Saturday, April 09, 2005

Canadian border a back door for terrorists?

Washington Times

By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor

Washington, DC, Apr. 7 (UPI) -- The very same day as the announcement that Canadians, along with U.S. citizens, will have to show their passports to cross the border into the United States, Canada's auditor general reported that the Canadian Passport Office was ill-equipped to detect fraudulent or unqualified applications.

In a report to the Ottawa parliament delivered Tuesday, Sheila Fraser, the Canadian government's top watchdog, said that the office "was not meeting current security expectations for issuing passports."

Officials processing applications, she said, often did not have the training or equipment to spot forged or fraudulent documents, and there were widespread examples of unauthorized access to the computer system that issued passports.

Fraser told United Press International in an interview Thursday that the problems are "serious" and especially disturbing because "a lot of faith is put in a passport. ... It is one of the few documents that actually establish your identity."

Fraser's report highlights what many U.S. counter-terrorism and security officials have long seen as a largely un-remarked vulnerability: the country's border with Canada.

Officials say that while the terrain on the southern border with Mexico is easier to traverse and is regularly crossed by those seeking to enter the country illegally, the northern border represents something of a back door for would-be terrorists.

A Department of Homeland Security official, who is not authorized to speak to the press and who asked for anonymity, pointed out that no operational cells of Islamic extremists have been discovered in Mexico -- though he cautioned "It is possible that they are there" -- whereas Canada has historically been regarded as a destination of choice for terrorists.

"Intelligence reports indicate that terrorist groups locate in Canada in part because of Canada's liberal visa and asylum laws and the country's proximity to the United States," the then-Inspector General of the Justice Department Michael Bromwich told Congress in 1999.

Despite this, it is the border with Mexico that has gotten the lion's share of attention, says Janice Kephart, the Sept. 11 Commission counsel responsible for reviewing immigration and border issues. "It's not that we pay too much attention to the southern border, but we don't pay enough attention to the northern border," she told UPI.

"The approach needs to be comprehensive, or everything we do is just a temporary Band-Aid."

The homeland security official agreed. "Less attention has been given by the media and the public to the northern border," the official said. "You don't have the political hot-button issue" of illegal immigration, and "You don't see the big drug seizures there."

Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security proposed new rules that would mean -- by the end of 2007 -- all those entering or re-entering the United States from Mexico, Canada and the rest of the Americas will have to show a passport or "other secure document" to be admitted.

Currently, U.S. citizens and most Canadian nationals can present a wide variety of identity documents to gain admittance, something that the Sept. 11 Commission identified as a serious vulnerability.

Kephart praises the proposed new rules. "This is just the type of change I had hoped for -- verifying and authenticating identities on our borders," she said, adding that officials had set themselves an ambitious deadline.

"It's a pretty tight timetable," she told UPI.

But Fraser's report suggests that insisting Canadian visitors show passports will not be a panacea.

The first examination of passport security by the Canadian auditor general -- the counterpart to the U.S. Government Accountability Office -- found a range of problems that would make it possible for fraudulent or bogus applicants to be issued Canadian passports.

Fraser told UPI that "some of the weaknesses we found were pretty basic."

For instance, potentially hundreds of employees not authorized to issue passports -- including failed internal applicants for such posts and clerical workers -- had access to the system that issued them.

"It only takes one person," she pointed out, to issue passports to those not entitled for the integrity of the whole system to be jeopardized.

"The system should be designed so that only people are actually authorized to issue passports can do so," Fraser said. "These are not difficult things to get right."

Officials sometimes lacked training in how to spot forged birth certificates, and most were not even provided with basic equipment like a magnifying glass, Fraser found.

Moreover, there was no way to electronically check birth certificates with the local authorities that issued them to make sure the documents were genuine.

"If there were electronic links," Fraser told UPI, "It would ... get around the problem of forgeries."

The question is not simply an academic one. The would-be millennium bomber, Ahmed Ressam, used a forged birth certificate to obtain a passport in the name of Benni Norris, which he then used in his failed December 1999 attempt to enter the United States and bomb the Los Angeles airport.
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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Head of Iranian Nuclear Negotiating Team Sirus Nasseri: "We Are Walking on a Knife's Edge"; U.S. and EU Should "Get Used to the Idea of a Nuclear Iran

Inquiry & Analysis - Iran/U.S. & the Middle East
April 7, 2005
No. 218

Head of Iranian Nuclear Negotiating Team Sirus Nasseri: "We Are Walking on a Knife's Edge"; U.S. and EU Should "Get Used to the Idea of a Nuclear Iran"

By A. Savyon*

To view this Inquiry & Analysis in HTML, visit http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=IA21805


Introduction

At the end of the first three-month period of negotiations stipulated in the November 2004 Paris Agreement signed by Iran and the EU Three (Britain, France, and Germany), a steering committee of representatives of all the parties met for a joint assessment of the situation. It was decided that the negotiations would continue as Iran maintained its suspension of uranium-enrichment activity.(1) At the same time, the commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and armed forces announced that they were prepared for a possible military attack.


Iran's Reaction to the New U.S. Initiative

The international media recently reported a change in U.S. policy toward Iran, citing as evidence the U.S.'s March 11, 2005 statement that it would agree to offer Iran benefits and incentives, such as dropping its veto of Iran's candidacy for the World Trade Organization, and permitting Tehran to purchase spare parts for civilian airplanes. This would be in exchange for Iran's cooperation in the nuclear issue, with the aim of attaining a permanent cessation of Iran's uranium-enrichment activity. It should be noted that the day before the "change" in U.S. policy was reported, U.S. President George W. Bush extended the sanctions on Iran for another year.(2)

Iran rejected the U.S. offer, calling it "ridiculous,"(3) and an Iranian spokesmen claimed that these measures could not be considered "confidence-building" because Iran was in any case entitled to WTO membership, and because there should never have been restrictions on the purchase of spare parts for civilian airplanes in the first place.(4) Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rowhani explained: "We will make no deal on enrichment. Economic incentives, including purchasing the Airbus and joining the World Trade Organization, will not compensate for giving up enrichment."(5)

The U.S.'s willingness to correct its past errors and lift the sanctions it had imposed on Iran would not be considered incentives according to Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi: "No economic incentive is equal to Iran's right [to develop nuclear energy]."(6)

Furthermore, Iranian spokesmen noted that they were expecting genuine confidence-building measures on the part of the U.S.: removing the freeze on the billions of dollars in Iranian assets in U.S. banks, lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran, and reversing the hostile U.S. policy towards Iran. Only then would Iran reconsider its policy toward the U.S. - but no matter what, uranium enrichment and the development of nuclear energy would remain Iran's right as a sovereign state, and would remain non-negotiable.(7)


The Iranian-European Deadlock

The Iran-EU Three negotiations currently underway are at a deadlock. According to reports, the EU Three have demanded that Iran permanently suspend all uranium-enrichment activity, while Iran remains uncompromising in its insistence that there be no permanent suspension of such activity and that as a sovereign nation signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty it is entitled to enrich uranium.(8)

In his recent visit to Paris, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami explained the Iranian position: "Our basis for discussions [with the EU Three] is the November 2004 Paris Agreement, which recognizes Iran's right to peaceful use of nuclear technology." "Iran has provided a comprehensive proposal for continuation of the talks, which has been received positively by the Europeans, notably France."(9)

Iranian officials called the EU Three demand for a permanent suspension "a blatant breach of the [Paris] Agreement" (in which the Europeans agreed to recognize Iran's right to develop nuclear energy).(10) It should be mentioned that the EU Three did indeed recognize this right in principle because Iran is an NPT member, but still did not agree to Iran enriching uranium in high percentages that would allow the development of nuclear weapons.(11)

According to an official Iranian spokesman, Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rowhani said in a meeting between the Council of Experts with Former President and Expediency Council Chairman Hashemi Rafsanjani, "At no price will Iran consent to a permanent suspension of its uranium-enrichment activity."(12)

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was resolute on the issue: "Iran is determined to pursue the enrichment process, and others cannot stop [its] uranium-enrichment program."(13)

Head of the Iranian negotiating team in the nuclear committee in the EU Three-Iran talks, Sirus Nasseri, recently stated that there is no possibility of Iran permanently relinquishing its uranium enrichment: "This is something we are not willing to consider."(14) The U.S. and the EU should "get used to the idea of a nuclear Iran."(15)

French ambassador to Tehran Frangois Nicoullaud made it clear that the referral of the Iranian dossier to the U.N. Security Council was "a real danger," even though the parties have decided to continue negotiations. He made it clear that the European considerations transcend the Iranian issue, saying: "...The decision that will be made regarding the [Iranian] dossier will constitute a model for other countries in the world."(16)


Iran's Negotiating Positions

Iranian spokesmen said that the negotiations are currently focusing on the issue of "objective guarantees" that Iran is to give the EU Three to assure them that it is enriching uranium strictly for civilian, not military purposes - and not on the EU demand that Iran permanently suspend uranium enrichment.(17)

Referring to the guarantees offered by Iran during the negotiations, Iranian President Khatami said that his country "presented to Europe five detailed proposals, and they [the Europeans] should provide us with solid security guarantees."(18)

On another occasion, Khatami added: "Iran is ready to give formal guarantees that it will never produce nuclear arms in return for respect for its legitimate right to possess fuel cycle plants under IAEA safeguards." He also said that Iran wanted nothing more than what the international conventions had authorized.(19)

Also stating that Iran is ready to give assurances that it will not produce bomb-grade uranium, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi added: "We do not intend to enrich to the level that is needed to make atomic bombs and have imposed a limit ... that we enrich [uranium only] to the level we need for nuclear (reactor) fuel."(20)

According to reports, Iran has proposed a limited uranium-enrichment project, under which it would keep 500 centrifuge sets to enrich uranium up to 5.3%, under close IAEA monitoring. The EU Three has rejected this proposal and demanded a permanent suspension of uranium enrichment, arguing that this plan for a pilot centrifuge project for uranium enrichment could be diverted by Iranian scientists to gather findings for military use.(21)

It should be noted, however, that international treaties and regulations permit NPT member states to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) solely for civilian purposes. The level of enrichment permitted for these purposes is 3%-7%, and it is subject to IAEA inspection and must follow IAEA notification. In contrast, high-enriched uranium (HEU), necessary for military purposes, is between 20%-90%.

