Friday, May 28, 2004

Keeping Terror Out--Immigration Policy and Asymmetric Warfare

by Mark Krikorian

The National Interest

Supporters of open immigration have tried to de-link 9/11 from security concerns. “There’s no relationship between immigration and terrorism,” said a spokeswoman for the National Council of the advocacy group La Raza. “I don’t think [9/11] can be attributed to the failure of our immigration laws,” claimed the head of the immigration lawyers’ guild a week after the attacks.

President Bush has not gone that far, but in his January 7 speech proposing an illegal alien amnesty and guest worker program, he claimed the federal government is now fulfilling its responsibility to control immigration, thus justifying a vast increase in the flow of newcomers to America. Exploring the role of immigration control in promoting American security can help provide the context to judge the president’s claim that his proposal is consistent with our security imperatives, and can help to sketch the outlines of a secure immigration system.


Home Front
The phrase “Home Front” is a metaphor that gained currency during World War I, with the intention of motivating a civilian population involved in total war. The image served to increase economic output and the purchase of war bonds, promote conservation and the recycling of resources and reconcile the citizenry to privation and rationing.

But in the wake of 9/11, “Home Front” is no longer a metaphor. As Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said in October 2002,

“Fifty years ago, when we said, ‘home front,’ we were referring to citizens back home doing their part to support the war front. Since last September, however, the home front has become a battlefront every bit as real as any we’ve known before.”

Nor is this an aberration, unique to Al-Qaeda or to Islamists generally. No enemy has any hope of defeating our armies in the field and must therefore resort to asymmetric means.1 And though there are many facets to asymmetric or “Fourth-Generation” warfare—as we saw in Al-Qaeda’s pre-9/11 assaults on our interests in the Middle East and East Africa and as we are seeing today in Iraq. The Holy Grail of such a strategy is mass-casualty attacks on America.

The military has responded to this new threat with the Northern Command, just as Israel instituted its own “Home Front Command” in 1992, after the Gulf War. But our objective on the Home Front is different, for this front is different from other fronts; the goal is defensive, blocking and disrupting the enemy’s ability to carry out attacks on our territory. This will then allow offensive forces to find, pin, and kill the enemy overseas.

Because of the asymmetric nature of the threat, the burden of homeland defense is not borne mainly by our armed forces but by agencies formerly seen as civilian entities—mainly the Department of Homeland Security (dhs). And of dhs’s expansive portfolio, immigration control is central. The reason is elementary: no matter the weapon or delivery system—hijacked airliners, shipping containers, suitcase nukes, anthrax spores—operatives are required to carry out the attacks. Those operatives have to enter and work in the United States. In a very real sense, the primary weapons of our enemies are not inanimate objects at all, but rather the terrorists themselves—especially in the case of suicide attackers. Thus keeping the terrorists out or apprehending them after they get in is indispensable to victory. As President Bush said recently, “Our country is a battlefield in the first war of the 21st century.”

In the words of the July 2002 National Strategy for Homeland Security:



Our great power leaves these enemies with few conventional options for doing us harm. One such option is to take advantage of our freedom and openness by secretly inserting terrorists into our country to attack our homeland. Homeland security seeks to deny this avenue of attack to our enemies and thus to provide a secure foundation for America’s ongoing global engagement.

Our enemies have repeatedly exercised this option of inserting terrorists by exploiting weaknesses in our immigration system. A Center for Immigration Studies analysis of the immigration histories of the 48 foreign-born Al-Qaeda operatives who committed crimes in the United States from 1993 to 2001 (including the 9/11 hijackers) found that nearly every element of the immigration system has been penetrated by the enemy.2 Of the 48, one-third were here on various temporary visas, another third were legal residents or naturalized citizens, one-fourth were illegal aliens, and the remainder had pending asylum applications. Nearly half of the total had, at some point or another, violated existing immigration laws.

Supporters of loose borders deny that inadequate immigration control is a problem, usually pointing to flawed intelligence as the most important shortcoming that needs to be addressed. Mary Ryan, for example, former head of the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (which issues visas), testified in January 2004 before the 9/11 Commission that



"Even under the best immigration controls, most of the September 11 terrorists would still be admitted to the United States today . . . because they had no criminal records, or known terrorist connections, and had not been identified by intelligence methods for special scrutiny."


But this turns out to be untrue, both for the hijackers and for earlier Al-Qaeda operatives in the United States. A normal level of visa scrutiny, for instance, would have excluded almost all the hijackers. Investigative reporter Joel Mowbray acquired copies of 15 of the 19 hijackers’ visa applications (the other four were destroyed—yes, destroyed—by the State Department), and every one of the half-dozen current and former consular officers he consulted said every application should have been rejected on its face.3 Every application was incomplete or contained patently inadequate or absurd answers.

Even if the applications had been properly prepared, many of the hijackers, including Mohammed Atta and several others, were young, single, and had little income—precisely the kind of person likely to overstay his visa and become an illegal alien, and thus the kind of applicant who should be rejected. And, conveniently, those least likely to overstay their visas—older people with close family, property, and other commitments in their home countries—are also the very people least likely to commit suicide attacks.

9/11 was not the only terrorist plot to benefit from lax enforcement of ordinary immigration controls—every major Al-Qaeda attack or conspiracy in the United States has involved at least one terrorist who violated immigration law. Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, for example, who was part of the plot to bomb the Brooklyn subway, was actually caught three times by the Border Patrol trying to sneak in from Canada. The third time the Canadians would not take him back. What did we do? Because of a lack of detention space, he was simply released into the country and told to show up for his deportation hearing. After all, with so many millions of illegal aliens here already, how much harm could one more do?

Another example is Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck in the first World Trade Center bombing. He should never have been granted a visa in the first place. When he applied for a tourist visa he was young, single, and had no income and, in the event, did indeed end up remaining illegally. And when his application for a green card under the 1986 illegal-alien amnesty was rejected, there was (and remains today) no way to detain and remove rejected green-card applicants, so he simply remained living and working in the United States, none the worse for wear. The same was true of Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, who murdered two people at the El Al counter at Los Angeles International Airport on July 4, 2002—he was a visa overstayer whose asylum claim was rejected. Yet with no mechanism to remove him, he remained and, with his wife, continued to apply for the visa lottery until she won and procured green cards for both of them.

Ordinary immigration enforcement actually has kept out several terrorists that we know of. A vigilant inspector in Washington State stopped Ahmed Ressam because of nervous behavior, and a search of his car uncovered a trunk full of explosives, apparently intended for an attack on Los Angeles International Airport. Ramzi Binalshibh, one of the candidates for the label of “20th hijacker,” was rejected four times for a visa, not because of concerns about terrorism but rather, according to a U.S. embassy source, “for the most ordinary of reasons, the same reasons most people are refused.” That is, he was thought likely to overstay his visa and become an illegal alien. And Mohamed Al-Qahtani, another one of the “20th hijacker” candidates, was turned away by an airport inspector in Orlando because he had no return ticket and no hotel reservations, and he refused to identify the friend who was supposed to help him on his trip.

Prior to the growth of militant Islam, the only foreign threat to our population and territory in recent history has been the specter of nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. To continue that analogy, since the terrorists are themselves the weapons, immigration control is to asymmetric warfare what missile defense is to strategic warfare. There are other weapons we must use against an enemy employing asymmetric means—more effective international coordination, improved intelligence gathering and distribution, special military operations—but in the end, the lack of effective immigration control leaves us naked in the face of the enemy. This lack of defensive capability may have made sense with regard to the strategic nuclear threat under the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, but it makes no sense with regard to the asymmetric threats we face today and in the future.

Unfortunately, our immigration response to the wake-up call delivered by the 9/11 attacks has been piecemeal and poorly coordinated. Specific initiatives that should have been set in motion years ago have finally begun to be enacted, but there is an ad hoc feel to our response, a sense that bureaucrats in the Justice and Homeland Security departments are searching for ways to tighten up immigration controls that will not alienate one or another of a bevy of special interest groups.


Rather than having federal employees cast about for whatever enforcement measures they feel they can get away with politically, we need a strategic assessment of what an effective immigration-control system would look like.



Homeland Security Begins Abroad

To extend the missile defense analogy, there are three layers of immigration control, comparable to the three phases of a ballistic missile’s flight: boost, midcourse, and terminal. In immigration the layers are overseas, at the borders, and inside the country. But unlike existing missile defense systems, the redundancy built into our immigration control system permits us repeated opportunities to exclude or apprehend enemy operatives.

Entry to America by foreigners is not a right but a privilege, granted exclusively at the discretion of the American people. The first agency that exercises that discretion is the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, whose officers make the all-important decisions about who gets a visa. Consular Affairs is, in effect, America’s other Border Patrol.4 In September 2003, dhs Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson described the visa process as “forward-based defense” against terrorists and criminals.

The visa filter is especially important because the closer an alien comes to the United States the more difficult it is to exclude him. There is relatively little problem, practically or politically, in rejecting a foreign visa applicant living abroad. Once a person presents himself at a port of entry, it becomes more difficult to turn him back, although the immigration inspector theoretically has a free hand to do so. Most difficult of all is finding and removing people who have actually been admitted; not only is there no specific chokepoint in which aliens can be controlled, but even the most superficial connections with American citizens or institutions can lead to vocal protests against enforcement of the law.

Even before 9/11, some improvements had been made to the first layer of immigration security: visas were made machine-readable and more difficult to forge than in the past, and the “watch list” of people who should not be granted visas was computerized, replacing the old microfiche-based system in place until just a few years ago.

