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The world has been sucked into a dangerous "clash of civilizations" by the West's failure to understand Muslim grievances, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in an interview here. The veteran Southeast Asian Muslim leader defended his recent vilification of Westerners as greedy warmongers aiming to dominate the world. And he stood by his call on Muslim nations to build up their military strength so as to fulfill a Koranic injunction to "strike fear into the hearts of their enemies". Mahathir first made his scathing remarks about Westerners -- or what he called the "European race" and their descendants in places such as the United States and Australia -- at a meeting of his ruling party in June. He is due to retire in October after 22 years in power and felt he had "a duty to tell Malaysians that in your future there is going to be this European pressure. "You must learn how to handle it and to handle it well you must understand these people." Mahathir said his characterisation of Europeans as warlike and greedy was "not actually criticism, it was just a statement of the facts". He cited as proof a long list of Western wars, describing the conquest of the original inhabitants of North America and Australia as "genocide". This characteristic was reflected in modern times by the US-led invasion of Iraq, he said. "Now we see the actual invasion of a country because that country is seen to be not democratic. How democratic is the imposition of democracy through conquest?" Mahathir said US President George W. Bush statement after the September 11 terror attacks that either "you are with us or against us" was misguided. "We are with them half way, but not all the way. As far as fighting against terrorism is concerned, yes, we are with America, but the way in which it is being fought we think is wrong so we cannot be with them. "Conquering countries and all that does not put a stop to terrorism, they enhance terrorism, they increase terrorism." Mahathir said he had called on Muslim nations to build up their military might so they could defend themselves against attack by the West, and not for offensive purposes. "This idea of striking fear into the hearts of enemies is part of the teachings of the Koran. "If they are strong then people will not attack them. But at the moment they are not strong, and because of that, because of their frustration, their anger, they resort to acts of terror. "Would the United States attack China? It will not ... because if you do that you are going to face a very big problem."

The FBI won't release an anonymous letter, which in the days before the 2001 fatal anthrax mailings, accused an Egyptian-born scientist of plotting biowarfare against the United States, saying it would divulge secret sources in the continuing investigation. In a July 7 note citing the sources, the FBI denied Ayaad Assaad, the letter's subject, access to the evidence. Mr. Assaad said he's convinced it is linked to a person or a group responsible for the anthrax mailings that killed five persons. "They know damn well that this letter is connected to the anthrax sender," he said, adding that the FBI's refusal to provide a copy suggests "they're trying to protect whoever sent it." He said he suspects it led investigators to the Army's biodefense lab at Fort Detrick. Asked about the anonymous letter, a spokeswoman at the FBI's Washington field office said it is "unrelated to the anthrax mailings." However, that assertion hasn't stopped the bureau from withholding it for nearly two years from Mr. Assaad. According to the July 7 note to him, in which the Justice Department denied his latest request for a copy of the letter, releasing it "could reasonably be expected to disclose the identities of confidential sources and information by such sources." About two weeks before the anthrax mailings became known, the FBI was given the unsigned letter describing Mr. Assaad, who once worked at Fort Detrick, as an anti-American religious fanatic with the means and expertise to unleash a bioweapons attack. He has been seeking a copy of the letter ever since agents with the FBI's Washington field office questioned him about it on Oct. 3, 2001. Mr. Assaad said he's baffled by what he calls the FBI's contradictory actions. "They're trying to protect someone who hurt me," he said, explaining that from what he saw of the letter it was laden with false and negative statements about him. While it didn't specify his religion, he said it called him a "religious fanatic." Mr. Assaad, who holds graduate degrees from Iowa State University and has lived in the United States since the mid-1970s, claims he was discriminated against when he worked at the Army's Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. He now works as a toxicologist for the Environmental Protection Agency. He said when the FBI questioned him about the anonymous letter, agents told him he could file a Freedom of Information-Privacy Acts request to get a copy of it. When the interview was completed, the agents cleared him and said he was free to go. However, he said when he made repeated calls to the FBI asking if agents wanted to speak with him again or if his past work with bioweapons could assist in their investigation, he was turned away. Meanwhile, he said, the FBI had given him a wrong case number for filing the request to obtain a copy of the letter.

Fuelled by the US-led invasion of Iraq, and the promise of paradise after martyrdom, thousands of impoverished young Pakistanis are allegedly enrolling for jihad (holy war) despite the ongoing war against terror. "Jihad is spreading like wildfire in Pakistan," claims an official in the country's Interior Ministry. He says that according to a slew of separatist publications, between January and June 2003, Islamic groups recruited over 7,000 young boys aged between 18 and 25. "Some of the largest separatist outfits - Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) - claim to have recruited more than 3,350 and 2,235 boys respectively during this period," says the official. Jihadi groups are finding the Pakistani environment particularly receptive after the US-led attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. They use publications, web sites, local prayer leaders, cassettes, CDs, and souvenirs like file covers, badges, T-shirts and so on to lure recruits. Millions of pamphlets featuring ballads, speeches, interviews and profiles of young jihadis are distributed free by these organizations. For his part, Pakistan Interior Minister, Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, maintains, "The government is monitoring the activities of these jihadi groups and will take stern action if it got any proof or substantial evidence. But we cannot proceed against them without any evidence. The government also can't ban them unless they are really involved in anti-state activities." Adds a senior Interior Ministry official, "We simply cannot penalize people for donating their children for jihad or stop boys from joining the jihadi outfits, as all this takes place secretly. There is no official patronage." Officials say young men are eager to become Islam's foot soldiers and fight for separatist groups in the world's hottest trouble spots such as Kashmir and Afghanistan. "The young jihadis come from poor and middle-class families. When they fail to find jobs, they join jihadi outfits that provide them food and shelter and promise them paradise, which is attainable only to those who die for Allah, fighting non-believers. Thus our frustrated boys are misled and trapped," says columnist Gulzar Ahmad. Significantly, as the member of a prominent separatist group remarks, "Thevast majority of boys who join the radical Islamists consist of runaways." He says sixty percent of them are high school dropouts. "People's passions are stirred when the jihadis are presented as heroes of Islam," says psychologist Dr Minhas. With the Americans in the neighborhood, Islamists are having a field day. "The US bombing of Afghanistan and Iraq is an attack on the Muslim fraternity. You will go to hell if you do not wage jihad against the US," thundered LeT chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed in a recent public speech. Such impassioned speeches have the desired effect. Take the case of laborer Ahsan Mehmood, a father of eight, who gave two of his sons to jihad last month. "It is better for them to die for a cause and embrace martyrdom before I kill them due to hunger," is how he justifies his decision. The head of the Society for Protection of Children's Rights, Anis Jillani, says seminaries are the real constituencies of the fundamentalists. "A large number of boys who join jihadi outfits come from the most impoverished backgrounds. They join seminaries at a tender age and are taught in the orthodox style," he says. Though the Pakistan government has banned jihadi outfits like the LeT, JeM, Al-Badr, Harkat-ul Mujahideen and so on, they have re-surfaced under new names.

Iraq has become a "terrorist magnet" that is attracting fighters from a variety of countries to take the opportunity of attacking American troops, a top U.S. Army commander said.

The Saudi government announced July 21, 2003, that police arrested 16 al-Qaida-linked terror suspects and used tractors to dig up an underground arsenal: 20 tons of bomb-making chemicals, detonators, rocket-propelled grenades and rifles. Saudi forces also found night-vision goggles, surveillance cameras, bulletproof vests, passports and forged ID cards. The ministry official said police also found trucks waiting to be loaded with explosives by suspects who "had been targeting vital installations to cause maximum disruption." Saudi TV showed a truck, car and motorcycle found in the suspects' hideouts at farms and rest houses located outside the capital, Riyadh; north of the capital in the central town of Qassim; and at a farm in the Eastern Province. The broadcast also showed tractors at the hideouts digging up sacks containing bomb-making chemicals and weapons that had been buried or hidden in a large cellar. The government said over 20 tons of bomb-making chemicals were found. The arsenal included about 160 pounds of the powerful explosive RDX, 3,200 feet of fuse and more than 500 ignitors, the Saudi Embassy in Washington said. It added that there were also a number of machine guns and 18 rocket-propelled grenades with five launchers.

North Korea may have as many as eight nuclear weapons by the end of the year, if its nuclear program goes unchecked, a former US defense secretary predicted. "If North Korea continues on its present course, by the end of the year, I think we'll have about eight nuclear weapons, and next year will be in serial production of about five to ten nuclear weapon as year," said William Perry, who also served as special envoy to North Korea during the administration of former president Bill Clinton. Perry, who caused a stir here last week by warning that Washington and Pyongyang could be at war as early as this year, said the hermit nation might soon have enough nuclear weapons to target Japan and South Korea while offering leftover plutonium for sale to the highest bidder. "I consider that this poses an unacceptable risk to our security," the former defense secretary argued in an interview with PBS television's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" program. "There are plenty of bidders out there willing to bid for it," he continued. "And if any of the terror groups are willing to get nuclear weapons or are able to get that plutonium, then we could see it end up in an American city." Perry also took an implicit swipe at President George W. Bush national missile defense program that calls for deploying missile interceptors around the world to shoot down hostile missiles fired at the United States and its allies by rogue nations like North Korea and Iran. He said he did not see a danger coming from North Korean missiles fired at the United States but rather from possible North Korean sales of fissile materials. Concerns about North Korea have heightened by a New York Times report that sensors set up on the country's borders had begun detecting elevated levels of krypton 85, a gas emitted as spent fuel is converted into plutonium. The daily said computer analyses tracking the gases as they are blown across the Korean peninsula appeared to rule out the Yongbyon reprocessing plant as their origin, suggesting the presence of a second, secret reprocessing facility. But the State Department dismissed the Times report as unverifiable. Bush, who has been calling for intercepting suspected shipments from rogue states, warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il that developing nuclear weapons would "alienate" him from the world. But Perry said he did not believe the interception program could be effective. "It would take a sphere of plutonium about the size of a big grapefruit, or maybe as large as a soccer ball, to make a nuclear bomb," he said. "And I have no reason to believe it's possible to have an effective program of stopping them from smuggling out a package that size." The former defense secretary also questioned the effectiveness of trying to defuse the North Korea crisis with the help of neighboring countries, although he said participation of nations like South Korea, Japan and China was important. "But I also believe that to solve this problem we have to deal directly with the North Koreans," Perry said. "We cannot outsource the problem this serious to other countries to solve."

North Korea has raised the stakes dramatically in its confrontation with the United States by privately threatening to conduct its first underground nuclear test. A senior official of the hardline Communist regime warned in New York that his country would take counter-measures, "for example, a nuclear test", if the US did not ease pressure on his isolated country. The warning, by Han Sung Ryol, North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, was delivered to an American official earlier in July 2003, according to reports circulating in Tokyo. The test would be conducted inside a tunnel dug into a mountain in the run-up to September 9, the anniversary of the the republic's foundation, the respected Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported.

Japan, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Spain have agreed to intercept North Korean ships suspected of carrying weapons and illegal drugs, major sources of hard currency for Kim's government. State Department officials are not optimistic about the prospects for new talks. U.S. intelligence shows that North Korea is accelerating its nuclear program by reprocessing used reactor fuel. It could produce enough plutonium for a half-dozen bombs this year, in addition to the two bombs' worth it is believed to have had for a decade. The regime's goal is to ensure its survival and deter attacks by becoming the world's ninth nuclear arms power. The others: the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, Pakistan, India and Israel. Kenneth Quinones, a former Korea analyst for the State Department, says the United States has three options for dealing with Pyongyang, all of them ''just absolutely appalling'':
* Attack North Korea and risk retaliation that would kill more than a million South Koreans and many U.S. troops.
* Hope the Chinese, who provide 70% of North Korea's fuel and a third of its food, ''will pull the rug out from under'' Pyongyang. That could lead to a deeper humanitarian crisis in North Korea and massive refugee flows but not necessarily bring down the regime.
* Learn to live with a nuclear North Korea.

"A large number of small- and big-time elements of al-Qaida are in our custody," Iran's Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi told reporters. He did not identify any of the detainees or comment on media reports that Iran holds al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, the group's spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith, or its security chief Saif al-Adil. The Bush administration said it could not confirm Yunesi's comments and questioned whether al-Qaida members in Iran were in prison or being harbored by the government. Still, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said "the statements would appear to confirm what we and others believe to be a significant al-Qaida presence in Iran to include members of its senior membership." The White House repeated its accusations that Iran and Syria harbor terrorists, a charge both countries deny.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has warned that would-be terrorists may try to use stolen identification, uniforms or vehicles to enter sensitive facilities to plan or carry out an attack. In an information bulletin distributed July 21, 2003, to law enforcement and the private sector, the department urged vigilance against such tactics. "The (bulletin) is meant to advise the owners and operators of the nation's infrastructures about the possible use by terrorists of official identification, uniforms, or vehicles to gain access to sensitive facilities for purposes of planning or carrying out attacks," it said. The bulletin said the department had no information on any organized effort by "extremist elements" in the United States to steal such items, but it had identified the recent theft or disappearance of large numbers of official identification, uniforms and vehicles. "Attempts to acquire official identification, uniforms or vehicles would be consistent with the tactics and techniques of al Qaeda and other extremist groups," the bulletin said. The bulletin noted that extremists have worn police or military uniforms in the past to mask their identities and get closer to targets without arousing suspicion. It cited December 2002 suicide bombings in Chechnya and efforts by groups in South America, the Philippines and Pakistan as examples. A Homeland Security survey in five states showed that hundreds of official identification cards, badges, decals, uniforms and government license plates were reported stolen or lost from February 2003 to May 2003. Additionally, a number of private companies have reported receiving suspicious inquiries about renting official delivery vehicles and emergency services representatives have received unusual requests for detailed vehicle descriptions, it said. The bulletin also noted that a Japanese Web site sells near-exact replicas of badges from law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Secret Service, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service and the Los Angeles Police Department. In the report sent to police, manufacturing groups and major U.S. companies across the country, the department urged recipients to keep tabs of their uniforms and identification.

In the nearly two years since Sept. 11, 2001, upgrades to the nation's system for issuing U.S. visas have lagged other security fixes. In spite of the fact that all 19 of the 9/11 terrorists entered the country on visas. Instead of making U.S. borders more secure, the department risks replacing one flawed program with another that gives the public a false sense of security. The new system calls for a sharp increase in interviews of visa seekers by U.S. officials. They now personally question fewer than a third of applicants in many countries because consulates have broad discretion to waive interviews. Such face-to-face meetings are valuable because they allow Foreign Service officers to detect suspicious motives and behavior they would not spot by reading applications. Yet gaps plague the fledgling program:
* Limited resources. The State Department had just 915 employees abroad to handle the 8.3 million visa requests it received in the 12 months ending last October. While the new regulations will mean far more interviews, the State Department has ordered its 221 consulates to make do with existing resources.
* Inadequate planning. The State Department has failed to develop a system to handle the increased workloads.
* Lengthy delays. Travel industry groups and even the State Department's own estimates say that the new program could result in lengthy delays. If so, the regulations risk hindering tourism without the offsetting value of tighter security.
The war on terror requires sound solutions, not half-measures that merely give the appearance of tighter security.

Two intriguing -- and politically volatile -- questions surrounding the Sept. 11 plot have been how personally engaged Bush and his predecessor were in counterterrorism before the attacks, and what role some Saudi officials may have played in sustaining the 19 terrorists who commandeered four airplanes and flew three of them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The CIA declined to declassify President's Daily Briefing (PDB), and the White House, which had the authority to release it, declined to do so, citing "executive privilege." Executive privilege allows the president to withhold from public disclosure all advice and communications he receives from advisers. "We were never able to get much of the material we requested from the National Security Council," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), former ranking member of the House intelligence committee. "The nation was not well-served by the administration's failure to provide this critical information."

The Bush administration has been slow to tighten domestic security and has failed to spend enough on some essential programs, a think tank said on July 23, 2003. The Progressive Policy Institute gave the government a "D" grade in its report card on homeland security and said much improvement was needed.
America at Risk: A Homeland Security Report Card

Comments July 24, 2003, on the congressional Sept. 11 report:

Senators Bob Graham and Richard Shelby discuss the report issued by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees that criticizes the lack of communication between intelligence agencies before Sept. 11.
"The attacks of Sept. 11 could have been prevented if the right combination of skill, cooperation, creativity and some good luck had been brought to task." — Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., co-chairman of the inquiry.
"I can tell you right now I don't know exactly how the plot was hatched on 9-11. ... We still cannot fill in a lot of the blanks." — Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., co-chairman of the inquiry.
"My first reaction as a U.S. citizen is disgust with the revelations of the report. I think my second reaction as a Sept. 11 widow is utter sadness. I think that certainly lives could have been saved." — Kristen Breitweiser, a leader of Sept. 11 advocates. Her husband, Ronald, died at the World Trade Center.
"There's a lot of stuff in here. But there's a lot of information that's not in here that should be, in my judgment." — Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., top Senate Republican on the inquiry.
"As good as the joint inquiry and its report are, they are not as complete as they could have been. We repeatedly encountered obstacles in getting necessary information from the Bush administration." — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, the top House Democrat on the inquiry.
"For whatever reason, there is an attempt here to conceal evidence that implicates the Saudi regime in a terrible tragedy — a tragedy that claimed the lives of over 3,000 Americans and put hundreds of thousands of troops in harm's way by leading us into two wars." — Sen. Charles Schumer, N.Y., referring to a 28-page section of the report on foreign support for the hijackers that was almost entirely redacted.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, who helped spearhead last year's probe into the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, said the administration wrongly blanked out 27 pages dealing with suspected foreign support of those responsible for the attacks. "I think they're classified for the wrong reason," Shelby said on NBC's Meet the Press program. "My judgment is 95 percent of that information should be declassified, become uncensored, so the American people would know." Shelby said the section was classified because it "might be embarrassing to some international relations." Sen. Bob Graham, who was involved in compiling the report, said that a foreign government which he could not name for legal reasons "provided logistical assistance to at least two of the hijackers." "High officials in this government, who I assume were not just rogue officials acting on their own, made substantial contributions to the support and well-being of two of these terrorists and facilitated their ability to plan, practice and then execute the tragedy of September 11," Graham said on the Fox News Sunday program.

