March 10, 2008

The Arena: Mar 05, AU edition

blue fingers.jpg
THE ARENA

JAMES MORROW
Australians should be proud of the role they played bringing democracy to Iraq

From the moment John Howard committed troops to help the United States enforce the slew of U.N. resolutions violated by Saddam Hussein, Australians were told that they should feel badly about it. By focusing narrowly on the question of Saddam’s WMD programs (and by also conveniently forgetting his history of gassing Iranians and Kurds), anti-war groups were able to conveniently ignore the greater promise of ousting Saddam Hussein: not only would the overthrow of his sick and genocidal cult of personality give a measurably better life to Iraq’s citizens, but it would also have the knock-on effect of bringing political freedom to a region sorely in need of it.

This willful ignorance came to an end on the 30th of January, a day which will be remembered as a defining moment of the first decade of the 21st Century. That was the day when ordinary Iraqis went to the polls to elect their own government — and in the process defied armies of Islamists, insurgents, Ba’ath party holdouts, and much of the Western media, all of whom predicted that the exercise of democracy would cause bloodshed from one end of Mesopotamia to the other.
In fact, the turnout was better than anyone could have expected, with early estimates pegging at somewhere around 72 per cent (much better than, say, an American or British national election). Sure, there was some grumbling, but so what if the Sunnis didn’t vote in huge numbers? The fact that a segment of the population which had for decades happily exercised tyranny of the minority got pouty and decided to pick up their ball and go home should be of no consequence to the legitimacy of the overall election. As the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto pointed out, Afrikaners refusing to vote when blacks were given the franchise in South Africa didn’t cause reporters to heave heavy sighs and complain about the sudden illegitimacy of that country’s democracy.

As Iraqis streamed out of polling places across the country, proudly waving their blue ink-stained index fingers indicating they had voted, it was fascinating to watch the story of their country change in the eyes of the Western media. For months on end, Australians had been subjected to a relentless barrage of stories about how, since the invasion, Iraq had spun wildly out of control and that (for reporters, at least) Baghdad was suddenly a place where leaving one’s hotel room to buy a pack of smokes was about as risky as poking your head above ground level in 1916 Verdun.

Thus the media’s reaction to the election’s overwhelming success was every bit as amusing as the courage of the free Iraqis was touching. Remember that for months every bombing, every setback, and every act of brutality (especially if it was committed by a wayward American soldier) was front-page news, not just in Australia but around the world. And the message was subtle but clear: Iraq and the Iraqis were better off under Saddam, because at least then the state had a monopoly on killing and mayhem. Once the Americans came in, the chaos was privatized – a far worse state of affairs.

But almost as soon as polls opened the story changed. If they didn’t exactly become cheerleaders for Iraqi democracy, the media managed to, if just for a day, agree that the voting was a good thing.
International wire service Reuters, which since 9/11 has been notorious for throwing “scare quotes” around the word “terrorist” – lest anyone think the agency was taking sides – suddenly reported that “millions of Iraqis flocked to vote in a historic election Sunday, defying insurgents who killed 25 people in bloody attacks aimed at wrecking the poll. Iraqis, some ululating with joy, others hiding their faces in fear, voted in much higher-than-expected numbers in their first multi-party election in half a century”.

The New York Times got caught up in the excitement as well, declaring that “if the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned
a corner”.

And closer to home, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough admitted in his first dispatch after the election that “the ballot had prevailed over the bullets and the bombs”, and even conceded that “the provisional figures will be seen as a stunning victory for Washington’s policy of democratising the Middle East and will cause great anxiety among the region’s unelected leaders, who fear such an Iraqi outcome will spur demands for radical reform across the region”.
This was an incredible (if temporary) about-face for McGeough, who has spent the last two years tipping an Iraqi civil war and once went so far as to run a story accusing interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi of shooting six terrorist suspects at close range — a bit of unsubstantiated urban myth that allowed the correspondent to think aloud about “a return to the cold-blooded tactics of his predecessor”, i.e., Saddam.

In standing up to the naysayers, and the terrorists, and those who suffer from that peculiar neocolonial racism of the Left which says that some people just aren’t cut out for democracy, ordinary Iraqis took a brave stand for their future. Not only did they send a message to their foes at home and abroad that they were not going to let freedom’s enemies win, but they also told Australians, Americans, and everyone else involved in making 30 January possible that the life and treasure spent in Iraq were not in vain. As Iraqi weblogger Hammorabi put it the night before the election,

Our voting is:
No to the terrorists!
No to the dictatorships!
No to hate and racism!
No to the fascists!
No to the Nazis!
No to the mentally retarded tyrants!
No to the ossified, narrow-minded and intolerant!
The Iraqis are voting in few hours time for the new Iraq.
We are going to create our future by ourselves not by dictators.

We are going to say:
Yes for the freedom and democracy!
Yes for the civilized Iraq!
Yes for peace and prosperity!
Yes for coexistence!
Yes for the New Iraq!
Let them bomb and kill us. It will not deter us!
Let them send their dogs to suck our bones. We care not!
Let them bark. It will not frighten us.
Let them see how civilised to be free and democratic!
Let them die by our vote tomorrow! It is the magic bullet which will
kill them!
Welcome New Iraq.
Welcome freedom and democracy.
Welcome peace and prosperity for all nations with out exception but terrorists!
Amen to that.


Posted by InvestigateDesign at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2007

Unholy Alliance: Islam & Socialists in NZ: May 07 issue

ESSAY
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caption: this 15 year old Indonesian girl was almost beheaded by Islamic extremists. Her crime: being a Christian

DANGEROUS LIAISONS

Muslims, Marxists and NZ Migration

There’s more controversy over Investigate’s 18 page special report on Islamic terrorist sympathisers in New Zealand. IAN WISHART analyses the impact of the story, and the latest developments

One of the extremist Islamic preachers of hate who featured in the March issue of Investigate has been banned from entering Australia, despite being allowed to tour New Zealand giving lectures and inspiration to hundreds of New Zealand Muslims.

Bilal Philips, who was named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the plot to blow up a range of New York landmarks, including the World Trade Centre, in 1993, was able to slip into and out of New Zealand because the Minister in charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Helen Clark, has failed to activate a border protection watch list of individuals with known links to terrorism.

Although the legislation was passed in 2002, following requests from the United Nations, New Zealand has not named a single individual for Customs and Immigration officers to watch for. As Investigate reported in March (see online at www.thebriefingroom.com) , that oversight has meant dozens of radical extremists, some of them – like Philips – with known links to terrorist organisations, have been able to come and go at will without the New Zealand government evening realising.

Over the past few weeks, Investigate has received a series of, largely, form letters, a selection of which you can read in our Letters pages, accusing us essentially of whipping up ‘Islamophobia’ and endangering local Muslims.

The allegations are false. Additionally, we were surprised to discover the fingerprints of diehard left-wing Marxists on the whinge campaign, as this extract from a Socialist Worker blog this month reveals:

“Our members in the Residents Action Movement (RAM) are currently working with the Muslim community to respond against the despicable Islamophobia of Ian Wishart's Investigate magazine. We have marched together for Palestine , Lebanon and Iraq, and will be united on the streets if there are any attacks on Iran. We do not look on our Muslim comrades as victims, tokens, demons or others, but our brothers and sisters in the fight for peace and global justice.”

Keep taking the pills, boys. Maybe you’ll wake up from your own self-inflicted Matrix one day. Or perhaps you should read my new book, Eve’s Bite. Then you’ll really have something to whinge about.

If you read the Socialist Worker post in full, however (http://unityaotearoa.blogspot.com/2007/04/marxist-muslim-alliance-response-to.html), you’ll find they were responding in faux indignation at suggestions from a local Muslim that Marxists are using Muslims as stooges to foment unrest in New Zealand. I say the indignation is “faux”, because socialism is blatantly atheistic in nature and hostile to religion, so it is obvious to most rational people that socialists are indeed taking Muslims for a ride, and probably having a right old laugh at their expense.

However, allow me to explain in greater detail why the Investigate scoop in March is the biggest unreported story of the year so far (although it was picked up by the Christchurch Press and Newstalk ZB’s Larry Williams):

We are told local Muslims are “moderate”. Indeed, they self-identify as “moderate” and, as one Islamic acquaintance – Imran - told me this month, the moderateness reflects the fact that New Zealand is not “joining with the US in Iraq and Afghanistan”. The local community, he says, doesn’t feel any inclination to take to the streets because it knows most New Zealanders feel equally dubious about America’s adventures.

But here’s the rub – if that is the only reason for moderation, what happens if the wider New Zealand community at some point believe a war against radical Islam is justified?

Then there’s the definition of “moderate”. People make the mistake of trying to understand Islam the same way many understand Christianity. In the West, we are familiar with the debates about whether the Bible is fundamentally true (the conservative wing of Christianity) or fundamentally mythical (the liberal wing of Christianity). In Islam, there is no such polarity: you will not find a “moderate” Muslim willing to suggest that the Qu’ran is mythical. All practicing Muslims, whether extremist or “moderate”, believe the Qu’ran is true down to its last letter. They may disagree on how the Qu’ran and its edicts can be implemented in Dar al Harb (all the countries ruled by non-Islamic governments, literally translated from Arabic as “House of War”), but there is no dispute that the Qu’ran calls for the eventual unification of the entire planet under one Islamic ruler, the new Khalifah (Caliph).

