#. 43. July 21,
SPECIAL ISSUE ON BUSH, CHENEY & CORPORATE SLEAZE!!!
*BUSH'S SECRET HARKEN INVESTOR:BIN LADEN?
*HALLIBURTON COOKS THE BOOKS, RAKESIN WAR PROFITS!
*PEASANTS PROTEST OXY IN ECUADOR!
ALSO: PENTAGON PLANS DROID ARMY, SPAIN EXPELS THE MOORS--AGAIN!
CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: YELLOW
By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Special Correspondent
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Attack At Settlement Kills Eight
2. Suicide Attack Exposes Harsh Deal for Foreign Workers
3. Israel Reconsiders Deporting Kin of Bombers
4. Israeli Rescue Workers Get PR Training
5. Action in West Bank and Gaza
6. Next: Glider Attacks?
7. Israel Threatens to Strike Syria
8. Nine Arrested for Selling Ammo to Palestinians
9. Kach Militants Attack US Consulate Guards in Jerusalem
10. Israel to Establish 14 New Jewish Towns
11. Settler Rabbi: Refuseniks Must Die
12. "No Conclusive Evidence" Arafat Backed Terror
13. Israel to Reopen Nusseibeh Office
14. Radical Attorney Stanley Cohen in Case Against Israel
15. Rai Star Khaled Defies Boycott
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. Pentagon Can't Get Its Story Straight
2. Gul Agha "Bought Off"
3. U.S. Breaks Up Afghan Fracas with 500-Pound Bomb
4. Ancient City Discovered
THE NEW GREAT GAME
1. Japan Pledges Support for Trans-Afghan Pipeline
2. US Boosts Military Ties to Kazakhstan
3. Fear in Uzbekistan
4. Fear in China
5. Russia-China War Games Confirmed
1. Hideous Escalation in Kashmir--Again
2. India Calls on US to Declare Pakistan a "Terrorist State"
3. Sheikh Omar Faces Death in Pearl Slaying
4. Blasphemer Stoned to Death in Pakistan
5. Tourists Attacked in Pakistan
6. Nepal Seeks Counter-Insurgency Aid
1. Spain and Morocco Spark International Crisis Over Barren Chunk of Rock. Huh?
THE ANDEAN FRONT
1. Reich to Uribe: "Take the War to the Guerillas"
2. FARC-IRA Connection?
3. Exxon, Oxy, Coke, Dole Reap Colombia Profits
4. US to Resume Shooting Down Drug Flights
5. Colombia War Spreading into Ecuador
6. Julia Butterfly Arrested in Ecuador
7. Bolivia Destabilization Campaign Threatened
8. Pipeline Consortium in Bolivia Controversy
GLIMMERS OF HOPE
1. Costa Rica Gives Harken Heave-Ho
2. Peru Defeats Energy Privatization
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. Bush's Secret Harken Investor: Bin Laden?
2. Cheney Named in Halliburton Fraud Suit
3. Did Cheney Grease Halliburton Corporate Welfare?
4. Halliburton Rakes in Terror War Bucks
5. Corporate Interests See Windfall in Homeland Security
6. Setback for Secrecy in Cheney Energy Plan
7. Swiss Revoke Registration of Bin Ladin Trademark
8. Pentagon Seeks "Streamlining"
9. Pentagon Plans Droid Army
10. Pentagon Boasts "Space Supremacy"
11. Pentagon Taps Hollywood Sci-Fi Brain Trust
THE WAR AT HOME
1. "National Homeland Security Strategy" Released
2. Operation TIPS Halted--For Now
3. Pentagon Launches "Northern Command"
4. Donahue Does Detainees
5. Warren Christopher Warns of "Disappeared"
6. UN Rights Chief Warns of Abuses In Global Terror War
7. Recruiters Use High Pressure, Humiliation...
8. And New Video Game...
9. And Access to Student Records
10. Paranoia in the Sky
11. John Walker Lindh Cops a Plea
12. Moussaoui Attempts to Plead Guilty
13. Hamdi Incomunicado
14. Sleepers In Seattle?
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. ATTACK AT SETTLEMENT KILLS EIGHT
A July 16 attack by Palestinian militants on a bus near the West Bank settlement of Immanuel killed eight. The gunmen were dressed in uniforms of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), which may have allowed them to infiltrate the restricted area. Two 20-kilo (44-pound) bombs were set off about 200 meters (656 feet) from the town's entrance. The front tires sustained damage, forcing the bus off the road. Its doors were sealed shut by the explosion. Three or four attackers then appeared, shot at the passengers through the roof, and threw grenades through the windows. Sixteen were wounded, including three traveling in a vehicle in front of the bus. ( Haaretz, July 17; Jerusalem Post, July 17; AP July 16)
The attackers managed to flee towards Nablus. Spotting an IDF patrol searching for them in Kana riverbed to the east of Emmanuel, they opened fire. One of the gunmen and an IDF officer were killed in the ensuing battle. One of the Palestinians managed to escape.
Four Palestinian militant groups claimed responsibility in communiques to the press, including Izzadin Kassam, the military wing of Hamas; al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Islamic Jihad. (Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, July 17) The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack, saying it "rejects targeting civilians, whether they are Israelis or Palestinians." (AP, July 16) Yeshiva students gathered by entrance of Immanuel July 18 and chanted in unison, in Hebrew and English, "Death to the Arabs! Death to the Arabs!" (Haaretz, July 19) (David Bloom)
2. SUICIDE ATTACK EXPOSES HARSH DEAL FOR FOREIGN WORKERS
Two suicide bombers killed 3 and wounded 40 near Tel Aviv's old central bus station July 17. The bombers, also killed in the attack, were standing 15 meters (49 feet) apart, and detonated within a minute of each other (Haaretz, July 18). A streetwalking prostitute who works the area, called Naomi, encountered one of the bombers shortly before the attack. "I saw a young Arab, wearing shorts and carrying two nylon bags," she said. "I offered him sex, but he replied 'no, I am going to die tonight.'" She called the police, but there was no answer; five minutes later, she heard the explosions (Jerusalem Post, July 17). Responsibility for the attack was claimed by Islamic Jihad, but the Shin Bet security service said it had information that Fatah's al-Aksa Brigades were responsible. (Haaretz, July 20) The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack . (Haaretz, July 18)
Two of those killed in the attack, and many of the wounded, were foreign workers. In order to keep pace with the economic boom of the '90's, foreign "guest" workers started coming into Israel in droves ten years ago. Before Sept. 2000, when the Intifada broke out, 125,000 Palestinians worked in Israel. That number is now vastly reduced. Much of the shortfall is made up with foreign workers, from Asia, Europe, and Africa. An estimated 300,000 foreign workers live in Israel. They are seen working in menial jobs in restaurants, on construction sites, and in the homes of better-off Israelis. According to Chana Zohar, head of Workers' Hotline (Kav La'oved), working and living conditions for these workers can be "very, very bad, almost not [fit for] humans." Many are in a kind of indentured servitude, forced to spend the first year paying their employers back for the loans used to get them to Israel. But even if employers are abusive, under Israeli law foreign workers cannot quit without becoming illegal immigrants . (LA Times, July 19) They cannot receive Israeli citizenship unless they convert to Judaism. Children of guest workers born in Israel are not eligible for citizenship. Israel is a signatory to an international covenant mandating that children everywhere in the world, irrespective of their legal status, are eligible to grow up with the same advantages of children of natives. The only Israeli ministry that applies the covenant fully is the Education Ministry, which provides compulsory education to children of guest workers. National health insurance for children, free for Israelis, can only be obtained by guest workers with a fee, amounting to 10-15% of their average salary . (Haaretz, July 20)
Many of the injured workers were in Israel illegally, and were afraid to seek medical treatment, for fear of being deported, or compelled to pay for treatment. According to a policy change by the National Insurance Institute (NII) in the last few weeks, foreigners in Israel illegally are no longer eligible to receive free medical services for work accidents or childbirth. Spokesperson Haim Fitussi said July 18, "Foreign workers will be compensated for wounds suffered in hostile actions as long as they entered the country legally." But Zohar cautioned that foreign workers do not understand enough to distinguish between the differences in policy. "The NII has created dangerous confusion," said Zohar. Israeli daily Ma'ariv reported that despite entreaties by the police to workers wounded in the attack to go to a hospital, many refused. (Jerusalem Post, July 19) Witnesses saw injured workers leaving the scene. Maariv reported a man from Ghana, almost unable to walk on his bloodied feet, refusing to allow police to put him in an ambulance, even after receiving assurances from officers he would not be deported (LA Times, July 19) (David Bloom)
See a timeline of suicide bombings.
3. ISRAEL RECONSIDERS DEPORTING KIN OF BOMBERS
Faced with international condemnation for its threat to deport family members of Palestinian suicide attackers from the West Bank to Gaza--and a ruling by the Israeli attorney general--Israel's government dropped the policy. On July 19, Israeli officials said they were considering exiling to the Gaza Strip 21arrested family members of recent suicide bombers. Amnesty International and Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups said the deportations would violate international law, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said "self-defense cannot justify measures that amount to collective punishments." The US likewise expressed its concern: "We expect that Israel's actions in its campaign against terror will be based on information related to an individual's culpability and not on personal or family relationships," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein's office issued a statement July 21 that only those "directly involved" in attacks could be considered for deportation. (AP, July 21; Haaretz, July 21 ) Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said he supported the deportations if there were legally approved. (Haaretz, July 21) Although Israel decided against deporting the relatives, they did demolish the homes of the two families near Nablus on July 19. (Jerusalem Post, July 19) (David Bloom)
4. ISRAELI RESCUE WORKERS GET P.R. TRAINING
Israeli rescue workers have been trained to coordinate and facilitate public relations in the aftermath of suicide bombing attacks. This practice started four months ago during Operation Defensive Shield, when the Foreign Ministry, Israeli Police and ZAKA [Hebrew acronym for Identification of Disaster Victims] came up with procedures to deal effectively with the media following attacks. After terror attacks, correspondents are quickly brought to the scene. After a June 19 attack on a bus in Jerusalem, ZAKA workers placed the body bags of victims alongside the remains of the bus, and gave journalists the necessary time to document what they saw. Security personnel provided photographers with good shooting angles, without disrupting the evacuation of the dead and wounded from the scene. (Haaretz, June 19) (David Bloom)
5. ACTION IN WEST BANK AND GAZA
The IDF arrested 10 Palestinians July 15 in the West Bank in the areas of Tul Karm, Jenin, Qalqilyah and Hebron. Also July 15, Palestinians say IDF soldiers threw an explosive device into a factory in Qalqilyah, starting a blaze that killed a Palestinian man. Witnesses say the IDF prevented a Palestinian fire truck from entering the scene, but then let two Israeli fire trucks to extinguish the fire. The IDF is looking into the report . (Haaretz, July 16)
IDF troops and Israeli border police engaged in a battle with Fatah gunmen in the village of Silat a-Daher, south of Jenin July 17. One of the gunmen was killed and three were wounded. Also that day, an Israeli warplane bombed and destroyed a factory near the Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Military sources claimed it was a Hamas weapons factory. (Haaretz, July 18)
On July 20, nine arrests were made in Nablus, Tulkarm and Ramallah, and a senior Islamic Jihad militant from Qabatiyah was arrested near Jenin. The curfew was lifted for "relatively long periods" in in Jenin, Ramallah, Qalqilyah and Hebron. Nablus has remained in a near-continuous state of curfew for the last month. (Haaretz, July 20)
On July 22 in the southern Gaza Strip, two Palestinian gunmen were killed and two IDF soldiers injured in a gun battle near the settlement of Tel Katifa. The IDF said the two had been planning to attack the Tel Katifa military outpost. (Haaretz, July 22) (David Bloom)
