Thursday, October 11, 2007

TERROR NEWS OCT 11th

1.2.1.1. Ex - Prosecutor on Trial Over Terror Case (back)
October 10, 2007--Ex - Prosecutor on Trial Over Terror Case --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 7:03 p.m. ET----DETROIT (AP) -- A former federal prosecutor's ambition led him to withhold evidence that could have helped the defense during the nation's first major terrorism trial after the Sept. 11 attacks, a government lawyer said at trial Wednesday.----Richard Convertino had designs on a seat in Congress and broke the law while prosecuting four North African immigrants accused of operating a ''sleeper'' terrorist cell, Daniel A. Schwager told jurors in opening arguments at Convertino's trial.----''Winning the ... case was everything to defendant Convertino,'' Schwager said. ''This case is about truth and lies.''----William Sullivan, Convertino's lawyer, said his client and a co-defendant in the case, former State Department investigator Harry Smith III, were only trying to bust up a terrorist cell and shouldn't be on trial.----''There was no reason to risk their careers or their lives on a tiny bit of evidence,'' Sullivan said.----Smith's lawyer, Thomas Cranmer, told the court that Smith had no motive to lie.----''He's a witness,'' Cranmer said. ''No stake in the outcome of the case.''----Convertino, 46, and Smith, 50, have pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice, making false declarations before a court and conspiracy charges.----Convertino's only motive in the case was ''to take the sleeper cell out,'' and ''to make sure each and every one of you in this jury box was safe,'' Sullivan said.----For two years, Convertino led the government's case against the four accused of operating a terrorist cell. Two of the four, Karim Koubriti and Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi, were convicted in 2003 of conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, and Convertino won praise from the Bush administration for his successful convictions.----However, a federal judge overturned the verdicts at the Justice Department's request after prosecutors discovered that some documents that could have aided the defense during the trial were not turned over by the government as required.----Convertino was the lead prosecutor in the case, and Smith helped in the investigation and testified for the government at the trial. Koubriti, a Moroccan immigrant, sued Convertino, Smith and Michael Thomas, the lead FBI agent on the case, in August. That lawsuit is pending.----Testimony in the criminal trial in front of U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow started Wednesday and was expected to last about four weeks.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Former-Prosecutor-Indicted.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.1.2. Feds Appealing Patriot Act Ruling (back)
October 10, 2007--Feds Appealing Patriot Act Ruling --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 8:57 p.m. ET----PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Bush administration is appealing a ruling by a federal judge in Oregon who struck down key portions of the USA Patriot Act as unconstitutional.----U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled last month the act cannot be used to authorize secret searches and wiretapping to gather criminal evidence -- instead of intelligence gathering -- without violating the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.----The ruling came in a challenge to the act by Brandon Mayfield, a Portland lawyer whose home and office were secretly searched and bugged after the FBI misidentified a fingerprint in the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004.----The FBI apologized to Mayfield for the mistake, and the federal government settled his lawsuit for $2 million.----But Mayfield challenged the Patriot Act over the searches and surveillance, winning a sharply worded ruling by Aiken that criticized the government for ''asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights.''----Mayfield's attorney, Elden Rosenthal, said he had been notified of the appeal but had no further comment.----The Justice Department, in a statement released after the ruling, said: ''We are concerned that if its reasoning were adopted and extended by other courts, it could have a significant impact on our ability to effectively share information in terrorism and other national security investigations.''----Congress passed the Patriot Act with little debate shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to help counter terrorist activities. It gave federal law enforcers the authority to search telephone and e-mail communications and expanded the Treasury Department's regulation of financial transactions involving foreign nationals. The law was renewed in 2005.----The notice of appeal was filed Tuesday with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. ------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Patriot-Act-Appeal.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.1.3. Judge Halts Transfer of Guant namo Detainee (back)
October 10, 2007--Judge Halts Transfer of Guantánamo Detainee --By WILLIAM GLABERSON--In what appears to be the first ruling of its kind, a federal judge has barred the Bush administration from sending a Guantánamo detainee to his home country, where he claims he would face torture, according to an order unsealed yesterday in Washington.----The judge, Gladys Kessler of United States District Court for the District of Columbia, issued an injunction prohibiting the planned transfer of the detainee to Tunisia, which has been criticized by American and international officials for human rights abuses.----Saying that the detainee, Mohammed Rahman, claimed that such a transfer would amount to a death sentence, Judge Kessler said “it would be a profound miscarriage of justice” if she allowed the government to send him to Tunisia. ----“At that point, the damage would have been done,” she wrote, adding that Mr. Rahman faced a 20-year sentence after a conviction at a terrorism trial the Tunisian government held while he was at Guantánamo. ----Advocates for detainees and human rights groups said the ruling was an important development in the legal battle over Guantánamo. They said it could reshape what have been frequent legal conflicts over administration plans to send detainees to countries where they say they face torture or mistreatment. ----“It is the only time a court has said the government does not have the unfettered right to do what they will with these people,” said one of Mr. Rahman’s lawyers, Joshua W. Denbeaux.----The ruling was the latest illustration of the hurdles the government faces in its effort to reduce the number of detainees at Guantánamo. State Department officials have said their efforts to repatriate many of the remaining 330 Guantánamo detainees have been hampered by resistance from some countries and by the government’s own concerns about human rights issues.----In other cases, lawyers for detainees have tried to block transfers based on human rights concerns but have failed. Detainees’ lawyers said yesterday that they knew of no other case in which a judge had barred a transfer. Some lawyers said yesterday that they expected an appeal and that it was far from clear how appeals judges would view the ruling. Erik Ablin, a Justice Department spokesman, said the department had argued that the judge lacked the power to issue the injunction. The government, he said, is “reviewing the district court order and considering its options.” ----Cynthia Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman, said officials worked to ensure that mistreatment of transferred detainees did not occur and investigated accusations of mistreatment. “Detainees are not repatriated to countries where it is more likely than not that they will be tortured,” Ms. Smith said. ----Judge Kessler, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, said she was acting because of the Supreme Court’s decision in June to review whether the Guantánamo detainees can bring habeas corpus suits, which are broad challenges to a detainee’s confinement. She said that the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case “cast a deep shadow of uncertainty” over previous rulings restricting detainees’ rights. ----If the Supreme Court were eventually to decide that the detainees had such rights, Judge Kessler said, it would be too late for Mr. Rahman if he had been returned to Tunisia. She said the injunction was “necessary to ensure his survival until the Supreme Court rules.” Mr. Rahman’s lawyers said he suffered from serious heart, kidney and other health problems.----Officials at the Tunisian Embassy were not available for comment, an employee in the ambassador’s office said.----Jennifer Daskal, the senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch, said the ruling was notable in part because the administration sent two other detainees to Tunisia in June. One claimed abuse by Tunisian interrogators, including threats against his wife. ----“The court,” Ms. Daskal said, “has rejected the administration position that it can unilaterally decide when, where and how it transfers detainees out of Guantánamo without any independent assessment.”----Last week, Judge Kessler issued another unusual order on detainee issues. In that case, she directed the government not to transfer a detainee held in American custody in Afghanistan without giving 30 days’ notice to his lawyer. ----Yesterday, Mr. Denbeaux, Mr. Rahman’s lawyer, said Judge Kessler’s order would give his client the chance to fight what he said were vague assertions by the military that Mr. Rahman “associated with several terrorists.” ------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/washington/10gitmo.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.1.4. Judge Suspends Key Bush Effort in Immigration (back)
October 11, 2007--Judge Suspends Key Bush Effort in Immigration --By JULIA PRESTON--A federal judge in San Francisco ordered an indefinite delay yesterday of a central measure of the Bush administration’s new strategy to curb illegal immigration.----The judge, Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California, said the government had failed to follow proper procedures for issuing a new rule that would have forced employers to fire workers if their Social Security numbers could not be verified within three months. ----Judge Breyer chastised the Department of Homeland Security for making a policy change with “massive ramifications” for employers, without giving any legal explanation or conducting a required survey of the costs and impact for small businesses. ----Under the rule issued by the department, which had been scheduled to take effect last month, employers would have to fire workers within 90 days after receiving a notice from the Social Security Administration that an employee’s identity information did not match the agency’s records. Illegal immigrants often present false Social Security information when applying for jobs.----The rule, announced with fanfare in August by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, was the linchpin of the administration’s effort to crack down on illegal immigration by denying jobs to the immigrants. It is part of a campaign of stepped-up enforcement since broader immigration legislation favored by President Bush was rejected by Congress in June.----If allowed to take effect, the judge found, the rule could lead to the firing of many thousands of legally authorized workers, resulting in “irreparable harm to innocent workers and employers.”----The decision brought a sense of relief to the unusual coalition behind the lawsuit, including the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the United States Chamber of Commerce, often adversaries. They had feared that the measure would bring mass layoffs in low-wage industries, sweeping up both illegal and legal workers and disrupting the labor force.----Judge Breyer’s decision was an awkward disappointment for Mr. Chertoff, a former federal judge, who was relying on the rule as an enforcement tool since Congress left him with few other options.----“We will continue to aggressively enforce our immigration laws while reviewing all legal options available to us in response to this ruling,” Mr. Chertoff said yesterday in a statement.----Mr. Chertoff said the administration was doing “as much administratively as we can, within the boundaries of existing law” to crack down on illegal immigration, but he called on Congress to revisit legislation to give legal status to illegal immigrants and to impose even tougher enforcement measures.----Some conservative lawmakers who argue for vigorous enforcement of the immigration laws as a priority said they were outraged by the judge’s ruling.----“What part of ‘illegal’ does Judge Breyer not understand?” asked Representative Brian P. Bilbray, Republican of California and chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus. “Using a Social Security number that does not belong to you is a felony. Judge Breyer is compromising the rule of law principles that he took an oath to uphold.”----The rule establishes steps an employer must follow after receiving a notice from the Social Security Administration, known as a no-match letter, reporting that an employee’s identity information does not match the agency’s records. ----If the employee could not clarify the mismatch by providing valid information within 90 days, employers would be required to fire the worker or risk prosecution for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. ----The rule was set to take effect Sept. 14, but was held up temporarily on Aug. 31 by another judge in the San Francisco court, Maxine M. Chesney, who was sitting in for Judge Breyer at the time.----Yesterday, Judge Breyer ordered a halt to the rule until the court could reach a final decision in the case, which could take many months. He made it clear he was skeptical of many of the government’s arguments.----The decision also bars the Social Security Administration from sending out about 141,000 no-match letters, covering more than eight million employees, which include notices from the Homeland Security Department explaining the new rule.----Other groups bringing the lawsuit include the American Civil Liberties Union, the San Francisco Labor Council and several national and local small-business associations.----Judge Breyer found that the Social Security database that the rule would draw upon was laden with errors not related to a worker’s immigration status, which could result in no-match letters being sent to legally authorized workers. “There is a strong likelihood that employers may simply fire employees who are unable to resolve the discrepancy within 90 days,” even if they are legal, he wrote.----Lucas Guttentag, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the government had demonstrated “a callous disregard for legal workers and citizens by adopting a rule that punished innocent workers and employers under the guise of immigration enforcement.” A.F.L.-C.I.O officials had estimated that some 600,000 of their members could receive the letters and be vulnerable to unjust dismissal. ----In a December 2006 report cited in the court documents, the inspector general of the Social Security Administration estimated that 17.8 million of the agency’s 435 million individual records contained discrepancies that could result in a no-match letter being sent to a legally authorized worker. Of those records with errors, 12.7 million belonged to native-born Americans, the report found.----In a Sept. 18 letter to Mr. Chertoff, the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration supported a claim in the suit that federal officials had failed to carry out a required analysis of the impact on small businesses before announcing the new rule. The office is independent from the Small Business Administration, which supported the rule.----Judge Breyer is the brother of Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court and was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1997.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/washington/11nomatch.html?hp=&pagewanted=print
1.2.1.5. Blackwater Case Highlights Legal Uncertainties (back)
October 11, 2007--News Analysis--Blackwater Case Highlights Legal Uncertainties --By ALISSA J. RUBIN and PAUL von ZIELBAUER--BAGHDAD, Oct. 10 — If a private in the United States military fires on civilians, a clear body of law and a set of procedures exist for the military to use in investigating each incident and deciding if the evidence is sufficient to bring charges. ----But when private security contractors do the same, it is exceedingly unlikely that they will be called to account. A patchwork of laws that are largely untested, and practical obstacles to building cases in war zones, have all but insulated contractors from accountability. ----Those gaps were brought into sharp relief after Sept. 16, when Blackwater guards under contract to the State Department opened fire on unarmed civilians and killed 17 Iraqis, according to the Iraqi government. ----Even if the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is now looking into the shooting for the department, determine that a crime was committed, there are formidable obstacles to mounting a case, according to interviews with former prosecutors, lawyers and experts in military and civilian law as it is applied overseas. ----Roughly 100,000 American contractors are working in Iraq, but there has yet to be a prosecution for a single incident of violence, according to Scott Horton, a specialist in the law of armed conflict who teaches at Columbia University. ----“Imagine a town of 100,000 people, and there hasn’t been a prosecution in three years,” Mr. Horton said. “How do you justify the fact that you aren’t addressing this?” ----One remedy is not being discussed: the State Department can waive immunity for contractors and let the case be tried in the Iraqi courts under Order 17, which is the section of the Transitional Administrative Law approved in 2004 that gives contractors immunity. ----L. Paul Bremer III, who supervised the drafting of the immunity order as administrator of the United States occupation authority, said: “The immunity is not absolute. The order requires contractors to respect all Iraqi laws, so it’s not a blanket immunity.” ----The order was intended as a substitute for a status of forces agreement, which can be made only with a sovereign country, Mr. Bremer said. While the military has immunity from Iraqi law, it agrees in exchange to subject its members to American military law. In contrast, civilian contractors have immunity, but it is unclear which laws, if any, can be used to hold them to account. ----The Iraqi government has not begun to discuss legislation to overturn the immunity provision, although the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has said that contractors should be tried under the Iraqi legal system.----However, legal specialists say that the government would probably be reluctant to throw the cases into the Iraqi courts, because there is little confidence that trials would be fair and defendants in those courts have few of the legal protections that are mandatory in the United States. ----Contractors accused of crimes abroad could be tried in the United States under either military or civilian law, but lawyers foresee many problems. In both cases there are questions about whether the laws extend to contractors working for the State Department. ----The applicable military law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, was changed at the end of 2006 under an amendment proposed by Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who is in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the Air Force Reserve, to cover contractors “in declared wars or contingency operations.” But disputes have arisen about whether that would include State Department contractors like Blackwater that provide security escorts for a civilian agency. ----As recently as Oct. 3, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates indicated that no decision had been made on how to apply the new language. In other statements, Pentagon officials have suggested that they would apply the military code to Defense Department contractors. That could leave contractors working for other agencies, such as Blackwater, outside military law.----Neither the Pentagon or the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad responded to requests for comment.----In any case, military lawyers have yet to determine how to put the new language into effect. Among the questions they are wrestling with are these: What categories of crimes should it cover? How should it treat employees who are not American citizens? What are the chances that the provision would be upheld by the Supreme Court? ----“There’s also a very open constitutional question about whether we can try civilians in military courts,” said Laura Dickinson, a professor of law at the University of Connecticut and an expert on laws that govern private contractors in conflict zones. Traditionally, there has been resistance to doing so, but Ms. Dickinson said she believes a case could be made that private security contractors authorized to use force would be covered by the code of military justice. ----The options under civilian law are little better. The most likely way to prosecute would be through the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which allows the extension of federal law to civilians supporting military operations. Mr. Horton, the Columbia lecturer, said he believed that “a sound basis” existed for using the act to prosecute security contractors. ----However, trying a criminal case in federal court requires guarantees that no one has tampered with the evidence. Because a defendant has the right to cross-examine witnesses, foreign witnesses would have to be transported to the United States. ----Robert Litt, a former federal prosecutor and deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s criminal division, said that if anything like the Blackwater shootings occurred in the United States, “within minutes you would have police there securing the crime scene, interviewing witnesses.”----“You’ll have a secure chain of evidence,” he added. “All that requires people on the scene almost simultaneously.”----Several legal experts said that evidence gathered by Iraqi investigators and turned over to the Americans, even within days, would probably be suspect.----Another law that might be applicable is one covering contractors in areas that could be defined as American territory, such as a military base or the Green Zone. But the Blackwater security contractors in the Sept. 16 shootings were in neither place. ----Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/world/middleeast/11legal.html?hp=&pagewanted=print
1.2.1.6. Los Angeles to Permit Sleeping on Sidewalks (back)
October 11, 2007--Los Angeles to Permit Sleeping on Sidewalks --By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD--LOS ANGELES, Oct. 10 — City officials agreed Wednesday not to enforce an ordinance used to bolster police sweeps of homeless people sleeping on sidewalks until 1,250 units of low-cost housing are built.----The police in recent years had used a 1968 law barring sleeping or lying in public spaces to arrest homeless people in and around Skid Row, a downtown district whose concentration of 10,000 to 12,000 homeless people is among the highest in the nation.----But a federal appeals court last year struck down convictions under the law, calling it one of the most restrictive in the country and cruel and unusual punishment, because of the area’s severe lack of housing for homeless people.----Under the settlement reached between the City Council and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which had sued the city in 2003 on behalf of six homeless people, the city will allow sleeping on sidewalks from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. People will not be able to bed down within 10 feet of the entrance of a building, parking lot or loading dock.----The policy will remain in effect until Los Angeles builds 1,250 units of low-cost housing with services for homeless people, with half of the units in and around the downtown area.----The City Council president, Eric Garcetti, said he expected it would take at least three years to meet the target, at a cost of $125 million. Mr. Garcetti said he expected the city to finance at least half of that, with nonprofit organizations and developers footing the rest of the bill.----The city agreed to the settlement “because in doing so we can move the city forward toward our shared goal of ending homelessness,” Mr. Garcetti said. He said it would take effect immediately, though it would be nullified if the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected a joint motion to be filed soon by the city and lawyers for the homeless to end the case.----Mr. Garcetti said he doubted the city would allow the police to resume enforcing the law once the housing is built, though he suggested that by then the city would have adopted other laws intended to address the homeless problem.----Ramona Ripston, executive director of the A.C.L.U., called the settlement important and “satisfying.”----“We don’t believe people should have to sleep on the streets; we would like there to be a house or a shelter bed for everyone, but until that happens people have to sleep somewhere,” Mr. Ripston said. “What this does is permit people to sleep throughout the city, not only on Skid Row but anywhere in the city without the police disturbing them.”----Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Los Angeles Coalition to End Homelessness and Hunger, an advocacy group, said the amount of housing provided in the settlement was too little, and he fretted that the police would resume cracking down on the homeless once the housing is completed.----“It is incredibly disappointing that there would not be more vision on the part of the city to address our homeless crisis,” Mr. Erlenbusch said. ------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/us/11skidrow.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2. Security (back)
1.2.2.1. DOD-Related (back)
1.2.2.1.1. Guant namo Detainees Enjoy Historic Protections, Administration Says (back)
October 11, 2007--Guantánamo Detainees Enjoy Historic Protections, Administration Says --By LINDA GREENHOUSE--WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 — The Bush administration, preparing for the next Supreme Court argument on the rights of the hundreds of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, asserts in a new brief that they “enjoy more procedural protections than any other captured enemy combatants in the history of warfare.”----The brief, filed late Tuesday, argues that a 2006 law that stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions from Guantánamo detainees did not violate the Constitution because foreign enemy combatants had no right to habeas corpus in the first place.----The new case, Boumediene v. Bush, No. 06-1195, tests the adequacy of the alternate legal system that the administration created to handle the detainees after the Supreme Court ruled unexpectedly in 2004 that federal court jurisdiction did extend to Guantánamo, the Navy base that sits on land the United States has leased from Cuba since 1903.----The administration argues that the 2004 decision, Rasul v. Bush, is no longer relevant because its jurisdictional ruling was a matter of statutory interpretation and Congress has subsequently amended the habeas corpus statute to remove jurisdiction. The Rasul decision did not recognize any constitutional rights, the 74-page brief asserts.----The administration’s brief, signed by Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, responds to briefs filed in late August on behalf of the two groups of detainees who are seeking a full judicial review of their designation as enemy combatants. Lawyers for the detainees will have a chance to respond before the case is argued in early December.----The case does not include a challenge to the military commissions that the administration plans to use to try several dozen detainees for war crimes. A test of those commissions is proceeding on a slower track before the federal appeals court here. Last week, the justices declined to hear a military commissions case this term. ----The administration’s arguments in the Boumediene case mirror those it made successfully before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That court ruled in February that habeas corpus petitions filed by the two groups of detainees must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court announced on the final day of its last term in June that it would review that decision, a highly unusual about-face two months after having turned down the detainees’ appeal.----If the Supreme Court agrees with the appeals court that the detainees have no underlying right to habeas corpus, that will be the end of the case. The detainees would then return to the appeals court to contest their designation as enemy combatants. That designation was previously affirmed in individual hearings known as Combatant Status Review Tribunals. ----Under two recent statutes, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the District of Columbia Circuit is to hear these cases under special rules that make its review considerably more limited than in a typical case. The parameters of that review are being thrashed out in a separate appeals court case, Bismullah v. Gates.----If the Supreme Court rejects the appeals court’s analysis and rules that Guantánamo detainees have an underlying right to habeas corpus, the precise nature of the review tribunals and the appeals process could become important. The question will be whether the stripping of federal court jurisdiction amounted to an unconstitutional “suspension” of habeas corpus.----The Supreme Court has ruled that habeas corpus can be eliminated if an adequate alternative process is provided. The detainees’ lawyers argue that the alternative process is severely deficient.----The administration argues in its new brief that it is both “adequate and effective.”------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/washington/11gitmo.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.1.2. Gates Says Military Faces More Unconventional Wars (back)
October 11, 2007--Gates Says Military Faces More Unconventional Wars --By DAVID S. CLOUD--WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Wednesday that the Army needed to improve its ability to train foreign militaries and to prepare for other unconventional conflicts that it was likely to face in coming decades.----Speaking to a gathering of current and retired soldiers, Mr. Gates sketched out a vision for making the Army better at conducting wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, which he said would “remain the mainstay of the contemporary battlefield for some time.”----His message was in many ways a blunt challenge to the Army not to treat the current conflicts as anomalies and to retreat into the more familiar task of preparing for conventional combat, as it did after the Vietnam War. Future conflicts, he said, “will be fundamentally political in nature and require the application of all elements of national power.”----“Success will be less a matter of imposing one’s will and more a function of shaping behavior of friends, adversaries, and most importantly, the people in between,” he said.----He noted that a vital capability that the military needed was “standing up and mentoring indigenous armies and police” — a task the Army has struggled to carry out in recent years in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But he offered no specific proposals for improving the Army’s abilities in this area.----He was speaking to the annual convention of the Association of the United States Army here.----Mr. Gates alluded to the desire among some officers to spend billions of dollars on re-equipping the Army and to return to training for what the service called “high intensity” conflict, a euphemism for conventional combat.----While supporting the idea of large outlays in coming years for new equipment and to expand the size of the Army, Mr. Gates said that the Army had to regain its edge in fighting conventional wars while retaining what it had learned about fighting unconventional wars.----The adaptations the Army has already made in Iraq and Afghanistan have been “impressive,” he said.----But in the future, he said: “Army soldiers can expect to be tasked with reviving public services, rebuilding infrastructure and promoting good governance. All these so-called nontraditional capabilities have moved into the mainstream of military thinking, planning and strategy, where they must stay.”----Also on Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, commander of the Army Recruiting Command, said at a Pentagon news conference that in fiscal year 2007, 18 percent of the military’s recruits had prior criminal records and needed a waiver to join, up from 15 percent the previous year. He said 87 percent of those were for misdemeanors like joy riding or violating curfew.----David Chu, the Defense Department’s under secretary for personnel, defended the waiver policy, saying it took into consideration the whole person and his or her future abilities, not just mistakes the person might have made. Mr. Chu announced that the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines had all met their recruiting targets last year.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/washington/11gates.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.1.3. Gates Describes Army of Future (back)
