Beyond the Blast

MotherJones.com's guide to undercovered news, commentary and resources to help put the Sept. 11 terror attacks and their aftershocks into context. Updated throughout the day.

Fri Dec. 7, 2001 3:00 AM EST

December 7, 2001

Osama: Arm your wives -- Telegraph (UK)
Though he himself may have fled to Pakistan by now, Osama bin Laden is telling his supporters in the besieged cave complex at Tora Bora to fight to the death -- of their whole families, the Telegraph reports. Through one of his lieutenants, bin Laden reportedly urged supporters to "keep your children in the caves and fight for Allah," and to "give guns to your wives as necessary to fight against the infidel aggressors."

A chat with the FBI -- Detroit Free Press
Tamara Audi offers this first-hand report of the FBI interrogation of a young Lebanese immigrant, one of the 5,000 men the Bureau has announced it wants a word with in connection to the Sept. 11 attacks. "We do not think that you are a terrorist," FBI agent Bob Beeckman ("Call me Bob") tells the interviewee. "Really, you're not a suspect." Sample question: "Do you know of anybody that is advocating, supporting or planning a terrorist attack of any kind?"

Advertise on MotherJones.com

December 6, 2001

Prosecutors to detainee: Eat! -- Los Angeles Times
Federal prosecutors in Phoenix want a judge to order the force-feeding of Malek Mohamed Seif, one of the hundreds of foreigners being held in connection with the Sept. 11 investigation, Rich Connell reports. Seif, a pilot who has admitted knowing one of the suspected hijackers, has lost 30 pounds since he went on a hunger strike October to protest his detention; authorities have charged him only with identity fraud. "I don't want this guy to die in my jail," complained Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Bioweapons treaty on the brink -- New Scientist
If the 144 countries that belong to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention don't find some common ground by Friday, the treaty may be "little more than an agreement on paper," Debora Mackenzie reports. Representatives of the countries, currently meeting in Geneva, may not even be able to agree on whether to go on meeting regularly, Mackenzie says. The countries are apparently split into three camps, with the US pitted against developing countries and the European Union trying to mediate. While the US is pushing for tougher laws against biological weapons, other member countries want the US to accept rules about inspection and information sharing that it rejected last summer.

New Afghan government explained -- Guardian (UK)
Can't tell your Tajik warlords from your Pashtun diplomats? The Guardian offers this handy primer on the Dec. 5 agreement establishing an interim Afghan government, and a who's who of the troubled country's temporary leadership.

December 5, 2001

Arab fighters can't return home -- Al-Ahram (Egypt)
Thousands of Arab-Afghans -- citizens of Arab countries that joined Al Qaeda in the early 1980s to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan -- fear they will be killed under a Northern Alliance government but find themselves unable to return home. Several nations, including such American allies as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, have said they will not allow the fighters to return -- giving many Arab-Afghans little incentive to do anything but fight to the death, Al-Ahram's Khaled Dawoud reports. "As soon as the Northern Alliance forces entered Kabul, Arab fighters were shot on the spot, and in some cases the bodies of the dead were mutilated in front of television cameras," writes Dawoud.

Americans: Keep it simple, stupid -- Guardian (UK)
News coverage of the war in Afghanistan is partisan and Americans like it that way, claims the Guardian's Duncan Campbell. Quoting recent research showing that 80% of participants support censoring the news from Afghanistan and 69% believe that the news media "stand up for America," Campbell argues that the American appetite for good and simple news is destructive. Few people in the US know the number of civilians killed or keep up with the complexities of international news, he says, "which is a pity because it seems as though complex subjects in foreign countries are what we are all going to have to learn about for a long time to come."

Foreign students to face more restrictions -- Los Angeles Times
The Senate is moving closer to tightening the restrictions on student visas, reports the Times. In a bill proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), students from countries believed to support terrorism would have to prove that they are not a threat to the United States before a visa is granted. Still, the proposal marks a small victory for foreign students. In an earlier version of Feinstein's bill, students from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria would have been prohibited from receiving visas. The revised bill also requires the Immigration and Naturalization Service to more closely monitor foreign students and to conduct period reviews of colleges to ensure compliance with new reporting regulations.

