More terrorist activity by Israel

Yep, they're doing more of that NAZI stuff, destroying civilian homes and forcing out an ethnic group. That's called ethnic cleansing, by the way.


Israel invades Gaza refugee camp

Wednesday 24 March 2004, 11:57 Makka Time, 8:57 GMT

Israeli tanks have invaded a refugee camp in the occupied Gaza Strip as Hamas announces a new chief after Israel assassinated the group???s spiritual leader and founder, Shaikh Ahmad Yasin.

About 10 Israeli tanks backed by helicopters stormed Khan Yunis camp early on Wednesday. Bulldozers destroyed several civilian homes, leaving an unknown number of Palestinians homeless, said witnesses.

Sixty terrified families were forced to flee their homes as the tanks opened fire. There were no immediate reports of clashes or casualties.

In the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, an elderly Palestinian man died on Wednesday after inhaling tear-gas, fired by Israeli occupation forces.

Troops fired the gas to disperse protesters on Tuesday.

Israel kept pressure high on Gaza, two days after a helicopter attack killed Shaikh Yasin and nine others, including his son-in-law. Another 17 people were injured in the attack, including two of his children.


Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip entered their third day of mourning for the slain resistance leader. For days Palestinians have been flocking to the quadriplegic???s home in Gaza city to pay their respects.

Meanwhile, Hamas said it appointed Abd Al-Aziz al-Rantisi as the resistance group???s new chief in Gaza.

Al-Rantisi has survived a previous Israeli assassination attempt.

Khalid Mishaal, a Hamas leader based in Syria, still heads the group's political bureau, the main decision-making body.

A senior Hamas official said on condition of anonymity: "The successor to Shaikh Yasin is the internal leader, while Khalid Mishaal is the head of the overseas political bureau." Mishaal has also survived an Israeli assassination attempt.

Israel has vowed all Hamas leaders are targets.

Diplomatic front

In related news, the 15-member UN Security Council held a debate on Israel???s assassination after Arab ambassadors and the United States failed to agree on a statement criticising Israel.

Ambassadors were unable to reach a compromise between the US and Algeria, representing Arab nations.

Nasr al-Kidwa, the UN Palestinian observer, opened the debate by asking the council to condemn the assassination and hold Israeli leaders responsible for breaking international law.

"We strongly condemn this new Israeli crime. We hold the occupying power and the Israeli leadership legally and politically responsible for this crime and the responsibilities for the consequences that this crime entails," he said.

Alarmed, most council members said Yasin's assassination could herald more violence.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the killing on Monday and Palestinians and Arab countries wanted the Security Council to do the same.

US Ambassador John Negroponte refrained from sharp criticism of Israel, but said the killing of Yasin, 67, "escalated tensions in Gaza and the greater Middle East, and sets back our effort to resume progress toward peace".

Russia, China, France, Germany and others condemned attacks on both sides and called on them to fulfil their obligations under the US-backed road map aimed at ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


Hoorah for freedom of speech and expression!

Crazy place, is the USA.


Student's refusal to adjust cap leads to arrest, controversy

Emily Bittner
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 12, 2004 02:50 PM

SCOTTSDALE - By most accounts, Marlon Morgan is a good kid.

The soft-spoken junior plays basketball for Saguaro High School. His mother works two jobs - one as a teacher - to afford living in Scottsdale so he can attend the city's schools. He was nominated for Youth of the Year last year by a branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Scottsdale.

So many are surprised and upset that the 17-year-old Morgan was arrested and jailed last week over his refusal to adjust wearing his baseball hat from the side to the front.

his friends, family and the local NAACP took action.

His classmates wore "Free Marlon" T-shirts and staged a protest that resulted in another student being suspended for 10 days. His family criticized both police and school officials' handling of the incident. The local chapter of the NAACP and Marlon's mother are meeting Wednesday with Scottsdale Police Chief Alan Rodbell and Scottsdale Unified School District officials.

School officials and police defend their actions.

Marlon was suspended for three days, beginning Monday when Saguaro returns from spring break.

Marlon was sitting in the school cafeteria when Saguaro security guards asked him to turn his hat around and he refused saying he felt singled out.

It is against school policy to wear hats sideways because it can be a sign of disrespect for authority, the police report said, but Marlon, who is Black, said that the rule is enforced selectively. According to a police report, he pointed to several White students whose hats were on sideways.

"Usually I don't have a problem, (but) when you walk around you see everyone else with their hats like that, I just kind of got fed up with it," he told The Arizona Republic.

When Marlon wouldn't do as the security guard asked, two school assistant principals and a Scottsdale police officer assigned to the school were called in.

The teen stayed defiant, refusing to go to the school office as instructed.

Assistant Principal Steve Salcito finally told Morgan he was being suspended for insubordination and that he was trespassing on school grounds, according to the police report.

Morgan was taken to police headquarters, where he was fingerprinted, photographed and kept in a jail cell for several hours. He was held on suspicion of disorderly conduct, failure to obey a police officer, trespassing and interfering or disrupting an educational institution.

