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Bangladesh -- Of Beliefs and Backlash

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  • Afsana Nahid
    Of Beliefs and Backlash Mustafa Zaman The casualties at the final hour of the War of Independence, in the hands of the collaborators of the Pak junta, were the
    Message 1 of 18 , Mar 28, 2004

      Of Beliefs and Backlash

      Mustafa Zaman

      The casualties at the final hour of the War of Independence, in the hands of the collaborators of the Pak junta, were the intellectuals. Those who fell prey did so because of their belief in an independent nation for the Bangalis. These were not only the most illustrious intellectuals of the soil, but also the most brave, otherwise they would not have remained in Dhaka at that crucial hour when the Jammat-e-Islami of Bangladesh were determined to do whatever ill to the sphere of knowledge that might go to shaping a new nation. December 14 is marred forever by the murky shadow of an enemy within, who, out of sheer rage, sunk its teeth as the last resort to vex the course of an emerging nation.

      Later, what people were served in the platter in the guise of democracy in independent Bangladesh, was a far cry from what they ever expected. Thirty-three years have passed, yet the culture of moratorium on thoughts, beliefs and creative expressions thrives. The British provided the legal framework for such practices. As the environment of tolerance goes against the ruling class, it often finds a solution in freezing the birth of ideas that may lead to dissent. The Pakistan era saw the culture of moratorium on intellectual freedom in its worst composition. But one should also keep in mind that the other side of the coin provides no rosier picture. Freedom of expression, the phrase of the so-called democratic west, often is a mere rhetoric to give a semblance of a democracy. Same is evident in independent Bangladesh, which has a western frame of government.

      The persecution of dissent is considered undemocratic, so are verbal assaults aimed against a particular community. In the first constitution of Bangladesh, both the acts were earmarked, the first as the right of every citizen and the second as a form of attack on other's right. However, history of Bangladesh in one hand is rife with persecution of the freedom of expression and on the other hand malicious voices are often heard from one end to undermine the other. Humayun Azad, the literatary exponent was the latest victim, who was attacked as he spoke against the quarter that played the role of the quislings during 1971 war. And the community that has most recently been stolen of their right to practice their own religion is the Ahmedyias. The government was forced to ratify a ban that strive to mum a minority who never had any strength to fight back.

      It all started at the onset. The Bihari writers and journalist were the first victims of mass paranoia in independent Bangladesh. Bangalis retaliated as the Bihari community, at least the majority of it, aligned itself with the Pakistani junta. But the writers community inside the Bihari community, which Illias Ahmed refers to as "a microscopic community among a microscopic community, was a progressive front. "The general Urdu-speaking Biharis played in the hands of the rulers. But a few progressive voices, mostly of writers and poets, even demanded both Bangla and Urdu to gain the status of National Language," recalls Illias. Anjuma-E-Taraque-Urdu was the platform that promoted Urdu literature. "Back in the tumultuous time of the Language Movement, the East Pakistan branch seceded from their mother organisation in the western wing on the issue of Urdu being the only state language," reveals Illias.

      The Stalwarts like Nawshad Nuri, the poet who even wrote a forcefully expressed poem in Urdu to press home the demands of the Bangalis to have Bangla as the sate language, along with Illias were at the helm of their organisation. These two, as editors of an Urdu daily, even helped spread the political beliefs of the Bangalis. Nuri Translated the 'six point' demand of Awami League during those boiling days. Yet the office and the Library of the Anjuman-E-Tarique-Urdu, where most of the influential writers and poets were Nap (Bhashani) sympathisers, was destroyed right after the independence. "All the books along with valuable manuscripts were burnt, and later the building at the Bongobondhu Avenue was evacuated to facilitate a handful of businessman to run their affairs," testifies Illias, a journalist and a poet in his late sixties.

      Illias had a harrowing experience right after Bongobondhu was released and was about to give a public address on January 16, 1972. He and his friends, who were instrumental in raising funds for the Muktibahini in the observer house, where they all were employed, wanted to appeal to the government to help stop the retaliation against the Biharis. Although the Communist Party provided them with the ID card that declared them pro-Muktijodha activists, yet in the Observer house itself, Illias and his two other friends were attacked by the workers of the Observer house, who soon blindfolded them, as if to ready them for execution. Later they were saved when KG Mustofa and other peers intervened. "We never got any recognition for what we did for Bangladesh," laments

      Illias who chose to remain in Dhaka, though many of his friends who came from Kolkata went back to India or set out for Pakistan.

      The Bakshal regime was of a unique constitution. Whatever its ingredients were on the surface, deep down the most salient feature was to gag dissent. Poet Al Mahmood, who hates to hark back to those traumatic days, says in retrospect, "I was kept in the Dhaka central jail for nine months, during which time I was taken to the court only once, which was a farce anyway. And the government could not bring any charge against me." He was picked up from Minto road with many others, among them Nasir Ali Mamoon, who is now a renowned photographer. "The Rakhhi Bahini picked up more then a hundred of us on March 18, 1974, and we were sent to jail without trial or anything," recalls Mamoon who fears that ten were killed during that incident when people were fired at. Al Mahmood, the poet, who was the editor of Gonokontho, a daily that was a fearless critic of the bourgeois rule, was released after nine months, by then Gonokontho met a forced demise as did all the other news dailies except four that the government favoured.

      When Bongobondhu was murdered, and army rode power, poet Nirmolendu Goon was picked up by the military intelligence in 1975. Before that, right after independence, writer Humayun Kabir, who was associated with a radical left wing political group, lost his life in 1972. Daud Haider had to leave the country after enraging the theologically inclined quarter and Rafiq Azad's piece, Bhat De Haramjada, was slapped with a ban because of its vehemence of angst against the ruling class.

      During the rule of Ershad, the Shishu Acedamy's publication of an encyclopedia was impeded, as it could not meet the demands of the Islamic Extremists who antagonised the chronological portrayal of the Prophets and Messiahs. Ershad spawned varied strands of Islam, by passing the 8th amendment, which made Islam the state religion.

      In the cultural field of the Nation, a swath was made clearly visible in the late eighties. Jatra, Palas were the cultural traits of the Bangla-speaking mass for a long, long time. These forms first came under attack from the British, who promulgated a black law banning Jatra forever. To this day, in independent Bangladesh, the law stays. This kind of performances, which sometimes verges on the prurience, became the softest target of the puritanical Islamic outfits that often Jamaat was backing. In fact, the followers of Moududi, that makes up the whole spectrum of Jamaat-E-Islami, have marshaled a leap, a political comeback of sorts in the mainstream politics courtesy of BNP, AL and Ershad during the eighties. Books like Satanic Verses had strengthened their position, made them even look closer to the truth and divinity, as this is the kind of book that interiorises a strong dose of malice that often serve the agenda of the western super powers.

      However, when creativity is obstructed to facilitate the sanctimonious voices to pick up the decibel, the result is a wholesale demolition of the idea of tolerance. During the military rule of Ershad, poet Syed Atikullah lost his job from Janata bank for writing a poem. And Shamsur Rahman's name was dropped at one fag end of the military rule. The poet's name suddenly disappeared from the printers' line while he was still serving as the editor of the government owned Bichitra, the defunct legendary weekly. This led to his resignation.

      Then came the so-called democratic surge. Many, who hoped to see a sea change, saw only a continuation of the past. In the creative field as well as in the field of information, the 'changes to be' remained just that. It was during the first term of BNP, the first bout with democratically elected government after two consecutive military rulers, that brought on the blight of ban on Taslima Nasrins' somewhat footloose writings. Before the ban on 'Lajja' in 1995, the Taslima controversy brewed only in the verbal front. Her colic comments regarding society made the Islamic extremists insecure. Though, in 'Lajja', the first book of Taslima for which she was smacked a ban, deals, in most part, with Jamaat and BNP on the role of the moral watchdogs. Year 2002, saw another of her book 'Ka', that deals with excesses of our intellectuals in the sexual front, getting a ban. And luckily for her, these bans keep knocking her books out of the bookstores to be sold out in the street in the hands of mass book sellers, a newly germinated tribe in Dhaka.

      While the educated middle class remained all-entangled in the Taslima affair, crimes aimed against lesser known writers and poets remained unexamined. Moslem Uddin, a wandering minstrel, was clubbed to death at Dhunat, Bogra in 2002. A local political activist testifies that Moslem was a poet who wrote on all sorts of wrongdoings.

      At Dhunat a Muslim sect who practiced Zikre, a form of meditation based on repetitive chant from Koran and Hadith was attacked by pro-Zikre group. Moslem wrote a poem condemning this attack. This led to the heinous attack on this wandering poet. He was mercilessly beaten in April, 2002, and died after a month long struggle with death.

      This is not the only incident of persecution. Examples abound in both the rural front and within the front of the corridor of power. The government lends impetus to this growing intolerance by trying to gag voices pitched against them. Incarceration of Shahrier Kabir, and Muntasir Mamoon boosted the spirits of all the self-styled guardians of public moral and custodians of religious sanctity.

      Saimon Zakaria, a playwright ran into a whirlpool of trouble when back in 1994, he wrote a play Gosto-Chakro for the village youngsters to stage. The chairman of the village intervened on the pretext that without his consent, how can a play be staged? Simon, who is now a regular contributor in the daily Prothom Alo, says, "We left our village in 1996, when we could not brave the threat any more." The family and the play wright left their ancestral home living in the city ever since.

      However, there are agent provocateurs, who contribute to making things worse. Shambit Shaha wrote a play depicting a Pir monopolising everything and every situation to serve his own end. The same play was turned into a scathing depiction of the life of the Prophet, when the director, who staged it in Faridpur, doctored the script to suit his own intentions, without the consent of the writer. This sly attempt landed the playwright in Jail, where he remained for two years. These intentional vilifications of Prophets bring into focus the elements that are active in the guise of freedom of speech.

      Farhad Mazhar, who himself was jailed for the article he wrote in the daily Bhorer Kakoj in 1995 on 'Ansar Rebellion' that was mercilessly crushed by the then BNP government, believes that freedom of speech is a vacuous term without a sense of responsibility. Mazhar was accused of "Inciting Rebellion" in July, 1995. He was released after the issuance of a court order one month later. He also says, "You can't be responsible unless you are free." And then hastens to add, "I can't agree on personal freedom. Freedom in the capitalist society is perverted. In the name of the writers' freedom you cannot hurt a community."

      He is of the opinion that every community has backwardness, and in the name of fighting that backwardness, we often consciously or subconsciously become a tool in the hands of the exploiters. Mazhar, as a social analyst, is known for his polemics aimed at the real targets in the greater political chessboard. He is not against the right to criticise the community. "You can write to enrage a community, unless you are a part of the internal struggle that goes on inside every community, you cannot play the part of the critic if you don't belong there, you would only be an agent provocateur," affirms Mazhar.

      It is true that even the most sincere critics often become a target of the people at the helm, as did Mazhar. But it is equally true that the fire of intolerance is often stoked by a number of writers who never aligned themselves with the masses. Abu Sayeed Abdullah, while reflecting on writers' freedom opines, "As the writers have freedom, so does the man that the writer is writing about. As Voltair said that you can wield your scimitar, but you will have to do it keeping a distance from my nose. So, the writer cannot simply attack others through his writing." "This leads to anarchy, not democracy," he adds.

      The last victim, --- Humayun Azad, had no political clout. That made him an easy target. Police so far have provided no clue as to who were the attackers. If persecution of this nature continues, as a nation, we will lose all elements of critical practices that make a populace see its past and present mistakes in a clear light. "The attack on Azad brought the writers community closer. It made us realise our strength," opines Abdullah Abu Sayeed. He adds that if a writer's criticism is sincere than it may contribute to society's advancement. He concludes, "We must realise that the solution doesn't lie in one particular belief or opinion. So we must let every flower bloom."


    • Jayamohan Kothari
      Fmr. FBI Translator: White House Had Intel On Possible Airplane Attack Pre-9/11 ... We speak with former FBI translator, Sibel Edmonds, who was hired shortly
      Message 2 of 18 , Mar 31, 2004
        Fmr. FBI Translator: White House Had Intel On Possible Airplane Attack


        We speak with former FBI translator, Sibel Edmonds, who was hired shortly
        after Sept. 11 to translate intelligence gathered over the previous year
        related to the 9/11 attacks. She says the FBI had information that an attack
        using airplanes was being planned before Sept. 11 and calls Condoleezza
        Rice's claim the White House had no specific information on a domestic
        threat or one involving planes "an outrageous lie."

        President Bush yesterday finally agreed to allow National Security Adviser
        Condoleeza Rice to testify publicly and under oath before the independent
        commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.

        President Bush, White House Press Briefing, March 30, 2004.

        Bush did not take questions and left the room after his statement.
        For weeks, the White House has insisted for weeks that Rice not testifying
        was a matter of constitutional principle and would set a dangerous

        On 60 Minutes this weekend Rice said, "It is a longstanding principle that
        sitting national security advisers do not testify before the Congress."

        It is unclear what "longstanding principle" Rice was referring to since
        President Clinton allowed his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, to
        testify in public before the House Governmental Affairs Committee only 8
        years ago and Zbigniew Brzezinski was allowed under President Carter.

        In return for Rice testifying, the commission agreed to strict conditions
        that ruled out any further public testimony from White House officials,
        including Rice herself. So after Rice's appearance before the panel, public
        testimony from various aides who might be in a position to confirm or deny
        her claims is not an option.

        The commission also promised that Rice's testimony won't set a precedent.

        Bush also agreed to meet privately with all 10 commissioners for an
        undetermined time limit, backing off his previous demand to meet only with
        the Chairman and Vice Chairman for just one hour.

        But again, the apparent retreat by the president came with conditions. In
        return, the commission agreed that Bush will not be under oath and can have
        Vice President Dick Cheney appear with him by his side.

        Rice has outright denied having specific information of an imminent domestic
        threat involving hijacking airplanes, but she might have a particularly hard
        time convincing the 9/11 Commission of this fact.

        A former FBI translator with top-secret clearance has called Rice's claims
        "an outrageous lie." She says she testified before the 9/11 Commission that
        the FBI had information that an attack using airplanes was being planned
        before September 11.

        Sibel Edmonds, former FBI translator who was hired shortly after Sept. 11 to
        translate intelligence gathered over the previous year related to the 9/11
        attacks. She speaks fluent Farsi, Arabic and Turkish.

        This transcript is available free of charge, however donations help us
        provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV
        broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
        Donate - $25, $50, $100, more...

        AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Sibel Edmonds. Welcome to Democracy Now!

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Thank you. Good morning, Amy.

        AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. Well, what about this claim that
        both President Bush has made and Condoleezza Rice has made saying that they
        had no information about an imminent domestic threat involving airplanes?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Well, Amy, for the past two years I have testified several
        times before the Department of Justice Inspector General, for the Senate
        Judiciary Committee, and a few months ago I testified behind closed doors
        for the 9-11 Commission, and as I stated before, to just come out and say --
        and state that we had no specific information whatsoever, that would be an
        outrageous lie. President Bush, I guess, he made a smart move, because he
        also added that they did not have any specific information stating that the
        attack was going to occur on September 11. But Ms. Rice's statement that we
        had no specific information is inaccurate.

        AMY GOODMAN: Looking specifically at the Op-Ed piece that Condoleezza Rice
        wrote in the "Washington Post" on March 22nd, she said, �Despite what some
        have suggested we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to
        attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles.� Though, some analysts
        speculated that the terrorists might hijack airlines to try to free
        U.S.-held terrorists. The F.A.A. even issued a warning to airlines and
        aviation security personnel that, quote, �The potential for a terrorist
        operation such as an airline hijacking to free terrorists incarcerated in
        the United States remains a concern.�

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Well, I would say not only that we had specific information,
        we had several specific information as early as April, 2001. And many of
        this information has been public already. I mean, you look at what Agent
        Rowley provided, you look at the Phoenix Memo, the investigations that I
        worked on after 9-11, retranslating certain documents related to certain
        investigations, that is the reason I'm saying this is absolutely inaccurate.
        We had not one, but we had many specific informations, and this information
        was not maybe investigated under counter-terrorism because it's very
        difficult to separate these issues when you have criminal investigation, and
        money laundering investigation, drug related investigations that actually
        have major information regarding 9-11 incidents. To say that they would be
        mostly under counter-terrorism would be a wrong assumption, too.

