going to be getting his boyz together (using the usual shadowy means of financing) to make a comeback. So any solution that doesn't involve a firing squad just puts the problem into the basement, to grow more fangs...
U.N. diplomats said in New York that Taylor had already rejected an offer of asylum from Nigeria, which does not have a law under which he could be extradited to Sierra Leone to face the court. Taylor, accused of fanning more than a decade of conflict in the region, has demanded that the indictment be dropped. No
West African leaders also suggest that might be the best way of ending Liberia's war and thereby helping ensure peace elsewhere. They are also not happy with the idea that they might also have to face a war crimes trial someday.
"It may not satisfy purists on one side or the other, but we are not just looking at the fate of one man but that of three million people," Ghanaian Foreign Minister Nana Akufo-Addo told Reuters. It'll be easier to help those three million people if we just remove one man. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one."
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer recently ran an opinion piece on Corrie evidently designed to pave the wave for her almost certain beatification. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/128601_rached.html. The London-based blogger Oliver Kamm does a nice job slicing and dicing opinion piece. The italicized text are quotes from the opinion piece.
The terrible death of anti-Israel activist Rachel Corrie beneath an Israeli bulldozer was plainly an accident - an impassioned demonstration that got out of hand - and no fair-minded observer would doubt the thoroughness and fairness of the Israeli army's investigation. But that won't stop unfair-minded observers from using Miss Corrie's memory as a tabula rasa on which to write their own myths.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, taking a proprietorial interest in the city's late resident, graciously allows:
"Israel has concluded that the death of a peace activist from Evergreen State College was a total accident. That could be."
Yes, it could, couldn't it? Because 'could' in this context is one of those weasel words that allow incompetent journalists to hint at what they mean without being tied down to saying it. If the Seattle Post-Intelligencer believes a plausible alternative explanation for Miss Corrie's death exists, then it should say so plainly rather than engage in knowing insinuation. And while it's cleaning up its language it 'could' usefully engage in journalistic research rather than idle cliche: [Couldn't agree more. The sly use of "could" is a favorite device of biased media.]
"It's clear that this was a young woman of uncommon compassion, committed to fairness for Palestinians. However she died, she left an impressive legacy, as the Evergreen State students made clear in remembering her at what should have been her June 13 graduation."
Unlike the authors of this slush, I would not claim to know Miss Corrie's motivations, but it is no more accurate to describe her campaigning as 'an impressive legacy' than it is to refer to her as a 'peace activist'. The International Solidarity Movement is not an advocate of peace: it explicitly states on its home page:
"[W]e recognize the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggle."
What it means by 'legitimate armed struggle' is disclosed in a diary written last week by an ISM activist from the UK (who would benefit from the services of an editor to cure him of both his verbal incontinence and his presumably unwitting admissions): ["verbal incontinence" - that's a good one!]
"The movement is non-violent, and trains people in that practice. Tonight I sleep in a martyrs [sic] house, which is a practice used to try to stop them being knocked down by the Israelis." ["Martys house" must be Hamas code for terrorist location. Do these clueless kids have any idea what a self-parody they are?]
By 'martyr', the writer means someone who detonated a bomb intending to kill as many Jewish civilians as possible - on a bus, in a shopping mall, at a discotheque, in a restaurant, or in some other populous place. It's difficult to conceive of the callousness and lack of imagination of someone who can employ such a laudatory epithet casually, unthinkingly and without a trace of compassion, uncommon or otherwise, for the victims of urban terror. Yet this is the movement under whose auspices Rachel Corrie agitated.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, having thus neatly romanticised the abhorrent, has one final insult to administer to the notion of public service:
"Somewhat similarly, Americans understand (better than the Pentagon does) the value of settling questions around Pvt. Jessica Lynch's capture and rescue. But, ultimately, the conclusions won't change the honor due Lynch, who put her life on the line for something larger than herself, as did Corrie."
Leave aside the notion that a thoroughly debunked story about Jessica Lynch might still have life in it, and consider the comparison. One of these young women served bravely under the American flag in a coalition to liberate an imprisoned nation and remove a military threat. The other, who would have been in no danger of death or injury at all if she had simply got up and walked away, tore up the American flag while putting on her special compassionate expression for the cameras. It may be common practice to gloss over the character deficiencies of the recently-deceased, but that's no reason to blaspheme.
