#. 57. Oct. 28, 2002
JANE'S: "SHARON EMBARKS ON ETHNIC CLEANSING"
MOSSAD IN KASHMIR?
WAS WELLSTONE MURDERED?
SPECIAL REPORT: STATE OF THE PEACE MOVEMENT
CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: YELLOW
By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Subuhi Jiwani, and Sarah Ferguson,
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Settlement Suicide Attack Kills Reservists
2. Islamic Jihad Car Bomb Kills 14
3. Jane's: "Sharon Embarks on Ethnic Cleansing"
4. Knesset Refuses to Bar Pro-"Transfer" Faction
5. "Transfer" Talk Escalates
1. Tel Aviv-Delhi Anti-Terror Alignment
THE CAUCASUS FRONT
1. Moscow "Rescue Operation" Kills 115 Hostages
2. Guerilla Leader Barayev Dead in Raid
3. Moscow Mass Murder Mystery: It's a Gas
4. Stop The Presses: Gas Mystery Solved?
5. Russia to Respond with WMD?
6. Russian Atrocities in Chechnya
7. Starship Sabateurs Behind Soyuz Snafu?
THE WAR AT HOME
1. Sniper Suspect: Son of Uncle Sam?
2. Peace Movement Re-Mobilizes
3. Cyber-Activists Target Congress
4. Activists Buy Media Access
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. Was Wellstone Murdered?
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. SETTLEMENT SUICIDE ATTACK KILLS RESERVISTS
A suicide attack on a gas station in the West Bank settlement of Ariel
killed three Israeli reserve soldiers and wounded 15 other on Oct. 27.
Hamas claimed responsibility. (Ha'aretz, Oct. 28) (David Bloom)
2. ISLAMIC JIHAD CAR BOMB KILLS 14
On Oct. 21, a car laden 220 lbs of exploded next to a bus at Karkur
junction in Northern Israel. Fourteen passengers were killed, and 42 were
injured. (Ha'aretz, Oct. 22) Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. "When we
saw that Israel's security measures were keeping people off buses, we had
to find a new way," said an Islamic Jihad official, speaking on condition
of anonymity. "We found that with the cars, we could load them with
explosives and harm many people." (AP, Oct. 22)
The IDF had recently pulled thier forces out of Jenin. "The terrorists took
advantage of the lifting of the curfew in Jenin to carry out the attack at
the Karkur junction," IDF General Moshe Yaalon said. (AFP, Oct. 23)
"There is good reason to believe the people who carried out the attack
received help from members of other groups, like Hamas and Fatah," said a
PA security official in Ramallah.. "In recent months, there has been
increased cooperation between all the armed groups. In most cases, we are
talking about cooperation initiated by local leaders. They are functioning
under the umbrella of the Popular Army." The Jerusalem Post says
Palestinian police and security troops have joined radical groups because
they have not been paid in months, and the radical groups offer them money.
(Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22)(David Bloom)
3. JANE'S: "SHARON EMBARKS ON ETHNIC CLEANSING"
The highly respected British publication Jane's Foreign Report issued
a stark warning Oct. 24 of impending ethnic cleansing on a massive scale in
the West Bank:
"As the Middle East braces itself for the violent convulsions that many
fear George W Bush's expected assault on Iraq will trigger, there is
growing concern that Ariel Sharon will use the upheaval to carry out what
is widely seen as his primary objective: driving out large numbers of
Palestinians from the West Bank into neighbouring Jordan. At the very
least, the Israeli leader is expected to escalate his military offensive
against the Palestinians to crush the Intifada and effectively eliminate
the prospect of a viable independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip. These fears, long harboured by the Palestinians and the
Jordanians, were heightened recently when Sharon recently appointed Effi
Eitam, a right-wing retired army general who has been one of the most
vociferous advocates of what the Israelis euphemistically call 'transfer',
as his infrastructure minister. 'Transfer' envisages forcibly deporting the
large majority of the 1.8m Palestinians in the occupied territories and
moving them to Jordan, their substitute homeland.
"Earlier this month, Israel's education minister, Limor Livnat, instructed
schools to devote an hour of study every week to the teachings of the late
right-wing 'hawk' Rehavam Zeevi, the tourism minister who was assassinated
by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in a Jerusalem hotel
in October 2001. He was an outspoken advocate of 'transfer'.
"As far as the Jordanians are concerned, this process is already under way.
According to some Jordanian officials, as many as 200,000 Palestinians,
fleeing from the violence or the economic misery caused by the Al-Aqsa
intifada, have entered Jordan and not returned to the West Bank since the
uprising against Israeli occupation broke out on 28 September 2000. Many
have stayed on in Jordan with relatives or friends, their future plans
unclear; some have moved on to other parts of the Arab world or elsewhere.
