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[Nettime-bold] An oil tanker named Condolezza Rice
Ivo Skoric on Tue, 23 Oct 2001 01:47:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] An oil tanker named Condolezza Rice

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date sent: Sat, 13 Oct 2001 20:55:25 -0400
To: billw {AT} echonyc.com
From: Bill Weinberg <billw {AT} echonyc.com>
Subject: WW3 report/3

#. 3. Oct. 13, 2001

by Bill Weinberg

It has been widely reported that US warplanes mistakenly bombed the offices of a land mine removal organization near Kabul Oct. 9, killing four guards. The reports drew protest from the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs in Afghanistan, whose spokesperson Stephanie Bunker said: "People must distinguish between combatants and innocent people who are not." (Washington Post, Oct. 9)
Many more civilian casualties doubtless go unreported. The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported Oct. 8 that at least 20 people were killed in Kabul during the previous night's bombing raids.
On Oct. 13, the New York Times cited press sources in Pakistan that the village of Karam, just across the Afghanistan border, had been mysteriously "thoroughly destroyed" by US bombers, with a death toll "likely to exceed 200." Residents were not expecting their home to be attacked, as there were no military targets there. "We were eating our late meal when the planes came, dropping bombs," one villager told a Pakistani stringer for the Times.
Some international aid organizations criticized US air-drops of food and medical supplies over Afghanistan, charging that the aid is not reaching the civilian population and only serves propaganda purposes. "It's an act of marketing, aimed more at public opinion than saving lives," Thomas Gonnet, head of Afghanistan operations for the French group Action Against Hunger, told AFP (New York Times, Oct. 9).

The UK Guardian reported Oct. 12 that US B-52s over Afghanistan are dropping cluster bombs--which scatter about 150 small "bomblets" over a large area. Use of cluster bombs has been condemned by the humanitarian agencies. The Red Cross last year called for a ban on the weapon. In a report to the UN, the agency said some 30,000 unexploded bomblets remained in Kosovo after the conflict there ended. They are estimated to have caused up to 150 casualties, including the death of two Gurkha soldiers. The bomblets, or "sub-munitions," contain higher explosive than landmines and their brightly- colored casings make them attractive to children. A UK Defence Ministry report estimated that 60% of the 531 cluster bombs dropped by the RAF during the Kosovo conflict missed their intended target or remain unaccounted for.

The US Defense Department has recommended to President Bush the use of tactical nuclear weapons as a military option in the Afghanistan war, sources told the Japan Times. The paper reported Sept. 20: "Military analysts said the president is unlikely to opt for the use of nuclear weapons because doing so would generate a backlash from the international community and could even trigger revenge from the enemy involving weapons of mass destruction. However, the Pentagon's suggestion shows the determination of US officials to retaliate for the first massive terrorist attacks on the US mainland, the analysts said."
The Japan Times cited "diplomatic sources" as saying "the Pentagon recommended using tactical nuclear weapons shortly after it became known that the terrorist attacks caused an unprecedented number of civilian casualties... Tactical nuclear weapons have been developed to attack very specific targets. The military analysts said Pentagon officials are apparently thinking of using weapons that can reach and destroy terrorists hiding in an underground shelter, limiting damage to surrounding areas." After the 1986 US air raid on Libya failed to kill Col. Mommar Qadaffi and the 1998 US cruise missile attack on Afghanistan failed to kill Osama Bin Laden, the Pentagon began considering use of tactical nuclear weapons in such contingencies.
The report also cited the Sept. 16 broadcast of ABC TV's "This Week" program, in which Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused to rule out the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Rumsfeld avoided answering a question on whether the nuclear option was under consideration, while a Pentagon official similarly replied, "We will not discuss operational and intelligence matters." Concluded the report: "The US has indicated that it does not rule out the use of nuclear weapons if a country attacks the US, its allies, or its forces with chemical or biological weapons."

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that the Northern Alliance, the anti-Taliban rebels now being groomed as a proxy force by the US and UK, has been implicated in numerous atrocities, including the burning of houses, widespread looting and summary executions--sometimes carried out in front of the victims' families. The Northern Alliance is actually a loose network of ethnic-based militias, and the atrocities are usually carried out against rival ethnic groups, particularly the majority Pashtuns who make up the Taliban's base of support. The Taliban, in turn, has carried out similar atrocities against Tajiks and other ethnic minorities.
Among the atrocities delineated by HRW is one which carries an echo of Serb attacks on Sarajevo in Bosnia war. In Sept. 1998, Northern Alliance forces under Ahmad Shah Massoud fired several volleys of rockets at the northern part of Kabul, with one hitting a crowded market. Estimates of the number killed ranged from 25 to 180. In Jan. 1997, Northern Alliance planes dropped cluster bombs on residential areas of Kabul, killing several civilians in what HRW calls an "indiscriminate air raid."
Protests HRW: "To date, not a single Afghan commander has been held accountable for violations of international humanitarian law." The organization also notes that the Northern Alliance has not "indicated any willingness to bring to justice any of its commanders with a record of human rights abuse." (HRW Backgrounder: Military Assistance to the Afghan Opposition, October 2001)

