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Joint Task Force Told Face to Face, Blackout was a Military Test by Oliver J. Midelson
Four nationally known
engineers and former utility executives, having no political or
commercial affiliations or financial support, have found the
government blackout report omits many key factors in the cause of
the August 14, 2003, blackout, making it difficult to separate
facts from politics. This new independent analysis has concluded
the immediate key to the blackout was the failure of the First
Energy EMS system and the lack of training of the operators to
operate without this system when a series of electrical
contingencies put the system in an unreliable state. Of major
concern is the failure to discuss the roles of NERC and FERC in
the months leading up to the blackout and the many other
conditions that contributed greatly to the blackout. Of specific
concern is the report's criticism of the operator performance and
the control room facilities at First Energy without mention that
NERC had approved the facilities, supervised the training of the
operators and qualified them as system operators. It fails to
mention that FERC had approved the establishment and initial
operation of the MISO organization after certification by NERC
and without verification to see if the necessary facilities,
operating procedures and trained personnel were available in MISO
for it to perform its role. Many other conditions that set the
stage for and contributed to blackout were incorrectly dismissed
as unimportant, including low system voltages, heavy flows
through the region to Canada, and poor communications. There are
also issues concerning the contribution to the blackout of
certain electrical phenomena that are not reported or downplayed
in the Report. Among these phenomena are the voltage and
frequency transients starting in the morning of August 14, the
increase in transmission line currents as a result of low system
voltages, the impact of low voltages on the operation of the
impedance relays that tripped many lines, and other technical
concerns. Further, the report completely fails to address the
efficiency and adequacy of restoration procedures.
John McLean, age twelve,
was recently assigned a paper in class. He decided to write about
the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Trying to be thorough and having
difficulty finding much information, he researched online at the
Maryland Transportation Authority and at a website on the bridge.
Several days later, Jim Drotar of the FBI's Joint Terrorist Task
Force showed up at the Boys' Latin School's headmaster's office.
All of this leaves one question: How did the FBI stumble onto the
information? Are there agents who spend their days monitoring
millions of private messages? This was based on a referral from
the Transportation Authority. They're the ones who red-flagged
it, based on the questions they were getting.
Does Homeland Security Funding Formula Short-Change Areas at Greatest Risk? By Beverley Lumpkin
Congress wants to know how a 20-year-old college student apparently spirited box cutters onto two airplanes, where they lay undetected for weeks after he allegedly told the Transportation Security Administration what he had done. He even e-mailed officials his name and telephone number, the FBI said. Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said Oct. 20 (2003) he told TSA chief James Loy that the panel would review the agency's operations, including airline passenger screening. "Despite significant seizures of prohibited items from passengers going through TSA security checkpoints, this week's events highlight possible weaknesses in the system which need to be addressed," Davis said in a letter to Loy. Nathaniel Heatwole, 20, of Damascus, Md., was charged Monday in federal court in Baltimore with taking a dangerous weapon aboard an aircraft. The case followed discovery of bags containing box cutters, bleach and other prohibited items aboard two Southwest Airlines planes. Heatwole sent an e-mail to federal authorities in mid-September saying he had put the items aboard two specific Southwest flights as an act of civil disobedience to expose weaknesses in the security system, an FBI affidavit said. The objects were not found until last week, more than a month later. The TSA did not send the e-mail to the FBI until last Friday. FBI agents then located Heatwole and interviewed him. Rep. Peter DeFazio, the top Democrat on the House Transportation aviation subcommittee, said someone should be fired because of the incident. But he said Loy, a former Coast Guard commandant, should stay if he owns up to what the agency's deficiencies are. "I'm still willing to give the admiral a chance to come clean with us," said DeFazio, D-Ore. "He's a political appointee under tremendous pressure by this administration to cut corners, make things look good, not upset the airlines and not upset the passengers." Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, plans to hold a hearing in the next two weeks on aviation security. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, whose department includes TSA, said officials "will go back and look at our protocol" for handling such e-mails. He said the agency gets a high volume of e-mails about possible threats and officials decided that Heatwole "wasn't an imminent threat." The e-mail provided details of where the plastic bags were hidden right down to the exact dates and flight numbers along with Heatwole's name and telephone number. TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield said the agency was reviewing its procedures. "Following an event like this, the results usually include adjustments and improvements in the procedures," he said. The TSA's Contact Center was set up in May to handle communications to the agency. When an overt threat is received, operators are trained to notify a TSA investigator or security official, who then decides whether to refer it to the FBI or take other action, Hatfield said. The center fields about 5,700 complaints, queries, compliments and threats each day. Heatwole's e-mail did not fall into the overt category because he never threatened harm, Hatfield said. Now, call center workers will be trained to look for words or phrases that might fall outside the definition of overt but could signal a security threat, Hatfield said. The incidents followed reports that aviation security still has substantial gaps more than two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Significant weaknesses in testing and training TSA screeners were cited in recent reports by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general and the General Accounting Office, Congress's investigative arm. The inspector general's investigators recently carried knives, a bomb and a gun through Boston Logan International Airport's boarding procedures without being detected. Both hijacked airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center took off from Logan.
In a move that has raised the eyebrows of U.S. investigators, Saudi Arabia has doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide lawyers and cover bail for Saudis detained or questioned in the United States during the crackdown on terrorism. John Pistole, assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, told a Senate hearing recently that the bureau has raised concerns with the Saudi government that paying legal bills and bond for Saudis being questioned in the terror probe could influence their testimony. "To us, that is tantamount to buying off a witness, if you will. So that gives us concern if the government is supplying money for defense counsel," Pistole said. The United States does not provide its citizens with lawyers and bail money when they are detained in foreign countries, although U.S. embassies often will intervene to ensure they are treated fairly. Saudi officials say several hundred of their citizens were detained in the weeks immediately after Sept. 11 on immigration violations or terrorism suspicions, but the number detained today has dwindled to around a dozen. A recent Justice Department investigation concluded that many immigrants rounded up after the terror attacks were improperly detained for unnecessarily long periods of time and some endured mental orphysical abuse during detention. A small number of Saudis have been charged with crimes. The Saudis also are paying for lawyers for any citizens who are detained or questioned by the FBI and are sometimes providing counsel to students as they apply, renew or comply with their visas to ensure they don't get in trouble. Saudi-paid lawyers have sat in on hundreds of interviews by FBI and immigration agents. The U.S. lawyer hired by the Saudi Embassy to coordinate the hiring of attorneys across the country for Saudi citizens said she is mystified by the criticism. "I am fascinated that the FBI is unhappy with it. Isn't the right to counsel a bedrock of the American court system?" asked Malea Kiblan, an immigration attorney who is lead counsel for the Saudis on immigration cases. In some instances, Kiblan said, the Saudi government has paid for bail or bond so Saudis could be released from detention, and is providing some attorneys to assist with visa renewals or interviews.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have concluded a secret agreement on "nuclear cooperation" that will provide the Saudis with nuclear-weapons technology in exchange for cheap oil, according to a ranking Pakistani insider. "It will be vehemently denied by both countries," said the Pakistani source, whose information has proven reliable for more than a decade, "but future events will confirm that Pakistan has agreed to provide [Saudi Arabia] with the wherewithal for a nuclear deterrent." As predicted, Saudi Arabia - which has faced strong international suspicion for years that it was seeking a nuclear capability through Pakistan - strongly denied the claim. Prince Sultan was quoted in the Saudi newspaper Okaz yesterday saying that "no military agreements were concluded between the kingdom and Pakistan during [Prince Abdullah's] visit to Islamabad." Mohammad Sadiq, deputy chief of mission for Pakistan's embassy in Washington, also denied any nuclear deal was in the works. "That is totally incorrect," he said in a telephone interview. "We have a clear policy: We will not export our nuclear expertise." But the CIA believes Pakistan already has shared its nuclear know-how, working with North Korea in exchange for missile technology. A Pakistani C-130 was spotted by satellite loading North Korean missiles at Pyongyang airport last year. Pakistan, which is estimated to have between 35 and 60 nuclear weapons, said this was a straight purchase for cash and strongly denied a nuclear quid pro quo. "Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia," the Pakistani source said, "see a world that is moving from nonproliferation to proliferation of nuclear weapons." The Saudi rulers, who are Sunni Muslims, are believed to have concluded that nothing will deter the Shi'ite Muslims who rule Iran from continuing their quest for a nuclear weapons capability. Pakistan, meanwhile, is concerned about a recent arms agreement between India, its nuclear archrival, and Israel, a longtime nuclear power whose inventory is estimated at between 200 and 400 weapons. To counter what Pakistani and Saudi leaders regard as multiple regional threats, the two countries have decided to quietly move ahead with an exchange of free or cheap Saudi oil for Pakistani nuclear know-how, the Pakistani source said. Several incidents have raised questions over the extent of Saudi-Pakistani cooperation in defense matters. A new policy paper by Simon Henderson, an analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, noted that Prince Sultan visited Pakistan's highly restricted Kahuta uranium enrichment and missile assembly factory in 1999, a visit that prompted a formal diplomatic complaint from Washington. And a son of Prince Abdullah attended Pakistan's test-firing last year of its Ghauri-class missile, which has a range of 950 miles and could be used to deliver a nuclear payload. "Apart from proliferation concerns, Washington likely harbors more general fears about what would happen if either of the regimes in Riyadh or Islamabad became radically Islamic," according to Mr. Henderson. GlobalSecurity.org, a well-connected defense Internet site, found in a recent survey that Saudi Arabia has the infrastructure to exploit such nuclear exports very quickly. "While there is no direct evidence that Saudi Arabia has chosen a nuclear option, the Saudis have in place a foundation for building a nuclear deterrent," according to the Web site.
Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden threatened (Oct. 17, 2003) to send suicide bombers to the United States and to attack any forces joining the US-led coalition in Iraq, according to Qatars Al Jazeera television. We will go on fighting you and we will carry on martyrdom operations in and outside the United States until you stop being unjust, he warned in an audiotaped message to the American people attributed to Bin Laden by the Doha station. We reserve the right to retaliate at the proper time and place against all countries that take part in this unjust war (against Iraq), namely Britain, Spain, Australia, Poland, Japan and Italy, announced the taped voice said to be the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, suicide hijackings in New York and Washington. Islamic countries that take part will not be excluded. This applies particularly to the Gulf states, chiefly Kuwait, (which served as) launchpad for the crusader forces. The speaker purported to be Bin Laden said the American people, mostly cowboys, had been enslaved by the Jews and further warned: We are counting our dead who fell at the hands of your Jewish allies in Palestine, and we will avenge them by (shedding) your blood, as happened in New York. President George W. Bush sent US soldiers to slaughter and be slaughtered in Iraq, the speaker told Americans, hiding the fact that he was doing the bidding of the Zionist lobby that sought to cripple Iraq and that he and that lobby covet Iraqs oil wealth. Al Jazeera did not give a date for the audiotape, but a message to the Muslim Iraqi people also aired by the channel referred to the government of Mahmud Abbas, the Palestinian prime minister who stepped down on September 6, indicating the tape was recorded before then. In the message to Iraqis, Bin Laden hailed their jihad, or holy war, against the American occupiers, paying tribute to the heroes and freedom fighters in Baghdad, Baqubah, Mosul and Al Anbar province, areas where US troops regularly come under attack. He also praised Ansar Al Islam, the descendants of Saladin, in a reference to the Iraqi Kurdish Islamist group which the United States accuses of links with Al Qaeda. God knows I would not hesitate to join you if I could, the speaker told Iraqis, urging proud Muslim women to play their role in jihad. There is no reason to fear the United States, which is getting weaker militarily and economically, having lost more than a trillion dollars after September 11 and now reeling from a projected budget deficit of more than $450 billion, thanks be to God. The speaker also called on Muslim youths everywhere, especially in countries neighbouring (Iraq) and in Yemen, to roll up their sleeves and join the jihad. Beware of ... the voices rising in Iraq, as happened before in Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and elsewhere, calling for a peaceful democratic solution in dealing with apostate governments or with the Jewish and crusader invaders, he said. These are the very people who paralysed the potentials of the (Islamic) nation and resorted to ... democracy, the pre-Islamic religion, by entering legislative councils ... Islam is the religion of God and legislative councils of deputies are the religion of pre-Islam. The speaker also lashed out at infidel parties, singling out the Baath Party of toppled Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and Kurdish democratic parties. Any government set up by the Americans in Iraq is bound to be a collaborator, treacherous government like all governments in the region, including those of (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai and Mahmud Abbas, he said. The speaker, assumed to be Bin Laden, did not have much to say about his native Saudi Arabia, which stripped him of his citizenship in 1994, mentioning only our detainee brethren, may God bring about their freedom, in the prisons of the tyrants in America, Guantanamo, occupied Palestine and Riyadh. He said the United States had become bogged down in the quagmires of the Tigris and Euphrates, and was reduced to begging for mercenaries from east and west to join its forces in Iraq. Bin Ladens whereabouts have been unknown since the United States launched a military campaign against Afghanistan in October 2001 and toppled his Taleban hosts in retaliation for the September 11 attacks. On the eve of the second anniversary of 9/11, Al Jazeera aired a videotape showing Bin Laden and his second in command Ayman Al Zawahiri in an undetermined mountain area and said it had probably been recorded toward the end of April or in early May of 2003. Zawahiri resurfaced in another audiotape broadcast by both Al Jazeera and Dubai-based Al Arabiya on September 28 in which he called on Pakistanis to overthrow President Pervez Musharraf and on Muslims to resist the US-led crusade.
Potential clandestine stocks, inadequate emergency planning and lapsed vaccinations mean the highly contagious smallpox virus remains an ideal biological terror weapon, disease experts said Oct. 20, 2003. Secret stocks may lie in several other countries and could be used to launch a deadly bioterror attack, experts said. The United States has said Iran, Libya and North Korea -- as well as the now ousted Iraqi administration of Saddam Hussein -- were potential sources of biological agents, especially smallpox, for terrorists. "In the 21st century, we have no doubt that we will see new attempts to use biological agents for attacks," said Peter Jahrling, an adviser to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute. "How soon and what agent we don't know." Scientists have noted that since the end of a World Health Organization campaign to eradicate smallpox, vaccination programs have not always been maintained. They say some 90 percent of the world's population is susceptible to the virus. "Is it the ideal weapon? Unfortunately the answer might be yes," said Riccardo Wittek, an associate professor at Lausanne University. The disease had a fatality rate of around 25 percent and immunity was close to zero, he said. Disseminated through the air and on clothing, smallpox spreads fast but is difficult to diagnose as it incubates for around 10 days before causing fever and lesions.
Several fishermen and at
least one surfer in Volusia County, Florida, have reportedly
contracted an infection that eats at their flesh. Surfer Gerald
Harbrodt was recently treated after an infection called
methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, entered his
body through an open wound as he swam in the Atlantic Ocean. The
infection spread across his body in less than a day. "There
was a large space vacant of skin, and it was oozing,"
Harbrodt said. MRSA bacteria create the same life-threatening
lesions experts are treating on turtles and fish in Central
Florida. Fisherman Jim Freeman said that he knows of eight
fishing boat captains infected with MRSA. "It starts out as
a white pimple, but the minute you pop that pimple it starts
boring," Freeman said. "It will go to the bone. Doctors
say once it goes to the bone, you either have to cut your arm off
or cut your leg off." The exact cause of
this type of MRSA is not known. Health
officials said MRSA infections must be treated immediately.
Although a joint House-Senate
committee found serious failings in U.S. intelligence, Congress
has given no sign of "even seriously examining the issue,"
let alone fixing it, relatives of Sept. 11 victims said.
FBI: Moussaoui not involved in 9/11
How the Moussaoui Case Crumbled
A senior Taliban commander has been captured by coalition forces in central Afghanistan with the help of Afghan soldiers, a spokesman for the U.S. military headquarters in Bagram said Oct. 20, 2003. Authorities have said a Taliban commander by the same name had close ties with Osama bin Laden and might know of his whereabouts. But the name is not uncommon in Afghanistan and there was no immediate confirmation the man captured was the same. Jan Mohammed Khan, the governor of Uruzgan, confirmed the arrest, saying Janan was "a famous Taliban commander." Khan said that Janan was captured Oct. 18 with eight other Taliban insurgents during sweeping raids in the Dai Chupan district of the neighboring province of Zabul. The district is tucked in the rugged mountains where Taliban are suspected of hiding. In recent weeks, Taliban insurgents are believed to have stepped up attacks against government troops, aid workers and U.S.-led coalition forces, mainly in southern and eastern Afghanistan.
Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is strongly criticizing Congress, saying it gave President Bush too much latitude in conducting foreign policy following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "When the security of this nation is threatened, Congress and the American people give the president great latitude," he said. "We probably have given this president more flexibility, more latitude, more range, unquestioned, than any president since Franklin Roosevelt probably too much. The Congress, in my opinion, really abrogated much of its responsibility." Hagel, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted last year to give the president the authority to attack Iraq but has frequently criticized Bush's execution of the war. He has been especially critical of the lack of allies and U.N. support. The Vietnam War veteran compared the United States' lack of international support in the Iraq war with what happened in Southeast Asia. "The one great mistake that America made in those 58 years (since World War II) ... was we tried to do something alone. That was Vietnam," Hagel said.
At the U.S. prison for terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, three translators were recently arrested amid what one counterterror official calls a "complete meltdown" of security at the base. Officials charged that one of the arrested translators, an Arabic linguist named Ahmed Fathy Mehalba, had been caught at Boston's Logan airport carrying 132 computer disks with secret documents about Qaeda prisoners. (An Army chaplain who worked at Guantanamo, Capt. James Yee, was detained in September for allegedly possessing classified documents.) A top Defense Department official admitted that after 9/11 the military had hired many translators without a full background check.