6. NEXT: GLIDER ATTACKS?
Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip are considering the use of gliders or para-gliders to attack settlements or targets inside Israel, according to IDF sources. IDF troops recently found two motorized para-gliders during a search of a Palestinian Authority compound in Hebron. In Gaza, a Hamas activist, Mohammed Hussein Karsua, 28, has been indicted for attempting to build a glider last November, allegedly to be used in attacks. But when the men tested the glider, it didn't fly. The Army believes the interest in airborne attacks by Gaza groups arises from their inability to amount attacks across the fence separating Gaza from Israel, and a lack of much success in attacking Gaza settlements. (Haaretz, July 17) The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) mounted a successful glider attack in 1987. Militants on motorized gliders infiltrated Israel from Lebanon, killing six Israeli soldiers before being shot down. (BBC, May 4, 2000) (David Bloom)
7. ISRAEL THREATENS TO STRIKE SYRIA
Israel has warned the Syrian government it will launch an attack against Syrian military targets the next time Hizbollah strikes Israel, according to a July 21 report in the London Times. Two previous warnings from Israel, sent through the US, were apparently ignored by Syrian President Bashar Assad. Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer delivered a third warning to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak recently, who will relay the warning to Assad. Military sources quoted by the Times said Israel had nearly launched an attack recently, but had been distracted from doing so by its Operation Determined Path in the West Bank, and had been reluctant to open a second front in the north. Outgoing director of military intelligence, Major-General Amos Malka, believes that "sooner rather than later we'll be engaged in a conflict with Syria unless Syria changes its attitude." He added, "Assad has not delivered the goods. I'm not sure he reads the geopolitical map correctly, and he's taking unnecessary risks." The Times said that Israel's military is planning a swift air strike that will destroy a Syrian brigade of 100 tanks. ( Haaretz, July 16; Jerusalem Post, July 21) (David Bloom)
8. NINE ARRESTED FOR SELLING AMMO TO PALESTINIANS
Seven Israeli soldiers and two Palestinians, one with Israeli citizenship, have been detained for allegedly selling ammunition to Palestinians. Those initially arrested were two sets of brothers, soldiers from the adjacent West Bank settlements of Telem and Adura. Adura was the scene of a terror attack on April 27 in which five Israeli settlers were killed in their homes. Police suspect some of the ammunition may have been used in that attack. Suspects admitted they sold over 60,000 5.56mm and 3,000 9mm bullets to Palestinians over the last four years. The former work in Galil and M-16 assault rifles, while the latter are used in Uzi submachine guns or 9-mm handguns. The sales were made at a price of 10 cents per bullet to a resident of Tarkumiya. One of the suspects claimed the Palestinians threatened him and his family, and the sales were made only under pressure.
According to Ha'aretz, the IDF is surprised that the four are settlers, who have witnessed terror attacks themselves. One of the suspects was caught with 1000 bullets in his car. The four are now suspects in the theft of weapons from the Adura weapons warehouse several months ago. The two brothers from Telem are also suspected of being part of an operation that got Palestinian trucks through the Tarkumiyeh checkpoint near Hebron. The brothers drove the trucks through the checkpoint, wearing their IDF uniforms.
According to Maariv, police said "Only the tip of the iceberg has been uncovered in this case," and hinted revelations to come. "It was clear [to the suspects] that the sale of arms would be used for terror attacks, but this didn't stop them from acting in the name of greed." (Israel Insider, July 18; Haaretz, July 21; AFP, July 19) (David Bloom)
9. KACH MILITANTS ATTACK US CONSULATE GUARDS IN JERUSALEM
Militants from the banned Jewish extremist group Kach attacked security guards at the US consulate in Jerusalem July 18, and a minor fracas followed. This followed a demonstration outside the consulate by Kach activists protesting what they called "the
American intervention in the internal affairs of Israel." According to Israel army radio, two of the militants were detained by the police for questioning. (Jerusalem Post, July 19) (David Bloom)
10. ISRAEL TO ESTABLISH 14 NEW JEWISH TOWNS
On July 21, the Israeli government authorized construction of 14 new Jewish towns in Israel proper. The towns are to be in the Galilee, an area in the north of the country with a large Arab population, and in the Negev desert, home to the nomadic Bedouin. The new towns are officially intended to alter local demographics, and to prevent construction by "the Arab sector." The construction in the Negev will "protect Be'er Sheva and prevent illegal expansion of Bedouin tribes on state land."(see WW3 REPORT #42) Housing & Construction Minister Natan Sharansky cited security concerns as part of the reason for construction: "The building of new towns and strengthening our hold over the land are the answers to the terror we are facing." The construction proposal was rejected by Public Security Minister Uzi Landau, but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said it was necessary as a "land reserve for future generations." According to Sharansky, no requests to establish new Arab towns were made. (Itim, July 21) No new non-Jewish communities have been officially established in Israel since the founding of the Jewish state. (Haaretz, July 8) (David Bloom)
11. SETTLER RABBI: REFUSENIKS MUST DIE
A bulletin distributed in synagogues, B'Ahava V'Emuna, recently printed an article by a leading settler rabbi in which he suggested that refuseniks--soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories--should be executed for treason. "We are in a state of war and it is forbidden to speak badly of the army," Shlomo Aviner wrote. "Beware, the internal informer, beware the dissenter. Rabbi Naftali Ben-Zvi, the head of the Wolozin yeshiva, wrote that a person weakening the hands of the commander must die, because he is endangering the entire nation." He followed with examples from history of Jews who were executed by commanders for treason.
This stance was criticized by Rabbi Avi Gisser of the West Bank settlement of Ofra in an interview with Israel Radio July 18. "There are better ways to warn about how dissention can potentially harm the state's future," he said. "Israeli law also includes the death penalty for treason, but it is not with regard to someone who says they cannot carry out a [military order]." When asked if there was a danger Aviner's argument could be interpreted literally, Gissin said that in the quote from Rabbi Naftali Ben-Zvi cited by Aviner, "commander" is meant to be a metaphor for the state, and only the state may decide if the death penalty can be imposed for objectors. "There is no call for an individual to act." (Haaretz, July 18) (David Bloom)
12. "NO CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE" ARAFAT BACKED TERROR
A semi-annual US State Department report says there is "no conclusive evidence" that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat or other senior Palestinian officials either approved or planned any specific violent acts against Israelis. The report comes less than one month after US President George W. Bush concluded the Palestinian leadership is "compromised by terror," and refused to deal any further with Arafat. The report says that documents seized by the IDF from Palestinian-run areas and given to US officials display Arafat's signature on payments made to Fatah-party activists, including some to the al-Aksa Martyr's Brigade. Some of these payments "were likely made with the knowledge that the intended recipients had been involved in violence and terrorism," the report said. Despite this, the report says the documents "do not conclusively establish that Arafat ordered or had foreknowledge of specific attacks." The report faults Arafat and the Palestinian leadership for not doing enough to stop terror, but says there is no firm evidence Arafat "approved or had prior knowledge of planned attacks." The Jerusalem Post concludes that the "jumbled message shows how muddled US policy toward the Palestinians has become" (Jerusalem Post, July 21) (David Bloom)
13. ISRAEL TO REOPEN NUSSEIBEH OFFICE
Two weeks after closing down the offices of Al Quds University president Sari Nusseibeh in Abu Dis near Jerusalem, Public Security Minister Uzi Landau ordered them reopened. An international uproar followed the closure of Nusseibeh's office. Landau ordered the reopening after Nusseibeh, a leading Palestinian moderate, signed a pledge stating he would not use university offices as an agency representing the Palestinian Authority. Nusseibeh also declared he will not receive funding from the PA. Landau had closed the office July 9, citing evidence of "governmental and diplomatic activity" being carried out there. Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it, a move not recognized by most of the international community. Palestinian Authority political activity is prohibited within Jerusalem municipality by Israeli law (see WW3 REPORT #42) (Haaretz, July 22) (David Bloom)
14. RADICAL ATTORNEY STANLEY COHEN IN CASE AGAINST ISRAEL
New York radical attorney Stanley Cohen has filed a case in federal court against both the Israeli and US governments--as well as officials from both countries, several US defense contractors and Jewish and Christian groups that support Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The suit was brought on behalf of 21 Palestinian US citizens who claim to have suffered severely during Israel's 21-month re-occupation of the West Bank and Gaza: relatives killed, bodies maimed, property seized and destroyed, businesses lost. "This is the real terrorism," Cohen said. The suit seeks to cut off US military aid to Israel and demands monetary damages--"billions of dollars, certainly," said Cohen. One man quoted in the court papers said he watched while his daughter, holding her infant child, was shot to death by Israeli troops. The daughter "was buried in a mass grave in the parking lot of the hospital where her body was taken. The family was unable to perform customary Muslim mourning and burial rites." Another plaintiff, a New Jersey man who owned a truck tire distribution company in a Ramallah industrial park, lost his entire stock, warehouse and business records when the park was attacked by Israeli helicopter gunships. "These seem to be the only American citizens in the world that the US government doesn't care about."
Cohen has long represented Islamic militants and other unpopular clients. He showed Newsday columnist Ellis Henican a photo in his office of himself standing with Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, spiritual leader of Hamas. "Look at the noses and foreheads," Cohen said. "Who says Jews and Palestinians don't look alike?" (Newsday, July 17)
15. RAI STAR KHALED DEFIES BOYCOTT
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
Algerian rai music star Cheb Khaled performed in Amman to a sold-out crowd of 3,000, despite threats of litigation and calls to boycott the concert. Khaled came under harsh criticism for appearing with Israeli singer Noa in a concert in Italy to promote Mideast peace two months ago. The Algerian pop star also defied a boycott in Lebanon, where he performed last week at the annual Beiteddine cultural festival in
the Shouf mountains east of Beirut. The Rome concert had been attended by both Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Mohammed Rashid, an adviser to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. (See also: WW3 REPORT #41) (AP, July 20)
1. PENTAGON CAN'T GET ITS STORY STRAIGHT
The Pentagon took the unusual step of issuing what it called a clarification after a senior Pentagon official seemed to contradict earlier US assertions that a AC-130 gunship had been fired upon before attacking a wedding celebration in Afghanistan's Uruzgan province. The attack killed 48 and wounded 117. (See WW3 REPORT #s 41, 42)
Air Force Brig. Gen. John W. Rosa Jr., deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters, "I can't say unequivocally that the AC-130 was fired on. That will come out, hopefully, in the investigation." A few hours after Rosa spoke, the Pentagon issued its clarification. "The AC-130 involved in the operation received fire from hostile forces," it said. "Personnel aboard the AC-130 also reported surface-to-air fire directed at them. US ground forces also witnessed fire being directed at US aircraft during the operation." Rosa's statement was not explained in the statement. Officials said he had spoken without being properly briefed.
