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World News and Prophetic Trends

 Reviewing Current World Conditions In Light Of Bible Prophecy

World Report-7 - Wars And Rumours Of Wars


Thousands Dead -- Thousands Missing!

The London Daily Telegraph reports: “Both towers of the World Trade Centre have collapsed after terrorists launched a bloody and brutal assault on the American nation, hijacking three planes and smashing them into New York's twin towers and the Pentagon in Washington DC. Thousands are feared dead in the suicide attacks, which caused the two 110-storey WTC towers to collapse into the streets of New York. A stunned US president George Bush promised a 'full-scale investigation to hunt down and find those folks who committed this act'. He said: ‘Terrorism against our nation will not stand.’.

The scenes of unbelievable destruction were thought to have been caused by Middle Eastern terrorists. Abu Dhabi television said that it had received a call from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claiming responsibility for crashing two planes into the twin WTC towers overlooking New York harbor.

The West Wing of White House was evacuated after the attack on the Pentagon in Washington, the heart of the US military machine. The first attack came just before 9am local time (2pm UK time) when a jet airliner smashed high into one of the WTC towers from the south. About 18 minutes later, as witnesses described the horror, a second airliner flew in from the same direction, hitting the other tower..."

Syrian missile alarms Israel

SYRIA has reportedly taken delivery of a new ballistic missile from North Korea which would enable it to hit any target in Israel from launchers deep inside Syrian territory.

In a move which is likely to add to concerns in the region about the growing strains between the two hostile neighbours, yesterday's Haaretz newspaper reported that Damascus had recently equipped its forces with the Scud D, and that Libya and Egypt were also buying the new weapon.

The missile is an adaptation of the Soviet-era Scud, which became famous during the Gulf War when it was fired by Iraq against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Previously, Syria had 300 less-sophisticated Scud B and Scud C models, but the new projectile is capable of hitting a target more than 400 miles away.

Israel has counted on being able to locate and destroy Scud launchers near its disputed border. The new missile could be hidden deep in Syrian territory and harder to detect.

"What is certain is that Syria has taken a great leap forward in terms of its missile arsenal," wrote Zeev Schiff, the paper's military editor, who said that the Syrians were now also able to produce their own missile parts.

In military terms Syria remains far weaker than Israel, which receives billions of dollars a year in US military aid and has a thriving arms industry, although the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon has increased the chance of the two sides coming into direct conflict.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli Prime Minister, has warned Damascus that any attack by a Syrian-backed group operating out of Lebanon would be considered an act of war.

In an interview in Time magazine he accused President Assad of Syria of "mobilising extreme elements among the Palestinians in Lebanon and certain elements among the (Shia Muslim) Hezbollah (group) to carry out attacks against Israel" after its withdrawal.

N. Korea sells long-range ballistic missile to Syria, Libya - Update

JERUSALEM [MENL] -- North Korea has sold the new Scud D long-range ballistic missile with a range of 700 kilometeres to Syria and Libya.

Libya is also interested in procuring the longer-range North Korean ballistic missile with a range of 1300 kilometers which is the original model for Iran's long-range Shihab-3 missile, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported on Monday.

Libya continues to build its arsenal of Scud missiles. On April 6, Swiss authorities seized a cargo of Scud missiles parts bound for Libya. Swiss airport police arrested an unnamed 44-year-old Taiwanese businessman travelling through Hong Kong and Zurich to Tripoli after they found mechanical parts in his suitcase, later identified as components for a propulsion device for Scud missiles.

According to the report, North Korea also plans to sell the Scud D to Egypt. Western intelligence sources told Ha'aretz that Egypt may also be producing medium-range Scud C missiles.

Syria already possesses the Russian-made Scud B missile with a range of 300 kilometers. Based on Russian technology, North Korea then developed the Scud C missile with a range of 500 kilometers. Scuds were used by Iraq in attacks on Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.

Ha'aretz reported that Syria has begun assembling the parts of Scud D missiles in a local factory established by the North Koreans. It is unclear whether Syria has begun producing Scud D parts itself or uses only parts imported from North Korea. It is also not known if the payload of the Scud D missile differs from the Scud B or Scud C or if its guidance system is more accurate.

But intelligence sources estimate that Damascus now has the capability to produce some of its own missile parts for the estrimated arsenal of at least 300 missiles and 26 launchers, as well as dummy launchers. All the missiles possess chemical warheads.

Iran continues to supply Damascus with rocket fuels for the Syrian missile arsenal.

