Terror attack in Nairobi

Amandla contributor Zahra Moloo talks to Roberto Nieto about the situation in Kenya following last weekends attack.

Re-examining Cuito Cuanavale: a battle that changed history

The 1988 Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Southern Angola led to the stunning defeat of apartheid South Africa’s military supremacy in Southern Africa, paving the way for Namibian independence and accelerating the demise of apartheid. On the 25th anniversary of this key moment in history, Gwen Schulman talks to Ameth Lô of the Group for Research and Initiative for the Liberation of Africa on the decisive role played by Cuban forces in the battle and the ensuing changes.

 
In 1987/88 the battle became an important episode in the Angolan Civil War (1975 to 2002). Between 9 September and 7 October 1987, the Angolan Army (FAPLA), in an attempt to finally subdue the Angolan insurgent movement UNITA in south-eastern Angola, was decisively repelled in a series of battles at the Lomba River by the South African Army (SADF), which had once more intervened on UNITA’s behalf. With FAPLA retreating to their starting point at Cuito Cuanavale, the SADF and UNITA went on the offensive and started the siege by shelling Cuito with long-range artillery on 14 October. A major battle ensued and Angola, fearing a defeat, requested help from Cuba. With Cuban reinforcements, Cuito was held and the South African advance ended after six unsuccessful attempts to overcome the FAPLA-Cuban defences between 13 January and 23 March 1988. The SADF withdrew but continued to shell Cuito from a distance.

Source: wikipedia

Amandla: Patrick Alleyn sur les enjeux environnementaux concernant le bassin du Nil/ Polémique en Algérie autour d’un “sondage” d’Al Jazeera.

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 26 décembre 2007 sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

L’émission du 26 décembre est un spécial en français… ou presque.

Le photo-journaliste Patrick Alleyn parle des enjeux sociaux-politiques entourant l’exploitation du Nil. Patrick Alleyn et Benoit Aquin reviennent de Chine et d’Afrique et présentent, par le médium de la photographie, les défis environnementaux des sociétés chinoises et est-africaines.

Souk de Khan el-Khalili au CaireM. Alleyn nous entretient sur les défis de la gestion régionale du Nil, surtout en Égypte et en Éthiopie.

Cliquez ici pour pour entendre l’entrevue (avec M. Alleyn, Roberto et Moussa).

Une trentaine de photos sont affichées à la Maison de la culture du Plateau Mont-Royal au 465, av. Mont-Royal Est, Montréal, (Face au métro Mont-Royal; 514-872-2266) dans le cadre d’une exposition qui s’intitule: “Territoires sous pression“. Cette exposition se tient jusqu’au 20 janvier 2008. L’entrée est libre. PHOTO : © 2007 Benoit Aquin (tous droits réservés)

 

Entrevue avec Gwen qui nous entretient sur les raisons de son voyage en Afrique du Sud et au Malawi ainsi que son intention de faire des reportages qui seront présentés à notre émission Amandla (En anglais!).

Cliquez ici pour entendre l’entrevue (avec Gwen, Roberto et Moussa).

 

 

Commentaires sur le tolé provoqué en Algérie par un “sondage” d’Al Jazeera sur les attentats du 11 décembre à Alger. Un sondage sur le site de la chaîne de télévision qatari, Al Jazeera, provoque de vives réactions en Algérie. En effet, il demande: “Êtes-vous pour les deux attentats terroristes perpétrés à Alger?”. 52% de ceux qui ont daigné répondre l’ont fait en répondant “oui”. Commentaires de Moussa.

Des journaux, comme la Tribune d’Alger, critiquent fortement ce manque d’éthique de la part de la chaine du Qatar, et certains vont jusqu’à l’accuser de servir les vils desseins de la nébuleuse terroriste Al Qaïda:

Ghada Hamrouche de la Tribune d’Alger:

Unanime. C’est le moins qu’on puisse dire de la réaction de la presse algérienne à propos du scandaleux sondage de la chaîne qatarie El Djazira. Ainsi, les quotidiens parus hier ont vivement critiqué la formule et même la publication du résultat d’un sondage immoral. «L’attentat d’El Djazira», a écrit en grande manchette El Moudjahid, avant d’affirmer : «El Djazira est aujourd’hui un îlot fortifié du terrorisme, et sa capacité de nuisance dépasse celle de ceux qui tuent aveuglément des innocents, car elle s’applique à donner un semblant de légitimité à de vils criminels.»

De son côté, le Jour d’Algérie, en qualifiant la chaîne tout bonnement de «porte-parole officiel d’Al Qaïda», estime que ce sondage est «un véritable encouragement au crime». «La chaîne absout le GSPC de tous les crimes qu’il a commis et ceux qu’il envisage de commettre en Algérie», ajoute-t-il. Quant au quotidien El Watan, le sondage ne peut être qu’un «sondage de la honte». «Le sondage d’El Djazira n’est pas un simple dérapage. C’est tout simplement le summum du mépris de la vie humaine. Une insulte à l’éthique professionnelle, à la morale et aux valeurs universelles reconnues par toutes les religions», peut-on y lire.