Villagers in Kakarak say they never fired on the plane. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters July 2 that a US air controller reported seeing the AC-130 come under ground fire from anti-aircraft weapons. Said Pace: "The only thing I am sure of is that at the time that the weapons from the AC-130 were being fired at the ground, that the controller on the ground and the air crew in the airplane believed they were returning fire against anti-aircraft weapons." Later he added, "It was anti-aircraft fire from ground to air that precipitated the return fire from the AC-130." The AC-130 was not hit . (AP, July 15)
2. GUL AGHA "BOUGHT OFF"
Gul Agha Sherzai, governor of Khandahar province, said July 21 he hopes the US will continue to pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, and that earlier remarks he made calling for the US to seek Afghan approval for launching operations had been misunderstood. Gul Agha met with Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeill, commander of allied forces in Afghanistan, and made his support for US operations clear. "We are committed and honored to help with the US coalition forces here in this region," the governor said. "We will even be ready to sacrifice ourselves for American soldiers to spare their lives." He said Khandahar especially needs US operations because "we are in the capital of al-Qaeda and the spiritual capital of the Taliban." After a July 1 US air strike killed 48 civilians in Uruzgan province, Gul Agha met with six Afghan governors and 300 tribal and political leaders, and announced that henceforth US operations in Afghanistan would require prior Afghan approval. (See WW3 REPORT #42) But in the meeting with McNeill, Gul Agha claimed his remarks had been mistranslated, and that he was merely asking for US consultation on operations. McNeill said the US would consult with him. "I count on Gov. Sherzai's support and know that he is helping Afghanistan realize its ultimate destiny of becoming a peaceful and secure environment," McNeill said.
The Washington Post reported that Gul Agha's convoy in Khandahar was guarded by a combined force of Afghan fighters and bearded US special forces soldiers, who stood on the back of pickup trucks armed with rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and grenades. The vehicles were driven by US drivers, their 9mm handguns cocked. There were no signs of strained relations between Sherzai and McNeill as they ate together and exchanged gifts. (WP, July 21) A report in the July 21 UK Observer says that Gul Agha has been "'bought off' with millions of dollars in deals brokered by US and British intelligence." (David Bloom)
3. U.S. BREAKS UP AFGHAN FRACAS WITH 500-POUND BOMB
Fighting between the Afghan army and a renegade warlord claimed the lives of two Afghans, and the US dropped a bomb to break up the fighting. An Arab with possible links to al-Qaeda was arrested. Afghan army forces clashed with forces loyal to local warlord Maulvi Noor Mohammed in Nangarhar province, 40 miles to the west of Jalalabad. According to the main Afghan army commander in the province, Hazrat Ali, Noor's brother was killed, and six were wounded. In an attempt to stop the fighting, US special forces ordered a 500-pound bomb dropped on an uninhabited area, according to Col. Roger King, a US military spokesman. Ali reported "al-Qaeda activity" in the area, though it is unclear if the Arab detained during the fighting had anything to do with the clashes. (AP, July 19) (David Bloom)
4. ANCIENT CITY DISCOVERED
THE NEW GREAT GAME
An underground ancient city, dating some 1,700 years, has been discovered in Lowgar
province of east Afghanistan. Covering an area of 30 square kilometers, the city--including towers, walls and water systems--is buried under a layer of earth and rock. Minister of Information and Culture Sayed Mohammad Raheen, who visited the ancient city, said it needs to be excavated with the aid of UNESCO and foreign donors. The city was built by the Kushan empire, the same Greek-Buddhist culture which built the giant Bamiyan Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban in 1991. Khalitullah Enayat, an expert from the National Museum of Afghanistan, told Xinhua the site is unique in Asia, and of academic interest. But one illegal excavation at the site has already damaged the feet of a buddha statue in a domed room. Security personnel have been assigned to guard the site against further looting. Experts hope more statues of buddha may be found in the city. Many of the Afghanistan's Bhuddist figures and statues were declared idolatrous by the former Taliban regime and destroyed. (See WW3 REPORT #s 17, 30) (Xinhua News Agency, July 18) (See also: WW3 REPORT Afghanistan Historical Outline),
1. JAPAN PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR TRANS-AFGHAN PIPELINE
Japan is ready to join in an international project to build a gas pipeline across Afghanistan to ship natural gas from Turkmenistan to the world market, a senior Japanese official reportedly said during a visit to Turkmenistan. Russia's Interfax news agency said Japan's senior vice foreign minister Seiken Sugiura discussed the pipeline project with Turkmenistan business leaders, telling them Japan will seek a role in the pipeline business. "We are ready to look into what form of participation" Japan may take in the pipeline project, Sugiura was quoted as saying. Sugiura was in Turkmenistan as the leader of a Japanese government-corporate mission to promote energy development deals with Central Asian nations. (Yahoo News Asia, July 19)
2. U.S. BOOSTS MILITARY TIES TO KAZAKHSTAN
The US has pledged to provide financial assistance and military equipment to Kazakhstan to help the ex-Soviet republic strengthen its armed forces, the Kazakh defense ministry announced. The agreement was reached in meetings in Washington last week between a Kazakh military delegation and Pentagon officials, the ministry said in a statement. Priority will be given to development of Kazakhstan's mobile forces. The ministry also claimed US officials agreed to consider Kazakhstan's plea for supplies of military hardware. Kazakh officers will also undergo training at US military academies starting next year, the ministry said. Kazakh Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbayev is planning to visit Washington for further talks on bilateral military cooperation.
Last week, Kazakhstan joined two Central Asian neighbors, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, in offering its facilities to the US-led anti-terrorism coalition, agreeing to let allied aircraft use the Almaty international airport in case of a critical situation in nearby Afghanistan. The agreement stemmed from Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's December visit to Washington, where he met President Bush, officials said. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Kazakhstan in April. (Yahoo News Asia, July 16)
3. FEAR IN UZBEKISTAN
Islamic militants with ties to al-Qaeda who survived the war in Afghanistan are regrouping in Central Asia, analysts warn. "They are going to move towards assassinations and terrorism, possibly against US forces," said Ahmed Rashid, author of Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia (Yale, 2002). "Their underground network in Central Asia hasn't been touched." New US military bases in the Central Asia republics are likely to be high on the target list of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)--a group of battle-hardened veterans who fought alongside the Taliban and al-Qaeda last fall. The IMU has been on the Bush administration's list of terrorist organizations since shortly after 9-11. Western intelligence sources claim to have detected a surge of radio traffic last month from Afghanistan to Central Asia with frequent references to Juma Namangani--the IMU's charismatic leader, declared dead by US commanders--apparently indicating that he is still alive. A 12-foot concrete wall now being erected around the US embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan's capital, where a string of bomb attacks have prompted President Islam Karimov to unleash a massive crackdown on anyone suspected of sympathizing with Islamic extremists. The embassy-wall project--like Karimov's crackdown--was approved before the 9-11 attacks, but work on it has been dramatically stepped up since then. Some 1,800 US troops now conduct Afghanistan operations from a former Soviet air base in southern Uzbekistan. Under a US-Uzbek deal signed in March, the US would view with "grave concern any external threat" to Uzbekistan. US troops are also building a substantial base in neighboring Kyrgyzstan.
Analysts say splits have emerged within the IMU--primarily between military commander Namangani and ideological leader Tohir Yuldashev--but the group's network is expanding throughout the region. The chief of Kyrgyzstan's Security Council, Misir Ashirkulov, warned last week that 300 IMU fighters are planning to launch new raids. "This campaign will be much crueler toward us than previous ones," Ashirkulov said. "Yuldashev intends to commit terrorist attacks, take hostages, assassinate government officials."
"At the moment, it is not in anyone's interest to raise their heads, with the US presence so strong," Rashid says. "But as soon as there is a decline of the American presence, you will see a revival [of militants]. If the US is diverted to Iraq or elsewhere in the months ahead, then we would see [terror attacks.]" (Christian Science Monitor, July 10) (See also : WW3 REPORT #s 2, 3, 18, 28)
4. FEAR IN CHINA
China is for the first time establishing specialized anti-terrorism police forces, with eastern cities like Shanghai leading the way. A special police team of 800 members in Xian, capital city of Shaanxi province in northwest China, conducted a training exercise on terrorism earlier this month. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Security said national officials are urging provincial police departments to set up task forces to protect the nation's skies from hijackers. (PNS, July 18)
These developments are unlikely to be welcomes by the ethnic Uighurs of Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China's far west. The Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim people, and tensions with Chinese security forces are leading to support for an Islamic separatist movement. Last August, three local men and a police commander were killed in a shoot-out with security forces conducting a raid in Kuqa, in the region's Taklimakan Desert. Police found explosives and guns in a tunnel underneath the targeted house, identified the men inside as ethnic Uighurs and concluded that others had escaped. Kuqa was occupied by security forces in the following weeks, with troops sent to carry out sweeps of Uighur neighborhoods to round up suspects. "A lot of people were involved. We caught most of them, executed some of them," said a local police official, who asked not to be identified. "The situation in Kuqa is complex. The three evil forces--violent terrorists, religious extremists and 'splittists'--are fairly strong here." Heavy-handed security tactics and uneven economic development are aggravating relations between Xinjiang's 7 million Han, the dominant Chinese ethnic group, and its 8 million Uighurs, many of whom yearn for independence or at least greater autonomy from Chinese rule. "Many people here have been rounded up and shot. Some are terrorists. Some aren't," whispered one Uighur shopkeeper, after ushering a Washington Post reporter into a dressing room and drawing the curtain. "I know an innocent boy who was accused of terrorism who was killed by the Chinese. He was innocent... The situation is terrible." (Washington Post, July 15) (See also, "Who's Side Is China On?," WW3 REPORT #13)
5. RUSSIA-CHINA WAR GAMES CONFIRMED
Despite Japanese and Hong Kong media speculation, Beijing denies reports that joint Chinese-Russian war games set for next month are aimed at a third country. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said, "The purpose of the military exercises is to test the reliability of signal communication...so as to prevent possible dangerous military activities in the border areas and maintain peace and stability in the region." He said media reports suggesting the maneuvers were aimed at a third country were "untrue and [circulated] with an ulterior motive."