October 10, 2007--Gates Describes Army of Future --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 11:01 p.m. ET----WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Army of the future will need to concentrate more on training foreign militaries, mastering other languages and customs, and honing its ability to fight smaller forces of insurgents, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.----In broad strokes, Gates laid out a vision for transforming the Army to a force better able to fight the type of unconventional warfare it has seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, which he said will ''remain the mainstay of the contemporary battlefield for some time.''----Speaking to the Association of the United States Army, Gates said the Army may also need to re-examine its policies for promotions and assignments to make sure the best and brightest officers -- who have learned much over the past six years of war -- stay in the service.----Success in future wars, said Gates, ''will be less a matter of imposing one's will and more a function of shaping behavior -- of friends, adversaries, and most importantly, the people in between.''----The Marine Corps is pushing to redeploy its forces from Iraq to Afghanistan to take the lead in combat operations there and essentially leave Iraq to the Army, The New York Times reported in an article for Thursday editions posted on its Web site Wednesday night.----The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James T. Conway, raised the issue with Gates last week, the Times reported. Senior military and Pentagon officials said supporters of the proposal, including some in the Army, believe that such a realignment could allow both services to operate more efficiently in the face of strains on the separate forces.----No major Marine units are among the 26,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan while 25,000 Marines are among the 160,000 U.S. troops there, the paper noted.----Army and Pentagon leaders have warned repeatedly that the long, deadly and repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan have stretched and stressed the Army, its soldiers and its families nearly to the breaking point. And there has been ongoing debate about how the service should transform itself to better meet the challenges of future wars.----In his address to the Army association, Gates said that after the Vietnam War, the military spent little time training for irregular conflicts, leaving the Army ''unprepared to deal with the operations that followed in Somalia, Haiti, the Balkans, and more recently, Afghanistan and Iraq -- the consequences and costs of which we are still struggling with today.''----In a recognition of the training and mentoring of Iraqi soldiers that U.S. forces are doing now, Gates said that ''the most important military component in the war on terror is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we enable and empower our partners to defend and govern their own countries.''----His call for a greater emphasis on learning other languages is a recognition of problems the military has had recruiting and keeping enough Arabic speakers. And he said that until other civilian agencies, such as the Agency for International Development, are strengthened, the military will need to take on many of the rebuilding tasks, as it has done in Iraq.----Pentagon leaders have repeatedly argued that as the Iraqi forces are able to take over the security of their own country, U.S. troops will be able to pull back and eventually head home. Once the focus of special operations forces, training foreign militaries now is a key mission for the U.S. military as a whole. And, determining how best to do that, Gates said, will require innovative thinking.----Another key challenge for the Army, Gates said, will be to continue to improve its technologies, while not losing the critical human element of intelligence gathering.----As an example, he pointed to the billions of dollars the military has spent trying to find the best way to deal with the wide range of roadside bombs being used in Iraq. Yet, he said, the best way to defeat these weapons ''is to get tips from the locals about the networks and the emplacements'' or to prevent the terrorists from planting them in the first place.----Gates' remarks came a day after Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey predicted the Army will be facing a protracted period of confrontation against a network of global extremists.----Gates said that while he believes the Army ''is certainly not broken, it is under stress, and, as Gen. Casey recently put it, 'out of balance.' ''----And Gates acknowledged that the Army has been underfunded in the past, and the government needs to provide enough money for personnel and equipment in the coming years.----''Resources are needed not only to recoup from the losses of the war,'' Gates said, ''but to make up for the shortfalls of the past and to invest in the capabilities of the future.''--------------On the Net:----Defense Department: http://www.defenselink.mil----Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Gates-Army.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.2. Surveillance (back)
1.2.2.2.1. Democrats Seem Ready to Extend Wiretap Powers (back)
October 9, 2007--Democrats Seem Ready to Extend Wiretap Powers --By ERIC LICHTBLAU and CARL HULSE--WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 — Two months after insisting that they would roll back broad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats in Congress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucial powers given to the National Security Agency. ----Administration officials say they are confident they will win approval of the broadened authority that they secured temporarily in August as Congress rushed toward recess. Some Democratic officials concede that they may not come up with enough votes to stop approval. ----As the debate over the eavesdropping powers of the National Security Agency begins anew this week, the emerging measures reflect the reality confronting the Democrats. ----Although willing to oppose the White House on the Iraq war, they remain nervous that they will be called soft on terrorism if they insist on strict curbs on gathering intelligence. ----A Democratic bill to be proposed on Tuesday in the House would maintain for several years the type of broad, blanket authority for N.S.A. eavesdropping that the administration secured in August for six months.----In an acknowledgment of concerns over civil liberties, the bill would require a more active role by the special foreign intelligence court that oversees the interception of foreign-based communications by the security agency. ----A competing proposal in the Senate, still being drafted, may be even closer in line with the administration plan, with the possibility of including retroactive immunity for telecommunications utilities that participated in the once-secret program to eavesdrop without court warrants. ----No one is willing to predict with certainty how the question will play out. Some Congressional officials and others monitoring the debate said the final result might not be much different from the result in August, despite the Democrats’ insistence that they would not let stand the extension of the powers.----“Many members continue to fear that if they don’t support whatever the president asks for, they’ll be perceived as soft on terrorism,” said William Banks, a professor who specializes in terrorism and national security law at Syracuse University and who has written extensively on federal wiretapping laws. ----The August bill, known as the Protect America Act, was approved in the final hours before Congress went on its summer recess after heated warnings from the administration that legal loopholes in wiretapping coverage had left the country vulnerable to another terrorist attack. The measure significantly reduced the role of the foreign intelligence court and broadened the security agency’s ability to listen to foreign-based communications without court warrants. ----“We want the statute made permanent,” a spokesman for the Justice Department, Dean Boyd, said Monday. “We view this as a healthy debate. We also view it as an opportunity to inform Congress and the public that we can use these authorities responsibly. We’re going to go forward and look at any proposals that come forth. But we’ll look at them very carefully to make sure they don’t have any consequences that hamper our abilities to protect the country.”----House Democrats overwhelmingly opposed the bill in August and said the administration had been forced them into a corner. ----As Congress takes up the new bills, a senior Democratic aide said, House leaders are working hard to ensure that the administration does not succeed in pushing through a bill that would make permanent all the powers it secured in August. ----“That’s what we’re trying to avoid,” the aide said. “We have that concern too.” ----The bill to be proposed on Tuesday by the Democratic leaders of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees would impose more controls over the powers of security agency, including quarterly audits by the Justice Department inspector general. The measure would also give the foreign intelligence court a role in approving, in advance, “basket” or “umbrella” warrants for bundles of overseas communications, a Congressional official said. ----“We are giving the N.S.A. what it legitimately needs for national security but with far more limitations and protections than are in the Protect America Act,” said Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California.----Perhaps most important in the eyes of Democratic supporters, the House bill would not give retroactive immunity to the telecommunications utilities that participated in the eavesdropping. That has been a top priority of the administration. The temporary measure gave the utilities immunity for future acts, but not past deeds. ----Private groups are trying to prove in federal court that the utilities violated the law by participating in the program.----A former senior Justice Department lawyer, Jack Goldsmith, seemed to bolster their case last week when he told Congress that the program was a “legal mess” and strongly suggested that it was illegal.----The House bill would also require the administration to disclose details of the program. Democrats say they plan to push the administration to turn over internal documents laying out the legal rationale for the program, something the administration has refused to do.----In the Senate, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, is working with his Republican counterpart, Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, a main proponent of the August plan, to come up with a compromise. ----Wendy Morigi, a spokeswoman for Mr. Rockefeller, said that retroactive immunity for the utilities was “under discussion” but that no final proposal had been developed. ----The immunity issue may prove to be the crucial sticking point between whatever proposals the House and Senate ultimately pass. Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat who was among the harshest critics of the temporary bill, said in an interview he would vigorously oppose any effort to grant retroactive legal protection to telecommunications utilities. ----“There is heavy pressure on the immunity, and we should not cave an inch on that,” Mr. Nadler said.----Mr. Nadler said that he was worried the Senate would give too much ground to the administration in its proposal, but that he was satisfied with the bill to be proposed on Tuesday in the House. ----“It is not perfect, but it is a good bill,” he said. “It makes huge improvements in the current law. In some respects it is better than the old FISA law,” a reference to the foreign intelligence court. ----Civil liberties advocates and others who met House officials on Monday on the proposed bill agreed that it was an improvement over the August plan but were less charitable in their overall assessment. ----‘This still authorizes the interception of Americans’ international communications without a warrant in far too many instances, and without adequate civil liberties protections,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, who was in the group that met House officials.----Caroline Frederickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said she was troubled by the Democrats’ acceptance of broad, blanket warrants for the security agency rather than the individualized warrants traditionally required by the intelligence court. ----“The Democratic leadership, philosophically, is with us,” Ms. Frederickson said. “But we need to help them realize the political case, which is that Democrats will not be in danger if they don’t reauthorize this Protect America Act. They’re nervous.----“There’s a ‘keep the majority’ mentality, which is understandable,” she said, “But we think they’re putting themselves in more danger by not standing on principle.”------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/washington/09nsa.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.2.2. House Democrats Defy Bush, Approve Spy Bill (back)
October 10, 2007--House Democrats Defy Bush, Approve Spy Bill --By REUTERS--Filed at 6:22 p.m. ET----WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defying President George W. Bush, Democrats voted on Wednesday to bolster civil liberties safeguards in his anti-terrorism spying program and refused to shield phone companies from pending lawsuits.----Just hours after Bush warned Democrats they would be rolling back efforts to protect the United States, the House of Representatives Judiciary and Intelligence committees approved legislation to ensure congressional and court oversight of the surveillance of suspected enemy targets.----The party-line votes by the two panels were 20-14 and 12-7, respectively.----The full House is to consider the bill next week. The Senate Intelligence Committee plans to begin work on its version next Thursday.----House Democrats rejected a bid by Bush's fellow Republicans to provide retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated in the president's warrantless spying program secretly begun shortly after the September 11 attacks.----Bush insisted the new bill 'must grant liability protection to companies who are facing multibillion dollar lawsuits only because they are believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend our nation.'----Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan replied: 'The president's remarks today raise further questions about how the administration might have pressured or induced telecommunications companies to participate.'----House Democrats say they will not consider retroactive immunity unless the White House hands over records of detailing what the companies did. The House bill would protect the firms from future lawsuits, but not from pending ones.----It also would revise and replace a temporary surveillance measure, the Protect America Act, that Bush pushed through the Democrat-led Congress in August amid warnings that the United States faced new threats.----That earlier measure expanded the federal warrantless surveillance authority and closed what the administration said was a dangerous legal gap.----The new House bill would require the administration to obtain one-year 'blanket warrants' from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor telephone calls or e-mails of suspected terrorists when they involve an American citizen.----It would not require individual warrants to listen in on Americans communicating with suspected terrorists, unless the U.S. citizen is also a specific target of the surveillance. No warrant would be needed to monitor foreign suspects speaking to each other overseas.----'The legislation before us today seeks to once again strike the appropriate balance between needed government authority and our precious rights and liberties,' said House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat.----Bush warned the new measure 'would take us backward.'----'The Protect America Act is a vital tool in stopping the terrorists, and it would be a grave mistake for Congress to weaken this tool,' he said.----Critics say the warrantless surveillance program begun after the September 11 attacks was unlawful. The White House maintains Bush acted within his authority.----The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group, sued telephone giant AT&T Inc last year and accused it of illegally allowing the government to monitor phone calls and e-mails.----Assistant U.S. Attorney General Ken Wainstein said the administration is also concerned about restrictions the bill would impose on the type of intelligence that could be collected, and a provision that would have the surveillance authority expire in 2009, the year Bush leaves office.----Bush wants the Protect America Act, set to expire in February, made permanent.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/washington/politics-usa-security-democrats.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.2.3. Immunity Crucial in Talks on Eavesdropping Rules (back)
October 10, 2007--Immunity Crucial in Talks on Eavesdropping Rules --By ERIC LICHTBLAU--WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 — Whether telecommunication utilities should have legal immunity for having helped the National Security Agency conduct eavesdropping without warrants emerged on Tuesday as the pivotal issue in the debate over wiretapping powers.----The Bush administration, urged by the telecommunication industry, is pushing hard for Congress to include immunity for past actions in any package to protect them from a series of civil suits. ----House Democrats promised on Tuesday to block any deal for immunity unless the White House agreed to turn over internal records showing the utilities’ role in the eavesdropping.----President Bush secretly approved the program weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. ----Without the records, “to give immunity at this point in time would be a blind immunity,” the House majority leader, Steny D. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, told reporters.----The telecommunication industry, while keeping a low profile on its role, has mounted a vigorous campaign behind the scenes to win over Congressional supporters. The effort has considerable support among Republicans, but winning over moderate Senate Democrats may ultimately prove critical. ----Telecommunication utilities have been major donors to candidates. AT&T is the second-biggest donor since 1989, contributing $38 million to candidates, including many of the lawmakers active in the eavesdropping debate, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.----The companies, including AT&T and Verizon, face numerous federal suits by privacy advocates and others who say they participated in what amounted to illegal eavesdropping. ----The administration says the suits could bankrupt the utilities, and it has tried to invoke the “state secrets” privilege to turn them back. But a judge in California rejected that, and an appellate court is expected to rule soon on the question. ----If the administration and the utilities succeed in gaining retroactive immunity from Congress, that would make the suits essentially moot. ----It would also forestall any possibility that any officials or the utilities could be criminally prosecuted for their roles in the program, a prospect that has worried some officials if a Democrat is elected president next year. ----Violation of the foreign intelligence law, known as FISA, carries criminal penalties, as well as financial fines for engaging in intelligence wiretapping without a court warrant. The administration maintains that Mr. Bush acted within the law because his inherent constitutional powers let him authorize the security agency to eavesdrop without warrants on the international communications of people suspected of terrorist links.----The utilities “want a get-out-of-jail-free card,” said Caroline Frederickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union. “But the telecoms should not given immunity for breaking the law.”----Executives for AT&T and Verizon who are involved in the lobbying effort could not be reached for comment Tuesday, their offices said. ----A bill introduced on Tuesday by House Democratic leaders would impose what supporters said were significant new restrictions on the eavesdropping authorities, including greater oversight by the foreign intelligence court and greater accountability through Justice Department audits to guard against intrusions on Americans’ privacy.----The bill, using blanket or “basket” warrants to collect foreign-based communications, would succeed the broadened temporary authority that Congress approved in August. Two House committees are expected to take up the measure on Wednesday.----The bill does not include immunity for the utilities. Administration officials and Republicans called that a major failing. ----“By not including retroactive liability protection,” said Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, “Democrats are trying to resolve their differences with the administration on the backs of patriotic American companies that only wanted, and continue to want, to help keep our nation safe.”----The administration’s best chance for immunity appears to be in the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans continued to try to reach a compromise. If the Senate approves immunity as part of its bill but the House does not, the difference would have to be resolved in conference.----The administration honed its arguments on Tuesday for extending the eavesdropping powers by issuing an update of its National Strategy for Homeland Security, which was first issued more than five years ago.----“Working with Congress, we must make additional reforms to FISA and ensure that the statute is permanently amended,” the 53-page document said.----It also warned about the threats from Al Qaeda and other groups driven by “an undiminished strategic intent to attack our homeland,” as well as homegrown Islamic extremists.----Without citing specific threats, the update raised the specter of improvised bombs like those used in Iraq being imported to the United States.----“I do worry about complacency,” the president’s adviser on domestic security, Frances F. Townsend, said in a conference call about the new strategy. “I do worry about the American people thinking that we’re past this now. We’re not past it.”----Steven Lee Myers contributed reporting.----Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/washington/10nsa.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.2.4. Dems Muscle Through Surveillance Bill (back)
October 10, 2007--Dems Muscle Through Surveillance Bill --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 10:31 p.m. ET----WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democrats pushed their government eavesdropping bill through two committees Wednesday with only minor changes, setting the stage for a confrontation with the Bush administration.----President Bush said that he will not sign the bill if it does not give retroactive immunity to U.S. telecommunications companies that helped conduct electronic surveillance without court orders.----Bush said the bill, which envisions a greater role for a secret court in overseeing U.S. surveillance of overseas communications, would ''take us backward'' in efforts to thwart terrorism.----The measure advanced by the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees left out the immunity provision Bush wants. Democrats also voted down Republican attempts to tailor the legislation more to the administration's liking.----The committees even strengthened the bill slightly by establishing a new threshold for when the government has to seek a court order to listen in on American communications with foreigners. They also gave the secret court set up 30 years ago to oversee government surveillance a little more power to monitor intelligence agencies' compliance with court orders.----Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the senior Republican on the Intelligence panel, said Republicans had been left entirely out of the creation of the bill. It was delivered to them on Monday, a federal holiday when few were working.----''This is a deeply flawed bill,'' Hoekstra told reporters after the committees acted.----He and other GOP lawmakers said the bill gives too much power to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to oversee intelligence activities and will bog down intelligence agencies with administrative burdens. They charged that the measure extends constitutional protection to phone calls by terrorists overseas, takes rights away from telecommunications companies, and prohibits legitimate surveillance of other countries.----''We spy. America steals secrets from people who are not friendly to us,'' said Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.----Bush and the House Republicans want legislation that extends and strengthens a temporary eavesdropping bill passed in August. Democrats, however, want to roll back some of the powers it granted the government to eavesdrop without warrants on suspected foreign terrorists.----Under pressure to close what Bush officials called a dangerous gap in intelligence collection, Congress hastily passed a temporary surveillance oversight bill before leaving Washington for a summer break. Democratic leaders in Congress set the law to expire in six months so that it could be fine-tuned.----Civil liberties groups say the current law gives too much latitude to the administration and provides too little protection against government spying on Americans without oversight.----The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act establishes when the government must obtain eavesdropping warrants from a secret intelligence court.----The surveillance law passed this summer allows the government to eavesdrop without a court order on communications conducted by a person reasonably believed to be outside the U.S., even when the communications flow through the U.S. communications network -- or if an American is on one end of the conversation -- so long as that person is not the intended focus or target of the surveillance. The Bush administration said this was necessary because technological advances in communications had put U.S. officials at a disadvantage.----The original law generally prohibited surveillance inside the U.S. unless a court first approved it.----Seeking to increase the pressure on the Democratic-controlled Congress, Bush said the update has already been effective, with intelligence professionals able ''to gather critical information that would have been missed without this authority.''----''Keeping this authority is critical to keeping America safe,'' he said.----The temporary law requires court review, but only four months after the fact and only involving the administration's general process of collecting the intelligence, not individual cases. Until then, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general would oversee and approve the process of targeting foreign terrorists.----The Democratic bill would allow the government to eavesdrop on a foreign target or group of targets located outside the United States. However, if there is a possibility the targets will be communicating with Americans, the government must get an ''umbrella'' or ''blanket'' court order to conduct surveillance for up to one year. In an emergency, the government could begin surveillance without a blanket order as long as it applies for court approval within seven days, and it is approved within 45 days.----A top Democratic leader opened the door to allowing an immunity provision. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the Bush administration must first detail what the companies did that requires the immunity. About 40 pending lawsuits name telecommunications companies for alleged violations of wiretapping laws.----(This version CORRECTS the day of the week to Wednesday.)------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Terrorist-Surveillance.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.3. School-Related (back)
1.2.2.3.1. Gunman Opens Fire at Cleveland High School (back)
October 11, 2007--Gunman Opens Fire at Cleveland High School --By CHRIS MAAG and IAN URBINA--CLEVELAND, Oct. 10 — Disgruntled about having been suspended on Monday after a fight, a 14-year-old student shot and injured two students and two teachers at a downtown Cleveland high school on Wednesday before fatally shooting himself, the authorities said.----None of the victims’ injuries were considered life-threatening.----The gunman was identified as Asa H. Coon, a freshman at the school, SuccessTech Academy.----The police and school officials said that around 1:15 p.m., Mr. Coon arrived at the school armed with two handguns, a .38 and a .22 caliber, and that he began working his way up two flights of stairs before opening fire in a crowded hallway on the third floor.----Within minutes, the principal announced a “code blue” over the intercom, leading some students to flee into the halls, while others hid in closets and under desks.----“Shut up, shut up; I hate this school,” the gunman said, according to Mychael Wilmore-Smith, 14, a sophomore who was in a fourth-floor classroom when the gunman arrived on her floor and began firing.----Mychael said she darted down a flight of stairs before hiding with five other students in a classroom on the third floor. After several minutes, the group, sobbing, decided to sprint down the rest of the stairs, she said.----The police said they believed Mr. Coon had singled out the two teachers, who may have played a role in his suspension.----The police said they found two boxes of ammunition and three knives near Mr. Coon’s body on the fourth floor.----Fellow students described Mr. Coon as sullen, “Gothic” in style and prone to wearing long trench coats and painting his fingernails black. ----“He said he was going to take them down,” said Marie Johnson, a 16-year-old junior, describing how Mr. Coon was often mocked for the way he dressed and how he bragged about plans to make targets of his tormenters. “But we didn’t think he was serious.”----In calls to 911, students described Mr. Coon as 5 foot 5, white and “kind of chubby.”----The police would not elaborate on the fight that led to Mr. Coon’s suspension this week. Court documents showed that he spent time in juvenile detention centers, stemming, in part, from at least one incident of domestic violence.----Court records also show that he threatened to commit suicide last year while in the care of a mental health facility, and that he had a problematic relationship with his mother. They also show that he refused to take medication and was suspended from school last year for trying to physically harm another student.----The victims were Michael Peek, 15, who was treated for a gunshot wound to the torso and was in stable condition Wednesday night. Another student, 18-year-old Darnell Rodgers, was shot in the elbow and released from a hospital. David Kachadourian, 57, a math teacher, was shot in the back, and Michael Grassie, 42, a multicultural studies teacher, was shot in the chest. Mr. Kachadourian was in good condition and expected to be released. Mr. Grassie remained in stable condition after surgery at Metro Health Medical Center.----Trinnetta McGrady, a 10th grader who was trampled by students fleeing the gunman, suffered knee and back injuries but was also expected to be released, the police said.----“I’m mad and I’m scared,” said Mr. Rodgers, soon after being released from the hospital. “But I also know this can happen anywhere, whether you are in the suburbs or in the inner city.”----In downtown Cleveland directly across the street from a regional F.B.I. office, the school is housed in a five-story office building, the first two floors of which hold administrative offices for the Cleveland school district. Classrooms are on the top three floors.----The building had a security guard at the entrance, but metal detectors were not in use, students said. There are security cameras in most hallways, and visitors are required to sign in, but most of the classrooms lack doors, said Michael Charney, who retired in 2005 after teaching at the school for a year. The school used to have three security guards, but two were reassigned to other schools, he said.----“I taught for 32 years, and this was calmest school I ever taught in,” Mr. Charney said.----“The students were extremely well-behaved,” he added. “This is not the kind of thing you would expect there.”----In recent years parents have criticized the school for a lack of security. But Eugene T. W. Sanders, chief executive officer of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, said: “It is a small school with advanced students. So typically schools like that do not have the same security level as larger schools. But there was full-time security at this building.”----The school has about 250 students and was started in 2002 with seed money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It specializes in technological studies and this year received an Ohio Department of Education School of Promise Award, Mr. Charney said, given to schools that have at least 40 percent of their students eligible for free or reduced lunch, and that has achieved the state standard in math and reading testing. Its graduation rate is 94 percent, well above the district’s rate of 55 percent, school officials said.----Students must have good grades to apply, then they go through an interview process before they are chosen. Students and parents interviewed Wednesday said courses were tougher than at other schools and teachers more attentive.----Classes on Thursday were canceled, and Friday had already been scheduled as a day off, school officials said.----Chris Maag reported from Cleveland, and Ian Urbina from Washington. Sean D. Hamill contributed from Cleveland, and Bob Driehaus from Cincinnati.----Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/us/11cleveland.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.3.2. Noose on Door at Columbia Prompts Campus Protest (back)
