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September 21, 2001

KIM HILL [Radio New Zealand on 19 Sept]: Can I talk to you about Osama Bin Laden? I don't know whether you are in favour of him becoming public enemy number one at the moment but I do know that you have met him and I wonder if you could give me some kind of insight into, first of all, is he capable of this.

ROBERT FISK [The Independent, UK - longest serving Western Reporter in the Middle East]: Well, I've been trying to explain this in my own paper, the London Independent over the last few days and I'm not sure. We haven't actually seen the evidence that directly links him to not just an atrocity but a crime against humanity that took place in New York and Washington. On the other hand, the Afghan connection seems to be fairly strong.

Could he have done it? He certainly hasn't condemned it although he denies being involved. The first time, no the second time I met him in Afghanistan when he was there with his armed fighters, I asked him if he had been involved in an attack on American troops at Al Hoba, in Saudi Arabia which had just taken place - 24 American soldiers had been killed - and he said no, it was not his doing, he was not responsible. He admitted that he knew two or three men who have since been executed, beheaded, by the Saudi authorities.

He then said, I did not have the honour to participate in this operation. In other words, he approved of it. Now, you can go on saying that kind of thing - he did, several times over about other episodes later. At some point you begin to say, "Come off it Bin Laden, surely you are saying there's a connection, but he's never said or admitted responsibility for any such event and he's denied specifically the atrocities in the United States.

Is he capable of it? Look, I'll give you one tiny example. The second time I met him in Afghanistan, four years ago, at the top of a mountain, it was cold and in the morning when I woke in the camp tent, I had frost in my hair. He walked into the tent I was sitting in and sat down opposite me, cross-legged on the floor and noticed in the school bag I usually carry in rough country to keep things in, some Arabic-language newspapers and he seized upon these and went to the corner of the tent with a sputtering oil lamp and devoured the contents.

For 20 minutes, he ignored us, he ignored the gunman sitting in the tent, he ignored me and he didn't even know, for example, that it was stated in one of the stories in the newspaper that the Iranian foreign minister had just visited Riyadh, his own country, Saudi Arabia, well, his until he lost his citizenship. So he seemed to me at the time to be very isolated, a cut off man, not the sort of person who would press a button on a mobile phone and say, "Put plan B into action".

So I don't think you can see this as a person who actually participates in the sense of planning, step-by-step, what happens in a nefarious attack. In other words, I doubt very much if he said, "Well, four airplanes, five hijackers, etc.". But he is a person that has a very large following, particularly in the rather sinister Jihadi community or culture of Pakistan. And there is such anger in the Middle East at the moment about the American' s policies here and whether it be the deaths of tens of thousands of children in Iraq, which Osama Bin Laden has spoken about, whether it be continued occupation and expansion of Jewish settlements in Arab land which he's also spoken about, whether it be about the continued dictatorships, Ara b dictatorships, which are supported in large part by the west, especially in the Gulf area, about which Osama Ben Laden has spoken about and condemned, I think you find in this region, enough people who admire what he says, almost to conspire amongst themselves without involving him, in the kind of bombing attacks that we've seen in Saudi Arabia and I suppose it's conceivable, in the atrocities in the United States.

But if you're looking for direct evidence, if you're looking for a fingerprint, all I can say is, the moment I heard about the World Trade Center attacks, I saw the shadow of the Middle East hanging over them. As for the fingerprint of Bin Laden, I think that's a different matter. We haven't seen it yet. We may. Perhaps the Americans can produce the evidence but we haven't seen it yet.

Hill: The corollary of that, of course, is that should they decide to strike against Bin Laden, it will do no good because, you know, there will be a thousand, a million more, waiting to carry on doing the same thing, will they not?

Fisk: Yes this is the problem. It is very easy to start a war, or to declare war, or to say you are at war and quite another thing to switch it off. And after all, let's face it, this is a declaration of war primarily against the United States. But once America takes up the opponent's role, saying we will retaliate, then you take the risk of further retaliation against you and further retaliation by you and so on.

This is the trap that Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, has got himself involved in Israel with the Palestinians because when the Palestinians send a suicide bomber wickedly, for example into a pizzeria and kill many innocent Israelis, the Israelis feel a need to retaliate so they fire tank shells or helicopters fire American missiles into a police post. Then a murder squad, or a helicopter fires a missile into a car of a man who the Israelis believe have plotted bombing. Then the Palestinians retaliate by sending another suicide bomber and so on and so forth.

