Opening scene in the Oval Office in winter 2001, after U.S. and allied forces crushed the Taliban in retaliation for their part in 9/11, with bin Laden not yet found in Afghanistan.
President Bush tells his national security aides he wants to continue to wage war against the web of terrorists, lest America be attacked again with nukes or germs.
State's Powell counsels relaxing U.N. pressure on Iraq by calling them "smart sanctions," hoping this will persuade Saddam to permit inspections. Bush glumly agrees.
Having gloriously faced down the U.S. - and gaining greater financial and weaponry strength every day - Saddam becomes an iconic, heroic figure in the Arab and Muslim world. Through massive kickbacks and smuggling operations involving France, Russia and China, the murderous despot ensures U.N. protection from inspections. Free from fear of retaliation, Saddam offers safe haven in Iraq to bin Laden and followers seeking a center of operations.
The terrified royal families of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait demand that the U.S. and European nations station troops in their countries to act as a tripwire against Saddam's longtime lust for their oil and from bin Laden's vengeance. Bush, having rejected reforms to make our forces more mobile, is forced to decline. Europe, furious at the U.S. for failure to fulfill the leadership responsibilities of a superpower, passes. The U.N. resolves it is seized with concern.
Igniting a public uproar, some Jewish settlers said Tuesday they will soon start wearing orange stars on their shirts in a provocative campaign comparing the government's Gaza withdrawal plan to the Nazi Holocaust.
Tens of thousands of Eastern European women are falling victim to the Balkan sex trade.A very polished story he has ready for the people he's trying to groom to transport his slaves to their ultimate destination, isn't it? I'm sickened.
Marcu scratches his unshaven face and stares intently out of the window at the queue of battered tankers, trucks and cars beyond.
He's nervous, tired and desperate. Sitting in a small café on the Greek-Bulgarian border, he hesitates over his coffee before asking us a favour, a big favour.
"Look, I know you're Romanians. May I ask you to take these two girls in your car and drive them over to Greece?" he said, pointing to a car outside where a couple of young girls are sitting in the back seat.
He's figured out where we're from by the plates on our vehicle.
"They're from Brasov [a town in central Romania] and need to get to Thessaloniki [northern Greece]. I'll pay you good money. Their papers are OK," he added enthusiastically.
Marcu tells us he is trying to make a living by trafficking the two girls. "I'll find them good positions in a club in Thessaloniki. I have an address and I'll get good money from this. You know how hard it is to make a living nowadays. The girls are poor too, they're sisters and their parents are drunkards," he said.
"Greece is a much better future for them. I arrived here with them by bus but now I'm afraid to cross the border together with them because I heard the Greek custom officers are very suspicious and can stop us from entering."
Leaning over the table, Marcu began to look worried, "Please help me, take the two girls in your car and then we'll meet on the other side and you'll get some easy money."First appeal to the empathy in a heart, then to the greed in a heart. This is just diabolical.
"Why don't you just take a cab across?" we asked.I put myself in these two girls' shoes and was heartbroken. How can Europe allow this to go on? 200 000 women in the Balkans? Two hundred thousand women in human slavery? How many tens of millions of European men are supporting this obscene, exploitive system of sexual slavery? Just a quick, conservative back of the envelope calculation, assume that each of these women is encountering one new male "customer" a day. 200 000 × 365. Do you think this would be a big deal if 200 000 Mexican women had become sexual slaves in the United States? Why isn't this a bigger story?
"No, I don't want to hire a cab because these guys are crooks, they can rob me," he snapped back.
Marcu was getting edgy and wanted us to do a deal to take the girls across and quickly. Leaving the coffee shop, he followed, shuffling along to our car. We were about to talk to him further when, nervously examining our distinctive Romanian Dacia, he noticed we had made a mistake. On the back seat were our cameras and equipment: our cover was well and truly blown.
He didn't look back as he sprinted away down the road, getting into his car and disappearing round a bend into Bulgaria. He will no doubt be back to try another day.
Marcu is one of the hundreds of traffickers working across this and many other borders in the Balkans, smuggling not guns, drugs or stolen cars but women.
HOW THE TRADE WORKS
In November 2002, an the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, conference on the trafficking of human beings estimated that some 200,000 women in the Balkans had fallen victim to a smuggling network that extends across the region into the European Union.
