Saturday, December 01, 2001

Afghanistan
  • Representatives of Afghanistan's ethnic, religious and political groups in Bonn have resumed work on a plan to form an interim government. On the fifth day of discussions, U.N. officials said delegates were meeting and talking informally. The Northern Alliance has promised to produce a list of names by Saturday of candidates to represent it in a transitional government.
  • Kabul University opened its doors to women for the first time in five years, doing away with the ban on female students imposed by the Taliban. Dozens of women, most wearing the burqa, flocked to the university campus in the west of Kabul to register for classes.
  • Abdul Razol Bezad has reopened his bookstore on the corner of Flower Street in Kabul after years of hiding his stock at home. "If I had tried to sell these books the Taleban would have accused me of being a Christian," said Bezad, displaying dictionaries, scientific manuals in English and Novels by popular Western writers. He picks up an Atlas of Afghanistan whose cover carries a photograph of three women on a donkey. "Just a few days ago I was prohibited from selling this book," Bezad said in a reference to Taleban objections to the depiction of living beings. "I've kept these books at home for years. Things are different now."
  • Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef claimed that the Taliban had downed an American jet over Kandahar during heavy U.S. bombardment. The U.S. military denied the report. The Taliban also claimed to have killed five US special forces soldiers in a suicide attack in Kandahar province. The five were killed during an attack near an airstrip about 20 kilometers out of Kandahar city, claimed the Taliban's commander of frontier affairs Maulvi Aminullah.
  • Mullah Mohammad Omar told his forces it was better to die with dignity than live with humiliation. According to Afghan Islamic Press, "Mullah Omar has advised and instructed everyone to fight to the death and not to bow down in front of brutality and blasphemy." Interfax quoted Shamsulak Orienfar, an official of Northern Alliance's embassy in Tajikistan, as saying that nearly 13,000 Taliban fighters and 6,000 foreign members of Al-Qaeda were entrenched around Kandahar.
  • A report in the Washington Post has details of a secret offer by some top Taliban commanders to surrender to the Northern Alliance. Opposition negotiators have been dispatched to the south, even though the offers are viewed with suspicion.
  • Some of the Pashtun chiefs who have received funding from the United States have held on to much of the money instead of using it to win over commanders and pay fighters' salaries. "Without money, it is impossible to get people to fight against the Taliban," said Abdur Rehman Jinnabi, a tribal elder who was a major recruiter in Pakistan for opposition forces during the Soviet occupation.
  • 80 foreign Taliban fighters emerged alive from a bunker inside Qali-i-Jhangi. They included Yemenis, Chechens, Pakistanis, Saudisand one who said he had been born in the United States. The American, is native-born, named Abdul Hamid. He is white, educated-sounding, born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a convert to Islam who came to Afghanistan six months ago to help the Taliban build a “true Islamic state.” Good job, Abdul. See you in Guam. Gen Atta Mohammed, a Tajik whose forces entered Mazar with Gen Dostum, said that foreign prisoners would be handed over to the United Nations.
  • The 60-strong SAS Sabre squadron that captured a cave complex near Kandahar last month has been told to prepare for hunting down Bin Laden in his Tora Bora stronghold.

    Terror Networks
  • Israeli security forces have occupied territory around Jenin and Nablus. The moves come as hundreds of Israeli mourners turned out to remember three people killed in a suicide bombing Thursday night. Israeli radio identified the bomber as a Palestinian member of the Islamic Jihad. Three explosions tore through the entrance to a crowded pedestrian mall in downtown Jerusalem, killing six and wounding more than 150 people. Rescue workers, fearing more bombs, raced to the scene to move people away as area hospitals called in volunteers. At least two suicide bombers detonated explosives near Zion Square. Either another suicide bomber or a car bomb exploded minutes later, apparently aimed to harm incoming rescue workers. A witness said the third explosion came from a car parked outside an ice cream parlor.
  • Twenty people including 14 militants have been killed and 42 wounded in fresh separatist violence in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Six followers of Muslim leader Nur Misuari were killed, while nine soldiers and a civilian were wounded in separate clashes as the military stepped up its hunt for the rebels in the southern Philippines. Among those who took part in the latest battle in Jolo were members of the Abu Sayyaf Muslim group who were working with Misuari's forces. The government is looking into alleged links between Misuari and the Abu Sayyaf who have been kidnapping people and holding them for ransom for years.
  • Military helicopters fired at hide-outs and training camps of Maoist rebels in midwestern Nepal, inflicting heavy casualties on the guerrillas. The military also foiled an attack by rebels on the water purification plant at Sundarijal, the only supply of drinking water to 1.5 million inhabitants of the capital. Eleven rebels were arrested by security forces in Khadbari village, about 320 kilometers west of Katmandu.
  • A bomb went off at the offices of a pro-government Tamil party in eastern Sri Lanka, wounding at least 15 people. The blast was at the offices of the Eelam People's Democratic Party in the town of Batticaloa. Initial reports suggested it was a parcel bomb attack. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

