Saturday, December 15, 2001

Afghanistan
  • The last pocket of al-Qaeda resistance at Tora Bora appeared to be crumbling as groups of al-Qaeda were captured or fled and others debated over two-way radios whether to surrender. Osama bin Laden's praetorian guard have been under relentless attack by U.S. warplanes and tribal forces of the eastern alliance. Top commander Haji Zahir said al-Qaida leaders told him they were ready to surrender, but after two surrender agreements fell through this week, he remained skeptical. "We won't accept conditions at all. We just want them to surrender. I told my forces to hold their positions, because I don't believe them," he said. Some al-Qaida could be heard debating a surrender over two-way radios. Alliance commander Mohammed Khan said a group of Arabs wanted to surrender but that a group of Chechen fighters was trying to persuade them not to do so. Earlier, two emissaries approached the front line to announce 300 men wanted to give up, but the men never emerged. While some al-Qaida tried to surrender, others fled. Three captured Arabs reported 50 al-Qaida leaders left on mules bound for the Pakistani border, only a few miles away. Another group of 60 Chechens was reported to have fled, leaving six wounded and many dead behind. Another group of 50 al Qaeda were reported to have surrendered. Sounds like they're finally breaking up for real. That "Hey, we're gonna surrender" trick has stopped working. Wonder if it'll work even once in Somalia?
  • More than 300 al Qaeda fighters have surrendered to Afghan forces at Tora Bora in recent days, adding to an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 terrorist or Taliban prisoners being held by rebel groups elsewhere in the country. The prisoners are part of an expanding intelligence-gathering operation in Afghanistan in which U.S. Special Forces and CIA officers have been examining seized al Qaeda documents, computer hard drives, videotapes and telephone books. The material has already produced names and phone numbers of al Qaeda members in other countries and led to some additional arrests. Oooh. Neat. You cut off the head and you get to go through its contents, too.
  • Osama bin Laden's voice has been identified on tactical radio intercepts at Tora Bora.Voice printing's fairly old technology. Should be pretty reliable by now.
  • U.S. Marines plan to build a prisoner-of-war camp at Kandahar's airport to house up to 300 al-Qaida fighters they hope will surrender or be captured near Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan. Significant that they hadn't built one to this point. Doubt if they expected any prisoners up until the end game. Now the ones they get will probably be more valuable than the Mazar-e-Sharif fodder.
  • A Frenchie who fought with al-Qaida was being treated in a Pakistani hospital under heavy guard after he was wounded in a U.S. airstrike. Abdur Rehman, 21, received military training at an al-Qaida camp six months ago, and told interrogators that between 80 and 100 other French citizens also were trapped in Afghanistan. Rehman speaks English, Arabic and French. Five Arabs who crossed the border with him also were taken into custody, and three of them were being treated at the same facility. Intelligence officials said the men had been arrested by anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan and were sent to Pakistan for treatment and interrogation. Wonder if he's a genuine Jacques or an Abdoul? Either way, he'll probably like Wake Island.
  • Australian David Hicks, captured a week ago, will soon be handed over to US military forces by the Northern Alliance. Yeah. Use the US to store your rubbish.
  • Al Qaida stragglers are still lurking in Kunar province, says its new anti-Taliban governor. Malik Zarin Khan said al Qaida gunmen were hiding along with local Taliban, and that these people carried heavy artillery. Khan called upon all the tribal heads to unite against the evil forces to save Kunar from destruction. Khan said the followers of al Qaida in Kunar were mostly Arabs. He warned that if these people are not handed over, a bloody civil war might break out in Kunar. Not unexpected, except perhaps for the heavy artillery. Seems like more of a warning from the new governor to the local barons to straighten up. Also implies he has some power to back up the demands.
  • Jordan and Turkey will join European countries at an international conference in London to determine the make-up of a multinational stabilisation force to be deployed in Afghanistan. Their participation in the mini-summit confirms for the first time that the two countries will play a key role in the force deployed to support the new interim Afghan government. Turkey will probably be of good use. The Jordanians are probably more a gesture of good faith than a working force.
  • Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the man who gave Afghanistan the "dog-eat-dog," has complained that the interim government in Kabul is serving US interests. The interim Cabinet of Ministers “is acting under the dictation of Washington and carrying out its policy aimed at the establishment of American hegemony in Afghanistan and in the region as a whole,” the bloodthirsty warlord said. He says that a secret agreement was allegedly concluded in Bonn that in the future the power in the country will go to the King and all the anti-American forces will be removed from governing the country. And this is a bad thing because...? If Hekmatyar's against it, I'm for it.
  • The Afghan Islamic Press said Sayed Jafar Nadari, leader of a small militia army from the Ismaili sect, had taken control of 80 per cent of Pol-e-Khumri. The agency added that 150 Northern Alliance fighters were killed. Nadari, a former general in the Afghan army, served as governor of Pul-i-Khumri during President Rabbani's 1992-96 government. He since turned against Rabbani and is trying to reclaim his position following the Taliban's withdrawal from the town. Nadari is also believed to be aligned with General Abdul Rashid Dostum. The US and Australia have dismissed an AIP report that 10 United States and two Australian soldiers had been captured or kidnaped by Northern Alliance forces in the operation. AIP is not the most reliable news source in the world, but if the report of fighting at Pul-e-Khumri is accurate, the development must please Hekmatyar no end. The capture/kidnap part is extremely doubtful.
  • Seventeen Afghans and one Turk have been arrested at the Pak-Afghan border near Miran Shah while crossing into Pakistan. 112 captured Pakistani jihadis kicked out of Afghanistan by the forces of Haji Abdul Qadeer in the eastern Nangarhar province were arrested by Pakistani authorities. 31 Arabs, all Yemenis — the largest known group yet to escape from Tora Bora — were arrested as they tried to enter Pakistan. They were unarmed and uninjured. They will join 95 al-Qaeda previously arrested in Pakistan fleeing Tora Bora. The arrested Al-Qaeda fighters included 30 Saudi nationals, 10 Malaysians, six Singaporeans, six Yemenis, five South Africans, four Turks, five Britons, two Albanians, two Jordanians, two Sudanese, three Swiss, three French and one Dutch.
  • Kabul's beauty shops are now opening for business. You can't keep good women down.

    Middle East
  • The United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution backed by the Palestinians that condemned terror acts and called for an end to the Mideast violence. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, said the measure was aimed at isolating Israel politically. The usual response. It's become tiresome. We can all agree on the words, and then we'll niggle on what the words mean.
  • More than a Israeli dozen tanks, accompanied by armored personnel carriers and jeeps, entered Beit Hanoun at the northern tip of Gaza. The forces came under fire and shot back. Four Palestinians were killed, including a 12-year-old boy, according to witnesses and Shifa Hospital in nearby Gaza City. The dead also included a Palestinian police officer whose car was hit. Four fellow officers in the car were wounded. Overall, about 40 Palestinians were injured in the town.
  • At the southern end of Gaza, a Palestinian militant carrying grenades attempted to cut a fence and enter the Jewish settlement of Gush Katif, but was shot dead by the Israeli military. Afterward, Israeli tanks moved into Palestinian territory east of Rafah, on the border with Egypt.
  • Palestinian security forces in Gaza shut down the offices of two newspapers, one belonging to Hamas, the other Islamic Jihad. Ghazi Hamad, the editor of Hamas' Al Risaleh newspaper, said he was considering legal action. A bit late, aren't we? It's the organizations that need to be dismantled, and that's a lot harder to do. Being Palestinians, they'll do the easy part and then stop.

    India
  • One of the five gunmen involved in the suicide attack on Parliament House tried to trigger explosives kept in the trunk of a car, which could have caused "catastrophic" damage. "There was a wire coming out of the car," a source revealed. "One of the terrorists was running with it and had tried to trigger the explosives but was shot dead before he could ignite it."
  • In a nationwide sweep, police have picked up at least fourteen people in connection with the investigation. Five suspects were picked up from Sopore in Kashmir. Two people, whose names matched that of the buyer of the car used by terrorists in the attack were also detained for questioning. At least seven Kashmiris have also been detained in the capital, one in Uttar Pradesh and two in Maharashtra in connection with the probe.
  • The Indian government served a verbal demarche to Pakistan on Friday demanding the arrest of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammad leaders and freezing of their assets. "We will take action against anybody from Pakistan involved in these acts, if at all proved," President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said. "Having said this, whatever our analysis is that the proof is inadequate at the moment. In fact, there are lot of indications which may implicate a design behind this operation. So we would like to be very sure. We need concrete evidence that if it is a terrorist act and if at all any one has been involved, we would like to move against them." Musharraf also warned India against any "precipitous action". Musharraf doesn't appear to realize how close to war he is with India, or maybe he's counting on the US to hold them off.
  • Pakistan put its armed forces on high alert following threatening statements by Indian leaders in the wake of an armed attack on parliament in New Delhi. Still don't think he's taking it seriously. He's trying to arafat.
  • To avoid trouble over freezing of their assets by the US, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba are reported to have changed their names. Jaish-e-Mohammad has matamorphosed to 'Al Furqan' and Lashkar-e-Taiba has renamed itself to 'Pasban-i-Ahle Hadith'. Both the outfits have changed their names following their inclusion in the US State Department's terrorist watchlist and visa negative list. Both are part of the 'Muttahida Jihad Council', an umbrella body of Kashmiri militant outfits.
  • Security forces seized 50 kgs of RDX explosive after checking a bus in Kashmir and arrested three persons. The explosives were being transported from Srinagar to Anantnag. Seven people, including a girl and a woman who entered the crossfire, were killed during a fierce gunbattle in Sopore district of Kashmir. Four militants and an Indian soldier were killed, besides the woman and girl. In Rajouri district, gunmen barged into a house and shot it up, killing a couple and critically injuring their son. The gunmen escaped.

