September 11, 2005

News for September 11, 2005

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Tape Released: American al Qaeda Member Warns of Attacks (September 11, 2005) - In an apparent Sept. 11 communiqué broadcast on ABC News, an al Qaeda operative threatens new attacks against cities in the US and Australia. “Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, God willing. At this time, don’t count on us demonstrating restraint or compassion,” the tape warns. “We are Muslims. We love peace, but peace on our terms, peace as laid down by Islam, not the so-called peace of occupiers and dictators.” American intelligence officials believe the man who appears on the tape to be Adam Gadahn of Orange County, Calif. Last year, Gadahn delivered a similar taped communiqué for al Qaeda. That tape was later deemed authentic. On the new tape, delivered to ABC News, Gadahn’s message contains a very pointed al Qaeda threat against Los Angeles and Melbourne. In response to the threats against their city, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the city’s police department released a statement this morning. They admitted to Los Angeles being a target of terrorism, but said there are no known, credible threats against the city and labeled the tape an instrument of al Qaeda propaganda. “The statement broadcast this morning on Good Morning America should come as no surprise to anyone. The statement was meant to instill fear, and fear is the most important weapon the terrorists possess.” The taped diatribe lasts 11 minutes. Like past tapes, it appears to include the same graphics and production techniques recognized by U.S. officials as part of al Qaeda’s standard propaganda production. In this tape, the speaker levels threats against the U.S. and Great Britain. “Don’t believe the lies of the liars at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and 10 Downing Street,” Gadahn insists. “They have dispatched your sons and daughters to die lonely deaths in the burning deserts of Iraq and the unforgiving mountains of Afghanistan.” more...


Stripped of havens, Al-Qaeda turns to ‘media jihad’ (September 11, 2005) - Stripped of its Afghan haven and chased across the globe, the Al-Qaeda terror network is increasingly resorting to “media jihad” four years after the September 11 attacks on the United States for which it took credit. The Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), heir to the “Global Front for Fighting Jews and Christians” set up by Osama bin Laden in Afghanis-tan in 1998, presents itself as the hub for Al-Qaeda propaganda on the Internet. Its emergence is testament to the weight now being placed by Islamist militants on winning over minds to their cause through new media in the absence of any physical command headquarters, terror experts say. “Unite, O Muslims of the world, behind the Global Islamic Media Front. Set up squadrons of media jihad to break Zionist control over the media and terrorize the enemies,” the GIMF’s “emir,” who goes by the nom de guerre of “Salaheddin II,” exhorts Al-Qaeda followers on the Internet. The GIMF, is “a new base of Islamic information on the Internet. Our goal is to denounce the Zionist enemy,” echoes his deputy, “Ahmad al-Watheq Billah.” “The Front does not belong to anyone. It is the property of all Muslims and knows no geographical boundaries. All IT and communication experts, producers and photographers ... are welcome to join,” he writes. It has so far posted some 350 documents on Islamist Web sites, including footage of military operations in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and other places where the mujahideen, or holy warriors, operate. more...


Scientists find growing land bulge in Oregon (September 11, 2005) - A large, slow-growing volcanic bulge in Eastern Oregon is attracting the attention of seismologists who say that the rising ground could be the beginnings of a volcano or simply magma shifting underground. Scientists said that the 100 square-mile (260 sq-km) bulge, first discovered by satellite, poses no immediate threat to nearby residents. “It is perfectly safe for anyone over there,” said Michael Lisowski, geophysicist at the United States Geological Survey’s Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington. The bulge is rising at a rate of about 1.4 inches per year, according to a report issued by the U.S. Geological Survey. The bulge is located in a sparsely populated area 3 miles southwest of South Sister, a mountain 25 miles west of Bend, Oregon. Lisowski said the unnamed bulge was created because of a big cavity, estimated to be about 4.5 miles below the surface, that is filling with fluid. The fluid is likely magma, but could also be water. It was described in the report as a lake 1 mile across and 65 feet deep. The bulge is a bare patch of land with no residents, and anyone in the area would not be able to see, feel or smell anything, seismologists said. more...


Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan (September 11, 2005) - The Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. The document, written by the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs staff but not yet finally approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, would update rules and procedures governing use of nuclear weapons to reflect a preemption strategy first announced by the Bush White House in December 2002. The strategy was outlined in more detail at the time in classified national security directives. At a White House briefing that year, a spokesman said the United States would “respond with overwhelming force” to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, its forces or allies, and said “all options” would be available to the president. The draft, dated March 15, would provide authoritative guidance for commanders to request presidential approval for using nuclear weapons, and represents the Pentagon’s first attempt to revise procedures to reflect the Bush preemption doctrine. A previous version, completed in 1995 during the Clinton administration, contains no mention of using nuclear weapons preemptively or specifically against threats from weapons of mass destruction. more...