In an extensive interview, Sirus Nasseri discussed Iran's position in the negotiations with the EU Three: "Iran will soon present its final proposal and will set a target date for the EU to either accept or reject it. We do not want confrontation, but if they cannot respond to what we believe to be rational, they can choose their own path because we are ready to flex our muscles..."

"It is clear to me that we are walking on a knife's edge. There is no guarantee that we will reach an agreement. What I can say with certainty is that during the negotiations we witnessed, step by step, more willingness to be flexible on the part of the Europeans. At the same time, this does not mean that they have the ability to reach an agreement with us. The EU must accept Iran's uranium-enrichment program..."(22)

"For the Europeans, success in these talks - at least at this stage - is vital. For us, it is [merely] an advantage. We'd prefer to reach an agreement and go about our business, because it would improve our relations, but it is not imperative. It is up to the Europeans to choose their path... If these talks fail, and [Europe] is not able to advance them, it would find it difficult to play a major role in any important global political issue. This is a crucial point. This also gives us room to maneuver vis-`-vis Europe and to use it as a buffer - not a mediator - between us and [the U.S.], with which we are in conflict.

"...We truly want to produce fuel. Why should we care that technically speaking, this enrichment-based fuel production can also be used for something else?... What is important is our intention... Moreover, we allow supervision.

"...One thing worries us, and because of it, we told the Europeans that their time is running out. We said: 'We don't know what deal you made with the Americans, and your denial of such a deal is unclear to us.' There is a danger that their offer will improve to a point that if we reject it, they could claim that they made Iran an excellent offer and that its rejection indicates a desire for nuclear weapons. This is indeed a danger. Therefore, the negotiations have become much more difficult, the pressure has increased, there is more tension, and we are getting to a point when we might take the final step."(23)


Additional Iranian Threats

Alongside the negotiations, threats have also been made by several top Iranian officials.(24) Iranian President Mohammad Khatami told a press conference: "The Europeans will suffer more than Iran if they decide to capitulate to U.S. pressure" and that "The enemies will be damaged more if they decide to do something against Iran."(25)

Khatami said that the EU Three's demand that Iran commit to a permanent halt of its uranium-enrichment activity was "a blatant breach of the Paris Agreement." He added, "The Europeans will bear the responsibility for what might happen."(26)

Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rowhani told a press conference that Iran would "halt all its confidence-building measures" if its dossier was transferred to the U.N. Security Council. "If Europe refuses to accept [the formula Iran has suggested to the EU], it will face problems..."(27)

At a recent international nuclear technology conference in Tehran, Rowhani added: "If [Iran-EU] negotiations fail because of the U.S. pressure and the Iranian nuclear dossier is referred to the U.N. Security Council, the region will come up against serious problems, and regional security will be jeopardized."(28)

Former representative to the IAEA, Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi was even more blunt, telling the Iranian daily Kayhan: "Europe should understand that its security is closely linked to Iran's security."(29)


Iran Declares Its Military Preparedness

In recent months, commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and armed forces have announced their complete preparedness for a possible military attack on Iran's nuclear installations and other sensitive sites. Iranian spokesmen have declared that Iran's response would be formidable. Recently, the London daily Al-Hayat published a report on Iran's preparedness for an American or Israeli attack. The following are excerpts:(30)

"Iranian military sources say that the armed forces and the Revolutionary Guards have made all the field preparations for handling a surprise attack on targets within Iran. [These preparations] are not limited to the nuclear installations, which are dispersed among the cities and various locations - Bushehr, Isfahan, Arak, Natanz, Tehran, Yazd, and others - but also include military and industrial plants and dams.

"...Iran's military command has taken into account the possibility of a disruption of [communications] between military posts and the central command... As a precautionary measure, the command has ordered all military and Revolutionary Guards sectors to respond swiftly - within no more than an hour and without waiting for orders - against pre-selected targets, [in light of anticipated] international political pressures that might force Iran to not respond.

"The objective is to deliver a harsh blow to the U.S. and its ally Israel at the outset, and then to expand the arena, in light of international efforts to contain the crisis and limit its scope and intensity, so as to ignite the whole region. This way Iran will assure its right to respond.

"...All the countries that host U.S. military forces - particularly Iraq, CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command] in Al-Siliya [Qatar], the Al-'Odeid base in Qatar, and the Fifth Fleet command in Bahrain - are among the sites Iran might consider as targets. However, the biggest fish of all is Israel, which is likely to suffer 'hellfire' - particularly when the Iranian response 'will use [varied] weapons and reach other targets that the aggressors are not expecting them [to reach].'

"These sources added that although Iran anticipates a devastating attack that will destroy a significant part of its economic and industrial achievements of the past 26 years, it is now pondering an issue that seems to it to be justified: Can the Bush administration grasp that it will have to send home at least five [dead] American soldiers per day? And how will the administration respond to the [American] people, who will question the benefit of the attack on Iran..."

According to Al-Hayat, Iranian military sources had reported that during a meeting between a French diplomat and Expediency Council Chairman Rafsanjani, the diplomat asked Rafsanjani whether Iran would relinquish its nuclear program, and was answered with an unequivocal "no." When the diplomat said that the U.S. had selected 325 targets within Iran as the first targets in any possible American attack, Rafsanjani explained to his guest that the Iranian counter-attack would be just as powerful and devastating.

The report continued, "When the Western diplomat asked, 'What if the place in which you are convening (the Marble Palace, a few dozen meters from the Islamic Republic's Presidential Building and the residence of Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei) is also among the targets?' Rafsanjani answered succinctly, 'Even if I am the target, [Iran will not relinquish its nuclear program].'"


*Ayelet Savyon is Director of MEMRI's Iranian Media Project.

Endnotes:
(1) See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 209, "Iran seeks E.U. Consent for Modeling Its Nuclear Program on the Japanese-German Model - i.e. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Capabilities - Three Months Short of a Bomb," February 23, 2005, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=IA20905 .
MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 200, "The Iran-EU Agreement on Iran's Nuclear Activity," December 21, 2004, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=IA20004 .
Sirus Nasseri announced that the negotiations had ended without a final accord and that each side remained steadfast in its position. IRNA (Iran), March 24, 2005.
(2) Iran Daily (Iran), March 12, 2005. President Bush noted that Iran constitutes "an unusual and extraordinary threat." Bush accused Iran of "support for international terrorism, efforts to undermine the Middle East peace process, and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them."
(3) Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Younesi, ISNA (Iran), March 13, 2005.
(4) Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi, Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 7, 2005; IRNA (Iran), March 13, 2005.
(5) IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005.
(6) IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005. Similar statements were made by Iranian President Khatami, IRNA (Iran), March 31, 2005; Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Rowhani, IRNA (Iran), March 5, 6, 2005. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Asefi said, "Correction of some mistakes and removal of a few unjustifiable restrictions will never persuade Iran to give up its legitimate rights." IRNA (Iran), March 12, 2005.
(7) Supreme National Security Council Foreign Relations Committee Secretary Hossein Mussavian, Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 15, 2005. Iran rejected U.S. participation in the negotiations. Rowhani said: "We still doubt America's goodwill. They are not fair in negotiations and they use threats against Iran. They intend to transfer the Iranian nuclear file to the Security Council." IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Asefi also said that U.S. participation would be "destructive." IRNA (Iran), March 13, 14, 2005.
(8) See Rowhani's statements at a press conference, Kayhan (Iran),IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005; Khatami during a visit to Venezuela, IRNA (Iran), March 13, 2005.
(9) IRNA (Iran), April 6, 2005.
(10) Statements by Iranian President Khatami, Kayhan (Iran), March 15, 2005, IRNA (Iran), March 16, 2005. Sirus Nasseri stated that the E.U. Three demand for a permanent suspension of Iran's enrichment activities was not included in the Paris Agreement and that the E.U. Three should accept Iran's uranium-enrichment activity. Sharq, Tehran Times (Iran), March 15, 2005. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 200 on the Paris Agreement, "The Iran-E.U. Agreement on Iran's Nuclear Activity," December 21, 2004, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=IA20004.
(11) International treaties and regulations permit the production of low-enriched uranium (LEU), at 3%-7%, for civilian purposes, and require prior notification to the IAEA and full IAEA inspection. For military purposes, high-enriched uranium (HEU), at 20%-90%, is required.
(12) IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005, Jomhouri-e Eslami (Iran), March 17, 2005.
(13) Kayhan (Iran), February 24, 2005.
(14) IRNA (Iran), March 24, 2005.
(15) Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 1, 2005.
(16) Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), April 5, 2005.
(17) Rowhani at a press conference, Tehran Times (Iran), February 27, 2005.
(18) Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 16, 2005, IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005.
(19) IRNA (Iran), April 4, 2005.
(20) IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005.
(21) Sharq (Iran), March 16, 2005; Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), April 3, 2005, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), April 1, 2005.
(22) Sharq, Tehran Times, (Iran) March 15, 2005.
(23) Sirus Nasseri in an interview with Iranian TV 2. See MEMRI-TV Clip 609, http://memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=609.
(24) For previous threats see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 189, "Iran's Nuclear Policy Crisis," September 21, 2004,
http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=IA18904.
MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 743, "Iran Threatens the West," July 13, 2004,
http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=SP74304.
(25) Kayhan (Iran), Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), February 24, 2005.
(26) Kayhan (Iran), March 15, 2005, IRNA, March 16, 2005.
(27) IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005. Rowhani was referring to the model proposed by Iran and based on the Japanese/German model. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 209, "Iran seeks E.U. Consent for Modeling its Nuclear Program on the Japanese-German Model - i.e. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Capabilities - Three Months Short of a Bomb," February 23, 2005, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=IA20905.
(28) IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005.
(29) Kayhan (Iran), March 9, 2005.
(30) Al-Hayat (London), March 29, 2005.