        AMY GOODMAN: Sibel Edmonds, can you explain exactly why you have come to
        these conclusions? What exactly was your job?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: My job was translating documents and various documents, audio
        and also interviews that had to do with various investigations. Again, not
        only counter-terrorism, but counter-intelligence and criminal
        investigations. During this short tenure that I had over there, I became
        aware of several investigations that were ongoing investigation dating back
        to a year or -- some of them actually years before 9-11 that contained
        significant amount of information about various activities. I would like to
        emphasize again, we are talking about money laundering activities directed
        toward these terrorist activities. We are looking at counter-intelligence
        activities, so, as I said it, is not categorized under counter-terrorism.
        This information was pouring in dating back as early as 2000.

        AMY GOODMAN: Sibel Edmonds, can you explain what exactly you did? I mean,
        you took a job on was it September 20, 2001?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Correct.

        AMY GOODMAN: And where did you work? SYBIL EDMONDS: I worked for Washington
        Field Office, F.B.I.'s Washington Field Office Translation Department, and
        they had the largest translation department in the country. So, because we
        were the largest, we received information again in various formats from all
        over the country.

        AMY GOODMAN: Now, when you say you received information, what is it that you
        were handed -- transcripts of wiretapped phone conversations, what?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Well, I cannot specifically answer this question. As you're
        aware, I'm under a gag order, however, as I said, in various forms -- and as
        I said, again, it -- I did interviews, I did documents, I did audios, and
        this is as specific as I'm allowed to get in terms of the format with this

        AMY GOODMAN: You translated them?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Correct.

        AMY GOODMAN: Into English.

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Correct.

        AMY GOODMAN: Had some of them been translated before?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Yes. Many of them, actually.

        AMY GOODMAN: By who?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Oh, by various translators previously, and agents from
        different field offices felt like that these information was either
        inaccurate or it was not precise, so they felt that they needed to send
        these documents or other formats back and have them get to be retranslated
        because after 9-11, they were suspicious that the information that they
        received was not really accurate, and there was more. And in fact, in some
        cases, there were more.

        AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Well, let's say you had certain investigations, and you sent
        certain either documents, audio or whatever to be translated, and certain
        translator translated it in let's say summary format, and basically that
        this information is not that pertinent. After 9-11, the agent is saying, you
        know what, I want this thing to be retranslated again, because considering
        9-11 and considering this target under this investigation, we believe there
        was more in this, let�s say, document or audio. And after translating this
        -- let's say, particular document, verbatim, and sending back, then that is
        when you would see the information and say -- shake your head and say how
        could we have missed this information before.

        AMY GOODMAN: Sibil Edmonds, what do you think would have happened if
        anything that you translated after September 11 had been translated fully
        before? And accurately?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: I cannot confidently answer this question because in fact
        there were information that were translated very precisely and accurately
        before. And somehow having that information did not achieve anything,
        either. So, unfortunately, I cannot say if these documents were translated
        more precisely previously, something would have been done. My question is
        how about the ones that we had before? How about the information we had
        before that were pretty specific and they were pretty accurate, and they
        came from real reliable sources assets. What happened to that information?
        That is my question, and I'm hoping that through this investigation by the
        9-11 Commission, we will get to hear these questions being asked
        specifically and directly.

        AMY GOODMAN: We have to break, but when we come back, Sibel Edmonds, I want
        to ask you why there is a gag order on you.

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Sure.

        AMY GOODMAN: We are talking to Sibel Edmonds, a former F.B.I. Wiretap
        Translator. Senator Charles Grassley, the Republican from Iowa, has told
        �salon.com� she recently testified before the National Commission on
        Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, and called her very credible.
        We'll be back in a minute.

        AMY GOODMAN: We are talking with a former F.B.I. Wiretap Translator with top
        secret security clearance. She was hired just after September 11 to go back
        and retranslate, or sometimes translate for the first time, documents and
        conversations from before September 11. Republican Senator Charles Grassley
        called her very credible, said that she recently testified before the
        National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, saying that
        the F.B.I. had detailed information prior to September 11, 2001, that a
        terrorist attack involving airplanes was being plotted. Now, Sibel Edmonds,
        to call Condoleezza Rice's claim that the White House had no specific
        information on domestic threat or one involving planes an outrageous lie is
        very strong. Can you repeat again or fill out the information that you have
        to substantiate that? She's going to be going before the 9-11 Commission

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Right. Well, Amy, I really wish I could comment, I could have
        given you some specific information. I'm hoping that these authorities,
        being Director Mueller, during his testimony, or the report that was
        expected to be out by Inspector General's Office to come out, actually,
        instead of being sealed, and shoved under this blanket of secrecy so that
        you would see these specific informations, because I don't know if you are
        aware of it or not, but Attorney General Ashcroft on October 18, 2002,
        personally asserted State Secret Privilege in my case. I would read two
        sentences here: �To prevent disclosure of certain classified and sensitive
        national security information, Attorney General Ashcroft today asserted the
        State Secret Privilege in Sibel Edmonds' case. This assertion was made at
        the request of the F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller,� in papers filed today,
        and they are citing the reason that because this case would create
        substantial risks of disclosing classified and sensitive national security
        information that could cause serious damage to our country's security. They
        are citing that this privilege is very rare and is asserted to prevent
        certain information getting -- becoming public or hurting diplomatic
        relations. I would underline this phrase, diplomatic relations several

        AMY GOODMAN: And what has been the response of the federal authorities to
        you speaking out right now?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: They have -- during their meetings with Senator Grassley and
        Senator Leahy's office, these authorities have confirmed all of my reports
        and allegations and have denied none. However, as I said, Inspector
        General's Office�s report was supposed to be out in October, 2002. Here we
        are sitting in March 2004, and my sources are telling me they are going to
        seal this report, and it will be never made public. Now, to protect certain
        diplomatic relations? -- that is the question. What diplomatic relations? To
        this date, I have been waiting to see this information to be available, and
        become available and be out there, but it's not getting there. And there's
        so much that the public just simply doesn't know. About what went wrong,
        what we had, and my last hope right now is this Commission. 9-11 Commission
        is my last hope because I have pursued all possible authority channels that
        I could have pursued. I have gone to the Senate. I have provided testimony
        to the Inspector General's Office and the F.B.I. They have confirmed these
        allegations, however, this information is being prevented from becoming
        public. It needs to be public because first we have to acknowledge the facts
        before we go about fixing these problems. If they don't want to admit to
        these facts and they want to -- they don't want to acknowledge it, then we
        have no chance of really addressing the serious issue of national security
        and terrorism that they are citing.

        AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Sibel Edmonds, a former F.B.I. Wiretap
        Translator, hired just after September 11, ultimately was fired. I want to
        ask about Senator Grassley on "60 Minutes" saying you're credible. Quote,
        �She's credible, and the reason I feel she's very credible is because people
        within the F.B.I. have corroborated a lot of her story.� I want to ask you
        about why you were fired, and the reports you have made of serious
        misconduct, security lapses and gross incompetence in the F.B.I.
        Translations Unit, including supervisors who told translators to work slowly
        during the crucial post-9-11 investigations to get more funds as well as
        other issues of harassment of you, as you started to make these charges.

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Yes. Senator Grassley, I have a lot of respect for Senator
        Grassley. After they investigated this case, he said basically, publicly, on
        CBS "60 Minutes" that these departments need to be turned upside-down. I
        took that very literally, and I have been expecting for past two years for
        these departments and the issues within these departments to be addressed.
        You see, after September 11, these people -- people from the F.B.I., came
        forward and they blamed everything on shortage of budgets and shortage of
        personnel. And they said, we failed, and these were the major causes. These
        were the reasons. That is not accurate. We were told during the time that
        these people were going on TV and they were begging for people to apply for
        translation positions because we had this shortage, what was going on behind
        the scenes was exactly opposite. We were being asked not to do these
        translations, and let the documents pile up, because within a month or so,
        they were scheduled to go in front of the Senate and Congress and ask for
        increased budgets. In doing so, they needed to give numbers of pages,
        numbers of documents and audios that they were not translated due to the
        shortage, and needed to be translated, and that they were urgent, and in
        order to do so, we had to increase that number, the number of pages and the
        number of audio.

        AMY GOODMAN: It's interesting, Sibel Edmonds, I remember doing a piece on
        the translators who were gay and lesbian, who were fired at a time when
        there was a serious lack of translators.

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Again, this contradicts what they have been stating. I
        performed translations for three languages, and they had so many active
        cases under those languages. They are not even admitting that they had fired
        me. This is how they are putting it: �She was terminated purely for the
        convenience of the government.� Now, you can translate that in any way you
        want, but it is the vague statement -- that she was not fired, she was
        terminated purely for the government's convenience. Now, what is that? What
        is that?

        AMY GOODMAN: Now, you have sued?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Yes. And first of all, I applied for -- information that I
        could, under Freedom of Information Act, receive, and I wanted to get some
        of these documents. I know what those documents are, and -- but I wanted to
        get them out and make it public. They did not comply, as they are required
        under the Freedom of Information Act, so we had to pursue the court option.
        And again, for this court case, we never even had a chance to go in front of
        this particular judge because they went in camera, and they told the judge,
        due to national security and the State Secret Privilege, these documents,
        all 1,500 of them, are top secret, classified documents, therefore, none of
        them can be released to the public, and again, without any hearings, we
        never went in front of any judge, the judge ruled in favor of the F.B.I. And
        she said, �Well, who am I to argue with the government? If they are saying
        it's going to compromise our national security I have to take their word for
        that,� and therefore, they ruled against us, and now we are appealing that

        AMY GOODMAN: Sibel Edmonds, you testified before the 9-11 Commission. You
        also held a news conference right outside the hearings, right before Richard
        Clarke testified. What has been the media response?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: First of all this issue has been out there for almost two
        years. Every few months, there has been an article here or an article there,
        and first of all, if -- major news sources don't perceive it as a news item
        because it's not news, it's an issue. It cannot be news because specifics
        are withheld and by this real, real strong State Secret Privilege. So how
        many specifics and evidence can be given to the media, and how much of this
        information can be provided? It is very limited. News sources such as
        yourself are the ones who actually have been paying attention to these
        issues and have been pursuing it and calling the Senate and calling the
        Inspector General's Office and following up on that, but I have not seen
        major activities within the larger mass media sources. I don't know why. I
        don't know why, really, to be honest with you, I don't know.

        AMY GOODMAN: What do you expect of this 9-11 Commission hearing?

        SIBEL EDMONDS: I am still holding onto my optimism. I'm expecting on this
        April 13 and April 14 during the hearings with Director Mueller, I'm
        expecting them to ask the real questions. Now, I am expecting that their
        report will be different than the report that was issued by this Joint
        Intelligence Inquiry that they had which was basically nothing. And so far,
        I have been very disappointed, because the real issues, the specifics get to
        the address behind closed doors under this blanket of security and secrecy.
        Most likely from their reports, the real issues are going to be redacted
        because they're going to be citing classifications, and then what good is
        that report going to do, or what use is this hearing going to have? That's
        the question. I'm hoping that from these attentions that we have been
        receiving from the press in terms of the issues that have been raised by,
        again, Agent Rowley, Clarke, Mr. Clarke's testimony, people would raise
        their expectations and expect to hear the real questions being asked from
        Director Mueller during this hearing. This is what I expect, and this is
        what I'm hoping. Another issue is to actually see the Senate exercising
        their oversight authority that has been given to them by the public. Because
        to this date, what I have been hearing repeatedly is that, in quotes, �Our
        hands are tied. You see the climate. Our hands are tied.� Well, in a way,
        that is not acceptable. Because they have been given the responsibility and
        authority to execute this oversight, and so far to this date, it hasn't been
        exercised. I'm hoping that at least through these issues becoming more
        public and the 9-11 Commission will be followed by some real Senate
        activities in terms of addressing these issues. Because American public, you
        know, they have the right to know. They need to know these facts.

        AMY GOODMAN: Sibel Edmonds, I want to thank you very much for being with us.

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Thank you.

        AMY GOODMAN: Sibel Edmonds, who was an F.B.I. Wiretap Translator, and we
        will continue to follow up on your story. I want to thank you for being

        SIBEL EDMONDS: Thank you, Amy.

        To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program call 1 (800)

      • Qamruzzaman Matin
        Cyprus�����s future in its people�����s hands Politicians have failed to reach agreement in internationally backed talks to reunite the island of Cyprus. The
        Message 3 of 18 , Apr 1 11:14 AM
          Cyprus�s future in its people�s hands

          Politicians have failed to reach agreement in internationally backed talks
          to reunite the island of Cyprus. The United Nations will now put its peace
          plan directly to the people.

          THE Cyprus conflict has, on several occasions, dragged Greece and Turkey to
          the brink of war, despite both being NATO allies. For 30 years, since
          Turkish troops invaded following a coup by Greek-Cypriot militants, a
          UN-patrolled buffer zone has divided the Mediterranean island in two,
          running right through Nicosia�Europe�s last divided capital. The conflict�s
          resolution would allow the poor, isolated Turkish-Cypriot republic in the
          north (which only Turkey recognises) to join the European Union on May 1st
          along with the southern, Greek-Cypriot sector. And it would help pave the
          way for Turkey to open negotiations on entry into the EU. Repeated attempts
          at a settlement have failed. But with so much to be gained, the UN, the EU,
          America, Britain (the island�s former colonial ruler), Greece and Turkey
          have in recent weeks applied their combined diplomatic pressure to the
          island�s stubborn politicians and brought them back to the negotiating

          Alas, this concerted coaxing was not quite enough: late on Wednesday March
          31st, the UN�s secretary-general, Kofi Annan, announced that the final round
          of talks, in the Alpine resort of B�rgenstock, had failed to achieve an
          agreement. The UN will now put its proposed settlement directly to Greek-
          and Turkish-Cypriots in simultaneous referendums on April 24th. The
          Turkish-Cypriot delegation to the talks had been prepared to sign the deal,
          in which some territory they hold would be transferred to Greek-Cypriot
          control. But the Greek-Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, rejected it.
          Rauf Denktash, the Turkish-Cypriot president, was not part of the delegation
          and has also said he too will campaign against it.

          Urging the island�s two communities to vote yes in the referendums, Mr Annan
          said: �There have been too many missed opportunities in the past. I urge you
          not to make this mistake again.� However, they might do just that,
          especially on the Greek-Cypriot side, where opinion polls have suggested
          that as many as 90% oppose the UN plan. Unless Mr Papadopoulos can be
          persuaded to change his mind and support the deal, its chances do not look

          For years, each side has used the memory of horrors committed by the other
          as an argument for resisting agreement. On neither side has there been much
          self-examination. Greek-Cypriots say they were victims, not perpetrators, of
          the tragic events of 1974: the coup, fomented by Greece�s then military
          government, led the Turkish army to overrun nearly 40% of the island,
          forcing many Greek-Cypriots to flee their homes. Turkish-Cypriots argue that
          Greek atrocities in the 1960s gave them good reason to seek protection from
          their brethren in Ankara.

          When the reunification talks resumed in February, Mr Denktash was as
          unhelpful as ever. However, when they transferred to B�rgenstock, he stayed
          at home and the Turkish-Cypriot delegation was led jointly by the north�s
          new prime minister, Mehmet Ali Talat, and his coalition partner, Mr
          Denktash�s son Serdar�who is more pro-European than his father. Both were
          anxious to make a deal. So was Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey�s prime
          minister, who is eager to polish his country�s credentials in the hope of
          starting EU accession talks next year. Mr Erdogan�s efforts have been
          rewarded by effusive praise from G�nter Verheugen, the EU�s enlargement
          commissioner, for Turkey�s �very constructive and co-operative role��a
          possible hint that Turkey�s accession talks could now go ahead even if the
          Cyprus settlement fails.