Rémi Yacine, d’El Watan, se tourne vers une autre cause de cette tourmente, le désert médiatique audiovisuel algérien:

Tout le monde s’y met. Tous contre Al Jazeera ! Pour les autorités algériennes, le dérapage de la jeune chaîne qatarie est une aubaine. Il sert à masquer les lacunes sécuritaires, les limites de la politique de réconciliation et tout simplement l’incurie du système.

Parce qu’en Algérie, les islamistes sont aussi au pouvoir. Les barbéfèlenes sont solidement installés du côté du Palais du gouvernement. La presse indépendante a eu raison de s’émouvoir contre ce sondage indécent (Pour ou contre les attentats d’Alger ? Plutôt une bêtise du service marketing). Une fois l’indignation passée, il convient d’analyser cette colère juste, mais indéniablement instrumentalisée. Le vrai problème n’est pas Al Jazeera. Le problème réside dans l’Etat. Le problème est dans la dictature audiovisuelle. Il est offensant pour les Algériens de n’avoir qu’une chaîne de télévision ! L’Unique, la mal-nommée. L’ENTV n’est pas une chaîne publique, elle est une extension du pouvoir.
Elle est à l’image des dictatures arabes, obsolète, incongrue et définitivement non fiable. La voix de son maître. C’est donc la faute aux responsables politiques au pouvoir, au directeur de l’ENTV (passé par tous les rouages du système, qui a appris à dire très tôt anaâm sidi, choukrane (« oui monsieur, merci »), si les Algériens se ruent sur Al Jazeera et les chaînes de télévision française pour savoir ce qui se passe chez eux. Un tel sondage serait passé inaperçu si l’Algérie était dotée de télévisions libres, indépendantes. Si la liberté d’expression avait droit d’entrée à la télévision. Il ne faut pas se leurrer, l’actuel directeur de l’ENTV dirige une télévision brejnévienne, digne de Kim Il Sung. Aucun opposant, aucun artiste engagé, aucun journaliste indépendant, aucun militant des droits de l’homme n’a le visa nécessaire (estampillé FLN, RND ou ex-Hamas, islamo-conservateur) pour pouvoir s’exprimer sur l’Unique. Ce sont toujours les mêmes qui « habitent » la télévision algérienne, ni démocratique ni populaire depuis l’indépendance (confisquée). Le premier procès à faire n’est pas contre Al Jazeera (qui n’a pas à nous aimer ou détester, contrairement à ce qui est écrit ces derniers jours), mais contre nos responsables médiocres qui maintiennent nos concitoyens dans l’ignorance en imposant une dictature propre aux potentats arabes. La liberté de la presse doit entrer dans la Bastille de l’ENTV. Qu’ils le veuillent ou pas. Il appartient aussi aux journalistes de refuser cette censure, de faire exploser ce système pour créer des télévisions dignes de l’Algérie, des Algériens. Gageons qu’on saura faire autant, sinon mieux qu’Al Jazeera.

 

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the December 26th 2007 Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

The December 26th is totally in French… almost.

Interview with Patrick Alleyn who talks about the socio-political issues regarding the management of the Nile river by the States occupying its basin. Patrick Alleyn and Benoît Paquin came back from China and Africa, Ethiopia and Egypt more precisely. They present us, through the photography medium, the environmental challenges of the Chinese and East-African societies.

Click here to hear the interview (Mr. Alleyn, Roberto and Moussa).

You can see the photos (there are thirty of them) displayed at the “Maison de la culture du Plateau Mont-Royal”, 465, av. Mont-Royal Est, Montreal, (in front of the Mont-Royal metro station; 514-872-2266). The exposition is called : “Territoires sous pression”and lasts until January 20th 2008. Admission is free.

Interview with Gwen who tells us about the reasons for her trip to South Africa and Malawi as well as her plans for doing reportages that will be presented on the Amandla show. (In english!).

Click here to hear the interview (with Gwen, Roberto and Moussa).

Comments on the turmoil created in Algeria by an Al-Jazeera ‘survey’ asking if people agreed with the December 11th bombings in Algiers. The newspapers in Algeria are furious and accuse Al Jazeera to be an ‘Al Qaida puppet’. Some papers (El Watan [link in french]) indicates that if Algeria had a free televised media environment (no State control) the turmoil wouldn’t have happened since Algerians would’ve listened to local TV instead of Al-Jazeera.

This issue still shows a serious lack of ethics from the Qatari TV station. Comments by Moussa.

Les États-Unis et le Soudan, partenaires dans la lutte contre le terrorisme/ United-States and Sudan, partners in counter-terrorism

(Lien en anglais/ link in english)

Si, vous croyez que les sanctions diverses que les États-Unis ont menacé d’appliquer contre le Soudan à cause de ce qui se passe au Darfour vont, un jour, avoir un effet; dites-vous bien que ces deux pays sont partenaires dans la lutte contre le terrorisme. Il semble bien que, pour Washington, ce partenariat ne doive pas souffrir des menaces de sanctions apparemment proférées pour épater la galerie.