Liu said the two armies would conduct similar exercises in the Inner Mongolia region in mid-August. China and Russia signed a treaty on the prevention of dangerous military activities in the border region in 1994. Diplomatic analysts in Beijing said the Chinese leadership is anxious to dispel speculation it was using the Russian card against the US, but also noted increasing Chinese arms sales from the Russian defense industry. (CNN, July 11)
1. HIDEOUS ESCALATION IN KASHMIR--AGAIN
An attack by suspected separatist militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir left 27 dead and increased tensions between India and Pakistan. No group claimed responsibility for the July 14 massacre, but Indian officials blamed Pakistan, which has traditionally sponsored militant groups fighting to free predominantly Muslim Kashmir from Indian rule. Pakistan condemned the raid, in which men armed with grenades and machine guns assaulted the residents of Qasim Nagar, a shanty-town outside Jammu, winter capital of the disputed region. The attack comes as the US and UK are both planning high-level diplomatic missions to India and Pakistan to broker an end to the long-simmering Kashmir conflict. A Pakistani foreign ministry statement said the attack's motivation "seems to be to enhance tension in the region." (WSJ, July 15)
The Indian government said the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba was responsible for the attack. "It is clear that this is being carried out with the inspiration of Pakistan," the foreign minister, Yashwant Sinha, said. "It was a gruesome attack." Just weeks ago, intense US-brokered diplomacy brought the two nuclear-armed nations back from the brink of war. (UK Guardian, July 15)
More violence followed the massacre. On July 18, Indian security forces surrounded a mosque in Kashmir and exchanged fire with suspected militants hiding inside hours after three soldiers were killed in a separate ambush, police said. (Reuters, July 18) On July 20, a traditional village councilor and a public health employee were among four civilians killed in attacks in Darhal and Manjakote areas of Kashmir. The four were kidnapped by unknown gunmen and force-marched into the bush. Three were brutally tortured and then beheaded, while the fourth, the health employee, was beaten to death. (Daily Excelsior, Jammu, via BBC Monitoring Source, July 20)
Indian police detained Javid Mir, a leader of Kashmir's main separatist alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, and placed several others under house arrest. Mir was actually detained as he led a protest against the massacre in Srinagar July 20. Police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse the demonstrators. Hurriyat, which disavows terrorism, is seeking a plebiscite to decide whether Kashmir should secede from India. (Reuters, July 20)
2. INDIA CALLS ON U.S. TO DECLARE PAKISTAN A "TERRORIST STATE"
On July 16, in response to the Qasim Nagar massacre, India's Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani announced before parliament that he had called upon a senior US official to have Pakistan declared a "terrorist state" by the US State Department. He would not name the official, but said: "If the US wants, it can stop terrorism and put an end to terrorist infiltration in Pakistan by threatening that Washington would declare it a terrorist state." (NYT, July 17)
3. SHEIKH OMAR FACES DEATH IN PEARL SLAYING
A court in Pakistan sentenced British-born Islamic militant Sheikh Ahmed Omar Saeed to death for the kidnapping and murder US journalist Daniel Pearl. Judge Ashraf Ali Shah also found Sheikh Omar's three accomplices, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil, guilty and sentenced them to life in prison. Pearl was researching a story on Islamic fundamentalism for the Wall Street Journal when he was kidnapped in the port city of Karachi on January 23. Although his body has not been found, a video tape released by the kidnappers clearly showed he had been killed. The video, delivered to the US consulate in Karachi, showed the reporter being forced to admit he was Jewish, before showing his throat being slit.
Sheikh Omar, the London-born son of a Pakistani cloth merchant, denied charges of
kidnapping, murder and terrorism. Omar was also arrested in India in 1994 and charged with kidnapping four foreign tourists. He was released as part of a swap in 1999, shortly before his trial, after hijackers seized an Air India plane and forced it to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Since his new arrest, he has become a hero of Pakistan's new Islamic militant underground. (See WW3 REPORT #s 38, 41)
Omar has been indicted in the US, and faced extradition if acquitted. Execution in Pakistan is carried out by hanging, but usually only after an exhaustive appeals process. (Reuters, July 15)
4. BLASPHEMER STONED TO DEATH IN PAKISTAN
Amnesty International is urging Pakistani authorities to bring to justice a local religious leader who ordered the stoning to death of a mentally ill man in Punjab province, and all those who participated in the killing. Zahid Mahmood Akhtar, 48, was stoned to death by hundreds of villagers after the cleric used a megaphone to issue a fatwa, or religious decree, ordering his execution. The mentally disturbed man had claimed to be the "last prophet of Islam".
Detained in 1994 on charges of blasphemy, Zahid Mahmood Akhtar was released three years later on the grounds that he was mentally ill. He had been living since his release with a brother in another city of Punjab province. When he returned to his village in June, Chak Jumra, a tribal village council, which included the local cleric, sought to expel him. When he stayed, villagers reportedly complained to the cleric who issued the call to kill him.
While police say they will investigate the incident and have arrested several people, Amnesty notes a history of impunity on such issues. In April 1994, a practitioner of indigenous medicine, Hafiz Farooq Sajjad, was stoned to death by an angry mob in Gujranwala, Punjab province, after the rumor that he had blasphemed was spread by a local cleric. Despite police promises to investigate, no one has been held to account. Sectarian killings of members of religious minorities including Shia, Ahmadis and Christians, often go unpunished.
"The police continually fail to protect the vulnerable," Amnesty International said. "Their inaction encourages a climate of intolerance which allows people to incite and carry out human rights abuses such as this killing and the gang rape case in the same province highlighted last week." (See WW3 REPORT #41)
President Pervez Musharraf said in April 2000 that procedural changes would be introduced to Pakistan's blasphemy law to guard against abuse. However the amendment was withdrawn in May on the grounds that the ulema [Islamic scholars] and the people had 'unanimously' demanded it. The blasphemy law contained in section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code imposes a mandatory death penalty for anyone found to have "by words...or visible representation...or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiled the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad." (Amnesty International press release, July 8)
5. TOURISTS ATTACKED IN PAKISTAN
Pakistani police are hunting for an unidentified assailant who threw a grenade at a bus full of tourists in north-west Pakistan, wounding seven Germans, an Austrian, a Slovene and three Pakistanis. The group was on its way to visit the Ashoka sites, relics of an ancient Hindu civilization in Mansehra district. It was the fifth attack on western targets in Pakistan this year. (UK Guardian, July 15)
6. NEPAL SEEKS COUNTER-INSURGENCY AID
In a New Delhi meeting with Nepal's King Gyanendra, India's Defense Minister George Fernandes offered to train Nepalese army officers in counter-insurgency warfare to help them fight the Maoist rebellion in their Himalayan kingdom, officials said. The training at Indian army bases is expected to teach Nepalese officers and troops the techniques and tactics of fighting guerrillas in remote mountains--an area of expertise for the Indian army, which has been fighting insurgencies in several parts of the country for years, including the Himalayan province of Kashmir. Gyanendra and Fernandes also discussed military hardware sought by Nepal, including supply of more helicopters, mine-proof combat vehicles and other logistical support. India has already given Nepal two helicopter gunships.
Both sides have agreed that the Royal Nepalese Army needs more war material to fight the rebels, and that India and Nepal will share intelligence and step up security along their 1,090-mile border. The six-year insurgency has stretched Nepal's military and killed more than 3,500 people. Gyanendra also met with Indian business leaders, who offered to help Nepal gain membership to the World Trade Organization. (AP, June 25)
The Revolutionary Worker, weekly of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, which supports Nepal's Maoist rebels, reports that on May 6 Nepal's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba met with President Bush at the White House--the first Nepali leader to visit the Oval Office. Deuba also met with Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, various members of Congress, and UN Secretary Kofi Annan. Shortly after the meeting, the US pledged $20 million in military aid to Nepal, nearly doubling total aid to Nepal from $21 milloin in 2001 to $38 million in 2003. (Revolutionary Worker, May 19) (See also: WW3 REPORT #39)
1. SPAIN AND MOROCCO SPARK INTERNATIONAL CRISIS OVER BARREN CHUNK OF ROCK. HUH?
On July 10, 12 Moroccan troops occupied the tiny offshore island known to the Moroccans as Leila and to the Spanish as Perejil (parsley, despite the fact that little grows there)--and plunged the Mediterranean into crisis. The island, usually inhabited only by goats, lies just off Ceuta, one of six enclaves that Spain still maintains in Morocco, and has been claimed by Spain since 1668. Morocco said the seizure of the island is part of its effort to combat drug trafficking and illegal immigration. Spain demanded that Morocco vacate, and sent in warships. The European Community backed up Spain, the Arab League backed Morocco.
Elite Spanish forces evicted Moroccan troops from the island during a lightning daybreak operation July 16. Six Moroccan troops were captured. No shots were fired, and no-one was injured. The Moroccan flags which had been raised on the island were taken down, replaced by Spanish ones. Morocco immediately protested. "Confronted with this aggression, the Moroccan Kingdom demands, before anything else, the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Spanish armed forces from Leila island, which is an integral part of Moroccan territory," said Morocco's foreign ministry. (AP, July 16; CNN, July 17; AP, July 20)
Coming on the heels of June's "Operation Gibraltar," in which Moroccan authorities cooperated with US and European intelligence agencies to capture al-Qaeda suspects (see WW3 REPORT #38), Morocco's move on the island took the world by surprise. The US finally brokered an agreement in which Spanish troops left the island and Morocco pledged not to re-occupy it. The New York Times suggested a struggle between the two nations over fishing rights lay behind the dispute. (NYT, July 21)
In any case, the situation was rife with hypocrisy. Despite a paroxysm of jingoism, Spain was embarrassed by the incident, because it reminded the world that it still maintains colonial holdings on the African mainland--just as Madrid is pressuring the United Kingdom to cede Gibraltar in the name of anti-colonialism. Morocco, meanwhile, hurled anti-colonialist invective at Spain--even as it continues to illegally occupy Western Sahara. When Spain pulled out of the former Spanish Sahara in 1976, Morocco and Mauritania divided the territory between them--against both international law and the wishes of the local inhabitants, the Saharawi people. The anti-colonial rebels known as the Polisario Front continued their guerilla struggle against the new masters. In 1980, Mauritania pulled out, and Morocco quickly annexed their portion of the territory. In 1990, Morocco's King Hassan and the Polisario guerillas signed a ceasefire, but Morocco continues to stall the promised UN referendum on independence for Western Sahara.
For more information, see the website of the Polisario Front, or the Sarahawi's UK-based support group, the
Western Sahara Campaign.
THE ANDEAN FRONT
1. REICH TO URIBE: "TAKE THE WAR TO THE GUERILLAS"
Otto Reich, the State Department's senior official for Latin America, said in an interview that the administration of Colombian President-elect Alvaro Uribe needs to move aggressively to "take the war to the guerrillas" of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). He warned that the guerillas have adopted a "perverse strategy...of trying to destroy the government from the lowest level up." In recent days, the FARC, has threatened to kill or kidnap Colombia's municipal judges and mayors if they do not resign--prompting several dozen mayors to quit. The offensive is a direct challenge to Uribe, who won a victory in May's election after campaigning on a promise to increase military pressure on the FARC. Uribe, who takes office next month, has promised to sharply boost military spending and double the size of Colombia's army. The Bush administration is backing Uribe's plans, and is asking Congress to increase US aid to Colombia, which has totaled nearly $2 billion since 2000. Reich, who flew to Bogota, Colombia's capital, five days after Uribe's election, said Bush administration officials believe that the new president is "not an extremist," but is "very level-headed." Said Reich: "He's somebody who realizes his government is under attack, just like our country was under attack last Sept. 11, when we had to take very strong measures." (LAT, July 3)
2. FARC-IRA CONNECTION?
A newly released British intelligence report claims the Irish Republican Army is using the guerilla war in Colombia to develop new weapons, including advanced bombs. "The PIRA have been using Colombia as a training ground to carry out tests with their engineering department as they are no longer able to use the Irish Republic due to the current political climate," the report said, referring to the Provisional IRA, formal name for the IRA. The report, made public by the BBC, said IRA involvement in Colombia allowed the organization "free range to explore the new prototype of devices."
Three IRA members--two allegedly members of the IRA's engineering department--have since been arrested in Colombia. The three, James Monaghan, Neil Connolly and John McCauley, were arrested last August 2001 in Bogota and accused of training guerrillas of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces. Their trial is set to begin this summer.