While Morgan and his mother, Bobbie, said his behavior was rebellious, they denounced the school's reaction as "uncalled for."

"It was pretty upsetting," Marlon Morgan said. "I shouldn't have had to walk out of there in handcuffs in front of all my friends."

But Tom Herrmann, a spokesman for the school district, said the guards and principals acted appropriately. He declined to comment on specifics.

The Rev. Oscar Tillman, the head of the local NAACP and a former school board member, said schools rely too heavily on police officers to resolve conflict.

"I would not even dream of the principal or security calling in the police," Tillman said. "Police are not the disciplinarians for the school."


Fourteen die as Israeli tanks and gunships raid Gaza refugee camps

Yep, the Israeli Defence Force is at it again, slaughtering innocent civilians. And once again, I'm sure the USA will block all UN attempts to deal with the situation.


Fourteen die as Israeli tanks and gunships raid Gaza refugee camps
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

08 March 2004

Fourteen Palestinians were killed yesterday in more than six hours of fighting after Israeli forces, including tanks and helicopter gunships, mounted their deadliest incursion into Gaza for almost 18 months. The heavy exchanges of fire in two densely populated refugee camps claimed the lives of four civilians - including a boy aged 10 - and 10 militants, nine of them Hamas activists. No Israeli casualties were reported.

The raid began in darkness at 3.30am when Israeli forces, with at least two Apache helicopter gunships hovering overhead, advanced slowly along alleys and side streets on the fringes of the Bureij and Nusseirat refugee camps.

In a series of subsequent battles, several hundred Palestinians armed with assault rifles, anti-tank missiles and grenade launchers engaged with Israeli troops firing from helicopters, tanks and commandeered rooftop positions. Palestinian sources said some of the heaviest fighting had been in the area of Al Daewa Ila Allah Street, site of the biggest mosque in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli troops finally withdrew at 10am but the army said its pullback had been delayed by militants harassing it with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. Officers said that an earthmover that became stuck was attacked by dozens of homemade missiles.

Palestinian sources named the dead civilians as Ahmad Zuraiq, 13, Muhammad Badawi, 15, Yousef Yunis, 10, and Haitham Issawi, 16. Of 80 people said to have been injured in the fighting, 23 were taken to Shifa hospital in Gaza City including three said to be critical.

The Israeli army said the incursion had been intended to "prevent acts of terrorism" against Israeli targets - among them settlements in Gaza from which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said he wants to withdraw the Israeli residents.

Ari Pazner, an Israeli government spokesman, said that "terrorism is pouring out of this refugee camp, and we have to stop it", adding: "We believe that by doing so we have prevented acts of terror in Israel and saved many human lives." Mr Pazner strongly denied a link between the raid and the planned withdrawal. "We are now fighting terrorism. This has nothing to do with any future plan about Gaza," he said.

But with some commentators suggesting that both sides may be preparing to depict any Israeli pull-out as a victory, yesterday's incursion is likely to fuel speculation that Mr Sharon - facing criticism from the extreme Israeli right for his withdrawal plan - is determined to show that he is tougher than ever in cracking down on suspected militants.

Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian cabinet minister, condemned the raid, calling for a return to negotiations on the floundering US-backed road-map. "At a time when they're speaking about withdrawing from Gaza, they're destroying Gaza," he said.

As Hamas and Islamic Jihad vowed vengeance for the raid and many thousands joined the funeral procession for the 14 killed earlier in the day, Ghazi Hamad, the editor in chief of al Risala, a pro-Hamas weekly newspaper, insisted that despite Israeli military superiority, militants "do not want to surrender. They prefer to die as martyrs. More fighters will join Hamas after each operation."

After what some observers saw as a new tactic of seeking to draw out militants on to the streets, the Israeli army said that the incursion had been directed at "uncovering terrorist cells" in Bureij, which it held responsible for repeated mortar and rocket attacks on Israeli settlements, including Netzarim in central Gaza. The army insisted the incursion was unrelated to Saturday's foiled but elaborately planned operation by Palestinian militants at the Erez crossing into Gaza on Saturday.

In that attack, four militants and two Palestinian policemen were killed when a convoy of three vehicles - including at least one jeep disguised as an Israeli army vehicle - drove at the crossing points.

After the first vehicle, a booby-trapped taxi apparently driven by a suicide bomber, exploded on the Palestinian side of the crossing, and a jeep, also heavily laden with explosives, blew up at the Palestinian outpost nearest to the Israeli side of the crossing.

Senior Israeli officers said that the Palestinian Authority policemen had been killed as they tried to halt the vehicles from moving further north towards the Israeli border posts. The third jeep, bearing Israeli military insignia, then drove at speed towards the Israeli post nearest to the Palestinian side.

As it crashed into a barrier, Israeli sources said, a gunman wearing Israeli uniform left the car and opened fire on Israeli soldiers who returned fire, killing the gunman and his fellow passenger. Hamas said that the "self-sacrifice operation" had been jointly carried out with Islamic Jihad and the al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, which is linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah.

