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The Quiet Before the Storm

US planes pound Falluja

Tuesday 19 October 2004, 14:06 Makka Time, 11:06 GMT
US warplanes unleashed a series of strikes in the Iraqi city of Falluja overnight on buildings claimed to be connected to al-Qaida-linked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's network.

The 96 minutes of air strikes on Falluja, 50km west of Baghdad, destroyed safe houses and weapons' caches used by followers of al-Zarqawi, the US military said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Multiple secondary explosions indicate a significant amount of explosives or ammunition inside the houses," it said.

The strikes, part of a near-nightly routine in recent weeks, were conducted between 10.55pm on Monday (1955 GMT) and 12.31am on Tuesday, the army said.
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Death toll climbs as Falluja siege continues

Jamie Wilson
Tuesday October 19, 2004
The Guardian

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Outside Falluja, American marines maintained their siege of the city, continuing a military push that began on Friday and appeared to be laying the groundwork for an attempt to retake the city from insurgents. US and Iraqi au thorities released Sheikh Khaled al-Jumeili, the chief negotiator for the city, who was arrested on Thursday when peace talks broke down after city leaders rejected demands from the Iraqi Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, to hand over "foreign terrorists," including the Jordanian extremist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

He said peace talks to end the standoff in the city would remain suspended as a protest against his detention by US troops, who had accused him of representing the militants.

Falluja clerics insist that Zarqawi, whose Tawhid and Jihad movement has claimed responsibility for multiple suicide car-bombings and hostage beheadings including that of the British contractor Ken Bigley, is not in the city.

"The fact is that I am negotiating on behalf of Falluja people - civilians, kids, women - who have no power but through being represented by somebody. Since the situation has got up to this, each can go wherever they want and we don't need to talk about negotiations," he said in an interview on Al-Arabiya TV.
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The Consequence of Killing Sheikh Yassin

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What the Israeli critics of this latest assassination likely recognize is that not only has Sharon sealed the death warrants for dozens of Israeli's in the expected attacks to follow, but that he has also systematically derailed any attempts to reduce violence. Assassinations have only served to embolden and empower the militant groups and may have made them even more dangerous.

In effect, Sharon appears willing to sacrifice Israeli lives in order to justify his relentless efforts to colonize Palestinian lands with Israeli settlements and destroy Palestinian society so that they will submit to the crumbs cast their way. Suicide bombings have become a crucial pretext for enabling the brute force and violence needed to achieve these objectives.
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Why I won't serve Sharon

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Any suicide attack within Israel, deplorable as it is, is used by Sharon as a pretext for inflicting ever-increasing misery on the 3.5 million inhabitants of Palestine. And if suicide attacks are not forthcoming, you can count on Sharon to provoke them with his so-called "targeted killings", which usually leave alleged terrorists unharmed but often leave women and children dead.

In this so-called war, any pretext is used to inflict a second Nakba (the catastrophe of 1948) on the Palestinians. Just look at the wanton destruction of the Palestinian ministry of culture, the bureau of statistics, the ministry of education; look at the destruction of such national symbols as the Palestinian international airport and the Voice of Palestine radio station, not to mention the shameful episode of Arafat's virtual house arrest. All this is aimed not at some terrorist infrastructure but at the basic foundations of a society struggling to attain independence and develop its future from under the Israeli army boot. This is something conscientious Israelis are no longer willing to take part in.

Sharon's strength is in turning Israeli society into an obedient herd. He did that remarkably well 20 years ago, leading us into Lebanon...
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Feds mum on pre-election terror threat

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 ? Last updated 12:46 p.m. PT

Feds mum on pre-election terror threat


WASHINGTON -- FBI, Justice Department and Homeland Security Department officials aren't talking much about the threat of a terrorist attack to disrupt the election in two weeks.

It hasn't gone away; they're just wary of saying anything in public that could prompt Democrats to charge the administration is playing up a terror threat to frighten voters.

It was far different in the months and weeks before the political conventions in July and August. Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge all openly discussed the seriousness of the threat.

