News and events are updated regularly.
|North America's First|
Vol. I Number 5
September 11, 2001
On a beautiful autumn day in New York, the havoc of war
made its most spectacular appearance on the American mainland since the 1860s. New York’s
World Trade Center was demolished by two hijacked planes, the third
crashed into the Pentagon, and the fourth in the countryside – with
Eric Margolis, an expert on Islamic militant groups and the
author of “War at the Top of the World,” called the operation “the
most complex and sophisticated terrorist attacks ever mounted. They are
well beyond the operational capability of any Mideast groups yet
His list of suspects includes “Mideast groups locked in a bitter, bloody struggle with Israel, which has come to be regarded across the Muslim world as indistinguishable from the U.S.A.” He singles out the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Egyptian Al-Jihad, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Japanese Red Army, FARC and bin Laden.
“At first instinct you want to point the finger at Osama
bin Laden,” said John Thompson, executive director of the Mackenzie
Institute, a Canadian think tank on security issues. “It’s a very
well - planned attack, as all of his normally are. It’s
extremely damaging in human life, as most of his attacks are intended to be.
“But his network hasn’t been responsible for suicide
bombings, except for the rubber boat attack on the American warship in
Yemen. I think there’s military-grade planning behind it. This is more
sophisticated in terms of the grade of the attack than bin Laden has
been up to,” Mr. Thompson said.
An analysis by the publication, Jane’s Intelligence
Review, said, “Our concern must be that these attacks are only the
start of a far-reaching campaign against the U.S. and its main allies,
including Britain and Saudi Arabia.”
“The top suspect, inevitably, must be Saudi dissident
Osama bin Laden, who is currently harboured by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan,” Jane’s reported.
“Given bin Laden’s alleged involvement in previous terrorist
outrages, and the fact that his al Qaeda organization is believed to
have a wide international base in various Islamic communities throughout
the world, it is clear to see why the U.S. and its allies will regard bin Laden as the evil
genius behind what must be the world’s worst atrocity in modern
Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based al-Quds
al-Arabi newsmagazine, said bin Laden warned three weeks (before the
attack) that his followers would carry out an unprecedented and massive
attack on U.S. interests for its support of Israel.
“Personally we received information that he planned very,
very big attacks against American interests. We received several warnings like this. We did
not take it so seriously, preferring to see what would happen before
reporting it,” Mr. Atwan said.
Afghanistan’s ruling Taleban government denied that Mr.
bin Laden had played any role in the attacks. “Osama is only a person. He does not have the
facilities to carry out such activities,” an official said. “We want to tell the American people
that Afghanistan feels their pain. We hope that the terrorists are caught and brought to justice.”
In January, United Nations Security Council imposed
sanctions on Afghanistan for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden to face charges of blowing up two U.S.
embassies in Africa in 1998.
After the September 11 attacks, U.S. President Bush
demanded that the ruling Taleban government in Afghanistan should hand over bin Laden to them.
The Taleban government demanded proof of bin Laden’s
involvement in the terror attacks. “We do not want to fight,” chief Taleban spokesperson told
Associated Press, “We will negotiate. But talk to us like a sovereign country. We are not a province of
the United States to be issued orders to. We have asked for proof of Osama’s involvement, but they
The United States has repeatedly said the demands to
surrender bin Laden and his people in the Al Qaeda network are not negotiable.
The US-led coalition started bombing Afghanistan to bring
down the Taleban government and capture Osama bin Laden “dead or alive” as President
Bush put it.
Mindful of the coalition’s Muslim partners’
sensitivities, he had to withdraw his remarks about launching a ‘crusade’… then he called it ‘Operation
Infinite Justice’ only to withdraw that, and finally it is called ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’.
The bombing of Afghanistan has entered the fourth week. The
Pentagon have belatedly realised that Taleban are proving to be “tough
opponents” doggedly clinging to power.
That should not have come as a surprise. The Taleban have been fighting for 20
years and had defeated one of the super powers, the Soviet Union, and
then their one-time allies, finally controlling over 90% of the country.
The bombing has entered a new phase. The tactics used
against the North Vietnamese and the Iraqi army during the Persian Gulf
War is being tried out. B-52s are attempting to smash front line
positions and sow terror among those under the ground-smashing attacks,
Asked whether that meant the US was ‘carpet bombing’ as
during earlier wars, Pentagon spokesperson, Rear Adm John Stufflebeem,
said, “It is possible to release an entire load of bombs at once…
which has also been called ‘carpet bombing’. We are applying a
concentration of firepower into an area because there are good targets there… Their
command and control has been cut, severely degraded. We believe that
puts a terrific amount on their military capability.”