    The Alliance
  • Fundamentalists in Pakistan are ripping into the Musharraf government for its crackdown on religious schools (madari). Leaders of schools in “Jumatul Wida” (last Friday of Ramadan) sermons declared their opposition. Mosques echoed with anti-Musharraf and anti-interior minister speeches. “The time has come to wage Jihad against infidel rulers,” the Moulvi ranted in Lal mosque. “Madaris are the fortress of Islam. They are nurseries for the Muslim. Who are Musharraf and Moin to launch a crackdown against them?” shrieked the Moulvi of Syyedna Ali Masjid in Peshawar. Musharraf would do well to mend his fences with India and crack down hard on the moulvis and on his own intel service and its terror networks. He's being slammed from three allied sides. If Gen.Gul doesn't meet with an unfortunate accident soon, it may be too late for Musharraf.
  • Saudi Arabia has been given no evidence its citizens helped carry out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, its Interior Minister Prince Nayef said. The United States listed 15 Saudis among the 19 men accused of hijacking the planes used in the attacks. Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect in planning the devastation, is Saudi-born. "So far, we've received no evidence or documents from the American authorities that justify the suspicion or accusations raised against Saudi Arabian citizens," Prince Nayef prattled. The Saud family has presented no evidence to the United States that it is fit to rule Arabia, either.
  • Plans for a bomb attack on London have been discovered in a terrorist base in Kandahar. There is no indication whether the writer had already left on his mission to Britain before the 11 September attacks. In step-by-step instructions it describes how to construct a huge remote-controlled van bomb - identical to those used by al-Qaeda against the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania with lethal effect in 1998. A scribbled note on top of one page suggests the intended target was Moorgate in the centre of London's financial district.

    Home Front
  • F.B.I. agents raided the offices of two of the nation's largest Muslim charities in what Bush administration officials described as a broadening of its campaign to shut a financial pipeline to terrorist groups overseas. The government announced few details about the raids on the charities, the Global Relief Foundation and the Benevolence International Foundation, both of Illinois, and refused to say what terrorist groups might be linked to them. The Federal Bureau of Investigation would not say what information it seized.

    Fifth Column
  • Riot police fired water cannons at protesters in freezing temperatures as a street protest in Brussels against globalization, coinciding with an EU summit, turned nasty as they usually do. Organizers put the turnout at 30,000 people. Police estimated the numbers at 12,500.
  • More than 400 people have protested against the military action in Afghanistan and any escalation of the war against terrorism. Glasgow traffic ground to a halt as members of the Scottish Coalition For Justice Not War marched through the city centre before massing at the Central Mosque. The crowd, which included members of Scottish CND and Unison, braved the cold to hear speakers, including Labour MPs George Galloway and Mohammed Sarwar and Scottish Socialist leader Tommy Sheridan. Mr Galloway said Prime Minister Tony Blair must act to prevent US military action against other nations. Don't worry, this part of it's almost over. Won't they be happy then? Cheese! Brits actually vote for these people? Who counts the ballots?
  • Friday, December 14, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • Heavy bombers and AC-130 gunships struck the area around Tora Bora, while Afghan troops traded machine-gun fire with al Qaeda. Afghan tanks also pounded al Qaeda positions in the mountains. Afghan commander Hazrat Ali said the Eastern Alliance are cutting down the area in which al Qaeda forces can operate. Ali said al Qaeda has suffered heavy casualties and is essentially finished. He said bin Laden is probably in a "special place," such as a bunker or a cave. Afghan sources said that 70 to 80 U.S. troops were aiding their effort, with especially intense activities taking place during nighttime hours. British special forces were also reported in the area. Surrender negotiations which were expected to take generations having failed, al-Qaeda has been reduced to "Hazrat, your shoe's untied" and "We'll be back in a half hour or so. We left something on the stove."
  • FoxNews reports about 50 al-Qaeda have surrendered at Tora Bora. We'll see how many of them blow up or otherwise attempt to inflict damage on our guys. When they do, there will be a screech raised about bumping them off.
  • Taliban Defence Minister Mullah Abdul Razaq said Osama bin Laden escaped from the country about a fortnight ago. He said the information came to him from ex-potentate Mullah Mohammad Omar who is still hiding in southern Afghanistan. Razaq, who claimed to have spoken to Omar, said Omar himself was safe despite the loss of Kandahar. Razaq claimed the Taliban would re-occupy Afghanistan within one month. "We will soon carry out our operations and the whole world will see it, " he said. "Save yer Taliban money, friend, 'cuz the Pashtuns're gonna rise again!" Actually, we suspect this is something Mullah Omar may have had revealed to him in a dream.
  • Twelve members of the U.S. special forces and dozens of tribal eastern alliance fighters were trying to take out an al-Qaida defensive position at Tora Bora when they came under machine-gun fire. In an exchange of fire, two of the Americans were grazed by bullets -- one in the shoulder, the other in the knee. The wounded men, in Afghan dress, were well enough to walk down the mountain. They were taken back to a schoolhouse in a nearby town where they have been staying for medical treatment. The special forces were also acting as spotters for an American airstrike against the machine-gun placement. The Americans and their allies eventually took the al-Qaida position. With reports of wounded almost non-existent, with the exception of claims in the Pak papers, it would seem body armor's been vastly improved in the past few years. Bet that cheezes the al-Qaeda Bad Guys no end.
  • A plane chartered by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has landed in Kabul in the first flight of its kind. The aircraft was carrying 31 tonnes of blankets, tents, jerry cans, tarpaulins and kitchen equipment as part of a humanitarian aid package aimed at alleviating food and basic health shortages in the region. You're welcome.
  • Thirteen injured Arab fighters were holed up at the Kandahar's main hospital, threatening to blow themselves up if anyone other than medical staff entered their rooms. The al Qaeda gunmen were wounded either by U.S. bombing or in fighting with Afghan tribal forces. They were brought to the Mirwais Hospital by al Qaeda a few days before the Taliban fled the city. The Arabs have explosives tied to their waists, hospital staff said. Just think of all the screeching about atrocities that'll come after these goobers have been hung.
  • Brazenly advertising their presence in a city where the Taliban were routed only last weekend, a group of American and British special forces rode downtown in open trucks and set up camp right next to the governor's compound. The move, by troops whose presence was not, until today, officially admitted by the Pentagon, startled the throngs who shopped for long-forbidden music cassettes and other goods in Kandahar's fully opened markets. A large crowd stood outside the downtown compound that the Western soldiers had entered with duffel bags and packs, riding in trucks with "I Love New York" bumper stickers. The mood seemed more curious than hostile. "We came here to see the Americans and to see how they will treat us," one man said. A British soldier with short blond hair and a Palestinian-style checkered scarf stood through the roof of a Land Rover and waved back at children, sometimes offering a thumbs up.
  • An armored convoy of U.S. Marines rolled through downtown Kandahar and took control of the city's heavily damaged airport. Commanders said they planned to remove unexploded bombs and booby traps left by the Taliban before rebuilding the airport with the help of local contractors. "There is a ton of unexploded ordinance" said Lt. Don Faul. "There are active minefields all around." An official of the new administration of Kandahar said officials were hoping to reopen the airport in time for humanitarian aid flights next week.
  • Johnny Jihad has been moved from Camp Rhino to the USS Peleliu, where he was "safe and being well cared for." He will remain there until the administration decides whether to process him in the military or civilian judicial system. Somebody's got to clean the ship's toilets, and the swabbies are busy.
  • Pakistani security officials arrested 109 Pakistanis who fought with Afghanistan’s Taleban as they crossed the border. Welcome home, boys. How was jihad?

    Middle East
  • Israeli troops raided four Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank, killing seven Palestinians in gunbattles and arresting dozens of suspected militants. In the Gaza Strip, warplanes attacked a compound of Force 17, a Palestinian security service. The attack in Gaza City was the third straight night of air strikes this week.
  • Arafat aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh charged that Israel is trying to sabotage international peace efforts. "This is a comprehensive war against the Palestinian people, its elected leadership and the peace process," he said. Palestinian officials said they cannot continue their operations against the militants because of the Israeli strikes. The Palestinian Authority suspended a day-old order closing all offices of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, groups that have claimed responsibility for dozens of bombings, including suicide attacks that have killed scores of Israelis and injured hundreds. "We just can't do it! And it's all your fault!"
  • Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer said Israel will look for a new peace partner to replace Chairman-for-Life Arafat because of his failure to rein in Islamic militants. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was also quoted as telling Germany's popular Bild newspaper that Arafat was "history" and that his troops would stay in Palestinian land to keep "law and order."
  • Hamas pledged to keep up its attacks on Israel and said Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority was now "in the trenches" alongside the radicals. "These operations (attacks) are in response to the massacres carried out by (Israeli Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon against our people," Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal said.
  • Damascus-based Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) called on Palestinian organizations to adopt a "resistance plan that is answerable to the people and to the world." It did not elaborate, but a source close to the DFLP said the group plans to limit attacks to Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories, rather than inside Israel.
  • Palestinian Authority Minister for planning and international cooperation Nabil Sha'ath accused the United States of bias towards Israel and urged it to do more to prevent attacks by Israeli forces. "If a Palestinian commits an offence, then this is a big crime and terrorism in the eyes of the Americans. But the Israeli killing and destruction is not a crime and is something that happens 'accidentally'," he said. "That is bias." Sha'ath said Washington's policies were not helping U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni's peace mission in the region. Ummm... Could be that Palestinians slaughtering granny ladies and teeny-boppers and buses full of civilians mighta had some dampening effect on his mission, too.
  • The head of Lebanon's Hizbollah urged Palestinians to launch more suicide bomb attacks on Israelis and defy U.S.-led demands to crack down on terrorist militant groups. "These suicide bombings are the only way to defeat the Zionists,'' Hizbollah head Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told thousands at a rally in Beirut. "These suicide operations are the weapon that God gave this nation, and no one can take it away... Pay no attention to those who say there are civilians and soldiers in Israel. They are all occupiers and invaders, partners in crimes and massacres.'' Hundreds of young boys, some masked and with rifles, paraded through Ain El-Hilweh, near Tyre. About 1,000 people held a similar protest in the nearby Al Burj Al Shamali camp. Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all. Wonder of some Lebanese Reifenstahl managed to film it? The "pay no attention" part certainly does echo Zawahri's philosophy, doesn't it?