Since the attacks, further improvements have taken place. The State Department has instituted the Biometric Visa Program at several consular posts and is preparing to meet a statutory deadline later this year for all visas to have biometric data, in the form of fingerprints and photographs. What’s more, under a memorandum of understanding signed last fall, dhs assumed oversight and veto authority over the issuance of visas, and now has personnel overseeing visa officers in a number of consular posts overseas, including in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, and the uae.

Despite improvements, the most important flaw in the visa filter still exists: the State Department remains in charge of issuing visas. State has a corporate culture of diplomacy, geared toward currying favor with foreign governments. In the context of visa issuance, this has fostered a “customer-service” approach, which sees the foreign visa applicant as the customer who needs to be satisfied. The attitude in management is summed up by the catchphrase of the former U.S. consul general in Saudi Arabia: "People gotta have their visas!"5 Such an approach views high visa-refusal rates as a political problem, rather than an indicator of proper vigilance.

Nor will oversight of visa officers by dhs officials be an adequate antidote. As long as the decisions about raises, promotions, and future assignments for visa officers are made by the State Department, the culture of diplomacy will win out over the culture of law enforcement. In the end, the only remedy may be to remove the visa function from the State Department altogether.



Order at the Border

The next layer of immigration security is the border, which has two elements: “ports of entry,” which are the points where people traveling by land, sea, or air enter the United States; and the stretches between those entry points. The first are staffed by inspectors working for dhs’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, the second monitored by the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, both now also part of dhs.

This is another important chokepoint, as almost all of the 48 Al-Qaeda operatives who committed terrorist acts through 2001 had had contact with immigration inspectors. But here, too, the system failed to do its job. For instance, Mohammed Atta was permitted to re-enter the country in January 2001 even though he had overstayed his visa the last time. Also, before 9/11 hijacker Khalid Al-Midhar’s second trip to the United States, the cia learned that he had been involved in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole—but it took months for his name to be placed on the watch list used by airport inspectors, and by then he had already entered the country. And in any case, there still are 12 separate watch lists, maintained by nine different government agencies.

Political considerations fostered a dangerous culture of permissiveness in airport inspections. Bowing to complaints from airlines and the travel industry, Congress in 1990 required that incoming planes be cleared within 45 minutes, reinforcing the notion that the border was a nuisance to be evaded rather than a vital security tool. And the Orlando immigration inspector who turned back a Saudi national—Al-Qahtani, now believed to have been a part of the 9/11 plot—was well aware that he was taking a career risk, since Saudis were supposed to be treated even more permissively than other foreign nationals seeking entry.

There were also failures between the ports of entry. Abdelghani Meskini and Abdel Hakim Tizegha, both part of the Millennium Plot that included Ahmed Ressam, first entered the country as stowaways on ships that docked at U.S. ports. Tizegha later moved to Canada and then returned to the United States by sneaking across the land border. And of course, Abu Mezer, though successfully apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol, was later released.

And finally, perhaps the biggest defect in this layer of security is the lack of effective tracking of departures. Without exit controls, there is no way to know who has overstayed his visa. This is especially important because most illegal alien terrorists have been overstayers. The opportunities for failure are numerous and the system is so dysfunctional that the ins’s own statistics division declared that it was no longer possible to estimate the number of people who have overstayed their visas.

Certainly, there have been real improvements since 9/11. The US-VISIT system has begun to be implemented, with arriving visa-holders being digitally photographed and having their index fingerprints scanned; this will eventually grow into a “check in/check out” system to track them and other foreign visitors. Also, the 45-minute maximum for clearing foreign travelers has been repealed. Lastly, all foreign carriers are now required to forward their passenger manifests to immigration before the plane arrives.

But despite these and other improvements in the mechanics of border management, the same underlying problem exists here as in the visa process: lack of political seriousness about the security importance of immigration control. The Coast Guard, for instance, still considers the interdiction of illegal aliens a “nonsecurity” mission. More importantly, pressure to expedite entry at the expense of security persists; a dhs memo leaked in January outlined how the US-VISIT system would be suspended if lines at airports grew too long. And, to avoid complaints from businesses in Detroit, Buffalo, and elsewhere, most Canadian visitors have been exempted from the requirements of the US-VISIT system.

Also, there is continued resistance to using the military to back up the Border Patrol—resistance that predates the concern for overstretch caused by the occupation of Iraq. But controlling the Mexican border, apart from the other benefits it would produce, is an important security objective; at least two major rings have been uncovered which smuggled Middle Easterners into the United States via Mexico, with help from corrupt Mexican government employees. At least one terrorist has entered this way: Mahmoud Kourani, brother of Hizbollah’s chief of military security in southern Lebanon, described in a federal indictment as “a member, fighter, recruiter and fund-raiser for Hizballah.”



Safety Through Redundancy

The third layer of immigration security—the terminal phase, in missile defense jargon—is interior enforcement. Here, again, ordinary immigration control can be a powerful security tool. Of the 48 Al-Qaeda operatives, nearly half were either illegal aliens at the time of their crimes or had violated immigration laws at some point prior to their terrorist acts.

Many of these terrorists lived, worked, opened bank accounts, and received driver’s licenses with little or no difficulty. Because such a large percentage of terrorists violated immigration laws, enforcing the law would be extremely helpful in disrupting and preventing terrorist attacks.

But interior enforcement is also the most politically difficult part of immigration control. While there is at least nominal agreement on the need for improvements to the mechanics of visas and border monitoring, there is no elite consensus regarding interior enforcement. This is especially dangerous given that interior enforcement is the last fallback for immigration control, the final link in a chain of redundancy that starts with the visa application overseas.

There are two elements to interior enforcement: first, conventional measures such as arrest, detention, and deportation; and second, verification of legal status when conducting important activities. The latter element is important because its goal is to disrupt the lives of illegal aliens so that many will return home on their own (and, in a security context, to disrupt the planning and execution of terrorist attacks).

Inadequacies in the first element of interior enforcement have clearly helped terrorists in the past. Because there is no way of determining which visitors have overstayed their visas, much less a mechanism for apprehending them, this has been a common means of remaining in the United States—of the 12 (out of 48) Al-Qaeda operatives who were illegal aliens when they took part in terrorism, seven were visa overstayers.

Among terrorists who were actually detained for one reason or another, several were released to go about their business inside America because of inadequate detention space. This lack of space means that most aliens in deportation proceedings are not detained, so that when ordered deported, they receive what is commonly known as a “run letter” instructing them to appear for deportation—and 94 percent of aliens from terrorist-sponsoring states disappear instead.

Lack of coordination between state and local police and federal immigration authorities is another major shortcoming. In the normal course of their work, police frequently encounter aliens. For instance, Mohammed Atta was ticketed in Broward County, Florida, in the spring of 2001 for driving without a license. But the officer had no mechanism to inform him that Atta had overstayed his visa during his prior trip to the United States. Although not an overstayer, another hijacker, Ziad Samir Jarrah, was issued a speeding ticket in Maryland just two days before 9/11, proving that even the most effective terrorists have run afoul of the law before launching their attacks.

Perhaps the most outrageous phenomenon in this area of conventional immigration enforcement is the adoption of “sanctuary” policies by cities across the country. Such policies prohibit city employees—including police—from reporting immigration violations to federal authorities or even inquiring as to a suspect’s immigration status. It is unknown whether any terrorists have yet eluded detention with the help of such policies, but there is no doubt that many ordinary murderers, drug dealers, gang members, and other undesirables have and will continue to do so.

The second element of interior enforcement has been, if anything, even more neglected. The creation of “virtual chokepoints,” where an alien’s legal status would be verified, is an important tool of immigration control, making it difficult for illegals to engage in the activities necessary for modern life.

The most important chokepoint is employment. Unfortunately, enforcement of the prohibition against hiring illegal aliens, passed in 1986, has all but stopped. This might seem to be of little importance to security, but in fact holding a job can be important to terrorists for a number of reasons. By giving them a means of support, it helps them blend into society. Neighbors might well become suspicious of young men who do not work, but seem able to pay their bills. Moreover, supporting themselves by working would enable terrorists to avoid the scrutiny that might attend the transfer of money from abroad. Of course, terrorists who do not work can still arrive with large sums of cash, but this too creates risks of detection.

That said, the ban on employment by illegal aliens is one of the most widely violated immigration laws by terrorists. Among those who worked illegally at some point were cia shooter Mir Aimal Kansi; Millennium plot conspirator Abdelghani Meskini; 1993 World Trade Center bombers Eyad Ismoil, Mohammed Salameh, and Mahmud and Mohammed Abouhalima.

Other chokepoints include obtaining a driver’s license and opening a bank account, two things that most of the 9/11 hijackers had done. It is distressing to note that, while Virginia, Florida, and New Jersey tightened their driver’s license rules after learning that the hijackers had used licenses from those states, other states have not. Indeed, California’s then-Governor Gray Davis signed a bill last year intended specifically to provide licenses to illegal aliens (which was repealed after his recall).

As for bank accounts, the trend is toward making it easier for illegal aliens to open them. The governments of Mexico and several other countries have joined with several major banks to promote the use of consular identification cards (for illegals who can’t get other id) as a valid form of identification, something the U.S. Department of the Treasury explicitly sanctioned in an October 2002 report.