* The Israeli State Comptroller, Eliezer Goldberg, is to investigate the prisoner exchange with Hizbollah in January in which the army reserve Colonel Elhanan Tennenbaum was brought back to Israel in return for the release to Lebanon of 400 mainly Palestinian prisoners. Although Mr Goldberg said he will decide the scope of the inquiry after it begins, it is likely to consider the disclosure that Ariel Sharon once had a business association with Mr Tennenbaum's father-in-law, Shimon Cohen.


Same again, this time here in Australia



US rape accused sail towards home
February 9, 2004

Three US servicemen charged with raping two Territory sisters were last night on their way home.

The three men -- aged 20, 21 and 22 -- were bailed into the care of US military authorities yesterday morning.

The men, each charged with sexual intercourse without consent, are due to appear in Darwin Magistrates Court on February 24.

But the trio were back among the general population on board US-bound USS Peleliu

when it departed last night, following a 12-hour delay for ship maintenance.

The ship's public affairs officer, Lieutenant Chris Davis, said the three would be returned to Darwin in time for their court appearance.

"They are on board for the time being," he said.

"Our legal folks have made arrangements with the local authorities here -- they will be returned to Australia for their court appearance."

The ship will be about halfway into its month-long homeward journey when the men are required to return.

Lt Davis said the details of their return were yet to be finalised.

"It will probably be via the nearest facility where we can get either commercial or military transport," he said.

"Whichever means is most expeditious will be the means that we use."

A spokeswoman for the NT Police said it was standard procedure in such cases to release the offenders back into the care of the military.

"The military pretty well guarantee that they will have them back here to appear in court," she said.

"Where they go after they are bailed is not our concern -- as long as we have got that guarantee."

The three US servicemen are accused of raping two Darwin women, who US Shore Patrol officers found semi-conscious in a Darwin apartment in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Police said a 26-year-old woman had told them that she and her 23-year-old sister had gone with two US servicemen to a Darwin apartment, where they were sexually assaulted. They said a third serviceman was in the apartment at the time.

USS Peleliu, along with USS Decatur and USS Germantown, arrived in Darwin on February 4.

About 4500 US Marines and sailors were in the city for several days of R&R following active deployment in the Arabian Gulf.

Darwin police said a female friend of the sisters became concerned about their welfare after they left a Darwin nightclub with two US Navy servicemen. She alerted US Shore Patrol members who were at the nightclub.

Northern Territory News,4057,8625272%255E13569,00.html


US probes military sex attacks

Yet more crimes by US forces overseas...


US probes military sex attacks
February 7, 2004

AN investigation is being launched into allegations of sexual assaults committed by US troops in Iraq and Kuwait, the Pentagon said today.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ordered the probe.

The Defence Department did not release the number of reported cases, which occurred within the US military.

"Sexual assaults will not be tolerated in the Department of Defence," Rumsfeld wrote in a memo.,4057,8607747%255E1702,00.html


"I'm not reading this. This is bullshit!"

Even Colin Powell knew it was all bullshit.


Powell's doubts over CIA intelligence on Iraq prompted him to set up secret review

Specialists removed questionable evidence about weapons from draft of secretary of state's speech to UN

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington and Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday June 2, 2003
The Guardian

Fresh evidence emerged last night that Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, was so disturbed about questionable American intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that he assembled a secret team to review the information he was given before he made a crucial speech to the UN security council on February 5.

Mr Powell conducted a full-dress rehearsal of the speech on the eve of the session at his suite in the Waldorf Astoria, his New York base when he is on UN business, according to the authoritative US News and World Report.

Much of the initial information for Mr Powell's speech to the UN was provided by the Pentagon, where Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary, set up a special unit, the Office of Special Plans, to counter the uncertainty of the CIA's intelligence on Iraq.

Mr Powell's team removed dozens of pages of alleged evidence about Iraq's banned weapons and ties to terrorists from a draft of his speech, US News and World Report says today. At one point, he became so angry at the lack of adequate sourcing to intelligence claims that he declared: "I'm not reading this. This is bullshit," according to the magazine.

Presented with a script for his speech, Mr Powell suspected that Washington hawks were "cherry picking", the US magazine Newsweek also reports today. Greg Theilmann, a recently retired state department intelligence analyst directly involved in assessing the Iraqi threat, says that inside the Bush administration "there is a lot of sorrow and anger at the way intelligence was misused".

The Bush administration, under increased scrutiny for failing to find Saddam Hussein's arsenals eight weeks after occupying Baghdad, yesterday confronted the damaging new allegations on the misuse of intelligence to bolster the case for war.

The gaps in the case against Saddam have become a matter for public debate only within the last few days. They have also become an issue of credibility for the CIA and the Bush administration as it begins to assemble a case against Iran and its nuclear programme.

Yesterday, a senior Bush administration official told reporters travelling with the president to the Evian summit that Washington was not alone in its pursuit of Saddam's arsenal.

"We have to remember that there's a long history of accusation of the weapons of mass destruction programmes in Iraq. A lot of what is unresolved about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programme comes from the United Nations, from Unscom, from Unmovic [teams of weapons inspectors] and, of course, from US and other intelligence," the official said.