    The Alliance
  • The United States has told opposition commanders in Afghanistan that it wants any senior Taliban or al Qaeda members captured to be turned over for interrogation by U.S. personnel and -- if ordered by President Bush -- trial by the U.S. military. "We're here to get these people," Rumsfeld said. "That's why we came. Then we're leaving."
  • Samir Kishk, an Egyptian suspected of links to Osama bin Laden, was arrested at Rome's Fiumicino airport. Kishk is under investigation for involvement in trafficking arms, explosives, chemicals and false documents. An Italian prosecutor issued a detention order against Kishk in October for his role in the bin Laden-linked radical Algerian group, "Salafite Cell for Preaching and Fighting."
  • Turkey has bolstered its border with Iraq to prepare for any U.S.-led effort to topple the regime of President Saddam Hussein. The government of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has become increasingly convinced that the United States will attack Baghdad. Turkish officials said they believe Washington will seek Ankara's support in any such campaign.
  • The Kuwaiti daily al-Qabas quoted a high ranking security source saying that some 50 Kuwaitis in Afghanistan are expected to return to Kuwait in the next few days. The men are fighting beside other " Afghan Arabs " within al-Qaida. Security sources said that "arrangements are underway" with the UN and other parties for news of these Kuwaiti Afghans.
  • A Shariah court sentenced a Saudi woman to one year in jail and 200 lashes for torturing her Indonesian maid who later strangled herself to death using an electric wire. Saudi authorities have arrested an Egyptian and a Syrian after they put white powder in an envelope mailed from the United Arab Emirates and addressed to one of their colleagues. The head of Shariah courts in Baha province, Mudhar Al-Qarni, warned earlier this month that those who spread rumors about anthrax will be flogged and jailed, even if the rumor was for "fun".

    Home Front
  • Another test of the missile defense system is scheduled for today. The test, in which the dummy warhead and the "kill vehicle" were supposed to collide 144 miles above the South Pacific, is the fifth in a series of about 20 planned for the missile defense system.
  • In the wake of nationwide ridicule and razzberries, Kensington, Peoples' Republic of Montgomery County, Maryland, has backed down from its attempt to ban Santa Claus from its tree-lighting ceremony. Not everyone is pleased; said Mr Scrooge: "Are there no Poor Laws? Are the workhouses all full?" No word from Mr and Mrs Grinch, who seem to have decamped from Whoville Kensington.

    Fifth Column
  • At the urging of New York Community School District 3 board member Larry Sauer, the board voted unanimously to defy an edict from the central Board of Education requiring schools to conduct a daily recital of the Pledge of Allegiance. Said Sauer: "Requiring students to blindly repeat the pledge is no different than the Taliban requiring children to memorize the Koran and repeat it by rote, without understanding why or what they are saying." Chelsea-based District 2 - which last year formally prohibited students as young as 4 from "sexually harassing" other kids - wants to follow suit in defying the flag.
  • Almost a thousand Greek anti-war protesters gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Athens to demonstrate against NATO and the war in Afghanistan following calls from the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and an anti-globalization organization. Some 300 young followers of the "Genoa Initiative 2001" movement marched through the city center to celebrate the second anniversary of the first anti-globalization demonstrations in Seattle in 1999. They were later joined near the embassy by almost 500 KKE supporters.
  • Bobby Fischer, the reclusive American chess grandmaster, has broken years of silence to support the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Fischer gave an interview to Radio Bombo in Baguio City, in the Philippines hours after the events on September 11. In his interview Fischer said: "This is all wonderful news. It is time to finish off the US once and for all. I was happy and could not believe what was happening. All the crimes the US has committed in the world. This just shows, what goes around comes around, even to the US. I applaud the act. The US and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years. Now it is coming back at the US."
  • Friday, November 30, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • Haji Abdul Qadir, governor of the eastern province of Nangahar, quit the talks on Afghanistan's future just as they were about to start picking names of leaders to be selected as deputies in a new interim parliament. Qadir was the second-ranked member in the delegation of the Northern Alliance. Ahmad Wali Masood, the Alliance's London representative, said Qadir had not told the delegation why he was leaving but had apparently complained to a radio reporter that Pashtuns were not sufficiently represented at the talks. The Northern Alliance has agreed to an outline deal with three exile groups for an interim parliament and executive including all factions. Masood said Pashtuns made up 58 percent of the Afghans at the U.N.-sponsored talks. The Pashtuns make up about 40 percent of the population, followed by the Tajiks -- the biggest group in the Northern Alliance -- at 25 percent.
  • The Northern Alliance administration has lifted all religious restrictions imposed by the Taliban. Religious affairs minister Ataullha symbolically chose a 532-year-old Hindu temple in Kabul to make the announcement. Hindus and Sikhs, who account for about 500 families in all of Afghanistan, were forced by the Taliban to wear distinctive yellow markings to set them apart from Muslims.
  • The Northern Alliance justice ministry has tossed out the Taliban lawbook, with its ruthless punishments, and guaranteed fair treatment of prisoners. Although the courts have not reopened since the hardline Taliban were forced out of Kabul, suspects arrested since then have been treated humanely and will be fairly sentenced, Noor Mohammad Amiri, said. Justice and Security Minister Mohammad Zia Noorkhil moved swiftly to reinstate the judicial system and laws developed during the 1970s under former President Mohammad Daud Khan.
  • Fleeing Taliban plundered Afghanistan's national bank and made off with millions of dollars in cash during their retreat from Kabul. Staff at Bank Millie Afghan said its Taliban governor, Haji Mullah Mohammad Ahmadi, showed up with a posse of gunmen on the night of November 12, got out the key to the underground strongroom and made off with $5.3 million and 22 million Pakistani rupees ($360,000).
  • Gul Lali, a lieutenant to former Kandahar governor Gul Agha, said that his men had captured Jugnari district, to the east of Kandahar city, and taken 80 Taliban troops prisoners. Aided by American air power and ground troops, opposition forces have encircled and are on the verge of laying siege to the city.
  • Up to 3,000 Taliban fighters who escaped form Kunduz are fighting Northern Alliance troops Char-Dara and the nearby Mount Erganaq, six miles west of the city. The Taliban force is largely made up of foreign mercenaries who escaped the city, but also includes Afghan Taliban who were allowed safe passage out of Kunduz after their commanders surrendered the city.