"The spectre of a mass migration by Palestinians from the territories has
haunted Jordan for decades. The Hashemite kingdom's original Bedouin
inhabitants are already heavily outnumbered by Palestinians who have fled
there since 1948. An estimated 70% of the 6.4m population are Palestinians
or have Palestinian roots. The 1994 peace treaty with Israel, signed by the
late King Hussein, remains widely unpopular amid deep economic malaise;
poverty is rife with up to one-third of the population unemployed. Amid the
simmering discontent, Hussein's heir, King Abdullah II, trapped between
maintaining ties with Israel and the West while paying allegiance to Arab
nationalism and the Palestinian cause, has imposed a political crackdown,
including the suspension of parliament under 'temporary' laws that many in
Jordan consider repressive. This has added to the unease, now heightened by
concern at the consequences of a US war against neighbouring Iraq. 'There
is a population flight from the occupied territories," says Jordanian
economist Fahad Fanek, "and if this continues it will not be long before
the majority of the inhabitants of the West Bank are Jewish settlers. And
the majority of Jordan's inhabitants are refugees and displaced persons.
This would enable the Palestinian state to be established outside
Palestine, as Sharon plans and actively seeks.'
"'One cannot blame them as individuals, because life in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip is intolerable, but we have a national duty to Jordan first, and
to Palestine second, to block gradual transfer and prevent a Palestinian
state from being relocated outside Palestine, specifically to Jordan.'"
(Jane's Foreign Report, Oct. 24)(David Bloom)
Jane's issued this following clarification on Oct. 31:
"In our issue dated 24 October (2710), the sixth article was entitled 'Sharon embarks on ethnic cleansing.' As the story made clear
we were in fact reporting wide spread fear among Palestinians that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, might be planning
ethnic cleansing, not that it had started. "
4. KNESSET REFUSES TO BAR PRO-"TRANSFER" FACTION
On Oct. 23, the Israeli Knesset rejected a bill banning the pro-"Transfer"
right-wing Moledet party from upcoming elections. The bill, introduced by
Hadash, was defeated 51-23. Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit (Likud) argued
"'Transfer' is a term with many definitions, some of which may not
contradict the state's democratic character." Sheetrit, speaking for the
government, added "For the government, it is unclear if a list of
candidates that supports a voluntary exchange of population or supports the
expulsion of citizens convicted of offenses against state security,
deviates beyond what is allowed in a democracy." MK Azmi Bishara (National
Democratic Alliance) interrupted in anger. "What happened to you?" he asked
Sheetrit. Moledet released a statement noting that "transfer by consent is
not a dirty word. It is the only way to achieve real peace. Whoever opposes
a willing transfer supports the alternative, which is a forced transfer."
(Ha'aretz, Oct. 23)(David Bloom)
5. "TRANSFER" TALK ESCALATES
The military failure to stop suicide bombings has increased talk of
"transfer" in Israel. "At the beginning of the intifada, one of the most
popular slogans among the right wing, was: 'Let the army win the war.' You
don't hear that anymore," said Ha'aretz Palestinian affairs commentator
Danny Rubinstein. "People think: 'We won, so what's going on here with this
victory if we can't stop the intifada.' So in the right-wing corner, you
see graffiti slogans for transfer. It's become more popular to talk about
it." Popular graffiti and posters seen recently bear slogans like "Transfer
= Peace and Security" and "Deport the fuckers." Polls show a support of
20-30% among the Israeli public for some kind of deportation of
Palestinians from the occupied territories. Israeli historian Benny
Morris, author of "The Beginning of the Palestinian Refugee Problem,
1947-1949," who himself has recently swung to the right, notes: "The
transfer idea waxes when the country is in crisis." He adds: "In the
existential war of the last two years, Israelis view Palestinians as
unwilling to accept an Israeli state." Morris believes the idea persists
because "in 1948, a Jewish state would not have come into being without
Arabs being displaced."
MK Benny Elon, who replaced the assassinated "transfer" proponent Rehavim
Ze'evi as Moledet's leader, said "when you look at it, transfer is the only
conclusion. It is the only light at the end of the tunnel." Elon says he
favors "voluntary" transfer, financed with international money.
Elon has spent a lot of time in Washington recently, where he says he found
a receptive audience to his eight-page glossy "transfer" brochure among
members of Congress, and was cheered at the annual convention of the
Christian Coalition when he called for "relocation" of Palestinians from the
West Bank into Jordan.(see WW3 REPORTS # 40 & 56)
AFP concludes that "While the transfer movement is nowhere near to coming
to fruition," many in Israel say an upsurge in violence could spark it. (AFP,
Oct. 23) (David Bloom)
1. TEL AVIV-DELHI ANTI-TERROR ALIGNMENT
India's decades-old unequivocal support for the Palestinian cause has been
changing since 1992, when full diplomatic relations were established with
Israel. The new policy is a "studied neutrality" between Israel and
Palestine, with arms exchanges amounting to over $3 billion. Today, Israel
has emerged as the second largest defense provider for India after Russia.
