Saturday, December 08, 2001

Afghanistan
  • "In the Taliban days, there was a leader of the faithful who sat in Kandahar, not having the faintest idea about people who were in poverty, who were killed, whose houses were burned, whose children died of hunger. And still he claimed to be a leader of Islam and a leader of his country." - from a sermon by Mullah Abdul Rauf in Kabul
  • Hamid Karzai's priorities for Afghanistan: "To bring peace and security for the people of Afghanistan; provide Afghan people a good economic opportunity; have excellent relations with our neighbors and the rest of the world; and -- very important -- to make sure we get rid of terrorism in Afghanistan and the rest of the world." He might also add averting civil war as Pashtun commanders ignore him.
  • The Friendship Bridge between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan will reopen soon, allowing humanitarian aid through for the first time since 1996. The opening was announced by Secretary of State Colin Powell and Uzbek President Islam Karimov in Tashkent.
  • Following the Taliban withdrawal, tensions were running high in Kandahar, with rival armed groups -- one under Mullah Naqibullah and the other under Gul Agha -- claiming control of key parts of the city. Armed Taliban are still roaming the streets despite a deal to surrender, a Taliban fighter said. "There are still Arab Taliban moving around the city. They are armed," said Hafiz Abdul Rub. "No one is in control of the city." Forces loyal to Afghan tribal chief Gul Agha claimed control as a meeting of rival clans sought to end the chaos. Mullah Naqibullah, who was supposed to take over the city under the terms of the Taliban's surrender, was reported confined to the main military base in Kandahar, under siege by rival forces.
  • Civil war became likely as Gul Agha was reported preparing to move out of Kandahar to take over neighbouring provinces Helmand, Uruzgan and Zabul, as well as Herat and Farah in the west. Herat and Farah are currently under the control of ethnic Tajik commander Ismail Khan, a senior member of the Northern Alliance forces. "I will send my men or lead myself if need be. I will give them plans and a movement order," Gul Agha commander Jalal Khan said. "We are already in consultations on when to advance in these provinces."
  • Heavy fighting has erupted in a power struggle among anti-Taliban tribal leaders in Paktia province, AIP. Fighting in the provincial capital of Gardez was ignited by the supporters of Pacha Gul Zadran in a bid to occupy positions in the shura, the post-Taliban administrative council established in the province.
  • Ex-potentate Mullah Mahommad Omar was rumored to be near Kandahar in the custody of a warlord sympathetic to the Taliban. Khaled Pashtoon, a spokesman for Gul Agha, said his group would demand that the Taleban Supreme Leader be handed over at an imprending tribal meeting. The South Asian Dispatch Agency, based in Pakistan, quoted Omar's spokesman Syed Tayyab Agha as saying both he and the Taliban chief remained in Kandahar. "I am here and will remain here until otherwise ordered," he said. "As long as Mullah Omar is here, I will be here. Many of our people are still in this city." Omar’s family entered Chaman, in Pakistan, after fleeing Kandahar the BBC Pushto service reported. It said the family was first spotted in two vehicles at Spin Boldak, and then they were seen at Chaman.
  • Pakistani Gen. Rashid Quereshi said "there is no truth in the reports that Osama bin Laden or Mullah Mohammed Omar have already entered Pakistan." Quereshi said troops have sealed all trails leading into his country from Tora Bora. Pakistan moved helicopter gunships and troop reinforcements to the border to prevent fleeing Taliban or members of al Qaeda sneaking into the country.
  • U.S. Marines buried an Afghan anti-Taliban fighter with military honors after he was killed by an errant American bomb. The Afghan, who was not identified, was one of six anti-Taliban fighters killed when an Air Force B-52 dropped a one-ton satellite-guided bomb that also killed three Army Green Berets. Twenty Americans and 18 Afghans were wounded.
  • British journalist Robert Fisk was attacked and badly beaten by a mob in Pakistan. Fisk, 55, a correspondent for the London based Independent newspaper, was set upon by a group of around 100 Afghan refugees after his car broke down on the road between Quetta and Chaman.
  • FoxNews reports that Jihad Johnny, the American traitor, is being held for safekeeping at Camp Rhino. The Marines are probably too gentlemanly to use him as a urinal.

    Middle East
  • Israeli helicopters fired missiles at Palestinian security buildings the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza in retaliation for the firing of mortar shells at Jewish settlements. No injuries were reported. Three buildings belonging to military intelligence and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's personal guard, Force 17, were badly damaged.
  • "The Palestinian representatives have continued to deceive us ... to give the impression that they have really embarked on a war against terrorism," an Israeli spokesman said. He was speaking at the end of Palestinian-Israeli security talks which were also attended by US peace envoy Anthony Zinni and representatives of the US Central Intelligence Agency. "In reality they only arrested second and third-ranking terrorists and not those who are really dangerous." Really? We are so surprised. Really.
  • Palestinian Chairman-for-Life Yasser Arafat said that "I extend my hand for peace with Israel for the sake of our children, despite everything... I am ready to implement all the agreements which have been concluded," with Israel, Arafat told an interviewer, reiterating that his Palestinian Authority had publicly accepted a truce with Israel.
  • Arafat said that US peace envoy Anthony "Zinni gave me the night before yesterday a list of 33 men wanted by Israel and I arrested so far 17 of them," Arafat said in the same interview. Gosh. That's even better than a dozen. (You heard it here first!)
  • Arafat also charged that the recent spate of Palestinian suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa that killed 25 people "are not aimed against you (the Israelis) but against the Palestinian people." The attacks have been claimed by the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, and a third bombing that wounded several people in Jerusalem by the smaller Islamic Jihad group. The two groups are the main Palestinian opposition to Arafat's authority.
  • Jerusalem Mufti Sheikh Ikrema Sabri issued a statement in which he justified suicide bombings against Israel. The remarks also slammed religious rulings in Egypt and Saudi Arabi that condemned suicide attacks. "The opposition [to Israel] is legitimate, and he who gives his life, does not have to ask permission from anyone....We have to concentrate on the legitimacy of the opposition, it is forbidden to oppose the Intifada and the Jihad, but [an obligation] to stand beside them and support them." said Sabri, who was appointed as Jerusalem Mufti by Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.

    Terror Networks
  • Two prosecutors in Chechnya were killed when their car was blown up by a remote-controlled land mine in Grozny. Separately, assailants fatally shot a Chechen policeman after breaking into his house in Gudermes. The land-mine blast killed prosecutors Akhmed Khamzatov and Alexander Leushin. The policeman, Shamkhan Magomadov, was shot at point-blank range by two masked assailants.
  • Islamic militants attacked an Indian army convoy in Kashmir, killing a soldier and sparking a gunbattle that left five civilians, two attackers and a policeman dead. In addition to the nine killed, hospital officials said 23 civilians and seven soldiers were wounded.

    The Alliance
  • Dahmane Abd Al Sattar, a 39-year-old Tunisian who was one of the two assassins of Ahmed Shah Masood, was an active representative in Belgium of al-Qaeda, according to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir. Al Sattar held a university degree in journalism from his home country and held a forged and stolen Belgian passport. Le Soir said French intelligence "became convinced that Masood's assassination was ordered by al-Qaeda and carried out by a Tunisian movement with a representation in Brussels of which Dahmane served as a way-station".
  • Pakistan says its jihadis who went to Afghanistan to fight along with Taliban would be tried on their return to country.
  • Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Saud Faisal told The Washington Post that his nation expects to take custody of any Saudi citizens captured in Afghanistan and punish those who were "criminally involved." Hey, it could happen!
  • "The family of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahri declares to the Muslim nation the death of Azza Anwar Nuwaira and her children," said a notice published in the obituary columns of Egypt's Al-Ahram. Earlier reports said they were killed in a U.S. airstrike, and the notice said they died as martyrs.
  • The US and Norwegian intelligence agencies have pinpointed 23 merchant ships as owned or controlled by the al Qaeda network.

    International
  • Yemeni army and police have freed a German businessman held hostage by tribal kidnappers for 10 days and captured one of the abductors in Marib province. The hostage, identified by the German embassy in Sanaa as Karl Lehnardt, 47, was freed "without shots being fired" by either side.

