---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 00:25:33 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Antiwar News...(# 31)
Antiwar News...(# 31)
--Pakistan is in danger of falling apart
--Don't confuse food parcels with cluster bombs, warns US
--Don't Ask, Don't Tell... Why
--Support For Attacks Falling In UK
--Eating The Sword
--Even Conservatives Need the Anti-War Movement
--Setbacks in war against Taliban
--US bomb kills 10 civilians in opposition-held Afghanistan
--Organizations Call for End to Bombing
--US plays down casualties
--Mixed reaction to NYC peace march
--Target precision eludes an embarrassed military
--"Forgotten Needs" Of Afghani Women, Children
--Opposition to US attacks grows in Pakistan
(Anti-war links/resources at the end.)
Bruce Shapiro, The Nation
October 29, 2001
Viewers of the old spy spoof Get Smart will remember the Cone of Silence --
that giant plastic hair-salon dryer that descended over Maxwell Smart and
Control when they held a sensitive conversation. Today, a Cone of Silence
has descended over all of Washington: From four-star generals to lowly
webmasters, the town is in information lockdown. Never in the nation's
history has the flow of information from government to press and public
been shut off so comprehensively and quickly as in the weeks following
September 11. Much of the shutdown seems to have little to do with
preventing future terrorism and everything to do with the Administration's
laying down a new across-the-board standard for centralized control of the
public's right to know.
The most alarming evidence of the new climate emanates from the Justice
Department. Investigators still hold in custody 150 of the 800 people
rounded up in the aftermath of the attacks. (One detainee died in custody
in New Jersey.) No charges have been filed, no hearings convened. The names
of nearly all those still held remain classified, as do the reasons for
their incarceration. Lawyers for some of the hundreds cleared and released
have told reporters of questionable treatment of their clients, ood
withheld, attorneys blocked from access. Of the 150 who remain detained,
only four presumed Al Qaeda suspects have been publicly named. FBI agents
frustrated at the lack of progress in their interrogations of those four
now mutter in the Washington Post about using sodium pentothal, or turning
the suspects over to a country where beatings or other torture is used. The
government's stranglehold on information about other arrests makes it
impossible to know just how far agents have already gone down that road, or
whether the dragnet was mainly a public-relations exercise.
Just as damaging as these detentions is an October 12 memo from Attorney
General John Ashcroft reversing longstanding Freedom of Information Act
policies. In 1993 then-Attorney General Janet Reno directed agencies to
disclose any government information upon request unless it was "reasonably
foreseeable that disclosure would be harmful." Ashcroft reverses this
presumption, instead calling on agencies to withhold information whenever
the law permits: "You can be assured that the Department of Justice will
defend your decisions," he writes. Ashcroft is in effect creating a "born
secret" standard; in the words of the Federation of American Scientists,
the order "appears to exploit the current circumstances" to turn FOIA into
an Official Secrets Act.
One after another, federal agencies are removing public data from their
websites or restricting access to their public reading rooms. Caution is
understandable, but OMB Watch and Investigative Reporters and Editors have
both documented egregious examples that seem at best tangentially related
to terrorism and more likely designed as butt-coverage for mid-level
bureaucrats. The Energy Department has removed information from its
web-posted Occurrence Reporting Program, which provides news of events that
could adversely affect public health or worker safety. The EPA removed
information from its site about the dangers of chemical accidents and how
to prevent them, information the FBI says carries no threat of terrorism.
More relevant than Al Qaeda, it appears, was hard lobbying by the chemical
industry, which found the site an annoyance. The FAA pulled the plug on
long-available lists of its security sanctions against airports around the
country, depriving reporters of their only tool for evaluating the agency's
considerable failures to enforce its own public safety findings. At the
Pentagon, news has been reduced to a trickle far more constricted than
anything during Kosovo, which in turn was more restrictive than during the
Gulf War. So comprehensive is the shutdown that on October 13, presidents
of twenty major journalists' organizations declared in a joint statement
that "these restrictions pose dangers to American democracy and prevent
American citizens from obtaining the information they need."
In the short run, the Cone of Silence did most damage at the Centers for
Disease Control. Could the two (at this writing) Washington, DC, postal
workers who died of inhalation anthrax have been protected by earlier
treatment? Did any of the CDC's doctors or scientists recommend a course of
antibiotics for postal workers along the trajectory of anthrax-laden
letters? Who knows? With the CDC's staff muzzled, the public and postal
workers alike were left with politicians as the conduits for contradictory
and inadequate information about the risk.
The uncertain dimensions of the Al Qaeda threat make equally uncertain
which information the government publishes might contribute to another
attack and what to do about it. But it should be noted that the World Trade
Center and Pentagon attacks apparently involved data no more confidential
than an airline schedule. The Administration's response has been to treat
all information and press access as suspect, an approach that will subvert
public confidence and undercut legitimate media scrutiny more than it will
damage Al Qaeda. During Vietnam, the famous credibility gap resided at the
Pentagon, with briefings and Congressional testimony at odds with
battlefield evidence. Just weeks into this war, the Bush Administration is
risking a new credibility gap roughly the size of the District of Columbia.
Pakistan is in danger of falling apart
Regional separatism and support for Islamist groups are growing
Tuesday October 23, 2001
A couple of years ago, on a visit to the North West Frontier, I
called in on Khan Abdul Wali Khan. The Khan had once been one of the
Pathan's great leaders; but he was now a frail old man. We sat in his
summer house in the middle of his irrigated garden. The Khan poured
jasmine tea and asked me about my impressions of the area. I told him
what I had just seen at the nearby Darra arms bazaar: hundreds of men
busy manufacturing home-made assault rifles and anti-aircraft cannon.
"Yes," said the Khan. "There are now more than one million
Kalashnikovs in this province alone. It has got completely out of
control." He shook his head sadly. "I feel," he said, "as if I'm
living on an ammunition dump."
I thought of the Khan this week as anti-American protests spread
across Pakistan. Although there has been unrest in Karachi and a bomb
in Rawalpindi, it is among the Pathans that the rioting has been most
serious: a cinema, the UN compound and a bazaar burned down by
Pathans in Quetta, and four more shot dead in a village nearby;
significantly, the local Baluchis have played virtually no part in
the riots. Worse still on the frontier, where the Pathans are from
the same tribes as their cousins in the Taliban, Peshawar has
disappeared into a miasma of tear gas and police shooting, with at
least half a dozen dead.
Machismo is to the North West Frontier what religion is to the
Vatican. Bandoliers hang over the men's shoulders; grenades are
nonchalantly tucked into their pockets. I once walked into a Khyber
tea house to find a group of Pathan mojahedin huddled in a corner
dismantling a live landmine with a broken screw driver. None of the
other tea drinkers blinked.
The Pathans have never been completely conquered, at least not since
the time of Alexander the Great. They have seen off centuries of
invaders, and they retain the mixture of self-confidence,
independence and suspicion that this has produced. Beyond the
checkpoints on the edge of Peshawar, tribal law - based on the tribal
council and the blood feud - rules unchallenged. The dominant Afridi
tribe controls the Afghan heroin trade and kidnapping and murder are
virtually cottage industries.
It takes very little for latent discontent of the Pathans with the
Pakistani government to erupt, but this latest wave of riots is on a
different scale to anything since partition, raising the perennial
question as to the future of Pakistan - can the centre hold?
If many in Pakistan now question the long-term viability of the
state, it is certain that none would be so ready to separate
themselves from it as the Pathans. Throughout the 1940s, Wali Khan's
father, known as Padshah Khan, passionately opposed the creation of
Pakistan, leading the Pathans to side with Gandhi's Congress against
Jinnah's Muslim League. During this period the Pathans believed that
they would gain their own state, allied to India, just as East
Pakistan - modern Bangladesh - was originally separated by thousands
of miles from its western wing.
In the bloodshed of partition, this Pakhtun state never happened, but
the dashed hopes left the Pathans estranged from the idea of
Pakistan. Padshah Khan spent the 1960s and 1970s struggling in vain
for a union with the equally disgruntled Pathans in Afghanistan to
form a new state - Pakhtunistan, straddling the Durand Line (the
hated frontier drawn up by the British in 1893 which broke the tribes
in two). But the Pakhtun nationalist spirit survived his death in
1988, and has mutated into a very different Islamist form under a
variety of Taliban-like groups such as the Jamiat Ulema i-Islam
(JUI). If, as seems quite possible, Afghanistan breaks up in the
aftermath of the American assault, with the Tajik Northern Alliance
controlling the north, and a Pathan post-Taliban successor state
taking the south, then demands for the creation of Pakhtunistan can
only gain momentum.
Regional separatism is only one of the problems now faced by
Pakistan. President Musharraf's decision to support the American
assault on the Taliban, against the wishes of more than 80% of his
population, has greatly strengthened Islamist groups, bringing them
support from swathes of the population not normally part of their
Serious civilian casualties in Afghanistan or heavy-handed action by
the Pakistani security forces would further radicalise the
population. Last week Musharraf sacked two leading pro-Taliban
generals and placed three pro-Taliban religious leaders (including
the spiritual leader of the JUI) under house arrest; but after a
decade of Talibanisation, Pakistan has never been closer to an
Islamic revolution, or at least an Islamist coup. Such a coup would
put nuclear weapons into Islamist hands: Bin Laden's wildest dream.
These strains and tensions within Pakistan can only increase in the
months ahead. It is likely to be a bumpy ride.
William Dalrymple is the author of The Age of Kali: Indian Travels
and Encounters (HarperCollins)
Don't confuse food parcels with cluster bombs, warns US
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
30 October 2001
The US has been forced to broadcast radio messages warning the people of
Afghanistan not to confuse food parcels with cluster bombs that are also
being dropped over parts of the country.