    Terror Networks
  • Iraq has warned that it could launch a missile attack against Israel if the United States attacks the regime of President Saddam Hussein. "We always expect evil and aggression from the American administration," Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan told Al-Jazeera. "Our preparations are always in place. Any nation that has attacked has the right to defend itself by any means. This is a legimate right."
  • Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba ruled out peace talks with Maoist rebels. At least 81 rebels were killed in encounters with security forces in western and southwestern Nepal on late Thursday.
  • Five members of Sri Lanka's Marxist People's Liberation Front party were arrested for possessing explosives in the run-up to elections next week, the first such discovery since the group renounced violence and entered mainstream politics.

    The Alliance
  • Iran and Pakistan pledged to work together for a broad-based government and reconstruction in their war-ravaged neighbor. "The sun is shining," a smiling Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar told a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi in Islamabad. "Pakistan and Iran today are rid of the shadow that existed over our relations." Watch the silverware, guys.
  • A French court convicted on terrorism charges 19 alleged members of the Armed Islamic Group, said to have been linked to Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden by the testimony of one of the accused. The French and French-Algerians, accused of supplying arms to the GIA, were found guilty of "conspiring to carry out a terrorist act" and handed sentences ranging from a suspended eight months to seven years in jail.
  • Iraq recalled its ambassador to Turkey after media reports linked him to meetings with members of the al Qaeda network. Ambassador Farouk Yahya al-Hijazi denied his departure from Turkey was in connection with allegations that he was involved in contacts between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence. (Keep an eye on this boy. He knows someting. Bet he has a helicopter or auto accident soon.)

    Home Front
  • Democratic lawmakers in both houses of Congress unveiled legislation to require guards at the nation's 103 nuclear power plants to become federal employees.
  • The New York Police Department has ordered all 55,000 employees, including uniformed officers, to attend mental health counseling to relieve the stress and strain imposed by the attack on the World Trade Center and its aftermath. Hey. It's okay to cry.
  • Anthony Lewis thunders unconvincingly in the New York Times against President Bush's plans for military tribunals. Chuck Green, writing in the Denver Post rebuts with casual ease: "We are at war, a war that was unwanted and unsolicited but quite clearly declared by bin Laden and his army." Six in 10 agree with President Bush that suspected terrorists should be tried in special military tribunals. The accuracy of the polling is attested by the fact that Fresh Products, Inc. in Toledo and Impact Products Inc.each sell urinal mats showing bin Laden’s face and have been making money hand over fist.
  • A "Million Santa March" has been scheduled to crash the tree-lighting ceremony in Kensington, People's Republic of Montgomery County, Maryland. Two families -- the Scrooges and the Grinches -- were "uncomfortable" at the presence of Santa Claus at the ceremony, and as a result he was disinvited. Maybe it was his pipe. R. Emmett Tyrrell points an appropriately scornful finger at the Mullahs authorities of this interesting area.
  • Normality Watch: Trout Unlimited, a conservation group with nothing better to do sued the federal government for failing to protect the California golden trout, the official state fish, from interbreeding and cattle grazing.
  • Thursday, November 29, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • The Northern Alliance rejected the U.N. idea of an international force to help police the country and guard international aid distribution. The issue of security is one of two items being discussed among four Afghan factions; the other is Afghanistan's political future. The United States and the international community say a security solution is key before distributing billions of dollars in humanitarian and economic aid being pledged for the war-torn country. "We don't feel a need for an outside force. There is security in place," said Younus Qanooni, head of the Northern Alliance delegation, referring to the alliance's own forces.
  • The US has flown 13 suspected al-Qa'eda fighters to a military base in the Pacific, possibly the remote US territory of Wake Island, Telegraph.uk reported. The group was said to include Ahmed Abdel Rahman, 35, son of Egyptian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who was jailed for life in America in 1996 for conspiring to bomb the World Trade Centre in New York in 1993.
  • FoxNews reports the Northern Alliance claims its forces are in Kandahar. Bismillah Khan said his forces had "entered into Kandahar," and later reported fighting just on the city's edge. Khan was speaking from Kabul and said his information was based on radio communications with his commanders at the scene. The Defense Department thinks they may be referring to the province, rather than the city, and worries they may clash with Pashtuns in the same area. The Taliban have hanged a man in Kandahar as a US spy.The Afghan Islamic Press reported from Kandahar that the Taliban arrested a man found with a satellite telephone and hanged him today at an intersection known as Martyr's Crossing. The man, who was not identified, was accused of pointing out bombing targets to the Americans.
  • Leading Pashtun nationalists and leaders of various political parties and groups in Pakistan have expressed concern over the prevailing situation in Afghanistan and urged the United States and its allies to refrain from punishing the Pashtuns "for the follies of Taliban."
  • U.S. intelligence has received reports that a Taliban intelligence chief had defected to the Northern Alliance. Better late than never, eh?
  • The CIA confirmed that an employee -- Johnny ``Mike'' Spann, 32, of Winfield, Ala. -- died in action at the Mazar-e-Sharif prison riot. Die-hards from a rebellion shot two workers collecting bodies at the site, two days after Northern Alliance forces claimed to have crushed the insurrection. The wounded workers -- one shot in the leg and the other in the hand -- were transported to the military hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif.
  • A woman was killed when a 1200-pound bundle of humanitarian supplies dropped by parachute crushed her house in northern Afghanistan. Damn. I hate it when that happens.

