SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

No links between Saddam and
Al-Qaida: US report
A report released by the Senate intelligence committee on Friday says there was no evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida, a key premise of the Bush administration’s case to invade Iraq in 2003. The finding is contained in a 2005 CIA report declassified by the Senate committee.

How Al-Qaida killed Masood
Kabul, September 9
The beat-up video camera was delivered to Afghanistan in a box, and picked up by two clean-shaven Arabs posing as journalists. They met with Osama bin Laden before leaving on their mission to kill Mujahedeen hero Ahmad Shah Massood.

Oppn to form alliance over Bugti killing
Quetta, September 9
Opposition parties in Pakistan have reached a consensus on forming a grand alliance against the Musharraf regime in the wake of the federal government’s reluctance to come clear on Baluch leader Nawab Bugti’s killing, and its decision to push through the controversial Women Rights Bill.



EARLIER STORIES


US entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari poses for a picture as she visits a museum in Baikonour cosmodrome
US entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari poses for a picture as she visits a museum in Baikonour cosmodrome on Saturday. Ansari, a US citizen of Iranian origin, will become the world’s first female space tourist when she blasts off aboard a Russian rocket. — Reuters

60 insurgents killed in Afghanistan
Kabul, September 9
NATO-led troops in a major offensive in southern Afghanistan have killed about 60 insurgents during the past 24 hours, officials said. The offensive, Medusa, used air power, artillery and ground troops.

Major security gap exposed by media
New York, September 9
Showing a major gap in the security, an undercover media team was able to move half a ton of one the world’s most dangerous bomb-making material into a storage shed only a few kilometers from the White House and the US Capitol with virtually no question asked.

Issue arrest warrants for Benazir: court
Islamabad, September 9
A Pakistani court has asked the government to serve arrest warrants through Interpol on former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Zardari in connection with a case of alleged false declaration of assets before the 1993 general election. — PTI





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No links between Saddam and Al-Qaida: US report
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

A report released by the Senate intelligence committee on Friday says there was no evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida, a key premise of the Bush administration’s case to invade Iraq in 2003.

The finding is contained in a 2005 CIA report declassified by the Senate committee. “Post-war findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of Al-Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from Al-Qaida to provide material or operational support,” according to the report.

The findings identified two occasions, not reported prior to the war, in which Hussein rebuffed meeting requests from an Al-Qaida operative. The intelligence community has not found any other evidence of meetings between Al-Qaida 
and Iraq.

As recently as August 21, President George W. Bush suggested a link between Hussein and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq, who was killed by U.S. forces in an air strike this summer. The report, however, found no ties between Hussein and al-Zarqawi.

Al-Zarqawi was present in Baghdad from May 2002 until late November 2002. However, post-war information indicates that Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbour, or turn a blind eye toward al-Zarqawi, the report said.

Making the case for war at the United Nations in February 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell had insisted that Iraq “today harbours a deadly terrorist network” headed by al-Zarqawi. He also dismissed as “not credible” assertions by Hussein’s government that it had no knowledge of al-Zarqawi’s whereabouts.

The report said analysts noted “Saddam has viewed Islamic extremists operating inside Iraq as a threat, and his regime since its inception has arrested and executed members of both Shia and Sunni groups to disrupt their organisations and limit their influence.”

The CIA conceded that “our assessment of Al-Qaida in Iraq rests on a body of fragmented, conflicting reporting from sources of varying reliability.”

The report is based largely on documents recovered from Iraqi facilities in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion in March 2003, as well as interrogations of Hussein and other Iraqi officials captured by coalition forces. According to these sources, Hussein did not trust Al-Qaida or any other radical Islamist group and did not want to cooperate with them. Former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, also in U.S. custody, said: “Saddam only expressed negative sentiments about bin Laden.”

White House spokesman Tony Snow on Friday described the report as “nothing new.”

“It's, again, kind of re-litigating things that happened three years ago,” Mr. Snow said. “In 2002 and 2003, members of both parties got a good look at the intelligence we had, and they came to the very same conclusions about what was going on.”

Post-war findings also do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate assessments that Iraq “has chemical weapons” or “is expanding its chemical industry to support chemical weapons production.”

Another report, also released yesterday by the Senate intelligence committee, detailed how Iraqi exiles, led by Ahmed Chalabi from the Iraqi National Congress, attempted to influence U.S. policy by providing false information on Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons capabilities.

The source, an Iraqi code-named Curve Ball, was a key source backing the American belief that Hussein had a mobile biological weapons programme, but the information that he provided was later entirely discredited.