The conservative Washington Times also reports that FARC members have met with over a dozen IRA leaders during the past three years--including Padraig Wilson, 44, a convicted bomber and former commander of IRA inmates at Ulster's Maze prison. Wilson, a longtime confidant of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, was freed in December 1999 after serving eight years of a 24-year sentence on bomb-making charges. His release came as part of the Belfast Agreement, an April 1998 initiative informally known as the Good Friday Accord, which was designed to bring peace to Northern Ireland. A report by the General Command of the Colombian military forces said some 15 IRA members were escorted to FARC-controlled areas of the country to train the rebels in "terrorism, explosives and military tactics." The report said terrorist tactics used by the FARC "were taught by members of the IRA." Adams, president of Sinn Fein, the political party affiliated with the IRA, has denied any IRA involvement in training FARC guerrillas . (Washington Times, July 9)
The British intelligence report ironically comes just as the IRA issued a statement apologizing for the deaths of "non-combatants" over 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland. The statement, faxed to news outlets in Northern Ireland, was pointedly released on July 21, 30th anniversary of the IRA's Bloody Friday bomb attacks--in which nine people were killed and many more injured in Belfast. (AP, July 16)
3. EXXON, OXY, COKE, DOLE REAP COLOMBIA PROFITS
Since forming in 1996, the US-Colombia Business Partnership has helped convince the US Congress to send billions of dollars in military aid to Colombia, where the 40-year-old civil war is killing some 4,000 people a year. And many US corporations face allegations of promoting violence and environmental destruction beyond the military aid. ExxonMobil Coal & Minerals, part of the Texas-based energy giant, generated $1.4 billion in revenue last year from its Colombia operations, making it the country's second-largest company, behind only the state-owned oil enterprise. For years Exxon Mobil has owned 50% of Cerrejon Mine in Guajira, Colombia's northernmost department. Last year Cerrejón produced nearly 20 million tons of coal--half the nation's coal output. The mine, one of the largest open pits in the world, accounted for more than half of the company's worldwide coal production. Since the mine opened in the 1980s, ExxonMobil cut its number of US coal workers to 321 from 1,600. The Colombian army provides heavy security to protect the operation from guerrillas and discontent workers. Under the company's direction, army tanks broke up a worker strike in 1990. This year ExxonMobil announced it is selling its share in the mine to an international consortium led by London-based Anglo American.
The Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum, or Oxy, runs Colombia's second-largest oilfield, Cano Limón, in the northeastern province of Arauca. Guerrillas frequently bomb the pipeline that carries the crude to the Caribbean for shipping. For years Occidental has lobbied for the US to expand its role in Colombia, allowing military aid to be used for pipeline protection. This year President Bush's administration has complied, proposing $98 million to protect the duct.
A 1992 contract with Colombia's state-owned Ecopetrol allowed Occidental to conduct exploratory drilling on ancestral lands of the Uwa indigenous community in Norte de Santander department, not far from Cano Limon. The Uwa protested Oxy's invasion for nearly a decade, finally threatening to commit mass suicide by leaping off a 1,400-foot cliff if Occidental didn't leave. In 2000, three Uwa children were killed when Oxy called the military to break up a nonviolent Uwa blockade of the road to the drill site. At its annual shareholder meeting May 3, Occidental announced it was withdrawing from Uwa territory after investing nearly $100 million in the area. Citing technical and economic reasons, the company denied that protests had influenced the decision. (See WW3 REPORT #42)
Another Partnership members is Coca-Cola, which is implicated in violent union-busting, with several labor leaders assassinated by paramilitaries at the Atlanta-based company's bottling plant in Carepa, a municipality in northwestern Colombia. Last July the United Steel Workers of America and the International Labor Rights Fund filed a federal suit in Miami on behalf of the workers' union, the National Syndicate for Food Industry Workers (Sinaltrainal). The suit accuses Coke of "systematic intimidation, kidnapping, detention, and murder," and accuses plant manager Ariosto Milán Mosquera of ordering paramilitaries "to carry out the task of destroying the union." Coke denies any responsibility for the violence, citing a company policy of respecting human rights.
Other members are Dole Food, Colombia's largest employer, controlling the nation's banana industry, and mineral firm Drummond, which has closed five mines in Alabama and laid off 1,700 members of the United Mine Workers of America since opening operations at Loma, Colombia. In March, the Mining and Energy Industry Workers Union of Colombia (Sintramienergetica) filed a federal suit in Birmingham against the company and its owner, Garry Drummond. The suit, backed by the UMWA, the United Steel Workers of America and the International Labor Rights Foundation, says Drummond hired paramilitaries to kidnap, torture and kill three Sintramienergetica leaders in Loma last year. (Julia Olmstead for Resource Center on the Americas, Minneapolis, June)
(See also: "US Funds Oil War In Colombian Rainforest," WW3 REPORT # 27)
4. U.S. TO RESUME SHOOTING DOWN DRUG FLIGHTS
President Bush is expected to approve resumption of a program to force or shoot down planes suspected of smuggling drugs in South America, a year after the program was halted by the mistaken downing of a plane carrying US missionaries in the Peruvian Amazon. Once the president gives final approval, the State Department will take over the program from the Central Intelligence Agency, whose involvement is now restricted by Congress. In April, the State Department awarded a contract to a Maryland-based aviation company, Arinc Inc., to help train Colombian and Peruvian pilots for the operation, officials said. A spokesperson for Arinc confirmed that the company had received the contract. Arinc has reportedly tried to hire back many of the same workers who were involved with the program when it was run by the CIA. (NYT, July 4)
5. COLOMBIA WAR SPREADING INTO ECUADOR
Colombia's civil war is spilling into Ecuador, with armed groups taking refuge across the remote rainforest border and wreaking havoc. Hardest hit is Lago Agrio, 12 miles from the border in Sucumbios province. Ecuador's oil capital, the city is also one of Ecuador's poorest--a "conglomeration of shacks, seedy bars, and brothels serving oilmen, smugglers, and a steady stream of refugees." In the past five months, over 100 people have been killed by gunmen from the FARC or its rival paramilitary groups. Locals say the FARC has a list of 300 people still to be executed. Hundreds of people have been kidnapped along the border, and inhabitants of six villages fled their homes at gunpoint when the FARC moved onto their land in February. (Christian Science Monitor, July 11)
6. JULIA BUTTERFLY ARRESTED IN ECUADOR
Julia "Butterfly" Hill--who gained fame for her 1999-2000 two-year tree-sit 200 feet atop a 2,000-year-old threatened California redwood--was arrested with at least 7 other peaceful protestors outside the Quito offices of US oil company Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) July 16. Most of those arrested represent Ecuadoran communities adversely affected by the new trans-Andean Heavy Crude Oilduct (OCP) pipeline being built by a consortium including Oxy. Julia Butterfly is in Ecuador to show her support for the national struggle to resist the ecologically destructive project. Community representatives from Mindo, Esmeraldas, Lago Agrio and Shushufindi, along with members of Accion Ecologica and Amazon Watch, had arrived at the Oxy offices with Julia Butterfly for a meeting with senior officials to discuss the environmental and social impacts of the project. Upon arrival, the delegation was refused entrance to the meeting, but gathered outside the office to protest their exclusion. Quito police moved in, and the arrests were made. Police roughed up some community representatives, dragging them by the hair to throw them against vehicles.
Before her arrest, Julia Butterfly said: "I am here working to help the people affected by oil exploitation to have their chance to be heard. Why can't Oxy look these affected people in the eye?" Oxy finaly agreed to meet with community representatives that evening, after 50 protestors blocked the entrance to the company's offices for two hours and closed Avenida Amazonas, one of Quito's main streets, in front of the building.
The Mindo Nambillo Cloudforest Reserve, through which the OCP is being built, is an unparalleled center of biodiversity, home to over 450 species of birds, including 46 already threatened by extinction. Construction has now reached a steep ridge above the region's watersheds. Atossa Soltani of Amazon Watch says "To bring heavy machinery up here would cause massive landslides and a massacre of incredible and endangered ecosystems."
The majority of Amazon crude that will flow through the OCP pipeline is destined for markets on the West Coast of the United States. The OCP Consortium includes: Alberta Energy (Canada), Occidental Petroleum (USA), AGIP (Italy), Repsol-YPF (Spain), Perez Companc (Argentina), and Techint (Argentina). The US Bank JP Morgan Chase is the financial advisor for the project. (Amazon Watch press release, July 16, www.amazonwatch.org)
(See also: WW3 REPORT #s 27, 42)
7. BOLIVIA DESTABILIZATION CAMPAIGN THREATENED
The US is actively intervening in Bolivia's choice of new president on Aug. 3, warning that aid will be withdrawn if the socialist Evo Morales is appointed. Bolivia's congress will choose the president from the two leading candidates in the elections of June 30: Morales and the rightwing ex-president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. Morales, an Aymara Indian, is leader of the country's coca-growers and is opposed to the coca eradication program sponsored by the US as part of the War on Drugs--now conflated with the War on Terrorism. US assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs Otto Reich delivered the aid cut-off threat on a visit to Buenos Aires, telling reporters, "We do not believe we could have normal relations with someone who espouses these kinds of policies."
The US ambassador to Bolivia, Manuel Rocha, had already issued a similar warning. "The Bolivian electorate must consider the consequences of choosing leaders somehow connected with drug trafficking and terrorism," said Rocha in a speech last month. "I want to remind the Bolivian electorate that if they vote for those who want Bolivia to return to exporting cocaine, that will seriously jeopardize any future aid to Bolivia from the United States." (UK Guardian, July 15)
Otto Reich has already been named as key figure behind the Venezuela destabilization effort. See "White House 'Triangle' Behind Coup Attempt?", WW3 REPORT #42.
8. PIPELINE CONSORTIUM IN BOLIVIA CONTROVERSY
GLIMMERS OF HOPE
A consortium including multinational energy companies such as the San Diego-based Sempra Energy has proposed a $5-billion project to bring liquid natural gas from deep in the Bolivian Amazon to California via a new trans-Andean pipeline, a fleet of huge tankers and a Baja California terminal and pipeline. But the pipeline route favored by the energy companies, linking the consortium's Margarita gas field 200 miles south of Santa Cruz to the Pacific coast of Chile, has met intense political opposition in Bolivia. Nationalists charge that any such deal would amount to a surrender of land that Chile seized from Bolivia in the War of the Pacific in 1883. Opponents want the pipeline to follow a northern path to the ocean through Peru. The consortium says the additional 125 miles of pipeline necessary for a northern route would make the project too expensive. "There is no other option than Chile," said said Ed Miller, general director of British Gas, one of Sempra's partners, in an interview in Santa Cruz, the center of Bolivia's booming energy industry. A decision by Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga was expected shortly after the June 30 presidential election. But the winner of that race is still in doubt, with the run-off to be decided by Bolivia's congress Aug. 6. Quiroga may leave the call to his successor. Other consortium members include Royal Dutch/Shell, El Paso Corp. and Marathon Petroleum. Bolivia, which privatized its energy industry in 1996, is considered a major global storehouse of natural gas. Its 57 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves rank it second only to Venezuela in South America. (LAT, July 7)
1. COSTA RICA GIVES HARKEN HEAVE-HO
On May 8, Costa Rica's Ministry of Environment & Energy blocked oil exploration deal by Harken Energy off the country's southeastern coast--an area home to manatees, rare Tucuxi dolphins and endangered sea turtles. The victory is largely due to the efforts of Accion de Lucha Anti-petrolera (ADELA), a citizen's coalition formed in 1999 in response to exploratory seismic blasts in the region. ADELA includes over 60 municipal governments, environmental and indigenous groups and fishing and tourism concerns. Backed by numerous international organizations, ADELA staged legal actions, media campaigns and public protests. Harken countered with threats and infiltration, according to ADELA international liaison Emily Yozell. Costa Rica's newly elected President Abel Pacheco declared in his inaugural address two days after the Ministry's ruling against Harken, "No one will ever mistake us for a petroleum enclave," and he vowed to make Costa Rica "an ecological leader" in the region. As a national assembly member, Pacheco introduced now-pending legislation to ban oil development in the country. No country is known to have done so before.
