Skip to comments.World Terrorism: News, History and Research Of A Changing World #6 Disinformation, Inc.
Posted on 12/17/2006 4:03:30 PM PST by DAVEY CROCKETT
VEVAK learned its methodology from the Soviet KGB and many of the Islamist revolutionaries who supported Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini actually studied at Moscow's Patrice Lumumba Friendship University, the Oxford of terrorism. Documented Iranian alumni include the current Supreme Leader (the faqih) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, under whose Velayat-e Faqih (Rule of the Islamic Jurisprudent) apparatus it has traditionally operated. Its current head is Cabinet Minister Hojatoleslam Gholam-Hussein Mohseni-Ezhei, a graduate of Qom's Haqqani School, noted for its extremist position advocating violence against enemies and strict clerical control of society and government. The Ministry is very well funded and its charge, like that of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (the Pasdaran) is to guard the revolutionary Islamic Iranian regime at all costs and under all contingencies.
From the KGB playbook, VEVAK learned the art of disinformation. It's not so difficult to learn: tell the truth 80% of the time and lie 20%. Depending on how well a VEVAK agent wants to cover his/her tracks, the ratio may go up to 90/10, but it never drops below the 80/20 mark as such would risk suspicion and possible detection. The regime in Teheran has gone to great lengths to place its agents in locations around the world. Many of these operatives have been educated in the West, including the U.K. and the United States. Iranian government agencies such as embassies, consulates, Islamic cultural centers, and airline offices regularly provide cover for the work of VEVAK agents who dress well and are clean shaven, and move comfortably within our society. In this country, because of the severance of diplomatic relations, the principal site of VEVAK activities begins at the offices of Iran's Permanent Mission to the UN in New York.
Teheran has worked diligently to place its operatives in important think tanks and government agencies in the West. Some of its personnel have been recruited while in prison through torture or more often through bribery, or a combination of both. Others are Islamist revolutionaries that have been set up to look like dissidents - often having been arrested and imprisoned, but released for medical reasons. The clue to detecting the fake dissident is to read carefully what he/she writes, and to ask why this vocal dissident was released from prison when other real dissidents have not been released, indeed have been grievously tortured and executed. Other agents have been placed in this country for over twenty-five years to slowly go through the system and rise to positions of academic prominence due to their knowledge of Farsi and Shia Islam or Islamist fundamentalism.
One of the usual tactics of VEVAK is to co-opt academia to its purposes. Using various forms of bribery, academics are bought to defend the Islamic Republic or slander its enemies. Another method is to assign bright students to train for academic posts as specialists in Iranian or Middle East affairs. Once established, such individuals are often consulted by our government as it tries to get a better idea of how it should deal with Iran. These academics then are in a position to skew the information, suggesting the utility of extended dialogue and negotiation, or the danger and futility of confronting a strong Iran or its proxies such as Hizballah (Hezbollah). These academics serve to shield the regime from an aggressive American or Western policy, and thereby buy more time for the regime to attain its goals, especially in regards to its nuclear weaponry and missile programs.
MOIS likes to use the media, especially electronic media, to its advantage. One of VEVAK's favorite tricks is setting up web sites that look like they are opposition sites but which are actually controlled by the regime. These sites often will be multilingual, including Farsi, German, Arabic French, and English. Some are crafted carefully and are very subtle in how they skew their information (e.g., Iran-Interlink, set up and run by Massoud Khodabandeh and his wife Ann Singleton from Leeds, England); others are less subtle, simply providing the regime's point of view on facts and events in the news (e.g., www.mujahedeen.com or www.mojahedin.ws). This latter group is aimed at the more gullible in our open society and unfortunately such a market exists. However, if one begins to do one's homework, asking careful questions, the material on these fake sites generally does not add up.
Let's examine a few examples of VEVAK's work in the United States. In late October, 2005, VEVAK sent three of its agents to Washington to stage a press event in which the principal Iranian resistance movement, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK), was to be slandered. Veteran VEVAK agent Karim Haqi flew from Amsterdam to Canada where he was joined by VEVAK's Ottawa agents Amir-Hossein Kord Rostami and Mahin (Parvin-Mahrokh) Haji, and the three flew from Toronto to Washington. Fortunately the resistance had been tracking these three, informed the FBI of their presence in Washington, and when the three tried to hold a press conference, the resistance had people assigned to ask pointed questions of them so that they ended the interview prematurely and fled back to Canada.
Abolghasem Bayyenet is a member of the Iranian government. He serves as a trade expert for the Ministry of Commerce. But his background of study and service in the Foreign Ministry indicates that Bayyenet is more than just an economist or a suave and savvy businessman. In an article published in Global Politician on April 23, 2006, entitled Is Regime Change Possible in Iran?, Bayyenet leads his audience to think that he is a neutral observer, concerned lest the United States make an error in its assessment of Iran similar to the errors of intelligence and judgment that led to our 2003 invasion of Iraq, with its less than successful outcome. However, his carefully crafted bottom line is that the people of Iran are not going to support regime change and that hardliner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad actually has achieved greater popularity than his predecessors because of his concern for the problems of the poor and his fight for economic and social justice. To the naive, Bayyenet makes Ahmadinejad sound positively saintly. Conveniently overlooked is the occurrence of over four thousand acts of protest, strikes, anti-regime rallies, riots, and even political assassinations by the people of Iran against the government in the year since Ahmadinejad assumed office. So too, the following facts are ignored: the sizeable flight of capital, the increase in unemployment, and the rising two-figure rate of inflation, all within this last year. Bayyenet is a regime apologist, and when one is familiar with the facts, his arguments ring very hollow. However, his English skills are excellent, and so the naОve might be beguiled by his commentary.
Mohsen Sazegara is VEVAK's reformed revolutionary. A student supporter of Khomeini before the 1979 revolution, Sazegara joined the imam on his return from exile and served in the government for a decade before supposedly growing disillusioned.
He formed several reformist newspapers but ran afoul of the hardliners in 2003 and was arrested and imprisoned by VEVAK. Following hunger strikes, Sazegara was released for health reasons and permitted to seek treatment abroad. Although critical of the government and particularly of Ahmadinejad and KhameneМ, Sazegara is yet more critical of opposition groups, leaving the impression that he favors internal regime change but sees no one to lead such a movement for the foreseeable future. His bottom line: no one is capable of doing what needs to be done, so we must bide our time. Very slick, but his shadow shows his likely remaining ties to the MOIS.
Terror charges man due in court
Terror charges man due in court
By Staff Reporter
A MAN arrested after a series of anti-terror raids in Bolton will
court in Manchester in February..
Omar Altimimi, aged 37, is charged with four offences under the
Act 2000, which relate to allegedly possessing articles and collecting
information for terrorist purposes. Altimimi, of Landsowne Road,
further charged with one offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Another man, Yusuf Abdullah, aged 29, of no fixed address, has been
with one offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act and one offence under
Theft Act 1968.
They will both appear at Manchester Crown Court on February 8 after
case was transferred from the Old Bailey and have been remanded in
Police arrested the men following raids on eight addresses in Bolton on
The Polonium Diversion
EdwardJayEpstein.com ^ | December 10, 2006 | Edward Jay Epstein
Posted on 12/27/2006 12:16:00 AM PST by GodGunsGuts
Man's Hand Blown Off By Explosion (Florida)
Local 10 Miami ^ | Decemberr 26, 2006
Posted on 12/26/2006 6:04:00 PM PST by Shermy
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- A man lost his hand in an explosion Tuesday afternoon, but police haven't yet said what caused the explosion.
Raymond Singleton told Local 10 that he was with his co-worker, Jamie Rich, when he stopped at a store located at 1090 South 56th Avenue in Hollywood. Singleton said that Rich stayed in the truck, which is owned by their company, Dwight Tree Service, while he went inside the store.
Singleton said he heard a loud explosion, and when he ran outside, he found Rich on the ground screaming, "Tie off my hand." Singleton said that he tied a tourniquet on Rich's wrist and called 911.
The explosion blew out the back window of the truck and shattered the windshield. Police have not yet determined what kind of explosive device Rich was holding, but they said that they believe the device was detonated by accident.
Rich was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital. He was also badly burned, but he is expected to survive the incident.
Keith Ellison quotes;December,2006 Bin Laden's FATWA;August,1996
various ^ | 12/26/06 | me
Posted on 12/26/2006 5:21:46 PM PST by mdittmar
Any similarities in "Keith Ellison's" quotes?
Congress' first Muslim lawmaker tells U.S. Muslims to stand up for justice
The following text is a fatwa, or declaration of war, by Osama bin Laden first published in Al Quds Al Arabi, a London-based newspaper, in August, 1996. The fatwa is entitled "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places."
Anti-Americans on the March: Leftist & Islamist radical alliance
December 9, 2006
Anti-Americans on the March
Train Derailment Investigation
Train Derailment Investigation
Right now, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail Road is continuing to look
what caused four train cars to derail in Amarillo.
The derailment happened Monday morning just south of the 34th overpass.
The Amarillo Fire Department tells NewsChannel 10, degenerated alcohol
spilled from two cars... Temporarily shutting down rail traffic.
Hazardous material units secured the leaking material.
We are told nobody was injured.
France Joins the U.K. on High Alert
December 26, 2006 2:17 PM
Alexis Debat Reports:
An attack on French soil is likely to happen in the next few weeks or
months, according to a senior French foreign intelligence official, who
today that they are on the highest state of alert since 9/11.
This comes amidst news reports of a terrorist plot during the holiday
to strike the Channel tunnel, or Chunnel, that runs between London and
While a French foreign intelligence service official notes that they
aware of any specific plots or targets, the foreign intelligence
on high alert due to an increasing amount of chatter and information
emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
According to news reports, the Chunnel plot is being put together and
out of Pakistan.
While he didn't have any indications that such an attack is imminent,
News was told by a French foreign intelligence official today that
Pakistan and Afghanistan are re-emerging as al Qaeda's main training
and that there is increasing "chatter" and intelligence coming out of
The official said "dozens" of Westerners have been trained in North
Waziristan and Afghanistan in the past eight months alone and that some
already returned to the West. Most of them were British citizens, said
official, but he added there were some Americans and even a few
who, he said, are still being trained.
3 killed in plane crash
By Arielle Kass
LAWRENCEVILLE At least three people were killed in a Christmas Day plane crash, and firefighters were searching for other possible passengers late Monday.
Lt. Craig Stanley, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department, said one man and two women were killed when a twin-engine Chancellor Z-414 airplane crashed in a dirt parking lot near the countys Briscoe Field about 8:40 p.m.
The three passengers were ejected from the plane at the CWM Contracting Co.s plant 28 near the intersection of U.S. Highway 29 and Boulderbrook Circle in Lawrenceville, Stanley said. He did not know if there had been other passengers on the plane, which he said could hold 10 people.
There was a fire, obviously a lot of wreckage, a lot of debris in the area, Stanley said.