FBI agents listen in on terrorists every day. Too often they can't understand a word they hear. The clash of civilizations rages in some surprising places, and one of them is the large room in the FBI's Washington, D.C., Field Office that houses a unit known as CI-19. In one set of cubicles sit the foreign-born Muslims; across a partition is everyone else. They have the same vital job: to translate supersecret wiretaps of suspected terrorists and spies. But the members of CI-19 (for Counterintelligence) segregate themselves by ethnicity and religion. Some of the U.S.-born translators have accused their Middle Eastern-born counterparts of making disparaging or unpatriotic remarks, or of making "mistranslations" failing to translate comments that might reflect poorly on their fellow Muslims, such as references to sexual deviancy. To fight the war on terror, the FBI desperately needs translators. Every day, wiretaps and bugs installed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) record hundreds of hours of conversations conducted in Arabic or other Middle Eastern languages like Farsi. Those conversations must all be translated into English and quickly if investigators are to head off budding Qaeda plots against the United States. Today, more than two years after the 9/11 attacks, the FBI is still woefully short of translators. FBI Director Robert Mueller has declared that he wants a 12-hour rule: all significant electronic intercepts of suspected terrorist conversations must be translated within 12 hours. Since 9/11 Congress has poured billions of dollars into the war on terror to beef up manpower, including hiring foreign-language translators. (CALLING ALL LINGUISTS ... TO SERVE YOUR COUNTRY, reads the latest help-wanted ad posted on the FBI's Web site.) Today, officials claim, there are 200 Arabic and 75 Farsi speakers on the job (about two thirds are contract employees). Still, that's not nearly enough: every week, say informed sources, hundreds of hours of tapes from wiretaps and bugs pile up in secure lockers, waiting, sometimes for months on end, to be deciphered. The bureau's slow progress is not for lack of money. Rather, the FBI's understandable but obsessive concern with security, its sometimes cumbersome bureaucracy and, critics say, the remnants of its nativist culture make it a difficult place for Muslims and foreign-born linguists to get jobs and work. A shortage of Arabic speakers has plagued the entire intelligence community. Though U.S. intelligence was using all the best technology spy satellites, high-tech listening posts and other devices to listen in on the conversations of possible terrorists, far too often it had no idea what they were saying. A congressional inquiry after 9/11 found enormous backlogs. Millions of hours of talk by suspected terrorists including 35 percent of all Arabic-language national-security wiretaps by the FBI had gone untranslated and untranscribed. Some of the overseas intercepts contained chillingly precise warnings. On Sept. 10, 2001, the National Security Agency picked up suggestive comments by Qaeda operatives, including "Tomorrow is zero hour." The tape of the conversation was not translated until after 9/11. The FBI is still overwhelmed. Because of a threefold increase in FISA wiretaps to monitor the terror threat, the bureau has struggled to keep up. Mueller has been adamant about trying to monitor conversations in real time in the dozen or so truly urgent terrorism investigations. But he has been disappointed again and again. In theory, there are rules for prioritizing which conversations are to be translated first. Can the information be obtained elsewhere? Is the speaker a known Qaeda member? Is there other intelligence suggesting urgency? In the weeks before the Iraq war agents in a field office on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States were closely watching a radical imam with disturbing ties to Qaeda elements in northern Iraq. The FBI feared that the imam might try to launch a terror attack in the United States in retaliation for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Agents put the imam under round-the-clock surveillance. But, lacking a translator who could listen to his conversations in real time, the agents loaded FedEx boxes with CD-ROMs and sent them to Washington to be translated. The recordings languished there for weeks and even months before transcripts were made. Desperate for faster action, the FBI field office hired a translator but had to settle for one who had trouble understanding the imam's particular dialect. The FBI has no shortage of applicants who want to be translators. In the month after 9/11, some 2,000 queued up. But three of four applicants drop out when they learn the stiff requirements. Security has been a touchy issue ever since the bureau discovered in 2001 that one of its top counterintelligence officials, Robert Hanssen, had been a Russian mole for almost two decades. So the loyalty test is tough. Dozens of Arabic-speaking Sephardic Jews from Brooklyn, N.Y., failed to qualify when they declined to renounce their Israeli citizenship. Applicants must submit to polygraph tests. Background checks on translators who have lived abroad for many years are difficult and time-consuming. In the end, more than 90 percent of applicants fail to make the grade. The bureau has been slow to install an online system, called Spider Net, that would allow wiretaps to be quickly digitalized and sent to headquarters in real time. (The FBI claims that Spider Net will be in all field offices by the end of the year.) "If a nuclear suitcase bomb goes off in the hold of a ship in the Port of Long Beach because we missed an intercept that was sitting untranslated in a cardboard box," an unnamed agent says, "the bureau would be taken apart brick by brick." And that would be by far the least of the damage.
The White House could face court action to force it to hand over documents relating to the September 11 attacks. The chairman of a commission investigating the September 11 attacks says he is prepared to subpoena some documents relevant to his probe from the White House, if it fails to turn them over within weeks. Former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean said the White House was continuing to withhold several highly classified intelligence documents. Kean also said in an interview on Oct. 24 (2003) that he believed the bipartisan 10-member commission would soon be forced to issue subpoenas to other executive branch agencies because of continuing delays by the Bush administration in providing documents and other evidence needed by the panel, according to the report. The remarks were his first explicit public warning to the White House that it risked a subpoena and a politically damaging courtroom showdown with the commission over access to the documents, including Oval Office intelligence reports that reached President Bush's desk in the weeks before the September 11 attacks. Kean said that while he had not directly threatened a subpoena in his recent conversations with the White House legal counsel, Alberto Gonzales, "it's always on the table, because they know that Congress in their wisdom gave us the power to subpoena, to use it if necessary," according to the report. Mr. Kean's comments on came as another member of the commission, Max Cleland, the former Democratic senator from Georgia, became the first panel member to say publicly that the commission could not complete its work by its May 2004 deadline and the first to accuse the White House of withholding classified information from the panel for purely political reasons. "It's obvious that the White House wants to run out the clock here," he said in an interview in Washington. "It's Halloween, and we're still in negotiations with some assistant White House counsel about getting these documents it's disgusting." He said that the White House and President Bush's re-election campaign had reason to fear what the commission was uncovering in its investigation of intelligence and law enforcement failures before Sept. 11. "As each day goes by, we learn that this government knew a whole lot more about these terrorists before Sept. 11 than it has ever admitted." Interviews with several other members of the commission show that Mr. Kean's concerns are widely shared on the panel, and that the concern is bipartisan. Slade Gorton, a Republican member of the panel who served in the Senate from Washington from 1982 to 2000, said that he was startled by the "indifference" of some executive branch agencies in making material available to the commission. "This lack of cooperation, if it extends anywhere else, is going to make it very difficult" for the commission to finish its work by next May, he said. Timothy J. Roemer, president of the Center for National Policy in Washington and a former Democratic member of the House from Indiana, said that "our May deadline may, in fact, be jeopardized many of us are frustrated that we're still dealing with questions about document access when we should be sinking our teeth into hearings and to making recommendations for the future." Congress would need to approve an extension if the panel requested one, a potentially difficult proposition given the reluctance of the White House and many senior Republican lawmakers to see the commission created in the first place.
Iraq's capital was rocked by five suicide bombings against the Red Cross and Iraqi police in attacks which killed 42 people and wounded more than 200, in a bloody start to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It was the deadliest day in war-battered Iraq for two months, since a car bomb killed 83 people, including Iraq's leading Shiite politician, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim, in the central city of Najaf on August 29. The August 19 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad killed 22 people including the world's body's top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. The bombings were an ominous start for the first day (Oct. 27, 2003) of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The attacks came a day after a barrage of rockets pounded a hotel in the coalition's heavily-guarded Baghdad complex, housing dozens of US military and civilian staff. One US soldier was killed and 17 other people wounded in the attack. In another blow for the US-led coalition, three US soldiers were killed and four wounded late Oct. 25 in attacks around the capital.
New Iraq ' well on way to becoming Islamic state' By David Rennie
Scientists at the St. Louis University have created a genetically altered strain of mousepox virus -- a close relative of the smallpox virus -- that is so potent it kills mice vaccinated against the mouse disease. Health officials emphasized that the federally financed work posed no threat to people. But given the similarities between the mousepox and smallpox viruses, scientists said, the same technique might be useful for making a beefed-up strain of smallpox virus that could kill people despite their having been vaccinated. The lead researcher, virologist Mark Buller of Saint Louis University, said he has already heard from many people distressed about his work, details of which he presented at a scientific meeting in Geneva recently. He added, however, that others have done much the same thing in other labs. The big difference, Buller said, is that his effort was aimed not just at making bad viruses but also at finding a treatment that would work against them. The research and its reverberations in recent days highlight an ongoing debate in the scientific community, the federal government and the public about the relative risks and benefits of microbiological research that might be adapted for bioterrorism purposes. What Buller did was insert an extra gene into the mousepox virus -- a gene that can suppress the immune system of the mouse that the virus is infecting, thus making it easier for the virus to overcome that animal's defenses. This was not the first time such work had been done. Indeed, it was the accomplishment of just such a feat by Australian researchers in 2001. Although Buller acknowledged that someone could, in theory, apply similar techniques to smallpox, he said he had no qualms about presenting his data at the Geneva meeting because his team had found two different ways of countering the enhanced virulence with drugs and vaccines, and is close to perfecting a third way. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the part of the National Institutes of Health that funded the work, said that even under the current system of grant review Buller would have had to clear extra hurdles if he wanted to use his techniques in viruses that can infect humans.
Evidence Points to Dirty-Bomb Plot By Scott L. Wheeler
President George Bush's calls for democracy rang hollow in the Middle East, where many said they were appalled Washington was preaching liberty for Arabs while occupying Iraq. The war on Iraq and Washington's support for Israel in its bloody conflict with the Palestinians have antagonized many Arabs and Muslims who were already seething at the United States' war on terror, seen by many as a battle against Islam. And Bush's sweeping foreign policy speech on Thursday, in which he challenged ally Egypt and foes Iran and Syria to adopt democracy, fueled Arab indignation. "Bush's speech is like a boring, broken record that nobody believes," said Gulf-based political analyst Moghazy al-Badrawy. "He wants democracy and the U.S. is occupying Iraq and its ally Israel is killing Palestinians? Arabs just don't buy it." Abdel-Monem Said, director of Egypt's Al-Ahram Center for Political Strategic Studies, said the perceived U.S. dishonesty in justifying the Iraq war had also tarnished its credibility. "Democracy is all about legalities, rule of law and legitimacy," he said. "There is an issue of double standards." Mohammad al-Bsairi, a Kuwaiti member of parliament and spokesman for the Gulf state's Muslim Brotherhood, said Washington's blind bias for Israel -- battling a Palestinian independence uprising -- also flew in the face of democracy. Lebanon's top Shi'ite Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, scornfully described Bush's call as an attempt to ensure compliancy in the region, rather than better lives. "It's the democracy of the American administration to preserve its strategic interests in the Middle East and not to preserve the interests of the people," he said at a sermon. In an editorial, Saudi Arabia's leading Al-Riyadh daily said it was ironic that Bush was now concerned with the welfare of the Arab people after the United States vetoed almost all U.N. resolutions that would benefit them. "America is traveling in a path that is totally opposite to the economic and political future of the Arabs," it added. "DOUBLE STANDARDS" Some commentators said Bush's Middle East assessment -- in which he praised many authoritarian governments and criticized Iran and Syria -- was based on which nations backed U.S. policies rather than their democratic credentials. "Praising Saudi Arabia and criticizing Iran. It's not fair at all," said Egyptian analyst Gamal A.G. Soltan. "The spectrum of freedom available in Iran is much wider than Saudi Arabia." Bush also appeared to add insult to injury when he said the United States had made a mistake by supporting non-democratic governments in the region for the past 60 years, analysts said. Washington has for decades backed governments throughout much of the Middle East which are seen by their own citizens as totalitarian, corrupt, politically illegitimate and un-Islamic. "Mr. Bush has not read history. Who supported and still supports the very governments whose oppressive rules breed extremism and terrorism?" asked an Arab analyst based in Dubai. Other Arab commentators read the speech as a precursor for U.S.-backed aggressions in the Middle East aimed at justifying the U.S. presence in Iraq despite mounting casualties. "As the crisis in Iraq deepens, the United States is trying to open a new front in the region, especially with Syria," Qatar's Al-Sharq newspaper said in an editorial. However, some Arabs put a positive spin on Bush's speech, saying it might be the first step toward democracy. "Democracy is a demand and I think that Middle Eastern countries will never grant it to its people without international pressure," said Saudi employee Abdulrahman Nasser.
North Korea appears to have built one or two nuclear weapons it could be confident would work even without a test nuclear blast, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has told Congress. "We assess that North Korea has produced one or two simple fission-type nuclear weapons and has validated the designs without conducting yield-producing nuclear tests," the CIA said. The CIA's August 18 statement was made public recently by the Federation of American Scientists. Some experts have said they expect North Korea to carry out a test blast just as India and Pakistan did in 1998 to show the world they were members of the nuclear club, but the CIA's statement suggests this is not necessary. "Testing would confirm (the existence of a nuclear capability) but it's not changing what they already believe," said Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea expert at the Centre for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California. North Korea is widely reported to have been carrying out nuclear weapon-related tests since the 1980s to develop what it now says is a nuclear deterrent that is ready to use. "Pyongyang at this point appears to view ambiguity regarding its nuclear capabilities as providing a tactical advantage," the spy agency said. The CIA says a test nuclear explosion could spark an international backlash that would isolate the reclusive Communist state further.
The national commission investigating the Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks decided on Nov. 7, 2003, to subpoena the military's North American Aerospace Defense Command records for information it promised but did not deliver. It would be the second subpoena issued by the commission which has complained of delays by some government agencies in providing information needed to complete the investigation by a May deadline. The commission subpoenaed the Federal Aviation Administration in October, accusing it of slowing the probe by not providing timely and complete information. The panel in May requested information on air traffic control tracking of hijacked aircraft and the agency's communication with NORAD, the U.S.-Canadian military alliance that scrambled fighter jets during the attacks. "The commission has encountered some serious delays in obtaining needed documents from the Department of Defense," the panel said in a statement. "We are especially dismayed by problems in the production of the records of activities of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and certain Air Force commands on September 11, 2001," it said. "The commission has therefore voted to issue a subpoena requiring the production of these records," the statement said. NORAD had no immediate comment. The commission has also previously said it may subpoena the White House to gain access to intelligence reports given to the president if that information was not turned over.
A communiqué issued by the previously unknown "Islamic Bayan Movement" warns Muslims that they should leave Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles. The warning initially appeared on the website of Global Islamic Media, at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/globalislamicmedia/message/173. The same website has, in recent months, published many communiqués by Jihad groups around the world, as well as Islamic ideological material. The communiqué has since appeared on the Al-Qa'ida affiliated website Al-Faroq. The communiqué was signed on the fifth of Ramadan, but was published on November 3, 2003, under the title "A Warning to the Muslims in America." It opened with a Koranic verse: "All that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth glorifies Allah. He is the Mighty, the Wise. It is He who turned out the disbelievers from among the People of the Book from their homes at the time of the first banishment. You did not think that they would go forth and they thought that their fortresses would protect them against Allah. But Allah came upon them whence they did not expect and cast terror into their hearts, so that they destroyed their homes with their own hands and the hands of the believers. So take warning, O ye who posses understanding." The following are excerpts from the communiqué: "The sufferings of your Muslim brothers and of the Mujahideen around the world is no secret to you, our brothers. [They suffer] oppression, tyranny, imprisonment, murder, and banishment by the masters of oppressions and lies in the world, the American rulers, who think [of] themselves as good-doers. Allah is the witness that they write the end of America by their own hands "Afghanistan and Iraq are not far away. Their sons there [i.e. U.S. soldiers] are frustrated and defeated and they ask 'why are we here?' Yes, they are the only ones who know the bitter truth. How would they not when they see every day dozens of casualties from among their friends, the soldiers who die and nobody, even not their stupid rulers, is sorry for them. Then they hear the lies and distortion their rulers [tell] their people and the peoples of the world regarding the number of their dead and heavy losses "Our Muslim brothers in America, we ask you to immediately leave the following cities: Washington, DC, New York, and Los Angeles. We are serious in our warning. The next few days will prove to you the truth of this warning. To the oppressive rulers of America we say: expect our terms following the first strike of Allah's believing soldiers". The communiqué ends with another Koranic verse: "Fight them: Allah will punish them at your hands, and will humiliate them, and will help you to overcome them, and will relieve the minds of the believers."[Koran, Chapter 9, Verse 14 --- Signed - The Islamic Bayan Movement 5th of Ramadan, 1424] The Al-Qa'ida affiliated website also posted a photograph of a Chinook helicopter along with the following caption: "We shall bring down and destroy the values of the Hubal  of this generation".
The Homeland Security Department is warning law-enforcement officers al-Qaida may be plotting to fly cargo planes from overseas into such crucial targets in the United States as nuclear plants, bridges or dams, an agency official said November 7, 2003. Separately, the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia said it would close its diplomatic missions in that country Saturday for an undetermined period because of credible information terrorists are about to carry out attacks. The United States also warned that Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan may attempt to kidnap American journalists working in that country. "The U.S. intelligence community remains concerned about al-Qaida's interest in carrying out attacks on us overseas," said Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse. A Homeland Security official said the information about the cargo planes, first reported by NBC News, came from a single source overseas. "It has not yet been corroborated," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We're in the process of trying to corroborate this information." "We also remain concerned about threats to the aviation industry and the use of cargo planes to carry out attacks on critical infrastructure," the official said. Both the Homeland Security Department and the FBI were posting an advisory alerting state and local authorities to the threat, Roehrkasse said. The advisory also was being directed to officials responsible for security at such infrastructure facilities as nuclear plants, bridges and dams, he said. The information about possible attacks in the Middle East came from a separate source than the information about possible attacks using cargo aircraft, the official said. Roehrkasse said the color-coded terror alert will remain at yellow, the middle level on the five-color scale indicated an elevated risk of terrorist attack. He noted that cargo companies already have security measures in place. Critics have said the Transportation Security Administration, the agency responsible for aviation security, hadn't done enough to make cargo planes safe. Those criticisms intensified when a New York shipping clerk packed himself in a crate and flew undetected to his parents' home in Dallas. The government is considering regulations to plug holes in air cargo security, which has received less attention than airline passenger security since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Only a small percentage of cargo is checked before being shipped in cargo or passenger planes. Neither air marshals nor armed pilots are aboard cargo planes, and areas where cargo is handled at airports are not as secure as passenger terminals. Capt. Paul Rancatore, a spokesman for the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations security committee, said the government treats cargo aviation differently than it treats passenger aviation. "That, I believe, is going to lead to an incident in the future with cargo aircraft," he said.