*********************
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
|

Head of Iranian Nuclear Negotiating Team Sirus Nasseri: "We Are Walking on a Knife's Edge"; U.S. and EU Should "Get Used to the Idea of a Nuclear Iran

Inquiry & Analysis - Iran/U.S. & the Middle East
April 7, 2005
No. 218

Head of Iranian Nuclear Negotiating Team Sirus Nasseri: "We Are Walking on a Knife's Edge"; U.S. and EU Should "Get Used to the Idea of a Nuclear Iran"

By A. Savyon*

To view this Inquiry & Analysis in HTML, visit http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=IA21805


Introduction

At the end of the first three-month period of negotiations stipulated in the November 2004 Paris Agreement signed by Iran and the EU Three (Britain, France, and Germany), a steering committee of representatives of all the parties met for a joint assessment of the situation. It was decided that the negotiations would continue as Iran maintained its suspension of uranium-enrichment activity.(1) At the same time, the commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and armed forces announced that they were prepared for a possible military attack.


Iran's Reaction to the New U.S. Initiative

The international media recently reported a change in U.S. policy toward Iran, citing as evidence the U.S.'s March 11, 2005 statement that it would agree to offer Iran benefits and incentives, such as dropping its veto of Iran's candidacy for the World Trade Organization, and permitting Tehran to purchase spare parts for civilian airplanes. This would be in exchange for Iran's cooperation in the nuclear issue, with the aim of attaining a permanent cessation of Iran's uranium-enrichment activity. It should be noted that the day before the "change" in U.S. policy was reported, U.S. President George W. Bush extended the sanctions on Iran for another year.(2)

Iran rejected the U.S. offer, calling it "ridiculous,"(3) and an Iranian spokesmen claimed that these measures could not be considered "confidence-building" because Iran was in any case entitled to WTO membership, and because there should never have been restrictions on the purchase of spare parts for civilian airplanes in the first place.(4) Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rowhani explained: "We will make no deal on enrichment. Economic incentives, including purchasing the Airbus and joining the World Trade Organization, will not compensate for giving up enrichment."(5)

The U.S.'s willingness to correct its past errors and lift the sanctions it had imposed on Iran would not be considered incentives according to Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi: "No economic incentive is equal to Iran's right [to develop nuclear energy]."(6)

Furthermore, Iranian spokesmen noted that they were expecting genuine confidence-building measures on the part of the U.S.: removing the freeze on the billions of dollars in Iranian assets in U.S. banks, lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran, and reversing the hostile U.S. policy towards Iran. Only then would Iran reconsider its policy toward the U.S. - but no matter what, uranium enrichment and the development of nuclear energy would remain Iran's right as a sovereign state, and would remain non-negotiable.(7)


The Iranian-European Deadlock

The Iran-EU Three negotiations currently underway are at a deadlock. According to reports, the EU Three have demanded that Iran permanently suspend all uranium-enrichment activity, while Iran remains uncompromising in its insistence that there be no permanent suspension of such activity and that as a sovereign nation signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty it is entitled to enrich uranium.(8)

In his recent visit to Paris, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami explained the Iranian position: "Our basis for discussions [with the EU Three] is the November 2004 Paris Agreement, which recognizes Iran's right to peaceful use of nuclear technology." "Iran has provided a comprehensive proposal for continuation of the talks, which has been received positively by the Europeans, notably France."(9)

Iranian officials called the EU Three demand for a permanent suspension "a blatant breach of the [Paris] Agreement" (in which the Europeans agreed to recognize Iran's right to develop nuclear energy).(10) It should be mentioned that the EU Three did indeed recognize this right in principle because Iran is an NPT member, but still did not agree to Iran enriching uranium in high percentages that would allow the development of nuclear weapons.(11)

According to an official Iranian spokesman, Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rowhani said in a meeting between the Council of Experts with Former President and Expediency Council Chairman Hashemi Rafsanjani, "At no price will Iran consent to a permanent suspension of its uranium-enrichment activity."(12)

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was resolute on the issue: "Iran is determined to pursue the enrichment process, and others cannot stop [its] uranium-enrichment program."(13)

Head of the Iranian negotiating team in the nuclear committee in the EU Three-Iran talks, Sirus Nasseri, recently stated that there is no possibility of Iran permanently relinquishing its uranium enrichment: "This is something we are not willing to consider."(14) The U.S. and the EU should "get used to the idea of a nuclear Iran."(15)

French ambassador to Tehran Frangois Nicoullaud made it clear that the referral of the Iranian dossier to the U.N. Security Council was "a real danger," even though the parties have decided to continue negotiations. He made it clear that the European considerations transcend the Iranian issue, saying: "...The decision that will be made regarding the [Iranian] dossier will constitute a model for other countries in the world."(16)


Iran's Negotiating Positions

Iranian spokesmen said that the negotiations are currently focusing on the issue of "objective guarantees" that Iran is to give the EU Three to assure them that it is enriching uranium strictly for civilian, not military purposes - and not on the EU demand that Iran permanently suspend uranium enrichment.(17)

Referring to the guarantees offered by Iran during the negotiations, Iranian President Khatami said that his country "presented to Europe five detailed proposals, and they [the Europeans] should provide us with solid security guarantees."(18)

On another occasion, Khatami added: "Iran is ready to give formal guarantees that it will never produce nuclear arms in return for respect for its legitimate right to possess fuel cycle plants under IAEA safeguards." He also said that Iran wanted nothing more than what the international conventions had authorized.(19)

Also stating that Iran is ready to give assurances that it will not produce bomb-grade uranium, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi added: "We do not intend to enrich to the level that is needed to make atomic bombs and have imposed a limit ... that we enrich [uranium only] to the level we need for nuclear (reactor) fuel."(20)

According to reports, Iran has proposed a limited uranium-enrichment project, under which it would keep 500 centrifuge sets to enrich uranium up to 5.3%, under close IAEA monitoring. The EU Three has rejected this proposal and demanded a permanent suspension of uranium enrichment, arguing that this plan for a pilot centrifuge project for uranium enrichment could be diverted by Iranian scientists to gather findings for military use.(21)

It should be noted, however, that international treaties and regulations permit NPT member states to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) solely for civilian purposes. The level of enrichment permitted for these purposes is 3%-7%, and it is subject to IAEA inspection and must follow IAEA notification. In contrast, high-enriched uranium (HEU), necessary for military purposes, is between 20%-90%.

In an extensive interview, Sirus Nasseri discussed Iran's position in the negotiations with the EU Three: "Iran will soon present its final proposal and will set a target date for the EU to either accept or reject it. We do not want confrontation, but if they cannot respond to what we believe to be rational, they can choose their own path because we are ready to flex our muscles..."

"It is clear to me that we are walking on a knife's edge. There is no guarantee that we will reach an agreement. What I can say with certainty is that during the negotiations we witnessed, step by step, more willingness to be flexible on the part of the Europeans. At the same time, this does not mean that they have the ability to reach an agreement with us. The EU must accept Iran's uranium-enrichment program..."(22)

"For the Europeans, success in these talks - at least at this stage - is vital. For us, it is [merely] an advantage. We'd prefer to reach an agreement and go about our business, because it would improve our relations, but it is not imperative. It is up to the Europeans to choose their path... If these talks fail, and [Europe] is not able to advance them, it would find it difficult to play a major role in any important global political issue. This is a crucial point. This also gives us room to maneuver vis-`-vis Europe and to use it as a buffer - not a mediator - between us and [the U.S.], with which we are in conflict.

"...We truly want to produce fuel. Why should we care that technically speaking, this enrichment-based fuel production can also be used for something else?... What is important is our intention... Moreover, we allow supervision.

"...One thing worries us, and because of it, we told the Europeans that their time is running out. We said: 'We don't know what deal you made with the Americans, and your denial of such a deal is unclear to us.' There is a danger that their offer will improve to a point that if we reject it, they could claim that they made Iran an excellent offer and that its rejection indicates a desire for nuclear weapons. This is indeed a danger. Therefore, the negotiations have become much more difficult, the pressure has increased, there is more tension, and we are getting to a point when we might take the final step."(23)


Additional Iranian Threats

Alongside the negotiations, threats have also been made by several top Iranian officials.(24) Iranian President Mohammad Khatami told a press conference: "The Europeans will suffer more than Iran if they decide to capitulate to U.S. pressure" and that "The enemies will be damaged more if they decide to do something against Iran."(25)

Khatami said that the EU Three's demand that Iran commit to a permanent halt of its uranium-enrichment activity was "a blatant breach of the Paris Agreement." He added, "The Europeans will bear the responsibility for what might happen."(26)

Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hassan Rowhani told a press conference that Iran would "halt all its confidence-building measures" if its dossier was transferred to the U.N. Security Council. "If Europe refuses to accept [the formula Iran has suggested to the EU], it will face problems..."(27)

At a recent international nuclear technology conference in Tehran, Rowhani added: "If [Iran-EU] negotiations fail because of the U.S. pressure and the Iranian nuclear dossier is referred to the U.N. Security Council, the region will come up against serious problems, and regional security will be jeopardized."(28)

Former representative to the IAEA, Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi was even more blunt, telling the Iranian daily Kayhan: "Europe should understand that its security is closely linked to Iran's security."(29)


Iran Declares Its Military Preparedness

In recent months, commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and armed forces have announced their complete preparedness for a possible military attack on Iran's nuclear installations and other sensitive sites. Iranian spokesmen have declared that Iran's response would be formidable. Recently, the London daily Al-Hayat published a report on Iran's preparedness for an American or Israeli attack. The following are excerpts:(30)

"Iranian military sources say that the armed forces and the Revolutionary Guards have made all the field preparations for handling a surprise attack on targets within Iran. [These preparations] are not limited to the nuclear installations, which are dispersed among the cities and various locations - Bushehr, Isfahan, Arak, Natanz, Tehran, Yazd, and others - but also include military and industrial plants and dams.

