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News, 16-23/2/02 (4) IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ * Focus-Humans live like cattle in French refugee camp * Raid on Iraqi-owned market here prompts nationwide crackdown * Money-Transfer Agents Raided * Searches seek data on cash links between Twin Cities, Iraq * U.S. raids get evidence about cash sent to Iraq * Brooklyn Park man says he won't send money to Iraq any more IRAQI OPPOSITION * Kurdish parties oppose toppling Saddam * Rebels balk as US targets Saddam [Refreshing to see that someone¹s noticed the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the only body that is actually, already, against overwhelming odds, courageously, conducting a terrorist war in Iraq.] * Iraqi opposition figure describes aftermath of Saddam Hussein [ŒMaj. Gen. Najib al-Salehi who was nominated by certain Iraqi opposition forces to be the President of Iraq¹ and who Œwas a commander for the tanks contingent which occupied Kuwait in 1990.¹] * Saddam mulling peace with rebel Kurds * Washington fetes its enemy's enemy [Interview with Ahmed Chalabi. the article menions one ŒLeith Kubba, who helped Mr Chalabi to found the INC a decade ago, but who left after concerns that it was becoming a US foreign policy tool ...¹ which sounds interesting. And it says that the SCIRCI is affiliated to the INC. Is it? They used to be very insistent that they were not in alliance with the US.] * Dethrone Saddam (Granting Independence to the Kurds) [The Washington Times thinking the unthinkable, but logical, and proposing the breakup of Iraq. He suggests interestingly that an independent Iraqi Kurdistan would oblige the Turks to improve their behaviour in their part of Kurdistan.] URL ONLY: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=138992 * OPPOSITION LEADER 'READY TO SUPPORT LIBERATION OF IRAQ' by Andrew Buncombe Independent, 22nd February [Not very interesting account of A.Chalabi.] LEVEL OF IDIOCY IN A CATEGORY OF ITS OWN [An unkind general heading for an article about people who lost relatives on September 11, but are they so utterly incapable of understanding the feelings of people who lost relatives in the bombing of Baghdad and Basra?] * Families of Sept 11 Dead Sue Bin Laden, Iran, Iraq NEW WORLD ORDER URLs ONLY: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/134406420_saudi17.html * ISRAEL POLICY THREATENS FRAGILE U.S.-SAUDI TIES by Robert G. Kaiser and David B. Ottaway Seattle Times (from The Washington Post), 17th February [The article suggests that in the run-up to Sept 11, Bush and the Saudis were on the point of agreeing a policy for Israel/Palestine. It didn¹t work out.] http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=134362 * US STARTS A NEW WAR, FOR WORLD'S HEARTS AND MINDS by Rupert Cornwell Independent, 20th February [The article is about the business of telling lies in warfare but it barely scratches the surface of the subject. How could it, given Mr Cornwell¹s support for the War Crimes tribunal at the Hague? It asserts incidentally that the story that the US had used germ warfare in Korea in 1952 was a KGB fabrication. I thought - but I can¹t offhand give a source - that this had recently been confirmed.] http://www.iht.com/articles/48885.html * LIES CAN COME BACK TO HURT YOU by Flora Lewis International Herald Tribune, 22nd February [The article assumes that the purpose of the Pentagon¹s new Office of Strategic Influence is to tell lies and then suggests that this might not be good idea. We are led to believe that such practises are the exception rather than the rule.] IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ http://www2.swissinfo.org/sen/Swissinfo.html?siteSect=143&eid=1034857 * FOCUS-HUMANS LIVE LIKE CATTLE IN FRENCH REFUGEE CAMP by Catherine Bremer SwissInfo, 20th February SANGATTE, France (Reuters) - Behind the rolling sand dunes of France's picture-postcard north coast, 1,800 bedraggled human beings are living inside a disused factory equipped with the bare essentials to shelter 200. In scenes pitifully out of place in a country so proud of its living standards, men jostle like cattle behind metal railings as they queue for slivers of soap, their breath steaming in the bitterly cold air. Rain hammers on the roof. Rolling up their trousers to reveal bare ankles and shoes worn away by the hard hike across eastern Europe, they beg an aid worker for socks and new shoes, but there are none left. A 50-year-old Iraqi, whose rheumy eyes and drooping lower lip give him the air of a much older man, grasps a visitor's arm and begs, in broken English, for help. "This is not life, here, this place. I came with hope but it is gone," he says, wringing his hat. "I am alone. My wife is dead. I left my 10 children in Baghdad. What shall I do?" What started out as a humanitarian gesture back in September 1999 to offer refuge to a stream of emigrants fleeing misery in search of a dream life in Britain has turned into a problem of mammoth proportions which refuses to go away. While Britain pressures France to stop stowaways clinging to freight trains running through the Channel Tunnel, France bemoans the cost of dealing with them and blames Britain for provoking the exodus with lax asylum laws. Eurotunnel, the loss-making operator of the Channel Tunnel, has failed in two legal bids to have the Red Cross shelter closed and has begged the French and British governments for help in its costly battle to block the flow of immigrants. Amid all that, life at Sangatte has become unbearable. "The situation is getting out of control. We set this place up for 200 people and today we have 10 times that. We simply cannot go on with so many people here," said camp director Michel Derr, weary and disillusioned after two and a half long years trying to keep order. Once a factory making parts for the same undersea tunnel the refugees believe will lead then to a new life, this corrugated iron hangar on the edge of the seaside town of Sangatte resonates with a cacophony of foreign voices and reeks of mud and sweat. Wrapped in woollen hats and scarves, Afghans, Kurds and Albanians stand together in slow-moving queues for meals and washrooms, their eyes vacant. Clusters of babbling men plan their next clandestine dash through the 50 km (31 mile) tunnel. The giant hangar, so vast it could swallow two football pitches, has been a temporary home to some 47,000 emigrants over the past two and a half years. Most are stuck here for weeks or months. With its rows of soulless grey portable temporary shelters and stark blue plastic tents, Sangatte is a far cry from the paradise promised by the smugglers who charge thousands of dollars for a gruelling one-way trip, theoretically all the way to Britain. "The smugglers said they would take me to England in 25 days for $15,000 but it took four months and they left me here," says Ajmal Wardak, a 19-year-old Afghan student, his story typical. His journey through Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Italy was made by car, truck and boat and much of it on foot, sometimes joining other groups. "We slept out in forests or in people's homes. They told me this was England so I called my uncle in Kabul to tell him and he paid the men. Then I found out I was in France," Wardak says. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled conflict in hotspots ranging from Afghanistan to Kosovo to the Kurdish zone in Iraq to seek asylum in Europe. Few bother trying to get through France's notorious red tape in order to stay and Red Cross volunteers -- one for every 180 refugees -- refrain from giving advice on where to go. Sangatte's residents initially welcomed the camp, set up to shelter refugees sleeping out in the streets of nearby Calais. But two years on, many are shutting up and moving away, fed up with the friction they say has built up from the influx of frustrated immigrants milling aimlessly around the tiny town. "It's an absolute mess. I'm at my wits' end and I don't see any other choice but to get out of here," says 53-year-old Claude de Vos. He is closing down his bar and restaurant in the town's main street as clients have dwindled to a trickle. "The tourists don't come anymore, my regular customers are all gone. Locals aren't even comfortable taking their kids to the beach anymore. This has nothing to do with ignorance or racism, but these people aren't used to seeing women sunbathing so they stare and jeer and things get aggressive," he says. The nightly exodus of unkempt immigrants towards the Channel Tunnel entrance for a cat and-mouse game with police is not only at odds with the sleepy seaside atmosphere of Sangatte, but has led to violence on the streets, locals say. Differences in wealth, added to differences in ethnicity, cause visible tensions within the camp where Afghans, Albanians, Arab and Kurdish Iraqis, Pakistanis, Indians and Russians are forced to sleep, wash and eat cheek-by-jowl. Two penniless Albanian families choose to stick together, seeking solace against the hopelessness of their situation. "We have nothing, so we can't go back. But we can't go on to England either, it's too dangerous," one of the women says, her face as tear-stained as that of her sallow-faced 11-year-old daughter. Eurotunnel estimates that 54,000 stowaways tried to invade the tunnel or hide in trucks and trains last year, with the disruption costing the Anglo-French company 20 million pounds in lost revenue. The trip is no picnic for the stowaways. Last month a 20-year-old man was electrocuted while clambering onto a freight train, adding one more to at least seven similar deaths in 2001. A Christmas dash made headlines after some 500 refugees penetrated the fortified perimeter of the tunnel entrance, overpowered security guards and blocked Eurotunnel traffic for 10 hours as troops and riot squads battled to drive them back. France, which is funding the Red Cross shelter at a cost of roughly 15 euros per refugee per day, has debated moving the camp, or setting up more centres to spread the burden. But it will be no easy task to persuade the refugees, who arrive at a rate of up to 50 a day, to abandon their image of a British utopia where they will be allowed to stay and given welfare benefits until they find work. "It took three months to get here, mostly by foot. Of course I'm carrying on to England. I spent my 23 years in a country at war and now I want to continue my education," said 24 year-old Ahmed Zia from Kabul, blinking under the weak strip-lighting. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/134408460_raid21m0.html * RAID ON IRAQI-OWNED MARKET HERE PROMPTS NATIONWIDE CRACKDOWN by Florangela Davila Seattle Times, 21st February The Hamadi Halal Mediterranean Grocery was raided by government agents investigating alleged money laundering. U.S. Customs agents raided businesses in 14 states yesterday, including an Iraqi-owned market in Burien, suspected of illegally transmitting money to Iraq in violation of federal law. Twenty-nine search warrants were executed on businesses and individuals in the nationwide raids that stemmed from a Jan. 31 raid of Al-Shafei Family Connect Inc. (AFCI), a money transmitting business in Mountlake Terrace, said Rodney Tureaud, special agent in charge with the Customs office in Seattle. Federal authorities took interest in AFCI and its owner, Hussain Al-Shafei, after he sued Bank of America in December, claiming racial discrimination. No one was arrested yesterday, though the investigation continues. Federal authorities yesterday targeted the owners of the Hamadi Halal market in Burien as well as individuals and businesses in Buffalo; Chicago; Louisville; Dallas; Detroit; Memphis; Minneapolis; Norfolk, Va.; Erie, Pa.; Lincoln, Neb.; St. Louis; Tucson; and Portland. All are allegedly connected to AFCI and Al-Shafei, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iraq, Customs officials said. Al-Shafei could not be reached last night for comment. Alaa Hamadi, an Iraqi refugee living in Seattle since 1991, has been operating the Hamadi Halal market for nearly a year in Burien, said his wife, Khadijah. Authorities questioned the couple in their Auburn home yesterday morning and then searched the market and took some documents with them, Khadijah Hamadi said. The market served briefly as an agent for AFCI, Khadijah Hamadi said. She and her husband had transferred money to Iraq for "a couple of months" but stopped two months ago, she said. "We were not aware it was illegal to transfer money to Iraq," Khadijah Hamadi said last night from the market, on Burien's busy Southwest 153rd Street. The market, which sells food prepared according to Islamic rules, remained open for business. In Erie, Adel Al-Absawi, owner of Sara's Market, said law-enforcement officials raided his store early yesterday, taking receipts, tax papers, mail and bank