The al Qaeda network has stepped up activity along the Afghan-Pakistan border, opening a "second front" to divert U.S. military resources and attention from Iraq, Afghanistan's interior minister said Nov. 7, 2003. Ali Ahmad Jalali said some recent attacks on U.S. forces, especially in the east of the country, had been carried out by foreign al Qaeda fighters, as opposed to native Taliban militia. Militants killed in clashes on the Afghan and Pakistan sides of the border in recent weeks included Arabs, Chechens, Uzbeks and Pakistanis, a sign they were from the network of Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, whose fate remains a mystery. "Al Qaeda, not the al Qaeda leadership that is concerned only about Afghanistan, but the whole area, the whole region, want to keep another front open in Afghanistan while they fight in Iraq in order to split the attention of the United States," Jalali said in an interview. "Since the war in Iraq, they have been trying to stir up things in Afghanistan." The Taliban were ousted from power by U.S.-led forces in late 2001 for refusing to hand over bin Laden, but have been trying to regroup this year in their former southern heartlands. U.S.-led forces in Paktika province, which borders tribal areas in Pakistan where Taliban and al Qaeda operatives are believed to be hiding, have come under increasing attack in recent months. In late October the U.S. army said it had killed around 18 rebels in a six-hour firefight near their base in Shkin. "Most of the attackers ... killed were Arabs, Chechens and Uzbeks and also Pakistanis, and they are not Taliban," Jalali said. "They belong to al Qaeda." The U.S. military has also reported signs of increasing activity by al Qaeda militants near Shkin, but says most of the rebels it encounters in the country are Afghans. Jalali said Pakistan's claim to have arrested 500 suspected al Qaeda and allied fighters since joining the U.S.-led war on terror showed there were probably plenty more at large, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Jalali described a "triangle" of militants in Afghanistan, led by renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the northeast, al Qaeda in the east and the Taliban in the south. More than 350 people have been killed in Afghanistan in the last three months, including many rebels, U.S. soldiers, Afghan troops and policemen, local aid workers and civilians. U.S. casualties in Afghanistan have been light compared to those in Iraq, with between 30 and 40 soldiers killed in action and a similar number of "non-hostile" deaths. Many of the attacks are blamed on the hard-line Islamic Taliban, also believed to be behind the recent kidnapping of a Turkish engineer working on a major reconstruction project. Jalali said that there was no easy military solution to the militant threat, and the government of President Hamid Karzai, whose influence is weak outside Kabul, must win back the trust of the people. "The people's trust in government is the key to stability and security," he said. One government official, who asked not to be named, said Kabul was open to contact with moderate elements of the Taliban, citing a decree issued by the president this week pardoning eight Taliban militants arrested in the central Uruzgan province. Former Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil has already contacted the government, pledging support for Karzai. Officials say he is no longer in U.S. detention but in Kandahar city with some kind of security for his own protection. Building bridges with moderate Taliban would weaken the resurgent movement, officials explained.
Saudis blamed al-Qaida militants for the suicide car bombing of a Riyadh housing complex that killed 17 people. Three explosions rocked a residential compound in the Saudi capital Nov. 8, 2003. Gunmen broke into the upscale compound of about 200 villas and exchanged fire with security guards. There were conflicting reports of the number of dead and wounded. An official at a Riyadh hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said dozens of people were killed. The official said dozens more were wounded, and that Saudis, Germans, French and Italians lived in the 200 villas in the compound. The manager of the targeted compound estimated that 100 people were wounded, and a resident said 20 to 30 people were killed, the Al-Arabiya television channel said. Officials at the King Khaled Specialist Hospital and the King Faisal Special Hospital & Research Center said the two hospitals received 38 injured people. The attack occurred a day after the U.S. Embassy issued a warning that terror attacks could be imminent in the tense Gulf kingdom, and American diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia were closed as a result. A May 12 attack on western residential compounds in Riyadh killed 35 people, including the nine attackers. It was blamed on the al-Qaida terror network, and Saudi authorities have arrested hundreds of suspected militants throughout the country since then. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks were Saudis.
The suicide attack on a residential compound west of Riyadh sent a clear message to the country's armed forces and rulers that zealots are able to strike even amid the highest levels of security. Despite a nationwide crackdown on suspected militants from the al-Qaeda terror network, and international alerts sounded by the United States, a suicide bomber drove a stolen police car into a protected compound and destroyed a good part of it, killing 17 and wounding 122. "A car laden with explosives succeeded in penetrating the fortified compound surrounded by cement blocks," a security officer said. Most of the casualties were Arabs, including four Egyptians and four Lebanese among the dead. The London-based opposition Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia suggested the bombers may have acted on out-of-date information. "The mentality of mujahedeen and the literature of the al-Qaeda and related parties is very clear. There is no way they would attack Muslims unless they are collateral damage," MIRA spokesman Saad al-Faaqih said. This compound according to non-governmental sources is totally occupied by non-Muslims, mostly Americans and even the Arabs, are Arabs in origin but are Americans and Christians and may be with Arab origin." However, residents and managers at the al-Muhaya compound said it was occupied mainly by Arabs. The Saudi Interior ministry listed just four Americans and six Canadians among the wounded, and all were of Arab descent. Three French and one British family also lived on the compound but escaped unhurt, diplomats said.
Who says it was Al Qaeda ?
The Al-Qaeda terror network has claimed responsibility for the suicide car bombing in Riyadh even as King Fahd vowed that the Saudi Arabian authorities would strike with an 'iron fist' against those responsible for the attack which left at least 18 people dead. 'We struck Muhaya compound,' London-based Arab weekly Al-Majalla quoted an e-mail message from Abu Mohammed Al-Ablaj, described as an Al-Qaeda operative. Al-Majalla magazine began receiving e-mail messages from Al-Ablaj earlier this year. A United States counterterrorism official has said Al-Ablaj was believed to be a leading Al-Qaeda figure also known as Abu Bakr. Saudi and US officials had already blamed the attack on Al-Qaeda. The attack, they say, was similar to previous Al-Qaeda strikes. 'It is quite clear to me that Al-Qaeda wants to take down the royal family and the government of Saudi Arabia,' US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told Al-Arabiya television. A witness said Saudi rescuers pulled out one more body from the rubble, bringing the death toll to 18. In May 2003, a triple suicide bombing on a housing complex in Riyadh killed 35 people. At least 13 of those killed were Arabs, with four still unidentified. Five were children. In addition, 122 people were injured. Most of them were Arabs, but there were some Americans among them. The latest Al-Ablaj e-mail addressed criticism that the weekend strike hurt Arabs and Muslims, not Americans. It said Al-Qaeda also believed 'working with Americans and mixing with them' was forbidden. At least 5,000 soldiers and police had been deployed in Mecca where as many as 2.5 million Muslims were expected to celebrate the last 10 days of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed said on Al Qaeda or Islamic militants were not responsible for the suicide bombing in Saudi Arabia. It is a Jewish and American conspiracy against the Mujahideen and Al Qaeda, Mr Saeed said. America wants to extend its stay in Saudi Arabia as its contract to hold Saudi airbases has expired, he said. He said the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and Kashmir were fighting for the survival of Pakistan. If jihad in Kashmir is stopped, India could attack Pakistan, and if the Mujahideen lay down their weapons in Afghanistan, America could attack Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria, he said. Mr Saeed said the United States could not attack Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran because the mujahideen in Afghanistan and Iraq had occupied American troops. America is looking to withdraw its troops from these places, but it has no way out. The day is not far when America will be crushed like the USSR by the mujahideen, he added. Mr Saeed criticised the government for trying to improve ties with India rather than supporting jihad in Kashmir. It is treachery against the mujahideen, who are fighting for the Pakistan survival, he said. He attacked Information Minister Sheikh Rashids visit to India, saying he was trying to promote friendship with a country that does not even accept Pakistans existence. He can talk about his own friendship, not of the nations, he added.
The document innocuously named President's Daily Brief, a 10- to 12-page report produced overnight by the C.I.A. In recent weeks, it has become the hottest property in Washington. wo powerful bodies are demanding to see it: the nonpartisan commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is trying to determine how the Bush administration reached its conclusions about unconventional weapons in Iraq. Negotiations and threats of subpoenas continued last week, but so far the White House has claimed that the P.D.B., as it is called, is off limits under executive privilege. On the outside, the briefing is a blue three-ring loose-leaf notebook with "President's Daily Brief" stamped across the top. Inside is what the C.I.A. considers the most important information of the last 24 hours, including potential terrorist threats against the United States and the health of foreign leaders. "If there's something new and exciting and important, it has a good chance of making the P.D.B.," said R. James Woolsey, who was President Bill Clinton's first director of central intelligence. "It's like making the front page." The document is handed to President Bush in the Oval Office around 8 a.m. each day by a C.I.A. briefer and the agency's director, George J. Tenet. Usually three other people are present: Vice President Dick Cheney; Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser; and Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff. The three get their own copies of the briefing, as do Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Administration officials say that the publication's readership is nomore than 10 and that the C.I.A. briefers wait while the cabinet members read it. Then copies are taken back to the agency's headquarters in Langley, Va. White House officials will not say what the president does with his copy, but there are no extras floating throughout the government. The P.D.B. is different from Mr. Bush's daily "threat assessment," a separate compilation of what United States intelligence agencies pick up about potential terrorist activity. Mr. Bush has received the threat assessment only since Sept. 11, while the P.D.B. has been around since at least the Ford administration. President Clinton liked to get the briefing in written form. Mr. Bush likes to read the P.D.B. in the company of Mr. Tenet and the agency briefer. National security officials say the briefing distinguishes itself from other intelligence reports by better describing the methods used to gather information. "It will be pretty explicit about sources," Mr. Woolsey said. "And you can make better judgments about intelligence if you know what the source is." Mr. Woolsey gave a hypothetical example: "The P.D.B. would say, `We have a source in President X's household with medical training who is reasonably confident that President X has cirrhosis of the liver.' Lower level intelligence would say, `We have concerns about the health of President X.' "But Mr. Woolsey and other past national security officials say the P.D.B. is hardly foolproof. "Intelligence is imperfect," Mr. Woolsey said. "Sometimes it's wrong, sometimes it's right, sometimes it's over, sometimes it's under. But it's the best they can do." Another former government official who has read the P.D.B. said it was useful only if the president and his aides read other documents. "Intelligence is primarily secrets, and it's about the secrets we got this week," the official said. "It's not about context and how it fits in with a larger picture." The White House acknowledged last year that one P.D.B. in August 2001, the month before the terrorist attacks, referred to the possibility that Al Qaeda would hijack passenger planes. "The real question is how explicit it was, and whether it was actionable," the former government official said. "That's why the commission wants to see it." Or as Tim Roemer, a commission member and a former Democratic congressman, put it: "What kind of warnings did the president have on Al Qaeda? And second, what kind of information was the intelligence community putting out?" The commission has also asked for P.D.B.'s from the Clinton administration. "If the commission is going to understand what happened on 9/11," Mr. Roemer said, "these are vitally important documents."
The independent commission on the Sept. 11 attacks announced an agreement Nov. 12 (2003) with the White House that would allow the review of classified intelligence documents previously withheld by the Bush administration. The 10-member panel will designate a subcommittee that will examine the most sensitive documents and report back. The four-person subcommittee will review some of the documents, but only two of those four commissioners will review others. Commissioner Richard Ben-VenisteBen-Veniste said the subcommittee plan "is not a perfect arrangement". "I think this is an unnecessary and time-consuming procedure that we're going through," Ben-Veniste said of the negotiations with the White House. Commissioner Tim Roemer, criticized the arrangement, saying the panel should have issued a subpoena rather than agree that only some members will see documents. "Either the commissioners have access or they don't," Roemer said.
International crime rings steal as much as $2.5 million worth of baby formula a month in Texas, and some of the proceeds may go to fund terrorism, law enforcement experts testified Nov. 10, 2003, at a Houston-area congressional hearing. The experts warned that stolen baby formula is routinely resold after being improperly stored, creating potential health risks for tens of thousands of children. Local police, federal immigration agents and state health inspectors combined forces earlier this year to go after the crime rings in Houston and Dallas. The efforts have resulted in the arrests of 40 people and the confiscation of $2.7 million worth of merchandise, including more than $1 million worth of baby formula. But retailers say the dismantling of groups reselling stolen baby formula in Texas has led thieves to set up small stores in neighboring states to sell the contraband merchandise. "We know they've opened up storefronts in Arkansas," said Joe Williams, president of the Gulf Coast Retailers Association. The experts said the thieves work in loosely affiliated cells. The actual shoplifters are usually illegal immigrants from Central America working in groups of six or more. The groups travel between cities, working out of hotels and renting storage space to store the formula, according to Alonzo R. Peña, an agent with the Houston office of the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The formula is then resold to groups typically run by Middle Easterners. After being stored and sometimes repackaged with phony expiration dates, the formula gets sold to small convenience stores in the United States. Some store owners don't know they are buying stolen goods, police say, while others are part of the scam. The stolen formula is often resold to customers using vouchers from the federally funded Women, Infants, and Children program. While the experts mentioned the possible link to terrorism, they were careful to point out that they lack proof. "Investigations around the country have determined that large amounts of money are being shipped out of the U.S. to the Middle East," said Peña. But tracking that money is nearly impossible, he said, because many Middle Eastern banks refuse to cooperate with U.S. investigators.
A French terror suspect deported from Australia recently may have been planning to attack a nuclear reactor on the outskirts of Sydney, a newspaper reported Nov. 10, 2003. The Australian said intelligence agencies believe Willie Brigitte was a bomb maker who may have intended to blow up the Lucas Heights reactor, which provides nuclear material for research and the medical industry. Brigitte was deported to France on Oct. 17 after French authorities warned of his presence here. He is now being detained in a Paris area jail and questioned about suspected terrorist links. Brigitte has not been charged. French authorities allege he is linked to al-Qaida and had trained with a Pakistan-based group fighting Indian rule in the disputed region of Kashmir. A French official said recently he was "90 per cent sure" Brigitte had been planning an attack in Australia. Brigitte's interest in the Lucas Heights reactor, as well as a naval base and a military barracks, was discussed at length during secret hearings the Australian Security Intelligence Organization conducted in Sydney, the newspaper reported without giving details of its sources. It also reported that contrary to initial suspicions that Brigitte had been asked to shelter a bombs expert during his five-month stay in Sydney, authorities now believe Brigitte himself was a skilled bomb maker sent to Australia to commit a serious terrorist act. After Brigitte's deportation, intelligence agents and federal police officers raided a string of homes in Sydney belonging to people he had been in contact with. The report also said one of the men questioned over the past two weeks allegedly was linked to Pakistan-based organization Laskar-e-Taiba, with whom Brigitte allegedly trained. The man strongly denied being a member or sympathizer of the group.
Canadian police and security officials have been quietly warned that al-Qaida terrorists might try to contaminate food or water with deadly toxins. A secret intelligence report distributed to key federal authorities by the Privy Council Office expresses concern al-Qaida extremists could use lethal substances such as ricin and botulinum in a terrorist campaign. A declassified version of the document was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. Toxins, some more powerful than the strongest nerve agents, can be made from a variety of readily available plants, fungus, bacteria or animals, the report says. "They have considerable potential as terrorist weapons for isolated incidents causing small-scale casualties along with public panic and disruption." The February 2003 report, Ricin and Botulinum: Terrorist Use of Toxins, was compiled by the PCO's intelligence assessment secretariat, a division bolstered following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. The study was prompted by the discovery last January of ricin, a plant toxin made from castor beans, in a London apartment, as well as the retrieval last year of al-Qaida training manuals on the production and use of toxins. The report by PCO, the prime minister's top advisory body, was distributed to senior security officials at federal organizations including the RCMP, CSIS, Health, Defence, Immigration, Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Several portions of the document, notably a section entitled Implications for Canada, were withheld under provisions of the access law pertaining to international affairs and security. "Toxins are among the most poisonous substances known to man, and ricin and botulinum are among the most virulent toxins available to terrorists," the report says. Toxins are not contagious, meaning potential victims must be directly exposed. Terrorist attacks with ricin would likely involve contamination of food or water, or dissemination as an aerosol, says the report. Even small quantities of ricin powder can shut down protein synthesis in the body, causing death within days. "Ricin is water-soluble, and water supplies can therefore remain contaminated for a considerable length of time," the report notes. Ricin, first turned into a weapon by the U.S. during the Second World War, has been smeared on doorknobs - and in one case on the tip of an umbrella - in assassination attempts carried out by spies and extremists. Iraq admitted manufacturing ricin and field-testing it in artillery shells before the Persian Gulf War, the document says. Last April, the federal government hired Winnipeg-based Cangene Corp. and Twinstrand Therapeutics of Burnaby, B.C., to jointly develop antibody-based therapies for people exposed to ricin. Currently, there is no antidote. The report notes highly toxic botulinum occurs naturally when food or other material is contaminated by the bacteria clostridia, "and like ricin it can be produced by terrorist organizations using relatively rudimentary techniques." However, exposure can be treated. Botulinum was used by Japan during the Second World War. In the 1990s, Japanese terrorist group Aum Shin Rikyo unleashed the deadly substance as a spray in at least four attacks. According to a 1999 United Nations report, Iraq produced some 380,000 litres of botulinum before the Gulf War and acknowledged arming at least 100 warheads with it.
Al-Qal'a (The Fortress) an Islamist Internet forum, posted the first of a two-part interview with a person who introduced himself as Abu Salma Al-Hijazi, one of the Al-Qa'ida commanders closest to Osama bin Laden. In regard to rumors about a large-scale attack against the U.S. during the month of Ramadan, Al-Hijazi said that "a huge and very courageous strike" will take place and that the number of infidels expected to be killed in this attack, according to primary estimates, exceeds 100,000. He added that he "anticipates, but will not swear, that the attack will happen during Ramadan." He further stated that the attack will be carried out in a way that will "amaze the world and turn Al-Qai'da into [an organization that] horrifies the world until the law of Allah is implemented, actually implemented, and not just in words, on His land... You wait and see that the balance of power between Al-Qai'da and its rivals will change, all of a sudden, Allah willing." Regarding Al-Qai'da detainees, Al-Hijazi said: "We follow their situation closely... the collaborating governments will pay the price for capturing these heroes who want to revive the glory of their nation and shake off the dust of humiliation and disgrace." Al-Hijazi added that the "collaborating and treacherous" governments should know that Al-Qai'da has a long reach and its members enjoy popularity that will not end just because apostate governments detain hundreds of Al-Qai'da's members. "As soon as the governments detain one of our people, ten like him join us... this is no secret." Al-Hijazi said that Al-Qai'da instructed its members not to confront the governments of Islamic countries and clarified that Americans are the main target of the organization, wherever they may be, in order to cause their disintegration and collapse, even if it takes a long time. "We are patient," he added, "our patience will only end with the collapse of America and its agents." Al-Hijazi also said: "There is no doubt that the demise of America and its collapse will lead to the collapse of these fragile regimes that depend on it... We will not stop until we establish the Islamic Caliphate and until Allah's law is implemented in His land." When asked about the recent bombing in Riyadh, Al-Hijazi referred to Saudi media reports which claimed that in the attack Muslim women and children were killed as "merely media deceit." He added: "This place was under surveillance for many months. Following a thorough investigation, it became perfectly clear to us that the people living there were at least 300 Americans and a large group of Lebanese Christians who had tortured Muslims there, in Lebanon, during the civil war. After consultation, we decided it was appropriate to attack this place and destroy it, including the people who lived there, because it housed Americans and a large majority of Christians holding Lebanese citizenship. "Since the Saudi government is aware of the sensitivity of this place and that it is a declared target for Al-Qa'ida, it surrounded it with very heavy security. However, we gave our people in Riyadh a green light to destroy it on top of those inside. Allah facilitated breaking into the place and bombing the part in which mostly Americans stayed. As a result, praise Allah, at least 40 Americans were killed, as well as 27 Christians from Lebanon, and a group of citizens who were Muslim; also, at least 70 Americans were injured, as well as more than 30 citizens of other countries, most of them Christians from Lebanon." According to Al-Hijazi, a Saudi religious scholar who is wanted by Saudi authorities will claim responsibility in a televised communiqué for the bombing "and for other operations to come." He added that the wills of the attackers will be published, apparently, in the month of Shawwal the month following Ramadan according to the Muslim calendar when Al-Qa'ida's main website, Al-Nida, is due to be reactivated.
