Saturday, June 26, 2010
June 11, 2010, The New York Times,
By DEXTER FILKINS
KABUL, Afghanistan — Two senior Afghan officials were showing President Hamid Karzai the evidence of the spectacular rocket attack on a nationwide peace conference earlier this month when Mr. Karzai told them that he believed the Taliban were not responsible.
“The president did not show any interest in the evidence — none — he treated it like a piece of dirt,” said Amrullah Saleh, then the director of the Afghan intelligence service.
Mr. Saleh declined to discuss Mr. Karzai’s reasoning in more detail. But a prominent Afghan with knowledge of the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Karzai suggested in the meeting that it might have been the Americans who carried it out.
Minutes after the exchange, Mr. Saleh and the interior minister, Hanif Atmar, resigned — the most dramatic defection from Mr. Karzai’s government since he came to power nine years ago. Mr. Saleh and Mr. Atmar said they quit because Mr. Karzai made clear that he no longer considered them loyal.
But underlying the tensions, according to Mr. Saleh and Afghan and Western officials, was something more profound: That Mr. Karzai had lost faith in the Americans and NATO to prevail in Afghanistan.
For that reason, Mr. Saleh and other officials said, Mr. Karzai has been pressing to strike his own deal with the Taliban and the country’s archrival, Pakistan, the Taliban’s longtime supporter. According to a former senior Afghan official, Mr. Karzai’s maneuverings involve secret negotiations with the Taliban outside the purview of American and NATO officials.
“The president has lost his confidence in the capability of either the coalition or his own government to protect this country,” Mr. Saleh said in an interview at his home. “President Karzai has never announced that NATO will lose, but the way that he does not proudly own the campaign shows that he doesn’t trust it is working.”
People close to the president say he began to lose confidence in the Americans last summer, after national elections in which independent monitors determined that nearly one million ballots had been stolen on Mr. Karzai’s behalf. The rift worsened in December, when President Obama announced that he intended to begin reducing the number of American troops by the summer of 2011.
“Karzai told me that he can’t trust the Americans to fix the situation here,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He believes they stole his legitimacy during the elections last year. And then they said publicly that they were going to leave.”
Mr. Karzai could not be reached for comment Friday.
If Mr. Karzai’s resolve to work closely with the United States and use his own army to fight the Taliban is weakening, that could present a problem for Mr. Obama. The American war strategy rests largely on clearing ground held by the Taliban so that Mr. Karzai’s army and government can move in, allowing the Americans to scale back their involvement in an increasingly unpopular and costly war.
Relations with Mr. Karzai have been rocky for some time, and international officials have expressed concern in the past that his decision making can be erratic. Last winter, Mr. Karzai accused NATO in a speech of ferrying Taliban fighters around northern Afghanistan in helicopters. Earlier this year, following criticism by the Obama administration, Mr. Karzai told a group of supporters that he might join the Taliban.
American officials tried to patch up their relationship with Mr. Karzai during his visit to the White House last month. Indeed, on many issues, like initiating contact with some Taliban leaders and persuading its fighters to change sides, Mr. Karzai and the Americans are on the same page.
But their motivations appear to differ starkly. The Americans and their NATO partners are pouring tens of thousands of additional troops into the country to weaken hard-core Taliban and force the group to the bargaining table. Mr. Karzai appears to believe that the American-led offensive cannot work.
At a news conference at the Presidential Palace this week, Mr. Karzai was asked about the Taliban’s role in the June 2 attack on the loya jirga and his faith in NATO. He declined to address either one.
“Who did it?” Mr. Karzai said of the attack. “It’s a question that our security organization can bring and prepare the answer.”
Asked if he had confidence in NATO, Mr. Karzai said he was grateful for the help and said the partnership was “working very, very well.” But he did not answer the question.
“We are continuing to work on improvements all around,” Mr. Karzai said, speaking in English and appearing next to David Cameron, the British prime minister.
A senior NATO official said the resignations of Mr. Atmar and Mr. Saleh, who had strong support from the NATO allies, were “extremely disruptive.”
The official said of Mr. Karzai, “My concern is, is he capable of being a wartime leader?”
The NATO official said that American commanders had given Mr. Karzai a dossier showing overwhelming evidence that the attack on the peace conference had been carried out by fighters loyal to Jalalhuddin Haqqani, one of the main leaders fighting under the Taliban’s umbrella.
“There was no doubt,” the official said.
The resignations of Mr. Saleh and Mr. Atmar revealed a deep fissure among Afghan leaders as to the best way to deal with the Taliban and with their patrons in Pakistan.
Mr. Saleh is a former aide to the late Ahmed Shah Massoud, the legendary commander who fought the Soviet Union and the Taliban. Many of Mr. Massoud's former lieutenants, mostly ethnic Tajiks and now important leaders in northern Afghanistan, sat out the peace conference. Like Mr. Saleh, they favor a tough approach to negotiating with the Taliban and Pakistan.
Mr. Karzai, like the overwhelming majority of the Taliban, is an ethnic Pashtun. He appears now to favor a more conciliatory approach.
At the end of the loya jirga, Mr. Karzai announced the formation of a commission that would review the case of every Taliban fighter held in custody and release those who were not considered extremely dangerous. The commission, which would be led by several senior members of Mr. Karzai's government, excluded the National Directorate of Security, the intelligence agency run by Mr. Saleh.
In the interview, Mr. Saleh said he took offense at the exclusion. His primary job is to understand the Taliban, he said; leaving his agency off the commission made him worry that Mr. Karzai might intend to release hardened Taliban fighters.
“His conclusion is — a lot of Taliban have been wrongly detained, they should be released,” Mr. Saleh said. “We are 10 years into the collapse of the Taliban — it means we don’t know who the enemy is. We wrongly detain people.”
Mr. Saleh also criticized the loya jirga. “Here is the meaning of the jirga,” Mr. Saleh said. “I don’t want to fight you. I even open the door to you. It was my mistake to push you into the mountains. The jirga was not a victory for the Afghan state, it was a victory for the Taliban.”
Mr. Karzai has been seeking to build bridges to the Taliban for months. Earlier this year, the president’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, held secret meetings with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy commander, according to a former senior Afghan official.
According to Gen. Hilaluddin Hilal, the deputy interior minister in an earlier Karzai government, Ahmed Wali Karzai and Mr. Baradar met twice in January near Spin Boldak, a town on the border with Pakistan. The meeting was brokered by Mullah Essa Khakrezwal, the Taliban’s shadow governor of Kandahar Province, and Hafez Majid, a senior Taliban intelligence official, General Hilal said.
A Western analyst in Kabul confirmed General Hilal’s account. The senior NATO official said he was unaware of the meeting, as did Mr. Saleh. Ahmed Wali Karzai did not respond to e-mail queries on the meeting.
The resolution of that meeting was not clear, General Hilal said. Mr. Baradar was arrested in late January in a joint Pakistani-American raid in Karachi, Pakistan. But Mr. Karzai’s attempts to negotiate with the Taliban have continued, he said.
“He doesn’t think the Americans can afford to stay,” General Hilal said.
Mr. Saleh said that Mr. Karzai’s strategy also involved a more conciliatory line toward Pakistan. If true, this would amount to a sea change for Mr. Karzai, who has spent his nine years in office regularly accusing the Pakistanis of supporting the Taliban insurgency.
Mr. Saleh says he fears that Afghanistan will be forced into accepting what he called an “undignified deal” with Pakistan that will leave his country in a weakened state.
He said he considered Mr. Karzai a patriot. But he said the president was making a mistake if he planned to rely on Pakistani support. (Pakistani leaders have for years pressed Mr. Karzai to remove Mr. Saleh, whom they see as a hard-liner).
“They are weakening him under the disguise of respecting him. They will embrace a weak Afghan leader, but they will never respect him,” Mr. Saleh said.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: June 14, 2010
An earlier version of this article misstated the date of the attack on the loya jirga as June 4.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday, September 17, 2001 Elul 29, 5761 Israel Time: 00:01 (GMT+3)
By Yossi Melman
FIVE Israelis who had worked for a moving company based in New Jersey are being held in U.S. prisons for what the Federal Bureau of Investigation has described as "puzzling behavior" following the terror attack on the World Trade Center in New York last Tuesday. The five are expected to be deported sometime soon.
The families of the five, who asked that their names not be released, said that their sons had been questioned by the FBI for hours on end, had been kept in solitary confinement for three days, and had been humiliated, stripped of their clothes and blindfolded.