    Home Front
  • In New Windsor, Md., President Bush visited a warehouse "full of love and decency" where the first relief supplies bound for Afghan children and bought with contributions from American youngsters began the journey to Afghanistan.
  • Friday, December 07, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • At Kandahar fleeing Taliban fighters backed out of a deal to hand in weapons and surrender, said Hamid Karzai. "The Taliban ran away with their weapons,'' he said. "Basically they have just run away. The leaders and the soldiers. They have all run away from the city... They came in trucks up the road toward us. All of last night they were fleeing the city. Just running away. I thought they were coming here to attack us. But they weren't. They were running away.'' Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is missing and will be arrested if found. "The Taliban rule is finished. As of today they are no longer a part of Afghanistan,'' Karzai said. Karzai confirmed that chaos had broken out in several areas within Kandahar as a result of Taliban soldiers and leaders fleeing. He said there was no fighting between rival forces. However, frightened residents reported some looting had taken place and said gunfire could be heard.
  • U.S. Marines killed seven absconding Taliban and al-Qaida fighters near Kandahar. No Marines were injured. Three Taliban vehicles approached a "hunter-killer'' Marine patrol on a road Thursday night, and the Marines attacked from the ground and air.
  • In Kandahar a sense of calm had returned there after chaos and widespread looting earlier in the day. People were in the streets, firing guns to celebrate the tribal victory.
  • A Taliban official said that "Around 10,000 people, the majority of them Taliban soldiers, have been killed. During the last two weeks the casualties were so heavy that we were unable to resist the bombing and our defence lines were broken."
  • The Afghan Islamic Press reported Omar had fled Kandahar. "Mullah Mohammed Omar is not in Kandahar. He has moved to some unknown place," said Haji Basheer Ahmed, a member of the tribal commission to which the Taliban surrendered power.
  • The political situation remained unclear. Tribal commander Gul Agha, former governor of Kandahar, reportedly had moved into the governor's mansion, and some other tribal fighters were trying to regain positions they lost when the Taliban came to power in 1996.
  • "Most of the area in Tora Bora is now completely under tribal forces' control," said a Pakistani intelligence source. Bin Laden's Arab fighters had withdrawn from many of their Tora Bora hideouts and were believed to be scattering in the mountainous terrain towards Melawa.

    The Alliance
  • US special envoy Anthony Zinni has arranged a security meeting between the Palestinians and Israel to try to defuse their crisis, Yasser Arafat said. The Palestinian Chairman-for-Life said he had been phoned by Zinni and that the US envoy also met with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
  • An Israeli F-16 bombed the Palestinian police headquarters in Gaza City, completely destroying two buildings and wounding 18 people. The fighter bomber dropped a large bomb on the police compound at around 3:00 a.m. and returned five minutes later for a second strike. Two four-storey buildings inside the compound -- the offices of the riot police and an administration buliding -- were completely destroyed. Four other buildings were damaged. The women's police center, the police school, and a medical building suffered moderate damage, while the office of the commander of the Gaza police was lightly hit.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher. "The prime minister said Israel has no intention of hurting Arafat and said Israel will not bomb the jails in which militants will be detained as Arafat fears," Sharon's office said. Israel on Wednesday gave Arafat 24 hours to round up Palestinian Islamic militants or face a new wave of attacks against key targets of his administration. Palestinian security officials told AFP that 180 people were rounded up since Saturday, including around 50 since the ultimatum was received.
  • Melbourne's 55-storey Rialto Towers, Australia's tallest building was the preferred target of a man arrested in India for planning September 11-style terrorist attacks, Prime Minister John Howard said. The man at the center of the allegations, Mohammad Afroz Abdul Razzak, was arrested in Bombay on October 2 and remains in custody. Afroz confessed to planning airborne terrorist strikes in Australia, Britain and India. Some 10,000 people work in the complex.

    Home Front
  • Former US leader Jimmy Carter expressed grave concern over the use of military tribunals. In a rare criticism of the current president by a predecessor during a time of crisis, Carter also deplored the detention of more than 600 people in the United States following the September 11 terror strikes on US targets.
  • Brandishing a copy of an al-Qaeda manual on "the overthrow of the godless regimes", Attorney General John Ashcroft rebuffed criticisms he might be overstepping his powers in the fight against terrorism. "This is a seized al-Qaeda training manual -- a "how-to" guide for terrorists -- that instructs enemy operatives in the art of killing in a free society," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "In this manual, al-Qaeda terrorists are told how to use America's freedom as a weapon against us," he warned, adding it was thanks to actions by law enforcement agencies there had been no repeats of the September 11 attacks that left more than 3,000 dead on US soil.
  • In the Wee Hours of the Morning, Near Kandahar
    Mahmud and Hamid were asleep. They were rolled up in their robes, their heads on the ground, no pillow. It was an old Indian trick, taught to them by an antiquated Hindu: sleeping directly on the ground, the vibrations of approaching vehicles, or even of walking feet, would wake them. Not using a pillow was a little hard on the neck, but not so hard as getting caught by the Taliban.

    Mahmud awoke. Far off in the distance he heard a motor. He heard trucks. And shuffling feet, lots of them. They were approaching, along the road. He could smell camels. Was their position being attacked? Should he sound the alarm? He nudged Hamid and found his partner was already awake. The two hunkered down on the dark, gripping their rifles, and in the cool night air they could hear voices. Wriggling on their bellies, they found a position where they could make out the mob on the road by starlight.

    "Mommy!" a child's voice piped in Arabic. "I don't wanna force-march through the desert to Baluchistan!"

    There was the sound of a slap. "Shaddup and walk, ya little brat! You'll like it even less if the natives get us!"

    Four men walked past. They wore turbans, had unkempt beards and carried guns. One had two guns and a Yemeni knife at his waist; he must be a holy man. They were carrying sacks. One of the four men dropped a sack. Mahmud thought he could briefly see the twinkle of jewels. "Careful with that!" the holy man said. "There's enough in there to support us all for years!"

    Some pickup trucks went by, slowly passing the mob on foot. Someone went by on a bike, a rolled up carpet over his shoulder.

    A half dozen men walked by, surrounding a tall, bearded figure with a big turban and only one eye. "We gotta jihad!" the figure mumbled. "Hang them all... Doe-eyed virgins... Fight to the last man... the last bullet..." The figured cackled. "The wench showed an ankle! Two hundred lashes!"

    "Did we have to bring him?" one of the half-dozen keepers asked. "He's gettin' wound up again."

    "Get your turban on straight!... Infidels... Unbelievers..."

    "Karzai's got enough problems. Abdul, did you bring his medication?"

    "Cut their noses off," the one-eyed lunatic mumbled. "String 'em up... Send in the Americans! I'll take 'em on... One hand tied behind my back..." His voice was starting to rise. Mahmud had heard that voice before, on the radio. He looked at Hamid and they rolled their eyes at each other.

    "If he gets violent again," one of the half dozen said, "I'm gonna shoot him."

    "Ooooh. That'd be smart, with 5,000 armed tribesmen around us and 1,500 Marines! Do me a favor and don't do that."

    They tromped on another few yards and the volume of the incoherent ranting increased. "Glorious death... Rule with the iron fist of virtue..." The one-eyed loon pointed out that he was his own grampaw and his first cousin. He was waiting for a phone call from his good friend, God.

    "Look," the man who had spoken last said. "If he gets violent again, use this on him. Just bash his head in. We don't want any noise."

    They moved out of earshot and into the darkness. Mahmud and Hamid watched as more women and children walked by, then more men carrying bags with loot. A donkey trudged by them, not ten yards away, with two poison gas cannisters strapped to its skinny back. Someone went by carrying a bucket of anthrax. One unfortunate porter carried a bomb almost as big as he was. He was already glowing in the dark.

    The last of the stragglers finally finished trudging by. The two mujaheddin waited until they were out of earshot and then rolled back up in their robes and went back to sleep. In the morning Kandahar would surrender.