Senator Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat, said the president himself should be leading the charge on seeking accountability for the faulty intelligence. "I think the failure to hold anybody accountable after September 11th has contributed to a culture of lack of personal responsibility among people in the White House and in the intelligence communities," Graham said. "That is an intolerable result of September 11th, when it should have been an event that would have increased our focus on accountability," he said.

The letter urging Bush to release the 28-page section was being circulated by Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "The decision to classify this information sends the wrong message to the American people about our nation's anti-terror effort and makes it seem as if there will be no penalty for foreign abettors of the hijackers," the letter said. "If we are to protect our national security, we must convince the Saudi regime to get tough on terror. Keeping private its involvement — or that of any other nation — in the September 11th attacks is no the way to accomplish this goal," it said.

The Treasury Department refuses to reveal how often the Bush administration rejected recommendations to penalize Saudi organizations suspected of financing terrorists. The information sought by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee could reveal whether the administration was more reluctant to designate Saudi organizations as supporting terrorism than organizations from other countries.

FBI acknowledges 9/11 was financed out of Pakistan

A Transportation Security Administration memo warned "The plan may involve the use of five-man teams, each of which would attempt to seize control of a commercial aircraft either shortly after takeoff or shortly before landing at a chosen airport. This type of operation would preclude the need for flight-trained hijackers. The hijackers may try to calm passengers and make them believe they were on a hostage, not suicide, mission," it says. "The hijackers may attempt to use common items carried by travelers, such as cameras and flashes, cell phones, radios, small stereos, and children's toys to conceal weapons or explosives." The July 26, 2003, memo suggests that terrorists plan to exploit this visa loophole and evade authorities by taking a flight from a foreign country with less-stringent security to a U.S., European or Australian airport and then plan to hijack a second, connecting flight. "The consideration of airports in the United States, Australia and several western countries suggests the planners believe current aviation security measures can either be defeated or will not detect the hijackers and/or their weapons," the memo said. "No equipment or operatives are known to have been deployed to conduct the operations," the warning says. The warning was based on information gleaned from interviews of at least one al-Qaida prisoner as well as intercepted communications, said one intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The information was developed in the last several weeks. "Cognizant of changes in aviation security measures since Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida is looking for new ways to circumvent enhancements in aviation security screening and tightening immigration requirements," the warning says. That warning memo said that “at least one of these attacks could be executed by the end of the summer." Homeland Security officials initially provided the warning only to the aviation industry and law enforcement agencies but acknowledged its existence in response to press queries. Some complained the government still is doing too little to alert the public and key industries to terror threats. "Our concern is that there will be bulletins put out that will not be made available to us," said the president of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association, a pilots union. He said he hasn't been getting warnings and isn't sure all pilots know when advisories pertaining to air travel are issued. The director of emergency management for Arlington County, Va., which includes both Reagan Washington National Airport and the Pentagon, said his agency had received no warning from Homeland Security.

The FBI is warning law enforcement officials around the country that terrorists may target ferries. The FBI bulletin says the ferries are an attractive target because many of them operate close to oil terminals.

China is boosting its missile stocks and military budget to prepare for what could be a quick and brutal showdown with Taiwan — and to prevent U.S. forces from getting in the way, the Pentagon said July 30, 2003. According to this year's report, China has amassed missiles more sophisticated and accurate than before, with its army developing longer-range models of the CSS-6 missile capable of reaching as far as Okinawa, Japan, where U.S. Marines are based. The Pentagon report also highlights China's acquisition of Russian-made submarines that could be used to cut off sea access to Taiwan and threaten American forces that might respond. China bought $2 billion worth of weapons from Russia, at least double its annual procurement from Moscow over the previous decade, according to the report.

A confidential report by the French government in May it said concluded Iran was "surprisingly close" to having enriched uranium or plutonium for a bomb. North Korean military scientists were recently monitored entering Iranian nuclear facilities and were assisting in the design of a nuclear warhead. A Middle Eastern intelligence official was also quoted as saying Pakistan's role in helping Iran develop a nuclear program was "bigger from the beginning than we thought." Russian scientists, sometimes traveling to Iran under false identities and working without their government's approval, were also helping to complete a special reactor that could produce weapons-grade plutonium. Tehran has also imported 1.8 tons of nuclear material from China in 1991 and processed some of it to manufacture uranium metal. Another indicator Iran was in the late stages of weapons development was the fact that Tehran recently approached European companies to buy devices that could manipulate large volumes of radio-active material, technology to forge uranium metal and plutonium and switches that could trigger a nuclear weapon.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the Iraq conflict is providing important intelligence on the al Qaeda network rather than sapping resources from the war against international terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere, as some critics had predicted. "People should be assured there has not been any lessening of our ability to go after al Qaeda because of the operations in Iraq," Gen. Richard B. Myers told reporters. "In fact, just the opposite, we're getting very good intelligence from operations in Iraq on the al Qaeda, and it's been very helpful in understanding the network and tracking down some of the leadership."

The al-Qaida terror network remains capable of carrying out new attacks and may have gained strength from the war in Iraq, a parliamentary committee warned on July 31, 2003. "The war in Iraq might in fact have impeded the war against al-Qaida," the panel said, adding that expert witnesses had testified of their fear that the conflict "might have enhanced the appeal of al-Qaida to Muslims living in the Gulf region and elsewhere." "Al-Qaida has dangerously large numbers of 'foot soldiers,' and has demonstrated an alarming capacity to regenerate itself," the committee said in its report.

An audio tape purportedly of top al Qaeda official Ayman al-Zawahri warned the United States on August 03, 2003, it would pay a high price if it harmed any of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. "America has announced it will start putting on trial in front of military tribunals the Muslim detainees at Guantanamo and might sentence them to death...," said the voice, which Al Arabiya television identified as Zawahri's. "I swear in the name of God that the crusader America will pay a dear price for any harm it inflicts on any of the Muslim detainees...." It was the first audio tape said to be by Zawahri -- considered to be Osama bin Laden's right-hand man -- since May 2 when another tape sent to an Arabic television also made threats against the United States. "We tell America only one thing. What you have suffered until now is only the initial skirmishes. The real battle has not started yet," the voice said. "Let those who conspire with America know that America is incapable of protecting itself...and let every captive held by the infidels be assured that the day of liberation is soon...," it added.

Most hospitals still lack equipment, medical stockpiles and quarantine and isolation facilities for even a small-scale bioterror response.

Fewer than 100 pilots were certified to carry guns on commercial flights in the eight months after Congress approved the idea, and pilots are blaming the slow pace on the Transportation Security Administration. The pilots say that with the TSA freezing hiring in the air marshal program and the government warning al-Qaida may try more suicide hijackings, it's more important than ever to get weapons in the cockpit. Lawmakers say the TSA, which has a $900 million shortfall, has grown too large, too fast, doesn't properly prioritize spending and is slow to respond to queries from Congress. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., a sponsor of the bill to arm pilots, charged the TSA is dragging its feet because it didn't want pilots to carry guns in the first place. A retired pilot who helped develop the training program, said the TSA should work to bolster the pilots' program. It is more cost-effective than air marshals and serves the same purpose, he said. Pilots train on their own time and pay for transportation, room and board. Air marshals are government employees.

TSA in ‘witch hunt,’ air marshals say by Brock N. Meeks

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization on August 4, 2003, plans to take command of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan war-shattered capital, a move that reflects the 54-year-old alliance's shifting priorities in the global war on terror. The deployment in Asia will be NATO first outside Europe since the organization was formed during the Cold War to provide a bulwark against possible attacks by the former Soviet Union. NATO will take over command of the 5,000-strong International Security Assistance Force, known as ISAF, from Germany and the Netherlands during a ceremony in Kabul.

Oil prices rallied to levels not seen since the run-up to the war in Iraq in March as traders fretted over the low levels of gasoline stocks and the outlook for global supplies. Traders were concerned about the slow return of Iraqi crude to world markets, as well as further possible disruption to production in Nigeria and Venezuela because of social unrest. On August 5, 2003, the US government put a price tag of 1.14 billion dollars on restoring Iraq's oil and gas industry, which continues to be hit by sabotage and looting.

The terror attack at the J. W. Marriott Hotel that killed at least 16 people and wounded 150 on August 5, 2003, was almost certainly the work of Jemaah Islamiyah, a group that is closely linked to Al Qaeda, American officials said. A Jakarta police spokesman said that the Indonesian authorities had found information about a planned attack on the Marriott when the police raided a Jemaah Islamiyah hideout in Semerang in central Java last month. The methods used in the Bali and Marriott attacks were similar, the head of the Jakarta criminal investigation department said today. Both attacks involved a vehicle packed with explosives being driven to the site. The police said today that potassium chloride and TNT, both substances used in the Bali bomb, were found on the Marriott driveway where a sports utility vehicle packed with explosives blew up. A suicide bomber appears to have been in the vehicle, Indonesian officials said. A suicide bomber was involved in the Bali attack. The Indonesian authorities came under fire over the Jakarta hotel bombing, with critics blaming the police for ignoring warnings and failing to seriously address the threat of terrorism.

A car bomb shattered a street outside the walled Jordanian Embassy on August 7, 2003, killing at least 11 people — including two children — in an attack that raised concerns that Iraq violence could be broadening from a resistance to the U.S. occupation toward a terrorist insurgency. More than 50 people were wounded by the explosion, the deadliest attack on a non-military target since Baghdad fell to American forces April 9. The blast set cars on fire, flung the hulk of one vehicle onto a rooftop and broke windows hundreds of yards away. Witnesses outside the Jordanian compound in western Baghdad said a bomb was left in a parked minibus or sports utility vehicle and apparently was detonated by remote control. Officials in Amman, the Jordanian capital, said evidence at the bombing scene suggested the attack was an "orchestrated terrorist attack" aimed at Jordan. Tensions between Jordan and Iraq have been high because of the Jordanian government's support for the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam's regime. Jordan also gave asylum last week to two of Saddam's daughters. In Washington, Powell said the attack strengthened U.S. resolve to "unite the world in this campaign against terrorism." "The terrorists need to know that we will not be deterred," he said. "We are ever more determined to go after them wherever they are until this scourge is dealt with."

The American-led administration in Iraq has received intelligence reports that hundreds of Islamic militants who fled Iraq during the war have returned and are planning to conduct major terrorist attacks. L. Paul Bremer III, the top civilian administrator in Iraq, said in an interview that fighters from Ansar al-Islam, a militant organization that the United States tried to destroy during the war, had escaped to Iran and then slipped back across the border into Iraq. He said hundreds of the militants were now in Iraq, where they were preparing to attack the occupation forces or administration. "The intelligence suggests that Ansar al-Islam is planning large-scale terrorist attacks here," Mr. Bremer said. "So as long as we have, as I think we do, substantial numbers of Ansar terrorists around here I think we have to be pretty alert to the fact that we may see more of this." The Bush administration has asserted that Ansar has ties to Al Qaeda.

Iran said (August 13, 2003) it won't allow the United States to interrogate senior al-Qaida operatives in Iranian custody. "No," was President Mohammad Khatami's brief reply when reporters asked if Iran would allow U.S. investigators access. Khatami said Iran was ready to hand over Saudi al-Qaida detainees to Saudi Arabia, which is investigating bombings on May 12 in Riyadh, its capital. "If their nationality is Saudi, we have no problem handing them over. We have no problem cooperating with Saudi Arabia," Khatami told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. On Monday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran would try al-Qaida operatives in Iranian custody whose nationalities are not clear and if no country takes them. Asefi also said Iran will also try those al-Qaida figures who have committed crimes in Iran. He gave no further details. Last week, Iran's government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said Iran won't hand over senior al-Qaida captives to the United States because Iran had no extradition treaty with Washington. Intelligence Minister Yunesi confirmed for the first time last month that Iran was holding "a large number of small and big-time elements of al-Qaida." Iran has not identified any of the detainees, citing security reasons. U.S. officials have said intelligence suggests that al-Qaida figures in Iran include Saif al-Adl, a top al-Qaida agent possibly connected to the May 12 bombings in Riyadh; Abu Mohammed al-Masri, wanted in connection with the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998; Abu Musab Zarqawi, whom some U.S. officials describe as the key link between al-Qaida and toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein; and Saad bin Laden, the son of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The sting operation that foiled a plot aimed at smuggling a shoulder-fired missile to U.S.-based terrorists marked "a new stage in cooperation" between the intelligence services of former Cold War foes the United States and Russia, a Russian intelligence official said. Russian officials tipped off the FBI about a Briton of Indian descent who they said was seeking weapons to buy in St. Petersburg, Russia. Months later, the operation culminated with the man's arrest (August 12, 2003) in Newark, N.J., where he was allegedly was trying to seal the deal. The sting was the result of improved cooperation among the secret services of Russia, Britain and the United States, said Sergei Ignatchenko, chief spokesman of the Federal Security Service - the successor of KGB. "It is the first time such an operation has been carried out since the ends of the Cold War, when our special services acted in confrontation with each other," Ignatchenko said in Washington, the Russian state news agency ITAR-Tass reported. "This action marks a new stage in the development of cooperation between the special services of these countries," he said. <p>U.S. officials said the suspect was planning to sell an SA-18 Igla missile capable of downing a commercial airliner to a man he thought was a terrorist. The putative buyer turned out to be an undercover FBI agent and the weapon was an inoperable copy brought from Russia aboard a ship to make the deal seem real, U.S. officials said. Two other men, believed to be involved in money laundering, were apprehended about the same time as the British suspect at what was described as a gem dealership on Fifth Avenue in New York City, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said the British suspect is Hemat Lakhani. He will be charged with material support of terrorism and weapons smuggling, the official said. The Briton did not appear to be connected any known terrorist group, and authorities stressed there was no specific, credible threat to shoot down an airliner in the United States. In Moscow, the FSB and the Kremlin declined to comment on the operation, which Ignatchenko said was conducted by the FBI in conjunction with the FSB. The arrest "demonstrates the cooperation of the secret services, but from the point of view of stopping the flow of these weapons, it is not so effective." "I believe that both Russia and America felt they needed a piece of public relations to show they are closely cooperating in combatting terrorism and the illegal arms trade," said Volk. In June, Russia's defense minister called for stricter controls on exports of shoulder-fired missiles, saying they are dangerous weapons that too often fall into terrorist hands.

Hambali, an Indonesian whose real name is Riduan Isamuddin, was detained this week during a joint operation run by the Central Intelligence Agency and a foreign government in Southeast Asia. American officials declined to identify that government, although foreign newspapers reported Hambali was taken in Thailand. He was the operational head of Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional terrorist network in Southeast Asia that is affiliated with al-Qaida. He has been taken to an undisclosed location overseas for interrogation by American officials. Hambali is suspected of ties to several recent attacks, including the Aug. 5 bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, that killed 12 people and injured 150. He is suspected of playing an organizing role in the Oct. 12, 2002, bombing of a nightclub in Bali that killed about 200 people, many of the Australians. Jemaah Islamiyah is also believed to be behind a foiled plot to bomb western targets in Singapore in late 2001, and a series of church bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines in December 2000. Authorities also say Hambali is connected to the Sept. 11 plot, although whether he played a direct role is unclear. In January 2000, Hambali had one of his deputies host meetings between two eventual Sept. 11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, and a high-ranking al-Qaida figure who organized the bombing of the USS Cole, at his apartment in Malaysia in January 2000. He was one of two key leaders the CIA had identified as leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah. The other, the Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, founded the group in 1989 and served as its spiritual leader, U.S. officials said. Bashir lived openly and was detained in October 2002. He denies any links to Jemaah Islamiyah. Outside of Indonesia, the group operates in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Myanmar and Thailand. Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief, cautioned that the capture of the group's leaders does not render it ineffective.

Germany told US intelligence about one of the September 11 hijackers two and a half years before the suicide plane attacks, but the crucial information was not passed on, German media reported. According to the reports, the US Central Intelligence Agency was warned by Germany's domestic intelligence service in March 1999 that Marwan al-Shehhi was a suspected member of the al-Qaeda network. However, the CIA did not pass on the information to the FBI. Al-Shehhi piloted the United Airlines plane that crashed into the southern tower of New York's World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Because the CIA did not pass the information on to the FBI, the US State Department or immigration authorities, according to the reports, al-Shehhi was able to enter the United States on May 30, 2000, and follow a pilot training course in Florida. Yet the CIA knew his name, nationality and mobile telephone number and was told that al-Shehhi had been in close contact with Haydar Zammar, a German of Syrian origin who was living in Hamburg. Zammar had been known to the CIA since 1993 as a leading al-Qaeda activist, which was why he was under surveillance. Al-Shehhi came to Germany in 1996 where he met Mohammed Atta, who built up the Hamburg cell. Atta, who was seen as the hijackers' ringleader, died piloting the American Airlines plane that crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. The third hijacker based in Hamburg was Ziad Jarrah, who died on the United Airlines jet that crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

Nearly two years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, key federal agencies have not consolidated a dozen separate "watch lists" intended to keep terrorists out of the country, even though sharing that kind of information might have caught two of the suicide hijackers before they carried out their plot. The Department of Homeland Security says it is working to combine lists of potential security risks maintained by at least nine agencies, but it has no timetable for finishing the job. If federal agencies had been sharing information and using a master watch list, "then 9/11 might not have happened," says Ivo Daalder, a homeland-security expert at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington. "I find it criminal that it hasn't happened yet."Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman says the lack of progress is "an intolerable failure that exposes the American public to unacceptable risk." "It's not a surprise that with 12 different lists held by nine different agencies that there have been difficulties in consolidating those lists," says Asha George of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security. "On the other hand, it's been two years."