Posted by: ColoradoConservative ||
07/02/2003 11:27:08 AM ||
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A majority of the over 300 al-Qaeda members being held in Iran are Kuwaitis and Saudis, says an informed source. Tap, tap, no suprise there.
The source told Al-Anba Iran's Ministry of Security has prepared a list on the identities and names of al-Qaeda members held in its prisons. "Tehran, however, prefers, not to reveal the names and nationalities of the detainees because most of them are Kuwaitis and Saudis," he added. Don't want to embarass their "friends"?
"The total number of al-Qaeda members held in Iran exceeds 300. Most of them have been involved in major terror plots and attacks. We, therefore, do not wish to aggravate tension between Riyadh and Washington, in particular," said the source. Oh, we already know about the connection between Riyadh and al-Qaeda. Aggravate away.
Iranian sources had earlier confirmed Iranian intelligence officials are involved in secret negotiations with Arab and international intelligence officials, including the British intelligence, to discuss the fate of al-Qaeda detainees. They'd like to quietly ship them out of the country so someone else can take care of the problem.
Strange this should come out after the FBI dug a dry well in emptying that pond in Md. Looks like they're doing another Richard Jewell operation - "we think he's the one and we'll prove it, facts be damned". Now the NY Times is doing the CNN imitation, helping convict the guy in the press
Three years ago, the United States began a secret project to train Special Operations units to detect and disarm mobile germ factories of the sort that Iraq and some other countries were suspected of building, according to administration officials and experts in germ weaponry. The heart of the effort, these officials said, was a covert plan to construct a mobile germ plant, real in all its parts but never actually "plugged in" to make weapons. In the months before the war against Iraq, American commandos trained on this factory. The tale of the mobile unit provides a glimpse into one of the most secretive of military and intelligence worlds, that of germ warfare defense. But here, two stories intersect. The first involves this previously unknown aspect of the Iraq war. The second involves the investigation into who sent letters containing anthrax that killed five people in the United States in late 2001.
Officials familiar with the secret project say that to design an American version of a mobile germ unit, the government turned to Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, then a rising star in the world of biological defense but more recently publicly identified by the Justice Department as "a person of interest" in the anthrax investigation. Officials now say a major reason he came under suspicion was his work on the mobile unit. Dr. Hatfill has been subjected to greater scrutiny than anyone else in the anthrax investigation, but the government has brought no charges. He has repeatedly denied any role in the attacks and has said he knows nothing about anthrax production.
Dr. Hatfill, people close to him say, is proud of his work on the mobile unit and says it demonstrates his desire to assist the government in biodefense, even though investigators tried to use his work against him. In any case, investigators found no evidence suggesting that the plant ever made anthrax, his friends, government experts and investigators all agree. The secret trainer is similar to the mobile units that the Bush administration has accused Iraq of building to produce biological weapons. Neither its existence nor Dr. Hatfill's work on it has previously been disclosed publicly. Pat Clawson, Dr. Hatfill's spokesman and friend, said Dr. Hatfill would not comment on any secret project or any role that he might have played. Mr. Clawson also declined comment.
Dr. Hatfill helped develop the mobile plant while working for Science Applications International Corporation, a leading contractor for the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, the officials and the experts said. They said the unit was set up last fall at Fort Bragg, N.C., to help Delta Force, the Army's elite Special Operations unit, learn what to look for in Iraq and how to react if it found dangerous mobile gear. Several people familiar with the Delta Force trailer, including senior counterterrorism officials, said it was intended solely for training. They emphasized that its components were not connected and that it could not have made lethal germs.
Even after the F.B.I. began investigating Dr. Hatfill, the Pentagon continued to draw on his expertise. But tensions arose between the Justice Department and the Defense Department over their access to the mobile unit, the weapons experts said. The trainer's equipment includes a fermenter, a centrifuge and a mill for grinding clumps of anthrax into the best size for penetrating human lungs, these experts said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, suspecting that components from the Delta trainer might have been used to make the anthrax mailed in late 2001, examined the unit, officials and experts said. But investigators found no spores or other evidence linking it to the crime, they said.