          Mr Erdogan has persuaded the Turkish army�s commanders, formerly loyal to
          the elder Mr Denktash, to back a settlement. Costas Karamanlis, Greece's new
          prime minister, was also keen to resolve the issue. So the chances for Mr
          Annan�s plan to reunify the island as a confederation of two republics had
          looked good. Under the plan, land would be given back to the Greek-Cypriots,
          reducing the Turkish-Cypriot share from 37% to 29%. The two states would
          largely run their own affairs, but the �United Cyprus Republic� would handle
          relations with the rest of Europe.

          But with Mr Denktash off the stage, Mr Papadopoulos emerged as the
          hardliner. The deal fell apart over his demand for more land�four villages
          in the Karpas peninsula�in exchange for agreeing to the presence of more
          Turkish soldiers and settlers than the Greek-Cypriots had wanted. Mr
          Papadopoulos also objected to the Turkish request for an extended transition
          period, written into EU law, to stop wealthy Greek-Cypriots buying up land
          for development in the north. On this point, he was backed by Mr Karamanlis,
          who otherwise kept his distance from the Greek-Cypriot leader, not least to
          protect his budding friendship with Mr Erdogan.

          Though the Greek-Cypriots are assured entry into the EU even if they reject
          the peace deal, they have several incentives to take a more constructive
          attitude. Tens of thousands of those uprooted in 1974 would regain their
          homes; the broader regional tension between Greeks and Turks would be
          greatly eased; besides, if it looked obvious that Hellenic intransigence had
          wrecked the deal, the Greeks (in Athens and Nicosia) would see their moral
          authority collapse. That would be a big price to pay at a time when
          competition for influence in an enlarged EU is heating up.

          Nevertheless, it seems that Mr Papadopoulos is prepared to be pilloried in
          Brussels and other international capitals to preserve his popularity at
          home. So a settlement of the conflict depends on whether his people heed the
          words of Mr Verheugen, who pointed out that they must now choose between
          �this plan or nothing, no solution at all�. He insisted on Thursday that the
          settlement process had not failed�not yet. But if it does, it may be a long
          time before another opportunity comes along.

          Cyprus Background:

          Cyprus will join the European Union (EU) when that club next expands in May
          2004, but its division is a stumbling block. The south, ethnically Greek, is
          run by the internationally recognised government of the Republic of Cyprus.
          The ethnically Turkish north, created after a Turkish invasion in 1974, is
          recognised as a state only by Turkey. The capital, Nicosia, is similarly

          UN-sponsored �proximity talks� on reuniting the island have long struggled.
          Promising proposals to create a loose Swiss-style confederation stalled
          after Rauf Denktash, the Turkish-Cypriots' truculent leader, rejected a deal
          in March 2003. Yet a wildly popular opening of the border soon after put
          pressure on Mr Denktash to soften his line. In a subsuquent Turkish-Cypriot
          election moderates did well, leading to a power-sharing government between
          them and Mr Denktash's son. Turkey is urging the Turkish Cypriots to return
          to negotiations (again with UN involvment) in the hopes of reunifying the
          island before it joins the EU.

          Failing reunification by May 2004, the EU's plan is to admit only the Greek
          half. This would make it much harder for the EU to smile on Turkey's own
          application to join.

        • Yoshiko Royichi
          U.S. forces prepare for surprises in Asia By RICHARD HALLORAN HONOLULU -- They call it the tyranny of distance, and it ranks up there in U.S. strategic
          Message 4 of 18 , Apr 1 11:32 AM
            U.S. forces prepare for surprises in Asia


            HONOLULU -- They call it the "tyranny of distance," and it ranks up there in
            U.S. strategic thinking with conventional threats like that from North Korea
            and unconventional dangers posed by terrorists in Southeast Asia.

            In this day when American forces are spread thin around the world,
            projecting power across the Pacific and onto the shores of Asia takes
            extensive planning, complicated transport and logistics, and not a few
            buckets of sweat.

            To train for this mission, an exercise called Balikatan has just been
            completed in the Philippines. There the Third Marine Expeditionary Brigade
            from Okinawa provided the nucleus of a task force formed with the Philippine
            Western Command to maneuver on the islands of Luzon and Palawan.

            From the United States, army, navy and air force units were transported from
            10 mainland states plus Alaska, Hawaii and Guam. The Marines, compressing 12
            months planning into five, choreographed the movement of 2,600 people, 90
            pieces of rolling stock and 2,473 tons of cargo to three airports, two
            seaports and a landing beach in the Philippines.

            There they formed a task force that included the Philippine 7th Infantry
            Division, 51st Elite Brigade and two fighter wings plus an aerial rescue
            unit, a naval construction battalion, a landing team, and special operations
            forces or commandos.

            Said Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, who commands the Marines in the Pacific: "Any
            logical East Asian strategy we pursue should include the capability to do
            combined operations like this with our allies and friends, both to meet
            conventional threats from North Korea and to strike against unconventional
            dangers from terrorists in Southeast Asia."

            Last fall, U.S. forces joined with Australians in Exercise Crocodile there.
            In May, the Army's I Corps from Fort Lewis, in the state of Washington, will
            lead U.S. forces in an exercise in Thailand called Cobra Gold, with Thai and
            Singaporean forces. Similar training either has or will take place with
            South Korean and Japanese troops.

            Longer range, the U.S. has stationed bombers on Guam in a not-so-subtle
            warning to North Korea. Two attack submarines have been moved to Guam from
            Pearl Harbor to put them closer to possible contingencies. The Navy is
            planning to base another aircraft carrier in the Pacific to bring the total
            to seven. And the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea will be prepared to
            deploy elsewhere in Asia.

            Although U.S. military leaders try to stay out of political hot water by
            saying their training drills are aimed at fictional adversaries, Balikatan
            was clearly weighted toward defeating terrorists. Part of Balikatan, which
            means "shoulder to shoulder" in Tagalog, took place on Palawan, where Abu
            Sayyaf terrorists have operated.

            Earlier, the U.S. trained Filipino troops for counterterrorist operations in
            the southern Philippines. The commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Adm.
            Thomas Fargo, has said that U.S. alliances in Asia more and more "are
            focused on guarding Southeast Asia from terrorism, piracy, drugs and other
            transnational threats."

            This exercise was divided into three phases that went on simultaneously. The
            first trained leaders and staffs to control operations in seven locations
            spread out over 1,100 km. The second was field training that included
            parachute jumps, live fire on ranges, amphibious landings and strenuous

            The third phase focused on humanitarian operations. Combined U.S. and
            Philippine medical teams treated 24,700 Filipinos in 10 days, and engineers
            built a 3,200-liter storage tank for a school that had been without water
            for 10 years and added five classrooms to a high school and an elementary
            school. Col. Michael Dana, chief of staff of the expeditionary brigade, told
            a marine newspaper, "This is the most complex operation that I have ever
            been involved with."

            On one day, according to an after-action report, the Filipinos and Americans
            were engaged in three live firing drills, convoy training, close air
            support, rappelling at night from helicopters onto an airfield, parachuting
            a communications team into a field site and carrying out five engineering

            Even with the emphasis on training, the real world was never far away. When
            a ferry from Manila to Baculod in the central Philippines caught fire, Maj.
            Antonio Rosario of a Philippine Marine reconnaissance unit asked for

            The U.S. Navy's Underwater Construction Team Two, from Port Hueneme,
            California, launched two Zodiac boats to help rescue survivors. The
            Americans had been training and diving with Filipino counterparts when the
            call came.

            For a swift response that aided in saving 420 lives, the team's executive
            officer, Lt. Gregory Miller, was awarded the Military Merit Medal by
            Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

            Richard Halloran, formerly a correspondent for Business Week, The Washington
            Post and The New York Times, is a freelance journalist.

            The Japan Times: March 29, 2004
          • Zafar Haider
            Bird flu found outside B.C. hot zone Possibility of find further cases cannot be excluded, official warns EMILY YEARWOOD-LEE VANCOUVER - Avian flu has spread
            Message 5 of 18 , Apr 1 11:34 AM
              Bird flu found outside B.C. hot zone
              'Possibility of find further cases cannot be excluded,' official warns

              EMILY YEARWOOD-LEE

              VANCOUVER - Avian flu has spread to poultry beyond a tightly guarded hot
              zone in the Fraser Valley where hundreds of thousands of chickens are in the
              process of being culled, federal health officials confirmed late Wednesday.

              Test results showed birds were infected on a farm located somewhere in a
              broad area including the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley region, said a
              statement released by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

              It's the first time the flu has been detected among birds outside a
              five-kilometre high-risk zone near Abbotsford where the first avian case was
              detected last month.

              So far six farms in the hot zone have been confirmed to have infected birds.

              Health officials announced last week they would kill all poultry in the
              rural area in a bid to halt the flu's movement.

              "Given the highly contagious nature of the disease the possibility of
              finding further cases cannot be excluded," said the CFIA statement.

              Also on Wednesday, the federal agency announced it had quarantined a second
              farm outside the hot zone "on the basis of preliminary test results."

              "The quarantine is a precautionary measure and tests are ongoing to gain
              conclusive information about the farm's disease status," said the CFIA.

              The initial farm was quarantined Monday and birds there were slaughtered
              before the disease was suspected, said the agency.

              The H7 variety of the avian flu detected on the B.C. farms is not the same
              as the strain that has killed people in Asia and is not believed to pose any
              serious risk to humans.

              The CFIA statement did not say whether precautionary measures might be
              altered or added in the wake of Wednesday's confirmation.

              "All needed resources are being dedicated to control the spread of avian
              influenza in the control area and the CFIA is continuing its rigorous
              surveillance activities," said the agency.

              One bird flu expert predicted earlier in the week that, should the flu be
              detected outside the high-risk zone, tighter restrictions and more chicken
              slaughter would have to follow.

              "I can't quote a number, but I think you'd want to jump more than another
              five kilometres," Earl Brown, who teaches at the University of Ottawa, said.
              "I think you'd want to kill a lot of chickens."

              Health officials designated the entire Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley an
              avian flu "control area" earlier this month.

              Control area regulations restrict the movement of any bird in captivity,
              including pets, day-old chicks and hatching eggs.

              The B.C. government said earlier this week it would have to look at bringing
              in heavy duty incinerators to deal with the hundreds of thousands of birds
              killed within the high-risk zone.

              The dead poultry has been shipped to the small community of Princeton, B.C.,
              for incineration, but Bill Barisoff, the minister responsible, said the
              government was looking at granting permits in the Fraser Valley.

              His comments came the day Princeton Mayor Keith Olsen said his council and
              the Okanagan-Similkameen regional district had unanimously voted to ask the
              Canadian Food Inspection Agency to stop bringing birds to the community.

              Olsen said he was unhappy about his community being a dumping ground for
              infected birds and he said community leaders didn't realize so much dead
              poultry would end up in Princeton.

              It was also confirmed last week that a CFIA contract worker had picked up
              the avian flu virus.

              The person exhibited conjunctivitis, or pink eye, and the symptoms have
              since cleared up.

            • Zafar Haider
              A question of trust While politics and business battle governance issues, Ontario seems to be emerging from seasons of profound discontent in educat Instances
              Message 6 of 18 , Apr 1 11:38 AM
                A question of trust

                While politics and business battle governance issues, Ontario seems to be
                emerging from seasons of profound discontent in educat

                Instances of alleged breakdowns in the governance arrangements in both
                business and politics have inundated our newspapers in recent months, myriad
                tales of possible executives' felonies and other crimes of commerce, and now
                the current spate of what appear to be bureaucratic boondoggles (or worse)
                in government.

                Each of the revelations, in its way, is an illustration of governance that
                seems to have failed.

                With respect to managing the affairs of Canada, Prime Minister Paul Martin
                himself has tacitly acknowledged some betrayal of the fiduciary bond of
                trust between government and the people when he railed last week against
                cronyism, waste, corruption and mismanagement.

                "The culture of governance had to change," Marting said, seeming almost an
                echo of the private sector's first efforts to regain public trust in
                corporate governance and its way of doing business.

                On everyone's "hit list" are obfuscation, self-dealing, deceit,
                unaccountability and employee abuse.

                The reformers, whether leader of government or corporation, are promising
                transparency, accountability, integrity and fair dealing, all steps aimed at
                restoring public confidence and regaining that prized fiduciary relationship
                that is fundamental to good governance in all arenas.

                This week, the focus was on governance in public education � at least for
                the 200 Ontarians (and other Canadians) in Toronto this week who
                participated in an important meeting, Summit II, on that topic sponsored by
                The Learning Partnership, a not-for-profit organization committed to the
                strengthening of Canadian public education.

                Cynics would say that governance in education � and elsewhere � is simply a
                power game, played by elites who jockey for political control for which the
                formal governance arrangements are just a politically correct screen.

                The true nature of governance is, however, more about performance than
                power, a fact to which any shareholder will attest.

                When investors (or citizens) lose confidence in a company's (or school's)
                performance, share values plummet (as does confidence in our public

                Whether political poll or share valuation, performance is trump; the quality
                of governance, therefore, becomes a key determinant, making for good times
                or bad.

                Ontario seems to be emerging from seasons of profound discontent in

                In an earlier meeting in January of education stakeholders hosted by The
                Learning Partnership, Summit I, there were seemingly unanimous calls not
                only for an end to the rancour between government and teacher groups, but
                also to rebalance and redefine the role of local and central authorities.

                The new minister of education, speaking at the outset of the conference,
                found his "bias for local governance" enthusiastically received by the

                Such devolution of decision-making would allow for substantial manoeuvring
                at the local level so that specific boards, and indeed specific schools,
                could respond to local conditions.

                More decentralization of decision-making, it seemed to the audience, and
                certainly to this observer, is a necessary condition for the creativity,
                imagination and energy of educators to be released, recognized and rewarded.

                While parallels between the private and public sectors have to be drawn
                cautiously, there is no doubt about the enormous public investment in

                Public education is, generally, regarded as a public good, because, among
                many other priorities, it is the collective enterprise that makes possible
                our way of life, providing the lingua franca through which we can
                communicate across our many divides.

                It is, therefore, no accident that we turn to education to assist us in
                addressing pressing social concerns � about youth unemployment,
                international competitiveness, safe streets and stronger communities.
                Indeed, given the heterogeneity of the society around us, public education
                is almost the only thing that holds us together as a society.

                Where else can all our many solitudes meet and touch each other? The stakes
                in good governance in public education are, therefore, high.

                When most parents describe the ideal school environment, their vocabulary
                quickly embraces notions of stewardship, trust and dependability, those
                attributes preceding even the commonplace virtues of high challenge,
                stimulating programs and learning outcomes.

                The parent sends a child to school, entrusting that the fiduciary bond
                between education minister and the child is unshakably strong, a hoped-for
                guarantee of physical safety and emotional and intellectual nurture on a
                wide variety of fronts. How consonant that parental hope is to the safety
                and performance that we covet in all our institutions, private and public.

                This is the spirit in which the participants convening at Summit II
                yesterday debated fresh proposals on education governance, ones which aim to
                strengthen accountability at all levels, engage parents and students more
                fully, heighten respect for all education partners, enhance the process to
                improve schools and student achievement and foster innovation throughout the
                education system.

                Dare we hope for an increasingly better time in school for our children? I,
                for one, believe the outcomes of these summits will add to the momentum of
                substantial renewal in that socially vital cause.

                Bernard J. Shapiro is principal emeritus of McGill University, and a former
                Ontario deputy minister of education. He is also a former director of the
                Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).