Stanley said the planes male pilot had radioed to the airports air traffic control tower to confirm his approach and had intended to land at Gwinnett County Airport at Briscoe Field. The air traffic controller called 911 after seeing an orange glow in the distance, Stanley said.
The air traffic controller no longer saw him on the radar, he said.
The plane originated from Pembroke Pines, Fla. It was traveling from the east.
A wheel from the plane was visible among the debris, and Stanley said it appeared as if the plane had hit some construction equipment at the crash site.
Stanley said the National Transportation Safety Board had been notified of the crash, but would not arrive at the scene until today. A copy of the planes flight plan had been filed with the agency, he said.
Stanley estimated that the plane had landed 75 yards from the airports runway. He said there had not been any sort of distress call before it crashed.
The victims had not been identified as of press time Monday, and Stanley said he did not know their ages or if they were from the area.
Certainly, events of this nature are tragic, he said. Thats especially true on Christmas.
Army head ruffled by rough takeoff
A military light plane with five passengers and two crewmembers, including Army commanding officer Brig. Gen. Romeo Tolentino, had a brake malfunction during takeoff at the Manila domestic airport yesterday.
The terminal control tower received an emergency assistance call from Pilot Maj. Alex Aduca that their Cessna 421 RP-C421 busted its brake while taxiing at runway 06.
The twin-engine plane that was owned and operated by the Armed Forces was cleared to leave for Naga City at 7:50 a.m. for relief operations in the Bicol peninsula.
Manila International Airport Authority duty safety officer Andro Laxina said the fire and rescue team, along with the safety patrol group rushed to the stalled military plane which was towed to the hangar.
The five on board, all military officers, were stunned but unhurt.
Tolentino switched to another plane and proceeded as scheduled.
Despite the mishap, no other flights were delayed. Vito Barcelo
25 shoppers perish in Christmas blaze
TWENTY-FIVE Christmas shoppers were killed, including a pregnant woman and two babies, when fire swept through a packed store in Ormoc City, the Office of Civil Defense said yesterday.
The fire struck the Unitop General Merchandising Store in Ormoc, some 550 km southeast of Manila, on Monday when the predominantly Catholic Philippines was celebrating Christmas Day.
Initial reports said a tracer bullet toy gun fired by a shopper hit a pile of firecrackers sold at the store and caused the seven-hour fire, Ormoc police chief Manuel Cubillo said.
Another report said a customer lit a firecracker to test it, and the blast triggered the explosion of a pile of firecrackers.
But Cubillo said the fire department had yet to confirm the reports for appropriate action.
Were not rushing things, he told a television interview. We have to be careful in order to determine the criminal liability of the department stores management.
It appeared that the store was selling mostly products from China and Taiwan but was not licensed to sell firecrackers, which are traditionally used to greet the New Year.
The fire quickly engulfed the front portion of the store, trapping panicked shoppers, Cubillo said.
He said 25 people died in the fire, including a pregnant mother and her four-year-old son. The Office of Civil Defense in Manila said the casualties included two babies.
The bodies were recovered by firefighters inside the stores toilet, where the victims had sought safety.
Nine others were said to have been injured in the fire and are being treated in hospital.
Ormoc City Mayor Eric Codilla said he had ordered authorities to investigate the tragedy. AFP and Florante S. Solmerin
Reds mark 38th year, promise more attacks
COMMUNIST rebels marked their 38th founding anniversary yesterday with a vow to topple President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo through increased attacks and by fomenting dissent within the military.
George Madlos, a spokesman for the political front of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said the armed unit of the group was told to sustain and intensify guerrilla warfare.
We want a sustained offensive against the Arroyo regime, Madlos said from his mountain base in Mindanao. We have already frustrated her all-out war against the left.
In a statement released yesterday, the CPP also ordered its armed wing, the New Peoples Army, to execute those behind the spate of political killings that have targeted leftist activists.
The communists accuse Malacañang and the military of being behind death squads that have killed more than 800 activists since 2001.
The government has denied these charges and said many of the activists were killed in communist purges.
NPA guerrillas launched 400 tactical offensives against troops the past year, a 200 percent increase year-on-year, Madlos said.
The communists also rejected reciprocating the governments Christmas and New Years ceasefire, Madlos said, adding the rebels would remain on a defensive footing.
He said CPP-NPA leaders were continuing to seek links with disgruntled members of the Armed Forces as a way of toppling the Arroyo administration.
In February, President Arroyo crushed a coup attempt by military officers allegedly in conspiracy with the rebels. Some 28 Marine and Army officers, including two generals, are now under courts-martial for the failed coup.
We dont want just a coup detat. We want a revolutionary change and to overhaul this government, Madlos said. We are talking with different sectors of the military, different levels of officers, also including the police forces, he said.
Last week, Mrs. Arroyo called on the military to deploy more forces in communist-infested areas next year to crush the insurgency by 2010.
She also assured the Armed Forces of more military hardware in 2007, including spy planes that would help them track down the Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist organizations.
It is only under a state of peace that we can successfully implement our reforms, the President said. Florante S. Solmerin, Joyce Pangco Pañares, AFP
Cops offer protection to killers of Bersamin
By Romie A. Evangelista
POLICE yesterday vowed to protect the killers of Abra Rep. Luis Bersamin from being rubbed out by their employer if they surrender.
They would be safer with us , said Chief Supt. Magtanggol Gatdula, referring to Freddie Dupo, Dominador Barbosa and Sunny Taculao, the three men identified by Rufino Panday as his companions in Bersamins assassination.
Bersamin and his police escort were shot dead on Dec. 16 as they left a Quezon City church. After tracing him to the getaway motorcycle, police arrested Panday, who said Abra Gov. Vicente Valera offered them P5 million to kill the congressman, a political rival.
Valera has denied the charge.
Director Jesus Versoza, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said the killers had reason to fear for their lives.
He pointed to two Army intelligence officers in Abra who were ambushed after they defied an order to kill another of the governors political rivals. Army Cpl. Antonio Rosqueta was killed, while Cpl. Eduardo Barcelona survived and accused Valera of bankrolling the aborted assassination.
There is a strong possibility that Dupo, Barbosa and Taculao may suffer the same fate, Versoza said.
And while Valera has denied the charges against him, he has snubbed a police invitation to answer questions on Bersamin murder.
He urged the governor to make a statement to the police instead of airing his side through the media.
Earlier this week, Panday, who confessed to serving as the lookout during the assassination, said he feared for the lives of his three companions, all of them his nephews.
Gatdula said Panday surrendered to police because he felt safer in custody.
I was fearing for my life because I know how Gov. Valera operates, Gatdula quoted Panday as saying.
He said the police could not file a murder case against the governor yet because no one had corroborated Pandays charges.
The task force formed to capture Bersamins killers yesterday said 10 people were part of the plot, and included Valera as one of the suspects.
The National Bureau of Investigation is also looking at the same group of hired assassins as suspects in the killing of three Abra mayors.
In Bersamins hometown of Bangued, Abra, police laid out an elaborate security plan to prevent violence from breaking out during todays burial of the murdered congressman.
Troops and police will line the route of the funeral procession, according to officials.
National Police Chief Oscar Calderon, who flew to Abra yesterday to assess the security situation there, said security forces had been ordered to ensure the safety of those paying their last respects today. With Jaime Pilapil
Breaking News: Plane Crashes at Johnstown Airport
Witnesses say plane is destroyed
POSTED: 4:57 pm EST December 26, 2006
UPDATED: 6:33 pm EST December 26, 2006
A small plane en route to New Jersey crashed at an area airport Tuesday afternoon.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Cessna 414, registered to Wharf Place LLC in Morgantown, West Virginia, crashed at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport just before 4pm.
Two people were on board, the pilot and a passenger, but no identities have been released.
Crash witnesses say the plane was flying low before going back up into the air and then crashing onto the runway.
The airport is closed pending the FAA investigation. It is not known when flights will resume.
Tune in to Channel 6 News at 11 for the latest on this developing story.
Copyright 2006 by WJACTV.com.
Article published Dec 26, 2006
Two men in custody after shooting at mall
BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. Two men were in custody Monday after a shooting at a crowded mall that left one man dead and sent hundreds of Christmas shoppers running for cover, police said.
Jesse Cesar, 21, of Lake Worth, was charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder of a police officer.
Cesar fatally shot Berno Charlemond, 23, at the Boynton Beach Mall, north of Miami, on Sunday afternoon, Police Lt. Jeffrey Katz said. Cesar fled, firing at police as he led them on a chase through the mall, Katz said. Officers did not return fire and no one else was injured.
SWAT team members arrested Cesar after he barricaded himself in part of a Dillard's store and refused to surrender when officers contacted him through the public address system, Katz said.
Fregens Daniel, 20, of Boynton Beach, also was arrested and was charged with acting as principal accessory in the case, Katz said.
Bond has not yet been set for Cesar and Daniel, and it was not immediately known whether either had an attorney.
Police did not disclose the number of shots fired. A motive for the shooting has not been determined, but Katz said Charlemond, of Boynton Beach, was arrested a month ago at the same mall for carrying a concealed weapon.
"We're still ironing out the details of the case, piecing things together," he said.
Agate Alphonse said she was on her way to a shoe store when she said she passed a group of 10 to 15 people punching and grabbing each other. A few moments later, shots rang out.
"Some people got down. Some people ran," said Alphonse, who crouched on the ground with other shoppers and later ran out of the mall.
A mall spokesman, Sam Yates, said the shooting occurred outside of a store. The mall was evacuated and remained closed the rest of the day.
Elsewhere, two shootings occurred at malls in North Carolina over the weekend.
A man was charged with attempted murder Sunday after a shooting a day earlier at a Greensboro mall packed with shoppers. One man was critically wounded by gunfire at the Four Seasons Town Centre on Saturday.
And one man was slightly wounded at Charlotte's Eastland Mall on Friday evening when an argument between two groups of men ended with one firing through glass entrance doors. No arrests were made.
'New charges' for Russian tycoon
Jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is facing new charges of money-laundering, his lawyer says.
Yury Shmidt told the Interfax news agency that the prosecutor-general's office had informed the defence team of the new charges.
Mr Khodorkovsky, the former chairman of Yukos, has been transferred to a prison in the town of Chita, eastern Siberia.
He has been serving an eight-year term at a penal colony in Krasnokamensk, in the Chita region.
He was jailed for fraud and tax evasion and has had several spells in solitary confinement.
Mr Khodorkovsky built up a multi-billion-dollar fortune before falling foul of the authorities. He was arrested in 2003 along with his business associate Platon Lebedev.
Mr Shmidt told Interfax that Mr Lebedev had also been transferred to the prison in Chita. He had been serving his sentence in Kharp, in the far north of Russia.
Critics accused Mr Khodorkovsky of exploiting Russia's natural wealth for personal gain.
His supporters say the case against him was politically motivated and he is paying the price for his political ambitions.