In an embarrassing admission of the danger posed by such weapons, the US has
warned that from a distance the two items could be mistaken both are
roughly the same size and both are bright yellow
"Attention, noble Afghan people," starts the message broadcast in both
Pashto and Dari. "As you know, the coalition countries have been air
dropping daily humanitarian rations for you. The food ration is enclosed in
yellow plastic bags. They come in the shape of rectangular or long squares.
The food inside the bags is halal and very nutritional.
"In areas away from where food has been dropped, cluster bombs will also be
dropped. The colour of these bombs is also yellow. All bombs will explode
when they hit the ground, but in some special circumstances some of the
bombs will not explode."
A Pentagon spokesman yesterday confirmed that the broadcasts were being
carried out but denied there was any embarrassment to the US. "We have never
had to bomb and drop food at the same time in such close proximity," he
said. "We are trying to alleviate any possible mistakes."
Cluster bombs are canisters which break open on impact with the ground to
scatter, smaller so-called "bomblets". It is estimated that these bomblets
have a dud rate of about 5 per cent and can lie buried "live" in the ground
for years until something detonates them. They have been condemned by
various humanitarian organisations for the indiscriminate way they can
The United Nations has already expressed concerns about using the weapons in
Afghanistan. Last night, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees said: "The food drops are not the most efficient way of delivering
food. None the less, in a situation where there is no food coming in, you
cannot be too choosy. We have urged that any military action should take
into account the civilian population and that it should be as least harmful
as possible to this population."
While Britain has not dropped cluster bombs in Afghanistan, its position on
their use is no different to that of the US. The Secretary of State for
Defence, Geoff Hoon, yesterday told the Commons that they had been used in
Afghanistan on a "limited number of occasions against the particular
military threat of armoured vehicles".
Responding to a call from the Labour MP Ann Clwyd to pressurise the
Americans to stop using the bombs, Mr Hoon added: "They are not used against
the civilian populations and the number of circumstances in which they have
been used in Afghanistan has been extremely limited. They are not, either,
in any way comparable with land mines."
Ms Clwyd later said: "It is known very well that cluster bombs are,
unfortunately, anti-personnel mines as well. They can destroy innocent
civilians in much the same way as land mines."
The radio message is being broadcast by the US using specially designed
EC-130E Commando Solo planes bristling with electronic equipment to
broadcast messages as well as jam other transmissions. It informs the Afghan
population: "In future cluster bombs will not be dropped in areas where food
is air dropped.
"However, we do not wish to see an innocent civilian mistake the bombs for
food bags and take one away believing that it might contain food. We would
like you to take extra care and not to touch yellow-coloured objects."
Don't Ask, Don't Tell... Why
by Chris Wright (September 2001)
We have a new forbidden word in these United States. Alongside the various
swear words we cannot use on television, on the radio, or in print media,
there is another word which has been banned from public view. WHY. The most
common word out of the mouths of three year olds happens to be the one word
that the journalists, the politicians, the pundits, the disc jockeys, the
priests and ministers, the corporate HR people, and the WWF wrestlers
cannot, will not, dare not, utter out loud. When children ask it, Bush
scrambles for excuses. When the act itself screams it, Katie Couric of the
Today Show immediately deems it unimaginable. WHY?
You can ask HOW (As in "How did they do this?" or "How will 'we'
retaliate?") You can ask WHAT ("What did they want?" of "What will we use:
ground troops, aerial bombing, missiles or other countries' militaries?").
You can ask WHO ("Who did this?" and "Who is going to get bombed in order to
slake our thirst for revenge?"). You can ask WHERE ("Where did the other
bombers target us?" and "Where is Osama bin Laden?" or "Where is
Afghanistan?"). And you can ask WHEN (as in "When did this happen?" and
"When will we get revenge?"). But you cannot ask WHY because WHY assumes
that the people who did this might be real human beings, even if their act
is monstrous. WHY assumes that rational human beings might hate the United
States for rational reasons, including the millions of Middle Eastern people
who had nothing to do with this. WHY raises the problem that this act of
terror, while inexcusable and murderous, might be explicable. WHY.
I could list many reasons WHY this happened, and I will. I could list many
reasons WHY this word is so horrifying to the spin-doctors and opinion
makers, and I will. I could list many reasons WHY the current reaction of
the opinion makers and spin-doctors is so rotten, and I will. But first
spend a moment with me focusing on the word itself. Why. WHY. Why? WHY?
Now ask yourself, WHY would you kill someone? Because they threatened your
life? Because they killed people you loved? Because they tried to deny you
access to the means to live like a human being? Are these good reasons? Now
ask yourself, WHY would someone want to kill you? Because you threatened
their life? Because you killed people they loved? Because you tried to deny
them access to the means to live like a human being? Are these still good
1 million people dead in Iraq, mostly women and children, almost all working
people, almost all hostile to Saddam Hussein. WHY? U.S. embargo on medical
supplies and the Iraqi economy, which in the context of a shattered post-war
economy has meant starvation and death from preventable disease. WHY? To
force a dictator we helped create to allow us to inspect all of his
installations. WHY? Because we need to disarm him. WHY? Because he might
kill a million people.
Tens of thousands of dead Palestinians; millions displaced, often jobless,
mostly living in camps (we call them reservations in the U.S.) or in bombed
out ghettoes (we call them ghettoes in the U.S.); constant terror by Israeli
(and now PLO) soldiers and police, who shoot young boys throwing rocks and
who beat old women to death with rifle butts, funded by billions of U.S.
dollars a year to Israel. WHY? Because after World War II, the United States
and Britain decided that the best way to control Arab oil in the Middle East
was to have to non-(even anti-)Arab populations police the Middle East: Iran
on one side and Israel on the other. WHY? Because oil is business. Big
business. And to control oil, you must control the countries who have it and
the workers who drill and refine it.
Iran: a ruthless dictatorship that engaged in murder, torture, massive
militarization, and other methods of dictatorship. WHY? Because that was who
the U.S. supported, against the wishes of the Iranian population and despite
attempts to overthrow the Shah. WHY? Because we wanted cheap oil from the
Middle East and a militarized state in Iran to control the Arab populations.
WHY? Because the Arab peoples might not like the U.S. controlling their oil
reserves. WHY? Would you want someone else controlling your resources?
Israel: a colonial settler state that came into being by driving the native
Palestinian population off the land, bulldozing villages, waging constant
warfare, engaging in apartheid/segregation/Jim Crow, and maintaining an
armed settler force (just like settlers in the U.S.) who were ready to carry
out random and not so random acts of terror against any and all Palestinians
(like settlers against Native Americans here). WHY? Because Zionism was
willing to work with whatever power would give them military support in
taking over Palestine and that was exactly what the U.S. and Britain needed.
WHY? Because we wanted cheap oil from the Middle East and a militarized
state in Iran to control the Arab populations. WHY? Because the Arab peoples
might not like the U.S. controlling their oil reserves. WHY? Would you want
someone else controlling your resources?
In 1979, the Iranian people overthrow the Shah of Iran. The response? The
Soviets invade Afghanistan; Iraq, with approval from the U.S., invades Iran,
and the U.S. refuses to support the forces opposing the Ayatollah Khomeini.
The U.S. plays Iran and Iraq against each other for nine years in a war
resulting in 1.5 million deaths from 1980 to 1988. WHY? The revolution that
overthrew the Shah threatened to infect the Middle East with revolution
against the monarchies and dictators supported by the U.S., well as against
the corporations. In fact, soon to be President Reagan made deals with the
Ayatollah in what would later come out in the Iran-Contra scandal, in which
Reagan convinced the Ayatollah's regime to keep the U.S. hostages until he
was elected President. Immediately after his inauguration, the hostages were
released and arms deals between Reagan and the Ayatollah's regime began.
WHY? Because dictators are much better for business than popular
revolutions. WHY? Because dictators usually have a narrow base of support
and need aid from richer, more powerful foreign supporters, such as
corporations and governments.
Thousands of Afghani women tortured, killed in the streets, beaten at will.
Thousands of Afghani men killed, hung from lamp posts, driven to
desperation. WHY? First the Soviets invaded and wreaked havoc and war. Then
the U.S. supported the right wing, ultra-conservative Mujahedeen and Osama
bin Laden, trained its leaders and soldiers, funded it with the sale of
heroin, and helped put it in power as... the Taliban. WHY? Control over
Middle East oil, Middle East resistance, and possible Middle East
revolutions. WHY? Because popular control, democracy and poor people taking
control of their lives threatens U.S. oil interests, which are vastly more
important to the U.S. government than the lives of the peoples of the Middle
East. See above.
17,500 Palestinians killed in Lebanon in three weeks in 1982. WHY? Because
of Israeli and U.S. supported and funded attacks on the Palestinian refugee
camps by Christian militias. WHY? Support of Israel, which means decimation
of the Palestinians. WHY? Because U.S. Middle East policy has only one
reliable, militarily powerful ally by 1982: Israel.
Thousands of people jailed, tortured, killed, dispossessed, and brutalized
by monarchies and dictators in Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the
United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, all of whom were funded and/or politically
supported by the U.S.. WHY? Oil and the control of Arab workers (especially
Palestinian in the Arabian peninsula) labor. This would seem to be a
familiar theme, wouldn't it? WHY? Because oil = money and oil requires
workers. WHY? Because if workers don't do the work, the oil does not come
out of the ground and oil that does not come out of the ground will not make
money. No controllable workforce, no oil; no oil, no money.
Thousands of Kurdish people murdered by chemical warfare in Turkey, but the
U.S. does not respond. WHY? Turkey is an ally and allies can kill as they
please as long as it does not interfere with U.S. interests in the region.