              • Rohit Dasgupta
                This isn t America By Paul Krugman Last week an opinion piece in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin said, This isn t
                Message 7 of 18 , Apr 1 11:41 AM
                  This isn't America

                  By Paul Krugman

                  Last week an opinion piece in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the
                  killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin said, "This isn't America; the government did
                  not invent intelligence material nor exaggerate the description of the
                  threat to justify their attack."

                  So even in Israel, George Bush's America has become a byword for deception
                  and abuse of power. And the administration's reaction to Richard Clarke's
                  "Against All Enemies" provides more evidence of something rotten in the
                  state of our government.

                  The truth is that among experts, what Clarke says about Bush's terrorism
                  policy isn't controversial. The facts that terrorism was placed on the back
                  burner before 9/11, and that Bush blamed Iraq despite the lack of evidence,
                  are confirmed by many sources � including by Bob Woodward in "Bush at War."

                  And new evidence keeps emerging for Clarke's main charge, that the Iraq
                  obsession undermined the pursuit of al-Qaida. From Monday's USA Today: "In
                  2002, troops from the 5th Special Forces Group who specialize in the Middle
                  East were pulled out of the hunt for Osama bin Laden to prepare for their
                  next assignment: Iraq. Their replacements were troops with expertise in
                  Spanish cultures."

                  That's why the administration responded to Clarke the way it responds to
                  anyone who reveals inconvenient facts: With a campaign of character

                  Some journalists seem, finally, to have caught on. Last week an Associated
                  Press news analysis noted that such personal attacks were "standard
                  operating procedure" for this administration and cited "a behind-the-scenes
                  campaign to discredit Richard Foster," the Medicare actuary who revealed how
                  the administration had deceived Congress about the cost of its prescription
                  drug bill.

                  But other journalists apparently remain ready to be used. On CNN, Wolf
                  Blitzer told his viewers that unnamed officials were saying that Clarke
                  "wants to make a few bucks, and that in his own personal life, they're also
                  suggesting that there are some weird aspects in his life as well."

                  This administration's reliance on smear tactics is unprecedented in modern
                  U.S. politics � even compared with Nixon's. Even more disturbing is its
                  readiness to abuse power � to use its control of the government to
                  intimidate potential critics.

                  To be fair, Sen. Bill Frist's suggestion that Clarke might be charged with
                  perjury may have been his own idea. But his move reminded everyone of the
                  White House's reaction to revelations by the former Treasury Secretary Paul
                  O'Neill: An immediate investigation into whether he had revealed classified
                  information. The alacrity with which this investigation was opened was, of
                  course, in sharp contrast with the administration's evident lack of interest
                  in finding out who leaked the identity of the CIA operative Valerie Plame to
                  Bob Novak.

                  And there are many other cases of apparent abuse of power by the
                  administration and its congressional allies. A few examples: According to
                  The Hill, Republican lawmakers threatened to cut off funds for the General
                  Accounting Office unless it dropped its lawsuit against Dick Cheney. The
                  Washington Post says Rep. Michael Oxley told lobbyists that "a congressional
                  probe might ease if it replaced its Democratic lobbyist with a Republican."
                  Tom DeLay used the Homeland Security Department to track down Democrats
                  trying to prevent redistricting in Texas. And Medicare is spending millions
                  of dollars on misleading ads for the new drug benefit � ads that look like
                  news reports and also serve as commercials for the Bush campaign.

                  On the terrorism front, here's one story that deserves special mention. One
                  of the few successful post-9/11 terror prosecutions � a case in Detroit �
                  seems to be unraveling. The government withheld information from the
                  defense, and witnesses unfavorable to the prosecution were deported (by
                  accident, the government says). After the former lead prosecutor complained
                  about the Justice Department's handling of the case, he suddenly found
                  himself under internal investigation � and someone leaked the fact that he
                  was under investigation to the press.

                  Where will it end? In his new book "Worse Than Watergate," John Dean, of
                  Watergate fame, says, "I've been watching all the elements fall into place
                  for two possible political catastrophes, one that will take the air out of
                  the Bush-Cheney balloon and the other, far more disquieting, that will take
                  the air out of democracy."

                • Kyaw Maung
                  On tour with the harbingers of doom US readers flock to meet evangelists at helm of a publishing phenomenon Gary Younge Robin Bales has seen the signs - war,
                  Message 8 of 18 , Apr 1 11:43 AM
                    On tour with the harbingers of doom

                    US readers flock to meet evangelists at helm of a publishing phenomenon

                    Gary Younge

                    Robin Bales has seen the signs - war, terrorism, microchips in animals and
                    corporate logos tattooed on the foreheads of the young. As prophesied in the
                    book of Revelation, she explains, the end of the world is nigh.

                    "A lot of what is written down is literal and a lot of it is happening
                    today. I definitely believe that," she says. "The seasons are meshing
                    together. One day in January it was 75F and the next day it snowed. The
                    world has gone down so quickly."

                    Impending doom notwithstanding, Ms Bales is delighted. She got to the South
                    Carolina Christian Supply store early on Tuesday to buy her copy of Glorious
                    Appearing, the 12th book in the bestselling Left Behind series, based on a
                    fictionalised account of the apocalypse, on the day it came out.

                    The first 11 Left Behind books have sold more than 40m copies, making the
                    authors, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, bigger sellers than John Grisham.

                    Orders for the Glorious Appearing (The End of Days) were so strong that the
                    publishers started a second printing two weeks before the first copies had
                    reached the shelves. According to the publishers, a survey last year showed
                    that one in eight US adults has read some of at least one book from the

                    So Ms Bales, who has read all 11, booked her place in line early, thus
                    avoiding the queue of 800 people snaking around the shop and out into the
                    rain, waiting to meet the authors on Tuesday night. And now she is clutching
                    a signed copy of one of the most startling literary sensations of our time.
                    "I'm going to read the 11th one again before I start this," she says.

                    Coming in the wake of the success of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ,
                    which details Jesus's last 12 hours before crucifixion, the Left Behind
                    series is the latest example of the huge impact religious themes are having
                    on popular culture in the US, as well as the vast amounts of money that can
                    be made from them.

                    Scan the Christian Supply store in Spartanburg and you will see everything
                    from The Bible's Way to Weight Loss to Bible Bingo, along with T-shirts,
                    keyrings, CDs and toys bearing scripture and car registration plates asking:
                    "Got Jesus?"

                    "Americans don't just have to rely on the Bible anymore," says Sarah
                    Golightly, one of the few African-Americans who came to the launch. "God is
                    showing himself in many ways through movies, books and audio."

                    Ms Golightly, who has read only the first three of the Left Behind series,
                    found Gibson's film hard going but rewarding: "It was two hours of rough
                    beating. But it was good."

                    The Left Behind series is not all easy reading either, with long passages
                    both vivid and violent. It starts with what evangelists call the rapture -
                    the moment when, they believe, those who have been born again will disappear
                    and ascend to heaven. The first book opens with a 747 heading to Heathrow
                    from Chicago. The flight attendant finds half the seats empty as the
                    faithful are whisked away into the firmament, leaving behind only their
                    clothes, fillings and wedding rings. Several thousand feet below husbands
                    and wives are waking up next to piles of pyjamas, and cars, suddenly
                    deprived of drivers, crash as the righteous rise.

                    The next 10 books - with titles including Assassins, Armageddon and
                    Desecration - detail the seven-year period of upheaval in which those left
                    behind have their final chance to find Jesus. The authors committed
                    themselves to portraying at least one "believable conversion" in each book.
                    As the series progresses, the antichrist becomes the head of the UN and
                    triggers the second coming after he signs a peace treaty with Israel, while
                    144,000 Jews convert to Christianity.

                    Glorious Appearing should be the final episode, in which Jesus returns -
                    although the publishers plan a postscript (with the final judgment of Satan
                    after Jesus' 1,000-year reign on earth) and a prequel (which will introduce
                    the characters sent to the rapture before the first book began).

                    It was all LaHaye's idea. The 77-year-old creationist and religious-right
                    stalwart had been preaching and writing self-help books for decades when he
                    got the idea for a fictional series about the end of time. When he realised
                    he couldn't write it himself he drafted Jenkins, 54, a former journalist and
                    prolific religious novelist. LaHaye provides the scripture; Jenkins moulds
                    it into drama.

                    Some Catholics and conservative Protestants have charged that the Left
                    Behind novels are anti-Catholic because they depict a future pope
                    establishing a false religion linked to the antichrist.

                    "Dr LaHaye believes we should treat the Bible literally where we can,"
                    Jenkins says. "For people who disagree with us, we say, 'Write your own
                    books.' We're just glad we can live in a country where we can compete in a
                    marketplace of ideas."

                    And with that they start their 12-city six-day tour through the south - home
                    to almost half of their readers - from Spartanburg through Georgia, Alabama,
                    Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The book's core reader is a white,
                    southern, female homemaker in her mid-40s, who is a college-educated,
                    born-again Christian.

                    When LaHaye first pitched the idea publishers did not think it had much of a
                    future outside of the Christian market. It was a hard sell, according to Ron
                    Beers, the senior vice-president and publisher of Tyndale fiction, which
                    published the series. The production team asked why anybody would "want to
                    buy a book when they know what the ending's going to be?"

                    But with each edition word of mouth grew. More than 20,000 volunteers formed
                    a Left Behind "street team", to introduce the books to family, friends and
                    neighbours. When the fifth book, Apollyon, was released in 1999 it hit No 2
                    on the New York Times fiction hardcover list and the novels have remained in
                    the mainstream ever since.

                    If the series' success illustrates the high degree of religious feeling in
                    the US, it also offers a glimpse of how evangelism and fundamentalism are
                    shaping the national mood after 9/11.

                    A Time/CNN poll 18 months ago found that 59% of Americans believe the events
                    in the book of Revelation are going to come true, while nearly 25% think the
                    Bible predicted the September 11 attacks. Little wonder then that sales
                    jumped 60% after 9/11 and Desecration -the 9th book, released in October
                    2001 - was the bestselling novel of the year. "The tragedy of 9/11 made
                    everything so much more real and believable," Jenkins says.

                    Referring to Mel Gibson's film, LaHaye said: "I think the world is waking up
                    to the fact that there are a great many people who support wholesome movies
                    and maybe we'll have a whole new field of faith-based movies.

                    "People complain that The Passion is violent and wonder if children should
                    see it ... But they're used to violence. Good grief, television and the
                    internet abound with it. But that's senseless violence. This is purposeful
                    violence. Children end up asking why Jesus was committed to go through

                  • Nicolette Ong
                    How Clarke Outsourced Terror Intel The former counterterrorism chief tapped a private researcher to develop intelligence on Al Qaeda. The disclosure sheds
                    Message 9 of 18 , Apr 1 11:51 AM
                      How Clarke 'Outsourced' Terror Intel

                      The former counterterrorism chief tapped a private researcher to develop
                      intelligence on Al Qaeda. The disclosure sheds new light on White House
                      frustrations with the FBI.

                      By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

                      As White House counterterror czar, Richard Clarke was so frustrated by the
                      FBI�s inability to identify Islamic radicals within the United States that
                      he turned for help to a freelance terrorism researcher whose work was deeply
                      resented by top bureau officials.

                      Clarke�s secret work with private researcher Steven Emerson is among a
                      number of revealing disclosures in the ex-White House aide�s new book,
                      �Against All Enemies,� that has been all but obscured by the furor over the
                      author�s politically charged allegations against President George W. Bush.

                      As recounted by Clarke in his book, and confirmed by documents provided to
                      NEWSWEEK, Emerson and his former associate Rita Katz regularly provided the
                      White House with a stream of information about possible Al Qaeda activity
                      inside the United States that appears to have been largely unknown to the
                      FBI prior to the September 11 terror attacks.

                      In confidential memos and briefings that were sometimes conducted on a near
                      weekly basis, Emerson and Katz furnished Clarke and his staff with the names
                      of Islamic radical Web sites, the identities of possible terrorist front
                      groups and the phone numbers and addresses of possible terror suspects�data
                      they were unable to get from elsewhere in the government.

                      This private pipeline of information�which began under President Clinton and
                      continued under Bush even after September 11�irritated top officials at FBI
                      headquarters, especially when much of the private research bore fruit and
                      was later used to help develop a U.S. government list of banned
                      organizations whose assets were frozen by the Treasury Department.

                      �There was a fatwa against me at the FBI,� Emerson joked to NEWSWEEK in an
                      interview. �Al Qaeda would have been more welcome at FBI headquarters than

                      But the role of private researchers like Emerson and Katz is not just
                      embarrassing to the FBI. It raises questions about a fundamental issue that
                      is getting major attention from the independent commission investigating
                      September 11: whether the FBI can ever really transform itself into a
                      domestic intelligence agency that can identify terror threats inside the
                      country before a crime has taken place.

                      The issue, which the commission is grappling with behind the scenes, may
                      lead to a recommendation that the FBI be split up and a separate domestic
                      spy agency be created along the lines of Great Britain�s MI5.

                      While Clarke never explicitly endorses this idea in �Against All Enemies,�
                      the story he tells is instructive and likely to be cited by supporters of
                      the idea inside the commission.

                      As recounted in his book, Clarke was furious in late 1999�during the height
                      of the crisis over the feared Millennium Plot by Al Qaeda�when the FBI
                      insisted to him that there were no Web sites inside the United States that
                      were recruiting jihadists for training in Afghanistan or soliciting money
                      for terrorist front groups.

                      Convinced the FBI was wrong, Clarke reached out to Emerson, a former
                      journalist for US News & World Report and CNN who later set up The
                      Investigative Project, a Washington-based group that specializes in exposing
                      the activities of Islamic radical groups inside the United States.

                      With funding from wealthy donors and foundations, who he has declined to
                      identify, Emerson has employed a number of different tactics�including
                      extensive Web-based research as well as deploying undercover researchers to
                      attend and secretly record meetings of Islamic groups in the United States.

                      Emerson�s research has, in the past, sometimes been controversial. For
                      years, major Arab-American and Muslim organizations would denounce him,
                      accusing him of painting with too broad a brush. �This is a guy who started
                      out riding an anti-Arab hobby horse and then transformed it into an
                      antiterrorism hobby horse,� says James Zogby, president of the Arab-American
                      Institute. �His material should be taken with a grain of salt.�

                      But Clarke had no reservations in "outsourcing" to the private researcher
                      and soon became convinced that his work was solid and even prophetic. He
                      writes in �Against All Enemies� that Emerson�s own 2002 book, "American
                      Jihad" (Free Press), �told me more than the FBI ever had about radical
                      Islamic groups in the U.S.�

                      �Within days� of his first request in late 1999, Clarke writes, Emerson
                      provided him �with a long list of Web sites sitting on servers in the United
                      States.� Clarke then passed along the list to the Justice Department and
                      FBI. But officials there balked at using it and complained at the time about
                      �how difficult it was prosecute �free speech� cases.�

                      As described by Emerson and Katz, who later split with her former boss and
                      now runs her own privately funded group called the SITE (Search for
                      International Terrorist Entities) Institute, the relationship with Clarke
                      blossomed into a much more extensive one that included regular briefings at
                      both the Clinton and Bush White Houses.

                      The memos they wrote for Clarke also covered more than Web sites. One, dated
                      Dec. 28, 1999, was especially noteworthy. It traced links between two Saudi
                      dissidents in London, apparent associates in the United States and Osama bin
                      Laden�s network. A look at those links �reveals that bin Laden�s
                      international terrorist infrastructure operates across the U.S.�not only in
                      New York and Texas, but also Colorado, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Missouri
                      and probably elsewhere,� according to a copy of the memo provided to
                      NEWSWEEK by Emerson.

                      To be sure, Clarke acknowledges in his book, the FBI was handicapped in its
                      ability to develop the same information on its own. Attorney General
                      guidelines imposed during the 1970s barred agents from attending meetings of
                      religious groups or even printing out organizations� Web pages unless they
                      had specific reason to believe a federal crime had been committed. (The
                      bureau also was suffering from an antiquated computer system that left
                      agents unable to conduct a simple Google search.)