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How Al-Qaida killed Masood

Kabul, September 9
The beat-up video camera was delivered to Afghanistan in a box, and picked up by two clean-shaven Arabs posing as journalists. They met with Osama bin Laden before leaving on their mission to kill Mujahedeen hero Ahmad Shah Massood.

Five years after the famed resistance leader died when a bomb planted in the camera exploded, a former Taliban official has revealed to Associated Press how Al-Qaida plotted the killing two days before the September 11 attacks on America hoping to strike a fatal blow to the pro-Washington Northern Alliance before an anticipated US invasion.

Waheed Mozhdah, then Director of the Afghan Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and Africa department, showed AP a copy of what he said was a signed letter dated September 13, 2001, from Laden to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, urging him to launch an offensive on the alliance. In the letter, Laden says that if America fails to respond to September 11 attacks, it will decline as a superpower, but if it starts fighting, it will be a major blow to its economy and it will face the same destiny as the Soviet Union, whose 1980s occupation of Afghanistan heralded its disintegration. — AP

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Oppn to form alliance over Bugti killing
Khalid Mohammad for ANI

Quetta, September 9
Opposition parties in Pakistan have reached a consensus on forming a grand alliance against the Musharraf regime in the wake of the federal government’s reluctance to come clear on Baluch leader Nawab Bugti’s killing, and its decision to push through the controversial Women Rights Bill.

Sunday will see the first salvo being fired when the Opposition demonstrates in front of the Punjab provincial assembly in Lahore to condemn the federal government’s Baluchistan policy.

This will be followed by a public meeting under the Minar-e-Pakistan facing the Lahore Fort at which leaders of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD), the Muttahid Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and other political parties will exercise their vocal chords to expose what they term the duplicitous policies of the Musharraf regime. The scene will then shift to Quetta on September 17 where public condemnation will be expressed over the August 26 killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti and solidarity for the Baluch people’s struggle for their rights.

MMA Deputy Secretary-General Liaquat Baloch said that the struggle is for the end of the military dictatorship and use the option of resignation from the assemblies collectively.

Baloch said ARD leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim is presently in Dubai to get former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s sanction for these decisions.

The death toll in Barkhan has risen to seven, and a helpless provincial administration is only able to say that the perpetrators will not be spared.

A meeting in Loralai this week has reiterated that the agitation will continue in Baluchistan till the military operation is stopped, political detainees released and the body of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti is exhumed under the supervision of an international medical board.

The constant refrain is that Pakistan’s smaller provinces are being denied their constitutional and political rights.

Baluch-centric parties are on record to say that they have activated a phased resignation programme that will culminate in a final break.

Senator Jogezai and Hasil Bizenjo have given a clarion call for Baluchis to be treated as equal citizens of the country. The adoption of extra-constitutional methods to feather and secure Punjabi domination of national politics has been roundly condemned.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani’s broadside that certain elements are conspiring to keep the Baluchistan issue on the boil has also not gone down well with the political class.

According to senior officials, the government is desperately in search of new allies in view of the turmoil in Baluchistan and a wave of anger in the entire country over the killing of Nawab Bugti.

In Karachi, the demand is for containment of the Balochistan crisis.

According to Babar Ayaz, a media consultant, the Baluchistan crisis has historical, political and economic dimensions, and suggested that modernisation may never come to the province because of a reluctance to do away with the Sardari system.

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60 insurgents killed in Afghanistan

Kabul, September 9
NATO-led troops in a major offensive in southern Afghanistan have killed about 60 insurgents during the past 24 hours, officials said.

The offensive, Medusa, used air power, artillery and ground troops. It was launched a week ago to drive militants out of a stronghold in Kandahar.

“Later in the morning, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) lost one soldier killed in action,” the alliance said in a statement.

Afghan and NATO forces also destroyed “three insurgent positions, a bomb-making factory and a weapons cache,” the statement said.

“We are engaging with everything from direct fire to artillery and air strikes,” an official with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said, announcing the latest deaths. — AFP

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Major security gap exposed by media

New York, September 9
Showing a major gap in the security, an undercover media team was able to move half a ton of one the world’s most dangerous bomb-making material into a storage shed only a few kilometers from the White House and the US Capitol with virtually no question asked.

The ABC News today said its undercover team made the purchases of ammonium nitrate, a chemical fertilizer, in cash at farm supply stores in North Carolina and Virginia and were never once asked for any valid ID.

Despite its use in bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, there are still no federal laws restricting the purchase of the chemical widely sold at farm supply stores.

Legislation requiring buyers of ammonium nitrate have been blocked by the agricultural industry, according to Congressman Pete King. — PTI

 

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