statements. Al-Absawi, who was unsure what, if anything, he had done wrong, said he began wiring money with Al Shafei about a year and a half ago. He said Al-Shafei wired money to Jordan, Egypt and Somalia. Unless someone has special authorization by the U.S. Treasury Department for humanitarian or medical reasons, it is prohibited to send money to Iraq. Executive Order 12724, signed by then-President George Bush in 1990, makes it unlawful to transfer funds or economic resources, directly or indirectly, to the Iraqi government or to someone in Iraq. Anyone who violates the order may be charged with a crime, according to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the United Nations Participation Act. Yesterday's raids were similar to those carried out late last year as part of Operation Greenquest, the government's continuing investigation aimed at isolating and freezing the assets of Osama bin Laden, suspected of masterminding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and international terrorist groups. That first set of raids Nov. 7 targeted Somalian businesses, including a market in Southeast Seattle that housed Barakat Wire Transfer. Authorities suspected the businesses were fronts for a fund-raising operation for bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network. But what transpired yesterday in Burien and elsewhere in the country was the latest chapter in a story that a local businessman, Al-Shafei, inadvertently initiated himself. In December, Al-Shafei accused Bank of America of racial profiling after the bank notified him it would be closing his account. In media interviews about the lawsuit and in related affidavits, Al-Shafei described his business as one that transfers money on behalf of U.S. refugees to families in Iraq. Every few days, Al-Shafei said, deposits are pooled and then wired initially to Jordan or other countries. Al-Shafei and the bank eventually settled the lawsuit, but not before bank officials had raised concern that Al-Shafei was operating an illegal business because it allegedly sent money to Iraq. One day after the lawsuit was settled, Customs agents raided Al-Shafei's Mountlake Terrace office. Bank records showed the company transmitted more than $15 million to individuals and businesses in Jordan and other nations during 1999 and 2000, Customs officials said. Evidence seized in that raid was used as leads to the individuals and businesses targeted yesterday, said Customs agent Tureaud. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20020220/pl/customs_money_1.html * MONEY-TRANSFER AGENTS RAIDED by Jeannine Aversa Yahoo, 20th February WASHINGTON (AP) - Money-transfer agents in 14 states were raided in an effort to stop the illegal wiring of millions of dollars to Iraq, the government said Wednesday. U.S. Customs Service Commissioner Robert Bonner said 29 search warrants on businesses and individuals were used, allowing law enforcement agents to seize documents and records. The identities of the businesses and individuals were not disclosed and no one was arrested. The government believes the targeted businesses and individuals served as money-transfer agents for Al-Shafei Family Connect Inc., a money-wiring business that allows Iraqi immigrants in the United States to send money back home. Customs has accused the company of sending millions of dollars to Iraq in violation of a decade-old embargo. Customs raided the company's Seattle-area office last month. During that search of Al-Shafei Family Connect, customs agents found files labeled with the names of individual agents of AFCI around the United States, Customs said. A 1990 executive order signed by former President Bush forbids Americans from transferring money to the Iraqi government or its people. Customs said the individuals and businesses targeted Wednesday also are under investigation for possible violations of anti-money laundering laws and possible violations of regulations requiring money-service businesses to register with the government. The searches took place in Buffalo, N.Y.; Chicago; Louisville, Ky.; Dallas; Detroit; Memphis, Tenn.; Minneapolis; Norfolk, Va.; Erie, Pa.; Portland, Ore.; Lincoln, Neb.; St. Louis; Tucson, Ariz., and Seattle. The Internal Revenue Service, Secret Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service and state and local law enforcement officials took part. http://www.startribune.com/stories/1405/1639262.html * SEARCHES SEEK DATA ON CASH LINKS BETWEEN TWIN CITIES, IRAQ by Pam Louwagie, Greg Gordon and Howie Padilla Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota USA), 21st February Federal agents led searches of eight Twin-Cities area businesses and homes early Wednesday morning in an investigation of illegal money transfers to Iraq, authorities said. Agents with search warrants seized financial records at one metro-area business and two residences, said Brian Moskowitz, a U.S. Customs official. In five other places, mostly residences, people agreed to allow federal agents and local authorities inside, he said. Nobody was arrested in Minnesota or 13 other states in which searches were conducted. Four of the searches were in Minneapolis. Others were in Brooklyn Park, Blaine, Coon Rapids and Bloomington, said Moskowitz, associate special agent in charge of the Customs office of investigations in Chicago. Some of the people and businesses are suspected of acting as agents for a company in Washington state whose owner said in court papers that Iraqi refugees use his business to send money to relatives in Iraq. Authorities suspect that some of those searched locally worked with the company to send money on behalf of others, Moskowitz said. Unlike a law enforcement strike last fall against a money-transfer company that moves money to Somalia from Minneapolis and other cities, authorities said there was no indication that the money was financing terrorists. Transfers of funds to Iraq have been barred for more than a decade under the International Economic Powers Act, other laws and two executive orders signed in 1990 by President George Bush. Besides facing possible criminal penalties for violating the embargo against Iraq, those targeted are under investigation for possibly violating laws against money laundering and regulations that require money-service businesses to register with the government as of Dec. 31. Not everyone who agreed to a search Wednesday is necessarily a target