October 11, 2007--Noose on Door at Columbia Prompts Campus Protest --By ELISSA GOOTMAN and AL BAKER--A day after a noose was found hanging on a black professor’s office door at Columbia University’s Teachers College, protesting students chanted “no diversity, no university” and confronted university officials at two emotional meetings. The police said that their hate crimes unit had mounted a full investigation, including testing the rope for DNA. ----The professor, Madonna G. Constantine, whose specialty is race, racial identity and multiculturalism, stood before protesters at midday and thanked her supporters. ----“I am upset that the Teachers College community has been exposed to such an unbelievably vile incident,” she said, “and I would like us to stay strong in the face of such a blatant act of racism.”----Baffled and anguished students and professors wondered how this could happen at Teachers College, which cherishes its image as a bastion of liberalism and multiculturalism.----“I think we are all pretty much mystified as to why it happened,” said George A. Bonanno, a professor of psychology. “This is an institution that prides itself on having open dialogue about race and fairly progressive ideas.” ----At an afternoon news conference, Deputy Inspector Michael Osgood, commander of the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, said, “Right now we have no suspects, but we will go down all investigative pathways.” He ruled out any possibility that Professor Constantine had hung the rope herself. ----“Our victim is a victim,” he said at police headquarters.----Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday, “I think the noose thing is despicable and disgraceful.” A white Queens woman was arrested recently for throwing a noose around a tree and threatening to hang her black neighbor’s children from it.----Dr. Constantine, a professor of psychology and education, counts as her scholarly interests topics that include mental health issues of people of color and immigrants. She is a director of a yearly conference that brings together leaders in education and psychology.----Those who know Dr. Constantine say that she has had a rivalry with another professor, and in May filed a lawsuit charging her with defamation.----The other professor said yesterday that she was on sabbatical, found the noose incident “utterly reprehensible,” and denied she had anything to do with it.----For Columbia students, the incident had particular resonance coming so soon after demonstrations against the Jena Six case in Louisiana, in which white students hung nooses outside a high school and were not prosecuted. A white student was later beaten and six black students were initially charged with attempted murder; thousands have protested the case.----Columbia was also the site recently of demonstrations against Jim Gilchrist, a founder of the Minuteman Project, a group opposed to illegal immigration, and an appearance by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that left students divided over the boundaries of free speech.----“It’s like throwing a match on a haystack,” said Christien Tompkins, 21, a senior who is co-chairman of the United Students of Color Council. “This obviously really touched a nerve for a lot of folks.”----Mr. Tompkins was one of about two dozen students who met with Columbia’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, to discuss the case yesterday afternoon. ----At that meeting, Mr. Tompkins said, students have used the noose as a point of departure to talk about other issues, including Columbia’s plans to expand into adjacent neighborhoods.----“It’s the latest and maybe most visible and extreme case of a climate of racism that we face in our entire society but of course is manifested at Columbia as well,” he said.----Mr. Bollinger, in an e-mail message sent to students and faculty, wrote, “An attack on the dignity of any member of our community is an assault on all of us.”----At a separate meeting, 600 Teachers College students and faculty members gathered to air their own grievances before Susan H. Fuhrman, the president of Teachers College, and other administrators. ----“I came here from Virginia,” said one black doctoral student, who did not identify herself. “I’ve been here since 2003 and there has been incident after incident. It’s not so different from the South.”----Earlier in the day, more than 100 students rallied outside Teachers College and marched in Professor Constantine’s support. Her colleagues said it seemed particularly jolting that this had happened to a professor whose work is devoted to issues of race. ----Professor Derald Wing Sue, who has collaborated with Professor Constantine on such work as a book called “Addressing Racism,” said, “That’s her area of expertise, so in some sense I think it’s personally devastating and upsetting to her.”----“It could be a discontented student, it could be conflicts with colleagues, it could be the type of work that Professor Constantine does on racism that pushes buttons,” he said. “Teachers College is very devoted to a social justice agenda, but it’s a microcosm of a larger society when issues of race and racism are discussed.”----Dr. Fuhrman said yesterday that she would work to retain and recruit more minority faculty members, and offer students more scholarships.----“There’s nothing good about this incident, this is horrible,” she said. “But we should be doing this talking, and if it takes this thing to make us do this, so be it.” ----Elizabeth Dwoskin and Elias E. Lopez contributed reporting.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/education/11columbia.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.4. New York (back)
1.2.2.4.1. Licenses for Immigrants Find Support (back)
October 9, 2007--Licenses for Immigrants Find Support --By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and DANNY HAKIM--ALBANY, Oct. 8 — Opponents have decried Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s move to grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants as a “passport to terror” and a “frightening” policy shift that is “dangerous and inconceivable.” ----They suggest that the policy will shield illegal immigrants from scrutiny by law enforcement and airport security personnel and make them appear to be in the United States legally.----But the governor’s policy is drawing support from some terrorism and security experts, who, like Mr. Spitzer, regard it as a way of bringing a hidden population into the open and ultimately making the system more secure, not to mention getting more drivers on the road licensed and insured. ----The success of the policy, they say, will rest on the reliability of new technology that Mr. Spitzer wants installed in Department of Motor Vehicles offices to verify the authenticity of passports and other documents that the illegal immigrants will be required to submit when applying for licenses. ----Some of the new security problems predicted by critics appear unlikely, several security experts said. Having a driver’s license should not make it easier to board a domestic airplane flight, because foreign passports are already accepted as identification at airports. Moreover, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration said, neither a foreign passport nor an American driver’s license is among the criteria used to determine whether the bearer will be subject to extra security screening. ----Further, while critics have made much of the fact that several of the Sept. 11 terrorists used driver’s licenses to rent vehicles and board airplanes, they were able to obtain licenses as apparently legal immigrants, if in some cases by presenting fraudulent documentation. As a result, the federal commission that investigated the attacks specifically declined to make recommendations on whether licenses should be granted to illegal immigrants, saying it was not germane to their inquiry. ----“If you talk to people in the intelligence and law enforcement communities, when they’re investigating terrorists or crimes or unlawful activity, they want people to be in the system, because that’s how you find them,” said Margaret D. Stock, an associate professor at West Point who also works for the Army as an immigration lawyer. ----“I’m a Republican,” she added. “I find it disturbing that people who claim to be law and order types want to let hundreds of thousands of people run around the country without any oversight when there’s a war going on.”----But critics of the policy see it as a retreat. ----“There will no longer be any security,” said Frank J. Merola, a Republican and the county clerk in Rensselaer County. A license, he said, “will no longer be different than a fraudulent document on the street.”----“When a police officer walks up to a routine traffic stop,” he said, “he doesn’t know if someone is here legally or illegally.”----Mr. Merola added that his concerns would have been allayed if the governor had proposed creating a second class of driver’s license for the illegal immigrants. Chuck Canterbury, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said his group has generally opposed giving licenses to people who cannot prove they are here legally. However, he said he would not necessarily object to a system like the one Mr. Spitzer is proposing, as long as the verification technology was adequate to prevent fraud. ----“We just need to know who we’re stopping, and have some degree of confidence that the information is accurate,” Mr. Canterbury said. “As long as they have proof of who they are, I don’t think that we would object to something like that.” ----Under the new policy, someone applying for a license without a Social Security number would need a valid, current foreign passport, in addition to other documents that would aid in establishing the applicant’s identity. ----The passport’s authenticity would be verified through new scanners installed at all Department of Motor Vehicles offices or at a central location by a new unit of specially trained personnel. In addition, under the policy, photo-comparison software will be tested in hopes of keeping people from getting multiple licenses under different names. ----“If the photo-comparison technology works and if the D.M.V. uses effective methods for authenticating and verifying foreign-source identity documents, the future New York license will be more robust than today’s driver’s licenses, and of much greater use in screening and investigations involving terrorism,” said Susan Ginsburg, a former staff member of the 9/11 Commission who is now a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and an adviser to the federal Department of Homeland Security.----The most important thing for investigators and intelligence officials, she added, was to be able to track suspects, legal or not. ----“Consistency of identity is critical to law enforcement and counterterrorism, and it’s the consistency of identity that the New York system is designed to increase,” she said. ----But James M. Staudenraus, an adviser to the groups 9/11 Families for a Secure America and the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, argued that forgoing a requirement for Social Security numbers meant forgoing the only reliable method for verifying someone’s true identity. Foreign passports varied so widely in quality and antifraud protection, he said, that it was dangerous to rely on them.----“We can’t rely on technology for verifying people’s true identity,” Mr. Staudenraus said.----He worries that once would-be terrorists had access to valid state driver’s licenses, they would raise less suspicion. “Everyone who sees it assumes that the individual carrying it has gone under some sort of a background check,” he said.----The Spitzer policy means that New York driver’s licenses are unlikely to meet the federal guidelines being phased in by 2013 for a federally recognized license known as a “Real ID,” which will require, among other things, proof of legal residency. Under the federal law, at that time, the Real ID or a passport would be needed to board an airplane in the United States. In that case, New York and other states may opt to offer both Real IDs for those who want them, as well as standard driver’s licenses. ----The dispute over the Spitzer policy appears headed for the courts. ----In most upstate counties, county clerks operate centers for the Department of Motor Vehicles, and a dozen Republican clerks have threatened to defy the policy, even though they act as agents of the governor’s administration. Republican lawmakers have threatened to sue to block the policy, saying the governor did not have the statutory authority to act on his own; the Spitzer administration argues that previous litigation on the matter supports their position. ----Mr. Spitzer, a Democrat, has called the response hysterical.----“We are not talking about letting more people into this country,” he said, “we are talking about being practical about those who are already here.”------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/nyregion/09license.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.4.2. Ground Zero Tower Work to Resume (back)
October 11, 2007--Ground Zero Tower Work to Resume --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 10:11 a.m. ET----NEW YORK (ap) -- The owner of a condemned ground zero skyscraper says work will resume next month to take down the building that was ravaged by a fatal fire nearly two months ago.----Avi Schick, chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, says workers should finish resealing the former Deutsche bank tower later this month.----Work on the building stopped after the Aug. 18 fire that killed two city firefighters. Before the fire, officials had said the building would be taken down by the end of this year. Schick gave no estimate of when it would be finished.----Twenty-six floors of the former 40-story building have been taken down.----Contractors in December began taking down the building floor by floor and continued work removing toxic debris left there by the collapse of the trade center's south tower.----It has been plagued by safety violations and accidents since then; investigators blame careless smoking for the blaze that killed the firefighters.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Deutsche-Bank-Fire.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.5. Al Qaeda Documents Show Internal Trouble (back)
Al Qaeda Documents Show Internal TroubleOctober 10, 2007 03:02 PM ET A new study released by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy examines the history of splits among the top leadership of al Qaeda and finds that the terrorist network may be more vulnerable than many officials suggest.'From its beginnings . . . al Qaeda has been at war with itself,' says the report, which draws upon a trove of captured internal al Qaeda documents and correspondence released by the Department of Defense. The translated documents depict an organization of al Qaeda associates who frequently protest decisions made by al Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden, as well as his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.The report documents a constant theme of the group's leaders arguing over everything from immediate tactics to the wisdom of making the United States the group's primary target. It also shows how prejudices of the group's Arab leaders against their non-Arab affiliates and their former Taliban hosts repeatedly led to serious infighting and even some betrayals. The report's authors conclude that many of these splits remain a characteristic of al Qaeda today.'There is no evidence to suggest that it has overcome the persistent weaknesses identified in this report,' they write, adding that the group's transition to a global 'brand' name has created new vulnerabilities that could make it open to exploitation.'Lacking a broad command-and-control structure, al Qaeda Central finds itself unable to control the uses—and abuses—of its brand by self-starting 'affiliate' groups.' They point to the gory tactics of the now deceased Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist who wreaked havoc in Iraq but alienated many of al Qaeda's potential supporters with his indiscriminate killing of other Muslims.—Kevin WhitelawDate Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.usnews.com/blogs/news-desk/2007/10/10/al-qaeda-documents-show-internal-trouble.html
1.2.2.6. US Can't Quickly ID Nuclear Material (back)
October 10, 2007--US Can't Quickly ID Nuclear Material --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 6:08 p.m. ET----WASHINGTON (AP) -- If terrorists use nuclear weapons to attack the U.S., Americans immediately would want to know who is responsible. But the nation is ill equipped now to quickly track down the make and origin of nuclear materials.----It could take months to analyze and identify nuclear material, officials said Wednesday -- too long in today's threat environment.----Security officials say a nuclear attack by terrorists is the No. 1 threat facing the U.S., and one key to preventing such a strike is to define the nature and source of a nuclear device.----''I think the jury is out in terms of how fast we're ever going to be able to do this,'' said Vayl Oxford, the Homeland Security Department's top counterproliferation official.----In the past year, the government has paid greater attention to the importance of nuclear forensics, a subject not previously given high priority, Oxford said.----Oxford and other nuclear experts in the government testified before a House subcommittee about how the departments of Energy, Homeland Security, State and Justice, as well as national laboratories, are working on the issue.----Reaching agreements with other countries to share sensitive information about their nuclear materials is a priority, said Steven Aoki, a counterterrorism official at the Energy Department.----Congress is considering a bill that would ask the president for agreements with other countries to share information on the makings of their nuclear materials. Maintaining a database with this information would help identify nuclear material before or after an attack and serve as a deterrent to nations that continue to produce these weapons.----''Highly capable forensics and attribution would enable this nation to stop follow-on attacks and serve to deter states that may assist nuclear terrorists,'' said Michael K. Evenson, associate director for operations at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.----While the Bush administration and lawmakers may recognize the importance of tracing nuclear materials back to their origins, fewer people are entering the field of nuclear forensics, said Carol Burns of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.----Most of the experts are older than 50 and there are few radiological chemists left who have analyzed debris from a nuclear explosion, Burns said.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Nuclear-Forensics.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.7. Treasury Takes Action Against 3 Saudis (back)
October 10, 2007--Treasury Takes Action Against 3 Saudis --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 4:49 p.m. ET----WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration took action Wednesday against three Saudis suspected of raising money to bankroll terrorist acts and providing support to an al-Qaida affiliated group believed responsible for bombings and kidnappings in Southeast Asia.----The action covers Abdul Rahim Al Talhi, Muhammad Abdallah Salih Sughayr and Fahd Muhammad Abd Al-Aziz Al-Khashiban, the Treasury Department said.----Any assets belonging to the men found in the United States must be frozen. Americans also are forbidden from doing business with them.----The department accused the three of providing support to the Abu Sayyaf Group, an al-Qaida-linked terrorist group, and serving as ''significant sources of financial and other support'' to terrorists in Southeast Asia.----''These three terrorist financiers were instrumental in raising money to fund terrorism outside of Saudi Arabia. In order to deter other would-be donors, it is important to hold these terrorists publicly accountable,'' said Stuart Levey, the department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.----The department alleged that Khashiban in early 2000 gave the then-leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group approximately $18,000 to finance a planned bombing operation targeting either the U.S. or Australian embassy in Manila. Philippine authorities, however, foiled the plot before its completion, the department said. Still, Khashiban continued to routinely provide money to the group, the department said.----Sughayr, the department alleged, has a history of providing support to terrorist groups in Southeast Asia and has been identified ''as one of the major financial supporters'' of Abu Sayyaf Group. The department also believes he ''facilitated unspecified weapons and ammunition shipments,'' recruited foreign fighters and gave specialized guerrilla training to the group.----Al-Talhi was described by Treasury as an al-Qaida-affililated financier, loyal colleague of Osama bin Laden and a member of a Saudi-based network funding terrorists. The department alleged that al-Talhi provided financial and other assistance to Abu Sayyaf for many years. He also provided ''ideological and training materials, including the al-Qaida operations manual'' to Philippine contacts, the department alleged.----^----------On the Net:----Treasury Department: http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/--------Home --World U.S. N.Y. / Region Business Technology Science Health Sports Opinion Arts Style Travel Jobs Real Estate Automobiles Back to Top --Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Terror-Financing.html?pagewanted=print
1.2.2.8. Train Derailment Fire Burns Into 2nd Day (back)
October 11, 2007--Train Derailment Fire Burns Into 2nd Day --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 10:14 a.m. ET----PAINESVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- Firefighters on Thursday battled a train derailment fire for a second day and some residents who had been evacuated were allowed to return to their homes.----When the CSX train derailed Wednesday, homes and businesses within one-half mile of the site had been evacuated. It wasn't immediately clear how many people were allowed to return, but the original evacuation zone had more than 1,000 residents.----''The people closest to the incident are still being kept out,'' said Ken Gauntner, Lake County administrator.----Firefighters had spent the night keeping water on a tanker carrying liquefied petroleum gas.----''Now that we have the light of day, we're going to attack the actual fire and put it out,'' Gauntner said.----About 30 cars in the 112-car train derailed, and eight derailed cars were carrying potentially hazardous materials. Ethanol was carried on some cars, and one had liquefied petroleum gas, said Garrick Francis, a spokesman for Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX Corp.----No injuries were reported. The train was traveling from Collingwood to Buffalo, N.Y. ------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Derailment-Fire.html?pagewanted=print
1.3. Europe (back)
1.3.1. UK (back)
1.3.1.1. Cases (back)
1.3.1.1.1. Five Go on Trial Over UK Terrorist Training Camps (back)
October 10, 2007--Five Go on Trial Over UK Terrorist Training Camps --By REUTERS--Filed at 1:30 p.m. ET----LONDON (Reuters) - Five men charged with terrorist training offences went on trial in London on Wednesday and the high-security court was told a sixth man, their leader, had already admitted soliciting murder.----Atilla Ahmet, 43, the so-called emir of the group, pleaded guilty to three counts of encouraging others to commit murder in a separate hearing last month that media were barred from reporting until the start of Wednesday's trial.----Prosecutor David Farrell told Woolwich Crown Court that Tanzanian-born defendant Mohammed Hamid, along with Ahmet, had recruited, groomed and corrupted young Muslims.----Hamid, 50, is accused of preparing Muslim men for jihad, or holy war, by organizing terrorism training disguised as camping or paintballing trips in rural parts of England.----'His purpose was to convert such men to his own fanatical and extreme beliefs and having given them such a foundation, thereby enabling them to move on to join others in the pursuit of jihad by acts of terrorism,' Farrell said.----The court heard that Hamid provided training in weapons and military tactics at camps across England.----Among those to attend were men convicted of attempting to bomb the London transport system on July 21, 2005, two weeks after four Islamist militants killed 52 people in almost identical suicide attacks.----The July 21 plan failed because of mistakes in the construction of the bombs.----'The prosecution say that not only did some of those involved in the 21/7 attempted atrocity attend the camp or paintballing exercises, but attended the Friday meetings that Hamid held at his home address,' Farrell said.----The court was told that Hamid had been arrested in October 2004 at his stall in Oxford Street's shopping area at the same time as Muktah Said Ibrahim, the ringleader of the July 21 conspiracy.----Hamid told the police when arrested that he was 'Osama bin London' and claimed to have a bomb.----The jury were also played a secret recording of Hamid discussing the deadly July 7 London bombings with Ahmet, and apparently making light of the number of victims.----'Fifty-two, that's not even breakfast for me,' Hamid was heard to say.----Four other men are also on trial over the alleged training camps, the first people to face charges using legislation brought in last year.----Mousa Brown, 41, is accused of giving and receiving weapons training, while Mohammed Al Figari, 43, Kibley Da Costa, 24, and Kader Ahmed, 20, are charged with attending terrorist training camps. Da Costa is also charged with providing terrorism training.----Figari is also accused of possessing documents likely to be of use to a terrorist, including the 'Al Qaeda manual' and 'How I can train myself for Jihad.'------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-britain-trial.html?pagewanted=print
1.3.1.1.2. UK Man Pleads Guilty in Terror Camp Plot (back)
October 10, 2007--UK Man Pleads Guilty in Terror Camp Plot --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 6:15 p.m. ET----LONDON (AP) -- A top aide to jailed radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has pleaded guilty to soliciting murder in connection with an alleged plot to organize terrorist training camps across Britain, a court was told Wednesday.----Atilla Ahmet admitted to three counts of encouraging others to commit murder at a hearing last month. His plea had been kept secret to avoid prejudicing the jury considering the case of another suspect, Mohammed Hamid. However, the restrictions were lifted on Wednesday.----Hamid and four other men allegedly led by Ahmet were on trial at Woolwich Crown Court on charges of committing offenses linked to the alleged terror camps. Ahmet, a British citizen of Turkish Cypriot descent, once worked as a spokesman for al-Masri, a preacher known for having one eye and a hook for a hand.----The five -- London residents Mohammed Hamid, 50, Mousa Brown, 41, Kibley da Costa, 24, Mohammed Al-Figari, 42, and Kader Ahmed, 20 -- deny the charges. The men were among 12 people arrested in September 2006 raids in London.----Prosecutor David Farrell said Hamid, who also is accused of soliciting murder, was Ahmet's ''partner in terrorist conversion.''----Farrell said Hamid organized camps attended by the July 21, 2005, bomb plotters, who failed in their attempt to blow themselves up aboard a bus and three subway trains in central London.----Hamid took the would-be suicide bombers on camping and paint-balling expeditions around Britain, Farrell said, explaining that the trips were designed to ''foster within the participants that they were training for 'jihad' against nonbelievers.''----Al-Masri is serving a seven-year sentence in Britain for fomenting racial hatred and urging his followers to kill non-Muslims.----He has also been charged in the United States on an 11-count indictment with trying to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore., conspiring to take hostages in Yemen and facilitating terrorist training in Afghanistan.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Britain-Terror.html?pagewanted=print
1.3.1.2. Muslim Scholars Call For Peace With Christians (back)
October 11, 2007--Muslim Scholars Call For Peace With Christians --By REUTERS--Filed at 6:59 a.m. ET----LONDON (Reuters) - More than 130 Muslim scholars called on Thursday for peace and understanding between Islam and Christianity, saying 'the very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.'----In a letter to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders, Muslim scholars from around the world said finding common ground between the world's biggest religions was not simply a matter for polite dialogue between religious leaders.----'If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world's inhabitants,' the scholars wrote.----'Our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake,' they wrote.----Relations between Muslims and Christians have been under strain as al Qaeda has struck around the world and the United States and other Western countries have intervened in Iraq and Afghanistan.----Using quotations from the Bible and the Koran to support their message, the scholars told people who relished conflict and destruction that 'our very eternal souls are ... at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony.'----'So let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works.----'Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to (one) another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual goodwill,' the scholars wrote.----The letter was signed by Muslim scholars from around the world, including Algerian Religious Affairs Minister Bouabdellah Ghlamallah and the Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa.----It was addressed to the Pope and to other Christian leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the Anglican Church.----Pope Benedict caused widespread anger among Muslims last year by suggesting Islam was violent, quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor who spoke of the Prophet Mohammad's 'command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'----The leader of more than one billion Roman Catholics repeatedly expressed regret for the reaction to the speech, but stopped short of the unequivocal apology wanted by Muslims.--------Home --World U.S. N.Y. / Region Business Technology Science Health Sports Opinion Arts Style Travel Jobs Real Estate Automobiles Back to Top --Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/news/news-religion-scholars.html?pagewanted=print
