BuzzFlash.com's World Media Watch
by Gloria R. Lalumia
WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR DECEMBER 19, 2001
1//Asia Online, Hong Kong--BIN LADEN TRACED TO IRAN ("The sources say that bin Laden and close colleagues could have crossed into Iran using smuggling routes with the help of the Mujahideen-i-Khalq, and taken refuge in caves there that are said to be much more extensive and sophisticated than those of the Tora Bora.")
2//Ha'aretz, Israel--FATAH ACTIVIST UNDERWENT SHIN BET, U.S. TRAINING ("While serving as one of Arafat's bodyguards, Darbiya underwent training provided by the Shin Bet security service and attended a course in the United States on fighting terror.")
3//The Jerusalem Post, Israel--PERES: GIVE ARAFAT SOME TIME TO BACK UP HIS WORDS ("Peres was attacked heavily during the meeting by both right and left-wing members of the committee.")
4//The Times of India, India--SADDAM CALLS FOR URGENT ARAB SUMMIT ON PALESTINE ("Saying that this (meeting) can happen (at the time of the regular Arab summit) in March is like telling someone standing on burning charcoal that firefighters will be coming in a few months," he said.")
5///Pravda, Russia--SADDAM HUSSEIN WRITES AGAIN ("Another mystery romance has appeared on the literary market in Baghdad, which many ascribe to the authorship of Saddam Hussein, making this his second romance.")
Online December 19, 2001
BIN LADEN TRACED TO IRAN By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - With the whole of Afghanistan in the hands of anti-Taliban forces and accessible to United States ground forces, the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and the leadership of his Al-Qaeda network remains a mystery.
The US were led a merry dance in the Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan, being duped by mercenary local commanders into believing that thousands of Al-Qaeda fighters, as well as bin Laden, were holed up in caves in the mountains. (See Taliban's trail leads to Pakistan, Dec 13)
Of course, bin Laden was not sitting patiently waiting to greet the US troops when they and their local allies finally overran the region, the last pocket of resistance in the country. Instead, they found only a few hundred Al-Qaeda fighters and a number of women and children. Bin Laden and the "thousands" had already slipped into the Pakistan tribal areas, the US were told by the conniving commanders.
However, extensive investigations by Asia Times Online indicate that bin Laden has crossed the southwest border into Iran, where he is being sheltered by dissident Iranian guerrilla fighters of the Mujahideen-i-Khalq, a group with strong Iraqi links and which is outlawed as a terrorist organization by the United States. Interviews with Pakistani jihadi who fought in Afghanistan, journalists and intelligence sources support this view.
Drawing on the combined information of these sources, it appears that even before September 11 bin Laden changed his location within Afghanistan every few days, shuttling between Jalalabad, Kandahar and Kabul. In Jalalabad alone he had a number of places to live. The former governor of Nangarhar and now the governor of the eastern provinces, Haji Abdul Qadeer, provided him with costly residences.
Later, after the order to retreat from Mazar-e-Sharif was given, bin Laden went to Jalalabad, and briefly stayed in the Tora Bora caves. The sources suggest that he left this hideaway when the Taliban retreated from Kabul, moving back to Jalalabad, where he was handed into the protection of Maulvi Yunus Khalis. After the Taliban's retreat from the east, there was no place left for bin Laden except Kandahar, after which he would have no option but to cross a border into any one of six neighboring countries.
And it appears that he chose Iran, rather than Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan or China. A leading source says that shortly before the collapse of Kandahar, Mullah Omar called a meeting in the town at which the governor and important commanders were present. Mullah Omar briefly mentioned the war situation, explaining the reasons for the sudden retreat from Kabul. He stressed that given the heavy US carpet bombing, there would be no way to defend Kandahar, and so he had arranged for the safety of senior "guest" fighters and would announce the surrender of Kandahar shortly.
The sources say that after this meeting bin Laden went to see Mullah Omar, along with a small group of Afghans and Arabs. Bin Laden's next destination was discussed, and it was not Chaman in Pakistan, as some reports have said, as it was infested with anti-Taliban militia.
The sources point out that that Iranian border areas are a nest of the Mujahideen-i-Khalq, who are fighting a war against the government in Tehran. They are minority Sunnis, and they have good relations with some of the Afghan and Pakistani tribes. When the Iranian government has taken its regular crackdowns on the group, members have taken refuge in Pakistani or Afghani tribal areas.
The group has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on government buildings in Tehran as well as attacks on the offices of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. They derive most of their funds from smuggling arms and drugs, so they have good relations with other smugglers in the region, and the routes they use.
The sources say that bin Laden and close colleagues could have crossed into Iran using smuggling routes with the help of the Mujahideen-i-Khalq, and taken refuge in caves there that are said to be much more extensive and sophisticated than those of the Tora Bora.