In a related development, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung said Monday he would raise Japan's concern over the North Korean missile program during the first summit meeting with North Korea scheduled to be held in Pyongyang on June 12-14. Kim made the remarks following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori on Monday.

Russian-Afghan war looms

  New doctrine OKs 'preventive' attack for 'possibility of aggression'

Russia could launch a "preventive" military attack on fundamentalist Moslem forces in Afghanistan, which are reported to be massing along the border shared with several former Soviet republics, according to official Russian sources.

Igor Ivanov, Russian foreign minister, stated that Russia could attack bases of the Islamic fundamentalist group Taliban should there be a "threat" to any of Russia's Central Asian allies. The Taliban movement controls most of Afghanistan.

The report was carried by the Voice of Russia World Service, the official broadcasting service of the Russian government.

Ivanov made his remarks in the context of a new treaty signed this week that allows for "preventive strikes if there is aggression or the possibility of aggression against any signatories to the agreement," according to the broadcast. An attack or the threat of attack against one of the members of the treaty agreement would be considered as hostility toward all.

The so-called "Minsk Memorandum" was signed by Russia, Belarus, Armenia and the Central Asian republics of Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. All the signatories to the agreement are part of the larger Commonwealth of Independent States, successor entity to the former Soviet Union.

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have both suffered from attacks by Islamic fundamentalist guerrillas. Since their independence from the U.S.S.R., Tajikistan fought a prolonged civil war with insurgents who received support from neighboring Afghanistan.

The defense treaty among the six nations is part of a larger set of agreements among the former Soviet republics. Five of the six signatories to the collective security treaty have joined into a closer political and economic union.

Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have transformed their already existing customs union into a "supranational" grouping likened to the European Union.

 The president of Kazakstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, referred to the new union as a "milestone," describing it as a "Eurasian customs union." The purpose of the new union is to lower barriers to economic integration, and provide for the common defense of these former Soviet republics.

Nazarbayev's comparison of the "Eurasian customs union" to the European Union does not do justice to the new arrangement. While the EU is split among factions and there is no single dominant state, language or culture, the new Eurasian union -- as well as the entire Commonwealth of Independent States itself -- is dominated by one powerful member: Russia.

Russian language, culture and technological achievements provide a common bond among the former Soviet republics.

With the exception of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, each of the former Soviet republics is dependent upon Moscow and has formalized that dependency in one way or another.

An agreement that Putin says is "looking to the future," the "Minsk Memorandum" not only ties its members closer to Moscow, but adds a significant element of instability to international relations.

The "Minsk Memorandum" claims for its signatories the right to attack if a "possibility of aggression" exists. While today the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban is targeted for possible attack, the question will inevitably arise: Who else might be deemed a threat -- deserving the next "preventive" assault?

Russia also wants to get its hands on Bin Laden

MOSCOW -- They might disagree on Iran, anti-missile defense, but there is one area that Russia and the United States couldn't agree more -- Osama Bin Laden.

Russian counterterrorism officials want to get their hands on the Saudi billionaire fugitive just as much as their U.S. counterparts. Russian officials said Bin Laden is responsible for much of the financing and training of Islamic insurgents fighting troops in Chechnya. Bin Laden is said to be hiding in Afghanistan.

Officials said Bin Laden's arena these days is Yemen, according to Middle East Newsline. They said Bin Laden's family owns an array of businesses -- including farms and gasoline stations. Bin Laden operatives train Yemenis, Arab and African nationals in five centers in the mountainous regions of the country -- out of reach of the regime of President Abdullah Saleh.

The recruits come cheap: $500 a month and they are often excellent fighters who can fight for long periods with only small amounts of food and water. Currently, several hundred recruits are being trained.

The officials said the insurgents are sent from Yemen to countries in or around Central Asia. These include Afghanistan, Georgia and Pakistan. From there, the guerrillas enter Chechnya.

Bin Laden does not fund the insurgents from his own pocket. Officials said his operatives raise money in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf countries. Thousands of dollars are collected weekly in Yemen itself, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Russia has pressed its neighbors to stop the flow of insurgents into Chechnya. This includes Georgia and Afghanistan. Russia's Muslim neighbors such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have echoed Moscow's charges of increased Taliban training of insurgents who want to overthrow the secular regimes in Central Asia.

Moscow has even threatened to attack the Taliban militia, which is harboring Bin Laden. "I do not rule out the possibility of military steps," Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov agreed. "Russia has not been and cannot be indifferent," he said. "It will work with its partners on adequate measures which would liquidate any cases of aggressive sorties from Afghan territory."