    India
  • India accused Pakistan-based Islamic militant groups Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammad of carrying out the suicide attack on Parliament and demanded that Pakistan arrest the group's leaders. India demanded that Pakistan's government prove its commitment to fighting international terrorism by also the activities and freezing the funds of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and another Islamic militant group also fighting for independence in Kashmir.
  • Indian sources believed two of five Parliament attackers could be Kashmiris and other three foreign mercenaries, probably Afghans. Times of India says there were two Afghan nationals, two Kashmir residents and a Pakistan national. At least 20 people, apart from the five slain terrorists, were in some way involved in the planning of the attack. It possibly required over two months of planning and organising. Investigators have already rounded up over a dozen people for questioning. "The slain terrorists were found in possession of five mobile phones and a number of cash cards. The record of these phones was checked and this led us to the suspects we have so far rounded up," said a police official. What a relief. That brings it back to probably the Taliban, which points the finger at Gen. Gul and the rogue ISI as the culprits, rather than Boskone/Ernst Stavro Blofeld/Professor Moriarty.
  • "Pakistan is against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman, Aziz Ahmed Khan, responded blandly to India's charges. "President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and the government have already condemned the incident. Simply issuing a statement is not enough," he added, saying that India would "have to provide us some evidence" that would be examined. These guys just have no originality at all. Sure is a coincidence that countries on either side of them are plagued by terrorist attacks and lunatic gunmen.
  • "It's a pack of lies," Yahya Mujahid, spokesman for the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, said in Islamabad. "The attack was sponsored by India itself. The whole drama was staged to malign Kashmir's Islamic groups and to involve Pakistan." They're all pickin' on Pakistan's gunmen and they were just standin' around mindin' their own business. Say! I'll bet the Jews are behind it all. Yeah. That's it.
  • Pakistani military government spokesman Major General Rashid Qureshi threatened India if it engages in retaliation for the attacks. "India seems to be making efforts to create tension by blaming Pakistan," he said. "India will pay heavily if they engage in any misadventure."
  • Police arrested two Kashmiris following leads from the site of the terror attack on Parliament about ownership of the car used in the strike. The two, having identical names Ashiq Hussain Khan, were arrested by a joint team of Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir police and were being flown to Delhi for interrorgation.
  • Security forces killed a dozen rebels, including three top members of Hizbul Mujahedin and seized more than three million rupees ($64,000). The three Hizbul members were shot dead by army and counter-insurgency police near Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital. The dead included a divisional commander named Nazir Ahmed Yatoo, who "has been a kingpin and chief coordinator of all militant activities in north Kashmir" and headed a list of most-wanted militants. "Yatoo was raising finances for the group," a spokesman said. "His death is a major setback to the Kashmir militancy." Security forces also recovered a large cache of arms and ammunition and 40 kilograms of plastic explosive. Meanwhile, security forces shot dead two militants near the international border in the southern Jammu region. Two militants of the Jaish-e-Mohammed were also shot dead by security forces in the Zainpora area. During the exchange of fire nearly a dozen residences and other structures caught fire and were destroyed. Five more militants, two of them belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, were killed elsewhere in Kashmir. Nice shootin', Mukkerjee! We might also point out that Jaish-e-Muhammad has "declared war on all Americans."
  • V K Malhotra, spokesman of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, part of the ruling coalition, said MPs pushed Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the prime minister, to "adopt a pro-active and hot pursuit policy to destroy terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The government should take steps similar to the ones adopted by the US in Afghanistan," he said. Mr Vajpayee refused to comment on whether his government was contemplating such measures against Pakistan.

    The Alliance
  • The U.S. 3rd Army headquarters forward element has been deployed to Kuwait, marking the beginning of "Military Phase 2" in America's Millennial War.
  • The Saudi cleric visiting Osama bin Laden in the Pentagon video was named as Sheikh al Ghamdi. Al Ghamdi is a militant cleric from a tribe of the Assir province. Several of the September 11 suicide hijackers were members of his tribe. In the video, al Ghamdi brings news of other clerics, Sheikh al Bahrani and Sheikh Sulayman al 'Uman. He describes how al Bahrani gave a sermon in his mosque at the same time as the suicide attacks. His speech was videotaped in order to be taken to bin Laden at a later date. Al Ghamdi tells bin Laden that the cleric sends him his "special regards". After his September 11 sermon he was arrested by the Saudis and interrogated, according to the video conversation. Al 'Uman is also mentioned by al Ghamdi for issuing a fatwa on the Quran radio station. In it he says the people who died in America were not innocent. If I were in the intel business, I'd be hopping right now to trace everyone connected however remotely with those "clerics." Are they allies of bin Laden? Supporters? Or controllers? BTW, Mark Steyn has his usual low-key assessment of the video here.
  • Canadian troops are unlikely to be in Afghanistan in any numbers before the new year, although it's possible a small reconnaissance mission, perhaps a single officer, might join an international scout party next week. Yup. That should tilt the battlefield situation in our favor. Glad to see it's so important to the Great White North.
  • Thursday, December 13, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • The head of Afghanistan's interim government, Hamid Karzai, met with outgoing president Burhanuddin Rabbani and key ministers after arriving in Kabul to prepare the transfer of power on December 22.
  • Local militia leaders said they were preparing to renew their assault on the Al-Qaeda at Tora Bora after attempts to persuade them to give up failed. "The Al-Qaeda fighters firmly refused to surrender before the Nangarhar provincial administration," said Amin, spokesman for local militia commander Hazrat Ali. At least two helicopters landed in what could be the start of a raid against the gunmen, a few hours after the fighters rejected the surrender deadline. At least one, and perhaps as many as three, "daisy cutters'' were dropped before dawn on a mountainside canyon where many al-Qaida men have been hemmed in since they were flushed out of their cave shelters during combat on Monday. Christian Science Monitor claimed that Osama bin Laden escaped Tora Bora to Pakistan 10 days ago with the help of Ghilzai tribesmen. Our guess is that he beat it while the "surrender" negotiations were occupying attention.
  • Ayman al-Zawahri, who isn't dead, dammit, said al Qaeda would fight on, using suicide attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the London-based al-Majallah magazine said. It said Zawahri made the comments in a telephone interview organised through a mediator. "The real war has now started and we are now waging attack and retreat operations. It will be a long one. We will exact a high toll on the Americans and suicide attacks will be one of our effective methods," he said. "We do not hide in caves and do not run away from the confrontation. Suicide is our desire and our victory," he added, insisting that he and other al Qaeda leaders including bin Laden, spokesman Sulaiman bu Ghaith and Abu Hafs (Mohammed Atef, previously reported as dead) were still fighting. "We will not run away from Afghanistan," Zawahri said. There are many people who are hoping a.) this isn't a made-up interview and b.) that he's not lying about staying where he is. Being al-Qaeda, though, he's probably lying. For that matter, he's probably dead and lying about being alive.
  • The United States believes opposition fighters and U.S. troops have surrounded Osama bin Laden in a cave complex near Tora Bora, a senior military official told CNN.
  • Islamabad plausibly denied a report that all of the top 22 Taliban leaders - apart from Mulla Mohammad Omar - of the Taliban regime had escaped to Pakistan. "This is totally baseless. We have no evidence to that effect," Interior Secretary Tanseem Noorani said. Translation: They shot any witnesses.

    India
  • India's Parliament was attacked by five and possibly six gunmen in a commando-style raid that included a suicide bomber. Six police personnel, including a women constable, a parliament staffer, and four of the terrorists were killed in a half-hour shoot-out. A fifth terrorist blew himself up on the steps of Parliament. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Lashkar-i-Taiba terrorists carried out a similar attack on the Red Fort in December last year. Can this be the start of al-Qaeda's Ramadan Surprise? Is Australia next?
  • Mumbai Police Commissioner M N Singh said there was advance information about a possible attack and the government had already been alerted. Early indications point to the role of Kashmiri groups. The bodies of the members of the fidayeen group had unmistakably foreign characteristics: light complexion, slim noses and long limbs. Home Minister L K Advani ventured to add, "I saw all five bodies. To me, they did not seem Indian faces though I cannot vouchsafe for it". Chechens? Betcha. Chechens are really bad guys, and Russia is perfectly justified in killing as many of them as it can lay hands on. Question now becomes: Does it tie to al-Qaeda? They're busy at the moment, so our guess would be not. Does it coordinate with al-Qaeda's aims? Answer to that would be yes, which means that Saudi claims that Osama bin Laden's not at the top of the pyramid are likely true. Making that even more probable is the fact that we now have a three-front terror offensive: Israel/Palestine, Afghanistan, and India. Fish out some coordination among them besides timing and "probably" becomes "certainly." Dead Chechen mercenaries might do that, with a bit of investigation. So instead of Osama bin Laden, the puppetmaster becomes X (Dr. Fu Manchu? Ernst Stavro Blofeld? Boskone?) and rather than being directed at Iraq or Somalia our efforts -- and those of our allies, to include the Indians -- have to be directed at finding the next link up. And another guess is that at least one of those links up, and probably the top one, will be found in Arabia.
  • Suspicion fell on Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat. At a press conference in Srinagar yesterday he began, "December 12 will be an important event not only in Kashmir but in the US too. How? Wait for just 12 hours, you will know how. I trust the events will not disappoint either me or you". On November 20, the leader of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, Qazi Mohammad Saeed, told an Urdu newspaper that 'the Kashmir issue will be revived through 'Red Fort-type' attacks in India soon. By imposing a ban on militant outfits, US and India cannot stop the jehad in Kashmir". Yup. We guessed that. Bet they'll also fish out some plausibly deniable ISI and Taliban involvement, too.
  • Indian government has been put on the highest state of alert. Rajasthan police busted a two-man cell of the Pakistani ISI with the arrest of two agents. Both the Pakistani nationals had been living in India for the last 18 months and possessed false documents. Would not want to be either of those guys at the moment.
  • A staunch critic of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance, Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh, termed the terrorist attack on Parliament as an assault on the country's swabhiman (self-respect), and asked the government to destroy terrorist training camps. "Quick! Bar the door! The horse is gone!"
  • A series of 61 explosions rocked the India-Pakistan border but officials saw no connection between them and the terrorist attack on Parliament House.

