cj#821> Two more reports on US reprisals

1998-08-25

Richard Moore

Dear cj,

I don't usually devote so many posts to a single subject, nor do I usually
publish controversial material without commenting on it, or trying to
qualify its context.  I make an exception with these recent terrorist
events.

A geologist friend of mine was teaching class one day in San Francisco
when, abruptly, an earthquake ensued.  As soon as the main shocks were
over, he led his class on a narrated tour of the damage, using the
opportunity to make visceral the textbook descriptions of earthquake
effects.

It is difficult for us in the public to determine who carried out the
embassy bombings, who helped them, or who knew of but ignored the
preparations.  It is also difficult to know why particular reprisals were
selected, and what secondary objectives are being pursued and by whom.  But
the views of all sides are of interest, not only because it gives us more
data to consider, but also because the radicalization of views and the role
of propaganda are some of the aspects of a political crisis (our
"earthquake") that are of interest in themselves.

Responses so far have been mostly favorable to this series, and some have
extended the analysis with additional observations of their own.  One
reader has expressed outrage that "one sided propaganda" is being posted,
material without "one shred of truth".  Crisis brings polarization, and
polarization turns disagreement into anger.  That's part of the process,
and its occurence in our discussion is an opportunity to see the forces
working in our own minds.

Tomorrow's post will be a dialog with those readers who have sent in
responses, so I encourage you to send in your comments on these postings,
the bombings and reprisals, or on terrorism more generally.

yours,
rkm

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From: Mid-EasT RealitieS <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject:  David Hirst Investigates and Finds U.S. Assertions Doubtful
Mime-Version: 1.0
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 09:04:33 -0400

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              MILLIONS WILL SUFFER - THANKS USA!

               GEE...WHAT ABOUT BOMBING DIMONA?

MER - Washington - 24 August:
    Millions of African children will suffer, probably at least
thousands will die, as a result of the American bombing of
one of the most modern and productive pharmaceutical plants in
Africa.  But then the Americans don't seem to care much about any
of this; their policies and sanctions have literally killed off
more than 5% of the Iraqi population this decade; and their depleted
uranium weapons have brought a wave of cancer that will go on for a
very long time to come.

    There is no evidence so far to confirm American claims about
the factory in Khartoum.  But even if there were, justifing this
bombing on anything but "might makes right" grounds would be
difficult.  There are hundreds of such factories in the U.S. and
Europe; and huge stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.
Based on American reasoning the Arabs would be fully justified to
bomb Dimona -- Israel's nuclear weapons factory (built,
incidentally with French and American help).

    What's next?  More bombing of Libya and Iraq.  Or maybe Iran or
Syria this time?

    When the Americans began their ever-closer "strategic" connection
with Israel; and when, also in the Reagan years, the Americans adopted
Israeli slogans and policies regarding "Islamic fundamentalism" and
"terrorism" and "radicalism"; experts warned we were on a slippery
slope.  And now the chickens are coming home to roost.

    OK U.N. and Arab League.  What you going to do?


      THE "SECRET" CHEMICAL FACTORY THAT NO ONE TRIED TO HIDE

                 By David Hirst in Khartoum

           The Observer - Sunday, August 23, 1998

Whatever Al Shifa Pharmaceuticals Industries Company did produce -
precursors for the VX nerve gas, according to the United States, or
50 per cent of Sudan's drug requirements, according to its own staff -
it was very precisely targeted indeed.

The projectiles that smashed into it at about 7.30 local time on
Thursday evening went unerringly to the heart of the plant, and
nothing else - not even the Sweets and Sesame factory so physically
close that, at first sight it looks like an integral part.

Al Shifa certainly did not try to hide its existence. Signs in plenty
direct you to it long before you get there. But to find it with such
pinpoint accuracy from the air was no small achievement.

The Khartoum North district in which it is located is an amorphous,
dismal suburbia, semi-residential, semi-industrial without obvious
landmarks; steeped in dust for most of the year, its largely unpaved
roads and alleyways ankle-deep in the rainy season's mud.