A recorded voice purportedly of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar admonished guerrillas who have abandoned a "Jihad" against foreign troops and urged renewed resistance, two years after American invaders drove him from power. "I sacrificed my rule and all I had and if I can stand for my honor, why can't you? If you can't stand for your honor, it means your faith is weak," the voice said. "Why can't you be ready for sacrifice? I have sacrificed everything." The audio tape was handed to Reuters in the southern Afghan town of Spin Boldak by unidentified men on a motorbike. Mullah Abdul Sama, a spokesman for the hardline Islamist militia, said it was made in the last few weeks. If authentic, it would be the most recent evidence that the elusive supreme leader, one of America's most wanted men, is alive despite a two-year manhunt. The voice, which sounded similar to Omar's, admonishes commanders who have given up the jihad. "I am talking about faith and Islam among the commanders, about those who are not participating in the jihad," the speaker said. More than 350 people have been killed in a wave of bloodshed in Afghanistan since early August, much of it linked to the Taliban. Other militant forces are also believed to be active, including al Qaeda and Hekmatyar loyalists. They are a stark reminder that the self-styled U.S. "war on terror" in Afghanistan is far from over at a time when forces are struggling to contain armed resistance in post-war Iraq. Another Taliban spokesman, Hamid Agha, said Omar was still in charge and that the movement had three committees; one political involved in recruitment, one economic collecting funds, and one military carrying out attacks and training guerrillas. Despite the violence in recent months, resentment among Afghans over the presence of U.S. forces nowhere near matches that in Iraq, nor do the Taliban have the military muscle yet to engage in more than hit-and-run attacks. Between 30 and 40 U.S. soldiers have been killed in action in Afghanistan, far fewer than in Iraq. But analysts warn that if reconstruction projects continue to be disrupted and people do not see better security soon, indifference, and even sympathy for militants could grow. "The fact that few of the root causes of the Taliban movement have been dealt with must give cause for concern that the threat could develop into something far more dangerous in the near- to mid-term," said Jason Burke, author of "Al Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror."
Tehran warned on Nov. 13 (2003) of "unpredictable consequences" if the U.N. watchdog finds it in breach of a global pact against atomic weapons, as Washington accused the United Nations of playing down "evidence" Iran wants a bomb.
? Israeli Subs Have Nukes Aimed at
By Gordon Thomas
Bush's Middle Eastern Quagmire and Apocalypse Future by Mark Dankof
A U.S. judge has dismissed claims against two high-ranking Saudi officials in a lawsuit filed by victims and survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks. In an opinion issued on Friday, Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said that U.S. courts had no jurisdiction to rule on the actions of Prince Turki Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, director of Saudi Arabia's Department of General Intelligence, and Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who is Saudi Arabia's defense minister and holds other positions as well. In the lawsuit filed by the Sept. 11 victims and relatives of victims, Prince Turki was accused of having an "ongoing relationship" with Osama bin Laden, the suspect masterminded of the attacks in the United States that killed more than 3,000 people. Prince Turki is also accused of transferring money to support the Taliban and al Qaeda. Prince Sultan was accused of supporting charities that give money to al Qaeda. "The claims against them for acts allegedly done in their official capacities will be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The claims against Prince Sultan for acts allegedly done in his personal capacity will be dismissed without prejudice for lack of personal jurisdiction," the judge wrote in his opinion.
U.S. Chemical Plants: Open For Terrorists
Advances in biotechnology
could lead to a generation of biological weapons far more
dangerous than those currently known, scientists have told the
CIA. The life sciences experts, convened by the agency's Office
of Transnational Issues, raised fears of genetically engineered
diseases that "could be worse than any disease known to man,"
according to the CIA's unclassified report on their conference.
The report, "The Darker Bioweapons Future," speaks only
generally of the dangers of newly created diseases and does not
specify countries that could use them to threaten the United
States. "The same science that may cure some of our worst
diseases could be used to create the world's most frightening
weapons," the report says. Some advanced bioweapons already
are possible to make, the scientists noted. They pointed to
researchers in Australia who accidentally enhanced the mousepox
virus by adding an immunoregulator gene, using a technique that
could be applied to anthrax or smallpox, two diseases potentially
capable of conversion into biological weapons. The report also
speaks of the possibility of designer diseases that would be
immune to treatment, or that linger would inactivated in the body
until the passage of a certain amount of time passes or until a
specified second substance had entered the body. Part of the
danger of biological weapons, unlike conventional bombs or
nuclear weapons, is their use might not be immediately obvious.
Without a claim of responsibility or a lucky break by law
enforcers, only when medical experts had traced an outbreak to
its source would authorities learn that an attack had taken place.
"One panelist cited the possibility of a stealth virus
attack that could cripple a large portion of people in their
forties with severe arthritis, concealing its hostile origin and
leaving a country with massive health and economic problems,"
the report says. With so many potential threats, the experts
proposed developing defenses aimed at strengthening the body's
resistance to all disease, rather than creating treatments for
The U.S. government has set up a $60 million network to help detect a biological attack in 31 cities across the country, Homeland Security officials said on Nov. 14, 2003. The BioWatch system collects air samples at about a dozen sites in each of the cities. The samples are then checked for potentially deadly diseases that could be used in a biological attack. The goal of BioWatch, located mostly in major urban areas such as Washington, New York City and Houston, is to discover if any bacteria or viruses have been released into the air as part of a biological attack. Officials said the system will only identify germs once they are already in the air. "By the time you get a hit (positive result), people could have already been infected," said Parney Albright, assistant secretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security. But detection will allow officials to identify the germ and dispense drugs to treat the disease, possibly before any symptoms appear among those infected. "The sensitivity (of the system) is sufficient to detect attacks that would kill lots of people," Albright said. "But this will not protect us from every possible attack," he added. He said BioWatch would not have been much use in trying to detect the deadly anthrax sent in letters mailed to politicians and the news media in 2001. Since it was launched, BioWatch has analyzed more than half a million samples with one positive result -- in Houston last month when the air sensors detected fragments of tularemia. Air samples are collected at least once a day and taken to special laboratories where technicians extract DNA samples to do genetic testing for a number of diseases. The tests are specific for each germ that is viewed by the government as a likely biowarfare or terrorism agent. Officials would not say what bugs they screen for, saying only that it was less than a dozen. Experts have said they could include the germs that cause anthrax, tularemia, smallpox, plague, botulism and hemorrhagic fever. Officials said the system covers half the U.S. population, but some experts have questioned the amount of air that is tested. They say sensors need to correctly positioned to accurately detect an attack. The program costs about $2 million per year per city, much of which is spent in labor costs, Albright said. The department set up BioWatch sensors at many of the Environmental Protection Agency's air quality monitoring stations. The laboratory analysis is done in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nov. 15, 2003 -- The recent disappearance of police uniforms, badges and gear has law enforcement authorities worried that terrorists might use such items to gain access to high-security areas. "Hundreds of official identification cards, badges, decals, uniforms and government license plates have been reported stolen or lost," said a police bulletin issued this week by the Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin and the federal Homeland Security Department. The alert, which did not specify the locations of the thefts, added that "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," the bulletin said, suggesting that a terrorist plot might include the use of copycat ambulances and firetrucks. The memo said officials are concerned about the "worldwide proliferation of individuals or companies that traffic in high-quality imitations of official identification, uniforms or vehicles ... (that) could be used to facilitate future terrorist attacks." Another alert, issued by the FBI on Nov. 7 and labeled "law enforcement sensitive," said that "al-Qaida may be planning to attack U.S. nuclear facilities using commercial cargo planes loaded with explosives during Ramadan." Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, ends Nov. 24.
Yemen's government on Nov. 16 (2003) freed 92 followers of the al-Qaida terrorist network who have repented, a Yemeni judge responsible for dialogue with suspected terrorists said. They were freed along with 1,500 other inmates as part of an amnesty during the Ramadan holy month.
Two Arabic-language newspapers received separate statements claiming the Al-Qaida terrorist network carried out the car bombings outside two Istanbul synagogues attacks that killed 23 people. A statement received by the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi said a unit of al-Qaida executed the attack on Nov. 15 (2003) because it learned that agents of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad were in the synagogues. Abdel Bari Atwan, the newspaper's editor, told the pan-Arab cable station Al-Jazeera that the claim was received by e-mail from the Abu Hafs al-Masri brigades, which is suspected of links to Al-Qaida and which has sent at least three similar claims to the paper regarding previous attacks. "The Mujahedeen of Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades ... after monitoring Mossad agents and confirming that five of the agents were present in two synagogues in central Istanbul, carried out their deadly blow," the statement said. Another e-mailed claim of responsibility sent to the London-based weekly Al-Majalla said al-Qaida carried out the Istanbul attacks as well as the car bomb outside Italian police headquarters in Nasariyah, Iraq, on Nov. 12 that killed 19 Italians and more than a dozen Iraqis. The newspaper said the claim was signed by an al-Qaida operative identified as Abu Mohammed al-Ablaj, whom officials in Washington have said in the past is believed linked to the terrorist network headed by Osama bin Laden. The sophisticated attacks on the synagogues used pickup trucks stuffed with nearly identical explosives detonated minutes apart, likely by suicide bombers, officials said. Israeli intelligence and explosives experts have teamed with Turkish investigators to investigate the bombings, which wounded more than 300 people, both Jews at the synagogues and Muslim bystanders on the streets. Officials found two bodies fitted with wire, and one of them matched partial remains found in one of the attack cars, media reported, suggesting that the explosions were set off by suicide bombers and not by remote control. Last week, the Al-Majalla newspaper received a claim from al-Ablaj stating al-Qaida was responsible for the attack Nov. 8 on a housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that killed 17 people, mostly Arabs, and wounded scores of people. The e-mail from al-Ablaj warned that attacks will be carried out against Japan, which was to send troops to Iraq but decided not to after the Italian bombing. It promised more attacks on other targets associated with Israel and the United States. "The attacks against Jews and America will follow. Let America and Israel cry for their dead from today and the destruction that they will suffer," his e-mail said There was no way to independently confirm the authenticity of either claim of responsibility. The al-Masri group also issued a claim for the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad in August. U.S. officials in Washington said at the time that they could not authenticate the claim and it remained unclear if the group exists or is linked al-Qaida. In its statement it warned of further attacks and demanded that the United States release Arab prisoners held at Guantanamo in Cuba and stop making war on Muslim states. It also warned President Bush that attacks would be directed at the United States itself. "There is more to come. By God, the Jews of the world will regret that their (men) thought of invading the lands of Muslims," the statement said.
Western governments and Russia are moving far too slowly to stop terrorists acquiring deadly ingredients to buildweapons of mass destruction, a major international report concluded. Of a total $20 billion pledged by the Group of Eight last year to secure stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological materials, "only a tiny fraction" has been spent or even allocated to specific projects, it said. "The threat is outpacing the response," former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn said. He heads the Nuclear Threat Initiative, an anti-proliferation watchdog which largely funded the study by 21 security think tanks. Nunn said war in Iraq had distracted the United States and diverted resources away from the need to secure WMD materials in regions such as the former Soviet Union. "We've spent more now (on the war) than it would take to lock up all the nuclear materials around the globe," he said. According to the study, there are some 100 poorly protected research reactors, spread across 40 countries, containing weapons-usable uranium. "The global community remains alarmingly vulnerable to catastrophic terrorism. Around the world, and particularly in the former Soviet Union, materials and weapons of mass destruction are insecure, often protected only by a padlock or an unpaid guard," it said. "To construct a nuclear bomb, terrorists would need to steal only a small amount of nuclear material, about enough to fit in a suitcase." Nunn said terror groups were less likely to acquire WMD from a state than to source the materials from ill-secured research sites. "The most likely source of terrorist weapons probably does not come from a state that has spent 10, 15, 20 years trying to get their own weapons -- they're not likely to turn around and give it to al Qaeda," he said. "Theft or sale of nuclear material from these stockpiles is the more likely source of supply." Apart from money, the report said, "Russian bureaucratic foot-dragging" and the reluctance of Russian security forces to grant access to some sensitive sites were also hampering progress. Nunn said the rate of success in securing such sites was too slow. "At the pace we're going, you're talking about 20 years. I don't think we've got that long."
A fast spreading hepatitis
attack has killed 3 and sickened more than 600 in Pennsylvania,
the biggest outbreak of food-borne hepatitis A in the United
States. The United States has halted imports of Mexican
green onions suspected of causing an outbreak of hepatitis A a
Food and Drug Administration official said. Recent cases of the
liver disease in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia have also
been linked to scallions. It highlights that certain government
agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are
failing in their mission to protect the public.
The FDA needs to show more concern for Americans and less concern for drug company profits. By Mick Youther
Hepatitis A And Human Sludge Fertilizer By Patricia Doyle
Unsecure borders inviting disease, pests - and terror
Lawmakers tying down the last details of a mammoth $390 billion spending bill agreed to block labels identifying which country food products come from for the next two years. The two-year delay on country-of-origin food labels will apply to meats, produce and farm-raised fish. The delay represented a victory for the Bush administration, grocery stores, meat packers and processors. They said complying with the regulations would cost the food industry billions of dollars. The Bush administration wants to kill" the labeling law, Tom Daschle said. "They just don't want to do it before the presidential election because they know the majority of people in our nation want labeling."
Mexican and U.S. authorities have recognized that no evidence was found in Mexico as a source of Hepatitis A in green onions imported to the United States. In a meeting between high level officials of Mexico's Ministry of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) it was determined that the investigation of stages of distribution, transportation, storage and food service processing in America will continue. The officials present at the meeting said that this case resembles the hepatitis B 1997 outbreak initially associated to strawberries produced in Mexico's San Quintin Valley. Later, the FDA stated that the most probable source for the contamination was located in California. Hernandez Diaz said the contamination could have happened in the United States. He said most of the green onions grown in northwestern Mexican are shipped to the western United States and not to Pennsylvania. "You have some boxes of green onions that are re-iced in the U.S.," he said. "How do they know they weren't contaminated at that point?" Javier Trujillo, undersecretary for food safety and quality in Mexico's Ministry of Agriculture, said Dos M Sales de Mexico, a company located near the border city of Mexicali, in Baja California state, was washing its scallions with water from a nearby reservoir, rather than with purified drinking water, as required. However, it's still not known if that caused the contamination.
A simple handkerchief wielded by a resourceful terrorist could cause billions of dollars of damage to America's food system and untold terror in the nation's kitchens, senators were told Nov. 19, 2003. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, government officials have secured cities, airports, harbors, government buildings and tourist sites, but food experts say more attention should be focused on the country's food supply. "We have become a nation concerned about receiving anthrax in our mailboxes," said Dr. Tom McGinn of North Carolina Department of Agriculture. "Imagine what it would be like to be a nation concerned about opening our refrigerators and anthrax being in our refrigerators as well." A terrorist could put germs for foot and mouth disease which affected 2,000 farms in Britain in 2001 on a handkerchief, enter the country and visit any of the state fairs that show off prize livestock, officials said. "If you exposed livestock before they were being shipped back to the farm from a state fair, you would have dispersed the disease across the state, frankly, in a saddeningly efficient way," said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. Those and other nightmare scenarios show why government officials should pay more attention to the vulnerabilities of America's agriculture system, officials said. And using bioterrorism to attack the nation's food supply could be very attractive to terrorists, said Senate Government Affairs Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine. "For example, someone who is dealing with anthrax has to worry about contaminating himself," Collins said. "By contrast, someone who is seeking to create an outbreak of foot and mouth disease does not have to worry about 'catching' the disease." Such an attack would have a devastating effect on the American economy, with food production accounting for about 10 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product and generating cash receipts in excess of $991 billion in 2001, said Peter Chalk, a Rand Corp. analyst. In addition to financial stress, an agricultural attack with a disease that can jump from animals to people could cause panic. "It could have severe repercussions in terms of galvanizing a mass public scare throughout the country, particularly if human deaths actually occurred," Chalk said. "Terrorists could use this to their advantage, allowing them to create a general atmosphere of fear and anxiety without actually having to carry out indiscriminate civilian-oriented attacks." Since 1912, only 12 documented cases exist of bioterrorism with livestock or contaminated related produce and only two can be considered terrorism: the 1984 Rajneeshee salmonella food poisoning in Oregon and the 1952 Mau Mau plant toxin incident in Kenya, Chalk said.
The Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations are kept afloat partly by the trade in counterfeit consumer goods such as petroleum jelly and music and film CDs, a European Commission official said. 'Counterfeiting has become the preferred method of financing for terrorist organisations,' said Mr Christophe Zimmermann, a Customs expert from the European Commission. 'During the last three years, we have come up with proof and evidence through the Interpol that criminal syndicates and terrorist groups sell counterfeit goods to launder money and to tap more money to finance their activities,' he told a press conference on the sidelines of a four-day seminar on counterfeiting organised by the European Union (EU) for Asean Customs officials. He said that in the first quarter of 2002, Danish Customs officials had seized eight tonnes of fake Vaseline petroleum jelly that a known Al-Qaeda operative had shipped to Britain from Dubai. The shipment also contained counterfeit shampoos, creams, colognes and perfumes. He said that at present, Interpol had no information on whether some of these counterfeit goods had found their way into Asia, and whether the Al-Qaeda was involved in the fabrication of these pirated items. Mr Zimmermann said Interpol had also monitored a number of cases where ethnic Lebanese involved in the distribution and sale of counterfeit goods in Paraguay and other South American countries remitted funds to the Muslim extremist group Hizbollah. Most of the pirated goods were sourced from China, though some were produced in Europe. He said EC officials, and even Interpol, had no data on how much terrorist groups actually gain from counterfeiting because the financing was either given in cash or was remitted through third parties. In the case of the Al-Qaeda, for instance, Interpol believed that funds generated from piracy were remitted to the terror network indirectly through tithing. By all accounts, however, intellectual piracy has become a major source of financing for terrorists.