The official also said that US forces in Iraq had not yet had the time to process the hundreds of documents captured since Saddam's fall, or track down the people with information on his weapons programmes.

On Friday, the CIA director, George Tenet, was forced to issue a statement denying the agency doctored intelligence reports.

"Our role is to call it like we see it, to tell policymakers what we know, what we don't know, what we think, and what we base it on. That's the code we live by," the statement said.

During a series of meetings at CIA headquarters last February, initiated by Mr Powell, the secretary of state was reported to have reviewed the intelligence reports on Saddam, his arsenal of chemical and nuclear weapons, and his possible links with al-Qaida. The ostensible purpose of the exercise, carried out over four days, was to decide which should be included in his address.

However, a common theme of the meetings was the failure of the CIA and other intelligence agencies to produce a convincing case against Saddam. Despite the increasingly belligerent statements from the administration's hawks, the CIA had disturbingly little proof.

Even more damaging, many of the assertions bandied about were based on reports that were speculative or impossible to corroborate - but seized on because they suited the agenda of the hawks in the administration. Ambiguities and nuance were left aside.

One claim from the original dossier that could not be proved involved the supply of sensitive software from Australia that would have allowed Baghdad to gather sensitive information about the topography of the US. However, the CIA could not establish for Mr Powell whether the software had been delivered to Iraq.

Although the issue of flawed CIA intelligence has caused concern about the agency's ability to gather evidence on potential threats to the US, it did not appear to have shaken the widespread belief that the war on Iraq was a just war.

"The day that I saw those nine and 10- year-old boys released from a prison, the day I saw the mass graves uncovered, it was ample testimony of the brutality and repressiveness of this regime," the Republican senator John McCain told ABC television yesterday. "It was the day that I believe our liberation of Iraq was fully vindicated.",2763,968581,00.html



An interesting article about the obvious.



It's not just Robert Kilroy-Silk who rants against Arab culture and Muslim faith. Prejudice against Islam has become a disease, and attacks on mosques are now routine

By William Dalrymple.

There are few things, you would imagine, that Labour's Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane, Margaret Thatcher, the British National Party and the daytime television host Robert Kilroy-Silk would all agree on. Nevertheless, as events of the past week have shown, a deep disdain for Islam is one subject on which they can all concur whole-heartedly.

Their various remarks about Muslims are revealing, in that they show the degree to which prejudice is - as so often - mixed with quite astonishing ignorance. Baroness Thatcher famously sounded off on the failings of "Muslim priests", apparently unaware that Islam has no such priesthood and indeed accepts no intermediary between God and man. Denis MacShane recently echoed her by criticising British Muslim leaders for failing to speak out against terrorism, apparently unaware that they have done little else since 9/11.

Meanwhile Kilroy - that eminent Brummie orientalist - in a blatant incitement to racial hatred published in the Sunday Express of 4 January, described Arabs as "suicide bombers, limb amputators, women repressors", and implicitly suggested that the British thought that all 200 million of them were "loathsome" and "threatening" "terrorists" and "asylum-seekers". He also denied that Muslims had contributed anything to civilisation (algebra, optics, the pointed arch and Arabic numerals did not feature in his column) and went on to reveal his expertise in the field by writing that Iran is an Arab country.

Yet what is more alarming than the public airing of such idiocy - ill-informed diatribes against Islam are, after all, far from uncommon in the British press - is the support that Kilroy has clearly found among the British public. Many other examples of his disturbing disdain for ordinary Muslims have since emerged: in one column Kilroy wrote that "Muslims everywhere behaved with equal savagery . . . they throw acid in the face of women who refuse to wear the chador, mutilate the genitals of young girls and ritually abuse animals"; in another, he described the looting of Iraq as being the work of "a load of thieving Arabs". Nevertheless, since the suspension of his TV show by the BBC, the tabloids have rallied to his defence and the Express claims that 97 per cent of callers to the paper - about 22,000 people - have agreed that the BBC was too harsh with him. There has been a huge surge in anti-Arab racism as radio phone-ins, internet chatrooms and other media forums have been deluged with racist comments about "towel-heads" and "camel-jockeys".

There are moments when it is possible to believe that Britain is beginning to shed its racist past, and to hope that we do now live in a genuinely tolerant, colour-blind and multicultural society. Yet it is still clearly acceptable to most people in Britain to make the sort of straightforwardly racist remarks about Arabs and Muslims that would now be considered quite unacceptable if made about Jews, Catholics or blacks.

At the very least, the furore has shown how badly the British need to be educated about Islam and the Arab world. At the moment, the Islamic contribution to world civilisation is completely ignored in the British school curriculum: at my own school, I came across Islam only in the negative and confrontational context of the Crusades.

But the problem is bigger than that. Islam has now replaced Judaism as Britain's second religion, and it sometimes feels as if Islamophobia is replacing anti-Semitism as the principal western statement of bigotry against "the Other": the pre-war Blackshirts attacked the newly arrived East End Jews, and today we have their modern equivalents going "Paki-bashing". The massacre of more than 7,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995 never led to a stream of articles in the press about the violent tendencies of Christianity. Yet every act of al-Qaeda terrorism brings to the surface a great raft of criticism of Islam as a religion, and dark mutterings about the sympathies of British Muslims.