As a Christian, I share many concerns that are similar to those of Muslims. Christians and Muslims are generally socially conservative. However, as I told Imran, New Zealand’s tolerance of moderate Islam hinges to a large extent on Islam doing a much better job at self-policing against radicals. Investigate magazine praised Christchurch moderates several years ago who blew the whistle on a move by Saudi terrorist fundraisers Al Haramain group to take over the Christchurch mosque. We saw that whistleblowing as self-policing in action.

But it was stunning to find out this year that extremist clerics, bearing large wads of money from extremist Saudi Arabia, have been intimately involved in guiding and helping the New Zealand Islamic community. Extremist preachers have DVDs and books on sale here, and local mosques are working for the introduction of shari’a principles in New Zealand.

Saudi Arabia is the home of Wahhabism, the most extreme form of radical Islam and the faction that Osama bin Laden belongs to. We should be very concerned about Saudi Arabia’s influence with NZ mosques, because here’s what the Saudis teach their children in school.

Year One (Five year olds):
“Every religion other than Islam is false”
“Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ________.”

Now, if it stopped there, I’d have little to object to. You can go into any number of Christian churches of a Sunday and hear a message about Christianity being the only true religion. I have no problems with Islam making its absolute truth claim, even if I disagree with their faith in it. However, it doesn’t stop there, and Islam’s indoctrination of children in Islamic schools gets much worse:

Year Four:
“True belief means...that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly.”

Year Five:
“Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of Allah cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose Allah and his Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives.”

“It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in Allah and his Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam.”

“A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes Allah, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion.”

Year Six (Ten year olds):
“Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavour to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, Allah willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for Allah, for this is within Allah’s power.”

Year Eight:
“The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus.”

Year Nine (13 year olds):
“The clash between this [Muslim] community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as Allah wills.”

“It is part of Allah’s wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgement].”

“Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him.”

Year Ten:

[Note: at the age of 14, Muslim students are required to start learning shari’a principles in more detail. These particular textbook quotes deal with “blood money”, which is the fine payable to a victim or their surviving heirs for murder or injury]

“Blood money for a free infidel...is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is ‘of the book’ [Christian or Jewish] or not ‘of the book’ [pagan, atheist, etc]”

“Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel.”

Year Eleven (15 year olds):
“The greeting ‘Peace be upon you’ is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others.”

“If one comes to a place where there is a mixture of Muslims and infidels, one should offer a greeting intended for the Muslims.”

“Do not yield to them [Christians and Jews] on a narrow road, out of honour and respect.”

Year Twelve:
“Jihad in the path of Allah – which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it – is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to Allah, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to Allah.”

Pretty grim reading, huh? Those quotes are all taken from current school textbooks in Saudi Arabia as part of the compulsory “Islamic studies” curriculum, books smuggled out by families with children in Saudi schools and provided to the Institute of Gulf Affairs, a Washington DC think-tank headed by Saudi dissident Ali al-Ahmed. He in turn gave the textbooks to the Washington Post newspaper, to illustrate how millions of Arab children are being indoctrinated to hate the West and prepare for jihad and Armageddon.
The textbooks represent Wahhabi doctrine, and the chilling aspect of some of the emails Investigate received from NZ “moderates” was phrases like this one where they criticised us for using the phrase “Wahhabism (supposedly an "extreme" form of Islam) 20 times.”
What do they mean, “supposedly”?

If New Zealand Islamic “moderates” are questioning our suggestion that Wahhabism is “extreme” – you should be very afraid for your country.

Thankfully, the offending phrase is in a chain letter presumably drafted with the help of the communist insurgents over at Socialist Worker, so it may not yet have widespread support within NZ Islam. But that doesn’t negate the reality that it was moderates who invited the Wahhabi hatemongers here in the first place.

So here’s my take on the Islamic issue for NZ.

I believe you should have freedom to worship. I believe you should have the freedom to dress conservatively, including the hijab if you so choose. I believe you should have the right to preach Islam. I believe you should have the same individual rights as other members of the NZ community. I believe you should be free from discrimination and not treated as second class citizens.

BUT...there are some particular limits in regard to your religion. Islam is not just a religion – properly understood, it is a complete system of government and a political system that does not tolerate democracy. In that sense, I suspect I speak for many non-Muslim New Zealanders when I say that this country shall never be part of Dar al Islam [an Islamic nation under shari’a law]. If you nurse such fantasies, pack your bags and return whence you came, because you are the problem.

You have emigrated to a country which – regardless of the prattle from the New Zealand government – is founded on the Judeo-Christian democratic tradition, not an Islamic theocratic one.

If you can live with this reality, then you are welcome here as fellow New Zealanders. And if you can start policing the extremists out of your mosques and lecture halls and bookshops, then the rest of us won’t have to do it and we’ll respect you all the more for your stand.


Posted by Ian Wishart at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2007

Wolves in Sheikh's Clothing: May 07 issue

WOLVES IN SHEIKH’S CLOTHING

Jonathan Last takes a troubling look inside moderate Islam

When I first met Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, he was a young counterterrorism expert just breaking into print. I had edited some of his work. He seemed like a normal fellow. But as we spoke, he told me a remarkable story.

Gartenstein-Ross grew up in Ashland, Oregon, one of the West Coast's hippie enclaves. His parents were liberal, ecumenical Jews who raised him to believe in the beauty of all faiths. There were pictures of Jesus in his living room and a statue of the Buddha in the backyard. Young Daveed was attracted to various liberal causes and concerned with social justice. He went to college in North Carolina, where he converted to Islam. Upon graduation, Gartenstein-Ross went to work for a religious charity, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which was run by a group of radicals.

After a year at Al-Haramain, he went to law school, where he eventually left Islam. In the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, Gartenstein-Ross learned that the FBI was investigating Al-Haramain for ties to terrorism. He reached out to the bureau and helped build its case.

Gartenstein-Ross has now told his story in a book, "My Year Inside Radical Islam." It is an important resource for understanding Islam in America.

There are two deep insights in "My Year Inside Radical Islam." The first is an illumination of one of the pathways to radicalism. When Gartenstein-Ross first converted, he embraced Sufism, a spiritual, moderate sect. He wasn't looking to become an anti-Western fundamentalist. But the more he interacted with other Muslims, the more he was pushed, in a form of groupthink, to embrace an increasingly restrictive faith. He learned that in Islam, all sorts of things are haram (forbidden). Alcohol, of course. And listening to music. And wearing shorts that expose the thigh. And wearing necklaces. Or gold. Or silk. Or using credit cards. Or shaving. Or shaking hands with women.

As Gartenstein-Ross explains, Islam has commandments for every aspect of life, from how to dress to how to wipe yourself after going to the bathroom. And once he joined the Muslim community, he found that the group was self-policing. Members were eager to report and reprimand one another for infractions. It is not hard to imagine how a well-adjusted, intelligent person might get caught up in such a social dynamic.

The book also illustrates the troubling state of Islamic organizations in the United States. Nearly every discussion of Islamic radicalism and terrorism is prefaced by a disclaimer that of course the vast majority of Muslims are morally opposed to both. This may well be true.

But the problem in the current struggle against Islamic fascism is that the radicals often find succor from moderate Muslims - even "moderates" aren't always as liberal as one might hope. While Gartenstein-Ross never came into contact with actual terrorists, he was surrounded by people - normal Muslim citizens - whose worldviews were unsettling.

Before 9/11, Al-Haramain's headquarters in Ashland was seen as a bastion of moderate, friendly Islam. Pete Seda, who ran the office, was publicly chummy with the local rabbi. The group encouraged public schools to bring children to their offices on field trips. All of this was for public consumption. In private, things were somewhat different.

One of Gartenstein-Ross' co-workers, for instance, often complained about the Nation of Islam, whose members he believed were deviants. He said, "Let them choose true Islam or cut off their heads."

Al-Haramain hosted a number of visitors, one of whom was a Saudi cleric named Abdul-Qaadir. He preached that those who leave Islam should be put to death. In defending the execution of apostates, he mused that "religion and politics aren't separable in Islam the way they are in the West. ... Leaving Islam isn't just converting from one faith to another. It's more properly understood as treason."

In warning Gartenstein-Ross about his engagement to a Christian, Abdul-Qaadir said, "As long as your wife isn't a Muslim, as far as we're concerned, she is 100 percent evil."

One night at services, a visiting member of the Egyptian branch of Al-Haramain declared that the Torah was "The Jews' plan to ruin everything." He continued, "Why is it that Henry Kissinger was the president of the international soccer federation while he was president of the United States? How did he have time to do both? It is because part of the Jews' plan is to get people throughout the world to play soccer so that they'll wear shorts that show off the skin of their thighs." (Former Secretary of State Kissinger was never president of either the United States or FIFA.)

The reaction of Seda - the "moderate" who cultivated a public friendship with the local rabbi - was, "Wow, bro, this is amazing. You come to us with this incredible information."

Such discourse seems less than rare at American Islamic organizations. A recent New Yorker profile of another homegrown radical, Adam Gadahn (a.k.a. "Azzam the American" and one of the FBI's most-wanted terrorists), recounted Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman's visit to the Islamic Society in Orange County, Calif. In his lecture, Rahman, later indicted for helping to plot the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, ridiculed the notion that jihad could be nonviolent and exhorted Muslims to take up fighting against the enemies of Allah. Sitting next to him and translating for the congregation was the local "moderate" imam. The New Yorker reports that "videotapes of the lecture were later offered for sale at the society's bookstore."