It's one thing to use this rhetoric, like "rooting out the weed of world terror", "dead or alive", "a crusade" - my goodness me, that's a word that Mr Bush has been using - not a word that's likly to encourage much participation on the American side in the Arab world because the word, crusade, is synonymous here with Christians shedding Muslim blood in Jerusalem in 1099 and Jewish blood actually, historically.

So, the real question is, what lies behind this rhetoric? Is there any serious military thinking going on? If so, are we talking about the kind of blind, indiscriminate attack which will only provoke more anger among Arabs, perhaps to overthrow their own regimes which Mr Bin Laden will be very happy to see, or are we talking about special forces seizing people, taking them out of Afghanistan, trying to have some kind of international criminal court where we could actually see justice done as opposed to just liquidation and murder squads setting out to kill killers.

Hill: George Bush, I suppose is entitled to his internal physical needs - the needs of Americans - to put out bellicose rhetoric, such as "the new war on terrorism", or "we want Osama Bin Laden dead or alive" and so on, but what he will do remains entirely obscure at the moment, doesn't it?

Fisk: Yes, yes it does. You see, I can understand - anyone should be able to understand - not only how appalled Americans are about what happened, in such an awesome way - the images of those aircraft flying through the skin of the World Trade Center and exploding are utterly unforgettable. For the rest of our lives we will remember that. And I think therefore the anger of Americans is perfectly understandable and revenge is a kind of justice, isn' t it, but these days we have to believe in the rule of law.

Once or twice you hear Colin Powell talking about justice and law but then you hear President Bush using the language of Wild West movies. And that is very frightening because I don't think that NATO is going to support America in a blind and totally indiscriminate attack in the Middle East. And the other question is, how do you make your strike massive enough to suit the crime. Afghanistan, after all, is a country in total ruins, it was occupied by the Russians for 10 years which is why it is seeded with 10 million mines - I mean it, 10 million mines, more that one tenth of all the land mines in the world are in Afghanistan. So any idea of America sending its military across Afghanistan is a very, very dangerous operation in a country where America has no friends.

It is very significant - though it's been largely missed, I noticed by press and television around the world - but just two days before the attacks on Washington and New York, Shah Massoud, the leader of the opposition in Afghanistan, the only military man to stand up to the Taliban, and the only friend of the west, was himself assassinated by two Arab suicide bombers - men posing as journalists, by the way. I've been asking myself over the last two days, and I have no proof of this whatsoever, merely a strong suspicion, whether in fact, that assassination wasn't in a sense a code for people in the United States to carry out atrocities which we saw last Tuesday. I don't know, but certainly if America wants to go into Afghanistan, one of the key elements, even with a special forces raid, is to have friends in the country, people who are on your side. [But they] have just been erased, in fact erased two days before the bombings in America, and I find that is a very, very significant thing.

Hill: If one went to these people, if one went to bin Laden or any other, if one went to the Jihadians in Pakistan and said, "What do you guys want?" what would they say?

Fisk: Well, you would hear a list of objectives which will be entirely unacceptable to the west or in many cases, to any sane person here.

Hill: What do they want?

Fisk: Well, look, what you have to understand is, what they want and what most Muslims in the region want is not necessarily the same thing but they are trading and treading on the waters of injustice in the region. But what they want, they will tell you, is they want shariat imposed on all Muslim states in the region, they want total withdrawal of western forces from the Arab gulf region. They ask, for example, why does America still have forces in Saudi Arabia 10 years after the Gulf War, after which they promised they would immediately withdraw those forces?

Why are American forces in Kuwait? Well, we know the American answer is that Saddam Hussein remains a danger. Well, that might be a little bit of a dubious claim now. And why are American forces exercising in Egypt? Why are American jets allowed to use Jordan? What are they doing in Turkey? On top of that, they will demand an end to Israeli occupation of Arab land.

But you have to remember that when you go to one end of the extreme, like the most extreme of the Jihadi culture in Pakistan, you are going to hear demands that will never be met. But nonetheless, and this is the point, they feed on a general unease about injustice in the region which is associated with the west which many, many Arab Muslims - millions of them - will feel.