If you think the sanctions threats the USA uttered against Sudan because of what’s happening in Darfur will, one day, take effect; you have to take into account that those two countries are partners in counter-terrorism. It seems that, for Washington, this partnership must not suffer from the Darfur problem. Therfore, the sanctions may be pronounced only for the show…

Los Angeles Time:

By Greg Miller and Josh Meyer, Times Staff Writers
June 11, 2007

WASHINGTON — Sudan has secretly worked with the CIA to spy on the insurgency in Iraq, an example of how the U.S. has continued to cooperate with the Sudanese regime even while condemning its suspected role in the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in Darfur.

President Bush has denounced the killings in Sudan’s western region as genocide and has imposed sanctions on the government in Khartoum. But some critics say the administration has soft-pedaled the sanctions to preserve its extensive intelligence collaboration with Sudan.

The relationship underscores the complex realities of the post-Sept. 11 world, in which the United States has relied heavily on intelligence and military cooperation from countries, including Sudan and Uzbekistan, that are considered pariah states for their records on human rights.

“Intelligence cooperation takes place for a whole lot of reasons,” said a U.S. intelligence official, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing intelligence assessments. “It’s not always between people who love each other deeply.”

Sudan has become increasingly valuable to the United States since the Sept. 11 attacks because the Sunni Arab nation is a crossroads for Islamic militants making their way to Iraq and Pakistan.

That steady flow of foreign fighters has provided cover for Sudan’s Mukhabarat intelligence service to insert spies into Iraq, officials said.

“If you’ve got jihadists traveling via Sudan to get into Iraq, there’s a pattern there in and of itself that would not raise suspicion,” said a former high-ranking CIA official familiar with Sudan’s cooperation with the agency. “It creates an opportunity to send Sudanese into that pipeline.”

As a result, Sudan’s spies have often been in better position than the CIA to gather information on Al Qaeda’s presence in Iraq, as well as the activities of other insurgent groups.

“There’s not much that blond-haired, blue-eyed case officers from the United States can do in the entire Middle East, and there’s nothing they can do in Iraq,” said a second former CIA official familiar with Sudan’s cooperation. “Sudanese can go places we don’t go. They’re Arabs. They can wander around.”

The officials declined to say whether the Mukhabarat had sent its intelligence officers into the country, citing concern over the protection of sources and methods. They said that Sudan had assembled a network of informants in Iraq providing intelligence on the insurgency. Some may have been recruited as they traveled through Khartoum.

The U.S.-Sudan relationship goes beyond Iraq. Sudan has helped the United States track the turmoil in Somalia, working to cultivate contacts with the Islamic Courts Union and other militias in an effort to locate Al Qaeda suspects hiding there. Sudan also has provided extensive cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, acting on U.S. requests to detain suspects as they pass through Khartoum.

Sudan gets a number of benefits in return. Its relationship with the CIA has given it an important back channel for communications with the U.S. government. Washington has also used this channel to lean on Khartoum over the crisis in Darfur and for other issues.

And at a time when Sudan is being condemned in the international community, its counter-terrorism work has won precious praise. The U.S. State Department recently issued a report calling Sudan a “strong partner in the war on terror.”

Some critics accuse the Bush administration of being soft on Sudan for fear of jeopardizing the counter-terrorism cooperation. John Prendergast, director of African affairs for the National Security Council in the Clinton administration, called the latest sanctions announced by Bush last month “window dressing,” designed to appear tough while putting little real pressure on Sudan to stop the militias it is widely believed to be supporting from killing members of tribal settlements in Darfur.

“One of the main glass ceilings on real significant action in response to the genocide in Darfur has been our growing relationship with authorities in Khartoum on counter-terrorism,” said Prendergast, a senior advisor to the International Crisis Group. “It is the single biggest contributor to why the gap between rhetoric and action is so large.”

In an interview, Sudan’s ambassador to the United States, John Ukec Lueth Ukec, suggested that the sanctions could affect his country’s willingness to cooperate on intelligence matters. The steps announced by Bush include denying 31 businesses owned by the Sudanese government access to the U.S. financial system.

The decision to impose financial penalties “was not a good idea,” Ukec said. “It diminishes our cooperation. And it makes those who are on the extreme side, who do not want cooperation with the United States, stronger.”

But White House and U.S. intelligence officials downplayed the prospect that the intelligence cooperation would suffer, saying that it was in both countries’ interests.

“The No. 1 consideration in imposing stiffer sanctions is that the Sudanese government hasn’t stopped the violence there and the people continue to suffer,” said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “We certainly expect the Sudanese to continue efforts against terrorism because it’s in their own interests, not just ours.”

Sudan has its own interests in following the insurgency because Sudanese extremists and foreign fighters who pass through the country are likely to return and become a potentially destabilizing presence.