    Thursday, December 06, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • The Amir-ul-Moameneen, Mullah Omar "will fight until last drop of his blood and with the grace of Allah Almighty, we will win the war”, Abdul Salam Zaeef said on Wednesday, vowing that the Taliban will never surrender. Thursday the Taliban spokesman said, never mind, we'll surrender. Wonder what will happen Friday?
  • General Abdul Rashid Dostum said he would boycott the interim Afghan government to be installed in Kabul. Dostum said his mainly Uzbek Junbish-i-Milli faction was not fairly represented under the accord. Dostum had demanded that the foreign ministry be allocated to his faction. Instead it got the portfolios of agriculture and mining and industry. "This is a humiliation for us," he declared, adding that he would deny officials of the new government access to the north, where Afghanistan's oil and gas resources are located.
  • Anti-Taliban opposition forces today took control of Kandahar airport, a source close to former Kandahar governor Gul Agha said. "Our men moved to the airport without any resistance," said Akbar Jan who is a member of Gul Agha's family. "We have taken control of the whole airport because the Taliban have already pulled out." Agha's forces intended to move towards the city on Friday, he added. Kandahar airport is some 15 km southeast of the city.
  • Jan said that Agha was "angry" with the agreement which gives power to Mullah Naqibullah. "Gul Agha told me that I'm not bound to abide by this arrangement as neither I as head of Barakzai tribe nor any tribal elders from Noorzai or Achakzai tribes were consulted about this. He told me that he would now move his forces to capture the rest of Kandahar."
  • Thousands of Taliban fighters laid down their weapons and surrendered to Northern Alliance forces, bringing to an end organized armed resistance in northern Afghanistan. Some 3,000 Taliban fighters, who had been holed up in the village of Char Dara since the alliance victory over Kunduz handed over their firearms and heavy weapons to troops loyal to Northern Alliance general Abdurrashid Dostum. The prisoners, mainly foreign mercenaries and Pashtuns from southern Afghanistan, then boarded trucks bound for Dostum's stronghold in Mazar-e-Sharif.
  • US bombing triggered a huge forest fire in the mountains near Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora hideout. US warplanes pounded suspected positions of Al-Qaeda organisation. Some 2,000 men from local tribal militias were fanning out around the Melawa district of the snow-capped White Mountains as the US aircraft hammered their targets. In the same area, FoxNews war correspondent Geraldo Rivera had his hair parted by a live round on camera.
  • A US Marine helicopter burst into flames after it crashed near Camp Rhino, slightly wounding one Marine on board and one on the ground. The crash "was not related to apparent probing of US lines by enemy forces."
  • U.S. airstrikes on Afghanistan may have killed a son or son-in-law of Osama bin Laden. Details unavailable.

    Terror Networks
  • Maoists attacked the residence of a Nepali Congress MP Hridayaram Thani, completely destroying the house, even as security forces intensified their operation in the rebel strongholds including the mid-western districts arresting 27 terrorists. Thani said the rebels exploded a powerful bomb at his house but no one was hurt in the incident.
  • A Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet was attacked with a hand grenade in Karachi. Five persons were injured in the incident. (They said original, dammit, not crispy!)
  • The Indonesian government is investigating claims that foreigners - reportedly from Afghanistan - are operating in central Sulawesi, the scene of religious clashes between Christians and Muslims.
  • As Malaysia intensifies its probe into links between Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network and its own Islamic militants, attention is focusing on the tiny Malaysian Mujahadin Group, trained in Afghanistan, accused of plotting two attacks to kill U.S. sailors. The group hoped to establish an Islamic state in Southeast Asia. Malaysian and U.S. officials say it seems unlikely a full-fledged al-Qaida cell was operating in the country. But Malaysia appears to have been an unwitting way-station for terrorists, including at least one Sept. 11 suicide hijacker, Khalid al-Mihdhar.

    The Alliance
  • 1,500 Hamas supporters clashed with Palestinian riot police outside the home of spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin in resistance to Yasser Arafat's crackdown on militants. A Hamas supporter was killed in an exchange of fire at the scene. Palestinian security officials said a total of 180 Islamic militants have been rounded up since the arrest sweep began Sunday. Israel has complained that those detained were lower-level activists, and that the planners of the attacks are still at large.
  • Israeli planes attacked a Palestinian police compound early Friday, ending a two-day lull in military strikes. Fire erupted after bombs struck two buildings in a complex that was the headquarters for the Palestinian civil police in Gaza City. Dust and black smoke filled the sky and ambulances rushed toward the building.
  • Members of the Canadian military's Joint Task Force 2 commando unit are heading overseas to join the war on terrorism.
  • Russian police said they had arrested seven members of an organized crime gang in the Moscow region after they tried to sell over two pounds of radioactive uranium to undercover officers for $30,000.
  • Italian police raided six companies suspected of links to Islamic militants, part of a week-long crackdown on money that may be destined for Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. The searches were a follow-up to raids on a dozen companies in the Milan area suspected of using false invoices to hide money transfers for the al-Qaida organization.

    Home Front
  • A man with a large concealed knife and a pickup truck containing two rifles, a handgun and a bulletproof vest was stopped outside the White House and taken into custody, the U.S. Secret Service said. Authorities believe he is a nut.
  • The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service announced its first systematic effort to find 314,000 aliens who have been ordered deported but cannot be found. INS Commissioner James Ziglar said these "bail jumpers" will be added to the FBI list of wanted persons, so when they are stopped even for traffic violations their names will show up on routine computer checks.
  • The War of the Poinsettias continued in St. Paul, as some of the red-leafed plants were smuggled into City Hall overnight and inserted into the holiday floral display arrayed at the feet of the Vision of Peace statue.
  • The Good Guys Win
    Self-appointed Emir of Afghanistan, Protector of the Faithful, Potentate-for-Life, the Caliph Mullah Mohammed Omar has agreed to surrender Kandahar, according to both the Taliban and forces loyal to Hamid Karzai.

    Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan and an absolute paragon of honesty, said the Taliban would begin handing over weapons to Mullah Naqib Ullah on Friday. Ordinary Taliban gunmen, torturers and thugs would be free to return to their homes. Karzai has agreed to Naqib Ullah, a member of the Jamiat-e-Islami party, becoming governor of Kandahar. Naqib Ullah now leads one of several groups fighting the Taliban. "Mullah Omar has taken the decision for the welfare of the people, to avoid casualties and to save the life and dignity of Afghans," Zaeef said. The handover is expected to take three or four days.

    The fact that there is an agreement is no guarantee that it will be executed; this is Afghanistan, after all. The Moolah is a graduate of the Yasser Arafat School of Honesty and Good Faith. A previous agreement fell apart when he had a dream of ruling Kandahar for the rest of his life. There is no guarantee there won't be more dreams. But at least the agreement is a start. There is probably a better than 50-50 chance the Taliban will carry it out.

    As for al-Qaeda: "They have to leave Afghanistan," Karzai said of the Arabs, Pakistanis, Chechens, Uzbeks, Californians and other sweepings. "They have to face justice. They (must) just stop what they are doing, leave my country and face international justice."

    Tora Bora is as impregnable as al-Qaeda can make it, but with its exits sealed our side still wins. Perhaps 500 years from now archaeologists can find the shriveled, mummified remains of Osama bin Laden, his wives, children and henchmen, and piece together how it was they happened to starve to death in such a remote place. More likely, the Afghans will end up going in after them and earning their $25 million the hard way.

    Even Zaeef admitted the Taliban was finished as a political movement. "I think we should go home," he said. One could almost feel sorry for him, if it is possible to feel sympathy for a sadist.

    Hamid Karzai says there are no details on what will happen to the Protector of the Faithful. "Those are the details that we still have to work out. I'm not saying anything right now," he said. Zaeef says that Omar would be allowed to live in Kandahar under Naqib Ullah's protection. The United States wants the Emir at least jugged for his his support of al-Qaeda and his participation in the war. Even though they haven't said so publicly both President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld both feel Mullah Omar's neck is unbecomingly short and should be stretched. That was what happened to Najibullah, the Communist ruler, when the Taliban siezed power. That was also what happened to Abdul Haq a month and a half ago. Or he could be forced to stand in front of a wall and count muzzle blasts. It wouldn't really matter either way.