Nearly two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, local and state officials say they are still having trouble getting information they need from the federal government to prevent terrorism or respond to a threat. A report August 13, 2003, by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee found that poor communications, slow security clearances, and fragmented terrorist watch lists continue to hamper law enforcement. The report said a key problem is that local police who stop a suspect can't easily access the 12 terrorism watch lists compiled by the State Department and eight other federal agencies to see if the person is a potential terrorist. While CIA Director George Tenet has told Congress the issue is being addressed, the lists have not been consolidated and the information is not being shared well, even among other federal agencies, the report said. State officials said they continue having problems getting security clearances. Major Gen. Timothy Lowenberg, Washington state's adjutant general, said if he got classified information about a biohazard threat, he couldn't share it with the state's top public health officials, who don't have proper clearance. And Major Gen. William Cugno, Connecticut's adjutant general, said there is still no systematic way to share emergency information between states. An evacuation of New York City, he said, would greatly affect Connecticut, but there is no coordinated planning. Overall, the report found that the "information gaps pose a significant challenge for the federal government and leave the American people at unacceptable risk." The report calls for the Homeland Security Department to consolidate the terrorism watch lists, expedite security clearances, establish 24-hour communication centers in each state and upgrade the color-coded terror alert system to provide more detailed threat information.


Biggest power outage in U.S. history hit the US northeast corridor and parts of Canada on August 14, 2003. An eight-state, two-nation blackout left 50 million people in the dark. The blackout occurred at 4:11 p.m. EDT Thursday, creating instant chaos. More than 100 power plants, including 22 nuclear reactors in the United States and in Canada, shut down, most of them automatically to protect themselves against power surges, officials said.

Government and energy-industry officials were quick to state that the massive power blackout was not an act of terrorism, but there is a possibility that cyber terrorist or a computer virus plunged 50 million people into darkness.
Slammer worm crashed Ohio nuke plant network back in January

The blackout that stranded millions of travelers, halted assembly lines and spoiled tons of food cost an estimated $4 billion to $6 billion.

Water customers in parts of Michigan, Ohio and Ontario remained under warnings to boil water before drinking or cooking with it because water systems shut down by the outage were still being checked out. There were still overflowing garbage cans scattered around Manhattan, but sanitation crews were working overtime through the weekend. Tons of trash had been piled on sidewalks as New Yorkers emptied their refrigerators of spoiled food.

Electronic key cards in hotels went dead, so that even those who made the trek up to their floors were stranded outside their rooms.

People have gotten out of the habit of carrying cash but ATMs and credit-card machines need electricity.

Ontario officials struggled to restore stable power throughout the province, but warned it could take days before everything is back to normal.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the outage disrupted the city's emergency ambulance and police radio dispatches for several minutes at a time. One of the failures caused a 14-minute gap in communications for dispatchers relaying calls to 911.

As the summer vacation season winds down, Americans are facing soaring gasoline prices. The power blackout didn't help matters as it temporarily shut down seven refineries in the United States and Canada, worsening an already tight gasoline supply situation. Problems with refineries and pipelines in the West also boosted prices. Prices at the pump jumped an average of about 10 cents a gallon nationally in the past three weeks and spiked much higher in some places, according to the Energy Information Administration, part of the Energy Department. "It's likely that prices will continue to increase through Labor Day; after that demand will fall off," an EIA analyst said. The supply and demand balance is so tight that if you lose major output even for a day it does have some impact. Almost anything can have an impact on prices.

An Ohio congressman and longtime critic of FirstEnergy Corp., the Ohio-based utility at the center of the investigation into the blackout, wants the company's operating license revoked.

An Ohio utility at the center of investigations into last week's blackout is no stranger to Washington, giving more than $1 million to Republicans and Democrats in the last election and counting a top executive among President Bush's fund-raisers. Roughly 70 percent of the donations from FirstEnergy and its employees to the national parties and congressional candidates in the last election season went to Republicans, figures compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics show. Company officials are also active in the 2004 election. FirstEnergy chief executive H. Peter Burg helped organize a June 30 fund-raiser headlined by Vice President Dick Cheney in Akron, Ohio, which brought in $600,000 for the Bush-Cheney re-election effort. FirstEnergy also is familiar with Capitol Hill. The company spent $2.25 million last year lobbying on issues such as clean-air regulations and oversight of nuclear power plants and electricity markets, lobbying reports compiled by the nonpartisan Political Money Line Web site show. North American Electric Reliability Council
Did One Person Blow One Tower And Cause Blackout?
Blackout Terrorism Possible
Ohio Plant Spewed Ash Before Blackout
The Deregulation/Privatization Scam by Norman D. Livergood
Al Qaida claims responsibility for blackout

Statement of IBEW President on Largest Power Failure in U.S. History

Millions of mobile phone users in the north eastern states were unable to make calls during the massive power cut as the combined upsets of a spike in demand and lack of current disabled large chunks of their carrier's networks. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, US wireless carriers had worked hard to beef up their networks to cope with increased demand. The biggest problem was the spike in demand rather than lack of power to cell sites, most of which have their own generators providing enough electricity for eight hours of use. A technology consultancy, said wireless carriers have been focusing more of their capital expenditure on building capacity and quality of service rather than the back up facilities. For many of those who could not get through, the experience was similar to that of September 11, when record call volumes overwhelmed the wireless carriers.

When technology failed on a massive scale during the blackout, some old-fashioned broadcasting stepped into the breach as ham radio operators took to the airwaves to reach emergency workers. For millions of people in the Northeast and Midwest, the Aug. 14 outage took access to e-mail and the Internet with it. Landline and cellular telephones were jammed by a crush of calls. But the ham radio, which came into being in the World War I era, connected firefighters and police departments, Red Cross workers and other emergency personnel. Ham operators are not dependent on a server or cell tower, and with battery backups can operate when grids can't. "When everything else fails, the ham radio is still there," said Allen Pitts, a ham operator in New Britain. "You can't knock out that system." The radios are operated by a network of volunteers. The volunteers went to work immediately after power went down Thursday afternoon.
Hams a Bright Spot During Power Blackout


A cement truck packed with explosives detonated outside the offices of the top U.N. envoy in Iraq on August 19, 2003, killing him and 19 other people and devastating the U.N. headquarters here in an unprecedented suicide attack against the world body. At least 100 people were wounded. An audiotape released on the eve of the U.N. attack, purportedly from an al-Qaida militant, urged Muslims around the world to travel to Iraq and fight the U.S.-led occupation. The tape was thought to be the first public call by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network for Muslims to join the fight in Iraq. Dia'a Rashwan, an expert on radical Islam at Egypt's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said the attack fits "the ideology of al-Qaida. They consider the U.N. one of the international actors who helped the Americans to occupy Palestine and, later, Iraq."

Iraq's new Governing Council was warned about the possibility of a terror attack in Baghdad just days before the devastating truck bombing collapsed the United Nations headquarters. Ahmed Chalabi, a key member of the US-picked interim government, said information received on August 14 was passed on to the American authorities. "We received information that a large-scale terror attack would take place in Baghdad," he said. "The information said the attack would be aimed at a soft target, not the American military or forces. "The information said the attack would use a truck and would be carried out by using a suicide mechanism or by remote control. We shared this information with the Americans," Chalabi said.

The distraction provided by Iraq has "allowed Osama bin Forgotten to get up off the mat," Florida Senator Graham warned. America paid too little attention to the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, which intelligence reports suggest trained an estimated 70,000 to 120,000 terrorists, he said. Advanced terrorist training camps continue to operate in Syria and Lebanon, he said. "We are making exactly the same mistake today as we did in the 1990's," he said. In the process, "we're allowing an even better prepared terrorist." He said, there was a clear threat to national security in Afghanistan, and America remains in danger as terrorists train under the protection of foreign governments. "We have dealt with the lesser evil," he said. Toppling Saddam Hussein made as much sense as if the U.S. had attacked Mussolini and ignored Hitler during World War II, he said. Graham also criticized the FBI for doing a "dismal job" of identifying how those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks got the support to coordinate and carry out their acts of terror. "It's as least as reasonable to suspect that infrastructure is still in place and is offering analogous support to the next generation of terrorists," he said. Graham agreed that the Bush administration is censoring too much about the Iraq operations. "This administration doesn't want the American people to visualize the losses," he said.

Veterans of the first U.S.-led war with Iraq filed a lawsuit in federal court in Brooklyn on August 19, 2003, alleging that companies that exported chemicals to Iraq in the 1980s, and the banks that financed those deals, are liable for illnesses the U.S. veterans sustained from exposure to chemical weapons stockpiles that were blown up during the 1991 war.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on August 20, 2003, the United States and Latin America faced "a terrible problem" from terrorism and narco-trafficking and suggested American forces might be realigned in Central and South America.

The US Air Force's Global Hawk became the first pilotless aeroplane to be given permission to fly routinely in civilian airspace on August 21, 2003. The US Federal Aviation Administration issued the USAF and Northrop Grumman, who make the jet plane, a certificate of authorization (COA) allowing the RQ-4 Global Hawk to enter national airspace with almost as much ease as a piloted plane. Previously the USAF was required to file a detailed flight plan with the FAA at least 30 days in advance. According to Northrop Grumman, the Global Hawk's ability to see-and-avoid other aircraft has convinced the FAA that it is safe. Moreover, during its missions Global Hawk is programmed to climb to altitudes over 60,000 feet, well above commercial traffic. Global Hawks carry out pre-programmed missions and are monitored by pilots from the ground via a satellite link. "I think this is really insane," says a spokesperson for the National Air Disaster Alliance, "I understand the need to have military drones, but they should be restricted to military airspace only."

August 21, 2003 -- Canadian police arrested 19 men in a case that, according to court documents obtained by a newspaper, has eerie parallels to the preparations for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokeswoman said, "We arrested 19 people last Thursday," adding the operation had involved four police departments from across the Greater Toronto area. "They're all related and it's all part of, what we're alleging, has to do with a group taking advantage of a system -- the immigration system here in Canada." The Toronto Star newspaper said the men were arrested after a "pattern of suspicious behavior" which featured one man taking flight lessons that took him directly over an Ontario nuclear power plant. In court documents obtained by the newspaper, the student pilot was described as "unmotivated" and he raised suspicion because he has trained for nearly three years to obtain a commercial pilots license that normally takes only a year. "He often brings with him an unknown male as a passenger," the document read. The newspaper said two other men were considered suspicious after police found them in April 2002 outside the same nuclear plant, which sits near the shores of Lake Ontario. "They requested that they be allowed to enter the perimeter in order to go for a walk on the beach," the document said. Police said the detained men, who are from Pakistan, tended to "reside in clusters of 4 or 5" and changed addresses as a group, according to the newspaper. Paradis said the investigation, called Project Thread, began last February. She referred questions to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, which did not immediately return calls seeking more information.

Sept. 9, 2003 -- RCMP officers close to the case of 21 Indian and Pakistani men being held in Toronto say they doubt any of them pose a threat to Canada's security. Immigration Canada arrested the men in August on immigration violations and held them on suspicion they have links to terrorism. Insp. Steve Martin, head of the RCMP's immigration unit in Toronto, told a lawyer for seven of the men that the RCMP has no evidence the detainees have links to terrorism. The lawyer says the RCMP is distancing itself from the case being made my Immigration Canada. "They were very clear that these people have no link to any terrorist organization. They are themselves not a threat," the lawyer said. Simone McAndrew, a spokesperson for Immigration Canada, insisted the arrests were the result of a joint investigation by the RCMP and Immigration Canada. McAndrew said though her department knows of no current threat from the men, officials want them to remain in custody while the investigation continues. Shah said the accused men have been treated unfairly. "I think (the Immigration Department) did not do their homework properly before arresting these people," said Shah. Three of the 21 men have been released on bond, while the rest are being detained while the investigation continues.

The burning ruins of the World Trade Center spewed toxic gases "like a chemical factory" for at least six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks despite government assurances the air was safe. An internal report by Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Nikki Tinsley said the White House pressured the agency to make premature statements that the air was safe to breathe. The EPA issued an air quality statement on Sept. 18, 2001, even though it "did not have sufficient data and analyzes to make the statement," the report said. The White House "convinced the EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones," Tinsley said. Among the information withheld was the potential health hazards of breathing asbestos, lead, concrete and pulverized glass, the report said. A study by scientists at the University of California at Davis said samples from Ground Zero found four types of particles listed by the EPA as likely to harm human health -- fine metals that can damage lungs, sulfuric acid that attacks lung cells, fine undissolvable particles of glass that can travel through the lungs to the bloodstream and heart and high-temperature carcinogenic organic matter.
White House Told EPA To Lie About Air Quality EPA Watchdog Rips White House On NYC Air

The al-Qaida leader is said to be hiding in northern Pakistan guarded by a 120-mile ring of tribesmen whose job it is to warn of the approach of any troops.

August 24, 2003 -- Gas prices take a record jump that pushed average retail gasoline prices up more than 15 cents a gallon nationally during the past two weeks, the largest retail price hike on record since the Lundberg Survey began keeping records 50 years ago.

Congressional investigators say they were unable to determine how much the White House's energy policy was influenced by the oil industry because they were denied documents by Vice President Dick Cheney about his energy task force. Investigators also came up short trying to find out how much money various agencies spent on creating the national energy policy, a General Accounting Office report released August 24, 2003 said. The unwillingness of Cheney's office to turn over records and other information "precluded us from fully achieving our objectives" and limited its analysis, the GAO said. The GAO unsuccessfully sued the vice president last year to release information. "As gas prices reach historic levels and the nation's energy infrastructure is pushed beyond its limits, the Bush administration has decided their energy policy will be of the special interests, by the special interests and for the special interests," Kerry said in a statement. Said Graham: "If the Bush-Cheney team has nothing to hide, then why are they hiding documents? There can be only one answer — they don't want the American people to know just how much influence the big oil companies have over U.S. energy policy."

A group of senators sent President Bush a letter on September 4, 2003, asking him to release 15 million barrels of oil from the domestic petroleum reserves unless Saudi Arabia increases its oil exports to the United States. Charging that the recent spike in gas prices is due to the decrease in Saudi oil exports, the 32 senators said the higher costs are hindering America's economic growth. By tapping the reserves, they said, "the United States can protect its economic stability and force oil producers from the Middle East to engage in fair production and export policies." According to the Energy Department, Saudi oil exports dropped by 500,000 barrels a day in early August — a 25 percent decrease.

Refiners were operating with tightened security after the FBI warned of a terrorist threat against petroleum and power plants in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The alert went out to FBI offices in those three cities late on August 22, 2003.

A pair of car bombs ripped through lunchtime crowds in India's financial capital, Bombay, on August 25, 2003, killing 52 people and wreaking havoc at a crowded jewelry market and a popular historic landmark. More than 150 people were wounded. Police Commissioner Ranjit Sharma blamed India's longtime rival, Pakistan, saying suspicion in the blast fell on Islamic militant groups "let loose by the enemy country." The bombs were hidden in the trunks of two taxis and exploded within five minutes of each other, police said. The explosive used was deadly RDX, commonly used in international terror attacks. Sharma, the police commissioner, specifically mentioned the Students Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, a militant Muslim students' group outlawed in 2001, and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, one of more than a dozen Islamic rebel groups fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir since 1989, seeking independence for the Himalayan province or its merger with Muslim-dominated Pakistan. Another top police official confirmed that the explosive used was RDX, suggesting it appeared to have been smuggled into the city with the help of militant outfits such as al-Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba. The reference to Pakistan could increase tension between the nuclear-armed neighbors at a time when the two countries are taking steps to improve relations. Pakistan — which has fought three wars with India and came close to a fourth last year — quickly condemned the attacks as "an act of terrorism." "We deplore these attacks and we sympathize with the victims and their families," Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said. "I think that such wanton targeting of civilians should be condemned in the strongest possible terms." New Delhi accuses Pakistan of supporting militants, which Islamabad denies. Indian police said there was no direct evidence linking those groups, or Pakistan, to the bombings. The blasts came just hours after the release of the archaeological report by government archaeologists that indicated there had been an ancient temple at the religious site in Ayodhya, where in 1992 Hindu mobs tore down the 16th-century Babri mosque, which they say was built on a temple marking the birthplace of their supreme god, Rama.

James Woolsey, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency said, "The only option to keep (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-il from producing more nuclear warheads is for China to exert is pressure in North Korea to change its regime." "There are no other possibilities other than that, short of military action." Woolsey eschewed any possibility of an agreement with North Korea to stop it from developing nuclear weapons, attacking Kim Jong-il as somebody "no reasonable individual could trust." "Agreements with North Korea are worse than worthless," he emphasized. "North Korea has not kept its word before, and it will not." The consequences of not inducing a change of regime were dire, Woolsey warned, noting that Kim Jong-il would likely turn to exporting plutonium and enriched uranium, materials needed to make nuclear devices. "(North Korea's) principal exports are illegal weapons and heroin," he noted. "What would refrain them from exporting plutonium or highly enriched uranium? I do not see any possibility to avoid North Korea getting into this business, and I see no reason why anybody would believe the Kim Jong-il regime if he promises not to export these things." Woolsey, now a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, noted that it was also in China's best interest to induce a change in regime in North Korea. Not doing anything, could lead South Korea, Japan, and even Taiwan to develop nuclear weapons, he said. "China could end up with not one, but with four nuclear powers around it if it shirks its interest in this matter," he noted.