"...Iran's military command has taken into account the possibility of a disruption of [communications] between military posts and the central command... As a precautionary measure, the command has ordered all military and Revolutionary Guards sectors to respond swiftly - within no more than an hour and without waiting for orders - against pre-selected targets, [in light of anticipated] international political pressures that might force Iran to not respond.

"The objective is to deliver a harsh blow to the U.S. and its ally Israel at the outset, and then to expand the arena, in light of international efforts to contain the crisis and limit its scope and intensity, so as to ignite the whole region. This way Iran will assure its right to respond.

"...All the countries that host U.S. military forces - particularly Iraq, CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command] in Al-Siliya [Qatar], the Al-'Odeid base in Qatar, and the Fifth Fleet command in Bahrain - are among the sites Iran might consider as targets. However, the biggest fish of all is Israel, which is likely to suffer 'hellfire' - particularly when the Iranian response 'will use [varied] weapons and reach other targets that the aggressors are not expecting them [to reach].'

"These sources added that although Iran anticipates a devastating attack that will destroy a significant part of its economic and industrial achievements of the past 26 years, it is now pondering an issue that seems to it to be justified: Can the Bush administration grasp that it will have to send home at least five [dead] American soldiers per day? And how will the administration respond to the [American] people, who will question the benefit of the attack on Iran..."

According to Al-Hayat, Iranian military sources had reported that during a meeting between a French diplomat and Expediency Council Chairman Rafsanjani, the diplomat asked Rafsanjani whether Iran would relinquish its nuclear program, and was answered with an unequivocal "no." When the diplomat said that the U.S. had selected 325 targets within Iran as the first targets in any possible American attack, Rafsanjani explained to his guest that the Iranian counter-attack would be just as powerful and devastating.

The report continued, "When the Western diplomat asked, 'What if the place in which you are convening (the Marble Palace, a few dozen meters from the Islamic Republic's Presidential Building and the residence of Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei) is also among the targets?' Rafsanjani answered succinctly, 'Even if I am the target, [Iran will not relinquish its nuclear program].'"


*Ayelet Savyon is Director of MEMRI's Iranian Media Project.

Endnotes:
(1) See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 209, "Iran seeks E.U. Consent for Modeling Its Nuclear Program on the Japanese-German Model - i.e. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Capabilities - Three Months Short of a Bomb," February 23, 2005, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=IA20905 .
MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 200, "The Iran-EU Agreement on Iran's Nuclear Activity," December 21, 2004, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=IA20004 .
Sirus Nasseri announced that the negotiations had ended without a final accord and that each side remained steadfast in its position. IRNA (Iran), March 24, 2005.
(2) Iran Daily (Iran), March 12, 2005. President Bush noted that Iran constitutes "an unusual and extraordinary threat." Bush accused Iran of "support for international terrorism, efforts to undermine the Middle East peace process, and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them."
(3) Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Younesi, ISNA (Iran), March 13, 2005.
(4) Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi, Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 7, 2005; IRNA (Iran), March 13, 2005.
(5) IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005.
(6) IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005. Similar statements were made by Iranian President Khatami, IRNA (Iran), March 31, 2005; Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Rowhani, IRNA (Iran), March 5, 6, 2005. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Asefi said, "Correction of some mistakes and removal of a few unjustifiable restrictions will never persuade Iran to give up its legitimate rights." IRNA (Iran), March 12, 2005.
(7) Supreme National Security Council Foreign Relations Committee Secretary Hossein Mussavian, Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 15, 2005. Iran rejected U.S. participation in the negotiations. Rowhani said: "We still doubt America's goodwill. They are not fair in negotiations and they use threats against Iran. They intend to transfer the Iranian nuclear file to the Security Council." IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Asefi also said that U.S. participation would be "destructive." IRNA (Iran), March 13, 14, 2005.
(8) See Rowhani's statements at a press conference, Kayhan (Iran),IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005; Khatami during a visit to Venezuela, IRNA (Iran), March 13, 2005.
(9) IRNA (Iran), April 6, 2005.
(10) Statements by Iranian President Khatami, Kayhan (Iran), March 15, 2005, IRNA (Iran), March 16, 2005. Sirus Nasseri stated that the E.U. Three demand for a permanent suspension of Iran's enrichment activities was not included in the Paris Agreement and that the E.U. Three should accept Iran's uranium-enrichment activity. Sharq, Tehran Times (Iran), March 15, 2005. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 200 on the Paris Agreement, "The Iran-E.U. Agreement on Iran's Nuclear Activity," December 21, 2004, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=IA20004.
(11) International treaties and regulations permit the production of low-enriched uranium (LEU), at 3%-7%, for civilian purposes, and require prior notification to the IAEA and full IAEA inspection. For military purposes, high-enriched uranium (HEU), at 20%-90%, is required.
(12) IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005, Jomhouri-e Eslami (Iran), March 17, 2005.
(13) Kayhan (Iran), February 24, 2005.
(14) IRNA (Iran), March 24, 2005.
(15) Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 1, 2005.
(16) Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), April 5, 2005.
(17) Rowhani at a press conference, Tehran Times (Iran), February 27, 2005.
(18) Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), March 16, 2005, IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005.
(19) IRNA (Iran), April 4, 2005.
(20) IRNA (Iran), March 15, 2005.
(21) Sharq (Iran), March 16, 2005; Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), April 3, 2005, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), April 1, 2005.
(22) Sharq, Tehran Times, (Iran) March 15, 2005.
(23) Sirus Nasseri in an interview with Iranian TV 2. See MEMRI-TV Clip 609, http://memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=609.
(24) For previous threats see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 189, "Iran's Nuclear Policy Crisis," September 21, 2004,
http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=IA18904.
MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 743, "Iran Threatens the West," July 13, 2004,
http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=SP74304.
(25) Kayhan (Iran), Aftab-e Yazd (Iran), February 24, 2005.
(26) Kayhan (Iran), March 15, 2005, IRNA, March 16, 2005.
(27) IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005. Rowhani was referring to the model proposed by Iran and based on the Japanese/German model. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 209, "Iran seeks E.U. Consent for Modeling its Nuclear Program on the Japanese-German Model - i.e. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Capabilities - Three Months Short of a Bomb," February 23, 2005, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=iran&ID=IA20905.
(28) IRNA (Iran), March 5, 2005.
(29) Kayhan (Iran), March 9, 2005.
(30) Al-Hayat (London), March 29, 2005.



*********************
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MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

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Nuclear plants may be vulnerable to terrorists, scientists say

By H. Josef Hebert
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON – It's a nightmare that scientists say could happen.

Terrorists penetrate a nuclear power plant but ignore the concrete-protected reactor. They're really after the pool of water containing hundreds of used fuel rods.

Explosive charges lead to an uncontrollable fire, sending radiation into the air.

A National Academy of Sciences report released Wednesday concludes such an event could happen. It also says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and nuclear industry have not done enough to understand the vulnerability.

It's "a critical national security issue," said the academy's president, Bruce Alberts, after the release of a report subject to haggling with regulators over how much of it should remain secret.

The scientific experts found many of the fuel storage pools at nuclear power plants in 31 states may be vulnerable and that regulators should conduct a fresh examination of each plant.

In the meantime, plant operators promptly should reconfigure used fuel rods in the storage pools to lower decay-heat intensity and install spray devices to reduce the risk of a fire should a storage facility be attacked, the scientists said.

Congress sought the study because of the heightened concerns that terrorists might seek to target nuclear power plants.

At 68 plants, including some already shut down, in 31 states, thousands of used reactor fuel rods are in deep water pools. Dry, concrete casks hold a smaller number of these rods.

Much more highly radioactive fuel is stored in pools than is in the more protected reactors – 103 in total – at these sites.

Some scientists and nuclear watchdog groups long have contended that these pools pose a much greater danger to a catastrophic attack than do the reactors themselves.

Some plants where pools are all or partially underground present less of a problem. Others, including a series of boiling-water reactors where pools are more exposed, represent greater concern, said Bob Alvarez, a former Energy Department official who has argued for increased protection of used reactor fuel at nuclear plants.

The experts' report "pretty well legitimizes what we've been saying," Alvarez said in an interview.

The scientific panel said reinforced concrete storage pools – 25 feet to 45 feet deep, with water circulating to keep the fuel assemblies from overheating – could tempt terrorists.

The report said an aircraft or high explosive attack could cause water to drain from the pools and expose the fuel rods, unleashing an uncontrollable fire and large amounts of radiation.

Nuclear regulators said they would give the report's recommendations "serious consideration." But the NRC has disputed many findings and suggestions from the experts.

After the classified document was provided to members of Congress last month, the NRC's chairman told lawmakers in a letter that some of the panel's assessments about plants' vulnerabilities were "unreasonable" and that certain conclusions "lacked sound technical basis."

"Today, spent fuel is better protected than ever," Nils Diaz wrote.

The NRC said it believes the potential for large releases of radiation from such a fire "to be extremely low." Still, the agency has advised reactor operations to consider refiguring the pools' fuel rods – pairing new ones with older ones to reduce the heat.

Kevin Crowley, the scientific panel's staff director, said the classified version of the report includes "some attack scenarios well within the means of terrorists" that could result in a catastrophic fire of spent fuel.

Nuclear safety advocates said the report recognizes, for the first time, the vulnerability of spent fuel.

David Lochbaum, a nuclear industry watchdog for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the study makes clear that regulators have not acted aggressively enough.

"Three years after 9/11, our hope would have been more of that homework had been done," Lochbaum said.

The industry says its system of storing the fuel is safe and protected. But in response to the report, the industry said it was "assessing the potential to augment" safety systems for spent fuel facilities.

Marvin Fertel, a senior executive at the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's trade group, said a computer analysis the industry commissioned in 2002 showed that fuel pool structures would withstand, without a significant loss of water, the impact of an aircraft crash.