As anthrax hysteria hits the US, Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan are suffering the world's largest recorded outbreak ever of a rare, deadly Ebola-like virus which causes profuse bleeding from every orifice. At least 75 people have caught the disease so far and eight have died. An isolation ward screened off by barbed wire has been set up in the Pakistani city of Quetta. Evidence suggests the outbreak of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever emanates from within Afghanistan, raising fears of an epidemic if millions of refugees flee across the frontier into Pakistan (UK Telegraph, Oct. 4). The fever first appeared among Soviet soldiers in the Crimea in 1944, and an identical virus was discovered in central Africa in 1955 (New York Times, Oct. 5).

In an Oct. 5 Washington Post op-ed, Tom Malinowski and Acacia Shields of Human Rights Watch warned that the post- Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, now a staging ground for the US/UK war on Afghanistan, has been using its own "anti- terrorist" campaign as a pretext to crack down on dissidents: "President Bush first hinted at Central Asia's role in his Sept. 20 address to Congress, when he named the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan as an ally of Osama Bin Laden. The IMU, based in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, poses a genuine armed threat to Uzbekistan and its neighbors. But since 1997, the Uzbek government has used the threat to justify a total crackdown on 'independent' Muslims--those who pray at home, study the Koran in small groups, belong to peaceful Islamic organizations not registered with the state or disseminate literature not approved by the state. The government has sentenced thousands of these Muslims to jail terms as long as 20 years without connecting them to the IMU or to any violent acts."
President Islam Karimov has agreed to open Uzbekistan air bases to US forces. But Uzbekistan's embroilment in America's war worries leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the alliance of post-Soviet republics. RFE Newsline reports Lt. Gen. Boris Mylnikov, head of the CIS Antiterrorist Center, said the strikes in Afghanistan threaten to broaden the zone of conflict beyond the borders of that country. He warned the attacks could lead to increased refugee flows into Central Asia, make some CIS states "targets for revenge," and lead to increased activity by Islamic extremist groups, including the IMU--some of whose members he said are currently in Afghanistan. Media reports that Taliban forces are gathering on the Afghanistan's border with Uzbekistan were dismissed as "not serious" by Uzbekistan's Ambassador to Russia Shokasym Shoislamov--but he added that Uzbekistan "is fortifying its borders." (RFE Newsline, Oct. 11, 12)

The Internet news agency Ananova reported Oct. 1 that Islamic protesters in Pakistan and elsewhere are using posters showing the face of Osama Bin Laden alongside Bert, the "Sesame Street" puppet. It is believed an image of Bin Laden with Bert was inadvertently downloaded from a spoof website and used on posters printed up for anti-US rallies across the Middle East and Asia. Press photographs of protests clearly show posters of Osama with a small image of Bert by his right shoulder. The AP told Ananova the photos are not doctored. The image of Bert and Bin Laden first appeared in the cult parody website "Bert is Evil." An executive for "Sesame Street" said: "We're outraged that our characters would be used in this unfortunate and distasteful manner. The people responsible for this should be ashamed."

The spread of Islamic fundamentalist insurgency north from Afghanistan threatens the rich oil resources of the Caspian Basin, which multinational corporations hope to massively exploit in the 21st century. The key contract was signed between Kazakhstan and Chevron in 1994, granting the company a stake in all oil development there (RFE Newsline, Sept. 3, 1999). Chevron has increased its stake since then by buying out more of Kazakhstan's shares, and now holds a 50% share (ibid, May 22, 2000). Chevron has also formed a partnership with Shell and Mobil to build a pipeline connecting the Kazakhstan oilfields to Baku, Azerbaijan, and then via Turkey to Western markets (Dec. 10, 1998). The Chevron-led partnership is competing with the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, a Russia-Kazakhstan- Oman joint venture which is developing a pipeline route through Russia (March 12, 1996).
Vice President Dick Cheney helped broker the Chevron- Kazakhstan deal when he sat on the Kazakhstan Oil Advisory Board in the mid-'90s (Amarillo Globe-News, June 13, 1998). Chevron also has one former corporate board member in the Bush Administration--National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, whose financial disclosure statement indicates she held at least $250,000 in Chevron stock and had income of more than $555,000 last year (Florida Sun-Sentinel, June 3, 2001; Dec. 18, 2000). Chevron even has a Bahamas-registered tanker named the Condoleezza Rice