1.3.1.3. British Prime Minister Opts Not to Have Elections in November (back)
October 8, 2007--British Prime Minister Opts Not to Have Elections in November --By JANE PERLEZ--LONDON, Oct. 7 — After intense speculation, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced Sunday that he would not go ahead with a general election, a decision apparently prompted by the unexpected success of the opposition Conservative Party’s annual conference last week.----Mr. Brown, the Labor Party leader, who had enjoyed a commanding position in the polls after taking over as prime minister from Tony Blair, told BBC television in an interview broadcast Sunday morning that he wanted more time to show Britain that he had a “vision for the future of this country.” ----“I believe the public priority was not an election but that we got on with the job,” Mr. Brown said in the interview, recorded Saturday night from 10 Downing Street. ----But political commentators quickly criticized Mr. Brown, saying he had allowed election fever to run out of control and then become unnerved by opinion surveys in the last two days that indicated that the Labor Party may have lost ground to the Conservatives, who are led by David Cameron. Mr. Brown had to make a decision by Tuesday on whether to call an election for Nov. 1. ----Political analysts said internal party polling with results similar to a survey in the newspaper News of the World on Sunday showed that Labor was likely to lose a string of marginal seats. ----The polling indicated that a Conservative Party pledge at its conference in Blackpool, England, last week to abolish the inheritance tax on property worth up to one million pounds, or about $2 million, could be a major factor in the areas with vulnerable seats.----Many of the swing seats are around London and in the prosperous southeastern part of England, where housing prices have skyrocketed in the last few years. ----A wealthy donor, Michael Ashcroft, had given about $20 million to the Conservative Party, specifically aimed at the campaign for those marginal seats, party workers said.----The decision to say no to an election effectively canceled the progress Mr. Brown had made in persuading Britain in the last three months that he was a strong leader, said Jon Snow, the longtime anchor of Channel 4 television news, and a respected political commentator. ----Among the strengths that Mr. Brown had shown was a fast and sober statement after botched terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow days after he took over as prime minister in late June; swift attention to devastating floods in the English countryside this summer, and firm stewardship during a foot-and-mouth crisis in the cattle industry. ----He had also worked to distance himself from President Bush, a distinct difference in style to his predecessor, Mr. Blair. ----The impressions of a new Mr. Brown could now be replaced by less flattering old impressions, Mr. Snow said. ----“This revives old worries of his being indecisive, that he finds these things difficult,” Mr. Snow said. “It will take a long time to regain the poise and respect which he had built up. He has to start all over again.” ----Mr. Brown, who was chancellor of the Exchequer for 10 years under Mr. Blair, does not need to call an election until 2010 under Britain’s parliamentary system. The Labor Party has more than a 60-seat majority in the 646-member Parliament, prompting some Labor backers to describe a rush to an election in November as unnecessary and dangerous. ----If Mr. Brown had gone to the polls and lost, his term as prime minister would have been one of the shortest in British history. ----Until last week, opinion surveys had indicated that Mr. Brown’s personal approval ratings were handily ahead of those of Mr. Cameron, who has led the Conservative Party for nearly two years. ----But to the surprise of the Labor Party, the Conservative Party held a cohesive conference last week, and Mr. Cameron gave a persuasive and personal keynote address in which he barely looked at prepared notes, holding the floor for more than an hour. ----The speech, in which Mr. Cameron, 40, called the family the best form of social security, received glowing reviews from many quarters. ----While Mr. Cameron was doing well in Blackpool, Mr. Brown made a lightning trip to Iraq to visit British troops at their headquarters in Basra. There, Mr. Brown announced that 1,000 of those soldiers would return home by 2008, leaving 4,500 in Iraq. ----The Iraq visit turned out to be a blunder. The Ministry of Defense told reporters that the 1,000 troops included 500 soldiers whose withdrawal had already been announced in July. Moreover, the ministry said 270 of those soldiers were already back in Britain. ----That allowed the Conservatives to accuse Mr. Brown of playing politics with the Iraq deployment, which has been highly unpopular with the British public. ----Mr. Cameron wasted no time on Sunday in responding to Mr. Brown’s decision. “He’s treating the British people as fools,” Mr. Cameron said on BBC television after Mr. Brown’s appearance. “Everybody knows he wanted to have an election, and he’s now saying, ‘I’m not having an election because I want to make my changes.’ ” ----That was the kind of sharp talk that galvanized the Conservatives at their conference. ----“I felt proud of the party in the way that everyone responded to the threat of an early election by pulling together and putting the best foot forward,” said Antonia Cox, an active Conservative Party worker who is seeking selection by the party as a parliamentary candidate. ----The election threat from the Labor Party, Ms. Cox said, actually helped the Conservatives. “It prompted David Cameron to produce this fantastic speech that got everyone saying: ‘Wow.’ And now Brown looks like a spinner because of the troops and a chicken because he pulled out.” ------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/08/world/europe/08britain.html?pagewanted=print
1.3.2. Former Yugoslavia (back)
1.3.2.1. Images of Masked Gunmen in Kosovo Unsettle a Region Scarred by Ethnic Conflict (back)
October 9, 2007--Images of Masked Gunmen in Kosovo Unsettle a Region Scarred by Ethnic Conflict --By NICHOLAS WOOD--LJUBLJANA, Slovenia, Oct. 8 — Reports that an armed group of ethnic Albanians has been patrolling in Kosovo near the boundary with Serbia has tested the nerves of politicians and international officials in the region days before the next round of talks on Kosovo’s future.----Television images of about a dozen masked men were broadcast by Kosovo’s main public television channel last Wednesday, prompting protests from President Boris Tadic of Serbia as well as condemnation by senior politicians representing Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority. ----The armed men told the television crew that they were members of a shadowy guerrilla group called the Albanian National Army and said they intended to defend Kosovo, a province of Serbia, against Serbian forces.----Mr. Tadic suggested that the broadcast on Radio Television of Kosova, which is backed by the regional government, was a “threat” by ethnic Albanians “to use violence and scare the Serbian population in Kosovo and an attempt to influence the negotiations.” His remarks were broadcast by the Serbian state-run news agency, Tanjug.----Kosovo’s prime minister, Agim Ceku, who was a guerrilla leader during the conflict in the province in the late 1990s, said the “appearance of such individuals does not send a good message for Kosovo” during the talks.----Leaders across Kosovo’s political spectrum say they are firmly committed to negotiations. But as Kosovo enters what is expected to be the last stage of talks between the Serbian government and ethnic Albanian leaders before a December deadline, the appearance of an ethnic Albanian guerrilla movement is regarded by many international officials as a reminder of what could happen if the process derails.----In 1998, Yugoslavia, then a federation consisting of the republics of Serbia and Montenegro, sent troops to Kosovo to battle a guerrilla group that was seeking independence for the province. The brutality of the Yugoslav troops toward civilians eventually led to a NATO bombing campaign and to international control of the province ever since. ----Negotiations led by the United Nations to resolve Kosovo’s status began 18 months ago but have been stymied by the refusal of Russia, a Serbian ally, to support a Western-backed proposal to grant Kosovo independence with international supervision. ----Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leadership and the Serbian government are scheduled to hold a second round of talks on Sunday.----The appearance of the armed men has caused nervous reactions across the province. The United Nations administrators and the NATO-led peacekeeping force, in place in the province since Serbia was forced to cede control in 1999, say they are mindful that they failed to prevent armed groups from using Kosovo as a springboard for insurgencies in southern Serbia and Macedonia in 2000 and 2001.----The flow of arms and fighters from Kosovo into Macedonia brought that former Yugoslav republic to the brink of civil war in the summer of 2001 and forced NATO to intervene. ----In March 2004, the peacekeeping troops were unable to prevent tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians across Kosovo from rioting for nearly three days, attacking Serbs and other minorities and forcing more than 4,000 people to flee their homes.----Most politicians and regional analysts suggest that the new guerrilla group has only a tiny following and that it is unlikely to affect the political process.----Both mainstream and militant ethnic Albanian groups criticized the gunmen, and even the group’s own political wing sought to play down the significance of the broadcast of the patrol.----One political party closely linked with the insurgencies in Kosovo, Serbia and Macedonia, the National Movement for the Liberation of Kosovo, dismissed the group’s appearance as “unimportant,” according to a local news agency, Kosova Live.----The leader of the patrol, which appeared to be on the main highway leading to Serbia, said his men were reacting to threats from Serbian vigilantes and paramilitary groups “that Serbia would invade Kosovo again.” He added, “We have decided to prepare ourselves and be more vigilant.”----The Albanian National Army was first heard from in the late 1990s and has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on security forces in Macedonia since 2001. It says it seeks to reunite all Albanian lands stretching from Greece to Montenegro, and from Albania to southern Serbia. In 2003, it was described by Michael Steiner, then the chief of the United Nations mission in Kosovo, as a terrorist group after two of its members killed themselves while trying to lay explosives under a railway line in the Serbian-dominated northern part of the province.----News media reports said the armed group was responding to threats made by Czar Lazar’s Guard, an association of former Serbian paramilitary groups, whose members have said they will fight for control of Kosovo if it declares independence.----“Those boys defend Kosovo and its people from Serbian mobs,” said Adil Gafurri, a spokesman for the Albanian National Army’s political wing, the United Albanian National Front, which is based in Tirana, Albania. He suggested that the peacekeeping force in Kosovo was not doing enough to respond to local Albanians’ concerns about the threat of attack from Serbia.----But Jeta Xharra, a well-known political commentator in Kosovo with a weekly public affairs program who has investigated the group, dismissed its threats. ----“They are crying wolf,” Ms. Xharra said. “People have seen this threat of violence too many times before to believe it will have any potential.”----“If there is a risk of anything at all, it is street protests,” she added, “not men with guns and masks.”----Serbia Arrests 56 Neo-Nazis----BELGRADE, Serbia, Oct. 8 (AP) — The Serbian police said Monday that they had detained 56 neo-Nazis who defied a ban and demonstrated to demand that Kosovo remain part of Serbia. The arrests occurred after clashes broke out between the extremists and anti-fascists holding a counterdemonstration.----The neo-Nazi group, the National Guard, clashed Sunday with anti-fascist counterdemonstrators. Several people were injured as the neo-Nazis hurled stones at the anti-fascists.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/world/europe/09kosovo.html?pagewanted=print
1.3.2.2. For Balkan Shipping Agent, War Is Good for Business (back)
October 7, 2007--For Balkan Shipping Agent, War Is Good for Business --By NICHOLAS WOOD--NIS, Serbia — For the past four years Tomislav Damnjanovic has played a crucial role in the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2003, he has delivered millions of rounds of ammunition, guns, grenades and mortars to the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, United Nations officials say, facts he does not dispute. His aircraft have even been used to shuttle supplies between American bases in Iraq, saving troops from having to make hazardous trips by land. ----But it was not always so. ----For Mr. Damnjanovic, the work has been an unexpected twist in a career dominated not by serving American interests, but by dodging law enforcement agencies, and by smuggling weapons to American opponents and countries under United Nations sanctions, like Libya, and to other parts of Africa.----He also admits to being a crucial part of a sophisticated cigarette-smuggling operation in Europe that was backed by the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, which cost European taxpayers millions of dollars in unpaid revenues. ----The details of a career that goes back over 15 years have been slowly unfolding, as United Nations investigators and, most recently, a group of researchers financed by the United Nations in Belgrade have pieced together flight plans, manifests and bank accounts, as well as what they say are falsified documents. ----Despite his bonanza with his newfound American partners, the investigators allege that Mr. Damnjanovic, who is based in Belgrade, has continued to flout United Nations sanctions, supplying weapons to an Islamist group in Somalia that the United States says is linked to Al Qaeda. As with all other accusations of illegal dealings, Mr. Damnjanovic denied any involvement.----The evidence is amassed in investigations led by the United Nations sanctions committee, as well as in a recently published report by the South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, a research center supported by the United Nations and based in Belgrade. The information is being shared with customs and law enforcement agencies on a restricted basis.----The report, which focuses on Mr. Damnjanovic as one among others in the same trade, compares his operations with those of the well-known Russian arms trader Viktor Bout, saying the two have cooperated, though it says Mr. Damnjanovic has kept a far lower profile. In recent interviews in Belgrade, Mr. Damnjanovic seemed remarkably open in describing his career, and he defended it at length.----“You know how difficult it was to survive here” in the former Yugoslavia, he said in an office in a gated business park. Back in the 1990s when Mr. Milosevic was the Yugoslav president and the country was under sanctions, breaking the law was all but inevitable, he contended. ----By his own estimate, the companies he ran flew more than 50 flights from Cyprus to Montenegro in the late 1990s carrying more than 1.5 million packs of cigarettes in a trade supported by Mr. Milosevic’s government and by the authorities in Montenegro. The cigarettes were then smuggled into Italy, European Union law enforcement officials said.----Mr. Damnjanovic said he had no involvement with the smuggling aspect of the operation. “My part was all official,” he said, But he added with a smile: “I think they had to go somewhere. I don’t think it was Montenegro. You should know.”----In 1996, a plane charted by Mr. Damnjanovic that was carrying spare parts for Libyan fighter jets crashed outside Belgrade. His main business partner was killed. Weapons exports to Libya were prohibited under United Nations sanctions at the time. ----Over the past decade, weapons shipments have made up a vast majority of his business as he has worked through a series of companies, all based in Belgrade. His latest is named Tomisko, in recognition of his late business partner, Tomislav Miskovic. ----Documents obtained by United Nations officials and the Belgrade research center, which were published in the center’s guide, show a continued pattern of companies managed by Mr. Damnjanovic that have flown weapons to regions under United Nations sanctions. ----In 2002, Mr. Damnjanovic sent a consignment of weapons — including AK-47-type rifles, rocket launchers, antipersonnel mines and millions of rounds of ammunition — to Liberia, falsifying documents to make it appear that Nigeria was the destination, according to the new report. ----Documents signed by Mr. Damnjanovic, and obtained and published by the research center, show that the weapons were flown to Liberia, which was then under United Nations sanctions as punishment for encouraging the civil war in Sierra Leone by supporting rebels there in a gems-for-arms trade deal. ----In the same year, the report states, millions of rounds of ammunition shipped by Mr. Damnjanovic to Rwanda were probably intended for Congo.----“What I did was completely official,” Mr. Damnjanovic said in response to the documentation on the Rwanda shipment.----“What somebody else does with the weapons when they get there is up to them,” he said.----According to the report’s authors, despite evidence against Mr. Damnjanovic and other traffickers, they have come to be seen as an essential part of the supply chain for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ----Mr. Damnjanovic said all of his current contracts were commissioned by companies working for the Defense Department in Washington, and he now flies everything from construction material to cigarettes to Iraq for the Pentagon. ----“One would have thought that businesses like this should not be rewarded with government contracts when we know what they were involved in in the past,” said Adrian Wilkinson, the team leader of the research center and an author of the report. ----Hugh Griffiths, who wrote the report with Mr. Wilkinson, said that law enforcement agents did not have the mechanisms in place to track potential arms smugglers, and that they failed to communicate properly with one another. ----“Neither defense contractors nor the military have a profiling system in place which would allow them to identify actors such as Damnjanovic and the others in these clandestine networks,” Mr. Griffiths said. ----The United Nations investigators suggest that in 2006, at the same time he was supplying weapons for the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr. Damnjanovic supplied 45 tons of weapons to the Islamic Courts Union forces in Somalia, which the United States says have links to Al Qaeda.----Mr. Damnjanovic said the flight was carrying clothes and shoes and was somehow confused with the arrival of a similar aircraft carrying weapons.----Throughout his career it has been a similar tale. No law enforcement agency has ever tried to bring charges against him, and he has seen his fortunes grow steadily, from being an employee of Yugoslavia’s national airline in the early 1990s to becoming the owner of his own company and an Ilyshin II-76, a super-size Russian freight carrier. ----But now, perhaps, his past is catching up with him.----The Serbian government recently rescinded his airline’s license to carry arms shipments, thereby curtailing a substantial part of his work. ----“Everybody wants to wash their hands of it,” he said, suggesting that the government knew all along of his activities.----And so, in late September, Mr. Damnjanovic gave a farewell party here in Nis for some of his crew and staff members. He told them he would restructure his company and try to compete in the European freight market — legitimately, he said. ------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/world/europe/07smuggler.html?pagewanted=print
1.3.3. Proposal in France to Test Some Immigrants DNA (back)
October 11, 2007--Proposal in France to Test Some Immigrants’ DNA --By ELAINE SCIOLINO--PARIS, Oct. 10 — The French government may have felt it found the key to a new immigration strategy in three letters: DNA. ----Last month, an amendment to a sweeping immigration bill proposed the use of genetic testing to verify the bloodlines of would-be immigrants who want to join family members already living in France. ----Instead, the initiative has been vilified for contradicting France’s protective family and privacy laws and for stirring up memories of the ugliest period of modern French history, the collaborationist Vichy government during the Nazi occupation. ----Unease with the idea is so widespread that it has been criticized not only by religious leaders, politicians on the left and intellectuals, but also by members of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s own political camp, including legislators from his party and even some of his ministers. ----On Tuesday, Fadela Amara, the secretary of state for urban affairs — and the daughter of Algerian immigrants — threatened to resign over the proposal. “Speaking as an immigrant’s daughter, I’ve had enough of seeing immigration exploited all the time,” she told France Inter radio. ----Calling her government’s approach “disgusting,” she added: “I am a free woman, never forget it. I have the possibility to say what I have to say, and frankly, the day it becomes really unbearable for me, the day it becomes too hard, I will leave.” ----Mr. Sarkozy, who has expressed support for the DNA proposal, responded crisply to her remarks during his two-day visit to Russia, saying, “I am going to ask everyone to calm down.” ----But Ms. Amara, a Socialist in Mr. Sarkozy’s conservative government, was saying in blunt language what others have argued for weeks: that the very idea of using genetics in deciding who deserves a place in France runs counter to the country’s human rights traditions.----The issue — and Ms. Amara’s outburst — has divided the governing Union for a Popular Movement. Françoise Hostalier, a party deputy in Parliament, said in a statement on Wednesday that Ms. Amara had her “total support,” adding that the DNA measure was “contrary to our republican values, to our French ethic.”----Even so, François Goulard, another party legislator who opposes the DNA initiative, questioned why Ms. Amara was staying in the government. “If she is so disgusted, it would be normal for her to resign,” he said in an interview. ----Paradoxically, the DNA imbroglio coincides with the opening on Wednesday of France’s long-awaited museum on immigration. The message of the museum, conceived in the 1980s and championed by former President Jacques Chirac, is to demonstrate the contributions immigrants have made to France — not the problems associated with them. ----The museum explores two centuries of immigration to France, including mass migrations of workers from Southern and Central Europe during the industrial revolution, the settling of people from France’s former African colonies and of boat people from Southeast Asia. It also features exhibits on French hatred, racism and xenophobia.----Underscoring the political peril of the immigration issue, however, there was no formal inauguration ceremony, and neither Mr. Sarkozy nor Brice Hortefeux, the head of the much criticized new ministry of immigration and national identity, were on hand for opening day. Last month, by contrast, Mr. Sarkozy inaugurated an architecture museum in Paris, with a speech on the importance of architecture in France. ----But on Wednesday, Mr. Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, was still in Moscow, while Mr. Hortefeux was in Madrid. ----“This important museum tells the history of perhaps 25 percent of the French population, and it is stunning that it opened without the president of France,” said Patrick Weil, a historian of immigration. “It’s an insult, a denial of part of French history.” ----Mr. Weil was among several historians who resigned from the museum’s governing council this year to protest Mr. Sarkozy’s proposal to create the ministry of immigration and national identity, widely interpreted during the presidential campaign as a move to attract far-right voters. ----Jacques Toubon, the president of the new museum and a former culture minister and justice minister, called Mr. Sarkozy’s absence unimportant, saying of the criticism, “It’s just Franco-French vinegar,” the equivalent of sour grapes.----Mr. Sarkozy made tighter immigration rules and more deportations a linchpin of his presidential campaign, and the DNA proposal was tacked on to the government’s immigration bill by a legislator from his party. ----“This DNA test exists in 11 countries in Europe — including some Socialist ones, like Great Britain,” Mr. Sarkozy said in a television interview last month. “How is it that it doesn’t pose a problem in these countries, but it creates a debate here?”----He also said that the test would be voluntary and would be used only where there were no clear records “to prove that children are really your own.” ----Initially, the amendment would have authorized French consular officials to offer a would-be immigrant the chance to pay for a DNA test to supplement suspicious or nonexistent documentation and prove close familial ties with a legal resident in France. ----In the face of opposition, the National Assembly watered down the amendment, which was weakened further by the Senate and is still under discussion. ----The main argument against the amendment is that the notion of family in French law is not based on blood but on recognition of a child as one’s own. DNA testing would set up a double standard — one for the French, another for the immigrant. ----It also raised the specter of France’s history. “This amendment brings shame to France,” said George Pau-Langevin, a Socialist and the only black member of the National Assembly elected from mainland France. “Seeking to find purity of blood through biological testing evokes the worst memories of World War II. It needs to be withdrawn.” ----At a heated session at the National Assembly on Tuesday, Mr. Hortefeux stressed that the DNA tests would be voluntary, free and subject to an 18-month trial period, and that they would try to prove only maternity (to avoid intrusive and potentially embarrassing revelations about paternity). ----Ariane Bernard contributed reporting.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/world/europe/11france.html?hp=&pagewanted=print
1.4. Middle East (back)
1.4.1. Iraq (back)
1.4.1.1. Attacks (back)
1.4.1.1.1. US Strikes (back)
1.4.1.1.1.1. Accounts Differ Sharply on U.S. Attack in Iraq (back)
October 6, 2007--Accounts Differ Sharply on U.S. Attack in Iraq --By ALISSA J. RUBIN--BAGHDAD, Oct. 5 — American troops backed by aircraft attacked a Shiite town north of Baghdad at dawn on Friday, killing at least 25 Iraqis the military described as criminals who were involved in the transport of weapons. But Iraqis at the scene said the dead were civilians, though some were armed. ----The military said it was searching for an insurgent leader believed to be associated with the elite Iranian Quds Force, which American intelligence sources believe is working in Iraq to foment violent activity by some Shiite militias. A military spokesman said the insurgent leader was not captured in the raid. ----Iraqis at the scene gave an account that diverged sharply from that of the military. ----They said that the Iraqis who were killed were trying to defend their town from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni militant group that American intelligence believes has foreign leadership. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia has been active in Diyala Province, where the town is located, but so have militias associated with the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr. ----“The residents were defending themselves and the town,” said Uday al-Khadran, the mayor of Khalis, the district in which the fighting occurred.----“They were not militias for killing people and they were recognized by the security forces in the district, and this issue is familiar in all the towns of Khalis because of Al Qaeda threats, especially to the Shiite,” he said. ----An official in the provincial office in Baquba, the provincial capital, said that the city’s hospital had received eight children, four of whom died. ----However, a statement released by the American military described a serious onslaught from Iraqis in the town. As American forces approached, the statement said, they came under heavy fire and called in airstrikes. A helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft carried out the bombing, destroying two buildings. ----“Responding in self-defense, the ground force returned fire,” the statement said. “Enemy fire intensified and supporting aircraft were called in an attempt to suppress the threat. The armed group continued to engage and began to aggressively maneuver toward coalition forces, firing assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades,” the statement added. ----“The ground force also observed one armed individual carrying what appeared to be an anti-aircraft weapon into a nearby building. Perceiving hostile intent, supporting aircraft engaged.” ----The town, Gizani al-Imam, has a Shiite population and is well known as a stronghold of Shiite militias. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia extremists have attacked the area repeatedly, and residents have responded by forming a guard force and keeping a night watch for possible militant incursions. ----Interviews with several residents who were wounded suggest that the situation may have been extremely complex, with some townspeople members of hard-core militias fighting the Americans and others members of a local guard force that protected the town. Still other townspeople appear to have rushed out of their houses, thinking there was an attack on the town by Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. ----At least 15 of the wounded were brought to the hospital complex at Medical City in Baghdad. One of those, Dhafir Habeeb, 35, a worker who lives in Gizani al-Imam with his family of 15, said that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia had blown up the local cellphone tower on Thursday, cutting off the town’s communications. ----When the attack started early Friday, he was asleep. ----“Our town is surrounded by majority Sunni towns, which are the source of the attacks by Al Qaeda,” Mr. Habeeb said. “When the strike occurred I was sleeping, but when the gunfire became heavier the whole town went out to see what happened and to defend themselves at the same time. I ran out with my gun in my hand,” he said. ----“I was running to help my fellows when I was hit in the arm and leg by shrapnel,” he said. ----Diyala, a large province just north of Baghdad, is narrowly divided between Sunni Arabs and Shiites, and the two groups are fighting for dominance. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia appears to be methodically cleansing Shiites from some areas of the province. ----However, Shiite militias are also active, and while some of those linked to Mr. Sadr have laid down weapons for the time being on his orders, other splinter organizations have persisted in attacks on American troops and on Iraqis who are perceived as working with them. ----“We continue to support the government of Iraq in welcoming the commitment by Moktada al-Sadr to stop attacks, and we will continue to show restraint in dealing with those who honor his pledge,” said Maj. Anton Alston, a military spokesman.----“We will not show the same restraint against those criminals who dishonor this pledge by attacking security forces and Iraqi citizens.” ----Three American soldiers were killed in two separate attacks on Friday. Two died in Baghdad when a bomb exploded while they were on operations in the southeastern part of the capital. A third soldier died near Baiji in Salahuddin Province in central Iraq when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle. ----American forces are investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of three Iraqi civilians on Thursday in Babil Province near the troubled town of Musayyib. The civilians were shot by American forces when they were near a checkpoint set up by Iraqis who are working with the Americans to rid the area of militias. ----Four bodies were found in Baghdad on Friday, according to an Interior Ministry official. ----Khalid al-Ansary and Qais Mizher contributed reporting from Baghdad, and an Iraqi employee of The New York Times from Diyala Province.----Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/06/world/middleeast/06iraq.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.1.1.1.2. U.S. Military Announces Strike Against Al Qaeda (back)