We have had, for example, Michael Gove of the Times warning us of the dangers of all the fanatical Muslim terrorists lurking in our midst: "They are already there in their thousands. And they are not going to respect weakness any more than Lenin did." Meanwhile, over at the Telegraph, the proprietor, Conrad Black, characterised Palestinians as "vile and primitive" while Black's wife, Barbara Amiel, concluded one of her double-page rants by comparing Arabs to "animals". Such offensive prejudices against Muslims, and the spread of idiotic stereotypes of Muslim behaviour and beliefs, have been developing at a frightening rate since 11 September 2001. It is especially ironic that much of the criticism of Muslims comes from the right, given that British Islam has successfully preserved traditional conservative values: an emphasis on the family, chastity before marriage, respect for elders and weekly attendance of a place of worship, as well as observance of various important religious feasts.

Today, we have a situation in London where the number of mosque-going Muslims is fast catching up with the number of church-going Christians. Nor is there any obvious drop-off in the faith of second-generation British Muslims. There are now nearly a thousand mosques serving Britain's 1.8 million Muslims, the great bulk of them having opened within the past 15 years. Islam is the fastest-growing religion not only in Britain but also in France and the US, and this is as much to do with conversion as immigration. The constant media refrain about "what went wrong" with Islam - to paraphrase Bernard Lewis - ignores its self-evident success and its increasing popularity.

Indeed, in the past few years Britain, and especially London, has become one of the world's principal centres of Islamic publishing, as well as a major Muslim intellectual and cultural centre. According to Fuad Nahdi, founder editor and publisher of the Muslim magazine Q-News, "There's no other place in the world where you get quite as global a variety of Islam as here, and the result is the beginnings here of a cosmopolitan and distinctively British form of Islam."

Yet for all this, British Muslims remain firmly on the margins of our national life. Britons of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than the white population, and three times more likely to be on low pay. Considering the size of our Muslim community, it is scandalous that there are only four Islamic schools in the state sector. It is even more alarming that there are only four Muslim peers, two Muslim MPs and one lone British Muslim MEP. One of Tony Blair's most senior advisers recently told me that Labour did not take Muslim sentiment seriously as there was yet to emerge a serious lobby for Islam, capable of reacting in a politically coherent manner.

British Muslims are used by now to endless abuse, discrimination and violence. Little of this gets reported, whether to newspapers, monitoring groups or the police.

Eighteen months ago I was wandering past a mosque near Brick Lane in east London when I came across a group of elderly Bangladeshis sweeping up broken glass - the result of a thrown brick. It emerged that such vandalism was considered by them entirely routine, and that they never bothered reporting it to anyone, least of all the police. In the course of writing this article, I found it impossible to find any statistics on incidents of Islamophobic violence - in contrast to the situation with anti-Semitism, where accurate and up-to-date statistics are readily available from a variety of websites.

This is not just a British problem. In the United States recently, a Republican congressional candidate compared Palestinians to "pond scum". And while in France Jean-Marie Le Pen may rail against Muslim North African immigrants and howl for their mass repatriation, his outbursts look positively benign beside those of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane in Israel: "The Arabs are a cancer, cancer, cancer in the midst of us . . . let me become defence minister for two months and you will not have a single cockroach around here! I promise you a clean Israel!" Equally vicious is Bal Thackeray in Mumbai (Bombay): "I believe in constructive violence . . . these people must be kicked out. Even if a Hindu is giving shelter to these Muslims he also must be shot dead."

Yet perhaps the most worrying thing about this trend is the extent to which it has gone largely unrecognised and uncriticised: indeed, despite centuries of prejudice and violence against Muslims, the term Islamophobia was coined only within the past decade. Moreover, intellectualised versions of this anti-Islamic revulsion have come to find acceptance in defence and political circles. Not long ago, Nato's then secretary-general, Willy Claes, told the German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung that "Islamic fundamentalism is just as much a threat to the west as communism was"; he went on to contrast barbaric Islam with "the basic principles of civilisation that bind North America and western Europe". In America, Samuel P Huntington's ideas in his book The Clash of Civilisations made much the same point. These ideas have been warmly embraced by Donald Rumsfeld, Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi.

Significantly, one of the bestselling non-fiction books in both France and Germany last year was the horribly anti-Islamic Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, by the French salon philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. The book was well reviewed in both countries, and few reviewers bothered to note Levy's profound and rather disturbing hatred of ordinary Pakistanis, whom Levy portrayed throughout as fanatical Orientals who "scowl" as he passes and "narrow their eyes . . . with a tarantula-like stare".

Yet almost as worrying as the way Levy managed to get away with his crudely anti-Muslim comments was the true story of the abduction of Pearl, a journalist. The man who kidnapped Pearl in Karachi was a highly educated British Pakistani, Ahmed Omar Sheikh. Sheikh attended the same public school as the film-maker Peter Greenaway and later studied at the London School of Economics. Yet such was the racism he suffered, that he was drawn towards extreme jehadi groups and eventually came to be associated with both Harkat ul-Mujahideen and al-Qaeda.