Vice President Dick Cheney is a former CEO of Halliburton, a top global energy services contractor with extensive investments in the oil-rich Caspian Sea region. One Halliburton holding, Bredaro-Shaw, is a joint venture with the Bin Laden Group--the family business of the terrorist mastermind's father. Bredaro- Shaw and its predecessor Bredaro-Price have worked on pipelines in Iran, Libya and Alaska (www.saudi-binladin- group.com).
Bredaro-Price was partially acquired by Dresser Industries in 1993. In 1996, Dresser merged with Shaw Industries Ltd. of Canada and the holding became Bredaro-Shaw. Dresser was subsequently acquired by Halliburton, which now owns 50% of Bredaro-Shaw (http://www.al.com/news/mobile/Nov2000/15- a419189a.html).
Dresser provided George HW Bush, the current president's father, with his first job in the oil industry in the early 1950s (www.famoustexans.com/georgebush.htm). In 1953, the elder Bush left Dresser to form Zapata Petroleum with partner Hugh Liedtke. Zapata later became Pennzoil, which is still controlled by Liedtke and now owns 9% of top Caspian Basin investor Chevron (Pennzoil reference at Handbook of Texas, www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook).

The UK Observer reported Sept. 30 that two detailed proposals for "warfare without limit" have been presented to President Bush by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The proposals were drawn up by his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz--a right-wing intellectual who rose through State Department and Pentagon ranks under Ronald Reagan to become one of the chief architects of the 1991 Gulf War.
The report says the plans "argue for open-ended war without constraint either of time or geography and potentially engulfing the entire Middle East and Central Asia." The plans involve overt and "visible" military action by the 10th Mountain and 82nd Airborne divisions in Afghanistan. These would act as "cover" for units under the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command, which would operate elsewhere. These include Army Rangers, Delta Force and other elite forces. The Afghanistan covert ops would be followed by similar campaigns in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as well as post-Soviet republics. Asked whether the Palestinian Hamas in the Occupied Territories would be too controversial a target, one source said: "Never say never."
The Observer also claims the proposals "have opened up an abyss in the Bush administration, since they run counter to plans carefully laid by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has had the upper hand against the Pentagon for the first three weeks since the disaster, but is starting to lose his commanding position within the Oval Office." Concludes the report: "The final arbiter between the Pentagon and Powell camps is likely to be Vice- President Dick Cheney. Cheney is traditionally an enemy of Powell's and a close ally of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, but has been said to be moving closer to the Secretary of State's views over the road to war. The Observer's sources, however, indicate the reverse--that Cheney will remain with his friends and support an expansion of the war beyond Afghanistan."

#. 2. Oct. 6, 2001

by Bill Weinberg

Accused terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden is the former "blue-eyed boy of CIA," charges the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, an exiled pro-democracy dissident group (RAWA press release, Sept. 14; www.rawa.org). An overview of studies and reports from the region bears out this accusation.
Osama Bin Laden was born in 1955, the youngest of some twenty sons of one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest and most prominent families. His father was a Yemeni construction magnate who made a fortune as top contractor to the palace- happy Saudi royal family, and became a close friend of King Faisal. After a youth as a playboy in Beirut, in 1984 Bin Laden moved to Peshawar, the Pakistan border city then serving as the key staging area for Afghanistan's Mujahedeen guerillas. He arrived in an unmarked military transport plane, loaded with bulldozers and other heavy equipment. He deployed these to design and build defensive tunnels, military roads and storage depots for the Mujahedeen-who were then being massively funded by the CIA. The equipment was furnished by his father's Bin Laden Group, with the approval of both the CIA and the Saudi regime (Mary Anne Weaver in The New Yorker, Jan. 24, 2000). His close collaborator in the Saudi regime was Prince Turki, who personally oversaw delivery of more vehicles and equipment (Robert Fisk in The Independent, UK, Sept. 26, 2001).
Osama became a central figure in a Peshawar-based organization known as the Maktab al-Khidmat ("services center"), or MAK, a clearinghouse for Mujahedeen volunteers from the Arab world, where they were armed, briefed, indoctrinated and dispatched to the front. CIA money flowed into the MAK through Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) secret police agency. Osama assumed command of the MAK when its previous boss was assassinated in 1989-the same year the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan and the CIA scaled back involvement. He quickly transformed the MAK into his Al Qaeda network (Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid, Yale, 2000; Michael Moran on MSNBC, Aug. 24, 1998).
Bin Laden briefly returned to Saudi Arabia in 1989, but, radicalized by the Mujahedeen, became disgusted with the Saudis for their corruption and closeness to the West. He broke with the Saudis entirely when they allowed US military troops into the country in 1991's Operation Desert Storm. After a period in Sudan, he returned to Afghanistan when the Taliban took power there in 1996. His Al Qaeda network has been linked to numerous terrorist attacks around the world, including providing a Pakistan safe-house for Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and sheltering Sheikh Omar Abd Al-Rahman (the "Blind Sheikh"), also convicted in the attack. In 1998 he issued a fatwa (decree) which called killing Americans and Israelis- "civilians and military"-the duty of all Muslims, citing the military presence in the holy land of Arabia, the ongoing bombardment of Iraq, and oppression of the Palestinians by "the Crusader- Zionist alliance" (ADL press release, Aug. 20, 1998). He has been convicted in the July 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the October 2000 explosion of the USS Cole off Yemen-but not yet in the September 2001 WTC/Pentagon attacks (BBC, Sept. 18, 2001).