Suspected al-Qaida suicide bombers blew uptrucks packed with explosives at the British consulate and a London-based bank Nov. 20 (2003), killing at least 27 people and wounding nearly 450. The twin attacks coincided with President Bush's state visit to Britain. The blasts, just minutes apart, were the worst terrorist bombings in this Muslim nation's history, and marked the second attacks in Turkey to be blamed on al-Qaida this week. On Nov. 15 (2003), bombers struck two Istanbul synagogues, killing 23 people. Among the dead were Consul-General Roger Short, Britain's top diplomat in Istanbul, and British diplomatic staff member Lisa Hallworth. Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler said two other of the 16 people killed at the consulate were British, and that the death toll was likely to rise. U.S. and Turkish officials said the bombings bore the marks of an al-Qaida operation, with near-simultaneous timing and the use of fertilizer-based explosives. The first pickup truck exploded outside the headquarters of HSBC, the world's second-largest bank, shearing off the white facade of the 18-story building and exposing the gray concrete beneath. Windows were blown out and scraps of white ceiling material dangled, caught on torn electrical wires swaying in the breeze. About 10 minutes later, a second truck crashed through the gate of the British consulate five miles away in Beyoglu, a historic district popular with tourists. The vehicle looked like a food delivery truck with the explosives in large metal food containers, the Anatolia news agency reported. An unidentified caller to Anatolia said al-Qaida and a small military Turkish group, the Islamic Great Eastern Raiders' Front, known as IBDA-C, jointly claimed responsibility for attacks. The attacks were carried out by suicide bombers and were similar to the synagogue bombings, in which hundreds of pounds of fertilizer-based explosives were packed into trucks. Turkey's stock market started falling after the attacks and was closed minutes later after plummeting 7 percent. The central bank said it would act to prevent any fallout from the attack. Turkey has been recovering from its worst recession in decades and there were fears that the attacks could cut into tourism and scare away foreign investors. The two suicide bombers who attacked the synagogues on Nov. 15 were identified as Turks who the foreign minister said had visited Afghanistan. Al-Qaida and the Turkish IBDA-C also claimed responsibility for that blast.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned whether the massive Istanbul bombings were the work of the al-Qaeda terror network. "Is this an al-Qaeda conglomerate ... Or is it some other terrorist organisation? We are not 100 percent sure at this point," said Erdogan.
The United States had no intelligence indicating Istanbul would be struck by fresh terror attacks like those that rocked the Turkish capital earlier, a US Department of State spokesman said.
Al-Qaida terrorists have developed a crude device designed to spread deadly cyanide gas through the ventilation systems of crowded indoor facilities such as subways, according to a closely held security directive issued to law enforcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "Al-Qaida remains intent on using chemical or biological agents in attacks on the homeland," says the internal warning. "Terrorists have designed a crude chemical dispersal device fabricated from commonly available materials, which is designed to asphyxiate its victims." Marked "For Official Use Only," the five-page memo issued Nov. 21 (2003) says the device produces cyanogen chloride gas and hydrogen cyanide gas, and can be placed near air intakes or ventilation systems in crowded open spaces or enclosed spaces. "These gases are most effective when released in confined spaces such as subways, buildings or other crowded indoor facilities," adds the Homeland Security memo, which was distributed to federal agencies in anticipation of possible al-Qaida attacks around the end of the Muslim holiday Ramadan, which happens to coincide with Thanksgiving and the start of the regular holiday season. "Al-Qaida has shown an interest in cyanide as a weapon," said Amy Sands, former deputy director of nonproliferation studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. She cites Ahmed Ressam, the terrorist convicted of plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebrations. He claims to have been trained to kill people with cyanide at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan. "His terrorist masters also taught him how to introduce cyanide gas into public ventilation systems in order to affect the maximum number of victims, while minimizing the risk to the perpetrator," Sands said. She also points to the nine al-Qaida-tied Moroccans arrested last year in Rome. They allegedly were planning to poison the water supply of the U.S. embassy with potassium ferrocyanide. "Al-Qaida has shown a continued interest in targeting subways, rail systems, dams and water facilities" in America, the Homeland Security memo warns. Noting the recent "sophisticated" car-bombings in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, it adds that the terror group may use "novel methods" to pull off such attacks in America, including disguising suicide bombers as women. "Male bombers may dress as females in order to discourage scrutiny," the federal memo warns.
An internal Homeland Security Department memo advises airports and air carriers to tighten security over passenger aircraft and air cargo during the holiday season. U.S. officials explain that air cargo and the back side of airports known as the ramp, where jets are serviced are still relatively vulnerable to terrorism more than two years after al-Qaida terrorists hijacked and crashed four jumbo jets on the East Coast. Based on recent al-Qaida chatter, U.S. intelligence remains concerned that the terrorist group plans to use jets to attack nuclear, chemical or hazardous-materials facilities during the holiday season. "Al-Qaida could attack U.S. LNG [liquid natural gas], nuclear and chemical facilities (manufacturing and HAZMAT storage) using aircraft, either passenger or cargo aircraft, the latter loaded with explosives," warns the Homeland Security memo, which was distributed Nov. 21 (2003) to federal agencies and law enforcement. "Additionally," the document states, "we cannot discount multiple attacks involving the use of general aviation aircraft." The 5-page internal advisory, marked "For Official Use Only," recommends aviation security officials beef up security beyond existing security directives and emergency amendments issued by the Transportation Security Administration. Existing directives focus on the passenger side of the airport, where pre-gate security screening is done. Specifically, the memo advises officials to tighten ramp, or airside, security, where the catering, cleaning, fueling and maintenance of aircraft takes place. "Secure unattended aircraft to prevent unauthorized use," the memo recommends as one of several additional protective measures. The Homeland Security Department requested that the other measures not be published. Aviation security experts have complained that the ramp is still open to terrorism. Planes that remain overnight are "not guarded, and in fact, frequently the door is open," said Charles G. Slepian, an airline security analyst in New York. Slepian and others also worry that planes are rarely inspected for explosives and weapons. And ramp workers are screened for them at only two of the nation's 428 commercial airports. The document also outlines an eight-point plan for tightening air cargo security. Unlike checked passenger luggage, air cargo is not screened for explosives. The giant explosive-detection machines recently installed in airports, while the size of minivans, still aren't big enough to handle large cargo.
War Critics Astonished As US Hawk Admits Invasion Was Illegal By Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger
Anti-American and anti-Western sentiment is growing out of anger at the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Germany's foreign spy chief said. August Hanning, head of the Federal Intelligence Service, said the U.S. occupation of Iraq has become a new rallying point for a resurgent al-Qaida. "Successes on the military front alone will not lead to a solution," Hanning said in a speech to a conference on the Middle East in Pullach, near Munich, where his agency is based. "We are in the process of losing the battle for people's minds." Al-Qaida has "regenerated" after being scattered and weakened by the war that drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and the capture of key members, Hanning said. "Now they are once again able to carry out attacks on a major scale," he said. Iraq "risks becoming a crystallization point" for the radical Islamic cause, Hanning said. "Much depends on how things develop in Iraq." But he warned the U.S.-led coalition against pulling out. "That would be a victory for the Islamists," he said. Hanning noted that intelligence officials believe Islamic activists eager to fight the occupying forces have been trickling from Europe to Iraq in recent months. Intelligence agencies also see a growing threat that parts of Southeast Asia notably Indonesia and East Africa are becoming terrorist bases, Hanning said. But he expressed particular alarm about Turkey a secular Muslim country, NATO member and ally of Israel after the Nov. 20th blasts and a pair of synagogue bombings in Istanbul. "These are clear signals that targets are being attacked that signal Turkey's cooperation with the West and with Israel," Hanning told the news conference. In his speech, he portrayed the Arab world as explosive because of its social inequalities and growing pool of alienated young people. Western governments must promote social and economic progress along with democracy, Hanning said. "Otherwise, the preachers of hate will surge into the void," he said.
A federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks has voted to subpoena documents New York has failed to hand over related to the city's response to the World Trade Center attack. The commission said Nov. 20 (2003) it is seeking tapes and transcripts of 911 calls and transcripts of hundreds of interviews of firefighters conducted by the Fire Department after the 2001 attacks. The bipartisan panel, formed by Congress and headed by former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, said the 911 calls in particular are "critical to understanding the interaction between members of the public and the city" the day of the attacks. "The city's failure to produce these important documents has significantly impeded the commission's investigation," the commission said in a statement. The panel said it requested the material more than four months ago. Ed Skyler, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said the city maintains that releasing such material would violate victims' privacy rights. [ 911 calls are public record so it can not be subject to privacy ] Skyler accused the commission of "trying to distract the public" by focusing on the city's response instead of finding out "how this savage terrorist attack was planned and executed without any warning so that we never again have to endure such a tragedy." The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the owner of the trade center, in August released about 2,000 pages of transcripts of radio transmissions and calls to Port Authority police on the morning of the attack. The authority had tried to back out of an agreement it had reached with The New York Times to release the transcripts, but a New Jersey judge rejected the attempt.
Dec. 3 In an abrupt reversal, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City announced that he had agreed to release records of emergency 911 calls and other materials sought by the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mr. Bloomberg's action comes nearly two weeks after the commission announced that it had issued a subpoena to New York City for records related to the attacks. The panel said that the city's refusal to turn over the information had "significantly impeded" its investigation. Initially, Mr. Bloomberg said he intended to challenge the federal subpoena, arguing that the request was ghoulish and that complying with it would invade the privacy of the victims' families. But with the deadline for complying with the subpoena looming, the Bloomberg administration reached a deal with the commission that seemed to address the privacy concerns even as it gave the commission access to the materials it has been demanding. Under the deal, the city secured the right to block out information identifying specific people from any records that city officials hand over to the commission. In return, however, city officials agreed to allow panel members on their premises seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., to review the unedited versions of those records. The commission's investigators are also permitted to take extensive notes when they review unedited documents or tapes, under the terms of the agreement. And the commission's final report may include statements by people taken from the 911 tapes and transcripts, provided the commission receives permission from those people or their family members, according to the agreement. The subpoena issued by the 10-member commission demanded that the city turn over tapes and transcripts of emergency 911 calls made on Sept. 11, as well as transcripts of hundreds of interviews of firefighters that were conducted after the attacks. The subpoena was the third issued by the commission, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. The recipients of the earlier subpoenas the Federal Aviation Administration and the Defense Department both promised to comply with them. Alvin S. Felzenberg, a spokesman for the commission, said that the commission was willing to give in to some of the Bloomberg administration's demands that any unedited material remain in the city's possession because it shared the city's concerns about privacy. "We were willing to say, `As long as we have access to all the material to do our work, we are less concerned that we have possession of the material,' " he said. "Access is access. It doesn't matter who owns it or where it is stored."
11-24-3 -- Mullah Omar, the ousted leader of the Taliban, has urged Afghans to unite against the American military in the country, claiming that promises of democracy and reconstruction have not been fulfilled, the Afghan Islamic Press reported. The call came as the death toll among the occupying forces continued to rise. More than 1,000 protesters outside the ministry shouted slogans against recent reforms aimed at redressing the ethnic balance of the Afghan army, where senior positions are held by men of Tajik origin. UN agencies have restricted road travel beyond the capital and expatriate workers from the south and eastern zones have been moved, resulting in the suspension of aid to 600,000 Afghan refugees trying to return from Pakistan. Tens of thousands of Afghans have been prevented from returning to their homes by anti-government militants. Nato's efforts to increase security in Afghanistan have failed, with an urgent appeal for reinforcements of 3,000 troops to expand into the regions beyond Kabul proving optimistic. Norway offered 200 troops, the only Nato member to do so. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, Nato's secretary general, told representatives from alliance nations: "If we fail, we will find Afghanistan on all our doorsteps. Nato's credibility will be shattered, along with that of every Nato government." General Andrew Leslie, deputy commander of the international peace force in Afghanistan, said: "The security situation in Afghanistan is not getting any better. And if the international community does not do something, it's bound to get worse."
The U.S. Department of
Homeland Security has advised federal agencies to initiate
emergency counterterrorism measures to prevent possible al-Qaida
car bombings planned during the last days of the Muslim holiday
Ramadan, according to a confidential department memo. Citing al-Qaida's
"increasingly sophisticated" car-bombing tactics, it
recommends security guards tow all vehicles parked illegally in
and around government facilities, if their owners cannot be
identified, and inspect the undercarriage and other areas of
vehicles entering sensitive areas, among other high-threat
protective measures. Al-Qaida could also target "liquid
natural gas, chemical or petrochemical sites near major
population centers using multiple vehicle-born improvised
explosive devices similar to those recently seen in the attacks
in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Istanbul, Turkey," warns the
internal department advisory titled, "Continued al-Qaida
Threats Abroad and in the Homeland." Marked "For
Official Use Only," the five-page memo was distributed Nov.
21 (2003) to federal departments and agencies, as well as state
security managers and first responders. "This advisory is
intended to raise the security awareness of the recipients based
on recent terrorist attacks overseas and information suggesting
al-Qaida continues to plan attacks against U.S. targets,"
the memo says. It notes there has been at least one major
terrorist attack resulting in substantial casualties each week
over the past several weeks, and that the attacks have coincided
with Ramadan. "These terrorist bombings, coupled with public
proclamations regarding al-Qaida's intentions to target Western
interests, heighten our concern that a threat against the U.S.
homeland and U.S. interests abroad continues," the document
states. The Homeland Security memo warns that al-Qaida might
launch attacks "near the end of Ramadan (Nov. 24-27),"
which happens to coincide this year with the Thanksgiving holiday.
The government is closed on Thursday, Nov. 27, for Thanksgiving.
But millions of Americans will be traveling throughout the
holiday week, and Homeland Security warns in its memo that "we
cannot discount multiple attacks involving the use of general-aviation
aircraft." Publicly, it has recommended Americans continue
with plans for work or leisure. Behind the scenes, however, it
has directed federal and state law enforcement, as well as
security personnel, to initiate protective measures under its
highest threat level red a condition when there is
an imminent risk of terrorist attacks. For instance, "Measure
R.2" of the department's internal Threat Level Red
recommendations advises government agencies to, among other
things: "Identify the owners of all vehicles already parked
at state facilities. In those cases where the owner or presence
of a vehicle cannot be explained (owner is not present and has no
obvious agency affiliation), inspect the vehicle for dangerous
items and take steps to remove the vehicle from the vicinity."
Homeland Security department memo states: "We have no
tactical information identifying timing, targets, tactics or
locations for these operations." However, it goes on to say
that "recent information" and attacks reflect "al-Qaida's
desire to repeat a mass casualty attack and/or strike major
political and symbolic and economic targets" in America. The
document expresses concern over al-Qaida's "increasingly
refined capability and sophisticated tactic" in carrying out
car-bomb attacks. Among examples, it cites the terror group's new
"ramming tactic to gain access to the target" and the
use of "innocuous-looking vehicles," such as "a
food catering truck which was detonated by a suicide bomber as it
rammed the British consulate." It recommends U.S. security
personnel take additional protective measures to thwart car-bomb
_"Consider adjusting buffer zone further [sic] from target."
_"Increase the number of visible security personnel wherever possible."
_"Rearrange exterior vehicle barriers, traffic cones and road blocks to alter traffic patterns near facilities and monitored by alert security forces."
_"Institute/increase vehicle, foot and roving security patrols varying in size, timing and routes."
_"Limit the number of access points and strictly enforce access control procedures."
_"Deploy explosive-detection devices and explosive-detection canine teams."
_"Review surveillance tapes (if available) for indicators of suspicious activity."
The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Nov. 26 (2003) he wanted Israel to dismantle its nuclear weapons arsenal and he believed all Middle Eastern states would benefit from ridding the region of nuclear weapons. Israel has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has never officially admitted to having the bomb. But nonproliferation analysts estimate Israel has between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons. The U.N. General Assembly and IAEA General Conference have adopted 13 resolutions since 1987 appealing to Israel to sign the NPT and all have been ignored. "In my view every country in the Middle East, including Israel, will benefit from establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East as part and parcel of a comprehensive peace in the region," ElBaradei said. Since the 1991 discovery and later dismantling of Iraq's secret nuclear weapons program, Iran is the only Middle Eastern country suspected of developing nuclear weapons apart from Israel. Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons and have not signed the NPT. North Korea is suspected of having built at least one atom bomb and withdrew from the NPT on New Year's Eve last year.
Taiwan's parliament approved on Nov. 27 (2003) a controversial bill allowing referendums to be held on sensitive issues such as sovereignty, despite vehement opposition from China. Beijing said it would "make a strong response" if Taipei passes a referendum law without restrictions.
Amid fears that it can no longer meet a spring deadline, the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks is coming under increasing pressure to seek an extension of its work into the 2004 election season. Although the panel's leadership says it can still complete its investigation on schedule, a growing number of commissioners believe that is unlikely and are pushing the group to consider asking Congress for more time, several officials said. An influential group of relatives of Sept. 11 victims, the Family Steering Committee, also issued a statement recommending that the commission seriously discuss an extension. "Unfortunately, the production of a timely report no longer seems to be possible, in large part because of the delays caused by the administration and the agencies that report to it," the group's statement said. Any attempt to move the May 27 deadline, however, would require the approval of Congress and President Bush and could make the commission -- which has tried to remain above the political fray -- an issue in the presidential campaign. The White House, which opposed the commission's formation for more than a year, successfully fought to impose a deadline that is five months before the November elections. Commission officials and members of Congress expect the administration to oppose a request for an extension. The 10-member panel has been bogged down for months in battles over access to government material related to the attacks, which culminated in a subpoena earlier this month to New York City that is likely to end up in a court battle. The conflicts have already forced the commission to postpone one of its key hearings and to schedule more time for staff to conduct investigations on weekends and holidays. In addition, officials announced this week that one of the commission's most outspoken members, former Georgia senator Max Cleland (D), is leaving to join the Export-Import Bank's board. Cleland has accused the Bush administration of trying to undermine the commission's work and sharply condemned a deal that restricts the panel's access to presidential briefings. Cleland's replacement has not been named. Any extension in the commission's deadline would require more funding and staff for the commission, because many of those detailed to the effort are required to return to their jobs after May, officials said. The Family Steering Committee and other relatives who have been monitoring the commission's progress said they fear that the tight timeline would compromise the panel's findings and will sow doubts in the minds of those who lost family members in the attacks. "We want a thorough report," said Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband, Ronald, was killed at the World Trade Center. "If the report is going to be lacking in information because they run out of time, that's ridiculous."
Yemeni security forces are pursuing a second top al-Qaida figure after capturing the alleged mastermind of the terror network's most dramatic attacks in Yemen, the bombings of the destroyer USS Cole and a French oil tanker, government officials said Nov. 26, 2003. Abu Ali al-Kandahari is one of two top al-Qaida leaders in Yemen, according to security reports published in the Yemeni press. The other, Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal, was arrested by security forces that surrounded his hide-out west of the capital, San'a, the Interior Ministry said. Four men, believed to be al-Ahdal's guards, were also arrested. Al-Kandahari is believed to be hiding in the northern provinces of Marib and Jawf, and security forces are closing in on him, said officials, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. He is reported to have replaced Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi after he was killed by a missile fired from a U.S. drone aircraft last year. Al-Harethi was thought to have been Osama bin Laden's top deputy in Yemen. Saudi-born al-Ahdal, 32, has been described as the main coordinator of al-Qaida activities in Yemen, supervising the terror group's finances, weapons smuggling and operational planning and was well-connected to other extremists in Persian Gulf countries, the official said. Yemeni security officials believe he was one of the masterminds of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor, which killed 17 U.S. sailors, and the 2002 bombing of the French oil tanker Limburg off the Yemeni coast. In each of those attacks, an explosive-laden boat was piloted up to the larger ship and detonated. The Limburg attack killed a Bulgarian crew member and spilled 90,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Aden. Al-Harethi, who was in his mid-40s, was believed to have coordinated the attack on the Cole. He first met bin Laden in the 1980s during the war against Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, and the two met again in Sudan, where bin Laden lived for much of the 1990s. Al-Ahdal, who is on the U.S. list of wanted terrorists in Yemen, is also accused of planning an abortive attack last year on a five-star hotel in Yemen where FBI investigators were staying. A Yemeni security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Yemeni investigators held meetings with U.S. diplomats and the FBI team attached to the U.S. Embassy in San`a. The Americans were informed of the initial results of the interrogations of al-Ahdal and the other four men. The source said "important information" received in the interrogations would lead to other al-Qaida activists, including those in charge of financial matters inside and outside Yemen. A U.S. counterterrorism official in Washington said al-Ahdal, also known as Abu Assem al-Makky, was among the top 20 al-Qaida figures at large. The Yemeni security reports say al-Ahdal fought in Bosnia and in Chechnya, where he lost his left leg below the knee and was fitted with a prosthesis. He allegedly traveled several times to Afghanistan in 1999 and 2000, and to Ethiopia in August 2000. Al-Ahdal was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 1999 and spent 14 months in prison for maintaining connections with bin Laden. He was then deported to Yemen. Bin Laden's family comes from Yemen, and the country, which supports the U.S. war on terror, has acknowledged that elements of al-Qaida are at large there.