This would likely not surprise Gartenstein-Ross, some of whose Muslim acquaintances even disapproved of his decision to go to law school. Their objection was that, as a lawyer, Gartenstein-Ross would have to swear an oath to defend the Constitution. As one Muslim told him, "There are some things in the Constitution I like, but a lot of things in the Constitution are completely against Islamic principles."

This sentiment - not from an al-Qaeda fighter or a fire-breathing radical, but from a normal, devout Muslim - is important. The challenge Islam poses to the West goes beyond mere terrorism.

Jonathan V. Last is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.




Posted by Ian Wishart at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

The Doomsday Prophet: May 07 issue

UPI Intelligence Analysis
THE DOOMSDAY PROPHET

From Muslim hordes to atom bomb...Joshua Brilliant tracks the disturbing endgame of radical Islam

For the third time in its history, Islam is trying to bring the true faith to the rest of the world. However, this time is particularly dangerous, according to one of the world's leading authorities on Muslim history.

In a series of lectures at Israeli academic institutions, Princeton University Professor Bernard Lewis talked of the widespread Muslim-Shiite belief that time has come for a final global struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil.

“The fact that some of the societies are acquiring, or will soon acquire ... weapons of destructive power beyond Hitler's wildest dreams ... is something that we should be very concerned about,” he said.

Muslim believers consider themselves “the fortunate recipients of God's final message to humanity and it is their duty not to keep is selfishly to themselves ... (but) to bring it to the rest of mankind,” Lewis noted.

“In their first attempt to do so, they emerged from the Arabian Peninsula and conquered vast territories from Iran across North Africa to Spain, Portugal and parts of Italy. Converts conquered Russian lands and established an Islamic regime in Eastern Europe. There are even reports of an Arab raid into Switzerland. But that attempt to conquer Europe failed, and the Crusaders recovered the Christian holy places in Jerusalem.

“In the second round, the Ottoman Turks crossed southeastern Europe and reached Vienna. Twice they tried to capture it and failed. Western imperialism halted and reversed the Ottoman push.

“The current, third invasion, is not done by armed conquest or with migrating hordes, but by a combination of migration, demography, self denigration and self abasement, totally apologetic,” Lewis said.
Nevertheless, it arouses a fair and very alarming possibility that it could lead to a long, dreary race war between different communities in Europe.

“Signs of it are already visible in the form of neo-Fascist racist movements. If that is going to be the only response of Europe, apart from self-abasement, the outlook is grim,” he predicted.
Meanwhile, among Muslims there is a competition over who should lead their cause. This is one of the keys to understand the present situation, Lewis continued.

“On the one hand stand Osama bin Laden and his movement. He is a Saudi-Wahabi; in other words an ultra-conservative puritan Sunni-Muslim. The Saudi establishment considers him a rebel but they all belong to the same branch of Islam.
And then there are Muslim Shiites. They assumed a modern form and new vigor since the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1978.
Past friction, for example between the Ottoman Empire and Iran, was due to a rivalry over influence, not over religion.

“The current rivalry has acquired, a new acuteness ... It became more violent than in any time in the recorded history of Islam,” Lewis said.

“The Iranian revolution is resonating far and wide. It represents a major threat to the West but also to the Sunni establishment. It has led some Sunni leaders to re-evaluate the situation in the Middle East and their attitude towards Israel.

“Those leaders may dislike Israel and disapprove of it. However, they consider an uninterrupted line from Shiite Iran, across Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and the large and growing Shiite populations around the coast of Arabia, to be a truly major threat.

“There are signs of ... a willingness on the part of many in the Sunni world to put aside their hostilities to Israelis ... in order to deal with the greater, more immediate and more intimate danger,” he said.

“We may see shifts in the policies of some Arab governments at least comparable with the great shift in Egyptian policy, when President Anwar Sadat opted for peace with Israel.

“The leaders contemplating such a change are very cautious. One reason is that their populations have been indoctrinated with hatred of Israel for so long that it is difficult to change tunes.”
There is another reason: Some uncertainty over how far they can trust the Israelis, Lewis said.

“During the summer's war against the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, many Sunni Muslim governments discreetly cheered the Israelis, hoping they would finish the job. Some of them could hardly conceal their disappointment that Israel failed to do so,” he said.
Western-style anti-Semitism of the crudest type, meanwhile, is spreading and occupying a central role in many Muslim countries. One finds it in textbooks, schoolbooks, and in university doctoral dissertations, he noted.

Lewis said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “really believes ... (in) the apocalyptic message that he is bringing. (Israeli experts noted that Ahmadinejad prepared a wide boulevard in Tehran for the return of the Mahdi who disappeared some 1,000 years ago.)

“Islam has a scenario for the end of time, a final global struggle between the forces of good, God, and his anointed, and the forces of evil,” Lewis argued.

With such beliefs, the strategy that prevented a nuclear war between the West and the Communist blocs, during the Cold War era, may not apply.

“Mutually assured destruction, which kept the peace during the Cold War, though both sides had nuclear weapons ... doesn't work. It is not a deterrent. It is an inducement,” Lewis said.

Posted by Ian Wishart at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2007

DISRESPECT - GEORGE GALLOWAY IN NZ: Aug 07

Disgraced British MP George Galloway is pushing a pro-Islamic agenda on a visit to New Zealand.

(Story currently in print edition)

Other Resources:

Download file May 05 Senate Report

Senate Inquiry final report Oct 05

UN Independent Inquiry final report (scroll to page 72)


Posted by Ian Wishart at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2007

WILD GEESE: THE WMD HUNT INVESTIGATE: AUG 03

Did the Weapons of Mass Destruction ever exist, or was it just a ruse? JIM LANDERS, IAN WISHART & WILLIAM SHERMAN examine the evidence, the allegations and the fallout from Gulf War 2

In the months before the war with Iraq, the Bush administration argued a rationale for toppling Saddam Hussein that was compelling to a majority in Con-gress and with the American people. Iraq had defied the will of the United Nations for 12 years. Iraq had biological and chemical weapons. It was seeking nuclear weapons. Mr. Hussein was a supporter of terrorism, and – after Sept. 11, 2001 – the United States could not "wait for a mushroom cloud" to appear before acting to eliminate a threat to American security.

Some of those assumptions now are being challenged. Searchers have found no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. At least some of the intelligence used to justify war has proved false.

The most compelling evidence to come forward regarding Iraq’s nuclear ambitions is from an Iraqi scientist who says the program was dormant but ready to re-emerge once U.N. sanctions against Iraq were lifted.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan has again defended the administration’s rationale for war. He cites Bush’s Oct. 7 speech in Cincinnati, where the president said Iraq possessed biological and chemical weapons and was seeking nuclear weapons.

"The case was very solid about the threat that was presented, particularly in light of Sept. 11," McClellan says.

Gregory Treverton, a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council during the Clinton administration, says Bush came up with "a quite stunning doctrine" by mixing two rationales: the need to disarm Iraq and to pre-empt the possibility that it might attack U.S. interests or allies.

"For all its technical wizardry, the U.S. intelligence community still lacks the ability to locate, target and take out some opponents’ weapons of mass destruction capability with any precision.

"Taking out a foe’s WMD [weapons of mass destruction] means, as it did in Iraq, taking out the foe."

Vice President Dick Cheney led the Bush administration’s efforts to explain the doctrine of hitting your enemy before he hits you. In a speech last August in Nashville, he emphasized Iraq’s nuclear weapons program to argue that Iraq posed a threat to U.S. national security.

Cheney said using U.N. inspectors to block Iraq’s weapons programs "would provide no assurance whatsoever," and he argued instead for regime change to stop Hussein from giving such weapons to al-Qa’ida.

"Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror network or a murderous dictator or the two working together constitutes as grave a threat as can be imagined," said Cheney. "The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action."

Less than a week before the war, Cheney added: "We know he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons, and we know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda organization."

WEAK INTELLIGENCE

The key to a decision to go to war was intelligence. So far, critics maintain, the record of intelligence used by both Mr. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to justify war is not good.

Greg Thielmann, a retired State Department official who evaluated weapons intelligence for Secretary of State Colin Powell until last September, said "Iraq posed no imminent threat to either its neighbours or to the United States."

"Cheney’s argument was basically for pre-emptive war and regime change rather than for disarmament," Thielmann wrote in an e-mail response to questions. "If the U.N. would have been able to resolve the open WMD questions – and it was making progress – Cheney would have still favored pre-emption and regime change.

"But the American people wouldn’t accept that as justification for war, so he needed to scare them with a bogus nuclear weapons charge and anger them with a spurious al-Qaeda link. It worked."

Needless to say, Cheney’s spokeswoman dismisses Thielmann’s remarks as "nonsense."

"We’re confident that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," says Jennifer Millerwise, the vice president’s press secretary. "He even has a history of using them."

The intelligence on Iraq’s nuclear weapons program includes several strands of information. President Bush cited Hussein’s published exhortations to scientists he called his "nuclear mujaheddin" to get on with the mission.

NUCLEAR QUESTIONS

Before going back into Iraq this year, the International Atomic Energy Agency was concerned about satellite photos showing new construction at sites used in the past for nuclear weapons programs.

In 1998 and 1999, Iraq attempted to purchase from Germany 120 highly sophisticated electrical switches as spares for six lithotriptor machines used to treat kidney stones with ultrasonic waves.

Kelly Motz of Iraq Watch, a nonproliferation group, said the switches also could be used to trigger the precise detonations needed to initiate the explosion of a nuclear bomb.