    Terror Networks
  • Thirteen terrorists were among 17 people killed in Jammu and Kashmir where police averted a major tragedy with the detection of two powerful explosive devices. Six of the terrorists were Pakistanis and one was an unidentified "foreign mercenary."
  • An explosion ripped through a bus on a main highway in northern Israel, and Israeli media reported at least three people were killed. In PA-controlled Jenin, residents are in the streets firing weapons into the air and dancing following the news.

    The Alliance
  • The anthrax attacks in the United States were probably the work of a member of a U.S. biological warfare program, the magazine of environment pressure group Greenpeace Germany reported.
  • A Saudi Arabian newspaper said that at least 10 Saudis have been killed in Afghanistan since the US military campaign started on October 7. Okaz Daily published a list of the names of ten people it said have been killed, most of them supporters of the Islamist Taliban.
  • Authorities raided several Islamic centers in northern Italy and arrested two people accused of recruiting fighters for al-Qaida. A third person already detained in Milan, Abdelhalim Hafed Remadna of Algeria, spoke by satellite phone with top bin Laden operatives in Afghanistan about sending new recruits to camps there. Remadna and Yassine Chekkouri of Morocco, who was arrested overnight, worked at Milan's Islamic Cultural Center and mosque.
  • Pakistani President Musharraf is expected "in the next week or two" to impose strict new rules on the madrassas, which have nurtured young holy warriors for recruitment into Afghanistan's Taliban. A new law establishes a 20-member Religious and Sectarian Harmony Commission to oversee the religious schools and to write a code of ethics guarding against inflammatory statements by clerics.
  • Deputy Commander of the Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Brigadier General Mohammad Zolqadr, said that the main aim behind the United States presence in Afghanistan is to have influence on Central Asia and access to fuel resources. Any group or wing's movement that leads to crisis and political tension in Iran is a treasonable offense, he added pleasantly.

    Home Front
  • A federal magistrate ordered an Indonesian man held without bail after an FBI agent testified Thursday that one of the Sept. 11 hijackers used the man's Virginia address to gain entry into the United States. U.S. Magistrate Theresa Carroll Buchanan said she could not ignore the "close ties" between Agus Budiman and the hijackers. Budiman, 31, is awaiting trial on document-fraud charges. FBI special agent Jesus Gomez linked Budiman to three of the hijackers, including suspected ringleader Mohammed Atta, and two others believed to have close ties to the terrorists.
  • The effort by a homosexual group to drop "phony $5 bills" into Salvation Army kettles this holiday season continues to backfire. Another pro-family group has pledged to redeem the phony bills with real cash. The American Family Association (AFA) of Michigan announced it would donate up to $1,000 to redeem the fake bills placed in Salvation Army kettles by members of the group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG). Citizens for Community Values (CCV), a Cincinnati organization, said it too would redeem the fake cash.