The mother of one of the young men explained the chain of events as she understands it to Ha'aretz:
She said that the five had worked for the company, which is owned by an Israeli, for between two months and two years. They had been arrested some four hours after the attack on the Twin Towers while filming the smoking skyline from the roof of their company's building, she said. It appears that they were spotted by one of the neighbors who called the police and the FBI.
The mother said that the families and friends of the five in Israel had known nothing of the men's whereabouts for a number of days.
"When they finally let my son make a phone call for the first time to a friend in the United States two days ago, he told him that he had been tortured by the FBI in a basement," the mother said. "He was stripped to his underwear; he was blindfolded and questioned for 14 hours. They thought that because he has citizenship of a European country as well as of Israel that he was working for the Mossad [Israel's secret service]."
Seven FBI agents later stormed the apartment of one of the Israelis, searched it and questioned his roommate. The Israeli owner of the company, who has U.S. citizenship, was also questioned. Both men were subsequently released.
The families here complained that the Israeli consulate in New York and the situation room set up by the Foreign Ministry there to locate missing Israelis had done nothing to help their sons. The Foreign Ministry told the families that the FBI had denied holding the five and that the consulate had chosen to believe the FBI, the mother said.
The five were transferred out of the FBI's facility on Saturday morning and are now being held in two prisons in New Jersey by the Immigration and Naturalization Services. They are charged with illegally residing in the United States and working there without permits.
The Foreign Ministry said in response that it had been informed by the consulate in New York that the FBI had arrested the five for "puzzling behavior." They are said to have had been caught videotaping the disaster and shouting in what was interpreted as cries of joy and mockery.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 1:20 p.m. ET
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- The Pakistani-American who pleaded guilty to trying to bomb Times Square was determined to strike the U.S. even before he received training by the Taliban, but his time spent with militants close to the Afghan border steeled his resolve further, alleged accomplices detained in Pakistan have told investigators.
Pakistani intelligence agencies are holding at least five suspects in connection with the attack.
Two of them have allegedly admitted to helping Faisal Shahzad reach Mir Ali town in North Waziristan, according to a Pakistani intelligence official involved in the case who provided details to The Associated Press on Tuesday. Pakistani intelligence does not allow operatives to be identified by name.
The official said American investigators, including those with the CIA, have been involved in interrogating the alleged accomplices, who were arrested in the days and weeks after the May 1 attempted attack in the heart of New York.
The suspects have not been charged and Pakistani officials have not confirmed their arrests on the record, something quite normal here. The powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency has been known to hold people for months if not years without trial, in violation of Pakistani law.
In a New York federal court Monday, Shahzad agreed to plead guilty to 10 terrorism and weapons counts without the benefit of a plea deal and with certainty he'd face life in prison. He told the court that he was a ''Muslim soldier'' and warned that the U.S. faces even more attacks unless it leaves Muslim lands alone.
Shahzad, 30, was brought up in Pakistan, where his father was an officer in the air force. He moved to the United States at the age of 18 to study, after which he held a steady white-collar job as a budget analyst for years. He became a U.S. citizen last year.
Shahzad said in court he sought and received five days' training in explosives in Waziristan before returning to the United States in February to pursue a one-man scheme to bring death and destruction to New York with funding from the Pakistani Taliban. The indictment said he received $5,000 in cash on Feb. 25 from an unnamed co-conspirator in Pakistan and $7,000 more on April 10, sent at the co-conspirator's direction.
Since Shahzad's arrest in the United States, Pakistani officials had said they had picked up around 12 people in connection with the attack, though stressed all were not necessarily suspects. The intelligence official said five were now being held.
The two men with strongest links to the plot are alleged to be Shoaib Mughal and Shahid Hussain, the official said. The men had confessed to traveling with Shahzad to the town of Mir Ali -- a hub for Pakistan and international militants -- using public transport, he said.
According to Mughal and Hussain, Shahzad was in Mir Ali for about two weeks after they dropped him off, the intelligence official said.
''Shahzad was very excited and motivated to inflict a big injury on America even before his training by the Taliban,'' the intelligence official quoted Mughal and Hussain as saying. ''After the training, he was very confident.''
Hussain's brother, Khalid Usman, said allegations of Hussain's involvement were ''rubbish.'' He said he had a wife, two children and a well paid job at a telecommunications company.
''How could he go to the Taliban, how could he be so insane to work with terrorists?'' Usman said.
North Waziristan is under effective control of Islamist militants. Over the past year, the Pakistani army has conducted large-scale operations in neighboring South Waziristan, but not in the North. Accounts that Shahzad traveled there and received training from the Pakistani Taliban will add to pressure on Islamabad to retake the area, something it has said it is no rush to do.
Shahzad told the New York court that he initially arrived in Pakistan in mid-2009, spending the first six months with his parents in the main northwest city of Peshawar while trying to figure out a way to reach the Pakistani Taliban.
He said he and a couple of friends traveled to Waziristan on Dec. 9. His training in making bombs lasted five days, but he was in the region 40 days, Shahzad told the court.
The intelligence official said investigators had evidence that Mughal has uploaded video and audio messages from the Pakistan Taliban, including two audio messages from the group's commander, Hakimullah Mehsud, that proved he was alive. There had been speculation he had been killed in a U.S. missile strike.
The other three suspects being questioned are Salman Ashraf, Ahmad Raza and Humbal Akhtar. The official alleged that all three had knowledge of Shahzad's plans.
The suspects have cooperated with the American investigators, the official said, adding there was no plans to fly them to the U.S. either for trial or questioning there.
Relatives of some of the men in custody complain that they have had no contact with them.
Rana Ashraf Khan, whose son, Salman Ashraf, was detained while driving to work, said he submitted a court petition for information about his son but has not received any. The authorities refuse even to confirm that his son has been detained, he said.
''The families have been made hostage. I don't know what is happening to these young guys. If somebody is dead, the mourning period lasts 40 days, but this is the 43rd day my son is missing,'' Khan said.
Associated Press Writer Sebastian Abbot in Islamabad contributed to this report.
The suspect in the failed Times Square bombing pleaded guilty on Monday, an abrupt and expedited end to a terrorism case that extended to Pakistan and an Islamic militant group there.
The defendant, Faisal Shahzad, 30, listened as each of 10 counts was read to him in Federal District Court in Manhattan, and indicated he understood the charges and penalties he faced.
Mr. Shahzad recounted how and why he conceived the plot, traveling to Pakistan last year, joining the Taliban and receiving training in how to construct a bomb. And despite his admission of guilt and his extended cooperation with the authorities since his arrest, Mr. Shahzad was unapologetic, characterizing himself as “part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people.”
“I want to plead guilty, and I’m going to plead guilty 100 times over,” he said, “because until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that.”
The plea and Mr. Shahzad’s comments came four days after a federal grand jury returned an indictment that offered new details about the government’s accusations that Tehrik-i-Taliban, the umbrella organization for the Pakistani Taliban, had assisted Mr. Shahzad in his plot.
In court, he admitted receiving the training, saying he had gone to find the Taliban and learned how to build a bomb that he planned to detonate as part of his plan.
“With them, I did the training to wage an attack inside the United States of America,” Mr. Shahzad said.
“Any kind of attack?” Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum of Federal District Court asked.
“It would have been any kind of attack,” Mr. Shahzad said, “but I was given bomb training, and that’s what I learned there.”
Wearing a white head covering, Mr. Shahzad stood for more than half an hour answering the judge’s questions about his motivations, his background and even his family. “I had a wife and two beautiful kids,” he said, adding that they had returned to Pakistan to be with his parents.
And it was seemingly with equanimity that Mr. Shahzad spoke of his plan to detonate a car bomb in New York City. “I chose the center of Times Square,” he explained.
“Were there a lot of people in the street?” Judge Cedarbaum asked. “Yes,” Mr. Shahzad replied. “Obviously the time, it was evening, and obviously it was a Saturday, so that’s the time I chose.”
“You wanted to injure a lot of people?” the judge asked.
Mr. Shahzad said that he had, that he wanted “to injure people or kill people.”
But he said “one has to understand where I’m coming from.” He said that he considered himself “a Muslim soldier,” and that United States and NATO forces had attacked Muslim lands.
Judge Cedarbaum interjected: “But not the people who were walking in Times Square that night. Did you look around to see who they were?”
Mr. Shahzad replied, “Well, the people select the government; we consider them all the same.”
“Including the children?” the judge asked.
“Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Mr. Shahzad replied, “they don’t see children; they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children. They kill everybody. It’s a war. And in war, they kill people. They’re killing all Muslims.”