The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 29 that George H.W. Bush, father of President George W. Bush, works for the Bin Laden family business in Saudi Arabia through the Carlyle Group, an international consulting firm. The senior Bush has met with the Bin Laden family at least twice. Other top Republicans are also associated with the Carlyle group, such as former Secretary of State James A. Baker. Osama has supposedly been "disowned" by his family, which runs a multi-billion dollar business in Saudi Arabia and is a major investor in the senior Bush's firm. But some reports have questioned whether all family members have truly cut off Osama, and the FBI has subpoenaed the Bin Laden family's bank records.
The public-interest law firm Judicial Watch earlier this year strongly criticized the elder Bush's association with the Carlyle Group, pointing out in a March 5 statement that it is a "conflict of interest [which] could cause problems for America's foreign policy in the Middle East and Asia." In a Sept. 29 statement, Judicial Watch says: "This conflict of interest has now turned into a scandal. The idea of the President's father, an ex-president himself, doing business with a company under investigation by the FBI in the terror attacks of September 11 is horrible. President Bush should not ask, but demand, that his father pull out of the Carlyle Group."

Sudan, like Afghanistan, was struck by US missiles in retaliation for the African embassy bombings in 1998, allegedly masterminded by Osama Bin Laden. The Sudan regime protected Osama for several years before he relocated to Afghanistan, and is still believed to protect his network. It is also accused by human rights groups of gross atrocities against rebel tribes in the south. But this hasn't prevented US oil companies from investing in the war-torn country.
The American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG) has called a national boycott of Amoco gas stations to protest to BP- Amoco's stake in an oil project that fuels slavery and genocide in Sudan. BP-Amoco seeks to invest $1 billion in PetroChina, a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), which has been directly linked to war crimes in Sudan. Whole tribes are cleared off oil-rich land by the Sudanese military and sold as slaves. Sudan's fundamentalist regime-officially deemed "genocidal" by the US Congress-brags that oil proceeds will fund its war effort. Boycott leaders say Amoco's investment in PetroChina makes it a partner to these atrocities. "Amoco has become the proxy of a genocidal regime in Sudan," said AASG's Charles Jacobs (AASG press release, March 27, 2000). According to government sources in Uganda, some of the slaves captured by the Sudanese army are supplied to the giant marijuana plantations reportedly operated by Osama in Sudan to fund global terrorist activity (Daily Telegraph, UK, March 29, 1999).

Osama Bin Laden has at least 20 nuclear weapons, according to an April report in the weekly intelligence newsletter Geostrategy- Direct.com. Bin Laden, the report said, was able to gain access to the weapons via Chechen rebels who had managed to steal them from Russian weapons depots. The newsletter quoted Russian and Arab sources, who confirmed that Bin Laden had received some "suitcase" nuclear bombs and other materials from Chechen rebels. Bin Laden had supplied the rebels with money, weapons and volunteers in their battle against Russian army forces, which has raged off-and-on since 1994. The newsletter said whether Osama has the bomb is "no longer in doubt... The question is how many."
A Sept. 19 report in Long Island's Newsday supports the allegations. "Bin Laden has been trying to get his hands on enriched uranium for seven or eight years," Newsday quotes former CIA director James Woolsey. A former Russian intelligence official, in a memorandum to a US counterpart provided to Newsday, said Russian security forces halted a 1998 attempt to sell an unspecified amount of Soviet-origin bomb-grade uranium to a Pakistani company controlled by Bin Laden. During testimony earlier this year at the New York trial of four men accused in the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa, a defector from Bin Laden's network said he had served as a go-between in a 1993 effort to acquire a cylinder containing uranium of South African origin (described by several sources as enriched uranium-235.) The defector, Jamal Ahmed al Fadl, said he had been ordered by one of Bin Laden's lieutenants to buy the uranium from former Sudanese military officer Salah Abdel Mobruk for $1.5 million. But Fadl said he was removed from the negotiations and never learned whether the deal went through.