Taleban spokesman Amir Khan Muttaqi maintained that the
regime would not crack.
“We don’t have anything for the American bombs to
destroy,” he said. “We are not a country with a sophisticated computer system, a big, important
telecommunication system or modern aviation system to destroy.”
The US has admitted dropping cluster bombs on targets in
Afghanistan, provoking an outcry at the use of weapons criticised as unfairly dangerous to
Human rights groups say a battlefield littered with this
type of unexploded ordnance is not different to one booby trapped with land mines, which are banned
under an international treaty launched for signature in Canada in 1997.
Landmine Action, based in London, which campaigns against cluster bombs as well as mines has condemned their use in Afghanistan.
"The unexploded bomblets
effectively turn into landmines, ready to detonate on contact, causing
death and injury to civilians and ground forces", said Richard
Lloyd, the campaign group's director.
(Source: BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/newsid_871000/871593.stm)
[As per Unicef, one of the most heavily mined countries in
the world is Afghanistan. Land
mines represent "an insidious and persistent danger".]
appeals from British and international charities to stop their use, Paul
Wolfowitz, the US Deputy Defence Secretary, was uncompromising. “We
lost somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 people in a single day. We are
now being threatened with weapons that could kill tens of
thousands of people, and
we are trying to avoid killing innocent people, but we have to win this
war and we will use the weapons we need to win this war,” he told The
Alliance, which controlled 5-10% of the country before the attacks
started, are waiting for the US bombers to clear the way for them to
move on to Kabul.
Alliance officials said the B-52s are missing their targets. In an interview
with the New York Times,
at his headquarters just a few kilometers from the frontlines, the
Alliance’s deputy Defence Minister, Atiqullah Baryalai, said the
American officials planning the campaign appeared to be disregarding
the advice of the Afghans who know better.
(US Defence Secretary) chooses the targets in America,” Baryalai said.
“This is our country. We know it best. If I were the defence minister
of America, I could use his weapons better than he.”
Planners had suggested the use of the Northern Alliance as a proxy force backed by special forces operations and a policy of widespread humanitarian aid to win over the “hearts and minds” of the local people (euphemism for people rising against the Taleban and defections amongst the Taleban soldiers) to topple the government.
Until now, the
expected Taleban defections have not come to pass to topple the
government in Afghanistan. It may eventually happen. Osama bin Laden may
be betrayed and either killed or captured. That will signify U.S.
victory. But bin Laden will become a ‘martyr’ and eventually win
eyes of the Muslims.
U.S.-lead coalition is preparing for major offensive
against Afghanistan. The special forces troops have been operating in Afghanistan for sometime.
The U.S. is sending spy lanes into Afghanistan airspace, which is
a clear sign that a major deployment of ground troops could soon follow.
Mr Rumsfeld said President Bush has considered committing
ground troops in numbers comparable to the 1991 Gulf War, when hundreds
of thousands were deployed. This signals that the idea of a ground invasion, which was originally seen as too
dangerous, is being seriously considered.
British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said, “The ultimate
objective is to bring those responsible for the events of September 11 to account.
“There is still a possibility of the Taleban accepting that they
would give up Osama bin Laden and their support for terrorism.”
Will that be the end of War on Terrorism?
With the public support wavering, as the media lambast the allies
for the conduct of the war, no. of civilian casualities mounting and the
seeming lack of progress as a result of bombing, the public opinion in the West is getting frustrated.
Having been used to quick victory in the Gulf war the public may
not have the appetite for a long drawn out war especially when, with the
ground offensive, body-bags start coming home.
What will the U.S. do? The Pentagon has made clear it wants to
obliterate the Taleban before moving on to consider other terrorist networks and states around
They have been preparing the public for war on other fronts –
other terrorist states, like Iraq (up in the list “to complete the
unfinished job” from the Gulf War), Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and may be Syria.
Where will all this lead? Peace? More wars? More attacks? More
Will the leaders of the world, including the Taleban rulers, heed the advice of the 81-year old Pope? He said, “I wish to make an earnest call to everyone, Christians and the followers of other religions, that we work together to build a world without violence, a world that loves life and grows in justice and solidarity… May people everywhere strengthened by divine wisdom, work for a civilization of love, in which there is no room for hatred, discrimination or violence.”