of the investigation. Moskowitz said Wednesday's actions were "just the beginning" of the investigation. Authorities wouldn't say how much money might have come out of Minnesota, but Customs officials said bank records indicate that the Washington company, Al-Shafei Family Connect Inc., sent more than $15 million to Jordan and other nations around the globe in 1999 and 2000. The business' owner, Hussain Al-Shafei, said in court papers that he asked a bank to wire money to Jordan because it couldn't be sent directly to Iraq due to the trade embargo, according to a Customs Service news release. Although estimates of Iraqi immigrants in the Twin Cities area weren't available Wednesday, state records indicate that 62 refugees arrived in Minnesota between 1979 and 1996. A man whose north Minneapolis home was searched said Wednesday afternoon that authorities had confiscated his family's passports and papers showing he'd become a citizen last year. Authorities rummaged through his books, took letters -- some written in Arabic -- videotapes and a family photo album, but said they would return the items. The resident, a refugee from Iraq who has been in the United States for about six years, said that when he could, he would send small sums of money to Iraq through the Al-Shafei company to help his nine brothers, three sisters and father. No receipts were ever exchanged. and the amounts were never more than $50, but his family always received the money, he said. The man, who asked not to be named because he feared for his safety, said he thought the business closed about five weeks ago. "He told us that he was licensed to handle the money and that everything was fine," the man said of Al-Shafei, who kept part of the money for the service. "I didn't know it was illegal." When the Minneapolis man told authorities Wednesday morning that he had sent money, his wife asked if the couple had done anything wrong. "They told us that as long as he was telling the truth, he would be fine," she said Wednesday afternoon. The Customs Service began looking into Al-Shafei earlier this year after Seattle newspapers ran articles describing a dispute between Hussain Al-Shafei and the Bank of America. When the bank informed Al-Shafei it was closing his account, he filed a discrimination suit and won a court order temporarily blocking the action. But in an affidavit he filed in support of his suit, Al-Shafei stated that "approximately 80 percent to 90 percent of Iraqi refugees in the United States use Al-Shafei Family Connect, Inc. to send money to their family members in Iraq." He also stated: "It is not possible to send the money directly to Iraq because of the trade embargo." Customs agents also found records identifying agents of the business around the United States and specific transactions in which they sent money to the business for transfer to countries around the globe, including Iraq. In court affidavits, Customs agents said Al-Shafei, who drives a Mercedes, set up business accounts with the Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Citibank and Comerica Bank. On Wednesday authorities also searched businesses and residences in Buffalo, N.Y.; Chicago; Louisville; Dallas; Detroit; Memphis; Norfolk, Va.; Erie, Pa.; Portland, Ore.; Lincoln, Neb.; St. Louis; Tucson, Ariz., and Seattle. http://www.freep.com/news/nw/iraq21_20020221.htm * U.S. RAIDS GET EVIDENCE ABOUT CASH SENT TO IRAQ by Jim Schaefer Free Press (Detroit, Michigan USA), 21st February Federal agents raided four homes in metro Detroit on Wednesday as part of a 14-state crackdown on the funneling of millions of dollars to people and companies in Iraq. Michael Holt, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Customs in Detroit, said four local people were suspected of acting as agents for Al-Shafei Family Connect Inc. near Seattle. The money-transmitting business was established in 1999 and many refugees used it to send money to relatives in Iraq. Money transfers to Iraq violate a 1990 executive order from then-President George Bush that prohibits financial transactions with the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein or anyone else inside the Middle Eastern country. In all, federal agents went to 29 businesses and people in the 14 states. Agents collected evidence, but no one was arrested or charged. None of the individuals was identified. Holt said three raids were in Detroit and one in a suburb that he would not identify. Holt said agents were looking for bank notes, deposit slips and other financial documents. He said the four local targets were cooperative. It is unknown how much money was transferred from Michigan, Holt said, but in 1999 and 2000 the Seattle company's overall business transmitted more than $15 million to the Middle East and elsewhere, officials said. Critics of the U.S. policy about money to Iraq say it creates undue suffering among Iraqis. Authorities are tracking where the money transmitted through Al-Shafei Family Connect went, Holt said. "There's no information that links it" to terrorism, he said. [.....] http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/1642016.html * BROOKLYN PARK MAN SAYS HE WON'T SEND MONEY TO IRAQ ANY MORE by Howie Padilla and David Peterson Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota USA), 22nd February For the past several years, Adil Al-Hashimi has helped Iraqi refugees send money to families left behind in the country he and his family fled seven years ago. Thursday afternoon he said his money shipping days are over. The Brooklyn Park duplex his family rents was one of eight Twin Cities homes and businesses searched Wednesday as part of a 14-state crackdown on money being illegally sent to Iraq. After the raid on the duplex, authorities asked Al-Hashimi to sign a piece of paper saying he would no longer send funds. Torn between what he feels is morally right and the laws of the land he now calls home, Al Hashimi signed the document. As he talked about the raid, Al-Hashimi's voice went from audible frustration to near silent worry. "I feel bad for all the families over there who need help, especially mine." The investigation into the transactions began in Washington state last month with Hussain Al-Shafei. In a suit he filed to prevent Bank of America from closing his accounts, Al-Shafei submitted a court affidavit stating that "approximately 80 percent to 90 percent of Iraqi refugees in the United