German intelligence services have deciphered secret codes used by the Ansar al-Islam organization which is suspected of being behind many of the kidnappings and terror attacks in Iraq, according to German news magazine Focus.I have an idea, Franz-Hellmutt: how about you shut up and do your job?
In a report, Focus quotes police and intelligence authorities as saying the arrest of a man believed to have been planning an attack on Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in Berlin earlier this month has led to the codes being deciphered.
Franz-Hellmutt Schuerholz, president of Baden-Wuertemberg state police department, is quoted as saying: "We have managed to break the structures of the terrorist organization from the outside."
The report said that with the help of the arrested suspect authorities deciphered coded email and mobile telephone messages going right to the top of the organization.
Three men are detained in Germany on grounds of belonging to a terrorist organization following their arrests shortly before Allawi's visit to Germany on December 3.
They are believed to be members of the banned northern Iraqi Kurdish group Ansar al-Islam.
Turkey will be an Islamic "Trojan horse" inside the European Union if it is allowed to join the bloc, to the advantage of Al-Qaeda terror chief Osama bin Laden and other extremists, Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi said in an interview with Italian radio reported Thursday.I beg to differ, Muammar. A Moroccan newspaper says that the Islamists will rejoice if Europe rejects Turkey and I find their logic compelling.
"The Islamic world, including Islamic extremists up to bin Laden, is rejoicing at Turkey's entry. It is their Trojan horse," Kadhafi was quoted as saying by the daily La Repubblica in extracts from the RAI interview published before its broadcast.
Kadhafi said he had not opposed Turkey's EU membership but warned of its possible consequences.
"I say only that there will be consequences from the entry of this Trojan horse," he added, without elaborating.
An eventual refusal by the European Union to grant membership to Turkey would create a chasm between the West and the Muslim world and be a victory for terror chief Osama bin Laden, Morocco's L'Economiste newspaper said on Friday.
"Osama bin Laden and his followers are seeking to provoke this split," wrote the paper, adding: "Rejection of Turkey's candidacy would be seen around the world as a deliberate attempt to rupture ties with the Muslim world.
"It would be a huge victory for Bin Laden and other fanatics. It would be as if they had succeeded in force-feeding the entire world the doctrine that religious differences determine political and strategic choices," the paper wrote.
"If this country [Turkey] is rejected because its origins and references are Muslim, the message for other societies will be clear: it says brutally that it is useless to make an effort."
Refusing EU membership to Turkey "would call into question all the processes that are under way in the Arab world, from democratisation to economic liberalisation", said the Moroccan business newspaper.
No word on conditions British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Friday that it is not yet clear whether Turkey will meet the conditions EU leaders have set for opening talks on the country's membership in the bloc.
"The very good news for the government of Turkey is that there is a date being set. It will be, as anticipated, next year -- not the year after or the year after that ... and we are making a firm decision that these negotiations are with a view to full membership of the EU and not to some kind of associate membership," Straw told BBC radio.
He spoke from Brussels, Belgium, where EU leaders were meeting, with Turkey the top issue on their agenda.
SADDAM HUSSEIN has urged Iraqis to unite against the US occupation in a rallying call from his prison cell.It was so much nicer when everyone was united under Saddam's tyrannny!
Lawyers who met the deposed dictator said he had urged Iraq’s ethnic groups to work together against the invaders. He also denounced the upcoming elections, warning of the danger of falling into a US "trap".
The message from his Baghdad cell is bound to inflame insurrection in Iraq, at a time when rebels are carrying out continual attacks in an attempt to undermine the elections planned for the New Year.
Iraqi lawyer Khalil al-Duleimi met Saddam late last week, the first meeting since the former president’s capture a year ago.
"Our representative told us that the president warned the people of Iraq and the Arabs to beware of the American scheme aimed at splitting Iraq into sectarian and religious divisions and weakening the (Arab) nation," said Bushra Khalil, a Lebanese member of the defence team.
"The president sent recommendations to the Iraqi people to remain united and not fall in the trap of America’s slogans.
"He said Kurds, Arabs, Shia, Sunnis and Christians are all Iraqis who all have to stand united against the US plot."
According to the magazine, interviews with Taliban fighters, commanders and officials show that the mysterious Emir is alive and touring the countryside on a motorcycle in a bid to resuscitate his ebbing movement.Meanwhile the Taliban is an all-but-defunct movement now.