The two incidents most often cited by the Bush administration and the British in arguing Iraq was still pursuing a bomb concerned Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium in Africa, and its purchase of sophisticated aluminium tubing to use in uranium enrichmnt centrifuges.

Powell stressed the acquisition of such tubes as evidence of Iraq’s nuclear ambitions in his address to the U.N. Security Council last February.

Thielmann and the IAEA have said the tubes were most likely for Iraq’s artillery rockets and were not well-suited for uranium enrichment.

Powell noted the disagreement at the United Nations but would not let Iraq off the hook, saying the tubes could be adapted for centrifuge use and were banned by U.N. sanctions.

CIA Director George Tenet last month said the agency got fragmentary reports late in 2001 and early in 2002 that Mr. Hussein was trying to acquire raw uranium in Africa.

At the CIA’s request, former U.S. Ambassador to Gabon Joseph Wilson traveled to Niger to investigate. He found nothing to confirm the reports.

The British government, meanwhile, also received reports that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium in Africa. It has not divulged its source for this information.

Bush referred to the British finding in his State of the Union address. Last month, Bush conceded the reference to Niger should not have been in the speech, and Tenet has taken responsibility for not having the reference removed.

FORGED DOCUMENTS

Last March, the International Atomic Energy Agency said documents it received from the CIA detailing Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium in Niger were forgeries.

Britain is standing by its report. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has noted that the CIA had received other reports of Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium involving Somalia and the Congo.

Tenet said the CIA’s belief that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program rested on six assumptions that did not include the reports concerning efforts to acquire uranium in Africa.

The most compelling evidence that Iraq was still interested in acquiring nuclear weapons emerged last month, when Dr. Mahdi Shukur Ubaydi, a top Iraqi nuclear scientist, came forward with blueprints and components for uranium enrichment he had buried in his yard.

The CIA says Dr. Ubaydi had kept his information from International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors when they questioned him. He said the items were part of "a secret, high-level plan to reconstitute the nuclear weapons program once sanctions ended."

Bush, Cheney, Tenet, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior administration officials argued before the war that Iraq had already reconstituted its nuclear weapons program and had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

The Army and Marine Corps assumed in their battle plans that Iraq would use such weapons against U.S. troops. It was one of the reasons speed of attack had such a high premium in Gen. Tommy Franks’ war plan.

PLANS, NOT STOCKPILES

Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., the ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee, was in Baghdad last month with other panel members and met with David Kay, head of the U.S. military’s weapons search effort.

"They are confident that they will find the WMD programs, and I believe them," she says. "But they’re less confident that they will find stockpiles."

Harman says it now appears that Hussein kept intact cadres of scientists who had worked on weapons’ programs and limited production capabilities but perhaps no stocks of the weapons themselves.

That would undermine some of the assumptions of Western intelligence agencies.

Tony Blair, in the forward to a British white paper on Iraq’s weapons programs, declared Hussein’s military planning "allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them."

Bush argued his case for action on Oct. 7 in Cincinnati.

"Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today – and we do – does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?" - JIM LANDERS

There is a saying in the Arab world that Saddam Hussein was reportedly fond of quoting: "My en-emy’s enemy is my friend." During the first Gulf War back in 91, Saddam made it clear - firstly - that he had no friends, and secondly that given that particular twist of fate he had a wide range of enemies he could manipulate to suit his purposes on any given occasion.

Saddam’s shifting allegiances during his political career are legendary, and testimony to his willingness to use anyone or any organisation that he feels could assist his interests.

That background is worth bearing in mind as investigators try to sift through the wreckage of Iraq, looking for what appear to be non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

As the United States first prepared for conflict with Iraq a year ago, it gave three main reasons in support of a pre-emptive strike against Baghdad. Firstly, claimed President George W. Bush, Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Secondly, claimed Vice President Dick Cheney as recently as March 16, Iraq was "trying once again to produce nuclear weapons", and further that Iraq had "reconstituted nuclear weapons."

Thirdly, the US and Britain both warned that Saddam Hussein’s regime posed a clear and present danger to world security because of its links to terrorist organisations like al Qa’ida and its ability to provide weapons of mass destruction to such groups.

So how accurate were those claims?

IRAQ’S BIOCHEMICAL WEAPONS

Leaving aside the daily media fixation with the lack of evidence discovered post-war, the real question isn’t so much "Did WMD ever exist?", as it is "What happened to Iraq’s WMD?".

As previously reported, Iraq’s WMD programme goes back prior to Saddam Hussein’s takeover in 1979, with the purchase of billions of dollars in weapons systems and technology from France and Germany. Hussein also converted the country’s civilian nuclear programme to a military one, and hired former Nazi scientists who’d designed the poison gas systems for Auschwitz to work on chemical weapons for use against Israel.

Iraq manufactured and deployed nerve gas agents against invading Iranian troops in the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, and against Iraqi civilians in the Kurdistan province, killing thousands.

Despite continuing criticism of the lack of evidence, Iraq’s possession of biological or chemical weapons still appears highly likely if not certain. The reasoning for such a claim is simple:

The chemicals are simple to make, using ordinary agricultural products. Additionally, US forces and media discovered hundreds of brand new chemical warfare protection suits that had been issued to Iraqi troops - suits that would not have been necessary unless the possibility existed of chemical warfare.

While a strong argument can be made that no weapons have been found and therefore they cannot exist, at the time of going to print the US still hasn’t found Osama bin Laden after two years of searching, but that does not prove that he doesn’t exist.

IRAQ’S NUCLEAR AMBITIONS

The second claim centred on Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons programme. Iraq had been working on atomic bombs right up to the end of the 1991 Gulf War. The real question was not whether Iraq had lost the urge to obtain "the bomb", but whether it had lost the ability.

Hans Blix, the Swede placed in charge of the UN Weapons Inspection process last year, had previously been in charge of the International Atomic Energy Agency throughout the period that Iraq had been using its IAEA-inspected facilities to secretly manufacture nuclear weapons. In other words, say critics, Blix was a hopeless inspector first time around and unlikely to have improved this time.

But Anglo-American claims about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities this year appear to have been based on forged documentation suggesting Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the African country, Niger.

While anti-war protestors immediately tried to pin the forgeries on the Bush administration, it now appears Britain and the US were the victims of a French practical joke.

Niger, a former French colony, runs its uranium mining operations in association with a French Government agency. According to UK press reports, the original tip-off about Niger and Iraq came to Britain’s MI6 directly from the French secret service, the DGSE.

Was it a deliberate attempt by the French to mislead the British about Iraq? As previously reported in Investigate, Iraq’s initial nuclear weapons programme was based entirely on French military and nuclear technology and assistance.

Reeling from the backlash over the Niger claims, the White House has released portions of a classified document in attempt to show why speechwriters included a now-disputed line in President Bush's State of the Union address relating to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The line reads: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

In the latest round of intelligence agency backside-covering that’s followed this controversy, the CIA has admitted it didn’t want the reference to Niger included in presidential briefings because it wasn’t convinced of the veracity of the reports. The agency has however maintained that evidence does exist about Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium elsewhere in Africa.

To that end, the US has released portions of the previously classified document summarizing six intelligence agencies' views and findings, called the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate [NIE], concluded there was "compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program."

Questions remain unanswered however about how much the White House knew and when. US national security adviser Condaleeza Rice denies concerns were raised about the uranium reference.

"If there was a concern about the underlying intelligence there, the president was unaware of that concern and as was I," she said in a July 11 press briefing.

But, as WorldNetDaily.com reports, documents emerged last week that cast doubt on her explanation.

"According to a memo sent to Rice on Oct. 6, the CIA warned her the uranium charge suffered from a "weakness in evidence." CIA Director George Tenet also tried to wave Rice's deputy Steve Hadley off the charge in several phone calls. On Oct. 7, Bush dropped the allegation from a speech he delivered on Iraq in Cincinnati. Three months later, it reappeared in his State of the Union speech.

"Rice has yet to explain the inconsistency presented by the memo," reports WorldNetDaily.

"She also has maintained that the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE, on Iraq – a 90-page Top Secret report prepared by the U.S. intelligence community, and sent to the White House on Oct. 2 – did not raise doubts about the uranium evidence.

"If there were doubts about the underlying intelligence to that NIE, those doubts were not communicated to the president, the vice president or to me," Rice said on July 11.

"And in a June 8 ABC News interview, she said, "The intelligence community did not know at that time or at levels that got to us that there were serious questions about this report."

"But her remarks are at odds with the facts. The six intelligence agencies that prepared the NIE, which was sent to Rice's office, had so little faith in the veracity of the uranium reports that they voted unanimously to leave it out of the NIE's conclusions, or "key judgments," which were recently declassified. WorldNetDaily obtained a copy of them from the NSC.

"In fact, they are conspicuously absent from the list of evidence supporting the key judgment that "Saddam [Hussein] is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program."

The NIE report in fact says:

"Most agencies believe that Saddam's personal interest in and Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotors – as well as Iraq's attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools – provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program. (DOE agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is under way, but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.)"

In other words, although Iraq had clear intent to develop nuclear weapons, it probably had not done so by the time war was declared.

It should be noted however that with nuclear material readily available - as both Iran and North Korea have illustrated - it may well only have been a matter of time before Baghdad re-entered the atomic arms race.

IRAQ’S LINKS TO AL QA’IDA

Another purported justification for war was on the alleged links between Iraq and al Qa’ida.