Saudi Arabia, known for harsh criminal penalties such as beheadings, is trying a gentler approach to get information from some al-Qaida captives. Saudi interrogators often bring clerics and a Quran to their prison interviews to establish a religious connection, a technique that has proved successful in eliciting information from terrorist suspects and reorienting them to less violent religious beliefs. The tactic, similar to the way cult deprogrammers work in the United States, has impressed American counterparts enough that Saudi intelligence was permitted to use some of the principles on their citizens being held at the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Saudi officials said.
A professor who reported plague samples missing from his Texas Tech University lab has been cleared of the most serious charges he faced after causing a bioterrorism scare. Renowned researcher Thomas Butler, 62, was convicted of 47 charges, but most stemmed from an investigation separate from the plague scare. The jury acquitted Butler of 22 charges accusing him of smuggling and illegally transporting the potentially deadly germ, as well as lying to federal agents. The charges stemmed from his report to police Jan. 14 that 30 vials of the potentially deadly plague bacteria were missing from his lab. FBI agents rushed to Lubbock to investigate the scare. In a statement written later, Butler said he accidentally destroyed the samples. However, during his trial he testified that he had no clear memory of destroying the vials but that they could have been destroyed during his cleanup of an accident in January 2003. Butler declined to comment after the verdict. The jury of nine men and three women also cleared him of smuggling plague samples into the United States in April 2002 and illegally transporting them to federal facilities. "We are pleased that Tom was found not guilty of lying to the FBI. We are particularly pleased the jury found him not guilty of perpetuating a hoax regarding his report of the missing plague vials," defense lawyer Chuck Meadows said. Prosecutor Bob Webster said Butler's misdeeds were troubling: "It remains a real tragedy that a researcher who had so much to give to this country could get so far off the track." Butler was found guilty of 44 theft, embezzlement, fraud, and mail and wire fraud charges pertaining to shadow contracts prosecutors claimed he had illegally negotiated with pharmaceutical companies with which he also had clinical studies contracts. He was acquitted of 10 similar charges. Those 54 charges were part of an indictment alleging Butler received $320,675 from two pharmaceutical companies to conduct clinical trials on drugs to treat Type 2 diabetes and severe sepsis, an often-fatal infection of the bloodstream, without Texas Tech's knowledge. Butler faces up to 240 years in prison on the 47 convictions, but the punishment will be far less under federal sentencing guidelines. He also faces fines up to $11.7 million. No sentencing date was set.
Citing the criminal investigation about the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks and national security concerns, the Justice Department is trying to persuade a federal judge to delay the lawsuit filed by Dr. Stephen J. Hatfill, who contends the government invaded his privacy and ruined his reputation by leaking information to the media implicating him in the attacks. Hatfill has denied any role in the attacks and his lawsuit seeks to clear his name and recover unspecified monetary damages. Richard L. Lambert, the FBI inspector in charge of what is being called the "Amerithrax" investigation, says in a court document that Hatfill's lawsuit could jeopardize the probe and expose national secrets related to U.S. bioweapons defense measures. There is no proven link between terrorist groups and the October 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others. Hatfill's attorneys filed a reply Dec. 2 (2003) opposing any delay in his lawsuit and calling it a "monumental irony" that the government was now stressing the need for secrecy in the case. "Having engaged in a campaign to smear Dr. Hatfill by disclosing confidential information from their investigative files, the government now requests that the court grant an indefinite delay of any inquiry into their illegal conduct," says the brief filed by attorney Thomas Connolly and others. In the FBI document, filed Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court in Washington, Lambert calls the anthrax probe "unprecedented in the FBI's 95-year history" because of its scope and complexity. In all, the investigation has consumed some 231,000 agent hours, he said. Lambert described the investigation as "active and ongoing" and said agents' work is divided between checking into individuals who could be linked to the attacks and an intensive scientific effort to determine how the spores themselves were made using "cutting-edge forensic techniques and analysis." The court papers stop short of confirming that Hatfill is among those being investigated. Hatfill was labeled a "person of interest" in the probe in August 2002 by Attorney General John Ashcroft and says in his lawsuit that FBI agents have had him under surveillance around the clock. That surveillance which once led agents in a vehicle to run over Hatfill's foot on a Washington street has dropped off in recent weeks, according to one person close to Hatfill and two federal law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. The officials, however, cautioned against drawing the conclusion that Hatfill no longer was of interest to investigators. The Justice Department is seeking to delay Hatfill's case until a decision is made on a forthcoming government attempt to dismiss the lawsuit entirely. Hatfill's lawsuit is seeking unspecified monetary damages from Ashcroft, the FBI and Justice Department and other current and former officials. His lawyers contend that the government linked him to the attacks to make it seem that the investigation was making progress. Hatfill once worked as a researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. Hatfill says he never worked with infectious diseases such as anthrax.
Federal authorities in 2003 mounted one of the most extensive investigations of domestic terrorism since the Oklahoma City bombing. Three people linked to white supremacist and anti-government groups are in custody. At least one weapon of mass destruction - a sodium cyanide bomb capable of delivering a deadly gas cloud - has been seized in the Tyler area. Investigators have seized at least 100 other bombs, bomb components, machine guns, 500,000 rounds of ammunition and chemical agents. But the government also found some chilling personal documents indicating that unknown co-conspirators may still be free to carry out what appeared to be an advanced plot. And, authorities familiar with the case say more potentially deadly cyanide bombs may be in circulation. Since arresting the three people in May, federal agents have served hundreds of subpoenas across the country in a domestic terror investigation that made it onto President Bushs daily intelligence briefings and set off national security alarms among the countrys most senior counter-terror officials. William J. Krar, originally from New Hampshire, last week pleaded guilty in Tyler federal court to possession of a chemical weapon near the East Texas town of Noonday. He faces up to ten years in prison. His common-law wife, Judith Bruey, pleaded guilty to lesser weapons charges and faces up to five years in prison. Also arrested this past Spring was Newark, New Jersey resident Edward Feltus. The New Jersey Militia member has pleaded guilty to attempting to purchase fake United Nations and Department of Defense identity cards from Krar. Evidence seized and the fact that none of the defendants will talk has given rise to speculation that unknown conspirators may be still be involved in a broader plot to use Krars home-built chemical weapons, government officials say. One would certainly have to question why an individual would feel compelled to stockpile sodium cyanide, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, acetic acid, unless they had some bad intent, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Wes Rivers, who is prosecuting the case. Terrorism investigators suspect that Krar, who has paid no federal income taxes since 1988, made his living as a traveling arms salesman who pedaled illicit bomb components and other weapons to violent underground anti-government groups across the country. Sources familiar with the investigation say authorities especially fear that Krar may have manufactured more than one sodium cyanide bomb and sold them. After a traffic stop earlier this year while Krar was traveling through Tennessee, state troopers seized sodium cyanide among other weapons, one government source confirmed. During the same stop, troopers found notes in Krars car. One of the notes titled Trip recommends, You will need cash, pre-charged phone card, spare gas can and all planning in place. Another note titled Procedure appears to represent instructions for carrying out some kind of covert operation. It lists code words for cities where meetings can take place at motels. Other codes appear to be warnings about how close police might be to catching the plotters. Lots of light storms are predicted, for instance, means Move fast before they look any harder. We have a limited window remaining. The same note goes on to recommend ways to divert pursuers and suggests, We want all looking in the wrong direction. Krar drew the FBIs attention when he sent a package of counterfeit IDs for the United Nations and Defense Intelligence Agency to Feltus New Jersey home earlier this year. The package was mistakenly delivered to a Staten Island man, who opened it and called police. A note found inside and signed by Krar stated, Hope this package gets to you O.K. We would hate to have this fall into the wrong hands. The discovery led to surveillance operations in and around Tyler, and then search warrants that turned up the Sodium cyanide bomb and other illegal weapons at locations controlled by Krar. Two years ago, Krar and Bruey quietly set up business as a gun parts manufacturer at a remote storage locker in Noonday, Texas. Krar apparently has similarly operated his businesses under the radar for years in other states before coming to Texas. As he did in Tyler, Krar rented local post office boxes and storage units. In one affidavit for a search warrant, an FBI agent noted that Krar was actively involved in the militia movement a good source of covert weaponry for white supremacist and anti-government militia groups in New Hampshire. Teresa Staples, who owns the storage facility, said Krar pretended to buy and sell army surplus goods at flea markets. Only later, when FBI agents swarmed the place, did she learn that the surplus goods hid dangerous chemicals and weapons. This was not the first time that Krar has drawn the attention of federal investigators. In 1995, the ATF investigated Krar and another man on weapons charges. The other suspect told authorities at the time that he and Krar shared an abiding hatred of the federal government and had been planning to bomb government facilities, court records show. But the suspect later recanted the story about plotting terror attacks with Krar. Krar denied the allegation and was not arrested, according to records. According to a more recent FBI affidavit, on the day of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Krar raised suspicion at a New Hampshire storage unit he was renting. An employee called the FBI that day and reported that Krar was wicked anti-American.
The Arab population in the United States has nearly doubled in the past two decades, according to the Census Bureau's first report on the group. Experts cited liberalized U.S. immigration laws and unrest in the Middle East that led many people to come to America. The bureau counted nearly 1.2 million Arabs in the United States in 2000, compared with 860,000 in 1990 and 610,000 in 1980. About 60 percent trace their ancestry to three countries: Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. The lifting of U.S. immigration quotas in the 1960s opened the door to people from Arab countries and many took advantage during the 1980s and 1990s, with a large number coming from nations such as Lebanon and Iraq where there were wars. Almost half of the Arabs in the United States live in five states California (190,890), New York (120,370), Michigan (115,284), New Jersey (71,770) and Florida (77,461). New York City had the largest Arab population among U.S. cities, 69,985. The Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Mich., where many Arabs first settled to work in the automobile industry, was next at 29,181. Sterling Heights, Mich., was the city with the largest percentage of Arab-Americans, 3.7 percent, followed by Jersey City, N.J., with 2.8 percent. Dearborn's population is about 30 percent Arab but it was not ranked because the Census Bureau only counted cities with at least 100,000 residents; Dearborn has about 98,000. Arab-Americans say their population is larger than that reported by the Census Bureau, but many are reluctant to fill out government forms because they came from countries with oppressive regimes. The Arab American Institute Foundation said that just over 15,000 visas were issued to immigrants from Arab countries in 2002, compared with more than 21,000 in 2001.
The FBI warns that militant Muslim prison chaplains sympathetic to terrorists are trying to recruit inmates as future operatives. Inmates provide fertile recruiting ground for radical causes. The government is concerned enough about jailhouse recruitment to militant causes that it has begun checking hundreds of pieces of mail.
The Bush administration
has failed to improve how federal agencies and law enforcement
officials share information in the war against terrorism, leaving
the government in danger of missing key clues about future
attacks, according to a report issued Dec. 2, 2003, by a panel of
national security and technology experts. The administration's
goal of having a network for law enforcement and homeland
security officials to share information about potential attacks
remains stymied by "the absence of a national vision and
public discussion" about how to build the system while
respecting civil liberties, the Markle Foundation's Task Force on
National Security in the Information Age said. It added that
progress has been "ad hoc and sporadic at best." Some
experts investigating the events leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks have said the plot might have been thwarted if
federal and non-federal agencies had a better way to share
information about threats. The task force said the information
network should use technology to restrict access to sensitive
information to those who have permission to view it. It also
recommends limiting the private-sector data that can be held by
the government and ensuring that data be shared using standards
that are interoperable across many technologies. The report found
that technology exists to create an effective information sharing
network at the federal, state and local levels but the federal
government remains mired in a Cold-War mindset built around
hoarding sensitive information as a rule. It urges the
administration to "create a culture of distribution of
information" that gives local police and other agencies the
ability to instantaneously share information with intelligence
analysts and better respond to terrorist threats. "This mind-set
of classification and tight limits on sharing information is ill-suited
to today's homeland security challenge. We cannot predict where
the first sign of a potential terrorist threat will come from --
a communications intercept from the FBI or the CIA, an
investigation by a local police department, or an observation by
an alert private security guard or emergency room nurse," it
said. The report also said the administration mishandled several
promising programs to mine private sector databases for signs of
terrorist activity by failing to set clear policy guidelines for
the government's collection and use of data on Americans'
everyday activities. In recent months, Congress has suspended or
delayed several anti-terrorism technology projects because of
fears that they would mishandle sensitive data about private
citizens. One program causing congressional concern is the
federal airline passenger screening project known as "CAPPS
II." The program is under review by the General Accounting
Office after it was revealed that JetBlue Airways turned over to
a Defense Department contractor the names and addresses 5 million
passengers to be used in a risk assessment study. Congress killed
funding for the "Terrorist Information Awareness (TIA)"
program -- a proposal to detect terrorist activity by searching
for patterns across databases of financial, travel,
communications and educational records -- in part because of
shifting explanations of how the program would affect consumer
privacy, the report noted. Steven Aftergood, director of the
Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American
Scientists, said that the public opposes government programs like
TIA in part because there is no way to detect abuse of private
data. "One has to anticipate that someone somewhere is going
to take improper advantage of this information at one level or
another. That's just a fact of life," Aftergood said. The
report said that it is critically important that information-sharing
guidelines be established before another major terrorist incident
Concerns about emergency communications during the Sept. 11 attack have long focused on technical flaws in rescuers' radio systems. But on Dec. 2 (2003), investigators identified another, much different problem: too many people talking at once. The overwhelming rush of radio transmissions by emergency personnel responding to the World Trade Center may have cut off one-third to one-half of radio calls, according to preliminary findings by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. "Traffic volume made it difficult to handle the flow and delivery of information," the NIST report said. "Multiple, concurrent radio transmissions on the same frequency, or doubling, made it more difficult. "It is estimated that roughly a third to a half of the communications were not complete due to surge load conditions."
NIST is seeking additional information on research, done in 1964 as the Port Authority was planning the trade center, that found the towers could survive the impact of a 707 jetliner. The modern 767 jetliners that struck the building in 2001 are about 20 percent bigger than a 707, but the investigator said the Port Authority's analysis is still important because the 1964 scenario was "strikingly similar" to the events of Sept. 11. NIST has obtained documents referring to the early work, but cannot find the corresponding calculations and analysis, records of which were presumably destroyed in the building collapse. NIST is asking any former employees of the Port Authority who may still have copies of that analysis to come forward and provide it to the agency, which is also conducting fire tests of the World Trade Center's flooring and insulation.
Chinese military officers said Dec. 3 (2003) that Taiwan's leadership had pushed the island toward the "abyss of war" with its independence drive, making clear that China would consider a popular vote on Taiwan's political status as cause for war. In lengthy interviews carried prominently by the official New China News Agency and other news outlets, the military officials also said that China would prevent Taiwan from formally declaring independence even if that meant pushing the mainland economy into a recession or destroying its plans to be host to the 2008 Olympics. "Chen has reached the mainland's bottom line on the Taiwan question," said Luo Yuan, a senior colonel with the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, referring to Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-Bian. "If they refuse to come to their senses and continue to use referenda as an excuse to seek Taiwan independence, they will push Taiwan compatriots into the abyss of war." Maj. Gen. Peng Guangqian was quoted as saying that the mainland would attack without hesitation if Taiwan sought a formal split. "Taiwan independence means war," Mr. Peng said. "This is the word of 1.3 billion people, and we will keep our word." Chinese military officers do not write articles or speak out in official interviews without clearance from the highest levels, and the comments of General Peng and Colonel Luo were clearly orchestrated to send the firmest possible message about China's agitation ahead of a visit to Washington by China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao. General Peng listed the Olympics, loss of foreign investment, deterioration in foreign relations, economic slowdown or recession and "necessary" casualties by the army as costs China would willingly bear to reunify the mainland. Beijing officials and analysts say the Bush administration needs to take a firmer line against Taiwanese independence, an issue Mr. Wen seems certain to press during his meeting next week with President Bush.
The spread of SARS could threaten global stability and devastate countries in Africa as well as other parts of the developing world, warns a declassified secret report by Canada's spy agency. "The SARS epidemic will be a long-term, complex and recurrent problem," says the report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The challenge of finding effective treatments, the fragile state of health in many poor nations and the fact the flu-like virus quickly mutates indicate it will continue to pose a serious risk, CSIS contends in the document prepared at the height of last spring's SARS crisis. A declassified copy of the May report, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) - More Questions Than Answers, was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. Extensive portions were considered too sensitive to release. The intelligence service's interest in SARS underscores the notion that rapidly spreading ailments can be as potent a threat as terrorists or spies in the 21st century. SARS emerged in China in November 2002, spreading around the world within weeks. The virus infected about 8,100 people, killing 774. In Canada, more than 40 people died in the Toronto area. "It is increasingly evident that the threat from the SARS virus will not be eliminated in the near future," says the report. "Despite the best efforts of the world's leading microbiologists, an antidote to the affliction has not been found." The intelligence service fears SARS could have a "devastating impact" on Africa. "Sub-Saharan Africa could be particularly vulnerable, where a high percentage of the population is HIV-positive or otherwise in a weakened state from ailments such as malaria, typhoid, cholera, typhus, TB and malnutrition." Similar calamities could occur if SARS were to become entrenched in other areas of the developing world, the report adds. "Many of these countries have neither advanced medical services nor infrastructure to deal with a health crisis of this magnitude." Russia is also potentially exposed, given that a "significant percentage" of its population is infected with tuberculosis, CSIS says. An earlier report by the spy service, prepared in mid-April as the crisis began to deepen, noted the "problem is believed to be more serious than the Chinese government admits." Many countries, including Canada, tried to reduce their exposure to the virus through travel restrictions, pre-flight screening of passengers, enforced quarantine periods, school closures and cancellation of conferences and trade shows, the report notes. "In the event of a SARS pandemic, it is expected that government-imposed travel bans and restrictions would be even more stringent." Canadian efforts to contain SARS last spring "came at a significant cost" marked by overburdened and infected medical staff and, in the case of Toronto, severe economic losses from disruptions to business, trade and investment, the report adds. A study by Kentucky researchers warns the United States is ill-equipped for a SARS outbreak, citing a shortage of epidemiologists, public-health nurses and other staff.