    More likely, and despite the bad effect it will have on relations between the new Afghan government and the US, Omar will remain in Kandahar "under house arrest." At some time in the future he could be a useful pawn in the internal politics of the country. If he becomes tiresome he will die of "natural causes" (don't eat the apricots!) If he provides enough service he may "escape," to live out his days comparing notes about the good old days with Idi Amin in Saudi Arabia. If someone else needs a stern warning, he could be shot "trying to escape."

    Justice says Mullah Omar should be introduced as soon as possible to the joys of decomposition, but even if justice isn't done, his influence is dead. By agreeing to the surrender he reveals himself to be a vicarious hero, a man willing to tell others to fight to the last man and the last bullet, but who then stares into the face of death and flinches.

    Standing in the rubble of his country, the object of worldwide revulsion, Zaeef said he was proud of what the Taliban have done in Afghanistan. "We have done a lot for the welfare of the people,'' he said. "In every village, mosque, home and province there is a Talib.''

    Afghanistan is done with the mistakes of the Taliban. It has the chance to set aside the mutilations, the hangings, the executions at half time in the stadium. Women need no longer be beaten in public. And the world will be done with another regime of sadists.

    Wednesday, December 05, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • Late in the day, FoxNews is reporting that Mullah Omar is willing to surrender Kandahar in return for amnesty.
  • A provisional list of the 30-member interim Afghan administration was approved by four Afghan delegations meeting near Bonn. The chairman is royalist Hamid Karzai, who is still not dead. The Northern Alliance retains defense, interior, and foreign affairs, among other, less critical posts. Embarrassingly, there were reports that Karzai was lightly injured with scrapes and bruises from the blast of a US bomb that killed two US special forces soldiers north of Kandahar. Karzai denied the reports.
  • "Any government imposed on Afghans from abroad can't be accepted," Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan, ranted to AP. "We reject this interim government. ... We will continue to fight against the puppets of America." And they're gonna hold Kabul, too.
  • Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hikmatyar blasted the results of the Afghan conference in Bonn. Hikmatyar demanded "the immediate departure of all foreign forces," from Afghanistan and the convening of a council including "all Afghan ethnicities." Hikmatyar also called for elections to a parliament that would draft a constitution. "Afghans will not accept powers co-opted by medieval methods, nor imposed on them," he warned. Translated: He wants to be in charge. If Afghanistan falls apart again, this is the guy who's gonna do it.
  • The first civil airline flight in Afghanistan since late September could take place Thursday between Kabul and Herat. Feda Mohammed Fedawi, the technical adviser for Afghanistan's national carrier Ariana Airways, said flights to the Tajik capital Dushanbe were also envisaged soon along with Kabul-Herat services.
  • Forces now more loyal than ever to Hamid Karzai said they have taken the district of Kargia from the Taliban as they advanced from the north on Kandahar city. Despite the backing of the aerial bombardments, opposition forces were stalled in their advance on the Kandahar airport by a heavy Taliban counter-attack. "We pulled our boys out on the advice of the Americans as they were bombing Taliban who were so close to us," said a source, who is close to Gul Agha. "Their bombing could have injured our fighters." The troops retreated to Uruzgan bridge, about two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the airport. The United Nations estimates that 2000 people are fleeing the province for Pakistan daily.
  • Anti-Taliban commander Hazrat Ali said U.S. aircraft kept up air strikes on targets in the Tora Bora region, about 35 miles south of Jalalabad. "We have taken some areas which they (bin Laden's men) left around Tora Bora," he reported from Jalalabad. "They pulled out from these areas without a fight." Sohrab Khan said his forces controlled half of the mountainous region around Tora Bora. Frontier Post reports al Qaida forces manning Tora Bara have twenty Russian-made Uragan missiles. Uragan is a 220 mm multiple-launched rocket. Each launcher fires up to 16 of the rockets at a time, with a payload of 90 kg of high explosive. (20 of the beasts would be enough for one salvo, with four left over.) Al Qaida have also taken with them "thousands of pressure cookers and thousands tonnes of urea fertiliser" from Jalalabad to make their own explosives.
  • A group of former mujahedin commanders warned the Taliban to get out of Helmand province or face a battle they cannot win. The commanders, headed by the anti-Soviet war hero Maulvi Atta Mohammed, said they now had 400 troops in Helmand province and could raise many times that amount if the Taliban did not go quietly. They dispatched a delegation to the provincial capital Lashkar Gah in a bid to reach a peaceful resolution but were ready to fight. They had taken control of the desert border towns of Chotto and Bramacha which had already been deserted by Taliban troops.
  • American bombs accidentally killed three U.S. servicemen and injured 19 others in southern Afghanistan. Five anti-Taliban Afghans were killed and several wounded. The friendly fire incident happened when a B-52 seeking to target enemy Taliban forces dropped a 2,000-pound bomb too close to opposition forces and their American advisers north of Kandahar.
  • A Pentagon spokeswoman said hostile fire was to blame for the wounding of a member of the U.S. Special Forces who was helping opposition troops around Kandahar. The wound was not considered life-threatening, and the soldier has been evacuated from Afghanistan.
  • Aviation officials said they had recovered Boeing jet engines and aircraft parts worth millions of dollars which had been stolen by Taliban soldiers as they fled Kabul in mid-November. The gunmen had been planning to sell the equipment to Pakistani businessmen for 700,000 dollars.
  • The Saudi Okaz daily reports that Ayman Abdul Rahman from Buraidah was killed Monday, becoming the 45th Saudi to die during the US war in Afghanistan since Oct. 7. The paper estimated that some 200 Saudis were in Afghanistan before the war, but other reports put the number at as high as 1,000. 30 Saudis were killed in one incident when their bus was bombed by US jets near Mazar-e-Sharif. Two others were executed by the Northern Alliance, while the rest were killed during air raids. The paper said it has the names of all 45 killed.

    Terror Networks
  • Yet another suicide bomber detonated explosives outside a central Jerusalem hotel during morning rush hour, killing himself, lightly hurting two bystanders.
  • Debka.com says that the material needed for a "dirty" bomb is already in the US, citing the death of an anonymous Pakistani in Hudson County jail in Kearny, New Jersey, in October. The man was treated for symptoms of radiation poisoning, suggesting he might have been a “mule” transporting nuclear materials or devices into America.
  • Suspected Muslim militants killed judge Vijay Kumar Phool when they ambushed his car in Kashmir. Two security guards and the driver were also killed in the attack. Indian guards arrested a woman guerilla "commander" in Kashmir. Mughli Begum, alias Saddam, was arrested by India's paramilitary Border Security Force.
  • Pakistani police said they had arrested three Afghan militants in connection with a rocket attack last week on paramilitary police headquarters in southern Karachi. The Afghans were arrested in the eastern Gulistan Johar section of Karachi and a Soviet-made rocket was seized.
  • The army said Wednesday that authorities have found the body of Melina Pereira, held since April by kidnappers identifying themselves as members of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. She was shot three times in the back at close range, military officials said. Pereira exchanged herself for her father, 65-year-old Antonio Pereira, after he fell ill during his kidnapping. After the exchange, the family was unable to come up with the ransom needed to secure the woman's release. According to the army, when the family asked the rebels to lower their demand, the guerrillas responded by sending a note saying the woman had been killed, and giving the location of the body.