If intelligent, successful and well-educated British Muslims such as Omar Sheikh can be so readily drawn in to the world of the jehadis, we are in for trouble. The combination of widespread hostility to the Muslims in our midst, pervasive discrimination against them and huge ignorance is a potentially lethal cocktail.

It has become increasingly clear since 9/11 that western intelligence agencies have completely failed to understand or to penetrate the networks of Islamist ultra-radicalism. No intelligence agency predicted the attacks on New York or Washington, DC. Nor were there any warnings of the attacks since then in Kenya, Bali or Morocco. Intelligence briefings linking Saddam Hussein to anthrax attacks in the US, or to a nuclear and chemical weapons programme in Iraq, have all proved wildly inaccurate or, as in the case of the documents detailing Saddam's search for nuclear materials in Niger, they were simply made up.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair's neoconservative chums in Washington, immune to the justifiable fears of the Muslim world, talk blithely of moving on from Iraq next year to attack Iran and Syria. They have also invited Franklin Graham, the Christian evangelist who has branded Islam a "very wicked and evil" religion, to be the official speaker at the Pentagon's annual service - and this immediately prior to his departure for Iraq to attempt to convert the people of Baghdad to Christianity.

All the while, the paranoia and bottled-up rage in the Muslim world grows more uncontrollable, and the attacks by Islamic militants gather pace, gaining ever wider global reach and sophistication. As long as British Muslims remain at the receiving end of our rampant Islamophobia, and remain excluded from the mainstream of British life, we can expect only still greater numbers of disenfranchised Muslims in the UK to turn their back on Britain and rally to the extremists.

As Jason Burke points out at the end of his excellent book Al-Qaeda, "The greatest weapon in the war on terrorism is the courage, decency, humour and integrity of the vast proportion of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims. It is this that is restricting the spread of al-Qaeda, not the activities of counter-terrorism experts. Without it, we are lost. There is indeed a battle between the west and men like Bin Laden. But it is not a battle for global supremacy. It is a battle for hearts and minds. And it is a battle that we, and our allies in the Muslim world, are currently losing."

This month's upsurge of rampant Islamophobia in Britain, widely reported in Muslim countries, is the last thing we need in such a desperately volatile climate.


USA troops murder protestors...

Yay! Freedom of speech!


US soldiers kill protestors in Falluja

Tuesday 13 January 2004, 23:53 Makka Time, 20:53 GMT

t least three Iraqi protesters have been shot dead after US occupation soldiers opened fire on a demonstration in the restive town of Falluja.

Medical sources at the town's hospital, west of Baghdad, said five others were seriously wounded on Tuesday, reported our correspondent.

The demonstrators were protesting against US conduct, including increased civilian arrests. Demonstrators are particularly angered by the detention of women, who were accused by soldiers of carrying out resistance attacks against them.

The protest was organised by local clerics. Protesters chanted slogans condemning US forces and demanded detainees should be freed, reported our correspondent.

But Reuters reported that four civilians were killed, including an elderly woman, when US soldiers opened fire for coming under rocket attack.

More protestors injured

Also on Tuesday, seven Iraqis were wounded when US-led occupation soldiers clashed with a crowd of jobless protesters in the southern city of Kut.

"Seven wounded were admitted to the emergency room - five protestors and two female bystanders," said Dr Taha Ali Abdel
Husayn. Six people suffered bullet wounds, including one woman.

About 100 protesters threw grenades towards Ukrainian soldiers stationed around city hall offices. In return, the soldiers fired warning shots to disperse the mob, said an AFP correspondent.

Civilians killed

In the capital, US soldiers opened fire at a car, killing the driver and a 10-year-old boy, moments after an Army vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, said relatives.

One soldier was killed in the Monday bombing, the US military said. The shooting is the latest in a growing number of cases of civilians being shot by US soldiers, as they near the end of their tour ahead of the first troops rotation next month.

A US military official said the shooting "has not been confirmed" and the Army was investigating.

Monday's shooting in Baghdad occurred on Palestine Street, near the Oil Ministry when the car passed two Humvees on a patrol, said Wijdan Abd al-Wahhab, whose two sisters, two nephews and a niece were in the car.

As the vehicle passed the convoy, one of the Humvees was hit by the roadside bomb and the other Humvee opened indiscriminate fire, Abd al-Wahhab told The Associated Press.

She said her nephew Mustafa Jamal Shaikhly, 10, and the family driver, identified only as Haidar, were killed in the firing. Mustafa's mother, Istabraq, 30, and aunt Hiyam, 40, were seriously injured.

"The Americans have ruined an innocent family, children and women," a distraught and weeping Wijdan said at the hospital. "They did not even bother to look back at them after shooting them," she said.

Helicopter downed

In related news, a US Apache helicopter crashed west of Baghdad, but both crew members have survived.

The helicopter, which usually carries a crew of two, crashed near the town of Habbaniya, about 80km west of the capital, said a US military spokesman.