    Fifth Column
  • A group of Muslim students has been caught in bald-faced lying in an attempt to get Orange Coast College professor Ken Hearlson fired and a PeeCee sympathy trip for themselves. However, there's a tape. Jonathan Last, in the Weekly Standard, points the finger.
  • Saudi Prince Abdullah charged that the Kingdom was targeted because it is the only country in the world that applies Islamic law. He reiterated that such campaigns are from states “you know very well ... But, God willing, they will be defeated, and Islam will remain strong, by the grace of God, and the help of dedicated Muslims.”
  • From blackelectorate.com: This "war against terrorism" is in fact an open declaration of war against the peoples of the developing world; initially the peoples of the Middle East and Africa, and ultimately the peoples of South and Central America and the Caribbean, all Asia, the South Pacific and the islands of the Seas - - some four-fifths of humanity. It is a desperate attempt to meet and overcome this developing world's growing challenge to the continuation of four centuries of European and American hegemonic domination, exploitation, suppression, insult and injury by its executors in America and Europe. David Graham Du Bois. Does U of Mass grow these people?
  • Wednesday, November 28, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan's Northern Alliance is prepared to accept a future political role for former king Mohammed Zahir Shah, a senior delegate attending inter-Afghan talks in Germany said.
  • Mullah Mohammad Omar - said to be unhurt after US air raids in Kandahar - made a radio broadcast telling the Taleban not to yield any more ground in the face of the Northern Alliance advance. "This is not a question of tribes. This is a question of Islam," the self-styled Emir of Afghanistan was quoted as saying. Hamid Karzai, who is still not dead, says a delegation of tribal elders is trying to persuade the Taleban to surrender.
  • At Kandahar, the Taliban is “waiting anxiously to confront the US troops and to embrace martyrdom in the fight”, The Frontier Post reported. Taliban sources said that more than 6,000 of their troops have been killed all over Afghanistan since the start of the air campaign.
  • More than 40 sites that might have been used to conduct research on chemical, biological or nuclear weapons have been identified in Afghanistan, and some are still in Taliban hands. Gen. Tommy Franks said at a briefing in Tampa that no evidence of actual weapons has been found. He denied reports that samples of sarin had been found.
  • A Canadian journalist was being held for ransom, an apparent captive of Taliban fighters. Ken Hechtman, 32, a Montreal-based freelance reporter, was reportedly being kept in a windowless room in or near Spin Boldak.
  • Sketches and calculations to make a helium-powered balloon bomb filled with anthrax have been found in the Kabul office of an NGO headed by Bashiruddin Mehmood, one of the two Pakistani nuclear scientists detained in Islamabad for questioning on alleged links with Osama bin Laden. Such a balloon bomb was capable of showering anthrax over areas as vast as New York or Washington DC. The premises belonged to the Ummah Tameer-e-Nau, whose president was Mehmood. Mehmood, along with Abdul Majid (another scientist) were detained again in Islamabad for questioning.
  • Eight Western journalists have now died in Afghanistan since the war began, and news organizations including Reuters, the Associated Press, the BBC, the Washington Post and America's major TV networks have withdrawn their employees from the country.

    The Alliance
  • Jordan and the Arab League appealed to the United States not to attack Iraq, saying that such a strike would have dangerous consequences.
  • Not really minding if Iraq goes first, Somalia's new interim prime minister, Hassan Abshir Farah, has said America could deploy troops in the country to monitor and track down alleged terrorists activities there. Somalia is on Washington's list of terrorist states and US intelligence officials are reported to believe that al-Qaeda members fleeing Afghanistan may head for Mogadishu.
  • The United Nations ordered a global freeze on assets held by every member of the former Taliban government in Afghanistan, vastly expanding the list of individuals and organizations whose holdings are blocked after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The new list names 152 Taliban officials, beginning with Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, and ending with senior officials in government ministeries from the education department to zoning. It also includes accounts of Afghan-related businesses, including one held at a Citibank in New Delhi, India.
  • German authorities arrested a Moroccan man they say controlled a bank account used to move large sums of money to the Sept. 11 hijackers, saying he had a long history of "intensive contacts" with the terrorists. The arrest of 27-year-old Mounir El Motassadeq at his home in Hamburg was the first in Germany directly related to the terror attacks.
  • Two Palestinians and a Jordanian arrested last week in the Philippines are suspected of recruiting for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. Authorities said they seized pistols and bomb-making components from Mohammad Sabri Selamah, 35, a Palestinian carrying Iraqi documents. Also arrested were Ahmad Abd Bin Masria, 32, a Palestinian with a Lebanese passport; and Hussam al Ddeen Hasan Ali, 36, a Jordanian.
  • Belgian authorities arrested an Algerian following a series of raids on a suspected false passport ring believed linked to the assassination of Afghan opposition leader Ahmed Shah Massood. The arrest came after authorities released 12 people who had been detained in house raids Monday. The raids are believed part of an investigation into whether two suicide bombers who fatally wounded Massood on Sept. 9 in his northern Afghan headquarters had been operating out of Belgium. Massood's killers posed as journalists and were carrying Belgian passports. The 30-year-old Algerian asylum-seeker was charged with forgery and gangsterism.
  • Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar promised President Bush that Spain would commit military forces to the U.S.-led war on terrorism if needed.

    Terror Networks
  • A suspected anthrax letter sent to Chile bore a Swiss postmark but may have been mailed from New York. Dr. Antonio Banfi, a pediatrician in Santiago, Chile, received the letter -- with a Swiss postmark and a Florida return address -- two weeks ago. Swiss Federal Police said the letter was part of a large mailing sent on behalf of a Florida company by the New York branch of the Swiss Post Office. Swiss Post International Inc. provides worldwide bulk mailing services for companies. Under U.S. rules, letters sent within the country by international post offices must carry a foreign postmark. The letter sent to Chile bore a postmark from Zurich, Switzerland, but had no date -- typical of letters sent by the New York branch. Officials at Mosby Inc., a publisher of medical journals, told the Orlando Sentinel that whoever mailed the letter listed their headquarters as the return address. Mosby is one of three publishing imprints owned by Harcourt Health Sciences.
  • Soldiers killed 13 rebels in an attack in western Nepal. Five other rebels were arrested and a truck laden with arms, explosives and money was recovered following the gunfight in Salyan, 250 miles west of Katmandu. The army suffered no casualties.