Thousands of Kurds killed in Iraq during a revolt after the Gulf War, as the
U.S. ignores the 'no flight' zone and allows the Iraqi army to move in and
smash the Kurdish rebellion. WHY? Stability and the control of labor is more
important than freedom for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. WHY? Ask
Exxon, Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Texaco, Amoco/Standard
Oil, and Marathon (the Seven Sisters of the single largest and wealthiest
industry in the world).
WHY did the U.S. get attacked on September 11? Because the U.S. threatens
Middle East peoples' lives. Because the U.S. kills Middle East peoples'
loved ones. Because the U.S. tried to deny Middle East peoples' access to
the means to live like human beings. Because the U.S. supports every corrupt
dictator in the Middle East. Because the U.S. wants to control resources
that do not belong to them. Because almost every act of torture, murder, or
persecution in the Middle East is backed by U.S. money, technology,
diplomacy and training.
But before you stop here ask yourself this: WHY did the people who bombed
New York kill so many civilians? Because whoever did this is no less
monstrous than the U.S. government; they are just a smaller monster. WHY did
some Palestinians and Arab peoples cheer this horrendous act? Because
absolute desperation and the thirst for revenge go hand in hand. WHY? If you
live in the U.S. right now, you should know the answer. Americans are
desperately seeking for revenge. They want revenge for being the objects of
revenge. They want revenge for being woken from their slumber. They want
revenge for being hated by a world that does not see the U.S. as a
benevolent, liberal, freedom-loving country but as a greedy, gluttonous,
murderous butcher and bankroller to dictators.
WHY should we denounce both the U.S. government and the people who bombed
the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Because birds of a feather use the
same methods: murder civilians, murder innocent people, murder people to
instill terror and/or obedience. Whether it is bombs from planes or planes
as bombs, it is murder. Both the U.S. government and the people who carried
out those horrid acts on September 11 make targets of working men and women
and our children. WHY should we refuse to be a part of the drive to bomb a
country that is already decimated, to add to the death toll? WHY should we
say no to bombing Afghanistan? Because if we do not begin to say, "This
should not happen ANYWHERE", it will continue to happen HERE. And if you
have watched the media, then you know that the politicians WANT U.S.
casualties. They want us to 'get over' 'Vietnam syndrome' and accept massive
loss of American lives. They clearly figure that this is their best chance.
We have been initiated into the world we have made and it is a bitter,
deadly, frightening world. If we really want to be a freedom-loving,
charitable, kind, compassionate people, then we must be everything that our
government and corporations are not. Then we must be all those things, not
when it is easiest, but when it is hardest. And the next time you hear the
politicians, reporters, and their ilk talking about freedom, liberty,
justice, democracy, compassion, and kindness, remember that even the Devil
can quote scripture. And remember to ask WHY?, always WHY?
The US has been training terrorists at a camp in Georgia for years - and
it's still at it
Tuesday October 30, 2001
"If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents," George
Bush announced on the day he began bombing Afghanistan, "they have become
outlaws and murderers themselves. And they will take that lonely path at
their own peril." I'm glad he said "any government", as there's one which,
though it has yet to be identified as a sponsor of terrorism, requires his
For the past 55 years it has been running a terrorist training camp, whose
victims massively outnumber the people killed by the attack on New York, the
embassy bombings and the other atrocities laid, rightly or wrongly, at
al-Qaida's door. The camp is called the Western Hemisphere Institute for
Security Cooperation, or Whisc. It is based in Fort Benning, Georgia, and it
is funded by Mr Bush's government.
Until January this year, Whisc was called the "School of the Americas", or
SOA. Since 1946, SOA has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers
and policemen. Among its graduates are many of the continent's most
notorious torturers, mass murderers, dictators and state terrorists. As
hundreds of pages of documentation compiled by the pressure group SOA Watch
show, Latin America has been ripped apart by its alumni.
In June this year, Colonel Byron Lima Estrada, once a student at the school,
was convicted in Guatemala City of murdering Bishop Juan Gerardi in 1998.
Gerardi was killed because he had helped to write a report on the atrocities
committed by Guatemala's D-2, the military intelligence agency run by Lima
Estrada with the help of two other SOA graduates. D-2 coordinated the
"anti-insurgency" campaign which obliterated 448 Mayan Indian villages, and
murdered tens of thousands of their people. Forty per cent of the cabinet
ministers who served the genocidal regimes of Lucas Garcia, Rios Montt and
Mejia Victores studied at the School of the Americas.
In 1993, the United Nations truth commission on El Salvador named the army
officers who had committed the worst atrocities of the civil war. Two-thirds
of them had been trained at the School of the Americas. Among them were
Roberto D'Aubuisson, the leader of El Salvador's death squads; the men who
killed Archbishop Oscar Romero; and 19 of the 26 soldiers who murdered the
Jesuit priests in 1989. In Chile, the school's graduates ran both Augusto
Pinochet's secret police and his three principal concentration camps. One of
them helped to murder Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit in Washington DC in
Argentina's dictators Roberto Viola and Leopoldo Galtieri, Panama's Manuel
Noriega and Omar Torrijos, Peru's Juan Velasco Alvarado and Ecuador's
Guillermo Rodriguez all benefited from the school's instruction. So did the
leader of the Grupo Colina death squad in Fujimori's Peru; four of the five
officers who ran the infamous Battalion 3-16 in Honduras (which controlled
the death squads there in the 1980s) and the commander responsible for the
1994 Ocosingo massacre in Mexico.
All this, the school's defenders insist, is ancient history. But SOA
graduates are also involved in the dirty war now being waged, with US
support, in Colombia. In 1999 the US State Department's report on human
rights named two SOA graduates as the murderers of the peace commissioner,
Alex Lopera. Last year, Human Rights Watch revealed that seven former pupils
are running paramilitary groups there and have commissioned kidnappings,
disappearances, murders and massacres. In February this year an SOA graduate
in Colombia was convicted of complicity in the torture and killing of 30
peasants by paramilitaries. The school is now drawing more of its students
from Colombia than from any other country.
The FBI defines terrorism as "violent acts... intended to intimidate or
coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government, or
affect the conduct of a government", which is a precise description of the
activities of SOA's graduates. But how can we be sure that their alma mater
has had any part in this? Well, in 1996, the US government was forced to
release seven of the school's training manuals. Among other top tips for
terrorists, they recommended blackmail, torture, execution and the arrest of
Last year, partly as a result of the campaign run by SOA Watch, several US
congressmen tried to shut the school down. They were defeated by 10 votes.
Instead, the House of Representatives voted to close it and then immediately
reopen it under a different name. So, just as Windscale turned into
Sellafield in the hope of parrying public memory, the School of the Americas
washed its hands of the past by renaming itself Whisc. As the school's
Colonel Mark Morgan informed the Department of Defense just before the vote
in Congress: "Some of your bosses have told us that they can't support
anything with the name 'School of the Americas' on it. Our proposal
addresses this concern. It changes the name." Paul Coverdell, the Georgia
senator who had fought to save the school, told the papers that the changes
were "basically cosmetic".
But visit Whisc's website and you'll see that the School of the Americas has
been all but excised from the record. Even the page marked "History" fails
to mention it. Whisc's courses, it tells us, "cover a broad spectrum of
relevant areas, such as operational planning for peace operations; disaster
relief; civil-military operations; tactical planning and execution of
counter drug operations".
Several pages describe its human rights initiatives. But, though they
account for almost the entire training programme, combat and commando
techniques, counter-insurgency and interrogation aren't mentioned. Nor is
the fact that Whisc's "peace" and "human rights" options were also offered
by SOA in the hope of appeasing Congress and preserving its budget: but
hardly any of the students chose to take them.
We can't expect this terrorist training camp to reform itself: after all, it
refuses even to acknowledge that it has a past, let alone to learn from it.
So, given that the evidence linking the school to continuing atrocities in
Latin America is rather stronger than the evidence linking the al-Qaida
training camps to the attack on New York, what should we do about the
"evil-doers" in Fort Benning, Georgia?
Well, we could urge our governments to apply full diplomatic pressure, and
to seek the extradition of the school's commanders for trial on charges of
complicity in crimes against humanity. Alternatively, we could demand that
our governments attack the United States, bombing its military
installations, cities and airports in the hope of overthrowing its unelected
government and replacing it with a new administration overseen by the UN. In
case this proposal proves unpopular with the American people, we could win
their hearts and minds by dropping naan bread and dried curry in plastic
bags stamped with the Afghan flag.
You object that this prescription is ridiculous, and I agree. But try as I
might, I cannot see the moral difference between this course of action and
the war now being waged in Afghanistan.
Support For Attacks Falling In UK
Tuesday October 30, 2001
LONDON (AP) - Public support for U.S.-led military action against
Afghanistan has fallen, according to a poll published Monday.
The ICM poll for The Guardian newspaper found that support for the campaign
had slipped by 12 percent over the past two weeks, from 74 percent to 62
Despite the fall, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed still back military
action, and 57 percent support the deployment of British troops on the
ground in Afghanistan.
Last week, Britain committed 200 Marines to the U.S.-led coalition for
special operations, plus 400 in reserve in the United Kingdom.
President Bush launched the airstrikes on Oct. 7 after the ruling Taliban
refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks in the United States.
Some British lawmakers have expressed unease as the military campaign in
Afghanistan grinds on, with voices of dissent even in Prime Minister Tony
Blair's governing Labor Party.
Worries center on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the reports of
civilian casualties. The bombings of a warehouse of the International
Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul also prompted sharp criticism of the air
The poll found that 54 percent of those questioned would back a pause in the
bombing campaign to allow aid convoys to reach the needy in Afghanistan.
Only 29 percent said they would disagree with a pause.
For the poll, ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults from across
the country by telephone, between Oct. 26 and 28. A margin of error for the
poll was not released.