The London Times reported: “Israel issued a warning yesterday that the daily running street battles between Israelis and Palestinians could erupt into a regional conflict that would engulf the Middle East and stretch across the Mediterranean to Europe. During a visit to London, Shlomo Ben-Ami, the Israeli Foreign Minister, painted a far bleaker picture of the implications of the month-long crisis gripping the Middle East than have previously been set out by Israeli leaders. Mr. Ben-Ami was a leading figure for almost a decade in the negotiations with the Palestinians, which collapsed last month.

Yesterday he appealed to Tony Blair for help in persuading Yassir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, to enforce a ceasefire and resume talks before it was too late. He made similar calls to European leaders in Paris earlier in the day and today is due in Washington for talks with President Clinton, who has only weeks left in office to broker a peace agreement. Mr. Ben-Ami said that the longer the present ‘low intensity’ conflict with the Palestinians continued the bigger the risk that it would lead to a regional escalation. There are already fears of fresh fighting on the northern border with Lebanon, which could drag in Syrian forces as well. Also, the militant mood on the street across the Arab world could force moderate leaders into direct confrontation with Israel...

CIA Chief Cites Proliferation, Terrorism Among Top Threats

CIA Director George J. Tenet said today that Russian defense firms supplied ballistic missile technology to Iran, India, China and Libya and remained a key supplier to Iran's civilian nuclear program in ways that "could be used to advance its weapons programs as well."

"Russian state-run defense and nuclear industries are still strapped for funds, and Moscow looks to them to acquire badly needed foreign exchange through exports," Tenet told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Delivering the CIA's annual assessment of worldwide threats, Tenet also said Russian entities have supplied Iran with "dual use" biotechnology and chemical production means – information sought by various nations and terrorist groups as a means of producing biological and technical weapons.

Dwelling on the Middle East as a particularly volatile region, Tenet said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "has grown more confident in his ability to hold on to his power." He offered a similarly bleak assessment of trends in neighboring Iran, saying that "prospects for near-term political reform are now fading" due to resistance from the nation's fundamentalist religious establishment despite the overwhelming popularity of reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

Tenet noted that Iran has also "increased its support to terrorist groups opposed to the [Middle East] peace process over the past two years."

But the CIA's concerns about the region were hardly limited to Iraq, Iran and the breakdown in the Middle East peace process. Tenet said leaders throughout the Middle East will face in the coming years extraordinary pressure from restive populations in the face of economic decline that has left large numbers of people out of work.

"Over the past 25 years, Middle Eastern economies have averaged only 2.8 percent GDP growth ; far less than Asia and only slightly more than sub-Saharan Africa," Tenet said, adding that populations in the region are surging in the face of such economic collapse.

"One-fourth of Jordanians, for example, are unemployed, and annual economic growth is well below the level needed to absorb some 60,000 new labor market entrants each year," Tenet said. "In Egypt the disproportionately young population adds 600,000 new job applicants a year in a country where unemployment is already near 20 percent."

Propelled by these trends, Tenet said, a new volatility is readily apparent throughout the region. "The recent popular demonstrations in several Arab countries; including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Jordan ; in support of the Palestinian intifada demonstrate the changing nature of activism of the Arab street," Tenet said. "Through access to the Internet and other means of communication, a restive public is increasingly capable of taking action without any identifiable leadership or organizational structure."

Hopscotching the globe, Tenet began his threat listing with the rise of "transnational" Islamic terrorist groups, with "decentralized leadership that makes them harder to identify and disrupt."

"Osama bin Laden and his global network of lieutenants and associates remain the most immediate and serious threat," Tenet said.

After terrorism, Tenet outlined numerous proliferation threats beyond Russia, listing Russia, China, probably Iran and possibly Iraq as nations capable of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Tenet said China has increased its exports of missile technology in recent years to Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and Libya and now must be watched "carefully" to see if China's communist leaders abide by the terms of a non-assistance pledge they made last November.

Following proliferation, Tenet said narcotics trafficking remains a major global problem, with Colombia remaining "the linchpin of the global cocaine industry" and Afghanistan responsible for 72 percent of illegal opium production last year.

In Colombia, Tenet noted, the nation's largest insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC, vehemently opposes U.S. anti-drug assistance to the government of President Pastrana and could step up attacks against both Colombian and U.S. personnel in the region.

"Indeed, in early October FARC leaders declared that U.S. soldiers located in combat areas are legitimate 'military targets,' " Tenet said.

Manufacturing Armageddon - Technologies for the Apocalypse ?