                      FBI spokesman Bill Carter notes that much has changed since then. The FBI
                      guidelines have since been modified by Attorney General John Ashcroft so
                      that agents can now more easily collect public-source information about
                      suspected terror groups and even attend religious meetings in mosques or
                      other houses of worship so long as they have a �reasonable suspicion� that
                      terrorist activity might be taking place. The bureau has also invested
                      hundreds of millions of dollars in a new computer system that, at long last
                      gives street agents the ability to surf the Web.

                      But whether those and other post-September 11 changes are enough to
                      forestall demands for a new domestic intelligence structure�including a
                      possible MI5�is still unclear. Emerson, for his part, says that the bureau
                      is still hindered by a bureaucratic culture that is overly
                      compartmentalized, resists information-sharing and has an innate distrust
                      of �open source� information that can often be more revealing than that
                      which is provided by informants and cooperating witnesses. �This is why
                      outside groups can do a lot more,� he says.

                    • Dushmantha Dharmaratne
                      Tag-team testimony from Bush, Cheney will limit divergent answers By Ron Hutcheson WASHINGTON - President Bush s plan to appear before the Sept. 11 commission
                      Message 10 of 18 , Apr 1 11:53 AM
                        Tag-team testimony from Bush, Cheney will limit divergent answers

                        By Ron Hutcheson

                        WASHINGTON - President Bush's plan to appear before the Sept. 11 commission
                        with Vice President Dick Cheney at his side violates a fundamental rule of
                        investigations, but the panel accepted the unusual arrangement to get the
                        president's cooperation.

                        As anyone who has ever watched a cop show knows, witnesses and suspects are
                        best grilled alone to expose any inconsistencies in their stories.

                        "Get 'em alone, keep 'em alone, and don't even let them talk to each other
                        immediately after, if you can help it," former New York police detective
                        Robert Louden said Wednesday, recalling the tactics he used during his 21
                        years on the force. "In an ideal world, you want them separated."

                        But Louden, who now teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in
                        New York, said normal rules don't necessarily apply to a case involving the

                        Bush insisted on the joint appearance in agreeing to take questions from all
                        10 members of the panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. He initially had
                        offered to meet only with the commission's top two members, former New
                        Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, the chairman; and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, the
                        vice chairman.

                        No date has been set for the tag-team testimony. The arrangement virtually
                        eliminates any possibility of divergent answers from Bush and Cheney, and
                        lets Bush pass off any question he'd rather avoid and makes it impossible
                        for the commission to ask either man any follow-up questions.

                        White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush proposed the joint session
                        to streamline the question-and-answer process.

                        "This is a good way to help them get the information they need and do so in
                        a timely manner," McClellan said. "They can talk to both of them and help
                        better understand how to piece together all the information that they've
                        already received."

                        Although the joint appearance has some advantages for Bush, it might also
                        give new ammunition to critics who view Cheney as the real power in the
                        White House and the driving force behind the decision to invade Iraq.

                        Commission members accepted the arrangement Tuesday to end drawn-out
                        negotiations over terms of Bush's appearance. Bush also insisted that he and
                        Cheney testify in private without being placed under oath.

                        "This is an unusual situation. We've only got a limited amount of time to
                        complete our work," said commission member Richard Ben-Veniste, a former
                        prosecutor and one of the toughest questioners on the panel. "If this is an
                        important condition, that both the president and vice president be in the
                        room at the same time, we can accommodate that."

                        The panel faces a July 26 deadline for its final report. It also plans to
                        hold separate sessions with former President Bill Clinton and former Vice
                        President Al Gore. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice is expected to
                        testify in open session within the next two weeks.

                        Sitting presidents rarely appear before investigative panels or
                        congressional committees, but it has happened. On Oct. 17, 1974, Gerald Ford
                        became the only sitting president to testify under oath at a congressional
                        hearing when he went before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal
                        Justice to explain his pardon of former President Richard Nixon.

                        Kean said he saw no need to place Bush under oath. "We're happy just to have
                        him talk to us," he told CBS Wednesday.

                        Although Bush and Cheney have a close working relationship, they rarely
                        appear together in public, especially since the Sept. 11 attacks. Bush and
                        Cheney have had little to say about the specifics of former
                        counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke's allegation that the
                        administration downplayed the terrorist threat. But they have been
                        consistent in defending their handling of the war on terror.

                        Cheney's initial effort to rebut Clarke seemed to backfire.

                        "He wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff," Cheney told
                        conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on March 22. "He clearly missed a lot
                        of what was going on."

                        Two days later, Rice directly contradicted Cheney.

                        "I would not use the word out of the loop. He was in every meeting about
                        terrorism," she said.

                        By appearing together, Bush and Cheney can avoid any similar embarrassments.

                        "We recognize that Mr. Bush may help Mr. Cheney with some of the answers,"
                        Kean joked on Tuesday, drawing laughter. "We think we can get the
                        information we need."

                      • Faisal Shahbaz
                        Pakistan to play a pivotal role By Syed Saleem Shahzad KARACHI - As the Pakistan military establishment s pro-United States policies continue to receive harsh
                        Message 11 of 18 , Apr 1 11:55 AM
                          Pakistan to play a pivotal role

                          By Syed Saleem Shahzad

                          KARACHI - As the Pakistan military establishment's pro-United States
                          policies continue to receive harsh criticism domestically, Washington is now
                          pressuring Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf to undertake yet
                          another operation against foreign militants and their proteges in Pakistan's
                          tribal regions of South and North Waziristan near the Afghanistan border.

                          The most recent operation in South Waziristan kicked off two weeks ago and
                          failed miserably, with the official figure listing about 50 of the Pakistan
                          Army's officers and soldiers killed and no "prize targets" captured. Asia
                          Times Online sources maintain the casualty figure is actually much higher.
                          Now, Musharraf has been pushed back under the microscope. Through many
                          reshuffles in the Pakistan army, Musharraf has managed to maintain his writ
                          as chief of army staff, while holding onto his position as president of
                          Pakistan - however this issue is reemerging as a source of contention in
                          Pakistan. There is also intense debate in the armed forces hierarchy
                          following the failed operation in Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan
                          agency, that the two offices should be separated to keep the army out of

                          Such calls for the division of military and state come in the wake of
                          several "high value target" myths established over the duration of the
                          operation. At the start of the fighting, it was implied that al-Qaeda number
                          two, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, was hiding out in the region, an allegation later
                          dismissed by the army. More recently, it was suggested that two high-level
                          al-Qaeda members, Tahir Yuldevish and "Abdullah", were seriously wounded and
                          killed - in that order. Yuldevish is the leading commander of the Islamic
                          Movement of Uzbekistan, meanwhile Abdullah's story would have ridiculed the
                          army had the world known his background, given that Pakistan's Inter
                          Services Public Relations (ISPR) department initially branded him to be a
                          key al-Qaeda member.

                          Yuldashev and "Abdullah" are two of the most famous characters among the
                          Pakistani jihadis - each featured in movies that are in circulation all over
                          the country. Yuldashev can be seen addressing the Islamic cause in which he
                          justifies their fight against the US by providing various glimpses of
                          brutalities in Israel and in Chechnya. "Abdullah" is a Chechan guerilla who
                          is known among the jihadis for his classic guerilla fights. He is shown in
                          the movies killing Russian soldiers.

                          US bombings in Afghanistan forced Yuldevish to leave northern Afghanistan
                          some time ago, his whereabouts are currently unknown, however, he was last
                          believed to have been hiding out in Khost. Pakistani authorities took the
                          lead from there and established their own guess that Yuldevish was hiding
                          out in the Shawal mountains - a no-man's land on the Pakistan-Afghan border
                          - and even claimed that he was wounded. Given the popularity of Abdullah in
                          Pakistan, it was presumed that he should also be in Afghanistan, and his
                          status was elevated by the ISPR to that of chief spy master of al-Qaeda.
                          Soon after, however, it was recognized that there was no evidence of his
                          presence in Afghanistan. He was eventually presumed dead, but it was later
                          stated by the ISPR that he is not the chief spy master, but rather an
                          ordinary spy: "an Egyptian" whose body had not yet been recovered.

                          These attempts to "glorify" the Wana operation were unable to cover up its
                          failure and repercussions. The Pakistan army is split on an ethnic basis.
                          Before the operation started in South Waziristan, Musharraf prematurely
                          retired Corps Commander Peshawar Ali Jan Orakzai, a Pashtun, and installed
                          Lieutenant-General Safdar Hussain - a Punjabi. The development was seen as
                          anti-Pashtun among the Pashtun officers who are the second largest majority
                          after Punjabi officers. These feelings of tension were clearly reflected
                          during the operation, from both sides. Several soldiers and a few officers
                          of Pashtun origin refused to participate in actions taken against the
                          Pashtun tribals.

                          The way in which Pashtun tribals dealt with hostages is also a reflection of
                          this split. The tribals that held Pashtun paramilitary force members hostage
                          are said to have treated them with respect, later releasing them after a
                          deal with Pakistani authorities. However, the soldiers that were of Punjab
                          descent were killed and their bodies mutilated.

                          High-level sources tell Asia Times Online that in the face of these
                          failures, Musharraf now faces two immediate challenges.

                          Firstly, the US military high command has been regularly been visiting
                          Pakistan and is stressing the need for a complete crackdown on foreign
                          fighters along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area, starting from Khyber
                          Agency to South Waziristan. They emphasized that the mission can only be
                          successful if both US and Pakistani forces conduct joint operations in the
                          area. The aim of this operation is once again to destroy the base of jihadi
                          fighters believed to be in the Shawal mountains. Thus another operation in
                          South and North Waziristan is inevitable, despite the public outcry sure to

                          The second challenge Musharraf is up against comes from the International
                          Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). IAEA inspectors are now in Iran and aim to come
                          Pakistan to verify the Iranian centrifuge facility with Pakistan - which
                          means they will be paying a visit to Pakistan's nuclear installations,
                          another issue sensitive to the Pakistani public.

                          Non-compliance with these two challenges is difficult for Pakistan, as the
                          country is under heavy US pressure. But, on the other hand, compliance means
                          giving Islamic radicals the chance to wreak further havoc. They are already
                          seeking out this opportunity - under broader designs chalked out by the
                          International Islamic Front - in which the success of the Afghan resistance
                          can only be ensured once it takes control of Pakistan's backyard. This is
                          only possible if the country falls into the hands of Islamic radicals or
                          deep into anarchy and chaos.

                        • Dave Mundy
                          Sad chapter for university presses By Marilyn Gardner When Northeastern University Press prints the final books on its 2004 list later this year, the titles
                          Message 12 of 18 , Apr 1 2:40 PM
                            Sad chapter for university presses

                            By Marilyn Gardner

                            When Northeastern University Press prints the final books on its 2004 list
                            later this year, the titles will have a dubious distinction: They will be
                            the last ones bearing the university imprint. After 27 years, the respected
                            press is shutting down, a casualty of rising costs and shifting priorities.
                            School officials say they cannot afford subsidies that now stand at $450,000
                            and could reach $600,000 this year.

                            "It's not a reflection of the work of the staff or the quality of the list,"
                            says spokeswoman Christine Phelan in Boston. "It's solely a financial

                            Northeastern is not alone. The University of Idaho has announced that it is
                            closing its press July 1, when the deficit will total $385,600. And the
                            University of Georgia Press faces a possible loss of $289,329 in state
                            support, half of its annual state subsidy.

                            "It's been a rough time," says Peter Givler, executive director of the
                            Association of American University Presses in New York. "In general, the
                            university presses were affected by the same economic forces that have
                            affected everybody else since 2001."

                            Ms. Phelan traces current budget woes to increases in paper and publishing
                            costs, declines in library spending for new books on highly selective
                            topics, and fewer purchases through general bookstores.

                            "It's a very dismaying trend," she says.

                            Yet Mr. Givler sees signs of a turnaround. "I've been hearing that sales are
                            looking up, returns are down, and the slide that many presses were
                            experiencing for a couple years before that has stopped." But state tax
                            collections are still down, he cautions, which affects state university
                            budgets and presses.

                            Across the country, 95 university presses publish 11,000 books a year. In
                            2002, these scholarly works generated $444 million in sales. Although they
                            account for a fraction of the 150,000 titles published in the US annually,
                            they create what Douglas Armato, director of the University of Minnesota
                            Press, calls "an impressive cultural entity."

                            Even so, he says, university presses suffer from stereotypes that they are
                            simply "fossilized recyclers of dissertations."

                            As one measure of the importance of university press books to broader
                            audiences, Givler notes that in the months following Sept. 11, 2001, three
                            previously published volumes quickly became bestsellers: "The New Jackals:
                            Ramzi Yousef, Osama Bin Laden, and the Future of Terrorism" (Northeastern);
                            "Taliban" (Yale); and "Twin Towers" (Rutgers).

                            "It was so unusual that three university press books would be topping the
                            national bestseller list," Givler says. "There is no visible, large,
                            national market for a lot of these very specialized books. But when
                            something comes along - 9/11 being the most dramatic and horrible example -
                            university presses have already published the books about it that people
                            need to read. They're serving the public need for information, not just
                            scholars' need for information."

                            Surprise endings
                            At Northeastern, some faculty members are dismayed that school officials
                            never sought their views about closing the press, which publishes 35 titles
                            a year. "There was no consultation with faculty," says William Kirtz, a
                            journalism professor. "I think people feel it got shot out from under them."

                            Yet he and others acknowledge the challenge universities face in deciding
                            how to allocate limited funds. "Where do you cut?" he asks. "I don't know."

                            That's also the question at the University of Idaho, which publishes between
                            eight and 10 books a year. Spokeswoman Kathy Barnard notes that some people
                            regard the closing of its press as a threat to the school's stature. Others
                            are relieved that the school is shutting down the press rather than
                            eliminating courses.

                            "In light of the overall budget situation of the university, we just can't
                            afford to have any program that deficit-spends at this point and is not
                            crucial to the core mission of educating students," Ms. Barnard says.

                            At the University of Georgia Press, which publishes 70 to 80 titles a year,
                            staff members hope that some of the proposed subsidy cuts can be averted.
                            The provost has expressed his appreciation to employees at the press, says
                            Alison Reid, assistant director for marketing. "We've gotten assurance that
                            they're going to do everything they can to support us."

                            Tough times all over
                            Although small presses struggle the most, even large presses feel the
                            effects of economic shifts. "Having a bigger list makes you a little more
                            diverse, so you're able to absorb the shocks of the marketplace," says Carol
                            Kasper, a marketing director at the University of Chicago Press, the largest
                            university press in the US. "But nobody is immune to all the funding issues
                            that are plaguing universities right now."

                            Phil Pochoda, director of the University of Michigan Press, sees this as a
                            "very perilous moment" for university presses. Library orders that once
                            would have totaled a thousand copies for any given title have dropped to 200
                            to 300 because of library budget cuts, he says.

                            "I think there definitely will be a shakeout," he adds. "This is just the
                            beginning." Calling university presses a cultural treasure that is seriously
                            undervalued and ignored, he says, "They won't be appreciated until more and
                            more have been eliminated."

                            Givler is more optimistic. Although this kind of publishing has always
                            represented a financial struggle, he says, "It's a very exciting kind of
                            publishing. People who are in it aren't in it for the money."

                            For now, Northeastern officials are considering the possibility of joining a
                            press consortium to handle the school's backlists. When the University of
                            Massachusetts Press lost $375,000 in state subsidies last year, it formed an
                            alliance with Johns Hopkins University Press.

                            Emphasizing the value of Northeastern's press, which specializes in regional
                            history, criminal justice, and music, Kirtz says, "They weren't just books
                            read by 12 anthropologists in Borneo."

                          • Alvarez
                            Mexican migrants growing influence By Javier Lizarzaburu We are powerful enough to make a difference, says Guadalupe Gomez, talking about the influence
                            Message 13 of 18 , Apr 1 2:41 PM
                              Mexican migrants' growing influence

                              By Javier Lizarzaburu

                              "We are powerful enough to make a difference," says Guadalupe Gomez, talking
                              about the influence migrants have in Mexican politics.