When the World Trade Centre was blown up in 2001, the Bush administration initially rubbished suggestions of a link to Iraq.

For a start, most of those responsible were Saudi Arabian, and there was little evidence linking Saddam Hussein with Islamic extremists like al Qa’ida.

Some, however, are not so sure. Gilbert Merritt, a US federal judge working to help establish a new justice system in Iraq, claims to have been given documents indicating a direct relationship between Baghdad and Osama bin Laden. Nor is Merritt a Bush-nominated "hawk" - he is in fact a "Democrat and a man of unimpeachable integrity", according to US media reports. Merritt told of one document he was given in June:

"The document shows that an Iraqi intelligence officer, Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, assigned to the Iraq embassy in Pakistan, is "responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group.’’

"The document shows that it was written over the signature of Uday Saddam Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein. The story of how the document came about is as follows.

"Saddam gave Uday authority to control all press and media outlets in Iraq. Uday was the publisher of the Babylon Daily Political Newspaper.

"On the front page of the paper’s four-page edition for Nov. 14, 2002, there was a picture of Osama bin Laden speaking, next to which was a picture of Saddam and his ‘’Revolutionary Council,’’ together with stories about Israeli tanks attacking a group of Palestinians.

"On the back page was a story headlined ‘’List of Honor.’’ In a box below the headline was ‘’A list of men we publish for the public.’’ The lead sentence refers to a list of ‘’regime persons’’ with their names and positions.

"The list has 600 names and titles in three columns. It contains, for example, the names of the important officials who are members of Saddam’s family, such as Uday, and then other high officials, including the 55 American ‘’deck of cards’’ Iraqi officials, some of whom have been apprehended.

"Halfway down the middle column is written: "Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, intelligence officer responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group at the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan.’’

Circumstantial evidence, yes. Smoking Gun? Not quite, but it should be a warning to doubters that the burden of proof for both sides is significant.

Some investigations have previously tied Iraqi intelligence agents to the 1993 attempt by Ramsi Yousef to blow up the World Trade Centre (also in collusion with al Qa’ida) and the 1995 plot to hijack 11 aircraft over the Pacific - that plot coming to light after Yousef’s arrest in the Philippines.

But where the anti-war movement may yet gain the strongest traction is over the status of Iraq’s oilfields. US journalist Paul Sperry, in a new book called Crude Politics: How Bush’s Oil Cronies Hijacked the War on Terrorism, argues that although not the overarching motivation, the oil lobby has manipulated events to take maximum advantage of the situation.

Sperry cites a report to a White House energy task force back in April 2001, which ‘recommended considering a "military" option in dealing with Iraq, which the report charged was using oil exports as a "weapon" by turning its spigot on and off to "manipulate oil markets".’

As if such price fluctuations and speculations are not already inherently part of the global oil market, fuelled in a large part by Western financial markets trading in oil futures.

"The report advised the Bush administration," says Sperry in a WorldNetDaily report last month, "to - at a minimum - bring UN weapons inspectors back to Iraq and then, ‘once an arms control program is in place, the United States could consider reducing restrictions on oil investment inside Iraq’ to gain greater control over the reserves and ‘inject’ more stability into world oil markets."

JudicialWatch, an organisation dedicated to acting as a public watchdog on major issues in the US, has also recently obtained pertinent documents in the case, including a map of the Iraqi oil fields presented to the Energy task force. - IAN WISHART

In the hunt for Saddam Hussein’s billions, investigators have identi-fied five networks of more than 100 companies used to launder money skimmed from Iraqi oil sales. Saddam’s gangster regime set up shell companies in Switzerland, Jordan, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg and Panama, according to investigators.

Those company networks and their banking affiliations were used to enrich the former Iraqi strongman, his sons Uday and Qusay, and other family members.

"Ultimately, the money was stolen from the Iraqi people," says Taylor Griffin, spokesman for the Treasury Department, which is heading the government’s laundering probe along with U.S. Customs, the Secret Service and various intelligence agencies.

Last month, investigators isolated US$1.2 billion in previously unknown assets outside Iraq. The assets include cash, real estate and diamonds held in the names of the companies controlled by Saddam.

With names like Jaraco SA and Dynatrade SA, the companies used major banks in Switzerland, France, Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to conduct transactions, according to investigators.

The intricate web was managed at the top by about 20 of Saddam’s relatives and friends, who spent most of their time outside Iraq.

The mastermind of this vast criminal enterprise was believed to be Saddam’s half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti. Now in American custody, he could provide a road map to Saddam’s hidden wealth.

Hasan, the Five of Clubs in the U.S. deck of most-wanted Iraqis, was Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva for 10 years, ending in 1998.

During that time, he helped set up and manage a money-laundering network that was among the most sophisticated in the world, say investigators.

A second manager was Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, according to a Treasury Department source. Aziz, also in U.S. custody, traveled widely under diplomatic immunity.

Estimates of the hidden loot range as high as US$40 billion, but Saddam’s personal trove "is in the single-digit billions, not more than 10," according to investigator John Fawcett.

"I’m kind of conservative in calculating his wealth," says Fawcett, who has focused on Saddam’s finances for more than three years, most recently on behalf of Kreindler & Kreindler, a Park Avenue law firm.

The firm is trying pinpoint the links between Saddam’s assets and financing of al-Qaida. Once identified, those assets could be seized, recovered in court proceedings and distributed to families of those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We think Saddam’s laundered money was used in part to provide financial support to al-Qaida, and we’re looking at billions of dollars hidden in financial institutions and companies," says lawyer James Kreindler.

One clue as to the size of Saddam’s laundered legacy was found last month - US$780 million in makeshift vaults in a palace compound and another cache of $112 million found in dog kennels on the grounds.

The cash was in $100 bills, and in the dog kennels there were 200 aluminum boxes with $4 million in each box, all sealed with tags reading Bank of Jordan.

Customs and Secret Service agents in Baghdad are tracing the serial numbers to learn the origin of the bulk cash shipments, said Customs spokesman Dean Boyd.

The serial numbers on the bills will reveal which U.S. bank first received the cash from the Federal Reserve. From there, it may be possible to trace how the money got to Saddam’s palace.

"We’ve also uncovered a lot of documents on Saddam’s financial apparatus," Boyd says. For more than 20 years, Saddam skimmed 5 percent of just about everything that moved in and out of Iraq.

"Kickbacks were everywhere," claims Fawcett.

Sulfur and fertilizer exports and imports of tobacco and alcoholic beverages were among the items subject to the rakeoff, according to the British Foreign Office and the Coalition for International Justice.

The rakeoff in 2000 alone included monthly imports of 300 million cigarettes, 38,000 bottles of whiskey, 230,000 cans of beer, 120,000 bottles of vodka and almost 19,000 bottles of wine, according to Peter Hain, a British foreign office official.

Saddam also fleeced pilgrims to Iraqi Shiite shrines in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, making them travel in buses owned by the Al-Hoda company, controlled by Uday Hussein, and stay in designated hotels.

A nine-day pilgrimage costs at least $900, much of which went to Saddam’s family, according to the coalition.

But the principal source of the regime’s skimmed revenue was oil exports, including more than US$6.6 billion from the United Nations-sponsored oil-for-food program, General Accounting Office investigators found.

That program involved a direct exchange of exported Iraqi oil for food and medicine. It was part of U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to prevent the diversion of oil proceeds to weapons.

In the last five years, the regime managed to duck the U.N. sanctions with a large-scale smuggling operation involving shipments through Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Persian Gulf countries.

During March 2002, Iraq smuggled out between 325,000 and 480,000 barrels a day, according to the General Accounting Office.

Barges, tankers, pipelines and trucks were used to get the oil out past U.N. inspectors’ scrutiny, and at one point, an estimated 45,000 Turkish truckers were on the roads, loaded up with oil, the agency said.

Until the sanctions were imposed, Iraqi oil exports were not monitored, and all were subject to the 5 percent kickback. In the early years of Saddam’s 25-year reign, Iraq exported as much as 3.2 million barrels per day.

The kickback-laundering system is essentially quite simple. Oil buyers, whether companies or countries, bought Iraqi oil from Saddam-controlled trading companies located outside the country.

The trading companies would forward 95 percent of the money to the Iraqi oil ministry and send Saddam’s 5 percent to shell companies outside Iraq, investigators said.

Directors of those shell companies would deposit the 5 percent in company bank accounts, and the money was effectively laundered. Swiss and French lawyers did the paperwork.

Gold, artworks, hotels, construction and metal fabrication concerns, money market accounts, commodity trading companies and publishing are among Saddam’s laundered investments.

Kroll Associates, a private investigative company, and the International Campaign to Indict Iraqi War Criminals, a U.S.-funded organization based in England, have identified other key figures in the financial network.

Hussam Rassam, a 67-year-old Iraqi businessman who established residency in Switzerland in 1987, was the administrator of the Saddam family pension fund, valued at $41.6 billion in 1990, according to a Kroll report.

Hussam "was appointed (administrator) in 1989 after the execution of his predecessor for skimming funds," said the report.

A telephone call to Hussam’s home in the Swiss Canton of Vaud was answered by a French-speaking woman who told a reporter, "Mr. Hussam isn’t here."

Whether Saddam and his sons are alive remains an open question, but it’s unlikely they could ever again enjoy their over-the-top opulent lifestyles.

Previously frozen Iraqi assets include $20 million in the Cayman Islands, $85 million in the Bahamas and $14 million in Japan.