So, this goes back to the Bin Laden culture. It does mean, I haven't met a single Arab in the last week, who doesn't feel revulsion about what has happened in the United States. But quite a few of them would say, and one or two have, if you actually listen to what Bin Laden demands, he asks questions that it would be interesting to hear the answers to. What are the Americans still doing in the Gulf? Why does the United States still permit Israel to build settlements for Jews, and Jews only, on Arab land? Why does it still permit thousands of children to die under UN sanctions? And UN sanctions are primarily imposed by western powers.

So, it's not like you have a simple, clear picture here. But where you have a large area of the earth, where there is a very considerable amount of injustice, where the United States is clearly seen as to blame for some of it, then the people in the kind of Jihadi culture - the extremists, terrorists, call them what you like - are going to be able to find a society in which they can breathe, and they do.

My point all along is, if there is going to be a military operation to find the people responsible for the World Trade Center and for the people who support them and for those who harbour them - I'm using the words of the State Department, the President, the Vice-President, Secretary of State Colin Powell - then I believe that the wisest and most courageous thing that the Americans can do, is to make sure that it goes hand-in-hand with some attempt to rectify some of the injustices, present and historic in this region.

That could actually do what President Bush claims he wants, that is, end "terrorism" in this region. But you see, I don't think Mr Bush is prepared to put his politics where he's prepared to point his missiles. He won't do that. He only wants a military solution. And military solutions in the Middle East never, ever work.

Hill: Because it's like a tar baby. I mean as soon as the United States undertakes a military solution, then a thousand more will instantly join the Jihadi or Bin Laden because, there you go, the United States has proved itself to be the great Satan once again.

Fisk: Well, there is a self-proving element to that for them, yes, but again, you see, the point is, I said before, that Bin Laden's obsession with overthrowing the local pro-American regime has been at the top of his list of everything he's said to me in three separate meetings in Sudan and two in Afghanistan. And I suspect, and I don't know if he's involved in this, but if he was - or even if he wasn't - he may well feel the more bloody and the more indiscriminate the American response is, the greater the chance that the rage and the feeling of anger among ordinary Arabs who are normally very docile beneath their various dictatorships, will boil over and start to seriously threaten the various pro-western regimes in the region, especially those in the Arabian Gulf.

And that is what he's talked about. And indeed, Mr Mubarek of Egypt, not you might think, a great conceptual thinker, two weeks' ago, only a few days before the World Trade Center bombing, and it's always interesting to go back before these events to see what people said, warned what he called "an explosion outside the region", very prescient of him and he also talked about the danger for the various Arab governments and regimes - he didn't call himself a dictator, though effectively he is - if American policy didn' t change. And indeed, he sent his Foreign Minister to Washington to complain that the Egyptian regime itself could be in danger unless American policy changed. And what was the Foreign minister told? He was told to go back to Cairo and tell Mr Mubarek that it will be very easy for Dick Cheney to go to Congress and to cut off all American aid to Egypt.

Hill: The trouble with arguing, as you do, as many other people do, that, you know, 1800 people were killed in Sabra and Shatila, maybe half a million people have died in Iraq as a result of the sanctions, how many Palestinians have died as a result of the Israeli attacks, it begins to sound like moral relativism in some peculiar way. I talked to David Horovitz [editor, Jerusalem Report] earlier this morning. You won't be surprised to hear that he disagrees with a lot of the things you say. And he said, look, this terrorist attack on the United States last week was beyond the pale, was unacceptable, cannot be compared with anything else. This is it. How do you respond to that?

Fisk: I'm not surprised that David, who I know quite well, would say that. I don't think it's a question of moral relativism. When you live in this region. I go to New York and I've driven past the World Trade Center many times. This is familiar architecture for me too, and familiar people, but when you live in this region, it isn't about moral relativism, it sometimes comes down to the question of why when some people have brown eyes and darker skin, their lives seem to be worth less than westerners.

Let's forget Sabra and Shatila for the moment and remember that on a green light from Secretary of State Alexander Haig, as he then was, Israel invaded Lebanon and in the bloody months of July and August, around 17,500 people, almost all of them civilians - this is almost three times the number killed in the World Trade Center - were killed. And there were no candlelight vigils in the United States, no outspoken grief, all that happened was a State Department call to both sides to exercise restraint.