    Home Front
  • Normality Watch: Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) yesterday vetoed legislation that would have regulated smoking in the privacy of people's homes, reversing course after a rash of worldwide ridicule and a public opinion backlash. The professionally indignant immediately counter-attacked: Matt Drudge reports that the Montgomery County community of Kensington has banned Santa Claus from its annual tree lighting ceremony this Sunday. "Because two families in our town felt that they would be uncomfortable with Santa Claus being a part of our event," Mayor Lynn Raufaste said. "At least now Santa can stay at home and smoke, if nothing else," mocked one Montgomery County lawmaker.
  • Tuesday, November 27, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • U.S. warplanes bombed a leadership compound near Kandahar, stepping up the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and his Taliban allies. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters of the latest raid was on the compound used by leaders of both the Taliban and al Qaeda, but said he did not know if any central figures were hit. Speculation on FoxNews is that Mullah Omar and some of his senior commanders were in the compound at the time.
  • Afghanistan's Northern Alliance expects a deal to form an interim government for the country to be struck within three days of talks. Once that's done, it'll be all over but the shootin'.
  • Exiled Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, now living in Iran, called the Bonn talks a U.S. ploy to further its influence. "Only groups fitting U.S. requirements and interests have been invited," he said. "Problems cannot be resolved by a government set up by America, Russia and their puppets." They can only be solved by Iran, Pakistan and their puppets.
  • The revolt by al-Qaeda imprisoned in Mazar-e-Sharif has been quashed after three days of fighting. Witnesses say a series of deafening explosions was heard after opposition forces fired tank shells to kill the last two Taleban prisoners still holding out. "The situation is completely under control. All of them were killed," said a spokesman for General Rashid Dostum.
  • A jirga of Afghanistan's Pashtun Ahmedzai tribe has urged the United Nations and other international bodies to declare Kabul a de-militarised zone and convene a Loya Jirga in Kabul.
  • Cave hunting has begun, with "bunker-buster" bombs targeting mountain hideouts and special operations troops investigating abandoned tunnels.

    Terror Networks
  • The Fatah Al Aksa Brigade confirmed several of its members had been involved in a foiled attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and vowed to continue in its attempts to kill him. Israeli security forces arrested three members of a five-man cell before they had a chance to attack Sharon's home in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. A group called the Popular Army Vanguards, said to be affiliated with Fatah, claimed responsibility for an unsuccessful roadside bomb attack on IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz's convoy near Beit Hagai in the Hebron Hills.Two people were killed and nine injured when Al Aqsa Brigades gunmen opened fire on a crowded market in the centre of Afula in northern Israel.
  • Daily Jang reports that at least five Indian soldiers and eight civilians were killed in an encounter in Kashmir.
  • Four policemen were killed when Maoist rebels attacked a police post in western Nepal in the first reported outbreak of violence since the kingdom declared a state of emergency.
  • Seeking to escape an air assault by the Philippine military, heavily armed Moro National Liberation Front rebels fled a besieged compound with dozens of hostages that they had roped together as human shields. After hours of intense fighting, 25 guerrillas and one soldier were dead and an unknown number of others, including civilians, were wounded. Sometime after midnight, the heroes let 21 hostages go free, but held onto 60 others.

    The Alliance
  • Iraqi romance novelist and President for Life Saddam Hussein has accepted President Bush's barely veiled offer of a knuckle sandwich by refusing to readmit UN-sactioned weapons inspectors.
  • U.S. warplanes attacked an air defense target in southern Iraq in response to continuing Iraqi threats against American and British jets patrolling a ``no-fly'' zone there.
  • U.S. authorities began proceedings to extradite Algerian Lotfi Raissi, 27, from Britain Raissi is accused of training some of the hijackers who crashed a jet into the Pentagon on Sept. 11. He has denied any connection to terrorism. (Hey, it could happen.)
  • Two retired Pakistani nuclear scientists suspected of having ties to suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden were detained again for questioning. Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mehmood and Abdul Majid were first taken into custody Oct. 23. Authorities said last week that they had been released.
  • British police are investigating two major anthrax hoaxes in which dozens of powder-filled packages were sent to government and business premises across London.
  • British authorities are investigating a string of mysterious payments from the bank account of London-based Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, named as Osama bin Laden's 'European ambassador'. A statement for one of Qatada's bank accounts reveals that, despite being on the dole, the cleric wrote out three checks totalling almost £5,000 in the days following the 11 September attacks.
  • The Cayman Islands, long considered a haven for tax evaders, has agreed with the Bush administration to share tax information that would help the United States track down violators.

    Home Front
  • Two families have filed wrongful death suits against Osama bin Laden for deaths associated with the World Trade Center attacks on 9-11.
  • A high school student who was suspended last month for her anti-war, pro-anarchy stances has been pulled out of school by her mother because of safety concerns. Amy Sierra said her daughter, Katie, 15, has been attacked, threatened and insulted by students at Sissonville High School. The mother said it was her choice to withdraw the young nitwit and enroll her in a program in which she will complete assignments on a computer from home.