States use Al-Shafei Family Connect, Inc. to send money to their family members in Iraq." Transfers of funds to Iraq have been barred for more than a decade under the International Economic Powers Act, other laws and two executive orders signed in 1990 by President George Bush. In the Brooklyn Park duplex Thursday, Al-Hashimi said he didn't know he had done anything wrong. "It's not like I'm sending $5,000 to my family," he said. "I send what I can when I can. A hundred dollars or fifty dollars . . . it's not a lot of money." Al-Hashimi said he has never met Al-Shafei, but has spoken to him by telephone often. Al Hashimi said Al-Shafei led him to believe that he was licensed and that everything was legal. Generally, families would bring money to Al-Hashimi, who would convert it to money orders and send it to Al-Shafei. A few days later, their families in Iraq would get the money. A U.S. Customs Service official in Chicago said Thursday that he understands what refugees are trying to do, but sympathy doesn't make the money transactions any more legal. "On a human level, we're sympathetic," Brian Moskowitz said. "Those are admirable things to want to help with. But as law-enforcers, we're charged with enforcing the law, not making the policies." Leaders in Minnesota's tiny Iraqi community denounced Wednesday's federal raids as a move that will do nothing to hurt America's enemies in that country and a great deal to harm its friends. Refugees sending money to their families "are people who left Iraq because they are scared of the regime," said Abbas Mehdi, a St. Cloud State University sociologist who leads an organization opposed to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "Many were brought here by the U.S. government. The money goes to help ordinary people in Iraq -- the people the U.S. government claims to want to help." Definitive word from Census 2000 as to the size of the area's Iraqi community won't be in until later this year. But a Census Bureau survey places the number preliminarily at fewer than 500. Local activists say it is higher than that, perhaps in the 1,000 range. Although some Iraqi immigrants asked that their names not be used, they were unanimous in saying that it is routine for them to find ways to get cash to their families, and they did not realize it might not be legal for them to do so. Mehdi, who leads the Union of Independent Iraqis in Minnesota, said it is a very serious humanitarian issue. "The whole country really depends on money from overseas, not just from the U.S. but others who have left and send money. I have heard that six to seven billion dollars is sent each year, and that is how people there survive. In my case, I have parents there, who are 83 and 84 years old, and need someone to help them. Sometimes it's money, sometimes it's food, medicine, clothing, these kinds of things." American peace activists also expressed concern about the raids. Said Marie Braun, of Minneapolis, cofounder of the Twin Cities Campaign to Lift the Sanctions: "Our sanctions are killing thousands of people a month. I am a family and child therapist, and it's something I couldn't ignore." Braun has traveled to Iraq several times despite a U.S. travel ban and has given perhaps 120 talks in colleges, churches, homes, workshops, "anywhere I'm invited," she said. "It's so hard to get the word out. "When you think about how we felt about the World Trade Center," she said, "in Iraq 3,000 to 5,000 people die every month, and there is 70 percent unemployment, and they're talking about bombing again a country that has already been bombed into the Third World." At the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul on Thursday about 50 people watched a 20 minute video about the life Iraqi refugees fled. Rose Stenglein said the movie was shocking and more disturbing than the images of life in Iraq that she had seen on television. The 20-year-old St. Paul resident said she would like to make a difference. She started by pinning a bright yellow stop-sanctions-in-Iraq button on her right sleeve. As Al-Hashimi's wife recalled Wednesday's raid -- in which she said authorities broke down the front door and went room to room with their guns drawn -- it brought back horrific memories. "We came to this country to get away from Saddam Hussein," Tania Tama said through an interpreter. "We hate him. But yesterday they acted just like he would." Worried about her mother and father in Iraq, Tama said even if she had the money to send home, she now has no idea how she would go about doing it. She said the raid has not curbed her desire to help her family. "If they want me to stop sending money, they will have to bring my mother and father here," she said. IRAQI OPPOSITION http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020216/2002021610.html * KURDISH PARTIES OPPOSE TOPPLING SADDAM Arabic News, 16th February The Iraqi Kurdish parties which rally with the US on Friday announced opposition to the American moves to remove the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by means of force. Rosh Shawiz, the chairman of the so called the Kurdish parliament in the Iraqi northern "Pocket" said during his current talks with British officials that all feel concerned towards the American moves concerning Iraq. Shawiz added that the Kurds live in a relative stability during the few past years in north Iraq and this situation enabled them to organize their matters. British political sources described the statements made by the Kurdish official as a blow to the intention of the US to launch military acts against Iraq to remove the ruling system in Baghdad. The sources said that the Kurdish groups are not enthusiastic for the American military act against Iraq because of possible consequences on the conditions of the Kurds of north Iraq. http://dawn.com/fixed/subs/dinasub.htm * Rebels balk as US targets Saddam by Scott Peterson Dawn (from Christian Science Monitor), 16th February TEHRAN: The Bush administration is accelerating development of plans to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. But the leader of one of the few credible armed Iraqi opposition groups says he doesn't want Washington's help. "There is no need to send troops from outside to Iraq," says the black-turband Ayatollah Mohammad Bakr al-Hakkim, leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). "It could be seen as an invasion and could create new problems." Though