ACTIVIST UNDERWENT SHIN BET, U.S. TRAINING
A Fatah activist arrested on the suspicion that he placed an explosive device on the route taken by Chief of General Staff Shaul Mofaz's convoy last month had in the past served as a personal bodyguard for Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Issa Darbiya, from the village of Dura, situated south of Hebron, had served in Force 17. While serving as one of Arafat's bodyguards, Darbiya underwent training provided by the Shin Bet security service and attended a course in the United States on fighting terror.
Darbiya was transferred from the presidential guard to a different position in Force 17 several months ago, after his commanders discovered his involvement in various terror attacks. The commanders took no other actions against him.
According to the investigation, it appears that those that placed the explosive device on the route taken by Mofaz did not know that the Chief of Staff was in one of the vehicles. During the course of the interrogation, Darbiya admitted his involvement in placing an explosive device south of Hebron on July 9, in which IDF officer Shai Cohen was killed.
JERUSALEM (December 18) - Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat should be given an opportunity to end suicide attacks, as he promised in his speech to the Palestinian people Sunday night, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said yesterday.
"His words were stronger than before, and they were in Arabic, directly to the Palestinians," Peres told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "I suggest that we give him a number of days to show that he can translate his words into actions." He emphasized that despite Arafat's pledge to fight terror, there were still warnings that Hamas and Islamic Jihad were planning further attacks.
Peres was attacked heavily during the meeting by both right and left-wing members of the committee.
Opposition leader Yossi Sarid (Meretz) said that "the Israeli occupation is returning, and you, Shimon Peres, will be responsible. The Labor party has no influence on the government's positions, it is even finding it hard to fulfill the dubious job of fig leaf." "I represent your defeat in the government," Peres responded. "I asked you to give me the only legal opportunity to stand in the elections, don't complain about me."
SADDAM CALLS FOR URGENT ARAB SUMMIT ON PALESTINE
BAGHDAD: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein called on Arab leaders on Tuesday to put aside their differences and hold an emergency summit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, preferably in the Muslim holy city of Mecca.
In an address to the Arab nation, the Iraqi strongman urged his counterparts in the region to "promptly convene a summit meeting that would be exclusively devoted to (Israel's) aggression against the Palestinians".
"Let us meet at the Kaaba or any Arab capital where all (Arab leaders) would be present," said Saddam in the speech, which was broadcast on Iraqi state television and radio. "Let us (meet) in good faith and with an open mind ... and pool our collective resources ... to repel aggression and evil," said the Iraqi leader, who has not attended any Arab summit since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
"We must all say in unison ... that the United States is an aggressor and terrorist, and the Zionist entity is no longer just the usurper of Palestinian and Arab lands, it has become a centre of terrorism directed against the Palestinian people and our entire (Arab) nation," he said. The United States and Israel were exploiting the September 11 terror attacks as a cover to press ahead with their "evil" plans to "destroy and humiliate" the Arab world, Saddam said.
Foreign ministers of Arab League member states are due to hold an extraordinary meeting in Cairo on Thursday to discuss the deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories.
"It is our duty to stand by the Palestinian people in their current plight, and what each of us has done so far falls short not only of that duty but also of what we are capable of doing if we mean to," Saddam said.
"Saying that this (meeting) can happen (at the time of the regular Arab summit) in March is like telling someone standing on burning charcoal that firefighters will be coming in a few months," he said.
Saddam's call for an Arab summit came two days after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat appealed for a halt to all Palestinian armed operations against Israel and a return to the negotiating table. Arafat also pledged to arrest and punish Islamic activists wanted by Israel for a spate of deadly suicide bombings such as the radical Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and the Islamic Jihad.
But his speech has drawn mixed reactions in the Arab world, and a senior Arab official in Amman said on Tuesday that the foreign ministers' meeting could be called off because of the dissension Arafat's stance has sparked.
said the Arabs should reject any attempt to divide the Palestinian leadership
and factions, as Israel was trying to do with US backing. ( AFP )
SADDAM HUSSEIN WRITES AGAIN -- Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY
Another mystery romance has appeared on the literary market in Baghdad, which many ascribe to the authorship of Saddam Hussein, making this his second romance. More details…
The book is called The Fortified Castle (al-Qala'ah al-Hasinah) and is hailed by Iraqi state TV as "a great literary work" which describes a ferocious battle between good and evil.
In Saddam Hussein's first work, "Zabibah wal Malik" (Zabibah and the King), the main plot is one of unrequited love. A governor falls in love with a woman who is unhappily married but she refuses to marry him after her separation from her husband. However, the work has strong political undertones with clear references to the struggle of Iraq in the current international setting. The Iraqi National Theatre is planning to make a major musical production around this work, which is predicted to be a smash hit.
As with the first work, the money generated from Al-Qala-ah al-Hasinah will be donated to charitable causes in Iraq.
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otherwise noted, all original