Eating The Sword
By: William Rivers Pitt
"Pointed threats they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn From the fool's gold mouthpiece
The hollow horn plays wasted words
Proves to warn
That he not busy being born
Is busy dying."
- Bob Dylan
On every car and every porch flutters an American flag, symbol of pride and
strength for the people of this nation. Bumper stickers make declarations
of unity, and lapel pins speak wordlessly for citizens who still weep at
the thought of the dead and the lost. As the sun prepares to set on the
second month of this war, however, it is becoming clear that those symbols,
so proudly displayed, represent a nation racing towards ignominious defeat.
We are losing this war, not because of the actions of a clever enemy, but
because of dangerously poor leadership in Washington D.C. As William
Shakespeare said, "When valour preys on reason, it eats the sword it fights
with." There is little reason for the actions George Bush's government has
taken to date, valorous or otherwise. In the end, we may all be forced to
eat the sword he is wielding in so cumbersome a fashion.
In the newest barrage of attacks upon Afghanistan, errant U.S. munitions
struck yet another civilian village. Eight members of a family were wiped
off the face of the earth while gathered at the breakfast table. The
mother, lone survivor of the attack, was quoted by BBC reporters: "What
shall I do now? Look at their savageness. They killed all of my children
This is but one instance of the ravaging effect of this war upon
non-combatants in the region. United Nations relief workers are
anticipating between 300,000 and one million refugees coming to them in
dire straits as the winter begins to wind a death shroud around the
country. These relief workers are helpless before the tide, trapped by the
knowledge that they will be unable to do much of anything to prevent
massive death and misery in the coming weeks.
Beyond the toll this horror will inevitably take upon the soul of this
nation, the tactical outlook is bleak. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his
generals have expressed surprise at the resilience and strength of the
Taliban warriors who have been the main focus of our attacks. The fact that
history has time and again proven Afghan warriors to be quite good at
defeating foreign invaders while fighting barefoot in the snow apparently
has made no purchase within the Pentagon.
Rumsfeld and his warriors have taken great pains to inform the Afghan
populace that this war is not being waged against them. This message is
blunted by an effective Taliban propaganda campaign that uses deaths like
those described above to good effect. Many fighters in Pakistan do not even
need to hear well-crafted messages within the media. They can look across
the border to Afghanistan and see the thousands of civilians living in
filth after fleeing the bombs.
10,000 Pakistani warriors have left their homes to join the Taliban forces.
Armed with Klasnikov rifles, rocket launchers, missiles, grenades,
anti-aircraft guns and even swords, members of a militant group called
Tehrik Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi have surged across the border and headed
for Kabul. Joining their ranks are some 4,000 ordinary villagers who
volunteered for duty.
This is the nightmare scenario, one whose rise was all too apparent. Every
time we kill a civilian, every time we level a house, every time we strike
terror into the innocents in Afghanistan and cause them to flee into misery
and death, we give birth to new warriors for the Jihad. Every one of these
new volunteers must be killed, according to the Bush battle plan, and their
deaths will give rise to more and more warriors seeking revenge for a lost
The Greeks feared the Hydra for a reason. Every time one head was cut off,
another rose snarling in its place. We are creating, every day, more
enemies who will die in the fight against us. It is clear that the order of
battle, comprised in haste and fear by the Bush administration, is not only
failing to defeat the chosen foe, but is in fact making the task more
difficult by orders of magnitude.
Even more disquieting is the waning moon, sign that the Muslim holy month
of Ramadan is fast approaching. Our propaganda has failed to sway nations
already hardened in hatred against us. Rumsfeld and Bush now seem prepared
to continue the bombing right through this holy season. The wrath and
vitriol aimed at us thus far will pale in comparison to what will come if
we defile these sacred days. The ranks of the Taliban and Al Qaeda will
swell yet again with men who become convinced by our actions that this is,
in fact, a war against Islam itself.
Amazingly, the failures of leadership in Washington are even more evident
on the home front. The administration, in concert with the CDC, decided to
publicly play down the threat of anthrax contamination, despite the fact
that a virulent strain made its way through the postal service to Senator
Daschle's office. Two dead mailmen later, we see the result of this folly.
The envelope to Daschle was passed through the mail system, apparently
spraying spores in all directions. Rather than rush to determine the scope
of contamination possible when anthrax is passed through a major mail
processing system, we were told to hush, relax, be at ease, shop. Mail
carriers were specifically told there was no danger. The administration's
priorities - calm and soothe before investigation and fact - are clearly
not effective when facing a genuine threat. One wonders how far the
contamination spread because of these priorities.
One wonders how well they will handle an attack with an agent like
smallpox, which is decidedly more deadly and difficult to contain. Thus
far, the actions of this administration do not being a sense of safety and
security. That in itself is a terrible defeat, one that is sure to be
magnified if another attack does come.
In the rush to determine who is responsible for these anthrax attacks,
administration officials have been quick to suggest that Iraq is a likely
suspect. Certainly, the biological weapons program of that nation is of
great concern, and the possibility that they or another nation might have
had a hand in this attack. Focusing on that one possibility alone, however,
may cause Federal investigators to miss what appears to be the most likely
set of suspects: home-grown American extremists on the far Right.
The letters mailed to Daschle and to broadcaster Tom Brokaw were dated
September 11th but mailed many days later, an apparently craven attempt to
link their attack to the airplane bombers. The date itself is written in
the American style, 9-11-01, rather than the European/Arabic fashion,
11-9-01. The handwriting on the letters slope from left to right; an
individual schooled in the Arabic style would have handwriting that sloped
from right to left.
The extreme American Right, represented by groups like the National
Alliance, the Army of God, and the Aryan Nation, have long coveted
biological weapons of mass destruction. Survivalist militiaman and
microbiologist Larry Wayne Harris successfully placed an order for Yersinia
pestis, the organism that causes bubonic plague, in 1995. Members of a
group called the Minnesota Patriots Council were arrested in 1994 for
making the toxin ricin. There are many examples of these groups making, or
trying to make, weapons like anthrax.
These groups have greeted the attacks of September 11th with what can only
be described as savage glee. Fearful of a Zionist world conspiracy, as
hateful towards American multiculturalism as the narrowest fundamentalist
Muslim cleric, many of these groups have decided that the enemy of their
enemy is their friend. It is not so far out of bounds to believe that one
group may have gone beyond angry rhetoric to action.
130 family planning clinics across the country, including Planned
Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, received threatening
letters that contained an unidentified powder during the week of October
15th. Several of the letters mentioned the Army of God, a virulent
anti-abortion group that actively espouses the killing of doctors who
According to Attorney General Ashcroft, any act that threatens the use of
anthrax shall be considered terrorism, and shall be prosecuted to the
fullest extent of the law. Clinics where women go for prenatal care and
gynecological exams, as well as for abortions, received 130 of these
threats. This is by far the largest terrorist act to take place in this
country since September 11th. Despite his words, no action has been taken
by Ashcroft to determine who is responsible, nor has the media reported on
it at all.
Senator Barbara Boxer was forced to write Ashcroft a public letter
demanding an investigation into these attacks. The fact that such a demand
even needed to be made is a colossal failure, and quite possibly an
indication of the true mindset of Ashcroft's Justice Department. Mr.
Ashcroft is a known opponent of abortion, and has displayed in several
publications his affinity for causes and ideals shared by many extreme
If his political predilections distract him from instigating an
investigation into groups that could well be responsible for the anthrax
threats leveled at Washington and these clinics, a deadly enemy within will
be allowed to range about unpunished and unrestrained. It is difficult to
imagine a worse failure.
Yet imagination is a terrible thing, especially when it's darkest
forebodings burst forth into reality. Calls for unity from the Republican
leadership, in concert with an effort to quash any questions about their
handling of this crisis, may shatter under the weight of their own
hypocrisy. Partisanship must be laid aside, we are told, and the Democratic
party has surged en masse to salute this ideal. They bear throats begging
to be slashed by GOP profiteers who are too happy to wield the knife.
Bush and his allies in the House have passed a $100 billion 'stimulus
package' that was wrapped securely in the flag and soaked with patriotic
rhetoric. The package is needed, we are told, to bolster a weak economy
further damaged by the September 11th attack. The fine print of this bill
reveals it to be nothing more than the second half of a financial windfall
promised to Bush's corporate campaign backers.
Only 30% of the money earmarked for this bill will go to individuals. The
rest of the money is being delivered to General Motors, IBM, and scores of
other corporations who were fairing well in the new economic climate. The
effect of this stimulus plan will be felt most acutely by individual
states, who will lose billions of dollars in tax revenue because of it. How
this will generate an economic revival is a mystery, and a betrayal of all
the states-rights arguments we have heard from the GOP for generations.
In fact, this package is nothing more than compensation to corporations and
their lobbyists who supported Bush's enormous and irresponsible $1.35 tax
cut bill last winter. That bill did not do for these corporations what they
wanted, and they are being rewarded for their patience with this one. This
has nothing to do with patriotism, national defense, or the revival of the
economy. This is old-school patronage passed under the veil of national
mourning, and it is a travesty.
This from the people who held up the defense appropriations bill in the
Senate last week in an attempt to force the Democrats to accept right-wing
judicial nominations. The attempt failed, as will many aspects of this
stimulus bill once it reaches Daschle's desk. The very idea that such
attempts are being made is nauseating, and dangerous. If our political
unity in the face of this terrorist threat is shattered by the greed of the
GOP, the nation's safety will be imperiled even further.
Speaking of imperiled safety, Bush and friends don't want airline security
jobs to become Federally-controlled, because doing so would swell the ranks
of the unions. This is, like the stimulus package, a partisan decision that
affects the safety and well-being of millions of Americans. Federalized
airport security teams would receive better training and pay, and would go
a long way towards defending the country against attacks like those that
came September 11th.