The federal government is heading toward a record $480 billion deficit in 2004 and will rack up red ink of almost $1.4 trillion over the next decade, according to the latest analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. Many economists look more at the percentage of GDP than raw dollars in assessing the impact of federal budget deficits on the economy. But even at its current size, the deficit could damage the economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned, "There is no question that if you run substantial and excessive deficits over time you are draining savings from the private sector," Greenspan told the House Financial Services Committee. Your U.S. National Debt up to the minute estimate based on data from the US Treasury and US Census Bureau information.

Latest economic data show that millions of unemployed American workers are worse off Labor Day 203 than last and that there are more jobless and unemployment claims now than a year ago.
Consider these facts:
-- 9.1 million Americans are unemployed compared with 8.4 a year ago-an increase of 700,000 workers.
-- Between August 2002 and July 2003, the number of people out of work for six months or longer has increased by 28 percent, 1.96 million versus 1.53 million.
-- In July 2003, state unemployment benefits expired for a record high 43.8 percent of unemployed workers before they could find work. This is the highest number since the information was first recorded in 1950, and exceeds last year's 40.1 percent.
-- In the last year there has been an upsurge in new layoffs at a time when historical trends would foretell a decline. At this point in the last recovery, layoffs had dipped by nearly 10 percent and were declining each month. This year, layoffs have gone in the opposite direction. A total of 6.4 million new workers have qualified for unemployment insurance in 2003. National Employment Law Project

The nation's rocky economy sent 1.4 million more people into poverty last year, a Census Bureau survey found. Nearly half of the newly impoverished were children. Roughly 17.2 percent of children, or 12.2 million, lived in poverty in 2002, up from 16.4 percent, or over 11.5 million, in 2001, according to the American Community Survey. Overall, 12.4 percent of the population, or nearly 34.8 million people, lived in poverty in 2002, up from 12.1 percent, or 33.4 million, the previous year. Median household income rose by $51, when accounting for inflation, to $43,057 after a similarly slight drop the previous year, when the nation was in recession from March to November. American Community Survey

The bioterrorism expert under scrutiny in the 2001 anthrax attacks sued Attorney General John Ashcroft and other government officials August 26, 2003, accusing them of using him as a scapegoat for their failure to make an arrest in the case. Dr. Steven J. Hatfill said Ashcroft and other federal authorities destroyed his reputation and ruined his job prospects by labeling him a "person of interest" in the case, circulating his photo and improperly leaking aspects of the investigation to the media. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, said Hatfill is under 24-hour surveillance, leaving him unable to freely talk to his girlfriend, family or friends. "The attorney general and his subordinates have taken Dr. Hatfill's life as he knows it," Hatfill's attorney, Thomas Connolly, said at a news conference at the federal courthouse. "They have made him a prisoner in his own home. All this without any evidence linking Dr. Hatfill to the attack and without bringing formal charges against him." Hatfill wants his name cleared and seeks unspecified damages from Ashcroft, the Justice Department, the FBI and other current and former FBI and Justice Department officials. FBI officials declined to comment. Federal officials have said Hatfill is not a suspect and that they have no evidence directly linking him to the October 2001 attacks in which anthrax-laced envelopes were sent to government and media offices. Five people died and 17 others were sickened. A George Washington University law professor, said Hatfill faces a stiff challenge in court. "The problem with these lawsuits is this falls into an area of discretionary conduct by Justice Department officials," he said. "It's the type of area that courts are loathe to enter into." Because prosecutors are allowed to publicly identify a person they are seeking to interview in a criminal investigation, Hatfill would have to show his name was singled out with malicious purpose, he said. That usually requires a so-called "smoking gun" document that rarely exists, he said. The government likely would try to have the case dismissed before it could be ordered to give Hatfill access to Justice Department documents from the investigation. Hatfill once worked as a researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. The facility housed the strain of anthrax found in the envelopes sent to the victims, though Hatfill repeatedly has said he never worked with the infectious disease. The lawsuit claims federal officials orchestrated a public campaign beginning in June 2002 to link Hatfill to the attacks because the investigation had stalled and it was politically necessary to make it look like the government was making progress. Part of that effort involved an FBI leak to the media that it would search Hatfill's home in Frederick on June 25, 2002, despite the fact that Hatfill consented to the search, the lawsuit states. "They wanted to show an anxious nation that they were making progress in this investigation," Connolly said. Hatfill also said the Justice Department was responsible for his firing last August from a job directing bioterrorism research at Louisiana State University. Hatfill has been unemployed since and says in the lawsuit that other potential employers have been scared off from hiring him because he is constantly followed by a team of five to seven FBI agents.

Opening a belated chapter in the Oklahoma City bombing case, the FBI has started an internal investigation into the conduct and testimony of the crime lab's chief of scientific analysis during the Timothy McVeigh prosecution, according to people familiar with the investigation. A letter obtained by AP shows that lawyers for FBI lab employees, including Whitehurst, wrote Ashcroft 10 days before McVeigh was executed in 2001, claiming Burmeister may have given false testimony about key forensic evidence in the case. AP also reported that lawyers for some disgruntled FBI lab employees sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2001, just days before McVeigh was executed for the April 1995 bombing, alleging Burmeister may have been pressured to give false testimony in the case. No action was taken and the allegation was never divulged to McVeigh's lawyers. The FBI denies the allegations. An Oklahoma City woman who lost a daughter and her inlaws in McVeigh's bombing said it was time for the government to release all documents — embarrasing or not — in the case to help ease the concern of surviving family members. "This is another piece of the never-ending saga," Kathleen Treanor said Thursday. "It is not going to change the fact that McVeigh was guilty. But it is just another insight into the whole bureaucracy and stupidity that the government has gotten itself into."

In compliance with a court order in a lawsuit filed by The New York Times, the Port Authority was forced to release to the news media approximately 2,000 pages of documents related to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. These documents include transcripts of recorded radio and telephone conversations between Port Authority Police and civilians, as well as conversations involving contract employees, World Trade Center tenants and the public.

Was Their Bungled Sting Operation a Factor in the 9/11 Attack? by Michael Phillip Wright

Car bombs are on the rise in Iraq.
The Killing of Ayatollah Hakim: Now It Will All Explode by Sam Hamod

The American Society of Civil Engineers said population growth, a weak economy, limited federal programs, and the threat of terrorism — which diverted money to security — as contributing to the nation's deteriorating infrastructure. Overall, the engineers recommended an investment of $1.6 trillion over five years. The engineers want Congress to increase the user fee on gasoline by six cents to help pay for infrastructure projects.

The House on September 4, 2003, approved a 2.2 percent pay raise for Congress boosting lawmakers' annual salaries to about $158,000 next year. The House members decided to allow themselves a fifth straight cost-of-living raise. Only one House member — Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah — voiced objections to the congressional increase during the debate. "We are fighting terrorism on numerous fronts and our economy is in serious trouble, unemployment is at record high levels and our future budget deficits are predicted to be the highest in the history of this great nation," Matheson said. "Now is not the time for members of Congress to be voting themselves a pay raise." By a 240-173 vote, the House rejected Matheson's procedural attempt to get a direct vote on the pay raise for lawmakers. Without counting outside sources of income, the earnings of members of Congress rank within the top 5 percent of the nation. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who has contested congressional pay raises in the past, intends to oppose it again when it reaches the Senate floor, his office said. The bill is H.R. 2989.

Seven U.S. universities will receive government grants totaling nearly $350 million over five years to establish biodefense research centers, the Department of Health and Human Services said. The centers will be clustered around Duke University, Harvard Medical School, the University of Chicago, the University of Maryland, the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, the University of Washington and Washington University in St. Louis. Another center will be based at the New York State Department of Health.

The FBI's latest weekly bulletin to state and local law enforcement agencies cautions terrorists might use two naturally occurring toxins — nicotine and solanine — to poison U.S. food or water supplies. The bulletin, obtained September 4, 2003, says that terrorist manuals and documents recovered at al-Qaida sites in Afghanistan contain references to use of both substances as poisons. The bulletin noted a Michigan man pleaded guilty in May to lacing 250 pounds of ground beef with an insecticide containing nicotine, sickening 92 people, in an attempt to get a supermarket co-worker in trouble. The FBI bulletin said there is no intelligence indicating that al-Qaida is planning an attack to coincide with next week's two-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Al-Qaida, the bulletin said, is not known for using such anniversaries for its attacks, preferring surprise.

The FBI issued a worldwide alert Sept. 5, 2003, for four men linked to al-Qaida, including a suspected terror cell leader and an avowed suicide attacker, after new intelligence indicated they might be plotting attacks against the United States. The bulletin came amid an increase in intelligence chatter that suggested heightened terrorist activity as the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks nears. The alert follows a bulletin from the Homeland Security Department that stressed al-Qaida "continues to develop plans for multiple attacks" against U.S. interests using commercial aircraft. Intelligence has revealed that al-Qaida has been studying ways to hijack airliners as they flew over or near the United States and has been examining international airports to identify those with the least stringent security and visa requirements. Al-Qaida also may try simpler methods it has used overseas, such as a suicide truck bomb, and it may try to target infrastructure such as nuclear plants, transportation systems, water reservoirs or dams, food supplies or the nation's electric grid, the bulletin said. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, cautioned that it was unclear if the four men were working together.
The four being sought are:
_Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, 28, a Saudi native who lived for a number of years in South Florida. The FBI has been searching for him for months, and officials say he could be a terror cell leader or organizer similar to Mohamed Atta, a top planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and pilot of one of the hijacked planes. The FBI says he is of particular interest because of his familiarity with the United States, ability to use fake documents and fluency in English.
_Abderraouf Jdey, 38, born in Tunisia, was naturalized a Canadian citizen in 1995 and might have a Canadian passport. Jdey was among five men who left suicide messages on videotapes recovered at the Afghanistan residence of Mohammed Atef, Osama bin Laden military chief who was killed in a U.S. air strike. Also recovered was a suicide letter in which Jdey promised to die fighting non-Muslim infidels.
_Zubayr Al-Rimi, 29, a Saudi native. The only clue given publicly by the FBI is the identity of his wife, a Moroccan named Hanan Raqib.
_Karim El Mejjati, 35, a Moroccan who holds a French passport. His last recorded entry into the United States was between 1997 and 1999. Officials say El Mejjati may have been involved in the May 16 suicide bombings in Casablanca, Morocco, that killed 45 people.

Saudis have denied US officials access to several suspects in their custody, including a Saudi man alleged to have knowledge of a plot to spread poison gas in the New York City subway.

Italy's secret services say they see increasing evidence militant groups such as al Qaeda are moving into the smuggling of illegal immigrants, a billion dollar trade they can use to fund other activities. An intelligence report released at the weekend says "terror networks" and groups who traffic in illegal immigrants share a natural overlap, often relying on false documents and intricate logistics, transport and communication setups. "There is the fear, too, that the same routes used for illegal immigration are being used by militants to help form Islamic terrorist groups," says the report, compiled by Cesis, which coordinates the work of Italy's secret services.

A purported audio tape by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda group on Sept. 6, 2003, vowed attacks on Americans "everywhere", so devastating that Washington would forget the horror of the September 11 suicide hijackings. "We announce there will be new attacks inside and outside which would make America forget the attacks of September 11 (2001)," an al-Qaeda spokesman said in the tape broadcast by the Arabic television channel Al Arabiya. He identified himself as Abu Abdel-Rahman al-Najdi, The television showed a still photo of a bearded militant wearing a head-dress as it played the tape. There was no immediate independent verification of the identity of the speaker. "We assure the Muslims that al-Qaeda ranks have doubled... Our casualties are nothing compared to our (good) conditions now. Our coming martyrdom operations will prove to you what we are saying," he added. The speaker denied any links to the killing of leading Shiite Muslim cleric Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim in a car bomb attack in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf last month. "We strongly deny that al-Qaeda had any hand in this bombing which killed Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, violated the sanctity of one of God's houses and killed innocent people." "Our highest aim is to fight the Americans and kill them everywhere on earth and drive them out of Palestine, the Arabian peninsula and Iraq." The speaker accused Washington and Israel of orchestrating the killing because, he said, they feared the cleric's links to Iran would boost the Islamic Republic's influence in the area. "We have no motives. Those who killed Baqer al-Hakim are the Americans and Jews. They wanted to get rid of him because they know that his loyalty is to Iran," he added. Another motive behind the assassination, he added, was to incite Shiite-Sunni strife and turn the Shiites, who form 60 percent of Iraq's popualtion, against the austere Sunni-dominated al-Qaeda. He also said U.S. losses in Afghanistan were much higher than that announced by Washington. The al-Qaeda spokesman said that ousted Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and Osama bin Laden were alive and leading the battle against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He urged Muslims to fight the Jihad against U.S. forces. "God has opened the doors of Jihad in Iraq and Palestine so do not close them..." It also comes days after the feds released an international "be on the lookout" notice for four men said to be potential threats to the United States and Americans. There were also warnings at the same time that al-Qaida operatives could hijack airliners traveling over or near the United States, but not destined for America, as a way to bypass stringent security for flights headed to the United States.

Taliban fighters, paid and trained by al-Qaida, are pouring into Afghanistan from Pakistan, the top American commander in Afghanistan said on Sept. 7, 2003. Lt. Gen. John Vines said the Taliban were trying to regroup and regain control of the country they ruled until ousted by the United States in late 2001. American, Afghan and coalition forces have responded with military operations against the radical Islamic fighters. As many as 200 Taliban have been killed this week alone, Vines said. "They have been attempting to (regroup) for nine months," Vines said. "Every time, we've disrupted them, we've interdicted them, we've denied them sanctuary, and we've killed them." Vines said perhaps as many as 1,000 Taliban were in and around the area. They are among Taliban fighters who have either hidden out in Afghanistan or crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan, Vines said. "They're attempting to regain power," Vines said. "They've been attempting to do that for a year and a half." Border security is a touchy subject between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Though Pakistan joined the anti-terrorism coalition shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, it previously had been a longtime backer of the Taliban. Some Afghans have said Pakistani officials still sympathetic to the Taliban have allowed the group to operate in the remote and largely lawless area along the border with Afghanistan.

Opening the door to scores of Sept. 11 lawsuits against the aviation industry, a judge concluded Tuesday that the hijacking and crashing of a jetliner was a "foreseeable risk." U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said negligent security screening might have contributed to the deaths of 3,000 people in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the crash of a hijacked plane in Pennsylvania. "The aviation defendants controlled who came onto the planes and what was carried aboard. They had the obligation to take reasonable care in screening," he wrote. The decision involved the cases of about 70 people injured or killed in the attacks. The defendants — American and United Airlines, the Boeing Co. and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — had sought dismissal of the lawsuits, saying they had no duty to anticipate and guard against deliberate, suicidal aircraft crashes and that any alleged negligence on their part did not cause deaths and injuries. In his ruling, Hellerstein said that while it may be true that terrorists had never deliberately flown airplanes into buildings, "airlines reasonably could foresee that crashes causing death and destruction on the ground were a hazard that would arise should hijackers take control of a plane." "The intrusion by terrorists into the cockpit, coupled with the volatility of a hijacking situation, creates a foreseeable risk that hijacked airplanes might crash, jeopardizing innocent lives on the ground as well as in the airplane," he added.

Insurance companies sued al-Qaeda and others allegedly tied to the terrorist network in a bid to recover billions of dollars in losses related to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Dozens of defendants named in the 78-page complaint included four on the US State Department list of countries sponsoring terrorism -- Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria -- as well as Saudi Arabia. The plaintiffs -- including insurance industry majors Chubb Corp., Munich Re Group unit American Re, Zurich American Insurance Group, One Beacon Insurance Group and Crum and Foster Insurance Co. -- said they had paid out four billion dollars in property and workers' injury claims stemming from the attacks. In twin suits filed in federal courts in New York and Washington, they sought to recover those losses and win billions more in compensatory and punitive damages -- for a total of 300 billion dollars. The insurers said al-Qaeda and governments, organizations and individuals who allegedly gave it financial or political succour were responsible for the attacks and resulting losses. "Absent the material support and resources provided by the co-defendants, both directly and indirectly, al-Qaeda would not have possessed the financial resources, physical assets, membership base, technological knowledge, communication skills, and global reach required to conceive, plan and execute the September 11th Attack," said their complaint, referring to the carnage at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Defendants violated a raft of laws including the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act, it further charged. The lawsuits were filed one day after a federal judge in New York ruled that families of victims of the 2001 attacks could sue for damages from airlines, airport security officials, a plane manufacturer and the public entity that owned the World Trade Center. The latest suits join, and likely would be consolidated with, similar actions targeting al-Qaeda on behalf of attack victims, Feldman said.