U.S. Military Announces Strike Against Al Qaeda --U.S. kills 13 linked to al Qaeda in Iraq: military--Reuters--BAGHDAD ------Thirteen suspected insurgents, including three members of al Qaeda in Iraq responsible for the assassination of a Sunni Arab preacher, were killed in a U.S. air strike, the U.S. military said on Thursday. ----The strike on Wednesday west of Baghdad came hours after the imam, identified as Abu Bilal and who had been preaching against Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, was killed.----Al Qaeda has vowed to ramp up attacks during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends at the weekend, especially against Iraqi and U.S. security forces and against Sunni Arab tribal leaders who have been cooperating with the U.S. military.----Sunni Arab tribal leaders and some Shi'ites in provinces around Baghdad have begun organizing their young men into neighborhood police units similar to those first used in western Anbar province.----The Anbar model has been credited for helping drive al Qaeda fighters out of the province, once the most dangerous area in Iraq but now relatively safe.----The U.S. military said in a statement that an 'assassination team' had placed four bombs around Abu Bilal's house, one of which exploded.----'The attackers then entered (Abu) Bilal's house, executed him and wounded his wife,' the statement said.----The imam's nephew killed two of the attackers before they fled, the military said. U.S. surveillance teams then tracked them to a nearby field.----'Supporting aircraft engaged the armed men, killing 10 terrorists,' the military statement said.----Another three, one of whom was wearing a 'suicide vest' packed with explosives, were killed in a later strike.----'Three of the al Qaeda in Iraq members killed in a coalition air strike Wednesday following their assassination of a local imam have been identified as Abu Rami, Ammar Fadhil Kadhim and Fadil Salman,' the U.S. military said in the statement.----It said Kadhim was a senior al Qaeda figure in the Abu Ghraib area west of Baghdad and was 'known to have killed women and children.' Weapons and a suicide belt were found among the dead, it said.--------Copyright 2007 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.----Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures--Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=3716196
1.4.1.1.1.3. U.S. Kills 13 Linked to Al Qaeda In Iraq: Military (back)
October 11, 2007--U.S. Kills 13 Linked to Al Qaeda In Iraq: Military --By REUTERS--Filed at 4:31 a.m. ET----BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Thirteen suspected insurgents, including three members of al Qaeda in Iraq responsible for the assassination of a Sunni Arab preacher, were killed in a U.S. air strike, the U.S. military said on Thursday.----The strike on Wednesday west of Baghdad came hours after the imam, identified as Abu Bilal and who had been preaching against Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, was killed.----Al Qaeda has vowed to ramp up attacks during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends at the weekend, especially against Iraqi and U.S. security forces and against Sunni Arab tribal leaders who have been cooperating with the U.S. military.----Sunni Arab tribal leaders and some Shi'ites in provinces around Baghdad have begun organizing their young men into neighborhood police units similar to those first used in western Anbar province.----The Anbar model has been credited for helping drive al Qaeda fighters out of the province, once the most dangerous area in Iraq but now relatively safe.----The U.S. military said in a statement that an 'assassination team' had placed four bombs around Abu Bilal's house, one of which exploded.----'The attackers then entered (Abu) Bilal's house, executed him and wounded his wife,' the statement said.----The imam's nephew killed two of the attackers before they fled, the military said. U.S. surveillance teams then tracked them to a nearby field.----'Supporting aircraft engaged the armed men, killing 10 terrorists,' the military statement said.----Another three, one of whom was wearing a 'suicide vest' packed with explosives, were killed in a later strike.----'Three of the al Qaeda in Iraq members killed in a coalition air strike Wednesday following their assassination of a local imam have been identified as Abu Rami, Ammar Fadhil Kadhim and Fadil Salman,' the U.S. military said in the statement.----It said Kadhim was a senior al Qaeda figure in the Abu Ghraib area west of Baghdad and was 'known to have killed women and children.' Weapons and a suicide belt were found among the dead, it said.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-iraq-qaeda.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.1.1.2. Two Women (back)
1.4.1.1.2.1. U.S. Guards Kill 2 Iraqi Women in New Shooting (back)
October 10, 2007--U.S. Guards Kill 2 Iraqi Women in New Shooting --By ANDREW E. KRAMER and JAMES GLANZ--BAGHDAD, Oct. 9 — Two women died here on Tuesday when their white Oldsmobile was riddled by automatic gunfire from guards for a private security company, just weeks after a shooting by another company strained relations between the United States and Iraq.----The guards involved in the Tuesday shooting were working for an Australian-run security company. But the people they were assigned to protect work under the same United States government agency whose security guards sprayed bullets across a crowded Baghdad square on Sept. 16, an episode that caused an uproar among Iraqi officials and is still being investigated by the United States. ----In the Tuesday shooting, as many as 40 bullets struck the car, killing the driver and the woman in the front seat on the passenger side. A woman and a boy in the back seat survived, according to witnesses and local police officials in the Karada neighborhood, where the shooting took place on a boulevard lined with appliance stores, tea shops and money changers.----American government officials said the guards had been hired to protect financial and policy experts working for an organization under contract with the United States Agency for International Development, a quasi-independent State Department agency that does extensive aid work in Iraq.----The organization, RTI International, is in Iraq to carry out what is ultimately a State Department effort to improve local government and democratic institutions. But a Bush administration official said the State Department bore no responsibility for overseeing RTI’s security operations.----“A.I.D. does not direct the security arrangements of its contractors,” the official said. “These groups are contractually responsible for the safety and security of their employees. That responsibility falls entirely on the contractor.”----A priest and relatives near the scene said that all of the people in the car were Armenian Christians, who make up a small minority group in Iraq. The Oldsmobile was shot once in the radiator, witnesses said, in front of a plumbing supply store as it approached a convoy of white sport utility vehicles 50 yards away.----As the car kept rolling, a barrage of gunfire suddenly tore through its hood, roof and windshield, as well as the passenger side.----The guards who were in the convoy work for Unity Resources Group, an Australian-run company that has its headquarters in Dubai and is registered in Singapore, according to a statement by the company. Unity Resources was hired by RTI to provide security in Iraq.----In its statement, Unity Resources said that according to its initial information, the car had approached the convoy “at speed” and failed to stop in response to hand signals and a warning flare.----“Finally shots were fired at the vehicle and it stopped,” the company said.----The episode’s connection with the United States Agency for International Development is one of several parallels to the Sept. 16 shootings, in which the Iraqi government says 17 Iraqis died and 27 were wounded.----The Sept. 16 episode began when a convoy operated by Blackwater USA, an American private security company hired to protect the aid agency’s officials, entered Nisour Square in central Baghdad and fired several bullets toward a car the guards apparently considered a threat.----In the Tuesday shooting, like the one on Sept. 16, the car drifted forward after the initial burst, prompting guards to unleash a barrage of gunfire. And there were no government officials or policy experts in either of the convoys: the Nisour Square convoy was controlling traffic as part of a larger operation, and the convoy in Karada was on a routine movement that involved only security guards, according to American officials.----Although the United States Embassy in Baghdad has said almost nothing about the Nisour Square episode while an American investigation grinds on, the Iraqi government has said its own investigation concluded that the shootings were an act of “deliberate murder” and called on the Blackwater guards to be prosecuted.----Ali Jafar, a traffic policeman posted near the Karada shooting, said he thought the similarities between the cases were undeniable.----“They are killing the people just like what happened in Nisour Square,” Mr. Jafar said. “They are butchering the Iraqis.”----The new shootings happened at an extremely difficult time for the State Department, which relies heavily on Blackwater to protect its diplomats whenever they work outside the fortified Green Zone. As a result of new restrictions placed on Blackwater after the Nisour Square shootings, the State Department’s numerous programs for rebuilding Iraqi government and technical institutions have been seriously hampered.----Embassy officials have vowed to continue their operations even as they increase oversight of Blackwater operations. But Tuesday’s episode appears to show that the new oversight comes with many loopholes: Unity Resources is not working directly for the State Department, but for RTI International, which has been contracted by the aid agency to provide experts on local governing.----In fact, an American Embassy spokesman said, the State Department has no say in the operations of security companies employed by government contractors. “Their contract might be with A.I.D., but that doesn’t shed any light on their choice of security contractor,” he said. ----A spokesman for Unity Resources, Martin Simich, said Tuesday that he was unsure whether the guards involved in the shooting had been interviewed by American authorities.----On Tuesday, the convoy of white S.U.V.’s was stopped in the eastbound lane of Karada Street at an intersection with an alley lined with low concrete homes, witnesses said. A man who works at the plumbing shop, who gave his name only as Muhammad, said the Oldsmobile was approaching the convoy from behind.----He said he heard no warnings. “They shot from the back door,” he said. “The door opened and they fired.”----Two witnesses said they heard a single shot first, which apparently punctured the Oldsmobile’s radiator, spilling coolant onto the street about 50 yards from where the convoy was parked. As the car continued rolling, the guards opened up with a barrage of sustained automatic fire. The car finally came to a stop about 10 yards from the convoy at a point that, three hours later, was marked by blood stains, broken glass and tufts of brown hair.----The plumbing shop employee said the convoy moved out right away, without checking to see what damage had been done or to offer medical help.----The Oldsmobile was towed to a nearby police station.----The priest and relatives near the scene identified the driver as Maruni Uhanees, 59, and the dead passenger as Jeniva Jalal, 30.----As twilight set in, family members gathered beside the car in a dirt alley outside the police station, staring at the blood and hair on the inside of the windshield.----A brother-in-law of the driver, Hrair Vartanian, said Ms. Uhanees was the mother of three grown daughters. As he spoke, one daughter arrived and looked at the blood stains, crying softly.----Reporting was contributed by Richard A. Oppel Jr., Qais Mizher and Ahmad Fadam from Baghdad, John M. Broder from Washington, and Graham Bowley from New York.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/world/middleeast/10iraq.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
1.4.1.1.2.2. 2 Killed in Shooting Mourned Far Beyond Iraq (back)
October 11, 2007--2 Killed in Shooting Mourned Far Beyond Iraq --By ANDREW E. KRAMER--BAGHDAD, Oct. 10 — Mournful members of Iraq’s Armenian Christian population bowed their heads and recited the Lord’s Prayer over an altar of burning incense at a funeral here on Wednesday for two Armenian women killed by private security contractors, the second such fatal shooting in less than a month. ----Relatives also called for justice on Wednesday, though security contractors are immune from prosecution under Iraqi law. ----For the family of at least one of the women killed, a taxi driver who was shot in the head as her car was struck with bullets while approaching a security convoy on Tuesday, the grief extended well beyond the borders of Iraq. ----The woman, Marany Awanees, was the youngest of nine children in the Mamook family, including three brothers who are part of the Armenian diaspora in Europe and the United States. ----The Mamook family, like so many other Armenian families, now straddles the boundaries between the West and the family’s Middle Eastern roots.----“She was a lovely sister, my younger sister, a lovely, lovely sister,” a brother, Paul Mamook, an electrical engineer in Belfast, Northern Ireland, said in a telephone interview. ----Relatives in Iraq described her as a quiet woman with few friends or interests other than her church and her siblings. She started working as a taxi driver for Armenians two years ago, after her husband died, to support two of her daughters, who are in college. A third is in high school. ----Paul Mamook said he called his sister after the Sept. 16 shooting by guards with Blackwater USA that killed as many as 17 people who were stuck in traffic in Baghdad. The shooting struck fear in him, he said, because Ms. Awanees was a taxi driver. “I phoned her, and I said, ‘Whenever you drive, watch and check, and be very careful,’” he said by telephone on Wednesday. “But I never expected it to happen to her.” ----In Baghdad, another brother, Albert Mamook, said the guards should be tried for murder. “The killers must be punished,” he said, calling the attack unprovoked. “We have no enemies. We just work, and we want our rights. We have a right to justice.” ----Ms. Awanees’s white Oldsmobile was riddled by automatic gunfire in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad on Tuesday afternoon. Her front-seat passenger, Jeniva Jalal, 30, was also killed; a woman and a boy in the back seat survived, witnesses and local police officials said. ----The guards in the shooting worked for Unity Resources Group, an Australian-run security company registered in Singapore and with headquarters in Dubai. The people they were to protect worked under contract for the United States Agency for International Development. ----In a statement issued Wednesday, Unity Resources said the Karada neighborhood had been the target of suicide bombing in recent weeks. The company said guards used a strobe light, hand signals and a flare to warn off the car. “Fearing a suicide attack, only then did the team use their weapons in a final attempt to stop the vehicle,” the statement said. ----“We deeply regret the loss of these lives,” the statement said. ----Unity Resources said it was trying to contact the family, though Paul and Albert Mamook and other relatives said they had not heard from the company. ----At the funeral, the women’s wood coffins were placed end to end between pews as the liturgy was read, and relatives wept. ----Later, relatives, friends and clergy members sat quietly on sofas at an Armenian cultural center. Those who attended expressed condolences to Ms. Awanees’ daughters. “She was a lovely Christian,” Paul Mamook said. ----After decades of emigration that has accelerated since the American invasion, about 20,000 Armenian Christians remain in Iraq, where they struggle to maintain their traditions. ----The brothers who left in the 1970s eased into professional jobs in Belfast, Munich and Glendale, Calif., while those who stayed suffered along with the rest of Iraq. Albert Mamook, for example, was captured in 1982 during the Iran-Iraq war and spent 20 years in an Iranian prison only to be released in 2002, a year before the United States invasion of Iraq. Armenians in Iraq, like other Christians, have at times been the targets of insurgents, though the Mamook family has not. ----“I’m in shock,” Paul Mamook said of his sister’s death. “It happened. It is real.” ----Qais Mizher contributed reporting.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/world/middleeast/11iraq.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.1.1.3. Attack on U.S. Base in Iraq Kills Two (back)
October 11, 2007--Attack on U.S. Base in Iraq Kills Two --By REUTERS--Filed at 12:50 a.m. ET----BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An 'indirect fire' attack on a major U.S. military base in the Iraqi capital Baghdad overnight killed two coalition forces members and wounded 38 others, the U.S. military said on Thursday.----A Western security contractor at the Camp Victory military base had said he heard nine mortar rounds being fired and four explosions inside the perimeter after dusk on Wednesday.----The number of casualties is the highest in months from an attack on Camp Victory, the U.S. military's sprawling headquarters near Baghdad airport.----Such attacks on the base are relatively rare compared to other U.S. facilities, given its size and location. Indirect fire attacks usually refer to mortars or rockets.----In a statement, the military said two 'third country nationals' had also been wounded.----It gave no details on the nationalities of any of the victims. Besides U.S. troops, small numbers of soldiers from other countries are based at Camp Victory.----Last month an Iranian-made rocket killed one person and wounded 11 at Camp Victory in an attack blamed on militants loyal to anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.----The U.S. military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said at the weekend that Iran was stoking violence in Iraq by giving advanced weaponry to militias in the country. Iran dismissed Petraeus's comments as 'baseless.'----U.S. commanders say that apart from rockets and mortars, sophisticated roadside bombs made from Iranian components have killed hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq.----In August, U.S. President George W. Bush, already at odds with Iran over its nuclear program, said attacks on U.S. troops with Iranian-supplied weapons were increasing and that he had told commanders in Iraq to 'confront Tehran's murderous activities.'----Sadr ordered the suspension in late August of all Mehdi Army operations for up to six months, in what was seen as a move to re-establish his control over the militia, which the U.S. military says has fragmented into splinter groups.----But Sadr aides have said the order might be withdrawn if U.S. and Iraqi forces do not stop detaining the cleric's supporters. U.S. commanders say most of the Mehdi Army appear to be following Sadr's order, but that some elements are not.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-iraq.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
1.4.1.1.4. Iraqi Allies of U.S. Forces Are Killed in Three Attacks (back)
October 5, 2007--Iraqi Allies of U.S. Forces Are Killed in Three Attacks --By ALISSA J. RUBIN--BAGHDAD, Oct. 4 — A police chief, a government official and a tribal leader who allied with American forces were killed in separate attacks across Iraq on Thursday. ----In the controversy over private security contractors, the United States Embassy in Baghdad said that a preliminary report would be delivered Friday to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the Sept. 16 killing of 17 Iraqis when Blackwater guards fired into a crowded city square. It will be the first official American account of the episode. ----Extremist attacks in Salahuddin Province north of Baghdad continued on Thursday, taking the life of the deputy tribal leader of the province’s Awakening Council, whose convoy was blown up by a roadside bomb near Samarra. Moawiya Jebara, the tribal leader, and five of his bodyguards were killed. ----The Awakening Council in Salahuddin, like similar groups in Anbar Province and the Abu Ghraib area, is a group of Sunni Arab tribal leaders who have decided to work with the Americans and the Iraqi government to defeat extremist militants. ----The leader of Anbar’s Awakening Council, known as Abu Risha, was killed three weeks ago, and at the time Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia vowed to attack any Sunni Arab tribal leader who joined forces with the Americans. ----A suicide bomber detonated his explosives in the northern city of Tal Afar on Thursday evening, killing at least three people and wounding 57, according to initial reports.----In another sign of the presence of extremist jihadi groups, police at a checkpoint south of Kirkuk stopped a car with a couple and then arrested them when it came to light that their marriage contract was issued by the Islamic State of Iraq, a group under the umbrella of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is a homegrown extremist group with foreign leadership, according to American intelligence.----South of Baghdad in Babil Province, a roadside bomb exploded under a convoy carrying the head of the Iskandariya district council, Abbas Hamza al-Khafaji, and four of his guards, killing all five people. In the northern part of the province, gunmen killed a police brigadier, Ihsan Abdul-Kareem al-Taie. ----In Salahuddin Province, the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police undertook a major operation to dislodge militants in Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia from an area west of the troubled town of Samarra. ----Despite the presence of 1,200 members of the Iraqi security forces, the security forces were at first outgunned and had to withdraw to reconsider strategy, according to a senior Iraqi government official in Salahuddin. ----The official said that the insurgents had better weapons than the Iraqi Army. But by day’s end nine insurgents had been killed and 38 arrested, according to a provincial official. Two Iraqi policemen were also killed in the fight. It was unclear whether Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia had been routed from the area.----Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia appears to be increasingly active in some areas of northern Iraq. On Wednesday, the American military detained 22 people as well as a member of Parliament from the main Sunni Arab bloc at the funeral of a local leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, said a senior official in the provincial office in Salahuddin. ----The official said that local authorities had requested the release of the Parliament member, Naif al-Jassim. “He was only attending the funeral of a relative,” the official said. ----In Baghdad, soldiers from the Sixth Iraqi Army Division detained a man suspected of being a financier of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia in Kindi, on the western side of the Tigris, according to a statement from the American military. American intelligence believes that he traveled to foreign countries to obtain financial support for terrorist activities, and he is suspected of supplying more than $50,000 to extremist groups each month. ----The military said intelligence sources indicated he had received $100 million in the summer from terrorist supporters who crossed the Iraqi border illegally or flew to Iraq from Italy, Syria and Egypt. He is believed to have used a leather-merchant business as a front to smuggle weapons and explosives from surrounding countries, according to the American military, which said he employs 40 to 50 extremists to help deliver and set up roadside bombs to attack Iraqi and American forces. ----In Baghdad, a car bomb in a Christian neighborhood killed three people, and a roadside bomb concealed in a parked car killed four in the Zafraniya district, said an Interior Ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. Another roadside bomb killed one person on Baghdad’s west side. Eight bodies were found in Baghdad on Thursday. ----Qais Mizher contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Salahuddin Province, Hilla, Kut, Diyala and Tal Afar.----Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/05/world/middleeast/05iraq.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.1.2. US-Related (back)
1.4.1.2.1. U.S. Releases Iraqi Prisoners As Gesture (back)
October 10, 2007--U.S. Releases Iraqi Prisoners As Gesture --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 3:30 p.m. ET----CAMP VICTORY, Iraq (AP) -- Sixty prisoners, 10 of them youths, raised their hands Wednesday and swore to live a peaceful life. In return, U.S. authorities set them free.----As a gesture of good will, the U.S. military has pledged to release more than 50 detainees a day -- about 10 more than average -- during Ramadan, which ends this week. It is traditional in Muslim countries to pardon some prisoners or shorten their terms during the holy month.----More than 25,000 Iraqis still in American custody haven't been so lucky. The security crackdown in Baghdad has raised the rolls in U.S.-run detention centers to 10,000 more detainees compared to this time last year, worsening already serious backlogs in the court system.----Several men being released Wednesday interrupted the judge's speech to complain that they had been held for months, even years, without cause.----The Iraqi judge, who requested anonymity because of fears for his safety, explained that as long as parts of the country remain dangerous, authorities will err on the side of caution and round up hundreds of men at once, without taking the time to listen to individual stories.----''We cannot investigate every single one of you to get to the truth,'' he told the group of men and boys who sat on wooden benches and wore striped shirts, rolled up trousers and sandals purchased for their release by the U.S. military. ''Please, I'm begging you. This is the message we're sending to the public. Help us. Help others. Help your families. Work only for peace.''----According to U.S. military figures, the average age of inmates is 35 to 37 for adults and 15 to 17 for youths. About 85 percent are Sunni, 14 percent are Shiite and 1 percent are neither. Most remain in custody for about a year.----The prisoner release during Ramadan brought the 60 men and several dozen friends and family members to the ceremony in a canvas tent on this sprawling U.S. base west of Baghdad. Another 60 prisoners were freed Tuesday, said U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Bill, legal adviser for the detainee program.----Ashwak Ali Hassan traveled from Dora, a Sunni neighborhood in southern Baghdad, to pick up her 16-year-old son who had been held for more than four months. Her husband remains in custody at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq. She said father and son were captured because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time after a U.S. convoy was attacked in their neighborhood.----''Our house was closest,'' she said. The boy, crying and allowing himself to be rocked gently by his mother, said only that he was happy to be leaving the prison.----Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, deputy commander of detainee operations, said prisoners in U.S. custody include some 860 youths, meaning they are under 17 years old, and 280 foreigners, including Egyptians, Syrians, Iranians and Saudi Arabians.----''Ultimately, we want all detainees who are no longer a peril to Iraqi and coalition forces to be released,'' Stone said, adding that about 60 people are detained each day across Iraq.----Most detainees are held in limbo where few are ever charged with a specific crime or given a chance before any court or tribunal to argue for their freedom. Of those who receive a proper trial, about 50 percent will be acquitted, the military says.----All prisoners get their cases evaluated within the first three months they are in custody. Then, each case is reviewed every six months. At those proceedings, the review board can release someone for hardship reasons, at the request of the Iraqi or U.S. government or when it determines the detainee is no longer a security threat, Bill said.----The so-called pledge program, which began in July, requires the detainees to take an oath to renounce violence, then they are fingerprinted and they face a fine if they are against accused of wrongdoing, Bill said. About 1,500 detainees have been released under the program.----The judge told the new program is a test ''we don't want to fail. This is going to prove you were not criminals, not terrorists.''------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Iraq-Detainees.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.1.2.2. U.S. Calls Iranian Official Part of Elite Force (back)
October 8, 2007--U.S. Calls Iranian Official Part of Elite Force --By PAUL VON ZIELBAUER--BAGHDAD, Oct. 7 — The American military command here increased its criticism of Iran on Sunday, accusing that country’s ambassador of undisclosed membership in a Revolutionary Guard force and announcing the arrests of three men it described as Iranian agents responsible for kidnappings and weapons smuggling.----The latest accusations came as a series of car bomb attacks in the capital killed at least nine people, apparently all civilians, including one blast near the Iranian Embassy that left three people dead, officials said. ----The United States has increasingly accused Iran of involvement in planning and executing attacks against Iraq’s government and American military operations in Iraq — accusations that the Iranian government has repeatedly denied. ----On several occasions American military commanders have said the elite Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran was responsible for supplying anti-American militia forces here with particularly lethal bombs that have been used to kill American troops. The Bush administration has been considering whether to classify the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group. ----But Sunday appeared to be the first instance in which the Americans had publicly asserted that Iran’s top diplomat in Iraq was himself a member of the Revolutionary Guard.----The accusation was made by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American military commander, who made the remarks to CNN while he was traveling with a small group of reporters to a military base on the Iranian border. He said, “We have absolute assurance” that a number of Iranians detained by the Americans in Iraq were members of the Quds Force.----“The Quds Force controls the policy for Iraq; there should be no confusion about that either,” General Petraeus said. “The ambassador is a Quds Force member. Now he has diplomatic immunity and therefore he is obviously not subject — and he is acting as a diplomat.”----General Petraeus did not provide details on how he knew that the ambassador, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, who has held talks with the American ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker, belonged to the Quds Force. Iranian Embassy officials could not be reached Sunday night to comment on the general’s assertions.----The American military command also said it had arrested three men with ties to Iran who were responsible for the kidnapping of five British citizens in Baghdad in May. The arrests were made by soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division in a Saturday morning raid in Baghdad, according to a statement released Sunday. The three men, the statement said, were members of an Iran-backed network, the Special Groups militia, that engaged in kidnapping and smuggling weapons into Iraq. ----The five British hostages have not been heard from, and their fate remains unclear. ----Last week, Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, a spokesman for the American military, told reporters that an Iranian man arrested by American forces in Iraqi Kurdistan on Sept. 20 was a “very senior member of the Quds Force” posing as a trade representative. General Bergner said the man, whom he identified as Mahmoud Farhadi, helped transport weapons across Iraq’s border. ----Iran protested Mr. Farhadi’s arrest and, as retaliation four days later, closed several border crossings in Iraqi Kurdistan to commercial traffic. ------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/08/world/middleeast/08iraq.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.1.2.3. U.S. Military and Iraqis Say They Are Shut Out of Inquiry (back)