The factory's core is flattened. The roof is almost on the ground.
Here and there smoke still rises from the debris; the still burning
chemicals give it a mildy unpleasant odour. There is no sign amid the
wreckage of anything sinister. Of course, for the layman, there
probably wouldn't be anyway.

But there is no sign of anyone trying to hide anything either. Access
is easy. Much of Khartoum seems to have come to take a look. Women in
long bright dresses, and even high heels, pick their way through the
mud and jump across roadside gutters to get a closer view. Most stare
in what seems to be disbelieving silence.

"I still can't quite believe it's gone," said Dr Alamaddin Shibli,
the factory's export manager. "I still have to knock my head into
realising that when I come here I'm coming to a complete ruin." He
pointed to his office on the third floor of the administrative
building. "On Thursday, I had gone home earlier than I usually do."
He was not the only lucky one. "If the Americans had chosen Wednesday
evening, instead of Thursday, it would have been a disaster."

About 300 people worked in the factory, he said, but on Wednesday
evening a shift of 50 had been working on a special assignment of
veterinary products.

These were destined for Iraq, commissioned by the United Nations
under its food-for-oil programme. "I suppose the Americans would say
that one Arab producer of chemical weapons was supplying them to
another - Saddam Hussein."

He says the factory was one of the biggest and best of its kind in
Africa. It was privately owned, and had changed hands since it went
into production two years ago; the new owner was a Sudanese living in
Saudi Arabia. It had been partly financed by the Eastern and Southern
African Preferential Trade Association, a thoroughly respectable
body.

It produced the full range of antibiotics, medicines for malaria,
rheumatism, tuberculosis and diabetes, you name it. Samples of its
products lay around the reception area: Shifatryp, Shifamol, and in a
plastic bag with the picture of an eagle on it, Shifacef proclaimed
its Continued Efficiency Over the Years.

Apart from the administration block, only two parts of the factory
were not unrecognisably demolished. One was the water-cooling works,
which Shibli called the most modern in Africa, with its equipment
from Italy and the United States. The other was the laboratory - for
him, the most important loss. It is very badly damaged, but amid the
rubble rows of phials remained discernibly intact.

The Sudanese government, which the US accuses of sponsoring
international terrorism, seems to think it now has all the evidence
it needs to incriminate the US. It wants a United Nations team to
investigate.

"This is what we will show them," Shibli said. "In those bottles are
the reagents that will prove what we really produced here - and it
wasn't chemical weapons."


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From: •••@••.•••
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 20:59:22 -0500 (CDT)
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Sudan/Egypt

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Global Intelligence Update
Red Alert
August 25, 1998

Sudan Suggests Egyptian Complicity in Chemical Plant Attack

Despite detailed U.S. claims that its attacks on suspected terrorist-
related facilities in Sudan and Afghanistan were carried out solely by
means of Tomahawk cruise missiles, Sudan has insisted since the day of the
attack that U.S. aircraft attacked the Shifa chemical plant in Khartoum.
Additionally, Sudanese officials, including the president and foreign
minister, have repeatedly suggested that neighboring states may have
facilitated the attack.  On August 20, Sudanese Interior Minister Abdul
Rahim said that "two American warplanes" had dropped bombs on the chemical
plant.  Another Sudanese government report immediately after the bombing
said that "five air raid strikes" had taken place.

The initial Sudanese reports could have been written off as confusion, but
Sudanese armed forces spokesman Lieutenant General Abd al-Rahman Sirr al-
Khatim told Sudan's state radio on August 22 that the U.S. attack had
involved "American jet fighters," and that "the aircraft had crossed the
airspace of a neighboring country."  The general claimed that the aircraft
had been sighted by eyewitnesses and Sudanese radar stations.

Also on August 22, in a live interview on Qatar's "Al-Jazeera" television,
Sudanese President Omar Hasan al-Bashir insisted that, "Since the
industrial zone and this factory are located in the heart of Khartoum, many
people saw the U.S. aircraft while they were bombarding the factory."  He
said that "these aircraft remained over the target for approximately 12
minutes.  Many people saw these aircraft, including some of our air force
pilots."  According to al-Bashir, the pilots identified the aircraft as
U.S. "fighter bombers 111 or 118."  However, the U.S. no longer uses F-111
fighter bombers, and it has no fighter aircraft designated "118."  Perhaps
al-Bashir mislabeled the F-117 Stealth fighter (though that would not have
been detectable by radar installations, as General al-Khatim had stated) or
the F-18 Hornet (though al-Bashir also stated that the aircraft were of a
type which could not fly from an aircraft carrier, something an F-18
certainly can do).