Mr Khodorkovsky and Mr Lebedev were facing the possibility of release in 2008-2009 - but that appears unlikely now that new charges are being laid against them.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/27 10:14:40 GMT
© BBC MMVI
[Do we ever hear about this terror attack in 1985]
1985: Gunmen kill 16 at two European airports
At least 16 people have been killed and more than 100 injured during simultaneous twin terrorist attacks at Rome and Vienna airports.
Gunmen opened fire on passengers queuing to check-in luggage at departure desks for Israel's national airline, El Al.
The attacks were indiscriminate and started within minutes of each other at about 0815 GMT today.
No group has yet admitted carrying out the attacks.
At least 13 people were killed, three of them gunmen, after six men, described by witnesses as being of Arab origin, fired bullets at travellers waiting in the main departure hall at Rome's international airport.
Chaos broke out during what is reported to have been a five minute attack as passengers fell to the floor for cover.
Italian police returned fire as bullets rang out across the concourse leaving a trail of blood and broken glass.
Some unconfirmed witness reports describe having heard two "bombs" explode before the gun fire.
Two gunmen, in their twenties and of Arab origin, were captured alive.
One of them was taken to a military hospital for surgery and a third attacker is said to have escaped.
In similar scenes in neighbouring Austria, three gun men threw four hand grenades into crowds of passengers queuing to check-in for a flight to Tel Aviv.
It is understood they then pulled out Kalashnikov submachine guns as Austrian police returned fire.
They escaped by car but were pursued by police who opened fire.
One of the men is reported dead, the other two were severely wounded and eventually surrendered to police.
It comes amid reports airport authorities received warnings Arab militant groups were planning a pre-Christmas terrorist campaign at terminals across the world.
Security at London's Heathrow Airport has been stepped up with Israel's El Al planes currently grounded.
Extra police surveillance at check-in desks has been mounted while special branch officers are "mingling" with the crowds.
At the bottom of this page is a drop down thingy, you put in the date and it will give you the top news, this has other reports and a video on this page......
Vandalism causes rail disruption
Police are hunting the vandals behind a fire which has caused disruption to rail services in Scotland and across the border to Carlisle.
The blaze, discovered at about 2000 GMT on Christmas Day, caused severe damage to the Kilmarnock Signalling Centre.
First ScotRail said services passing through the Ayrshire town would be disrupted for several days.
British Transport Police have appealed for information about the fire, which is thought to have been deliberate.
First ScotRail said passengers could expect cancellations, delays and short-notice changes.
While normal services will operate between Glasgow Central and Kilmarnock, the fire led to the cancellation of services between Kilmarnock and Dumfries.
Buses will be provided for passengers on that route and for those travelling between Dumfries and Carlisle and between Kilmarnock and Ayr.
There should be a normal service between Ayr, Girvan and Stranraer.
Virgin Trains and GNER, which both operate intercity services between England and Scotland, said none of their routes would be affected by the fire at the signalling centre.
We will be doing everything we can to get services back to normal as soon as possible
Customers have been advised to contact National Rail Inquiries before travelling.
British Transport Police urged anyone with information about the fire to come forward.
David Simpson, route director for Network Rail in Scotland, said: "This deliberate act of vandalism has virtually destroyed the signalling centre and will mean disruption for passengers in and around Kilmarnock.
"Network Rail will work closely with British Transport Police to apprehend those responsible and we will be doing everything we can to get services back to normal as soon as possible."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/27 10:13:35 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Israel spies at odds on Syria peace feelers
Israel spies at odds on Syria peace feelers
Published: Wednesday, 27 December, 2006, 09:31 AM Doha Time
JERUSALEM: Israelis are puzzling over the prospect of peace with Syria
after their two foreign intelligence agencies gave dramatically
different assessments of recent diplomatic overtures from Damascus.
While the Mossad spy service said Syrian President Bashar Assad had no
genuine interest in peace talks, Israels Military Intelligence said
it believed Assad was ready to negotiate if this leads to the return of
the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Assad has repeatedly signalled an interest in rapprochement since
Israels war in Lebanon with Syrian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas.
Past talks have run aground over the Golan, which Israel captured from
Syria in a 1967 war. But Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said in
a US newspaper interview this month that new negotiations could be
"without preconditions" on the Golan.
The messages elicited a mix of hope and suspicion in the Jewish state,
stoked by the very government agencies charged with interpreting them.
Mossad chief Meir Dagan last week accused Assad of trying to distract
from Western scrutiny on his regional alliances.
"Every time international pressure is applied, Assad puts on the same
show of willingness to enter negotiations with us," a political source
quoted Dagan as telling cabinet ministers. "But I still dont see
Syria offering to resume talks with Israel."
Yet the chief analyst for Israels Military Intelligence, Brigadier
Yossi Baidatz, took a more upbeat tone.
"Syria is interested. Its overtures, predicated on the overall
objective of recovering all of the Golan Heights, are genuine," Baidatz told
Israeli lawmakers on Monday, according to an official account of the
The conflicting attitudes made headlines in Israel and drew exasperated
critiques from some seasoned ex-spies.
"Maybe we should get the Mossad and Military Intelligence chiefs
together in a room, so they can reach agreement?" said Danny Yatom, a retired
army general and former Mossad director.
A veteran of both agencies suggested the disagreement came down to
views about the future.
"I suspect what we have here is a dispute between strong personalities
on whether Assad is strong enough domestically to deliver a peace deal
that will last," said retired intelligence analyst Matti Steinberg.
Fireworks! Ted A320 Suffers Compressor Stall, Engine Fire
Plane Returns To Gate Safely
It probably looked a lot worse than it actually was, especially to
passengers. In any case, emergency workers quickly put out an engine
onboard a United Airlines (Ted) Airbus A320 as it taxied for takeoff
morning from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
None of the 138 passengers onboard the short-haul airliner were
said KFLL spokesman Steve Belleme. In fact, passengers remained on the
aircraft throughout the ordeal, and returned to the gate aboard the
The incident did shut down the main runway at the airport for about 20
minutes, Belleme added.
United Airlines spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said fire shot out of one of
twinjet's engines due to a compressor stall.
Compressor stalls are a relatively common and benign occurence. The
phenomenon is caused by disrupted airflow into the plane's engine(s).
effect on the blades of a turbofan is similar to an aerodynamic stall
"It's similar to when a car backfires," McCarthy said.
Passengers onboard the flight to Washington, DC were put on other
Maintenance crews will inspect the engine before the plane is returned
Oakland-Bound Jet Lands After Hitting Birds
(AP) LONG BEACH Officials say a JetBlue airliner is back on the ground
Tuesday at Long Beach Airport after hitting birds on take-off.
The plane returned to the airfield because of concerns about damage to
of its engines.
An Federal Aviation Administration spokesman says Flight 244 from Long Beach
to Oakland landed without incident.
Authorities say the pilot reported hearing a loud sound when the plane
off at about 11 a-m this morning, and he made the decision to return.
jet landed about a half-hour later.
Officials say bird matter was found on the airfield.
C414 Down Near Atlanta, Three Lost
Officials Report Fog In Area
Firefighters report at least three people were killed after a Cessna
Chancellor crashed on approach to Briscoe Field, outside Atlanta, GA
Lt. Craig Stanley, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department,
the twin-engine aircraft (file photo of type, below right) impacted a
parking lot about 75 yards from the runway just after 8:40 pm. He says
are still searching for other possible victims.
There was a fire, obviously a lot of wreckage, a lot of debris in
area, Stanley told the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Officials report fog in the area at the time of the crash, and the
went down on its second approach to land at the suburban airport. The
plane's pilot was in contact with the tower at Gwinnett County, Stanley
said, but there was no distress call from the aircraft.
The controller on duty at Briscoe Field called 911 after seeing an
glow near the plane's last reported position.
Officials say the plane's flight plan indicates it was inbound to
County from Pembroke Pines, FL.
The victims have not been identified. Investigators with the National
Transportation Safety Board are due to arrive onscene Tuesday.
Regis#: 62950 Make/Model: C414 Description: 414,
Date: 12/25/2006 Time: 0141
Event Type: Accident Highest Injury: Fatal Mid Air: N
City: LAWRENCEVILLE State: GA Country: US
ACFT CRASHED ON APPROACH, THE THREE PERSONS ON BOARD WERE FATALLY
INJURY DATA Total Fatal: 3
# Crew: 1 Fat: 1 Ser: 0 Min: 0
# Pass: 2 Fat: 2 Ser: 0 Min: 0
# Grnd: Fat: 0 Ser: 0 Min: 0
WEATHER: LZU 0045Z 00000KT 1/2SM FG VV001 08/08 A2968
Activity: Unknown Phase: Approach Operation: OTHER
Departed: PAHOKEE, FL Dep Date: Dep. Time:
Destination: LAWRENCEVILLE, GA Flt Plan: IFR Wx
Last Radio Cont:
FAA FSDO: COLLEGE PARK, GA (SO11) Entry date:
Report: Comair Pilot Fired After FA Smells Alcohol
Airline Will Not Confirm Events Are Related
A pilot for Delta Connection carrier Comair has been let go from the
airline, after a flight attendant noticed the smell of alcohol on the
pilot's breath before a flight earlier this month.
Cincinnati, OH television station WLWT-TV reports the incident occurred
December 1 flight at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
(KCVG). Sources tell the station the pilot was removed from the flight
the FA smelled alcohol, and alerted supervisors.
Comair confirmed an incident occurred, and that the pilot involved was
longer with the airline... but refused to link the two events. WLWT
its sources confirm the pilot was fired.
Authorities have not released the reading of a blood-alcohol test
administered to the pilot after the incident. The FAA states pilots
have a BAC level higher than .04 percent.
The agency says less than 10 pilots per year, out of nearly 142,000 who
an airline transport rating, are caught violating BAC limits.
FMI: www.faa.gov, www.comair.com
Global Islamic Media Front Inciting Muslims to Participate in Jihad in Somalia
Statement Published by the Global Islamic Media Front Inciting Muslims
to Participate in Jihad in Somalia
By SITE Institute
December 26, 2006
Inciting Muslims to participate in jihad in Somalia, writing of doing
such as a religious obligation incumbent upon them, the Global Islamic
Media Front published and distributed a document among jihadist forums
yesterday, Monday, December 25, 2006, titled: Ride the Horses of
Allah: Not a Single One of You Should Pray During the Feast Day Except in
Addis Ababa. Arguing that the road of jihad has been opened to Addis
Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, the author uses a combination of
Quranic verses, words from Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, cheerleading, and
ridicule to motivate prospective Mujahideen to take up arms and travel to
Somalia. The document states: Come on you lion, get up roar and show the
infidels the strength of the soldiers of the Merciful One. Come on my
brother, arent you tired from sitting with the women? No, in the Name
of Allah, even the women did not sit, but they got up and did jihad and
terrorized the enemies, so where are you? What is your role?
A translation of the message is provided to our Intel Service members.