On May 11, Guatemalan environmentalists urged President Alfonso Portillo to emulate his Costa Rican counterpart and reject oil development. The call comes amid a fight to stop oil exploration in Lake Izabal, adjacent to nature reserves near the Caribbean Coast. A broad-based coalition similar to ADELA mobilized against the exploration, with municipal leaders even threatening to shut down the ports of Puerto Barrios and Santo Tomas, Guatemala's only access to the Atlantic. Presdient Portilla cancelled the concession May 24. The lake region celebrated in traditional fashion, setting off firecrackers. "When civil society organizes, it can achieve many things," observed a representative of the Qeqchi indigenous group. (Juan Ordonez for The Indypendent, New York IMC, July)
2. PERU DEFEATS ENERGY PRIVATIZATION
On June 19, Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo halted the sale of two electricity companies pending a court judgment on the legality of their privatization. The move came as part of an agreement between the national government and local authorities in Arequipa department, following more than a week of protests and government repression in southern Peru that left two people dead and 200 injured. Thousands of local residents celebrated the agreement as a victory, filling the central plaza of Arequipa, the provincial capital and Peru's second-largest city. The agreement commits both sides to respect a final court decision on the privatization of EGASA and EGESUR, the two electricity generator companies sold on June 14 for $167.4 million to the Belgian company Tractebel, an energy division of the French multinational Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux. In the meantime, the privatization is suspended.
Fearing mass layoffs and electricity rate hikes--and doubting that any of the proceeds from the sale would benefit local residents--authorities in Arequipa had asked the courts to review the legality of the privatization. The legal challenge focuses on monopoly restrictions: Tractebel already owns another southern Peruvian energy plant, Enersur, and the new purchase would exceed the percentage of the industry a single company is allowed to control under Peruvian law. Also questioned is the sale price of $167.4 for the two companies, which combined are said to be worth $300 million. (NYT, June 18; Reuters, AP, June 20)
( From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 23)
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. BUSH'S SECRET HARKEN INVESTOR: BIN LADEN?
The New York Times reported in a front-page story July 11, "Bush Calls for End to Loans of a Type He Once Received," that as a board member of Harken Energy in the 1980s, George W. Bush received two low-interest loans from the company to buy 105,000 shares. He later benefited from the company's relaxation of the terms of one loan in 1989 as he was engaged in the most important deal of his career--purchase of the Texas Rangers baseball team. In the wake of the recent corporate scandals, Bush on July 9 called for a halt to exactly these kind of insider transactions, challenging corporate directors to "put an end to all company loans to corporate officers."
But the truth may be more damning still. The Times reports that in 1990, when Bush dumped his devalued Harken shares to buy the Rangers, he "benefited from the action of an investor who remains unknown even today."
Michael Moore, author of the best-selling book "Stupid White Men: And Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation," thinks he knows who the mysterious purchaser was. New York University's Washington Square News reported June 28 that Moore, speaking to students to promote his book, suggested "that Osama bin Laden's family" funded the president's early oil ventures.
A Wall Street Journal article of Sept. 28, 1999, when Bush was running for president, revealed the unsavory network of Texas and Arab oilmen who sustained Harken in the 1980s--possibly in return for access to President George HW Bush, the incumbent's father. These connections lead straight to the bin Laden family.
The Journal article reports that brokers of Harken's offshore deal with Bahrain (see WW 3 REPORT #41) included David Edwards, friend of Bill Clinton and former employee of Arkansas investment powerhouse Stephens, Inc. One of Edwards' clients at Stephens was Saudi financier Abdullah Taha Baksh, who he persuaded to buy a 17% stake in Harken when the firm needed a cash infusion. Baksh, in turn, gave his Chicago business partner Talat Othman a seat on Harken's board. Baksh was also at that time attending Bush White House meetings on Middle East policy. Bakhsh was also a prominent co-investor with Ghaith Pharaon, Saudi frontman for the terrorist-linked Bank of Credit & Commerce International (BCCI). Bakhsh's personal Saudi banker, Khalid bin Mahfouz, was charged by both Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and the US Federal Reserve Board with scheming to conceal BCCI's illegal role in the US banking system. Bin Mahfouz reached a settlement in which he paid $225 million in fines and restitution. Pharaon was permanently banned from the US banking industry and fined $37 million.
Khalid bin Mahfouz (who still maintains a palatial property in Houston) was also a friend and business partner of James Bath, an aircraft broker and longtime friend of George W. from their days together in the Texas Air National Guard. Bath was an early investor in Arbusto Energy, the younger Bush's first firm, which he later sold to Harken. In 1978 Bath became director of the Main Bank of Houston, bringing in bin Mahfouz and Pharoan as investors.
Bath was also at this time Texas representative of another Saudi financial tycoon, Salem bin Laden, and purchased a field at Houston Gulf Airport on his behalf. Salem bin Laden, who died in a Texas aircrash in 1988, was half-brother of family blacksheep Osama bin Laden, now the world's most wanted terrorist. There have been persistent rumors that Salem bin Laden actually put up the money that Bath invested in Bush's Arbusto. (See "Bush & bin Laden: All in the Family," WW3 REPORT #12)
2. CHENEY NAMED IN HALLIBURTON FRAUD SUIT
Vice President Dick Cheney was named with the Halliburton energy company he headed in a lawsuit by investors that cited bookkeeping practices under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The lawsuit, led by the watchdog group Judicial Watch, charges that Halliburton Inc. overstated its revenue by $534 million between 1998 and the end of last year by illegally booking revenue from oil construction projects that were in dispute and had not been collected from clients. The suit says the fraud resulted in overvaluation of Halliburton's stock, deceiving investors. Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive from 1995 until August 2000, when he joined the Bush presidential campaign. The White House and Halliburton both said the suit was without merit, but acknowledged that the SEC investigation is continuing. "We are working diligently with the SEC to resolve its questions regarding the company's accounting practices," said Doug Foshee, Halliburton's chief financial officer. "The claims in this lawsuit are untrue, unsupported and unfounded."
Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit is the Arthur Andersen firm, Halliburton's former auditor, which was fired in April after the accounting firm was charged with obstructing an SEC investigation of Enron Corp (see WW3 REPORT #s 19, 22, 41). Andersen was convicted of the charge last month and is no longer permitted to audit public companies. The suit says Andersen masterminded "aggressive" accounting tactics and bookkeeping maneuvers that defrauded Halliburton investors As evidence of Cheney's knowledge and approval of these schemes, the suit refers to his appearance in a promotional video for Andersen in which he said he got "good advice" from the firm, advice that went "over and above just the normal by-the-books auditing arrangements." (Washington Times, July 11)
3. DID CHENEY GREASE HALLIBURTON CORPORATE WELFARE?
Halliburton, the oil services company headed by current VP Dick Cheney from 1995 to 2000, reaped massive rewards in government contracts and bank loans after he took the helm--including one deal with a Russian firm under investigation for purported mafia connections. Documents uncovered by a Washington researcher, Knut Royce, formerly with the Center for Public Integrity, show that government banks loaned or insured loans worth $1.5 billion during the years Cheney was chief executive--compared with only $100 million during the previous five years. Cheney was highly valued by Halliburton because of connections made in the Arab oil-producing states while Defense Secretary during Operation Desert Storm under President George HW Bush, the incumbent president's father.
The company under Cheney benefited from $3.8 billionin government contracts or insured loans. Although Bill Clinton was in the White House, Capitol Hill--where the Appropriations Committee oversees government contracts--was controlled by Cheney's Republican Party, to which Halliburton doubled its contributions to $1,212,000 after his arrival.
Among the lucrative contracts underwritten by US tax-dollars was one for the refurbishment of a Siberian oilfield, Samotlor, for the Tyumen oil company of Russia. Tyumen was loaned $489 million in credits by the US Export-Import Bank after lobbying by Halliburton. $292 million of that was to pay Halliburton for the refurbishments. The White House and State Department tried to veto the deal because of concerns about the fact that Tyumen was controlled by a holding conglomerate, the Alfa Group, that had been investigated in Russia for mafia connections. But after intense lobbying by Halliburton, the objections were overruled on Capitol Hill. One of Halliburton's top lobbyists was David Gribben, who had been Cheney's chief of staff at the Pentagon.
Alfa denies that it has ever had any criminal connections, calling the allegations "nonsense." Halliburton denies that Cheney used his contacts to win government contracts or loans. A company spokesperson said: 'Any innuendo that Halliburton or Dick Cheney has acted improperly is false. ' (UK Observer, July 21) (See also: "Dick Cheney's Russia Oil Interests Tied To Drug Trade," WW3 REPORT #33)
4. HALLIBURTON RAKES IN TERROR WAR BUCKS
Halliburton, the Dallas-based oil services company now beset by numerous scandals, is nonetheless benefiting very directly from the US War on Terrorism. From building cells for detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to feeding US troops in Uzbekistan, the Pentagon is increasingly relying on the Halliburton unit Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR). The unit has been building projects all over the world for the US government for decades, the 9-11 attacks have led to significant additional business. KBR is the exclusive logistics supplier for both the Navy and the Army, providing such services as cooking, construction, power generation and fuel transportation. The contract recently won from the Army is for 10 years and has no lid on costs--the Army's only logistical arrangement without a cost estimate. Since the 9-11 attacks, Congress has appropriated $30 billion in emergency money to support the anti-terrorist campaign. About half has gone to the Pentagon, mostly for weapons, supplies, and services. The value of the contracts to Halliburton is hard to quantify. The company said government contracts generated less than 10% of its $13 billion in revenue last year.
In a bid to fend off mounting charges of impropriety, Halliburton released a written statement claiming Cheney "steadfastly refused" to market KBR's services to the government in the five years he served as chief executive. But KBR has numerous former Pentagon officials in its management ranks who know the government contracts system. The senior vice president responsible for KBR's Pentagon contracts is a retired four-star admiral, Joe Lopez, who was Cheney's military aide at the Pentagon in the early 1990's. Halliburton said Lopez was hired in 1999 following a suggestion from Cheney. KBR's military logistics business escalated rapidly with its selection for a $3.9 million contract in 1992, Cheney's last year at the Pentagon. Over the last 10 years, the company's revenues from Pentagon contracts have totaled $2.5 billion, mostly a result of US involvement in the Balkans after 1995.