Liberals Call Abortion a Religious Freedom (September 10, 2005) - There appears to be an effort by some liberals to tie abortion and the gay agenda to the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom. At a recent news conference, several feminist, homosexual and religious-left groups combined their rhetoric to claim that abortion and homosexuality are religious freedoms and part of their right to worship the way they want to. Phyllis Snyder, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, maintained that legalized abortion actually protects religious freedom. “This freedom, guaranteed by the Constitution, is strengthened by the separation of religion and the state,” she said. “Make no mistake, the Roe v. Wade decision protects our religious liberty.” Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council, told Family News in Focus that abortion is not a religious issue. “Matters of life and death have never been considered in the courts as an exclusively religious question,” he said. “In other words, you can’t justify taking human life because it’s a religious belief.” Schenck called it a new strategy by the left to co-opt abortion, even homosexuality, as tenets of religious freedom. “This is a blatant and flagrant hijacking of religious sensibilities for the purpose of advancing their nefarious and, I dare say, evil propaganda,” he said. “It attempts to hoodwink the public, and it is the most cynical insult against the religious sensibilities of Americans.” more...


New life for the Dead Sea? (September 10, 2005) - If you want to realise how far the water level has fallen, it is worth stopping on Route 90, not much more than a kilometre south of Qumran where a Bedouin looking for a lost goat discovered the first Dead Sea Scroll in a cave in 1947. The shimmering expanse of the sea, stretching east to the Jordanian cliffs, is obscured here by reeds and shrubbery that have grown up around the freshwater spring of Ein Feshka. So look up at the cliffs lining the road on the western side, formed from limestone deposits perhaps 80 million years old. About 12ft up, you can see a red line less than a foot long. It was painted on the rock just over 100 years ago by members of the Palestinian Exploration Fund, a venerable British institution which counted T E Lawrence and Lord Kitchener among its members. The fund made two expeditions here, one at the turn of the century and one in 1917, not long after General Edmund Allenby walked into Jerusalem to seal his triumph over the Turks. But there is only one line. It takes a moment for its meaning to sink in. The fund's Levantine scholars and archaeologists were in a boat when they painted the line to show the level of the Dead Sea. Where we are standing was then four metres underwater. The mystery is what prompted them to mark it at all. Given that the level had been pretty well stable for the best part of 75,000 years, how were they so prescient as to realize that within half a century or so it would start to fall so catastrophically that a record would be necessary? And that a place, since prehistory the lowest on the planet, would become steadily lower still, so by 2005 the edge of the Dead Sea would be some 500m of cracked and gently sloping sandy, salty flatland east of where, bobbing on what was then its surface, they had carefully painted the line in the cliff? Perhaps it is not too fanciful to think that they foresaw some of the havoc man would wreak here during the next century. The level of the Dead Sea - now 1,370ft below sea level - is falling fast, by about a metre a year. Since the line was painted, the sea has shrunk by more than a third, or 20km, so the long southern stretch of deep water where King Herod's boat would be moored when he visited Masada is now dry land. more...


Chirac’s Illness Sets Off Power Battle (September 10, 2005) - The French president, 72, looked comfortable and said he felt “very well”. He had been “eager to leave”. The first thing he wanted to do now was “to go and have lunch”. Doctors at Val de Grace military hospital in Paris said they had advised him not to travel by air for the next six weeks, meaning he is unlikely to attend next week’s United Nations summit in New York. Mr. Chirac’s first public appearance since September 2 should stop to rumors that the Elysée palace was not telling the whole truth about the extent of his condition. “The president’s health is consistent with what was in the hospital statements,” said one medical observer, Alain Ducardonnet, on television. “The rumors about his health are over. He is clearly well.” But the political fallout is likely to be rather harder to dismiss for a president already weakened by a string of setbacks, including France’s “no” vote to the European Union constitution in May and Paris’s loss of the 2012 Olympic Games to London in July. Mr. Chirac’s hospitalization last Friday appeared to remove any chance that he might run for a third term in office, and has prompted a tough succession struggle between his prime minister and protégé, Dominique de Villepin, and the interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, who heads the ruling centre-right UMP party In the absence of Mr. Chirac at the UN next week, the president’s place will be taken by Mr. de Villepin, who was appointed premier in June. more...


World Summit on UN’s Future Heads for Chaos (September 10, 2005) - The Guardian has learned that Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, has made a personal plea to his American counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, for the US to withdraw opposition to plans for wholesale reform of the UN. He has asked Ms Rice to rein in John Bolton, the US ambassador to the world body. Mr. Bolton has thrown the reform negotiations into disarray by demanding a catalogue of late changes to a 40-page draft document which is due to go before the summit in New York on Wednesday. Mr. Bolton, one of the US administration hawks, became ambassador last month only after a long confrontation with the US senate, mainly caused by his ideological dislike of the UN. The foreign secretary is planning to make calls to fellow ministers around the world over the weekend. Mr. Straw spoke to Ms Rice in a three-way conference call last Tuesday organized by Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, to try to break the deadlock. Mr. Annan has been weakened by the criticisms voiced this week by an inquiry into the UN’s running of the Iraq oil-for-food program and needs a successful summit to avoid renewed calls for his resignation. The British government, in a rare divergence from the US, is fully behind Mr. Annan’s reforms and fears the summit will fail to build on the agreements on aid reached at the G8 summit at Gleneagles. more...