U.S. Says Captured Iranians Can Be Linked to Attacks
U.S. Says Captured Iranians Can Be Linked to Attacks
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
Published: December 27, 2006
BAGHDAD, Dec. 26 The American military said Tuesday that it had
credible evidence linking Iranians and their Iraqi associates, detained
here in raids last week, to criminal activities, including attacks
against American forces. Evidence also emerged that some detainees had been
involved in shipments of weapons to illegal armed groups in Iraq.
U.S. backs Ethiopia in Somalia
U.S. backs Ethiopia in Somalia
Says nation has security concerns stemming from rise of Islamists
From Wire Reports
Dec 27, 2006
American involvement in the war in Somalia appeared to deepen yesterday
with reports that American planes were spotted overflying Somalia and
possibly funneling battlefield intelligence to Ethiopian forces.
Maj. Kelley Thibodeau, spokeswoman for the task force of American
military personnel based in nearby Djibouti, told reporters, "I am not at
liberty to discuss that."
There are more than 100 American soldiers in Ethiopia helping train
troops. But Thibodeau said, "Officially, we haven't put anybody in
Somalia. The Americans don't go forward with the Ethiopians. They are training
Ethiopians in Ethiopia."
In Washington, the State Department signaled support for the Ethiopian
military operations against Islamic militants in Somalia, noting that
Ethiopia has had "genuine security concerns" stemming from the rise of
Islamist forces in its eastern neighbor.
Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos also noted that the Ethiopian
military acted at the request of Somalia's internationally backed secular
government, which had been resisting with little success the spreading
influence of the more powerful Islamist forces. Gallegos had no
information on whether the U.S. has been bolstering the Ethiopian military
through delivery of supplies. He noted that Ethiopia has said its action
is intended to prevent further aggression by the Islamic Courts militias
The Bush administration has been increasingly alarmed by the growing
strength of the militias and the welcome they reportedly have given to
The Islamic militants operate under the umbrella of the Council of
The government has no presence in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, its
reach limited to the western town of Baidoa. In contrast, the CIC has
dominated the country's entire southern region.
A priority U.S. goal in Somalia is the capture of three reputed
al-Qaida militants wanted in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and
Tanzania in 1998 and a hotel in Kenya in 2002. The three are from Sudan,
Kenya and the Comoros Islands, off Africa's east coast.
Al-Qaida militants are operating with "great comfort" in Somalia,
Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer said recently.
The Islamists have caused unease in Washington by expressing interest
in establishing a "Greater Somalia" that would include ethnic Somali
regions of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.
Two weeks ago, the Pentagon recommended a new U.S. military command for
Africa, which is seen as having greater strategic importance to the
U.S. since the start of the fight against terrorism.
Currently, U.S. military responsibility for Africa has been split among
several commands, all based elsewhere.
The U.S. consistently has backed the establishment of an African force
to help defend the Baidoa government, thus creating a power balance
between the government and the CIC and enhance prospects for negotiations
on power sharing.
But with Ethiopia's invasion, creation of the force now seems highly
Ethiopia has been backing the Somali government for months, while
Eritrea has been supporting the Islamists.
Iran Is Seeking More Influence in Afghanistan
Iran Is Seeking More Influence in Afghanistan
Max Becherer/Polaris, for The New York Times
A sign on the new highway from Herat to Iran says God is great but also sends another message: This road built courtesy of Iran.
By DAVID ROHDE
Published: December 27, 2006
ISLAM QALA, Afghanistan Two years ago, foreign engineers built a new highway through the desert of western Afghanistan, past this ancient trading post and on to the outside world. Nearby, they strung a high-voltage power line and laid a fiber-optic cable, marked with red posts, that provides telephone and Internet access to the region.
Mumbai 7/11: Suspects obtained Iran pilgrimage visas to get to Pakistan
Many 7/11 accused obtained 'pilgrimage visas' for Iran
December 26, 2006 20:25 IST
Passport agents and tour operators have told the police that many of
accused in the July 11 serial train blasts case had obtained
visas" for Iran, ostensibly for visting Shia religious sites in that
It is the case of the Anti-Terrorism Squad, the agency probing the
that some of the accused had been to Pakistan via Iran to take training
arms and ammunition.
The statement of some of the witnesses in the bomb blasts case,
under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code before a magistrate, were
opened in the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act Court
In his statement, a package tour operator said one Mushtaq approached
2004 with Muzammil's (accused in the case) passport saying that the
was a Shia and wanted to go to Iran for the 'ziyarat' and hence asked
making arrangements for his visa and tickets.
Accordingly, the travel agent made all arrangemnets but Muzammil did
join his tour.
Another travel agent said that over a period of time, the tour
arranged for the travel of July 11 blasts suspects Tanvir Ansari,
Zameer, Mohammed Ali Chipa and Feroze Ghaswalla along with one Zulfegar
"People from the Shia sect visit Mashhad in Iran to pray at the
the eighth leader of the sect Imam Raza, Qoom city where the mausoleum
his wife Fatima, and Tehran where the mausoleum of Aalim Khomeni are
located," the agent said in the statement.
The authorities affix a stamp on the passports of the pilgrims based
which he is served the holy food, the witness said, adding no such
were found on the passport of Muzammil and Zameer.
"They had never gone for ziyarat in Iran," he said.
"I have seen the photocopies of passports of Muzammil, Zameer, Sohail,
Faisal and Tanvir (all July 11 blasts suspects), but none have the
the authorities. They have never been to Iran for ziyarat," said the
According to the ATS, Faisal is the mastermind behind the explosions
arranged for the training in Pakistan for all the other accused in
by Pakistani intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence.
"If I had known that they are not Shias, I would not have arranged for
travel," he said.
Seven powerful explosions had rocked the first class compartments of
suburban local trains in Mumbai during the evening rush hour on July 11
killing more than 185 commuters and injuring over 600.
Russia links YUKOS boss to Litvinenko
Reuters ^ | Wed Dec 27, 2006 | Guy Faulconbridge
Posted on 12/27/2006 12:26:05 PM PST by A. Pole
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Wednesday, December 27, 2006
U.S. finally admits Arafat
murdered American officials
State Department declassifies report
on 1973 terror attack in Khartoum
Posted: December 27, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Joseph Farah
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
WASHINGTON After 33 years of secrecy, the U.S. State Department has finally declassified a document admitting it knew the late Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, plotted and supervised the murders of two U.S. diplomats in Sudan in 1973, a cover-up first exposed by WND in January 2001.
The document, released earlier this year, with no fanfare, makes it clear the Khartoum operation "was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval" of Arafat, a frequent visitor to the White House throughout the 1990s who died in 2004.
In the attack March 1, 1973, eight members of the Black September terrorist organization, part of Arafat's Fatah faction of the PLO, stormed the Saudi embassy in Khartoum on Arafat's orders, taking U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel, diplomat Charge d'Affaires George Curtis Moore and others hostage, and one day later, killing Noel, Moore and Belgian diplomat Guy Eid.
(Story continues below)
The admission comes 33 years after James J. Welsh, then the National Security Agency's Palestinian analyst, saw a communication intercepted from Arafat to his terrorist commandos in Sudan.
Within minutes, Welsh told WND, the director of the NSA was notified and the decision was made to send a rare "FLASH" message the highest priority to the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum via the State Department.
But the message didn't reach the embassy in time. Somewhere between the NSA and the State Department, someone decided the warning was too vague. The alert was downgraded in urgency.
The next day, eight members of Black September, part of Arafat's Fatah organization, stormed the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, took Noel, Moore and others hostage. A day later, on March 2, 1973, Noel, Moore and Eid were machine-gunned to death all, Welsh had insisted for years, on the direct orders of Arafat.
Welsh, who left the Navy and NSA in 1974, spoke to WND about the incident in 2001 after years of attempting to get answers from his own agency and the State Department. He became particularly troubled about the cover-up of Arafat's role in the murders of American officials when President Clinton invited the PLO leader to the White House for direct negotiations on the Middle East.
Ever since, he had been on a personal one-man mission to uncover the tape recordings and transcripts of those intercepts between Arafat and Fatah leader Salah Khalaf, also known as Abu-Iyad, in Beirut and Khalil al-Wazir in Khartoum.
"I have decided that my oaths of secrecy must give way to my sense of right and wrong," he told WND. "I was particularly outraged as I had spent four years following these individuals and, at the moment of our greatest intelligence coup against them, an uninformed GS level had pooh-poohed our work and cost the lives of two U.S. diplomats," he recalls.
Welsh has continued to research the Arafat murders continually and stumbled upon the 2006 State Department document during a routine Internet search.
The document goes on to say that Fatah leaders never expected their hostage-taking to result in the freeing of the captives. A primary goal of the attack, it says, "was to strike at the United States because of its efforts to achieve a Middle East peace settlement which many Arabs believe would be inimical to Palestinian interests."
The report also said the Khartoum operation demonstrated the ability of the Black September organization to strike where least expected and warned the U.S. was at risk of future attacks from the group and its Fatah allies.
Welsh believes the initial cover-up of the communications breakdown and the role of Arafat was launched to prevent embarrassment to the State Department and White House. President Nixon, he points out, was in the death throes of the Watergate scandal at the time. The last thing he needed, Welsh speculates, was an international scandal to deal with on the front page of the Washington Post.
Later, after Nixon was gone, Welsh believes the whole matter of the Arafat tapes was kept quiet to protect the future viability of signals intelligence intercepts of this kind. And, finally, he said, the cover-up persisted to foster Arafat's role as a "peacemaker" and leader of the Palestinian cause.
Back in 1973, Welsh had received spontaneous transcripts of the dialogue between Arafat and his subordinates. But, under NSA protocol, he was not permitted to keep copies. Under normal procedure, he expected copies of the final transcripts and tapes to arrive on his desk for further analysis. They never came.
"Things were recorded but never arrived at my desk," he recalls. "I know they were recorded because I was receiving simultaneous reports from a collection site. The warning I drafted for the State Department was based on those reports."
After the deadly attack in Khartoum, Arafat ordered the eight gunmen to surrender peacefully to the Sudanese authorities. Two were released for "lack of evidence." Later, in June 1973, the other six were found guilty of murdering the three diplomats. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and released 24 hours later to the PLO.
Before surrendering, the Khartoum terrorists demanded the release of Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, the convicted assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, as well as others being held in Israeli and European prisons. Nixon refused to negotiate.
Death to U.N. Workers Urged in Pakistan
December 27, 2006 4:00 PM
Habibullah Khan Reports:
Taliban_peace_nr_2Kill all employees of the United Nations is among the instructions issued to followers in a new fatwa that was issued in Pakistan this week.
Yet another worrisome sign that the Taliban is gaining further ground in the northwest frontier provinces of Pakistan, an extremist leader has issued a fatwa instructing followers to target and kill all employees of non-government organizations, including workers for the United Nations and human rights organizations.