A shipping clerk's bizarre trip halfway across the country in a crate aboard a cargo plane exposed holes in aviation security never addressed by the high-profile security upgrades for passenger air travel made since Sept. 11, 2001. In fact, little about air cargo has changed since the terrorist attacks two years ago, a fact critics were quick to jump on Sept. 10, 2003, as the clerk's trip gained nationwide publicity. Unlike commercial aircraft, no air marshals fly aboard cargo planes, most of which lack bulletproof cockpit doors. Some don't even have doors. Not all shipping and freight employees are subject to background checks, as are commercial airline employees with access to sensitive areas of airports. Airport areas where cargo is handled are not as secure as passenger terminals. McKinley's escapade showed the vulnerability of the cargo system, critics say. Had he been a trained terrorist with weapons hidden in the crate, McKinley might have been able to commandeer the plane and crash it into a building just as the Sept. 11 hijackers did. "He could have walked up to the front of the aircraft and done bodily harm and commandeered that plane, I have no doubt in my mind," said Capt. James Shilling, spokesman for the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations, which represents five major airlines including UPS and Airborne Express. "Thank God he was just a crazy kid and not a terrorist."

Federal authorities are considering criminal charges against ABC News reporters who smuggled harmless depleted uranium into the country past Homeland Security screeners for a second straight year for an investigative piece on lax border security. ABC News said it believes its actions constituted legitimate investigative journalism that highlights America's anti-terror security on the eve of the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. "In our view, we do not believe we are in violation of the law because it was not our intent to defraud the U.S. government, to smuggle in contraband or to avoid duties," ABC News Vice President Jeffrey Schneider said. "It was to test the system." The report by investigative correspondent Brian Ross and his producers is set to air Sept. 11, 2003. Law enforcement officials said the effort by the reporters to smuggle about 15 pounds of depleted uranium into Los Angeles from Jakarta, Indonesia, appeared to violate laws, including falsely declaring the contents of the package. "We believe ABC News may have broken the law, and we are pursuing the appropriate course of action," Homeland Security Department spokesman Dennis Murphy said. "It is a question whether or not journalists should be breaking the law in the pursuit of a news story. It's not right for a reporter to rob a bank to prove the bank has lax security." Senior law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said agents of the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were helping the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles draft a possible criminal complaint in the case but that the decision would rest with Attorney General John Ashcroft's Justice Department. Ashcroft, a former senator, heard from one of his former Republican colleagues, who suggested it would be irresponsible for Justice to prosecute the ABC team of reporters and trample on the First Amendment. "When the media are involved, I would urge that significant caution must be used by the federal government to ensure that legitimate reporting is not chilled," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote Ashcroft. "While embarrassed government bureaucrats may not think so, the country benefits from government mismanagement being exposed." Robert Lichter, president of the nonprofit Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, said he suspects the Justice Department ultimately will try to make its point without filing criminal charges. "I suspect they will try to make the point that journalists working undercover are not immune from the law. The department could choose not to prosecute while choosing to condemn this behavior," he said. ABC News said it placed 15 pounds of depleted uranium, a harmless substance that can be legally imported with a license into the United States, into a steel pipe with a lead lining and placed in a suitcase for shipment from Jakarta, a city with substantial ties to terrorist groups, to Los Angeles. ABC News said the carton was never opened for inspection in Jakarta and, though targeted for screening in Los Angeles, never opened by U.S. border security screeners, either. The news organization aired a similar border security test a year ago. ABC News said it got the uranium from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the package was designed to emit a radiation signature similar to live uranium that had a thicker shielding.
Border Breach? Customs Fails to Detect Depleted Uranium — Again

The first video image of Osama bin Laden in nearly two years was broadcast on Al-Jazeera TV on Sept. 10, 2003, the eve of the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The al-Qaida leader was shown walking through rocky terrain with his top aide, both carrying assault rifles. In an eight-minute audiotape accompanying the video footage, a speaker identified as bin Laden praises the "great damage to the enemy" Sept. 11 and mentions five hijackers by name. On a second tape, a voice said to be that of chief deputy Ayman al-Zawahri threatens more attacks on Americans and calls on Iraqi guerrillas to "bury" U.S. troops. Al-Jazeera said the tapes were produced in late April or early May, but the Arab satellite channel did not say how or when it obtained them. The backdrop in the video resembled the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where U.S. officials believe bin Laden is hiding out. Bin Laden was last heard from on April 7, exhorting Muslims in a tape obtained by AP to rise up against Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other governments he claimed were "agents of America."

Bob Graham said the war in Iraq had become a recruiting tool for terror groups and left the United States no more secure than it was before the Sept. 11 attacks two years ago. Graham, a Florida senator, said the military action to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had sapped U.S. efforts to root out terrorism, alienated allies and diverted funds that could have gone to homeland security. "The diversion of resources from Afghanistan to start the war in Iraq, the fact that we've not adequately funded our homeland defense here, the fact that we've shattered our alliances that will be critical to winning the war on terrorism are all contributing reasons why I don't think we're any more secure than we were two years ago," Graham told the Council on Foreign Relations. "Our war in Iraq created large recruitment billboards throughout the Muslim world so that there is a larger, probably more dedicated, group of recruits for these international terrorist groups," he said.

Two years after the attacks, has the war on terror made the world a safer place?

What You Think You Know About Sept. 11 but don't. By David Plotz

U.S.-led training exercises to stop and search ships on the high seas, particularly those of North Korea, were "military provocations" that could lead to a nuclear war, North Korea said on Sept.13, 2003. "If the high-handed action and reckless military provocations of the U.S. imperialists are tolerated, the Korean nation would not be able to escape from such horrible disasters as a nuclear war, much less achieving the reunification of the country," the official communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in report carried by South Korea's Yonhap news agency. The U.S. navy led four countries off the northeast Australian coast on Sept. 13 in the first in a series of contentious high seas exercises to stop and search ships suspected of trafficking weapons of mass destruction. The exercise is due to end on Sept. 15. In a high-profile incident last December, Spain intercepted a North Korean ship in the Arabian Sea carrying Scud missiles en route for Yemen and handed the vessel over to the United States. Washington allowed the ship to complete its voyage after concluding the missile shipment did not break any laws.

The federal government's first attempt to ferret out potential terrorists at companies with nuclear sites netted at least 20 Virginia employees with misdemeanors - and an angry union. Five employees who work in Dominion Virginia Power's nuclear division, including three at Surry Power Station, were fired or suspended after the Federal Bureau of Investigation found misdemeanors in their backgrounds. A sixth staffer resigned. Dominion is the first company since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to undergo thorough FBI background checks of all nuclear workers on its payroll. Among the misdemeanors that caused FBI agents to question Dominion employees and the utility to discipline them: a reckless-driving charge from the early 1980s, domestic-dispute charges and public-drunkenness citations that were all dropped.

Pakistan helped al-Qaeda members launch their operations in Afghanistan in the 1990s and even secretly ran a major training camp used by Osama bin Laden's terror network, according to US intelligence documents made public. The documents, produced by the Defense Intelligence Agency in the fall of 2001 and declassified in a censored version, also indicate that legendary Afghan guerrilla commander Ahmad Shah Masood may have been killed two days before the September 11 attacks because he had learned something about bin Laden's plan and "began to warn the West." In its secret dispatches, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive, a non-profit research organization, the DIA warns that the documents represent only raw intelligence. They nonetheless paint a complex picture of factional rivalry, in which Pakistan had tried to use the Taliban and al-Qaeda to promote its influence in war-torn Afghanistan -- only to eventually lose control over both of them. "Taliban acceptance and approval of fundamentalist non-Afghans as part of their fighting force were merely an extension of Pakistani policy during the Soviet-Afghan war," said one of the DIA dispatches among US government agencies after the September 11 attacks but before US troops began their operation to root out the Taliban in Afghanistan. It said Pakistani agents "encouraged, facilitated and often escorted Arabs from the Middle East into Afghanistan." To make them a more viable fighting force, Pakistan even built a training camp located outside the Afghan village of Zahawa, near the border between the two countries. According to the DIA, the camp, target of a US missile strike, was built by Pakistani contractors funded by the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), and protected by a local and influential Jadran tribal leader called Jalalludin. "However, the real host of the facility was the Pakistani ISI," said one of the documents, which added that this arrangement raised "serious questions" about early ties between bin Laden and Pakistani intelligence. The US military fired a volley of cruise missiles into the camp in August 1998 in retaliation to the terrorist bombings earlier that year of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that left 257 people dead.

Spain's leading investigating judge issued the first known indictment against Osama bin Laden in the Sept. 11 attacks on Sept. 17, 2003, accusing al-Qaida of using the country as a base to plot the devastating strikes on New York and Washington. Investigative magistrate Baltasar Garzon indicted 35 people for terrorist activities connected to bin Laden's al-Qaida network. In a nearly 700-page document, Garzon wrote that Spain served "as a place or base for resting, preparation, indoctrinating, support and financing" of al-Qaida. The indictment charged bin Laden and nine others with membership in a terrorist organization and "as many crimes of terrorist murder ... as there were dead and injured" in the deadly Sept. 11 attacks. There are no indications that U.S. prosecutors will seek an indictment of bin Laden in the Sept. 11 attacks any time soon.
The 35 people indicted in connection with membership in al-Qaida, with nationalities, aliases and status, where known:
_ Osama bin Laden: Saudi-born, al-Qaida terrorist chief, believed hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
_ Omar Mahmoud Othman: Jordanian, aka Abu Qutada, a London-based cleric; in British custody.
_ Anwar Adnan Ahmad Salah: Palestinian, aka Abu Saleh; alleged al-Qaida recruiter in Spain in 1994, went to Afghanistan.
_ Mustafa Setmariam Asnan: aka Abu Musab al-Suri; alleged al-Qaida trainer.
_ Zain al-Abideen Muhamad Asan: Palestinian-Saudi, aka Abu Zubaidah; senior al-Qaida operative in U.S. custody since March 2002.
_ Ramzi Binalshibh: Yemeni; al-Qaida operative who was part of the Hamburg, Germany, cell, in U.S. custody since September 2002.
_ Said Bahaji: German; alleged Hamburg cell member, still at large.
_ Mohamed Bahaia: aka Abu Khaled; described by Spanish as bin Laden's chief courier between Europe and Afghanistan.
_ Mamoun Darkazanli: Syrian-German; an import-exporter who the United States believes was involved in the plot but who has not been arrested.
_ Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas: Syrian-Spanish, aka Abu Dahdah; in Spanish custody since November 2001.
_ Muhammed Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi: Spanish, aka Abu Thala; in Spanish custody since in April 2002, alleged al-Qaida financier.
_ Bassan Dalati Satut: aka Abu Abdo; alleged member of Yarkas' cell.
_ Ghasoub al-Abrash al-Ghalyoun: Syrian-Spanish, aka Abu Musab; alleged al-Qaida financier, previously arrested and freed from Spanish custody on bail.
_ Mohamed Khair al-Saqq: Syrian, aka Abu al Darda; freed from Spanish custody on bail.
_ Abdalrahman Alarnaot: alleged member of Yarkas' cell.
_ Kamal Hadid Chaar: aka Abu Nour; alleged member of Yarkas' cell.
_ Abdelaziz Benyaich: aka Abdelaziz; out of jail in Spain pending his next court appearance.
_ Abdulla Khayata Kattan: aka Abu Ibrahim.
_ Mohamed Needl Acaid: jailed in Spain.
_ Mohamed Zaher Asade: aka Zaher; jailed in Spain.
_ Jasem Mabhoule: aka Abu Mohamed; in Spanish custody since November 2001, alleged member of Yarkas' cell.
_ Osama Darra: aka Abu Thabet; in Spanish custody since November2001, alleged member of Yarkas' cell.
_ Amer Azizi: aka Othman al Andulusi.
_ Luis Jose Galan Gonzalez: aka Yusuf Galan; in Spanish custody since November 2001, alleged member of Yarkas' cell.
_ Parlindungan Siregar: aka Parlin.
_ Salaheddin Benyaich: aka Abu Muhgen.
_ Tayssir Alouni: aka Abu Musab; in Spanish custody since Sept. 8, al-Jazeera journalist.
_ Said Chedadi: alleged member of Yarkas' cell, jailed in Spain.
_ Najib Chaib Mohamed: aka Najib; jailed in Spain.
_ Mohamed Belfatmi.
_ Drisss Chebli.
_ Shakur.
_ Abu Abdulrahman.
_ Sid Ahmed Boudjella: aka Sidli.
_ Mourad Kaddar: aka Hamid Chatar.

Miami police on `orange alert' on Sep. 17, 2003. Responding to unsubstantiated intelligence from North Africa about plans for a terrorist attack in Miami this week -- the second area-specific threat in the past couple of weeks -- police have boosted patrols to "orange alert" levels.

Apart from the five permanent members of the UN security council (the US, Russia, China, France, and Britain), which are all nuclear powers, around 25 other countries have sought to obtain nuclear weapons, say international analysts. Israel, India, Pakistan, and South Africa are known to have succeeded, though South Africa voluntarily relinquished its bomb in the 90s, a unique event. North Korea is feared to be building a bomb, Saddam Hussein's Iraq tried and failed, and Iran is said to be creating the capacity. Japan has the fissile material and the know-how to develop one quickly. Other countries occasionally rumoured to have nuclear ambitions include Brazil, Argentina, Libya, and Algeria.

Saudi Arabia, in response to the current upheaval in the Middle East, has embarked on a strategic review that includes acquiring nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia is unnerved by the possibility of Iran and Israel having nuclear weapons. The director of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington thinktank, said he doubted whether the Saudis would try to build a nuclear bomb, preferring instead to try to buy a nuclear warhead. They would be the first of the world's eight or nine nuclear powers to have bought rather than built the bomb. UN officials said there have been rumours going back 20 years that the Saudis wanted to pay Pakistan to do the research and development on nuclear weapons. In 1988, Saudi bought from China intermediate-range missiles capable of reaching any part of the Middle East with a nuclear warhead. Four years ago, Saudi Arabia sent a defence team to Pakistan to tour its secret nuclear facilities and to be briefed by Abdul Qader Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb. A UN official said: "There's obviously a lot of restlessness in the Middle East. Regional insecurity tends to produce a quest for a nuclear umbrella. The Saudis have the money and could provide it to Pakistan." Arab countries urged the International Atomic Energy Authority, the UN nuclear watchdog, to get tough with Israel to let inspectors assess its nuclear programme in line with similar pressure on Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Syria have quietly relocated their primary strike aircraft within easy attack range of Israel. More than 300 state-of-the-art Mach 2 strike aircraft are based in the Tabuk area less than ten minutes away from Tel Aviv. The Syrian Air Force dispersed its modern fleet of Russian-built Sukhoi 27 and Mig 29 attack jets to protected satellite bases.

Saudi Arabia strongly denied a report in a British newspaper that it was considering acquiring nuclear weapons. "Saudi Arabia has long advocated for a Middle East that is free of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and there is no basis to change current policies," the embassy statement said. "Saudi Arabia is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and other UN conventions on weapons of mass destruction and non-proliferation. "Reports that the Kingdom is seeking nuclear, biological or chemical weapons are motivated by malice and have no grounding in the truth," the statement said.

An elected official and some relatives of those who died at the World Trade Center called Sept. 18, 2003, on federal investigators examining the disaster to subpoena documents that New York City has so far refused to turn over — materials that include firsthand accounts from firefighters and audio tapes of 911 calls from people trapped in the twin towers. The demand, made on the steps of City Hall, came a day after the National Institute of Standards and Technology disclosed that the city had so far failed to make the documents available, citing the confidential nature of some of the material. The federal agency, which has been charged with investigating the nature of the collapses and the success of the emergency response, first asked for some of the material about a year ago. "We owe it to the victims of 9/11 to learn everything we can about why the World Trade Center collapsed and what we can do to make sure it never happens again," said Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a New York City Democrat who co-sponsored legislation last year that gave the standards agency the money and authority to conduct its investigation. had to make public vast portions of the material, including parts of the 911 tapes and firefighter interviews. "It simply ignores the law by continuing to withhold these tapes and documents from the public" said David E. McCraw, a lawyer for The Times. Norman Siegel, a civil liberties lawyer who is representing the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, an organization set up by relatives of victims of the attack, said the city's privacy claim is simply an excuse. "They are afraid they will be criticized," Mr. Siegel said. Monica Gabrielle, whose husband died in the attack, said that preventing future casualties in the event of another attack or disaster should outweigh any concern about privacy. "It is unconscionable and despicable that they would not cooperate given that there were over 400 first responders lost among the 3,000 killed," said Mrs. Gabrielle, whose husband worked on the 103rd floor of the south tower. "It is the city's responsibility to ensure the safety of their emergency personnel and citizens."

According to the US Federal Trade Commission, some 27.3 million Americans have been victims of identity theft in the past five years, including 9.9 million people in the past year alone. The survey calculated that identity theft cost businesses and financial institutions some 48 billion dollars last year, with consumers losing five billion dollars. Most identity theft today is associated with financial crimes, but the FTC said 15 percent of victims reported that their identity was misused in nonfinancial ways, such as to obtain government documents or tax forms. In some cases, identity theft has been linked to criminals or even terrorists trying to evade detection. Experts say the Internet is not the largest source of identity theft and that most e-commerce transactions are secure, but that one risk is databases with credit card or other data that are vulnerable to hackers. Activists on privacy and identity theft increasingly blame loose standards at financial institutions and credit reporting agencies, which collect data on customers and provide or sell this to prospective lenders or other businesses. "Whenever someone opens up a new account, it's standard practice for a bank or credit card company to furnish that information to a credit reporting agency. The banks can share this information among their affiliates ... or sell it to an unlimited extent to joint marketing companies," said Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Council. "They can sell everything they can monetize, which means all information they receive." To illustrate the availability of sensitive data, the California-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said it obtained on the Internet the Social Security numbers of CIA chief George Tenet and other top US officials for 26 dollars. Stuart Pratt, president of the Consumer Data Industry Association, which represents credit bureaus, said identity theft can come from family members, roommates, thieves rummaging through home mailboxes or trash cans -- and even from public records like land documents. But victims of identity theft argue that bad credit information can be nearly impossible to correct and ruin their lives. It can affect them in many ways such as being sued, hounded by bill collectors, garnished wages, stress trying to correct the problem, higher insurance costs as a result of bad credit reports, unemployment, etc.