Sudan’s lax controls on travel have made it, according to one official, a “way station” for Islamist militants not only from North Africa, but also from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states.

Some former U.S. intelligence officials said that Sudan’s help in Iraq had been of limited value, in part because the country accounts for a small fraction of the foreign fighters, mainly at lower levels of the insurgency.

“There’s not going to be a Sudanese guy near the top of the Al Qaeda in Iraq leadership,” said a former CIA official who operated in Baghdad. “They might have some fighters there, but that’s just cannon fodder. They don’t have the trust and the ability to work their way up. The guys leading Al Qaeda in Iraq are Iraqis, Jordanians and Saudis.”

But others say that Sudan’s contributions have been significant because Sudanese frequently occupy support positions throughout Arab society — including in the Iraq insurgency — giving them access to movements and supply chains.

“Every group needs weapons. Every group needs a meeting place,” said another former high-ranking CIA official who oversaw intelligence gathering in Iraq. “Sudanese could get involved in the support chain or smuggling channels from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.”

A State Department official said Sudan had “provided critical information that has helped our counter-terrorism efforts around the globe,” but noted that there was an inherent conflict in the relationship.

“They have done things that have saved American lives,” the official said. “But the bottom line is that they are bombing their people out the wazoo [in Darfur]. Dealing with Sudan, it seems like they are always playing both ends against the middle.”

The CIA declined to discuss any cooperation with Sudan.

“The agency does not, as a rule, comment on relations with foreign intelligence organizations,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said.

Ukec, the Sudanese ambassador, said “the details of what we do in counter-terrorism are not available for discussions.” But he noted that the U.S. State Department “has openly said we are involved in countering terrorism,” and that the assistance his country is providing “is not only in Sudan.”

In the mid-1990s, the CIA’s relationship with Sudan was severed. At the time, Sudan was providing safe harbor for Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders. But ties were reestablished shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, when the CIA reopened its station in Khartoum.

Initially, the collaboration focused on information Sudan could provide about Al Qaeda’s activities before Bin Laden left for Afghanistan in 1996, including Al Qaeda’s pursuit of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and its many business fronts and associates there.

Since then, Sudan has moved beyond sharing historical information on Al Qaeda into taking part in ongoing counter-terrorism operations, focusing on areas where its assistance is likely to be most appreciated.

“Iraq,” a U.S. intelligence official said, “is where the intelligence is going to have the most impact on Americans.”

In 2005, the CIA sent an executive jet to Sudan to fly the country’s intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Salah Abdallah Gosh, to Washington for meetings with officials at agency headquarters.

Gosh has not returned to Washington since, but a former official said that “there are liaison visits every day” between the CIA and the Mukhabarat.

History of the U.S. proxy war in Somalia/ L’histoire d’une guerre américaine par procuration en Somalie

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Lorsque l’Éthiopie envoya ses troupes en Somalie en décembre 2006, un diplomate américain leur dit: “Allez-y, mais faites ça vite”. Les Éthiopiens sont toujours en Somalie et les États-Unis ont dû intervenir et mener des attaques conjointes avec l’Éthiopie. Harowo retrace l’histoire de cette coopération.

When Ethiopia sent troops in Somali in 2006, an American diplomat told them “do it, but do it quickly.”The Ethiopian are still in Somalia and the United States had to lead joint attacks with them. Harowo gives us the story of that cooperation:

“Get it done quickly and get out.” That, says a senior U.S. diplomat here, was the goal of the little-noticed war that Ethiopia has been fighting, with American support, against Islamic extremists in Somalia. But this in-and-out strategy encounters the same real-world obstacles that America is facing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Conflict is less the problem than post-conflict. That’s the dilemma that America and its allies are discovering in a world where war-fighting and nation-building have become perversely mixed. It took the Ethiopians just a week to drive a Muslim radical movement known as the Islamic Courts from Mogadishu last December. The hard part wasn’t chasing the enemy from the capital, but putting the country back together.

“The Ethiopians are looking for an opportunity to exit, but not until they are confident that the security environment will prevent a return to chaos,” says a State Department official who helps oversee policy for the region. And in Somalia, a backward country that has seen 14 governments since 1991, that process of stabilization will be anything but easy.

The Somalia war comes up during every stop of a tour of the horn of Africa with Adm. William Fallon, the new head of U.S. Central Command. In 2002, Centcom established a regional outpost in the dusty port city of Djibouti, at the entrance to the Red Sea. It now has about 1,500 U.S. military personnel there. Some of them are out digging wells, building schools, vaccinating goats and otherwise “waging peace,” as a spokesman there explains. That’s the nation-building side.

The Djibouti base also provides logistical support for U.S. Special Forces teams that are hunting down what’s left of the al-Qaida terrorist cells that bombed American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Because Somalia provided a haven for al-Qaida, it was a special target after Sept. 11, 2001. But the Bush administration, remembering the disastrous 1993 humanitarian intervention there, was wary of getting involved directly. Initially, the CIA paid Somali warlords to hunt down al-Qaida operatives. But the warlords didn’t catch many terrorists and, perhaps worse, the payoffs added to an anarchic situation that led many Somalis to turn to the Islamic Courts for protection.