Finally, the provision of immigration services is an important chokepoint, one that provides the federal government additional opportunities to screen the same alien. There is a hierarchy of statuses a foreign-born person might possess, from illegal alien to short-term visitor, long-term visitor, permanent resident (green card holder) and finally, naturalized citizen. It is very beneficial for terrorists to move up in this hierarchy because it affords them additional opportunities to harm us. To take only one example: Mahmud Abouhalima—one of the leaders of the first World Trade Center bombing—was an illegal-alien visa overstayer; but he became a legal resident as part of the 1986 illegal-alien amnesty by falsely claiming to be a farmworker, and he was only then able to travel to Afghanistan for terrorist training and return to the United States.

There have been some improvements since 9/11 in the layer of security. Illegal aliens who absconded after receiving their “run letters” are being, very slowly, added to the fbi’s National Crime Information Center (ncic) database, widely used by state and local police. What’s more, the foreign-student tracking system is finally operational and the pilot program to develop a system for employers to verify the legal status of new hires was recently re-authorized and expanded.

But the ambivalence about interior enforcement is even deeper and more pronounced than in the two other layers of immigration control. There is a general sense among many political leaders that enforcing the immigration law is futile and, in any case, would displease important constituencies.

Former ins Commissioner James Ziglar expressed the general resistance to linking immigration law with homeland security when he said a month after the 9/11 attacks that “We’re not talking about immigration, we’re talking about evil.” It is as if the terrorists were summoned from a magic lamp, rather than moving through our extensive but neglected immigration control system, by applying for visas, being admitted by inspectors, and violating laws with impunity inside America.



Upholding the Law

Such ambivalence about immigration enforcement, at whatever stage in the process, compromises our security. It is important to understand that the security function of immigration control is not merely opportunistic, like prosecuting Al Capone for tax violations for want of evidence on his other numerous crimes. The fbi’s use of immigration charges to detain hundreds of Middle Easterners in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was undoubtedly necessary, but it cannot be a model for the role of immigration law in homeland security. If our immigration system is so lax that it can be penetrated by a Mexican busboy, it can sure be penetrated by an Al-Qaeda terrorist.

Since there is no way to let in “good” illegal aliens but keep out “bad” ones, countering the asymmetric threats to our people and territory requires sustained, across-the-board immigration law enforcement. Anything less exposes us to grave dangers. Whatever the arguments for the president’s amnesty and guest worker plan, no such proposal can plausibly be entertained until we have a robust, functioning immigration-control system. And we are nowhere close to that day.


Endnotes

1 See the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies 1998 Strategic Assessment: “Put simply, asymmetric threats or techniques are a version of not ‘fighting fair,’ which can include the use of surprise in all its operational and strategic dimensions and the use of weapons in ways unplanned by the United States. Not fighting fair also includes the prospect of an opponent designing a strategy that fundamentally alters the terrain on which a conflict is fought.”


2 Steven A. Camarota, “The Open Door: How terrorists entered and remained in the United States, 1993-2001” (Washington, dc: Center for Immigration Studies, 2002).

3 “Visas for Terrorists: They were ill-prepared. They were laughable. They were approved,” National Review, October 28, 2002.

4 “America’s Other Border Patrol: The State Department’s Consular Corps and its Role in U.S. Immigration,” by Nikolai Wenzel, Center for Immigration Studies Backgrounder, August 2000, http://www.cis.org/articles/2000/back800.html

5 Joel Mowbray, “Perverse Incentives; The State Department rewards officials responsible for terror visas.” National Review Online, October 22, 2002.


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Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.




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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Terror Strikes in the US--Many Have Predicted--WMDs may be used

By William Webb

These past 10 days, Political Blog For The Politically Incorrect (http://williamwebbdotorg.blogspot.com/) and http:williamwebb.org have run a series of articles warning of the Al Qaida strikes that John Ashcroft will talk about today.

The articles come from a discarded chapter of a book on which I've been working for the better part of 18 months.

Do not be surprised when bin Laden and his gang of Islam-inspired terrorists use at least one weapon of mass destruction against a U.S. city coupled with strikes on targets such as chemical plants or nuclear facilities that kill HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS.

As I have written many times, this is a religious war and until our government and media wake up and come to the same conclusion--and understand the policy choices necessary to fight a religious war--we are in for many more American deaths.

The warnings and the signs have been out there for anyone to read and understand. The media would rather continue to run Abu Ghraith into the ground, harp on our obvious disaster in Iraq, and turn everything into a political circus than do any substantive reporting on the threats we face.

Soon, the promise al Qaida made two years ago and for which
one of the ministers from the religion of peace gave a fatwa to use WMDs against British and American cities is going to come to pass.

Many Americans are going to die and many politicians and media types are going to have blood on their hands.

It is time to wake up and be vigilant. These series of attacks are going to kill many Americans. Write your representatives today and demand they focus on allowing our FBI, CIA, NSA and JTTF and others do their job unimpeded.
Write the media and suggest they focus on stories and information that might lead to the interruption of the coming strikes.

We need to practice democracy in the information age and mobilize the populace to be on the alert for sucpicious behavior and persons.

And like it or not--All of these people will be Muslims. Unfair? Maybe.
True? Yes.



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English Are Saying ENough on Immigration: Will this summer's Al Qaida strike finally spur American outrage?

A divided nation ready to say 'enough is enough'
By Anthony King
(Filed: 26/05/2004)
from :http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/05/26/nvote126.xml

Millions of Britons are feeling seriously beleaguered, YouGov's survey on immigration for The Telegraph makes plain. Large majorities in all sections of society clearly believe the number of immigrants coming into Britain has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.

Hostility towards continuing large-scale immigration is especially widespread among manual workers - the traditional "working classes" - and supporters of the Conservative Party. Business people, professionals and white collar workers tend to be somewhat more relaxed on the issue.


Click to enlarge
The same gap shows itself among readers of different newspapers. Readers of broadsheet papers such as The Telegraph and The Guardian are much readier than readers of the popular tabloids to take a benign view of immigration and even to see it as socially and economically desirable.

However, the nationwide preponderance of anti-immigration sentiment does not translate into any generalised hostility towards immigrants and immigrant communities.

For example, more than half of YouGov's respondents believe that people from other countries coming to live and work in Britain should be free to speak their own language and follow their own customs.

Nor does widespread hostility towards large-scale immigration automatically translate into support for the Conservative Party. Although a mere 14 per cent of voters think Labour has the best policies for dealing with immigration, the figure for the Tories is not much higher at 25 per cent.

A large slice of the electorate appears to despair of both parties. YouGov's findings give an indication of how much importance voters attach to the immigration issue.

The figures shown in the chart suggest that people place immigration much higher on the national agenda than on their own personal agendas. Fully 56 per cent of voters regard immigration and asylum as one of the four "most important issues facing this country" and on this test immigration ranks ahead of any other national concern.

However, when the same respondents were asked to identify the four issues that "mattered most to themselves and their family", only 27 per cent cited immigration and the issue fell from first place to seventh.

Whatever importance people attach to immigration and asylum, the sense that Britain cannot absorb many more newcomers clearly dominates public thinking.

Ministers insist that serious labour shortages in Britain will go on necessitating high levels of immigration, especially of skilled workers, during the coming decades. But the figures in the chart show that the politicians have not even begun to persuade most voters.

Fewer than one in five of YouGov's respondents adheres to the "we need more immigrants" school of thought. Nearly four times that proportion reckons Britain is already overcrowded and has too many people out of work. In the majority's view, we should "do all we can to prevent large numbers of people from other countries coming here to live and work".

As the figures in the chart headed "Too many immigrants?" also show, similar proportions believe there are already more than enough immigrants in Britain and that too many new ones are entering.

Anti-immigration sentiment might be even more widespread if Britons were fully aware of the sheer scale of inward migration in recent years. YouGov asked respondents to say how many people from other countries they thought come to live and work in Britain each year.

Fully 40 per cent of those questioned clearly have no idea how many migrants are now coming in and refused even to hazard a guess. Moreover, as the figures in the chart show, those who guessed were mostly wrong.

In 2002, the last full year for which official figures are available, more than half a million newcomers - nearly 513,000 - came to Britain. Only 16 per cent of YouGov's respondents came anywhere near that figure. More than twice that proportion, 38 per cent, erred grossly on the low side.

However, opinion is more evenly divided on the question of whether the many immigrants who have come to Britain since the Second World War have "made Britain a richer, more diverse and more agreeable country."

Roughly one respondent in three thinks that they have, while one in six reckons their arrival has not made much difference to British life. That total - exactly 50 per cent - exceeds the total of 40 per cent who reckon that large-scale immigration has made Britain "a poorer, more divided and less agreeable country".

On this question, the middle classes, broadly construed, appear readier than manual workers to enjoy the company of new arrivals. The fine print of YouGov's data - not shown in the chart - also indicates that pensioners and people in late middle age are more likely than the young to think that large-scale immigration has been a curse, not a blessing.

Not only are a large majority of Britons hostile to continuing immigration, they view the Government's approach to the issue with profound suspicion. According to YouGov, nearly three quarters of people, 71 per cent, believe the Government has deliberately withheld important facts about immigration that it did not wish the public to know. A similarly large proportion, 72 per cent, reckons the Government takes account of the public opinion on the issue "only occasionally" or "not at all".

The press fares equally badly in the public's eyes - and may inadvertently help to create a wider climate of suspicion. Only a quarter of YouGov's respondents believe that most British newspapers report issues relating to immigration "accurately and fairly", with 56 per cent believing that newspapers seek to create a climate of opinion "favourable towards immigrants and immigration" (11 per cent) or a climate of hostility (45 per cent).

