Sunday, October 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

W O R L D

Al-Qaida has ‘chemical, biological arms’
Fourth anthrax case in USA
Washington, October 13
Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida terrorist network in Afghanistan has developed chemical and biological weapons, US defence officials said today. “What we believe,” said a senior official, “is that they have a crude chemical and possibly biological weapons capability. 

Solid evidence led to action on JeM: USA
Washington, October 13

The Bush administration, which included Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad in an expanded list of individuals and organisations whose accounts have been frozen, has said the step had been taken on the basis of “compelling and credible” evidence.

US anti-terrorism Bill approved
Washington, October 13

The US House of Representatives has approved a Bill that gives the federal government expanded powers to fight terrorism in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the USA.

Video: Real Player
U.S Attorney General John Ashcroft briefs media on the latest development in the investigation into September 11 attacks and gave Americans public practical advice.
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While forces of the Northern Alliance are firing from the frontlines on Taliban positions, an emergency medical centre in the Panjshar valley is prepared for the wounded to come in.
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Taliban get cut  in drug trade
Chaman (Pakistan), October 13
Afghan drug lords are cleaning out stocks of hashish, opium and heroin and sending the drugs flooding into Pakistan, while the besieged Taliban cash in by taking a cut of the proceeds, frontier sources said today.



Chinese twin girls with stickers
Chinese twin girls with stickers of the national flag on their faces arrive at the Wulihe stadium in Shenyang on Saturday for the World Cup soccer qualifier against Qatar. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 
Charles had dinner with Laden kin
London, October 13
Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, had dinner with a relative of Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in anti-US attacks, two weeks after terror strikes in America last month, St James’ Palace said today. Charles met Bakr bin Laden, a prominent Saudi businessman, to discuss the Islamic faith, said a spokeswoman for St James’ Palace, the prince’s official residence in London.

Osama a ‘master self-publicist’
London, October 11
In the ascetic, bearded face, the soulful eyes burn with militant fervour. The full mouth is firmly set, determined and defiant. Dark head partly covered, the man stares at an invisible, distant point. 
Mask maker Raul Panza holds up his latest creation, a latex face of the world's most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, in Rosario, Argentina, on Friday.
Mask maker Raul Panza holds up his latest creation, a latex face of the world's most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, in Rosario, Argentina, on Friday. At least two of Rosario's mask-makers received orders for Bin Laden masks from costume rental shops in Buenos Aires since the September 11 attacks. 
— Reuters photo

Israel to ease West Bank blockade
Jerusalem, October 13
Israel has said it would ease a year-long blockade on Palestinian areas as Washington pressed both sides to end their conflict so it can bolster Muslim and Arab support for its anti-terror war.

Chandrika gives poll sops
Colombo, October 13

Within days of calling a general election in the country, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has announced a series of populist concessions, including a salary hike and tax cuts even as her ministers denied that they were sops to woo the electorate.
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Al-Qaida has ‘chemical, biological arms’
Fourth anthrax case in USA


This undated image released in the US Defence Department official web site, anthrax vaccine immunization programme shows bacillus anthrax vegetative cells in a monkey’s spleen. President George.W. Bush, responding to a newly discovered case of anthrax in New York, said the USA was “still in danger” but that the government was responding “quickly and forcefullv”. — AFP

Washington, October 13
Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida terrorist network in Afghanistan has developed chemical and biological weapons, US defence officials said today.

“What we believe,” said a senior official, “is that they have a crude chemical and possibly biological weapons capability. And if there is any nuclear capability, it is liable to be more radiological than fissile.”

Radiological weapons are bombs that combine radioactive material with conventional explosives to increase their deadliness. A fissile nuclear device produces a nuclear blast.

The chemical weapons Al-Qaida is believed to possess include simple poison weapons such as chlorine and phosgene. “We are not talking up to Sarin,” the official said. Sarin is an extremely deadly nerve agent.

Using the weapons, the official said, could be difficult for the terrorists but they may resort to “innovative” means, the Washington Times reported.

As for biological weapons, the official said it is possible the Al-Qaida network has developed some type of deadly toxin weapons, possibly including anthrax.

US intelligence officials have been saying for some time that there have been reports that Al-Qaida has secret weapons laboratories in Afghanistan.