The Somalis were mercenary but unreliable. One official recalls how the CIA distributed matchbooks in Somalia offering a $10 million reward for the capture of Osama bin Laden. The Somalis complained that they were being cheated because a CIA Web site was offering a $25 million reward.

The bounties to the Somali warlords “at the time appeared to be the only viable option given our lack of access,” says an intelligence official back in the U.S. The secret CIA program was terminated in 2006.

Ethiopia, fearing the establishment of a radical Muslim government on its eastern border, began planning its military intervention soon after the Islamic Courts took control in Mogadishu in June 2006. At first, Centcom cautioned the Ethiopians against invading. But after 10,000 Ethiopian troops surged across the border on Dec. 24, they received U.S. overhead reconnaissance and other battlefield intelligence.

Next came an Ethiopian-American pincer strategy: In January, after Muslim fighters had fled Mogadishu, the U.S. launched two devastating air attacks by AC-130 gunships. A senior al-Qaida operative named Abu Talha al-Sudani was probably killed in these coordinated attacks, a U.S. official said. Overall, about 8,000 Muslim fighters were killed in the brief war, while the Ethiopians lost just 225 dead and 500 wounded.

A successful proxy war, from the American standpoint. But then what? The Ethiopians began pulling out their troops almost immediately, and by March, the Muslim radicals were threatening to regain control of Mogadishu. Ethiopian troops stormed back and crushed the Muslim rebels once again. The Ethiopians have now concluded that they can’t withdraw completely anytime soon; they must instead stay and train a friendly Somali army that can support the pro-Ethiopian “Transitional Federal Government.”

The Ethiopians are hopeful they can forge a reconciliation among Somali clan leaders. Meanwhile, the Ethiopians are looking for cover from an African Union force they hope will eventually total at least 5,000 soldiers; so far only about 1,800 soldiers from Uganda have shown up.

It’s like Iraq and Afghanistan, in other words. A decisive military strike has destroyed one threat. But what’s left behind, when the dust clears, is a shattered tribal society that won’t have real stability without a complex process of political reconciliation and economic development.

There’s no turning back now, says a U.S. diplomat, but he cautions: “Anyone working in Somalia has to have developed a certain humility about our ability to pick leaders from clans and sub-clans.”

Le Maghreb par le chaos?/ The Maghreb, built through chaos?

(links in french/ liens en français)

Suite aux attentats de Casablanca, auMaroc et d’Algers en Algérie, le quotidien d’Oran s’interroge sur l’unité du Maghreb qui, si elle a lieu, risque de se forger dans la peur du terrorisme véhiculée par les ÉtatsUnis poussant à une coopération “défensive” plutôt que par un réel désir de vivre ensemble.

Following the bombings in Casablanca, in Morocco, and Algiers, in Algeria, “Le Quotidien d’Oran” asks himself if the unity of the Maghreb, if it ever occurs, could happen pushed by the fear of terrorism stimulated by the United States. It would create a cooperation brought by a desire for self-defense instead of a true will of living together.

Le Quotidien d’Oran.

Le Maghreb par le chaos

par Abed Charef
Le Maghreb solidaire est oublié. Il laisse la place à un autre Maghreb, construit sous la menace.

Casablanca, Alger, Casablanca. Bientôt, peut-être, d’autres villes du Maghreb. Il y a peu, c’était la Tunisie et la Mauritanie qui subissaient d’autres drames.

Des coups portant un label qu’on attribue à El-Qaïda. Et c’est ainsi que le Maghreb est en train de se faire: une construction par le bas, dans le chaos, la violence, la crainte et la contrainte.

C’est donc un autre Maghreb qui est en train de s’imposer. Loin, très loin des idéaux proclamés depuis bientôt un siècle, et rappelés dans tous les discours de circonstance. Dans les années 1920, déjà, le premier mouvement nationaliste algérien moderne s’installait dans une perspective résolument maghrébine, en se choisissant pour nom «l’Etoile nord-africaine». Abdelhamid Mehri rappelle quant à lui, régulièrement, que le 1er Novembre visait à restaurer l’Etat algérien souverain, démocratique, dans un cadre nord-africain, et que si le premier objectif a été atteint, les deux autres restent à conquérir.

Cet objectif maghrébin qui fait consensus, du moins dans le discours, semble donc s’éloigner avec le temps, car les années creusent davantage le fossé entre Maghrébins qu’elles ne comblent leurs différends. La solidarité de la première moitié du 20e siècle a laissé place aux choix divergents des décennies suivantes. Et peu importe qui est coupable et qui est responsable, car le résultat est là: un des espaces les plus prometteurs dans le monde arabe est devenu un espace de division inutile que seul le chaos menace de réaliser.