"What’s the total, and where is it all?" asks Griffin. "I wish I knew." - WILLIAM SHERMAN


Posted by Ian Wishart at 12:54 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2007

PROJECT BABYLON: WHO ARMED IRAQ? INVESTIGATE: APR 03

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Popular myth these days would have you believe Saddam Hussein is a creature of the CIA, a stooge of the West, armed to the teeth by America and set loose. The truth, as IAN WISHART reveals, is not quite so simple...

So now that the bullets are being fired, who can be fingered as Saddam Hussein’s suppliers of weapons of mass destruction? In a bitter irony, the answer is emerging: France and Germany, including some of the same European politicians who spoke so strongly against the US-led war. It is a story of massive campaign donations from Iraq to French and German politicians, along with multi-billion dollar arms and infrastructure deals. It is also the story of a forgotten era in modern world history – the Cold War.

While many civilians in the West have been able to level numerous allegations at America’s door over shady links to regimes like Iraq in the past, few of those allegations are set in their proper historical context.

Up until 1990, and throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties, world security was defined in a delicate superpower balancing act between the USA and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR. The communist-based Soviet Union was determined to export its political system to as many countries in the world as it could, by force if necessary, and both superpowers were ultimately behind a range of secret and not-so-secret wars in a battle for control of territory and strategic resources like oil. The Middle East – unstable and home to a large chunk of that oil, as well as the key Suez canal transport pathway – had long been a pawn in the superpower game, with groups on both sides willing to sell their allegiance to the highest bidder.

An aspect often forgotten in current times is that Soviet control of Middle East oilfields could have brought the West to its knees. By turning off the oil tap to the West, the USSR would have simultaneously reduced the West’s ability to go to war on the issue - without the oil to power the tanks, planes and ships, a US led battle force would have ground to a halt. Alternatively, all fuel in the West would have been diverted to the war effort leaving citizens without fuel for heating, transport or industry.

In other words, the stakes were extremely high.

What also makes a direct comparison between our current world and the Cold War period difficult is the bloodshed that could have resulted from a superpower clash: with the ability to nuke the entire planet dozens of times over, and mindful that it only took the assassination of a Grand Duke to begin World War I, strategists in both the US and USSR were loathe to directly intervene in "enemy" territory merely on human rights grounds.

It is only since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 that America and the West have been free to take humanitarian military action in previously unthinkable areas like Yugoslavia, a former communist satellite state.

So if that’s the historical matrix, where does the battle against Iraq have its roots?

The WMD (weapons of mass destruction) trail begins in 1975 when Saddam Hussein – at that stage still the Vice President of Iraq - joined forces with French Prime Minister (now President) Jacques Chirac in a deal to purchase French military equipment and armaments.

Hussein had, only weeks earlier, signed an agreement with the Soviet Union to purchase a nuclear reactor facility from the Russians, but the Soviet deal contained a catch: Russia was insisting on safeguards to ensure that fuel from the reactor could not be reprocessed to make nuclear weapons. Saddam was hoping he could get a better deal out of France.

Jacques Chirac sent an arms negotiation team to Iraq on March 12, 1975, who offered up to 72 of the then state-of-the-art Mirage jet fighters, as well as 40 German Dornier jets (West Germany, in 1975, was still under a United Nations ban on exporting weapons, imposed after WW II, and channelled their defence sales through France to undermine the UN sanction).

The French, for their part, were desperate to source cheap oil from Iraq in order to maintain their overall share of the world oil market. Saddam needed weapons and the ability to manufacture them under license in Iraq; France needed Iraqi oil. It was, noted commentators at the time, a marriage made in heaven.

In their desperation, French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac also promised Saddam that France could build Iraq a nuclear reactor capable of breeding enough weapons-grade uranium to make three or four Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs a year. For public consumption however, France treated the reactor project as a civilian-use nuclear power station – a facade that first began to crumble only a few days after the deal was signed when Saddam Hussein told the Lebanese newspaper, Al Usbu al-Arabi, "The agreement with France is the first concrete step toward the production of the Arab atomic weapon."

As word leaked in the French media of Iraq’s intentions, some newspapers began satirising the name of the reactor, Osirak, as "O’Chirac". To save Chirac’s political sensibilities, Iraq changed the name of the reactor project to Tammuz.

Saddam’s personal relationship with Chirac was close. During numerous official and private visits, Chirac developed a taste for masgouf carp, a type of fish native to Iraqi rivers. Saddam arranged for 1.5 tonnes of masgouf to be flown to Paris as a gift to Chirac. In the French press, Jacques Chirac’s nickname was "Mr Iraq".

"Beyond Iraqi oil and the Mirage deal," writes US journalist Kenneth Timmerman in The Death Lobby: How The West Armed Iraq, France signed up to build "petrochemical plants, desalination plants, gas liquefaction complexes, housing projects, telecommunications systems, broadcasting networks, fertiliser plants, defence electronics factories, car assembly plants, a subway system, and a navy yard, not to mention Exocet, Milan, HOT, Magic, Martel, and Armat missiles; Alouette III, Gazelle, and Super-Puma helicopters; AMX 30-GCT howitzers; Tiger-G radar, and a nuclear reactor capable of making the bomb. It was a multibillion dollar relationship."

Under the nuclear contract, France not only agreed to build two reactors, Tammuz I and II, but also to train 600 Iraqi nuclear scientists at French universities. France had refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970, saying it regarded its right to export nuclear material as an "issue of national sovereignty" and that it did not regard itself as bound by the Treaty.

But it wasn’t just nuclear technology that Iraq was sourcing from France. The Paris-based Institut Merieux was contracted to build Iraq’s first biological weapons research facility, although officially it was listed as "an agricultural bacteriological laboratory". The purchase went through an Iraqi agency, the General Directorate of Veterinary Services.

A year later, in 1976, Saddam Hussein was pushing for chemical weapons manufacture as well. The French Prime Minister again helped out, opening doors for Iraq in the United States. Because of its reputation for supporting terrorism, Iraq was on the US banned list, but by going through France it was hoping to bypass US restrictions. The "personal friend" of M’sieur Chirac was introduced to a French engineering company with a subsidiary branch in the US. That branch called on a New York chemical equipment company, Pfaudler & Co, and told them Iraq needed to build a pesticide factory because "Iraqi farmers are unable to protect their crops from the ravages of desert locusts and other pests".

This seemed like a reasonable request, and Pfaudler sent staff to Iraq to begin work on the project. The US company pulled out of the deal several months later when it became apparent that Iraq wanted to manufacture 1,200 tonnes of Amiton, Demeton, Paraoxon and Parathion – highly toxic organic compounds that can be converted into nerve gas.

Why would France support a regime like Iraq? Apart from the "oil for guns" advantages, Chirac saw Saddam Hussein as a similar victim of superpower politics – caught between two military giants when Iraq really wanted to steer an independent course. France, also, saw itself as "independent", and had refused full membership of NATO out of a desire to maintain full control of its nuclear arsenal.

Ninety-three percent of Iraq’s weapons had been sourced from the Soviet Union up to this point, but the USSR was keeping Iraq on a tight leash. France, and other smaller arms manufacturers, offered no such fine print in their supply contracts – "you buy it, it’s yours" was the official line.

French media reports indicate there was some opposition within Chirac’s cabinet to the idea of giving Iraq nuclear weapons technology, but "when Andre Giraud, the head of the French nuclear energy committee, protested strongly, Chirac threatened to sack him if the deal was not completed according to the signed agreement. Indeed, the matter was considered to be of such importance that President Giscard d’Estaing took personal control of the affair in order to ensure it’s smooth passage."

When the Soviets got wind of Iraq’s planned switch, they firstly threatened to call in Iraq’s debts and, when that didn’t work, threatened to withhold spares or maintenance for Iraq’s existing Soviet-made military equipment. French officials, confronted at diplomatic cocktail parties by still-fuming Russians, just grinned widely and said nothing.

Annoyed by the American company’s decision to pull out of the "pesticides factory" deal, Iraq approached two British firms in late 1976, ICI Chemicals and Babcock and Wilcox. According to the Washington Post newspaper, ICI refused to become involved because it too was "suspicious of the sensitive nature of the materials and the potential for misuse". ICI tipped off British authorities, and it is widely accepted that the CIA was made aware of the Iraqi plans by early 1977. The CIA, however, was going through some painful Congressional investigations over its unauthorised international activities and reportedly wasn’t keen to conduct another Boy’s Own adventure in Baghdad.

Instead, Saddam Hussein tried his luck in East Germany. He dispatched scientist Dr Amer Hamoudi al-Saadi to Leipzig for discussions with Karl Heinz Lohs, the director of the Leipzig Institute for Poisonous Chemicals. According to Lohs in an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel years later, al-Saadi pulled no punches.

"You Germans have great expertise in the killing of Jews with gas. This interests us in the same way...How [can] this knowledge...be used to destroy Israel?"

Germany was the first country in the world to use chemical weapons – nerve gas – in World War I and despite a 1925 Geneva Protocol banning their manufacture Germany kept working on and perfecting chemical weapons, using organophosphates.

Belgian and Swiss companies had already been contracted to begin construction of a "phosphate" processing plant at Al Qaim in Iraq. According to foreign workers interviewed later, Iraqi officials made sure that staff on the ground were not given a birdseye view of the project. Thus, an ostensibly civilian agricultural plant was constructed with Western involvement, without a realisation that the factory was part of a larger chemical weapons project.