KBR's Pentagon contracts are again expanding with the campaign in Afghanistan. The Navy's construction brigade, the Seabees, built the first detention facility for detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Then the Navy activated a recently-awarded $300 million, five-year logistic support contract with KBR to construct more permanent facilities--some 600 units, built mostly by workers from the Philippines and India--at a cost of $23 million. (See "Filipinos Contracted To Build Camp X-Ray Prison," WW3 REPORT #27)
But even the Pentagon is now starting to take a closer look at the financial wisdom of its contracts with Halliburton. KBR recently got the Army to agree to pay about $750,000 for electrical repairs at California's Fort Ord that cost only about $125,000, according to T. C. McIntosh, an agent with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Ratheer than face indictment, KBR agreed to a settlement in which the company paid $2 million but denied any liability . (NYT, July 13)
5. CORPORATE INTERESTS SEE WINDFALL IN HOMELAND SECURITY
Cargo haulers, bail bondsmen and other corporate interests are hard at work trying to shape a new Homeland Security Department. At stake is how the new department will dole out its $37 billion annual budget--and who will rake in from lucrative contracts. The Fechheimer Brothers Co. of Cincinnati hopes to sell uniforms to the new agency. Michigan-based Second Chance Body Armor is offering protective gear. The Pennsylvania-based Cross Current Corp. is promoting a high-tech information-sharing system it is building for law enforcement in its home state as a model for the new department. The Business Software Alliance wants the new department to include a cyber-security agency. Pennsylvania's Capital Bonding Corp--which issues bonds to non-citizens who are facing immigration action and tracks down those who skip out on the bonds--is lobbying for changes in immigration policy that could mean more business. The company wants the government to contract private companies to keep track of undocumented residents. Meanwhile, the American Trucking Association is concerned about border bottlenecks of international shipping routes, and is skeptical about being overseen by both the Department of Transportation and the Homeland Security Department. The Homeland Security department would take in the customs and immigration services, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Border Patrol, Coast Guard, Secret Service and Transportation Security Administration . (AP, July 6)
6. SETBACK FOR SECRECY IN CHENEY ENERGY PLAN
US District Judge Emmet Sullivan chastised the Bush administration for seeking a "stunning" expansion of executive power, in a ruling that allows a lawsuit seeking information about the administration's energy policy to proceed. The judge also accused the Bush administration of making purposefully misleading arguments in defending Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force against two lawsuits. The Sierra Club environmental organization and the watchdog group Judicial Watch are seeking records about how the Cheney task force was influenced by industry executives and lobbyists in formulating national energy policy. Sullivan criticized the administration's position that applying the Federal Advisory Committee Act to the Cheney task force encroaches on the president's right to receive confidential advice. "The implications of the bright-line rule advocated by the government are stunning," Sullivan said. (AP, July 13)
7. SWISS REVOKE REGISTRATION OF BIN LADIN TRADEMARK
The Swiss Intellectual Property Office announced it is revoking registration of the Bin Ladin trademark after re-assessing the brand name in light of the 9-11 attacks. The brand name is owned by Swiss-based Falcon Sporting Goods, a firm connected to Yeslam Binladin, millionaire half-brother of accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. The Intellectual Property Office said it is now felt that the trademark--which the firm had planned to use for services and goods including apparel and jewelry--could be considered ethically and morally offensive. The trademark had originally been registered before the 9-11 attacks, the office said, noting that scrapping the registration simply meant there was no longer any legal protection, but that this does not constitute a ban on its use. Saudi-born Binladin, who spells his name differently from his half-brother and has condemned the 9-11 attacks, lives in Geneva and recently became a Swiss citizen. (Reuters, July 19)
8. PENTAGON SEEKS "STREAMLINING"
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is pushing a series of sweeping proposals to weaken congressional oversight of the Pentagon and give the military greater autonomy from public oversight than ever before. The Pentagon proposes eliminating requirements for filing hundreds of reports on its activities to Congress every year. Pentagon officials also are drafting proposals to ban strikes by contract workers, eliminate rules protecting civilian workers at the Pentagon and bypass environmental regulations. In one proposed "defense streamlining initiative" reportedly rejected by the White House, the Pentagon wants the power to send its initiatives directly to Capitol Hill before other agencies could review them. Once there, the legislation would require Congress to vote quickly, with only limited debate. Senior administration officials say the proposal "is far from abandoned." (LAT, July 15)
9. PENTAGON PLANS DROID ARMY
Following the prominent role of unmanned "drone" spy planes and "autonomous vehicles" (AV's) that snooped on al-Qaeda hideouts in Afghanistan, commanders are envisioning wars involving vast robotic fleets on the ground, in the air and on the seas--swarms of drones that will not just find their foes, but fight them, too. The droid army would be coordinated through a wireless "Internet in the sky," allowing thousands of robots to communicate quickly while zooming around a battle zone at speeds of up to 300 miles an hour. An association of some 300 scientists and engineers coordinated by the Office of Naval Research is about a year-and-a-half into a five-year, $11 million effort to devsie such a system. The project is called Multimedia Intelligent Network of Unattended Mobile Agents, or Minuteman. The network's own communications structure, developed by UCLA Prof. Mario Gerla, will deploy the highest-flying AV, a drone called the Global Hawk, as a "cellphone tower in the sky."
Soaring 50,000 feet above the battlefield, the Global Hawks will communicate with headquarters, transmitting data and receiving commands to be passed along to a team of lower-flying AV's that will relay them in turn to single drones serving as liaisons for AV squadrons. "Besides serving as routers, the drones also have to do reconnaissance and carry weapons," Dr. Gerla said. "There is no central control--as soon as you do that you are vulnerable." As a graduate student, Dr. Gerla did work for the US government on the Arpanet, the military precursor to the Internet. (NYT, July 11)
10. PENTAGON BOASTS "SPACE SUPREMACY"
At the 18th annual National Space Symposium this April in Colorado Springs, top bigwigs from the Pentagon's Space Command, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and NASA met to chart an ambitious future for militarization of the Final Frontier. Peter Teets, former chief operating officer of aerospace giant Lockheed-Martin, newly appointed to a dual role as Air Force undersecretary and director of the NRO, the Pentagon's super-elite spy-satellite agency, was joined at the symposium by US Space Command chief Gen. Ralph "Ed" Eberhart. Updating an earlier saying of ex-NRO director Keith Hal, Teets stated: "Afghanistan has reinforced something about space dominance: We have it, we like it, and we're going to keep it." Among the hi-tech Pentagon gizmos field-tested in Afghanistan are the "unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) coordinated by the new Global Positioning System Enhanced Theater Support (GETS) program, and the Global Broadcasting System (GBS), a special classified broadband communications network carried by Navy UHF satellites. A GBS satellite parked over the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia relayed Predator drone video footage to special operations troops on horseback in remote regions of Afghanistan. Eberhart said Space Command gave Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, "seven times the bandwidth that was provided to Norman Schwartzkopf," and that "an individual solider had 322 times the bandwidth that was available in Desert Storm." Teets said that "in no time in our history has the capability of space been so pivotal." He concluded that the challenge was to fully exploit "our space supremacy, our space dominance, to achieve war-fighting success."
Outside the symposium, a handful of protesters from the local group Citizens for Peace in Space held a banner reading "DOMINATING SPACE IS IMMORAL, ILLEGAL AND THREATENS WORLD PEACE." (Loring Wirbel for the Non-Violent Activist, War Resisters League, New York City, May-June)
11. PENTAGON TAPS HOLLYWOOD SCI-FI BRAIN TRUST
THE WAR AT HOME
In related news, the Institute for Creative Technology in Marina del Rey, CA, is holding brainstorming sessions with big-name Hollywood talent to dream up new high-tech military gizmos. At one recent meeting, "Apocalypse Now" co-writer John Milius sketched a soldier of the future with a Transformer-like weapon that doubles as a vehicle part. David Ayer, who wrote "Training Day," suggests building sensors that
link every weapon system in the country. Ron Cobb, the creature designer for "Star Wars," describes a personnel carrier with four independent steering wheels that could "whip around and is buffered with lots of shields." Hollywood consultants are paid anywhere from $500 to $1,000 a day. The institute has a five-year $45 million contract with the US Army . (LAT, July 19)
1. "NATIONAL HOMELAND SECURITY STRATEGY" RELEASED
President Bush's National Homeland Security Strategy, eight months in the making, was released July 16--a 71-page blueprint that includes controversial proposals to let the US Army impose quarantines during a biological attack, and the use of thumbprint and eyeball scanning for foreign visitors. The document calls for sweeping new federal powers, new extradition and secrecy laws, the stockpiling of newly developed vaccines and the creation of an "intelligence threat division" with "red teams" assigned to dream up ways of attacking US targets to expose the nation's weak points. The initiative, announced by the President in the White House Rose Garden, also calls for federal security strictures on state driving licenses and the creation of "biometric" travel documents for foreigners that contain scans of physical features. Also featured is development of screening tools to predict human behavior.. "Protecting Americans from attack is our most urgent national priority and we must act on that priority," Bush declared. "This comprehensive plan outlines clear lines of authority and clear responsibilities." (NYT, July 16; London Times, July 17)
2. OPERATION TIPS HALTED--FOR NOW
House Majority Leader Dick Armey, in his rewrite of legislation to create a Homeland Security Department, rejected a national identification and a program that would create a network of millions of civilian informants--the Terrorism Information and Prevention System, or Operation TIPS. The US Postal Service had stated its unwillingness to participate in the TIPS program, pointing out that the service already "has established processes for our postal employees nationwide to report suspicious activity to the Postal Inspection Service and to local authorities." Said Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge in defense of the measure: "The last thing we want is Americans spying on Americans. That's just not what the president is all about, and not what the TIPS program is all about." Said Richard Diamond, an aid to Armey: "Mr. Armey believes there are other and better ways to involve citizens in the protection of the homeland,. There are traditional ways of pitching in, helping out, like becoming a volunteer firefighter." (AP, July 17; Washington Times, July 19)
3. PENTAGON LAUNCHES "NORTHERN COMMAND"
The White House has directed attorneys in the Justice and Defense departments to review the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which restricts the military from participating in domestic law enforcement. Said Air Force Gen. Ralph "Ed" Eberhart: "We should always be reviewing things like Posse Comitatus and other laws if we think it ties our hands in protecting the American people." Gen. Eberhart has been chosen to lead the Pentagon's new Northern Command, which will have responsibility for air patrols over US cities, guarding the waters up to 500 miles off the US coast, and responding to a major terrorist attack. "My view has been that Posse Comitatus will constantly be under review as we mature this command, as we do our exercises, as we interact with FEMA, FBI, and those lead federal agencies out there," said Gen. Eberhart. The Northern Command is to begin operations Oct. 1. Any changes to Posse Comitatus would have to be approved by Congress. (NYT, July 21)
4. DONAHUE DOES DETAINEES
On the first episode of Phil Donahue's new talk show, he examined the question of the post-9-11 detainees and related civil liberties issues.
Bill Goodman of the Center For Constitutional Rights, when told by Donahue that his position against the detainments will "get no sympathy in the heartland," responded: "And what I say to them is that if we allow the Constitution to be destroyed-and have no doubt about it, it is being destroyed and undermined by the White House and by the Justice Department. If we allow that, then at the end of the day, Osama bin Laden has been successful."
Donahue himself seemed to agree, adding: "We spilled our own blood on battlefields around the world. This is the most fabulous democracy and idea in the history of civilization. And now we seem to be giving it away because we're scared. All men are
created equal, unless we're scared. You get a jury of your peers, unless we're scared. Don't we have a little more respect for what makes us America?"
See the transcript.top]
5. WARREN CHRISTOPHER WARNS OF "DISAPPEARED"
Speaking before hundreds of judges at the US 9th Circuit's annual conference, former Secretary of State Warren Christopher and former FBI and CIA chief William Webster challenged administration policies on handling terrorism suspects. In a panel discussion of national security and civil rights, Christopher raised the specter of the kind of repression common in Argentina under the military dictatorship of the 1970s. "When I was in the Carter administration, I was in Argentina and I saw mothers in the streets protesting, asking for the names of those being held, those who had disappeared," Christopher said. "We must be very careful in this country of not holding people without revealing their names. It leads to the 'disappeared.'" The administration spokesman, Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh responded that "each and every person taken into custody since 9/11 is given the full panoply of rights including the right to go to the press. These are not incognito detainees." Another panelist, American Civil Liberties Union Director Nadine Stossen, said, "I hope what Mr. Dinh says is true. But it's not consistent with stories coming out from the detainees. A large number are not represented by lawyers."