The seemingly newborn friendship between the two countries includes
intelligence sharing, counter-insurgency operations training and border
management. (Asian Age, Aug 22, 2001)
Jane's Intelligence Review states that India's overseas intelligence
agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, worked closely with the Mossad even
before 1992 and shared information on militant Islamic groups. (Jane's
Intelligence Review, Mar 1, 2002) India sought military aid from Israel as
early as 1962 during the Sino-Indian war, and in the 1965 and 1971
conflicts with Pakistan. (Jane's Foreign Report, July 20, 2000)
In a three-day visit to New Delhi in January of this year, Israeli Foreign
Minister Shimon Peres said, "India and Israel are co-operating on security
and intelligence matters because we have a common enemy: terrorism." In
order to combat this perceived common threat of Islamic terrorism from
their "hostile" neighbors, India and Israel have set up a joint ministerial
commission to share intelligence and provide a "functional mechanism" for
counter-terrorism strategies. During his 2000 visit to Tel Aviv, India's
Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh stated that older governments held up
diplomatic relations due to fear of losing access to Arab oil--and "Muslim
vote banks." (JIR, Aug 1, 2000) New Delhi's have Adm Sushil Kumar went to
Tel Aviv to meet the director of the Mossad in 2001. LK Advani, a hardline
Hindu Nationalist and India's newly appointed deputy Prime Minister,
visited Israel's border with Lebanon to assess security systems in June
Both nations have openly denied the exchange of nuclear weapons. However,
Jane's Defense Weekly presents evidence which points to its possibility.
"Media reports during Indian Home Minister LK Advani's Israel visit in June
2000 hinted at closer nuclear relations between the two [nations], but both
sides downplayed this aspect. Dr AJP Abdul Kalam, the 'father' of India's
nuclear weapons programme [and current President] also visited Israel twice
in the 18 months prior to Delhi emerging as the world's sixth nuclear
weapon state in 1998. Defence analysts speculate that Israel might have
violated the US government's embargo by exporting to India sensitive and
dual-use nuclear technologies." (Jane's Defense Weekly, Mar 1, 2002)
Jane's Defense Weekly also mentions India's attempts to reorganize
intelligence sharing between its army, paramilitary and border security
forces in Kashmir with the assistance of Israeli communications systems,
jamming gear and night vision devices. (Jane's Defense Weekly, August 22,
2001) Israel has denied allegations of assisting the Indian military forces
on the ground in Kashmir. However, Jane's Intelligence Review states: "In
the wake of [India's 1999] conflict with Pakistan in the Kargil area of
Kashmir, Israel is also rumoured to have provided India with over a dozen
technical teams. Their job has been to help fill serious holes in the
latter's border intelligence gathering capabilities." (Jane's Intelligence
Review, Aug 1, 2000)
An Indian military official told Asia Times online that India's tapping
into Israeli defense expertise has "witnessed a manifold increase since
September 11." He continued to say that "India and Israel are not just on
the same side in the war against terrorism, they want the problem to be
tackled in all its manifestations. Unlike the US, which is hesitating to go
after al-Qaeda in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the Israelis have no problem
providing quiet input for any operation there." (Asia Times, June 26)
THE CAUCASUS FRONT
1. MOSCOW "RESCUE OPERATION" KILLS 115 HOSTAGES
On Oct. 26, Russian special forces troops under the command of the FSB
internal security agency stormed the Moscow theater where Chechen guerillas
had been holding some 800 hostages for 58 hours. The approximately 50
guerillas, who were demanding an end to the Russian war in Chechnya, were
all killed in the raid--but so were at least 115 hostages, with some 400
more hospitalized in critical condition, victims of the still-unidentified
"knock-out gas" the FSB troops sent in before entering the building. The
guerillas had killed two hostages before the raid, and set off explosives
in the theater, providing Russian authorities with a rationale for the
deadly raid, which was initially claimed as a success. The use of the
mysterious gas "allowed us to neutralize, among others, those women
kamikazes who were literally encased in explosives with their fingers on
the detonators," said deputy interior minister Vladimir Vasilyev. Nearly
half of the guerilla team was said to be women.
In subsequent days, as the death toll rose dramatically, calls grew for an
investigation into why doctors were not provided an antidote to the gas.
Alexei Arbatov, head of the Russian parliament's defense committee, told
CNN: "I blame the authorities for not providing the doctors with antidotes
and instructions on how to use them. That was certainly a great blunder,
and many people are paying for that blunder with their health--and some
even with their life."
Authorities refused to tell doctors what gas was used, so doctors spent the
first several hours testing various antidotes before they found one that
worked. Reports CNN: "Anguished relatives have descended on Moscow
hospitals, begging for news of their kin, while others have been scouring
the city morgues." In response to the criticism, Russian President Vladimir
Putin said: "Please forgive us. The memories of the victims must unite all
Chechnya's elected government, which has been ousted by the Russian
military, condemned the guerilla take-over of the music hall. Akhmed
Zakayev, an envoy of elected Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov, told Reuters:
"We cannot come down to the level of our opponents, targeting innocent
people," a reference to human rights abuses by Russian forces in Chechnya.