Sentiments of this kind apparently do little to persuade people that either major party would handle immigration better than the other. Asked to say whether the Conservatives or Labour have the best policies on immigration, over half of YouGov's sample responded "don't know" (25 per cent) or "neither" (32 per cent).

A more complicated pattern emerges from the section of the chart headed "Entitlements and assimilation". A large majority clearly does not see newly arrived immigrants as part of the British national community and do not believe new arrivals should be entitled to the same benefits as everyone else.

They believe, instead, that immigrants should be treated on a par with longer-term residents "only if they have lived here for some years and shown a willingness to live in accordance with British laws and customs".

At the same time, there are high levels of support for what might be called ethnic diversity. Just over a third of YouGov's respondents, 38 per cent, want all immigrants to assimilate fully to British ways, including their language and clothes.

A considerably larger proportion, 52 per cent, are evidently content to allow people to speak their own language and follow their own custom - provided they adopt British values concerning such matters as marriage and freedom of expression. A few people, five per cent, even seem prepared to allow immigrants to form what would be separate communities.

Tony Blair's Government has shown a willingness to back so-called faith schools, but most people clearly think they are a bad idea. More than half of YouGov's sample, 53 per cent, believe the Government "should encourage the parents of all faiths to send their children to the same schools" and another large proportion, 29 per cent, take a broadly similar view but have no objection to continuing state support for schools with a Christian emphasis.

In contrast, only a small minority of people, seven per cent, believes the state should encourage the parents of children of minority faiths, such as Hindus, Muslims and Jews, to send their children to separate religious institutions. Although not in favour of forced assimilation, most people clearly want immigrant communities to become integrated into the wider society.

YouGov was also curious to know which parts of the world people would be happy to see new immigrants come from. The most favoured nations are places such as Australia, New Zealand, the Unite States and Canada, closely followed by western European countries such as France, Germany and Italy.

Less predictably, large numbers of people would prefer newcomers to Britain to come from the West Indies rather than from China and ex-Soviet countries such as Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

Taken as a whole, YouGov's findings suggest that, while no national explosion of outrage at continuing immigration is imminent, the feeling among voters that "enough is enough" as regards immigration is both widespread and deep.

The Government will be under mounting public pressure to develop a coherent immigration policy, to say what it is and then to convince the electorate that it is in Britain's national interests. The task of persuasion will not be easy.


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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Is the Mainstream Media finally waking up? What we've been warning you about

AP: Terrorists Planning Summer Attack

By CURT ANDERSON
Associated Press Writer


WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. officials have obtained new intelligence deemed highly credible indicating al-Qaida or other terrorists are in the United States and preparing to launch a major attack this summer, The Associated Press has learned.

The intelligence does not include a time, place or method of attack but is among the most disturbing received by the government since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a senior federal counterterrorism official who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday.

Of most concern, the official said, is that terrorists may possess and use a chemical, biological or radiological weapon that could cause much more damage and casualties than a conventional bomb.

"There is clearly a steady drumbeat of information that they are going to attack and hit us hard," said the official, who described the intelligence as highly credible.

The official declined to provide any specifics about the sources of the information but said there was an unusually high level of corroboration.

Despite that, the official said there was no immediate plan to raise the nation's terrorism threat level from yellow, or elevated, to orange, or high. The threat level has been at yellow - midpoint on the five-color scale - since January.

Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller plan a news conference Wednesday to outline an intensive effort by law enforcement, intelligence and homeland security officials to detect and disrupt any potential plots. And the FBI plans to dispatch a bulletin to some 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies warning of the threat.


The FBI also has already created a special task force that is focused solely on dealing with this summer's threat. The task force, whose existence until recently was classified, is intended to ensure that no valuable bits of information or intelligence fall through the cracks - as happened repeatedly before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Other actions to be taken include new FBI interviews with people who may have provided valuable information in the past and a fresh examination of older investigative leads to determine if they might point to elements of the summer plot.

Beginning with Saturday's dedication of the new World War II Memorial in Washington, the summer presents a number of high-profile targets in the United States. They include the G-8 summit in Georgia next month that will attract top officials from some of America's closest allies, the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July and the Republican National Convention in August in New York.

The FBI and Homeland Security Department also are concerned about so-called soft targets such as shopping malls anywhere in the United States that offer a far less protected environment than a political convention hall.

U.S. authorities repeatedly have said al-Qaida is determined to mount an attack on U.S. soil, in part to announce to the world that it remains capable of doing so despite the money and effort that has gone into homeland security in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

There also is concern terrorists might try to mount an attack to coincide with the November election. The political fallout from the March 11 train bombings in Spain taught al-Qaida that an attack timed to an election can have a major impact. Spain's former ruling party was ousted in the voting that followed the bombing, which killed 191 and injured more than 2,000.

The official did not say how many suspected al-Qaida or other terrorist operatives are believed in the country, whether they made their way into the United States recently or have been here for some time. The FBI has warned in the past that Islamic extremist groups may attempt to recruit non-Middle Easterners or women for attacks because they would be less likely to arouse suspicion.

Special security attention already is being focused to the nation's rail, subway and bus lines. The FBI last week sent out an intelligence bulletin to law enforcement agencies urging vigilance against suicide bombers, who have been used by terror groups worldwide to devastating effect but not so far in the United States.

Separately, Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief Michael Garcia told reporters Tuesday that some 2,300 of its agents are being deployed to assist in security for the high-profile events scheduled this summer in the United States. These include as many as 20 agents each day working with the Secret Service to protect the campaigns of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate.

Garcia said his agency also is working to "tighten the investigative system" to ensure that terrorists do not enter the United States by way of human smuggling operations or through the vast, largely unprotected border with Canada.


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Michael Moore--Botox and a Diet?

Michael and me

The film-maker who could help to bring down Bush has been larging it at Cannes. He has made millions asking awkward questions of corporate America. But there are a few awkward questions we'd like to ask him...

Andrew Anthony
Sunday May 23, 2004
The Observer

It would be wrong to suggest that all of human life passes through the lobby of the Majestic hotel in Cannes. Better to say that beneath its exotic arrangement of palm trees, hanging rugs, Roman statues and permanently illuminated chandeliers goes all of human life with a movie to sell. And therefore followed, of course, by a few other forms of life.
In this baroque setting, on any given day during festival fortnight, the movers, the shakers, the wheelers, the dealers, the chancers, the prancers, the stars and the starlets perform a complex social dance that, with its anxious overlapping non-conversations, might have been choreographed by Robert Altman. Never stopping for more than a moment, the parties embrace, scan the room for someone more powerful, more famous or more beautiful, promise to fix something up, and then move swiftly on. Later, these fleeting encounters will be described as meetings.

Not much stops the palm-squeezing and back-slapping. No one, for example, is too distracted when David Carradine, the star of the Seventies TV series Kung Fu, blows kisses from the top of the stairs, even though he is wearing a Mao jacket and sunglasses and a pair of pumps with 'Kill Bill' lettering to promote his role in Quentin Tarantino's film. Nor are there more than a few jerked necks when Harvey Weinstein, the dark prince of the deal, walks through brandishing a terrifying grin. But everything freezes as a large man with a fast-food gut and a laboured waddle, wispy beard and glasses, makes his way to the door.

Extended hands are left unshaken, air-kisses go unaired, the hubbub softens and two strikingly elegant women teeter on their kitten heels to get a better view, their faces a portrait of rapt admiration. Here comes Michael Moore, film-maker, author, political activist, global phenomenon.

Last week on the baking Côte d'Azur, there was no one hotter than the big fellow from Michigan. Among the stylish hordes of the Croisette, there was no greater attraction than this ursine fig ure in his ill-fitting suit. Everyone wanted a piece of him, and there is a lot of him to go around, but after months of requests, I had the only one-on-one interview. Michael and Me, we had a real meeting arranged.

Moore arrived in Cannes by his traditional mode of transport - on a wave of controversy. Disney had announced that it would not distribute his new film, Fahrenheit 9/11, in America, which left the film's producers, Miramax, a division of Disney, looking for a new partner. Moore accused Disney of censoring his film to protect the tax breaks its Disneyworld complex enjoys in Florida, the state controlled by Jeb Bush, brother of the President (Fahrenheit 9/11 details the cronyism and corruption of the Bush regime, as well as its failings in the 'war against terror').

Disney countered that Moore had known for more than a year that it would not handle the film and was only complaining now to publicise his film. Nevertheless, the director once again successfully positioned himself on the moral high ground in a battle against a multinational corporation. He finessed the same manoeuvre with Stupid White Men, his bestselling critique of American capitalism, by claiming that Harper Collins had tried to suppress the book, and that it only agreed to publish him following a protest by librarians.

Moore, the king-sized millionaire, walking testament to American consumption, is a master of making himself appear the little guy. He told reporters that before Disney, Mel Gibson's company, Icon, had also dropped the film, following a phone call from a man in Washington who told Icon that if they continued with the film Gibson would no longer be welcome at the White House. Icon denied the story, but how could they prove that the mysterious Washington caller did not exist?

The net effect of all these claims and counter-claims was that Fahrenheit 9/11 was the film that everyone on the Croisette wanted to see. But as not everyone had tickets, the old-fashioned capitalist marketing ploy of making demand outstrip supply ensured maximum frenzy and thus still greater demand. In Cannes, nobody wants to hear the word can't. Naturally, the bidding on buying the distribution rights just went up and up.

The film, as it turned out, is Moore's strongest since Roger and Me, his debut documentary 15 years ago which examined the damage wrought by General Motors on his home town of Flint. Whereas the Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine was hit-and-miss, self-contradictory, and more than a little sanctimonious, Fahrenheit 9/11 seldom loses sight of its target - the Bush administration - or its sense of humour.