    Middle East
  • Palestinian Chairman-for-LifeYasser Arafat has gone into hiding after an Israeli missile attack damaged his headquarters. Israel's military launched a major offensive meant to destroy the Palestinian Authority security and weapons infrastructure in the wake of an attack on the West Bank. Arafat has prepared an underground bunker in the Ramallah area to survive an Israeli attack. Yasser is ceasing to be newsworthy. Next step is for him to be in hiding and nobody bothering to look for him. But to Ernst Stavro Blofeld/Dr Fu Manchu/Boskone he's an easily expendable lower-level henchman. Perhaps he's outlived his usefulness to them, too.
  • Israeli Apache helicopters and F-16s blasted a mosque compound and security targets in Gaza City. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the radical Hamas movement, was praying inside a Gaza City mosque, but escaped unscathed when two missiles hit the compound's front, Palestinian security sources said. Israeli troops also reoccupied a section of the Khan Yunis camp in the southern Gaza Strip. The Israeli army said the incursion was only temporary. In Ramallah, rocket strikes sent clouds of flames and smoke in the air over a ruined police station close to the centre of the town, which has been partly re-occupied by Israeli tanks. Large parts of Ramallah were plunged into darkness after the raid. In Jenin to the north, US-made Apaches blasted a building of Arafat's Fatah movement. The IDF confirmed it hit a Palestinian police post and a Force 17 unit -- Arafat's elite guard -- in Gaza as well as a police post in Ramallah and an office of Arafat's Fatah movement in Jenin.
  • Israel has banned Arafat from leaving Ramallah after a government decision to cut contacts with the Palestinian leader. "Israel will not attack him personally but he will stay where he is," a spokesman said after the cabinet decision was endorsed. FoxNews showed footage of the destruction of Voice of Palestine radio.

    Terror Networks
  • The supreme commander of the Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami, Gulzar Ahmed Tantrey alias Hashim, and his deputy commander were killed in an ambush near Banihal in Jammu. Nice shootin', Mukkerjee!
  • Corsican bombers have used a remote-controlled toy car to attack a police barracks. The assailants packed a small amount of explosives into the car and sent it to the gates of the barracks. The blast late damaged the gates and an entrance guard was sent to hospital to be treated for shock. Shucks, I'da been shocked, too.

    The Alliance
  • The possibility is "very real" that terrorist cells linked to Al-Qaeda are present in Somalia the US said. "The possibility of terrorist cells in Somalia is very real," Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Walter Kansteiner said at the end of an 11-day visit to Africa which included Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe. Kansteiner said he believed the Somali hardline group Al-Ittihad al Islami had links with Al-Qaeda. "You may expect a visit from 10,000 helpful United States troops within the near future. Please extend them every cooperation or they will kill you."
  • Indonesia's defense minister vowed an all-out assault on terrorism after the government claimed for the first time that Osama bin Laden's terror network had operations in Indonesia. The bases were set up byal-Qaida on Sulawesi island, which has been torn by sectarian violence, intelligence chief Abdullah Hendropriyono said Wednesday. He believed the camps were not used by terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. Until this week, the government has repeatedly denied that al-Qaida or other foreign terrorist groups were working in Indonesia. That's because in true Boskonian fashion they try to keep under the radar until they're established. Then when they feel they're strong enough the "coincidental" sectarian violence erupts.
  • The father of Mohammed Atta dismissed as a "forgery" a videotape in which Osama bin Laden calls his son the leader of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers. The father, Mohamed al-Amir al-Sayed Awad Atta, said that he had not seen the tape, but declared it a "farce. All this is a forgery, a fabrication!" He has said his son might have been kidnapped and his papers stolen to implicate him in the attacks. He has also claimed to have spoken to his son by telephone after Sept. 11. "America is the land of aberration and forgery," the father said, shouting "damn America!" before abruptly hanging up. Even ruthless henchmen have parents. What's he gonna say -- "Yup, that's my boy, the crazed killer of thousands?" I'd lie, too.

    Home Front
  • An amateur videotape procured by the US government reveals that Osama bin Laden anticipated the terrorist attack. He waited for the news, and was surprised and pleased at the death and destruction it caused. We knew that. But they should show it over and over and over, so we don't forget. They should stitch them all together into "Osama: The Movie" and run it continuously.

    Fifth Column
  • Orange Coast College officials have reinstated a professor placed on paid leave after a heated classroom discussion with Muslim students who said he called them Nazis, terrorists and murderers. Ken Hearlson will return to the classroom with the beginning of the new semester on Jan. 18. Hearlson was cleared by an independent counsel who concluded that charges he called students Nazis, terrorists and murderers shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks were "unsubstantiated." The "stained blue dress" was supplied by other students who had taped the class. Sometimes the Good Guys do win.
  • Wednesday, December 12, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • Former president Burhanuddin Rabbani has promised to stick with his pledge to step aside when power is transferred in 10 days. Rabbani has been the de facto leader since the Northern Alliance rolled into Kabul. He said he is happy to hand over power to Hamid Karzai, who has been appointed interim prime minister, but that he disagreed strongly with the makeup of the 29-member Cabinet.
  • A cease-fire collapsed and U.S. airstrikes resumed pounding al-Qaeda Tora Bora mountain bases after enemy forces set new terms for their surrender and missed a deadline to disarm. Sporadic bursts of heavy machine gun firefrom eastern alliance forces, echoed through the area -- less than 24 hours after the truce took effect. Witnesses said 60 men, who appeared to be American personnel, were seen near the front line Wednesday. They were wearing Afghan shawls and floppy caps known as pacoles, but were carrying what the witnesses said were U.S.-made weapons and backpacks. An alliance subcommander said 40 British special operations troops also were fighting in the valley.
         Afghan Islamic Press said the al-Qaida troops, mainly Arabs, were demanding that diplomats from their home nations be present along with a U.N. representative. They also wanted to be handed over to the United Nations. The report estimated the size of the force at 1,000 men from Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Yemen, Iraq and Chechnya. And they wanted their Moms there, too. And Johnny Cochran. And twenty minutes alone with Mariah Carey.
  • Hafiz Majid, former righthand man of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, was holding out in Sperwan, about 35 km from Kandahar, seeking guarantees he would not be killed. "They are still there," one commander said. "We sent a few tribal elders to talk to them and Hafiz Majid asked them to give some assurance or a letter from Hamid Karzai that no one would do anything to him." Majid kept many of his vehicles and arms after Kandahar's "surrender" and was leading an unknown number of men barricaded in Sperwan and Kandahar's Chinese Hospital. "Even if (Majid) surrenders, he won't be forgiven. Somebody will kill him," said the commander. "There are civilian patients inside the hospital."
  • Troops garrisoned in Aliabad village on the road from Baghlan fought a brief action against bandits in which one, a man named Ayeed, probable ex-Taliban was killed. The troops returned the money the bandits had stolen and hung Ayeed's corpse from the barrel of a tank, beneath the green, white and black flag of the Northern Alliance and an 8-by-11-inch photograph of the late Gen. Ahmed Shah Massoud. And a wonderful time was had by all, except Ayeed. But that's all the more fodder for the Red Cross and Amnesty International in their relentless search for atrocities.
  • Anti-Taliban tribal forces have launched a campaign to kill non-Afghan fighters in Kandahar and other parts of southern Afghanistan. Over 400 non-Afghan Taliban, mainly Arabs, had been trapped and massacred by tribal militias in and around Kandahar since the Taliban surrendered Kandahar, Hilmand and Zabul. "A large number of dead bodies of Arab Taliban were found in various parts of Kandahar region," travellers reaching Pakistan said. "No tribal group is sparing the Arab Taliban," Amanullah, one of the witnesses, told newsmen. People living in areas close to the Kandahar Airport had buried bodies of 21 Arab fighters the other day, he said, adding that they had been killed by the forces loyal to the governor of Kandahar.
  • Two Pakistani nuclear scientists have reportedly admitted to "briefing" Osama bin Laden on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. They, however, insist the discussions were "academic" and no material or plans were presented. Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmud and Abdul Majid, came up with the admission when confronted with "compelling evidence" on their meetings with bin Laden in Kabul in August.
  • Johnny Jihad has told U.S. intelligence that al Qaeda plans to launch a "Phase II" biological attack against the United States to coincide with the end of Ramadan. The third phase of al Qaeda's war would lead to destruction of the entire United States, he told interrogators. Rantburg suspects that Johnny knows just about as much about OBL's plans as Rantburg knows about Tony Blair's. On the other hand, if something does happen, they're gonna wring him so dry, if Johnny ever does come marching home again he's gonna be inside-out.
  • Australia is negotiating with the United States over the fate of 26-year-old David Hicks, captured with al Qaeda forces. The US has indicated it would hand over Hicks, a former poultry chicken plucker and recent convert to Islam, only if it was satisfied he would be dealt with severely. Among the potential charges are treason, which in Australia carries a maximum life prison sentence. Legal experts said he could also face murder charges in the US if a link to the September 11 terrorist attacks was alleged. After being caught by Northern Alliance forces three days ago, Hicks has been in the custody of US troops and undergoing interrogation. His capture comes less than a fortnight after Jihad Johnny Walker was discovered fighting with Taliban forces.