The United Nations has already heeded the warning and has banned all travel for employees to the area where the fatwa was issued and has cautioned employees from traveling to nearby regions.
In his fatwa, Mufti Khalid Shah terms all employees of NGOs as agents of Jews and Christians. Shah stresses that there is no need to ask permission to kill and that everyone should declare jihad. He also adds that the time has come to use weapons of mass destruction against his enemies.
Americans and Russians Agree U.S. is No. 1, But Disagree on the Up and Comers
The United States is unquestionably the worlds dominant nation, Russians and Americans agree. But while Russians put themselves among todays top three powersand believe they will play a larger role in the futureAmericans see China as their chief rival for global influence.
A new joint poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org and the Levada Center got these and other results from representative samples of the American and Russian publics surveyed in June and early July, 2006.
Asked to rate the influence of 11 countries on a scale of 0 to 10, respondents in both countries gave by far the highest score to the United States. Americans on average give their own nation an 8.77; Russians give their former Cold War rivals an 8.74. No other country is given a score higher than 8 by either public.
But that is where bilateral agreement ends. Russians look West for the next most important world power, ranking the European Union as No. 2, with a score of 7.14. They choose themselves as No. 3, giving the Russian Federation a score of 6.56.
Americans, in contrast, see their closest rival in the East, selecting China as the second most influential country in the world. China, already an economic power in Asia and an emerging military force, gets a score of 6.63, a hair higher than the United States closest international ally, Great Britain, which gets 6.61.
Americans dont give Russia much weight in the world: the former super power is ranked No. 6 with a score of 5.67. Thats after Japan (6.20) and the E.U. (5.78).
G8_USRussia_Jul06_graph9.jpgNor do most Americans see Russians as increasing their influence over the next ten years. A majority (55%) say Russian power will stay about the same. A quarter (24%) say it will increase and 18 percent say it will decline. Again, Americans see China as the country most likely to gain more power in the immediate future: 70 percent say Chinese influence will increase, 24 percent say it will stay the same and only 3 percent believe it will decline.
Most Russians, however, think their country will play a larger role on the world stage in the near future. Sixty percent say Russia will become more influential over the next decade; 22 percent say their influence will stay the same and seven percent say it will decline. They are less sure about China. Half (50%) say Chinese power will increase, 27 percent say it will stay the same and 6 percent say it will decrease.
On India, about half of both Americans (51%) and Russians (50%) think its power will remain about the same. But more Americans (38%) than Russians (21%) think the worlds most populous democracy will increase its influence.
On the European Union, half of Americans (51%) think its influence in the world will not change; 36 percent think it will rise and 11 percent believe it will decline. A plurality of Russians (39%) believe the E.U. will play a larger role in the world, 33 percent say its influence will stay the same and 9 percent say it will shrink.
In Russia, Levada Center polled 1,600 respondents (margin of error +/-2.5%) June 9-14, 2006. In the United States, Knowledge Networks polled 1,059 respondents (margin of error +/- 3.1) from June 27-July 2, using its nationwide panel, which is randomly selected from the entire adult population and subsequently provided internet access. For more information about this methodology, go to Knowledge Networks.
[charts did not print]
Reports about China
[this has many hidden links and attached links on site]
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Thursday, December 28, 2006
Muslim sensitivity training for 45,000 airport workers
Security officials told 'to be aware that they may also be praying'
Posted: December 28, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
The Transportation Security Administration created after 9/11 to safeguard America's airports is providing Islamic sensitivity training to 45,000 airport security officers so they'll know what to expect when Muslims fly from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia to participate in the annual "hajj," or pilgrimage to Mecca.
"We put out information telling everyone that hajj is coming; this is the time frame; individuals are going to be traveling with these types of items," TSA spokesman Darrin Kayser told the State Department's USINFO Web site Tuesday. Calling it "cultural sensitivity training," Kayser added that airport security officials need "just to be aware that they may also be praying."
Ironically, just last month six Muslim imams were ejected by federal authorities from a US Airways flight in Minneapolis because they were deemed a potential security threat. Among the various behaviors that unnerved fellow passengers was the group's prayers in the airport prior to their flight.
Welcoming TSA's Islamic sensitivity training is the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, which describes itself as "America's largest Islamic civil liberties group." In a press release praising the program yesterday, CAIR noted that it distributes a pocket guide titled "Your Rights and Responsibilities as an American Muslim."
"As an airline passenger," the CAIR guide states, "you are entitled to courteous, respectful and non-stigmatizing treatment by airline and security personnel. You have the right to complain about treatment that you believe is discriminatory."
The press release also quoted the group's communications director, Ibrahim Hooper, as saying CAIR representatives nationwide have met with not only the TSA, but also from Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection officials on "issues related to cultural sensitivity and national security."
Indeed, CAIR has developed a wide-ranging advisory and teaching relationship with government on the subject of protecting Muslim interests.
As WND reported previously, last June a senior Department of Homeland Security official from Washington personally guided CAIR officials on a behind-the-scenes tour of Customs screening operations at O'Hare International Airport in response to CAIR complaints that Muslim travelers were being unfairly delayed as they entered the U.S. from abroad.
However, CAIR itself is a controversial organization. It is a spin-off of the Islamic Association for Palestine, identified by two former FBI counterterrorism chiefs as a "front group" for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Moreover, several CAIR leaders have been convicted on terror-related charges.
During the June airport tour, CAIR was taken on a walk through the point-of-entry, Customs stations, secondary screening and interview rooms. In addition, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents were asked to describe for CAIR representatives various features of the high-risk passenger lookout system. Brian Humphrey, Customs and Border Patrol's executive director of field operations, assured CAIR officials that agents do not single out Muslim passengers for special screening and that they must undergo a mandatory course in Muslim sensitivity training. The course teaches agents that Muslims believe jihad is an "internal struggle against sin" and not holy warfare.
Customs agents involved in the CAIR tour at O'Hare told WorldNetDaily they were outraged that headquarters would reveal sensitive counterterrorism procedures to an organization that has seen several of its own officials convicted of terror-related charges since 9-11.
CAIR says the June tour allayed its concerns about profiling and that it "looks forward to continuing the relationship with U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices in the region, and to furthering understanding between the organizations as well as facilitating future communication in order to eliminate problems for Muslim travelers before they even arise."
As WND reported, the Department of Homeland Security invites CAIR itself to conduct sensitivity training for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and supervisors (CBP's counterparts) in Chicago. The course is taught by local CAIR officials Christina Abraham and Mariyam Hussain. More than 30 ICE staffers have gone through the CAIR awareness program so far.
CAIR which is bankrolled by the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates, two countries that formally recognized the Taliban also offers religious and cultural sensitivity training about Islam and Muslims to the military. In June, for example, CAIR trained more than 300 military personnel at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz.
Also in June, CAIR was invited by the Pentagon to a ceremony dedicating the first Islamic center in Marine Corps history at Quantico headquarters outside of Washington.
Washington-based CAIR also has regular meetings with the FBI and Justice Department. In fact, FBI case agents complain the bureau rarely can make a move in the Muslim community without first consulting with CAIR, which sits on its advisory board. CAIR in the past has cried racism and bigotry when the bureau has moved unilaterally with investigations and raids in the community.
CAIR has also been dogged by the statements of Omar Ahmad, as reported by a California newspaper, that "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant," and, "The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth." Although the newspaper's publisher and the reporter stand by the quotes, Ahmad and CAIR dispute their accuracy.
The pilgrimage to Mecca is a religious duty for Muslims, which attracts about 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims very year, according to Saudi officials.
The Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., reports that about 15,000 American Muslims made the pilgrimage in 2005.
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Thursday, December 28, 2006
Answers to OKC panel's questions
Posted: December 28, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Jack Cashill
After a two-year inquiry, the House International Relations investigative subcommittee has announced that far too many questions into the origins of the Oklahoma City bombing of April 1995 remain unanswered.
To this point, the FBI and the mainstream media have looked for the truth only in those places where they are least likely to find it. In her stunning book, "The Third Terrorist," Jayna Davis documents beyond reasonable doubt where that truth leads: not only to the Philippines, which Nichols visited frequently, but also to an Iraqi cell in Oklahoma City. In her role as a reporter for KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, Davis interviewed more than 20 reliable eyewitnesses who identified a crew of Iraqi nationals that had almost assuredly helped McVeigh assemble and deliver the bomb, among them the most probable John Doe No. 2, Iraqi national Hussain Al-Hussaini.
(Column continues below)
This is not to deny that Nichols and McVeigh also received logistical support from local white supremacists. That is altogether likely and not at all contradictory. What is unlikely, however, is that the locals could have taught the boys how to build a truck bomb much like the kind that routinely shake things up the Middle East.
To make the OKC case comprehendible, allow me to focus on one detail. Timothy McVeigh's missing license plate. If the story McVeigh told about the plate was false, a story the prosecution pushed as well, the Clinton Justice Department likely misdirected the investigation to avoid its larger terrorist implications. As the subcommittee report reveals, McVeigh was fully capable of lying. In fact, he failed his polygraph test on the question of whether he had outside help.
Following the license plate helps cut through the clutter. As is well known, the absence of a rear plate caused the Oklahoma state police to stop McVeigh as he drove north out of Oklahoma City up I-35 an hour and a half after the bombing.
After his conviction, McVeigh told his story to two reporters from his hometown Buffalo News, Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, and they in turn retold it in a useful book published in 2001 called "American Terrorist." As McVeigh recounted the incident, he had driven an old yellow Mercury Marquis to Oklahoma City three days before the blast and parked this car in a small, run down parking lot.
After parking, McVeigh claimed he removed the car's Arizona license plate, stuck it in his pants, and then stashed it in his storage shed when he got back to Kansas. He did so, as he tells the story, in the improbable hope that a trooper would pull him over as he fled the scene and then tie him to the crime through "the envelope of clues on the seat beside him," a packet of anti-government literature.
The McVeigh that one meets in "American Terrorist" is a powerful and creative superman. He somehow taught himself how to build a massive truck bomb and was even prepared to assemble the 7,000-pound monster himself in one morning. This would have meant loading onto his rented truck 108 50-pound bags of ammonium nitrate, three 400-pound drums of liquid nitromethane, several crates of highly explosive Tovex sausage, spools of shock tube and cannon fuse and the 55-gallon drums to measure and mix these materials in.
As McVeigh told it, Terry Nichols showed up at his Kansas storage facility when he was halfway through the loading process and then only because he was afraid of what McVeigh would do to his family if he did not. The pair then drove to a nearby lake and spent the next three hours mixing the 13 500-pound barrels of explosives. When finished, they added 17 bags of ANFO. Although McVeigh claimed to have been a self-taught bombmaker, he had no particular mechanical gifts. Still, he managed not only to mix and load all these elements precisely but also to design and perfectly execute a dual-fuse ignition system.