Saddam Hussein continued to play cat and mouse with the Soviet Union, at one stage assuaging their superpower neighbour by purchasing NZ$6 billion worth of fighter aircraft, but at the same time warning the USSR not to meddle in internal Iraqi politics. Saddam even went so far as to cut off water and electricity to the Soviet embassy during one spat.

Across the border in Iran, though, Soviet KGB agents had been working to destabilise the ruthless pro-American regime of the Shah. Although the Western world saw Islamic fundamentalist students and the Ayatollah Khomeini behind the coup in Iran in 1979, it was the USSR who’d laid the groundwork in an effort both to rid the region of American influence but also to gain access to Iranian oil.

Not only was Iran lurching into Soviet orbit, Saddam also feared the flow-on effects of Islamic fundamentalism if it spilled across the border into Iraq’s majority Shiite community.

Having constructed its "pesticides" factory, Iraq began purchasing raw ma-terials for it in July 1983. The first shipment, 500 tonnes of thiodiglycol – an ingredient of mustard gas – was sourced through a Dutch company, which went on to supply many hundreds of tonnes more. The Dutch company acted as a ‘front’, ordering the chemicals in from the US. That particular deception wasn’t discovered by US authorities until 1986, three years after the first chemical weapons had been used by Iraqi forces against Iran. But US intelligence agencies had acted swiftly after the first gas attacks in December 1983, and a report to the US Government in early 1984 recommended the immediate imposition of export controls on chemicals that could be used in weapons. Iraq and Iran were the first on the banned list, but the warring nations went through so many middlemen that eventually the banned list included the entire world, save for 18 Western nations.

"During the [Iran/Iraq] war," writes Egyptian investigative journalist Adel Darwish in Unholy Babylon, "the United States, Britain and France tempered their strictures against Iraq and its production and use of chemical weapons because they were already preoccupied with confronting a more immediate threat – Ayatollah Khomeini and his fiery brand of Shia fundamentalism which was threatening to spread throughout the Islamic world."

Former Reagan-era National Security adviser Geoffrey Kemp explained to Darwish:

"The Ayatollah was calling us the Great Satan and trying to undermine governments throughout the Gulf States".

Iran, says Kemp, was seen at the time as a much greater threat to world peace than Iraq.

"It wasn’t that we wanted Iraq to win the war. We didn’t want Iraq to lose. We weren’t really that naive. We knew [Saddam] was an SOB, but he was our SOB."

Contrary to popular conspiracy theory, however, most of Iraq’s military assistance was not coming from the United States at all. Instead, throughout the war with Iran and right up to the 1991 Gulf War, the bulk of ordinary weapons, and WMD material, was coming from Europe – specifically France and Germany.

In October 1990 West German company Josef Kuhn was outed for supplying Iraq with biological weapons, two mykotoxins whose effects included skin irritation, blisters, dizziness, nausea, diarrhoea and eventually death.

West German companies were also involved in building three chemical weapons plants codenamed Ieas, Meda and Ghasi, whose task was to produce a chemical agent that could penetrate gas masks and NBC (nuclear/bio/chem) protection suits. They were successful, by all reports. A quantity the size of a sugar cube is sufficient to kill 2,500 people.

Saddam Hussein’s quest to develop the first Arab nuclear bomb has come unstuck several times. While French nuclear en-gineers worked around the clock to bring the two nuclear reactors online, both Israel’s Mossad spy agency, and Russia’s KGB, had infiltrated the project. Both countries harboured extreme concerns about a nuclear-tipped Iraq. At the same time, the Iraqi facilities were being guarded by agents from the French security agency DST. Nonetheless, Mossad managed to slip past the French and obtain the data they needed.

There was another irony: despite the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, the Iranian secret service SAVAM continued to liase closely with Mossad over their common enemy, Iraq. SAVAM supplied Israel with aerial photos of the nuclear reactors, and Israel hatched a plan to bomb them.

On June 7, 1981, 16 Israeli F-15s and F16s launched a lightning raid, skimming just 10 metres above the ground virtually all the way from Israel to Iraq to avoid radar detection. Sixteen massive concrete-piercing bombs were dropped, and all hit their mark. The French nuclear reactors built for Iraq were rubble.

Undeterred, Iraq’s nuclear programme was resurrected with the aid of German advisers in 1987, and efforts were made to secretly procure the necessary components from companies around the world. Both the CIA and Britain’s MI6 were authorised to crack down on Iraq’s efforts, and more export bans were introduced.

The American bans were more successful than the British ones. Ministers in Britain’s Tory Government had shareholdings in companies who were trying to win Iraqi defence contracts under the table. The Opposition Labour party, now in Government under Tony Blair, attempted to expose as many of the secret deals as they got wind of.

Key nuclear components ended up coming from Germany, China, France and Pakistan. China, in particular, supplied seven tonnes of lithium hydride, a chemical essential to the nuclear weapons programme.

Western intelligence estimates in 1990, prior to the Gulf War, estimated that Iraq would have a functional nuclear weapon by 1997. One agency to disagree was America’s Defence Intelligence Agency, which warned Iraq was much further ahead than previously believed. In November 1990 the DIA warned that an atomic bomb in Baghdad may only be "two months" away. As events transpired, there is evidence the DIA was right.

In their book Brighter Than The Baghdad Sun: Saddam Hussein’s Nuclear Threat To The United States, Times of London jour-nalists Daniel McGrory and Shyam Bahtia interviewed defecting Iraqi nuclear scientists after the end of the 1991 Gulf War. They discovered Saddam Hussein almost had his nuclear bomb ready to drop on US troops, but the nuclear weapons plant and the weapon were destroyed – quite by accident - during the aerial blitz that began the war.

"Total fluke. Absolute fluke — so terrifying," McGrory told WorldNetDaily.com. "We came so close to seeing the doomsday bomb being created and that is what Saddam wanted. When Desert Shield began with Saddam already in Kuwait, we poured tens of thousand of troops and manpower into the Arabian desert, thinking, "Why is Saddam sitting there watching and waiting? Why doesn’t he do something?" Our fear was that, the day before the U.N. deadline, Saddam would — wily old fox that he is — pull back, and the allies would go wobbly and say, well, we don’t want to invade; there is no point now.

"The truth is, what he had done was to gather his scientists and say, "You work day and night and you deliver me the doomsday bomb. I will detonate it before the ground war, and that will show them." He was betting that if he proved he had a nuclear device the allies would not have taken him on in war.

"Ironically, the Pentagon played a war game before the invasion began and the one question fed into the computer was: "What would we do if Saddam possessed a nuclear weapon?" The computer chewed on it for a while and spit back, "Nothing!"

McGrory also details the way some of the 18,000 nuclear scientists and workers were kept in line by Saddam Hussein. One key scientist, Hussein Shahristani, resisted Saddam.

"He went to prison; he was tortured; he was made to watch a 7-year-old boy hanged from his wrists and then executed for the sin of writing on the blackboard "Saddam is a buffalo."

"Shahristani still refused to break. He spent eight and a half years in solitary. He was allowed one visit with his wife in the very early days and their newborn child. And he watched a Republican Guard snatch the child from his wife’s arms and hold a gun to the child’s head while he had a five-minute meeting with his wife. His captors asked, "Do you wish to persist with your refusal?" Begging his wife for forgiveness, he said, "Look, I can’t take part in this."

Shahristani, who now works to help Iraqi refugees, told a British news conference in December last year:

"My most vivid memory is hearing the screams of very young children being tortured in the neighboring torturing rooms.

"However, I was more fortunate than many of my fellow political prisoners in the country. I did not have holes drilled into my bones, as happened in the next torture room. I did not have my limbs cut off by an electric saw. I did not have my eyes gauged out.

"Women of my family were not brought in and raped in front of me, as happened to many of my colleagues. Torturers did not dissolve my hands in acid. I was not among the hundreds of political prisoners who were taken from prison as guinea-pigs to be used for chemical and biological tests.

"They only tortured me for 22 days and nights continuously by hanging me from my hands tied at the back and using a high voltage probe on the sensitive parts of my body and beating me mercilessly. They were very careful not to leave any permanent bodily marks on me because they hope they can break my will and I will agree to go back and work on their military nuclear program.

"In a way I was lucky to spend 11 years in solitary confinement because I did not have to see what was going on in the larger prison – the country of Iraq – in which 20 million people were kept captives. I did not have to witness the ceremonies in which mothers were ordered to watch public executions of their sons and then asked to pay the price of the bullets that were used in the executions.

"I did not have to watch people’s tongues being pulled out and cut off because they dared to criticize Saddam or one of his family members. I did not see young men’s foreheads branded and their ears cut off because they were late for a few days to report to their military duties. I did not see the beautiful southern Iraqi Marshes drained and the reeds burnt and the Marsh Arabs massacred and their old ways of life destroyed. I did not see the beheading of more than 130 women, who were beheaded in public squares in Iraq, and their heads put out for public display.

"In many ways I was fortunate to have survived it all to tell the stories of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who are not here to tell their stories. These atrocities have been going on for over two decades while the international community have either silently watched it, or at times even tried to cover it up.

"Saddam is not a run-of-the-mill dictator; he is exceptional. Weapons of mass destruction in Saddam’s hands are dangerous to the Iraqi people and to mankind."

As McGrory’s book notes, rape was also a tool of the regime.