    Middle East
  • Israeli helicopter gunships attacked a Palestinian refugee camp in retaliation for mortar fire on nearby settlements. Four Palestinian militiamen were killed and 20 bystanders wounded in the airstrike. Later, five Israeli tanks drove into the center of Jenin, triggering a firefight with hundreds of Palestinian activists. Fourteen Jenin residents were wounded by Israeli fire before the tanks left.
  • Fatah's Al-Aksa Martyr's Brigades claimed responsibility for a terror attack on a Dan public bus outside in Emmanuel. Ten people were killed in the attack. Responsibility was also claimed by Hamas.
  • In response to the attack near Emmanuel, IAF F-16 warplanes have begun bombing targets across the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli fighter jets fired two missiles at a Fatah command building in Palestinian Authority-controlled Nablus. The IAF is also targeting Force 17 commander centers in the northern and southern Gaza Strip, and Israel Television reported jet fighters also seeing flying over Ramallah and Kalkilya. Electricity was cut in Ramallah to make targeting harder, and Chairman-for-Life Yasser Arafat remained in his mostly evacuated headquarters with only a few bodyguards.
  • Israel will sever ties with Arafat and launch widescale military operations in cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The decision was reached in a security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv after Palestinian gunmen killed 10 Israelis in an ambush of a bus near Emmanuel. The cabinet decided Arafat was "directly responsible for the series of terror attacks and has therefore decided ... (that) Yasser Arafat is no longer relevant to the State of Israel and there will be no more contact with him." Goodbye, Yasser. They are cutting the Gordian knot.
  • The military wing of Hamas claimed to have dealt a blow to Israeli morale by planting poisonous chemicals on the bombs its activists have detonated in recent weeks. Israel's Health Ministry revealed that nails and bolts packed into explosives detonated by a Hamas suicide bomber Dec. 1 in a Jerusalem pedestrian mall had been dipped into rat poison. On its Web site, Izzedine al-Qassam claimed its militants now had a new weapon that had created "a situation of fear in the Zionist security services." They've also produced an almost uncontrollable urge to kill them like dogs for using such filthy tactics, but we won't dwell on that.
  • Palestinian and Lebanese groups said the European Union showed bias toward Israel when it called for the dismantling of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The European demand is "a continuation of the deception of the hateful West," said Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, leader of the Syrian-based militant Islamic Jihad group. Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, said the Palestinian uprising would continue and would resist all "maneuvers against it." Sheikh Naim Kassem, deputy secretary-general of the Lebanese Hizbullah, said describing Hamas and Islamic Jihad as terrorist groups showed "complete bias toward Israel." Of course, it might have had something to do with the rat poison, or the unrelenting wave of suicide bombers every time someone mentions "peace." Or maybe it was the combination of the two. Wonder how long until a few Euro targets are blown?
  • Yasser Arafat decided to close down all institutions belonging to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups after the Immanuel bus ambush.

    Terror Networks
  • The chairman of the Jewish Defense League and a follower have been arrested on suspicion of plotting to blow up a Los Angeles mosque and the office of Arab American Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Irv Rubin, 56, and a member of the group, Earl Krugel, 59, both of Los Angeles, were arrested after the last component of the bomb - explosive powder - was delivered to Krugel's home. Other bomb components and weapons were seized at Krugel's home.

    The Alliance
  • Hussein Aideed, co-chairman of the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SSRC) and an opponent of Somalia's transitional government, said fighters forced out of Afghanistan by the U.S. offensive wanted to set up a Taliban-style Islamic administration in the Horn of Africa state. "The al Itihad and the al Qaeda terrorists who escaped from Afghanistan are already trickling back into Somalia," he said during on a visit to the Ethiopian capital. "These groups have unlimited funds which they receive from Islamic non-governmental organizations and Arab states which they are using to woo poverty-stricken Somalis to their side." Aideed said without elaborating that 57 "terrorist leaders" had recently entered the country, and had concealed weapons. Ooooh. And when we go in after them, the Left will be able to scream about "racism." How long after military action begins until we hear that if Somalis were white we wouldn't be there?
  • Sources claimed that five US officers had visited another Somaili rebel group and discussed a number of potential targets. Warlords from the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) ­ a faction opposed to the country's fledgling government ­ identified a training camp for militants close to the border with Kenya, run by the Somali group, al-Itihad al-Islamiya. The US officers were, according to the sources, accompanied by four Ethiopian officers. Hmmm. This is one of a continuing series of reports on Somalia... And the Rangers certainly want to go back for a nice visit.
  • A US delegation, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Ryan Crocker, is in northern Iraq as part of a "longstanding series of consultations by US officials with Iraqi Kurdish leaders". Oh, gosh! How to choose? Everything on the menu looks so good!
  • The British government it was investigating reports that 18 Britons who fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan had sought asylum in Pakistan. News media reported that the men, believed to be mainly of South Asian origin, requested asylum after returning to Pakistan from Afghanistan because they feared arrest in Britain. Abu Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Afghan al Mujahedin group, told news media that the 18 had expressed fears they could be charged under Britain's tough new Terrorist Act. News media also said another 50 Britons who fought in Afghanistan had already returned to Britain.
  • Germany banned the Cologne-based "Islamic State" and 19 related groups, with a total of 1,100 members, making the first use of a new measure that allows the government to outlaw religious groups with possible links to terrorism. After the announcement, authorities carried out an estimated 200 searches in seven German states. Investigators have announced no direct links between the group and the Sept. 11 attacks, but have said members traveled to Afghanistan to meet with Osama bin Laden supporters in 1996 or 1997. The group, led by Turkish-born Muhammed Metin Kaplan, openly calls for the overthrow of secular governments and their replacement with Islamic ones, but German authorities had been unable to act against it because of strict laws protecting religious groups. Kaplan is believed to have a fortune worth millions. Nonetheless, he claimed social benefits in Cologne for many years until 2m Deutschmarks ($1.2m) in cash was found in his flat. Guess their constitution isn't a suicide pact, either. Money just seems to stick to some preachers, doesn't it? Mullah Omar did well by himself, too.

    International
  • Iran's hard-line judiciary ordered the closure of more than 50 newspapers "for the sake of God." Abbas-Ali Alizadeh, head of the judiciary administration in Tehran, said the closures were a service to the nation. "One of our greatest glories is closure of offending newspapers. Based on our assessments, by doing this, we have done the greatest service to the people... When you do a job for the sake of God, defeat is meaningless,'' Alizadeh said. The newspaper closures began after hard-liners lost control of the Majlis, or parliament, in elections last year. The hard-liners are locked in a power struggle with more liberal supporters of President Mohammad Khatami. Khatami's allies also continue to be jailed and harassed by the hard-liners, who control unelected key institutions, including the judiciary and police. When asked for a comment, God said they were nuts and suggested they go to Hell.
  • A 28-year-old Iranian bridegroom licked honey from his bride's finger during their marriage ceremony and choked to death on one of her false nails. The groom died on the spot in the northwestern city of Qazvin while the bride was rushed to hospital after fainting from shock. It is the custom for Iranian couples lick honey from each other's fingers when they get married so that their life together starts sweetly. Damn. Every time that happens to me, it just flat ruins my day.

    Home Front
  • The mother of Zacarias Moussaoui whom officials there believe may have been preparing to join one of the hijacking teams, said her son was protesting his innocence. "Zacarias has warned me in a letter that they are going to fabricate evidence and produce witnesses against him," his mother Aicha told the French daily Le Parisien, saying she received his letter some weeks ago. If I was an attempted bloody-handed mass murderer and a disgrace by any civilized standard, I wouldn't admit it to my Mom, either.
  • Two Arab men were indicted in New Orleans for what New York officials yesterday called the "most outrageous" attempt to capitalize on the World Trade Center tragedy to date. Jihad Razzaq tried to cash in his wife's $100,000 life-insurance policy when in fact she had left the United States for her native Jordan. The 54-year-old man apparently told New York Life that his wife was shopping at the World Trade Center site when the buildings crumbled. Red flags were raised when he said she had taken a taxi there from New Orleans. Would you hand me a tissue, please?
  • Tuesday, December 11, 2001

    The Zawahri Memoir
    Terrorist attacks on Western civilians are justified because they live in democracies and are directly responsible for government policies that anger Arabs, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant implies in the latest excerpt of his memoirs. In the passages that appeared Tuesday in the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, Ayman al-Zawahri says the West understands only "the language of self-interest coupled with oppressive power."

    "If we want to make them understand our rights we have to speak to them in the language they understand," he said.

    In his memoirs, al-Zawahri accuses the West of the "crime" of creating Israel. "In undertaking this crime, the Western countries were supported by their people. Those people enjoy the freedom of decision .... In the end, they vote in elections to choose the governments they want, then pay taxes to willingly finance their policies," he said.

    Al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's deputy and, some say, the brains behind the outfit, certainly simplifies Western decision-making. All citizens of any country, regardless, are by this reasoning fair game for any group who opposes something their goverenment does. Citizenship itself becomes the crime, with death the punishment. This bit of sophistry has been published before, especially in the Middle East with regard to Israeli citizens. It's a necessary attitude if one is to justify attacks on teenagers and granny ladies. Unless there is some justification the indiscriminate killing of members of entire blocs of population would have to be called by its true name: murder.

    Al-Zawahri certainly gives the lie to accusations that the USA is carrying out a war against Muslims. A determination to kill people because they vote in elections and pay taxes is not a religious conviction. It isn't even a political conviction. It is pure psychopathy. And if the conversation is being phrased "in the language we understand," certainly the West must reply in the same language; to do otherwise would be discourteous. That means we should kill every adherent of al-Zawahri's kind of twisted reasoning anywhere they can be found.