Now, it isn't a question of moral relativism, it isn't a question in any way of demeaning or reducing the atrocity which happened - let's call it a crime against humanity which it clearly was - is it possible then to say well, 17,500 lives, but that was in a war and it was far away and anyway they were Arabs which is the only way I can see you dismiss the argument that, hang on a minute, terrible things have happened out here too. That does not excuse what happened in the United States. It doesn't justify by a tiny millimetre anything that happened there but we've got to see history, even the recent history of this region if we are going to look seriously at what happened in the United States.

Hill: That's like setting out on a marathon though. I mean, of course David Horovitz says, look, we made the Palestinians a fantastic offer and they turned it down. What more can we do? They keep coming at us. We're trying, we're trying, we're trying. If you say, yes.

Fisk: Wait a second, there's an inaccuracy in this, and this is not meant to be a criticism of David, this is my view, they were not made a great offer, they were not offered 96% of the West Bank, they were offered 46% roughly, because they were not being offered Jerusalem or the area around it, or the area taken illegally into the new Jerusalem and its municipality, or certain settlements elsewhere, and they were to have a military buffer zone that would further reduce the so-called 96%. It was not a good offer to the Palestinians. You see, it has become part of a narrative to get away from the reasons for injustice and not to deal with these issues.

Hill: I didn't reproduce it in order to say, it was a fantastic offer. I did it to illustrate that very point, that there are narratives going on and the narratives are of different pages, different books, different libraries and they are getting increasingly different. I can't see how we can ever align those narratives and it's getting harder and harder. How do we do it?

Fisk: Well, I think this is wrong. I think I disagree with you. Look, you can't say that you don't understand the narrative of children dying in Iraq. Nobody is going around claiming that they are not dying. They are. They clearly are. And if they were, and I'm going to stick my neck out, if they were western children, believe me, they would not be dying.

Now this is a major problem. Again, you see, anyone who tries to argue this, then you get smeared with, "O, you are on Saddam Hussein's side". Now Saddam is a wicked, unpleasant, dirty dictator. But the fact remains, there are children dying. And if they were western children I do not believe they would be. And this is a major problem.

And many, many Arabs put this point of view forward, not in hating the United States, but simply saying, why? And of course why is one of the questions you are not supposed to ask in this region is about the motives of the people who committed this mass murder in the United States. Actually, I have to point out, they haven't told us, have they, the people behind this haven't even bothered, they've just given us this theatre of mass murder, which is the most disgusting thing.

But you've got to come back and realise, these things don't happen in isolation. These 20 suicide bombers did not get up in the morning and say, let's go hijack some planes. Nor did the people who organised it and funded it. They knew they were doing it in a certain climate. Otherwise it would never have been able to happen. That is the problem. That is why we need to get at the question, why.

Hill: It's very nice to talk to you. We hope to do it again soon. Thank-you, Robert Fisk.

* Kim Hill is with Radio New Zealand and this interview was broadcast on 19 September

By Robert Fisk

[The Independent, UK, 13 September 2001]

Not long before the Second World War, Stanley Baldwin, who was Britain's Prime Minister, warned that "the bomber will always get through". Today, we can argue that the suicide bomber will always get through. Maybe not all of them. We may never know how many other hijackers failed to board domestic flights in the United States on Tuesday morning, but enough to produce carnage on an awesome, incomprehensive scale. Yet still we have not begun to address this phenomenon. The suicide bomber is here to stay. It is an exclusive weapon that belongs to "them" not us, and no military power appears able to deal with this phenomenon. Partly because of the suicide bomber, the Israelis fled Lebanon. Specifically because of a suicide bomber, the Americans fled Lebanon 17 years earlier. I still remember Vice-President George Bush, now George Bush Senior, visibly moved amid the ruins of the US Marine base in Beirut, where 241 American servicemen had just been slaughtered. "We are not going to let a bunch of insidious terrorist cowards, shake the foreign policy of the United States," he told us. "Foreign policy is not going to be dictated or changed by terror." A few months later, the Marines upped sticks and ran away from Lebanon, "redeployed" to their ships offshore.