But the study said the pools vary among plants and reactor designs, and that some are more vulnerable than others.

The panel said dry cask storage provides better protection. It also said significant numbers of used fuel rods always will have to be stay in pools for as long as five years before they adequately cool. At least one-quarter of the power plants now have some of their spent fuel in dry casks.

The panel said the government should look into more widespread use of dry cask storage as part of its detailed assessment of risks.

The academy is a private organization chartered by Congress to advise the government of scientific matters.
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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Triple-pronged Jihad -- Military, Economic and Cultural
April 5th, 2005
From the American Thinker

[In a wide ranging interview with Islamic scholar Bat Ye'or comes a frank discussion of Eurabia: what it is, and what it means for Americans. Interview by Alyssa A. Lappen]

In her new book, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, Bat Ye'or takes a sweeping view of history, not the one that most of us consider, just past the ends of our noses. The world's preeminent historian of two unique Islamic institutions, jihad and dhimmitude—the latter, the humiliated, precarious state of non-Muslim peoples living under Islamic rule—Bat Ye'or has masterfully portrayed the means by which the Euro-Arab Dialogue unfolded over the past 30-plus years. “There are three forms of jihad,” she says today, “the military jihad, the economic jihad and the cultural jihad.” The EAD between the European Community and the Arab League has been a means of spreading [the] economic and cultural jihad from the Middle East to Europe.

In November 1967, Charles De Gaulle announced at a press conference that henceforward, France would assume a pro-Arab policy. His goals were to prevent a return to intra-European wars and to help France resume its leading role in European politics and history. Little could he have imagined the far-reaching results. De Gaulle died in November 1970, but in October 1973, following Egypt and Syria's war against Israel, Georges Pompidou picked up his policy reigns and led Europe into the Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD), a process that took hold and changed the face of Europe for the worse.

On French initiative, the European Community sought to open a Euro-Arab Dialogue, but the Arab League for their part made any dialogue dependent on the establishment of an anti-Israel policy in Europe.

Outraged that Israel had won the war against all odds, with help from the U.S., the oil-producing members of the Arab League unilaterally quadrupled the price of oil and cut production by 5 percent a month. Additionally, they imposed an oil embargo on the nations considered friendly to Israel--the U.S., Denmark and Holland. France and Germany panicked. On November 6, 1973, the nine countries of the European Economic Community met in Brussels and issued a joint resolution that reversed the intent and meaning of United Nations Resolution 242, and declared illegal all territory Israel had gained in its defensive 1967 war. Furthermore, the EEC demanded that henceforward “the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” be included in any definition of peace.

Having met the Arab League's preliminary demands, the EC recouped the free flow of oil embargoed to Holland and Denmark the month before. Furthermore, the EC was now free to pursue the EAD. The agreement to open discussions, however, came with further conditions. France and all other European Community nations had to agree to adopt pro-Arab and anti-American policies. Thus, the free flow of oil came with significant political riders. This little known dialogue, which subsequently burgeoned into an enormous EU-funded apparatus, thus began to plant the seeds of political, economic and cultural jihad in Europe. Less than 30 years after the end of World War II, it also revived some of the policies of the Nazis. The policies had migrated to the Middle East during World War II and afterwards, with the flight of Nazi fugitives to Egypt, Syria and other Arab nations. Now, Nazi ideology found its way back into European politics through the EAD launch of a unified European anti-Israel policy.

European leaders hoped through the EAD to create "a global alternative to American power." The Arab powers hoped to promote Islam and anti-Israel policies worldwide. What followed, in addition to Europe's mass importation of Middle Eastern ideas and culture was also mass Muslim immigration into Europe. Europe gained new markets—and free-flowing oil—but at the cost of lost political independence, and lost independence for European Community member nations. Recently, reporter Alyssa A. Lappen interviewed Bat Ye'or on the far-ranging implications of these developments.

Q. Was it intentional that the Euro-Arab Dialogue had these results?

A. Of course, on the Arab side, the [intentions and] decisions were very clear from the beginning. The idea was to develop good relations with Europe in order to separate Europe from America, weaken the West, encourage Arab Muslim immigration into Europe, organize a militant Islamic community in Europe, and develop a strong European Islam with political and intellectual influence on European development.

On the European side, opinions varied according to political views. There is no doubt that the French goal to establish Euro-Arab links stood on strong anti-American and Judeophobic grounds. The European parties willing to follow the French lead shared with the Arabs an antisemitic/anti-Zionist policy. During the Second Wold War, and even before, links existed between the Arab world and pro-Arab, European anti-Semites. The whole Arab nationalist movement of the early 20th century was constructed and supported with the rejection of Israel in mind. Ba'ath Party founder and convert to Islam, Michel Aflak, from the 1930s opposed the existence of the state of Israel on religious and political grounds. Opposition persisted even in England, which sought the mandate from the League of Nations for the Jewish National Homeland in Palestine. After WWII, the European rapprochement with Arab countries was just a continuation of the anti-Zionist policies that had started in the beginning of the 20th century.

Q. How could the European countries turn against their policies and reverse the entire result of World War II and all their ideological gains. Wasn't this a complete reversal?

A. There was no reversal. In Europe, the Holocaust was in preparation before it happened. There was a powerful European transnational anti-Semitic movement checked by those who opposed it, who didn't seek the disappearance of the Jews and did not expect a genocide. But World War II brought to power with the Nazi occupation, those anti-Semitic leaders who planned and collaborated in the genocide throughout Europe. The genocide of the Jewish people stopped only because the war stopped. But had the war continued, the Holocaust also would have continued. In Europe, there was no desire to stop it. It would have continued were it not for the Allies, who brought the war to an end. But until the last moment, French Vichy government trains throughout France carried Jewish children to the gas chambers. And Maurice Papon, a Vichy government minister during World War II, headed important ministries for the governments which followed after the war. Vichy government civil servants were still powerful after the war. Some intellectuals turned their coats, some were killed, some were condemned.

After the war De Gaulle proclaimed a new start and a reconciliation with Germany. This was part of the process of promoting peace in post-war Europe. But the whole of occupied Europe had been fascist, Nazi and anti-Semitic. So less than 20 years after the war, this anti-Semitic movement tried to re-establish relations with Arabs, who were pro-Nazi during the war and favored the Nazi cause. Therefore, the contacts continued, although in a more clandestine way.

Q. So really, you seem to be saying that the Marshall plan was not completely successful.

A. After the war, it was taboo to speak about the camps. The first books on the Holocaust were published in America. A traumatized European Jewry could not evoke this situation.

Now concerning the economy, the Marshall plan helped to reunite Europe and reconstruct it. But there were strong Communist parties also, which were hostile to America. So many Nazis recycled into the Communist and leftist parties. This was a change, of course. They whitewashed themselves.

Q. Were there Europeans and European policy makers who opposed this Euro-Arab Dialogue and fought it.

A. Yes, there were people who opposed the shift of Europe, and especially in France. But the French government was the engine running this policy. If France had not taken the lead to organize the unity of Europe as a counterweight to America, and to build a Euro-Arab block against America, the Euro-Arab Dialogue would not have happened. This is just a hypothesis. But France took the lead because of strong affinities in the French colonial class with the Maghreb. France had previously controlled all the Maghrebian countries, Syria and Lebanon as well as African Muslim territories. Also, France kept its relations with [indicted WWII criminal] Hajj Amin el Husseini, a fervent collaborator with Hitler. De Gaulle saved Husseini from the Nuremberg tribunal.

Q. I didn't know that.

A. Husseini was in Germany when the Allies arrived. He was handed over to the Red Cross and he surrendered to the French forces stationed in Germany. In May 1945 he was brought to France with Marshall Pétain. So Husseini was controlled and protected by France. The British were searching for him to judge him at the Nuremberg trial for his alliance with Hitler and his collaboration in the genocide of the Jews. A year later De Gaulle's French government helped him escape to Egypt. According to Husseini's memoir, he promised that France could win the sympathy of the whole Arab people if it established and led a European policy opposing Great Britain and Israel.

Talks on this matter started after the Second World War. At the time, De Gaulle was Israel's best ally. But in the 1950s, many Nazis immigrated to the Arab countries, especially Egypt and Syria, they maintained their relations with French Nazi collaborationists and European neo-Nazis. In the 60s and early 70s, France took an increasingly anti-Israeli position. In 1971 it established a close relationship with Qaddafi's and engaged in massive arm sales to Arab countries. Economic and political links developed. By 1971, France had brought the European Community to share its pro-Arab views.

Denmark and Holland were reluctant to follow the French anti-Israel line. But at this time there was no united European community foreign policy. The European Community was only based on economic agreements. There was no common political vision.

In fact, it was only after the 1973 Kippur war, that this policy developed thanks to French initiative. By then there were 9 countries in the European community. For the first time they adopted a common foreign policy in relation to the Arab world and based on oil. After the oil boycott imposed by the Arabs, they linked Europe's oil supply to European support for the PLO, Arafat and an anti-Israeli policy. As a condition for the start of a Dialogue with the Europeans, they requested that the anti-Israeli policy be linked to the economic sector of Euro-Arab exchanges. Hence the Dialogue came to rest on two pillars, anti-American and anti-Israel policies. It is absolutely extraordinary that less than 30 years after the end of World War II, after America had saved Europe from destruction, the common European Community foreign policy was based on an anti-Israel and anti-American strategy. And from this followed the whole development that we see now.

Q. The thing that strikes me the most is how the EAD relates to the history of Jihad. In the Decline of Eastern Christianity, it was clear that the jihad was economic from the beginning. So this EAD did not just evolve in the 1970s. First you buy off the ministers, then you send economic envoys, then you pollute the political system, then you send the horsemen, and then the whole society collapses.

A. Yes, the jihad is an ideological war, which is based on theology, its aim was to conquer lands and impose the Koranic law. Often the tactic includes the corruption of leaders. Terror is also a means of jihad: terrorized people submit. In past centuries the corrupted leaders often opened the city’s gates to the jihadist armies. Corruption is also used to encourage conversions, particularly among high officials. And you have many conversions now in Europe.