    Fifth Column
  • 'Now, the operating assumption is that the anthrax cases, unrelated to bin Laden, are domestic crimes, not acts of war. But for a crucial moment, they effectively played the role in this war that the Gulf of Tonkin ''assault'' played in the Vietnam War, as sources of a war hysteria that ''united'' the nation around a mistake. In such a context, the more doubt is labeled disloyal, the more it grows. The more this war is deemed ''just,'' the more it seems wrong.' -- James Carroll, The Boston Globe. Chomsky's more coherent.
  • Monday, November 26, 2001

    Dr. Abdulla Abdulla, the NA foreign minister on FoxNews:
  • There will be no place in the interim government for any Taliban.
  • He blamed the assassination of Ahmed Shah Masood on Osama bin Laden to defuse support for the US within Afghanistan in anticipation of the 9-11 attacks.
  • The general amnesty for the Taliban applies only to local troops. It does not apply to foreigners -- al-Qaeda Arabs, Chechens, etc., and Pakistani jihadis.
  • Afghanistan
  • Interested parties are dancing the diplomatic equivalent of the minuet as they prepare for the opening of talks in Bonn.
  • Northern Alliance forces of Gen. Dawood Khan are mopping up in Konduz. With the surrender complete, die-hards and holdouts are fair game and seldom appear to be allowed quarter.
  • Afghan commanders and tribal elders belonging to six Pashtun-populated provinces have decided to send a delegation with a message to Kandahar for the Taliban to surrender and hand over power. The decision was taken at a tribal Jirga. The Taliban vowed to fight U.S. forces to the death and said Mullah Mohammad Omar was still in of Kandahar. The two Marine Expeditionary Units just outside Kandahar hope that's so. According to the Pakistani periodical Khabrain, Mullah Omar said that he had received orders for starting his Holy War against America from the Prophet Muhammad directly, who appeared to him in dreams. Marine helicopter gunships attacked an armored column near the Marines' new base. The Cobras destroyed up to 15 tanks and BMP armored personnel carriers moving in column.
  • Afghan tribal forces captured the border town of Spin Boldak from the Taliban, according to Hamid Karzai, who is still not dead.
  • A US adviser was killed in the shootout in Mazar-i-Sharif during the revolt by "surrendering" foreign Taliban and al-Qaeda. FoxNews reported the man was a CIA contractor. Five U.S. military were injured in friendly fire, but no U.S. military personnel were killed in the second day of the fighting.
  • 12 Russian transport planes have arrived in Kabul, bringing staff and supplies for a humanitarian mission.
  • The first newspaper to be published in Kabul since the Taliban fled the city was due on the streets on Monday sporting a picture no one would have dared publish during the Islamic regime's five-year rule -- women without their veils.
  • News from the fashion front: Taloqan hat-sellers have practically sold out of the pakoul caps favored by Northern Alliance troops in the past few days as Taliban queued up in droves to buy them. Turbans, especially black ones, appear to be out this year.

    Terror Networks
  • Four policemen were killed and three seriously injured when a suicide squad attacked a police post in Kashmir. The policemen were asleep when the guerillas opened fire with rifle grenades and then sprayed the position with gunfire.
  • Nepal declared a state of emergency after weekend attacks by rebels killed at least 76 soldiers and police. King Gyanendra's decree suspends civil liberties and allows the government to send soldiers after the rebels for the first time since the Maoists launched their insurgency in 1996.
  • A Hamas suicide bomber lightly wounded two Israeli soldiers when he blew himself up hours before U.S. envoys were due to arrive in the Middle East on a new mission to end 14 months of violence. When they accomplish that, maybe they'll introduce some much-needed amendments to the Law of Gravity.
  • Fugitive Clayton Waagner said he is the sender of a series of anthrax threats to family planning clinics, and said he plans to begin killing 42 clinic workers he has identified, according to a fellow anti-abortion militant who says Waagner held him at gunpoint.
  • War planes and attack helicopters attacked a compound of Muslim rebels belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front holed up with hostages in the southern Philippines.

    The Alliance
  • President Bush "urged" Saddam Hussein to allow UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq. Asked what would happen if Saddam refused, Bush replied: "He'll find out."
  • With occasional glances skyward, Yemeni security police have begun to pick up suspects for interrogation in what the interior ministry calls an "ongoing operation." At least one known member of Al Qaeda is among those arrested.
  • Pakistan has stepped up efforts to mend fences with the Northern Alliance. A Pakistani delegation is being sent to Dubai to meet acting President Burhanuddin Rabbani. Islamabad had also made contacts with Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostam in Mazar-i-Sharif.
  • Intelligence agencies in Pakistan are investigating the backgrounds of hundreds of Pakistanis killed in Afghanistan since the US bombing began on October 7 to determine their group affiliations and to see if they include the dozens of sectarian terrorists wanted by the government of Pakistan.
  • Four Pakistani nationals, suspected of having links with Al-Qaeda, were detained in Israel after they entered the country's territorial waters by a ship.
  • The 22-member Arab League inaugurated a two-day conference to discuss ways to deal with the world's "eagerness" to equate Islam with terrorism. The conference is expected to produce an action plan for defending Islam to be submitted for Arab leaders' approval when they meet in Beirut in March 2002.
  • A Tunisian national was detained in France and 11 other people in Belgium as part of an investigation into the slaying of Ahmed Shah Masood. Northern Alliance Minister of Defense Fahim arrested Rasool Sayyaf, leader of the wahhabi militia allied to Northern Alliance, after furnishing proof that Sayyaf had helped kill Ahmad Shah Massoud.
  • Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, called for Arabs and other Muslims who have been fighting in Afghanistan on the side of the Taliban to be allowed to return home.

    Home Front
  • The oil and gas industry is on alert after an FBI warning that Osama bin Laden may have ordered retaliatory strikes against North American natural gas facilities in event of his capture or death, expected any time now.
  • Yep. Things are back to normal in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Police in Philadelphia are looking for a guy who mugged a nun.