The guilty plea was consistent with Mr. Shahzad’s behavior since his May 3 arrest, when the authorities say he began cooperating with them for more than two weeks without counsel and waived his Miranda rights. One question was whether Mr. Shahzad would seek leniency in sentencing in return for his assistance.
The answer seemed to come after the hearing, when the United States attorney, Preet Bharara, released a letter that had been sent to Mr. Shahzad’s lawyers. It made clear that there was no plea deal, and that in choosing to plead guilty to all 10 counts, Mr. Shahzad faced a mandatory life term, the maximum sentence for which he is eligible.
“Faisal Shahzad plotted and launched an attack that could have led to serious loss of life,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said, “and today the American criminal justice system ensured that he will pay the price for his actions.”
Mr. Bharara said the investigation was continuing; his office refused to comment on whether Mr. Shahzad was continuing to cooperate.
Judge Cedarbaum scheduled the sentencing for Oct. 5. Mr. Shahzad’s lawyer, Philip L. Weinstein, had no comment.
Mr. Shahzad’s plea came on a day when he was to be arraigned on the recent indictment. But when the hearing began at midday, Mr. Weinstein and a prosecutor, Brendan R. McGuire, left for about 15 minutes for a meeting with Judge Cedarbaum. The judge then returned and announced that the parties had asked that the hearing be delayed until later that day.
When court resumed just after 4:30, it quickly became clear that Mr. Shahzad would plead guilty.
The judge told him that the first charge he faced was attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. How do you plead? the judge asked.
“I do plead guilty to this charge,” Mr. Shahzad said.
“I gather you want to plead guilty to all of them,” the judge said later.
“Yes,” Mr. Shahzad said.
Throughout the session, Mr. Shahzad did not raise his voice and answered the judge’s questions straightforwardly. There were also no outbursts from the spectators. At one point, Mr. Shahzad said he wanted to read “a small statement,” but Judge Cedarbaum told him to wait.
When he tried again later, she said: “Please, don’t read it. I want to know what happened. Tell me what you did.”
Mr. Shahzad said he became an American citizen last spring and left for Pakistan in June. He spent six months with family in Peshawar, he said, and left in December with a couple of friends to join the Taliban in Waziristan. He was there for 40 days, and he said he spent 5 days receiving bomb training from Tehrik-i-Taliban. It was there that he developed his bomb plot, he said. “I made a pact with them,” he said.
He returned to the United States in February, he said, carrying about $8,000 in cash, half from the Taliban. Later he needed more money, he said, adding, “They sent it to me twice,” once in March and once in April.
Mr. Shahzad described building three explosive devices in his home in Bridgeport, Conn., and placing them inside the Nissan Pathfinder that he later drove to Times Square. He said the main component of the device was a fertilizer-based bomb held in a gun cabinet in the Pathfinder’s trunk. If that bomb did not work, his plans were to detonate propane gas cylinders and to start a fire in the car with gasoline.
He set the device to explode in about five minutes, he said, and then walked away. The bombs did not go off.
“And I don’t know the reason why,” Mr. Shahzad said. “I was waiting to hear a sound, but I couldn’t hear any sound, so I thought it probably didn’t go off. So I just walked to the Grand Central and went home.”
Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.
Friday, June 18, 2010
"In Israel, air-raid sirens blasted through the cities and 100,000 people gathered in front of the Western Wall."
What?! "Air-raid sirens?" I pity the traumatized residents of Israel.
June 17, 2010, By GAL BECKERMAN
LATE one summer night 40 years ago this month, Yosef Mendelevich, a young Soviet Jew, camped with a group of friends outside the Smolny airport near Leningrad. The next morning, they planned to commandeer a 12-seat airplane, fly it to Sweden and, once there, declare their purpose: to move to Israel, a dream they had long been denied.
Most in the group were pessimistic about their chances — but none more than Mr. Mendelevich. He felt sure they would get caught, but to his mind, a group suicide was preferable to a life of waiting for an exit visa that would never arrive. Even a botched attempt, he figured, would at least attract the eyes of the world.
Early the next day, as the plotters walked onto the tarmac, they were, indeed, caught. The K.G.B. had known of their plan for months. And the two leaders were later sentenced to death.
But Mr. Mendelevich was also right that their desperate act would make their demand for free emigration impossible to ignore. Now largely forgotten, this planned hijacking, and the Soviet government’s overreaction to it, opened the first significant rip in the Iron Curtain, one through which hundreds of thousands would eventually flee. With great drama, it undermined Communist orthodoxy. After all, if the Bolsheviks had built the perfect society, why would any well-adjusted citizens want to leave, let alone risk their lives to do so?
The essential weakness of the Soviet Union was exposed: to survive, the regime had to imprison its own population. This would be the beginning of the end.
Jews were understandably at the forefront of the emigration battle. Even as they were forbidden to exercise any kind of Jewish identity, they also had no option to assimilate in Soviet society. Their internal passports were stamped “Jew,” a word that three generations after the 1917 revolution signified little more than their status as outsiders. Many had come to feel that their existence inside the Soviet Union was untenable, that the only way to escape this paradox was to move away. But the doors were firmly shut; those who requested permission to leave were refused and then ostracized.
The push to emigrate, which had begun in the early 1960s as an underground movement, had grown by 1970 into an open campaign. Letters to the United Nations were signed by hundreds of Soviet Jews. Only a few months before the hijacking attempt, the Kremlin had called for a public relations counteroffensive that would paint Zionism as “a vanguard of imperialism.” A large press conference was arranged with “acceptable” Jews, including the prima ballerina Maya Plisetskaya and the comedian Arkady Raikin, vowing loyalty to the Soviet Union and denouncing Zionism as expressing “the chauvinistic views and racist ravings of the Jewish bourgeoisie.”
This was only the opening act. On the morning of June 15, 1970, K.G.B. agents tackled the would-be hijackers on the tarmac in Leningrad and threw them in jail. Afterward, dozens of Jewish activists unconnected to the plot were arrested. The government saw an opportunity to present Zionists as nothing more than subversive hooligans. But six months later, at their trial, the hijacking plotters offered the more compelling narrative: their story of unrequited longing for a homeland.
In her closing statement, Sylva Zalmanson, the only female defendant, recited from Psalm 137, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand wither.” While she was trying to repeat the words in Hebrew, the judge shouted at her to use a language recognized by the court. In the end, Mark Dymshits and Eduard Kuznetsov, the two leaders, were sentenced to face a firing squad.
Worldwide reaction to the news was immediate. Overnight, the small cause of Soviet Jewry — until then supported only by impassioned students and isolated activists — became a mass movement. Italian longshoremen in Genoa refused to unload Soviet ships. Students in Stockholm marched with torches through the streets. Even Salvador Allende, Chile’s Marxist president, called for clemency. In Israel, air-raid sirens blasted through the cities and 100,000 people gathered in front of the Western Wall. In Washington, Richard Nixon held an emergency meeting with leaders of Jewish groups.
More was at stake than just the fate of the two men. As The Times editorialized, “The real defendants in the court were not the handful of accused, but the tens of thousands of Soviet Jews who have courageously demanded the right to emigrate to Israel.”
On New Year’s Eve, less than a week after the trial, Eduard Kuznetsov was taken from his cell, certain he was going to be shot. But the prison warden told him, “A humanitarian gesture has been made on your behalf.” His sentence was commuted to 15 years. All the hijackers had their time reduced, though they still spent years at hard labor camps in the Urals. Only in 1979 were Mr. Dymshits and Mr. Kuznetsov released in a spy exchange. Yosef Mendelevich was freed in 1981.
By overturning the death sentences, the Soviet government tacitly accepted that the hijackers’ cause was one the world found to be just — and demonstrated that it was not deaf to outside opinion. Apparently, the leaders realized a hammer alone could not solve their Jewish problem. Yet neither could they simply meet the Jews’ demands to allow unfettered emigration. As Anatoly Dobrynin, the longtime Soviet ambassador to the United States, would later admit in his memoirs, the Kremlin feared that emigration would “offer a degree of liberalization that might destabilize the domestic situation.”
Still, within a month of the trial, more exit visas were being granted to Jews. By the end of 1971, 13,000 had been issued — more than in the previous 10 years combined. The following year, 32,000 people got permission to leave.
The bravery of the hijacking plotters also ignited a movement in the United States that would lead Congress, a few years later, to pass the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which withheld preferred trading status from the Soviet Union until it allowed tens of thousands of Jews to emigrate. The American action so exasperated Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet leader, that he demanded that his Politburo find more creative answers to the “Jewish question.” “Zionism,” he told them, “is making us stupid.”