    The Alliance
  • Palestinian President-for-Life Yasser Arafat said on Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was trying to topple him and the Palestinian Authority. Golly. That would be terrible.
  • Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has decided to grant Arafat a 12 hour respite to arrest Hamas and Islamic Jihad men wanted by Israel for involvement in terrorist actions. In a series of telephone calls between Arafat and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the Palestinian President-for-Life complained Israeli air strikes were preventing him from making arrests of Palestinian terror leaders. Peres consulted with Sharon and it was decided to grant Arafat his time. Prediction: Arafat has a list of 36 terror leaders; perhaps a dozen will be rounded up and he'll consider the job done. They'll be released shortly after things cool off again.
  • Gunmen from the Palestinian militant group Hamas have freed their leader after he was placed under house arrest by Palestinian security forces. Gunmen and security forces exchanged fire outside Sheikh Ahmed Yassin's Gaza City home before the security forces fled. Sheikh Yassin, 62, was then spirited away to an unknown location. Oh. What a surprise. Want to bet there were no injuries?
  • Egypt will send a senior diplomat to Israel carrying a strongly worded warning to Israel not to harm Arafat. Arafat called Egptian President Hosni Mubarak two days ago asking for his assistance.
  • The United States proposed a compromise to Israel and the Palestinians regarding international observers in the territories. If both sides agree to the proposal, Jordanian soldiers would be assigned an observer role in the West Bank. Israel has not opposed in principle to the proposal. Palestinians responded to the proposal with caution, seeing it as a Jordanian plot to reestablish their control over the area. Ooooh. Good idea. Then there'd be somebody in control.
  • Canada has joined the United States in freezing the bank accounts of organizations connected with Hamas. These include the Holy Land Fund, the Al Aqsa Bank and Beit El-Mal Holdings Co. Italy has agreed to take similar steps.
  • Kuwait's government will hire international auditors to oversee finances of Islamic charities, part of an effort to ensure they do not help finance Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.
  • An Italian prosecutor has asked a court to indict seven alleged Islamic militants suspected of links to Osama bin Laden's network. They have been charged with criminal association, supplying false documents and seeking to obtain and transport arms, explosives and chemicals. Among those charged is Essid Sami Ben Khemais, the alleged head of bin Laden's terrorist plans in Europe. Arrested in April, Ben Khemais is also believed to have met with Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta earlier this year in Spain.
  • Indian Home Minister L K Advani said a man arrested in Bombay on suspicion of being linked with Al-Qaeda had confessed to plans to carry out suicide attacks in Britain, Australia and India after September 11. "The Al-Qaeda had plans to not only attack the United States but also for similar attacks on Britain, Australia and the Indian parliament," the minister said. Advani said the arrested man said he had learned to fly planes in Australia and in Britain. The United States has reversed sanctions it imposed on India for conducting nuclear tests in 1998 as a result of a strengthened bilateral cooperation to combat terrorism. Washington has agreed to resume sales of arms to India and step up military cooperation, after two days of talks in New Delhi with Indian officials.
  • Pakistani authorities arrested 23 Arabs, including two children, suspected of links to Osama bin Laden. All of them sneaked into the country from Afghanistan in recent weeks. The suspects include three women, identified as Aamni Ahmad, Hala Ahmad and Nooran Abdu, who are believed to be relatives of bin Laden. The arrests were made in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan. Most of the other suspects were identified as Yemenis and Saudis, and it was believe some could be related to one of bin Laden's four wives.

    International
  • Foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia dropped 19.5 percent in October compared to the previous month and the tourism minister said rising anti-American sentiment was partly to blame. I Gede Ardika said threats by hardline Muslim groups to expel foreigners led several governments to warn citizens against travelling to Indonesia.

    Home Front
  • The pilot of the hijacked American Airlines jet that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11 will be buried in his father's plot at Arlington National Cemetery. The Army originally had said Charles Burlingame, 51, wasn't eligible for a plot at Arlington because retired reservists must be at least 60 to be buried there.
  • Anti-abortion fugitive Clayton Lee Waagner, named by the FBI as the primary suspect in the mailing of hundreds of hoax anthrax letters, was arrested by local and federal authorities in suburban Cincinnati after a copy-center employee recognized him. We hope he spent the afternoon "falling down stairs" and "walking into doors," but that's probably just wishful thinking.
  • Oily preacher Pat Robertson resigned as president and a member of the board of directors of the Christian Coalition. Robertson and Jerry Falwell sparked a national controversy over an exchange the two had on CBN after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in which they blamed abortionists, the ACLU and People for the American Way for the WTC attacks.
  • A decision to banish red poinsettias from the Ramsey County, Minn., Courthouse as a Christian symbol is inciting holiday discord, since nobody there has anything better to do. The metal detectors installed at the courthouse entrance after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks left no space for the holiday plants that traditionally lined the dark, cavernous Memorial Hall, said Ramsey County Manager Paul Kirkwold. There wasn't enough room for Christmas music, either.
  • Tuesday, December 04, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • The two main factions at the talks on Afghanistan's political future appear to have agreed on a candidate to head an interim government.An adviser to the Northern Alliance said on Sunday that it had agreed with the royalist Rome faction to nominate Abdul Sattar Seerat, an aide to former king Zahir Shah, to the post. Seerat is an ethnic Uzbek who served as justice minister before the king was forced into exile in 1973. A Western diplomat said that the royalist faction had suggested Mr Sirat, thus ruling out its expected choice, Hamid Karzai, a member of Afghanistan's dominant Pashtun community.
  • Taleban disintegration picked up speed when some of the most senior officials fled Afghanistan to set up a "moderate" splinter group in Pakistan. (A moderate Taliban is one who beats his own wife, rather than someone else's.) The dissident ministers believe that Mullah Omar should give up Kandahar and sue for peace. Ten of the 12 defectors have escaped to Pakistan, where they are believed to be holding talks with Pakistani Pashtun leaders. The three most important deserters are Mullah Abdul Kabir, the former Governor of Nangarhar, who was considered to be No 3 in the Taleban hierarchy; Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, the former Education Minister; and Abdul Rehman Zahid, the former Deputy Foreign Minister. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Taleban’s military intelligence chief has also defected, possibly to rebel forces in Ghazni.
  • Taliban fighters and members of al-Qaida were putting up fierce resistance against opposition Afghan forces outside Kandahar as a relentless U.S. bombing campaign continued. Some Kandahar defenders fired missiles at U.S. warplanes, but made no hits. The city remained in Taliban hands, but a seesaw battle was raging for its airport, a few miles away. "We're fighting a lot of Arabs," a commander said. "There's not a single Taliban here." He estimated that there were 700 to 1,000 foreign fighters inside the airport. By late evening FoxNews was reporting the anti-Taliban alliance had taken the airport.
  • Ahmad Karzai, brother and spokesman for royalist Hamid Karzai, said his brother's Popalzai tribal fighters had captured the district of Shahwali Kot, meeting little resistance, and are now in control of Arghandab, about 12 miles northwest of Kandahar. "There was no fighting, maybe a few bullets were shot but the Taliban had already left. I just talked with one of my commanders and they were laughing and said they were sitting in the main bazaar of Shahwali Kot and there had been no fighting." Taliban sources reported the assault had been repelled, with dozens of tribal fighters wounded and two captured, along with six vehicles.
  • Aleem Shah, a commander for Hazarat Ali, a minister of the Eastern Shura, the self-proclaimed, pro-American government based at Jalalabad, said 1,500 Pashtun fighters, accompanied by American special forces, are prepared to attack Tora Bora. Hundreds of Afghan fighters also will head for Meleva, near Tora Bora, where Qaida forces have also been seen in recent days.
  • Hazarat Ali said he had met with two Afghan elders claiming that they had received a message from Osama bin Laden saying he did not want to fight fellow Muslims. Nonetheless, Mr. Ali said, Tora Bora would be attacked, and soon. Beating other men's wives is much more fun than fighting to the death in a rat hole, isn't it?
  • The Taliban’s one-eyed leader, self-proclaimed Emir Mullah Mohammed Omar is said to be living in the back of a car for fear of his life. Omar’s driver, Said Mohammed, was constantly ferrying his Caliph from one troop location to the next. "At night he sleeps for three or four hours before ordering the driver to move on. During the day he visits the troops to keep morale high," the source said. He also said Omar still had 500 pick-up trucks chock full of battle-hardened soldiers, some of whom had been fighting for 25 years.
  • Pushtun commanders said that bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri was injured Monday. Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian exile, is a co-founder of al Qaeda. He was previously the leader of the outlawed militant group Egyptian Islamic Jihad and served three years in prison in connection with the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. No details, but we hope it's very painful. Bin Laden's financial manager, Ali Mahmud, was killed in the same bombing and is now gaily cavorting with his 72 virgins. Zawahri's wife and three daughters were killed in an airstrike on Kandahar Sunday. Several other relatives of Arabs serving in bin Laden's al-Qaida organization died in the same airstrike.
  • Mullah Ameer Hasan Rehmani, the Taliban governor of Kandahar province may have been killed in US bombings on Arghandab town on the outskirts of Kandahar city. Another Taliban official anonymously said that Rehmani sustained injuries in the attack and was alive in Kandahar Mirwais Hospital. The governor was hosting an Iftar banquet in honor of Shireen Khan of Farah province, when the US bombed the area. Potentate-for-Life Mullah Omar, was also invited, but had to wash his hair that night. Besides Rehmani and Khan, 17 others, including the leaders' family members, were reportedly killed and several wounded as the roof of the bombed house caved in. Sounds like a nice party. Sorry we missed it.
  • Pockets of resistance remain in the north of Afghanistan. Among them is an enclave at Balkh, where up to 2,500 hard-core Taliban and foreign fighters have refused to surrender. Some of them may have taken refuge there after negotiating their release from Kunduz before it fell late last month.
  • Frontier Post claims that 25 British dead were loaded onto a British transport plane at Jacobabad.
  • Hundreds of women and children, families of foreign Taliban, mostly Chechens and Arabs, have been left stranded by the fighting in Afghanistan and are at grave risk, Human Rights Watch said. The organization urged all Afghan forces, the United States, and the international community to facilitate the exit of these civilians from combat zones in Afghanistan. About 500 women and children, believed to be Chechens, have sought refuge in the villages of Paktia and Logar provinces in eastern Afghanistan. A smaller group of thirty families apparently from Arab countries live in vehicles and travel at night around the canyons of the two provinces to avoid U.S. bombing.
  • Australian combat troops have joined US Marines south of Kandahar, while special Marine reconnaissance units are probing more aggressively in the surrounding desert.
  • "The Jihad will continue even if bin Laden dies...every time Osama dies a new Osama will carry the flag," Sulaiman abu Ghaith told Kuwait's al-Watan newspaper in what is hopefully his last interview. The al-Qabas newspaper had reported unconfirmed reports that Ghaith was wounded and possibly killed in U.S. attacks.
  • Taliban agents were in Pakistan during the past several weeks seeking to buy between 10 and 15 vehicles to be used as car bombs. This is the "Back to Basics" wing of al-Qaeda.
  • "Why we fight:" Gunmen waylaid six men in eastern Afghanistan and cut off their noses and ears for having shaved off their beards. The bandits stopped and searched a bus at Tangi Abresham on the highway from Kabul to Jalalabad and ordered out all men who had shaved their beards. Several vehicles were looted in Tangi Abresham over the past couple days, and drivers said they had seen seven bodies lying in the area.
  • "Why we fight, part deux:" Toronto Star carries a story on 10 Uzbek dirtbags who checked themselves into hospital at Taloqan chock full of explosives, intending to blow the place up. A Northern Alliance commander became suspicious of the 10 foreigners. One by one, the patients were called out of their room, seized, stripped and taken prisoner. When the search was over, 15 small bombs and hand grenades were found strapped to the men's bodies and hidden in their packs, along with an assortment of knives and spiked fighting knuckles. (Thanks to Moira Breen for the story!)