(CNN, Oct. 27, 28)
2. GUERILLA LEADER BARAYEV DEAD IN RAID
The taking of the Moscow theater was led by Chechen guerilla Movsar
Barayev, a little-known member of Shamil Basayev's radical Jamaat faction.
He was the nephew of the notorious Arbi Barayev, known as "The
Terminator," held responsible for over 170 murders, including 3 Britons and
a New Zealander in 1998. (IWPR, Oct. 28) The elder Barayev was killed in
June of 2001. Commentator Sanobar Shermatova of The Moscow News said
Barayev was considered the most important kill of Russia's Chechen
campaign until the April assassination of the al-Qaeda-trained Jamaat
warlord Khattab, an Arab who lived openly in Chechnya until his death.
Shermatova cited divisions within the Russian security forces: "This fight
among the special services in Chechnya led to the most important Chechen
commanders being left in peace--including such generals [and] slave-traders
as Barayev and the Akhmadov brothers. Until now, they were alive [and]
healthy, and no one tried to even arrest them even though they lived openly
in Chechnya." She says Barayev cooperated in smuggling operations with top
Russian officials, and accused the Interior Ministry of black-marketing
oil. (Radio Free Europe, June 26, 2001) (David Bloom)
3. MOSCOW MASS MURDER MYSTERY: ITS A GAS
Official silence on the identity of the mystery gas used by Russian secret
service troops in the hostage crisis is raising concern about Moscow's
compliance with the international treaty banning chemical weapons. Lev
Fyodorov, who once worked with the Soviet chemical weapons agency and now
heads the Social and Ecological Union for Chemical Safety, told the New
York Times that the gas appeared to be a Valium-based agent developed for
the military in the Soviet-era, and still a state secret. Vil Mirzayanov, a
former colleague of Fyodorov in the chemical weapons program who was twice
imprisoned for reporting in 1991 that the USSR had continued to test and
develop chemical weapons after publicly disavowing them, told the Times
that in 1988 the agency had altered the molecular structure of the
incapacitating agent BZ, which the US had studied extensively in the 1960s.
Mirzayanov said the agency, known as the State Scientific and Research
Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology, found the new substance to
be an effective anesthetic following tests at a Moscow military hospital.
Neither Fyodorov or Mirzayanov could confirm that the altered BZ was the
agent used in the theatre raid, and they admitted that the use of the
mysterious substance could fall into a legal gray area. The treaty
ostensibly banning chemical weapons, which Russia has signed and ratified,
has a loophole for the use of chemical agents in "law enforcement,
including domestic riot control." However, it requires that the effects of
such agents "disappear within a short time following termination of
exposure." The mounting death toll, and the fact that hundreds remain
hospitalized, provide evidence that the spirit of the treaty was violated
at least, said Mirazayanov. "It may be less a crime than taking hostages,
but it is a crime to use this in this way," he said in an interview from
New Jersey, where he now lives.
None of the victims seem to be suffering from blistering, convulsions and
internal bleeding associated with most banned chemical agents, such as
sarin. But Amy Smithson, a chemical weapons expert at the Henry L. Stimson
Center, an arms research institute in Washington, said the Moscow affair
raises serious questions about Russian treaty compliance. "This is kind of
like pornography: you know it when you see it," she told the Times. (NYT,
While it was not mentioned by the Times, the US military tested BZ gas on
enemy troops in Vietnam. BZ, which basically induces a massive bummer acid
trip that lasts about a week, was used at least once to flush Viet Cong
troops out of their underground tunnel networks.
>(See Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD by Martin A. Lee and
Human rights investigators also claim that Bosnian Serb forces used BZ in
taking the city of Srebrenica in 1995. British investigators found gas
canisters on the scene after the city fell, and collected reports that a
mysterious gas "caused the previously stout defenders of Srebrenica to
become disoriented and hence easy pickings for Serb gunners."
(OMRI, Jan. 23, 1996)
4. STOP THE PRESSES: GAS MYSTERY SOLVED?
The US embassy in Moscow has identified the gas used by Russian forces as
Fentanyl, a narcotic agent more powerful than heroin, used sometimes as an
anesthetic in dental surgery. This theory stems from the fact that
Nalexone, a drug used to treat heroin abuses, was administered by doctors
to survivors. The Russian government refused to tell doctors what agent was
used, so they initially tried atropine, used to combat the effects of nerve
gas, on the survivors. Nalexone was found to be more effective. However,
John Tinker, head of the anesthesiology department at the University of
Nebraska medical center in Omaha, doubted the Fentanyl theory. "You could
pump New York City's entire supply of gaseous anesthetics into that room
and no one would go to sleep," he said. Tinker said the only substance that
could act so quickly on people would have to be a nerve gas. He added that
atropine is only partially effective against nerve gas. Other scientists
quoted by the UK Guardian suggested atropine proved ineffective because BZ
was used. (BBC, Oct. 29; UK Guardian, Oct. 29) German doctors who have
treated survivors of the rescue attempt identified the agent used as
Halothane, another anesthetic agent. (BBC, Oct. 29) (David Bloom)
5, RUSSIA TO RESPOND WITH WMD?