"The man would arrest senior figures in the administration for no reason other than to get to their wives. In one case, a woman (she told us herself — she is now living in Scotland in absolute peril) was forced into a room where Saddam was staring at a file on his knee. He didn’t look up, just beckoned her over and she had to sit on his knee like some kind of recalcitrant child; she reports Saddam said, "Your husband has been a very naughty boy." And, with that, he raped her in the room, watched over by several guards.

"When another woman came in, she was so appalled with what he was about to do to her that she scratched her own face with her fingernails and blood began to pour down her face. Saddam is a fanatically fastidious man who hates any kind of dirt and when the blood dripped onto his suit, he pushed her away. Disgusted with what she had done, he said to the guards, "Take her outside and you deal with her." And four or five Republican Guards took her outside and raped her."

McGrory, like Darwish and Timmer-man, confirms the strong links between Europe – particularly Germany – and Iraq’s WMD programme.

"They have some appalling people. There are a couple of German scientists who were taken over to Iraq who actually worked for Hitler. They were still alive, these old boys, and they felt their worth was not really recognized in Germany. They were tempted by the fast buck and went over to Iraq. One man used to play Hitler’s speeches in his room and said quite openly, "The only other leader I would work for other than Adolf is Saddam Hussein; they are two of a kind." Well, they are.

"In fact, early on, Saddam used to carry around a copy of "Mein Kampf" like it was a Bible. His father had run off and left him, before he was born, and he was brought up by an uncle — a dreadful man — and this man taught Saddam from the time he could walk and talk that the Nazis were a great power. His uncle’s philosophy was that the Jews are lower than flies. And, when Saddam came to power, he allowed his uncle to publish his appalling rantings and insisted that everyone in Iraq should receive a copy of his thoughts."

McGrory also told WorldNetDaily of the vast personal fortune compiled by Hussein while his citizens starved under UN sanctions.

"It is thought to be in the region of US$100 billion. This could be one of the richest countries in the world. It oozes oil; it has fantastic agriculture; it has everything going for it and he has just wastefully, wastefully frittered it away along with his sons and relatives. The indulgences are shocking. The truth is, they whine about sanctions, saying they are hurting people, but you go to Baghdad and you see the fastest and finest cars. Uday at one stage had 34 cars."

But perhaps the last word on the threat that Saddam Hussein posed prior to US intervention should be left to Kenneth Joseph, one of a number of antiwar demonstrators who travelled to Iraq as would-be human shields.

Joseph’s group found the experience a real eye-opener, and his group managed to film 14 hours of uncensored video footage before they wereasked to leave Iraq with the rest of the human shields.

UPI news agency reported Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, as saying the trip "had shocked me back to reality."

Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn’t start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam’s bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."

Copyright 2003 onwards


Posted by Ian Wishart at 01:52 AM | Comments (0)

WAR & PEACE: ESSAY 2 INVESTIGATE: MAR 03

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A 19 year old Iraqi exile in Britain, RANIA KASHI, tells her friends to welcome the war, not protest it

Dear All, I am writing this email after a lot of deliberation about whether I have the right to use my strange and unique position (within our group) to argue the case FOR an invasion in Iraq. But in the end I have decided that I have more to lose if I keep quiet.

Firstly, my parents, my family, are from Iraq. My parents fled from Iraq some 23 years ago leaving everything and everyone behind when at that point 17 of our relatives had been "disappeared" or imprisoned for no reason whatsoever. They sought refuge in Kuwait for 4 years, but once again were forced to flee with us (my brother and I) in tow when Saddam had the Kuwaitis deport the Iraqi men back to Iraq. On the border he had these returnees shot dead.

We were lucky; we made it safely to Britain. My father was lucky - his brother was caught trying to escape and tortured. So here I am, 19 years later, never having set foot in the country of my parents.

The anti-"war" feeling prevalent amongst people I speak to seems to me totally misjudged and misplaced. I have to be honest here and say that I feel it is based partly on a lot on misunderstanding of the situation in Iraq and partly on people’s desire to seem "politically rebellious" against the big, bad Americans. And let me say, that I also agree the American government is indeed big and bad; I have no illusions about their true intentions behind an attack on Iraq.

More than you or I, the Iraqis know the ignorant and truly atrocious attitude of the American government towards most of the world’s population. Iraqis felt the effect of this when America (and the rest of the West in fact) eagerly supported and supplied Saddam when he waged his war-of-attrition against Iran causing the death of 1 million Iraqis and Iranians and the disappearance of many more - there was no anti-war movement to help them.

They felt the effect of this attitude when America and the West ignored, supplied even, Saddam’s use of biological weapons on the people of Halabja, killing 5000 people in one day, and causing the deformed births of babies in the area to this day.

Iraqis know well the untrustworthy nature of the Western governments when the coalition gave Saddam permission, a few days after the end of the Gulf War, to massacre the uprising peoples of Iraq when they had wrested control from him in most cities of Iraq.

The people of Iraq echo our discontentment with America and the West’s policy in Iraq, for they know the realities of such a policy far better than any of us shall ever know.

I want to ask those who support the anti - "war" movement (apart from pacifists - that is a totally different situation) their motives and reasoning behind such support. You may feel that America is trying to blind you from seeing the truth about their real reasons for an invasion. I must argue that in fact, you are still blind to the bigger truths in Iraq. I must ask you to consider the following questions:

1. Saddam has murdered more than a million Iraqis over the past 30 years, are you willing to allow him to kill another million Iraqis?

2. Out of a population of 20 million, 4 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their country during Saddam’s reign. Are you willing to ignore the real and present danger that caused so many people to leave their homes and families?

3. Saddam rules Iraq using fear - he regularly imprisons, executes and tortures the mass population for no reason whatsoever - this may be hard to believe and you may not even appreciate the extent of such barbaric acts, but believe me you will be hard pressed to find a family in Iraq who have not had a son/father/brother killed, imprisoned, tortured and/or "disappeared" due to Saddam’s regime. What has been stopping you from taking to the streets to protest against such blatant crimes against humanity in the past?

4. Saddam gassed thousands of political prisoners in one of his campaigns to "cleanse" prisons - why are you not protesting against this barbaric act?

5. An example of the dictator’s policy you are trying to save - Saddam has made a law to give excuse to any man to rape a female relative and then murder her in the name of adultery. Do you still want to march to keep him in power?

I remember when I was around 8 I went along with my father to a demonstration against the French embassy when the French were selling Saddam weapons. I know of the numerous occasions my father and many, many others haves attended various meetings, protests and exhibitions that call for the end of Saddam’s reign. I have attended the permanent rally against Saddam that has been held every Saturday in Trafalgar Square for the past 5 years. The Iraqi people have been protesting for YEARS against the war - the war that Saddam has waged against them. Where have you been?

Why is it now that you deem it appro-priate to voice your disillusions with America’s policy in Iraq, when it is actually right now that the Iraqi people are being given real hope, however slight and precarious, that they can live in an Iraq that is free of the horrors partly described in this email?

Whatever America’s real intentions behind an attack, the reality on the ground is that many Iraqis, inside and outside Iraq support invasive action, because they are the ones who have to live with the realities of continuing as things are while people in the West wring their hands over the rights and wrongs of dropping bombs on Iraq, when in fact the US & the UK have been continuously dropping bombs on Iraq for the past 12 years.

Of course it would be ideal if an invasion could be undertaken, not by the Americans, but by, say, the Nelson Mandela International Peace Force. That’s not on offer. The Iraqi people cannot wait until such a force materialises; they have been forced to take what they’re given. That such a force does not exist - cannot exist - in today’s world is a failing of the very people who do not want America to invade Iraq, yet are willing to let thousands of Iraqis to die in order to gain the higher moral ground.

Do not continue to punish the Iraqi people because you are "unhappy" with the amount of power the world is at fault for allowing America to wield. Do not use the Iraqi people as a pawn in your game for moral superiority - one loses that right when one allows a monster like Saddam to rule for 30 years without so much as protesting against his rule.

Some will accuse me of being a pessimist for accepting that the only way to get rid of Saddam is through force. I beg to differ; I believe I have boundless optimism for the FUTURE of Iraq, where Iraqis are able to rebuild their shattered country, where Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheists, communists - all peoples of any and all backgrounds are able to live in peace and safety and without fear of persecution. I beg you to imagine such an Iraq, such a democracy in the Middle East, and ask where in that do you see pessimism? Such an Iraq is what is being envisaged and sought by many millions of Iraqis; such an Iraq is where I hope I will be able to take my children.

If you want to make your disillusions heard then do speak out, put pressure on Blair, Bush & Co to keep to their promises of restoring democracy to Iraq. Make sure they do put back in financial aid what they have taken over the years, and make sure that they don’t betray the Iraqis again. March for democracy in Iraq. If you say that we can’t trust the Americans then make sure that you are a part of ensuring they do fulfil their promises to the Iraqis.

So I conclude by asking you to consider your REASONS for supporting the anti-"war" movement, and if you are going, the anti-"war" demo. If you still feel that what I have said does not sway you from this stance, then I can do no more.

In some ways I do admire the movement because it proves what people can achieve when they come together and speak out. Unfortunately for Iraq nobody spoke out earlier.

(*I use apostrophes with "war" because in truth it will be no war, but an invasion. A war presumes relatively equal forces battling against each, with resistance on both sides. A US-led force will encounter NO resistance from the Iraqi people or the army.)...
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Posted by Ian Wishart at 01:45 AM | Comments (0)