                              Originally from the Mexican state of Zacatecas, he's lived north, in the US,
                              for more than 40 years. He is currently president of the Federation of
                              Zacatecan Associations.
                              The migrants' influence comes with the massive amounts of money they send
                              back home.

                              Despite the relative stagnation of the US economy, this flow of money keeps
                              growing, according to recent data. In 2003 it increased by 35% - the total
                              amount sent that year to Mexico was more than $13bn.

                              Remittances from Mexicans in the US have become one of Mexico's most
                              important sources of income - second only to oil and surpassing the
                              traditional tourism industry.

                              According to Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington
                              "remittances have probably benefited Mexico more than Nafta" (the North
                              American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico).

                              Electoral issue

                              The flow of money from the US to Latin America largely exceeds the money
                              from foreign aid that the region receives.

                              For many, remittances have become a form of foreign aid that helps the
                              families back home to alleviate poverty, spur investment and achieve higher
                              standards of living.

                              It is thanks to them [migrants] that I became state governor
                              Zacatecas Governor Ricardo Monreal
                              But critics argue that dependence on remittances can impair local initiative
                              and create no incentives for people to move forward.
                              However, the issue is not just about families anymore.

                              Remittances are fast becoming a new phenomenon, influencing foreign and
                              domestic policies in different countries, including the US - the main source
                              of remittances worldwide.

                              Experts say the recent immigration proposals submitted by US President
                              George W Bush, to allow migrants to work legally in the US for a limited
                              number of years, are a direct response to the growing influence of Latinos
                              in that country.

                              For Mexico's President, Vicente Fox, the issue was paramount during his
                              electoral campaign.

                              He made migration a cornerstone of his political agenda. He even called
                              migrants the new "heroes".

                              Quite a change from the days, not so long ago, when those who chose to live
                              with "the enemy" - as they used to call the US in many parts of the Mexico -
                              were called "traitors".

                              Ghost town

                              The Mexican state of Zacatecas, once a place rich in silver but now one of
                              the poorest areas in the country, is illustrative.

                              More Zacatecans live now in Los Angeles than in the city of Zacatecas.
                              The State Governor, Ricardo Monreal, acknowledges that "their economic
                              influence is huge and their political clout as a consequence of that is huge

                              "It is thanks to them that I became state governor," says Mr Monreal.

                              Remittances also have social and human implications.

                              In the village of Jomulquillo, a couple of hours from the city of Zacatecas,
                              what hits you as soon as you arrive is the silence.

                              One of the few locals remaining there says that at the moment there are 80
                              people living in the village - 300 live in Los Angeles.

                              With the empty houses, the closed windows and locked doors, this feels like
                              a ghost town.

                              But the pain of families being separated is somewhat compensated by these
                              remittances that, in the case of Zacatecas, not only help the relatives but
                              also their villages of origin.

                              Crucial role

                              As part of a new strategy, the Mexican authorities have decided to match the
                              money sent by migrants with local, regional and federal money, in order to
                              build roads, schools and medical centres.

                              From being called "traitors who chose to live with the enemy", Mexico's
                              emigrants have now gained a level of influence and respectability unheard of
                              in the country.
                              According to Guadalupe Gomez "a lot of politicians are taking notice of our
                              influence". And, he adds, they have to do more to make migrants participate
                              in the decision-making process.

                              It is not surprising therefore that last year, in a historic move, the
                              Zacatecas' state legislature voted in favour of allowing migrants living in
                              the US to stand for political office.

                              Similar things are occurring in other Latin American countries.

                              The recent elections in El Salvador show just how much this issue is
                              affecting politics.

                              Experts say that the right-wing Tony Saca won the elections largely due to
                              last minute television ads warning that a victory for the left-wing
                              candidate would have a negative impact on US-Salvador relations.

                              One consequence of this, the ads warned, would be massive deportations that
                              in turn would put remittances at risk.

                              Analysts believe that because nearly 30% of the population depends on the
                              money sent from the US, this twist in the electoral campaign became a
                              decisive element in Mr Saca's victory.

                              If remittances continue to grow as they have in the last few years, migrants
                              are likely to become crucial players in the politics of their countries of
                              origin and not only in the economy.

                              Do you want to comment on this article. Use the form below.

                              Your comments:

                              Even in Pennsylvania, which is a long way from the Mexican border, small
                              restaurants have opened run by a large family group from Guadalajara. The
                              food is fantastic and the staff are hard working and very congenial. As is
                              typical, the shops are open seven days each week from 11:00 to 11:00... try
                              beating that for ambition! Now they are developing a chain of restaurants
                              throughout many smaller cities.
                              Sharon Schafer, Pennsylvania, USA

                              Maybe if the US (and other nations) would relax our immigration policies,
                              workers could bring their whole families with them, and that $13bn could
                              stay here in the States.
                              Matt Johnson, Mobile, Alabama, USA

                              As a Mexican living in the United States I have experienced how, Mexican
                              immigrants, in fact influence Mexican politics. When President Fox was being
                              elected many of the Mexicans in Chicago highly supported him and usually
                              called their relatives to tell them that he was their best choice.
                              Particularly because Fox has highly supported the idea of allowing immigrant
                              to vote from abroad and also because many were upset that it was the
                              economic environment created by the previous party, the PRI, that made them
                              emigrate in the first place.
                              Jose Galixto, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

                              Mexicans who live and work in the USA have never been criticised as your
                              report suggests. It is accepted by just about everyone that they go north to
                              make money. The people who are criticised are the ones who cross over as it
                              were and become American nationals. They are known as pochos in Mexican
                              Spanish and, yes, they are widely disliked. So, making money in the USA is
                              OK, but giving loyalty to the place is still frowned upon.
                              Ken Bell, Mexico City

                              I think it's very bad that our country depends so much on remittances from
                              our "paisanos" in the US. I think that our country should impulse the
                              national industry and market, instead of depending on foreign money. Every
                              nation should be self sufficient, and even the rich ones aren't.
                              Ernesto Lomel�, Tijuana, Mexico

                              Story from BBC NEWS:
                            • Vasunthra Hettiarachchi
                              2 firms linked to Al Qaeda, Saudi intelligence agency By John Crewdson, Tribune senior correspondent. John Crewdson reported from Germany, and Viola Gienger
                              Message 14 of 18 , Apr 1 2:47 PM
                                2 firms linked to Al Qaeda, Saudi intelligence agency

                                By John Crewdson, Tribune senior correspondent. John Crewdson reported from
                                Germany, and Viola Gienger contributed from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania.

                                HAMBURG, Germany -- Two private Saudi companies linked with suspected Al
                                Qaeda cells here and in Indonesia also have connections to the Saudi Arabian
                                intelligence agency and its longtime chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal,
                                according to information assembled by German intelligence analysts.

                                The Twaik Group and Rawasin Media Productions, both based in Riyadh, the
                                Saudi capital, have served as fronts for the Saudi General Intelligence
                                Directorate, according to an inquiry by Germany's foreign intelligence
                                service, the BND.

                                Twaik, a $100 million-a-year conglomerate, has diverse holdings inside and
                                outside Saudi Arabia. Rawasin reports earnings of about $4 million a year
                                from producing and selling audio and videotapes promoting the Wahhabi
                                version of Islam that is Saudi Arabia's dominant religion.

                                The conclusions reached by the BND inquiry were presented to the office of
                                German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder late last year and subsequently
                                circulated within the German intelligence community.

                                The inquiry determined that Twaik, like Rawasin, was what one source
                                described as "an organ of Saudi Arabia intelligence."

                                In the late 1990s both Twaik and Rawasin employed Reda Seyam, a 44-year-old
                                Egyptian suspected by Indonesian authorities of having helped finance the
                                Bali nightclub bombing. Germany's federal prosecutor is investigating Seyam
                                on suspicion of supporting a foreign terrorist organization, namely Al

                                The German inquiry also discovered that, during 1999 and 2000, Seyam took
                                several flights from Saudi Arabia to destinations in Europe on aircraft
                                operated by the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, or GID.

                                The Tribune reported last year that between 1995 and 1998, Twaik deposited
                                more than $250,000 in bank accounts controlled by Mamoun Darkazanli, a
                                Syrian-born Hamburg businessman and longtime Al Qaeda associate with close
                                ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers during their years in the northern port city
                                of Hamburg.

                                Abdulrahman Al-Fahhad, then the Twaik executive responsible for the
                                company's rental-car operations in the Balkans, acknowledged hiring
                                Darkazanli in 1995 to supply cars from Germany for Twaik's branch office in
                                Albania. The money, Al-Fahhad said, had been for Darkazanli's use in
                                purchasing those cars.

                                Rental-car job

                                Al-Fahhad also acknowledged hiring Seyam to manage Twaik's rental-car office
                                in nearby Bosnia-Herzegovina. In telephone interviews last year and earlier
                                this month, Al-Fahhad continued to maintain that he could not remember how
                                he met either Darkazanli or Seyam.

                                Twaik's founder and owner of record, Saudi businessman Saleh Abdulaziz
                                Al-Fahhad, did not respond to several written requests for comment on his
                                company's purported connections with Saudi intelligence, Rawasin and Seyam.

                                Rawasin did not respond to e-mailed requests for information beyond stating,
                                "You can find our products in Islamic cassette shops."

                                The BND inquiry has concluded that Seyam, one of whose specialties was
                                videotaping Muslim fighters in action around the world, was sent to
                                Indonesia by Rawasin a year before the October 2002 Bali bombing that killed
                                202 people and wounded more than 300.

                                It is not clear whether Seyam was working on his own or on behalf of Rawasin
                                while he was distributing what Indonesian investigators said was tens of
                                thousands of dollars to militant Islamists in Indonesia, including the
                                convicted mastermind of the Bali bombings.

                                Neither Seyam nor Darkazanli, both of whom emigrated to Germany in the early
                                1980s and subsequently became naturalized German citizens, has been charged
                                with any crime in Germany. Darkazanli is the target of a separate
                                investigation by the federal prosecutor into the suspected laundering of Al
                                Qaeda funds.

                                In 2002 and 2003 Seyam served a 10-month jail sentence in Indonesia for
                                violating that country's immigration laws. Darkazanli was accused in a
                                Spanish indictment last year of having served as Osama bin Laden's
                                "financier in Europe."

                                Link established

                                According to information gathered by the BND, the relationships between
                                Twaik, Rawasin and the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate were
                                established while the GID was headed by Prince Turki bin Faisal al Saud, the
                                eighth and last son of the late Saudi King Faisal and currently the Saudi
                                ambassador in London.

                                Prince Turki served as the chief of Saudi intelligence from 1978 until 2001.
                                The Twaik Group was formed in 1985, and Rawasin in 1998, according to
                                business records on file in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. In a March 18 letter
                                faxed to the Tribune, Prince Turki stated only that "I have not developed
                                any relationship with either group."

                                Less than two weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States,
                                the prince surprised observers by resigning after 23 years as head of Saudi
                                intelligence. The official Saudi news agency said the resignation had been
                                the prince's decision.

                                In a February 2002 speech to an alumni reunion at Georgetown University, his
                                alma mater, Turki recalled having met with Osama bin Laden on five occasions
                                in the late 1980s, at a time when both the Saudis and the U.S. were
                                supporting bin Laden and other Muslims battling the Soviet army in

                                Turki described bin Laden, whom he met in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as "a
                                relatively pleasant man, very shy, softspoken."

                                If the BND's conclusions are correct, the linkage of Twaik to Saudi
                                intelligence may resolve a question that has puzzled criminal investigators:
                                Why would a conglomerate that then ranked 67th among all Saudi corporations
                                choose a Muslim ideologue with no apparent business experience to manage its
                                struggling rental-car operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

                                Those conclusions may also explain why a company whose operations within
                                Saudi Arabia range from waste removal to the management of government
                                hospitals undertook not one but two risky business ventures in the
                                strife-torn Balkans, where several Saudi-based Muslim charities were
                                spending tens of millions of dollars to aid the Muslim population.

                                Frayed relations

                                Relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been frayed by the Bush
                                administration's contention that wealthy individuals, companies and Islamic
                                charities in that country may have contributed, consciously or otherwise, to
                                the support of Islamic terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda.

                                There has been no indication thus far that any agency of the Saudi
                                government or member of the Saudi royal family played a conscious role in
                                supporting terrorist activities. A source familiar with the BND
                                investigation said Saudi government officials outside the GID "probably" had
                                no idea of the relationship among Rawasin, Twaik and the GID.

                                The BND's conclusions might also raise questions about whether at least some
                                of the Saudi government's acknowledged support for armed struggles by
                                Muslims in Afghanistan and elsewhere may have been diverted to attacks on
                                Western interests.

                                No direct link

                                No direct connection between Saudi money and the Sept. 11 plotters in
                                Hamburg has been found, though investigators here and in the U.S. continue
                                to search for one. A senior FBI official acknowledged recently that the
                                agency still did not know the "ultimate source" of the estimated $500,000
                                that financed the Sept. 11 hijackings.

                                Though both men are free, Seyam and Darkazanli are being kept under
                                surveillance while the federal prosecutor's investigation of their
                                activities proceeds.

                                The investigation of Seyam has been hampered by the fact that, until two
                                years ago, supporting a foreign terrorist organization like Al Qaeda was not
                                illegal in Germany.

                                That loophole, which also has caused problems for the prosecutions of two
                                accused Sept. 11 conspirators in Hamburg, has since been closed. The
                                loophole is not an issue in the Darkazanli investigation, which is focused
                                on ordinary criminal statutes that prohibit money laundering.

                                The new anti-terrorism statute, forbidding support for any organization
                                foreign or domestic, is not retroactive. A decision on whether to arrest
                                Seyam and to indict him on terrorism charges will depend on what prosecutors
                                learn about his activities after the law was changed in August 2002.

                                Under German law, intelligence information like that collected about Seyam
                                by the BND cannot be used to build a criminal case, something a source
                                familiar with the BND's investigation of Seyam described as "very

                                Seyam still could be charged with an ordinary crime not related to terrorism
                                if the evidence to support such a charge exists. His ex-wife, a German woman
                                named Regina Kreis, has emerged as a leading witness in the criminal
                                investigation, which is being conducted by the German federal police, the

                                A ride to Germany

                                One BKA official, cautioning that his agency was not entirely convinced of
                                Kreis' credibility, said she had recalled for investigators riding in a car
                                from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Germany with her husband and another man sometime
                                in 1996.

                                From photographs Kreis identified the mystery passenger as Ramzi Binalshibh,
                                who moved to Germany from Yemen the previous year and would later become the
                                self-described "coordinator" of the Sept. 11 hijacking plot. Binalshibh is
                                now in U.S. custody at an undisclosed location.

                                The journey with Binalshibh was first disclosed by the German magazine Der
                                Spiegel, which reported last week that German authorities now consider Seyam
                                "to be one of the most important Al Qaeda agents in Europe."

                                Another German magazine, Focus, previously quoted Kreis as saying Seyam had
                                been "in touch with Al Qaeda leaders" while the couple was living in
                                Bosnia-Herzegovina and had taken part in a firing squad that executed a Serb
                                in the summer of 1995.

                                Herbert Gude, a Focus reporter who interviewed Kreis while she was in the
                                BKA's witness protection program earlier this year, said she had been kept
                                in the dark about her husband's business affairs and could not explain how
                                and why Seyam had been hired by Twaik.

                                Kreis, who converted to Islam after her 1988 marriage to Seyam and was
                                divorced by her husband in 2001, was not living with Seyam in Jakarta when
                                he was arrested there in September 2002.

                                Evidence of financing

                                Muchyar Yara, the spokesman for the Indonesian State Intelligence Bureau, or
                                BIN, at the time of Seyam's arrest, said investigators uncovered evidence
                                indicating that Seyam was financing several suspected terrorists in
                                Southeast Asia.