Emigration was now linked to the Soviet-American relationship. In 1979, when the Soviets were hoping to buy more American grain and wanted to make sure a new arms limitation treaty would be signed and ratified, an unprecedented 50,000 Jews were allowed out. Just as quickly, a year later, after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the spigot was turned off.
Ronald Reagan saw in the Soviet Jews the perfect poster children for his view of the Soviet Union as an evil empire. Unlike Richard Nixon, President Reagan was publicly sympathetic to the emigration movement, and unlike Jimmy Carter, he wielded human rights as a strategic weapon rather than just touting it as a moral cause. Only a few months after Yosef Mendelevich was let out of prison, he was invited to the White House.
George Shultz, the secretary of state in the Reagan administration, made it clear time and again that not only trade but even arms control talks would depend on the emigration issue. By 1985, well before glasnost and perestroika, Anatoly Chernyaev, a foreign policy aide to Mikhail Gorbachev, would write in his diary, “We have to solve the Jewish question, the most burning of human rights problems.”
But the true solution was no less mortal a threat to the Soviets in the late 1980s than it had been in 1970. If they let the Jews leave, what would keep everyone else from doing the same?
When Soviet Jews finally emigrated en masse — nearly 1.5 million by the end of the 1990s — it looked like just another happy side effect of the Soviet Union’s collapse, another wall crumbling. Forgotten were the decades of pushing from the inside. The Soviet Union might have gone the way of China and had an economic liberalization that ignored human rights. But this option was not open, because the Soviet Jews made it clear that any change would need to include open borders.
As a result, not only were hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews able to build new lives, but forces were set in motion that would bring down the Berlin Wall and, eventually, an empire — a world-shaking transformation born from the hopes once placed on a small airplane that never even left the ground.
Gal Beckerman, a staff writer at The Forward, is the author of the forthcoming “When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry.”
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Tensions In Middle East 399274 06: POOL PHOTO Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2nd L), Army Chief of Staff General Shaul Mofaz (L) and Defense Minister Benjamin ben Eliezer (2nd R) looks at weapons January 6, 2002 that were seized from the Karine-A ship in the Red Sea. Israel military said that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat must have known of the arms-smuggling operation foiled by Israel with the seizure of the ship carrying 50 tons of weapons from Iran. A preliminary report by military intelligence released by the Israeli armed forces concluded that Arafat must have been told because of the size of the deal. (Pool Photo by Sven Nackstrand/Getty Images) Photo: Getty Images Jan 06, 2002
Tensions In Middle East 399274 07: POOL PHOTO Israeli Army Chief of Staff General Shaul Mofaz (2nd R), Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2nd L) and Defense Minister Benjamin ben Eliezer (L) look at rocket launchers January 6, 2001, seized on the cargo ship Karine A and displayed in the Israeli Red Sea port of Eilat. Israel said its navy seized the ship carrying 50 tons of weapons and explosives. An Israeli official said the weapons were supplied by Iran to the Palestinian Authority. (Pool Photo by Sven Nackstrand/Getty Images) Photo: Getty Images Jan 06, 2002
Tensions In Middle East 399274 04: POOL PHOTO Israeli Army Chief of Staff General Shaul Mofaz (L), Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (C) and Defense Minister Benjamin ben Eliezer (R) look at anti-tank Russian made Sagger missiles, seized on the cargo ship Karine A (seen in the background) and displayed January 6, 2002 in the Israeli Red Sea port of Eilat. Israel said its navy seized the ship carrying 50 tons of weapons and explosives. An Israeli official said the weapons were supplied by Iran to the Palestinian Authority. (Pool Photo by Sven Nackstrand/Getty Images) Photo: Getty Images Jan 06, 2002
Tensions In Middle East 399274 05: POOL PHOTO Israeli Army Chief of Staff General Shaul Mofaz (L) shows Prime Minister Ariel Sharon anti-tank Russian made Sagger missiles, seized on the cargo ship Karine A (seen in the background) and displayed January 6, 2002 in the Israeli Red Sea port of Eilat. Israel said its navy seized the ship carrying 50 tons of weapons and explosives. An Israeli official said the weapons were supplied by Iran to the Palestinian Authority. (Pool Photo by Sven Nackstrand/Getty Images) Photo: Getty Images Jan 06, 2002
Israel captures Palestinians arms boat 399263 05: An Israeli navy handout photo shows munitions on the deck of the captured Palestinian vessel Karine-A after arrival at a naval base January 5, 2002 in the southern Israeli port of Eilat, following its capture by Israeli commandos 300 miles to the south. Israeli Army Chief Shaul Mofaz said the vessel was smuggling some 50 tons of munitions for the Palestinians and some of its crew were officers in the Palestinian naval police force. Photo: IDF/Getty Images Jan 05, 2002
Israel captures Palestinians arms boat 399263 03: An Israeli navy hand-out photo shows munitions displayed on the deck of the captured Palestinian vessel Karine-A after arrival at a naval base January 5, 2002 in the southern Israeli port of Eilat, following its capture by Israeli commandos 300 miles to the south. Israeli Army Chief Shaul Mofaz said the vessel was smuggling some 50 tons of munitions for the Palestinians and some of its crew were officers in the Palestinian naval police force. Photo: IDF/Getty Images Jan 05, 2002
Israel Captures Palestinian Arms Boat 399242 04: An Israeli navy handout photo shows 107mm Katyusha rockets found aboard the captured Palestinian vessel 'Karine-A', released at a press conference January 4, 2002 in Tel Aviv. Israeli army chief Shaul Mofaz claims the ship was smuggling 50 tons of munitions with some of its crew officers in the Palestinian naval police force. Photo: IDF/Getty Images Jan 04, 2002
Israel Captures Palestinian Arms Boat 399242 03: An Israeli navy handout photo shows munitions and equipment found aboard a captured Palestinian vessel the 'Karine-A', released at a press conference January 4, 2002 in Tel Aviv. Israeli army chief Shaul Mofaz claims the ship was smuggling 50 tons of munitions with some of its crew officers in the Palestinian naval police force. Photo: IDF/Getty Images Jan 04, 2002
Tensions In Middle East 399274 08: POOL PHOTO Anti-tank Russian made Sagger missiles (foreground) and mortars seized on the cargo ship Karine-A (Background) are displayed January 6, 2001 in the Israeli Red Sea port of Eilat. Israel said its navy seized the ship carrying 50 tons of weapons and explosives. An Israeli official said the weapons were supplied by Iran to the Palestinian Authority. (Pool Photo by Sven Nackstrand/Getty Images) Photo: Getty Images Jan 06, 2002
Israel Captures Palestinian Arms Boat 399242 02: An Israeli navy handout photo shows munitions and equipment found aboard a captured Palestinian vessel, the 'Karine-A', released at a press conference January 4, 2002 in Tel Aviv. Israeli army chief Shaul Mofaz claims the ship was smuggling 50 tons of munitions with some of its crew officers in the Palestinian naval police force. Photo: IDF/Getty Images Jan 04, 2002
Israel captures Palestinians arms boat 399263 04: An Israeli navy handout photo shows captured AK-47 assault rifles and munition clips on the deck of the captured Palestinian vessel Karine-A after arrival at a naval base January 5, 2002 in the southern Israeli port of Eilat, following its capture by Israeli commandos 300 miles to the south. Israeli Army Chief Shaul Mofaz said the vessel was smuggling some 50 tons of munitions for the Palestinians and some of its crew were officers in the Palestinian naval police force. Photo: IDF/Getty Images Jan 05, 2002
Israel captures Palestinians arms boat 399263 01: An Israeli navy handout photo shows the captured Palestinian vessel Karine-A as it is held for inspection after arrival at a naval base January 5, 2002 in the southern Israeli port of Eilat. Israeli Army Chief Shaul Mofaz said the vessel was smuggling some 50 tons of munitions for the Palestinians and some of its crew were officers in the Palestinian naval police force. Photo: IDF/Getty Images Jan 05, 2002
Israel captures Palestinians arms boat 399263 02: An Israeli navy handout photo shows the captured Palestinian vessel Karine-A as it is held for inspection after arrival at a naval base January 5, 2002 in the southern Israeli port of Eilat. Israeli Army Chief Shaul Mofaz said the vessel was smuggling some 50 tons of munitions for the Palestinians and some of its crew were officers in the Palestinian naval police force. Photo: IDF/Getty Images Jan 05, 2002
Israel Captures Palestinian Arms Boat 399242 01: An Israeli navy handout photo shows the captured Palestinian vessel 'Karine-A', released at a press conference January 4, 2002 in Tel Aviv. Israeli army chief Shaul Mofaz claims the ship was smuggling 50 tons of munitions with some of its crew officers in the Palestinian naval police force. Photo: IDF/Getty Images Jan 04, 2002
On the day that the land war against Iraq
began, 24 February, I flew to Israel as a
member of a Solidarity Mission. Ben-Gurion
airport, normally full of hustle and bustle,
was practically deserted, except for a few
officials. It reminded me of the Yore Kippur War of 1978 in which I was a war
correspondent - the only difference being
that at that time we landed in almost total
darkness, because of the black-out,
At the airport we were issued with gas
masks and instructions on their use, including
the precautions - a special powder and
a needle against the use of mustard gas and
nerve gas, A few hours tater we experienced
our first attack. The wailing sound of
the air-raid siren sounded through the clear
night air - 3am - and the warning over the
hotel tannoy system, in Hebrew and then
in English, requiring us to take our gas
masks and proceed to the sealing rooms
(hedarim atomim). I awoke alarmed, with
barely a minute to don a dressing gown and
grab my mask and go upstairs.