The Russian paper Moskovskiy Komsomolets wonders what Putin meant when he
said Moscow "will respond with measures commensurate to the threats." The
newspaper consulted experts who suggested "this might mean the pre-emptive
use of weapons of mass destruction," and that Russian troops in Chechnya
will now "have the chance to use military hardware and weaponry previously
regarded as unsuitable for local conflicts at home and intended only for
warfare on a global scale." (BBC Monitoring: Moskovskiy Komsomolets, Oct.
29) (David Bloom)
6. RUSSIAN ATROCITIES IN CHECHNYA
An Oct. 27 article in the UK Observer by Krystyna Kurczab-Redlich,
correspondent for the Polish edition of Newsweek, titled "Torture and rape
stalk the streets of Chechnya," chronicles grave human rights abuses by
Russian forces in Chechnya. Russian Federation forces have take to blowing
up their captives with explosives. On July 3 in the village of Meskyer
Yurt, 21 men, women and children were tied together and blown up. Their
remains were thrown in a ditch. This method keeps the number of victims
from being known, or possibly ever being found. Since this practice
started in the spring, dogs digging up body parts has been a daily
Other atrocities cited: On Sept. 9, six men from Krasnostepnovskoye were
found dead, naked, with plastic bags wrapped around their heads. In June, a
ditch near the Russian army post in Chankala was found to contain 50
mutilated corpses, with missing ears, eyes, limbs, and genitals.
Spetsnaz, Russian special forces, and OMON, Russian special police forces,
have conduced some 20 'mopping-up" operations this year. Typically, a
village is encircled by tanks, armored vehicles, and trucks. One truck is
known as the "purification car" and is designated for torture, to gather
intelligence. One village, Zuhra from Enikaloi, described one such
operation. "They arrived on 23 August at 5 AM. There were about 100 army
vehicles, all packed with soldiers. We ran out to meet them with our
documents. God forbid you encounter an impatient 'federal.' If you do, then
in the best-case scenario you may be tortured or shot dead on the spot. In
the worst case, they take you away. About 20 of them, armed to the teeth
and wearing masks, climbed into the yard and the house. As always, they
were dirty, unshaven and reeking of vodka. They cursed horribly. They shot
at our feet. They took my identification papers and started to shred them.
I had bought them for 500 rubles. They cost me everything I had. They went
to our neighbors' house, the Magomedova family. We heard shots and the
screams of 15-year-old Aminat, the sister of Ahmed and Aslanbek. 'Let her
be!' screamed one of the brothers, 'Kill us instead!' Then we heard more
shots. Through the window we saw a half-dressed OMON commander lying on top
of Aminat. She was covered in blood from the bullet wounds. Another soldier
shouted, 'Hurry up, Kolya, while she's still warm.'"
Kurczab-Redlich also reported that in Zernovodsk this past summer,
townspeople were chased onto a field and forced to watch a mass rape of the
town's women. When their men attempted to defend them, 68 of their number
were handcuffed to a truck and raped as well. This convinced 45 of them to
join the Chechen guerilla fighters in the mountains. The abuses by the
Russian military have solidified support for Chechen leader Aslan
Maskhadov. Once considered comparatively secular, Maskhadov now has
welcomed Islamist forces back into his ranks, downplaying nationalist
imagery in favor of Islamist.
Russia does not deny the sort of abuses Kurczab-Redlich has chronicled are
taking place. An order to cease the abuses has been issued. She also notes
Chechen resistance forces are responsible for abuses--such as kidnapping
and ransoming "collaborators," sometimes killing them. Russian forces also
abduct Chechens, returning them for thousands of dollars if they are
alive--often maimed for life--less if they are dead. (UK Observer, Oct. 27)
7. STARSHIP SABATEURS BEHIND SOYUZ SNAFU?
THE WAR AT HOME
The chief of Russia's space agency says investigators are considering foul
play behind the rocket launch disaster that killed one person Oct. 15. A
Soyuz-U rocket blew up within seconds of lift-off from the northern
Plesetsk launch pad. Officials blame an unidentified object in the fuel
line. The launch vehicle was carrying a Foton-M satellite containing
scientific equipment from several countries, including both Russia and the
US. One soldier was killed and several others injured when the burning
rocket's debris crashed to the ground and exploded. Russian Space Agency
chief Yuri Koptev told the official ITAR-Tass news agency that a foreign
object had obstructed a hydrogen peroxide pipe in one of the rocket's
engines. "Traces of iron and chromium--materials that are not used in the
production of this pipe--have been found in the remnants of the engine,"
Koptev said. He added that possible explanations for the explosion are
being considered, "from a manufacturing defect to malicious intent." A
modified version of the Soyuz-U is scheduled launch from the Baikonur
Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Oct. 30, four days later than originally
scheduled, on a flight to the international space station. The crew of two
Russians and one Belgian are to deliver a fresh Soyuz capsule, to serve as
emergency lifeboat for station residents. (AP, Oct. 28)
