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News, 16-23/2/02 (4)

News, 16-23/2/02 (4)


*  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


*  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.]

by Andrew Buncombe
Independent, 22nd February
[Not very interesting account of A.Chalabi.]


[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


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
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.]
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.]


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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.


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

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

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

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.


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

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.

*  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

"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

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.

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

Worthy mentioning that al-Salehi was a commander for the tanks contingent
which occupied Kuwait in 1990.

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

Saddam, according to well-informed sources, is expected to address the
nation shortly to announce the initiative.


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

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

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

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
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
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
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.


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

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."

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