In Bush's mind, however, more people carrying union cards are a greater
threat to America than airborne bombs made of jet fuel and people. Better
to keep them free of union entanglements. Better to have people guarding
our lives who would, in the words of Democrat Max Cleland, see a job at a
fast food restaurant as a promotion.
In one wretched way, the terrorists have already won. The anti-terrorism
bill that was recently passed under the horribly ironic euphemism of
PATRIOT gives unprecedented access to personal phone calls and electronic
messages to both the FBI and CIA. Warrants no longer shall require that a
person is notified if his home and belongings are searched by Federal
investigators. This brazen violation of privacy rights is something called
a "sneak and peek" provision, codified in section 213 of the bill, and is
in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The anti-terrorism bill deserves a close read by every American, for within
it lies the death and destruction of so much we hold dear. In many ways,
the bill marks the end of freedom and democracy in this country. We are no
longer secure in thought, word and deed. Our homes are open to invasion and
search without notification. Our email and internet habits are fodder for
We are losing this war. Our bombs in Afghanistan are not bringing to
justice those who perpetrated the acts of September 11th, and are creating
more enemies who will fight to see us die. We are stumbling about like
fools trying to deal with the threat of anthrax while mailmen die and
viable suspects evade investigation. Our tax dollars, vitally needed to
defend the economy and the country, are being spent to reward corporations
for their support of the GOP agenda. Our airports remain sieves through
which more deadly threats may pour unchecked. Our homes and private
communications are made of glass.
There is no guarantee that we will win this fight, no guarantee that our
dead will be avenged by the steady hand of justice. If matters continue as
the have to this point, we are sure to be defeated. The potential of the
next American century, so bright a year ago, will fall to dust. Our
children will never know the rights we so freely took for granted. Our dead
will rest uneasily.
William Rivers Pitt is a contributing writer for Liberal Slant.
Even Conservatives Need the Anti-War Movement
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
October 26, 2001
American citizens who have doubts any doubts about the war have been
subjected to an amazing barrage of hate and threats in recent days. But if
you believe the polls that show 90 percent-plus support for this war, it
seems oddly disproportionate to whip up hysteria against a handful of
Rather than defend the anti-war position itself, I want to make a different
argument. If you believe in freedom at all, you should hope that there are
at least some doubters and protesters, regardless of the merit of their
case. Even if you think this war is a great and necessary thing to teach
the terrorists a lesson in American resolve, the preservation of liberty at
home is also an important value.
The existence of an opposition movement is evidence that some restraints on
government still exist. The government, which is always looking for reasons
to increase its power, needs to know that there will always be an opposition.
The view that wartime requires complete unanimity of public opinion is not
an American one it is a position more characteristic of Islamic or other
totalitarian states, where differences of opinion are regarded as a threat
to public order, and where the leadership demands 100 percent approval from
the people. These are also states where the head of government requires
that he be treated like a deity, that there be no questioning of his
edicts, that he govern with unquestioned power.
This is the very definition of despotism. Unpopular government is dangerous
enough, popular government far more so. When public officials believe that
there are no limits to their power, no doubters about their pronouncements,
no cynics who question their motives, they are capable of gross abuses.
This is true both in wartime and peacetime. The most beloved governments
are most prone to become the most abusive.
If you think that such despotism is not possible in the United States, you
have not understood the American founding. Thomas Jefferson taught that
American liberty depends on citizen willingness to be skeptical toward the
claims of the central government. "Confidence is everywhere the parent of
despotism," he wrote in his draft of the Kentucky Resolves. "Free
government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence. It is jealousy
and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down
those whom we are obliged to trust with power."
"In questions of power," he concluded, "let no more be heard of confidence
in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
Wartime means that government is unleashing weapons of mass destruction
against other human beings and their property. It is the most terrifying of
all the powers of government. The war power, which means the power over
life and death, can create in those who use it a feeling of omnipotence,
the belief that they have absolute power, which gives rise to absolute
corruption, as Lord Acton observed. This is true whether the war actions
are popular or not.
Now, add to that reality an additional element: The population that
supports the war power with its taxes is consumed in nationalistic
fervor to the point that nobody believes that government is capable of
making a bad choice or of abusing its power. That is a sure prescription
for abuse, and not only in wartime the government enjoys this uncritical
attitude, and will demand it in peacetime as well. Typically, in these
cases, the abuse of peoples' rights is not decried but celebrated.
We have seen this happen in American history. Writing in the Wall Street
Journal, Jay Winik reminds us that wartime abuse of presidential power has
a long history. Lincoln imprisoned anti-war activists, including newspaper
editors, judges and attorneys, and otherwise suspended all civil liberties.
Wilson made it a crime to voice dissent on any aspect of the war, including
the way it was financed. The jails were overrun with independent-minded
people. Franklin Roosevelt did the same, and even set up internment camps
for American citizens of Japanese descent.
Incredibly, even ominously, Winik writes about this in defense of the
emergency powers that wartime provides. This is why we need to trade
liberty for security, he says, and he implies that the Bush administration
needs to go much further to meet the (low) standards set by his predecessors.
Winik's ultimate defense, however, involves a claim that is just plain
wrong: "despite these previous and numerous extreme measures," writes
Winik, "there was little long-term or corrosive effect on society after the
security threat had subsided. When the crisis ended, normalcy returned, and
so too did civil liberties, invariably stronger than before."
It's true that the despotism subsided after the wars ended, if only because
government has a difficult time trying to maintain the level of public
support it enjoys during wartime once peace has arrived. But does
government really return to normalcy?
In fact, what changes is our definition of normalcy. In no case after a war
did the government return to its prewar size. The postwar government is
always bigger, more intrusive, more draconian, more expensive, than the
prewar government. It feels smaller because the government is no longer
arresting dissidents. But our standard of what constitutes freedom and
despotism changes during wartime. Nothing has been as corrosive of American
liberty as war.
Wartime tyranny also creates an historical precedent for future violations
of liberty. Every president who desires more power cites his predecessors
who enjoyed similar power, just as the bloody legacies of FDR, Wilson and
Lincoln are being invoked on behalf of Bush today (witness Winik's own
Jefferson said in his first inaugural address: "If there be any among us
who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let
them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of
opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." That's
why, if you hate the anti-war movement and want to see it suppressed, you
are no friend to liberty, even in peacetime.
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him mail], is president of the Ludwig von
Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, and editor of LewRockwell.com.
Setbacks in war against Taliban
Week 4 of US strikes arrives amid mounting civilian toll and death of a
By Scott Peterson and Scott Baldauf | Staff writers of The Christian
Science Monitor RAQI,
AFGHANISTAN, AND ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Abdul Wali and his anti-Taliban
neighbors spent yesterday sweeping up the debris of two shattered homes. An
American bomb demolished their mud-and-timber houses Saturday, killing two
women who were inside sewing at the time.
The ruins of Mr. Wali's house - three miles from the Taliban front lines -
are a sad monument to a weekend of missteps and setbacks in America's
three-week-old war in Afghanistan. Pakistani officials and Northern
Alliance commanders are increasingly saying that US air power isn't enough
to turn the military - or political - tide against the Taliban.
^ On Friday, Taliban forces caught and executed a
key rebel commander. The death of Abdul Haq - and the capture of his list
of names of Taliban moderates and contacts - is considered a major blow to
creating a political alternative to the Taliban.
^ On Saturday, the US responded to rebel calls
for heavier bombing raids. In contrast to previous attacks, the US hit the
front line near Kabul continuously for more than six hours, dropping bombs
on some targets five or six times each. But not every bomb found its mark.
And as growing numbers of American munitions go astray - either misfired,
mistargeted, or mistakenly dropped on civilians or relief agencies -
support for the US campaign risks being undermined.
So far, Afghans on this side of the front line - where two anti-Taliban
villages were struck separately Saturday, causing at least three deaths -
say the bombing should continue.
"America is a superpower, and they should only bomb Taliban targets," says
Wali, covered with dust from the clean-up operation. "They made a mistake.
We will forgive them this first time. But if they do it again, they are our
The blasts that shocked civilians in these villages are not the only ones
to go awry. US planes, for example, dropped eight tons of bombs on
warehouses of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul last
Thursday - the second time in a month they were struck by American bombs.
Red Cross officials called it "astounding" that the depots, packed with
blankets and food, clearly marked with red crosses on the roof, could be
Also on Thursday, a United Nations building that shelters German shepherd
dogs that sniff out land mines was hit, killing two dogs. Some senior UN
and relief officials have called for a halt to the bombing to allow aid to
reach needy Afghans as winter begins to set in.
Such mistakes make it difficult for Washington to keep the public focus on
getting the accused terrorist Osama bin Laden and his network in
Afghanistan. They also highlight the limits of air power, just as mounting
civilian casualties posed political problems during the sustained US-led
air campaign against Serbia in 1999.
"It's a race against time," says Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, a retired commander
in the Pakistan Army and now a defense analyst in Islamabad. "The Americans
want to prolong the war so that they can achieve their goals. But there are
ripple effects here in Pakistan and other Muslim countries, as civilian
casualties increase and as Ramadan approaches, opposition to the war can
He adds that "you have to give the Americans some credit. They have
succeeded in creating chaos for the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and there is
hardly any government left in Afghanistan. But the people don't see any
alternative yet, to look to or to change sides. There has to be some
success, either militarily or politically, in the next few weeks in order
for people to think of changing sides."
Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has called for 72 hours of worldwide
protests by Muslims "who feel that holy war is part of Islam."
President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, a critical ally in the US effort,
said Friday that the US should switch to a "political strategy," due to
concern "at all the civilian casualties" and the "miseries" Afghans are
being put through.