                                Yara said that when agents searched Seyam's rented $4,000-a-month house,
                                they recovered documents that included the names of suspected terrorists on
                                Seyam's payroll.

                                One of those names was Omar al-Farouq, believed by the U.S. to be a senior
                                Al Qaeda representative in Southeast Asia. It was al-Farouq's capture in
                                Indonesia in June 2002, Yara said, that led BIN to Seyam.

                                Seyam's "salary list," Yara said, also included the name of Imam Samudra, a
                                Balinese Islamic cleric sentenced to death last year after his conviction
                                for masterminding the Bali attacks.

                                Samudra has admitted his role in the nightclub bombings. At his trial,
                                Samudra reportedly declared that he was "grateful" for the deaths of more
                                than 3,000 people in the Sept. 11 attacks.

                                In all, Yara said, Seyam apparently handed out many thousands of dollars
                                during his Indonesian sojourn, including one particularly suspicious
                                expenditure of $74,000 for a "speedboat."

                                The BIN never found the speedboat, Yara said, noting that speedboats were
                                "not such a common thing" in Indonesia. But he added that "we can't say
                                directly that the money was used for the Bali bomb."

                                Despite the BIN's conclusion that Seyam was "a very high-ranking officer of
                                the international terrorism network," Yara said, he was convicted only of
                                working as a journalist while holding a tourist visa.

                                Seyam was not prosecuted on terrorism charges, Yara said, partly because of
                                loopholes in the Indonesian anti-terrorism laws, and partly because of his
                                German nationality. "We decided that his case would be better handled by
                                Germany," Yara said.

                                When Seyam's jail sentence ran out in July 2003, he was handed over to the
                                BKA, who returned him to Germany for questioning.

                                Interviewed by Der Spiegel in the small town near Stuttgart where he now
                                lives, Seyam said he was being "persecuted" because of his reporting of
                                injustices to Muslims while working as a correspondent for Al Jazeera, the
                                Arab-owned satellite TV channel.

                                Al Jazeera's Jakarta bureau chief, Othman al-Battiri, said in a telephone
                                interview that Seyam had never been an Al Jazeera correspondent, and that
                                his application for a job as a cameraman had been rejected. Editors at Al
                                Jazeera headquarters in Qatar confirmed that the organization had never
                                employed Seyam.

                                Naturalized German

                                A heavily bearded man with what acquaintances describe as a brooding manner,
                                Seyam arrived in Germany in the early 1980s to study mathematics in
                                Freiberg. He became a naturalized German citizen after marrying Kreis.

                                "He was an ordinary Muslim who became a fanatic," a senior BKA official

                                According to Abdulrahman Al-Fahhad, when Seyam took over the management of
                                Twaik Rent-a-Car's office in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo in October
                                1997, his instructions were to liquidate Twaik's operation.

                                "We hired him to close the business," Al-Fahhad said.

                                But Twaik's deputy manager in Sarajevo, Haytham Elshazli, remembers Seyam
                                struggling to make Twaik Rent-a-Car a going concern, albeit one with a
                                radical Islamic face.

                                Soon after taking over Twaik, Elshazli said, Seyam fired the company's only
                                two female employees. He also brought a copy of the Koran to the office and
                                began playing religious tapes during working hours.

                                When Seyam discovered that Twaik had rented a car to a woman with dual
                                Israeli and American citizenship, Elshazli recalled, "He said, `Why are you
                                renting to Israeli people, to Jews, to people like that ...? You don't have
                                to be in contact with Jews, with such people.'"

                                Seyam's exhortations drove away another Twaik employee, a non-observant
                                Bosnian Muslim who spoke to the Tribune on condition that he not be

                                "He said, `This is not good, you must have a wife, not a girlfriend, you
                                mustn't drink, you must go to mosque,'" the former employee recalled.

                                When the former employee told Seyam he intended to submit his resignation to
                                Abdulrahman Al-Fahhad, he said Seyam replied that that wouldn't be
                                necessary, because "I'm the owner of Twaik now."

                                Once Seyam took charge, Elshazli said, Abdulrahman Al-Fahhad's inspection
                                visits to Bosnia-Herzegovina ceased. At one point, Seyam brought in a dozen
                                or so Arabs, men Elshazli described as hard-line Islamists, explaining that
                                they were "accountants."

                                The men copied every document in the Twaik files, Elshazli said, including
                                the names and addresses of clients from the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo.

                                Within a few months of Seyam's taking over, Elshazli was also out the door.
                                "He said, `The company is ours now, and we are not satisfied with you
                                anymore,'" Elshazli recalled. "Six months of nightmare."

                                Whether despite Seyam's efforts or because of them, Twaik's enterprise in
                                Bosnia-Herzegovina failed, and in 1998 Seyam disappeared from
                                Bosnia-Herzegovina along with Twaik.

                                According to the BND investigation, he turned up the next year in Saudi
                                Arabia, working for Rawasin Media Productions.

                                In early 2001 Seyam began shuttling between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia,
                                where he reportedly videotaped fighting between the Muslim majority and the
                                Christian minority in Indonesia's remote Moluccas Islands. That
                                little-publicized struggle is believed to have claimed thousands of lives
                                over the past four years.

                                While Seyam was in Riyadh, according to Der Spiegel, "high-ranking Al Qaeda
                                members" were seen visiting his house.

                                Among Seyam's alleged visitors, the magazine said, was Osama bin Laden.

                                - - -

                                Men investigated for links to terror, Saudi intelligence

                                Two German citizens of Arab ancestry are suspected of links to the Sept. 11
                                hijackers and worked for companies believed to be affiliated with the Saudi
                                Arabian intelligence agency.

                                Profile: A 44-year-old German citizen originally from Egypt. Specialized in
                                videotaping Muslim fighters in the Balkans and elsewhere.

                                Terror ties: Under investigation in Germany for suspicion of

                                supporting Al Qaeda. Indonesian authorities suspect him of helping finance
                                the Bali bombing that killed more than 200 in October 2002.

                                Served 10 months in an Indonesian jail on a visa violation

                                before being deported to Germany in July 2003.

                                TERROR SUSPECT

                                Ramzi Binalshibh

                                The self-described "coordinator" of Sept. 11. Held by U.S. authorities since
                                his arrest in September 2002.

                                - LINK TO SEYAM

                                Seyam's ex-wife, Regina Kreis, identifies Binalshibh as the man who shared a
                                car ride from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Germany with

                                her and her husband in 1996.

                                Mamoun Darkazanli

                                Profile: Syrian-born Hamburg businessman

                                Terror ties: Suspected of handling money, procuring equipment and other
                                activities on behalf of Al Qaeda. He was called Osama bin Laden's "financier
                                in Europe" in a 2003 Spanish indictment.


                                9/11 hijackers

                                Hijackers used Hamburg as a base to plan the attacks; three of the four
                                pilots attended university there.

                                LINK TO DARKAZANLI

                                Darkazanli allegedly helped recruit the hijackers. He is a former associate
                                of Mohamed Atta while the latter was in college in Hamburg.


                                Rawasin Media Productions

                                Saudi Arabian company sells audio and videotapes promoting

                                Wahhabism, a form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia. Allegedly affiliated
                                with the Saudi equivalent of the CIA.

                                - Link to Seyam

                                The company sent him to Indonesia in 2001, according to the German foreign
                                intelligence service.

                                The Twaik Group

                                German intelligence officials call Riyadh-based conglomerate "an organ of
                                Saudi Arabia intelligence."

                                - LINK TO SEYAM

                                He ran the Saudi company's rental car business in Bosnia-Herzegovina in

                                - LINK TO DARKAZANLI

                                From 1995-98, the company wired more than $250,000 to

                                German bank accounts controlled by Darkazanli, who was hired to supply cars
                                for Twaik's office in Albania.

                                Sources: Police and intelligence reports, public documents Chicago Tribune

                              • Karthik Malkani
                                THE LTTE CRISIS V.S. SAMBANDAN in Jaffna and Batticaloa With the Eastern rebel `Colonel Karuna determined to go the whole hog and the high command apparently
                                Message 15 of 18 , Apr 1 2:51 PM
                                  THE LTTE CRISIS

                                  V.S. SAMBANDAN
                                  in Jaffna and Batticaloa

                                  With the Eastern rebel `Colonel' Karuna determined to go the whole hog and
                                  the high command apparently unable to strike at him decisively, the LTTE
                                  faces the worst crisis in its history.

                                  Rebels, as I have come to realise, are never quite emancipated from the
                                  people against whom they rebel. Whatever these people have admired, they
                                  have to decry; whatever these people have decried, they have to admire.
                                  Their opinions are thus dictated in reverse by their enemies.

                                  - Bertrand Russell in "Revolt in the Abstract".

                                  AFTER decades of tactical manoeuvres and scores of battles, which finally
                                  took it to the negotiating table with the Sri Lankan government, the
                                  Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) now faces its most serious
                                  challenge: revolt within. Its Eastern military commander, Karuna, has struck
                                  a belligerent note, which is an early sign of a possible implosion in the
                                  once-monolithic group. It also raises serious concerns about the direction
                                  in which the already-fragmented Sri Lankan polity is headed. The state of
                                  flux that the Sri Lankan polity was in late last year following President
                                  Chandrika Kumaratunga's decision to assume the portfolios of Defence,
                                  Interior and Mass Communications has now extended to the island's Tamil
                                  politics as well. The sparring in the Tiger camp has also rocked an already
                                  unstable political situation into further disequilibrium. The uncertainty in
                                  the ever-simmering eastern region gives no cause for comfort on both the
                                  political and military fronts. According to the latest reports, although
                                  attempts at rapprochement are continuing between the LTTE leadership and
                                  Karuna, there is no clear public indication yet of a possible patch-up.

                                  There are varying versions on the backdrop to Karuna's assertion of his
                                  greater power in the east, the central command's decision on March 6 to
                                  "discharge" him from the LTTE, and Karuna's subsequent defiance. But the
                                  issues that have surfaced raise serious questions about the LTTE's
                                  organisational structure and the concept of Tamil nationhood in Sri Lanka.

                                  The LTTE has officially not gone beyond mentioning that the former special
                                  commander for Batticaloa and Amparai was "discharged" for his "traitorous
                                  acts" and that he was acting in self-interest, "instigated" by forces
                                  "opposed to the liberation struggle". Supporters of the LTTE's decision say
                                  Karuna had already painted himself into a corner through a series of
                                  financial and personal misconduct. "Disciplinary action," they say, was
                                  being contemplated against him, when he chose to revolt.

                                  The LTTE sees the rebellion as "a temporary aberration". Colombo has
                                  declined to comment on the matter and the international community, led by
                                  the Norwegian peace facilitators, has distanced itself from the biggest
                                  internal spat in the rebel group.

                                  The impact of Karuna's rebellion should be weighed on three fronts - popular
                                  perception and image, negotiations and political bargaining, military
                                  strength and strike capability. In addition, it questions the raison d'etre
                                  of the decades-old war for separation, which now appears to be veering round
                                  to the federalist option.

                                  The Tamils' assertion for nationhood is based on theThimphu Principles,
                                  which encompass the right to a nation spread across a traditional homeland
                                  based on self-determination. Karuna's rebellion is the first challenge to
                                  the Thimphu Principles, which have been broadly accepted by the diversified
                                  and mutually opposed Tamil parties and groups. The LTTE terms the latest
                                  crisis an "internal" one perpetrated by a "lone individual with a lost
                                  cause". The big difference from the past, however, is that it is being
                                  fought in the public domain, with the expelled commander making the
                                  Northern-Eastern divide a public issue.

                                  Proponents of the theory of "pre-emptive strike by Karuna" argue that his
                                  actions were built up over several months. "He was regional commander for 17
                                  years something, unparalleled in the organisation. Why did he not raise the
                                  issue of so-called discrimination of the East earlier?" a Jaffna resident

                                  Karuna's defence against allegations of personal and financial misconduct is
                                  that if it were so, he would have fled and not stayed on to assert his

                                  The issues, supporters of his position say, were on the back burner for
                                  quite some time.

                                  As the debate on the rights and wrongs of Karuna's revolt continues, the
                                  LTTE's image - as an organisation that has kept its problems to itself, as a
                                  tightly ruled, disciplined group, and as one fanatically uncompromising on
                                  Tamil nationalism - has taken a battering. The allegations of financial and
                                  personal misconduct, if true, could well be too embarrassing for it to

                                  More damaging is Karuna's charge that "discrimination" was behind his
                                  decision to break ranks. In a society where caste and regional consciousness
                                  run high, the LTTE was seen as a grouping that overcame such differences and
                                  was focussed on "Tamil nationhood". The past undercurrents of regional
                                  jostling by mainstream Tamil political parties, it was made clear, was
                                  beyond Tigerism, which saw the North and the East as one. Moreover, of late,
                                  the LTTE has also made a subtle, but significant shift from claiming to be
                                  the sole representative of the Tamils to seeking to be that of the
                                  "Tamil-speaking people", which would include the Muslims, who are a
                                  predominant force in the East.

                                  The LTTE has faced a "history of betrayals", says its chief negotiator and
                                  ideologue Anton S. Balasingham, the most high profile one being that of its
                                  deputy leader, Mahendrarajah alias Mahatiya, who was executed on charges of
                                  "treason". However, the Mahatiya episode was known to the world only after
                                  it was over. Karuna's high position in the organisation, the public
                                  acknowledgment by the leadership of his military skills, and his role as a
                                  member of the negotiating team, make his case very difficult for the LTTE to

                                  Now that Karuna has put on public the domain issues of internal autonomy,
                                  how the LTTE handles the crisis and how it seeks to cope with internal
                                  demands could indicate whether the organisation is willing to move away from
                                  its own centrist approach. A resident of Batticaloa said: "Karuna's case
                                  would be seen anywhere else as a democratic assertion. Not in the LTTE."

                                  IRONICALLY, the most telling comment on Chandrika Kumaratunga's
                                  constitutional takeover last year came from Karuna. "It is like breaking the
                                  pot when the butter was being churned," he had said. Tamil political
                                  observers see a parallel in the timing of Karuna's revolt. "Our negotiating
                                  position [in the peace talks] is likely to be affected and our bargaining
                                  power could be weakened," a Northern politician said. The impact of Karuna's
                                  revolt could become an additional component of the negotiations. The
                                  possibility of the LTTE guaranteeing the implementation of any solution in
                                  the East depends largely on the manner in which the group overcomes the

                                  All through the stalled negotiations, the LTTE had presented its position on
                                  two basic planks: that it was speaking for the Tamils and that it would not
                                  compromise on its basic political and military positions. Against that
                                  backdrop, Karuna's dissent, coming as it does from the weakest spot of the
                                  conflict-resolution process - the East - will have an impact on the final
                                  solution. The LTTE's moral high ground of "a united Tamil voice" at the
                                  talks, already questioned by non-LTTE Tamil parties, will also be challenged

                                  The largest uncertainty, however, is on the military front. The LTTE as a
                                  military organisation has evolved into a force capable of countering and
                                  launching conventional warfare since the 1990s. It was also then that Karuna
                                  moved away from being a local warlord facing allegations of instigating
                                  manslaughter to the position of a military leader. The longest and severest
                                  military engagement between the Sri Lanka Army and the LTTE in the 1990s saw
                                  the emergence of Karuna as a battlefield commander leading rebel ground

                                  The result of that test between the rebel and government forces is now
                                  common knowledge. Untested, however, is the situation of a military
                                  engagement between LTTE factions. As Karuna's rebellion continues, his
                                  assertion that he will "hit back" if attacked by the "Northern forces"
                                  introduces a new dimension with calamitous consequences for the island's
                                  Tamil population in the North and the East.

                                  The LTTE leadership has made it a point to emphasise that the problem will
                                  be solved without endangering the lives of civilians and cadre. Ground-level
                                  indications from the East are that there is resentment against any
                                  intra-Tamil violence. "We sent our boys to fight the Sri Lanka Army, not
                                  against our own people," a pamphlet from the East, said.