It is also, with a couple of exceptions, a triumph of editing. Indeed, Moore is arguably the most ideological and emotive editor since Sergei Eisenstein, the Soviet propagandist who developed a kind of didactic montage. Juxtaposing heroes and villains, he cuts between political comedy and tragic reality with intoxicating glee. There is no information that is vitally new, nor are there any images that are more shocking than those from Abu Ghraib prison, but such is the cumulative force of the film, with its kinetic humour and insistent sentiment, that it is hard to come away from it without concluding a) that George W Bush is not fit to be president of a golf club let alone the world's most powerful nation and b) the war in Iraq was woefully misconceived. In the year of an election that could well prove close, it's the kind of film that could make a historic difference.

In the past, Moore has been accused of twisting chronology and events to suit his agenda. While neither Bowling for Columbine nor Roger and Me can be accused of major factual errors, both trade on a series of misleading implications. For example, in Bowling for Columbine the audience is led to believe that the two teenage killers at Columbine high school may have been inured to violence by the proximity of a local weapons factory. Yet it later emerged that the factory produced nothing more lethal than rockets to launch TV satellites. The film critic Richard Schickel labelled Moore 'the very definition of the unreliable narrator'.

If there is a question mark over the trustworthiness of Moore's work, few can doubt its power, still less its influence. Bowling for Columbine was by far the biggest-grossing documentary in history. Stupid White Men , an easy-read satire, was the bestselling non-fiction book in the US in 2002, with 4 million copies in print worldwide, and 600,000 of those in the UK. At one point the book, and its follow-up, Dude, Where's My Country?, stood at numbers one and two in the German bestseller list. The sales of his films and books have made him known across the planet, as well as very rich, but the image he has sold of himself - fat, bumbling, nerdy, but indefatigable - has made him something else: an international man of the people.

As the limousine carrying Moore to his Cannes press conference pulls out of the Majestic, bound for the Palais less than 200 yards up the road, an Argentinian TV crew rushes out into the road to interview the director. The automatic tinted windows slide down and a few brief words are exchanged before a security guard steps in. The man with the microphone tries to give Moore an Argentinian flag but the security guard won't allow him. 'Put that down,' he warns, as if it were a semi-automatic weapon. The window goes up and the car moves off.

More than Moore's wealth, the question of security is perhaps the issue that most threatens his down-to-earth ordinary Joe persona. In Bowling for Columbine, he posits the theory that America's gun violence problem stems from a culture of fear created by a racist media. Last year, during a residency at the Roundhouse in London, he suggested that if the passengers on 11 September had been black, they would have fought back against the hijackers, and that spoilt whites were too used to having other people look after them.

But during the same series of dates in London, he complained about the lack of security so vehemently that the Roundhouse staff threatened to boycott the show. I got a taste of the air of paranoia surrounding Moore when, because I was without a suitable pass, a friendly PR snuck me into the main press conference alongside his entourage. Suddenly, one of his assistants turned to me and demanded to know who I was. The PR explained that I was with her.

'And who are you with?' asked the assistant.

'You,' replied the perplexed PR. 'I'm working with you.'

'I've never seen you before in my life,' announced the assistant and a security guard duly intervened to bar both of us. It was only when the PR persuaded the assistant that in fact they had been working together all day that the guard relented. On stage, Moore was asked why it was that he was flanked by three security men, who stood with their feet apart, hands clasped at their crotches, in an intimidating military stance. The director did as he always does when asked this question, and claimed that they were his fitness trainer, pilates teacher and masseur, then turned the idea that he needed protection into an elaborate joke. 'I'm not afraid of anything,' he mugged. 'Should I be?' The room broke into laughter.

Moore knows how to field difficult questions before a crowd. When one reporter told him that she had spoken to Icon and they knew nothing of the supposed caller from Washington, Moore told her to speak to his agent - 'He knows all about it.' She told him she had spoken to his agent, that he had professed ignorance of the matter, and had told her that she should speak to Moore. The director simply referred her back to his agent.

After the conference, Moore went to the official screening of his film, which is in competition for the main jury prize. The end of the film brought a standing ovation that, observers estimated, lasted somewhere between 12 and 15 minutes, a Cannes record, and possibly unmatched since Stalin's audiences used to continue clapping for mortal fear of being the first person to stop.

The applause here, though, was genuine. For the Americans who made up a large section of the audience, this was their first opportunity to stand up straight after the shaming horrors of Abu Ghraib, and for the French, well, there is nothing the French love more than an American criticising America. The following evening on French TV, I watched Moore thank the French peo ple for being 'friends who can tell you the truth to your face'. He might have returned the favour and told the French about their government's appalling role in Rwanda a decade before - but there are limits to truth-telling, even among friends.

The charge that Moore, who turned 50 last month, has only ever established a partial relationship with the truth is one that stretches way back into his career. Although he has lived in the rarefied neighbourhood of Manhattan's Upper West Side for the past 14 years, Moore very rarely lets an interview go by without referring to himself as 'working-class'. In fact, he grew up in a middle-class suburb of Flint, in a two-car family. His father was an auto-plant worker who played golf, retired in his fifties, and was well-off enough to send his three children to college.

Moore dropped out of university and, after stints as a hippie DJ, and a period running a crisis centre for teenagers, he set-up an alternative newspaper, the Flint Voice. He edited it with such verve, exposing corrupt officials and racist businesses, that in 1986 the San Francisco-based magazine Mother Jones asked him to become its editor. But just a few months after taking up the position, he was fired. According to the owner of the magazine, the staff said that he was impossible to work with. As far as Moore was concerned, he lost his job because he was set against a piece that was critical of the Sandinistas' record on human rights.

Either way, he won $58,000 damages in a suit for wrongful dismissal, sold his house and put all the money into making Roger and Me . The documentary was a notable critical, if not spectacular commercial, success. Thereafter Moore moved to New York and television, making zany political series such as TV Nation and The Awful Truth, which were full of Moore's trademark stunts designed to mock greed and ignorance and humbug.

Behind the scenes, however, a different picture was forming. Moore's employers were confronted with ever more regal demands. He insisted that Channel 4 house him at the Ritz when he worked in England on The Awful Truth, a fact he now portrays as the revenge of the working class against corporate might. Meanwhile employees grumbled. 'He's a jerk and a hypocrite and didn't treat us right and he was false in all of his dealings,' said one former worker. His former manager, Douglas Urbanski, has said that Moore 'was the most difficult man I've ever met... he's money-obsessed'.

To such complaints, Moore has a stock Nietzschean-cum-Obi-Wan Kenobi answer, which is that whatever attacks his critics launch at him, only make him stronger. 'The readership only expands, the viewership for the movies only expands, and they just look ridiculous.'

And, statistically, he's right. Currently, there is no more powerful anti-war protester in America, and therefore arguably the world, than Moore. In this country, the Mirror named him 'the greatest living American'. Recently, when he called Bush a 'deserter' it caused a scandal in the States, but it also put Bush's dubious record as a National Guardsman during the Vietnam war at the top of the agenda for the first time. He plays sell-out stadiums wherever he travels, and while he has become something of a bogeyman to the American right, and an embarrassment to a small section of the liberal left, he is to many millions the world over the underdogs' most heroic spokesperson. It's a reputation that was cemented by his celebrated Oscar speech at last year's awards ceremony, in which he lambasted Bush and told the assembled actors that they lived in 'fictitious times'.

He would tell interviewers afterwards that he had not planned the speech, assuming that he would not win, but elsewhere he has said that he warned his fellow competitors that he was going to make an anti-war statement. That's the problem with Moore: you can't be certain of the veracity of what he says. Is he the radical who has claimed to give a third of his income to worthy causes or a ruthless self-aggrandising hypocrite, or both?

Now, with my exclusive one-to-one interview, I was, I hoped, about to see the real Michael Moore. But a small cloud had appeared in the brilliant blue Mediterranean sky. The publicity company dealing with Moore in Cannes had resigned, as a fractious working relationship had become intolerable, with the director and Weinstein apparently reducing one of the publicists to tears. The new publicists, drawn and anxious-looking, were at pains to let me know that the interview would still go ahead. They just couldn't be sure what time it would be. And, oh, one other thing, it had been cut to 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes! That was barely enough time to ask a question, let alone hear it answered.

I waited in the lobby of the Majestic, and was finally allotted a time. The hour came and passed. There was no sign of Moore. Was he pulling a Naomi, the no-show interview technique perfected by supermodel Naomi Campbell? He once told an interviewer that he didn't like interviews because he had 'no control over what you're going to write'. One form of control, of course, is not to arrive.

The publicist told me that Moore's lunch meeting had run over but that she was sure everything would be OK. It was clear from her stricken expression that she had no idea where Moore was. She went away and what seemed like a week later returned with a definite slot and disappointing news. Owing to Moore's other engagements, the interviews now had to be compressed, and I would be sharing my limited time with one journalist from Australia and another from Japan.

Inside a well-manned salon, Moore was sporting a baseball cap with the legend 'Made in Canada', a blue hooded tracksuit top, khaki shorts and sandals. Crouched over a circular conference table, he looked like a lumpen tourist at a Vegas blackjack game, uncertain, ill at ease.

'You cool with them being here?' he asked me conspiratorially, though quite brazenly, in front of the Australian and Japanese journalists.