The scene that confronted me was grim
indeed. A number of men and women, in
various kinds of attire, some wearing gas
masks, others not, but all with drawn,
anxious expressions, and a little child crying
uncontrollably. For them it was a repeat
performance of a nightmare scenario, as
Israel had sustained 39 Scud attacks,
Everywhere in Israel the warnings sounded,
as no one was sure where the missiles
would land, although the Iraqis had targeted
them for special areas. All the windows in
the room were completely scaled and there
was a television set in the corner to instruct
us on possible steps to be taken and also
when the emergency would be over.
I felt mixed reactions of fear and anger that
Israel was dragged into this conflict because
of a mad dictator's whim and a sense
of frustration that she did not respond,
though for the best of reasons - to keep
President Bush's allied forces together.
A day later I visited Ramat Gan, just
outside Tel Aviv, which received over six
direct hits and where many h'aqi Jews live.
The devastation has to be seen to be
believed. The Deputy-Mayor told us his
house was totally destroyed in what
appeared to be a minor "Dante's Inferno"
and, by a miracle, he and his wife escaped.
Large craters were still to be seen.
Israeli restraint in the face of these
unprovoked attacks was admirable and
deserves far more recognition from the
international community than has so far
been shown both by way of political and
material recompense. Full information as
to the damage caused was suppressed
during the war to avoid helping the Iraqi
While the Scuds fly at the rate of a mile a second, the Patriots
travel at the rate of a mile and a half a
second. The Scuds are launched to a height
of about 200 kilometers, but a problem was
that the Patriots did not intercept and
destroy them high enough so that considerable
damage was caused by the falling
Most of the 39 Scud missiles launched
against Israel, at 5-minute flying time
from Western Iraq, were negatived, and by
a miracle more loss of life and property was
The start of the land war was considered
a particularly dangerous time as it was
thought at the time that a desperate
Saddam Hussein would resort to chemical
and biological weapons, using artillery
shells or planes. Doubtless he was deterred
by the Americans' and Israel's possession
of weapons of mass destruction,
After the cease fire the overwhelming
feeling in Israel was that the Allied troops
should have entered Baghdad, UN Resolutions
notwithstanding, but that, in any
case, Saddam Hussain and his evil Baathist
regime must be removed if the "peace and
security" called for in UN Resolution 678,
authorizing force to remove Iraq from
Kuwait, are to be achieve
Where are the Jews of Iraq?
The Iraqi Jews around the world and in
Israel seem unseen, unknown. Traditionally,
they preferred to be passive in political
affairs in Iraq to avoid further persecution
This trend was evident during the Scud
missiles attack on Israel by Saddam Hussein.
The Scuds hit almost only the Iraqi
Jews and their properties in Tel Aviv and
Ramat Gun. Many European Jews were
quick to condemn the attack by interviews
with reporters of the press and TV, Prime
Minister Shamir compared Saddam Hussein
to Hitler and European Jews compared the
attack to the Holocaust.
But not a single Iraqi Jew raised his
voice and linked the attack to the Farhud
of 1941 in Iraq. It is as if the Iraqi Jews do
Please speak louder. I cannot hear you!O
Great Neck, Prof. Albert Khabbaza MD
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
August 4, 2003, Israeli Embassy,
The ISA and the Border Police have detained for questioning two men accused of escorting the suicide bombers of bus #6 at French Hill in Jerusalem on May 18, 2003 and bus #14 near the Klal Building in Jerusalem on June 11, 2003 to the attack sites. Twenty-three Israeli civilians and one foreign national were murdered and 125 civilians were injured in the two terror attacks. The two men admitted during their investigations that the June 11 terror attack had been planned for one month and was not perpetrated as a response to the attempted elimination of Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantisi.
On June 14, 2003 Samr Ahmed Atresh was detained for transporting Bassam Tahdori to French Hill where he blew himself up on bus #6, murdering seven people and wounding 20. Atresh, from Hebron and a resident of the Shuafat refugee camp holds a blue Israeli identity card, which he was able to obtain due to the law on family reunification, and was employed by a Beit Shemesh catering company.
Atresh admitted that he had been recruited by Hamas and that it was his responsibility to gather information on highly populated areas, and to purchase equipment to disguise the suicide bomber.
Atresh met Tahdori on May 17, 2003 and brought him to his home. On May 18 he attached the explosive belt to Tahdori and then disguised him as an observant Jew. Furthermore, Atresh admitted that he was planning to exploit his catering job by poisoning food, placing an explosive, or bringing a suicide bomber to an events hall.
On June 16, 2003 Omar Salah Muhammad Sharif was detained for transporting Maati Shavana to the Jerusalem's Klal Building where he blew himself up on a #14 bus, killing 17 people and wounding 105. Sharif, 19, is a resident of Beit Hanina, holds a blue Israeli identity card, and is employed as a janitor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem's Givat Ram campus and is a relation of Abdallah Qawasmeh, a terrorist leader in Hebron.
Sharif was recruited by the Hamas, which took advantage of the fact that he held a blue Israeli identity card, thus allowing him to travel freely. He was told to find out information on busy buses that Palestinians do not use and on the movements of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. On June 11, Sharif met the suicide bomber who was already armed with an explosive belt. Sharif saw to it that he was dressed as an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man. That the date of the attack had been decided on before the attempt on Rantisi (on June 10),
confirms the fact that this terror bombing was not a response to it.
Sharif further admitted that he had been planning to kidnap Israelis after making contact with them through the Internet. Sharif added that he had planned a long list of possible terror attacks including a car bomb on the Tel Aviv promenade, and bombing a cafeteria at Hebrew University's Givat Ram campus where he worked.
The military wing of Hamas in Hebron, headed by Abdallah Qawasmeh took responsibility for both terror attacks. Qawasmeh was eliminated on June 21, 2003 and was responsible for murdering 35 Israeli citizens and wounding 145. He was active in planning many terror attacks.
In addition, Hamas has been involved in gathering information on Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and other senior Israeli officials with the intention of kidnapping or assassinating them. The plans were rejected due to technical problems. The terror cell also planned to kidnap Israelis in order to use them as bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian terrorists.
These incidents continue to show that the terrorist organizations are able to use Israeli Arabs, who hold regular blue Israeli identity cards, to perpetrate terror attacks and murder Israeli civilians. It is especially problematic as many of these cards are issued for humanitarian reasons in the framework of family unification. In addition, the terrorist organizations frequently cynically exploit Jewish tradition and laws by disguising the bombers as Orthodox Jews.
Good baseline photo images of an apparently real attack, which contrast mightily with the similar August 20, 2003 attack
JPost reports that a fascist Muslim homicide bomber from the Palestinian "Islamic Resistance" (Hamas) has murdered 15 Israelis whose crime was to be Jewish:
A Palestinian mass murderer blows himself in a bus, killing 16 Israelis
Sixteen people were killed and more than 100 were wounded when a Hamas suicide bomber, dressed as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, detonated his explosives belt on a bus in downtown Jerusalem. [...]
A number of those wounded in the Jerusalem bus bombing Wednesday afternoon included pedestrians outside the nearby Clal Building, a shopping center in the city's downtown area, on Jaffa Road.