courted for months by American diplomats to join in their effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah al-Hakkim - also commander of the 10,000-strong Badr Brigade militia - urges caution in a rare interview. The chief reason is President Bush's declaration that SCIRI'S host and sponsor, Iran, is part of an "axis of evil," as well as the past experience of the Iraqi opposition with "unreliable" US support. The "Afghan model" of backing proxy forces, as the US did against the Taliban, does not apply to Iraq, al-Hakkim says. One Pentagon option includes a pincer operation toward Baghdad, with 50,000 American troops moving from the south with SCIRI's Shia guerrillas and 50,000 more moving from the north with Kurdish fighters. Such plans are "very far-fetched" and a "bad idea," al-Hakkim says, his cleric's face framed by a gray beard. Few doubt growing American resolve against Iraq, though no evidence has emerged that Baghdad was involved in the Sept 11 attacks, or in any terrorist act for the past decade. But Iraq is clearly a target. US Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday there are no "plans" to attack North Korea or Iran, but that Iraq was a special case. Powell said a "regime change" in Iraq, however, "would be in the best interests of the region." He says Bush is considering "the most serious set of options one might imagine." Vice President Dick Cheney is to make a nine-nation Mideast tour in March to solidify allied support for any moves against Iraq. Few armed opponents of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein have suffered as much as Iraq's southern Shias. They have seen their religious leaders assassinated, their marshes - both their economic lifeline and hiding place - drained, and their 1991 uprising put down mercilessly with a toxic cocktail of chemical weapons. So few might be so willing - after spilling blood for years to topple the Iraqi leader - to embrace Washington's growing plans to do just that. Contacts between SCIRI and US officials outside Iran had warmed during the Afghan campaign, like those between the US and Iran. American diplomats had been increasing contacts for months. The SCIRI is now warning that US troops in Iraq would be a "mistake." Afghanistan is also a sore point: "Iran had a bad experience at the end of the Afghan war," says Dodge. "They helped, but at the end, the US tried to foist a US-client state on Iran. They are not going to let that happen in Iraq." On the surface, the aims of SCIRI, Iran, and the US appear to coincide in Iraq. Few dislike Baghdad's rulers more than the Iranians. The Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s was started by Saddam Hussein in the early days of Iran's Islamic Revolution. Still, Iran and SCIRI - which is overseen by Iranian security forces - are trying to gauge the impact of America's saber- rattling against Iraq, and weigh up their own interests. The bottom line: what is the endgame? Ayatollah al-Hakkim insists that SCIRI wants to create a democratic regime in Iraq that includes all its ethnic and religious groups. More than 60 per cent of Iraqis share the Shia branch of Islam, along with Iran. President George Bush Sr. promised Iraqis that the US would support their uprising, but then appeared to change his mind when it was clear that chaos - and possibly a Shia-run state allied to Iran - could result. Ayatollah al-Hakkim, with a flourish of his hands, says his forces "will use any new chance that comes to hand" to move against Baghdad, though "nobody can speak of the secrets of the (US) administration." He has his own hunch, too, which he delivers with the broadest of smiles: "They say they made mistakes in 1991," al-Hakkim says, laughing out loud. "George W. Bush is trying to correct the mistakes of his father."-Dawn/The Christian Science Monitor News Service. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020218/2002021819.html * IRAQI OPPOSITION FIGURE DESCRIBES AFTERMATH OF SADDAM HUSSEIN Arabic News, 18th February Maj. Gen. Najib al-Salehi who was nominated by certain Iraqi opposition forces to be the President of Iraq has stressed his care to open a new page of relations with countries ajoining his country. In a telephone- statement to the Kuwaiti daily al-Rai al-Aam issued on Saturday from his residence in the US, al-Salehi said that solving pending issues with the neighboring states will be one of the first priorities of Iraq's foreign policy in the phase aftermath Saddam, noting the misdeeds made by the Iraqi regime to the neighboring states, foremost being Kuwait. He also called on the countries neighboring Iraq to honor the desire felt by the Iraqi people to choose its political system freely, stressing that Iraq is an integrated part of the Arab nation and will work for improving its relations with its nation and with all countries of the world. He said that the Iraqi opposition forces have increased the volume of coordination among themselves in order to cope with successive developments whose indicators incline towards toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. He added that there is a common perception of these "Iraqi opposition forces" for the phase after the change of the Iraqi regime, noting that the next Iraqi leadership will be of democratic attitude and will work for the founding of civil establishments. He expressed his conviction that the Iraqi army has a role in controlling the condition during the process of changing the regime. He stressed the rejection of the opposition forces to found a military regime in Iraq and said that such a rule will not ensure security to Iraq and to the Iraqi people. Worthy mentioning that al-Salehi was a commander for the tanks contingent which occupied Kuwait in 1990. http://www.kurdistanobserver.com/ * SADDAM MULLING PEACE WITH REBEL KURDS Kurdistan Observer, 19th February Arbil, Iraq Press, Feb. 19 - The embattled Iraqi leader is considering a peace initiative to bring rebel Kurds to the negotiating table. The Iraq Press has learned that Saddam Hussein has held a meeting with senior aides to discuss the possibility of granting Iraqi Kurds sweeping autonomous powers. The move is seen as part of Saddam's last-minute overtures to avert a possible U.S. military strike to overthrow his regime. The United States has made it clear that it advocates a regime change in Baghdad. Senior U.S. officials have said they are determined to topple Saddam even if they have to act unilaterally. The Kurds turned down Saddam's previous calls for negotiations, saying there is no guarantee the Iraqi strongman will not renege on any promises he makes. Saddam, according to well-informed sources, is expected to address the nation shortly to announce the initiative. [.....] http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,654016,00.html * WASHINGTON FETES ITS ENEMY'S ENEMY by Julian Borger in Washington The Guardian. 