A Washington Post article from a week after the blast when the truth was still being shared and reported suggests the improbability of this story. "Law enforcement sources," reads the Post, "said the 4,800-pound bomb that caused the explosion probably required at least two to three people to construct and considerable patience and planning. Building such a device 'would be extremely labor-intensive.'" The bomb that McVeigh described proved to be half again bigger than that and built by two inexperienced guys in one morning.
McVeigh's post-conviction story of his labors largely tracked with the prosecution's. After constructing the bomb, he allegedly drove alone towards Oklahoma in the loaded truck. After crossing the Oklahoma border, he stopped for the night at a small gravel lot near a conveniently unnamed "roadside motel." By his own timeline, however, he would have reached this motel about 2 p.m. That makes for a really long and pointless night.
The next morning, as he told it, McVeigh drove into Oklahoma City alone, saw no one, and no one saw him. He lit the fuses and then parked the Ryder truck in front of the Murrah building. He then grabbed the thick packet of anti-government materials he brought with him, jumped out of the truck, and walked and ran with packet in hand to the Mercury Marquis parked nearby.
In constructing a story that is in large part false, the storyteller almost inevitably adds a detail that clashes with other elements of his own story. So it is with the license plate. On the same page that authors Herbeck and Michel repeat McVeigh's account of the plate's absence, they blandly say of McVeigh's getaway, "He drove at what he considered the normal speed for motorists, about two miles per hour above the speed limit. He signaled all his turns and obeyed all traffic signs and signals."
When I met Dan Herbeck for lunch in Buffalo a few summers ago, I just had to ask him about this disparity. Why did McVeigh bother driving so carefully if he purposefully took the plates off? According to Herbeck, that's what McVeigh told him and Michel, and that's what they reported.
In her book, Jayna Davis, tells a different story altogether. She interviewed and names a series of people who saw the Ryder truck and identified McVeigh in the minutes before the blast. These witnesses invariably placed a short, foreign-looking, dark-skinned man in the passenger seat.
In fact, the FBI had been looking for a man who fit this description since they first traced the truck back to Eldon Elliot's body shop in Junction City, Kan. "FBI spokesman Weldon L. Kennedy said investigators were still trying to identify John Doe No. 2," wrote the Washington Post April 28, "a man who accompanied McVeigh when he rented the Ryder truck in Junction City, Kan."
Twenty minutes before the blast in downtown Oklahoma City, employees at a tire store spotted two men of the same description in the Ryder truck, and even gave the men directions to the Murrah building intersection.
McVeigh's defense attorney Steven Jones put one eyewitness on the stand in the McVeigh trial, the terribly injured Daina Bradley.
"It was a Ryder truck," Bradley had cried out to rescuers who were in process of amputating her leg to extricate her from the rubble, "It pulled up, a foreign looking man got out, and then before long, everything went black." The prosecution undermined Bradley's testimony by pointing to Bradley's real history of emotional problems, but Bradley made this claim to her rescuers 24 hours before the FBI knew that a Ryder truck was involved.
Jayna Davis also identified and interviewed numerous eyewitnesses at the Cactus Motel in Oklahoma City who saw and smelled the Ryder Truck as well as the Mercury Marquis and a brown late-model pickup. These witnesses traced McVeigh's arrival to late afternoon April 18 and swore they watched him leave the motel on the morning of the 19th with several Middle Eastern men in a convoy of three vehicles. An Oklahoma state police teletype, authorized by the FBI, would target a brown pickup driven by a "Middle Eastern male, 25 to 28 years of age" throughout the day on the 19th.
One has to read Davis's book to understand the scope of her investigation, but the license plate tale sums up her case nicely. Five minutes before the blast, printing operator Jerry Nance noticed an unusual car in the downtown Oklahoma City parking lot near where he worked. It was dilapidated yellow Mercury Marquis. Behind the wheel was a dark-skinned, Middle Eastern-looking man in a ball cap.
Nance remembers the car well. When he walked back towards it, after having retrieved something from his own car, the Mercury Marquis almost ran him over. Now, however, the Middle Eastern man was sitting in the passenger seat, and a white man was recklessly driving the car out of the parking lot. As the Mercury Marquis passed Nance, it thumped over a concrete marker and shook the license plate loose so it dangled by a single bolt.
Two minutes later, the Murrah building blew up. Nance informed the FBI of this incident before anyone knew McVeigh had been apprehended in a yellow Mercury Marquis. Eight days later, the FBI extensively quoted Nance and the tire store employees in its request before a federal judge to hold McVeigh over for trial. One tire store eyewitness picked McVeigh out of a line-up of look-alikes even before he saw McVeigh on TV. The Washington Post of April 28 confirms the same:
The magistrate, Ronald L. Howland, ordered McVeigh to be held without bail after listening to four hours of testimony from FBI special agent John Hersley in which he described eyewitness accounts of a yellow Mercury with McVeigh and another man inside speeding away from a parking lot near the federal building (italics mine}.
At some point, McVeigh let his passenger off, and it is possible that the passenger removed the plate under the guise of securing it. To further set McVeigh up for the fall, that passenger might also have left the anti-government materials in McVeigh's car. This explanation makes more sense than McVeigh running through the Oklahoma City streets with a packet of literature in hand. It also tracks with the M.O. of Ramzi Yousef at the first World Trade Center bombing, who let his accomplices, the locals who helped construct the bomb, take the fall. Those amateur jihadists got arrested when they went back to get their deposit on the missing truck.
It is possible too that the plate just fell off on its own. In either case, McVeigh could not have known it was gone. In fact, the trooper who arrested him would later report McVeigh's shock at discovering the plate was missing. If McVeigh had removed it himself, his careful escape seems pointless, even foolish. His use of pseudonyms and pay phones and his earlier calls to the anti-government underground seeking safe haven would likewise make no sense.
The FBI refused to even look at the material Jayna Davis had gathered. Rather than put a single witness on the stand who could place McVeigh in or near Oklahoma City on April 19, the prosecution chose to build an entire case on circumstantial evidence. Much as with TWA 800, however, the FBI lost all interest in the eyewitnesses as soon as the White House had established its talking points.
"Could the al Qaeda explosives expert [Ramzi Yousef] have been introduced to the angry American who proclaimed his hatred for America," writes Richard Clarke of Nichols' visit to the Philippines in his book "Against All Enemies." "We do not know, despite some FBI investigation."
"Some FBI investigation?" Why was there not a massive FBI investigation? The House subcommittee now asks this very question. Although the committee may be too polite to say so, the reason Islamic terrorist links were ignored has more to do with politics than with security. Once arrested, McVeigh and Nichols served as poster boys for the natural progression of the "Republican revolution." The Clinton administration and its media allies spun OKC so hard to the right that it left America dizzy. If, however, the arrested bombers proved to be mere "lily whites" that is stooges recruited by Islamic terrorists to take the fall they would lose their political value.
As an added bonus, the "lily white" factor encouraged America's progressive to scold those who had publicly presumed that Islamic terrorists were behind the bombing. This included not only the political right but also non-partisan terrorist experts like Steven Emerson, who had already been upbraided for "bigotry and misrepresentations" and "creating mass hysteria against American Arabs" for his PBS documentary "American Jihad." In fact, it was in Oklahoma City in late 1992 that Emerson, covering an unrelated press conference for CNN, first stumbled upon the jihadi presence in the United States.
Then too, as with the first World Trade Center bombing and possibly with TWA Flight 800, an Iraqi connection would have forced a serious military response, about which the Clinton administration was always queasy.
To the detriment of our national security, the orchestrated Democratic reaction to Oklahoma City shamed reporters and investigators from pursuing Islamic terrorism aggressively. This, Jayna Davis documents all too painfully from her personal experience. The scary thing is they are still trying to shame us. As to the FBI, its veterans are just trying to cover their tracks and protect their reputations business as usual.
Related special offer:
"The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing"
Jack Cashill is an Emmy-award winning independent writer and producer with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue.
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Iranian MPs vote to cut cooperation with IAEA
TEHRAN: Irans parliament on Wednesday approved a bill that obliged the government to revise its cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog after Tehran was slapped with Security Council sanctions.
The text of the bill was approved by an overwhelming majority in the conservative-controlled parliament, with 167 in favour and 21 against.
The formulation leaves the government a free hand to cut cooperation as it feels best. This could involve limiting UN inspections of its atomic sites, a move that has been urged by several lawmakers. Officials from the Foreign Ministry and the supreme national security council should be left to interpret the text, said Deputy Foreign Minister Hamid Reza Asefi who promoted the bill in parliament on behalf of the government.
Parliament Speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel echoed comments from other top officials that Iran did not intend to quit the NPT but emphasised the government could interpret the bill as it wanted.
The government should react (to the bill) in a way appropriate to the international pressure. This could mean quitting the NPT or staying there. We will give a free hand to the government to take decisions, he added.
Almost immediately after it was passed, the bill was approved as law by the Guardians Council which vets all parliamentary legislation.
Rejecting this resolution means that a resolution that is even stricter will be passed in two months. The best solution is to establish a bridge with the other countries to reduce the tension, said reformist MP Nourredine Pirmoazen. However a conservative deputy, Ebrahim Karkhaneie, said that no country has the right to renounce its legitimate rights under threats.
Meanwhile, Iranian oil and gas officials have complained that US pressure on foreign banks not to lend to Iran have resulted in financing problems for key energy projects.
In a related development, diplomats said that the IAEAs 35-nation board of governors might meet in January to discuss the UNs levying of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme. afp
Manhandling of reporter bothers US Embassy
PESHAWAR: The US Embassy in Islamabad has raised the issue of the manhandling of a New York Times reporter with the foreign ministry and ministry of information and broadcasting.
The US Embassy has raised the issue and hope such incident will not be repeated in future, a diplomatic source requesting anonymity told Daily Times on Wednesday.
Carlotta Gall covering Pakistan and Afghanistan for New York Times told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that the Special Branch police harassed her and photographer Akhtar Soomro in Quetta on December 19.
Pakistani authorities must investigate this incident immediately and assure that journalists are allowed to work freely, said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon, adding, We are alarmed by the use of government security services to harass journalists reporting in Pakistan on issues of global significance.
Home | Na
N-trafficking doubles between 2000-05
* Department of Homeland Security confirms 215 global incidents in 2005
* Says increase due to threat awareness and extensive screening
WASHINGTON: The United States Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday that the reported incidents of trafficking and mishandling of nuclear material worldwide had doubled between 2000 and 2005, largely because of heightened awareness and more extensive screening procedures.
A Homeland Security spokesman, Jarrod Agen, said that the department had received 215 reports of nuclear trafficking and related criminal activity worldwide in 2005, as compared to 100 incidents in 2000. The incidents included illegal diversion, purchase, sale, transport or storage of nuclear material.
Only a handful of the known illicit nuclear/radiological trafficking incidents involved weapons-usable nuclear materials, Agen said. Of the known smuggling incidents to date, the vast majority were profit-motivated scams involving bogus materials.