It was probably shot down by resistance fighters, the third such attack in two weeks.

"There is an initial report of enemy fire," said a military spokesman.

The spokesman said both crew members were alive, but he did not know if they were injured.

On 9 January, nine US soldiers were killed when their Blackhawk helicopter was shot down in Falluja.

In November, 17 US soldiers were killed when two Black Hawks collided near the northern city of Mosul after they came under attack.


USA government tramples on civil rights again

The USA government is screwing democracy even within their own country.


Court Nixes Appeal on Sept. 11 Detentions

January 12, 2004 05:13 PM EST

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court said Monday it would not second-guess the
government's holding in secret hundreds of foreigners after the Sept. 11 attacks.

None of the more than 700 illegal immigrants was charged as a terrorist, and the
Justice Department's inspector general concluded last year that the government had
trampled on a law stipulating such detentions be limited to 90 days.

The high court turned down a request to review the secrecy surrounding the
detainees, nearly all Arabs or Muslims, who were picked up in the United States
following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Most were
eventually deported for immigration violations. The government refused to disclose
whom it held and why.

The court's action, taken without comment, was a victory for the Bush
administration. Civil liberties and media organizations had sought access to the
names and other basic information about the detainees.

A federal appeals court had sided with the administration and its argument that
knowing the names or details of the arrests would give terrorists a window on the
post-Sept. 11 terror investigation. By refusing to hear the case, the Supreme Court
allowed that ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to

"Until some other court says otherwise, the government can continue the policy of
secret arrests that seems fundamentally inconsistent with basic American values, and
that we know in this case led to a series of abuses," said Steven Shapiro, national
legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which had urged the court to
hear the case.

The audit by the Justice Department's inspector general found significant problems
with the detentions, including allegations of physical abuse by jail guards at a
facility in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The report, released in June, found that many of the 762 illegal aliens were held
until cleared by the FBI of any terrorism connections. Sometimes the process took
many months despite the law requiring that most aliens be deported or released
within 90 days.

A follow-up analysis last week cited progress in centralizing vital terrorist
information databases so that authorities can more quickly assess who might be a
threat, but warned the job is not done. The government has said that improvements
since the Sept. 11 attacks make it easier for government agencies to share
information about foreigners in the country.

The Justice Department had no immediate comment Monday.

Lawyers for the ACLU and other civil liberties groups argued the government grabbed
people on thin suspicion, then moved to deport detainees who had no demonstrated
link to terrorism but who had violated civil immigration laws.

The government sealed immigration records and omitted detainees' names from jail
rosters, among other tactics, to make sure details of hundreds of arrests remained
secret, the lawyers said.

The appeal raised constitutional questions under the First Amendment right to
freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and legal questions under the federal
Freedom of Information Act.

Twenty-three news organizations and media groups, including The Associated Press,
joined in asking the high court to hear the case.

Last week, the high court disappointed the administration by agreeing to hear a
broader anti-terrorism case that asks whether the government can indefinitely jail
American citizens as "enemy combatants" without giving them access to lawyers or the
courts. The Bush administration had argued strongly that it has authority to hold
Yaser Esam Hamdi without charges.

The Hamdi case and another testing the legal rights of foreigners detained
indefinitely at the Navy's prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, draw the court
squarely into the debate over security and liberty after the terrorist attacks.

The justices earlier had rejected several cases that raised more oblique questions
about the government's response to the terror threat. One involved an issue similar
to Monday's secrecy case. It asked whether the government could keep reporters and
the public away from closed-door deportation hearings.

"In any ongoing law enforcement investigation, requiring the police to open their
investigative files and provide a comprehensive list of the persons interviewed and
detained - and by the same token to reveal which persons they have not interviewed
and detained - would necessarily interfere with the investigation by providing a
roadmap of law enforcement's activities, strategies and methods," Solicitor General
Theodore Olson argued in the latest detainee secrecy case.

The case is Center for National Security Studies v. Justice Department, 03-472.


All the excuses for invading Iraq, lies

Bush and his cronies wanted to invade Iraq and share out the oil profits long before any such plans were made public, long before 9/11 (which had nothing to do with Iraq anyway), and long before any of the rest of the lies hit the press.


Iraq war planned 'before 9/11'
By Roy Eccleston
January 12, 2004

GEORGE W. Bush made plans to invade Iraq soon after he entered office, not in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, former Bush cabinet member Paul O'Neill says.

In an unflattering portrait of the Bush White House, Mr O'Neill has told US 60 Minutes that the US President had questioned the direction of his own massive tax cuts, was disengaged at cabinet meetings and plotted Saddam Hussein's fall from the start.

Mr O'Neill was sacked as Treasury secretary by Mr Bush in December 2002. In the 60 Minutes interview to be broadcast today, he becomes the first Bush heavyweight to lift the veil on the inner sanctum, giving valuable ammunition to Democrats in an election year.

"From the very beginning there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," Mr O'Neill says, according to partial transcripts released by the CBS network, which airs 60 Minutes.

"For me the notion of pre-emption, that the US has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do is a huge leap."