22nd February Like many people in Washington these days, Ahmed Chalabi has a plan to get rid of Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi opposition leader just needs 11 weeks of training for his followers, anti-tank weapons, air cover, the support of special forces and some protective gear against chemical or biological attack. Mr Chalabi is confident that he will get all he seeks. In the current political climate, he has been feted from one end of Washington to the other as the man of the hour. But the drums of war cannot entirely drown out persistent questions over his integrity. There are some in Washington who doubt that the 57-year-old former mathematician and banker even has a guerrilla force to command any more, and suggest that his war plan is simply the latest in a series of confidence tricks designed to squeeze money out of the US government. Many of the doubters work in the state department and the CIA, which view his Iraqi National Congress (INC) with ill-disguised contempt. But as the resolve to fight President Saddam spreads in Washington, Mr Chalabi's adversaries have been on the defensive, while his backers in the Pentagon, Congress and White House have brushed away the nagging questions - at least for the time being. Only days before George Bush's recent bellicose state of the union message, the state department had threatened to cut off the INC's funding because of bookkeeping irregularities. But by January 30, the doubts were overtaken by patriotic resolve. Anyone prepared to fight the Baghdad regime was embraced, and on that very day Mr Chalabi had his funding restored. As for his war plan, he said he was "encouraged by the response". Wheels have begun to turn, Mr Chalabi confided, but he could not give details. "The United States will help us to train and equip light anti-tank battalions, well-trained and highly mobile. Those people, once on the ground, will be able to defeat Saddam's forces." It would take 11 weeks to train and equip those forces, he added. In the course of a 90-minute interview, a confident Mr Chalabi frequently laughed, and discussed the defeat of the 400,000-strong Iraqi army as if it was a mere formality. In his view, President Saddam's army was hollow - packed with ill-trained conscripts. Mr Chalabi gave a theoretical example: a rebel incursion across the Kuwaiti border to capture a frontier town. The rebel force would be protected from counter-attack by US air power, and within days the key southern city of Basra would fall as its garrison mutinied. "Once that happens, our problem will not be finding people - our problem will be absorbing people," he said. His main concern was retaliation with chemical or biological weapons, and he would want his men to be trained and equipped to protect themselves, he said. First of all, however, Mr Chalabi has to survive the doubters in Washington. Questions about his probity are part of the problem. He was convicted in a Jordanian court about 10 years ago for embezzling money from depositors in a banking scandal. More recently, the state department found that about half of a $4m (£2.8m) disbursement in US funding was not properly accounted for. Mr Chalabi said he was the victim of a setup in Jordan by cronies of the late King Hussein. The accounting issue was dismissed as the quibbles of a bureaucracy which was ill-suited to a covert war, in which few receipts were issued. The more serious question, given Washington's stated aim of "regime change", is whether he can rally opposition forces. Leith Kubba, who helped Mr Chalabi to found the INC a decade ago, but who left after concerns that it was becoming a US foreign policy tool, has serious doubts. He believes that the only substantial rebel forces in Iraq are commanded by the Kurdish Democratic party leader, Massoud Barzani, and the Tehran-based Shi'ite cleric, Mohammed Bakr Hakim. "These people dictate the agenda," Mr Kubba said. Both Mr Barzani's party and Mr Hakim's Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq are formally INC affiliates, but that does not mean that they take Mr Chalabi's orders. Mr Chalabi lost credibility after orchestrating an uprising in northern Iraq in 1995, only to be abandoned by the CIA, acting on government orders. The insurgency, and the INC's presence in the country, was swept aside by Iraq in 1996. Six years on, Mr Chalabi must perform a double act: convince Washington that he has support in Iraq while persuading sceptical resistance leaders that Washington is serious this time. It is an impresario's job, and for that at least, he has the perfect background. http://www.kurdistanobserver.com/ * DETHRONE SADDAM (GRANTING INDEPENDENCE TO THE KURDS) by Jeffrey T. Kuhner The Kurdistan Observer, 22nd February The Bush administration's campaign against global terrorism has the potential to transform the Middle East and usher in a new era of democracy and peace. Nowhere is this more evident than in Iraq, which continues to menace its neighbors and is governed by one of the world's most brutal dictatorships. Yet as the White House considers targeting Saddam Hussein in the next phase of the war on terrorism, it must deal with an issue that successive administrations since the end of the 1991 Gulf War have been reluctant to confront: granting independence to the Kurds in northern Iraq. Two prominent human rights organizations have recently released a report that documents Saddam's genocidal campaign of mass murder and ethnic cleansing against Iraq's Kurds. Ever since coming to power in 1979, Saddam has established a totalitarian police state aimed at eradicating the Kurdish people. During the late 1980s, in a campaign known as "Operation Anfal" Saddam's security forces unleashed a wave of terror that led to the deaths of more than 180,000 people, the deportation of 2 million Kurds and the destruction of 4,500 villages and towns. The report goes on to state that Saddam's genocidal campaign against the Kurds