Forty-five people remained in hospital Wednesday night. Ten are listed in 'serious' condition. The rest are listed in 'light-to-moderate' condition. [...]
Israeli Security officials warned that no Hamas leader will be immune to Israel's wrath and noted that since the Aqaba Summit last week, 23 Israelis have been murdered in terror attacks and ten potential suicide bombers arrested by security forces.
The Palestinian groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Arafat's Al-Aksa brigades reject peace with Israel - their declared goal is to destroy the Jewish State and commit genocide against her citizens. For a list of homicide bombings executed by these racist Muslim freaks, click here.
One of the Israeli victims murdered by a Palestinian terrorist
During the Second World War and the Holocaust there was a British policy of stopping Jews from immigrating to the land of Israel (or the “British Mandate of Palestine” as it was referred to at the time, see the history page for more details). In 1939, the British published the “White Paper”, a document that increased immigration restrictions on Jews.
Throughout the struggle against German Nazism, the Zionist leaders did not hesitate to fight alongside Britain, although they never forgot their own private war against the Crown. Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, defined his political stance in one of his most famous pronouncements which became Israel’s motto for many years:
"We will fight the war as if there were no White Paper, and we will fight the White Paper as if there were no war."
I watched Israeli TV today and here's how I interpret what Prime Minister Sharon had to say: “We will fight the Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Arafat’s Al-Aksa Brigades, and all other racist Islamic murdering freaks as if there was no peace process. At the same time, we’ll attempt to achieve peace as if there were no Islamic terrorist freaks, since eventually there will be none”.
I copy the full article below.
16 DIE IN JERUSALEM BLAST; 9 IN GAZA HITS
By THE JERUSALEM POST INTERNET STAFF, Jun. 12, 2003
Sixteen people were killed and more than 100 were wounded when a Hamas suicide bomber, dressed as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, detonated his explosives belt on a bus in downtown Jerusalem Wednesday.
Later Wednesday, Israeli helicopters twice fired rockets at cars in Gaza City killing nine Palestinians, including four Hamas terrorists, one of whom orchestrated a series of recent rocket attacks on southern Israeli towns.
In the first rocket attack Israeli helicopters fired rockets at a car in Gaza City killing seven Palestinians, including two top Hamas terrorists responsible for Kassam rocket attacks against Israeli towns.
Two people were killed in the second helicopter attack. The army said the target was a cell of Hamas terrorists who were about to launch a mortar shell at the Gaza Strip Jewish settlement of Netzarim.
Israeli Security officials warned that no Hamas leader will be immune to Israel's wrath and noted that since the Aqaba Summit last week, 23 Israelis have been murdered in terror attacks and ten potential suicide bombers arrested by security forces.
The officials stressed that Wednesday's bus bomb attack in Jerusalem had no connection to the botched attempt on Hamas terrorist Abdel Azziz Rantisi on Tuesday, despite Hamas claims stating otherwise.
A number of those wounded in the Jerusalem bus bombing Wednesday afternoon included pedestrians outside the nearby Clal Building, a shopping center in the city's downtown area, on Jaffa Road.
Forty-five people remained in hospital Wednesday night. Ten are listed in 'serious' condition. The rest are listed in 'light-to-moderate' condition.
One of the victims of the bus bombing was named as Sergeant Tamar Ben-Eliahu, 19, from the town of Faran, in the Arava.
One of those lightly injured in the attack was the daughter of New Jersey Senator Robert W. Singer. Israel Radio reported that Senator Singer will set out for Israel Thursday to be with his daughter in hospital.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack as revenge for Israel's strike Wednesday on the organization's co-founder Abdel Aziz Rantisi, which left him wounded. The claim came in the form of statement aired on television networks, Hamas spiritual head Ahmed Yassin.
Israeli officials identified the bomber Wednesday evening as Mohammed Shabani, 20, a Hamas terrorist from the West Bank town of Hebron. Officials suspect he is from the same group that carried out a similar bus bombing in Jerusalem last month that killed seven people.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon responded with a pledge issued at a ceremony for Border Police in Latrun, to "fight the terrorist organizations and their leaders to the death."
US President George W. Bush condemned the attack.
"I strongly urge all of you to fight off terror, to cut off money to organizations such as Hamas, to isolate those who hate so much, they're willing to kill to stop peace form going forward," Bush told reporters in Chicago.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz consulted with military chiefs about Israel's next move.
Meanwhile, Yasser Arafat issued a statement to reporters in demand of an immediate cease-fire on all fronts.
"We do condemn the terrorist attacks which target civilians in Jerusalem, and I also condemn with the same strength the assassination attempt against Rantisi and everything that happened before and after, in particular what happened in Gaza, targeting civilians and women and children," Arafat said outside his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas called in a statement for all sides "to immediately move into a serious implementation of the road map."
Police said the terrorist, disguised as an orthodox Jew, got on the Number 14A Bus at the Machene Yehuda marketplace, at roughly 5:30 pm. He waited one stop as it passed the Clal Building and Davidka Square, before activating what police say was a powerful bomb. He had managed to move a few steps towards the center of the bus before exploding his device.
Sixteen people were killed and 112 were wounded, including passengers and bystanders. Two of the wounded were on the critical list, media reports said.
"We don't see any connection between this and what happened yesterday," said Police Spokesman Gil Kleiman, referring to Tuesday's attempted assassination of Rantisi.
"We have 15 general warnings [of suicide bombing attacks] at any one time," he added.
The bus, its front end blackened and twisted, was still smoldering 20 minutes afterward. Stunned onlookers peeked out of the shattered second-story windows of the Clal Building, a shopping arcade and office building.
Hundreds of police officers and rescue workers swarmed the area, which was cordoned off by ambulances, jeeps and police tape. A faint smell of burning rubber carried over the air.
Ultra-Orthdox volunteers from Zaka (Disaster Victims Identification) carried away two bloodied bodies on stretchers. Another Zaka worker begged reporters to back off from the scene of the blast.
"There are pieces of bodies all over the place," he shouted, pointing to a fistful of thick, black hair that had once been attached to someone's scalp.
Natan Sharansky, the minister for Jerusalem affairs, stood next to the bus ruins shaking his head.
"My daughter rides that bus, so immediately you start checking where your family is and getting irritated because one doesn't know where the other is and none of the phones work," he said.
Meanwhile, a small group on onlookers, lead by a bare-chested man swinging his black T-shirt in the air, shouted "Death to the Arabs" and "Revenge."
Soon afterward, the mob of encircled an Arab worker, who was extricated by three Border Policemen.
The last bus attack in Jerusalem was a May 18 bombing in the French Hill neighborhood that killed seven people. In that instance as well, the bomber masqueraded as an Orthodox Jew to avoid detection as he got on the bus.
In the Gaza City attack, rockets fired at a car in the Sejaiyeh quarter killed two top Hamas men, Tito Massoud, 35, and Soheil Abu Nahel, 29. Massoud orchestrated Kassem rocket attacks on Israeli towns, military sources said.
The car was stuck in a rush hour traffic jam and had driven onto the sidewalk in an attempt to get away, witnesses said. The missiles turned the car into a burning ball of wreckage. Hundreds rushed to the scene, trying to put out the fire with blankets and water.
"When we started trying to evacuate them (the passenger) from the car, another missile attack took place while a huge number of people were gathering trying to help the wounded," said Massoud Ramadan, a shopkeeper, who was hurt by shrapnel.
Dr. Moawiya Hassanain, director of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, said a total of seven people were killed and 30 wounded in the missile strike. Among the wounded were eight children under the age of 14.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
January 5, 2002, (Iran Press Service)
PARIS 5 Jan. (IPS) Lebanese Hezbollah and Ahmad Jibril, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) were actively involved in the shipment of weapons Israel claimed Friday it seized from a ship captured in the Red Sea on Thursday, according to a well-informed Iranian journalist in London. The seizure of the 4000 tons freighter, "Karine A", transporting 50 tons of weapons, including anti-tank, anti-helicopter "Law" and "Sager" missiles and different types of Katyushas and other weapons, was announced to the press Friday by General Shaul Mofaz, Chief of Staff of the Israeli army. "From the weapons we examined, it appears that most of [the cargo] was Iranian and included both short- and long-range Katyushas, many Sagger and LAW anti-tank rockets, mortars, mines, explosives, sniper rifles, bullets, and many other weapons.
Military sources confirmed that Iran was producing both Law and Sager-types anti-tank and anti-helicopter rockets, as found on the ship. General Mofaz claimed that the arms are of Iranian origin and accused Yaser Arafat and some of his close aids of "direct knowledge and involvement" in the smuggling attempt that some senior Israeli officials said it was to date "the most extensive operation to smuggle weapons into the Palestinian Authority to be foiled by Israel".