Addressing the issue of possible complicity by a neighboring state in the
attack, Al-Bashir said "We are sure that the aircraft that attacked the
factory are not of the kind that can fly from an aircraft carrier,
considering that there is no aircraft carrier in the Red Sea and, at the
moment, there is no aircraft carrier in the region.  More often, these
aircraft take off from bases."  He said that Sudan was "certain now that
these aircraft came from the north, because they flew over the city of
Berber, which is more than 300 km north of Khartoum.  After completing
their mission, these aircraft also left towards the north."  He said that
the aircraft "broke the sound barrier over Berber."

On Monday, August 24, al-Bashir was more explicit about his suspicions,
telling journalists that he hoped the aircraft involved in the attack "had
not taken off from Egypt."  However, he noted "We are not singling out any
country.  We don't have any information confirming which airport these
planes took off from."  In a further implication of Egypt, al-Bashir said
the U.S. had received its intelligence on the plant from the Sudanese
opposition in Cairo.  Finally, in his Qatari television interview, al-
Bashir said that the reaction to the attack from many Arab states,
including Egypt, was "weak."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa on Sunday denied that the attack on
the Shifa plant involved aircraft.  Egypt's statement on the U.S. attack
was less than Sudan would have hoped for.  On August 21, an official
Egyptian government statement said that terrorist incidents should be
addressed by the UN Security Council, and on August 22, Moussa told the
Sudanese Ambassador to Egypt that "all measures against terrorism must be
taken through international legitimacy and under the umbrella of the United
Nations."

In another move that could not have amused Khartoum, Moussa met on August
22 with Sudanese opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) chairman
Mohammad Uthman al-Mirghani to discuss developments in Sudan.  The NDA had
issued a statement on August 21 essentially blaming Khartoum for bringing
the strike on itself when it "opened the doors of Sudan to international
extremist and terrorist groups, provided them with shelter and training,
supplied them with weapons and funds, and helped them infiltrate other
countries to implement criminal schemes."  The NDA claimed that Khartoum
had adopted a policy of state terrorism against the majority, including
"the use of the internationally banned weapons against Sudanese citizens in
the Nuba mountains."

We are not going to speculate on the veracity of Sudanese claims of U.S.
warplane strikes versus Washington's assertions that only Tomahawk
missiles, fired from ships, were involved in the attack on the Shifa plant.
There are both intriguing details and clear impossibilities in the Sudanese
accounts.  What we do note is that Sudan is implicating both Egypt and the
Egyptian-hosted, U.S.-backed, Sudanese opposition in the attack, and that
Egypt is doing little to challenge that accusation.

Long before the U.S. attack on Sudan, the Global Intelligence Update
reported on the ongoing and constantly shifting struggle between the U.S.-
sponsored Sudanese rebels and Khartoum, including the roles of Sudan's
neighbors.  Egypt and Sudan have long been at odds over Egyptian claims
that Sudan harbored and supported Islamic fundamentalist terrorists and
Sudanese claims that Egypt harbored and supported Sudanese rebels.  The
Egyptian Jihad group, which was responsible for the assassination of
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, has been linked both to Sudan and to Osama
bin-Laden.  Egypt has also accused Sudan of training and arming the
terrorists who attempted to assassinate Sadat's successor, Hosni Mubarak.

The case could easily be made that Egypt would have supported a strike on
Khartoum.  Whether they were given the opportunity to do so is far from
certain.  Regardless of whether or not Egypt played a role in the U.S.
attack, the fact that Sudan is claiming they did can only lead to a
reversal of any recent improvement in relations between the two countries,
and could lead to an escalation both of terrorist incidents in Egypt and
rebel offensives in Sudan.

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