October 11, 2007--U.S. Military and Iraqis Say They Are Shut Out of Inquiry --By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and MICHAEL R. GORDON--BAGHDAD, Oct. 10 — Nearly four weeks after the deadly shootings at a central Baghdad square involving the Blackwater USA private security firm, American military officials and Iraqi investigators say the F.B.I. and State Department are refusing to share information with them on their investigation into the killings.----The American military has not been allowed to speak to Blackwater employees who were in Nisour Square that day, nor have military officials been shown the Blackwater vehicle that the company and State Department officials have said was disabled during the events of Sept. 16 just west of the heavily fortified Green Zone, according to a senior American military officer. ----Blackwater provides security here for employees of the State Department, which began an investigation into the shootings last month. But in recent days a team of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken the lead in the inquiry and has been asking Iraqi investigators for information about the case.----However, Iraqi investigators say the F.B.I. and State Department have not provided information about the investigation to their Iraqi counterparts, despite repeated requests. A senior Iraqi investigator said that American military officers had also interviewed Iraqi witnesses, collected evidence from Nisour Square and talked to Iraqi investigators. ----“We haven’t received any information from the Americans about their own two investigations,” the senior Iraqi investigator said. “F.B.I. investigators have asked us to help them and share our information, as they have started a third investigation.”----The senior American military officer said the State Department had also refused to provide details of its investigation. “We have asked questions,” the official said. “They have not responded back on those.” Both the Iraqi investigator and the American military officer spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was authorized to discuss the investigations publicly.----The State Department’s chief spokesman, Sean McCormack, said State Department and Blackwater officials were cooperating with the investigation but were not authorized to speak directly to the Pentagon or Iraqi authorities about it. The F.B.I. is leading the inquiry, he said.----“It is a matter of bureaucratic arrangement that they have the lead,” Mr. McCormack said. “They are going to exercise their prerogatives with respect to the integrity of the investigation.”----Independent of the events of Sept. 16, the State Department is conducting an internal review of private security contractors’ operations and will share the results as different phases are completed, Mr. McCormack said.----A senior Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation in detail, said it was no surprise that the F.B.I. had not provided information to the military or Iraqi investigators at such an early stage of the inquiry.----“We just got on the ground there,” he said, adding that agents on the case arrived in the country in the last week. “I’m sure at the appropriate levels, liaison is being done. But we don’t keep everyone apprised of every move of our investigation.”----Iraqi officials say that 17 people were killed on Sept. 16 when a Blackwater convoy opened fire on Iraqi motorists and bystanders in Nisour Square. ----The senior American military officer said that as far as the military had been able to determine, the Blackwater convoy did not take fire and the shootings were unprovoked. “It was an abuse of force,” the military official said. “There was no imminent threat. We believe innocent people were killed. We believe that things were taken to a level very quickly when it was not necessary.”----In written testimony submitted to Congress but not made public, Blackwater has said that the convoy came under attack by automatic weapons fire. The company has also said it is cooperating with investigators.----An official at the United States Embassy in Baghdad said of the Blackwater employees involved in the events in Nisour Square, “No one has left the country; everybody involved in the incident is here and available.”----Reporting was contributed by James Glanz, Alissa J. Rubin and Qais Mizher from Baghdad, and Philip Shenon and John M. Broder from Washington.----Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/world/middleeast/11blackwater.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
1.4.1.2.4. Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq (back)
October 11, 2007--Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq --By THOM SHANKER--WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 — The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials.----The idea by the Marine Corps commandant would effectively leave the Iraq war in the hands of the Army while giving the Marines a prominent new role in Afghanistan, under overall NATO command.----The suggestion was raised in a session last week convened by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and regional war-fighting commanders. While still under review, its supporters, including some in the Army, argue that a realignment could allow the Army and Marines each to operate more efficiently in sustaining troop levels for two wars that have put a strain on their forces. ----As described by officials who had been briefed on the closed-door discussion, the idea represents the first tangible new thinking to emerge since the White House last month endorsed a plan to begin gradual troop withdrawals from Iraq, but also signals that American forces likely will be in Iraq for years to come.----At the moment, there are no major Marine units among the 26,000 or so American forces in Afghanistan. In Iraq there are about 25,000 marines among the 160,000 American troops there. ----It is not clear exactly how many of the marines in Iraq would be moved over. But the plan would require a major reshuffling, and it would make marines the dominant American force in Afghanistan, in a war that has broader public support than the one in Iraq. ----Mr. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have not spoken publicly about the Marine concept, and aides to both officials said no formal proposal had been presented by the Marines. But the idea has been the focus of intense discussions between senior Marine Corps officers and other officials within the Defense Department.----It is not clear whether the Army would support the idea. But some officials sympathetic to the Army said that such a realignment would help ease some pressure on the Army, by allowing it to shift forces from Afghanistan into Iraq, and by simplifying planning for future troop rotations. ----The Marine proposal could also face resistance from the Air Force, whose current role in providing combat aircraft for Afghanistan could be squeezed if the overall mission was handed to the Marines. Unlike the Army, the Marines would bring a significant force of combat aircraft to that conflict. ----Whether the Marine proposal takes hold, the most delicate counterterrorism missions in Afghanistan, including the hunt for forces of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, would remain the job of a military task force that draws on Army, Navy and Air Force Special Operations units. ----Military officials say the Marine proposal is also an early indication of jockeying among the four armed services for a place in combat missions in years to come. “At the end of the day, this could be decided by parochialism, and making sure each service does not lose equity, as much as on how best to manage the risk of force levels for Iraq and Afghanistan,” said one Pentagon planner.----Tensions over how to divide future budgets have begun to resurface across the military because of apprehension that Congressional support for large increases in defense spending seen since the Sept. 11 attacks will diminish, leaving the services to compete for money.----Those traditional turf battles have subsided somewhat given the overwhelming demands of waging two simultaneous wars — and because Pentagon budgets reached new heights. ----Last week, the Senate approved a $459 billion Pentagon spending bill, an increase of $43 billion, or more than 10 percent over the last budget. That bill did not include, as part of a separate bill, President Bush’s request for almost $190 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.----Senior officials briefed on the Marine Corps concept said the new idea went beyond simply drawing clearer lines about who was in charge of providing combat personnel, war-fighting equipment and supplies to the two war zones.----They said it would allow the Marines to carry out the Afghan mission in a way the Army cannot, by deploying as an integrated Marine Corps task force that included combat aircraft as well as infantry and armored vehicles, while the Army must rely on the Air Force. ----The Marine Corps concept was raised last week during a Defense Senior Leadership Conference convened by Mr. Gates just hours after Admiral Mullen was sworn in as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. ----During that session, the idea of assigning the Afghan mission to the Marines was described by Gen. James T. Conway, the Marine Corps commandant. Details of the discussion were provided by military officers and Pentagon civilian officials briefed on the session and who requested anonymity to summarize portions of the private talks.----The Marine Corps has recently played the leading combat role in Anbar Province, the restive Sunni area west of Baghdad.----Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior Army officer in Iraq, and his No. 2 commander, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, also of the Army, have described Anbar Province as a significant success story, with local tribal leaders joining the fight against terrorists. ----Both generals strongly hint that if the security situation in Anbar holds steady, then reductions of American forces can be expected in the province, which could free up Marine units to move elsewhere.----In recent years, the emphasis by the Pentagon has been on joint operations that blur the lines between the military services, but there is also considerable precedent for geographic divisions in their duties. For much of the Vietnam War, responsibility was divided region by region between the Army and the Marines. As described by military planners, the Marine proposal would allow Marine units moved to Afghanistan to take over the tasks now performed by an Army headquarters unit and two brigade combat teams operating in eastern Afghanistan. ----That would ease the strain on the Army and allow it to focus on managing overall troop numbers for Iraq, as well as movements of forces inside the country as required by commanders to meet emerging threats.----The American military prides itself on the ability to go to war as a “joint force,” with all of the armed services intermixed on the battlefield — vastly different from past wars when more primitive communications required separate ground units to fight within narrowly defined lanes to make sure they did not cross into the fire of friendly forces.----The Marine Corps is designed to fight with other services — it is based overseas aboard Navy ships and is intertwined with the Army in Iraq. At the same time, the Marines also are designed to be an agile, “expeditionary” force on call for quick deployment, and thus can go to war with everything needed to carry out the mission — troops, armor, attack jets and supplies.----General Petraeus is due to report back to Congress by March on his troop requirements beyond the summer. His request for forces will be analyzed by the military’s Central Command, which oversees combat missions across the Middle East and Southwest Asia, and by the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. All troop deployment orders must be approved by Mr. Gates, with the separate armed services then assigned to supply specific numbers of troops and equipment.----Marines train to fight in what is called a Marine Air-Ground Task Force. That term refers to a Marine deployment that arrives in a combat zone complete with its own headquarters, infantry combat troops, armored and transport vehicles and attack jets for close-air support, as well as logistics and support personnel.----“This is not about trading one ground war for another,” said one Pentagon official briefed on the Marine concept. “It is about the nature of the fight in Afghanistan, and figuring out whether the Afghan mission lends itself more readily to the integrated MAGTF deployment than even Iraq.”------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/washington/11military.html?_r=1&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print
1.4.1.3. U.N. Criticizes Iraq Security Firms (back)
October 11, 2007--U.N. Criticizes Iraq Security Firms --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 9:29 a.m. ET----BAGHDAD (AP) -- U.N. officials said Thursday they will be looking into whether war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed in recent shootings of Iraqi civilians by U.S.-hired contractors, and they urged U.S. authorities to hold private security firms accountable for unjustified killings of Iraqis.----''For us, it's a human rights issue,'' said Ivana Vuco of the U.N. Assistance Mission to Iraq. ''We will monitor the allegations of killings by security contractors and look into whether or not crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed. ''----Said Arikat, the U.N. mission spokesman, urged the U.S. government to hold those involved in indiscriminate shootings of Iraqis ''to the bar, to apply the rules of engagement and prosecute them.''----The comments came as UNAMI released its quarterly human rights report in Baghdad, dealing mainly with the country's deepening humanitarian crisis but also noting the shooting incidents involving guards protecting U.S. government-funded work.----Although the United Nations holds little influence in daily matters in Iraq, it is viewed by most Iraqis as a more neutral party and Thursday's comments reflected a stark warning by the world body.----The U.N. report, which covers the period from April 1 to June 30, also warned that increasing reliance on heavily armed teams risks eroding the distinction between civilians and combatants and noted several reports of ''killings carried out by privately hired contractors with security-related functions in support of U.S. government authorities.''----In one recent case, guards working for the Australian-owned security company Unity Resources Group -- whose employers are contracted by USAID -- fired on a car as it approached their convoy on Tuesday, killing two women civilians before speeding away. The company said its guards feared a suicide attack and fired only after issuing several warnings for the car to stop.----In another high-profile case, Blackwater USA -- the largest American firm working for the State Department in Iraq -- is under scrutiny for the killing of 17 Iraqis after its guards opened fire on an intersection in central Baghdad on Sept. 16. The company also said its guards were responding to an armed attack.----Vuco said international humanitarian rights law applies equally to contractors who work for the mostly Western firms providing security to diplomats and aid groups as it does to other parties in a conflict.----''We will be stressing that in our communications with U.S. authorities. This includes the responsibility to investigate to supervise and prosecute those accused of wrongdoing,'' she said at a news conference in Baghdad.----''There cannot be rogue elements that are above the law. Definitely, we will be driving that point home time and again,'' Arikat said.----The UNAMI report also expressed concern that too many Iraqi civilians are being killed in U.S. military operations as part of a security crackdown in Baghdad and surrounding areas.----U.S. airstrikes reportedly killed at least 88 Iraqi civilians and many more died in raids by American ground forces during a military crackdown in Baghdad and surrounding areas, according to the 36-page report.----But the contractor shooting cases have provoked outrage among Iraqis who have long hated what they see as overly aggressive behavior by the security contractors. The Iraqi government has launched investigations and a joint U.S.-Iraqi panel has been created to review the practices of the security companies, which generally have enjoyed immunity and little oversight in Iraq.----UNAMI called on the U.S. government to establish mechanisms to hold security contractors accountable for unjustified killings and to ensure that offenses committed in Iraq ''by all categories of U.S. contractor employees'' are subject to prosecution under the law.----An order issued by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004 before the Iraqi government gained sovereignty gives American security companies immunity from Iraqi prosecution on issues arising from their contracts.----The U.N. said the order ''enables the U.S. government to waive a contractor's immunity'' but ''to UNAMI'S knowledge it has not done so to date.''----An Iraqi investigation into the Blackwater shooting found the guards opened fire without provocation and recommended that the State Department sever all contracts for the company's operations in Iraq within six months.----The United States has not made conclusive findings about the shooting, though there are multiple investigations under way and Congress has opened inquiries into the role of private security contractors.----The U.N. report also said Iraqi civilians continued to bear the brunt of ongoing violence by Sunni and Shiite militant groups, although it was again unable to provide casualty figures, saying it could not persuade the Iraqi government to release data compiled by the Health Ministry and other institutions.----''We again call upon the Iraqi government to release the figures, for the good of Iraq, for the good of Iraqi people,'' Arikat said.----(This version CORRECTS that U.N. report is quarterly, not biannual.)------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Iraq-UN-Contractors.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.2. Palestine (back)
1.4.2.1. Hamas (back)
1.4.2.1.1. U.S. Should Deal With Hamas, Say Ex - Officials (back)
October 10, 2007--U.S. Should Deal With Hamas, Say Ex - Officials --By REUTERS--Filed at 6:18 p.m. ET----WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eight retired senior U.S. officials and lawmakers urged the United States and its allies on Wednesday to begin a 'genuine dialogue' with Hamas Islamists ahead of a U.S.-hosted Middle East peace conference.----In a letter to President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the dignitaries also urged the Bush administration to focus on the 'end game' between the Israelis and the Palestinians at the conference, expected to take place in late November in Annapolis, Maryland.----United States policy is to isolate Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip in June and has refused to formally abandon its goal of destroying Israel.----Washington says it will not invite the group, which it defines as a 'terrorist organization,' to the conference and has put its full support behind Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction.----'We believe that a genuine dialogue with the organization is far preferable to its isolation,' said the letter signed by both Democrats and Republicans.----The signatories were: former national security advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft; former U.S. trade representative Carla Hills; former Republican Sen. Nancy Kassebaum-Baker; former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, former U.N. ambassador Thomas Pickering; former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton who is co-chair of the Iraq Study Group and Theodore Sorensen, an adviser to President John F. Kennedy.----Brzezinski, who was President Jimmy Carter's adviser, said isolating Hamas did not help the peace process and suggested the quartet of Middle East peace brokers could open a dialogue with Hamas. The quartet comprises the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.----'We have no illusions that the dialogue will be easy, but we also know that Hamas has people in it who are realistic and know that a permanent state of war and conflict is not going to be conducive to a better future for the Palestinians,' he told reporters in a conference call.----The letter also urged the United States to press for peace talks between Israel and Syria under international auspices. Kassebaum-Baker praised the administration for signaling it would invite Syria to the meeting. 'This should be followed by genuine engagement,' she said.----State Department spokesman Sean McCormack declined comment on the letter, which came days before Rice visits Israel and the Palestinian Territories to prepare for the conference.----'She's going to have her sleeves rolled up,' he said.----The Israelis and the Palestinians are working on a joint document that will form the basis for formal Palestinian statehood negotiations expected to begin after the conference.----The letter said if the Israelis and the Palestinians could not reach agreement, the quartet should put forward its own outline deal which would include two states with Jerusalem as home to two capitals; a solution to the refugee problem and security mechanisms that addressed both Israeli concerns while respecting Palestinian sovereignty.----For the conference to have any credibility, the former officials said it must coincide with a freeze in Israeli settlement expansion.----McCormack declined to be drawn on the issue. 'At this point, I don't see the two parties talking in public about what they are discussing and I'm not going to do it for them,' he said.--------Home --World U.S. N.Y. / Region Business Technology Science Health Sports Opinion Arts Style Travel Jobs Real Estate Automobiles Back to Top --Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/news/news-palestinians-usa-letter.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.2.1.2. Hamas Plans Fatah Talks, Says Gaza Rule Temporary (back)
October 10, 2007--Hamas Plans Fatah Talks, Says Gaza Rule Temporary --By REUTERS--Filed at 5:31 p.m. ET----GAZA (Reuters) - Hamas said on Wednesday it would hold reconciliation talks with the Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and hinted it might be ready to give up control of the Gaza Strip, which it seized in June.----'There is a serious movement in the realm of Palestinian dialogue and we have agreed to hold a dialogue with Fatah in one of the Arab capitals,' said Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas prime minister in the former government that Abbas declared void.----'Our administration in Gaza is temporary,' Haniyeh said in a bulletin posted on a pro-Hamas Web site.----The Western-backed Abbas, who is pursuing a peace deal with Israel, has ruled out re-engagement with Hamas unless the Islamist group submits to his authority and ends its control of Gaza.----A Fatah official in Gaza said he could not immediately confirm Haniyeh's statement that new talks would take place.----Haniyeh said the talks would be held after Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival that ends the holy month of Ramadan and falls on Friday or Saturday.----An official involved in Hamas-Fatah mediation but affiliated with neither group confirmed that there would be a meeting as early as next week, and said Cairo was the likely venue.----Israel, whose prime minister, Ehud Olmert, will attend a U.S.-sponsored conference on Palestinian statehood with Abbas next month, opposes reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas unless the latter abandons its hostility to the Jewish state.----'Israel believes that Hamas should be kept out of the game as it is a consistent detriment to any chance for progress between Israel and the Palestinians,' Olmert spokesman David Baker said in Jerusalem.----'Hamas is a terrorist organization ... It should be distanced from the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.'------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-palestinians-dialogue.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.2.2. Gaza Rocket Is Said to Have Longer Range (back)
October 8, 2007--Gaza Rocket Is Said to Have Longer Range --By STEVEN ERLANGER--JERUSALEM, Oct. 7 — Palestinian militants fired a Katyusha rocket into Israel from Gaza on Sunday, a rare instance of the use of a more sophisticated missile than the usual crude, Gaza-made Qassams. The Katyusha, which landed in open ground in Netivot, almost seven miles east of Gaza, did little damage.----But the Katyusha, a factory-manufactured missile with a longer range, better accuracy and a warhead weighing about 11 pounds, must be smuggled into Gaza. The Israeli Army said that four Katyushas have been fired from Gaza before but that they are rare.----The Popular Resistance Committees, a shadowy group that often claims responsibility for attacks, apparently to conceal the responsibility of other factions, said it fired the rocket along with eight mortars that were also fired Sunday. The militant group Islamic Jihad is thought to have up to a dozen Katyushas, but has only used a few, and not very effectively.----The Katyusha has a range of about 7 ½ to 12 ½ miles, compared with the Qassam’s range of 5 to 7 ½ miles. The Katyusha was used extensively by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon against Israel in their conflict last year.----“The terrorists are constantly trying to increase their capability to hit harder and farther,” said Capt. Noa Meir of the Israeli Army. The longer range, she said, “allows them to fire from farther inside Gaza and from populated areas.”----Also in Gaza, a prominent Palestinian Christian was found stabbed and shot to death after being abducted near his home late on Saturday. The man, Rami Ayyad, 32, was director of the Protestant Holy Bible Society in Gaza; six months ago, his religious bookshop was blown up. ----No one has taken responsibility for his killing. The Hamas Interior Ministry promised to bring the killers to justice.----About 3,200 Christians, most of them Greek Orthodox, live in Gaza, of a population of 1.5 million. A church was damaged after Hamas took over Gaza in June, and Hamas apologized for the “mistakes” of some followers. ------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/08/world/middleeast/08mideast.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.2.3. 3,500 Palestinians in West Bank to Get Residency Permits (back)
October 11, 2007--3,500 Palestinians in West Bank to Get Residency Permits --By STEVEN ERLANGER--JERUSALEM, Oct. 10 — In a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel will grant residency permits to 3,500 Palestinians who have been living illegally in the occupied West Bank, but will not act on another 1,500 Palestinians living in Hamas-run Gaza, Israeli officials said today. Many are the spouses or relatives of Palestinians who entered on travel visas. ----These will be the first such approvals in 10 years. In an interview with Palestinian television, Mr. Abbas repeated his view that a future Palestinian state should contain the exact area occupied by Israel in the 1967 war — essentially a return to 1967 boundaries with some land swaps. ----Israeli troops in Nablus killed one gunmen with Fatah’s Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades and wounded another, while arresting at least 15 Palestinians, including Yousef al-Natsheh, a Hamas member of the Bethlehem city council.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/world/middleeast/world-mideast.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
1.4.3. Syria (back)
1.4.3.1. Syria Is Said to Be Strengthening Ties to Opponents of Iraq s Government (back)