Qatar TV reports that three US Special Forces troops have been captured by Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization in western Afghanistan-countering a denial by the Taliban regime. The correspondent attributed his information to "unimpeachable sources" close to Al Qaeda, who called the network office in Peshawar to announce the capture. The US would neither confirm nor deny the report. "We're not going to get into the habit of commenting on every story that comes out of that region," a Pentagon spokesperson said. "It's a slippery slope once we start getting into that habit." President Bush, meanwhile, suggested that covert operations had begun. "I said loud and clear, sometimes people will be able to see what we do on the television screens," he told reporters. "At other times, the American people won't be able to see what we're doing." But he added, "make no mistake about it, we're in hot pursuit." (AFP, Sept. 29)
The Pentagon also refuses to confirm or deny claims that the Taliban has shot down two US planes over Afghan territory. "We have no information," a Pentagon spokesperson told AFP. On Sept. 21, the US admitted it had lost contact with an "unmanned surveillance plane," but did not confirm Taliban claims it was shot down. The report of the second plane comes from the Russian TASS agency, citing the Taliban's own Bakhter agency (AFP, Sept. 23).

The "Northern Alliance" of Islamic fundamentalist factions fighting the Taliban are now being backed up by the US and UK with funds, arms and Special Forces troops. But Afghanistan's most militant pro-democracy dissident group protests this as a continuation of the same policies which led to the current disaster and "the trend of terrorism." Saima Karim, spokesperson for the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), told a press conference in Peshawar, Pakistan, that her organization opposes the Taliban but considers the Northern Alliance "the other side of the same coin." She called upon the world community to halt financial and political support to both factions. She added that the people of Afghanistan have nothing to do with Osama and his accomplices, and called upon the US not to unleash "vast and indiscriminate military attacks." (Peshawar Frontier Post, Sept. 22; www.rawa.org)
Northern Alliance military leader Ahmad Shah Masoud was killed by suicide bombers posing as journalists on September 9, two days before the WTC/Pentagon attacks, in what is widely believed to be a hit organized by Osama Bin Laden as a favor to his Taliban protectors (AP, Sept. 15). Writing in the The Independent (UK) on Oct. 3, correspondent Robert Fisk blasts the Northern Alliance leadership, especially Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dustum, "whose men looted and raped their way through the suburbs of Kabul in the '90s. They chose girls for forced marriages, murdered their families, all under the eyes of Masood. Dustum had a habit of changing sides, joining the Taliban for bribes and indulging in massacres... then returning to the Alliance weeks later." He also accuses Northern Alliance Pashtun warlord Rasoul Sayaf of engaging in systematic torture and rape of Shi'ite religious minorities-just like the Taliban. He concludes, "the terrified people of Kabul are chilled to the bone at the thought that these criminals are to be among America's new foot-soldiers."

The Taliban funded its 1994-6 drive to power by taxing opium cultivation in its zones of control. But at UN behest, Taliban ruler Mullah Muhammad Omar issued a sweeping edict banning cultivation of opium last July, hoping to win international recognition of his tyrannical regime. This April, in a first move towards normalizing relations with Taliban Afghanistan, the US State Department sent two "narcotics experts" as part of a UN- coordinated team to witness the regime's opium eradication campaign (New York Times, April 25, 2001). Proclaiming the eradication a success, the US and UN also began funding "crop substitution" programs in Afghanistan. But The Times of London reported Sept. 25 that Afghanistan's peasants "are ready to swamp world markets with heroin" amid signs that the Taliban has dropped its ban. Citing "ruthless and efficient" Taliban enforcement, The Times boasts: "UN figures show that Afghanistan's opium production was 4,600 tonnes in 1999, but this is thought to have dropped to 100 tonnes this year." Now, however, The Times ominously notes, "the sudden halving of the price of raw opium to $250 a kg suggests the decree has been reversed." Even if it remains in place, the article speculates, desperate peasants are expected to resume opium planting while Taliban security forces are engaged fighting the US and its proxies.
Given that opium planting season is just beginning, and the crops will not be ready for harvest until the Spring, it seems unlikely global prices could be affected so quickly by a change in Taliban policy. In any case, heroin paranoia makes for good war propaganda. Although the New York Times reported Sept. 26 that "intelligence experts have never established a direct link between the [opium] trade and Mr. bin Laden," the same paper on Oct. 4 cited anonymous US officials as saying Bin Laden was trying to develop an ultra-potent "super heroin" for export to the US. The only official cited by name was DEA chief Asa Hutchinson, who said his agency had "limited information" about the reports. On Oct. 5, the Times reported the latest UN data indicates most opium in Afghanistan is grown in territory controlled by the Northern Alliance-now being groomed as a US proxy force to fight the Taliban.