US officials have said the war plan for Iraq was drawn up in 2002, after the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.

The prime reasons cited by the Bush team for the invasion were weapons of mass destruction, which have not yet been found, and links to al-Qaeda. US Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted last week there was as yet no proof of that link.

The O'Neill interview precedes next week's release of The Price of Loyalty, a book about Mr O'Neill's time as the man in charge of US economic policy, by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind.

Mr Suskind tells 60 Minutes that Mr O'Neill and others gave him documents showing the early planning for war, and the plans for a post-Hussein Iraq involving peacekeepers, war crimes tribunals and oil.

One of the documents is said to be marked "secret" and titled "Plans for post-Saddam Iraq".

The book quotes Mr O'Neill saying no one on the National Security Council raised questions about the Iraq policy: "It was all about finding a way to do it."

Mr O'Neill, a former chief executive of alumina giant Alcoa, was critical of Mr Bush's involvement in policy debates, saying that at cabinet meetings he was "like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people".

He recalled his own first meeting with Mr Bush. "I went in with a long list of things to talk about and, I thought, to engage him on."

But, he said, "I was surprised it turned out me talking and the President just listening. It was mostly a monologue".

In comments the Democrats will surely seize on, the book quotes an official White House transcript saying Mr Bush had, in a meeting with his economic advisers, questioned why he should give more tax cuts to wealthy Americans. "Haven't we already given enough money to rich people? Shouldn't we be giving money to the middle?"

The White House was dismissive about Mr O'Neill comments. "While we're not in the business of book reviews. It appears the world according to Mr O'Neill is more about justifying his own opinions than looking at the reality of the results we're achieving on behalf on the American people," spokesman Scott McClellan said.

The Australian,4057,8370501%255E401,00.html


Bush was 'intent on ousting Saddam'

Monday 12 January 2004, 8:50 Makka Time, 5:50 GMT

President Bush sacked Paul O'Neill (L) in December 2002

President George Bush was intent on ousting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein long before the 11 September attacks in the United States, the former Treasury secretary said.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," Paul O'Neill told the CBS television programme "60 Minutes," in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

"For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the US has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap," he added.

Bush sacked O'Neill - a former chief executive of aluminum giant Alcoa known for his blunt talk - in December 2002 for publicly doubting the need for the president's sweeping tax cut plans.

The interview came after O'Neill served as the main source for an upcoming book, The Price of Loyalty, which paints an insider's view of the Bush administration.

Speaking to Time magazine, O'Neill said: "In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterise as evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

"To me there is a difference between real evidence and everything else. And I never saw anything in the intelligence that I would characterise as real evidence."

Early brainstorming

Bush took office in January 2001 - and in his first three months in power, officials were already looking at military options to remove Saddam from power, according to documents that O'Neill and other White House insiders gave author Ron Suskind.

"It was all about finding a way to do it," O'Neill is quoted in the book as saying. "That was the tone of it, the president saying, 'Go find me a way to do this.'" Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary.

Officials were looking into including post-war contingencies such as peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals and the future of Iraq's oil, according to the documents.

One of the memos, marked "secret," says "Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq," Suskind told "60 Minutes."

A Pentagon document, titled Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts, talks about "contractors around the world from... 30, 40 countries and which ones have what intentions on oil in Iraq," according to Suskind.

O'Neill told Suskind he was surprised no one on Bush's national security council - which includes national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - questioned why Iraq should be invaded.

'Find a way to do it'

"It was all about finding a way to do it," O'Neill is quoted in the book as saying. "That was the tone of it, the president saying, 'Go find me a way to do this'."

In one White House meeting, Bush seemed to waver about going forward with his second round of controversial tax cuts.

"Haven't we already given money to rich people?" Bush uttered, according to Suskind, who uses a nearly verbatim transcript of an economic team meeting as a source.

"Shouldn't we be giving money to the middle?"

White House spokesman Scott McClellan on Friday deflected repeated questions about O'Neill's assertions. "I don't do book reviews," he said.

Aides have often said Bush sets the tone and the broad principles of his administration's policies, but delegates the details to his top advisers.

In a CNN interview on Sunday, Commerce Secretary Don Evans defended Bush, describing him as a decisive president - "focused on the issue, where he is driving the discussion, where he is driving the debate, he is asking the tough questions and then making the tough decisions, and doing it in a very decisive kind of way."

'No comment'

"I'm not going to respond to a book that's not out yet. I haven't seen him explain those comments. I didn't sit in on those meetings, so I wouldn't be privy to any of that," said Evans of meetings O'Neill refers to.

O'Neill was the first cabinet member to leave since Bush took office in January 2001. Environmental Protection Agency head, Christine Whitman, left in June 2003. Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Mel Martinez, quit in December 2003.

In the interview, O'Neill said he was surprised at the lack of dialogue between Bush and his top aides, either as a group or in face-to-face meetings and that he asked no questions during their first one-on-one meeting with him.

"I went in with a long list of things to talk about and, I thought, to engage (him) on... I was surprised it turned out me talking and the president just listening... It was mostly a monologue," O'Neill said.


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