 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth... Small and very deadly, micro flying machines are being designed to swarm the battlefields of the future...more below.

According to the Bible an unprecedented war will occur in the future. It will be fought on land and sea, in the heavens above, and in the earth below, in the physical and spiritual worlds. It will include "Michael and his angels [fighting] against the dragon; and the dragon [fighting] and his angels" (Rev. 12:7).

Heretics will join the battle, calling upon "idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood" (Rev. 9:20) to convene their evil powers against the Christian God. They will unite with "unclean spirits....to gather them to the battle of that great day....[to] a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon ["Mount Megiddo"]" (Rev. 16:13-14;16).

 The fowl of the air will "eat the flesh of the mighty" and hybrid locusts will sting the enemies of God until the omnipotent Christ utterly repels the forces of darkness and destroys the New World Army.

At least that's the way fundamentalist Christians believe it will happen.

When reading about the war mentioned above I find particular interest in Revelation 9:1-11 where it speaks of synthesized insectoids and arthropods emerging from the bottomless pit to join the End-time battle.

Down through time myriad preachers have terrified sinners with tales of these demonic locusts bursting upward from out of the abyss and torturing unfortunate earthlings during a future time of great tribulation. But is that really what the prophet saw?

Some scholars believe what 'John the Revelator' actually beheld was future technologies, and that he simply referred to them in terms he understood; i.e. a military helicopter was perceived as some kind of giant locust whose wings sounded like "many horses running to battle" (Rev. 9:9).

A report by Jim Wilson in the February edition of Popular Mechanics presents evidence which may support this interpretation of the Book of Revelation. It may also shed light on a different, much older Biblical subject, 'the lord of the flies.'

"Ron Fearing has the future of warfare at the tip of his finger," writes Wilson. "It isn't pressing on the trigger of a laser death ray or button of a doomsday device. It's holding a stubby-winged mechanical bug."

"Flies are one of the most stable and maneuverable of all flying animals," he goes on to quote Fearing as saying. "They are the jet fighters of the animal world."

Evidently the Pentagon agrees and is working with engineers and biologists to create a lethal arsenal of micro-mechanical fighting bugs that combine insect aerodynamics with GPS navigation and molecular electronics.

Micro air vehicles (MAVs) represent one of the most fantastic opportunities for military surveillance and weapons delivery. "When perfected," Wilson points out, "Fearing's stainless steel and Mylar robot flies will be able to flap their way into the most secret places on Earth--the bunkers where Saddam Hussein plans his genocidal campaigns, and where Chinese spymasters plot their raids on America's nuclear weapons laboratories."

Consider these scenarios from Popular Mechanics:

Alan H. Epstein, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), recently described ....GPS - guided MAVs landing on structurally critical points along bridges deep in enemy territory. Each MAV would carry a small piece of shaped-charge plastique. Responding to a command transmitted from half a world away, the MAVs would explode in sequence, bringing down the bridge with only one-hundredth of the amount of explosives required by a pinpoint-accurate smart bomb.

Some military strategists envision swarms of robot flies fluttering onto battlefields. Scout flies, equipped with miniature cameras, would do the work of reconnaissance teams by eavesdropping on tactical communications and sending back real-time videos of enemy positions. Sniper flies would seek out field commanders, recognizing them by the iris patterns of their eyes....Then, they would become the 21st century incarnation of the tribesman's poison dart as they hurled themselves into the carotid arteries of their targets.

Meanwhile, titanium-tipped robot flies too small to register on radar screens would gather in the weeds at the end of enemy runways. Then, rising as a swarm, they would allow themselves to be sucked into jet engine air intakes.

The MAVs' titanium bodies would fracture the whirling turbine blades and send a rain of red-hot fragments through thousands of pounds of jet fuel and ammunition.

While such stratagems obviously appeal to the highest levels of US military intelligence, theologians will be troubled by glaring similarities between MAV technology and fundamentalists predictions of an end-time spiral by mankind into a cataclysmic war where locust-sized weapons are "given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power" (Rev. 9:3).

When one considers the exponential achievements of modern science and humanity's newfound interest in playing god, the inevitability of soul-free soldier-clones keeping eye on a biometric chip-implanted humanity with the help of GPS controlled micro air vehicles...well, it just kind of takes the fun out of wondering where our once-idyllic world is headed.

On the other hand, fundamentalists Christians may have been right all along. Perhaps our pretentious sciences are forcing Armageddon!