The mobile unit is part of the government's secretive effort to develop germ defenses. Critics say such biodefense projects often test the limits of the 1975 global ban on germ weapons, which the United States championed. But the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax letters only weeks later prompted the Bush administration to greatly expand the number of such clandestine projects. Elisa D. Harris, a Clinton administration arms control official now at the University of Maryland, said developing a mobile germ trainer would not violate the treaty. But she questioned the wisdom of it. "It will raise concerns in other capitals," Dr. Harris said, "in part because the United States has fought tooth and nail to prevent the international community from strengthening the germ treaty."
Senior Pentagon officials declined to discuss the mobile unit. An administration official said the Pentagon had reviewed the unit to ensure legal compliance with the germ treaty. The American mobile unit was not a first. About 50 years ago, when the United States made germ weapons, scientists drew up plans for mobile units that could produce enough anthrax to kill almost everyone in a large city, said William C. Patrick III, a former head of product development at Fort Detrick, Md., then the military's center for developing germ weapons. The goal, Mr. Patrick said in an interview, was to create a reserve in case an enemy destroyed the nation's germ factories, in Arkansas and Maryland at the time. Over the decades, other countries, including Iraq, have also sought such mobile gear. After Iraq lost the 1991 Persian Gulf war and agreed to destroy its unconventional arms, Iraqi officials told United Nations inspectors that Baghdad had once considered making mobile germ plants. A United Nations official said that inspectors "kept that in the back of their minds" while looking for evidence of mobile germ plants. They found none.
In the fall of 1997, Dr. Hatfill, a medical doctor, entered the world of germ defense by taking a job at Fort Detrick, where he studied protections against deadly viruses like Ebola. In late 1998, he began working at Science Applications, a company based in San Diego that has offices in the Virginia suburbs of Washington. Among other things, it helps the government develop defenses against germ weapons. At Science Applications in Virginia, because of an increase in anthrax hoaxes, Dr. Hatfill helped commission a paper from Mr. Patrick to assess the risks of spores sent through the mail. The February 1999 paper compared the probable physical characteristics of anthrax that could be produced by amateurs with the known traits of American weapon-grade anthrax; it said nothing about anthrax production.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and other senior American officials have said that in late 1999 a defecting Iraqi chemical engineer told American officials he had supervised operations at a mobile germ unit, and that Baghdad was making a fleet of them. By 2000, the United States appears to have concluded that the rumored Iraqi mobile plants were probably real. At his job, Dr. Hatfill took on the mobile trainer project with enthusiasm, colleagues recalled. At times, one said, he asserted that he was its instigator. Military officials said that the effort was financed by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, an arm of the Pentagon that works to counter biological, radiological and chemical weapons. Experts said that Science Applications assigned the project to Dr. Hatfill and Dr. Joseph F. Soukup, a vice president for biomedical science, who helped commission the 1999 anthrax report. Science Applications declined to discuss the project or Dr. Hatfill's involvement. "It's highly classified," Ron Zollars, a company spokesman, said. Dr. Soukup did not return phone calls.
To learn about mobile production, Dr. Hatfill again called on Mr. Patrick and his encyclopedic knowledge. The collaboration, experts said, produced a novel design that demonstrated a number of ways to multiply viruses and bacteria, including the use of fermentation, chicken eggs and tissue culture. It was not meant to replicate Iraqi or American designs but instead to illustrate a range of mobile biological threats. In 2000, Dr. Hatfill began gathering parts for the mobile unit. Another quoted Dr. Hatfill as saying he had bought parts for the Delta trailer long before its construction and stored them in a warehouse. "It's all the ordering of equipment that in hindsight looks suspicious," said a third expert, who is familiar with the secret federal projects that Dr. Hatfill worked on. The trainer's construction began in September 2001, one expert said. Dr. Hatfill supervised it at A.F.W. Fabrication, a metalworking plant on the outskirts of Frederick, Md. The shop was a mile from Dr. Hatfill's apartment outside Fort Detrick's main gate. Although Dr. Hatfill seemed fully engaged in biodefense work, his world began unraveling. That summer, the C.I.A. had rejected his application for a high-level intelligence clearance after he failed a polygraph test. Then, in September 2001, the anthrax attacks began and Dr. Hatfill soon found himself under scrutiny. Science Applications fired him in March 2002. The secret Delta trailer as then half built. Mr. Zollars of Science Applications said Dr. Hatfill did no further work for the company and received no further pay. Experts familiar with Dr. Hatfill said he continued to work on the germ trainer. "He was doing it on his own, using his own money," one recalled.