Face à cette réalité, le reste apparaît si dérisoire qu’il est presque gênant d’en parler. Dire que le roi Mohamed VI a fait preuve d’habileté en envoyant un message de condoléances au président Abdelaziz Bouteflika à la suite du double attentat du 11 avril manque d’élégance. Noter que le Maroc a été rattrapé par un phénomène que sa presse considérait naguère comme une exclusivité algérienne ne signifie pas grand-chose non plus. De même apparaît-il superflu d’insister sur le fait que le terrorisme au Maghreb a changé de label, en passant sous la coupe d’El-Qaïda, et que la région fait face aujourd’hui à un autre type de violence. Comme si la violence antérieure était moins destructrice.

En fait, le fond du dossier maghrébin reste le même. Le Maghreb avait plusieurs possibilités de se construire. Il les a ratées, en éliminant les meilleurs choix, pour glisser progressivement vers les options les plus dangereuses, et aboutir finalement au choix du chaos.

Initialement, les pays maghrébins avaient la possibilité d’aller à un ensemble régional de leur propre volonté, pour allier leurs forces et mettre ensemble leurs capacités. C’était le choix du cœur et de la raison, celui de l’ambition et de l’espoir. Il a été éliminé par des systèmes bureaucratiques incapables de dépasser leurs propres limites. Préférant fermer les frontières, insister sur les divisions, et se réjouissant des problèmes du voisin, ils ont développé des stratégies dévastatrices pour chacun d’eux. Incapables de négocier ensemble face à l’Europe, ils sont tous en train de rater le virage de la mondialisation, même si certains pays estiment mieux s’en tirer que d’autres, pour des raisons strictement conjoncturelles.

Quand ce constat est devenu évident, l’Europe s’en est mêlée. Elle voulait à la fois contenir le terrorisme dans la rive sud de la Méditerranée, et contrôler l’émigration, maghrébine et africaine, qui se déversait au nord. Elle a voulu pousser les pays maghrébins à coordonner leurs efforts, pour construire un Maghreb qui servirait un jour d’amortisseur à l’émigration et au terrorisme, en prenant en charge le volet sécuritaire de l’émigration illégale. L’Europe était prête à offrir une contrepartie, humiliante, pour y arriver. Mais elle a échoué à son tour. Mais si elle n’a pas réussi à imposer cette option qui privilégie ses intérêts en premier lieu, ce n’est pas en raison d’une opposition des pays maghrébins soudain devenus lucides, mais à cause d’une incapacité de systèmes politiques, inaptes à tirer profit d’une conjoncture favorable. C’est alors que les Américains sont arrivés, avec leurs généraux et leurs plans stratégiques globalisants. Le Sahara, le Sahel, le terrorisme international, les immenses espaces de non-droit: tout ceci est devenu à la mode du moment. Les Etats-Unis, disait-on, voulaient s’occuper de l’Afrique, y créer un commandement militaire de type nouveau, et confier aux pays maghrébins un rôle dans cette stratégie.

L’option américaine n’a pas été évacuée, qu’une autre, encore plus dévastatrice, risque de la supplanter. Celle du chaos, de la violence et de la dévastation. Et là, enfin, les pays maghrébins se sont réveillés, affirmant qu’ils étaient prêts à travailler ensemble. Ils sont prêts à faire coopérer leurs services de sécurité pour faire face au terrorisme. En réalité pour survivre.

Faut-il trouver un lien entre l’option américaine et celle du chaos ? S’il est trop tôt pour le dire, on peut cependant noter qu’elles se renforcent mutuellement. L’option américaine devient «légitime» si le terrorisme d’El-Qaïda se répand. Mais là où la présence américaine s’est affirmée, en Afrique et dans le monde arabe, le terrorisme s’est également installé de manière structurelle. Comme si la violence et la présence américaine constituaient deux éléments inséparables.

En tous les cas, pour le Maghreb, la perspective est bien réelle. L’édification maghrébine «positive», celle de l’ambition, de la raison, de la réflexion et de la défense des intérêts communs, ne s’est pas faite. Elle semble même abandonnée. La construction maghrébine risque donc de se faire sous la pression du duo présence américaine – menace terroriste. Et à défaut du Maghreb souhaité, celui de la solidarité, on risque d’avoir un Maghreb réalisé par le bas, sous la pression conjuguée de la violence et d’une décision politique extérieure.

Le rôle du Kenya dans le transfert de “terroristes” vers des “Guantanamo africains”/ Kenya’s role in terrorist’s transfer to “African Guantanamos”

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Le journal kenyan,Daily Nation, nous parle de l’implication du Kenya dans le transfert de “terroristes” de différentes nationalités vers l’Éthiopie, où ils devaient être interrogés.

The kenyan newspaper,Daily Nation, tells us about the involvement of Kenya in the transfer of “terrorists” to Ethiopia for interrogation (we present the full story here):

Kenya faces international outcry over mass transfer of “terrorists” to Ethiopia

Story by CIUGU MWAGIRU

Publication Date: 4/15/2007

Deep in the night on Saturday January 27, African Express Airways aircraft registration 5Y-AXF was on the tarmac at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

A flurry of activities had been taking place around it in the pitch darkness for some time now and flight AXK 527, a flight chartered by Kenyan authorities, would soon be taking off to Mogadishu.