continues to this day. Those Kurds not living in the autonomous enclave in northern Iraq established by the United States and Britain following the Gulf War continue to suffer human rights abuses by Saddam's death squads such as mass murder, forced expulsions, arbitrary arrests and confiscation of homes and property. The latest tactic in the terror campaign has been to order the beheading of women deemed to be "prostitutes." As the report notes, fabricated charges are often used as a weapon by Saddam's regime to silence political opponents. Pro-democracy activists live under the constant fear that their wives or daughters may be hauled in front of a kangaroo court and convicted of having participated in prostitution. Nearly 2,000 women have been beheaded since 2000. Despite the long record of crimes committed by Saddam's sadistic regime, the plight of the Kurds has received little attention in the West. They have become the modern-day equivalent of the Jews prior to the creation of Israel in 1948 ‹ a persecuted, stateless people who desperately seek a homeland as a strategic buffer against foreign occupying powers. Yet administration officials fear that the creation of an independent Kurdistan would lead to turmoil in Iraq and destabilize neighboring Turkey. The State Department is under the illusion that the prospect of a "Greater Kurdistan" threatens regional peace and stability. Hence, it has turned a blind eye to Ankara's brutal 15-year military campaign to subjugate Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey. The result is that many of the opposition groups in Iraq ‹ including the Kurds ‹ do not believe that Washington is serious about toppling Saddam from power. They are convinced that the United States is more interested in preserving Iraq's territorial integrity than in providing assistance to the country's disenchanted nationalities, who despise not only Saddam's iron-fisted rule but centralized control from Baghdad. Thus, by backing the right to self-determination for the 3.6 million residents in Iraqi Kurdistan, the administration would be sending a powerful signal that it is determined to promote democracy and human rights in the region. Iraq is a synthetic state, created during the era of European imperialism. Rather than insisting that Baghdad's current borders are sacrosanct and not subject to change, the Bush foreign policy team should focus on supporting the breakup of Iraq into its constituent parts ‹ an independent Kurdistan in the north, a Sunni Muslim state in the center, and a Shiite Muslim nation in the south. Ankara's concerns that a sovereign Kurdish state threatens Turkey's internal stability is nothing more than a pretext to justify its abysmal human rights record; in fact, the creation of an independent Kurdistan will compel the Turkish government to embrace genuine democracy and do the one thing that will resolve its long-standing minorities problem: give real autonomy to the country's Kurdish population. Besides their humanitarian and geopolitical significance, the Kurds are important because they are living proof of the destruction that Saddam is capable of unleashing upon his enemies, including the United States. The Iraqi strongman has shown that he is willing to massacre countless Kurdish civilians, women and children by using chemical poisons such as mustard gas and sarin gas in order to entrench his hold on power. There is no doubt that should he get his hands on weapons of mass destruction, he will use them against his adversaries ‹ whether it be Saudi Arabia, Israel or America. Saddam is a murderous despot who poses a grave threat to the security of the United States. It is high time the administration remove the Butcher of Baghdad from power, and grant his number one victims, the Kurds, the independence that they deserve and have suffered for so dearly. Jeffrey T. Kuhner is an assistant national editor at The Washington Times. LEVEL OF IDIOCY IN A CATEGORY OF ITS OWN http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=topnews&StoryID=610882 * FAMILIES OF SEPT 11 DEAD SUE BIN LADEN, IRAN, IRAQ by Mark Wilkinson Reuters, 19th February WASHINGTON: The families of seven men who died in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the accused mastermind of the attack, Osama bin Laden, as well as Iraq, Iran and numerous banks. The class-action suit, which named 141 individuals, financial institutions, companies and organizations alleged to support terrorism, seeks more than $100 billion in damages for the attack that killed more than 2,800 people. "We want to prevent all those responsible for our losses to ever inflict that on others," Fiona Havlish, who lost her husband when two hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, said at a news conference. Thomas Mellon, the lead lawyer in the case, said the aim of the lawsuit was to freeze any assets that could be used by terrorist groups to conduct attacks and to see such organizations "bled dry." The complaint cited bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, as well as Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, the 19 hijackers who carried out the strikes and the governments of Iran and Iraq for their alleged sponsorship of terrorism. The suit also named individuals, including Zacarias Moussaoui who was recently indicted by the United States for alleged ties to al Qaeda, and a number of banks and companies as far afield as Liechtenstein, Somalia and the Netherlands. These were identified by the U.S. State and Treasury departments as being sponsors or financiers of terrorist activities. The Bush administration, which is still on the hunt for bin Laden, Omar and other al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, has already frozen millions of dollars believed to be tied to terror organizations. Several terrorism-related lawsuits have been filed in the past, under the 1995 U.S. anti terrorism statute, which allows relatives of terrorism victims to sue foreign governments. In 1998, for instance, the parents of a U.S. citizen sued Iran for $247 million after their daughter was killed in a terrorist attack on an Israeli bus three years before. "I lost my husband, my partner, my best friend and my children lost their father," said one of those bringing the suit, Clara Chirchirillo. "I need to know that I have done what I could to stop these cowards." -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.