Q. Now?

A. Yes. Many people have converted to Islam. Some by conviction, some by opportunism. They leave a civilization and a culture that they hate and join one that they view as a winning one. There are many reasons why people convert. Today Islam recruits in jails but also among intellectuals.

Q. But what about the leadership. Is it merely corruption?

A. There are different reasons. In Europe, the romantic view of Lawrence of Arabia idealizes Islam. And thanks to the cultural components of the Euro-Arab Dialogue - which encompasses many sectors - every book speaks about the grandeur of the Islamic civilization, its superiority to Western civilization [Note: this 12th century map serves as the cover to an official publication of the Dialogue; it shows the Mediterranean literally turned upside down, with the Arab world in a dominant position, situated above the the geographic north of infidel Europe.] There is a whole apologetic cultural trend about Islam, an ideological movement that glorifies it. Young people are influenced. This developed in the 70s and 80s within the Dialogue, raising an enthusiasm for Islam. It has led to several conversions of intellectuals and politicians. The churches were also very pro-Islamic, because they saw a way, in linking with Islam, to reconcile Islam and Christianity against Israel. Much of the church was very anti-Semitic, in spite of the Second Vatican Council in 1962 to 1965. In fact there were those inside the church who opposed the rapprochement with the Jews. It was not an easy thing. Priests who fought strongly for the reconciliation did not succeed as well as they hoped. They just opened a door for reconciliation, but they had to fight to keep the door open against the opponents.

Q. Who are some of these people who have been converting.

A. Many are neo-fascists or neo-nazis or ex-communists. Many also come from the extreme Left. The Italian Mario Scialoja was responsible for the Italian section of the World Islamic League. Its vice-president for the Italian section was also a convert. Converts gets money and prominent positions in European Islam. They direct Islamic centers, publishing houses and newspapers. Some collaborate with the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and are viscerally anti-Christian and anti-Jewish.

Q. How did De Gaulle get this change going.

A. First, all this was not done until after his death. In 1967, de Gaulle declared that the policy of France would be fundamentally an Arab policy. But he died in November 1970. The whole thing started in 1973 under his successors. The French did not like this policy, but it was a slow, gradual movement.

Q. And even now, most Europeans do not know.

A. No, not about the Euro-Arab Dialogue. Some know the Mediterranean partnership. But except for those involved in this policy, they do not know about the Anna Lindh Foundation [to promote “understanding between Europe and the countries around the Mediterranean and the Middle East]. Europeans work hard, there is much unemployment and they absorb the culture from the media and television. Disinformation all around supports the pro-Arab policy. Anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are congenial to Palestinianism, the new culture of Europe.

Q. What is of concern is that one sees the same thing already happening here. The media is pro-Arab, it is impossible to get them to change, even with the facts. The whole ideological aura has already infiltrated the press and the universities.

A. You have to expose the cultural jihad, and discuss its consequences in Europe, and the sub-culture of lies from which it is growing. The lies are crumbling now as the jihadist ideology and war against the Western world become more apparent. In fact, Europe has denied its own roots and the spring from which its spiritual Biblical values emerged. It is a denial of one’s own spirituality and sources. Now, in Europe, Israel is a demonized word, a confiscated reality. European governments created an anti-Semitic culture in order to integrate the Muslim immigration, but they have absorbed also the values of a jihadist society. This is why Europe is intellectually and spiritually confused and disoriented. You cannot ally with jihadist forces that want to destroy you intellectually, spiritually and politically, without being destroyed, and this is what is happening.

Q. Then why do you say the whole thing is crumbling. Clearly they are winning.

A. There is so much hatred now in Europe, so many lies, so much confusion, that people don't know where they are going. They don't understand what is happening. They don't understand why they have to hate America, Israel and why they have to hate themselves. They have no view of the future except the economic extension of the EU. Our leaders commend that every effort should be made to integrate the foreign immigrants. It is not the foreigners that have to adapt in a country they have chosen to come. Foreigners were given the right to immigrate with their own culture. So they have imported the seeds of the culture of dhimmitude into Europe. This is their culture, this is the type of relationship they had with Jews and Christians and they brought it with them. This was the culture in which they were educated, and this is what creates so much confusion in Europe.

Q. Europe is completely lost and nothing can be done?

A. I don't see a solution. Europeans are not reproducing. Soon, the 60- and 70-year-olds will die. And there are no Europeans to replace them. Suddenly, millions of Europeans won't be there any more. And against that loss is a mounting immigrant population, which refuses totally to integrate into a society many hate. In some schools, the new generation rejects the curriculum, under the pretext that it is not an Islamic history or culture, or that it is a Judeo-Christian perspective. In a few years they will be adults and have political power. Laws and institutions will change, already there are pressures in schools and hospitals for sex segregation. Polygamy is unofficially tolerated.

Q. So 15 million Arab Muslims out of 350 million can do this? Change an entire continent? It's only 15 million.

A. No, it is over 20 million, but in fact you don't know their number, because it is impossible in some countries to take a census on a religious basis, and anyway there are always new immigrant waves, this is without counting the clandestine ones, those who come without papers.

Q. So it could be 50 million.

A. I don't know, no one knows. It is not so much the number that counts, it is the will to take the power, and to dominate. At the beginning of each [historical Islamic] conquest, the Muslims were a very small minority. But this colonizing minority became masters over overwhelming Christian majorities.

Q. Let's talk about the universities because the same thing is beginning to happen in the U.S. We have professors coming from the Middle East, spouting anti-Israeli, anti-American propaganda, funded by the Saudis, and it is getting very difficult to open your mouth in the universities.

A. Palestinianism started in the universities in Europe in the late 1960s. The whole Left was pro-Palestinian because the Soviets supported them and gave them training camps and arms to conduct their terrorist activities. The agreements between the European and Arab leaders included in the Euro-Arab Dialogue, mention that the Arabic civilization and Middle Eastern subjects should be taught in European universities by Arabs from the Arab countries. The Arab perspective of history whereby jihad was a peaceful conquest - not really even a conquest - but a just war against unbelief, was imported into European universities. The idealized Muslim vision of history, and Islam's conception of tolerance towards infidels entered into the educational system. This partial vision exists also here on campuses.

Q. I think it is, and you starting to see these Islamic centers, with Middle Eastern professors coming.

A. [Philosopher and theologian] Jacques Ellul was totally opposed to what he called “the subversion of Western culture,” but his views caused him to be marginalized by the Protestant church, the university, and the press. Many people shared his opinion, but they were silenced by the network of the Euro-Arab Dialogue supported by the government’s policy and the powerful European Commission. Through the network of the EAD the Muslim policy and culture infiltrated into the highest political and cultural levels in European countries members of the EC. This is why it succeeded so well.

Q. Look, you could see something similar happen here, with the President's nomination to the U.S. Institute of Peace. Daniel Pipes as you know was nominated to that, but there was a huge war against his nomination, and finally, the President appointed him by executive order during a summer recess. But there are Islamists seeping into that institution and elsewhere into the upper echelons of government. What can Americans do?

A. The history of jihad must be taught according to the Western perspective. And the same for dhimmitude, its development and consequences. This is extremely important, to prevent a return to the condition of dhimmitude. Unfortunately, an institute to study the history of jihad and dhimmitude worldwide has not been established.

Q. So you think an institute would help.

A. Of course. In Europe, this history has been totally erased, in order to please the Muslim world. The Islamic view is taught whereby conquests were achieved through peaceful means, with tolerance, which is the contrary to the reality. In Europe, the Muslim groups always accuse the West, and take a tack that makes them victims and victimized. All evil is projected on the West and on Israel, and this vision gives the West a feeling of guilt towards Arabs. In fact, what Arabs have done with the help of European intellectuals engaged in the Euro-Arab Dialogue is to project the Jewish history of victimhood onto the Arabs, in order to neutralize the West. They have usurped the history of another people to create guilt among Western countries and paralyze them. This process has eliminated the whole history of jihad. We see that Europeans are incapable of understanding their past, or even the current situation. This work was begun by Edward Said who promoted European guilt toward the Arabs and Muslim people. He was totally supported by high level governmental bodies and European universities. Otherwise he would not have achieved such fame, his position being based on historical ignorance and anti-Western racism.

Q. Could you briefly explain the history of jihad and dhimmitude.

A. The history of jihad started in the 7th century with the Islamic religion and the conquests of Arabia by the followers of Mohamed. Arabia was inhabited by a pagan majority, but there were also a great number of Christians and Jewish peasants and artisans who cultivated the oases there. Mohamed started his war against the pagans in Arabia, who opposed his beliefs. He fled to Medina, where Jewish tribes lived. On their refusal to convert to his belief, he attacked them and either expelled them or, as in the case of the Qurayza tribe, he executed all the men and sold the women and children into slavery. Then Mohamed continued his war to impose Islam on the whole of Arabia. Finally, just before he died, he had converted the whole of Arabia to his religion. Now Mohamed's tactic was in fact patterned on the normal means of Bedouin war. But the founders of Islamic law established a whole school, a jurisdictional process by which they made this warfare into a sacred obligation to conduct a worldwide war against the realm of unbelief. This ideology inspired from the life of Mohamed, either true or invented, based on Koran, the hadith and the biographies of the Prophet, became the sacred duties of jihad in order to Islamize the world. Now the ideology and laws of jihad represent a system founded on Islamic theological belief.

This is how jihad developed. Since then, the Arab armies were bent on always conquering more territories in order to expand the rule of the Koran over the earth. They conquered all the Christians lands west of Arabia in the Middle East. They invaded Egypt, Syria, Palestine and the Maghreb. These lands inhabited by Jews and Christians, were Islamized through different procedures. Arab conquests expanded to Iberia (Spain) in Europe, Portugal and up to France and Switzerland and were stopped in Poitiers in the 8th century. In the East, the Muslim armies conquered Persia, Armenia and part of the Byzantine empire, which was later totally dominated by the Turkish tribes converted to Islam. Then, further East, Muslim power expanded in Afghanistan to the Indus. From the 11th century, there was a second wave of Islamization, which concentrated on Europe. Under the Ottomans it advanced to the borders of Poland and Hungary and occupied the whole of Eastern European countries who became part of the Muslim empire. The Ottomans were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683.