When I told him that it wasn't what was advertised on the brochure, he said: 'Yeah, I don't know what to do here. They've got me so jammed. No offence to you, the Japanese,' he gestured to the Japanese woman, 'but you both deserve your own time,' now gesturing to the Australian woman and myself. Either he doesn't sell too well in Japan or there was a hint of racism in that distinction, but Moore was too caught up in his own drama to notice. 'This is bullshit, you know. Don't they understand the difference between the Observer and a Portuguese magazine, no offence to the Portuguese, but don't they know? I'm just asking, man.'

From being the architect of this farrago, Moore turned himself into the victim, betrayed by the nameless, omnipotent 'they'. He continued in the same vein, currying my favour with his appreciation of the Observer until, to her great credit, the Japanese woman asked if we could begin the interview. At which point Moore burst out laughing, to his credit at himself.

My strategy, given the rushed circumstances, was to dispense with formal inquiries, let the other two ask about the film and general matters, and restrict myself to awkward questions. I wondered if he has any regrets about supporting Ralph Nader, the independent candidate in the previous American presidential election. Most observers think that the votes Nader took from Al Gore were vital in gaining Bush's disputed victory.

'None whatsoever,' he says without hesitation, although he's called on Nader not to stand this time round. What's the difference?

'Wrong year. Even the Green party in the US have said they're not going to campaign in the swing states... I've been very disappointed and very saddened by Ralph, who's a great American who's done many great things. But in his later years he has become, you know, somewhat bitter and vindictive. And I don't want to speak ill of him because he's done so much good, but he has not a single... except I think I heard maybe Patti Smith is supporting him.' His silent ellipses could mean nothing but 'celebrity endorsement'.

I ask him why his old friend and longtime collaborator Ben Hamper, a former Flint auto-worker whom he helped become a writer, told the New Yorker magazine, in among a number of otherwise flattering comments, that Moore 'didn't treat people well'.

'Right,' says Moore, rising to the charge, 'and then he sent me a letter saying that he said that while he was drunk. He has a horrible alcohol problem and I don't really want to talk about it,' he says, going straight on to talk about it, 'because I feel bad because he's a friend. He sent me this painful, painful letter. He hasn't been able to write a book in over 12 years. He's literally had this writer's block that has not been helped by the prescription drugs and the alcohol problem. I care deeply about him. And it's hard for someone like that because here we were putting out this paper in Flint and I've gone on and written my books, made my films, I have this life and, you know, he's struggling. My wife and I have tried to help him [but] at some point in this situation you've got to stop being the enabler and he's got to get it together himself.'

He then tells me how well he pays his employees the best independent film rates around, and even calls in a young assistant and asks him to tell me how much he earns. 'Eight hundred dollars a week?,' he says gingerly. 'What else?' asks Moore. 'You pay for my cell phone.' 'So,' says Moore, 'roughly a thousand a week.' Sounds like roughly $800 to me, but who's quibbling?

The point is, he insists, he's not fallen out with any employees since 1994. I ask if he worked out how to be a better employer.

'I just think I'm a better person,' he says, his head bowed in theatrically solemn contemplation, 'because I'm always struggling to be a better person. I'm a highly flawed individual, as we all are, and because I was raised by Jesuits, I'm constantly, "What is it about me and what I can do to be better?"'

It is doubtless to this mission that he refers in Stupid White Men, when he writes: 'If you're white, and you really want to help change things, why not start with yourself?'

With this thought in mind, I ask him why he decided to send his daughter to a private school in Manhattan.

'Oh,' he says brightly, 'I went to private school. Just a genetic decision. My wife and I, we both went to Catholic schools, we're not public-school [which in the US means state school] people.

So it's not important.

'No, I think it's important and the first five years she went to public school, then we moved to New York and we went to see the local public school and we walked through a metal detector and we said, "We're not putting our child through a metal detector." We'll continue our fight to see to it that our society is such that you don't have to have a metal detector at the entrance to schools. But our daughter is not the one to be sacrificed to make things better. And so she went to a school two blocks away. She just went to the nearest other school.'

He makes it sound as if the other school was just a random choice, but private schools on the Upper West Side are all restrictively expensive, and mostly white, just as the state schools are disproportionately black.

'Is that a bad thing?' he asks rhetorically of his decision, 'I don't know. Every parent wants to do what's best for their child. Whatever I can afford, I'm going to get my kid the best education I can get.'

I suggest that, while that may be a natural instinct, it's hard to see why it's any different from the Republican philosophy of each man for himself and his family.

'I'm not a liberal. When you come from the working class and you do well enough whereby you can provide a little bit better for your family, get a decent roof over their head and send them to a good school, that's considered a good thing. If,' he emphasises, 'you're from the working class. What's bad about it is if you get to do that and then shut the door behind you so nobody else can do that.'

Of course, it's nobody's business but Moore's where he sends his child, except he makes it his business to detail the hereditary privilege of his subjects and tends to make his political arguments personal. In Fahrenheit 9/11 one of his stunts is to attempt to get Congressmen to sign their children up for the war in Iraq.

I ask him finally - the interview has now stretched either side of another with Italian TV - which other documentary film-makers he admires. He names Errol Morris, and a few others, but does not mention Nick Broomfield, whose signature style of putting himself in the frame Moore has to some extent borrowed. I ask how he rates Broomfield.

He pauses. 'I consider him a friend.'

I wait for his answer, as he tucks into a bowl of pickles.

'Do you think he wants to be on camera?' he puts the question back to me. 'Do you think he looks like he's enjoying it?'

What I think, after my short time in his company, is that Moore is a man you would not want as an opponent, but also one you'd think twice about calling a friend. Though a talented film-maker and a clever showman, a populist who knows how to play the maverick, he is too often both big-headed and small-minded. In his desire to be seen as the decent man telling truth to power, he is too ready to blame those less powerful than himself for his shortcomings. He was justly revered in the Palais, but out on the street no one had a kind word to say about him. At Cannes, Moore may have been the star but he was not, it seems, the man of the people.


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Countdown to the next big strike in America--Part 5 Mass Destruction by other Means

By William Webb

Mass Destruction By Other Means

While the evidence that Muslim extremists plan to use WMDs against the West is overwhelming, there are other operations planned that could result in similarly massive destruction and hundreds of thousands of casualties. These operations have been planned, attempted or thwarted before and should come as no surprise when one or more is actually carried out. As bin Laden said in an interview on Al Jazeera, “They never understand until they are hit on the head.”
To understand the likely type of operation planned, you need to listen to bin Laden: “America is a great power possessed of tremendous military might and a wide-ranging economy, but all this is built upon an unstable foundation that can be targeted, with special attention to its obvious weak spots. If it is hit in one hundredth of those spots, God willing, it will stumble, wither away and relinquish world leadership.”

Bin Laden is using asymmetrical warfare to conduct strategic acts of terror. The pundits and critics who think the aim was just to terrorize or destroy have completely missed the point. While the attacks themselves were horrible and caused mass destruction, it was the damage to the economy that Al-Qaida sought.

While many believe we will see suicide bombings, shootings, and other low-level forms of terror from “friends of Al-Qaida,” the big multinational terrorist groups will focus on events designed to strike at our economy and government.

Their goal is the destruction of your way of life.
Bin Laden chose the 9/11 targets personally. He understood the criticality of the airline industry and the ripple effect it would have on other parts of the economy. He understood the economic impact of taking down the twin towers.

With the pressure the war on terror has put on Al-Qaida and other terror groups, you can expect the next attack on the United States to be both large-scale and deadly. It will be designed to have serious economic consequences as well as kill many more people than on 9/11. Of the non-WMD scenarios, the two most likely are an attack against a nuclear generating facility or a chemical complex.


As stated earlier, crashing an airliner into a nuclear power plant was one the initial plans for 9/11. As KSM told Yosri Fouda, “We first thought of striking a couple of nuclear facilities but decided against it for fear it would go out of control—It was eventually decided to leave out nuclear targets—for now

There is growing evidence that later may be upon us.
President Bush said in a speech in his January 2002 State of the Union that “diagrams of American nuclear power plants” have been found among the items left by terrorists in Afghanistan.

On January 31, 2002 Bill Gertz broke a story in the Washington Times and reported: “U.S. intelligence agencies have issued an internal alert that Islamic terrorists are planning another spectacular attack to rival those carried out on September 11.

“The detailed warning was issued within the past two weeks in a classified report that said one target was a U.S. nuclear power plant or one of the Energy Department’s nuclear facilities.”

Unfortunately it appears that the actual security from either a ground or air assault against United States nuclear power plants is lacking. Representatives Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and John Dingell (D-MI) issued a GAO report in September 2003 that found serious weaknesses in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) oversight of security at civilian nuclear reactors.

“It is stunning that the NRC still isn’t assuring the safety of the millions of Americans who live near the 104 licensed nuclear reactors two years after the attacks of September 11,” Markey said. “The “GAO has documented a disturbing pattern of lax NRC oversight and attention to security at these sensitive facilities that are at the very top of Al-Qaida’s list for future attacks.”

Among the findings of this report, two years after 9/11, and after a growing body of evidence suggests the high priority and likelihood of an attack against a civilian reactor, were that NRC routinely minimized the significance of security problems by classifying them as “non-cited violations.”

And what is a non-cited violation? The report told of guards sleeping on duty, failing to escort visitors in sensitive areas, failing to properly search people who had set off detection equipment, and falsifying official logs of security checks.

Even more disturbing were the findings concerning the force-on-force exercises of how well a nuclear plant might defend against a real-life threat. Apparently 52 of 55 sites that ran the exercises used up to 80 percent more guards than are typically present at the sites. The sites used mock terrorist who are not trained in terrorist techniques, such as other security guards and staff members. They also used unrealistic weapons such as rubber guns during the simulations.