1. SNIPER SUSPECT: SON OF UNCLE SAM?
Following some lucky leads, good detective work and teasing hints left by
the perpetrators themselves, police arrested two suspects in the DC sniper
case Oct. 24--John Allen Muhammed, 41, and his 17-year-old stepson John Lee
Malvo. Both are accused of shooting 12 in the DC area from the trunk of a
1990 Chevy Caprice which had been drilled with holes to accommodate a rifle
barrel and scope. Authorities say Malvo will be tried as an adult, and may
face the death penalty in Virginia (although not in Maryland, which has a
minimum age of 18 for the death penalty). Muhammed, an African American
from Louisiana, was a hard-luck drifter who sought meaning by converting to
Islam, and was apparently an enthusiastic participant in Rev. Louis
Farrakhan's 1995 Million Man March in Washington DC. He was also a
decorated Desert Storm veteran. While his Black Muslim affiliation will
provide useful propaganda to advocates of the depressing "Clash of
Civilizations" theory--as well as the white supremacists salivating for a
"Racial Holy War"--Muhammed's past as cannon fodder for Uncle Sam may have
far more to do with his monstrous insensitivity to human life. Despite his
anti-establishment affectations, he had also boasted to friends in the past
of being an expert marksman from his military training--and of having been
a hit man for the CIA. (Facts from NYT, Oct. 25, 26)
While the media had a field day comparing Muhammed to past serial killers,
few noted that Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was also a Desert Storm
vet. And while coverage frequently invoked the notorious psycho-killer
David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz (e.g. NYT, Oct. 28), who terrorized New York
City in 1977, it was not noted that Berkowitz was also an Army veteran--or
that media at the time (including the New York Times) theorized that his
sinister code name was actually a reference to his military years--when he
was a "Son of (Uncle) Sam." (See The Crime Web)
2. PEACE MOVEMENT RE-MOBILIZES
With the startling emergence of antiwar protests at Congressional offices
and government buildings across the country comes the reflexive retort by
talking heads too deep in the DC spin cycle to see this coming. "US
Protests Against Iraq War Make Slow Start" announced Reuters Oct. 14, going
on to cite a litany of actions--from prayer vigils and sit-ins to full-page
protest ads in national newspapers--that tens of thousands of Americans
have undertaken in hopes of halting a US-led invasion of Iraq. Meanwhile,
some ostensible progressives warn of a plague of "peace kooks" and a Maoist
takeover of the antiwar movement.
"A Smart Peace Movement is MIA," proclaimed a Sept. 29 LA Times op-ed by
Nation contributing editor Marc Cooper, who argued that the peace cause has
been hijacked by knee-jerk leftists unable to parse a line critical of both
the Bush administration's war driveand Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship.
A similar critique was voiced last week by Mother Jones contributor Todd
Gitlin, who bemoaned the absence of "sensible anti-war forces" capable of
countering the Bush administration's blood-for-oil juggernaut.
In fact, there is already a remarkably diverse and cogent movement of
dissent afoot in America, one that belies the typical efforts by the media
to cast it as a meager replay of the 60s.
Part of the reason the media may be overlooking the depth of dissent is
because today's antiwar forces are mobilizing largely without the direction
of any easy-to-identity umbrella groups. "It's the anti-corporate
globalization model of not having individual leaders, but lots of
coalitions and affinity groups and nodes of action," says Medea Benjamin of
Global Exchange, the Bay Area environmental and human rights group.
Organized labor, which backed the war in Afghanistan, is beginning to
openly question the war drive. Just prior to the congressional vote,
AFL-CIO president Jon Sweeney wrote a letter to President Bush urging him
to seek a diplomatic solution to conflict with Iraq. Though his letter
stopped short of opposing war, Sweeney blasted Bush for seeking to
"politicize" the Iraq issue by timing the vote just before Congressional
elections. Meanwhile, several labor groups have already adopted anti-war
resolutions--including the Washington State and San Francisco Labor
Councils, the California teachers union, Local 1199 hospital workers in New York, and the
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers.
Many of these labor groups encouraged their members to attend the mass
marches held last weekend in Washington DC and San Francisco. The
demonstrations were called several months ago by the International ANSWER
Coalition, which was formed after 9-11 by the International Action
Center (IAC)--itself a front group for the hard-left Workers World Party (WWP).
With the threat of war so imminent, activist groups are swallowing their
distaste for the IAC's crypto-Stalinist track record to mobilize for these
national rallies. IAC front man Ramsey Clark, the former US Attorney
general turned anti-imperialist, is on the legal committee for Slobodan
Milosevic, and the IAC has been an apologist for both Saddam and North
Korea. During Operation Desert Storm, the peace movement split into two
camps because of the IAC's refusal to condemn Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
But this time around, the push is for unity, at least at these
"The fact that WWP is calling the shots unfortunate, but it's less
important than getting out mass numbers," says David McReynolds, the
73-year-old stalwart of the War Resisters League, which has been advocating
alternatives to war since 1923.