By all accounts, many hundreds of law enforcement agents are working around the clock to prevent al-Qaida from pulling off the major attack that intelligence suggests the terror network wants to carry out before the Nov. 2 election.

But Ashcroft, Mueller and Ridge have been largely silent of late about a pre-election threat, and there has been no change in the nation's color-coded threat level, which remains at the midpoint of yellow, or elevated.
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In an interview with The Associated Press, Bush said Monday the government remains worried that terrorists want to disrupt the U.S. election as they did in Spain, where the ruling party was defeated after commuter train attacks in March killed 191 people.

"We have no specific threat information, otherwise we would have - we would have let everybody know," Bush told the AP.

Cheney said Tuesday in Ohio that "the ultimate threat" is the possible use by terrorists of a weapon of mass destruction against a U.S. target.

Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards, accused Bush this week of "playing on people's fears" by basing his campaign on fighting terrorism.

Campaigning and political speeches are far different from official government threat warnings, and some Democrats contend those have been subjected to political manipulation.

"I am concerned that every time something happens that's not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism," former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said in August after warnings were issued for financial institutions in New York, New Jersey and Washington.

Although Kerry distanced himself from those comments - "I haven't suggested that, and I won't suggest that," he said then - a dire new warning from the FBI or Homeland Security Department would raise new political red flags among Democrats.

"They could accuse the administration of doing things for political reasons instead of security reasons," said Robert Shapiro, political science professor at Columbia University.

Robb Willer, a Cornell University sociology professor, said his research shows that each time a terror warning is issued the president's approval rating increases a couple of points the following week, as measured by the Gallup polling organization. [em. mine]

"This research suggests that individuals may respond to reminders of their mortality, like terror warnings, by supporting their current leaders," Willer said.

For their part, administration officials say they are focused on the threat, not politics. Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said Tuesday the level of intensity among federal agents is nearly what it was in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

"We are doing everything we can within the law to protect the lives and liberties of all Americans by preventing another terrorist attack," Corallo said. "No serious person would claim that politics has anything to do with the Justice Department's efforts to disrupt and disable the threat."
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Putin backs Bush victory

Julian Borger and Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Tuesday October 19, 2004
The Guardian

Vladimir Putin waded into the American election campaign in support of George Bush yesterday, declaring that if the president lost, it would lead to the "spread of terrorism" around the world.

The endorsement was a significant boost for Mr Bush who has been under fire from John Kerry for failing to maintain international support for the US "war on terror".

"International terrorists have set as their goal inflicting the maximum damage to Bush, to prevent his election to a second term," the Russian president said at a central Asian summit in Tajikistan.

"If they succeed in doing that, they will celebrate a victory over America and over the entire anti-terror coalition. In that case, this would give an additional impulse to international terrorists and to their activities, and could lead to the spread of terrorism to other parts of the world." He added he would respect "any choice by the American people".

It was by far his strongest endorsement of Mr Bush to date, and the most direct intervention in the race so far by a foreign leader.

The endorsement came as Mr Bush regained a small but significant lead in the polls after his mediocre performance in the three debates with Mr Kerry, and on a day when he accused his rival of retreat in the war on terror, playing on memories of the September 11 2001 terror attacks in the hopes of plucking off the reliably Democratic state of New Jersey.

Xymphora on Beslan

Russian spinning on this incident [Beslan school attack] has been amusing. Putin's initial reaction was to use it as a method of demonizing the Chechens, and providing an excuse for the continuation of the brutal Russian campaign against them (he actually put out a bounty on Chechen leaders). This campaign, largely ignored by the international press for various political reasons, is one of the great collections of war crimes and crimes against humanity taking place in the world today... When it became clear that the Russian people didn't buy Putin's initial line, and were actually blaming Putin's intransigence for creating the conditions that would provoke such an attack, the official Russian position turned 180 degrees overnight, and suddenly none of the terrorists were Chechens, but were some unidentified collection of 'Arab' terrorists. 'Terrorism' is a very malleable tool in the hands of unscrupulous politicians.