The number of trafficking incidents recorded by the Department of Homeland Security was more than double of that reported in August by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The Geneva-based United Nations nuclear watchdog said that it had received reports of 103 incidents of illicit trafficking and other unauthorised activities involving nuclear and radioactive materials in 2005.
It cited a 2005 New Jersey case in which a laboratory inadvertently disposed of 3.3 grams of highly enriched uranium. A lab worker failed to locate one of several samples in a shipment and apparently threw it away with the packaging, which was buried at a landfill.
The lab was later fined US$3,250 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
However, the Homeland Security figures included IAEA reporting as well as other information obtained by intelligence and law enforcement agencies, Agen said.
What has doubled is the number of reported events, he said, adding that this was due mainly to an increase in awareness, more comprehensive reporting and an increase in the number of number of detection devices.
We screen about 80 percent of all cargo that comes into the US through radiation portal monitors, and by the end of next year we will be at 100 percent. That gives you an indication of how seriously we take screening for radioactive material.
Authorities will begin scanning US-bound freight for nuclear and radiological materials in seven overseas ports early next year as part of the US Secure Freight Initiative.
Port authorities in Pakistan, Britain, Honduras, South Korea and Singapore were among those are participating, Agen said.
Since the Sept 11 attacks on the US, security awareness has increased globally, while Washington has increased the number and sophistication of screening machines across the country. reuters
Mengal to be tried in Karachi Central Jail
KARACHI: A case against former Balochistan chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal will be heard in the Karachi Central Jail, the Sindh Home Department announced on Wednesday.
Mengal, who also heads the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), was sent to jail on Tuesday by an anti-terrorism court till January 5, 2007, for his alleged involvement in the abduction of two army personnel. nni
Sectarian strife can engulf Muslim world
* President says Islam not in conflict with modernisation
ISLAMABAD: Sectarian strife could sow the seeds for a disaster that could engulf the entire Muslim world if not addressed immediately, President General Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday.
The Muslim world must take urgent steps to end sectarian strife, the president said in a lecture, titled Vision of an Islamic, democratic and welfare state in Pakistan, to a gathering of scholars and intellectuals from the Muslim world at Aiwan-e-Sadr.
The president said that socio-economic and political problems within the Muslim world also needed to be addressed urgently and stressed upon the resolution of lingering political disputes. Now is the time to act immediately to resolve long-standing political disputes including Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, in a just manner and with dignity and honour, he said.
Gen Musharraf said Islam is not in conflict with democracy and modernisation, but stressed that modernisation was distinct from westernisation. He pointed out that there is no consensus among Muslims about the interpretations of Islam and illiteracy had worsened the situation. He said the teachings of Islam had generally been left to semi-literate religious people. He said that extremist and obscurantist elements are trying to impose their rigid views on the vast majority, while fringe ultra-modern elements are propagating secularism. He said both these elements were wrong and there was a need to end the ongoing turmoil between enlightenment and obscurantism. We need to work for reconciliation with the world at large, he said.
We must achieve peace with honour and dignity and strive for socio-economic emancipation as the Muslim world cannot progress with a confrontationist approach. The president said obscurantist and extremist elements were strengthening misperceptions about Islam.
He said the whole world is in turmoil, but the Muslim world is suffering the most. He called for concerted efforts to end these sufferings and added that the Muslim world must contribute collectively to this end.
Internal strife within the Islamic world is hampering economic progress, he said. No country could make economic progress living in a vacuum in this globalised world, he said, and called for greater interaction with the international community for scientific advancement.
17 banned groups warned against collecting hides
By Shahzad Malik
ISLAMABAD: The government has told the provinces to make sure that 17 banned religious and militant organisations are not able to collect the hides of sacrificial animals on Eidul Azha.
The Interior Ministry has issued this directive to the four provinces and the Islamabad district administration while asking them to step up security around places where Eidul Azha prayers will be offered, sources said.
Seventeen organisations have been banned under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. These are Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi, Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan, Khudamul Islam, Islami Tehrik Pakistan, Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan, Jamiatul Furqan, Jamiatul Ansar, Hizbul Tahreer, Khairunnas International Trust, Islamic Students Movement and Balochistan Liberation Army. Jamaatud Dawa Pakistan and Sunni Tehrik are on a watch list.
The sources said that intelligence reports submitted to the Interior Ministry warned that members of banned militant and religious outfits would try to collect hides of sacrificial animals under fake names. The militants would ask the khateebs (prayer leaders) of their sects to appeal to people in their areas to collect hides for the welfare of poor students getting religious education there, the sources said. However, the fear is that money from the hides would be used to finance terrorist activities.
The provinces have also been asked to issue directives to district authorities to keep an eye on 570 prayer leaders who, under Section 11EE of the Anti-Terrorism Act, are not allowed to leave their areas during Eidul Azha, the sources said.
The Interior Ministry has also directed the authorities concerned of the four provinces and the district administration of Islamabad to mobilise officials of the Special Branch of the police to keep an eye on members of banned militant organisations, the sources said.
Baath party threatens to retaliate if Saddam executed
AMMAN: Saddam Husseins Baath Party threatened Wednesday to retaliate if the ousted Iraqi leader is executed, warning in an Internet posting it would target US interests anywhere. The statement appeared on a Web site known to represent the Baath, which was disbanded after US-led forces overthrew Saddam in 2003. The site is believed to be run from Yemen, where a number of exiled members of the party are based. Our party warns again of the consequences of executing Mr President and his comrades, the statement said. The Baath and the resistance are determined to retaliate, with all means and everywhere, to harm America and its interests if it commits this crime, the statement added, referring to Baath fighters as the resistance. The American Administration will be held responsible for any harm inflicted on the president because the United States is the decision-maker (in Iraq) and not the puppet Iraqi government. ap
Iraqis fear execution would fuel violence
BAGHDAD: Many Iraqis said on Wednesday they would welcome a swift execution of Saddam Hussein but others expressed fears that carrying out the death sentence now would further fuel sectarian violence.
An Iraqi appeals court on Tuesday upheld Saddams death sentence for crimes against humanity and said he should hang within 30 days. It comes amid raging violence between Saddams fellow Sunni Arabs and majority Shiites.
This is a just sentence because Saddam oppressed the Iraqi people but I think it came at the wrong time because were living through a cycle of violence, said Baghdad resident Mohammed Nasir.
Edward Iskander, a 37-year-old shopkeeper, agreed.
I just hope they let him die naturally because if we execute him, his followers will unleash mayhem, Iskander said as he opened his small food store in central Baghdads Karrada district. Some people fear Saddams die-hard followers, who form part of the Sunni Arab insurgency, will produce a bloody backlash if he is executed. But others say his death will end their hopes and their fight.
I think his death will end violence from Sunnis and theyll be forced to negotiate for reconciliation. We desperately need to turn this page in history, said Akram Salman, a 21-year-old mathematics university student.
Shiites and Kurds, Saddams main victims during his 24-year rule, have been keen to speed up the execution but some minority Sunni Arabs, who had been the ruling elite for decades, are nostalgic for his return.
There were no major celebrations or protests against the decision as many Iraqis, struggling to live through sectarian violence and shortages in basic services, had expected the Nov. 5 death sentence to be upheld.
Iraqi newspapers squeezed in headlines and small articles on the announcement late on Tuesday by the head of the Iraqi High Tribunal, Aref Abdul-Razzaq al-Shahin, but no editorials focused on the decision.
It remains unclear when Saddam will be executed for his role in the killings of 148 Shiite villagers after a failed 1982 assassination attempt against him in the village of Dujail, but al-Shahin said the sentence must be carried out within 30 days.
Although many Iraqis anxiously wait to see if it may help ease violence or improve their lives, laundry owner Yusif Ali said he just wanted to enjoy the moment when it comes.
Im very happy that justice was finally done, Ali said. All I ask the government is for a broadcast of his execution. reuters
Last update - 21:49 27/12/2006
Russia links Israeli businessman to murder of ex-spy Litvinenko
Russia's prosecutor-general said Wednesday that Leonid Nevzlin, Russian-born businessman currently living in Israel, could have ordered the poisoning of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko.
Nevzlin is the former CEO of the bankrupt Yukos Oil Company and current chairman of the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv.
Nevzlin's spokesman dismissed the suggestion as "ridiculous".
"A version is being looked at that those who ordered these crimes could be the same people who are on an international wanted list for serious and very serious crimes, one of whom is ... Leonid Nevzlin," the prosecutor-general's office said in a statement.
Nevzlin, one of the most senior men in the business empire of jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, saysRussian authorities' charges against him are fabricated.
"Everyone knows the KGB's methods. These statements are ridiculous and do not warrant a response," Nevzlin's spokesman Amir Dan said in Israel of the latest allegations.
Dan said in late November that Litvinenko had been investigating alleged wrongdoing by the Russian authorities in connection with YUKOS before his death.
Before his eventual death from poisoning by radioactive polonium in London on Nov. 23, Litvinenko made a statement accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of his murder. The Kremlin has dismissed Litvinenko's allegations as "nonsense".
A spokeswoman for London police, who are investigating Litvinenko's murder, declined to comment on the Russian prosecutor-general's statement.
Nevzlin gained a controlling stake in YUKOS when Khodorkovsky handed him a 60 percent share in the holding company that controlled the firm.
YUKOS has been driven into bankruptcy by massive back tax claims.
Last update - 10:08 28/12/2006
Egypt transfers arms to Fatah, with Israel's approval
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents
Egypt transfered a large quantity of arms and ammunition to Palestinian Authority security organizations in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, with Israel's approval.
The move was carried out in an effort to bolster Fatah affiliated groups, following recent clashes with paramilitary organizations belonging to the ruling Hamas movement.
The shipment included 2,000 AK-47 rifles, 20,000 magazines and two million rounds of ammunition. The arms and ammunition were transfered from Egypt to Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing, in coordination with the Israel Defense Force and with the government's authorization.
The four trucks carrying the weapons were accompanied by Military Police, and crossed into the Gaza Strip through the Karni crossing, where PA security personnel received the shipment.
Senior members of various Fatah affiliated groups in the Gaza Strip have complained of their inferior firepower when confronted by Hamas forces.
One of the main reasons they point to for their inability to counter Hamas is the fact that the radical Islamic organization controls most of the smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip through tunnels running from Sinai to Rafah in the South.
The issue of reinforcing the Fatah forces was the subject of discussions among Israeli, Egyptian and American officials. A decision was made during the meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday.
During the meeting, Abbas also promised to deploy men from his Presidential Guard along the Philadelphi Route to prevent smuggling, and also in the northern Gaza Strip, to prevent the targetting of Israeli towns with Qassam rockets.
Abbas traveled to Egypt Wednesday for a meeting with President Hosni Mubarak. At the end of their meeting, Abbas said that Israel has not rejected the possibility of establishing a "back channel" - closed to the media, but not secret - through which negotiations could be held toward a permanent settlement.
Abbas said that this matter was raised in his meeting with Olmert and that the Israeli leader had promised to evaluate his proposal.