With more than 500 busses chartered for the DC event, including over 300
from the Muslim community, organizers claimed a turnout as large as the
200,000 who marched in 1991 against Desert Storm. Speakers included Jesse
Jackson, Martin Sheen, Rep. Barbara Lee, ex-Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Hans
Von Sponeck, the former director of the UN oil for food program in Iraq.
Simultaneous demonstrations took place that day in Berlin, Copenhagen,
Madrid, Mexico City, Seoul and San Juan.
Antiwar activists have yet to engage the mainstream women's movement, which
sanctioned the bombing of Afghanistan as a way to liberate Afghan women.
And other than Greenpeace, the major environmental groups have yet to take
a public stance--despite the oft-stated accusation that Washington's plans
for war in Iraq are motivated by America's thirst for oil. "We're trying to
get them to realize that they could be capitalizing on this oil issue,"
"I think Bush is in serious trouble," argues McReynolds. "There's a very
deep feeling that this [Bush] regime is out of control and illegitimate,
and that the White House has been captured by some weird rightwing cabal,"
McReynolds continues. "If you're Wall Street, you're not happy with this.
The only countries really backing Bush are Israel and Britain. So I think
you have a very combustible situation, and the White House is starting to
see that." (Sarah Ferguson)
(A version of this story appears this week on the Mother Jones website)
3. CYBER-ACTIVISTS TARGET CONGRESS
Much of the momentum for anti-war dissent is being fueled by the Net. During
the debate over the resolution to grant Bush war powers in Iraq, House and
Senate members were deluged with emails, faxes, petitions and phone calls
from literally hundreds of thousands of constituents, most of them
activated through online campaigns coordinated by groups such as
TrueMajority.org, MoveOn.org, UnitedforPeace.org, and the Christian-based
Many of those cyber-activists went on to set up meetings with their
representatives--some of which (like a proposed town hall meeting with
House Leader Dick Gephardt) turned into sit-ins when the Congress members
ignored their views. This wave of grassroots lobbying didn't swing the
vote, but online agitators aren't backing off.
The week after the vote, the MoveOn.org PAC raised $1.6 million from its
base of 600,000 email subscribers in a campaign to "Reward the Heroes" in
Congress who voted "no" on the Iraq resolution. MoveOn encouraged its
subscribers to back the campaigns of five Democrats who voted no on the war
resolution and face tight races in November: Senator Paul Wellstone (MN)
and representatives Rush Holt (NJ), Jay Inslee and Rick Larsen (WA), and
Jim Maloney (CT). "We want to demonstrate that peace is a mainstream,
patriotic value," says Peter Schurman, executive director of MoveOn, which
was formed four years ago by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Wes Boyd and Joan
Blades to oppose the impeachment of President Clinton. The Wellstone
campaign said the donation could prove critical. "We were absolutely
astonished by the response around this. We didn't even know what MoveOn
is," said Wellstone campaign spokesperson Jim Farrell. (Sarah Ferguson)
(A version of this story appears this week on the Mother Jones website)
4. ACTIVISTS BUY MEDIA ACCESS
Frustrated at the media's refusal to register the depth of antiwar
sentiment, some have taken to buying media access. Earlier this month,
Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities took out a full-page ad in the New
York Times featuring the blunt message: "They're Selling War. We're Not
Buying It." The ad was signed by 500 business leaders, including Dee Hock,
the founder of Visa International, Bob Burnett of Cisco Systems, and New
York real estate magnate Douglas Durst. "Our people are saying, let the UN
do it's job," says executive director Gary Ferdman of the business group,
which is a spin-off of TrueMajority.org, the progressive lobby founded by
Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. "Bush, by being this unilateralist
cowboy.is giving the moderate elements of the left a reason to act."
Other prominent ads opposing war have been taken out by the Not In Our Name
pledge campaign [led by the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist
sect--ed.], TomPaine.com, New York's health and human services union, and
actor Sean Penn.
Three months ago, Lyla Garrett, a longtime Southern California Democratic
Party, led a drive that collected $12,000 from 1000 people for a full-page
ad in the LA Times that asserted: "What will War with Iraq Accomplish? A
million new terrorists." "The response from was so overwhelming, we decided
to take another ad in New York Times with more than 2000 signatures,
including Jesse Jackson, Lily Tomlin, and Maxine Waters," says Garrett.
"We spent $38,000 for the ad, and got back more than $45,000, along with
thousands of new names."
"All of these ads and protests and write-in campaigns are spokes in the
same wheel to stop Bush's permanent war agenda," argues Garrett, whose
online campaign, Americans Against War With Iraq (AAWWI.org), also
generated more than 140,000 phone calls to Congress. (Sarah Ferguson)
(A version of this story appears this week on the Mother Jones website)
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. WAS WELLSTONE MURDERED?