Putin's Career Rooted in Russia's KGB

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Putin defends the Soviet-era intelligence service to this day. In recent comments to a writers' group in Moscow, he even seemed to excuse its role in dictator Joseph Stalin's brutal purges, saying it would be "insincere" for him to assail the agency where he worked for so many years. Fiercely patriotic, Putin once said he could not read a book by a Soviet defector because "I don't read books by people who have betrayed the Motherland."
Until he was handpicked in August by then-President Boris Yeltsin to become prime minister, Putin had never been a public figure. He spent 17 years as a mid-level agent in the Soviet KGB's foreign intelligence wing, rising only to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Later, as an aide to a prickly, controversial mayor of St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city and Putin's home town, he made a point of staying in the background.
"The state security bodies should not be seen as an institution that works against society and the state; one needs to understand what makes them work against their own people. If one recollects those hard years connected with the activities of the security bodies, and the damage they brought to society, one must keep in mind what sort of society it was. But that was an entirely different country. That country produced such security bodies."
Putin's role in the blatantly misleading information issued by the government about the Chechnya offensive also has been criticized. His talent for creating legends has been evident in his explanations about the war. For example, Putin told the writers group that the military had been open with the news media, when the military has in fact hidden information about casualties, combat events, attacks on civilians and its goals and methods.

Felix Svetov, a writer who spent time in Stalin's prison camps as a child and who lost his father in the purges, was present at the writers meeting. He said Putin's comment "does not correspond with reality." Putin is a typical KGB type, he added. "If the snow is falling, they will calmly tell you, the sun is shining."

Russia rejects Powell's criticism, joins forces with Israel

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

HERZLIYA, Israel ? While rejecting U.S. and EU criticism of its anti-terrorism reforms, Russia plans to adopt Israel's counter-insurgency methods in Moscow's war against Chechen rebels.

Russian officials said the government in Moscow has agreed to increase security cooperation with Israel and focus on counter-insurgency. The officials said the cooperation would include Israeli training and instruction on a range of issues, including aviation security and civil defense.

"We are being helped by your expertise in the field of aviation security," Vladimir Vasilyev, chairman of the Security Committee of Russia's parliament, told Israeli reporters.

Vasilyev and other Russian officials said security cooperation was already taking place, Middle East Newsline reported. They said teams from both countries were arranging meetings in an effort meant to learn the lessons of the Chechen takeover of a high school in North Ossetia in late August. Nearly 400 people were killed in the hostage episode.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in an interview with Reuters, backed liberal criticism in Russia by saying the changes were "pulling back on some of the democratic reforms".

But Russia's foreign minister said Washington had no right to impose its model of democracy on others.
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The Real axis of terror--U.S., Russia and Israel

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Putin's genocide of the Chechens had been largely ignored by the western governments because he was clever enough, from the outset of his rampage in Chechnya, to paint the Chechen freedom struggle as an extension of the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan. European countries took his alarm at its face value that if the Chechens succeeded in throwing off the Russian yoke, Islamic fundamentalism of an extremely militant kind will be knocking at the gates of Europe like the Vandals of antiquity.
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Then came September 11 and an apparently God-send for Putin. Reading perfectly the mind of his American counterpart, who had been propelled to power in circumstances as dubious as Putin's own, he quickly joined George W. Bush's rhetorical chorus of a "global war against terrorism." He did not have much to do except jump on the Bush rolling bandwagon. In return for this, Bush has never uttered one syllable of criticism or condemnation of Putin's marauding ways in Chechnya.
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For Bush, in particular, Putin is an indispensable cog in his rolling bandwagon to pursue his "crusade" against global Islamic terrorism. Therefore, all that Putin is doing to the Chechens quite neatly fits into his worldwide campaign.
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For the moment Putin has been resisting the Bush blandishments and coaxing on Iraq. But that is only tactical, not moral, resistance. It is not because Putin has any regard for the Iraqis or concern for their misery and suffering which is only going to get worse once the American military juggernaut starts belching fire.

Putin's concern is for 8 billion dollars owed to Russia by Iraq from previous loans, and potentially lucrative agreements signed by Saddam Hussain in the past few years with the Russians to exploit Iraq's rich oil fields. However, Washington hawks are not overly worried. They know that Putin is dragging his foot only to raise his bargaining counter before he relents and throws his weight behind Bush against Iraq.