The Bible--a book that has been repeatedly proven to possess astounding mathematical codex's and incomprehensibly accurate prophetic predictions states that Jesus Christ will return at a future time and will defeat a well-equipped Antichrist army made up of soldiers that kill without conscience. Could these be clones?

The Bible also depicts flying locust-weapons. Are these micro air vehicles developed by the military?

We also note the 'MAVs' of Revelation 9 torment those who receive the Mark of the Beast. Are we looking at GPS enabled biometric chip implants?

Either way it's interesting to note that while the locust hoards of Revelation 9 are presided over by Abaddon and may have been created in human laboratories, the flying weapons of the Apocalypse do whatever Jesus commands, as every member of humanity ultimately will.


Russia has conducted a test of a long-range missile with a new jet-powered last stage designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

They view the launch as Russia's answer to U.S. plans to deploy a missile-defense system against long-range missiles.

The flight test of the road-mobile SS-25 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) took place from a launch site in central Russia two weeks ago. It was tracked to an impact area several thousand miles away on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

U.S. officials said the missile's flight took an unusual path: Its last stage was a high-speed cruise missile that flew within the Earth's atmosphere at an altitude of about 100,000 feet.

"It looks like the Russians were testing scramjet technology," said one intelligence official.

Citing a policy of not discussing intelligence matters, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke declined to comment on the Russian missile test.

A "scramjet," short for supersonic-combustion ramjet, is a high-powered jet engine capable of reaching speeds of five times the speed of sound Mach 5 or more.

It is lighter than a space-borne re-entry vehicle because it does not need to carry its own oxygen.

Officials familiar with intelligence reports of the SS-25 flight test said it involved firing the road-mobile missile nearly into space and then having its last stage drop down to within the atmosphere and flying at supersonic speed to the Kamchatka impact range.

The SS-25 ballistic missile has three stages and a post-boost vehicle carrying the warhead. It has a maximum range of more than 7,000 miles.

Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, which is in charge of all U.S. missile-defense development, said current U.S. systems capable of knocking down cruise missiles are the Patriot PAC-2 and newly deployed PAC-3.

The Navy's ship-launched Standard missile currently deployed on Aegis-equipped warships is also capable of knocking down cruise missiles, Col. Lehner said.

Asked if current systems could knock out a cruise missile traveling at Mach 5, Col. Lehner said: "The PAC-3 can shoot down a Scud, even one that moves at high velocity."

U.S. national missile-defense efforts are currently focused on intercepting long-range missile warheads in space. The Bush administration's successful July 14 interceptor test involved knocking out a dummy warhead 140 miles above the Pacific Ocean.

The Air Force is developing an aircraft-mounted anti-missile laser that is being designed to knock out missiles shortly after launch in the "boost phase" of their flight. It is not known if the airborne laser could be used against high-speed cruise missiles.

Russian leaders, including President Vladmir Putin, have vowed to adopt countermeasures for Moscow's strategic nuclear missile forces if the United States builds a national missile-defense shield.

Mr. Putin said in June -- before his recent agreement with President Bush to discuss scrapping the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty by linking it to bilateral cuts in nuclear stockpiles -- that one Russian countermeasure would be to load multiple warheads or additional warheads on its current missiles.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in an interview with The Washington Times last week that the Pentagon is

working on a research and development program that includes "a variety of ways" to shoot down incoming missiles.

The Pentagon also is in the process of conducting a nuclear posture review to determine how many and what types of strategic forces should be deployed.

Military experts said that in 1995, the Russians unveiled a prototype scramjet-powered missile called GELA. Several ground tests of the missile were carried out and two brief flight tests also were reported in trade publications.

Sven Kraemer, a former White House National Security Council staff specialist on strategic missiles, said he was not aware of the SS-25 scramjet test, but said if it were true it would be an alarming development. It would indicate Russia is continuing to develop advanced strategic weapons.

"If this is true, it demonstrates Russia's intense effort to very significantly upgrade its offensive capabilities even as it is doing the same in its strategic defense investments," Mr. Kraemer said in an interview.

Mr. Kraemer said that in addition to continued development of new strategic weapons, Russia has gone ahead with upgrading its nuclear-armed strategic defense system around Moscow and the construction of deep underground bunkers used to protect leaders and command forces in a nuclear war.

The latest strategic-missile test by Russia is likely to fuel criticism of U.S. aid to Russia for the dismantling of nuclear weapons. Critics of the aid program point out that the money allows Moscow to use its own funds to develop new nuclear arms as it dismantles older ones.

The Bush administration has cut some $100 million from the aid program.