But the political strategy is also in trouble. Privately, Pakistani
officials and observers say the past three weeks have shown America's key
weaknesses - the lack of hard intelligence, a cultural understanding, or
knowledge of the conditions on the ground. In the eastern mountains, where
the bulk of Afghanistan's population lives, guerrilla warriors have the
advantage and the Taliban could conduct hit-and-run attacks long after
their government falls. In order to defeat the Taliban in these conditions,
the US would need to have the firm support of local populations. To gain
that support, particularly among the ethnic Pashtun tribal leaders who are
reported to be wavering in their support of the Taliban, America would need
to offer something in return, especially the promise of continued safety
from revenge attacks by pro-Taliban forces.
It is for this reason that the capture of top anti-Taliban leader Mr. Haq
last week is such a public relations disaster. Haq, a member of the Pashtun
ethnic majority and hero of the mujahideen war against the Soviets,
returned to his native Afghanistan. Some relatives say he was on a "peace
mission," while others say he had gone to Afghanistan to avenge the murders
of his wife and daughter last year, in an attack attributed to Taliban
Abdul Qadir, a leader in the opposition-held town of Golbahar, says he was
"surprised" that his brother had moved so quickly into Afghanistan, and had
pleaded with him to delay his trip. He wanted them to enter their
respective tribal areas together, to win over wavering Pashtuns from the
"He could have mustered 2,000 or 3,000 warriors, but he came with only 25,"
Qadir says. "He was on a mission of peace, not to fight."
The Taliban, for their part, say Haq had come to launch an
anti-Taliban rebellion in his home province of Nangrahar. Tipped off by
their intelligence network along the border, the Taliban captured Haq
within hours of his arrival and executed him that very day.
In addition, the Taliban claim they have Haq's list of names and phone
numbers of tribal leaders and other Afghans presumed to be ready to join a
post-Taliban government - including possibly members of the Taliban
government. If true, more executions are likely to follow, and the American
effort to create a broad-based government of Afghans will have suffered a
"Setback is an understatement. This is a fiasco, a debacle," says Rifaat
Hussein, chairman of the Defense and Strategic Studies department at
Quaid-I-Azam University in Islamabad. "In a way, this destroys the whole
idea that if you engage with the Taliban, and play ball with them, you can
find some moderate elements that you can work with. Now, short of the
physical destruction of Afghanistan, there is no way to achieve the goals."
In this way, Haq's execution could be a turning point in the war, Hussein
says, as the political option of negotiation and nation-building are set
aside and the military option becomes the only viable option. But dropping
the political option altogether may have massive repercussions in Pakistan,
"The hawks will say that without a full-scale military effort, there is no
way to remove the Taliban," Hussein says. "But here in Pakistan, people say
the military option hasn't produced any results after three weeks and the
political option should move faster. With Haq's execution, this will
definitely deter those who are thinking of leaving the Taliban," he says.
On Sunday, it was as if the Pentagon were reassessing their strategy in
adherence to the old Chinese maxim: "No military plan survives contact with
the enemy." It was eerily quiet across the Shomali Plain north of Kabul.
Only one reconnaissance plane flew across the sky, residents of Raqi said,
at six o'clock in the morning.
But even as people here buried their dead, picked through the debris for
belongings, and began to rebuild their lives yesterday, they said they
favored US military action - with more accuracy.
"They should know which village is Northern Alliance, and which village is
Taliban, says Shahbuddin, who lives 100 yards away from the blast site.
"The bombings should continue. But they should take time to show pilots
which village is which."
US bomb kills 10 civilians in opposition-held Afghanistan
(Kabul, October 28)
A stray US bomb killed at least 10 people Saturday when it hit a northern
Afghan village in territory controlled by anti-Taliban forces, a medical
An ambulance driver who went to the village, which is three kilometres (two
miles) from the Taliban frontlines northeast of Kabul, said 10 civilians
were killed instantly by the bomb and at least another six injured.
A foreign ministry official from the opposition Northern Alliance confirmed
a US bomb hit the village of Khan Agaha at the mouth of the Kapisa valley at
4.30 pm (1200 GMT) in territory it controlled.
The misguided strike occurred during the heaviest day of US bombing on the
ruling Taliban regime's frontlines north of the Afghan capital.
In morning and afternoon raids Saturday, US warplanes dropped up to 35 bombs
at the mouth of the Kapisa valley, 80 kilometres northeast of Kabul, and
near Bagram airbase, about 40 kilometres north of the capital.
A source at a hospital in the nearby Panjshir valley, which is run by the
Italian relief agency Emergency, said up to 16 people may have been killed
in Saturday's attack on Khan Agaha.
However an official spokeswoman for the hospital refused to confirm or deny
the toll and said a press conference would be given at 11:30 am Sunday.
Emergency's hospital is two hours drive north of Khan Agaha and is where
many of the opposition's war wounded are taken.
The misguided strike adds to the steadily growing list of tragic US bombing
blunders during the 21-day military offensive against the Taliban.
In one of the worst previous independently reported incidents, the United
Nations said nine civilians were killed on Monday when US warplanes dropped
cluster bombs on a village in the Taliban-controlled western Afghan city of
Organizations Call for End to Bombing
By GUSTAV NIEBUHR
New York Times
October 29, 2001
A group of American Muslim organizations has called for the United States
to halt its bombing campaign in Afghanistan and instead develop "a more
effective and long-term policy" to counter terrorism.
The document was signed by 15 groups, primarily small ones, but including
two prominent organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and
the Islamic Circle of North America. The statement was posted on the
IslamiCity.com Web site.
In an interview, Naim Baig, general secretary of the Islamic Circle of
North America, said the statement was drawn up at a meeting on Oct. 20 and
21 in Washington.
Mr. Baig said it reflected a concern among some American Muslims that "this
bombing is not going anywhere, and more and more civilian casualties are
going on." The United States began bombing Afghanistan on Oct. 7.
The statement, signed by groups representing public-policy organizations,
students and journalists, among others, voices an "unequivocal
condemnation" of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and calls for the
perpetrators to be brought to justice. But it says the bombing campaign is
not in the interests of the United States or the rest of the world.
"The bombing victimizes the innocent, exacerbates the humanitarian disaster
and creates widespread resentment across the Muslim world," the statement says.
The statement also says its signers believe it their "civic duty" to speak
out in favor of the nation's long-term interests.
"We strongly reject the suggestion that opposing a certain policy of our
government is tantamount to disloyalty," it says.
But in a sign that the bombing has produced differences in opinion among
Muslim organizations, several major groups did not sign the statement,
among them the American Muslim Council, Islamic Society of North America
and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Aly R. Abuzaakouk, the American Muslim Council's executive director, said
the organization stood by a statement it made on Oct. 8, expressing support
for the Bush administration's campaign against terrorism and its pledge to
avoid civilian casualties.
"We did call on the administration to really limit and concentrate on the
campaign, which is against the terrorists, and safeguard the lives of the
civilians," he said.
Mr. Abuzaakouk said he hoped the campaign would be over by the Islamic holy
month of Ramadan, which begins Nov. 17, although administration officials
have said the campaign is not likely to be ended by then. Mr. Abuzaakouk
also said the administration needed to emphasize that the United States
cares about the Afghan people.
Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council,
said his organization had studied the statement asking for a halt to the
bombing but decided not to sign, in part, he said, because it did not offer
"practical alternatives" to the military campaign.
"We support the president's initiative to defeat terror," Mr. Al-Marayati
said. "The country was attacked, and we want the perpetrators brought to
Officials of the Islamic Society of North America could not be reached for
Speaking for the Islamic Circle of North America, Mr. Baig said the
statement represented a shift, as the organization had not originally
opposed the bombing, as long as there were no Afghan civilian casualties.
But reports of such casualties persuaded the organization to change its
stand, he said.
He said the organization was concerned that the bombing of Afghanistan
would ultimately work against American foreign policy interests.
"It's going to breed more anger" among Muslim nations, Mr. Baig said.
US plays down casualties
WASHINGTON: The United States has played down mounting concern over the
civilian casualties of its Afghan campaign as unrest in Pakistan reached
dramatic proportions, with 18 Christian worshippers shot dead.
Even as beleaguered Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf protested that the
civilian toll in neighbouring Afghanistan was "excessive", top US and
British officials insisted the military action would continue, possibly for
Hundreds of civilians are believed to have died in three weeks of air
strikes over Afghanistan.
But US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused Afghanistan's ruling
Taliban of lying about the toll and of using mosques and schools as
ammunition depots and command centres.
At the same time, he praised Musharraf for coping with "a very difficult
Pakistan, a key ally in the US-led campaign, has faced an increasingly
violent backlash from Islamic fundamentalists.
Three unidentified gunmen killed 18 people yesterday when they opened fire
on a protestant congregation in Bahawalpur, in what was widely seen as an
act of revenge against the US bombings.
Jordan's King Abdullah II, said the massacre underscored concerns that
"Osama bin Ladens" around the world were trying to pit East against West.
The United States claims bin Laden and his Afghanistan-based al-Qaeda
network masterminded the September 11 airborne suicide attacks that killed
about 5000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
In the south-western Pakistani city of Quetta, near the Afghan border,
three people were killed and 25 injured when a bomb exploded on a bus.
In the North West Frontier Province, Pakistani authorities also tried to
control thousands of armed Pashtun tribesmen massed on the Afghan border in
a bid to join the Taliban - whom the United States accuses of supporting
Abdullah Abdullah, foreign minister for the opposition Northern Alliance,
said he believed some militants had already crossed into Afghanistan and
demanded that Pakistan stop them.
Other tribesmen were blocking the historic "Silk Road" to China in protest
at the US attacks, stranding hundreds of cars and trucks and threatening to
blow up any vehicle that attempts to force its way through.