Knowing the Putin tactics, Bush and his hawks have been quietly working on Putin in private while publicly bamboozling the UN Security Council to give in to Washington's crude blackmail. Now, in the wake of the Moscow incident, the Bushites think they have a trump card that cannot lose.

By ensuring Putin an absolute free hand on Chechnya they can corner him to either join the Bush onslaught against Iraq or, at the very least, turn a blind eye to it, the way Washington has been doing on Putin's pogroms in Chechnya.
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No single country has reaped such a bonanza as Israel from George Bush's declared war against global "Islamic terrorism." Israel's Sharon is Bush's best friend in the world and has been anointed and hailed by the world's new Caesar as " a man of peace." Sharon has indeed taken full advantage of it to let loose an unprecedented fury of Israeli vengeance against the unarmed Palestinians.

The 4 billion dollars of annual U.S. military assistance is being put to the daily torture, murder and persecution of the Palestinians who are no different than the Chechens in the eyes of Bush. All that Sharon is doing to the Palestinians is fair and legitimate to Bush because it is part of his campaign against terrorism. And the Palestinians are as much a band of terrorists against Israel as the Chechens are to Russia.

What is less well-known, however, is the two decades-old triangular co-operation between these three countries to promote and accelerate the emigration of Russian Jews to Israel.
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'He's just sleeping, I kept telling myself'

On Sunday, 13 Iraqis were killed and dozens injured in Baghdad when US helicopters fired on a crowd of unarmed civilians. G2 columnist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, who was injured in the attack, describes the scene of carnage - and reveals just how lucky he was to walk away.
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U.S. attacks insurgent stronghold of Samarra


BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major attack against the insurgent stronghold of Samarra early Friday, securing government and police buildings in the city, the U.S. command said.
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Earlier on Thursday, U.S. forces attacked a suspected safehouse used by an al-Qaida-linked group in Fallujah, the military said.

Intelligence reports indicated the house was being used by followers of Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the military said in a statement, adding that the followers were planning attacks against U.S.-led forces and Iraqi citizens.

"Significant secondary explosions were observed during the impact indicating a large cache of illegal ordinance was stored in the safehouse," the statement said. Explosions continued in the northeastern part of the city for hours.

Witnesses said two houses were flattened and four others damaged in the strike.

At least four Iraqis were killed -- including two women and one child -- and eight wounded, said Dr. Ahmed Khalil at Fallujah General Hospital.

"Multinational forces take great care to minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties," the military said in the statement. "Terrorists' placement of weapons caches in homes, schools, hospitals and mosques continue to put innocent civilians at risk."

Falluja raid kills family of six

Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK

An American air raid on the Iraqi city of Falluja has killed six members of the same family.

US planes fired two rockets into the house of a couple and their four children early on Wednesday.

Another rocket hit a teachers' training college in the rebel city, but failed to explode.

A US military statement said the raids targeted houses used by forces of the militant leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom the US is keen to capture.

The family had just returned to their home overnight after fleeing the city a week earlier, a neighbour told the Associated Press.

The US military has been waging a sustained campaign to root out militants.

Falluja is out of the control of US or Iraqi government forces, but both have signalled their intention to regain the upper hand before elections, which are due to be held across Iraq in January.

U.S. Steps Up Iraq Attacks Before Ramadan

Posted on Tue, Oct. 12, 2004
Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. troops went on the offensive from the gates of Baghdad to the Syrian border Tuesday, pounding Sunni insurgent positions from the air and supporting Iraqi soldiers in raids on mosques suspected of harboring extremists.

American and Iraqi forces launched the operations ahead of Ramadan, expected to start at week's end, in an apparent attempt at preventing a repeat of the insurgent violence that took place at the start of last year's Muslim holy month.
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Some of the sharpest exchanges took place in Hit, 90 miles northwest of Baghdad, where residents and hospital officials said U.S. aircraft attacked two sites, killing two people and wounding five. The U.S. command had no comment.