In the cockpit, Capt Popovic Radosav was busy checking the instruments. Seated next to him was Captain Clement Wambugu, who was also busy ensuring that everything was in order for the take-off any minute now.

If the two pilots had any misgivings about the ethical implications of transporting the sort of passengers on board, they kept them to themselves.

The fact that the motley crowd of hungry, bedraggled and sickly men, women and children in the cabin was headed for a dangerous war zone was also not a matter to give much thought to right now.

These, according to Kenyan authorities, were terror suspects, and others flown to Baidoa earlier had had to travel blind-folded, and with their hands handcuffed behind their backs. For the crew of flight AXK 527, there was an important government-sanctioned mission to accomplish, and it was all in a day’s job.

That those passengers were deemed extremely dangerous was obvious from the fact that with them in the plane were 15 security personnel with express instructions to ensure that they were transported to Mogadishu, Somalia, overnight and handed over to the authorities there.

Notable among the passengers was a lady named Halima Badrudine Hussein, later identified by human rights activists as a Comoran citizen, who was accompanied by her three children Luqmaan (15), Asma (13) and Sumaiya (4).

Halima’s crime was that she happened to be the wife of one Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a man wanted by US authorities in connection with the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, as well as the 2002 Paradise Hotel attack in Kikambala. He is still believed to be “at large”.

Not far from Halima and her family was seated a Swedish citizen named Osman Ahmed Yassin, who had earlier been detained at the Garissa and Karen police stations, and who was now being sent to Somalia together with his wife Sofia and two children, son Mohammed (three years old) and daughter Fatma, a toddler aged only 7 months.

Their rendition to Somalia would later see the Swedish Ambassador to Kenya working alongside local human rights organisations in a bid to have the family released, but according to sources the family was among those detained in Ethiopian security facilities later.

All the passengers on the flight were by now thoroughly terrified, not knowing exactly where they were headed or what their eventual fate would be. Arriving in Mogadishu, they could only believe that their fate was nigh; that notion was mistaken though, for they would later find themselves being shipped to two different detention facilities in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before an international outcry drew the attention of their respective mother countries to the ordeals they had been going through.

Among the women was one Kamiliya Mohammad Al Kindi, who had been arrested in Malindi on January 10, together with two Omani nationals and their Kenyan business associate named Millie Muthoni Gakuo.

Only the day before, a declaration signed by Minister of State responsible for Immigration, Mr Gideon Konchellah, had authorised her immediate deportation to Somalia, which it wrongly stated was her country of origin. In that declaration, a copy of which the Sunday Nation has been able to obtain, Kamiliya was actually described as a man, a mistake repeated on the manifest of flight AXK 527 that was now about to take off.

Days earlier, efforts had been made to deport her to Tanzania, which was given on her passport as her place of birth. The Tanzanian immigration authorities at Namanga had however noted that she was a citizen of the United Arab Emirates and had a passport from that country. They had therefore adamantly declined to allow her deportation to Tanzania.

Ms Kamiliya had been arrested together with her boss, a member of the royal family in the Sultanate of Oman named Ahmad Musallam Al–Ma’ashani, and Hassan Salim Kashub, a policeman from Oman attached to Interpol in that country, who was serving as his bodyguard. The arrest of the two men had soon come to the notice of the Honorary Consulate of the Sultanate of Oman in Nairobi.

The Consulate, in a protest letter to the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated January 22, pointed out that the Omani businessman was actually a relative of the Omani Minister of State, Sheikh Salim Al Maashani, while Mr Kashub was a senior police officer of the Royal Oman Police. Kenya quietly put the two on a flight back home.

More pressure was being brought to bear within a month of the mass rendition of January 27. A suit filed in the High Court by the Muslim Human Rights Forum (Muhuri) resulted in the Attorney General filing a replying affidavit sworn by one Zack Tum, an Assistant Commissioner of Police and the Deputy Director of Operations at CID headquarters, who had been in-charge of the group of security officers that had been aboard the Mogadishu flight on January 27.

According to two officials of Muhuri interviewed by the Sunday Nation, Mr Al-Amin Kimathi and Mr Omar Mohamed, the aim of that affidavit was to prove that the people who had been transported to Somalia were actually out of the jurisdiction of the Kenya government, which by that time was already facing pressure from international human rights groups demanding the truth about the secret renditions to Somalia.

Then the UK-based Reprieve and Cageprisoners, in a report dated March 22, documented the fact that there had been two earlier rendition flights on January 20 and February 10, also to Mogadishu.

The Sunday Nation was able to obtain the passenger manifests of the two flights — flight XU 527 of African Express Airways aircraft registration 5Y AXD and the second on a Bluebird Aviation aircraft, registration 5Y UUP.