"The connection between the Palestinian Authority and the smuggling operation is unequivocal, clear and undeniable" Mofaz pointed out, adding that not only senior officials in the Palestinian naval police were involved in the smuggling operation, but also the ship's captain was an officer in the Palestinian naval police he identified as Colonel Omer Icawi.In an attempt to fully exploit the public relations potential of the weapons catch, Israel has invited ambassadors, military attaches and foreign journalists to tour the boat Sunday in Eilat. But Mr. Alireza Noorizadeh, an independent Iranian journalist told Iran Press Service that the operation had been worked out by a section of the Iranian Revolutionary guards under the control of the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the Lebanese Hezbollah and Mr. Jibril "without the knowledge or Arafat and Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, the Iranian President". Observing that the lamed and widely unpopular Khameneh’i, Mr. Jibril and the Lebanese Hezbollah, an organization that is controlled by the Iranian leader, are all staunchly against the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Noorizadeh said the three had smuggled arms into the PA-controlled areas in the past using same methods "hence, he said, the presence on the ship of a member of theLebanese Hazbollah and Palestinians belonging to the PFLP-GC".
Navy Admiral Yedidya Ya’ari told the press that the weapons were packed in special floating waterproof containers designed to be dropped into the sea and picked up by smaller craft.
According to Mr. Noorizadeh, one of the reasons the arms were "shipped" instead of using the "usual" land and air, via Damascus, is because both Turkey and Syria have shut down these routes.
Citing Iran as the "departure point" of the ship and its load of weapons, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the operation shows "clearly that not only Iran supports actively groups that are on the American list of terrorist organizations like the (Lebanese) Hezbollah, but also provides the Palestinian Authority with arms and therefore, the Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres would make call on the international community to declare Iran as a "terrorist State." "Since the ship was carrying Iranian weapons, Peres will next week call upon the leaders of the international community to declare Iran a terror-supporting State", a statement by the Ministry said.
Iran immediately denounced Israeli claim as "baseless accusations" and said that Iran had no military co-operation with the Palestinian Authority.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi attributed the Israeli accusations against Iran to "Israel's new effort to mislead the world public opinion from paying proper attention to the Zionists' ruthless massacre of the innocent Palestinian nation", the official news agency IRNA said.
Two Weeks ago, one of Iran’s most senior leaders had called for the destruction of Israel with nuclear bomb, saying that while one atomic bomb would destroy Israel completely, it would cause only minor damages against Muslims.
The Palestinian Authority also denied any connection to the captured vessel and its arms shipment. "We know nothing about this and we are going to investigate it," said Nabil Abu Rdainah, adviser to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, calling the vessel's capture "Israeli propaganda" intended to torpedo the mission of U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni to bring about a cease-fire between the two sides.
U.S. Envoy for the Middle East, Anthony Zinni, who met Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat on Friday as part of his latest mission to broker a cease-fire, was informed of the boat's capture on Thursday. Zinni, who cut short his first visit last month after a wave of Palestinian suicide attacks, said afterwards that U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian security meetings would resume. He did not give a timetable. "I am optimistic, hopeful and feel that we have the conditions that are right to make progress this time. And I am looking to return often and very shortly after this mission to keep the process moving," Zinni said.
In Washington, the official spokesman Richard Boucher said Zinni had demanded "explanations" from the PA Chairman Arafat when he met him. "Zinni expressed firm condemnation of any attempt, by any group, to increase tension", Boucher said, adding that he had "nothing to say for the moment" concerning the alleged Iranian involvement in the affair.
Arafat called for a trilateral commission of investigation - comprising Israelis, Americans, and Palestinians into the affair and assured Zinni during their meeting on Friday he had nothing to do with the freighter and its cargo. Palestinian officials urged Zinni to use his influence with the Persian Gulf States and to pressure Iran to stop channeling money and weapons to extremists. From what can be revealed, the vessel set out from Dubai, and then docked at the Iranian island of Qeshm, where it apparently loaded the arms. It sailed past Yemen and Sudan, but it is not clear whether it called at any of the ports there. Palestinian sources said Iran, Iraq, and Syria want violence to continue in the PA to divert attention from their own involvement in supporting groups labeled by the US as terror organizations and thus delay any strike or sanctions against them. Those countries are behind the smuggling of weapons to the Palestinians and Hizbollah, one PA source said.
Security sources said that the size and scope of the cargo captured on the "Karine-A" was far more troubling than the weapons found on board the "San Torini," a ship the navy intercepted off the coast in May last year. That ship also was carrying arms supplied by the Islamic Republic to Mr. Jibril’s organization inside the PA-controlled zones, sources said.
"The aim of the Iranian (leader-led conservatives) leadership is simple: to stop at any cost peace between Israel and Palestine. That’s why not only Mr. Khameneh’i and his men not only interfere in Palestinians affairs, but also have become more Catholics than Pope by telling the Palestinians what to do or not to do", he told IPS in a telephone interview. A senior PA security official said PA officers involved in the smuggling incident committed a "shameful act" that harms the PA. "There is no need for these weapons" the PA source said. "If it were true that the PA was smuggling these rockets into the Gaza Strip, it would give Israel a reason to finish off the PA".
The PA official said there are unanswered questions that shed doubt about the ship's destination and Israel's claim the money and vessels were bought with Arafat's money and intended for the PA. Reminding also that the policy of Mr. Khatami and his government concerning the Palestinian issue is "very different" from that instructed by the leader, who has the upper hand in the conduct of the regime’s foreign policy, Mr. Noorizadeh pointed to recent speeches by three reformist personalities criticizing the "Palestinisation" of the Iranian foreign policy.
Speaking at a recent a seminar on the "Palestinian issue from Iranians views" Mr. Mohammad Reza Tajik, an adviser to President Khatami and Director of the President’s Center for Strategic Researches observed that while the Palestinians had adopted the strategy of dialogue (with Israel), Iran on the contrary advises the strategy of "war, war until victory, a position that is not progressive nor approved by any other nation". Intervening at the same occasion, Professor Hermidas Bavand of the Tehran University noted that relations between Iran and the Jews dated from more than 2000 years ago and Mr. Ahmad Zeydabadi, a journalist close to the Nationalist-Islamist groups said Western and chiefly American assertions that Iran is an obstacle to the peace in the region and accusation that Iran supports terrorism stems from Tehran’s policy towards the Palestinian problem.
The radical evening daily "Keyhan", a mouthpiece of Mr. Khameneh’i sharply attacked the three men, but mostly Mr. Tajik, alleging that his presentation was the view of the government and asked "were such a conference was held, in Tel Aviv or in Tehran?" ENDS ISRAEL PA CARGO 5102
"Speak to the Defense Ministry," the outgoing chief of general staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon told me when I recently asked why suitable equipment had not been brought in to detect the Palestinians' arms smuggling tunnels from the Sinai Desert to the Gaza Strip. When I persisted and asked why a trencher – a machine that can dig deep trenches to reveal tunnels – had not been brought in earlier, Ya'alon responded in the same laconic fashion: "The Defense Ministry is the address for those questions."
So I went to the Defense Ministry; that is, I bumped into the Defense Ministry's all-powerful official who controls, for example, ministry contracts worth billions for the construction of the security fence and the "caravilla" modular homes for the evacuees from GushKatif.
We happened to meet last month, late at night on the Kissufim road, on the first day of the forced evacuation of Gush Katif. He boasted that he had already brought a few hundred containers to pack up the contents of the homes that would be demolished.
"What about the Palestinians' arms-smuggling tunnels? I asked. "Why haven't you brought suitable equipment to uncover them?"
"What tunnels? What smuggling? What equipment?" the poker-faced official retorted defiantly, dismissing my question when all the time I knew perfectly well that this issue had crossed his desk on more than one occasion.
In a southern settlement not far from there stands, incapacitated, the ultimate symbol of the IDF's and the Defense Ministry's failure in the war against the tunnels: a trencher costing $3 million, purchased in Texas this year at the recommendation of the IDF's Engineering Corps and the Ground Forces Command and with the approval of the Defense Ministry.
Call it too little, too late.
The hapless Texan trencher was designed to dig four meters deep. Along came the clever IDF officers and asked the American factory to adapt it to dig down 10 meters in order to uncover tunnels.