A Muslim radical party threatened to stage a mass sit-in in Islamabad to
force Musharraf to resign, while two Muslim youth groups said they would
kill supporters of Afghanistan's former king, Mohammad Zahir Shah.
But Rumsfeld expressed confidence Musharraf would continue to support the
US-led military action.
"Pakistan is not going to pull out," Rumsfeld told the ABC network,
praising the Pakistani president for "doing a terrific job" and "managing
in a very difficult situation."
Rumsfeld, as well as British Foreign Secretary Jack
- also interviewed on ABC - dismissed claims the US-led campaign was
foundering in the face of stiff resistance from the Taliban and mounting
"We feel that the air campaign has been successful," said Rumsfeld.
made a similar assessment, saying the destruction of the Taliban's air
capability meant "it's now possible to infiltrate ground troops into
Afghanistan to fight the Taliban".
Northern Alliance commanders have said US air strikes along the front lines
were inefficient and had failed to shake the ruling militia's resolve.
Yesterday US warplanes opened up a new front, dropping bombs for the first
time on Taliban positions in north-east Afghanistan, close to the Tajik
border, a top opposition general said.
US and British officials insisted the campaign was on target and stressed
it would continue, despite calls for a cease-fire during the Muslim holy
month of Ramadan, which starts in mid-November.
Calls for a halt to the bombing came amid mounting criticism of the cost
the civilian population is having to pay for the air strikes that forced
hundreds of thousands of people to flee their home.
The Taliban claimed last week that more than 1000 civilians died in US
raids countrywide - a figure Washington has rejected - and an AFP tally of
civilian deaths compiled from non-Taliban sources stands at 390.
Among the latest victims were 10 civilians killed in Kabul when a US bomb
destroyed three houses in the impoverished Char Qala neighbourhood,
The US-led coalition had already suffered a blow when opposition commander
Abdul Haq, a hero of Afghan resistance to the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation,
was captured and executed by the Taliban on Friday.
The ruling militia refused to allow Abdul Haq's body back into Pakistan for
burial next to his wife and children and buried him instead in his home
village, an aide said.
The Washington Post said that when he entered Afghanistan last week, Abdul
Haq had expected to find anti-Taliban support in border villages, but found
instead people outraged with the US campaign.
He was cornered while attempting to escape on horseback with a party of 19
and asked for US helicopters to rescue him but they never arrived, an
associate told the Post.
But US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the United States did try to
Abdul Haq "requested assistance and received it," Rumsfeld told ABC,
adding: "The assistance unfortunately was from the air, and he was on the
ground. And regrettably, he was killed."
In New York, thousands of friends and relatives attended an emotionally
charged memorial service for those who died when two hijacked jetliners
slammed into the World Trade Centre.
The interdenominational service was held in full view of the still
smoldering rubble of the twin towers that until September 11 were among the
best known New York landmarks.
Meanwhile, US authorities reported another victim in a string of
bioterrorist attacks in the United States, saying a New Jersey postal
worker was diagnosed with anthrax.
Three people have died and a further 12 have been infected with the rare
bacteria that has been mailed to media organisations and political offices
in the United States.
Mixed reaction to NYC peace march
By Joseph Winter
BBC News Online correspondent in New York
Three weeks after the United States started to drop bombs on Afghanistan, a
wide coalition of groups marched through central New York beating drums and
shouting: "You say 'Bomb', we say 'No'. The racist war has got to go."
"Our grief is not a cry for war," read one banner.
On a bitterly cold October afternoon, they only numbered around 1,000, but
espoused causes from Palestine to the US Green Party, anarchy to
Yugoslavia, black civil rights to socialism.
US security forces around the world are on high alert and there were almost
as many police officers as demonstrators.
Before the march even left its Times Square rallying point, a convoy of
fire engines drove up and parked right next to the protesters, sounding
their sirens in order to drown out the anti-war speakers.
One fireman, with a look of absolute disgust in his eye, told BBC News
Online: "You couldn't print what I think about them. I wonder how many
people they know who are dead, who are buried over there."
After a few tense minutes, the firefighters left, but only after using a
public address system to urge the demonstrators to go home.
Some of the marchers said that they had indeed lost friends, relatives and
colleagues at the World Trade Center.
They started with a minute's silence for those who died on 11 September
"and also for those who have died in Palestine and as a result of US
Moshe Rothenberg, a middle-aged member of a group called Jews for Racial
and Economic Justice, said that the suicide attacks were just a pretext for
the war in Afghanistan.
"We're going to war for oil. Afghanistan is a critical country right next
to Iran and Bush wants a friendly government there," he said.
"The US ignores terrorism in Africa and elsewhere. Why? Because there's no
The International Action Center which helped organise the march says that
US oil companies want to build a pipeline from the oil-rich Caspian Sea to
the Indian Ocean - through Afghanistan - and this is why the Bush
administration is trying to topple the Taleban.
Organisers also condemned the "racist" arrest of hundreds of Muslims and
Arabs in the US and elsewhere since 11 September and voiced concern that
the Anti-Terrorism Act, made into law on Friday would be used to intimidate
government critics such as themselves.
So how should the US Government respond to the suicide attacks on New York
"I was hoping something would be worked out through the United Nations,
then he [President Bush] went on his little crusade," said David Huggins,
carrying a banner declaring that he had sacked Mr Bush.
"I'm against the US putting its nose in places where it doesn't belong,"
said spiky-haired high-school student Alex Cowan from Washington DC.
"That's what made people hate us, want to kill us in the first place."
As they marched through central New York to an anti-war "teach-in", some
shop owners locked their doors in case the protest became violent, but it
passed off without incident.
Most other New Yorkers ignored them, while a few shouted either insults or
the occasional word of encouragement.
A few people even turned up to mount individual "counter-protests".
John Cutter walked up and down next to the demonstrators waving a small US
"These people are fools, dreamers and anti-Americans," he said.
Looking at one of the banners, postal worker Vincent Minicagello told BBC
News Online: "I believe in justice, not war, but we can't allow people to
kill Americans and get away with it."
Street sweeper Desmond Antubam from Ghana could not believe his eyes as he
watched the marchers troop down 8th Avenue with their police escort.
He said that he knew friends and colleagues who had died on 11 September
and called the marchers "a disgrace".
"There's too much freedom here," he said.
Target precision eludes an embarrassed military
Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer
Sunday, October 28, 2001
It's a recurring -- and bloody -- military embarrassment:
When a war starts, the military touts its "precision bombing" as a
relatively humane, and much faster, way to win the conflict.
The media run stories about "smart" bombs savvy enough to "fly down chimneys."
In reality, many high-tech "smart" bombs go off course, killing civilians.
Red-faced, the brass admit that "precision bombing" -- although it has
gotten more precise over the years, thanks to innovations including laser-
and satellite-guided bombs -- remains imprecise.
And fatally so, as revealed by recent deaths of Afghans killed by errant U.
"The bottom line is that in some ways we have become victims of our own
hype. The term 'surgical air strike' remains an oxymoron," said Professor
Conrad Crane of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. He is a leading
authority on the history of air power and precision bombing doctrines who
received his doctorate in history at Stanford University.
Friday's explosion near a Red Cross compound in Kabul was the latest
instance of wayward U.S. bombs -- including one whose guidance system
apparently failed -- landing on the wrong target in Afghanistan. The result
was a blaze in a warehouse filled with humanitarian goods. The same
compound was hit by U.S. jets Oct. 16.
Referring to wayward bombs in general, Crane said: "They always call these
errant bombs. (But) even bombs that are not errant can kill civilians. You
can't predict blast effects. . . . A 1,000- or 2,000-pound bomb has large
blast effects; you can't (control) where the shrapnel and debris go."
The technology of precision bombing isn't a total delusion, said Crane,
author of "Bombs, Cities, and Civilians: American Airpower (in) World War II."
"Precision bombing has made extraordinary advances since World War II,"
Crane said. "In World War II, in order to hit a target, 12 aircraft (might
bomb) a square mile and destroy the factory they were aiming at. Now, we've
developed laser-guided bombs and cruise missiles that are much more accurate."
Result: fewer unintended civilian casualties.
On the other hand, "we've just oversold expectations," Crane said.
"Precise" bombing can still be frustrated by a wide range of factors:
-- Wind can nudge bombs off course.
-- Poor intelligence can mislead the military about the location or
identity of targets. That's how U.S. forces in the Bosnian conflict
accidentally bombed the Chinese Embassy.
-- Enemy forces can abandon cities, which otherwise contain ideal targets
for "smart" bombs such as government and military headquarters and factories.
-- The enemy can take shelter in targets that attackers are reluctant to
bomb. For example, Taliban forces are reportedly hiding in mosques.
-- The enemy can fool an attacker into wasting bombs by erecting fake
targets, such as "tanks" made of wood.
Despite their technical shortcomings, why doesn't the military use smart
bombs all the time? Most of the bombs dropped in the Afghanistan war are
old- fashioned "dumb" bombs that obey only one rule: the law of gravity.
For one thing, "the smart bombs are expensive and you don't have a lot of
them in stock," Crane said. Also, in some military engagements, a general
may wish to unleash a less precise, more devastating attack for
"The most fearsome weapon in the world besides a nuclear weapon is a B-52
(bomber)," Crane said. "You come in with a B-52 with 100 bombs and the
ground shakes -- the psychological impact is phenomenal."
Ironically, at the dawn of the air age almost a century ago, visionaries
foresaw aerial bombing as a more humane way to fight war. Bombers, they
theorized, would penetrate enemy lines and quickly destroy the economic
basis of enemy power -- munitions factories, electric power plants and
That way, the war would end relatively fast, saving countless thousands of
lives on both sides.