An historical irony: In 1987, the CIA approved guerilla attacks by Afghanistan's Mujahedeen across the border into the Soviet republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and the first raids were organized with the agency's oversight (Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid, Yale, 2000). 15 years later, NATO's Partnership for Peace program has established military ties with Uzbekistan and other post-Soviet republics in the region to help fight Islamic guerrillas (RFE Newsline, Sept. 23, 1998). The guerillas are mostly based in Tajikistan, which the US, UK and Russia are now turning into a staging ground for the new campaign in Afghanistan. The US State Department recently added the Taliban-backed Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to its list of global terrorist groups. The guerilla group won a $6 million ransom from the Japanese government after kidnapping four Japanese geologists in the Pamir Mountains in 1999 (New York Times, May 3, 2001).

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is urging citizens to oppose the anti-terrorist legislation now pending in Washington, charging that it grants intelligence agencies unchecked powers. "Ten years from now, our fear is that the American public will look back to this legislation and say, 'this is where we crossed the line to a surveillance society,'" says Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU's Washington national office. "Because of the broad new powers to wiretap telephone and Internet communications, the legislation weakens essential checks and balances that the judicial branch has exercised over law enforcement." The group also protests that the bill's definition of "terrorism" is overly broad, covering actions that "no reasonable person would consider terrorist activities." For example, under the version already adopted by the House Judiciary Committee, "an organization like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) could be investigated as a terrorist group because one of its members hits the Secretary of Agriculture with a pie." The bill would also grant the government the authority to request "secret searches" in any criminal case. "This vast expansion of power goes far beyond anything necessary to conduct terrorism investigations." (ACLU press release, Oct. 4, 2001)
Some changes have been instated unilaterally by the White House without waiting for Congressional approval. The Bush administration has announced a major expansion of its power to detain immigrants suspected of crimes. The new rules allow legal immigrants to be detained indefinitely during a "national emergency" such as terrorist attack. Citing the new powers, the Justice Department says it will continue to hold 75 immigrants arrested in connection with the WTC/Pentagon attacks. Previously, the department faced a 24- hour deadline on whether to release detained immigrants or charge them with a crime or violating the terms of their visa. (New York Times, Sept. 19, 2001)
Meanwhile, the New York State Legislature has already passed new anti-terrorist legislation, and Gov. George Pataki signed it into law Sept. 16. Civil rights groups also consider the legislation overly broad in defining "terrorism"-now punishable by life in prison-as commission of an offense designed to "intimidate or coerce a civilian population" or "influence the policy of a unit of government." AP, Sept. 17, 2001

On Sept. 29, Radio Free Eireann on New York's WBAI reported that IRARadio.com, the web site which archives all Radio Free Eireann broadcasts, has been taken down because the web service provider was threatened with seizure of assets if it continued to host "terrorist" radio programs. Travis E. Towle, founder and CEO of Cosmic Entertainment Company, which put up IRARadio.com, was told by their service provider, Hypervine, that they had been "strongly advised" to take the web site down. A Hypervine representative read Towle a statement that, under an Executive Order recently signed by President Bush, the newly-created Office of Homeland Security can seize all assets-"without any notice"-of any company found to "support terrorism." Hypervine is a subsidiary of the New York based Skynet.
Cosmic Entertainment also hosts the web sites archiving two other WBAI radio programs, "Our Americas" hosted by Mario Murillo, and "Grandpa Al Lewis Live," featuring commentary by the actor and political activist who starred in "The Munsters" and "Car 54 Where Are You?" The "Grandpa Al Lewis Live" site has apparently also been taken down.
Radio Free Eireann, which broadcasts Saturday afternoons at 1:30 on WBAI 99.5 FM, has covered the conflict in Northern Ireland for over twenty years. Guests have included Bernadette Sands, the sister of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands; Rauri O'Bradaigh, the President of Republican Sinn Fein; Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness; and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

The urban legends-busters at Snopes.com have confirmed reports from Brooklyn's Midwood Ambulance Service that a Manhattan Starbucks outlet charged World Trade Center rescue workers $130 for three cases of water. According to an account by a family member of one of the Midwood volunteers who was dispatched to Ground Zero on Sept. 11, when volunteers asked at the coffee chain outlet for water for shock victims, they were told that no water was available but the expensive bottled variety. One volunteer shelled $130 out of his own pocket for three cases of bottled water. When Midwood volunteers later called and e-mailed Starbucks corporate headquarters to complain, they got no response. Snopes.com reports: "Only after the [account] became circulated on the Internet did Starbucks address this matter. It has since delivered a $130 check (via messenger) to the ambulance company, and its president, Orin Smith, has called to apologize personally."