These shortcomings could come as no surprise. There have been countless warnings in the media, before congressional committees, and in hundreds of articles since 9/11.


David Orrik, director of the NRC’s Operational Safeguards Response Evaluation program, told the Los Angeles Times “from 1991 to 2000, anti-terrorist exercises showed ‘a potential vulnerability’ at nearly 50 percent of the 68 plants tested. In simulated sabotage exercises, government employees or contractors attempt to breach plant security and get close to the reactor core. Severe damage to a core could allow the release of enough radiation to endanger the public.”

After much argument within the media, the NRC also had to admit that most of the reactors in the United States were not built to withstand the crash of a Boeing 757 or 767 into the reactor dome or supporting infrastructure.
And what could you expect if terrorists succeed in attacking a nuclear reactor?

According to Daniel Hirsch writing in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, “A typical nuclear power plant contains within its core about 1,000 times the long-lived radioactivity released by the Hiroshima bomb. The spent fuel pools at nuclear power plants typically contain some multiple of that—several Chernobyls’ worth.”

This amount of radioactivity essentially makes every nuclear reactor a colossal dirty bomb that has the potential to contaminate an enormous area with a radioactive cloud. Hirsch quoted an earlier study in which the “NRC estimated years ago that a meltdown at one of the San Onofre reactors in Southern California could produce 130,000 ‘prompt’ fatalities, 300,000 latent cancers, and 600,000 genetic defects. Analyses for other reactors performed by Sandia National Laboratories for the NRC estimated damages up to $314 billion in 1980 dollars (the equivalent of about $700 billion today).”

How much danger do you face? An Al Akhbar editorial states: “America thinks it is distant from this danger, but it would seem that it has forgotten—or pretends it has forgotten—September 11, 2001, which exposed its weakness! It is not out of reach of anyone!” This certainly appears true when comes to the vulnerability of our nuclear facilities.

Unfortunately, it may be true should terrorists strike a chemical plant within the United States. Following 9/11, there were hundreds of stories about the vulnerabilities of various chemical plants within the United States. Many of them gave specific vulnerabilities and could be used by terrorists in planning and conducting attacks against the facilities mentioned. I tend to agree with Senator Tom Daschle who said, “I worry about our chemical facilities and what could happen were an attack to be launched against one of our toxic chemical storage facilities. There are so many points of vulnerability—that would be number one.”

The Charlotte Observer asks “Who’s really prepared for a chemical terrorist attack on U.S. soil? Just about nobody, apparently.”

Numerous studies have estimated that up to 2 million people could be killed, depending on the location of the plant.


As former Senator Gary Hart said, “the 15,000 facilities around the country that produce, use, or store significant quantities of toxic chemicals present attractive targets for terrorists. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 100 of these plants, especially those near urban areas could endanger a million or more Americans if attacked. In 2001, the Armys surgeon general reportedly ranked this health risk second only to a widespread biological attack. Earlier this year, the National Infrastructure Protection Center warned that Al-Qaida might target chemical facilities in the United States as part of its terror campaign. And Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has said that the administration is concerned that terrorists could turn a chemical facility “into a weapon.”

Despite that recognition, President Bush supports legislation that urges only voluntary security measures on the part of chemical companies, without any government oversight whatsoever

The idea of turning something like a nuclear power plant or chemical facility into a weapon is already being considered by terrorists. How safe do you want to be?
How much danger do you really face?

From the immediate terrorist threat, hopefully and regrettably, you have come to realize that you and your loved ones will remain a target for years to come. While it is true that if you live in the mountains of North Carolina or a farm in Ohio, or anywhere in small-town or rural America, the chances of being killed or injured are remote, the coming attacks will affect your way of life. The attacks will be aimed to cause maximum economic and political damage.

Al-Qaida and other religiously inspired terrorist groups have declared war on you and everything you represent.

An Al Jazeera guest said, “the relations between America and us differ from the relations between us and all the other peoples or nations. These are relations between two [very] different nations: One is a nation that was chosen by Allah, who tested it and purified it with disasters so that it will atone for its sins. Allah is using that nation in order to wave the banner of truth and justice on the face of the earth. This is our nation. There is also a tyrannous and evil nation that Allah is manipulating, unbeknownst to it, until it reaches the end to which it is sentenced—the same end that was the lot of all the nations of heresy, tyranny, and aggression.”

It is this belief of Muslim terrorists that they are somehow acting out the will of the Divine, that guarantees the war will continue and that more horror is to come for the West.

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Monday, May 24, 2004

The Worst is Yet To Come

May. 11, 2004 21:26

from http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1084251780664&p=1078027574121

By DAVID RUDGE


Global terrorism is on the rise and is likely to continue unabated for the next 100 years, according to Prof. Yonah Alexander, one of the world's leading analysts on the subject.

Alexander, director of the Inter-Universities Center for Terrorism Studies, also believes it is only a matter of time before groups like al-Qaida use non-coventional weapons as part of attempts to promulgate their ideology and undermine western society.


In this respect, he anticipates that al-Qaida's next theater of operations will be Europe, where the organization has established a widespread base and network.

"If you ask me whether the worst is yet to come, the answer is definitely yes," Alexander told The Jerusalem Post prior to giving a lecture as guest speaker at the University of Haifa's National Security Studies Center.

"We can expect to see an escalation in terrorism on a global scale with a continuation of conventional acts of terror, such as suicide bombings and shooting, as well as mega-terror like September 11 in the US and March 11 in Spain.

"There will also be a move towards the use of non-conventional weapons: biological, chemical, nuclear as in dirty bombs, and cyber-terrorism, whereby perpetrators will try to disrupt power supplies and air traffic, for example, at the touch of a button."

Alexander, who is based in the US and Israel, has studied the subject of terrorism in the Middle East and the global arena for over 40 years and has published over 100 books on the issue. The center he heads is a consortium of universities and think-tanks in some 30 countries.

He said there had already been indications of future trends by terrorist organizations such as the anthrax attacks in the US after September 11, 2001, reports that al-Qaida was trying to produce ricin and, in Israel, the abortive attempt to blow up the Pi Glilot fuel and gas storage depot.

"According to the studies we have conducted, we can expect a continuation of bus bombings like the ones that have occurred in Israel, as well as attempts to strike at chemical plants and infrastructure targets and super-terrorism with non-conventional weapons," said Alexander.

The supposition that international terrorism will expand and escalate is based, according to Alexander, on factors such as the spread of radical theological ideology, racial intolerance, ethnic and religious differences and, especially in Africa, tribal rivalries, as well as extremist nationalism and separatism.

Furthermore, he cited the numerous disputes and conflicts throughout the world, such as those in Chechnya, Kashmir, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South America, as well as the gap between developed nations and poorer countries.

"Other important factors include the intensification of the link between terrorism and organized crime, and the education of hatred, including anti-Semitism, that we see all the time on various Internet sites," said Alexander.

"The problem here is that children are being brought up to hate and they will pass this on to their children and so forth, which is why we don't see an end to terrorism in the next 100 years.

"Should we be concerned about the future? Yes, we should, because of the motivation of terrorists, their ideologies, the availability of funds, the proliferation of conventional and non-conventional weapons, the intrinsic vulnerability of democratic societies and the high cost of trying to counter terror.

"What concerns many is the expansion of international networks as seen after the Madrid bombings, when links were discovered between Spanish citizens and people in North Africa, Asia, and with various other groups like Hamas.

"It would be a grave mistake, however, to say that Islam is generating this terror. In fact, Islam has been hijacked and taken hostage by extremists who are using it to serve their own interests."
Alexander, in his lecture, posed the questions of whether nations should submit to terrorism and whether civilization would survive in the event of the use of non-conventional weapons.

In the first case, he maintained that submission only serves to encourage terrorists and their leaders and boost their motivation, while survival would depend on nations taking all necessary steps to reduce the risks, including international intelligence cooperation.

"Dealing with terrorism requires a broad range of responses, starting with clear and coherent policies. It is necessary to have quality intelligence, as well as law enforcement, the military, and the means to counter technological and cyber-terrorism," said Alexander.

"We also need an educational response because the children of today will be the terrorists of tomorrow. Unless we can defuse the extremist ideological and theological elements and their propaganda, the measures won't work.

"We have to deal with the root causes and try to improve economic and social conditions – a sort of global Marshall plan – but first it is necessary to deal with the terror leadership.

"To this end some innocent civilians might be harmed but, make no mistake, this is war and to fight it nations have to pool their resources. No nation can deal with the problem unilaterally.
"In the past, terrorism was regarded as a tactical rather than a strategic threat but it has become a permanent fixture and a challenge to the strategic interests of nations.

"In fact," said Alexander, "it represents the most threatening challenge to civilization in the 21st century. The question of survival will depend to a great extent on how civilized society tackles this threat."



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Countdown to the next big strike in America--Part 4

by William Webb

Weapons of Mass Destruction—Chemical and Biological Weapons

Interrogation of captured Al-Qaida leaders and examination of evidence from safe houses in Afghanistan and other places around the globe has prompted Western governments to place chemical and biological terrorism at the top of the probability matrix for the next big terrorist strike against the West.

The possibilities for types and uses of chemical or biological attacks alone could fill an entire book. In a pre-9/11 study, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists “several categories of chemical agents as presenting enough of a threat to require active public health planning. These include nerve agents, such as tabun (ethyl N, N-dimethylphosphoramidocyanidate), Sarin (isopropyl methylphosphanofluoridate), soman (pinacolyl methyl phosphonofluoridate), GF (cyclohexylmethylphosphonofluoridate), and VX (o-ethyl-[S]-[2-isopropylaminoethyl]-methylphosphonothiolate).