All these lands were, at the beginning, populated by non-Muslim people. At this time, these lands had armies and kings. The kings were deposed and the armies disbanded, but the population stayed in the cities and the countryside. So once a land has been Islamized, the whole colonization process took place. These processes were based on legal texts written by Arab theologians in the 8th and 9th centuries. The system of dhimmitude is congenial with Muslim colonization. Non-Muslim majorities were either totally eliminated or survived as small minorities, heirs of the big civilizations that they represented before the conquest. The process of dhimmitude, is of course linked to jihad.

Q. Let's talk about the economic portion of this war.

A. Well, first of all, terrorism destroys civilized life and the prevention of terrorism is very expensive. Now with the weapons of mass destruction it is possible to kill thousands of people at once and control a population by terrorism. It happened in Spain. Zapatero, the President of the Spanish government, like a dhimmi, pulled the Spanish army from Iraq and went to Morocco to proclaim his love for Morocco and Islam. He said he would not deal with terrorism through arms, but by giving aid. Paying money for your security means ransoming. This is the policy of Europe.

Q. It is the policy of the U.S. also. We have given $50 billion to Egypt, and they hate us. And a few hundred billion to all the other Arab countries, probably, so it dwarfs any aid to Israel. Is this a bad thing?

A. It is bad policy to feed those who hate you. The help that is given must be appreciated, because it is paid through the work of other people. Government should not squander the money of the European taxpayers, who are deprived of many services to which they are entitled for their work. The European Union has paid billions to Arafat during the intifada. The more the Palestinian terrorists killed Israelis, the more money they received. To the Arabs, this is encouragement to continue.

Q. It seems that the U.S. government must be made aware that an economic jihad is also a means to wage war.

A. Yes, jihad takes different forms. The military jihad is waged through terrorism. The cultural jihad is done in the universities through the subversion of western values. It developed under the aegis of the Euro-Arab Dialogue. The economic jihad used the oil boycott. Arab countries rely heavily on oil exports. Their economy is very dependent on Western products. It is important to reduce our dependency on the Arab countries' oil, in order to free ourselves from the economic jihad.

Q. Does corruption of officials that go with the jihad. Do you see any of that in the U.S.?

A. Well, in the U.S. you have a different system, you have a much stronger democracy. The people can control the policy of the government. It is under strong scrutiny. But this is not so in Europe. The policy of Europe is conducted at the top level, and this escaped the people's scrutiny. They do not understand what is happening. And the whole foreign policy of the Euro-Arab Dialogue was conducted by the European Community, the European Counsel of Ministers, the European Parliament and the European Commission, which are different bodies than each European country government.

Q. Right, but in the U.S. we also have the World Bank, the North American Free Trade Agreement which is going to be expanded to South America, and I presume that will have links to the EU and those things are not followed here, either.

A. We live in a global world, and international organizations develop. Americans should be aware of these developments and be diffident of the United Nations, which is an extremely corrupted organization, which works according to different standards. Here, it must be clearly stated that the Arab Muslim countries, 56 countries, and the Palestinian Authority, which will become a state soon, probably, operate according to Koranic justice, which is not what we consider justice. It is based on the superiority of Islam over non-Muslim countries, it justifies jihad and jihadists' values. Those whom we call terrorists, are called freedom fighters, because fighting against non-Muslims countries is a “just war”. This is why the Palestinians have a “just cause” and conduct a “just war.” The same in Darfur, in Sudan. As long as we have different values, it will be difficult to agree on what is just. For Muslim countries, Sharia rules take precedence over any other rules, especially over man-made rules. They consider Western rules inferior to their God given rules. For this reason, America is right to refuse to participate in the International Court of Justice, which is dominated by Islamic and European nations, both abiding to the Islamic principles of justice.
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Border agency nearly "overwhelmed," chief says

By Chris Strohm
cstrohm@govexec.com

The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection has launched a "full-court press" to gain control of U.S. borders, including the issuance of a new national border patrol strategy, according to officials.

CBP Commissioner Robert Bonner acknowledged in a television interview Monday that the Border Patrol is "almost ... being overwhelmed" by illegal immigration. The Border Patrol caught about 1.1 million illegal immigrants in fiscal 2004, but an estimated 10 million illegal aliens are in the country.


"This is like a sinking ship with a hole in it. You've got to plug the hole. You've got to stop the illegal migration into the United States," Bonner said on C-SPAN's Washington Journal.


"If you don't do that ... you're just bailing water out of a sinking ship," he added. "So the very first thing we have to do is to gain control of our borders. The next thing we need to do is ... identify and remove people who are illegally residing in the United States."


CBP is responsible for border enforcement, while the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is responsible for interior enforcement, which includes removing people who are illegally in the country. Some lawmakers and other officials have recently suggested that the two bureaus should be merged.


Bonner also said CBP does not endorse the Minuteman Project, which called for citizens to converge on a 23-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border during April to observe and report illegal immigration. Minuteman members say they already have helped the Border Patrol catch illegal aliens. To date, no incidents of violence or confrontations have been reported.


"We think it's probably better, all things considered, to leave the enforcement of the law to law enforcement professionals, like the Border Patrol," Bonner said. "And we certainly do not encourage people to take the law into their own hands, and we would deplore any kind of vigilantism."


Last week, CBP launched the second phase of the Arizona Border Control Initiative. It will add more than 500 federal agents and 23 CBP aircraft along a 370-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border, which has the nation's highest rate of illegal immigration.


The new national border patrol strategy codifies that the Border Patrol's priority mission is preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States. The strategy was released last week without much fanfare. A Border Patrol spokesman said the concepts have been in practice since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


The Border Patrol apprehended about 400 illegal aliens in 2004 for terrorism or national security concerns. Prior to 9/11, the patrol's primary focus was illegal aliens, alien smuggling and narcotics interdiction.


The plan acknowledges that many areas along the Southwest border are not yet under operational control, adding that daily attempts to cross the border by thousands of illegal aliens from countries around the globe "continue to present a threat to U.S. national security."


"Some would classify the majority of these aliens as 'economic migrants,'" the plan states. "However, an ever-present threat exists from the potential for terrorists to employ the same smuggling and transportation networks, infrastructure, drop houses, and other support and then use these masses of illegal aliens as 'cover' for a successful cross-border penetration."


The strategy consists of five main objectives: establish substantial probability of apprehending terrorists and their weapons as they attempt to enter illegally between the ports of entry; deter illegal entries through improved enforcement; detect, apprehend and deter smugglers of humans, drugs and other contraband; leverage "smart border" technology to multiply the effect of enforcement personnel; and reduce crime in border communities to improve the quality of life and economic vitality of targeted areas.


"Achieving the new Border Patrol strategy requires having the right combination of highly trained and well-equipped Border Patrol agents, integrated detection and sensor technology and air and marine assets, and strategically placed tactical infrastructure," Bonner wrote in a letter accompanying the plan.


The plan does not, however, give timelines or other significant milestones to measure success, saying that measuring program effectiveness in law enforcement is "complex." Indeed, the plan says there is no one way to measure the effectiveness of CBP efforts to combat terrorism.


In his Washington Journal appearance, Bonner reiterated claims made by other administration officials that al Qaeda has "contemplated using Mexico as a transit area to move terrorist operatives" into the United States.


"We know of no evidence right now that they've done so, but we know that they have thought about doing so, and that's enough to be concerned," Bonner said. "So we know that we have a national security issue and that what we have to do is gain greater control of our border, and that means increase the rate of apprehensions so that it's highly probable that anybody that illegally comes across our border is going to be apprehended."


Mexican President Vicente Fox has flatly denied that any evidence shows al Qaeda plans to cross into the United States from Mexico.


"In the case of terrorism, we don't have any evidence or any indication either that terrorists from al Qaeda or any other part of the world are coming into Mexico and going into the Untied States," Fox recently told reporters. "And if there is any of that evidence, we will like to have it. But, as I said, it does not exist."
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Monday, April 04, 2005

Europe's Boys of Jihad

At 13, Salah left Paris for Syria, allegedly to aid insurgents in Iraq. He and others like him represent radical Islam's newer, younger face.
By Sebastian Rotella
LA Times Staff Writer


PARIS — The case file of the French homeboys who joined the Iraqi jihad contains a startling photo.

It's the mug shot of Salah, the alleged point man in Damascus, Syria, who authorities say arranged for guns and safe passage into Iraq for extremists from Paris. Salah has a serious expression beneath a short Afro-style haircut. He looks as if he's posing, reluctantly, for a middle school yearbook.

When Salah left for Damascus with the jihadis last summer, he was 13 years old.

"He's just a little kid!" exclaimed Ousman Siddibe, a leader of Good Boys of Africa, an African-French community association in Paris' Riquet neighborhood. "We have some husky guys around here, but he's not one of them. And he's got an innocent face."

Salah, the son of African immigrants, remains a fugitive two months after police here broke up the alleged terrorist cell. His odyssey is a drastic example of a trend, investigators say: Not only are Islamic extremists in Western Europe radicalizing faster, they are also younger than ever.

"The trajectory is changing," said Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania and a former CIA officer. "Extremism is now appealing to younger and younger people."

Before the Sept. 11 attacks, the thousands of militants from around the world who flocked to Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, and to the wars in Chechnya and Bosnia-Herzegovina, were mostly in their 20s and 30s. In his book profiling 172 jihadis of that era, "Understanding Terror Networks," Sageman found a median age of 26, as "most people joined the jihad well past adolescence."