    The Alliance
  • Bodyguards whisked Yasser Arafat into an underground bunker at the sight of Israeli attack helicopters approaching his compound. Seconds later when the missiles struck a few dozen yards from where he had been sitting the Palestinian leader was safely hidden away with advisers and bodyguards in a windowless underground office. Rahman said Arafat ordered employees of the compound to evacuate, keeping only his personal bodyguards. Although Israel says it is not targeting Arafat, its attacks have looked personal, aimed squarely at the symbols of his authority. In addition to hitting the Ramallah compound, Israel has damaged three of Arafat's helicopters and torn up the landing strip at Gaza International Airport. With troops sealing off the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian leader has been left a virtual prisoner in Ramallah.
  • The Palestinian Authority denied Israel's charge that it was a "terror-supporting entity." Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said Israel's occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was "the source of terrorism" and Israel's actions were making the prospects of peace even more remote after 14 months of violence. That's why they bomb all those teenagers and granny ladies.
  • The Palestinian security forces commander in the Tulkarm area has ordered the release of all Hamas activists who were arrested over the past few days. He said they were released because there was no way to guarantee their safety in the face of IDF attacks against Palestinian security installations in Tulkarm. Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has given orders to fire the commander for releasing the detainees, and PA sources say efforts will be made to rearrest them.
  • Three Palestinian Authority Force 17 buildings, two in the Gaza Strip and one in the West Bank, were among eight security installations hit by Israeli missiles. The airstrikes came just hours after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Cabinet branded Arafat's government a supporter of terrorism and singled out the Tanzim militia and Force 17, a branch of the Palestinian security forces as terrror groups.
  • Cracks emerged in Israel's ruling coalition after Labor party members boycotted the Cabinet vote on the security declaration.
  • Jordan's King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called on Palestinians and Israelis to respond to U.S. efforts to resolve the crisis and prevent a further deterioration of the situation. "The two leaders affirmed their condemnation of all violent acts and acts of retribution which aim at destroying peace efforts and shedding the blood of innocents," Information Minister Safwat el-Sherif said. Not wanting to look ridiculous, he did not make any specific reference to the Israeli missile strikes.
  • Kyrgyzstan said it was ready to accommodate warplanes from the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition at one of its airbases, but a senior official said the Western presence would be limited and short-term.
  • Italian tax police were searching a dozen companies in and around Milan as part of a crackdown on Islamic cells supporting Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. Police said some 50 organized crime officers were involved in the swoop on Varese and other towns in the northern Lombardy region.

    Terror Networks
  • Nepali troops have arrested Govardhan Gauli, a top Maoist rebel leader in central Nepal. 200 rebels and 35 government personnel died when the guerrillas stormed several government installations including an army post at Sallery. Gauli, a rebel military commander for three districts in central Nepal, was arrested during a search operation by the security forces at Chitre Bhangjyang in Grokha district. Gauli was in charge of Maoist military operations in the rebel strongholds of Lamjung, Tanahun and Gorkha districts in central Nepal.
  • A suicide squad of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba guerrilla group attacked an Indian army camp in Jammu and Kashmir, killing at least two soldiers. Three guerrillas died in the gunbattle that followed the attack in Bagatpora in Kupwara district, police said. A spokesman for the gunmen said they had killed six Indian soldiers.

    International
  • Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said Iraq is prepared for war should it be attacked and rejected a U.S. call for Baghdad to allow U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country. "We are preparing ourselves to defend our country, this is our duty," Aziz said in an interview.
  • Saddam Hussein says he has seven million combatants called the Quds Army. Iraq would "swallow Israel up" if his country is attacked. "The Palestinian cause and liberation of Jerusalem as well as campaign against Israel is a fundamental issue for Iraq, just like many other Islamic states," Iraqi charge d'affaires in Teheran Abdul Sattar Izzeddin Rawi said. The warning came hours after Saddam convened his defense chiefs Sunday. The Iraqi News Agency said the meeting focused on Iraqi preparations for any U.S.-led war against Baghdad.
  • Yemeni troops trying to secure the release of a kidnapped German fired missiles on Tuesday at a village where tribesmen are believed to be holding him. The army fired missiles and heavy machineguns at al-Mehjezah village in Marib province east of the capital Sanaa, where the kidnappers were believed to have taken refuge. ("Honey, I just can't decide. Should we go to Costa Brava this year, or Yemen?")
  • A Swedish court convicted four teenagers of high treason for throwing a cream cake at King Carl Gustaf. They received fines. Bet they wouldn't do that to Mullah Omar. If they did, betcha they'd get more than fines.