John P. O'Neill, who left the FBI in August to become chief of security for the World Trade Center, died in the collapse of the towers on Sept. 11. O'Neill spent the last several years heading major investigations of Osama Bin Laden. In 1997, when he was head of the FBI's counter-terrorism division in New York, he warned at a conference on terrorism that militant terrorist groups were operating quietly within the United States. "A lot of these groups now have the capability and the support infrastructure in the United States to attack us here if they choose to," he said at the time, adding that there was a particular danger from Islamic militants. But FBI sources confirmed that O'Neill was under investigation after he left a briefcase containing classified information unattended in a hotel in Tampa last year. The briefcase-which was recovered and returned to O'Neill-contained several documents, including a report outlining virtually every national security operation in New York. It was in the wake of the lost-briefcase incident that O'Neill announced that he would retire from the FBI. New York Times, Sept. 23, 2001

Law enforcement officials planned to thwart the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center by substituting harmless powder for explosives, but the scheme was called off by the FBl, the New York Times reported on Oct. 28 of that year. Tape recordings secretly made by an FBI informer reveal that authorities were in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York's tallest towers, in which six died and over 1,000 were injured. The New York Times published conversations the informer, 43 year-old former Egyptian army officer Emad Ali Salem, taped with his FBI handlers. On the tapes, Salem recalls that the FBI had planned on "building the bomb with a phony powder and grabbing the people who were involved in it." But the informer, who is heard lecturing his handlers, said the powder scheme was called off and "we didn't do that." Salem also is heard on the tapes criticizing the agents for ignoring his warnings that the World Trade Center was to be bombed. "Guys, now you saw this bomb went off and you both know that we could avoid that," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The Internet rumor that 4,000 Jews who worked at the World Trade Center stayed home on Sept. 11, warned in advance of the impending attack, has actually been reported as fact by some international media outlets, including Russia's Pravda and Al- Manar TV in Beirut-which cited "Arab sources" quoted in Jordan's al-Watan newspaper that the Jewish employees had all been tipped off by Israeli intelligence. The urban legends-busters at Snopes.com-while acknowledging the danger of legitimizing such claptrap by answering it-have repudiated the rumor, documenting numerous press accounts of Jews who died in the attacks (www.snopes.com/rumors). The implication is that Israeli intelligence was really behind the attacks, or allowed them to happen, in order to inflame world opinion against the Arabs. In fact, the UK Telegraph reported Sept. 16 that "Israeli intelligence officials say they warned their counterparts in the United States last month that large-scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on the American mainland were imminent."

#. 1. Sept. 30, 2001

by Bill Weinberg

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks and President Bush's declaration of "World War III" on regimes that support terrorism, a May 22 Los Angeles Times opinion piece by Robert Scheer has been circulating on the Internet, claiming that the US gave $43 million in Drug War aid to Afghanistan's Taliban regime this year. However, according to a May 18 AP report, the aid was mostly for drought relief, and to be distributed through NGOs, ostensibly bypassing the Taliban. Some $10 million of it is for "crop-substitution programs," which is a part of the Taliban-led anti-opium campaign. Critics charge this frees up other funds for the Taliban's armed forces, which are carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Uzbeks, Tajiks and other minorities. Some three-and-a-half million refugees from Afghanistan languish in camps in Pakistan and Iran-the largest refugee population in the world now (US Committee for Refugees, Country Report: Afghanistan, 2000). Before his July resignation, United Nations Drug Czar Pino Arlacchi arranged $250 million dollars in anti-narcotics aid to the Taliban over the next decade-aid which is now in question (UK Observer, July 29, 2001).

Anti-war activists speculate that despite the spectacular September 11 terror attacks, the hidden agenda behind President Bush's war drive is to establish a Pax Americana in Central Asia and secure the vast oil resources of the Caspian Basin. US oil companies have been negotiating with the post- Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan for access to the oil, but have been stymied by political instability in the region. Oil conglomerates were torn between two possible pipeline routes to Western markets: west through the war-torn Caucasus Mountains to Turkey, or south through war-torn Afghanistan to Pakistan and the Arabian Sea. New York's WBAI Radio reported September 22 that a high-ranking aide to President Bush is linked to a multinational oil company which was seeking to build the pipeline across Afghanistan. Zalmay Khalilzad, National Security Council senior director for the Persian Gulf, Southern Asia and Other Regional Issues, was formerly employed as a consultant by Unocal, which was involved in the Afghan pipeline project until late 1998. On December 5, 1998, the New York Times reported on the proposed Afghan pipeline: "When Unocal joined the project in 1995, it was viewed by many analysts as the most audacious gambit of the 1990's oil rush in the Caspian...There was to have been a 1,005-mile oil pipeline and a companion 918-mile natural gas pipeline, in addition to a tanker loading terminal in Pakistan's Arabian Sea port of Gwadan...The company projected annual revenues of $2 billion, or enough to recover the cost of the project in five years...Unocal opened offices in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan. To help it sell the project to the many governments involved, Unocal hired senior United States diplomats like the former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger... Probelms began with the Taliban's capture of the Afghan capital, Kabul, in September 1996, Unocal initially took a positive view of the movement's triumph."