In the aftermath of Sept. 11 and the Iraq war, however, the process of radicalization has spread and speeded up. At an age when angry teens in Los Angeles drift into street gangs, some of their peers in Europe plunge into global networks that send them to train, fight and die in far-off lands.

"Iraq is the motor," said a senior French anti-terrorism official, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons. "It's making them all go crazy, want to be shaheed [martyrs]. The danger of suicide attacks in Europe and the United States increases as you have younger guys who are fervent and easily manipulated."

Along with longtime resentment and alienation experienced by some in immigrant communities, technology such as computers and Arabic-language satellite TV plays a major role in molding militants earlier, European officials say. Internet sites and chat rooms have become a virtual sanctuary, widening access to propaganda and training materials for an emerging "second generation" of extremists.

"This generation of young kids are far more Internet-focused than guys who are only 10 years older," Sageman said.

Last year, a group of young Internet enthusiasts was charged with unleashing terrorism in the Netherlands: the killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh and a plot to assassinate politicians. Police captured Jason Walters, 19, in a raid that left him and three officers wounded. His 17-year-old brother was also jailed.

Walters' Internet chats reveal a casual, adolescent cold-bloodedness, according to excerpts published in the Dutch media. A spokesman for the AIVD intelligence service, the leading Dutch anti-terrorism agency, confirmed that the transcripts were authentic.

In an Internet conversation on Sept. 28, 2003, Walters joked about beheading the Dutch prime minister and bragged about a monthlong training session at an Afghan terrorism camp. The son of a Dutch mother and American father said he had fooled his family into thinking he was in Britain.

He urged his chat partner, "Galas03," to join him on a future trip. "They will train you how to use guns," Walters wrote, using the name "Mujaheed." "I can assemble and dismantle a Kalashnikov blindfolded."

"Is shooting difficult?" Galas03 asked.

"No way, man, it is not that hard," Walters responded. "I even had to roll over with a pistol and then shoot and that went all right, praise Allah."

Walters became radicalized at about 16, investigators say. Fellow suspect Samir Azzouz, 18, was equally precocious. Azzouz was first detained in 2002 in Ukraine en route to joining Muslim combatants in Chechnya, AIVD spokesman Vincent van Steen said.

Iraq has become the new Chechnya, a promised land of jihad, for many militants in Europe. The Iraq war played a central role in radicalizing Salah, the fugitive middle-schooler from Paris, and his homeboys, according to interviews with investigators, defense lawyers, youth counselors and friends.

Salah's family declined to be interviewed for this article. French authorities have not made public his last name because of legal restrictions on identifying minors, particularly criminal suspects.

Salah was born in France to a large family of immigrants from Mali. He grew up in Riquet, a neighborhood that seems more hopeful and less grim than the concrete housing projects outside Paris that are bastions of extremist networks.

The family lives in a ground-floor apartment across the street from the north bank of the La Villette basin: an urban waterway alive with boats, bridges and bike paths. Gray-haired Frenchmen play boccie by a tree-lined promenade named for the actors Yves Montand and Simone Signoret.

Riquet is on the northeastern edge of Paris in the 19th arrondissement, or district, whose population runs the ethnic gamut: Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians, Asians, Orthodox Jews, Turks and a large concentration of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

The area is socioeconomically diverse as well. Crime and low-income housing abound, but gentrified sections attract the French equivalent of yuppies. Salah lived near a kosher pizzeria and a cafe/bike shop that offers bicycles and repairs as well as espresso and hot chocolate.

Salah's Muslim family was attached to its religion and homeland. His older brothers would go back to Mali for extended stays. Salah was calm and focused and became very religious about the age of 12.

"After 9 p.m., you'd find him and his crew at the mosques, not on the street," said Bakary Sakho, 25, a founder of Good Boys of Africa who knows Salah's family well. "He didn't have trouble with the police. He was a young, serious Muslim. He did his five prayers a day. He wore the traditional vestments at the mosque, but around the neighborhood he wore jeans and basketball shoes like everybody else."

Salah told people he was determined to be an imam, friends and judicial sources say. When Salah and his longtime neighbor, Chiakhou Diakhabi, decided this year to study at a Koranic school in Syria, their parents were pleased. Diakhabi, a son of Senegalese immigrants, found religion after years of scrapes with the police.

Many African and Arab families in Riquet, and elsewhere in France, see rediscovering Islamic heritage as a calming, stabilizing experience that keeps kids off the street.

"The parents thought it was a good idea," Sakho said. "Being an imam, that means discipline. For these families, a Koranic school in Syria was a big deal — like a university."

The 19-year-old Diakhabi had a strong influence on Salah. Their fathers are close friends, and the families live in the same apartment complex.

In France and other European countries, adolescents from Muslim families increasingly turn to rigorous practice of Islam, often a badge of cultural identity for second- and third-generation youths from immigrant families who feel marooned in Western society. Youth counselors and friends didn't think Salah had become an aggressive extremist.

Nonetheless, it was unusual for the boy to spend so much time with youths in their late teens and early 20s.

"There are other kids his age who become very religious, boys and girls," Sakho said. "But not to the point of leaving school and going to a foreign country."

Salah and Diakhabi became followers of Farid Benyettou, an Algerian-French street preacher. He was a fixture at the Addawa Mosque on narrow Tanger Street in an area dominated by drab high-rises and industrial compounds.

A weather-beaten building without a minaret or ornamentation, the mosque is one of the largest in Paris, attracting as many as 1,500 worshipers on Fridays. Its leaders have not been linked to the alleged extremists.

In other terrorism cases around Europe, accused ringleaders were in their 30s or 40s. They were exiled ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood from Syria or Egypt, battle-scarred North African veterans of Afghanistan, Bosnia or Chechnya.

Benyettou was 23 when he was arrested here in January. His look was more ragged Rasta than mean mujahedin: thick glasses, unruly long curls spilling out of his turban, high-top gym shoes beneath his robes. His main street credential was having a brother-in-law who was arrested for extremist activity here in 1998.

Benyettou allegedly formed an autonomous cell, bringing together friends from high school and soccer fields. He taught religion and Arabic at his apartment about five blocks from Salah's middle school, using the classes to screen and groom about 20 disciples. In 2003, the group participated in protests against the Iraq war and last year protested a French law banning Muslim head scarves in public schools.

Their behavior at the antiwar marches drew the interest of the intelligence division of the national police, whose agents snapped surveillance photos as a dozen youths knelt behind Benyettou in sidewalk prayer sessions.

As the group evolved, the youths spurned girlfriends and adopted rigorous Islamic lifestyles and ideas. Prosecutors allege that the youths discussed potential violence in France; defense lawyers see little evidence of that. Both sides agree they were obsessed with Iraq.

"Benyettou would talk to them about Abu Ghraib [prison], the abuse of Muslims, and say, 'What are you going to do about it?' " said Dominique Many, a lawyer for a suspected jihadi. "He was like a little guru who claimed to know the sacred texts. And he convinced them that the texts said it was their duty to go to Iraq to fight for the cause."

Last spring and summer, at least eight members of the group departed for Damascus, the Syrian capital. Several enrolled at a Koranic school there.

Syria is popular with young European Muslims hoping to study religion or Arabic, because it is cheaper to live there than in Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Syria is also a hub of smugglers and operatives of the Iraq insurgency: a gateway to jihad. Koranic schools in Damascus have become steppingstones and cover stories for Iraq-bound militants.

The circumstances of Salah's departure are murky. It's not clear if his intended destination was Iraq. Investigators and friends say his parents gave him permission to travel to Damascus and study there. Salah went to Syria in July with neighbor Mohammed Ayouni, 22, whose whereabouts are also unknown.

"Somebody had to manipulate Salah, had to influence and help him," said Siddibe of Good Boys of Africa, which tries to steer teenagers away from crime, drugs and extremism. "A little guy like that is going to be a lot more vulnerable."

There have been reports that Salah tried to enter Iraq and was turned back by Syrian border authorities. But French law enforcement officials could not confirm that.

By the time he turned 14 in October, Salah had become streetwise in Damascus, say police, who describe his role in the cell as handling logistics for jihadis passing through from Paris.

Some think the authorities have exaggerated Salah's role.

"To call him an intermediary in Syria, and to call this a network, is to exaggerate what was a crude, improvised group with little structure or connections," said Vincent Ollivier, a defense lawyer.

But after French police arrested Thamer Bouchnak, a 22-year-old from Riquet, in January on the eve of a flight to Syria, he identified Salah as the operative expected to meet him at the Damascus airport and arrange for lodging, guns and passage to Iraq. Bouchnak spent three weeks at the Koranic school last summer and apparently had met Salah there.

"The kid was the one who knew where to find the smugglers to cross them into Iraq," said Many, Bouchnak's lawyer. "He was the one who was going to help them buy AK-47s."

Unlike five Dutch suspects in the Van Gogh case who allegedly trained at secret Pakistani and Afghan camps, the preparation in Paris was minimal: exercise sessions in the wooded Buttes-Chaumont Park, perfunctory consultation of weapons manuals.

"No training," said a senior French intelligence official, whose agency does not permit him to be quoted by name. "These are guys who go to get themselves blown up. Once they arrive at the destination in Iraq, they are very quickly prepared because the insurgents need fighters."

The network may have been crude, but several recruits attained their goal. One 19-year-old Riquet homeboy died in a suicide car bombing in Iraq last summer.

Two others, ages 19 and 24, were killed in combat in the Sunni Triangle west and north of Baghdad. During the battle to retake Fallouja in November, U.S. troops captured Diakhabi, Salah's longtime neighbor, and a 22-year-old from the neighborhood. Another member of the group is in a Syrian jail.

And Salah? His trail stops at the Koranic school in Damascus. He is wanted in France on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity.

The jihadi homeboys have become the talk of the streets here. Not a good sign, Sakho said, at a time when global conflicts stir youthful imaginations, when kids grow up faster than ever.

"There are kids in this neighborhood who admire them for making a name for themselves," he said. "We don't want them to become heroes.
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