They were warned at the factory: It wouldn't work. But we thought we knew better. Then, when the machine arrived in Israel a few months ago, the IDF armored it so it could work on a battlefield. Now it's standing idle.
THE SMUGGLING of arms through tunnels has continued undisturbed all these past months. The arms smuggled in will fill Hamas and Jihad arsenals in the Gaza Strip in preparation for the next phase in their war against Israel.
The IDF may well have had no choice but to relinquish the Philadelphi corridor and hand over our defense against the smuggling to the Egyptian army's "border police." But it is inane to claim that it makes no difference, that even when we manned the border they managed to smuggle arms in; and that after the Gaza seaport is opened, they will smuggle through it, too.
This is like arguing that the police should stop enforcing traffic laws because no matter what they do there will always be road accidents; or that they stop arresting murderers because there will always be others.
The IDF generals who proffered this pathetic excuse have failed in their responsibility to defend Israel's border against the continuing Palestinian terror.
The Palestinians have already turned their tunnels into a strategic weapon. Their success on the Philadelphi corridor has emboldened them to continue digging tunnels beyond the Gaza Strip to the Israeli settlements in the south of the country as well as everywhere else – under every separation fence or wall throughout the country – to surprise the Israelis where they live with murder, sabotage and hostage abduction. Our failure until now will lead to an epidemic of future tunnels.
IDF soldiers have fought and been killed along the death trap that is the Philadelphi corridor, and in Rafah, but there can be no doubt that they prevented far more serious scenarios. However, in light of the continued Palestinian terror offensive we must not permit any evasion of responsibility for the Israeli strategic failure in the tunnel war.
Meanwhile, millions already been poured into the construction of a protective wall along the Philadelphi corridor – from which we are now withdrawing.
THE WHITE-ELEPHANT trencher affair is just the tip of the iceberg signaling our dismal failure in the tunnel war. A misleading report was presented to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee stating that the smuggling tunnels were 25-30 meters deep, while they were known to be between 10 and 20 meters deep.
The defense establishment could have commissioned a trencher able to dig to those depths at least three or four years ago, but a combination of ministry bureaucracy and greedy contractors who proposed absurd, unworkable ideas – like a huge moat – sabotaged any serious effort.
What it boils down to is that the defense establishment, which prides itself on its hi-tech wizardry and strategic ingenuity, couldn't dig a simple ditch. The paralyzed trencher is the trademark of that failure. What's worse, our failure will come back to haunt us – both in the form of the arsenal that has already been smuggled in, and other tunnels that will be built elsewhere in the future
Prime Minister Sharon tells ministers ‘terrible incitement’ could lead to more far right violence, calls on security establishment to “do everything to prevent it.” Meanwhile, cabinet set to approve first phase of Gaza evacuation
By Diana Bahur-Nir
Latest Update: 08.07.05, 11:55 / Israel News
‘Vile act by terrorist’
By Ahiya Raved and Yaron Druckman
Latest Update: April 4, 2005, 08.04.05, 22:01 / Israel News
SHFARAM - (VIDEO) Four people were killed and at least six others were wounded after army deserter Eden Natan Zada opened fire aboard a bus in the Arab town of Shfaram, in northern Israel.
Eyewitnesses said angry locals, or possibly bus passengers, managed to storm the bus following the attack and killed the shooter. Police reportedly had trouble retrieving the body, which was lying on the stars of the bus, as a result of the angry mob gathered at the scene.
Meanwhile, police in the north declared a general call-up and dispatched helicopters, water cannons, and mounted forces to the area. Hundreds of officers were dispatched to the region by choppers from Jerusalem and the West Bank
The IDF boosted its alert level across the West Bank following the shooting for fear of riots. The Border Guard reinforced its presence in Hebron, around the Cave of the Patriarchs, and in the northern West Bank.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon issued a special statement following the Shfaram shooting saying, “This is a vile act by a blood-thirsty Jewish terrorist who aimed to hurt innocent citizens.”
“Terror by citizens against citizens is the most dangerous thing regarding Israel’s future and its democratic character,” the statement said
Scene of attack (Courtesy Channel 2)
Following the attack, Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra told Ynet the shooting was no doubt a terror attack.
“This looks like a serious terror attack, we were all concerned about such incident,” he said. “Obviously this could have happened as a result of incitement. I hope everyone draws the right conclusions and stop the incitement.”
The 19-year-old Natan Zada was said to be an insubordinate soldier who refused to take part in the upcoming pullout from Gaza and the northern West bank. He reportedly spent time recently in the West Bank settlement of Tapuah, known as a stronghold of radicals.
Natan Zada left the army during basic training about two months ago and was declared a defector, with Military Police looking for him ever since. Before he deserted, Natan Zada announced he would refuse to take part in the establishment of an army tent city near Gaza ahead of the pullout.
Following the shooting, large crowds of locals gathered at the scene and hurled stones and bottles at the bus, where the shooter was taking refuge. Paramedics also had a difficult time reaching the scene and treating the wounded because of the large crowds.
Local security officer Jamal Aalian told Ynet: “I handcuffed the soldier and detained him with another police officer, he was bleeding…He was alive and we didn’t allow the mob to hurt him….I think he was killed about half an hour after shooting.”
About 30 police officers gathered in and around the bus and attempted to stop the mob from storming it, but several youngsters managed to break through. Three police officers, as well as several locals, reportedly sustained injuries in the incident
'Soldier continued to fire at people'
Former Shfaram Deputy Mayor Khatem Hason who arrived at the scene shortly after the attack said the shooter was a religious Jewish soldier.
“When the bus reached Sheikh Amid Farid Street…he shot the driver and other passengers. The bus rolled down and stopped to the side of the road, and the soldier continued to fire at people,” he said.
“Those killed are the driver and two young girls,” Hason said. “The shooter is still on the bus. Some residents hurled stones while others attempted to protect him, after taking away his gun”
Hason also slammed the police for their slow response time.
“When they arrived, the situation calmed down,” he said. “People are not digesting what happened here. People are stunned. We have no idea why he shot.”
Knesset Member Azmi Bishara (National Democratic Assembly) said in response to the shooting, “I hope this is not another Baruch Goldstein. This is an intentional shooting.”
A spokesman for Magen David Adom, Aharon Mor, told Ynet that “the residents are raging here and they didn’t allow emergency crews to get to the bus. Two Shfaram ambulances evacuated the wounded to hospitals. The police came after a very long delay, 20 minutes after the incident.”
Naqed Naqed, a resident of a Druze neighborhood in Shfaram in which the incident occurred, told Ynet that he heard “shots fired, and residents of the neighborhood were very scared.” Naqed, an activist in the Hadash political party, said the atmosphere in the neighborhood and city was extremely tense.
Ali Waked, Efrat Weiss, and Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report.
First Published:08.04.05, 18:18
By Diana Bahur-Nir
Latest Update: 08.07.05, 11:55 / Israel News
Ongoing incitement could lead to more Jewish terror attacks, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at the opening of Sunday’s government session.
‘Vile act by terrorist’ /By Ahiya Raved and Yaron Druckman
Prime Minister Sharon blasts Shfaram shooter; earlier, army deserter opens fire aboard bus in Arab town, killing at least four people. Thousands of residents hurl stones, bottles at bus before angry locals storm it and kill attacker. Police declare general call-up in the north; Internal Security Minister Ezra: This is terror attack
“We cannot ignore the fact terrible incitement exists and such cases could happen again,” he said. “I call on the security establishment to do everything in order to prevent it. When we hear the results of the inquiries we’ll take a decision regarding our next moves on the matter.”
Sharon characterized the Shfaram attack as “a very severe incident” that left four Shfaram residents dead and said the terrorist carried out the attack in order to strain ties between Jews and Arabs and thwart the pullout plan.
“I view this (attack) as a terrible deed and would like to offer my condolences to the families on behalf of the government and from me personally,” he said.
‘We must tighten ties between Jews, Arabs’
Sharon noted that he already announced on Friday that victims’ families would be treated like any other relatives of terror victims and will receive the government assistance due to them.
“I think the most important thing…we need to make every effort to tighten the relationship between the Jewish and Arab population, and that’s how I intend to act,” he said. “I’m also turning to all those investigating and looking into the affair and asking them to do their job as fast as possible and undertake any action to ensure such cases don’t repeat.”
Sharon also said he supports the proposal raised by Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who called on security officials to confiscate the weapons of all those threatening violence.
Earlier, Peres said: “The weapons of all those people preaching violence should be confiscated promptly. In such cases, administrative detentions should be used against them immediately."
First Published: 08.07.05, 08:29