“We have copies of the manuals that they are actually used to train people with respect to how to deploy and use these kinds of substances,” Vice-President Dick Cheney said in a TV interview yesterday.

In the meantime the USA reeled from an anthrax scare at home that raised fears in corporate mailrooms across the country.

The anthrax scare was set off by the discovery of a fourth case of infection by the bacteria with germ warfare potential — an aide to NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, who in late September handled a letter addressed to him that contained a white powdery substance.

In New York, a 38-year-old woman employee of NBC became the latest person known to be infected with anthrax in a week of jitters about germ warfare.

The network said she probably became infected after handling the letter sent from Florida. A similar letter was sent to New York Times correspondent Judith Miller, the co-author of a book about germ warfare, but she turned it over to police before opening it. That powder tested negative for anthrax.

US Vice-President Dick Cheney said there could be links between the anthrax cases and Bin Laden. Scores of businesses across the country clamped down on opening suspicious mail and turned their mail-rooms into “hot zones’’ where employees wore gloves and deposited suspect packages into special containers.

“We know that (Bin Laden) has over the years tried to acquire weapons of mass destruction, both biological and chemical weapons,” Mr Cheney said in an interview with PBS television yesterday.

Scores of Los Angeles Times employees were locked in the newspaper building for 90 minutes last night in an anthrax scare caused by the discovery of white powder near a computer keyboard in the book review department, employees said.

About 40 firefighters and a hazardous materials team wearing protective suits and breathing apparatus investigated before employees were allowed to leave. One newsroom employee said the firefighters determined that the substance was not anthrax but did not say what it was.

A Los Angeles Times reporter said about 200 people were kept in the building for about 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, US Defence Department team detected anthrax spores in the pipes of a former Soviet weapons facility in Kazakhstan that had been slated for demolition under a US-funded programme, a Pentagon spokesman said.

The members of the team, who had been inoculated against anthrax, were not explosed to the spores because they were wearing protective clothing, US Army Major Tim Blair said yesterday.

The Pentagon has been working with Russia and Kazakhstan since 1997 to dismantle the former Soviet biological weapons facility at Stepanogorsk under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Programme.

BRUSSELS: The European Union (EU) has decided to set up a network of emergency experts and agreed to share data on available vaccines and antidotes in a bid to deal with biological, chemical and nuclear attacks.

As fears continued to grow in the western world of follow-up attacks to the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, civil protection units from across the EU member states yesterday agreed to pool their expertise in case of biological, chemical and nuclear attacks, Xinhua reports.

The EU government representatives, meeting in Knokke, Belgium, said by October 31 they would set up a dedicated phone network to ensure that 24-hour contacts were possible between national bodies. PTI, Reuters, AFP, UNI
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Solid evidence led to action on JeM: USA

Washington, October 13
The Bush administration, which included Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad in an expanded list of individuals and organisations whose accounts have been frozen, has said the step had been taken on the basis of “compelling and credible” evidence.

Besides demanding action against JeM, India has also been pressing for a ban on other Pakistan-based militant outfits including Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Treasury General Counsel David Aufhauser, who addressed a press conference along with Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and Under Secretary of Treasury for Enforcement Jim Gurule said the assets of JeM and other organisations had been blocked as there was “compelling, substantial and credible evidence to take action against them.”

Mr Gurule said because a name was not on the list of identified persons and organisations linked to terrorism “does not mean it is not suspect.”

They did not disclose how the terrorists moved money around the world. “I do not think that it would be wise to go ahead and disclose to the world what we know about how these terrorist organisations move money. We want to keep them guessing with respect to what we know,” Mr Gurule said.

Noting that 66 countries had asset blocking orders in force, Under Secretary for International Affairs John Taylor, who was also present, said 44 more countries have expressed willingness to join the international efforts to choke terrorists’ financing.

Meanwhile, France has also extended a freeze on assets held by people or entities suspected of financing terrorist activities, the Economy and Finance Ministry has announced.

The extension is effective immediately after Prime Minister Lionel Jospin signed a decree authorising it, the ministry said yesterday.