October 7, 2007--Syria Is Said to Be Strengthening Ties to Opponents of Iraq’s Government --By HUGH NAYLOR--DAMASCUS, Syria, Oct. 6 — Syria is encouraging Sunni Arab insurgent groups and former Iraqi Baathists with ties to the leaders of Saddam Hussein’s government to organize here, diplomats and Syrian political analysts say. By building strong ties to those groups, they say, Syria hopes to gain influence in Iraq before what it sees as the inevitable waning of the American presence there. ----“The Syrians feel American power is much weaker in Iraq than in the past,” said Ibrahim Hamidi, the Damascus bureau chief of the pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Hayat. “Now they can take a bold public initiative like helping Iraq’s opposition organize without much fear, especially since President Bush has become a lame duck.”----In July, former Baathists opposed to the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki scheduled a conference for insurgent groups — including two of the most prominent, the 1920s Revolution Brigades and Ansar al Sunna — at the Sahara Resort outside Damascus. ----The meeting followed two others in Syria in January that aimed to form an opposition front to the government of Iraq, and an announcement in Damascus in July of the formation of a coalition of seven Sunni Arab insurgent groups with the goal of coordinating and intensifying attacks in Iraq to force an American withdrawal. That coalition has since expanded to incorporate other groups.----The July conference was canceled at the last minute, however, indicating the political perils of Syria’s developing strategy. It was called off by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, participants, diplomats and analysts said, primarily because of pressure from Iran.----Iran is Syria’s chief ally and a staunch supporter of Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, visited Damascus just days before the conference was to have taken place. ----Still, hundreds turned up for the event, including Harith al-Dari, the leader of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a major Sunni opposition group, and other high-profile figures wanted by the Iraqi government. Several said they hoped to reschedule the conference in Syria in the near future.----“The American project in Iraq is collapsing, and we decided it was important to reach out to fellow Iraqis now,” said Nizar Samari, the spokesman for the conference and a former media director for Mr. Hussein. ----Syria, which the United States accuses of channeling Islamic militants into Iraq, denies any role in organizing groups opposed to the Iraqi government. Analysts and diplomats, however, said they strongly doubted that the groups could operate in Syria, a police state, without the approval of the government. ----Western diplomats and political commentators differed on the extent of influence Damascus could ultimately wield over the opposition groups. But they agreed that Syria had been using them to show the United States and Iran, often described as the big brother in its longstanding alliance with Damascus, that it had the capacity to play a major role in Iraq’s future. ----“Iran is the big player in Iraq,” said Mr. Hamidi, of Al Hayat, “but it lacks influence on the Baathists and the Sunnis.”----That would seem to create a natural opening for Syria, a predominantly Sunni country governed by its own version of the Baath Party. But its relations with the Iraqi Baathists have long been strained. Syria backed Iran in its war with Iraq in the 1980s and supported the United States against Mr. Hussein during the Persian Gulf war of 1991.----So Syria is walking a fine line, forging an “enemy of my enemy” relationship with the Iraqi Baathists and insurgents while still maintaining an alliance with Tehran. It is a risky strategy that carries the added danger of possibly incurring the wrath of Al Qaeda. ----“The conference brought together those people with a stake in Iraq and some of those who have not allied with America’s biggest foe, Al Qaeda,” said one political commentator, who asked not to be identified out of concern for his safety, referring to the canceled July conference. “This was a risky move by Syria, because it could draw attacks.”----After the United States-led invasion of Iraq, which Damascus strongly opposed, Syria became a haven for a number of high-ranking Baathists from Mr. Hussein’s government, many of whom were wanted by the American military. Syrian political analysts say they brought with them millions of dollars stolen from Iraq and were given refuge on condition that they kept a low profile because Syria feared reprisals from American forces in Iraq. ----The Iraqi government has in the past accused Damascus of harboring Iraqis who are aiding the insurgency. And Syria makes no secret of its sympathy for the insurgents.----“Syria looks to the resistance as freedom fighters, like George Washington fighting the British,” said Mahdi Dahlala, a former Syrian minister of information. “We understand that the rising up against occupation is a natural phenomenon.”----Syrian authorities have on occasion turned over wanted Iraqis when they wished to placate Washington or Baghdad. In 2005, Mr. Hussein’s half brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, who was No. 36 of the 55 Iraqis most wanted by the United States military, and 29 other former Baathist officials hiding in Syria were handed over to the Iraqi government on suspicion of aiding the insurgency. ----But during his visit to Syria in August, Prime Minister Maliki urged President Assad, to no avail, to hand over more wanted Iraqis widely believed to be hiding in Syria. ----“Syria is not going hand over any Iraqis to the Iraqi government unless they produce evidence of wrongdoing,” Mr. Dahlala said.----Officials in the Bush administration say that Syria has had a mixed record recently, taking some steps that American officials see as helpful in Iraq and others that show that Damascus is seeking to build its own influence there.----In an interview, a senior Defense Department official praised Damascus for canceling the opposition conference and noted that the Syrians had cracked down to a degree on Islamic militants operating near the border with Iraq, a move long sought by Washington.----An intelligence assessment released in August in Washington said that the Syrian government had gone after Islamic smuggling networks. But it did so not out of a desire to help the United States, the report said, but because it feared that the groups presented a threat to the Syrian government.----The report also criticized the Syrians for funneling money to Sunni insurgent groups inside Iraq “in a bid to increase Syrian influence.”----Syria has long had a regional strategy of influencing its neighbors’ politics by harboring their opposition groups. Washington imposed economic sanctions on Syria in 2004 for, among other things, its support of Hamas and several other militant Palestinian groups. ----Suspected of orchestrating the 2005 assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, Syria has also come under increasing pressure from the United States and France for its support of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia. ----Thabet Salem, a Syrian political commentator, said Syria was also exploiting a rift between two former Iraqi Baath Party leaders, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former vice president under Mr. Hussein, and Muhammad Younis al-Ahmed, who is believed to be living in Syria. The two men, accused by Washington and Baghdad of leading and financing terrorist operations in Iraq, have multimillion-dollar bounties on their heads. ----“Younis al-Ahmed is trying to go under the umbrella of the Syrians as a way to unite the Baathists,” Mr. Salem said. “And the Syrians quietly support him, because they could have more control over their actions.”----In January, Mr. Ahmed held a conference in the northern Syrian city of Homs to try to revive the Iraqi Baath Party. Some Syrians speculated that he wanted to take a more conciliatory stance with the Iraqi government and the United States. His rival, Mr. Douri, who is suspected of having stronger ties with insurgent groups, rejected the conference.----“Douri deeply distrusts working with the Syrians because he distrusts the Iranians, who are strong allies with Syria,” Mr. Salem said. ----Mr. Ahmed is believed to be garnering increasing support in Syria from former Iraqi Baathists, at the expense of Mr. Douri and other rivals, by offering cash incentives and Syrian residency permits. Loyalty to his leadership is said to be particularly strong among the poorer, Sunni Arab, segments of Syria’s two million Iraqi refugees.----“Syria could gain tremendous influence in Iraq if it could get control over the Iraqi Baathists,” Mr. Salem said. “It has much more in common, ideologically speaking, with them than it does with the Islamists in Hamas.” ----A spokesman for Mr. Douri’s wing of former Baathists living in Syria, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad, condemned Mr. Ahmed and denied suggestions that former Baathists were turning away from Mr. Douri or considering negotiating with Washington. ----“We want every American soldier out of Iraq, and we won’t stop fighting until that happens,” Mr. Muhammad said. ----David S. Cloud contributed reporting from Washington.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/world/middleeast/07syria.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.3.2. Syria Tells Journalists Israeli Raid Did Not Occur (back)
October 11, 2007--Syria Tells Journalists Israeli Raid Did Not Occur --By HUGH NAYLOR--DEIR EZ ZOR, Syria, Oct. 9 — Foreign journalists perused the rows of corn and the groves of date palms pregnant with low-hanging fruit here this week, while agents of Syria’s ever present security services stood in the background, watching closely, almost nervously.----“You see — around us are farmers, corn, produce, nothing else,” said Ahmed Mehdi, the Deir ez Zor director of the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands, a government agricultural research center, as he led two of the journalists around the facilities.----It was here at this research center in this sleepy Bedouin city in eastern Syria that an Israeli journalist reported that Israel had conducted an air raid in early September.----Ron Ben-Yishai, a writer for the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, grabbed headlines when he suggested that the government facility here was attacked during the raid, snapping photos of himself for his article in front of a sign for the agricultural center. ----He said he was denied access to the research center, which sits on the outskirts of the city, and he did not show any photos of the aftermath of the raid, though he said he saw some pits that looked like part of a mine or quarry, implying that they could also be sites where bombs fell.----His claims have compelled the Syrian government, already anxious over the rising tensions with Israel and the United States, to try to vindicate itself after a recent flurry of news reports that it may have ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons.----President Bashar al-Assad, in a BBC interview, played down the Israeli raid, saying that Israeli jets took aim at empty military buildings, but he did not give a specific location. His statement differed from the initial Syrian claim that it had repulsed the air raid before an attack occurred.----Israel has been unusually quiet about the attack on Sept. 6 and has effectively imposed a news blackout about it. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli opposition leader, on Sept. 19 became the first public figure in Israel to acknowledge that an attack had even taken place. Some Israeli officials have said, though not publicly, that the raid hit a nuclear-related facility that North Korea was helping to equip, but they have not specified where. ----On Monday, journalists toured the agricultural center at the government’s invitation to prove, Mr. Mehdi said, that no nuclear weapons program or Israeli attacks occurred there. “The allegations are completely groundless, and I don’t really understand where all this W.M.D. talk came from,” Mr. Mehdi said, referring to weapons of mass destruction.----“There was no raid here — we heard nothing,“ he added.----An entourage of the center’s employees lined up with him to greet the journalists. In a seemingly choreographed display, they nodded in agreement and offered their guests recently picked dates as tokens of hospitality.----They showed off a drab-colored laboratory that they said was used to conduct experiments on drought-resistant crops and recently plowed fields where vegetables and fruits are grown.----Mr. Ben-Yishai’s news report rattled Syrians for another reason: he apparently was able to slip into Syria, which bars Israelis from entering, and travel throughout the country.----“I think he came in on a European passport,” said Ghazi Bilto, who said he was a graphic designer for the agricultural center.----Burhan Okko, who also said he was a graphic designer for the center, interrupted, saying, “It was definitely on a German passport.” The international news media have speculated that the Israeli attack was aimed at a Syrian effort to acquire nuclear weapons materials, possibly with the aid of North Korea. Syria rejects these claims.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/world/middleeast/11syria.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.4. Turkey (back)
1.4.4.1. Border Action (back)
1.4.4.1.1. Turkey Escalates Action Near Iraq Border (back)
October 10, 2007--Turkey Escalates Action Near Iraq Border --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 8:30 p.m. ET----SIRNAK, Turkey (AP) -- Turkish warplanes and helicopter gunships attacked suspected positions of Kurdish rebels near Iraq on Wednesday, a possible prelude to a cross-border operation that would likely raise tensions with Washington.----The military offensive also reportedly included shelling of Turkish Kurd guerrilla hideouts in northern Iraq, which is predominantly Kurdish. U.S. officials are already preoccupied with efforts to stabilize other areas of Iraq and oppose Turkish intervention in the relatively peaceful north.----Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that preparations were under way for parliamentary authorization of a cross-border operation, and told private CNN-Turk TV that the motion might reach Parliament on Thursday. The preparations ''have started and are continuing,'' he said. An opposition nationalist party said it would support the proposal.----If parliament approves, the military could choose to launch an operation immediately or wait to see if the United States and its allies decide to crack down on the rebels, who have been fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey since 1984 in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.----''If you're against (the rebels), make your attitude clear and do whatever is necessary,'' Erdogan said in comments directed at Washington. ''If you cannot do it, then let us do it.''----Turkey and the United States are NATO allies, but relations have also been tense over a U.S. congressional bill that would label the mass killings of Armenians by Turks around the time of World War I as genocide.----Later Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted 27-21 in favor of the measure, sending it to the House floor.----President Bush strongly urged Congress to reject the bill, saying it would do ''great harm'' to U.S.-Turkish relations. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that 70 percent of U.S. air cargo headed for Iraq goes through Turkish air space. About a third of the fuel used by the U.S. military in Iraq also goes through Turkey.----''Access to airfields and to the roads and so on in Turkey would very much be put at risk if this resolution passes and Turkey reacts as strongly as we believe they will,'' Gates said.----Turkey has raised the possibility of impeding logistical and other U.S. military traffic now using the airspace.----''Unfortunately, some politicians in the United States have once again sacrificed important matters to petty domestic politics despite all calls to commonsense,'' President Abdullah Gul was quoted as saying by the state-run news agency Anatolia.----An Iraqi government spokesman said a Turkish military incursion would be regarded as a violation of Iraq's sovereignty.----''We are aware of the size of the threat Turkey is subjected to, but this does not give Turkey the right to enter Iraqi territories,'' said Ali al-Dabbagh.----Turkey has conducted two dozen large-scale incursions into Iraq since the late 1980s. The last such operation, in 1997, involved tens of thousands of troops and government-paid village guards. Results were inconclusive.----Top NATO commander Gen. John Craddock, the senior U.S. soldier in Europe, indicated that he could do little to stop a Turkish incursion.----Craddock was asked by reporters in Washington whether he can influence Turkey's actions in terms of Iraq.----''I won't say in terms of Iraq,'' he said. ''I will say that I talk with my counterparts, military leaders in Turkey, frequently, and we discuss issues about their border. And I'll leave it at that.''----The latest Turkish military activity followed attacks by rebels that have killed 15 soldiers since Sunday.----Turkish troops were blocking rebel escape routes into Iraq while F-16 and F-14 warplanes and Cobra helicopters dropped bombs on possible hideouts, Dogan news agency reported. The military had dispatched tanks to the region to support the operation against the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which the U.S. has branded a terrorist organization.----Also Wednesday, assailants hurled a hand grenade at a police vehicle in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, killing a police officer and wounding four other people, according to reports and officials. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Kurdish rebels have carried out similar attacks.----Elsewhere, authorities detained 20 Kurds, including eight women, at the Habur border gate with Iraq, the Sirnak governor's office said.----State-run Anatolia news agency said the suspects -- most of them university students -- were detained as they entered Turkey.----Turkish military leaders have described an incursion as a necessary tactic to push back the rebels and disrupt their safe havens and supply lines. The government is also deeply frustrated at its inability to curb attacks by concentrating on operations within its own borders, and under pressure to show resolve to an outraged public.----But such an operation could harm relations with Washington, create instability across the border and destroy livelihoods in the poor region. Turkey provides electricity and oil products to the Iraqi Kurdish administration in northern Iraq, and the annual trade volume at Habur gate, the main border crossing, is more than $10 billion.----''If this border gate is closed because of war, then everybody in this region will suffer,'' said Mehmet Yavuz, a Turkish truck driver, hauling cement to the Iraqi Kurdish city of Irbil. ''This border gate is daily bread for us.''--------Home --World U.S. N.Y. / Region Business Technology Science Health Sports Opinion Arts Style Travel Jobs Real Estate Automobiles Back to Top --Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Turkey-Iraq.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.4.1.2. Turkey May Request Incursion Into Iraq (back)
October 11, 2007--Turkey May Request Incursion Into Iraq --By REUTERS--Filed at 9:46 a.m. ET----ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's prime minister will ask parliament next week to authorize a military push into north Iraq to fight Kurdish rebels amid Turkish anger on Thursday at a U.S. vote branding Ottoman Turk killings of Armenians genocide.----Analysts say a large Turkish cross-border incursion remains unlikely, but Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government will seek authorization for it after a public holiday which ends on Sunday, a ruling party member told Reuters.----Washington fears an offensive could destabilize Iraq's most peaceful area and potentially the wider region, but Erdogan has been under mounting pressure to act after Wednesday's vote on the highly sensitive issue of the killings in 1915 of Armenians.----The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee approved a resolution branding the killings genocide -- a charge Turkey hotly denies. The resolution was proposed by a politician with many Armenian-Americans in his district.----The United States relies on Turkish bases to supply its war effort in Iraq. Any Turkish offensive into northern Iraq would seriously strain ties with Washington and possibly hurt Turkey's European Union accession bid.----European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned Turkey against a possible incursion. 'Any possibility of complicating even more the security situation in Iraq should not be welcome and therefore that's the message that we passed to our Turkish friends,' he said.----Ankara says 3,000 rebels from the outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) are based in northern Iraq from where they stage deadly attacks into Turkey.----'The resolution won't go to parliament today. It will be sent to parliament after Bayram (public holiday),' the senior ruling AK Party politician, who declined to be named, told Reuters. The holiday begins on Friday and ends on Sunday.----The Turkish government cautioned that relations with its NATO ally would be harmed by the U.S. committee's decision. The non-binding resolution now goes to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Democratic leaders say there will be a vote by mid-November.----Ankara will lobby Congress to prevent the bill from being approved. Erdogan is due to travel to Washington in early November for talks with U.S. President George W. Bush.----The Bush administration on Wednesday urged Turkey not to take any 'concrete' action after the congressional committee angered Ankara by passing the Armenia genocide resolution.----'The problem that we have is that this is clearly a very sensitive subject for one of our closest allies and an ally that is incredibly important to the United States in terms of our operations in Iraq,' U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in London on Thursday.----Potential moves could include blocking U.S. access to the Incirlik air base, cancelling procurement contracts, downscaling bilateral visits and joint military exercises, diplomats say. ----CROSS-BORDER OFFENSIVE----The committee's decision on Wednesday is expected to weaken U.S. influence over Turkey, which has NATO's second-largest army, at a time when the government ponders whether to push for the military operation into mainly Kurdish northern Iraq.----'Unfortunately there is a linkage between the bill and a Turkish incursion into northern Iraq because the Turkish public will be much angered towards the United States and the government will feel so as well,' Faruk Logoglu, an influential former Turkish ambassador to Washington, told Reuters.----'However I think the madness of the Armenian bill wouldn't be a green light for an incursion into northern Iraq. On the contrary the U.S. should, and may, do something against the PKK to please the Turkish state and its people,' he said.----Turkey's military has frequently called on the government to give them the green light to pursue the PKK -- which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the EU -- into Iraq.----Parliament, where Erdogan's ruling centre-right AK Party has a big majority, would have to grant permission for troops to cross the border into Iraq. Passing the measure would not automatically mean troops going into northern Iraq.----Big incursions by Turkey in 1995 and 1997, involving an estimated 35,000 and 50,000 troops respectively, failed to dislodge the rebels.----A senior Turkish diplomat told Reuters Ankara was disappointed with what he said was U.S. and Iraqi failure so far to stop the PKK. He said the government was still holding out that their counterparts would deal with the rebels.----(Additional reporting by Evren Mesci in Ankara, Emma Ross-Thomas in Istanbul, Sue Pleming in Washington and David Brunnstrom in Brussels)------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-turkey-iraq.html?pagewanted=print
1.4.4.2. Turkey Angry Over House Armenian Genocide Vote (back)
October 12, 2007--Turkey Angry Over House Armenian Genocide Vote --By SEBNEM ARSU and STEVEN LEE MYERS--ISTANBUL, Oct. 11 — Turkey reacted angrily today to a House committee vote in Washington on Wednesday to condemn the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in World War I as an act of genocide, calling the decision “unacceptable.” ----In a rare and uncharacteristically strong condemnation, President Abdullah Gul criticized the vote by the House Foreign Relations Committee in a statement to the semi-official Anatolian News Agency, and warned that the decision could work against the United States. ----“Unfortunately, some politicians in the United States have once more dismissed calls for common sense, and made an attempt to sacrifice big issues for minor domestic political games,” Mr. Gul said. “This is not a type of attitude that works to the benefit of, and suits, representatives of a great power like the Unites States of America. This unacceptable decision of the committee, like similar ones in the past, has no validity and is not worth of the respect of the Turkish people.”----The Turkish foreign ministry, in a statement today, warned that relations with the United States will be made more complicated. “The committee’s approval of this resolution was an irresponsible move which, at a greatly sensitive time, will make relations with a friend and ally” more difficult, the Anatolian News Agency quoted the foreign ministry statement as saying, according to Reuters.----The House decision rebuffed an intense campaign by the White House and earlier warnings from Turkey’s government that the vote would gravely strain its relations with the United States.----The vote was nonbinding and so largely symbolic, but its consequences could reach far beyond bilateral relations and spill into the war in Iraq. ----Turkish officials and lawmakers warned that if the resolution was approved by the full House, they would reconsider supporting the American war effort, which includes permission to ship essential supplies through Turkey and northern Iraq.----Before the Wednesday vote, President Bush appeared on the South Lawn of the White House and implored the House not to take up the issue, only to have a majority of the committee disregard his warning at the end of the day, by a vote of 27 to 21.----“We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915,” Mr. Bush said in remarks that, reflecting official American policy, carefully avoided the use of the word genocide. “This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings, and its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror.”----A total of 1.5 million Armenians were killed beginning in 1915 in a systematic campaign by the fraying Ottoman Empire to drive Armenians out of eastern Turkey. Turks acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of Armenians died but contend that the deaths, along with thousands of others, resulted from the war that ended with the creation of modern Turkey in 1923.----The House resolution was introduced early in the current session of Congress and has quietly moved forward over the last few weeks. But it provoked a fierce lobbying fight that pitted the politically influential Armenian-American population against the Turkish government, which hired equally influential former lawmakers like Robert L. Livingston, Republican of Louisiana, and Richard A. Gephardt, the former Democratic House majority leader, who backed a similar resolution when he was in Congress. ----Backers of the resolution said Congressional action was overdue.----“Despite President George Bush twisting arms and making deals, justice prevailed,” said Representative Brad Sherman, a Democrat of California and a sponsor of the resolution. ”For if we hope to stop future genocides we need to admit to those horrific acts of the past.”----The issue of the Armenian genocide has perennially transfixed Congress and bedeviled presidents of both parties. Ronald Reagan was the only president publicly to call the killings genocide, but his successors have avoided the term.----When the issue last arose, in 2000, a similar resolution also won approval by a House committee, but President Clinton then succeeded in persuading a Republican speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, to withdraw the measure before the full House could vote. That time, too, Turkey had warned of canceling arms deals and withdrawing support for American air forces then patrolling northern Iraq under the auspices of the United Nations.----The new speaker, Nancy Pelosi, faced pressure from Democrats — especially colleagues in California, New Jersey and Michigan, with their large Armenian populations — to revive the resolution again after her party gained control of the House and Senate this year.----There is Democratic support for the resolution in the Senate, but it is unlikely to move in the months ahead because of Republican opposition and a shortage of time. Still, the Turkish government has made it clear that it would regard House passage alone as a harsh American indictment.----The sharply worded Turkish warnings against the resolution, especially the threats to cut off support for the American war in Iraq, seemed to embolden some of the resolution’s supporters. “If they use this to destabilize our solders in Iraq, well, then shame on them,” said Representative Joseph Crowley, a Democrat from New York who voted for it.----The Democratic leadership, however, appeared divided. Representative Rahm Emanuel, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, who worked in the Clinton White House when the issue came up in 2000, opposes the resolution.----In what appeared to be an effort to temper the anger caused by the issue, Democrats said they were considering a parallel resolution that would praise Turkey’s close relations with the United States even as the full House prepares to consider a resolution that blames the forerunner of modern Turkey for one of the worst crimes in history.----“Neither of these resolutions is necessary,” a White House spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, said Wednesday evening. He said that Mr. Bush was “very disappointed” with the vote.----Mr. Bush discussed the resolution in the White House on Wednesday with his senior national security aides. Speaking by secure video from Baghdad, the senior American officials in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, raised the resolution and warned that its passage could harm the war effort in Iraq, senior Bush aides said.----Appearing outside the West Wing after that meeting, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates noted that about 70 percent of all air cargo sent to Iraq passed through or came from Turkey, as did 30 percent of fuel and virtually all the new armored vehicles designed to withstand mines and bombs. ----“They believe clearly that access to airfields and to the roads and so on in Turkey would be very much put at risk if this resolution passes and the Turks react as strongly as we believe they will,” Mr. Gates said, referring to the remarks of General Petraeus and Mr. Crocker.----Turkey severed military ties with France after its Parliament voted in 2006 to make the denial of the Armenian genocide a crime. ----As the committee prepared to vote Wednesday, Mr. Bush, the American ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, and other officials cajoled lawmakers by phone. ----Representative Mike Pence, a conservative Republican from Indiana who has backed the resolution in the past, said Mr. Bush persuaded him to change his position and vote no. He described the decision as gut-wrenching, underscoring the emotions stirred in American politics by a 92-year-old question. ----“While this is still the right position,” Mr. Pence said, referring to the use of the term genocide, “it is not the right time.”----The House Democratic leadership met Wednesday morning with Turkey’s ambassador to Washington, Nabi Sensoy, and other Turkish officials, who argued against moving ahead with a vote. But Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who now holds Mr. Gephardt’s old job as majority leader, said he and Ms. Pelosi would bring the resolution to the floor before Congress adjourned this year.----In Turkey, a fresh wave of violence raised the specter of a Turkish raid into northern Iraq, something the United States is strongly urging against. A policeman was killed and six others were wounded in a bomb attack in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey on Wednesday, the state-run Anatolian News Agency reported.----The Associated Press reported from the town of Sirnak that Turkish warplanes and helicopters were attacking positions along the southern border with Iraq that are suspected of belonging to Kurdish rebels who have been fighting Turkish forces for years.----The Turkish government continued to prepare to request Parliament’s permission for an offensive into Iraq, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggesting that a vote could be held after the end of Ramadan. Parliamentary approval would bring Turkey the closest it has been since 2003 to a full-scale military offensive into Iraq.----Sedat Laciner, from the International Strategic Research Institution, said that the Turkish public felt betrayed by what was perceived as a lack of American support for Turkey in its battle against the Kurds.----“American officials could think that Turkish people would ultimately forget about the lack of U.S. support in this struggle,” Mr. Laciner said, using words that could apply equally to views about the Armenian genocide. “Memories of Turks, however, are not that easy to erase once it hits sensitive spots.”----Sebnem Arsu reported from Istanbul and Steven Lee Myers from Washington. Carl Hulse contributed reporting from Washington and Sabrina Tavernise from Baghdad.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/europe/12turkey.html?hp=&pagewanted=print
1.4.5. Desolation Awaits Returning Palestinian Refugees (back)