Europe's willingness to cooperate with a security-conscious US government appears to have reached its limit. The United States wants European Union (EU) airlines to hand over personal information on passengers crossing the Atlantic as part of Washington's efforts to defuse terror threats after the Sept 11 attacks. But privacy advocates have urged the European Commission to insist that the US comply with EU privacy rules when handling such data. Some fear the information could be misused and result in people being mistakenly questioned or arrested. 'European airline passengers have reason to worry about the current situation,' said Mr Maurice Wessling, head of privacy group European Digital Rights. 'If European travellers are unfairly stopped and searched at airports, or even barred access to the US, they will find it impossible to find out which data have been the cause of these restrictions,' he said. Hoping to catch potential terrorists before they board a US-bound plane, the American authorities are asking airlines to grant them access to travellers' booking files or face heavy fines. These files, known as Passenger Name Records (PNR), contain not only the travellers' name, address and telephone number but also credit card numbers, e-mail address and dietary habits. Using the data, a computer then creates profiles for each passenger. Passengers with suspicious profiles face lengthy questioning and may miss flights. It is unclear whether passengers could take action if they are wrongly detained. The data will be stored for up to seven years. On Sept. 19, 2003, US discount carrier JetBlue Airways admitted that it breached its own privacy pledges by providing a Pentagon contractor with personal information on more than one million passengers to help it catch terrorists.

Germany's top spymaster said the war on terror had not yet smashed al Qaeda's backbone and post-war Iraq could provide it with a focus for Islamic jihad, or "holy war." "We believe al Qaeda still has a backbone. The backbone is not broken," said August Hanning, head of the BND foreign intelligence service. "That continues to worry us greatly. And we believe that we in Germany are well advised not to slacken our efforts." Setting himself at odds with recent comments from President Bush, Hanning said German intelligence saw, and still sees, no link between al Qaeda and deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. "We actually saw no structural link before the Iraq war between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda organization...So far, I see no reason for us to have to change this viewpoint," he said. "Now, of course, we see Iraq forming a crystallizing point for jihad. That is the worry that I have, that Iraq may develop into a center of Islamic extremism."

Four men arrested in Spain as part of a wider indictment of alleged Sept. 11 terrorist figures were members of an al-Qaida "sleeper cell," court officials said on Sept. 22, 2003. Judge Baltasar Garzon ordered them jailed, a day after he issued an indictment of 35 people, including Osama bin Laden, in the 2001 terrorist attacks. The four were not among the 35, and they have not been formally charged. In a 14-page document, Garzon accused them of being "third-level" members of a "sleeper cell" of the Spanish unit of al-Qaida, allegedly run by Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas who has been jailed in Madrid since November 2001. Yarkas was among those named in the indictment. Garzon said the four "were initially involved in recruiting and indoctrination, personal and telephone contacts, economic contributions and infrastructure support and helping militants that might come to Spain." He argued that al-Qaida "continues to feed on not only its old bases in Afghanistan, but also, and now with greater reason, on its third-level sleeper cells, and for this reason the possible future criminal activity of these members should be neutralized." The jailing of the four brought to 15 the number of people now in jail in Spain in connection with al-Qaida.

Pakistan has confirmed that the brother of alleged Jemaah Islamiyah militant group leader Hambali was among 19 Malaysian and Indonesian students detained here for suspected terrorist offences. Senior Interior Ministry official Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema said the foreigners arrested from Islamic seminaries in Karachi included Hambali's brother Gun Gun Rusman Gunawan. "He is brother of Hambali," Cheema said. "His identity has been confirmed," he added. Hambali is the alleged operations chief of JI, the Southeast Asian terror group blamed for a string of attacks including last October's Bali bombings which left 202 people dead. JI is described as al-Qaeda's affiliate in the region, and Hambali is believed to hold senior positions in both organisations. He was arrested August 2003 in Thailand and is being held at a secret location.

The interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed portray an al-Qaida terror network that is fluid in its planning, willing to go slowly to achieve spectacular results and determined to carry out plots even when initially thwarted. Along the way, terrorist volunteers are shifted between different attack plots based on opportunity, according to interrogation reports. For instance, Mohammed told his captors that when two of the four original operatives assigned by Osama bin Laden to the Sept. 11 plot failed to get U.S. visas because they were Yemenis, bin Laden simply changed course and asked the two to study the possibility of hijacking planes in Asia. Their "mission in East Asia was to ... fly commercial airliners to gain familiarity" with how jets operated in that region, Mohammed told questioners in one report. Bin Laden then came up with additional participants for the Sept. 11 plan, offering a member of his personal security detail as well as a large group of young Saudi men who ultimately made it onto the ill-fated jetliners, Mohammed is quoted in the interrogation reports as saying. The plan evolved several times over five years — with bin Laden making the final decisions. "What we learned post-Sept. 11 was that al-Qaida is a very top-down structure, with command and control very closely controlled," former CIA terrorism expert Vincent Cannistraro said. "Khalid Shaikh Mohammed essentially had to get every 'i' dotted and every 't' crossed from bin Laden himself." Mohammed divulged to interrogators that he first devised the Sept. 11 plot after three of his cohorts were thwarted in a 1995 plan, codenamed Bojinka, to blow up 12 airliners in southeast Asia. Mohammed kept the core idea of Bojinka in place, initially proposing to bin Laden in 1996 that al-Qaida operatives hijack 10 planes — five on each American coast. Then he began refining the plan. At one point, Mohammed said, he considered using a shoe bomb — something British radical Richard Reid tried after Sept. 11. At another point, he said the plan resembled "a smaller version of Bojinka." Each adjustment came after Mohammed ran into a roadblock. When bin Laden thought it would be too difficult to pull off simultaneous hijackings in multiple time zones, like two coasts of the United States and Asia, Mohammed scaled back. "Bin Laden canceled the East Asia portion of the plan in April or May (2000) claiming that it would be too difficult to synchronize," one interrogation report states. Along the way, operatives originally assigned to the Sept. 11 plot were redeployed to other terror plans. For instance, the two Yemenis assigned to the suicide hijackings as early as 1996 were reassigned to attacks in Yemen, where the USS Cole was eventually bombed in 2000. And four others who in line for the Sept. 11 attacks were redeployed for a plan, later foiled, to bomb "U.S. and Jewish targets in Singapore," the reports state. Failures seem to be no roadblock to bin Laden. In fact, recycling old terrorist plans is portrayed as a norm in Mohammed's interrogations. Though al-Qaida failed to topple the World Trade Center in a 1993 bombing, the towers were still a prime target for the 2001 mission. The 1995 plan for Asian hijackings was just as interesting to al-Qaida four years later. And an idea the 1995 Bojinka plotters discussed — flying planes into U.S. landmarks — became the centerpiece of its 2001 attack. "They think in the long term, no doubt," Cannistraro said of al-Qaida. "They have a long-term target and if they don't succeed at first, they go back." As for the operatives who carry out attacks, no detail is too small. Mohammed discussed with interrogators how Sept. 11 operatives were trained in the very basics of American society — including how to read telephone Yellow Pages and how to access commercial airline timetables.

The latest raid in Saudi Arabia's crackdown on Islamic militants killed three suspects, including an alleged al-Qaida operative wanted by the FBI for terror threats against the United States. Zubayr al-Rimi was killed after security forces stormed an apartment building Sept. 23 (2003) in the southern town of Jizan, seeking five militants who had barricaded themselves inside. The three-story building houses employees, many of them foreigners, of the King Fahd Central Hospital next door. At least one security officer also died in a prolonged shootout and two suspected militants were arrested, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. Al-Rimi and the other suspects were planning a terror attack, according to an official statement on Saudi state television. At least 11 of the 19 militants on the Saudi list have been killed or arrested. Among them were the suspected mastermind of the May 12 attacks, Ali Abd al-Rahman al-Faqasi al-Ghamdi, who surrendered to authorities in July; and the No. 1 figure on the list — al-Qaida member Turki Nasser al-Dandani — who was killed in a raid in northern Saudi Arabia in July. Another of the 19, killed in a police chase in June, was reportedly carrying a letter written by al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. Four of the 19 were among the nine bombers killed in the May 12 attacks. The building where al-Rimi was killed was part of a complex housing about 3,000 foreigners — mostly from the Indian subcontinent, the Philippines and the Far East — as well as Saudis. Jizan, 600 miles south of the capital, Riyadh, had been a site of earlier sweeps in the anti-terror crackdown. Saudi officials said in May they had confiscated weapons here. The town is near the porous border with Yemen, a tribal country where illegal arms trading is rampant. Yemen also is the ancestral home of Saudi-born bin Laden and considered a hotbed of al-Qaida sympathizers. In a unified anti-terror campaign, Yemen and Saudi Arabia have set up joint border patrols and exchanged intelligence and suspects since May 12. Al-Qaida and other Muslim militants groups have denounced the Saudi royal family, accusing it of betraying Muslims by its close alliance with the United States.

Fears of attacks by Southeast Asia's al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah network mounted Sept. 24 (2003) ahead of the first anniversary of the Bali bombings and two major regional summits next month. Thailand, due to host 21 Asia-Pacific leaders in Bangkok who will include President Bush, said it had foiled a plot to attack Israeli planes. Australia told its people to stay away from Indonesia around next month's first anniversary of the Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people, citing the risk of fresh attacks. Indonesia will host a summit of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) next month on Bali with regional security expected to be on the agenda.

Reliance On Microsoft Said Risk To US Security By Reed Stevenson

World oil prices edged higher on Sept. 24 (2003) after a surprise OPEC decision to reduce oil supplies that analysts said will create higher oil prices through the winter.

For the first time, Israel's military has raised the prospect of an operation to destroy Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. Israel's chief of staff, alarmed by the failure of the international community to move against Iran, has warned that Israel would consider unilateral action to stop the "nightmare scenario" of Teheran's development of nuclear weapons. Earlier, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom demanded that the international community stop the program. "Iran is fast approaching the point of no return in its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capability," Shalom said. "It's urgent that the international community act to ensure that this nightmare scenario is prevented." Israel's Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon took the rhetoric up a notch. "At the moment there is continuing international diplomatic activity to deal with this threat, and it would be good if it succeeds," Ya'alon said. "But if that is not the case we would consider our options." Israel has never specified what action it might take to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. But Israeli officials assert that the nation's deep-strike air capability has been vastly upgraded since Israeli F-16 multi-role fighters destroyed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak in 1981. In early September, the IAEA voted to give Teheran until Oct. 31 (2003) to respond to all agency inquiries over Iran's nuclear program.

The widow of the photo editor killed in the nation's first anthrax attack in 2001 sued the federal government on Sep. 24 (2003), alleging that lax security at an Army lab caused his death. Maureen Stevens is seeking more than $50 million in what is believed to be the first lawsuit aiming to hold the federal government accountable for producing and mishandling the deadly strain of anthrax that allegedly killed her husband. Stevens also filed a state lawsuit in Palm Beach County circuit court against two companies — Battelle Memorial Institute, a Columbus, Ohio, nonprofit research company with numerous U.S. military contracts; BioPort Corp., a Lansing, Mich., company that manufactures the only FDA-approved anthrax vaccine. Robert Stevens, an editor for The Sun tabloid, is believed to have contracted the disease from a tainted letter sent to the Boca Raton headquarters of American Media Inc. He died October 5, 2001, from inhalation anthrax, a rare and particularly lethal form of the disease. Anthrax was also sent through the mail to media outlets in New York and a congressional building in Washington, killing four others and sickening more than a dozen people. Maureen Stevens hopes the lawsuit forces the government to take action on its languishing investigation and provides answers to the victims' families, said her attorney, Richard Schuler. Another victim who survived an anthrax attack, postal worker Leroy Richmond, also has sued, but his claim targets postal officials at Washington's Brentwood facility. He's asking for $100 million, alleging that postal managers endangered his life by waiting too long to close the postal facility where he worked after anthrax contamination was discovered. Schuler said he believed DNA tests on the anthrax found at Stevens' office would prove it was an exact match to the anthrax produced at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. The lab develops vaccines and drugs to protect service members from biological warfare agents and has become a focus of the investigation because it is the U.S. military's main anthrax research center. The lawsuit says government officials failed to act when security was breached at the facility and have failed to put new policies in place that would prevent a future attack. It further states that authorities didn't properly check the backgrounds of employees or monitor those with access to the anthrax. Schuler said the lab had previously found other viruses and bacteria to be missing. "They had no system back then to keep track of some of the most hazardous substances on earth," he said. The tainted letter that infected Stevens was originally thought to have been thrown out and burned with the rest of the company's trash before investigators began gathering evidence in the case in October 2001. Schuler said government officials have provided Maureen Stevens with no answers about her husband's death in the two-year-old case. "She has no indication from any government source that the investigation is progressing as it should progress," he said.

Sep. 28, 2003 -- Arab satellite television stations aired a new audiotape attributed to Osama bin Laden second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri in which he called on Pakistanis to overthrow President Pervez Musharraf and on Muslims to resist the US-led "crusade." "Muslims in Pakistan must unite and cooperate to topple this traitor and install a sincere leadership that would defend Islam and Muslims," the speaker said in the tape broadcast by Dubai-based Al-Arabiya and Qatar's Al-Jazeera. "It is Musharraf who enabled America to topple the (Taliban's) Islamic emirate in Afghanistan. Had it not been for his tremendous help, America would not have been able to do this, nor would it have been able to kill thousands of innocents in Afghanistan," the voice purported to be Zawahiri's said. "It is Musharraf who is seeking to recognize Israel in a bid to gain full American approval ... It is Musharraf who is seeking to send Pakistani forces to Iraq so that they, rather than American soldiers, are killed and so that they kill Muslims in Iraq and enable America to control Muslim lands." He also warned Pakistani army officers and soldiers that Musharraf would "hand you over to the Hindus and flee to enjoy his secret (bank) accounts" if India attacked their country. Nor would Washington reward Musharraf for his services. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was "a living example" of what happens to "traitors," the speaker said. "He gave Israel and America all that they asked for. But despite this, they are now incarcerating him in his office (in the West Bank town of Ramallah) ... and lately decided to expel him." As to the "deals" struck by "the criminal Jew Sharon" during his recent visit to India, said the speaker in a reference to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, "they are a drop in the ocean of the American-Jewish-Indian alliance against Muslims." The speaker, who also lashed out at the "collaborator government in Kabul," urged Muslims to unite to "resist the crusader-Jewish campaign seeking to finish off Islam and Muslims" under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Neither Al-Arabiya nor Al-Jazeera said when the tape was recorded and its authenticity could not be confirmed, but the remarks were replete with references to recent events such as Sharon's September 8-10 visit to India and developments in Iraq and the Palestinian territories. The outburst against Musharraf were strikingly similar to attacks on the Pakistani leader in another audiotape attributed to Zawahiri by Al-Jazeera on the eve of the second anniversary of 9/11. At the time, the Doha-based satellite channel also broadcast a videotape showing bin Laden and Zawahiri in an "undetermined mountain area" and said it had probably been recorded toward the end of April or in early May. The voice on Sunday's tape also charged that the United States had withheld publication of part of a congressional report on the September 11, 2001 attacks because it proposed "prohibiting" Saudi Arabia from printing and distributing copies of the Koran (the Muslim holy book) on grounds that it features attacks on Jews and Christians.

The Pentagon has awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a $40 million contract to develop a high-flying, remote-controlled blimp that would monitor U.S. borders and scan the horizon for enemy missiles. The idea is to supplement radar and satellites. The helium-filled dirigibles — about 25 times larger than those seen at sporting events — could also be used to monitor combat zones overseas. They would patrol at 65,000 feet, or more than 11 miles up, and be powered by the sun. The goal is to have a prototype ready to fly in 2006. The contract includes a $50 million option to build one. The agency will direct the design and construction of the prototype in Akron, Ohio, by Lockheed on behalf of the Department of Defense, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Army. Blimps can peer down into valleys missed by surface radar and, unlike satellites, their surveillance isn't limited by the earth's rotation. They can be aloft for months at a time and, unlike satellites, can land for equipment changes or maintenance. Depending on tests, the Pentagon will order an undetermined number of the blimps. The Department of Homeland Security, which includes border patrols, also will consider ordering blimps. Last year, NORAD proposed stationing 10 ships to cover America's borders. The Coast Guard and customs agents already use radar on low-altitude tethered balloons to scan for drug smugglers. The Navy discontinued its blimp program in 1962. Akron's Lockheed Martin Airdock, where the blimp is to be developed about 30 miles south of Cleveland, was once the site of mass production of Navy surveillance airships during World War II. The prototype will be about 500 feet long, 160 feet in diameter and have a volume of 5.2 million cubic feet. A typical commercial blimp is about 200 feet long and 70 feet in diameter.

An FBI agent testified that the key plotters behind the September 11, 2001 attacks had a test run criss-crossing the United States a few days before the suicide plane bombings. The agent, testifying at the trial in Germany of a Moroccan charged with helping the plotters, said the group flew from the US east coast to the west coast and from there to Las Vegas. The FBI agent said the first of the suicide pilots began flight training as early as 1996. The FBI agent said their flight training was paid for from the United Arab Emirates, from where 110,000 dollars were sent to the United States. A few days before the attacks the remaining cash, amounting to some 16,000 dollars, was repaid.