    Al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden, and their backers declared war not only on the United States, but on the West. Because those declarations were phrased in the terminology normally associated with raving madmen, the United States and the West didn't take them seriously. That allowed our enemy to achieve some notable successes against us. But the successes only came because war is so much easier to fight when there is only one side engaged. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were a product of hubris -- and lunacy.
    Afghanistan
  • FoxNews general Geraldo Rivera reported this morning that Afghan forces had penetrated into the Tora Bora cave complex. Al-Qaeda fighters have have been given until 8 a.m. Wednesday to surrender. Mohammed Zaman, head of defense for the local Pashtun clans attacking bin Laden's group, declared a cease-fire Tuesday morning after his fighters, backed by American air strikes and British and U.S. special forces, overran some of the caves. Al Qaeda leaders told Zaman by two-way radio that they were ready to discuss terms of surrender; Zaman, who has probably never heard of U.S. Grant, told them instead to surrender unconditionally within 24 hours and to be prepared to be handed over to the "international community" for prosecution.

    Commander Hazrat Ali said his forces had taken one of two peaks on Enzeri Zur mountain. Hundreds of Al Qaeda fighters had made a stand there after being flushed from their cave shelters overnight by massive U.S. bombing and raids by U.S. troops. "We were successful. We captured a lot of caves," Ali said as his troops staged mop-up operations. "The largest ones were full of documents and personal belongings. Al Qaeda fighters had come under heavy shelling as they tried to climb down a mountain and flee into neighboring Pakistan, just one hill away.

    Afghan troops said dozens of heavily armed U.S. soldiers made lightning raids against Al Qaeda command centers overnight and returned to a camp in the nearby village of Pacir before sunrise.

    US helicopters were involved in overnight air raids and one Afghan soldier said he saw about 25 all-terrain vehicles full of US troops pass his position during the night. They were heading toward Melawa mountain and although some returned during the night, others were still there. Another Afghan fighter said he saw about 10 US vehicles carrying 60 to 70 US troops during the night after his unit was advised by radio that the Americans were coming.

    AFP reports the al-Qaeda fighters agreed to the surrender. Haji Mohammad Zaman told journalists of the surrender following several hours of fighting. Zaman said the mostly foreign al-Qaeda fighters had agreed to come down from the mountain at 8:00 am local time Wednesday. "Its finished," Zaman told journalists. "They told us: 'We don't want to fight with you, we surrender'." It was unclear whether all of the Al-Qaeda forces around Tora Bora would take part in any truce or were willing to commit to a surrender. In the past, forces loyal to bin Laden, as well as their Taliban allies, have vowed to fight to the death only to give up in the face of overwhelming force.

    US forces dropped a 7.5-tonne "daisy cutter" on a cave in eastern Afghanistan over the weekend in hopes of killing senior al-Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden. "There were some indications that Bin Laden was in the area when the daisy cutter was dropped," a spokesman said. US forces are now using aerial surveillance to track several groups of al-Qaeda fighters as they attempt to flee the area. Intelligence sources said Bin Laden was believed to be with them.
  • Prime Minister-designate Hamid Karzai warned the United States to never again "walk away from Afghanistan," and he promised that his country would be "a good friend, a trusted friend and an ally" in the U.S.-led fight against terrorism. In an interview two days after arriving in Kandahar, Karzai said he completely backed U.S. efforts to capture or kill members of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. "We must finish them all," he said, "completely burn them out."
  • The Taliban's top army official and a senior intelligence official are reported to have been captured in recent days by Afghan opposition forces. US officials received reports of the capture of the two Taliban leaders from afghan opposition forces, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official, who did not give their names, said the two were identified as the Taliban's top army official and a senior intelligence official.
  • Kandahar warlord Gul Agha Shirzai has appointed a police chief and pledged to have a rudimentary police force in place in 24 to 48 hours. Then, he said, he will begin collecting weapons from the population, put a civil administration in place and start setting up government service programs.
  • Ex-potentate Mullah Mohammad Omar appeared to be moving about in Kandahar province with a small number of followers. "There is reason to believe that Omar may be somewhere broadly in the Kandahar region - in the city maybe not, maybe in one of those villages," Victoria Clarke, the Pentagon's chief spokesperson, said. "We don't know with precision where he is."
  • Interior Minister Yunis Qanouni said India and his interim administration have agreed to resume direct flights between New Delhi and Kabul as early as possible to enable those who fled the Taleban to return home.
  • Mirwaiz Sadeq, the Minister for Social Affairs, said Afghan women will not be deprived education and requested India's help to set up a good schooling system. New Delhi was also requested to fit Afghanistan out with good medical services and other social infrastructure.
  • Pakistan has arrested 20 al-Qaeda "Arabs" trying to cross the border. Five, arrested over the weekend, are believed to have fled from Kandahar and were being treated for injuries. Among those arrested during the weekend were two Turks and four Macedonians. All were being interrogated by a joint team of security and intelligence agencies.
  • More than 5,000 foreign fighters are still in Afghanistan despite the rout of the Taleban, Interior Minister Yunus Qanooni said. Mr Qanooni, who is currently in India, told reporters that the foreigners include an unspecified number of Pakistani army regulars.
  • The leader of the tribal Jirga of the Helmand province, Muhammad Amin Akhunzada has said that only the Loya Jirga could establish durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. Calling the meeting of the Loya Jirga is essential to form the a multi-ethnic government that enjoys the support of all Afghans, he said. He also said -- surprise! -- that as Pashtuns living in Afghanistan form the majority of the population, they should be given mosts seats in the broad based government.
  • The United States has abandoned the Pakistani proposal to have an all-Muslim peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. Britain has consented to lead the multinational team that does not include troops from any neighboring country. The peacekeeping force will include soldiers from Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Turkey, Bangladesh, Jordan and other countries.
  • The international Red Cross said it was investigating reports that dozens of Taliban captives suffocated in shipping containers while being taken to prison in northern Afghanistan. Shibarghan prison houses some 3,000 Taliban fighters, many of whom needed medical treatment, a Red Cross spokesperson said. ICRC workers had arranged for those needing surgery to be moved to a local hospital. General Jubarek, a northern alliance commander in Shibarghan, said that least 43 fighters had died of wounds or asphyxiation while being moved in shipping containers from Kunduz. We'll find an atrocity yet, by God!
  • Johnny Jihad has company. An Australian al Qaeda has been captured by the Northern Alliance. The 26-year-old caucasian male, who also trained with Islamic groups in Kosovo and Pakistan, was arrested around December 9. The man traveled to Europe in mid-1999 to join the Kosovo Liberation Army, then moved to Pakistan where he trained with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of dozens of Islamic groups fighting to wrest control of Muslim-majority Kashmir from India. During 2000 he went to Afghanistan where he undertook training with al Qaeda. Sounds like a real nice fellow. Hope he's severely injured. (Thank you, Damien!)

    Middle East
  • The European Union sent its foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, to the Middle East for a new mediation mission, a day after branding the Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad "terrorist networks" and demanding that Chairman-for-Life Yasser Arafat dismantle them.
  • Two Palestinian laborers were killed by Israeli fire at a West Bank checkpoint. Three Palestinian civilians were killed and at least 17 wounded when Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a security building in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said. The hospital officials said two of the 17 injured Palestinians -- which included both police and civilians -- were in a critical condition.

    Terror Networks
  • "He's at the top of the pyramid (of Al Qaida) from the media point of view, but from my personal views and conviction, I don't think he's at the top of the pyramid," Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef commented to the NT Times. Asked what would happen if U.S. or Afghan forces captured or killed Bin Laden, the prince said: "I don't think that would be the end of Al Qaida." He did not say who was he thought was head the militant organisation that Washington accuses of carrying out the September 11 suicide attacks on New York and Washington. Prince Nayef is the first Saudi official to cast doubt publicly on Bin Laden's leadership of Al Qaida. The New York Times said Saudi officials, embarrassed by bin Laden's birthright, have often made similiar remarks in private to a local audience.
  • Tamil Tiger rebels attacked army and police camps in the country's northeast - killing at least six security men and wounding 23 others in its first major military offensives since parliamentary elections last week. Retaliating, the army killed six rebels.

    The Alliance
  • CIA director George Tenet, on a recent visit to Islamabad, pushed Pakistan's military leaders to monitor and put pressure on pro-Taliban religious extremists, including those in Kashmir. The US, faced with growing evidence that Kashmir fighters are allied with Al-Qaeda and other terrorists groups, is now insisting that Pakistan back away. Most experts believe Musharraf will not be persuaded to withdraw support for Kashmir fighters without some kind of guarantee in return that India will come to the bargaining.
  • China demanded that its citizens found fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan should be handed over to face justice. Zhang Qiyue, a foreign ministry spokesman, said China had been informed that ethnic Uighurs from the far western province of Xinjiang had been caught in Afghanistan.
  • British journalistette Yvonne Ridley chats about being captured by Taliban in this hee-hee-larious demolition.