Keith Payne, a missile-defense expert who heads the National Institute for Public Policy, a defense think tank, said any Russian effort to counter U.S. missile defenses with a scramjet missile or other techniques is misguided.

"The missile-defense system we're talking about isn't designed to defeat Russian ICBMs," Mr. Payne said. "If the Russians want to put any countermeasures, I don't really care. It doesn't undermine what we're developing."

The Bush administration has repeatedly said that a national missile defense is aimed at protecting the United States from missile attacks by "rogue states" such as North Korea and Iraq.

Mr. Payne said the scramjet missile may be part of Russia's efforts to develop non-nuclear or conventional precision-guided long-range missiles. "The Russians put a lot of stock in that," he said.

The United States is currently working on its own version of a hypersonic cruise missile that uses scramjet technology and will travel at speeds of Mach 5 or higher.

A scramjet space aircraft is also being developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


The Middle East Newsline reports: “Israeli sources said military intelligence has drafted a report that warns of the increasing likelihood of regional war in 2002. The report said the war could be sparked by either an Israeli offensive against the Palestinian Authority or an escalation in tension along Israel's border with Lebanon.

The report, according to the sources, asserts that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat maintains control over his people and the war against Israel. Arafat, the report said, plans to continue the 10-month-old war until he achieves significant political gains.

 It was the first time that a military report raised the likelihood of war over the next year. Earlier assessments by military intelligence maintained that such countries as Egypt and Jordan would seek to halt Arab plans for war&ldots;”


 The Guardian Unlimited reports: “The United States is exploring the development of a 'space-bomber' which could destroy targets on the other side of the world within 30 minutes. As part of a weapons modernization strategy personally directed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Pentagon is drawing up plans for a 'sub-orbital vehicle' launched like a spacecraft, which Rumsfeld describes as 'valuable for conducting rapid global strikes'. The craft - which would set the scene for a new generation of stratospheric warfare - would be able to drop precision bombs from a height of 60 miles, flying at 15 times the speed and 10 times the height of America's current bomber fleet. It is unclear whether it would be manned. Plans for the weapon appear to undermine claims that President George Bush's controversial Missile Defense Screen - dubbed 'Son of Star Wars' - is purely defensive.

The new plane could be developed quickly by adapting shelved research for Ronald Reagan's 'Star Wars' together with plans for a reusable spacecraft called the X-33 Venture Star, under development by Nasa and Lockheed Martin.

 It would drop bombs from such a height that they would act as 'bunker busters', penetrating deep into underground silos without explosive warheads and causing massive pre-emptive damage on the ground within minutes of the start of a conflict - indicating a clear intention to take out enemy missiles before they have the capacity to launch. It would also be out of reach of conventional air defense systems.

 The bomber could return to base in the US within 90 minutes from any point on the globe. In 1999 it took US bombers in Kosovo 24 hours to return to base in Missouri&ldots;”

Syria developing VX gas missile warhead with N. Korean help

 World Tribune- Syria is developing a warhead that could deliver VX gas on a Scud-class missile.

 U.S. defense sources said Syria is advancing in the research and development of a VX warhead on the Scud C missile. The sources said the project could be concluded over the next year.

 "There are many ways to interpret how far advanced the Syrian VX program is," a defense source said. "What is clear is that this is a priority for Damascus and a breakthrough is expected shortly."

 VX is a nerve gas that has long been produced by Syria. Damascus is already believed to have produced a Scud warhead that can deliver Sarin gas. The VX warhead has been tested on a Scud B missile, the sources said.

 The first test was detected as early as 1998. The test was to ensure that VX gas would disperse upon impact of the missile.

 The latest Syrian efforts, the source said, is on the longer-range Scud C program. The Scud B has a range of about 300 kilometers. The Scud C has a range of 500 kilometers.

North Korea is said to have supplied Syria with both technology and equipment for the VX program. But the sources said Syria is believed to have shut out all foreigners from its Scud VX weaponization project.

 Syria is also developing a chemical warhead for the Scud D program. That missile is said to have a range of up to 700 kilometers. In September 2000, Syria flight-tested the Scud D, which is said to have achieved a range of 600 kilometers.

Iraqi Defector Warns Congress of Saddam's Weapons

Saddam to have nuclear missiles by 2005

 WASHINGTON — A former director of Iraq's nuclear weapons program warned lawmakers Wednesday that if the United States does not topple Saddam Hussein immediately, the Iraqi dictator will possess three nuclear missiles by 2005.