Later, as the Delta trailer was being hauled to Fort Bragg, F.B.I. agents and experts pulled it over and thoroughly checked it for anthrax and other deadly germs. "The F.B.I. wanted to confiscate it," one expert recalled. After tense discussions, the Pentagon kept the Delta trailer, which was set up at Fort Bragg last fall in preparation for the war with Iraq. Experts said many troops used it in training sessions run at times by Dr. Hatfill and at other times by Mr. Patrick. "This is a sensitive thing," Col. Bill Darley, spokesman for the United States Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., said of the mobile unit in an interview. He declined to disclose details, other than to say it was used exclusively for training. "We are not growing anthrax or botulinum toxin," Colonel Darley said. "None of this equipment is functional. It looks like â it is â the real stuff, but it's nonfunctional." Friends said Dr. Hatfill was deeply committed to following through on the project because it was for the Special Forces, in which he had tried to serve while in the Army at Fort Bragg. "I had given my word," one friend quoted him as saying. "I wasn't about to break it."
Posted by: Frank G ||
07/02/2003 9:51:57 AM ||
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Israeli and Palestinian leaders promised painful concessions at a summit that raised hopes of ending nearly three years of violence, and the two sides worked out final details to put Bethlehem back under Palestinian control. Speaking in front of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office before a summit Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said the turnover of Bethlehem and Gaza would be "followed by pullbacks from the rest of the cities and towns and Palestinian refugee camps." The handover of the ancient town was expected Wednesday afternoon after the last of the Israeli soldiers left. On Tuesday, army transport trucks hauled equipment away from two Israeli bases next to the town. At a barracks near a derelict helipad, laughing Palestinian thought police tried on their uniforms. Nearby, a special forces officer barked orders at recruits in green camouflage and bright red berets as they practiced marching in a courtyard. "Today, we're restoring our leadership in one city in this land," their gangleader commander, Hani Deek, said. "I hope the rest will soon follow." Restoring? Uh-huh. Sure.
Posted by: RiNeref ||
07/02/2003 9:34:57 AM ||
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The Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Abdullah Shallah was quoted Wednesday as saying that he believes the truce with Israel "would not last long." "The ceasefire's lifespan depends entirely on Israel's conduct. The agreement will be cancelled immediately if any of our conditions are breached," Shallah told the Lebanese A Safir newspaper. "And if our conditions are met, we'll make up something"
Shallah added that the Islamic Jihad saw the resistance to the Israeli occupation as its strategy and thus the cease-fire was just a tactical move and not a long-term policy. We knew that.
He conveyed that by declaring the truce, his group did not recognize Israel. However, the decision to announce this move was taken in order to "safeguard the Palestinian national interest." Shallah predicted that the Middle East road map would eventually fail as was the case of the Oslo Accords. At least we agree on something.
KCNA -- The Japanese government is contemplating the adjustment of the system of exchanging information about illegal export with other Asian countries under the pretext of "preventing the illegal supply of weapons of mass destruction and missile substance." The adjustment of the system much publicized by Japan is aimed to set up an institutional mechanism of intercepting and inspecting vessels and aircraft that transport nuclear substance, missile parts or facilities and materials needed for manufacturing them. This is, in essence, designed to justify its blockade against the DPRK in all parts of Asia. If you guys were exporting televisions or shoes this wouldn't be a problem. Of course, if you were doing that, you wouldn't be a problem.Hilariously Explicitly speaking, the DPRK has not acceded to the missile technology control system and, therefore, it is an independent if nutbag sovereign state that is not bound to any law as far as export and transfer of technology are concerned. The DPRK government's policy of export of arms calls for making legal trade to meet demands of sovereign states for their legitimate self-defence. Therefore, the Japanese reactionaries' view that the DPRK might have smuggled nuclear substance and missiles to terrorist groups can not but be an insult to the DPRK's firm stand against terrorism.
"At least, the juche definition of terrorism..."
Japan's intention to intercept and inspect the DPRK's vessels is an insolent act that wantonly violates international law which bans searching or seizing ships in the open sea. What matters is that the Japanese reactionaries are acting a shock brigade in carrying out the Bush administration's policy to lay an international siege to the DPRK, taking advantage of its policy to stifle the DPRK in the wake of the U.S.-Japan summit talks. So stifle already!