A former Israeli
intelligence officer charged Dec. 4 (2003) that Israeli agencies
produced a flawed picture of Iraqi weapons capabilities and
substantially contributed to mistakes made in U.S. and British
pre-war assessments on Iraq, comments of reserve Brig. Gen.
Shlomo Brom. Prior to his retirement in 1998, Brom served in
Israeli military intelligence for 25 years, and acted as the
deputy chief of planning for the Israeli army. Brom said he was
directing his remarks at Military Intelligence, Air Force
Intelligence, and the Mossad intelligence agency. "Israeli
intelligence was a full partner with the U.S. and Britain in
developing a false picture of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass
destruction capability," Brom said. "It badly
overestimated the Iraqi threat to Israel and reinforced the
American and British belief that the weapons existed." Brom
said a lack of professionalism and poor supervision were major
reasons for the Israeli intelligence failure. "Even if Iraq
had any Scud missiles left, I can't understand how Israeli
intelligence officers came to believe they threatened Israel,
particularly when they hadn't been used in more than 10 years,"
Brom said. "It's a clear example of how an inability to
think clearly is undermining the Israeli intelligence community."
Brom also cited the bitter memories of the 1973 Middle East War,
when Israeli intelligence failed to anticipate an attack by Egypt
and Syria, and the country suffered thousands of casualties.
"Israeli intelligence agencies have tended to overstate the
threat the country faces ever since 1973," he said.
Following the publication of Brom's article, opposition lawmaker
Yossi Sarid called for a parliamentary inquiry on the performance
of Israeli intelligence services.
http://www.tau.ac.il/jcss/sa/volume6_3.html The War in Iraq: An Intelligence Failure?
Former CIA director Stansfield Turner asserted Dec. 4 (2004) that the conflict in Iraq is distracting the U.S. government from the more important war on terrorism. Turner, who ran the spy agency during President Jimmy Carter's administration, condemned moving to oust Saddam Hussein without gaining more international support. "We probably would have had to topple Saddam Hussein eventually, but we didn't have to do it in March 2003," Turner said. Turner said he didn't believe Iraq was a terrorist haven before the war, but it could become one if the U.S. removes its forces too soon.
A center that will consolidate a multitude of terrorist watch lists began operations this week, but it will be months before it will provide security personnel the promised "one-stop shopping" to identify suspected terrorists, Bush administration officials said Dec. 3, 2003. The Terrorist Screening Center in Crystal City, Va., began operations Dec. 2, officials said. It has an initial watch list but has not yet consolidated all the lists from the FBI, CIA, State Department, Homeland Security Department and elsewhere in the U.S. government. The Bush administration announced the center in September, after the federal government acknowledged failed efforts to track two eventual Sept. 11 hijackers who had been in the United States since early 2000. A top FBI counterterrorism official said a consolidated watch list could have prevented their entry into the country. The screening center is run by the FBI and will draw staff from Homeland Security and other agencies. A State Department announcement said the center would have "a single, comprehensive, anti-terror watch list that will be operational by December 1, 2003." A Bush administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it will be a few months before the center has every watch list implemented. The center will function around-the-clock and will allow police, airport screeners, embassy consular officers and other government security personnel to call and check a name and other data against the lists. Previously, nine government agencies maintained a total of 12 different lists, raising the prospect that a potential terrorist would be missed if the wrong list were checked. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., issued a statement criticizing the Bush administration for not yet having the center fully operational. "We are two years, two months and counting since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and yet one of the best defensive mechanisms that we could muster, a consolidated watch list of terrorists to keep them out if they try to get in or to identify them if they do slip in, is still not in place," he said.
"Recent intelligence indicates that terrorists continue to develop plans to hijack aircraft and use them as weapons, despite enhanced worldwide airport security and increased vigilance on the part of passengers and crew members since the September 11 attacks,'' the FBI said in its weekly bulletin sent to law enforcement agencies throughout the country. "Intelligence indicates terrorists are considering the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) assembled onboard to hijack an aircraft or, alternatively, destroy it over heavily populated areas in the event of passenger or crew resistance," the bulletin said. The FBI said that components of IEDs can be smuggled onto planes concealed in clothing or personal carry-on items like shampoo and medicine bottles, and then put together onboard. "In many cases of suspicious passenger activity incidents have taken place in the aircraft's forward lavatory," the FBI noted. "It is conceivable terrorists may plan to use this private area to construct IED(s) in order to facilitate access to the cockpit, or position themselves in front of the passengers.'' The bureau also makes reference in the two-page bulletin to the college student who recently smuggled hoax explosives made of modeling clay onboard several airplanes. "Several other incidents involving vandalism of aircraft lavatories and possible attempts to access the cockpit bulkhead have also been reported," the FBI said. "Although these incidents do not appear to be terrorist related, the widespread media coverage of these incidents highlights screening vulnerabilities at specific airports that could be exploited by terrorists." The FBI told law enforcement officials and security personnel to "remain vigilant for attempts, possibly involving one or more individuals, to smuggle IED components onboard aircraft."
The discovery of a pair of stretched-out socks with traces of explosives in them has prompted the government warning that al-Qaida may still be planning to use personal items to blow up a plane, according to the Homeland Security Department. ABC News, citing an anonymous source, reported Dec. 5 (2003) that the socks were seized by British authorities in Gloucester, England, during the arrest of Sajid Badat last month. Badat was arrested Nov. 20 and charged with conspiring in an explosives plot with shoe bomber Richard Reid, who is serving a life sentence for attempting to bomb an airliner in December 2001. It is not known specifically what the socks may have been used for, or whether the explosive residue came from a floor or a shoe or were intended for use on someone's body.
At least 40 people died and 180 were injured when a blast blamed on terrorists ripped through a Russian commuter train near the war-torn republic of Chechnya, two days before a national parliamentary election. The interior ministry in Moscow said a suicide bomber was behind the blast, which was so powerful that it ripped one of the train's cars in half, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported Dec. 5, 2003. Another theory was that the blast was caused by a remote-controlled bomb placed on the train tracks, reported Rossiya television. "There was a bomb in the second car of the train that went off as it approached the Essentuki station," an unnamed police source told the Interfax news agency. Twin blasts rocked the same commuter line two months ago, killing four and injuring 32, many of them teenagers travelling to attend univerity classes in the town of Pyatigorsk. The Stavropol region lies north of Chechnya, where rebels have been battling Russian troops since the start of the second Russian-Chechen war in October 1999. A top lawmaker blamed blast on Chechen separatists. "Since practically all of our attacks are linked to Chechnya, it's clear these Chechen rebels" are responsible for the blast, Alexander Gurov, chief of the State Duma's defense committee, told Moscow Echo radio. The rebels' goal was "to remind ahead of elections that they exist, they have not been defeated and for the government to think about that," Gurov said. A wave of bombings blamed on Chechen guerrillas, claiming more than 150 lives, had struck Russia ahead of a Kremlin-organized October 5 presidential poll in the republic. The election was called by Putin -- who launched the Chechen offensive while still serving as prime minister in October 1999 -- in a bid to find a political solution to the four-year conflict.
In the ethnic conflicts that surrounded the collapse of the Soviet Union, fighters in several countries seized a small, thin rocket known as the Alazan. Military records show that at least 38 Alazan warheads were modified to carry radioactive material, effectively creating the world's first surface-to-surface dirty bomb. Why the Alazan warheads were made is unknown. The urgent question -- where are they now? -- is a matter of grave concern to terrorism and nonproliferation experts who know the damage such devices could do. A dirty bomb is not a nuclear device but a weapon that uses conventional explosives to disperse radioactive materials, which could cause widespread disruption and expose people to dangerous radiation. Unlike other kinds of dirty bombs, this one would come with its own delivery system, and an 8-mile range. A number of terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, have sought to build or buy one. Once the industrial heartland of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, Transdniester has a long history as a production center for arms and weapons, including machine guns and rockets. Among the weapons in production are large numbers of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, Grad and Duga multiple-rocket launchers, antitank mines, rocket-propelled grenades and multiple lines of small arms. The weapons are manufactured for export.
The Bush administration strongly criticized a referendum planned by Taiwan that could be interpreted as a move toward independence from China. "We are just telling the Taiwanese not to rock the boat," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said. "The people of Taiwan should understand that the United States is committed militarily in another part of the world, and doesn't need another major commitment."
http://www.freepressinternational.com/china.html Bush And A Chinese Communist Dictator
Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian reiterated that Taiwan would hold its first referendum on March 20, despite opposition from China and a blunt warning by President Bush. Chen said at a news conference that the referendum would not be about independence nor would it change the status quo with China.
Military officials have said only two of the Army's 10 active-duty divisions will be at full strength for any new conflict in 2004. The four Army divisions currently serving in Iraq are expected to need about six months to rest, retrain and repair equipment when they return from Iraq early 2004. With three divisions set to rotate into Iraq and another into Afghanistan as replacements, about 80% of the Army's fighting strength will be either on the mend or on duty fighting terror and stabilizing the two countries. One of the two remaining divisions, the 3rd Infantry, is just back from Iraq and not yet up to full capacity. During the retraining, those divisions' formal readiness ratings will fall to the lowest or second-lowest level.
The U.S. military has launched a major ground operation in Afghanistan in an effort to eliminate the remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban regime overthrown in 2001. Military spokesman Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty described "Operation Avalanche", which began Dec. 6 (2003), as the largest ground operation yet in Afghanistan. He said the operation would focus on areas where international troops and aid workers have been hit by terrorist cells. "The terrorists are going into their winter campaigning season where they don't campaign as much," he said "We're going to make sure that we get them before they get a chance to hunker down. " Hilferty said Operation Avalanche comes as Operation Mountain Resolve, carried out in the snowy peaks of eastern Afghanistan, ends.
Are the Saudis funding schools devoted to fomenting radical Islamic ideology?
Of the thousands of people
referred by the FBI and other federal investigators to
prosecutors in connection with terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001,
only a handful have been convicted and sentenced to long prison
terms, according to an analysis of Justice Department figures
published Dec. 8, 2003. A look at the 6,400 terrorism-related
cases referred by investigators for Justice Department
prosecution between the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and Sept.
_PROSECUTION REFUSED: 1,554
_CHARGES FILED: 2,001
_PROSECUTIONS COMPLETED: 1,127
_CASES DISMISSED: 234
_NOT GIULTY: 14
_NO PRISON SENTENCE: 506
_PRISON SENTENCE: 373
_LESS THAN ONE YEAR: 250
_ONE TO FIVE YEARS: 100
_MORE THAN FIVE YEARS: 23
Once touted as major advances in the U.S. war on terrorism, a number of high-profile cases have later fallen short, leading critics to ask whether officials exaggerated their successes in the first place. They highlight examples such as the cases of "dirty bomber" suspect Jose Padilla, Muslim Guantanamo Bay chaplain James Yee, a controversial color-coded terror alert system and a foreigner registration scheme -- all of which have fizzled to some extent since they were announced with much fanfare. Critics also cite widespread investigations and large numbers of arrests in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks which led to few terror-related convictions. "Certainly I believe that the administration is very good at press conferences and messages with respect to homeland security," Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Homeland Security, told Reuters. "Much of it has been fluff, in my opinion."
The Bush administration's first major post-Sept. 11 prosecution, which broke up a terrorist cell in Detroit, is in danger of unraveling after the Justice Department divulged it had failed to turn over evidence that might have helped the defense. The evidence includes a letter from an imprisoned drug gang leader who alleges the government's key witness confided he made up some of his story. The defendants are now asking that their convictions be overturned, and the judge has scheduled an emergency hearing to demand an explanation from the government.
The United States' refusal to allow testimony from a jailed Qaeda figure prompted a Hamburg judge on Dec. 11, 2003, to order the release of a Moroccan accused of aiding the Sept. 11 hijackers. The judge acted after reviewing new evidence that Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a member of the Hamburg Qaeda cell that planned and executed the World Trade Center attacks, told American interrogators that only he and the three suicide pilots from the Hamburg cell knew about the attacks before they happened. The judge said that while he had strong doubts about the reliability of the evidence, he could not properly evaluate it without testimony from Mr. bin al-Shibh. The trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in an American court in connection with the attacks, has also been thrown into doubt by the government's refusal to make captured Qaeda operatives available for questioning. The new evidence will force a quick decision about the fate of another Moroccan, Mounir el-Motassadeq, who is the only person anywhere to have been convicted in connection with the attacks. That trial was also dogged by concerns that the American government had not been forthcoming with intelligence relevant to the case. The man who was freed today, Abdelghani Mzoudi, 31, is charged with acting as an accessory in the deaths of more than 3,000 people on Sept. 11.
A suicide bomber has killed six people and wounded 13 in a Moscow attack which authorities say may have targeted the Russian parliament. Police said they suspected the Dec. 9th (2003) blast was set off by at least one female bomber who wore a belt packed with explosives and ballbearings. Her blown-off head was discovered lying on a busy pavement on Moscow's Mokhovaya street facing the Kremlin. A second undetonated device was discovered on a woman's body after police had secured the site. "There may have been two suicide bombers," Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said. Officials said the bomber had apparently tried to target the State Duma lower house of parliament building that was a few dozen metres away. Police said they were looking for another suspect who might have taken part in the attack and had the features of a person from the Caucasus - the code used to indicate the blast was carried out by Chechen rebels. "She went through training in one of the rebel camps," the official said in apparent reference to Chechen resistance fighters. Officials said the 14 wounded included several students from Moscow State University and that five people were in serious condition. Reports quoted a police official as saying two women had walked up to a passer-by and asked "Where is the Duma?" - referring to the parliament chamber. A blast went off, moments later. The Moscow blast went off just two days after Russia took extraordinary security measures to make sure the Duma elections went off safely. Two days before the vote, a bomb attack struck a train in a southern Russian region, travelling near Chechnya, killing 44 people and injuring more than 170 others.
Bangladesh may be emerging as a haven for Islamic terrorists in South Asia, says an intelligence report by Canada's spy agency. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service expresses concern about serious attacks by radicals on cultural groups in Bangladesh, hints of collusion with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida and the government's alleged unwillingness to crack down on terrorism. The CSIS report also suggests there could be dangers to Canadian aid agencies with a "strong presence" in Bangladesh, the third-largest Muslim country in the world. The Canadian Press obtained a declassified copy of the secret July report under the Access to Information Act. Considerable portions of the highly sensitive document were withheld from release. A CSIS spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the findings. After reading the report, Bangladesh's high commissioner in Ottawa steadfastly denied his country had become a terrorist sanctuary. "We condemn terrorism in any country, in any form, in any place," Mohsin Ali Khan said Dec. 9 (2003). "Bangladesh is against any terrorist attack and it will not allow its soil to be used by any terrorist group." Bangladesh, which became independent from Pakistan in 1971, has a population of almost 130 million, the vast majority Muslims. The country embraces democracy, possesses a vibrant print media and has voiced support for Western policies and democratic values, CSIS notes. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Bangladesh promised assistance in the fight against terrorism. However, CSIS takes issue with the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party's efforts to quell political violence. "There have been a number of serious terrorist attacks on cultural groups and recreational facilities in Bangladesh and the political party in power has routinely blamed the opposition party for such criminal activities, rather than finding out the real perpetrators of violence." Last February, the CSIS report notes, Islamic militants attacked a cultural concert in a northern Bangladesh town and police recovered bomb-making materials from radicals who claimed to be members of the militant organizations Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh and Shahdat ul Hiqma. Five years ago, a group called Bangladesh Jihad drew attention when one of its members signed a fatwa, or legal pronouncement, sponsored by the notorious bin Laden. The balance of the analysis was considered too sensitive for release.
Authorities in Minneapolis on Dec. 9 (2003) arrested and jailed a man suspected of associating with the Al-Qaida terrorist network and having knowledge of some of the activities of Zacarias Moussaoui, a law enforcement official said. The official said the detainee has confirmed some of investigators' suspicions about Moussaoui, who was arrested while learning to fly a Boeing 747 jet at an Eagan flight school two years ago and now is the subject of the only U.S. prosecution related to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The jailed man, whose name was withheld, has described Moussaoui's activities at an Al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan several years ago, the official said. Members of the FBI's local Joint Terrorism Task Force made the arrest in Minneapolis after a lengthy investigation, the official said. But the detainee's identity was kept off the public roster of inmates at the Hennepin County jail, and other details surrounding his apprehension could not immediately be learned. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the suspect was served with an arrest warrant Dec. 9 and brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Earl Cudd, but the proceedings were sealed. Roseann Campagnoli, a spokeswoman for the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, referred callers to the U.S. attorney's office. Thomas Heffelfinger, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, declined to comment. Moussaoui, 35, was indicted on Dec. 11, 2001, on six conspiracy counts, four carrying the death penalty, for allegedly joining in a plot to hijack and crash U.S. jetliners. U.S. intelligence sources have said previously that Al-Qaida captive Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 plot, has told his interrogators that Moussaoui was not intended to join the 19 suicide hijackers who seized four jetliners that day, but rather was training to participate in a second-wave attack. Federal prosecutors recently disclosed in court papers that other Al-Qaida members were known to be attempting to enter the country in the weeks before Sept. 11, 2001. Published reports have said the FBI believes it has identified a man who was intended to be the 20th hijacker. It was unclear whether the detainee could shed light on these revelations. The case against Moussaoui is in limbo while a federal appeals court panel decides whether to reverse a trial judge's ruling stripping the death penalty from the case and barring prosecutors from seeking to link Moussaoui to the Sept. 11 attacks. Prosecutors have appealed those penalties, imposed by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema of Alexandria, Va., for the government's refusal to let Moussaoui and his lawyers take videotaped depositions from Mohammed and two other Al-Qaida captives who the judge said appeared likely to support the defense's contention that Moussaoui had no role in the Sept. 11 attacks. Dec. 9th's arrest marked only the latest in a series of federal counterterrorism activities in Minnesota, beginning with Moussaoui's arrest on an immigration charge about 3 weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks. In November 2001, federal agents raided five Minneapolis money-transfer operations as part of a global effort to cut off Al-Qaida's funding. While the government later backed away from two of those cases, it continues to block the accounts of Al-Barakaat, a money-transfer network that Twin Cities Somalis relied on to send money home to their relatives. On Sept. 20, 2002, the FBI arrested three men in Hong Kong, including 55-year-old Ilyas Ali of St. Paul, in a sting operation. The three were later indicted on charges they plotted to swap large quantities of heroin and hashish for shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. They allegedly told undercover FBI agents they planned to sell the missiles to the Taliban, the former Afghan ruling militia that is allied with Al-Qaida. The United States is seeking Ali's extradition. In November 2002, authorities identified a Minneapolis man arrested in North Carolina as the alleged leader of a Detroit terrorist cell that had videotaped U.S. landmarks, including Disneyland and the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The man, Abel-Ilah Elmardoudi, a Moroccan citizen, and three others were charged with conspiring to provide material support for Al-Qaida plans to attack the United States, including providing the network with stolen telephone calling card numbers and fake visas. In June, Elmardoudi was found guilty of conspiracy to commit material support to terrorism against the United States.