American-educated Dr. Khidir Hamza, who defected from Iraq in 1995 after serving as the Iraqi dictator's top official for nuclear weapons development, told a bipartisan task force that his estimation was a conservative one.

"When I left, we designed one missile," and were acquiring the materials from foreign stockpiles to build it, Hamza said, adding that the U.N. weapons inspections that ended in 1998 were the only measures that ever put a dent in Saddam's plans.

While Saddam's nuclear program was still in the development stages at the time weapons inspectors arrived on the scene, Saddam had already used biological and chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers in the 1980s and Iraq's own Kurdish civilians, Hamza told the bicameral Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation.

As Hamza described a violent and paranoid leader who would set off on drunken binges and hysterical rages, lawmakers in the House Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday passed a resolution — now headed to a full House vote — that demands that Iraq allow "immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access" to its weapons programs.

Any refusal, according to the measure, "presents a mounting threat to the United States, its allies and international peace and security."

 The resolution followed President Bush's recent threat warning Saddam to open his country to weapons inspectors or find out the hard way the consequences of refusal.

 The focus on Iraq picked up clarity in recent weeks as congressional leaders urged President Bush to make the despotic nation the next target in the war on terror. Several lawmakers have also asked Bush to release $10 million in appropriated funds to Iraq's parliament-in-exile, the Iraqi National Congress.

 The Bush administration is moving cautiously, however, saying that only loose connections have been made tying Saddam's regime to the Sept. 11 attacks, and allies are uneasy about taking him down.

 Hamza said the longer the United States plays softball with Saddam, the more time he has to work on his nuclear weapons program.

Hamza suggested that a small U.S. force similar to that in Afghanistan today could encourage anti-regime factions, as well as disloyal Iraqi soldiers, to defect and bring down the dictator. He said dropping bombs strategically on Baghdad would help smoke Saddam out.

Asked if Hamza's story compelled him to push for the topple of the regime, task force co-chair Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said he wanted to be sure that if the United States were to move into Iraq, its mission would be strategically sound.

 "I don't think there's a debate about whether or not to take out Saddam Hussein — I think if any member of Congress had a magic wand they would eliminate him immediately," he said. "The question is whether we have the military capacity to undertake that and to manage it if a civil war were to break out. We're trying to determine that by listening to the experts."


Is Arafat provoking full-scale war? Evidence grows that leader seeks major Mideast conflict

 WorldNetDaily.com - Israeli security sources say there is growing evidence that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is plotting to lead the Middle East into a major new conflict, which they say could be part of a larger effort to bring much of the world to war.

Although the evidence is still mainly circumstantial at this point, sources maintain it is substantial enough to be taken seriously by regional and international leaders.

The security sources point out that several recent Palestinian terror attacks appeared to be joint operations carried out by groups that

Arafat is supposed to be suppressing, working with terrorists connected to his own PLO Fatah movement. More ominously, they seem to have coordinated their operations with the Iranian and Syrian backed Hezbollah militia stationed in southern Lebanon.

The Dec. 1 twin suicide blasts and subsequent car bomb explosion in Jerusalem bore the marks of the radical Shiite Lebanese group, they said.

That was even truer of Wednesday night's ambush of a civilian bus outside the Judean town of Emmanuel, which left 10 people dead and around 30 wounded. They noted that the operation was obviously well planned and executed. Three camouflaged snipers detonated a roadside bomb to stop the vehicle, then opened fire on bus passengers and surrounding cars, and on rescue personnel who quickly arrived on the scene.

Security officials pointed out that the Fatah-run "Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades" took initial responsibility for the militia-style attack, followed by the militant Hamas movement.

 They say it is very likely that both groups participated in the major operation. They say this decreases to near zero the chances that Arafat's security agents had no prior knowledge of the planned assault. A claim by Palestinian West Bank Security Chief Jibril Rajoub that the attack was carried out by a lone Hamas activist working with his friends to avenge his brother's recent death was dismissed as patently absurd by Israeli officials.

 Just before the deadly bus ambush, two suicide terrorists tried to kill Israeli civilians outside a Jewish community in the southern Gaza Strip.

 That attack was traced to the militant Islamic Jihad terrorist group. Israeli authorities believe it was deliberately timed to take place at the same hour as the bus ambush, increasing the political impact of the two attacks and thereby provoking a stronger Israeli military response (which is continuing today).

 Security sources say that the typically weak condemnation issued by Arafat's office last night – denouncing the attacks while also decrying "the continued Israeli escalation, bombardments and assassinations" in Palestinian-ruled zones – sent a mixed signal at best to the terrorist groups and probably indicated Palestinian Authority approval, if not actual participation, in the assaults.