Not long ago, I was chatting to an Indian soldier, a veteran of Delhi's involvement in the Sri Lanka war now serving with the UN in southern Lebanon. How did the Tamil suicide bombers compare those of the Lebanese Hizbollah I asked him? The soldier raised his eyebrows. "The Hizbollah has nothing on those guys," he said. "Just think, they all carry a suicide capsule. I told my soldiers to drive at 100 miles an hour on the roads of Sri Lanka in case one of them hurled himself into the jeep. " The Hizbollah may take their inspiration from the martyrdom of the prophet Hussain, and the Palestinian suicide bombers may take theirs from the Hizbollah.

But there is no military answer to this. As long as "our" side will risk but not give its lives (cost-free war, after all, was partly an American invention) the suicide bomber is the other side's nuclear weapon. That desperate, pitiful phone call from the passenger on her way to her doom in the Boeing 767crash on the Pentagon told her husband that the hijackers held knives and box-cutters. Knives and box-cutters; that's all you need now to inflict a crashing physical defeat on a superpower. That and a plane with a heavy fuel load.

But the suicide bomber does not conform to a set of identical characteristics. Many of the callow Palestinian youths blowing themselves to bits, with, more often than not, the most innocent of Israelis, have little or no formal education. They have poor knowledge of the Koran but a powerful sense of fury, despair and self-righteousness to propel them. The Hizbollah suicide bombers were more deeply versed in the Koran, older, often with years of imprisonment to steel them in the hours before their immolation.

Tuesday's suicide bombers created a precedent. If there were at least four on each aircraft, this means 16 men decided to kill themselves at the same time. Did they all know each other? Unlikely. Or did one of them know all the rest? For sure, they were educated. If the Boeing which hit the Pentagon was being flown by men with knives (presumably, the other three aircraft were too) then these were suicide bombers with a good working knowledge of the fly-by-wire instrument panel of one of the world's most sophisticated aircraft.

I found it oddly revealing when, a few hours later, an American reporter quizzed me about my conviction that these men must have made "dummy runs", must have travelled the same American Airlines and United Airlines scheduled flights many times. They would have to do that at least to check the X-ray security apparatus at airports. How many crew, the average passenger manifest, the average delays on departure times. They needed to see if the cabin crew locked the flight deck door. In my experience on US domestic flights this is rare. Savage, cruel these men were, but also, it seems, educated.

Like so many of our politicians who provide us with the same tired old promises about hunting down the guilty and, Mr. Blair's contribution yesterday, "dismantle the machine of terror". But this misses the point. If the machinery is composed of knives and box-cutters, Mr. Blair is after the wrong target. Just as President Ronald Reagan was in the hours before he ordered the bombing of Libya in 1986. "He can run, but he can't hide," he said of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. But Colonel Gaddafi could hide, and he is still with us.

Instead of searching for more rogue states, President George W Bush's reference to those who stand behind the bombers opens the way for more cruise missiles aimed at Iraq or Afghanistan, or wherever he thinks the "godfathers of terrorism may be". The Americans might do better to find out who taught these vicious men to fly a Boeing 767. Which Middle East airlines train their pilots for this aircraft? Indeed which nations are generous in their pilot-training schemes for Third World countries? I recall one of Iran's best post-revolutionary helicopter pilots telling me he was given a full course on the Bell Augusta (the Vietnam-era gunship) by the Pakistan air force, which itself paid retired American pilots to teach them.

And if Osama bin Laden is behind the New York massacre, it's worth remembering one of his aims: not just to evict the US from the Middle East but to overthrow the Arab regimes loyal to Washington.

Saudi Arabia was top of the list when I last spoke to him, but President Hosni Mubarak's Egypt and Jordan, ruled by King Abdullah II, were among his other enemies. He would keep talking about how the Muslims of these nations would rise up against their corrupt rulers. A slaughter by the US in retaliation for the New York and Washington bloodbaths might just move the Arab masses from stubborn docility to the point of detonation.

Within the region, the suicide bomber is now admired. Not because he is a mass killer but because something invincible, something untouchable, something that has always dictated the rules without taking responsibility for the results, has now proved vulnerable. It was the same when the first suicide bombers struck in Lebanon.

The Lebanese could scarcely believe that Israeli soldiers could die on this scale. The Israeli army of song and legend had been brought low. So, too, the reaction when the symbols of America's pride and power were struck. The vile, if small, Palestinian "celebrations" were a symptom of this, albeit unrepresentative. They matched the "bomb Baghdad into the Dark Ages" rhetoric we heard from the American public a decade ago.