In World War II, one of the most publicized bombing innovations was the
Norden bombsight, which supposedly allowed bombardiers to target their
bombs more precisely. Newspapers of the day claimed the bombsight made it
possible to drop a bomb "into a pickle barrel."
Even so, U.S. bombers wrought terrific damage all over the place, much of
it unintended. During the U.S. aerial assault on Monte Cassino in Italy in
1944, one observer joked darkly: "They were dropping them all over the
landscape. Maybe it was true that they could hit a pickle barrel with that
Norden bombsight, but there were no pickle barrels in the Liri Valley that
Despite "extraordinary" advances in bomb targeting since then, Crane said,
absolute precision remains elusive: "American air power is never as bad as
its critics claim. But it's never as good as its supporters claim."
E-mail Keay Davidson at email@example.com.
"Forgotten Needs" Of Afghani Women, Children
Oct 27, 2001
by Candace Hammond, UN Wire, Oct. 23
U.N. Population Fund officials yesterday highlighted
the "forgotten needs" of Afghan women and children who
are caught up in the midst of the current humanitarian
crisis in Afghanistan, but expressed optimism that the
agency will be able to obtain the $4.5 million it is
seeking from international donors for an emergency
reproductive health effort. The UNFPA launched the
appeal a few weeks ago as part of its largest-ever
humanitarian operation to assist Afghan women.
Pam DeLargy, manager of the UNFPA's Humanitarian
Response Group and senior coordinator of the UNFPA's
response in Afghanistan, told reporters during a
special media briefing yesterday that because of the
large-scale refugee movements currently taking place
in the country, women already in precarious situations
due to lack of food and sanitation are also
experiencing a need for proper prenatal care, iron
supplements to combat anemia, safe blood transfusions
in the event of traumatic miscarriages and emergency
obstetric care when they are forced to give birth in
Currently, 99 percent of births in Afghanistan are
unattended, and the maternal mortality rate of 17
deaths per 1,000 women is the world's second-highest.
In the next 12 months, 20,000 women are expected to
need medical treatment for miscarriage or other serious
obstetric and gynecological problems, according to the
DeLargy said Afghan women are also at risk of sexual
violence, domestic violence, sexual exploitation and
unsafe abortions during this chaotic period, adding
that young people in particular are vulnerable during
the crisis to risky behaviors that can lead to being
infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted
diseases. DeLargy also said that while many don't
want to discuss it, women in Afghanistan also
desperately need the most basic hygiene products,
supplies that "can easily get forgotten" during
humanitarian crises. "It should be fairly obvious
that all reproductive-age women and girls continue to
be women and girls even if they are also refugees,"
Phyllis Oakley, former U.S. assistant secretary of
state for population, refugees and migration and a
board member of the U.S. Committee for UNFPA, said a
long history of deprivation and a lack of nutrition
among women in Afghanistan exacerbates their current
health condition. The ruling Taliban "has become
increasingly repressive towards women," she added.
And while Afghanistan has always been "one of the
poorest countries in the
world, ... most people feel that it has never been as
intolerant as the government has become now," she said.
Oakley warned that the health care system for Afghan
women has deteriorated to "nonexistent" or
UNFPA Representative In Pakistan Alarmed About
Dr. Olivier Brasseur, UNFPA representative in Pakistan,
said at the briefing yesterday that "the current
situation is very, very worrying." Brasseur said that
while the borders are closed and the UNFPA is not
allowed access into the country, some supplies are
still being channeled into the country through active
local nongovernmental organizations. But he added
that for the UNFPA in Pakistan, due to escalating
security issues and a growing need for reproductive
health services, "it is getting increasingly difficult
to provide support inside Afghanistan."
Brasseur also said that from what he has personally
witnessed at the borders, women are arriving in what
Brasseur called "a state of total misery," suffering
from anemia, infection, starvation and exhaustion.
Children are also dangerously at risk, Brasseur said,
saying thatone in four children will die before their
first birthday. Brasseur said that the U.N.
agenciesare presently trying to gear up for a massive
influx of refugees -- up to 1 million in Pakistan,
500,000 in Iran and thousands more elsewhere. "We are
trying to preserve their rights and preserve their
dignity," he said.
The $4.5 million requested by the UNFPA will be used
over a six-month period for basic equipment,
supplies, training and education for safe motherhood
issues, HIV prevention programs and other similar
ventures, DeLargy said. The UNFPA is particularly
interested in distributing "home delivery kits,"
which include sterilized items that can be used during
unattended deliveries to help prevent infection in
newly delivered infants.
When asked by UN Wire about whether the UNFPA is
concerned about the potential response from
international donors for reproductive health efforts in
Afghanistan, particularly because there are so many
facets to the humanitarian crisis, DeLargy said, "I
would have answered this question quite differently six
months ago, because in fact we've
had trouble in the past in many other crises getting
attention to these issues. But I think that globally,
people are so aware of the plight of Afghan women, that
it's kind of opened people's eyes to these issues and
to women's special needs in emergencies. And I hope
that when or if this problem is solved, people's eyes
won't close again to these issues."
DeLargy also said that compared to other appeals by
U.N. agencies, such as the U.N. High Commissioner for
Refugees, the UNFPA appeal is "very small" and so far
donors have responded quickly. "I have to say that
we're very, very pleased that a number of donors have
responded very quickly and very positively to our
appeal," she said
Opposition to US attacks grows in Pakistan
Monday, October 29, 2001
ISLAMABAD -- A mounting civilian death toll and growing unrest in key ally
Pakistan marked the start of the fourth week yesterday of the US-led
military campaign on Afghanistan.
Despite protests by beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf that the civilian
toll was "excessive," Islamic opposition to the US campaign took alarming
proportions in Pakistan.
Six unidentified gunmen killed at least 16 people when they sprayed a
protestant congregation in Bahawalpur, and three more died when a bomb
exploded on a bus in Quetta, near Pakistan's southwestern border with
Afghanistan, police said.
A Muslim radical party threatened to stage a mass sit-in here to force
Musharraf to resign over his support for US attacks on Afghanistan, and two
radical Muslim youth groups in Pakistan's tribal regions publicly threatened
supporters of Afghanistan's former king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, with death.
"Any person who works for the return of the ex-king or takes part in
attempts to overthrow the Taliban government will be killed, his house
burned and his family expelled from the zone," the groups said.
Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the head of the Jamaat-i-Islami party, told a rally in
Lahore that the sit-in here, for which he did not give a date, would result
in the ouster of the Musharraf government and be the catalyst for an Islamic
The killings in Bahawalpur and Quetta, unclaimed by any group so far, came
as Pakistani authorities tried to control thousands of armed Pashtun
tribesmen massed on the Afghan border in a bid to join the Taliban against
the US-led anti-terror campaign which they say is a war against Islam.
Abdullah Abdullah, foreign minister for the opposition Northern Alliance,
believed some militants had already begun crossing into Afghanistan and
demanded Pakistan stop them.
"Whatever it is, it has to be stopped,"Abdullah told reporters in Jabal
Seraj. "Pakistan cannot claim to co-operate with the international alliance,
get debt relief and then allow thousands to cross and fight the people of
In a parallel move, other tribesmen have since Thursday -- the start of the
gathering on the border -- blocked the historic "Silk Road" to China in
protest at the US attacks, stranding hundreds of cars and trucks and
threatening to blow up any vehicle that attempts to force its way through.
Police said they believed the massacre in Bahawalpur -- the worst attack
ever against Pakistan's Christian minority, condemned by Pope John Paul II
as a "further tragic act of intolerance" -- may have been an act of
terrorist revenge against the US bombings.
The killings, commented Jordan's King Abdullah II, underscore concerns that
"Osama bin Ladens" around the world are trying to pit East against West.
Among at least 10 civilians killed in Kabul yesterday when a US bomb
destroyed three houses in the impoverished Char Qala neighbourhood were
eight children, six of them from the same family, residents said.
The Taliban claimed last week that more than 1000 civilians died in US raids
countrywide -- a figure Washington has rejected -- and an AFP tally of
civilian deaths compiled from non-Taliban sources stands at 390, 37 of them
Pakistani police said the bearded gunmen who arrived by motorcycle burst
into the Bahawalpur church just before the end of the weekly service
yesterday and sprayed the praying crowd with fire from AK-47 assault rifles.
Among the dead was a policeman standing guard outside St Dominic Catholic
Church, shared with the region's protestants.
Walls were awash with blood, some 2000 friends and relatives wept, some of
them overcome with anger that repeated appeals for extra security had been
"We will commit suicide and start a campaign of self-immolation if the
killers are not arrested soon," Shehzad Masih, whose son was wounded in the
attack, told provincial Law Minister Khalid Ranjha, who visited the church.
"We are Pakistanis," said a nun, Sister Barkat. "We have nothing to do with
the US attacks."
A police officer at the scene of the Quetta bus bombing said two of the dead
were soldiers and nine of the 25 wounded were in a serious condition.
In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair prepared to urge a confused
British public to show "moral fibre" by holding firm in the fight against
terrorism, as ministers stressed Britain was committed "for the long haul".
"Britain is a very moral nation with a strong sense of right and wrong, and
that moral fibre will defeat the fanaticism of the terrorists and their
supporters," Blair was expected to tell the Welsh Assembly tomorrow,
according to Downing Street.
The US-led campaign has been foundering in the face of stiff resistance from
the Taliban, mounting civilian casualties that have sparked anger among
Muslim allies, and a growing tide of refugees.
A further blow came on Friday when opposition commander Abdul Haq, a hero of
Afghan resistance to the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation, was captured and
executed by the Taliban.
New this issue:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/studentsnowar/files (members only)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Nov 16 2001 - 18:48:12 EST