Writing for the Buffalo Independent Media Center
journalism professor Dr. Michael I. Niman of Buffalo State College dares to
ask the question on everyon'e mind: was Paul Wellstone Murdered?
The Minnesota Democrat was the only progressive in the Senate, and Mother
Jones magazine once described him as "The first 1960s radical elected to
the US Senate." He was also the last. Since defeating the incumbent
Republican in a grassroots upset 12 years ago, Wellstone has emerged as the
most persistent and vocal Senate opponent of the Bush administration.
In a Senate that is "one heartbeat away from Republican control," Wellstone
earned the special ire of the White House and Republican Party, who made
his defeat a top priority this year. But despite being outspent by the
Republicans, polls indicate that Wellstone's popularity surged after he
voted against the resolution authorizing military action against Iraq. He
was pulling ahead of opponent Norm Coleman and moving toward a victory that
would both be a humiliation for the GOP and Bush administration. Then he
Niman provides a litany of other public figures who died in plane crashes
convenient to the powers-that-be. The most recent victim was Missouri's
former Democratic governor, Mel Carnahan, who was killed three weeks before
Election Day 2000--during his Senatorial race against John Ashcroft.
Carnahan went on to become the first dead man to win a Senatorial race,
defeating Ashcroft posthumously. Ashcroft went on to be appointed Attorney
General by George W. Bush. Investigators determined that Carnahan's plane
went down due to "poor visibility."
Carnahan was the second Missouri politician to die in a small plane crash.
The first was Democratic Representative Jerry Litton, whose plane crashed
the night he won the Democratic nomination for senate in 1976. His
Republican opponent ultimately captured the seat from his successor in
While the New York Times Oct. 26 pointed out the danger politicians face
due to their heavy air travel schedules, the only one other sitting US
Senator to die in a plane crash since World War II was liberal Republican
John Heinz--an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War who later emerged as a
strong proponent of health care, social services, public transportation and
the environment. He called for reconciliation with Cuba. He died when the
landing gear on his small plane failed to function, and a helicopter
dispatched to survey the problem crashed into his plane. One former senator
also died in a small plane crash--John Tower, best known as the chair of
the Tower Commission, which investigated the Reagan-era Contragate scandal.
Another member of a prominent government commission who died in a small
plane crash was former Democratic representative and House Majority Leader
Hale Boggs--best known as one of the seven members of the Warren
Commission, charged with investigating the assassination of President John
F. Kennedy. Boggs, it turns out, had "strong doubts" about the Commission's
official findings that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. While he
went along with the findings at the time, in 1971 and '72 he went public
with his doubts. He was presumed dead after the small plane carrying him
and Democratic Representative Nicholas Begich disappeared in 1972.
Also to die in a plane crash was Texas Democratic Representative Mickey
Leland. The six-term member of Congress and outspoken advocate of sanctions
against apartheid South Africa died while traveling in Ethiopia. Another US
politician to die overseas in a plane crash was the Clinton
administration's Commerce Secretary (and former Democratic Party chair)
Ronald Brown, whose plane went down in Bosnia in 1996.
Niman then cites an example from beyond the USA's borders: Panama's
populist strongman Gen. Omar Torrijos, "who in 1981 thumbed his nose at the
Reagan/Bush administration and threatened to destroy the Panama Canal in
the event of a US invasion." Torrijos died shortly thereafter when the
instruments in his plane failed to function upon takeoff. Panamanians have
since speculated that the CIA was behind his death. Torrijos was replaced
by his intelligence chief Gen. Manuel Noreiga--a longtime CIA operative,
who had worked closely with former CIA chief and then-Vice President George
While insisting he is "not a conspiracy theorist," Niman concludes: "For
our government to maintain its credibility at this time, we need an open
and accountable international investigation into the death of Paul
Wellstone. Hopefully we will find out, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that
this was indeed an untimely accident. For the sake of our country, we need
to know this."
Another example Niman could have cited was a critical episode in the rise
of European fascism. Generalissimo Francisco Franco became the absolute
ruler of fascist Spain in 1939 after his two main rivals were both killed
in mysterious plane crashes. The original mastermind of the fascist
military coup, Gen. Jose Sanjurjo, was killed almost immediately after the
July 1936 rebellion when the small plane carrying him back to Spain from
Portugal (where he had been exiled following an earlier coup attempt)
crashed shortly after take-off. Sanjurjo's successor as coup leader, Gen.
Emilio Mola, was killed when his plane went down near Madrid the following
year. Although the crashes occurred in the midst of Spain's bloody civil
war, both were purported to be "accidents." Historians have since
speculated that Franco, who emerged as the fascist leader, was behind the
"accidents." Which raises an ominous question: If Wellstone was murdered,
are we witnessing the fascist take-over of the United States by stealth?
RESIST THE MEGALOPIGS!!
Was Sen. Paul Wellstone murdered?
If so, are we witnessing the fascist
take-over of America by stealth?
EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT:
If you didn't think we were cranks before, how about now?
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