The man arrested in Minneapolis on suspicion of associating with al-Qaida has been identified as a Canadian citizen and college student of Somali descent. The man arrested was Mohammed A. Warsame citing law enforcement officials who requested anonymity. Warsame is suspected of having knowledge of some of the activities of Zacarias Moussaoui who is accused of being a Sept. 11 conspirator when he was in Minneapolis. Warsame had been arrested as a material witness, but did not disclose whether he would testify against Moussaoui or others. Warsame, 30, was also described as knowledgeable about Moussaoui's activities in an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan. The indictment against Moussaoui, 35, who was arrested in Eagan shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, alleges he trained at al-Qaida's Khalden Camp in April 1998.
Study Finds Federal Bioterrorism Funds Have Yielded Only Modest Improvements in States
A leading al-Qaida militant arrested in Yemen was trying to infiltrate the state's security forces, officials close to the investigations said. Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal, was arrested in late November 2003 by security forces that surrounded his hide-out west of the capital, San'a, and authorities have been interrogating him since. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that al-Ahdal confessed to forming small, independent cells aimed at infiltrating Yemeni security and gathering intelligence to block the capture of wanted militants. Al-Ahdal's sources, including some within his homeland of Saudi Arabia, transferred funds in small amounts into Yemen to avoid detection, the officials said. They said a Saudi intelligence team has arrived in Yemen and would be briefed about al-Ahdal. Al-Ahdal, also known as Abu Assem al-Makky, has reportedly admitted planning, financing and coordinating the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor, which killed 17 U.S. sailors. He also planned the 2002 bombing of the French oil tanker Limburg off the Yemeni coast. In each of those attacks, an explosive-laden boat was piloted up to the larger ship and detonated. The Limburg attack killed a Bulgarian crew member and spilled 90,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Aden. At the time of his arrest, Al-Ahdal, 32, was reported to have replaced Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, Osama bin Laden's top deputy in Yemen who was killed by a missile fired from a U.S. drone aircraft last year. A U.S. counterterrorism official in Washington said then that al-Ahdal had been among the top 20 al-Qaida figures at large. He has been described by Yemeni officials as supervising the al-Qaida terror group's finances, weapons smuggling and operational planning in Yemen and was well-connected to extremists in other Gulf countries. The Yemeni officials said Al-Ahdal admitted in interrogations to being in close contact with other extremists groups in Yemen such as the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army and the Yemeni Islamic Jihad. Bin Laden's family comes from Yemen, which has long been regarded as a hotbed for militant groups, and the country has acknowledged that elements of al-Qaida are at large there.
A former key member of the Bush administration told a conference that Pakistan was a "threat to the entire South Asian region and the world", a statement said. Richard Haass, a former senior State Department official, also told the conference organised by The Hindustan Times newspaper that Pakistan had done nothing to dismantle the "terrorist camps operating from its territory", a press release said Dec. 12, 2003. On recent India-Pakistan peace moves, the official said he welcomed them but warned against over-optimism. "We welcome it (the peace bid) but let us not lose sight of reality. Nothing has been done by Pakistan to dismantle terrorist camps that still characterise the situation," he said, according to the conference
Manipulation Through Fear...And
By Marjorie Tietjen
HOW THE MASS MEDIA IN THE U.S. CREATED FLU HYSTERIA AND HELPED DRIVE THE VACCINE MARKETS FOR THE MAKERS OF FluMist AND FLUZONE.
By Dr. Sherri Tenpenny
Dec 12, 2003 -- Canada's
Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency
Preparedness and the National Crime Prevention Centre will be
hived off from other departments and rolled into the new ministry.
Cabinet veteran Anne McLellan assumes the helm of the new Public
Safety and Emergency Preparedness portfolio, which combines
agencies under the wing of the Solicitor General with bodies
responsible for borders, emergency preparedness and crime
prevention. The fledgling department embraces the agencies of the
old Solicitor General's portfolio, including the RCMP, Canadian
Security Intelligence Service, Correctional Service of Canada and
National Parole Board. The Public Safety Department will also
include the new Canada Border Services Agency, taking in as many
as 7,000 federal employees responsible for customs duties; the
inspection of passengers, animals, plants, and food; and
immigration services such as investigations, intelligence and
deportations. Prime Minister Paul Martin said creation of an
expanded security ministry was "long past due" to
ensure a more co-ordinated response to unexpected calamities. As
part of its security overhaul, the government will also:
- Increase National Defence Reserves available to handle disasters and other emergencies.
- Make the refugee determination process "more predictable and streamlined."
- Establish a cabinet committee on security, public health and emergencies, chaired by McLellan.
- Propose a Commons standing committee on security whose members would be cleared to receive hearings on sensitive issues.
- Create a new watchdog to oversee the RCMP's national security activities.
- Appoint longtime bureaucrat Robert Wright as national security adviser to the prime minister.
A new law effective Dec. 14, 2003, will provide for the arming of cargo pilots against terrorism. It closes the loophole in the law, enacted last year, which allows commercial airline passenger pilots, but not cargo pilots, to carry guns in the cockpit if they volunteer for a federal program which includes a week of specialized training.
US and British occupation of Iraq will end by July, says Blair's envoy By Mary Dejevsky
The White House kept the secret of Saddam Hussein's capture for 14 hours.
4th Infantry Captures
Saddam Near Tikrit
By Jim Garamone / American Forces Press Service
Dec. 14, 2003 -- Well-informed Lebanese sources said that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's second wife supplied the US with "some information" about where her husband was hiding in Iraq. Samira Shahbandar, who lives with the ousted Iraqi leader's only surviving son Ali, "is believed to have given the Americans and their allies some information about the area where Saddam was hiding in," the sources said. Saddam was captured based on information from a member of a family "close to him", Major General Raymond Odierno said. Odierno, the commander of the 4th Infantry Division that captured Saddam, said that over the last 10 days soldiers had questioned "five to 10 members" of families "close to Saddam". "Finally we got the ultimate information from one of these individuals," he said. During a press conference in Baghdad today, the US forces commander in Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez, ignored a question as to whether the US had received information from Saddam's second wife, saying only, "We had intelligence information".
We got him: Kurds say they caught Saddam By Paul McGeough
Who captured Saddam
Will Saddam's capture prove to be a
trap for Bush?
By Mathew Maavak
Saddam trial could embarrass US
Capture Created And Fabricated For Public Consumption By Tony Castelluci
We Caught The Wrong Guy By William Rivers Pitt
They got the wrong guy By John Kaminski
We never had WMD, former president tells interrogators By Chris Bunting
A Saddam Chronology by Stephen R. Shalom
Who's Keeping Saddam's Secret Safe? By Rory O'Connor
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said the Bush administration last year told him and other senators that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction, but they had the means to deliver them to East Coast cities. About 75 senators got that news during a classified briefing before last October's congressional vote authorizing the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Nelson voted in favor of using military force. Nelson said he couldn't reveal who in the Bush administration gave the briefing. The White House directed questions about the matter to the Department of Defense. Defense officials had no comment on Nelson's claim. Nelson said the senators were told Iraq had both biological and chemical weapons, notably anthrax, and it could deliver them to cities along the Eastern seaboard via unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. "They have not found anything that resembles an UAV that has that capability," Nelson said.
A bomb exploded moments after Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's motorcade passed a bridge near the capital Dec. 14, 2003, at least the second attempt on his life since he enraged hard-liners in 2001 by backing the U.S.-led war on terror in Afghanistan. No one was hurt. Talat Masood, a former senior defense official, said it was too early to say who was behind the attack, but the mostly likely suspects were hard-liners opposed to Musharraf's policy on Afghanistan, and his efforts to reform Islamic schools that have become hotbeds of radicalism. "I think these are the forces who want to eliminate him," Masood said. The blast happened hours after Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri arrived in Pakistan on an official visit. Pakistan and Indonesia are the world's two largest Muslim nations.
Special security equipment installed in vehicles in the motorcade of President Pervez Musharraf saved his life when a bridge was blown up just after he crossed it, an official said. "The presidential motorcade has special jamming equipment, which blocks all remote-controlled devices in a 200-meter radius," a senior security official investigating the blast said. "That is why the bomb exploded after Musharraf's motorcade had crossed the bridge," the official said, requesting anonymity. Five high explosives were detonated seconds before Musharraf's car travelled over the bridge near military headquarters in Rawalpindi, but they didn't explode until after he'd passed over it. "The entire operation was meticulously planned and had it not been for the jammer installed in the cars it would certainly have inflicted the damage." The official said "jihadi elements" -- guerrillas fighting Indian rule in Kashmir and pro-Taliban fighters along Pakistan's western border -- were the main suspects. "The suspicion is on jihadi elements, especially pro-Taliban," he said. Musharraf, a key US ally in the war on terror, has blamed Islamic militants, whom he has infuriated with his anti-extremist drives and allegedly pro-US policies regarding Afghanistan and Kashmir.
The Canadian military has signed a $4.1-million deal to create a deep-sea "tripwire" system to catch smugglers, terrorists or others trying to approach Canada's coasts illegally. The contract with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. is the latest effort to use new technology to cover vast stretches of coastline that Canada's modest military cannot effectively monitor with ships and aircraft alone. The new surveillance system uses a series of sea-floor devices that detect the engine sounds and metal hulls of ships that refuse to announce their presence in Canada waters. "It's a fairly new idea," said Garry Heard, the Dartmouth, N.S., defence scientist in charge of the project. "This would give you a warning if any intruder passed a barrier." The navy already uses fixed, permanent monitors on the seabed to watch for intruding submarines and other potentially hostile vessels on Canada's coastal approaches, a system that is shrouded in secrecy. But the older monitors are expensive to install and maintain, and cannot readily be moved to adapt to newly identified threats. The new rapidly deployable sensors, as they're called, can be dropped by helicopter or ship at specific points along the coast where intelligence indicates a smuggler or terrorist might try to penetrate. The sensors not only monitor engine noises and the magnetic disturbances caused by hulls, but each device can talk to others dropped nearby to plot speed, direction and to determine the type of vessel. "They listen and look around themselves to fairly short range, and then a kilometre or so away there's another system and it does the same thing," said Heard, an expert in underwater acoustics. "And they all work co-operatively. When one gets a target, it talks to the others and tries to see if they have the target as well." The devices would be strategically anchored on the sea floor wherever there's a perceived threat and retrieved days, weeks or months later by remotely cutting the anchor line and allow them to float to the surface for recovery. The technology will also allow the military to understand the peculiar sound-propagation properties of any stretch of ocean and seafloor the better to refine the acoustic detection of ships. Although primarily intended for coastal defence, the devices could also be deployed to protect Canadian vessels operating in the Middle East and other areas of conflict, Heard said. The idea is that the sensors could free ships, aircraft and personnel that might otherwise be forced to cruise the seas watching for trouble. The system will also complement a third coastal-surveillance system, using high frequency surface wave radar, that began operations this summer in Newfoundland to watch for ships and aircraft up to 370 kilometres offshore where standard radar cannot penetrate. The radar system is to be installed at numerous points along both the East and West Coasts.
China has issued its first ever list of "terrorist" groups, blaming them for a series of bombings and assasinations and calling for international assistance to wipe them out. The groups are accused of trying to create an independent Islamic state called "East Turkistan" in northwest China's Xinjiang region, which is populated by the Turkish-speaking Uighur Muslims. East Turkistan forces inside and outside China have long plotted and executed a series of bombings, assasinations, arsons, poisoning attacks and other activities in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, said Ministry of Public Security official Zhao Yongshen. The list comes with Beijing anxious to seize upon the global counter-terrorism campaign to gain international support for its fight against Uighur separatists, whom it considers terrorists. The groups identified were the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Eastern Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO), the World Uighur Youth Congress (WUYC) and the East Turkistan Information Center (ETIC). China said the ETIM and ETLO have received funding from al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, including several million US dollars to spread religious extremism and carry out terrorist activities. Some of them have established bases outside China to train terrorists and plot sabotage activities, frequently sending agents into China to guide terrorist acts, according to a ministry statement released at the briefing. The ETLO was founded in Turkey, with its headquarters in Istanbul, the ministry said. The ETIC was founded in Munich, Germany and was headquartered there. The ETIC had carried out bomb attacks targeting railroads and used the Internet to instigate terrorist activities. Some South and West Asian countries also have served as the bases for terrorist training, the ministry claimed.
Word that a scientist in Taiwan has developed SARS after working with the virus in a high-security laboratory has renewed concerns that a future outbreak of the disease could emerge not from the animal markets of southern China but from a lab in any part of the world. The fact that the scientist was working in a P4-level lab - the highest level of security, used to study the most dangerous pathogens - is a source of real concern, experts admitted Dec. 17, 2003. Canadian SARS expert Dr. Donald Low was stunned at the news that someone working in a p4-level lab - where spacesuit-like garb and extraordinary biosafety measures are the norm - could become infected. "It does show you that this is something that is highly infectious when you're working in special settings." This is the second case of laboratory transmission of SARS since the World Health Organization declared the global outbreak over on July 5. In September, officials in Singapore revealed that a researcher working in a P3-level lab (one step down from P4) had acquired the disease. He did not transmit SARS to anyone else and has recovered. But that earlier incident was a stark reminder to worried international public health officials that human error in a laboratory could trigger a new global outbreak. At a special meeting in October, the WHO issued recommendations on lab safety. The organization asked governments to do an inventory of how many labs have SARS tissue samples or virus stocks and audit the conditions under which they are stored and worked upon.
Two colleagues who had close contact with Taiwan's SARS-infected scientist are now in the United States, a health official said Dec. 18 (2003), as about 90 people in two countries were placed in quarantine. [Notice the public news from America's medical community, government, and news media does not say exactly where and lacks specifics if the news concerns SARS infections or Type-A Influenza deaths]
Agents from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network made repeated visits to South Korea recently scouting for US targets, a lawmaker said, citing a closed-door intelligence briefing to parliament. Ham Seung-Hui, a member of the Millennium Democratic Party, said that South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) was now on anti-terrorism alert to respond to reported al-Qaeda activity in South Korea. "The NIS briefing said suspected al-Qaeda members had checked security of the US troops in South Korea on two or three occasions recently," Ham said. One suspected al-Qaeda member was detained at a South Korean airport for 10 hours last year prior to being expelled, he said, citing the intelligence briefing. Another was expelled earlier this year from South Korea. He was believed to be examining security at South Korean aiports and carrying out the same task in the Philippines. South Korea, a US ally for 50 years, hosts 37,000 US troops at some 90 military posts. The country is also home to some 100,000 US civilians, and a wide range of US business interests. "Recently, the al-Qaeda network is increasingly turning its attention to Northeast Asian countries, amplifying chances of terror in the region," the lawmaker said.
Al-Qaeda's leader in Yemen, Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal has revealed under interrogation that unnamed Saudis and Yemenis are involved in funding two terrorist attacks in Yemen, including that on the USS Cole. Ahdal, alias Abu Issam al-Maki, was arrested Nov. 2003. He revealed that the financing of the attacks against the USS Cole in October 2000 and the French supertanker Limburg in October 2002 and other terrorist attacks" went through him, originating from Saudis and Yemenis residing outside. "The money was coming in installments, in small quantities, to avoid detection" Ahdal told investigators, with him supervising, "financially and technically, all the preparations for the attacks of both the USS Cole and Limburg." Saudi-born Adhal, 32, also revealed that one of the two suicide bombers in the USS Cole attack carried the family name of al-Thore, the sources said. Yemeni authorities believe Ahdal is the second-in-command to Ali Qaed Sunian al-Harithi, alias Abu Ali al-Harithi, who was among the six Al-Qaeda suspects killed in November 2002 in a missile attack by the US Central Intelligence Agency in the desert region of Al-Naqaa in Marib province, east of Sanaa.
The secretive leader had been absent from public appearances in the North's normally doting state-controlled media since Oct. 30, when he was seen greeting senior Chinese leader Wu Bangguo in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. But the "Supreme Commander" resurfaced last week with a visit to Unit 350 of the Korean People's Army and has since captured the country's headlines with a flurry of other garrison trips.
Italian Defence Minister Antonio Martino warned of the threat of massive terror attacks following the capture of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. "After the arrest of Saddam Hussein, we cannot rule out the possibility that terrorists will respond with terrible attacks," Martino told reporters Dec.17, 2003.
Nonessential American diplomats and the families of all U.S. officials in Saudi Arabia should leave, the State Department said Dec. 17, 2003. "The U.S. government continues to receive indications of terrorist threats aimed at American and Western interests," the department said. This includes the targeting of transportation, the statement said.
President Bush does not have power to detain American citizen Jose Padilla, the former gang member seized on U.S. soil, as an enemy combatant, a federal appeals court ruled Dec. 18, 2003. The decision could force the government to try Padilla, held in a so-called "dirty bomb" plot, in civilian courts. In a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Padilla's detention was not authorized by Congress and that Bush could not designate him as an enemy combatant without the authorization. The former Chicago gang member who converted to Islam was arrested in May 2002 Chicago's O'Hare airport as he returned from Pakistan. Within days, he was moved to a naval brig in Charleston, S.C. The court directed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to release Padilla from military custody within 30 days, but said the government was free to transfer him to civilian authorities who can bring criminal charges. If appropriate, Padilla can also be held as a material witness in connection with grand jury proceedings, the court said. "As this court sits only a short distance from where the World Trade Center stood, we are as keenly aware as anyone of the threat al-Qaida poses to our country and of the responsibilities the president and law enforcement officials bear for protecting the nation," the court said. "But presidential authority does not exist in a vacuum, and this case involves not whether those responsibilities should be aggressively pursued, but whether the president is obligated, in the circumstances presented here, to share them with Congress," it added. In a dissenting opinion, District Judge Richard C. Wesley said the president as commander in chief "has the inherent authority to thwart acts of belligerency at home or abroad that would do harm to United States citizens." Chris Dunn, a staff attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union, called the ruling "historic." "It's a repudiation of the Bush administration's attempt to close the federal courts to those accused of terrorism," he said. Padilla is accused of plotting to detonate a "dirty bomb," which uses conventional explosives to disperse radioactive materials. The government said he had proposed the bomb plot to Abu Zubaydah, then al-Qaida's top terrorism coordinator. Zubaydah was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002. Only two other people have been designated enemy combatants since the 2001 terrorist attacks: Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar who has been accused of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent, and Esam Hamdi, a Louisiana native captured during the fighting in Afghanistan. In its ruling, the court said it was not addressing the detention of any U.S. citizens seized within a zone of combat in Afghanistan.
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Page revised December 26, 2003