A former top US military commander called for the dismissal of key Pentagon officials, saying he was "disappointed" by their failure to properly plan for post-war developments in Iraq and warning that the US military could reach "the breaking point." "Any time we lose lives, any time we have miscalculated, any time we have to go back to the American people and ask for more treasure, more sacrifice and it was not calculated and it should have been, then somebody should be held responsible," Retired General Anthony Zinni, who headed the US Central Command from 1997 to 2000, pointed out. He also made it clear he did not think highly of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the main driving force behind Operation Iraqi Freedom. "I'm disappointed in the planning for this operation," Zinni said when asked to assess Rumsfeld's performance. "I'm disappointed in what was advertised as transformation of the military. I have yet to see it. I don't understand it. I see a military that's very strained, that could reach the breaking point." The retired general decried the military being "more and more saddled with conflict resolution," for which, he said, it has not been trained. "If you are going to saddle those units that have that responsibility with these other missions, you draw them away from that training, from that proficiency that they have to maintain," he warned. Zinni also said he believed the administration "exaggerated" the threat to US national security from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in advance of the war. "And I think that's dangerous," he pointed out. "We've been down that road before. If it was to take down Saddam because he is bad and evil, if it was to improve things in the region, if it was a strategic decision based on some strategic assessment, it should have run on its own merits."

The Justice Department inspector general is investigating whether FBI agents involved in espionage and terrorism cases improperly used informants and subjects of investigation to benefit private businesses they were running on the side, according to officials and documents. The allegations include that agents' and intelligence assets' private companies were involved in business deals in China and the Middle East about the same time the FBI was investigating Chinese efforts to acquire sensitive technology. The investigation is focusing on the same Arizona FBI office that produced the now-famous warning that went unheeded before Sept. 11, 2001, that Arab pilots were suspiciously training at U.S. flight schools. The FBI's Phoenix office was a hotbed of investigations into terror and espionage during the 1990s. FBI agents generally are prohibited from moonlighting in second jobs without special permission, and they undergo regular background checks for irregularities. One of the questions the inspector general is examining is whether private companies originally were fronts used by the FBI in undercover investigations and then were taken over by agents as they neared retirement, officials said.

A Belgium court convicted 18 Muslims for planning to blow up a base believed to hold U.S. nuclear weapons and sentenced them (Sep. 30, 2003) to up to 10 years in prison for involvement in a European terror ring recruiting for al-Qaida and the Taliban. Nizar Trabelsi, a 33-year-old Tunisian, who says he met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and asked to become a suicide bomber, was arrested in Brussels on Sept. 13, 2001. Police later discovered the raw materials for a huge bomb in the back of a Brussels restaurant. The judge said phone and credit card records introduced as evidence showed Trabelsi's links with terrorist cells in other parts of Europe. "While bin Laden was preparing for attacks on the United States, Trabelsi with others were preparing and looking for explosives in Europe," she concluded. Belgium isn't the only European nation to have cracked down on suspected Islamic militants after the Sept. 11 attacks. Last year, an Italian court convicted seven Tunisians for helping al-Qaida recruits get fake documents. Among those convicted was Essid Sami Ben Khemais, the alleged logistics head of bin Laden's terror operations in Europe. A German court in February convicted Mounir el Motassadeq of being part of the al-Qaida cell that helped carry out the Sept. 11 attacks, while a friend and fellow Moroccan, Abdelghani Mzoudi, is on trial now in Hamburg on similar charges. Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon last week announced the indictment of 35 suspected al-Qaida supporters and members, including bin Laden himself.

North Korea said (Oct. 2, 2003) that it has completed reprocessing its 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods and is using plutonium extracted from them to make atomic bombs. "The (North) successfully finished the reprocessing of some 8,000 spent fuel rods," a spokesman of Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the North's official news agency KCNA. Accusing the United States of taking a "hostile policy" toward the North, the statement said that North Korea "made a switchover in the use of plutonium churned out by reprocessing spent fuel rods in the direction increasing its nuclear deterrent force." North Korea also said it will reprocess more spent fuel rods to be produced from the small reactor in its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang. Earlier this week, North Korea claimed that it was taking "practical measures" to boost its nuclear weapons program as a "deterrent" against what it calls a U.S. plan to invade.

Pakistan launched a hunt for fugitive al Qaeda militants in a lawless tribal region next to Afghanistan (Oct. 2, 2003), billing the operation as a demonstration of its commitment to the U.S.-led war on terror. Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, spokesman for the Pakistan military, said ground troops and helicopters had been deployed to the mountainous Wana region, some 220 miles southwest of the capital Islamabad. "It started early this morning in the Wana area," he said. Wana is in the South Waziristan agency, a remote, semi-autonomous border region where al Qaeda members are believed to have fled after the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan late in 2001. "Our Quick Reaction Force is involved. Our ground troops and aviation assets are also taking part in it." Sultan said the operation had been launched after intelligence reports suggested that "suspected al Qaeda elements" were holding out in the area. He gave no further details. Pakistan says it has arrested around 500 al Qaeda members since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. They include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 plot. Pakistani and U.S. officials suspect that Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri may be hiding in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas.

Pakistani forces have wrapped up one of their fiercest battles with al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters on the tribal-dominated northwest border with Afghanistan, killing eight militants and capturing 18. "Eight terrorists were killed and 18 captured alive," spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said.

Pakistanis, Afghans and Uzbeks were among the al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects killed and captured in a shootout in Pakistan, but none were senior members of Osama bin Laden terror network, intelligence officials said. "There are some Uzbeks, Afghans and Pakistani nationals among the 18 arrested people," said an intelligence official in Peshawar, 290 kilometers (180 miles) from the frontier town Angoor Ada where the day-long battle erupted (Oct. 2, 2003). "Among the eight dead were Uzbeks and Afghans. They were working as farmers in the area," the official said. "There are no important al-Qaeda members among those arrested." The men were captured in a massive air and ground operation by Pakistani troops and helicopter gunships against their hideouts in Angoor Ada in South Waziristan, one of Pakistan's most conservative and fiercely independent tribal districts.

A German company won U.S. approval (Oct. 2, 2003) of a "dirty bomb" attack antidote. It is a compound long used as the artist's pigment Prussian blue. The Food and Drug Administration had called in January for drug companies to seek permission to manufacture pill forms of Prussian blue, considered for decades a treatment for exposure to certain forms of radioactive cesium and thallium. But until now, national stockpiles of Prussian blue pills have been limited, and bought from overseas. The FDA's action clears a German company to sell its version here, with the brand name Radiogardase, potentially making it easier to stockpile more in case of a terrorist attack. Radioactive cesium and thallium are commonly used, at low doses, in medical treatment and diagnosis. But high levels can be deadly, and they are among the materials that officials worry might be used in a "dirty bomb". The FDA evaluated reports of Prussian blue's use after some accidental radioactive exposures. The mineral compound bound to the radioactive chemicals in the gut to speed the body's elimination of them. Side effects include constipation and upset stomach. Radiogardase is made by HEYL Chemisch-pharmazeutische Fabrik GmbH & Co. of Berlin.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov has said his country does not rule out a pre-emptive military strike anywhere in the world if the national interest demands it. He said that Russia faced foreign interference in its internal affairs and instability in neighbouring states as well as classic threats such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism and the drugs trade. Russia's new national security doctrine, unveiled last year, allows the use of all possible force, including nuclear weapons, to oppose attacks, if all other methods fail. Previously, Russia said it would only use nuclear weapons if its national sovereignty was under threat.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia says the United States now faces in Iraq the possibility of a prolonged, violent and ultimately futile war like the one that mired the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Mr. Putin warned that Iraq could "become a new center, a new magnet for all destructive elements." He added, without naming them, that "a great number of members of different terrorist organizations" have been drawn into the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein. To respond to this emerging threat, he said, the Bush administration must move quickly to restore sovereignty to Iraqis and to secure a new United Nations resolution that would clearly define how long international forces remain there.

India Building Nuclear Attack Platform In Space By Iftikhar Gilani

US Nuclear Labs Vulnerable To Attack

Israel bombed a target inside Syria that it claimed was an Islamic Jihad training base, striking deep inside its neighbor's territory (Oct. 5, 2003) for the first time in three decades and widening its pursuit of Palestinian militants. The airstrike was a retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed 19 Israelis. The leader of Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Shallah, told Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV that the Israeli attack was "a grave development that exceeded all rules of the game." He also warned Israel that the suicide bombing "will not be the last resistance operation" committed by his group. Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher warned that Israel's strike could "drag the whole region into a circle of violence." "This aggression represents a serious escalation that threatens regional and international security and peace and exposes the deteriorating situation in the region to uncontrollable consequences, which could drag the whole region into violent whirlpool," the 22-member Arab League said in a statement issued after their meeting.

The U. S. State Department has listed Syria as a state sponsor of terrorism since the list's inception some 30 years ago. It contends Syria offers sanctuary and political protection to groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They are all considered terror organizations by the United States.

NATO agreed on Oct. 6 (2003) to expand its peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan beyond the Kabul area to the country's troubled provinces for the first time in response to pleas from the Afghan government and the United Nations. Diplomats said the U.S.-led alliance backed German plans to send up to 450 soldiers to the northern district of Kunduz, once the U.N. Security Council approves a wider mandate for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Germany, which holds the ISAF command, is expected to submit a resolution soon to expand the mission. NATO also endorsed the principle of other limited, temporary deployments outside Kabul, for example to protect elections due next year, subject to forces being available, diplomats said. U.N. and European Union officials have warned that the international effort to build a stable Afghanistan will fail as long as President Hamid Karzai's government has little authority beyond the Kabul region because of the power of ethnic warlords.

The father of a man killed in the terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 has taken to the airwaves in Virginia to demand an immigration time out until the immigration system is fixed. The commercials are paid for by Nine Eleven Families For A Secure America and United to Secure America, an organization dedicated to restoring integrity to America's immigration system. Peter Gadiel of Hartford, Connecticut says that his son and thousands of others died needlessly because "our immigration system couldn't tell a terrorist from a tourist." In the commercial, he goes on to say that the system "still cannot" differentiate between the two. The commercial was created to call attention to the America's lax immigration system and implies that Americans will never feel safe until the system is totally overhauled. The groups want to stop mass immigration until the task is completed. Virginia was selected as one of the target markets for the campaign based on its many international ports of entry and the fact that the state provided 9/11 hijackers with the driver's licenses they probably used to board and hijack the planes they crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Several U.S. soldiers in the Iraqi war died from sudden illnesses and a United Press International probe shows those were triggered by unexplained blood clots. The Pentagon says blood clots caused two soldiers to collapse and die. At least eight other soldiers have also collapsed and died from what the military has described as non-combat-related causes. NBC reporter David Bloom also died of a blood clot in his lung after collapsing near Baghdad. The UPI investigation by reporter Mark Benjamin also points to another disturbing factor of soldiers becoming ill or dying from similar ailments in the United States. In some cases, the soldiers, their families and civilian doctors blame vaccines given to them by the military, particularly the anthrax or smallpox shots. Some of the soldiers who died suddenly had complained about symptoms suffered by Bloom -- including pain in the legs that could indicate problems with blood clots. The UPI investigation found 17 soldiers who died of sudden illnesses.

President Bush's decision to invade Iraq without sufficient forces to secure and protect its nuclear research and storage facilities from rampant looting, enough radioactive material to build scores of dirty bombs now is missing and may be on its way to the international black market. It didn't have to turn out this way. In the weeks before the invasion, the U.S. military repeatedly warned the White House that its war plans did not include sufficient ground forces, air and naval operations and logistical support to guarantee a successful mission. Those warnings were discounted by administration officials who professed to know more about war fighting than the war fighters themselves. It wasn't until seven of Iraq's main nuclear facilities were extensively looted that the true magnitude of the administration's strategic blunder came into focus. The White House knew all along, for example, that enormous quantities of dangerous nuclear materials were at the Tuwaitha nuclear storage facility near Baghdad, sealed and accounted for by the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency. Soon after the war began, the IAEA warned the White House that it should strive to secure the facility quickly. When word of looting at the site began to leak out through the international media, the IAEA again warned the White House. The looting, however, went on for more than two weeks before the U.S. took any action. When the site was finally secured and U.S. authorities permitted a brief inspection by IAEA officials, the inspectors were inexplicably forbidden to check the status of highly radioactive materials that could be used in dirty bombs. Many of these materials are now unaccounted for. What the inspectors were allowed to verify is how much uranium is now missing: at least 22 pounds. Other looted nuclear sites include the Baghdad Nuclear Research Center, where significant quantities of partially enriched uranium, cesium, strontium and cobalt were stored. U.S. survey teams have not been able to determine how many of those materials are missing. It takes only a small amount of such materials to arm a dirty bomb. The 22 pounds of missing uranium, for example, could arm a device that could shut down Capitol Hill or the New York Stock Exchange for weeks, if not months. Properly built and encased with radioactive materials, a dirty bomb can kill thousands and render large areas uninhabitable for months or years. While their destructive capacity pales in comparison to that of actual nuclear bombs, a dirty bomb's capacity to inflict terror should never be underestimated.

Virtually every food product in the United States will soon have to be registered along with its supplier as part of the fight against terrorism. The government is requiring some 400,000 facilities in the United States to register themselves and their products with the Food and Drug Administration. In addition, anyone importing food from abroad will have to give regulators advance notice before its arrival: two hours for food shipments coming across the border by truck, four hours if aboard planes or trains, and eight hours if by ship.

US-led efforts to improve the security of global shipping have illustrated starkly that the maritime industry is "wide open" to the threat from terrorism, experts say. In a wide-ranging report issued, the RAND think-tank criticised the lack of focus on shipping security, in part due to the concentration on airline security since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.

The United States has for the first time extended its terrorism blacklist to the Internet, designating four websites affiliated with an extremist Jewish group as terrorist organizations, State Department officials said. It affects websites run by or tied to the Kach or Kahane Chai group, which have been on the blacklist for years, the officials said. "This is the first time to our knowledge that a website or any website has been designated an FTO," one official said, using the State Department's acronym for "foreign terrorist organization." The four websites are: , , and , according to a State Department notice published in the Federal Register on October 2, 2003. The impact of the designations, which carry a host of US travel and financial sanctions, was not immediately clear as websites often have no physical presence other than their existence in cyberspace. Normally groups on the terrorism blacklist have their assets frozen and their members are subject to visa bans. In addition, US citizens and people under US jurisdiction are prohibited from giving contributions to those groups. As of October 10 (2003), all four of the banned sites could be easily accessed on the Internet.

Israel, the Middle East's only nuclear power, now has the capacity to launch atomic weapons from land, air and beneath the sea. Israel has modified American-supplied cruise missiles to carry nuclear warheads on submarines. Israeli and American officials have admitted "collaborating" to deploy US-supplied Harpoon cruise missiles armed with "nuclear warheads" in Israel's fleet of Dolphin-class submarines. The sea-launch capability gives Israel the ability to target Iran more easily should the Iranians develop their own nuclear weapons. The Foreign Ministry's senior spokesman, Gideon Meir, insisted: 'Israel views every state that is harbouring terrorist organisations and the leaders of those terrorist organisations who are attacking innocent citizens of the state of Israel as legitimate targets out of self defence.' Although Israel has long been known to possess nuclear weapons, in the past it has abided by a deal struck with President Richard Nixon in 1969 that it would maintain 'ambiguity' about its retention of weapons in exchange for the US turning a blind eye. According to reliable estimates, Israel has around 200 nuclear warheads. It acquired the three Dolphin class submarines, which can remain at sea for a month, in the late Nineties. They are equipped with six torpedo tubes suitable for the 21-inch torpedoes that are normally used on most submarines. It had been understood they would carry a version of the 'Popeye Turbo' cruise missiles being developed by Rafael Armament Development Authority of Israel. Israel's seaborne nuclear doctrine is designed to place one submarine in the Persian Gulf, the other in the Mediterranean, with a third on standby. Secret test launches of the cruise missile systems were understood to have been undertaken in May 2000 when Israel carried out tests in the Indian Ocean. 'We tolerate nuclear weapons in Israel for the same reason we tolerate them in Britain and France,' one of the LA Times' sources told the paper. 'We don't regard Israel as a threat.' Despite the anonymity of the source, the sentiment is almost identical to that of the US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, John Bolton, who told British journalists last week that America was not interested in taking Israel to task for its continuing development of nuclear weapons because it was not a 'threat' to the United States.

Nukes, Subs, And (Not So) Black Ops By Marc Erikson

The IAEA has always said the possibility of terrorists making nuclear fission devices was very low because of the difficulty of acquiring bomb-grade uranium or plutonium and the technical sophistication needed to construct a fission bomb. The IAEA has always said the possibility of terrorists making nuclear fission devices was very low because of the difficulty of acquiring bomb-grade uranium or plutonium and the technical sophistication needed to construct a fission bomb. But the diplomat who is also a nuclear scientist, suggested that it was not so hard: "Do you really believe it's difficult?" As for the technical difficulties, he said: "I know that to do a bad nuclear weapon, not one that would destroy a whole city but just to make an explosion, is not so difficult." Although it would take 55 to 80 pounds of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to make a conventional nuclear bomb, the diplomat said that it would be possible to make a less efficient bomb with "just a few kilos." "The efficiency of the explosion will be bad (but) you will get a chain reaction," he said, but there would probably be no mushroom cloud, the trademark of a sophisticated fission bomb. Without giving details, the diplomat said a crude fission device could cause significant damage -- in contrast to the kind of dirty bomb that has been widely discussed in the media, aimed more at causing panic than physical harm and destruction. In December 1994, Czech police seized 2.72 kg of HEU from the back seat of a parked car in Prague, the largest ever seizure of bomb-grade nuclear material.