It completes a decree adopted on September 25 and strengthens an EU package designed to fight the financing of terrorism, the ministry added. PTI, AFP
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US anti-terrorism Bill approved

Washington, October 13
The US House of Representatives has approved a Bill that gives the federal government expanded powers to fight terrorism in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the USA.

The House voted 337-79 to approve the measure that gives federal law enforcement agencies broader wiretap powers as well as new rights to keep suspect immigrants in detention. The Senate voted 96-1 late Thursday to approve a similar piece of legislation. AFPTop

 

Taliban get cut in drug trade
John Fullerton

Chaman (Pakistan), October 13
Afghan drug lords are cleaning out stocks of hashish, opium and heroin and sending the drugs flooding into Pakistan, while the besieged Taliban cash in by taking a cut of the proceeds, frontier sources said today.

It’s been barely a week, but already the US war on Afghanistan is starting to erode the authority of the Taliban, which in the past five years imposed a draconian Islamic system in which drugs were banned and highway brigandry virtually eliminated.

“People sitting on stocks of hashish and opium don’t want to lose it all if the Taliban falls, so they’ve been selling ever since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington,’’ said one source close to smugglers.

“Enormous profits are still being made, and the trade represents a huge income for the Taliban, which levies a 10 per cent tax on all shipments over the border.’’

That revenue is vital for the purchase of ammunition, spare parts and fuel, the sources said. The Taliban leaders may not even know. Fighters near the Chaman border are also trying to levy a “tax’’ on United Nations food convoys.

Payment is in kind. A man carrying 10 kg (22 lbs) of heroin will hand over 1 kg, a 10-truck convoy of opium will leave one behind for the Taliban. In return, the Taliban provides security — “protection’’.

On the Pakistan side of the frontier, the sources said, protection for the drug racket is provided by buying off the security forces, from officers in the frontier militia to senior police and army officers.

The potential profits are huge. One kg (2.2 lbs) of quality hashish currently costs about $ 16 on the frontier — and it fetches $ 450 rupees in Dubai, for example.

When the Taliban banned the cultivation of opium — the source of heroin — prices rocketed.

“One kg (2.2 lbs) of opium jumped from Pakistani Rs 600 to Rs 12,000. It made some people with insider knowledge millionaires overnight,’’ said a frontier resident. Now prices are going the other way, from $500 per kg of opium before the September 11 suicide attacks on New York and washington to $ 75 a kg.

Why didn’t Pakistan crack down the smugglers?

“They’re too deeply involved, right up to very senior people. The profits are too great. Corruption is endemic, the rewards too tempting for many people,’’ said one tribal leader. Reuters 
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Charles had dinner with Laden kin

London, October 13
Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, had dinner with a relative of Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in anti-US attacks, two weeks after terror strikes in America last month, St James’ Palace said today.

Charles met Bakr bin Laden, a prominent Saudi businessman, to discuss the Islamic faith, said a spokeswoman for St James’ Palace, the prince’s official residence in London.

“We can confirm that the prince did attend a dinner for the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (in central England)”, the spokeswoman said.

“It is a recognised centre which promotes greater understanding of the Islamic faith and the arrangement was made months ago,” before the atrocities in New York and Washington.

Prince Charles is patron of the Oxford centre and the Bin Laden family has links with it. The family disowned its infamous member several years ago.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Bakr Bin Laden is a brother of the terror suspect. AFP
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Osama a ‘master self-publicist’
Cristina Odone

London, October 11
In the ascetic, bearded face, the soulful eyes burn with militant fervour. The full mouth is firmly set, determined and defiant. Dark head partly covered, the man stares at an invisible, distant point. A visionary, a leader of men, a rebel with a cause: his expression bears testimony to any or all of these roles.

Remember that poster of Che Guevara? Not so long ago, it was impossible to visit a university campus without coming face to face with a 40 inch by 30 inch image of the revolutionary icon. From San Francisco to Stockholm, from Paris to Palermo, students worshipped the heroic guerrilla who’d overthrown the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, and swore to vanquish the ‘great enemy of mankind: the United States of America’.

History does not record whether in his student’s room in Jedda the young Osama bin Laden had taped up the Guevara poster. But it is clear that today he appropriates elements of the Guevara narrative — the people’s champion who fought tyranny and oppression, the David to the Yankee Goliath — as he carefully constructs an image to peddle across the globe.