Another aftershock: Substance abuse on the rise -- The Associated Press
Thirteen states have seen an increase in alcohol and drug abuse since Sept. 11, reports Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. "The Americans who are using drugs and alcohol to cope, or have relapsed from sobriety after the national tragedy, are the forgotten victims of Sept. 11," said Joseph Califano Jr., president of a Columbia University group studying the problem.

December 4, 2001

An obliterated village where "nothing happened" -- Independent (UK)
Despite the Pentagon's insistence that recent bombing raids in eastern Afghanistan have caused no significant civilian casualties, Independent reporter Richard Lloyd Parry found the mountain village of Kama Ado reduced to rubble, apparently by American bombs. "The cemetery on the hill contains 40 freshly dug graves, unmarked and identical. And the village of Kama Ado has ceased to exist," Parry reports. While Pentagon officials have backed away from their initial rejection of reports concerning Kama Ado's destruction, Parry reports that "there has been no retraction of that initial decisive statement: 'It just didn't happen.' "

Asset freeze threatens Somali economy -- allAfrica.com
Somalia's fragile economy is reportedly on the verge of collapse, allAfrica.com reports. The crisis has been brought about by the combined forces of a Gulf States ban on livestock from the country and the recent US-led closure of the Somali-owned banking and telecommunications system Al-Barakaat, which is thought to have ties to terrorism. Now anti-American sentiment seems to be on the rise in Somalia. An unnamed Somali economists suggests that the people in Somalia "think they are being treated unfairly and believe that they are the victims of a grave misconception -- that Somalia is rife with terrorists and Islamic fundamentalism."

EU proposes database to track anti-globalization protesters -- Guardian (UK)
European Union leaders are considering building a database containing names of "potentially dangerous persons" to prevent anti-globalization protesters with records of violence from travelling within Europe, Alan Travis and Ian Black report. Another database is being proposed to track "foreigners" -- illegal immigrants or people from outside the EU who have overstayed their visa. Leaders could also expand the definition of "terrorism" to include protests, just in time for an anti-globalization march in Brussels on December 14.

Mullah Omar car camping -- The Daily Telegraph
Mullah Omar, the Taliban's one-eyed supreme leader, is said to be living out of the back of his car and is constantly on the move, reports Julius Strauss. Omar has apparently traded in his Land Cruiser for a variety of cars and trucks to help him hide from American bombers, writes Strauss. An unnamed friend of the Taliban leader's driver says that he last saw Omar in Kandahar, laying low in a light gray Toyota Corolla.

December 3, 2001

Mexican-American soldiers on the front lines -- Pacific News Service
Based on the overall makeup of the armed services, any US force fighting in Afghanistan could feature a disproportionate percentage of Mexican-American soldiers, writes Jorge Mariscal. Mexican-Americans have been the targets of a military recruiting campaign in recent years and are heavily represented in the armed forces, he reports. "On high school campuses between 1992 and 1997, especially those with high percentages of Latino students, Junior ROTC units more than doubled, from 1,600 to 3,500," he writes. Thirty-seven percent of all active-duty Marines are Latino, says Mariscal.

MIA: Missing in Afghanistan -- Times of India (via Afgha.com)
As many as 8,000 Pakistani citizens who fought alonside the Taliban in Afghanistan are either dead or missing, according to senior Pakistani officials, the Times reports. Pakistanis have been appealing to their government for help in locating missing family members, but even if the missing fighters do show up, they could be imprisoned by the pro-US Pakistani authorities.

Winning against the Taliban, losing against drugs -- Stratfor.com
To the list of banned practices which have made a comeback since the Taliban lost control, add cultivating opium poppies, reports Stratfor.com, a Texas-based research group. Stratfor.com predicts that new trafficking routes could emerge, increasing the supply of opiates to the US and Europe, and that as a result the War on Drugs might be the next battle to fight in Afghanistan. Poppy plants are the main ingredient in opium-based drugs like heroin and morphine, and Afghanistan once produced 40 percent of the world's supply until the Taliban cracked down heavily on the trade. The practice is flourishing once again as the US-backed Northern Alliance gains control in the old areas of production.

Compiled by MotherJones.com staff.