Philippine police say they have shot dead senior Jemaah Islamiyah operative Fathur Al-Ghozi, ending a three-month manhunt sparked by his stunning escape from a Manila jail. Police say the Indonesian explosives expert was killed in a shoot-out with a joint police-military team in the southern Philippines on Oct. 12, 2003. The apparent killing of Al-Ghozi came on the first anniversary of the nightclub bombings on Bali, blamed on JI. The group also was blamed for the terror blast at the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in August. Al-Ghozi's mobile phone records showed he called Isamuddin Riduan, Osama bin Laden's suspected deputy in south-east Asia, before and after the Manila attacks. Of the two men who escaped with Al-Ghozi, Omar Opik Lasal was arrested elsewhere in the southern Philippines. Abdulmukim Edris was killed in August after he allegedly tried to grab the gun of a soldier shortly after he was nabbed at a roadblock.

America believes that up to $3 billion of Saddam Hussein's loot is stashed away in Syrian government-controlled banks, a senior US official said. It has asked Damascus to surrender the money for fear it is used by Ba'ath Party diehards to pay for attacks on coalition troops in Iraq. Syria has publicly denied the accusation. But it is said to have claimed privately that unnamed accounts have been frozen. US-Syrian relations have plunged since the war, with Washington accusing Damascus of harbouring Ba'athists, hiding evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and pursuing a banned weapons program.

Latino gangs strike fear in heart of US capital by Paul Harris

‘Ethnic Bomb’ Now Linked to Korean Intrigue? By Gordon Thomas

911 Probe Continues To Bypass Executive Branch By Tom Flocco

Lethal Virus from 1918 Genetically Reconstructed

There is some unsettling information from those who run the nation's emergency rooms. A new survey reported almost 80 percent of emergency room doctors do not think their hospital can handle a major epidemic or respond to an act of terrorism. According to the study, 88 percent reported moderate to severe overcrowding in their ERs and 50 percent said they have a shortage of specialists on call, especially neurosurgeons, cosmetic surgeons, and orthopedists. "It's just been in the last two or three years that this has been a problem and I think it's because hospitals have been forced to cut back, because there's not enough money in the system," said Dr. George Molzen of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Hospitals have closed in the last 10 years, meaning more patients crowding into fewer emergency rooms. The crowding is also a result of an aging population and health insurance cuts that leave patients with no regular physician. "In the event of a terrorist event or a bioterrorist attack or pandemic, our ability to respond to that is severely hampered," said an emergency room physician.

10/14/03 - US forces have captured a suspected top leader of Ansar al-Islam in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in a significant blow to a militant Islamic group believed to be plotting attacks in Iraq, a US defense official said. The official was identified as Aso Hawleri, also known as Asad Muhammad Hasan, the official said. Hawleri was the leader of an Ansar al Islam faction called the Second Soran Unit, which at one point consisted of some 350 armed fighters, according to Michael Rubin, an analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. US officials contend Ansar al Islam has loose links to al-Qaeda. The group's stronghold in northern Iraq -- a cluster of some 16 villages -- was devastated by US air strikes in early April during the US invasion of Iraq. But US commanders have said Ansar al Islam has made a strong comeback, infiltrating Iraq from Iran and setting up operations in the Baghdad area. It is a suspect in a series of unsolved car bombings and suicide attacks in the capital that have targeted the Jordanian embassy, the United Nations headquarters, a hotel used by Iraqi and US security forces and the Turkish mission.

US security authorities have warned airlines that terrorists could use air cushions or innocent-looking stuffed animals to stage attacks. "This advisory was sent to the airlines by the Department of Homeland Security," the agent said, speaking on condition of anonymity and without providing further detail. Authorities had not released the warning. The homeland security department fears cushions and toys could be filled with a highly explosive chemical, nitrocellulose. The explosive could be set off with a detonator hidden in a button on a piece of clothing, a watch strap or a zip, added the report. The daily said US intelligence has determined Osama bin-Laden's al-Qaeda network was trying to master the technique to blow up commercial flights in mid-air. The warning was addressed to US and foreign airlines in August 2003.

Saad bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden oldest sons, has emerged in recent months as part of the upper echelon of the al Qaeda network, a small group of leaders that is managing the terrorist organization from Iran, according to U.S., European and Arab officials. Saad bin Laden and other senior al Qaeda operatives were in contact with an al Qaeda cell in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in the days immediately prior to the May 12 suicide bombing there that left 35 people dead, including eight Americans, European and U.S. intelligence sources say. The contacts have led them to conclude that the Riyadh attacks were planned in Iran and ordered from there. Although Saad bin Laden is not the top leader of the terrorist group, his presence in the decision-making process demonstrates his father's trust in him and an apparent desire to pass the mantle of leadership to a family member, according to numerous terrorism analysts inside and outside government. Like other al Qaeda leaders in Iran, the younger bin Laden, who is believed to be 24 years old, is protected by an elite, radical Iranian security force loyal to the nation's clerics and beyond the control of the central government, according to U.S. and European intelligence officials. The secretive unit, known as the Jerusalem Force, has restricted the al Qaeda group's movements to its bases, mostly along the border with Afghanistan. Also under the Jerusalem Force's protection is Saif al-Adel, al Qaeda's chief of military operations; Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, the organization's chief financial officer; and perhaps two dozen other top al Qaeda leaders, the officials said. Al-Adel and Abdullah are considered the top operational deputies to Osama bin Laden and his second-in-command, Ayman Zawahiri, who communicate with underlings almost exclusively through couriers. Saudi Arabia is trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade Iran to extradite Saad bin Laden and others suspected in the Riyadh bombing. Saudi officials estimate there are as many as 400 al Qaeda members there. As a child, Saad bin Laden was at his father's side in Afghanistan in the mid-1980s when Osama bin Laden formed the al Qaeda network. The younger bin Laden was groomed to take a leadership role in the terrorism organization. He is fluent in English and is computer-literate, two qualities rare among al Qaeda leaders and assets that have enhanced his importance beyond his family name. While there is broad agreement that Saad bin Laden's role within al Qaeda has grown increasingly important in the past six months, not everyone agrees he is now a senior operational commander. One U.S. intelligence official said Saad is "more of a player than most of the offspring, but not that significant." Osama Bin Laden has more than two dozen children with five wives. But European intelligence officials and independent analysts said Saad bin Laden, while not the most important al Qaeda leader, is helping to make key operational decisions and is an important part of al Qaeda's logistical network. Some analysts believe he was very close to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, who was captured in March. "Saad is capable of mounting operations against the West because he knows the West very well," said the director of terrorism research at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore. "Saad has been very close to his father, almost functioning as his bodyguard." Saad bin Laden is one of the eldest sons of bin Laden and his first wife, Najwa Ghanem, a Syrian who is also the terrorist leader's first cousin. The couple had 11 children, but Osama bin Laden has taken at least four other wives and divorced one, according to biographies in the Arab media and U.S. officials. Islam allows men to take as many as four wives at one time. Born in Saudi Arabia, Saad bin Laden spent time with his father in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviet occupation. His father returned to Saudi Arabia in 1989, but left in 1991 to settle in Sudan. Again, Saad accompanied him. When bin Laden returned to Afghanistan in 1996, so did Saad. An analysis of bin Laden's satellite telephone calls from 1996 to 1998 showed that more than 10 percent were placed to Iran, demonstrating the ongoing contacts with Iran during that time. Officials said there is also evidence that another key liaison between the hard-line Iranian factions and al Qaeda is Imad Mugniyah, one of the world's most wanted terrorists. Mugniyah, a Lebanese national and senior Hezbollah leader, is responsible for the kidnapping and murder of several Americans, as well as the hijacking of aircraft and the bombing of U.S. military barracks in Beirut in the 1980s, according to the FBI and CIA. Before Sept. 11, 2001, he was responsible for the deaths of more Americans than any other terrorist. According to court testimony of former al Qaeda operatives, Mugniyah met bin Laden several times in Sudan in the mid-1990s and agreed to train al Qaeda combatants in the use of explosives and other techniques in exchange for weapons. A description of Mugniyah's ongoing role was provided to authorities by a member of the Jerusalem Force who defected to Britain earlier this year. In a February interview with the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sarq al-Awsat, the defector said Mugniyah remained in Iran and had personally "planned the escape of dozens of al Qaeda men to Iran." The defector, Hamid Zakiri, said Mugniyah served as "a liaison officer with Dr. Zawahiri and with commanders of other fundamentalist organizations." Zakiri said that among those Mugniyah aided were bin Laden's youngest wife, Amal al-Saddah, and her infant child, whom he provided with safe passage from Afghanistan through Iran to her homeland of Yemen as the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan began. European intelligence sources said that much of Zakiri's information had been verified.

Osama bin Laden Al-Qaeda network, deprived of a central base after the US-led war in Afghanistan, has become more difficult to fight, a leading security think-tank said. The network was believed to be present in more than 60 countries, and has "more than 18,000 potential terrorists at large" with recruitment continuing and probably increasing following the conflict in Iraq, said the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

A remote-controlled bomb tore apart an armored vehicle in a U.S. diplomatic convoy Oct. 15 (2003), killing three American security guards and wounding a fourth in the first deadly attack on a U.S. target in the Palestinian territories. There was no claim of responsibility, and the largest militant groups — Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — quickly distanced themselves from the attack. Palestinian security sources said they were focusing on small groups who receive funding from abroad, including from Iran. The attack came four months after a previous assault on a U.S. bulletproof vehicle in Gaza. That attack did not cause any injuries, said U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer, providing no other details. Those killed were U.S. citizens working for DynCorp, a Virginia-based security firm, on contracts to provide security for the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. U.S. investigators who went to the scene hours after the attack were chased away by Palestinians hurling stones. An Associated Press reporter saw a gray wire with an on-off switch leading from the scene of the attack to a small concrete room at the side of the road. In June, the U.S. government announced it had received "credible reports" of plans to kidnap U.S. citizens in Gaza.

DynCorp, the employer of the security guards killed in the Mideast bombing, has become the 10th-largest contractor of the U.S. government. With more than 23,000 employees, DynCorp's duties are as varied as maintaining military aircraft in the Middle East and furnishing international police monitors in Bosnia and East Timor. In Iraq, DynCorp has a $50 million State Department contract to send up to 1,000 former police officers to train Iraqi police and advise the occupation administration on reorganizing the country's law enforcement agencies, according to the research firm Hoover's. DynCorp employees also help guard Afghanistan's leader. And a DynCorp subcontractor was killed last month when the U.S. plane he piloted was shot down over Colombia, apparently by anti-government rebels. DynCorp's federal contracts in 2002 were just over $2.1 billion, up $700 million from the previous year. Its employees took U.S. military equipment to the Middle East before the war against Iraq. The company also produces smallpox and anthrax vaccines for the war against terror. Information technology is the other side of DynCorp's business. It networks all U.S. embassies abroad. It also built a 29,000-terminal computer network for the FBI. All of this has made the Reston, Va.-based company highly attractive from a business standpoint. In March, DynCorp was purchased for $950 million by El Segundo, Calif.-based Computer Sciences Corp.

'US Needs New Ways To Spy On Its Adversaries' By Tabassum Zakaria

China's first manned spacecraft did more than simply showcase Beijing's efforts for civilian space flight. The Shenzhou 5, or Divine Vessel 5, spacecraft also conducted intelligence-gathering work for China's military. Included on the top of the Long March 2F rocket, which boosted Shenzhou into orbit, was a new Chinese military intelligence-gathering satellite. The satellite was placed in orbit successfully shortly after the Shenzhou began its 14-orbit mission. No mention of the satellite launch was made in the state-run Chinese press. Additionally, defense officials said the single-astronaut spacecraft carried an infrared camera that conducted photographic spying. The camera was mounted outside the craft and has a resolution of 1.6 meters, meaning something as small as 5 feet wide can be distinguished. The space spying highlights China's plans to use space for military purposes, primarily to develop missiles and sensors, and to blind or cripple U.S. communications and intelligence systems in any conflict over Taiwan. China also has shown "significant indications" of developing space weapons, such as satellite-killing missiles and satellites and lasers that can disable U.S. military and intelligence satellites. China's space program also benefited from U.S.-technology transfers.

Space Set To Become War Zone Warns US General

Another Top Microbiologist Dead By Josh Noel

A Texas scientist accused of lying to the FBI about destroying 30 vials of bubonic plague says the agency tricked him into making a confession so it could close the case. "I feel I was naive to have trusted them," Thomas Butler told CBS's "60 Minutes". Butler is charged with falsely reporting as missing 30 vials of the potentially lethal plague bacteria. News of the supposedly missing vials in January 2003 triggered a terrorism alert. Butler said government agents pressured him to sign a statement that he had destroyed the vials, even though he does not believe he did. Butler said he cannot account for the vials. "They told me I would not be charged if I were able to confirm the accidental destruction," said Butler, a Texas Tech university professor who was working on an antidote to plague. The government "wanted to conclude the investigation and, they told me, reassure the public that there was no danger," he said. He said the FBI believed he must have inadvertently destroyed the vials because there was no evidence of a break-in at his lab. FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said the agency could not comment because of a court-issued gag order. The federal indictment issued in April also charges that Butler smuggled plague samples from Tanzania and illegally transported them within the country and overseas. Butler had listed his cargo as "laboratory samples," but prosecutors said they should have been declared. Butler pleaded innocent in May and awaits trial. In the meantime, he is prohibited from visiting his lab. Bubonic plague is not contagious, but left untreated it can transform into pneumonic plague, which can be spread from person to person. About 1,000 to 3,000 people worldwide contract plague each year. The United States has 10 to 20 cases annually, and about one in every seven victims dies.

Bolivia's government is in a state of crisis after four cabinet ministers resigned and the vice president denounced the government for using excessive force to quell demonstrations over the export of the country's natural gas to the United States and Mexico.

North Korea said (Oct. 16, 2003) it would display a "nuclear deterrent" at an appropriate time to end debate over its nuclear status if the United States delayed a solution to an impasse over Pyongyang's atomic ambitions. "When an appropriate time comes, the DPRK will take a measure to open its nuclear deterrent to the public as a physical force and then there will be no need to have any more argument," the ministry spokesman said, noting some people doubted the North had nuclear capability. U.S. officials said that on the sidelines of talks in Beijing in April, a North Korean envoy had threatened that Pyongyang would demonstrate a nuclear weapon. This the first time the North made the threat public, but it did not spell out how North Korea might display its "deterrent." Early this month, Pyongyang said it had redirected plutonium extracted from thousands of spent nuclear fuel rods to help enhance its deterrent force.

Less than a year after President Bush announced a smallpox vaccination plan to protect Americans in the event of a terrorist attack, a fraction of the expected number of health workers have been immunized and the much ballyhooed program is dead in the water. Federal health officials say they're not ready to declare the program dead, but they readily acknowledge it's ailing. "The fact is, it's ceased," says Ray Strikas of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "not that anyone's issued an edict to say stop." The smallpox vaccination program was a central part of the Bush administration's plan to protect the nation against bioterrorist threats in the wake of 9/11.

The federal commission investigating the September 11 terror attacks has approved subpoenaing the Federal Aviation Administration after learning about the existence of potentially important tapes, radar records and other materials about the events of that day that the agency had failed to turn over. The belated discovery of the FAA tapes and other material infuriated some members of the commission and raised new fears that foot-dragging by federal agencies and the White House may make it impossible for the panel to complete its work by its legally imposed deadline next May 2004.

The Homeland Security Department and the FBI issued a reminder to law enforcement and security personnel that al-Qaida is still looking to strike inside the United States. The bulletin, issued Oct. 10 (2003), listed the same possible threats as a Sept. 4 Homeland Security warning. The bulletin was not made public. It said that al-Qaida operatives might try to hijack flights that fly near, but not into, the United States, so they will not have to pass the increasingly stringent requirements to board a U.S.-bound flight. It also warns of truck bombs at infrastructure targets, like power plants, petrochemical facilities, transportation hubs, dams and food distribution centers. Lightly protected targets like restaurants, hotels and apartments are also possible targets.

Terrorists may be targeting ships and busy ports next, a London-based defence consultancy has warned. Suicide bombers might attack ships, or terrorists may hijack vessels to crash into oil tankers near ports, according to a recent report by Aegis Defence Services. It says that militants in South-east Asia have abducted shipping crew members to learn how to pilot ships. Other possible targets are United States navy vessels.

Oct. 17, 2003 - Supermarkets and food firms in the UK were on terror alert today after the head of MI5 warned of a terrorist plot. They have been urged to make stores, depots and factories as safe as possible in the face of the threat from extremist groups like al-Qaeda. MI5 director Elizabeth Manningham-Buller said the food industry "may present an attractive target for terrorists". In a speech to City of London Police, she said security advice was in place to protect communications, transport, water, fuel and energy supplies. Overseas travel


Jews Rule The World Says Malaysian Prime Minister
Letter to World Leaders: Denounce Mahathir's Anti-Semitism

Jewish Lobby Does 'Rule' The US By Shahanaaz Habib The Star Online - Malaysia

Mahathir taking the world by storm by Kazi Anwarul Masud
Mainstream Islamic Applause for Mahathir's Anti-Semitic Speech Matches Fringe-Group U.S. Extremists
Mahathir condemns Jewish impunity


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