“They include blood agents such as hydrogen cyanide and cyanogen chloride; and blister agents such as lewisite (an aliphatic arsenic compound, 2-chlorovinyldichloroarsine), nitrogen and sulfur mustards, and phosgene
oxime. And, they include pulmonary agents like phosgene, chlorine, and vinyl chloride; and incapacitating agents like BZ (3-quinuclidinyl benzilate);

“Other agents on the CDC’s list are more commercial in character. They include heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury; and volatile toxins like benzene, chloroform, and trihalomethanes. Other agents include explosive nitro compounds and oxidizers, such as ammonium nitrate combined with fuel oil. They include pulmonary agents like phosgene, chlorine, and vinyl chloride; persistent and nonpersistent pesticides; and dioxins, furans, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
They include flammable industrial gases and liquids like gasoline, propane; and poison industrial gases, liquids, and solids, like the cyanides, and nitriles. Finally, they include corrosive industrial acids and bases like nitric and sulfuric acid. ”

It is a veritable witches brew of deadly possibilities. The world has already witnessed a preview with sarin gas attacks in a residential neighborhood in Matsumoto, Japan in June 1994 that killed seven people and injured 500, and again in a Japanese subway in March 1995, which killed 12 and injured more than 1,000. The group responsible for the atrocities, Aum Shinrikyo, bought the formula for sarin from a Russian and successfully manufactured and tested it in a lab in Western Australia.

Not to be forgotten are the results of Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against the Iranians during their protracted war and their use once again, against Iraqi Kurd civilians.

Chemical weapons are available from numerous pro-Islamic regimes including Syria, Iran, former Iraqis supporters of Sad am Hussein who are still on the run and active in the resistance, Sudan, Libya, Pakistan, and remnants of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

According to Western intelligence and public sources, a chapter of Al-Qaida’s voluminous 5,000-page Encyclopedia of Jihad is devoted to the manufacturing and production of chemical and biological weapons.

According to CNN correspondent Mike Boettcher, “The information in them, according to former Special Operations people who have seen them, is very good and very detailed …The manual on chemical and biological warfare did come as a surprise. It was not known that they had put together a volume that was a repository of their knowledge of chemical and biological weapons. It should be pointed out that the chem-bio manual instructs operatives in the manufacture of agents that can be easily put together in the field with ingredients readily available.”

That Al-Qaida already had plans to use chemical weapons in Europe is a fact. In November 2002, British MI5 agents arrested three Muslims in a plot to use cyanide gas in an attack on the London subway.

While one of the deputy prime ministers denied the story reported by The Sunday Times and others, several other people were arrested in neighboring countries in apparently connected plots. Other plots were uncovered involving cyanide in Paris and Rome. In Rome, four Moroccan Muslim extremists were arrested with 8.8 lbs of a cyanide compound and maps of the city’s reservoir and entrances to the U.S. embassy.

There have been chemical threats in United States the as well. Both the Washington, D.C. and New York subway systems received credible threats, one that was part of the reason of a raised alert level earlier in 2003.

As an element of the investigation of a suspected Al-Qaida training camp in Bly, Oregon, federal agents arrested Semi Osman, a Lebanese national and Imam, or prayer leader, at a now-defunct fundamentalist mosque in Seattle. Osman had ties to radical Sheik Abu Hamza al-Masri, one of Al-Qaida’s leading recruiters in London and the person believed to be behind the Oregon training camp.

Among the many items confiscated when Osman was arrested were “additional firearms, military field manuals, papers by Abu Hamza, instructions on poisoning water supplies, a visa application to Yemen and various other items associated with Islamic radicalism.”


Captured Al-Qaida operatives have spoken of plans and training for using chemicals to poison water supplies and to pump poison gases through the intake vents of large buildings.

Pentagon officials concluded that lab equipment confiscated by U.S. forces in Afghanistan probably indicated that Al-Qaida had acquired everything it needed for a very limited production of both chemical and biological agents.
Of course the most chilling reminder of Al-Qaida’s desire to use chemical weapons are the infamous puppy tapes carried on CNN in August of 2002. The captured tapes show dogs being gassed by what intelligence experts believed to be hydrogen cyanide or a crude nerve agent.

Ahmad Rassam, the terrorist who pled guilty to plotting to bomb the Los Angeles Airport, LAX, during the time of millennium celebrations said in court that he also had witnessed the gassing of a dog with cyanide while in training in Afghanistan.

Like dirty bombs, chemical weapons can be constructed and delivered quite easily depending on the agent. The fact that Al-Qaida and other groups have easy access to the weapons and have already gained religious justification to use them places chemical weapons very high on the threat pyramid.

Of even greater concern, are biological weapons. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who along with President Bill Clinton started the Hart-Rudman Commission whose reports read like prophecy today, wrote in The American Enterprise “the greatest threat to the human race over the next 30 to 50 years is an engineered infectious biological weapon.”

Fortunately, terrorists do not seem to have acquired either the expertise or the biological agents—yet—for a catastrophic strike, but their ability to cause terror and death with biological weapons must not be underestimated.
The main problem with bio weapons is similar to that of chemical weapons.

There are many sources of expertise and weapons from countries sympathetic to Muslim and anti-Western causes. These include the usual suspects: Iran, Syria, former members of the former Iraqi regime, North Korea, Sudan, Libya, and former Muslim members of Russia’s enormous bio-weapons programs.

Investigations into the activities of the 19 hijackers of 9/11 revealed that Mohamed Atta, Zacarias Moussaoui, and others actively researched and sought information and materials on acquiring, operating, and flying crop dusters to spread chemical or biological agents.

America experienced bio-war on a small scale with the mail anthrax attack in September and October 2001. The attack killed five people and caused many more to be ill. The perpetrators hadn’t been caught as of fall 2003.

Although the perpetrators remain a mystery, the attacks are significant because as Stephen Younger, director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, said Al-Qaida’s main interest in biological weapons seems to be focused on anthrax. Western societies can expect further attempts too use anthrax as a weapon.

Liberating forces in Afghanistan found a biological weapons lab that was apparently built to produce anthrax, but the rout of the Taliban prevented weapons to be made in that particular lab.

Other sources suggested that five of the 19 labs discovered throughout Afghanistan did test positive for anthrax. More importantly, a “well-placed,” U.S. intelligence source said that evidence was found indicating one or more former Russian scientist were helping Al-Qaida to weaponize anthrax.

Other documents seized in Afghanistan showed Al-Qaida conducting research on botulism toxins that had a capacity of killing at least 2,000 people at a time.
The DEBKA FILE, an online newsletter that purportedly receives Israeli intelligence input, reported that Iraqi military instructors trained between 150-250 Al-Qaida members in the use of chemical and biological weapons and possibly in the handling of nuclear devices. The training took place in northern Iraq.

None of these instances should come as a surprise. Al-Qaida’s chemical and biological aspirations have been well-documented as far back as the early 1990s.
The trial of “the returnees from Albania,” a group of jihadists on trial in Egypt, should have given somebody cause for concern. The lawyer for several of the defendants, Muntasir al-Zayyat, said during the trial in 1999 that bin Laden had chemical and biological weapons and planned to use them against the United States.
One of the defendants, Ahmad Salama Mabruk, stated that Al-Qaida had purchased chemical weapons from “European states and the former Soviet Union during a two-year period prior to 1998.”

Other defendants were more specific. They testified that Al-Qaida received ebola virus and salmonella from former Muslim-sympathetic republics of the former Soviet Union, anthrax from East Asia, and botulinum toxin from the Czech Republic.

This time period, between 1996-1998 was about the time that memos found by a British reporter in 2001 were written. The memos, believed to be files of Ayman al-Zawahiri, outlined both his chemical and biological program, codenamed “curdled milk.” He was assisted by Midhat al-Mursi, a chemical engineer. The files outlined several projects including one to increase absorption of pesticides. They also outlined the results of test on dogs and rabbits.

Two men currently run Al-Qaida’s biological and chemical programs: Abu Musaab al Zarqawi and Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah. Al Zarqawi is a Jordanian-Palestinian who fled an Al Ansar camp in Iraq during the start of the 2003 war with Iraq. Intelligence sources say he received extensive training in terror techniques at Iraq’s Salman Pak special weapons facility.

Bill Gertz reported for the Washington Times in June 2003 that Al Zarqawi had fled to Iran and was being protected by the Iranian government. Intelligence sources say that Al Zarqawi established the base in Bayara in the Kurdish northern Iraq that was decimated by an allied air strike during the war. He allegedly supervised the relocation of almost 200 Al-Qaida fugitives from Afghanistan to southern Lebanon. His movements between Baghdad, Bayara, Damascus, and Beirut before the war are what helped prompt both President Bush and Secretary of State Powell’s statements concerning the connection between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida. He is also believed to be responsible for the killing of Laurence Foley, a U.S. diplomat in Jordan.


Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah is on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists for his part in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. The Israelis also want him, because while it is known that Mohammed Fazul actually led the bombing against the Mombasa Palace hotel, and the attempted shoot-down with a shoulder-launched missile of an Arkia airliner with 270 people aboard, Abdullah was the mastermind.

Intelligence sources believe while al Zarqawi continues to wreak havoc in Iraq, Abdullah has been tasked to perform another large-scale strike within the United States.

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