Nor does this cultural magpie take only from Guevara. From Saladin, greatest of Muslim heroes, who in the 12th century kicked out the Crusaders from the Holy Land, Bin Laden has stolen mantle (white flowing robes, coiled turban) and motto (‘drive out the infidels!’). In this way, he plunders the mythology of East and West, to feed an Arab world hungry for heroes and a Western world baying for foes.

The West’s Public Enemy No 1 has brilliantly used Western tools —videos, television and photographs — to lay the foundations of a personality cult that, for reach and scale, has no parallel in the Arab world.

Gamal Abdel Nasser, Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein have all been hailed as heroes at different stages of the radicalisation of the Arab world that followed the creation of the State of Israel. But none has shown the same talent for self-publicity as this supposedly elusive mountain hermit. More to the point, none had the natural ingredients — the dark glamour of Rudolph Valentino in The Sheikh; the warmly timbered, basso profundo voice; the six foot six, Armani model frame — that Islam’s latest hero boasts.

It’s an extraordinary personal feat, the myth of Osama bin Laden. Incredibly, this anti-hero has fashioned out of an unimpressive rich kid and unpromising would-be engineer an icon that seems unassailable. In a few years’ time, student rooms in Algiers and Cairo and Lahore will sport a poster of a world-famous guerrilla whose gaze troubles and whose courage inspires awe. For millions of Arab Muslims he will be the great hero — dead or alive. Observer News Service
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Israel to ease West Bank blockade

Jerusalem, October 13
Israel has said it would ease a year-long blockade on Palestinian areas as Washington pressed both sides to end their conflict so it can bolster Muslim and Arab support for its anti-terror war.

Israeli authorities said the decision to start lifting the blockade, allowing thousands of Palestinian workers into the Jewish state, was the result of a “decrease” in violence, though sporadic gun battles have erupted in the West Bank and Gaza.

“Tomorrow (Sunday) the government will announce the easing of restrictions. It will be part of the announcement the Prime Minister will make to the cabinet tomorrow,” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s spokesman Raanan Gissin told news men today.

With the USA and other major world players urging a revival of West Asia peacemaking, Gissin said Israel had agreed to ease the blockade to “move the negotiations forward”, although the Palestinian Authority was not fulfilling its part in a truce reaffirmed on September 26.

In a separate development, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat will meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on Monday to discuss the stricken West Asia peace process and US-led air strikes on Afghanistan.

“We believe Britain and the USA are working closely on ideas that are aimed at reviving the peace process and moving to a political settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” said one official.

The blockade dealt a near death blow to the already fragile Palestinian economy and has been branded by Palestinians as collective punishment.

“We still reserve the right to exercise self-defence. If we see no measures are taken against these terrorists and there are casualties...we will exercise our right to self-defence just as the USA is doing in Afghanistan,” Gissin said. Reuters 
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Chandrika gives poll sops

Colombo, October 13
Within days of calling a general election in the country, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has announced a series of populist concessions, including a salary hike and tax cuts even as her ministers denied that they were sops to woo the electorate.

The caretaker Cabinet has approved an interim allowance of Rs 1,200 a month for government employees and Rs 750 for pensioners apart from new subsidies on gas and wheat flour, cut back import duty on cement and abolition of tax on diesel while reducing the national security levy by 1 per cent.

“It has nothing to do with elections, as the Cabinet paper seeking approval for the concessions were submitted on October 5 itself, that is five days before the dissolution of Parliament,” Urban Development Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

Significantly, the Cabinet also sanctioned Rs 21.31 million to be paid as compensation to Muslim residents who lost their property in a communal riot at mawanella in south-central Sri Lanka in May.

Muslim parties hold the government responsible for the rioting and have often criticised the non-payment of compensation to the victims.

Meanwhile, the election announcement has set off defections from both sides. Parliament Speaker Anura Bandaranaike returned to the People’s Alliance (PA) led by his sister chandrika, after spending many years in the opposition United National Party.

However, Deputy Speaker Sarath Munasinghe, a retired senior army official, defected in the other direction, abandoning the PA and joining the UNP. PTI
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