In the Middle East, Arabs now fear America will strike them without waiting for proof, or act on the most flimsy of evidence. For it is as well to remember how the US responded to the 1983 Marine bombings. The battleship USS New Jersey fired its automobile-sized shells into the Chouf Mountains, killing a couple of Syrian soldiers and erasing half a village. The arrival of US naval craft off the American East Coast yesterday was a ghostly replay of this impotent event.

But to this day, the Americans have never discovered the identity of the man who drove a truck-load of explosives into the Beirut Marine compound. That was in another country, in another time. Today's suicide bombers are a different breed. Nurtured in whatever despair or misery or perhaps even privilege, in 2001, the suicide bomber came of age.

September 2001


FBI accuses people who are alive of hijacking 911 planes
(September 13, 2001)

(September 30, 2001)
What goes around comes around, the Americans say. They and their allies, including feisty little Australia, are marching into battle, to be confronted by weapons they sold to the Taliban when the Muslim maddos were on our side against the damned Russkies.

(September 30, 2001)
It is not often onegets to meet a childhood hero. But Imran Khan, Pakistan'sfinest-ever cricketer, and still the heart-throb of a million adolescent girls, is not in the mood for nostalgia. There is a strong atmosphere of foreboding in Islamabad, Pakistan's gleaming modern capital, following the country's decision to back the US in its war on terrorism.

(September 29, 2001416)
Americans are preparing for the long, arduous and necessary task of bringing the perpetrators of Tuesday's unspeakable horror to justice. But as we do so, we must also ask ourselves why this happened -- and why it might happen again.

(September 28, 2001)
Last summer, the summer of 2000, it was Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak, and Yasser Arafat gesturing to each other at the Camp David doorway over whom symbolically would enter before whom.

(September 28, 2001)
It was to be expected. Looks like the Saudi Royals have recovered from their "crusade" induced political/historical heart attacks along with a somewhat repentant President Bush. They are caving in, as they always do when Washington really comes calling, aware that in the end the legitimacy of their rule of "the kingdom" is no more (and never really was) and that only the direct protection of the Americans can keep the despicably profligate Royals on their petro-thrones.

(September 27, 2001)
How fitting that the descendants of the first crusades have now signed-on to the modern-day new Crusades II through their flambouantly right-wing business-tycoon Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

(September 27, 2001)
Written by a thoughtful young American academic, recently graduated with Ph.D. from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., "George Bush's Global Crusade" is an important contribution to thinking through what is unfolding as a result of 11 September 2001.

(September 26, 2001)
At the last moment, quite literally, Yasser Arafat called off his visit to Damascus, probably under severe threats from both the Israelis and Americans that if he dared defy them now his days truly would be numbered and he would be put on the to-be-vanquished "terrorist" list and suffer the consequences.

(September 25, 2001)
"The problem is that America wants its own version of justice, a concept rooted, it seems, in the Wild West and Hollywood's version of the Second World War. President Bush speaks of smoking them out, of the old posters that once graced Dodge City: 'Wanted, Dead or Alive'."

(September 25, 2001)
Pakistan's most powerful triballeader, Ajmal Khattak, yesterday pleaded with the country's leading fundamentalist agitator, Sami ul-Haq, "to keep Pakistan calm during the present crisis."

(September 25, 2001)
The American government has a long long history of militarism and deception; but under the new circumstances post-11 Sept many who normally have grown skeptical and partially independent over the years are doing what they are told, "complying" so to speak.

(September 24, 2001)
Osama bin Laden called on Muslims to join a holy war against "the American crusade," and the United Nations said Monday that Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia have virtually shut down its humanitarian operations by threatening to kill its remaining staff.

(September 24, 2001)
"The attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center are the most important event in world history since the collapse of the Soviet Union."

(September 24, 2001)
When the American mass media needs to flash "Arab" on the screen pretending to some kind of semblance of "balance", they know whom to call on. These are the faces, names and "Arab" identifications one sees on the screen politely commenting these days about "terrorism" and "peace process".

(September 23, 2001)
There is a strange and growing tension coming from the Middle East this weekend; and we don't mean from Afghanistan and Pakistan this time, rather we mean from America's closest allies, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. We're in no position to know for sure just what is happening. But in each of these countries very unusual and potentially historic developments are unfolding.