The Palestinian leader added that the Americans have also not rejected this option.
The proposal for a back channel involves the participation of Quartet representatives in the talks, and Abbas said that the visit of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region in January will "be the right time to manifest this idea and discuss it seriously."
Palestinian sources told Haaretz Wednesday that Abbas is trying to revive the idea of negotiations for a permanent settlement, because he is wary of an initiative to set up a Palestinian state with interim borders.
The same sources said that the Palestinian leadership is closely following the proposal put forth by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, which is backed by the U.S. and which Hamas may be willing to accept in return for a complete cease-fire for a five-year period
Last update - 08:36 28/12/2006
Israel to impose limits on bank accounts of security prisoners
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent
Israel will impose limits on the transfer of funds from the territories to Palestinians held in its prisons for security-related offenses, starting on February 1.
According to the new rules, the maximum sum per month each such inmate may receive will be NIS 1,300. In addition, control of funds distribution will no longer be in the hands of the prisoners' leadership, but will be handled by the prison authorities.
The adoption of the new rules is angering the Palestinian inmates.
The decision to alter the regulations governing money transfers was made following a number of meetings in recent months between representatives of the Justice Ministry, the Shin Bet security service, the Israel Prison Service and the Postal Bank, whose branches are used for inmates' accounts.
The law passed by the Knesset about a year and a half ago that forbids funding of terrorist activity served as catalyst for the start of the talks. The transfer of funds to militants held for terrorist activities, even after the fact, could be considered to be retroactive support for terrorist activities. The Postal Bank there were concerns that under the existing regulations on money transfers, it services would be considered as aiding and abetting terrorist activities.
Currently, there is no effective control over money transfers to security prisoners. These are received by the prisoners' leaders in the wings of various prisons, and depending on group affiliation, the funds are dispersed.
Prison Service Commissioner Ya'akov Ganot had expressed his concerns regarding the existing lack of controls, particularly in connection with Israeli Arabs serving sentences for participation in security-related violations. Ganot ordered a freeze on the transfer of funds from the Palestinian Authority to these inmates several months ago.
Deputy State Attorney Shai Nitzan has formulated the following new regulations:
* Each inmate held for security violations will receive funds into an individual bank account, in which no more than NIS 1,300 per month may be deposited. The figure is set according to the maximum that security inmates are allowed to spend in the prison canteen each month.
* Any one making a deposit will have to identify himself, so Israel will be able to block transfers from an individual identified as belonging to a militant group.
* Inmates will not be allowed to keep funds in their accounts for colleagues. This will strip inmate leaders of a major source of power.
* A computerized system will be set up in the Postal Bank that will include data on every inmate. The Prison Service is funding half the cost of the system, which will allow the "marking" of accounts belonging to inmates imprisoned for security-related violations. In return for the measures it has undertaken, the state has promised the Postal Bank immunity from prosecution if it is accused of aiding terrorist activities.
A senior source in the Prison Service said the new regulations, in addition to assisting in maintaining the law, will likely weaken the leadership of the Palestinian inmates.
"There will no longer be a situation in which vast sums of money are deposited without controls, or that a prisoner is released and he has large sums of money in his account," the source said.
The Prison Service has begun informing inmates in various prisons of the new regulations, provoking considerable anger.
A security source involved in the decisions said the new regulations constitute an improvement, but the maximum sum allowed to each inmate is still too high.
"The Prison Service is still trying to buy calm among the inmates through the money allowed them," he said. "We should have limited the monthly allowance to several hundred shekels, which will meet their minimum needs. That is what inmates held for criminal offenses are allowed to spend, and there is no reason why a terrorist held in our prisons should be allowed more, even if the money arrives from the Palestinian side."
Last update - 08:25 28/12/2006
Three Iranians seeking conversion to Judaism denied Israel visas
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Three Iranians interested in converting to Judaism recently left their native country, but have been unable to find any entity to assist them.
The three Shi'ite Muslims left Iran and approached the Israeli embassy and Jewish communities in Azerbaijan, but were rejected. It is impossible to convert to Judaism in Iran, as they would be considered heretics, a crime punishable by death. They are now waiting in a makeshift city in Turkey for a United Nations hearing on their application for refugee status.
The three left Iran two months ago and immediately approached the Israeli embassy in Baku. According to N., they were given a chilly reception. N. points out that embassy officials did not invite them into the building, but talked to them on the street.
"We told them we want visas to Israel in order to convert," N. recounts. "They told us that if we are not Jewish, our parents aren't Jewish and we have no family members in Israel, we cannot get visas."
The three also did not receive warm welcomes in Baku synagogues. At one place of worship, they were laughed at, at another - locked out. They were told there is no rabbinical court that can handle conversion in Baku.
N. says he became interested in other religions while still a practicing Shi'ite, and learned that Judaism was the basis of the other religions. N. wrote to the United Nations: "Since I stopped obeying the Muslim commandments, my soul has sought a way home. In order to be a complete Jew, it is necessary to undergo official processes."
Iran does not officially allow its citizens to travel to Israel, although many of the 25,000-strong Jewish community have done so through Turkey.
The three potential converts are now waiting for a February hearing date, and dependent on financial help from their families. "The Iranian authorities are aware of our plans. They can't hurt us so they are trying to harm our families." They hope to get assistance from some Israeli or Jewish institutions.
Contact with the three is mostly through e-mail and the occasional phone call from N., who always verifies at the beginning of each call that recent e-mails really originated in Israel and not with Iranian security forces.
The Foreign Ministry stated that the three approached the Baku embassy on a weekend when offices were closed, and have not returned. They would have been helped during regular office hours. The ministry also noted that Israeli law prohibits entry to Israel for the purposes of conversion, although there is an appeals committee to examine specific cases.
assorted interesting reading:
Me and my passports
Shahida at UK Customs
Serious questions have been raised over Britain's border security after a BBC journalist entered the UK twice on fake and stolen passports.
Shahida Tulaganova obtained 20 illegal passports - each from an EU country, including the UK - within months.
Those in the trade told her to travel via sea or bus, saying port security was less stringent than airports.
The Home Office said it works closely with the EU to tackle the crime, taking the issue of false documents seriously.
In 2004, 8,285 fraudulent documents were detected at UK ports of entry, according to Home Office figures.
Entering the UK on a fake or stolen passport carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail, while making a false statement to obtain a passport can lead to a prison sentence of up to two years.
Shahida travelled across Europe to obtain her false documents for her Panorama investigation.
They ranged in price from just #250 to more than #1,500. Some were provided within several days, while others took weeks.
She found her first illegal passport dealer in the centre of London - through an advertisement in a Russian language newspaper.
The dealer - Henry - provided her with a genuine Czech passport, by getting someone who looked like her to apply for one, using her photo.
Shahida's investigation poses questions over the number of non-EU nationals entering Britain on illegal passports. She uses Poland as an example.
"Since [Poland] country joined the EU less than two years ago a quarter of a million Poles have left and legally registered for work in Britain," she says.
"But if my contacts are right, many of these may not have been Poles at all, but illegal immigrants using fake passports."
Czech Republic, Poland
Shahida enters Britain via boat - from Spain to Portsmouth - on a fake Latvian passport, and then later on the Eurostar using a stolen Estonian passport.
Despite information on stolen passports being registered to a central Interpol database, her Estonian passport goes undetected.
The Home Office says there is a "comprehensive bilateral exchange of information between member states regarding the issue of lost and stolen EU passports".
It maintains that in addition to this, all immigration officers are highly trained in identifying false documents.
"All our immigration officers at British ports are trained in forgery detection techniques and have access to specialist forgery detection equipment," a spokesperson said.
The government has also introduced biometric e-passports with images securely stored inside chips, in an attempt to combat forgery and improve the security of British passports.
Panorama: My Fake Passports and Me was broadcast on Monday, 4 December, 2006 at 2100 GMT on BBC One.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/01 17:00:27 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Six dead in rig helicopter crash
Six bodies have been recovered from the sea after a helicopter crashed off Morecambe Bay in Lancashire.
A rescue operation was launched after the Eurocopter AS365N carrying seven people came down 24 miles offshore.
The aircraft took off from Blackpool Airport and was ferrying Centrica staff on gas rigs in the bay back to shore.
Two crew members and five rig workers were aboard. RAF rescue helicopters, coastguard and RNLI crews, and a rig support vessel joined the search.
The bodies of six men have been recovered and were brought ashore, Lancashire Constabulary said.
The search was continuing for the other missing person, a spokesman added.
Emergency phone numbers for relatives to contact - 01772 410772/410774.
Detective Superintendent Mick Gradwell told BBC News 24: "There was a very quick rescue response because people were on the drilling platform waiting to be picked up and they actually saw the helicopter ditch in the sea."
He said the witnesses were being transported back to be interviewed as investigators from the Civil Aviation Authority and other agencies tried to establish the cause of the crash.
The helicopter, operated by industry transport firm CHC, left Blackpool at about 1800 GMT.
Det Supt Gradwell said conditions were cold but it was not very foggy when it crashed some 40 minutes later.
It had picked up passengers at two platforms and was heading for a third.
He said police were unaware of any emergency calls having being received.
Centrica said it is contacting all families connected with its Morecambe Bay gas fields.
Relatives of Centrica employees can call a dedicated helpline on 01524 864585.
The rescue is being co-ordinated by Liverpool coastguards and lifeboats from Fleetwood and Barrow have been sent to the scene.
Rescue helicopters from RAF Valley and RAF Leconfield were called out.
Gas was discovered in the area in 1974 and extraction operations began 11 years later. There are about 143 Centrica staff working on the platforms at any one time.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/28 06:18:51 GMT
© BBC MMVI
New Yorkers given rabies warning
By Matt Wells
BBC News, New York
Health officials in New York are warning residents to stay away from stray animals over the holiday period.
The advice follows a large increase in the reported number of rabies cases, including seven in December alone.
The outbreak is centred on the borough of Staten Island, which lies off Manhattan, where 35 animals have tested positive for the virus during 2006.
Rabies is highly infectious and usually passed on by a bite. In humans, it is almost always fatal if left untreated.
The borough of Staten Island - which sits just off the southern shore of Manhattan - has a large population of racoons and other wild animals which are susceptible to the virus.
But alarm bells really began to ring when a man was bitten in November by a rabid kitten which he had tried to rescue from the streets.
He was successfully treated - in fact, it has been more than 50 years since any New Yorker contracted rabies.
However, the spike in animal cases found during December has prompted the city health commissioner to issue a stark warning for people to stay away from strays, and to take their own pets to be vaccinated.
The authorities hope that by footing the bill for the vaccination programme over the next six months, they will prevent the disease from spreading to other boroughs.
There were no reports of rabies cases on Staten Island during 2005.
One local politician has called for an emergency task force to be set up to try to track down the source of the current outbreak.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/12/28 02:08:20 GMT
© BBC MMVI
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