    Home Front
  • U.S. charges against Zacarias Moussaoui were the first aimed at an alleged key figure in the attacks on America that killed nearly 3,300 people. Attorney General John Ashcroft said Moussaoui, held as a material witness since the attacks, had been indicted on six charges of conspiracy in carrying out the attacks. Four of the charges carry the death penalty.
  • Monday, December 10, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • U.S. Marines secured the grounds of the American embassy in Kabul, more than 12 years after the United States closed it in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • Afghan Minister of Agriculture Hussein Anwari said that Afghanistan is to grow essential agricultural products on farms already used for poppy plantation, and called for world countries to help. Anwari said the Afghan interim government is planning to provide required education and technological means to farmers for production of other crops.
  • Shiite Muslim leader Karim Khalili, who heads the Hezb-e-Wahadat party, said he won't join the Bonn-brokered Afghan regime, but has promised not to wage war against it.
  • In Herat, Ismail Khan also complained about the agreement. His spokesman, Nasir Ahmed Allahwi, said "Ismail Khan is in control of five provinces in western Afghanistan and where is he in this government? He is not."
  • Rassool Sayyaf's delegate to the talks in Germany refused to sign the agreement. Sayyaf wants to see the entire agreement renegotiated in Afghanistan, and has accused the United Nations of misleading the northern alliance. The fact an agreement was reached outside of Afghanistan is an insult, he said.
  • National Islamic Front of Afghanistan (NIFA) chief Pir Sayed Ahmed Gailani has called for a Loya Jirga to ensure a far broader representation of Afghan views. "We are specifically looking forward to the coming six months when the Loya Jirga will be held. That should be more representative than Bonn. It should ensure the participation of people's real representatives and should not be dominated by one faction."
  • The U.S. military has again dropped a "daisy cutter" bomb in Afghanistan, aiming at a cave where al Qaeda leaders -- possibly including Osama bin Laden -- were believed hiding. The 15,000 pound bomb was dropped in the Tora Bora area and fighting remained so intense that the military was unable to assess damage. Tribal fighters backed by tanks and U.S. warplanes launched an attack against al-Qaida forces and seized most of the valley leading to the suspected hide-out of The Shiek.
  • If Osama bin Laden thinks he's about to be captured, he'll signal his followers to launch new attacks on landmarks around the world by committing suicide and broadcasting it on al-Jazeera TV, his estranged wife, Sabiha, told a Russian television station. Bin Laden would order his elder sons to shoot him. "This will be a signal for a new wave of terror," she said. "The targets this time would be the Capitol Building in Washington, Big Ben in London and the Eiffel Tower." Prediction: This is gonna be one of those stories people roll their eyes about a year from now.
  • Twenty six Al Qaida "Arabs" were arrested while entering Pakistan. The arrested are nationals of Albania, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The authorities also arrested and released four Yemeni women and five children. (What's this thing with Yemeni babes? Are they hot?)
  • Taliban's former envoy to Islamabad Mulla Abdul Salam Zaeef and other militia diplomats were pondering seeking political asylum in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan has so far not asked Zaeef and other Taliban diplomats to leave the country.
  • Latest on Johnny Jihad:
         "Clearly, the way it looks from a distance is that this young man is a traitor, that he took up arms against our country, which, you know, goes back to the very founding of our nation and our Constitution about what is appropriate for a citizen," said Sen. Hillary Clinton. "So I, certainly, you know, consider him to have been a traitor to our country, but, you know, that's not a decision with respect to the legal action that should be taken that I'm going to be making."
         From Sen. Trent Lott: "I don't know all the facts — I don't think any of us do yet. But he certainly looks like a traitor. He looks like he was right in there in that rat's nest with the rest of them."
         John McCain: "This is one of the more difficult issues that we're going to face, because Americans obviously will be very, very concerned about a situation where a person takes up arms against his country. That fits the definition of treason."
    We appear to have tripartisan agreement. From the rest of us: "You in biiiiiig trouble, boy!"

    Middle East
  • Chairman-for-Life Yasser Arafat dropped plans to attend a gathering of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Qatar. The Palestinian leader feared Israel would not allow him to return.
  • Richard Perle, head of the Pentagon defense policy board, called on the European Union to abandon its support for Arafat. "The justification for funneling money to a corrupt regime was that it would somehow assist in producing peace. It is now very clear that is not doing that and I think anyone with any sense recognizes that it will not do that. The rationale is gone," he said. He added that he thought those who assumed that if Mr. Arafat went, his successor would be worse, were mistaken. "It may well be better," he said.
  • Jaw dropper: The European Union told Arafat to dismantle "the terrorist networks" of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and declare an end to the violent uprising against Israel. There must be some mistake...
  • Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a car waiting at a stoplight, killing two Palestinian boys, ages 3 and 13, and wounding at least seven people, including Islamic Jihad activist Mohammed Ayoub Sidr, 26, who was the target of the attack.
  • A Palestinian truck exploded in northern Ramallah just before US envoy General Anthony Zinni's convoy was to pass by on his way to a meeting with Arafat. The driver was killed in the explosion. There were no other casualties. After an investigation, both the IDF and the Palestinians eventually agreed the blast was an accident. Hey, these things happen around American envoys all the time. Don't they?

    The Alliance
  • American forces have already flown surveillance flights over Somalia looking for al-Qaeda forces to target in the next stage of the global war on terror, according to The Observer. Navy pilots have flown missions to map two al-Qaeda camps near the Kenyan border with a view to launching air strikes, Pentagon sources said. US warships have positioned themselves off the coast near the capital, Mogadishu, to stop bin Laden from hiding there, and to prepare for an attack if necessary. And the Rangers are looking forward to going back and having a talk with some of their old friends.
  • Downing Street intervened to "clarify" foolish comments by Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, who said Britain would not hand over Osama bin Laden to America if he were to face execution there. "Mr Hoon was talking hypothetically about him arriving on UK shores," said the spokesman. "But in the unlikely event that bin Laden allows himself to be captured by British forces alone, we have always made it clear that, since America is the wronged country, Britain would hand him over to the US."
  • Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, whose name appears on a list of 22 most wanted terrorists issued Oct. 10 by President Bush, was arrested in Mandera, 500 miles northeast of Nairobi on Kenya's border with Somalia. Swedan is one of two al-Qaida operatives who bought a truck used in the Aug. 7, 1998 Nairobi embassy bombing in which 219 people were killed, including 12 Americans.

    International
  • The official al-Qadissiya newspaper quoted Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz as saying Iraq wanted to end its problems with America. "Iraq calls for the solving of all disputes through dialogue under the condition that the American administration renounces the policy of aggression and threats," Aziz said during an address to a visiting U.S. peace activist group.

    Home Front
  • Howard Miller, co-president of the Fort Myers chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG, said that instead of money, he is dropping notes explaining a boycott of the Salvation Army into the red kettles of bell-ringers at local shopping centers. PFLAG doesn't agree with the Salvation Army's policies toward gays and lesbians. The Salvation Army doesn't ask the people who receive its help what their sexual orientation is. They give toys to needy children at Christmas. They give grocery baskets to needy families all year long. When there's a disaster, anything from a garage fire to the WTC attacks, the Salvation Army is there with hot coffee, donuts, and any help they can give. PFLAG doesn't do those things. Please help support the Salvation Army.

    Fifth Column
  • "Israel has been killing Palestinians and destroying homes. ... Isn't that the definition of terrorism?'' said University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian. "Why is it the Palestinians are always considered the terrorists, and the pure, innocent Israelis are the victims?'' Al-Arian, a Palestinian put on paid leave by USF after a post-Sept. 11 network television appearance prompted campus security concerns, spoke at an event put on by the Tampa Bay Local Group of Amnesty International, an arm of the worldwide organization dedicated to ensuring human rights. He is the brother-in-law of Mazen Al-Najjar, a Tampa researcher whom the U.S. Justice Department suspects is a national security threat connected to the fundamentalist Islamic Jihad.
  • The students, faculty, and staff of Hampshire College have voted to condemn the "War on Terrorism" and propose alternative solutions. The vote was 693-121. We thank them for their support and for the amount of thought that went into formulating their opinions.
  • Sunday, December 09, 2001