October 11, 2007--Desolation Awaits Returning Palestinian Refugees --By THANASSIS CAMBANIS--NAHR AL BARED REFUGEE CAMP, Lebanon, Oct. 10 — The first 500 Palestinian refugees returned here on Wednesday to find many of their shell-shattered homes unlivable, a month after the Lebanese Army ousted a jihadist splinter group from the camp.----At the main gate, the trickle of refugees the army had permitted to go home braved a gantlet of hecklers, razor wire and soldiers who searched their bags of food and clothing.----“All that was left of my room was the four walls,” said Maysa al-Sharaf, 23, who found piles of rubble filling each room of her home. “I was hoping to find something — at least my favorite pair of black trousers. But there was nothing.”----She was so devastated that she returned to her temporary lodgings in another camp, her cellphone full of fuzzy images of destruction she had snapped despite army warnings that photography was prohibited. “This is my friend’s living room,” she said, showing a photograph of upturned, broken furniture and walls punctured by shells. “She hasn’t seen it yet.”----Lebanese officials said they wanted to create from the camp’s ruins a “new model” for the 400,000 Palestinian refugees in the country, who have largely been a force unto themselves for more than three decades. Most are people who fled the Israeli military in 1948, or their descendants. Many others came after the 1967 war. ----To build this model, the government must balance the demands of the refugees against those of the Lebanese host population, which is strapped by unemployment and economic stagnation. ----“This is going to be a model, so the Palestinians see they are better off under the authority of the Lebanese government,” said Khalil Makkawi, the leader of a government committee charged with negotiating between the government and the Palestinians.----Tensions run high between Lebanese, who blame the Palestinians for turning a blind eye to violent jihadists like Fatah al Islam, and Palestinians, who say the Lebanese trap them in poverty and confine them in camps with no productive distractions for the young.----The government’s effort to improve the situation has been more a model of heightened conflict than of coexistence. ----The Lebanese Army drove out Fatah al Islam, a small group of insurgents, on Sept. 2, after three months of fighting that killed 157 soldiers and more than 100 militants. The fight at Nahr al Bared spread only briefly to one other camp because there was little popular support for the Islamist faction. But if the Lebanese government threatens the autonomy of other armed Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, it could meet much stiffer and wider resistance.----“Fatah al Islam had nothing to do with us,” said Ahmed Abu Eid, 37, who was squatting in the schoolyard of Beddawi refugee camp, where most of the refugees from Nahr al Bared live. “We didn’t go and bring them from Syria and Saudi Arabia.” His house was destroyed, and he has been told to find housing for his family until the old camp is rebuilt, in two or three years.----Standing by a festering barrel of garbage, he watched with relatives as those allowed to return on Wednesday took permission slips from United Nations officials and piled into minibuses for the half-hour drive to the seaside. With a detached look in her eyes and no smile, one relative slowly clapped for a departing bus. ----“They’re going home,” said the woman, Manal Ahmed Haj. “We’re not going anywhere.”----Mr. Abu Eid added, “We’d rather join them in the rubble than continue living in this school.”----On Wednesday, journalists were allowed just inside the main gate of the camp, closely accompanied by soldiers. But those allowed farther inside said that many buildings had been set on fire or stripped bare.----“We saw houses burned from the inside, the appliances gone, and even a stolen refrigerator blocking a stairwell,” said Greg Ross, a Scottish volunteer from the nonprofit group Nabaa, who accompanied refugees. ----Some refugees have seen their furniture and televisions on sale in local markets, he said. The military denies that it allowed soldiers or outsiders to loot the camp, but the accusations have heightened tensions between the military and the Palestinians.----“My three sons were soldiers, and they died fighting here,” a woman at the camp gate shouted at the Palestinians. “They’ll never come home. Why should you be allowed to go home?”----It was unclear how many of the refugees — a tiny fraction of the 32,000 displaced from the camp by the fighting — would be able to remain in their homes, which also had widespread damage from bullets, shells and shrapnel. Ahmed Bashir Abu Rabih was told by the United Nations agency in charge of the camps that his house was safe for habitation, but on Wednesday he found the road home blocked by rubble. He stayed with a cousin in a less damaged part of the camp.----The standoff at the camp prompted a backlash against the Palestinians and exacerbated their fears that they could lose what little autonomy they had to work and travel outside of their camps. Palestinians are not allowed to hold most skilled jobs and must have permission from the Lebanese military to leave their camps. But inside, Palestinian factions have free rein, including the right to bear arms.----“From the beginning, they didn’t like having Palestinians here,” said Dalal Kohder, 23, a refugee whose family home here had been reduced to rubble. She predicted that now, her family would have to live under greater scrutiny. “They’re not going to give us more freedom,” she said. “They’ll humiliate us.” ------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/world/middleeast/11lebanon.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
1.5. Asia (back)
1.5.1. Afghanistan (back)
1.5.1.1. Afghanistan: 15 Prisoners Executed (back)
October 9, 2007--World Briefing Asia--Afghanistan: 15 Prisoners Executed --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Ending a three-year moratorium on the death penalty, Afghanistan executed 15 prisoners in Kabul by gunfire for crimes including murder, kidnapping and armed robbery. Officials said no fighters for the Taliban or Al Qaeda were among them. The deaths could complicate relationships between the government and some NATO countries with military forces that hand captured militants over to the Afghan government, raising the question of whether countries that do not use the death penalty might stop surrendering prisoners. The Dutch Foreign Ministry expressed distress, saying, “Abolition of the death penalty is one of our priorities in terms of international human rights policy.”----Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/world/asia/09briefs-executed.html?pagewanted=print
1.5.1.2. German and 5 Afghans Freed in Taliban Trade (back)
October 11, 2007--German and 5 Afghans Freed in Taliban Trade --By ABDUL WAHEED WAFA and KIRK SEMPLE--KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 10 — A German engineer and five Afghans who were kidnapped by the Taliban in July were freed Wednesday in exchange for the release of five Taliban prisoners, said Mohammad Naiem, the governor of a district in Wardak Province. ----The Taliban freed the engineer, Rudolf Blechschmidt, and the Afghans to government officials in Wardak, in central Afghanistan, after negotiations led by local tribal elders, Mr. Naiem said.----Among the released Taliban was the father of the Taliban commander thought to have organized Mr. Blechschmidt’s kidnapping, Afghan officials said. The Afghan government drew widespread criticism for a similar deal in March, when it agreed to free five Taliban prisoners to win the release of an Italian journalist, but then refused to make a similar deal for his Afghan interpreter. The interpreter was killed. ----The government insisted at the time that the exchange was “a one-time deal.” Mr. Naiem said Wednesday that the freed Taliban were “not very important Taliban commanders,” Agence France-Presse reported. ----Mr. Blechschmidt, the five Afghans and another German were kidnapped in July in Wardak, southwest of Kabul, and the Taliban said they would free them if Germany withdrew its more than 3,000 troops from Afghanistan.----The kidnappers killed the second German after he had a heart attack.----The German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, released a statement on Wednesday hailing the release of Mr. Blechschmidt and saying that the freedom of the five Afghans was “a source of great relief to us.”----Asked whether the German government had pressed the Afghans to trade the prisoners for the hostages, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman declined to comment. ----“In cases like that we don’t comment or go into detail on the work of the crisis team,” said the spokeswoman, Julia Gross. “We’ve never disclosed any details or commented on the work of the crisis team.”----Mr. Blechschmidt was abducted a day before Taliban insurgents kidnapped 23 South Koreans in Ghazni Province, which borders Wardak.----The rebels killed two of the South Koreans when the Afghan government refused to meet their demands for the release of Taliban prisoners.----The surviving South Koreans were freed in August after talks between the Taliban and the South Korean government. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. ----Mr. Blechschmidt was released two days after he appeared on a video, appealing to the Afghan and German governments to negotiate with the militants to secure his release before winter. He said that he was in poor health but that an Afghan doctor had helped him.----In August, a video broadcast on Afghan television showed Mr. Blechschmidt slumped over and coughing, news services reported. ----In September, the Taliban briefly kidnapped four employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross who had gone to Wardak to negotiate the release of Mr. Blechschmidt and the five Afghans. ----Abdul Waheed Wafa reported from Kabul, and Kirk Semple from Mazar-i-Sharif. Nicholas Kulish contributed reporting from Berlin. ----Abdul Waheed Wafa reported from Kabul, and Kirk Semple from Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. Nicholas Kulish contributed reporting from Berlin.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/world/asia/11afghan.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
1.5.2. Pakistan (back)
1.5.2.1. Attacks (back)
1.5.2.1.1. Scores Killed in Pakistani Tribal Areas (back)
October 8, 2007--Scores Killed in Pakistani Tribal Areas --By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS--MIRAM SHAH, Pakistan, Oct. 7 (Agence France-Presse) — At least 58 people, including 16 soldiers, were killed Sunday in two battles between militants and troops in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas, the military and local residents said.----Security forces attacked militant bases and hide-outs in the North Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan, said a military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad. He said that at least 20 militants and 6 soldiers were killed, and that 6 soldiers were wounded, according to a military statement.----Local residents said four civilians also died, including three women, although the military could not confirm that report.----The operation against the militants was in retaliation for overnight attacks Friday on two military convoys in the region that killed 2 soldiers and wounded 30, General Arshad said.----In a second battle, militants attacked a convoy in another section of the same region, with the resulting clashes killing 10 soldiers and 18 militants, General Arshad said.----The president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has been under mounting pressure to move against militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban who American officials say have been regrouping in the tribal areas since fleeing over the border from Afghanistan in 2001.----Violence has increased in the region since security forces raided the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July. It had been occupied by militants.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/08/world/asia/08pakistan.html?pagewanted=print
1.5.2.1.2. Tribesmen Urge Pakistan to Halt Air Raids After Heavy Civilian and Combatant Toll (back)
October 11, 2007--Tribesmen Urge Pakistan to Halt Air Raids After Heavy Civilian and Combatant Toll --By ISMAIL KHAN and CARLOTTA GALL--PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Oct. 10 — Tribesmen appealed to the Pakistani military on Wednesday to cease air raids in the tribal regions near Afghanistan so they could bury some 60 people killed in heavy fighting with militants over the last few days. ----The military was also counting its losses, and one security official, who asked not to be named, said that more than 60 members of the security forces had been killed in the four days of fighting. Scores of people have fled the area and taken refuge with the wounded outside the region.----The fighting has been the fiercest in the tribal areas in several years and has been concentrated in the area of Mir Ali in the tribal region of North Waziristan, which the Taliban and Al Qaeda have long used as a base. It seems to have halted after heavy casualties on both sides and among the civilian population. ----A security official said the militants had left the area, and had probably pulled back to the Shawal Mountains, a remote area close to the Afghan border that has been used by members of the Taliban and foreign Qaeda militants. The local tribesmen asked the military to stop the bombardment because the militants had left, the official said.----A group of local tribesmen met with military officials in Miram Shah, the capital of North Waziristan, where the military has a base, and requested a cessation of hostilities so they could bury their dead, local journalists reported. Residents reached by telephone said that except for a morning round of shelling, the day was relatively quiet.----Military planes dropped pamphlets on the town of Mir Ali telling the people who had fled their homes that it was safe to return. “The Army will not fire heavy weapons like missiles, artillery and rockets on residential areas,” the pamphlets said, according to townspeople reached by phone.----Officials have said dozens of militants have been killed, but there has been no independent confirmation. Foreign fighters are known to operate in and around Mir Ali. Uzbek fighters were involved in the clashes, and several Arabs commanded the militant forces, the security official said. ----The militants ambushed military convoys on Saturday and Sunday, killing about 30 soldiers. The Pakistani air force responded by bombing half a dozen of the surrounding villages.----People living in Mir Ali said villagers buried more than 60 people killed in the bombing raids on Tuesday in the villages of Ipi and Haider Khel. Villagers reported Tuesday that 12 bombs were dropped on the bazaar in Ipi. Many of the dead were civilians; it is not clear if there were also fighters among them.----The security official said that a top commander under Siraj Haqqani, the son of a veteran Afghan mujahedeen leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, had been confirmed killed on Monday. The militant commander, Eid Niaz Borakhel, was an important lieutenant of Siraj Haqqani and the leader of the Taliban council in the regional headquarters at Miram Shah. ----The Haqqanis control the most powerful militant network in the region and are known as important protectors and allies of members of Al Qaeda in the region.----Two shopkeepers in Mir Ali, who asked not to be named, said frightened tribesmen had started fleeing from several villages after the airstrikes and artillery bombardments in the area. They said many families were seen leaving their homes in a string of nine villages around Mir Ali and heading toward the Bannu district along unused railroad tracks to avoid the main roads. Security forces have cordoned off main roads.----“I walked on foot with my family from Mir Ali and reached Bannu in four hours,” said a local journalist, Ihsanullah Dawar, who lives in the area. He said that Mir Ali had been besieged for the last four days and that the main road had been closed to traffic.----Doctors in the hospital in Bannu said that 165 wounded people had been treated, and that 60 of them were in a critical condition, including women and children.----Ismail Khan reported from Peshawar, and Carlotta Gall from Islamabad, Pakistan.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/world/asia/11pakistan.html?pagewanted=print
1.5.2.2. Political Paralysis Lets Pakistan Militants Thrive (back)
October 10, 2007--Political Paralysis Lets Pakistan Militants Thrive --By CARLOTTA GALL--ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Oct. 9 — Three days of fierce fighting have convulsed Pakistan’s tribal areas and exposed what tribal elders, politicians and local officials concede is the government’s lingering paralysis in dealing with the threat from Al Qaeda and Taliban militants spilling out of the region. ----The fighting, the heaviest in more than four years, has left at least 45 Pakistani soldiers dead as pro-Taliban militants and foreign fighters mount a vengeful campaign on all law enforcement in the area.----The clashes come on top of months of deteriorating security after the militants tore up peace agreements with the government in July. Since then, more than 250 members of the security forces have been killed in sustained attacks, the highest losses since the 1970s. ----The upheaval underscores complaints by a range of officials that the government has been so absorbed in securing the re-election of Gen. Pervez Musharraf as president that it allowed the security threat to go unchecked. ----Even after General Musharraf’s re-election on Saturday, parliamentary elections and wrangling between the president and an incoming civilian government could allow the situation in the tribal areas to drift even further, they warn. ----“The whole system of government is in jeopardy and the people are confused,” Mehmood Shah, a retired brigadier who served as secretary of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas until 2005, said of the region. ----“The government is absolutely paralyzed,” he added. “It will take some time for them to turn the tables.”----Today, by nearly all accounts, the government is caught in a double bind. After several years of trying to crush the militants, the government entered into a peace agreement with them and with the local tribes playing host to them in 2006. Those accords have now broken down. ----At the same time, the government has concluded that it cannot defeat the militants with arms alone, officials say. The public, too, is against another military campaign, which it sees as serving an American agenda, not Pakistani interests. ----Western officials, meanwhile, insist that if left alone, the militants and their Qaeda allies are more dangerous, because they can exploit the freedom of movement and the territory to train and plot more attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and even farther abroad. ----The lack of focus and leadership in the government has left the police, bureaucrats, tribal officials and the military reluctant to act, Mr. Shah said, even in the face of increasingly brazen assaults. Clashes are reported almost daily, he said, and the attacks are almost always initiated by the militants. ----“They are definitely reactive, not proactive,” a Western defense official said of the Pakistani military, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Pakistani Army still has a long way to go in training and adopting a new counterinsurgency doctrine, another Western military official added.----The militants and their Qaeda allies have taken advantage of the disarray to spread their attacks and influence on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. ----The fierce fighting of the past few days, which has included bombing by the Pakistani air force, has occurred in North Waziristan, where local pro-Taliban militants and members of Al Qaeda have carved out a stronghold for themselves since 2001.----And the militants continue to dispatch fighters, roadside bombs and suicide bombers to Afghanistan, according to Seth Jones of the Rand Corporation, who received security briefings from NATO and United States forces on a recent visit there. ----They are also able to run an effective propaganda operation and to shelter high-level Qaeda members, including Ayman al-Zawahri, who is believed to be in or around the tribal region of Bajaur, he said. ----Not least, the militants have sought to counter recent steps taken by the government to bolster local security forces and stem the militants’ influence in the neighboring North-West Frontier Province and beyond. ----In fact, the militants have increasingly expanded from their early aim of fighting United States forces in Afghanistan to waging an insurgency inside Pakistan itself. ----Even as a bloody siege between armed militants and security forces unfolded in July at the Red Mosque in Islamabad, the capital, tribesmen mounted numerous attacks on military checkpoints and police positions across the frontier area. ----They then reached deep into the heart of the military and intelligence establishment with suicide bombings against a busload of intelligence personnel and at the mess hall of a special forces camp near Islamabad on Sept. 13. ----Those who try to stand up to the militants face intimidation, or worse. On Sept. 15, Maulana Hassan Jan, a well-known cleric who was a mentor to many Taliban, was shot and killed in the frontier city of Peshawar after denouncing suicide bombing. ----The crowd that turned out to mourn the cleric filled a stadium. Yet the mourners turned their ire on the government officials present, including the interior minister, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, forcing them to leave. ----Still, the government prefers to pursue negotiations with the militants rather than fight them, said the governor of the North-West Frontier Province, a retired general, Ali Muhammad Jan Orakzai. ----“Obviously our priority is peace, because if there is no peace there would be no development,” he said in a recent interview in the governor’s colonnaded residence in Peshawar.----The government wanted to renegotiate the peace agreements, introducing more stringent measures, and to win over the militants and tribespeople with the promise of a nine-year, $2 billion development program. ----The governor said the military would be used where required. But he expressed the hope that once local security forces were better trained and equipped, the government could withdraw the military from the tribal areas, deploying troops only on the Afghan border.----For months, General Musharraf and his officials have talked similarly of the need for a comprehensive approach that involves political engagement, development and an increase in local security forces. ----In support, the United States has pledged $750 million over five years in development assistance and is helping to train local security forces, the Frontier Corps and the Frontier Constabulary. ----Javed Iqbal, the additional secretary for the tribal areas, also advocates negotiation over military action. “The use of force is not going to take us anywhere,” he said. ----Yet the most important element — political engagement — is lacking, many in the region say. “If there is sincerity, the tribal elders and the people can mediate and find a negotiated solution to this problem,” said Malik Khan Marjan, a tribal elder from North Waziristan who heads a council of elders. “But there are no talks, only fighting,” he said. ----Mr. Marjan heads the 67-member elected council for his region of North Waziristan. In all, there are 476 elected council members from the seven tribal regions. ----Mr. Marjan said the government had never bothered with the council, and the council members had never met with the president, except once to attend a speech. “He did not have time to hear us,” Mr. Marjan said. “We had no chance to tell him what we think. Things are deteriorating and there are no decisions, no consultations.” ----The predicament facing the government is illustrated by the capture on Aug. 30 of about 250 soldiers. The man holding them is Baitullah Mehsud, a veteran of fighting in Afghanistan. He is wanted for dispatching militants across the Afghan border and running militant training camps, according to the governor, Mr. Orakzai. He said the government was demanding that Mr. Mehsud free the soldiers. Tribal elders had negotiated the freedom of 32 men, and last week, Mr. Orakzai said he was hopeful they could negotiate an end to the ordeal. ----Only days later, Mr. Mehsud dumped the bullet-ridden bodies of three soldiers at a gas station, after demanding that the military cease operations in the area.----Ismail Khan contributed reporting from Peshawar, Pakistan.----Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/world/asia/10pakistan.html?pagewanted=print
1.5.3. As Sarkozy and Putin Meet, Iran Quickly Comes Between Them (back)
October 11, 2007--As Sarkozy and Putin Meet, Iran Quickly Comes Between Them --By SOPHIA KISHKOVSKY--MOSCOW, Oct. 10 — The first meeting of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France quickly brought out their split views on Iran, with Mr. Putin expressing doubt that it was trying to build nuclear weapons. ----Mr. Sarkozy came to Moscow urging tougher economic pressure on Tehran, but Mr. Putin quickly dampened the idea. At a joint appearance on Wednesday, Mr. Putin said: “We don’t have information showing that Iran is striving to produce nuclear weapons. That’s why we’re proceeding on the basis that Iran does not have such plans.” ----That conflicts with the views of the United States and much of Western Europe, a division that will come up again this week when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits Moscow. ----Mr. Putin, who will attend a regional meeting of nations in Tehran next week, said he wanted Iran to fully disclose its nuclear activities. “We share the concerns of our partners that all of Iran’s programs be made absolutely transparent,” he said. ----Russia has been building a nuclear power plant in Bushehr, in southern Iran, a project that has been plagued by delays. The United States and many European countries worry that Iran intends to apply the technology to build nuclear weapons. ----Mr. Sarkozy acknowledged that he and Mr. Putin perhaps “do not have quite the same analysis of the situation” in Iran. ----France argues for aggressive multilateral action to impose sanctions as the best way to avoid military action by — or against — the Iranians. But the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, told Russian news agencies that it would be irresponsible to take sudden action on Iran before the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog in Vienna completes negotiations with Tehran on disclosures about its nuclear program. ----In their public appearances, Mr. Putin and Mr. Sarkozy were polite if not always warm. ----Mr. Sarkozy addressed his close relationship with the United States at Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Russia’s oldest engineering school. Answering a question in a packed hall on whether he agrees with the idea of a multipolar world, he said his friendship with America should not be misinterpreted. ----“I am a friend of the United States,” he said. “A friend does not mean a vassal.” ------The two leaders both spoke of the aerospace industry as a key area of Russian economic cooperation. Russia has invested in the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company. ----Mr. Sarkozy did not repeat his recent charges of Russian “brutality” in its relations with smaller countries on energy supplies, stressing instead the need for transparency and reciprocal investments, which he said could even include private French investment in Gazprom, the state-controlled Russian natural gas monopoly that much of Western Europe depends on. ----But Mr. Sarkozy did not omit criticisms of Russia.----At the university he said that a free press was “essential to a free society.” France was sharply critical of the Russian government and the curtailing of press freedoms in Russia after the killing one year ago of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who wrote critically of the Kremlin’s role in Chechnya. ----Sophia Kishkovsky reported from Moscow and Graham Bowley from New York.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/world/europe/11putin.html?ref=world&pagewanted=print
1.5.4. Ex - Atom Chief: President Boosts Anti - Iran Alliance (back)
October 11, 2007--Ex - Atom Chief: President Boosts Anti - Iran Alliance --By REUTERS--Filed at 8:51 a.m. ET----TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator suggested President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's approach in a nuclear row with the West had pushed France to ally with arch-foe the United States, a newspaper said on Thursday.----Since the election of President Nicolas Sarkozy, France has taken a lead in calling for tougher sanctions against Iran, a move Washington has been pushing for because it believes Iran wants to build atomic bombs. Tehran denies the charge.----Critics of Ahmadinejad say the president has provoked Western powers into imposing two rounds of U.N. sanctions, and to consider more, with his fiery speeches against the West.----Hassan Rohani, replaced as chief negotiator in 2005 after Ahmadinejad took office, is a member of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, which helps draw up nuclear policy.----But under Iran's system of clerical rule, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say in all state matters.----'Today in the international arena, we are now, more than ever, under threat. A country's diplomacy is successful when it doesn't allow the enemy to find more allies against it,' Rohani was quoted as saying by the daily Etemad.----'Unfortunately our enemies are increasing. Until yesterday, Britain stood by America, but today France has joined the United States with more fervor,' he added.----Rohani did not refer to the president by name but Etemad, which often publishes articles critical of the government, said Rohani's comments were directed at Ahmadinejad and his government. Other newspapers also carried Rohani's remarks.----Supporters of the president criticize Rohani for temporarily suspending nuclear enrichment work. They say this policy failed to stop Western pressure over Iran's plans.----Ahmadinejad and Rohani have verbally sparred in the past on how to resolve Iran's nuclear row although many -- even in the pro-reform camp of Rohani -- oppose another suspension of nuclear work, the main U.N. demand to avert further penalties.----'Some losers go and tell (the West) they want to negotiate and the enemies, because they are trapped in a deadlock, welcome them,' Etemad quoted Ahmadinejad as saying on Friday.----The United Nations has demanded Iran halt enrichment work, a process which can make both fuel for power plants or, should Iran desire, material for warheads. Iran insists it only wants to master atomic technology so it can generate electricity.----The United States and France have been calling for a third round of sanctions. Britain backs that push.------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-iran-nuclear.html?pagewanted=print
1.5.5. Bomb Kills Two At Indian Muslim Pilgrimage Site (back)
October 11, 2007--Bomb Kills Two At Indian Muslim Pilgrimage Site --By REUTERS--Filed at 10:33 a.m. ET----NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A small bomb exploded just after evening prayers at an important and crowded Muslim shrine in northwestern India on Thursday, killing at least two people and wounding eight, according to police.----The blast occurred at around 6.15 p.m. (1245 GMT) just outside the famous Ajmer Sharif shrine, or dargah, in the city of Ajmer in the desert state of Rajasthan just before the end of the Ramadan fasting month.----Hundreds of people were in and around the shrine at the time, many breaking their fast after prayers.----'A big crowd had gathered outside the main shrine to break their fast,' Lalit Maheswari, additional police chief for Ajmer told Reuters. 'The bomb was placed in a bag.'----'We have recovered some mobile instruments, so we think some sophisticated device was used, but an investigation is going on.'----Television pictures showed a man being stretchered from the site with his clothes apparently torn from his body and what appeared to be a corpse with his eyes open.----The shrine, which contains the tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty, is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Muslims in India.----Shortly afterwards, in disputed Kashmir to the north, at least two suspected Muslim militants stormed a police camp in the summer capital, Srinagar, firing guns and throwing grenades, police said.----The gunbattle was still continuing and there were no further details, they added.--------Home --World U.S. N.Y. / Region Business Technology Science Health Sports Opinion Arts Style Travel Jobs Real Estate Automobiles Back to Top --Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-india-bomb.html?pagewanted=print
1.6. Canadian Sitcom Gets Humanitarian Award (back)
October 10, 2007--Canadian Sitcom Gets Humanitarian Award --By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS--Filed at 2:05 p.m. ET----TORONTO (AP) -- ''Little Mosque on the Prairie,'' a Canadian sitcom about a Muslim community in a fictional town in central Canada, is getting the Search for Common Ground Award.----The CBC show follows a small group of Muslims in a Saskatchewan town and tackles the treatment of 800,000 Muslims in Canada and some 6 million in the United States since the terrorist attacks of 2001.----The award, which will given to the show Nov. 6 in New York, aims to recognize individuals and organizations that find common ground between those in conflict.----Past recipients have included Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, newsman Ted Koppel, retired heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.----''This is a very humbling award to receive and it feels like a confirmation of our vision,'' Mary Darling, the show's executive producer, said Tuesday. ''We wanted to create a show that would allow people to laugh while hopefully breaking down stereotypes. We felt that comedy would be a great way to inspire people to dialogue together and to build understanding of each other no matter what their beliefs.'' ------Date Collected: 10/11/2007Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/arts/AP-TV-Little-Mosque-Award.html?pagewanted=print

2 comments:

TerrorVictim said...

Terrorism does not make a difference among people. All groups and tribes should be united in the fighting terrorism and uprooted this bad omen phenomenon by cooperation of the government.

TerrorVictim said...

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