    Home Front
  • The United States took a major step forward on Monday in testing its controversial missile defense shield by successfully shooting down a dummy warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Bush administration froze the assets of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, an organization based in Richardson, Texas, that raised $13 million last year. The foundation, which calls itself the largest Muslim charity in the United States, denied that it was a front for Hamas. Assets of Al Aqsa International Bank and the Beit El-Mal Holdings Co., an investment group, were also frozen.
  • Monday, December 03, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • Afghan groups at talks in Germany had agreed on a UN-brokered power-sharing deal and would sign it on Tuesday, a Northern Alliance source at the talks said. The source said that the royalists would head the interim administration for six months while the other groups negotiating, including the Northern Alliance and the Cyprus and Peshawar groups, would have the other ministries.
  • In another step back toward civilization, Kabulis are allowed to bathe again. Forbidden by the Taliban, community baths are once again open in Afghanistan’s capital. Once they're all clean and pretty, they can go to the cock fights. What could be better?
  • Amid reports that some Taliban leaders were negotiating a surrender of Kandahar, American bombers kept up a steady pounding of Taliban and al-Qaida hideouts in eastern Afghanistan. Abdul Khaliq, one of four Pashtun leaders heading the tribal struggle against the Taliban, said Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, the Taliban hardliner who banned education for women and forced them to wear head-to-toe veils, was leading a group of 20 senior Taliban government and military officials negotiating the city's surrender.
  • Taliban Governor of Kandahar Mulla Hasan Rehmani said Potentate-for-Life Mulla Mohammad Omar himself is leading Taliban forces in Kandahar to fight against the Americans and their agents. NNI news agency quoted Mulla Rehmani as saying Mulla Omar is safe and sound and is in the outskirts of Kandahar. "We will defend our stronghold till last," the governor said. He said Kandahar has been under heaviest bombardment for several days, which has caused a large number of civilian casualties and destruction of houses and shops. Fighters loyal to Gul Agha said they fought their way into the airport compound, but were pushed back by Taliban defenders. Mullah Omar is reported to be using a bicycle or motorcycle to avoid detection from the air and has ordered his men to buy camels, raising speculations that he is preparing to beat it when things hit bottom, rather than going out in a blaze of glory.
  • Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the Kuwaiti spokesman for al-Qaeda, was "seriously wounded" in the eastern Afghan city of Kandahar, and could even now be cavorting with his 72 virgins, according to Pakistani security sources citing Kuwaiti gunslingers who have since fled by sea to the United Arab Emirates.
  • 60 US commandos have landed in four helicopters at Jalalabad airport. Pakistan's "The News" reported that the commandos were tipped by the commander of the eastern Shura Hazrat Ali that Osama bin Laden is very definitely in the Tora Bora mountains.
  • Two more American Taliban are under the control of the Northern Alliance. There are no details as yet on these two traitors, whose identities have not been established and whose physical condition could not be determined.

    Terror Networks
  • Lieutenant Colonel Roman Grigorian, deputy military prosecutor for the northern Caucasus region of southern Russia died when assailants opened fire on his car in Argun, Chechnya. Grigorian died instantly, and his driver was rushed to hospital seriously wounded. Earlier Sunday, Chechen rebels said eight Russian soldiers had been killed and another 17 injured in a series of hit-and-run guerrilla attacks in Grozny. A spokesman for Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov said three Russian soldiers were killed and another four injured when their armoured personnel carrier hit a remote-controlled mine.
  • The Weekly Standard passes on a report from a Pakistani daily that Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar. The paper claims that a senior Iraqi diplomat, Taha Husseyn, met in Kandahar with the Taliban's Maulana Jalal ud-Din Haqqani. Saddam allegedly offered not only sanctuary, but military and financial support as well.

    The Alliance
  • President Bush demanded that Yasir Arafat break up Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the groups that train and breed the kinds of suicide bombers who killed at least 25 people in terrorist bombings over the weekend. Hamas supporters called for more suicide attacks against Israel during a funeral procession in the Gaza Strip. Some 1,000 supporters gathered despite a ban by the Palestinian Authority on public meetings by militant groups. "Forward with martyrdom attacks!" the crowd chanted at the funeral of a Hamas gunman killed by Israeli soldiers after he shot dead an Israeli motorist in Gaza.
  • UN Secretary General Kofi Annan condemned weekend suicide bombings in Israel as acts of "terrorism" and demanded immediate and decisive action from Yasser Arafat to bring the perpetrators to justice.
  • Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared a "war on terror" and said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was directly responsible for attacks on Israel over the weekend. "We are in a war - it's either Israel or Arafat," Sharon told The New York Post before boarding a plane back to Jerusalem from New York. Israeli Air Force attack helicopters fired at least 14 air-to-surface missiles at Palestinian Authority targets in the Gaza Strip. The IAF helicopters directed heavy machine gun fire at the PA air force facility. Missiles hit two of Arafat's four personal helicopters on a landing pad and buildings in a compound that houses offices of the elite Force 17 presidential guard and other Palestinian security units. Palestinian security personnel ran away from the area under attack as eight helicopters hovered over the city. PA forces directed anti-aircraft fire at the IAF helicopters but none were hit. Al-Jazeera reports Arafat's personal residence was also hit in the strike. However an Israeli spokesman said Arafat's home was not targeted in the strike. IAF also hit targets in the West Bank city of Jenin. Palestinian Authority officials have asked the United States to halt the Israeli strikes, or else PA security forces will release all militant extremists they have arrested in the past day or so. Arafat called for Qatar to convene an urgent summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference which it chairs, following the Israeli raids. Arafat briefed Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, on the "Israeli aggression against the Israeli territories", and asked that his fat be hauled from the fire.
  • A close associate of Arafat was fatally wounded in a blast in his four-story Bethlehem home. He was evacuated to King Hussein Hospital in nearby Beit Jala. Doctors there say he is clinically dead. Three Fatah members were reportedly wounded in the blast, one seriously and two moderately. It is not clear if the dead man was included in this accounting.
  • A Jordanian military court condemned five men to death, including the notorious Abu Nidal, for the 1994 assassination of a Jordanian diplomat. Four of the five convicted killers, including Abu Nidal, were sentenced in absentia. Only Yasser Mohammed Abu Shinar, a Palestinian, stood before the State Security Court in Amman. They were found guilty of killing Naeb Imran Maaytah, first secretary at the Jordanian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. He was shot to death while sitting in his car in front of the embassy on Jan. 29, 1994.
  • The US is planning to confront Saudi Arabia with evidence that funds are flowing to terrorist organisations. Despite pressure from the US, the Saudi Government has done little to stanch the flow of funds to al-Qaeda. US diplomat Bill Burns will soon go to Saudi Arabia taking with him intelligence data linking some of the kingdom's leading money-men and charities to Osama bin Laden. Maybe he could even point out that it used to be "Arabia," rather than "Saudi Arabia."
  • Armed with a new anti-terrorism law and support from the West, Pakistan plans to crack down on Islamic and ethnic extremist groups responsible for killing hundreds of people here every year. Yup. Should be starting any time now...
  • Mounir El Motassadeq, a Moroccan man arrested in Germany last week on suspicion he assisted the Sept. 11 hijackers worked for more than a year as a cleaner at Hamburg airport. Motassadeq, a student at Hamburg's Technical University -- the school attended by suicide hijacker Mohamed Atta -- cleaned aircraft and secure areas. We are so surprised. Really.
  • An Egyptian military court heard allegations that 94 suspected Muslim militants planned to assassinate a host of Egyptians and Americans, including Egypt's president and a woman film director. ``They planned to assassinate a senior official in the state while he was passing over a bridge,'' a state security officer told the court. Court sources said he was referring to President Hosni Mubarak. If convicted, the 94 men, seven of whom are being tried in absentia, will not have the right to appeal. Since the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. cities, Egypt has referred several hundred suspected Muslim militants to military jurisdiction.
  • Sanaa and Washington have agreed on the arrest of at least two people in Yemen suspected of belonging to al-Qaeda, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was quoted as saying. "There are suspicions around some people whose names have come up, and they are two or three people currently being followed by security services," Saleh said in an interview. "They will be arrested." Saleh however denied that the suspects had links with the suicide bomb attack on the USS Cole warship in Yemen in October 2000 which left 17 US sailors dead. Saleh had told a Kuwaiti newspaper last week that some 25 people had been arrested in connection with the USS Cole attack. Saleh said in the Asharq al-Awsat interview that Yemen had delayed the suspects' trials, so as not to hinder the US investigation into the attack, whose primary suspect is Saudi-born Osama.