                                  The Eastern rebel cadre, according to Sri Lankan military sources, are known
                                  for their "tenacity and precision in warfare". The number of Eastern
                                  fighters varies between 5,000 and 6,000. The exact details of Karuna's
                                  armoury are unknown, but it is acknowledged that its prowess cannot be
                                  underestimated. In addition, the possibility of overt or covert support from
                                  Sri Lankan forces is also not ruled out, depending on the situation. A
                                  former militant cites the LTTE's unhesitating acceptance of support from the
                                  Sri Lankan forces when it turned its guns against the Indian Peace-Keeping
                                  Force (IPKF) and a Tamil group that supported the Indian Army.

                                  Now, a week after Karuna's defiance, there is dead silence over the crisis.
                                  According to current indications, the attempts for a re-alignment of forces
                                  have not been abandoned completely. Karuna, who had planned several
                                  battlefield deceptions to defeat the Sri Lankan forces, has demanded the
                                  expulsion of three administrative heads - Pottu Amman (Intelligence),
                                  Tamilendhi (Finance) and Nadesan (Police).

                                  In an interview to Frontline, he did not conceal his personal animosities,
                                  when he called the intelligence leader a "terrorist". The finance and police
                                  chiefs, he alleged, were "not qualified to be in the LTTE" as they had
                                  "surrendered" to the Indian Army. The selective targeting of these three
                                  heads raises suspicions about the motives behind the opposition. According
                                  to Karuna's critics, his displeasure towards the three chiefs could stem
                                  from the fact that they are in charge of the subjects under which charges
                                  have been made against him.

                                  The high stakes placed by Karuna make reconciliation a seemingly difficult
                                  task. The reasons behind the crisis remain unclear and are fast becoming
                                  inconsequential outside the LTTE. As Sri Lanka gears up to face a hitherto
                                  untested political and military sparring between two Tiger factions, a
                                  difficult, possibly violent, phase lies ahead.

                                • Karthik Malkani
                                  Untold stories SUKUMAR MURALIDHARAN Testimonies presented before a People s Tribunal in New Delhi recently bring out the vast human tragedy resulting from
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Apr 1 3:03 PM
                                    Untold stories

                                    SUKUMAR MURALIDHARAN

                                    Testimonies presented before a 'People's Tribunal' in New Delhi recently
                                    bring out the vast human tragedy resulting from the abuse of POTA in
                                    virtually every corner of the country.

                                    UNTRAMMELLED power is dangerous in any hand. A "People's Tribunal", which
                                    heard a number of testimonies on the application of the Prevention of
                                    Terrorism Act (POTA) and other special security laws in Delhi in early
                                    March, seemed quite unequivocally to reach this conclusion.

                                    The testimonies brought to life statistics recently compiled on the
                                    application of POTA and they revealed certain disquieting patterns. All the
                                    287 cases booked under the law in Gujarat involve members of the religious
                                    minorities; all but one involve Muslims. Of the 46 POTA cases in Uttar
                                    Pradesh, all but two involve members of the Scheduled Castes or Adivasi

                                    Om Prakash, a ten-year old from a Dalit family in Sonbhadra district of
                                    Uttar Pradesh, was arrested in May 2003 and charged with political extremism
                                    and involvement in the murder of a local feudal chief. His older brother had
                                    been killed weeks before in what was described as an armed encounter with
                                    the police. In hiding ever since, Om Prakash surrendered to the local police
                                    following the threat that his family's meagre possessions, including its
                                    home, would be attached by judicial order. He was held in a juvenile prison
                                    for six months and allegedly tortured before being granted bail. Today, Om
                                    Prakash regularly walks 10 kilometres to the courthouse where his case is
                                    being heard. With no time-frame for resolution and the infinite capacity for
                                    delay that the police brings to the case, he sees no prospect of an early
                                    end to the agony.

                                    This was one among at least four known cases involving the imprisonment and
                                    continuing harassment of juveniles under POTA and other special security
                                    laws. In Gumla district of Jharkhand, 16-year old Roopni Khari was arrested
                                    under POTA. Terrorism has become a broad rubric under which any challenge to
                                    an established order can be quashed. Khari's crime was to have organised the
                                    women of her village around basic issues of subsistence they confronted in a
                                    patriarchal order.

                                    In Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu, Prabhakaran and Bhagat Singh, aged 15
                                    and 17 then, were arrested in November 2002, for allegedly being involved
                                    with the Radical Youth League, an offshoot of one of the factions of the
                                    Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). Neither was given any special
                                    consideration on grounds of being juveniles. Both were detained under a
                                    variety of provisions of the law and only informed after their third bail
                                    hearings that they stood accused under POTA. Both spent over a year in
                                    prisons before being granted bail. Their cases have now been transferred to
                                    the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court, where they belonged from the very
                                    beginning. Quite apart from the repressive features of the law, the case of
                                    these two juveniles from Tamil Nadu seemed to illustrate, in the perception
                                    of the Tribunal, the dangerous intrusion of POTA special courts into other

                                    Evidence rendered before the Tribunal indicated that for sheer promiscuity,
                                    no State could quite match Jharkhand's record. The number of persons named
                                    in the State under POTA is an astounding 3,200. Among these, first
                                    information reports (FIRs) have been filed in 654 cases. A fact-finding team
                                    that had extensively travelled through Jharkhand last year found that most
                                    of the cases under POTA were being brought against the deprived sections
                                    belonging, as a rule, to the Dalit and Adivasi communities. POTA was also
                                    being used as an instrument of political coercion to erode the support
                                    enjoyed by parties opposed to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

                                    The picture from Uttar Pradesh showed a greater sense of restraint in
                                    numbers, but an equally ready recourse to POTA to put down any agitation for
                                    basic rights and services. Most of those arrested for alleged "terrorist"
                                    offences in this State, the Tribunal was told, were guilty of nothing more
                                    than pressing for land reforms and minimum wages.

                                    In a survey of 25 instances of detention under POTA in Gujarat, a study team
                                    that presented its findings to the Tribunal reported that a period of
                                    illegal detention invariably preceded the formal arrest of the individuals
                                    concerned. The duration of this illegal detention varied between three and
                                    25 days. There were cases when family members of targeted individuals were
                                    detained for days together, to pressure the main accused to surrender. The
                                    typical mode of operation is for the police party to raid the premises of
                                    the accused under cover of night to ransack and intimidate and even to seize
                                    documents - such as ration cards - which may confer certain civic
                                    entitlements on the accused. The embitterment of the religious minorities
                                    had gone deep, said a legal activist from Gujarat. POTA, in this regard,
                                    should more appropriately be called the "Production of Terrorists Act".

                                    SPONSORED by the Human Rights Law Network, the Tribunal consisted of two
                                    retired High Court Judges, D.K. Basu and Hosbet Suresh. The senior advocate
                                    and former Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani brought a greater depth of
                                    juristic expertise to the body. Others on the Tribunal were the veteran
                                    civil rights campaigner K.G. Kannabiran, Mohini Giri and Syeda Hameed, who
                                    have both served on the National Commission for Women, the renowned writer
                                    Arundhati Roy, and the journalist Praful Bidwai.

                                    Summarising his impressions after two days of hearings, Jethmalani confessed
                                    that he had been grievously in error in supporting the enactment of POTA.
                                    "POTA came after a Security Council resolution asking all members of the
                                    U.N. to legislate against terrorism," he said. "I did support the enactment
                                    of POTA but I did it because it was done in obedience to the resolution of
                                    the Security Council. I today regret that I supported POTA. I had reposed
                                    faith in the honesty of the politicians who told me that it would not be
                                    misused. Today, I have no doubt that we do not need (it) and that it should
                                    go lock, stock and barrel."

                                    Arundhati Roy for her part called for the repeal of POTA since it was no
                                    more than an accessory in the mission of "dispossessing the poor". "The
                                    misuse of POTA," she said, "is a clear illustration of how terrorism and
                                    poverty are intertwined."

                                    The well-known cases of the Tamil Nadu politicians, Vaiko and P. Nedumaran,
                                    came in for extensive discussion at the Tribunal. Though the latter was
                                    present, he was obliged by the judicial order governing his release on bail
                                    to avoid any public utterances on his case. What the two days of testimonies
                                    proved is that beyond the media spotlight which has been almost exclusively
                                    focussed on prominent personalities whose liberty has been threatened by
                                    POTA, there is a vast human tragedy of the abuse of special security laws
                                    unfolding in virtually every corner of the country. When the Prevention of
                                    Terrorism Bill was first drafted in 2000, the National Human Rights
                                    Commission (NHRC) in its advisory jurisdiction described it as unnecessary
                                    on virtually all counts. The categories of offences that the Bill dealt with
                                    were covered by various other existing acts, it pointed out. What was
                                    required for a credible fight against terrorism was a firmer commitment to
                                    the rule of law, rather than the expansion of the powers of the police.
                                    After evaluating the 1990s experience with the Terrorist and Disruptive
                                    Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), considering the range of powers
                                    conferred by existing laws and factoring in the provisions of international
                                    covenants to which India is a party, the NHRC in complete unanimity,
                                    affirmed that the Bill was uncalled for.

                                    The Bill lapsed into some obscurity following this decisive intervention by
                                    the country's highest human rights watchdog and the conspicuous failure of
                                    political consensus. The terrorist attacks in the U.S. in September 2001
                                    imparted a new life to it. The NHRC remained resolute in its opposition.
                                    Justice J.S. Verma, then NHRC Chairman, forcefully articulated this
                                    viewpoint in November 2001. In its approach to terrorism, he urged, the
                                    government should balance the "dignity of the individual with national
                                    security". Any law enacted to tackle terrorism must be very closely
                                    scrutinised and "must muster the strict approval of constitutional validity,
                                    necessity and proportionality". Care should be taken, he warned, to respect
                                    the human rights of citizens and avoid harassment of the innocent, "lest the
                                    entire action be counter-productive".

                                    The NHRC's counsel found a receptive audience across much of the political
                                    spectrum. It took an unprecedented joint sitting of both Houses of
                                    Parliament to pass POTA into law. It took just over a year of its operation
                                    to bring home the unavoidable message that the only use of POTA was its
                                    abuse. The Union government responded with a Review Committee to examine
                                    cases booked under the Act and set the innocent at liberty. But as the
                                    Tribunal in Delhi was told, the Review Committee has remained hamstrung in
                                    its operations, often unable to obtain necessary information and
                                    documentation from the police authorities. Halfway measures serve little
                                    purpose. The Tribunal's finding that the act should be repealed in its
                                    entirety, is now backed up by extensive documentary evidence. But for those
                                    who opposed POTA from its conception, vindication has come late and after
                                    great human cost.

                                  • Iftikhar Naqvi
                                    Cricket diplomacy and the peace process Najam Sethi s Despite the naysayers who wanted the Indo-Pak cricket series to be postponed or cancelled because of
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Apr 1 3:31 PM
                                      Cricket diplomacy and the peace process

                                      Najam Sethi's

                                      Despite the naysayers who wanted the Indo-Pak cricket series to be postponed
                                      or cancelled because of fears of terrorism or unsporting rowdiness in the
                                      stands, so far so good. The only injury has been to the Indian captain
                                      Sourav Ganguly who tumbled after a ball and sprained his back. Indeed the
                                      only hammering that anyone has got so far has been metaphorical, with the
                                      Indian batsmen slamming the Pakistani bowlers all over the place and setting
                                      new records.

                                      To be sure, there is the usual crop of conspiracy theories about
                                      match-fixing and team selection without which no Indo-Pak series can ever be
                                      complete. The most bizarre theory has been peddled by a reactionary
                                      anti-Musharraf Urdu columnist. Apparently he had predicted that India would
                                      win both the One Day Internationals and Test matches because the Pakistani
                                      establishment had ordered the Pakistani players to lose to India so that the
                                      �sell-out� on Kashmir and �roll-back� on jihad could be cemented!

                                      The reactions of lay Indian visitors to Karachi and Lahore during the series
                                      have been no less intriguing. All have gone back gushing about Pakistani
                                      hospitality, warmth and friendship. This is a far cry from the hostile
                                      Hindu-hating fundamentalist Muslims they had been warned to expect by their
                                      Muslim-baiting Hindu fundamentalist compatriots back home. This is what
                                      happens when people meet, stereotypes snap and prejudices perish. The
                                      balance of misinformation has been partially redressed.

                                      Pakistanis know a bit about India�s Anglicised middle class composite
                                      culture from Bollywood. But if the video revolution wasn�t sufficient to
                                      give us a glimpse of India, the satellite channels have transported India to
                                      millions of Pakistani homes. But there has been no comparable traffic the
                                      other way because Lollywood is down market and Pakistani satellite channels
                                      have only now reached across India. So Indians were fed by their ideologues
                                      with all sorts of propaganda about Pakistan � about bombs and jihadis and
                                      Pakistani women shrouded in purdah. When one TV camera focused on a group of
                                      trendily clad Pakistani women clamouring for a �sixer� from Inzamam, the
                                      Indian commentator was thrilled by such �normal� behaviour. Cricket has
                                      served to uproot some of the big lies about Pakistan.

                                      West Punjab in general and Lahore in particular are poised to be the
                                      greatest beneficiaries of this peace process. At the time of partition, the
                                      Sikhs who migrated from West to East Punjab were predominantly landowning
                                      zamindars. So, as the famed Indian author Khushwant Singh has described in
                                      his autobiography, they will seek opportunities to return to their homeland
                                      in search of their ancient roots rather than their lost properties. In the
                                      event, Lahore could become a bit of a boomtown. It was the capital of the
                                      first and last Sikh state of Ranjit Singh in the late eighteenth and early
                                      nineteenth centuries, and as such a Sikh �holy land� of sorts. Open the
                                      borders and the Sikhs from East Punjab will flood the city. But that would
                                      be for starters. Much of the urban property of the city was owned by Hindu
                                      shopkeepers and businessmen who migrated to New Delhi at the time of
                                      partition. Surely, they will all want to return to the sights and sounds of
                                      their city and drink its water and smell its soil. The cry of �Lahore Lahore
                                      ay� will echo everywhere and the city may yet regain its composite secular
                                      culture of yore.

                                      The credit for all this goes to General Pervez Musharraf and Mr Atal Behari
                                      Vajpayee. A handful of die-hard reactionaries have accused General Musharraf
                                      of misplaced concreteness vis-�-vis India. No matter. A vast majority
                                      support him for focusing on peace rather than war with the neighbours. But
                                      Mr Vajpayee has taken a greater risk on the eve of the Indian elections,
                                      especially since he seems to have stood the BJP�s anti-Pakistan, anti-Muslim
                                      ideology on its head. Indeed, the real test of the peace process will come
                                      in the months ahead when both sides are obliged to demonstrate progress
                                      towards finding a mutually acceptable �solution� to the core issue of

                                      But it would be a mistake to hinge peace on any acceptable quick fix
                                      �solution� to Kashmir. India and the rest of the world will concede nothing
                                      more than the status quo. Third party mediation, especially by the United
                                      States, will reinforce the status quo after allowing for marginal
                                      adjustments between the Muslim Kashmiris and New Delhi. Indeed, the US may
                                      exercise its greater leverage with Pakistan towards exactly such an end in
                                      the region, and insist on making the peace process an end in itself rather
                                      than the means to an end. So what�s wrong with this approach?

                                      Absolutely nothing. In fact, it�s time we concentrated on bread and butter
                                      issues rather than on guns and steel. The single most suffocating drag on
                                      the Pakistani economy is the �rumour-of-war� syndrome in a nuclearised
                                      neighbourhood. India is already growing at 9 per cent a year. But if we
                                      languish at 5 per cent we shall be overwhelmed by poverty and unemployment
                                      and alienation and civil unrest, all of which have the potential to
                                      overwhelm us more comprehensively than the military might of India.

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