(September 22, 2001)
It's impossible to know what to believe at the moment. It's possible the U.S. and Britain have no real idea where bin Laden is but are leaking reports of this kind in papers tomorrow in Britain hoping to "smoke him out" from what could be a secretly secure location. It's also possible that someone somewhere is trying to collect a reward of $25 million, the highest in history.

(September 22, 2001)
History will tell of course; but today's situation is far too pregnant with massive destruction to simply watch while the militarists and the terrorists of all sides take charge of the future.

(September 22, 2001)
No question about it now, the U.S. is playing with fire, even with the possibility of things spiraling out of control and leading to a real World War whose destruction and devastation could be far greater than 11 September 2001.

(September 21, 2001)
The UNITED NATIONS has shamefully bowed out, right when it is needed more than ever. Urged to do so by Secretary-General Kofi Annan -- who had been urged to do so by Washington, which he has quite a habit of taking orders from -- for the first time in history the General Assembly has put off its important international gathering and not even set an alternative date.

(September 21, 2001)
Especially under current circumstances, whether the excuse be that it is being talked about for "deterrence" against further terrorist attack, or God forbid whether it be the actual recommendation and desire of the American military, the advocacy of nuclear weapons at this time shows how dangerous the American militarists who have control of the United States really are.

(September 21, 2001)
KIM HILL [Radio New Zealand on 19 Sept]: Can I talk to you about Osama Bin Laden? I don't know whether you are in favour of him becoming public enemy number one at the moment but I do know that you have met him and I wonder if you could give me some kind of insight into, first of all, is he capable of this.

(September 20, 2001)
Ten years in our modern world is forever. Whatever President George W Bush proclaims this evening before what will surely be overwhelming applause and repeated ovations from the Congress, American military and imperial goals are now much bigger than ever.

(September 19, 2001)
Though the naive American public didn't get it, Europeans, Middle East experts, and especially American allies in the Middle East did! Warning calls came quickly over the weekend after President George Bush used the word "crusade" a number of times; apparently knowing so little about the Arab and Muslim history that he wasn't aware of the origins and associations of that single word; apparently so badly served by his advisers that he hadn't been warned never ever to use it.

PAKISTAN COULD SPLIT IN REVOLT, images of 'crusader' america
(September 19, 2001)
General Pervez Musharaff has now spoken to his own country, invoking stories of Mohamed and the Koran. Clearly he is shaken...and shaking. All former bets about the "new world order" now need to recalculated and recast. A multitude of historic forces have now been set in motion. Not only did the world of the United States change because of what happened on 11 September 2001. A political, even an existential earthquake is potentially underway now in various locations on the globe with events threatening to spiral possibly out of control.

(September 19, 2001)
The Americans are making "demands" on everyone right now. "You're either with us or against us" is the constant refrain. Risking revolution in nuclear Pakistan, bio terrorism at home, and even a real world war, what is going on in Palestine is not at the top of Washington's concerns for now -- but even so it must be all be manipulated, coordinated, and presented in public very carefully in view of the larger worldwide goals.

(September 18, 2001)
Asked "Do you expect U.S. to profoundly change their policy to the rest of the world?" Professor Noam Chomsky replied today: "The initial response was to call for intensifying the policies that led to the fury and resentment that provides the background of support for the terrorist attack, and to pursue more intensively the agenda of the most hard line elements of the leadership: increased militarization, domestic regimentation, attack on social programs... Terror attacks, and the escalating cycle of violence they often engender, tend to reinforce the authority and prestige of the most harsh and repressive elements of a society."

(September 18, 2001)
"If the campaign against terrorism is to be successful, there has to be an introspective American review and reappraisal of its policy in the Middle East. For the last one year, the only image that is etched in the popular Muslim mind is that of innocent and unarmed children, women and men being attacked by armed Israeli soldiers backed by tanks, missiles and planes.

(September 16, 2001)
Like the term "Star Wars" before it "New World Order" had too many negative associations, too much imperial baggage. George W. has however evoked the refrain "This will not stand", just as his father did before him a decade ago. What is in essence a continuation of the building of the "New World Order" designed by the Americans to replace the "Cold War" paradigm is now being heavily masked under tons of rhetoric about "the war against international terrorism".