 The informed sources say last night's attacks add to growing indications that Arafat has decided to provoke an all-out war in the region in an attempt to save his skin. They say this is the only explanation for his almost total failure to close down the terrorist networks operating in his midst.

They say Arafat's excuse for inaction – that he is too weak to take on the popular terrorist movements – is ridiculous given that he has eight heavily armed security services and around 40,000 paramilitary policemen. They believe that the relatively small terror networks could be crushed within hours if Arafat really wanted to do so. The fact that he has basically defied the United States and the European Union (which provide most of his foreign aid) by arresting only a token number of known terrorists is a strong indication that he has something else up his sleeve, they warn.

 Security officials suspect that Arafat's apparent war plan is being coordinated with Lebanese Hezbollah forces and Saddam Hussein, with probable knowledge and approval of Syria and Iran, and possibly also North Korea. They point out that the radical Lebanese militia and the Iraqi dictator both fear that they will be future targets of the American-led anti-terror campaign. If so, they may surmise that they have little to lose by "defending" Arafat from the despised Ariel Sharon. Indeed, such action would surely bolster their images in the wider Muslim world, and thereby possibly help put off American military action against them.

An even graver scenario is worrying some Israeli officials, according to security sources.

 They fear that North Korea – which is closely allied with Syria and Iran, and has also provided weapons to Saddam – may be willing to attack U.S. forces stationed along the border with South Korea in order to preoccupy the giant superpower as major fighting breaks out in the Middle East. Israeli leaders were said to be extremely concerned when the state-controlled Rodong Sinmun newspaper accused the Bush administration on Sunday of planning to attack the communist country after it is finished with Afghanistan.

 Israeli security officials say their worst nightmare is that Osama bin Laden will somehow escape from Afghanistan, carry out one or two more massive terror attacks in America and/or Europe, while certain Muslim countries and North Korea launch military offensives against Israeli and U.S forces. They say this frightening scenario has also occurred to Egyptian leaders, prompting the unusual visit by Egypt's foreign minister to Jerusalem last week. They warn that the tense region – and the entire world – could be sitting on a powder keg much larger than most people might imagine, with Yasser Arafat and his comrades possibly getting ready to light the fuse.

 Israel: Arafat is no longer relevant

The Jerusalem Post - The security cabinet decided overnight that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat is "irrelevant" and ordered the IDF to target PA facilities and recapture territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel has cut all contacts with the PA and has no demands or expectations that the PA will act to foil terror attacks.

All contacts with PA security forces have also been abrogated.

The aims of the move were not to personally harm Arafat or bring about the PA's collapse, but rather to end Arafat's reign, ministers said at the conclusion of the cabinet session.

"Only Israel can provide for its own security and that is what we will do," Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit told Army Radio. "The cabinet instructed the IDF to act in any area where there is a terrorist infrastructure.

"The intention is in fact to enter [PA-controlled] Area A and into areas in Palestinian cities where terrorists originate.

"There is a need to search for those [involved] ... to disarm them [and] arrest wanted [Palestinians]," Sheetrit said.

The statement, along with operational decisions for increasing IDF pressure on the PA, is one of the results of last night's terror attacks near Emmanuel in Samaria and in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip.

IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ron Kitri said the operations would be limited to areas where terror attacks originate.

"I don't see the point in operations that do not deal directly with our atempts to thwart terror. "We have no interest in taking over Area A, enlarging our territory or building more army bases," Kitri said.

Armored and infantry units took up several controlling positions in and around Ramallah overnight. One of the positions is reportedly some 200 meters from Arafat's office.

Troops also took up positions close to PA radio and television broadcast studios and antennas in Ramallah. The antennas also serve the Palestinian PALTEL cellular telephone network. Radio Palestine AM band broadcasts are reportedly off the air.

Local stations in the territories are still broadcasting feeds from the Gaza Strip, according to Army Radio. IAF jets and helicopter gunships bombed PA installations in Ramallah and Nablus.

Arafat's office in Ramallah was reported hit in the strikes, according to Palestinian sources. He was not in the building at the time of the attack. IDF troops effectively divided the Gaza Strip, north to south, into three sections overnight.

Soldiers took up positions on the Karni-Netzarim road and along the road leading to Gush Katif. The IDF has surrounded Rafah along the Egyptian border, cutting it off from the rest of the Gaza Strip, the IDF Spokesman said.

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