On September 18, the BBC quoted former Pakistan Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik that the US was planning military action against the Taliban even before the September 11 terrorist attacks. Naik said he was told by senior US officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October. He claimed he was told of the plan at a UN- sponsored international contact group on Afghanistan in Berlin earlier this year. The ultimate objective, Naik said, was to topple the Taliban regime and install a transitional government-possibly under former Afghan King Zahir Shah (exiled in Italy since 1973). Naik claimed he was told Washington would launch its operation from bases in Tajikistan, where American advisers were already in place, that Uzbekistan would also participate in the operation, and that 17,000 Russian troops were on standby. Since the attacks, Russia has agreed to allow the US to use its military bases in Tajikistan, across Afghanistan's northern border.

On September 11, the same day as the notorious terrorist attacks, the New York Times reported that post-Soviet Central Asia-just to the north of Afghanistan-has become the world's foremost smuggling route for nulcear materials. The materials are plundered from the former Soviet arsenal, and presumably headed for international terrorist groups or rogue states such as Iran and Iraq. Kazakhstan is especially rich in such materials, as it is where the USSR tested nuclear weapons and dumped nuclear waste. According to new figures from the International Atomic Energy Agency, incidents of nuclear smuggling have recently fallen in the rest of the world, but risen in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Turkey. Only four of the 104 confirmed cases from 1993 to 1995 occurred in this region, but 16 of 72 confirmed worldwide cases were in the region from 1996 to 2001. The cases included smuggling of weapons-related materials such as uranium and plutonium. "There has, since the mid-1990's, been a shift of smuggling to the Middle East and Asia," said United Nations anti-terrorism chief Alex Schmid. One recent bust was July 20, in Batsumi, a Black Sea port in post-Soviet Georgia near the Turkish border, where anti- terrorist police arrested four men, including an army captain, with nearly four pounds of enriched uranium-235 in their hotel room. In reponse to the threat, the US has sent radiation- detection equipment to authorities in the post-Soviet republics. Twice in 2001, Uzbek authorities reported detecting abnormal radiation levels in trucks headed south from Kazakhstan, but failed to confiscate any material. Uzbek authorities charged the Kazakh authorities with allowing the materials to escape.

In the 1980s, the CIA provided some $5 billion in military aid for Islamic fundamentalist rebels fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, but scaled down operations after Moscow pulled out in 1989. However, Selig Harrison of the DC-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars recently told a conference in London that the CIA created the Taliban "monster" by providing some $3 billion for the ultra- fundamentalist militia in their 1994-6 drive to power. Citing a conversation with the late Pakistani dictator Gen. Zia ul-Haq, Harrison claimed the aid was funnelled via Pakistan's Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, and that the Taliban remained "on the payroll" of the ISI. Times of India, March 7, 2001

The day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Mexico's Federal Preventative Police reported they were investigating activity by international terrorist groups in Mexico. They particularly cited Lebanon's Hezbollah and Spain's Basque separatist ETA, claiming these groups had cells in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero and Morelos. National Security chief Adolfo Aguilar Zinser said the groups use Mexico as a staging area for attacks on other countries (Milenio, Sept. 13).
In response to the paranoia, Cesar Chavez Castillo, Chiapas state representative to the federal commission for peace with the Zapatistas, publicly affirmed that the rebel group is not terrorist. (La Jornada, Sept. 15)

On the same day as the WTC/Pentagon terrorist attacks, a UPI "terrorism expert" quoted anonymous US officials as admitting that guerillas, not just drug traffickers, are the real target of Plan Colombia. One White House official reportedly said: "It's time to drop the fiction of anti-narcotics aid only." He insisted that "Americans are target" of the country's two guerilla groups, the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). A "senior Pentagon official" reportedly said: "We no longer view the FARC and ELN guerillas as an internal threat to the security of Colombia, but as a threat to the security of the United States." A State Deptartment official reportedly added: "We want the Colombian army to be able to go and get the bad guys wherever they are." Yet another anonymous State official said: "we are talking about more direct military-to-military support." Former Pentagon "counter-terrorism analyst" John Moore claimed Cubans, Palestinians, Hezbollah, and advisors from Venezuela's Hugo Chavez regime are all aiding the Colombian guerillas.
The comments came just as a high-level, 50-person US "security delegation" arrived in Colombia to urge President Andres Pastrana take a harder line in combatting the guerillas. The delegation was led by Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, and included representatives from the Justice Department, the National Security Council, the Pentagon, and the Drug Czar's office.
Dissenting from the military beef-up was Jina Amatangelo of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a human rights group, who cited a study by the Colombian Commission of Jurists that 70% of killings of civilians in Colombia are carried out "by paramilitary groups associated with the army." UPI, Sept. 11, 2001

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