    Home Front
  • Kensington had at least 75 Santa Clauses at its tree-lighting ceremony. Hundreds of people gathered at the town's armory, some chanting "No Santa, No Peace." Others held signs that read, "Yes Kensington, There is a Santa Claus." The event had all the traditional elements of Holiday Festivities, to include a couple fist fights and a ceremonial bullhorn smashing. A wonderful time was had by all.
  • Sunday, December 02, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • Fighters aligned with former Kandahar Gov. Gul Agha, a Pashtun, battled for control of the Kandahar airport. To the north of the city, thousands of fighters loyal to another Pashtun leader, Hamid Karzai, who is still not dead, had moved to within 30 miles of the city. Ahmed Karzai said the Taliban had not engaged in battle with his brother's force. The United States continued heavy air strikes on Taliban positions in Kandahar. One refugee who left the city said Taliban were hiding in the houses of residents.
  • 80 Taliban prisoners, kept in a freight container in Sherberghan, near Mazar-e-Sharif, blew themselves up in an apparent mass suicide. The incident in will likely further stoke controversy over the treatment of war prisoners, particularly by men loyal to alliance commander Gen. Rashid Dostum.
  • A group of 40 French troops arrived in Afghanistan, landing at the airport in the northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif. The group is the advanced party for a French force whose mission is to secure the airport perimeter during work to repair the runway.
  • Former Afghan Information Minister and the Executive Council member of Jamiat-e-Islami, Siddique Chakari has said that Afghans would not welcome imposed leadership from abroad and deployment of UN forces in Kabul. Translated: he wants to be in charge.
  • Former Afghan Prime Minister and Chief of Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has said no dignified Jihadi leader has attended the Bonn meeting as the United States has nominated all the invitees. Jihadi leaders Maulvi Younas Khalis, Abdur Rab Rasool Sayyaf, Maulvi Mohammad Nabi, Maulvi Samiullah, Syed Mohseni and other leaders of same stature have not been invited. "These groups do not represent Afghans and can not decide about the future of Afghans," he said. Translated: He wants to be in charge.
  • Witnesses said a coalition bombing raid in eastern Afghanistan near Tora Bora destroyed a village, though reports of civilian casualties varied. The U.S. military denied the claim, saying the bombing ``did not happen.'' While witnesses claimed 100 to 200 people were killed, the defense chief in the province, Mohammed Zeman, said he received reports that 15 to 20 civilians had died in air raids. Zeman said local anti-Taliban authorities had complained to the Americans that they were bombing in the wrong place.
  • The bodies of 124 American troops were flown home in a cargo plane on November 29, claimed a Pakistani daily. 'Pakistan Observer' reported that the troops were killed during clashes with Taliban fighters when they had landed in Helmand province to help the ex-governor of Kandahar Gul Agha's Lashkar fighters against Taliban.
  • In what may be a sign all is not roses within Kandahar, Potentate-for-Life Mullah Muhammad Omar has asked the Taliban fighters and leaders not to indulge in racial and linguistic hatred. "This is the policy of the Taliban movement to assign duties to those, who meet the requirements of being good Muslims and are able to serve the nation without discrimination," Omar said. Perhaps a bit of tension between the Arabs and the local boys?
  • Muhammad Omer Abdul Rehman, the elder son of Egyptian puritan Omer Abdul Rehman, convicted of World Trade Centre bombing in 1993, was killed during fighting in Bamiyan before the fall of Kabul. The younger son, Ahmad Omer Abdul Rehman, was caught by the Northern Alliance forces during their takeover of Kabul and remains in detention. Both lads were pursuing the family business.
  • "Abdul Hamid," the American traitor who survived the Kala-i-Jangi uprising, has been identified as by his parents as John Phillip Walker Lindh, 20, of Northern California. Marilyn Walker describes her son as a “sweet, shy, kid,” who had wanted to work with poor people and perhaps go into medicine. The photo of her son that appeared on Newsweek.MSNBC.com was the first indication that she had of his whereabouts since he left a religious school, or Madrassah, in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, where he had been studying the Quran, seven months earlier. He is reportedly now in custody of US Special Forces, receiving medical treatment and hopefully "falling down" every twenty minutes or so.

    Terror Networks
  • An Israeli man was killed and four people injured when two Palestinian gunmen opened fire on passing cars near the northern Gaza settlement of Alei Sinai. Fourteen Israelis were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up on Egged bus No. 16 in Haifa. At least 60 people were wounded in the terrorist attack. Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombings, in retaliation for Israel's slaying of a Hamas leader nine days ago.
  • Thousands of Christian villagers on Indonesia's Sulawesi island are fleeing attacks by Muslim paramilitaries armed with machine guns and rocket launchers. Hundreds of homes in settlements around Poso, a coastal town in Central Sulawesi province, have been destroyed by uniformed members of the Laskar Jihad militia group.
  • Seven people belonging to a wedding party were gunned down by suspected Muslim heroes in Jammu and Kashmir. Sixteen Muslim militants, two women and an Indian army major were killed in Kashmir. Twenty-one houses, a junior grade school and more than two dozen single-roomed tenements were also destroyed in a blaze ignited during one of the gunbattles between Indian soldiers and Islamic guerrillas. A police spokesman in Srinagar said six militants, all local Kashmiris affiliated with the leading militant group Hizbul Mujahedin, were gunned down during a three-hour encounter at the village of Magam.

    The Alliance
  • A team of senior British military officers who visited US Central Command last week was asked to prepare the strategy for attacks on sites in Somalia. They have returned to London to discuss the plan with MoD ministers. The request was made as it emerged that Saddam Hussein is funding a number of terrorist training camps in Somalia used by a militant Islamic group with close ties to al-Qa'eda. According to Iraqi dissident groups based in London, Saddam has agreed to provide funding, training and equipment to the Somali Islamic group al-Itihaad al-Islamiya in return for assistance from the Somali authorities in avoiding United Nations sanctions. Mr Bush placed al-Itihaad on his list of outlawed terrorist groups after the September 11 incident.
  • US envoy Anthony Zinni made a brief visit to the site of yesterday's terror attacks in Jerusalem. "First let me express my condolences to the families that lost children here in this terrible, horrible, evil action, and also to express my heartfelt concern to those who were injured," Zinni said. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that he made it "absolutely clear" to Yasser Arafat that terrorist attacks like the ones in Jerusalem must be halted through "immediate" action against those responsible and their support infrastructure. "There can be no excuse for failure to take immediate and thorough action against the perpetrators of these vile acts," Powell said. The Palestinian leadership gave security forces new powers to rein in militants, including banning all armed demonstrations and any public display of arms. Palestinians Authority officials and military commanders are running for cover as Israel Air Force helicopter gunships can be seen in the skies over autonomous area. PA commanders are evacuating all military bases and other PA offices are being emptied of personnel as well. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told U.S. President George W. Bush that Israel no longer expects Chairman Yasser Arafat to deal with terrorism, and that "Israel will act against those who perpetuate terror and those who send them on their missions."
  • Security agencies in Pakistan have confirmed that some of the country's most wanted militants, including Riaz Basra, have either been killed or were trapped in Kunduz or Kandahar along with the Taliban. The agencies believe that at least 8,000 members of the militant Lashkar-e-Jhangavi organisation, which had been involved in sectarian killings in Pakistan, were operating from Afghanistan.
  • Canadian immigration officers say a lack of detention space forced them to release a dozen men into the Toronto area who are suspected of having links to al-Qaida terrorists. Guess it's not very important, eh?

    Fifth Column
  • The deaths of perhaps as many as 400 Taliban fighters after the fall of Kunduz have already led to calls for an inquiry into the manner in which they died. The utterly predictable Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, has expressed her "particular concern" about the deaths, and Amnesty International has said there must be an investigation into the "proportionality" of the Northern Alliance response.
  • Some 3,000 right-wing extremists who marched through central Berlin on Saturday for a protest against an exhibition on Nazi-era crimes by the German army were diverted away from a planned route through the capital's Jewish quarter.
  • In no mood for yet another Battle in Seattle, police came out in force, hemming in a small crowd protesting the World Trade Organization and the advance of global capitalism. Officers quickly arrested anyone who stepped out of line -- or off the sidewalk -- during the midday event. Police took 13 people into custody, all on misdemeanor offenses ranging from trespassing to pedestrian interference. By 6 p.m. the demonstrations had all but dissolved.