Webster, asked to comment on the prospect of secret military tribunals, said "I don't think we solve our problems by avoiding the process that has made us what we are," he told the judges, who applauded the remarks. 9th Circuit appellate judge A. Wallace Tashima, told how his mother lost her home when the family was detained (along with 120,000 other Japanese-Americans) during World War II. He described the detainment camp in Parker, AZ., as "life at the bare minimum." (AP, July 16)
6. U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF WARNS OF ABUSES IN GLOBAL TERROR WAR
Speaking at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, UN commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson urged governments fighting terrorism to do so "in conformity with the international human rights and humanitarian law standards." She also called for a international efforts to monitor rights abuses in the worldwide hunt for terrorists in the wake of the 9-11 attacks. "There is currently no international institution with a clear mandate to assess whether measures taken ... to combat terrorism are in violation of human rights standards," she said, adding that by protecting human rights, the world would in fact contribute to the "elimination of terrorism." ( AP, July 19)
7. RECRUITERS USE HIGH PRESSURE, HUMILIATION...
Youth in Portland, OR, report high-pressure tactics from military recruiters, who offer kids rides from school to the recruitment office--only to be verbally abused by recruiters, who called them "fucking bums" and "worthless kids," when they refused to join up "They told me I would be a fucking bum if I didn't join the Army," said Lee Woods, 19. "After I took their verbal abuse, they sent me out in the January cold with no ride home." Woods said he tried to get out of enlisting over the phone, but was told he'd have to come down to the recruitment office to do so, face to face. A recruiter picked him up at his house, drove him to the South Portland office and demanded a reason for changing his mind. "They just wouldn't give up. I gave them a reason for not enlisting and explained why I didn't want to be a part of the Army, but that wasn't good enough for them. They wanted to humiliate me."
Local teams also report extravagant promises of financial opportunities and big-buck job training. But the web site of the Philadelphia-based Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors , states that one-third of all homeless people in the US are veterans. The site reports that two-thirds of all recruits never get any college funding from the military, while only 15% graduate with a four-year degree. (Casco Bay Weekly, OR, July 4)
8. AND NEW VIDEO GAME...
A more sophisticated new recruiting tactic is "America's Army," a free computer game produced by the military and aimed at winning the hearts and minds of tech-minded teenagers. The Army is seeking to recruit 79,500 young adults this year, and Lt. Col. Casey Wardynski, who designed the game, said, "Gaming tends to be very interesting to young Americans." The game, an ultra-realistic battlefield scenario, is provided free, and the military is encouraging gamers to copy it and share it with friends. ( NYT, July 11)
9. AND ACCESS TO STUDENT RECORDS
Under a new federal law, military recruiters have the authority to demand that education officials turn over the names, addresses and phone numbers of high-school students. President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" law orders schools nationwide to comply with the edict or risk losing federal funds. The military hopes to use access to student records to snare young men fail to register for the draft. Non-registration is widespread in urban areas, and the compliance rate in New York City is one of the lowest among major US cities, said Lewis Brodsky, a spokesman for the Selective Service. Only 49% of young men in New York register after turning 18, as required by law. Rep. John Isakson (R-GA) said he pushed for the amendment after a school district in his area refused to provide military recruiters with information to contact students, which he found reprehensible. But critics say giving the military access to student information smacks of Big Brother. "We're opposed to it. It shows that the government can't be trusted to keep any information confidential," said George Getz, national spokesman for the Libertarian Party and the Campaign to End the Selective Service. Parents will be given an opportunity to call school officials to "opt out" of disclosing their child's personal information. (New York Post, July 17)
10. PARANOIA IN THE SKY
Samyuktha Verma, a top star of India's Bollywood film scene, was flying into New York City for the first time with her family on American Trans Air July 16. They looked down at the skyscrapers, speaking excitedly in their native Malayalam tongue, and changed seats for better views. But this behavior frightened a passenger, who passed a note to a flight attendant. The pilot then called in a military escort. F-16s were scrambled to usher flight into LaGuardia Airport--where the entire Verma family and two friends were detained and interrogated for several hours by the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force. Verma was astounded that passengers had been frightened by their behavior. "I don't know, maybe they thought we were choosing targets or something," she told the New York Times. (NYT, Newdsday, July 18)
In related news, an air passenger who jokingly questioned whether the pilots were sober was removed from an Americas West flight one week after two of the airline's pilots were arrested in Miami on drunk flying charges. San Francisco International Airport spokesman Ron Wilson said the incident began shortly after boarding when the woman asked flight attendants if they had "checked the crew for sobriety." He said the decision to remove the passenger was left to the airline. "Safety is no joking matter. It is taken very seriously. we try to make the best decisions for all passengers based on what the situation is at hand," said America West spokeswoman Patty Nowack. "While this passenger may have been joking it is difficult to determine if someone is joking or serious. We take any comment regarding safety seriously." Pilots Thomas Cloyd and Christopher Hughes, were fired by the airline after their arrest July 1, and the Federal Aviation Administration revoked their licenses. Police said a breathalyzer test at an airport substation showed the two with blood alcohol levels at 0.091 and 0.084 respectively. Florida law considers a person intoxicated at 0.08. (Reuters, July 10)
11. JOHN WALKER LINDH COPS A PLEA
John Walker Lindh, the 21-year-old Californian who was captured fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan agreed to a surprise plea bargain that could keep him in prison for 20 years. He faces ten years each on charges of supplying services and bearing arms for the Taliban, but will not face charges of conspiring to kill US citizens--which could have led to life imprisonment. "I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban last year from August to November," Lindh told US Judge TS Ellis III. "In the course of doing so I carried a rifle and two grenades, and I did so knowing that it was illegal." (Newsday, July 16)
12. MOUSSAOUI ATTEMPTS TO PLEAD GUILTY
Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged as a 9-11 conspirator, tried to plead guilty July 18, but the judge insisted that he take a week to think it over. "I enter a plea of guilty. I am a member of al-Qaeda," Moussaoui told US District Judge Leonie Brinkema, who moments earlier had entered an innocent plea on his behalf. "I pledged bayat [an oath of loyalty] to Osama bin Laden." Told by the judge to think about his decision for a week, Moussaoui replied, "I don't need. I've been thinking about it for months." (CBS, July 18; USA Today, July 19)
Moussaoui is seeking to represent himself, and has turned in nearly 75 hand-written motions, in which he refers to himself as "I, Zacarias Moussaoui, slave of ALLAH." In a May 3 letter to Judge Brinkema attempting to fire his court-appointed lawyers, Frank Dunham and Gerald Zerkin, Moussaoui wrote: "Those Jews who incurred the curse of ALLAH and his wrath and those whom he transformed into monkey and swines such as Jewish zealot Zerkin, megalopig Dunham and right wing racist must be expelled from the land (not at spitting distance" (sic) (Newsday, July 14)
13. HAMDI INCOMUNICADO
A federal appeals court refused a US-born accused Taliban fighter captured in Afghanistan permission to see lawyers in a case that could have implications for other such detainees. Yaser Hamdi, 21, was detained at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba until US authorities discovered he was born in Louisiana to Saudi parents, and had him transferred to US soil. He is currently being held in a jail on the naval base at Norfolk, VA. The court ruled that in a time of war the US attorney general has the right to hold an enemy combatant in military detention incommunicado. The decision reversed an earlier ruling by a Virginia US district court permitting Hamdi to meet public defender Frank Dunham. Hamdi's lawyers had argued that, as a US citizen, he has the constitutional right to a legal counsel. But Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson disagreed, saying that the district court had not considered the implications of Hamdi's case, such as intelligence gathering. Wilkinson did say that such decisions could still be open to judicial review, to safeguard against the US government indefinitely holding anyone it claimed was an enemy fighter. (See also: WW3 REPORT #s
The news comes as accused British shoe-bomber Richard Reid lost a legal battle to have the term "al-Qaeda" dropped from the indictment against him. (See WW3 REPORT #s 5, 25, 26) Reid argued that the wording was inaccurate, but the presiding judge said he was satisfied with the reference being used. (BBC, July 12)
NOTE: Technically, the US is not at war in Afghanistan or anywhere else, because Congress has failed to declare war. See "Is Bush's War Illegal?," WW3 REPORT #11.
14. SLEEPERS IN SEATTLE?
The Puget Sound Joint Terrorist Task Force is investigating a possible Islamic terrorist cell in the Seattle area with suspected links to an al-Qaeda recruiter in London as well as the former Taliban leadership in Afghanistan and a "jihad training camp" in rural Oregon, according to interviews and a law enforcement document obtained by the Los Angeles Times. One suspect is described as a US-born Muslim convert who provided computers to the Taliban before Sept. 11. He is also said to have helped recruit a British citizen, now in US military custody, for an al-Qaeda terrorist training camp, the report said. The confidential document, widely distributed to federal investigative and intelligence agencies, warned that suspected cell members may be trying to "identify targets for a terrorist attack." Among items seized after a related arrest were "instructions on poisoning water sources," according to the report. The document also details a suspected terrorist training camp held nearly three years ago at an isolated ranch in Oregon. "In November, 1999, local American Muslim converts with coordination of foreign radical Islamic extremists planned and conducted a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon," reads the federal alert. "This camp was conducted in concert with Sheik Abu Hamza Al-Masri [of London]." Abu Hamza, an Islamic radical who has publicly praised the 9-11 attacks, is regarded as a leading al Qaeda recruiter in Europe.
Federal authorities warn that the Pacific Northwest--with its broad open spaces, strategic ports and military bases, growing Muslim population and a largely open border with Canada--could be an "easy target." In a June statement, Seattle FBI chief Charles Mandigo said the region receives "a disproportionate high number of terrorism threats."
The investigation has led to only one arrest. Semi Osman, 32, believed to be a Lebanese national, and a former imam at a Seattle mosque, has been charged with immigration fraud and illegal possession of a semiautomatic 40-caliber handgun with its serial numbers removed. Items seized from Osman's residence at the May arrest reportedly include more firearms, military field manuals, papers by Abu Hamza, instructions on poisoning water supplies, a visa application to Yemen and "various other items associated with Islamic radicalism," according to the document. Osman is an active-duty reservist in the US Navy and a former Army enlistee. Navy investigators are assisting in the investigation. Osman's attorney, Robert M. Leen, said his client has no links to terrorism and is a victim of discrimination.
The ranch in Bly, where Osman lived for a time, was raided by FBI agents last month. But locals were skeptical of claims that a terrorist training camp was held there. "If there was anything unusual going on, if this was some kind of training camp or anything, everyone would have known it," said Kelly Peterson, a worker at a ranch. Residents said Osman, his wife and another Muslim woman living on the property in 1999 kept to themselves and seemed to be raising goats and long-haired sheep.
Word of the investigation came as US Attorney General John Ashcroft told Congress that numerous al-Qaeda sleeper cells remain intact in the US, despite the extensive law enforcement sweeps since the 9-11 attacks. (LAT, July 13)
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