    Fifth Column
  • News from out in Left field: Speaking in Lahore, Pakistan, Noam Chomsky said America wanted Osama bin Laden dead and not alive because it did not have any proof to get him convicted in a court of law. He stated that even bombing Taliban soldiers was a crime, an illegal act and sheer exercise of power.
  • "The burka and the bikini represent opposite ends of the political spectrum but each can exert a noose-like grip on the psyche and physical health of girls and women." -- Cornell University historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg, writing with Jacquelyn Jackson in The Boston Globe. Where do they find these people?
  • Sunday, November 25, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • FoxNews reports that President Rabanni has indicated that even though the Taliban will be outlawed as an organized force in the new Afghanistan, individual members may take part in a government of national unity.
  • Konduz has fallen. Northern alliance troops entered Kunduz on Sunday and Taliban and foreign defenders were surrendering by the thousands. The alliance said it hoped the takeover of the city, which was under siege for 12 days, would be complete by nightfall. The former Taliban defense minister, Mullah Faizil, was overseeing surrender operations inside the city. Foreign fighters are to be handed over to UN. The United Nations has no representative in Afghanistan and it is expected that the foreign fighters would remain in jail for some time. The Taliban and al-Qaeda held out at Kunduz to provide safe passage to some top leaders to disappear into Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, Frontier Post reports. Taliban forces which have refused to surrender were in retreat toward Chardara, to the west, with Alliance troops in pursuit.
  • 800 of the "surrendered" Taliban at Kalai Jangi, near the internment center at Mazar-e-Sharif, staged a revolt. One and possibly two US Special Forces were reported killed. FoxNews reported a "bloodbath" as the NA forces reestablished control. The six-hour battle between the prisoners -- mostly non-Afghans -- and Northern Alliance troops was finally quelled with the aid of tanks and US warplanes.
  • Anti-Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan seized part of the road between Kandahar and Spin Boldak and were approaching Kandahar. Aided by US warplanes, the fighters pushed back a Taliban force. There were conflicting reports of the number of dead, with one tribal official saying as many as 80 Taliban died. Taliban began to withdraw from Spin Boldak toward Kandahar. Dozens of pickup trucks -- their lights extinguished -- were driving out of Spin Boldak and south into the desert.
  • Tribal fighters took control of the airport southeast of Kandahar, and a stream of U.S. helicopters began been landing at the airfield. Some of the helicopters were described as Chinooks bringing in armored vehicles. MSNBC reports 1500 Marines on the ground. Sydney Morning Herald reports that allied commanders are finalizing plans for more than 25,000 United States paratroopers, supported by British troops, to launch a ground offensive on Kandahar.

    Terror Networks
  • Militants killed four persons, including three security personnel, on the national highway near the Jawahar tunnel in Banihal area, forcing the temporary closure of the vital road link in Jammu-Kashmir.
  • Thousands of Palestinian mourners in the West Bank and Gaza vowed to support revenge attacks in Israel for the killing of Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, a senior leader of Hamas. His deputy, Ayman Hashaikah, and his brother, Ma’moun Hashaikah, died with him. An Israeli was killed and two others were wounded in a Palestinian mortar attack on Kfar Darom in central Gaza. Israeli tanks made an incursion into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia and shelled a school.
  • Four police and their driver have been killed in an ambush, taking the death toll from a weekend uprising by Maoists in Nepal to more than 40.

    The Alliance
  • The Pakistani government is engaged in negotiations with the coalition forces and the International Committee of the Red Cross for safe evacuation of Pakistanis from Kunduz. These people would be tried according to laws of the country if handed over to Pakistan, or under international law if given in the custody of the United Nations.
  • Egypt has asked Pakistan to hand over Egyptian Al-Qaida member Ayman al-Zawahri, former head of the al-Jihad movement, as soon as he crosses the borders from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
  • Former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto asked India to use its influence with the U.S. to pressure Islamabad's military regime to restore democracy.
  • The central office of Tehreek-e-Islami Taliban has been sealed off by the administration of Karachi and police have been deployed outside the office. Police have also arrested fifteen Afghan nationals from the office.

    Home Front
  • The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force plans to round up between three and five suspects on charges they "aided and abetted" the 19 hijackers who brought down the Twin Towers, wrecked the Pentagon and claimed nearly 4,000 innocent lives. "These are not material witnesses," one law-enforcement source said. "They facilitated the attack. They aided and abetted the hijackers."
  • The FBI arrested six more Pakistani nationals and handed them over to the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) on violation of immigration laws. All were arrested in Queens, New York, in a raid at a Pakistani-owned construction company site.
  • President George W. Bush has authorised the admission of up to 70,000 refugees to the U.S. in fiscal year 2002.
  • Mazen Al-Najjar, a Palestinian man who was held for 3 years on secret evidence was arrested for violating his visa and will be deported as a threat to national security. The Justice Department said that Al-Najjar has ties to terrorist front organizations, including a University of South Florida Islamic studies group.
  • Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill announced the struggling U.S. economy was headed for recovery.
  • Three bonehead New Bedford, Mass., students were being held, charged with planning a deadly assault on their high school that they promised would be "bigger than Columbine."