U.S. helicopters fired on a mosque in Hit on Monday and set it ablaze after the military said insurgents opened fire on Marines from the sanctuary. Scattered clashes were reported overnight, killing at least two Iraqis and wounding 15, hospital official said.
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In Baghdad, the Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni clerical group suspected of links to the insurgency, condemned the mosque raids as an example of alleged American hostility toward Islam.

"I think there is a religious ideology that drives the American troops," said the association's official spokesman, Mohammed Bashar al-Faydhi. "President Bush has said at the beginning of the war that this is a `crusade,'" he said, referring to the Christian attacks on Muslims in the Middle Ages.

Angry Ramadi residents accused the Americans of breaking down doors and violating the sanctity of mosques.

"This cowboy behavior cannot be accepted," said cleric Abdullah Abu Omar. "The Americans seem to have lost their senses and have gone out of control."
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Chechen Terrorists With Backpacks Cross Into Arizona From Mexico — Report

Created: 13.10.2004 10:06 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 15:44 MSK

U.S. security officials are investigating a recent intelligence report that 25 Chechen militants illegally entered the United States from Mexico in July.

The group, linked to separatists in Chechnya that took part in the deadly Beslan school siege last month, reportedly crossed into a mountainous part of Arizona from northern Mexico, wearing backpacks, The Washington Times reported, citing officials speaking on conditions of anonymity.

The area was said to be difficult for U.S. border guards to monitor.

The intelligence report was supplied to the U.S. government in late August or early September and was based on information from an intelligence source that has been proved reliable in other instances, one official was quoted as saying.

But he added that he did not know whether the report was true.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection was aware of the intelligence report and confirmed it to The Washington Times, but a spokesman said agents were unable to verify it.

After Chechens and other Islamists stormed the school in south Russia, killing over 330 people, the U.S. Education Department issued a warning to school officials to step up security in American schools. The Washington Times was unable to learn whether the warning was related in any way to the report of infiltration by Chechens.

U.S. security officials are on alert for al Qaeda members allegedly planning to cross over into the United States from the south after an operative was reportedly spotted in Mexico.

Chechen separatists have been linked in the past to al Qaeda.

Bush Job Performance Continues to Slip

Bush Job Performance


Positive %

Negative %

August 16-19, 2003




July 16-17, 2003




June 10, 2003

Post Iraqi War



March 16, 2003

Pre Iraqi War



September 25, 2002

One year Post 9/11



September 23, 2001

Post 9/11



August 27, 2001

Pre 9/11



April 26, 2001

100 Days in Office



January 16, 2001

Pre Inauguration



Bush/Kerry poll: Still too close to call


A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll has found Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and GOP nominee George Bush in a race for U.S. president too close to call.
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"Bush planners know as well as others that the resort to force increases the threat of terror, and that their militaristic and aggressive posture and actions provoke reactions that increase the risk of catastrophe."
-Noam Chomsky

BECAUSE, if a Kerry win is also a terrorist win (I agree that it would be), then "the American people" haven't made the "choice," but the terrorists have, terrorism has, by influence undue or outright.

A Monster Awakens?

"In the heart of America lies a monster that could destroy life on earth."

This worrying situation was confirmed on September 8th. by Dr. Bruce Cornet, a geologist and paleobotanist with the USGS, who explained: "Steam pressure is apparently building again in Yellowstone, and hydrothermal fluids and steam are working their way up through fractures and vents. If more steam vents appear, that means a continuous pathway for pressure release has been established to the magma chamber. If that happens, the pressure in the magma chamber will continue to drop until it reaches a critical stage when the superheated water within the magma explodes. Unfortunately, as the steam venting subsides, there will be a false sense of security. People will think it was just another cyclical event, and the danger is over. But that will be the farthest from the truth. It will be the quiet before the storm." Initially this should be of little or no consequence to anyone apart from those planning to visit Yellowstone .... except for one thing. Lurking beneath Yellowstone National Park is one of the most destructive natural phenomena in the world - a massive supervolcano.

The Quiet Before the Storm