(September 15, 2001)
The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example, Clinton's bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of people (no one knows, because the US blocked an inquiry at the UN and no one cares to pursue it). Not to speak of much worse cases, which easily come to mind. But that this was a horrendous crime is not in doubt.

(September 14, 2001)
The Arab "client regimes" daddle as usual, unable to even convene an Arab League meeting, not to mention assert major influence in the world, even in their region.

(September 10, 2001)
Arafat readies to meet once again with Peres, even as his senior allies are gunned down, his top lieutenants ridiculously proclaim victory in Durban, the Arab League can't even manage to hold a summit meeting, the battle of Orient House was quickly given up, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers starts building facilities for the Israeli army, and 100+ more American F-16s (plus large numbers of the Arrow anti-missile missile) are now on order for shipment to Israel!

(September 9, 2001)
Once again the weak Arab regimes and the incompetent organizations they support have stumbled and bumbled to nowhere.

durban, the rascists' confrence
(September 8, 2001)
Muslim countries claimed they were threatened and intimidated to accept the compromise statement on Palestine which was proposed by the President of the Conference earlier this week.

(September 8, 2001)
The American sub-agents in Durban did all they could, which was quite a lot, to undermine the will of the vast majority of the world's nations and peoples.

(September 7, 2001)
THE SOOTHING WORDS that come from the Americans destined to be headlined in the media of the Arab "client regimes" to cool off if not totally pacify the Arab masses have no credibility, even though far too many continue to repeat them ad infinitum.

(September 7, 2001)
Israel is paying a price -- and this is not a reference to economics. But even so the price being paid by the Palestinians is immensely greater.

(September 7, 2001)
The power and political elite were gathering on the White House lawn four years ago today practically giddy with excitement. The popular media was filled with expressions of how startling was the breakthrough, how wonderful and irreversible was the 'peace process', how the "New World Order" and the "New Middle East" were finally dawning.

(September 6, 2001)
Some eighty Federal Agents descended on Richardson, Texas, yesterday striking a blow against Muslim organizations raising funds for Palestinians groups not approved by the USA and thus accused, largely by those associated with the Israeli/Jewish lobby, of "terrorism".

(September 6, 2001)
The former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, Denis Haliday, quit the U.N. a few years ago in moral protest over the U.N.'s complicity in genocide against the people of Iraq.

(September 6, 2001)
The worst massacres in the recent history of the Middle East have not been perpetrated by Arabs, but rather by Israelis. This simple fact is often overlooked in the Western media. In 1982 thousands of Palestinian refugees were slaughtered in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla -- this on top of the estimated 20,000+ Lebanese and Palestinian civilians killed during Israel's barbarous war on Lebanon.

(September 5, 2001)
Ariel Sharon in Moscow had to call off his visit to the Duma as well as with Patriarch Alexei II today, reasons not spelled out but not that hard to contemplate.

(September 5, 2001)
Even as the Americans and Israelis continue desperate moves to try to prevent the Final Conference Statement at Durban from being as harsh as it could and should be, the Israelis are working furiously to begin to unilaterally implement their post-Oslo, post-Camp David "separation" program -- which in its actual implications on the ground is in fact the neo-apartheid approach everyone is screaming about in Durban.

(September 4, 2001)
The Americans and the Israelis have tried everything regarding the Durban Conference to prevent Israel from being specifically mentioned as a racist state in the final conference document. They have repeatedly used all kinds of threat and bribes to get their way.

(September 3, 2001)
Thirty years ago most of the area now known as Gilo was part of the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, next to Bethlehem. Gilo has been built from scratch across the "Green Line" in areas Israel occupied at the time of the 1967 war. In the past three decades Israel has followed a basic and sustained policy of Arab dispossession and Jewish building.

(September 2, 2001)
When plans were being made for the World Conference on taking place in Durban, SA, it was the heyday of the "Peace Process" and the very term "apartheid" was nowhere to be heard in much of the establishment media, certainly not in the USA.

(September 1, 2001)
Even while Israel continues to assassinate senior Palestinians the developments in Durban are telling. As usual the Arafat regime is selling out everyone else for its own gain -- continuing to earn its money so to speak even under the unprecedented circumstances of 2001.

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