    Afghanistan
  • Fighting broke out between rival Pashtun clans seeking to lay claim to Helmand province. Forces under Noorzai tribal commander Abdul Rahman Jan took control of the capital, Lashkar Gah, after heavy fighting overnight. Rahman Jan threw about 500 militiamen into the battle against Barakzai tribal commander Hafeezullah Jan, who eventually withdrew from the town leaving about seven dead from both sides and many injured. Hafeezullah Jan had occupied Lashkar Gah without a fight on Friday, after the Taliban surrendered under a pact with Hamid Karzai.
  • Dr Mohammed Shajahan, the leader of the Harekat e-Islami party representing the Hazara Shia Muslim minority in Ghazni, said: "The Taliban still control about 50 per cent of this province. I have just had a meeting with them and they have promised to surrender by 3pm today. If they surrender their weapons and cars and go home, then we guarantee their security."
  • "The breakdown of the government should be as much about religious as well as ethnic differences," said Ayatullah Mohsini, Harkat-i-Islami faction leader, who returned to Kabul after five years exiled in Iran letting other people do the fighting. "What we want in the next government is 20 percent. The population of Afghanistan is approximately 20 million and about 20 percent are Shias," he said.
  • FoxNews reports Hamid Karzai has confirmed Gul Agha Shirzai as governor of Kandahar since he has so many guns. Gul Agha was the governor of Kandahar whose misgovernment gave the Taliban their start.
  • In Spin Boldak, residents said scores of gunmen were now roaming the streets as different tribal factions jostled for control of the border checkpoint, customs office and security in the town. Residents said the main market was closed with many shopkeepers unwilling to risk looting by opening for business.
  • A Northern Alliance military helicopter crashed near Taloqan, killing 20 people. The MI-8 helicopter was bound for Kabul with 20 military personnel on board. The helicopter crashed at Farkhar, about 22 miles southeast of the town. Among the victims was Mohammad Mustafa, commander of a unit which had guarded Ahmad Shah Masood. Two Pashtun commanders, Arbab Mohammad Hashim and Mirza Ghulam Nasiri, both of whom defected to the Alliance after Kunduz, also died in the crash. Hashim's supporters were alleging that their leader was deliberately killed. More likely, the "unfortunate accident" would have been to shut up Mustafa. It's a favorite technique in Iraq. Betcha there's an easily deniable connection to Rasool Sayyaf.
  • General Abdul Rashid Dostam pledged not to resort to force of arms despite his dissatisfaction with the make-up of the interim government. He said the power-sharing deal "did not work out as I would have liked" but added: "But in any event there will be no war. The dividing out of power will not now go on by means of force... People say General Dostum will again start bloodletting and war. This is not true. We will hold negotiations in Kabul. The rule of law will return." He'll let the Pashtuns shoot it out. Just to be on the safe side, he's not going to travel by helicopter.
  • BBC news headline: Afghan women still wait for liberty. I mean, it's been since, what? Last Friday? What're they waiting for?
  • India will soon send a team of senior police officials to Kabul to help in setting up an efficient policing system there. Recalling his recent meeting with the home minister of Afghanistan's interim regime, Yunus Khanooni in New Delhi, Home Minister L K Advani said India had assured the visiting dignitary that all possible assistance would be given for reconstruction.
  • An advance UN team which will prepare the way for a multinational peacekeeping force arrived in Kabul. The seven-member team from the UN's peacekeeping operations in New York included representatives of the military, civilian police and the judiciary. Watch the silverware, guys.
  • Osama Bin Laden is personally leading about 1,000 fighters defending his mountain strongholds in eastern Afghanistan, a Northern Alliance spokesman said. Mohammad Amin said from Jalalabad that anti-Taliban forces had pushed al-Qaeda out of their bases in Tora Bora and were attacking them in nearby forests. "Osama himself has taken the command of the fighting. He, along with around 1,000 of his people, including some Taliban officials, have now dug themselves into the forests of Spin Ghar after we overran all their bases in Tora Bora," Amin said.
  • A videotape of bin Laden obtained in Afghanistan provides more proof he was behind the WTC attacks. The tape shows bin Laden being interviewed or meeting with a cleric. He is speaking in Arabic and discussing the terrorist attacks. In the 40-minute tape, bin Laden said he was at a dinner when he was told a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Bin Laden shared the information with others at the dinner and they cheered. Bin Laden described the damage around the twin towers in New York as greater than expected and praised Allah for more success than anticipated.
  • Ex-potentate Mullah Mohammad Omar and a band of diehard fighters shot their way out of Kandahar on Friday and are hiding in nearby mountains, a Pakistani newspaper claimed. The News daily quoted Taliban sources as saying Omar's forces engaged in a fierce gunbattle with fighters loyal to Hamid Karzai before leaving town in a convoy of vehicles. Frontier Post, on the other hand, says Mullah Omar was captured Friday night and is near Kandahar in the custody of warlord Khalid Pashtoon. In Kabul, Mullah Abdul Raouf, who had been banned by the Taliban from preaching in his own mosque, said an international tribunal should try Omar and sentence him to death.
  • A group of former Taliban backed by Pakistan announced they were breaking with the movement and reviving their old party, Khudamul Furqan Jamiat or "Association of the Servants of Quran," which had followed the main chance with the former ruling militia years ago. The group was headed by mid-level Taliban functionaries and thugs. They declared their support for the UN-sponsored peace process and are in contact with Hamid Karzai. To show how moderate they are, they only beat their own wives.
  • Across southern Afghanistan, while local Taliban soldiers are negotiating surrender, the foreigners among them are desperately deserting their sinking ship. In Zabol province, an Arab Taliban paid a taxi driver $3,000 to take him to the border with Pakistan. The defeat of the Taliban has led to the appearance of robber bands which have put up checkpoints on many roads.
  • Johnny Jihad, at Camp Rhino, has begun to spill his guts. Johnny is "being treated in a manner consistent with protections provided enemy prisoners of war under the Third Geneva Convention," according to US Central Command. Johnny will be handed over to US civilian authorities for disposal as soon as possible, the Pentagon says, and then they're going to have Camp Rhino thoroughly fumigated. Johnny was gaunt and dehydrated but in good condition as he recovered from a gunshot wound to his leg. He was receiving intravenous fluids through a really thick, really dull needle. Wonder whatever happened to Mohammad Junaid?

    Middle East
  • Chairman-for-Life Yasser Arafat said the Palestinian police have already arrested 17 key militants out of a list of 33 presented to him by American officials, and said he will continue pursuing the rest despite the continuing Israeli airstrikes. Asked whether he would be prepared to face down resistance by the militants and their growing legions of supporters, Arafat smiled and said: "You are speaking with Yasser Arafat. I know how to do it. I know how to do it." We were afraid of that.
  • A Palestinian suicide bomber detonated explosives at a crowded hitch-hiking post near Haifa, wounding at least eight people. The blast left the suicide bomber badly wounded. When police saw he was still moving and feared he might detonate more explosives, they shot him dead.
  • Israeli forces entered the Palestinian village of Anabta killing four Palestinian policemen in an exchange of fire. An army statement said troops entered villages to conduct searches and arrest "people engaged in terrorist activity." Anabta Mayor Hamdallah Hamdallah charged that the four police were shot "in cold blood." Israel Radio reported that Palestinians opened fire on the Israeli soldiers from two vehicles, and the soldiers returned the fire, killing the gunmen. Witnesses said Israeli forces detained 25 people in Anabta.
  • Two Palestinians were charged in the Oct. 17 assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi, the first Israeli Cabinet minister killed by Palestinians. Mohammed Rimawi, from the West Bank village of Beit Rima, was charged with murder. Saleh Alawi, from east Jerusalem, was charged as an accomplice. The charge sheet said Hamdi Koraan, from Ramallah, shot Zeevi, and Basal Samer accompanied him. Koraan and Samer are believed to be still at large in Palestinian-controlled areas.

    Terror Networks
  • Government troops repelled a Maoist rebel attack on a communications tower in the mountains of Nepal and killed at least 50 guerrillas. Four soldiers were killed and eight wounded in the 7-hour battle night in Rammate, a village 250 miles west of Katmandu. The rebels fled after the fight.
  • Twelve Russian servicemen and police troops were killed and 22 wounded in the latest round of skirmishes with rebels and land mine explosions in Chechnya.
  • Indian security forces shot dead 10 rebels in gunbattles in Kashmir. Four militants were killed in a gunbattle in Budgam district west of Srinagar. Security forces also shot dead six rebels in two gunbattles in Kupwara district northwest of Srinagar.
  • Philippine communist rebels said they would order their forces to observe a month-long cease-fire to take effect from next weekend upon receipt of a reciprocal gesture by the government. They don't celebrate Tet in the Philippines.
  • Three men were killed and one was injured in Sanaa when hand grenades they had in their car exploded. Yemen's Saba news agency quoted an Interior Ministry official as saying preliminary investigations suggested there were no sabotage motives behind the incident. They were, ummmm, decorating a Ramadan tree, that's it!

    The Alliance
  • Yvonne Ridley, the British journalist captured by the Taliban on 28 September and held for ten days, thinks she is important enough that Western intelligence agencies tried to get her killed to bolster public support for the air strikes on Afghanistan.
  • British journalist Robert Fisk evidently received severe head injuries in his mugging in Pakistan: "It doesn't excuse them for beating me up so badly but there was a real reason why they should hate Westerners so much. I don't want this to be seen as a Muslim mob attacking a Westerner for no reason. They had every reason to be angry - I've been an outspoken critic of the US actions myself. If I had been them, I would have attacked me." He does that regularly, you know.
  • Britain would need assurances that Osama Bin Laden will not face the death penalty after an extradition to the United States if the alleged terror mastermind was captured by British troops, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said.
  • Home Secretary David Blunkett signaled that planned legislation by the Labour government envisaged immigrants having to learn English in order to obtain British citizenship. "Enforced marriages and youngsters under the age of 16 being whistled away to the Indian subcontinent, genital mutilation and practices that might be acceptable in parts of Africa are unacceptable in Britain," Blunkett belched. "We need to be clear we don't tolerate the intolerable under the guise of cultural difference." Why'd you have to do it before?
  • Former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto has said the separatist movement in Kashmir will suffer a setback with the fall of Taliban as the international community will not tolerate participation of foreign militants, and welcomed New Delhi's peace initiatives in the valley.
  • Libyan special envoy, president of the Qadhafi International Foundation for Charity Associations (QIFCA), Saif El Islam Al-Qaddafi demanded general amnesty for the innocent Arabs stuck in Afghanistan. Pakistan has been asked to make arrangement for the release of Arabs nationals, their children and women who have no concern with Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. "President Musharraf has given us assurance that the government of Pakistan would do its utmost for the early exit of innocent Arabs from Afghanistan," he said. Qaddafi called on President Musharraf to deliver a special message from Col. Muammar Qaddafi and to convey Libya’s solidarity, support and understanding for Pakistan’s principled and courageous decision to join the international coalition in the fight against terrorism. Really.
  • Eastern Shura in Afghanistan kicked out 12 Pakistani volunteers who fought along with the Taliban militia. "They were brought in cars and asked to walk into Pakistan," said a border guard at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border at Torkhum in the Khyber Tribal Agency. Sources said Khyber Agency authorities took custody of the 12 and put them in lock up in Landikotal subdivision. They were released by Rasool Sayyaf's Ittehad-e-Islami in Kabul.

    International
  • North Korea accused the United States of trying to start a war against against it, and said it will respond to war with war. The statement came after President Bush issued a fresh warning last week to Iraq and North Korea that there would be consequences if they produce weapons of mass destruction. Bush demanded that the North allow U.N. experts to inspect its suspected nuclear weapons program.
  • Malaysia is stepping up a crackdown on illegal immigrants by planning to whip foreigners entering the country without valid documents. Currently, only second-time offenders are liable to be whipped. Oooh. That's a comfort.

    Home Front
  • Members of Congress are on their way to a $4,900 pay raise in January as the Senate used a midnight vote to thwart an effort by Sens. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., to block it. The latest boost is for 3.4 percent and will raise members' annual salaries to $150,000. Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., voted not to block the increase.