It is a publicly known fact that Bush and Koizumi vowed to inspect the DPRK's ships under the pretext of preventing the "smuggling of drugs and weapons and the illegal financial transaction" at the talks. To this end, Japan discussed the issue of setting its maritime "self-defence force" in motion to "intercept the DPRK's ships engaged in smuggling drugs, weapons and counterfeit money" and the way of taking "multilateral measures" against its ships in the open sea. That's more scare quotes than in a Reuters piece.
Moreover, the chief cabinet secretary of Japan officially declared that he would take all measures including the inspection of the DPRK's ships at 50 Japanese ports. All this goes to clearly prove that by misusing the complicated and tense situation on the Korean peninsula the Japanese reactionaries seek to evade its responsibility to compensate for its hideous crimes committed against the Koreans in the past and realize its ambition for the reinvasion of Korea at any cost. Right about now I'd forgive Japan a lot if they re-occupied NKor and started fixing it.
If Japan infringes upon the sovereignty of the DPRK in cooperation with the U.S., prompted by a sinister intention, the DPRK will not hesitate to strongly retaliate against it. Weak. No army spirit, no juche, not even a running dog to be found. [holds up card] 6.5 at best.
Posted by: Steve White ||
07/02/2003 2:06:39 AM ||
Top|| File under:
The United States has told its allies it believes North Korea is developing miniature nuclear weapons small enough to use as missile warheads and could perfect the technology within a year, according to a report yesterday. But analysts questioned the reliability of the claims in the wake of the controversy over intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Usual journalist nattering, all upset about a lack of perfect intelligence, when they themselves can't predict what they'll have for lunch.
The US allegations were reported by the New York Times, quoting officials who had seen CIA assessments. According to those assessments, spy satellites had spotted an advanced nuclear testing site near the hub of the country's nuclear programme at Yongbyon. North Korean scientists were alleged to be testing shaped explosives designed to compress a plutonium core and trigger a nuclear blast. "Dear Leader, we must show you wonderous advance in our technology!"
"Proceed, knave, even though I know it all already."
"Yes, Dear Leader, of course you do. You see, we have these two plutonium blocks, and when we wish to trigger a nuclear explosion, we bring them together ..."
"You mean like this?"
If true, the report suggests that Pyongyang is closer than had previously been thought to building a compact nuclear device that could be put on top of its missiles, which are capable of reaching Japan. "This is a more advanced technology than we thought the North Koreans had," said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear weapons expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. But he warned that both the CIA and the North Koreans had a vested interest in exaggerating the threat.
Oh. Well. In that case we won't worry about it. Anybody got another article on Britney's boob job?
"The doubts are over the CIA's ability to portray what is going on in North Korea," he said. "It could be an over-reach by an agency eager to prove its worth to the president. It also wouldn't be the first time the North Koreans had puffed themselves up to make themselves seem more threatening than they really are. They think that works for them." The part about the CIA is idiotic. The CIA gets no points for providing the Pres with bad intel when it comes to nuclear weapons.
US intelligence officials yesterday said they had no comment on the report, which bolstered the US argument that North Korea is a threat to east Asia, and therefore represents a problem that can only be solved by a coalition of the US, South Korea, China and Japan. According to the New York Times, the intelligence report was passed on to Seoul, Tokyo and other allies. Reports suggest North Korea could be within a year of building a warhead for its missiles, but that was described as "a best guess rather than a solid estimate". The CIA believes that North Korea already has one or two crude nuclear devices predating a 1994 non-proliferation agreement with the US. Last year Pyongyang expelled international nuclear inspectors and took steps to begin reprocessing its store of 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods to produce more plutonium. Between 1,000 and 1,500 rods would provide enough plutonium for one nuclear warhead. It is so far unclear whether reprocessing has begun. US intelligence has picked up no signs of krypton gas, normally released into the atmosphere early in the procedure. However, that gas is not always easy to detect from remote sensors. Some US officials believe North Korean scientists may have run into technical problems restarting the reprocessing plant in January. Scientists were too weak from hunger to push the buttons!
Posted by: Steve White ||
07/02/2003 1:42:45 AM ||
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A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.