The passengers on those flights , had been arriving at the airport for a good part of the evening of Friday 9 February in police vehicles, and were all blindfolded, with their arms firmly handcuffed behind their backs, so that they could hardly sit up straight. In the event of an emergency during the flight, they would have been totally helpless.

In particular peril was Ines Chine, a 26-year-old Tunisian lady, who was on the flight together with her husband, one Adnan Najah. Now eight months pregnant, she had during her arrest weeks earlier been shot by the police, and still had a bullet lodged in her spine, having been denied medical attention by Kenyan security personnel, according to officials of the Muslim Human Rights Forum.

In all, at least 96 prisoners were renditioned from Kenya within days. The New York-based Human Rights Watch says it does not know what has become of 55 of these individuals — the difference between the number expelled from Kenya and the number (41) the Ethiopians claim to be holding.

Kenyan citizens were among those 96 detainees, HRW says, but it does not know if Kenyans are included among the 41 foreign nationals from 17 countries that the Ethiopians now say they are holding.

There’s no doubt that Kenyans and Americans have collaborated on interrogations of at least some of those detained in Kenya prior to being sent back to Somalia — and probably then rendered to Ethiopia.

The US acknowledges, for example, that its agents questioned an American citizen, Amir Mohamed Meshal, who had been detained by the Kenyans in late January after entering from Somalia. He was brought before a military tribunal in Ethiopia on Friday.

In addition, a 17-year-old Swede, Safia Benaouda, told a Swedish newspaper on Thursday that three US uniformed personnel were directing the Kenyan forces that took her into custody on the border on January 18.

“After the American soldiers had detained us they kept in the background, but it was very clear that they were the ones in charge,” Benaouda, who was freed from an Ethiopian prison March 27, was quoted as saying in an article published Thursday in the Stockholm daily Svenska Dagbladet.

The Sunday Nation has managed to obtain first-hand accounts of some of the passengers on the flight, who described the conditions in which they were held, both in Nairobi and Baidoa, as inhospitable and dangerous.

According to one British national who was on the flight, prior to the take-off a Kenyan security official at Wilson Airport had talked to the captives about pre-destination and tried to absolve himself of personal guilt by telling them: “Whatever happens to you, just understand why this is taking place”. Regarding the detention conditions in Somalia, a British national later recalled:

“We all filed down into an underground cell. It was pitch black. There were water bottles down there to pee into. The floor was dusty and dirty. There were rats and cockroaches. It did not smell good. Where the bottles were it smelled like a very dirty toilet. All of us who had been on the plane except the Tunisian Adnan’s wife stayed in that cell?”

Home districts

According to Reprieve and Cageprisoners, the renditions to Somalia and Ethiopia involved nationals of at least 16 states. Apart from the many foreign nationals, officials of the Muslim Human Rights Forum interviewed claimed that they had proof that at least 25 Kenyan citizens had also been flown out of the country and handed over to Somalia.

To back their claims, they produced a list of 25 names of the alleged Kenyans, as well as a document with details of identification papers showing their citizenship as well as pointing out their home districts, in addition to naming their next of kin. The document also gives details of where and when they were arrested in Kenya and the dates when they were flown out.

Among the most publicised cases was that of one Mohamed Abdulmalik, who is alleged to have been sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In a press release issued by the Kenya Human Rights Network on Wednesday March 28, it was alleged that he had been in police custody in Kenya “since about February 20, 2007”. Al-Amin Kimathi and Omar Mohammed, both officials of the Muhuri said they had actually been able to talk to Abdulmalik for a few minutes on Saturday February 24, when they traced him to Hardy police station in Karen.

According to them, he had at first been detained at the Ongata Rongai Police Station, and after their talking to him at Hardy Police Station he was hurriedly moved to a secret location, before eventually being transferred to Guantanamo Bay.

The same officials told this writer that they had proof that Abdulmalik is actually a Kenyan who was born in 1972 in Nyanza province, to a Swahili father and a Kikuyu mother. The Kenya Human Rights Network actually identified two of his siblings at a press conference held on Wednesday last week.

The siblings – brother Salim Juma Hamis Mohammed and sister Mariam – are small-time traders at Gikomba market, where they deal in second-hand shoes. According to them, they were brought up in Nyang’ori in Nyanza, and their brother attended primary school in Kisumu up to class 4 before moving to Tudor primary school in Mombasa, where he completed his primary education.

Abdulmalik had in recent times been working as a religious teacher at the Msaji Madrassa in Majengo, Mombasa, said Muhuri officials.

In Addis Ababa, the authorities detained them in two major facilities where four British nationals released later reported they were subjected to torture. One of them also talked about threats during interrogations in Nairobi by FBI operatives, which sometimes bordered on blasphemy. He told human rights activists that Meshal had been thoroughly traumatised by the interrogations:

“I was in that police station (Kileleshwa) and the Egyptian American was brought in by the FBI. He told me that they had taken him to the top floor of a hotel. They had said to him, ‘You know Allah is up there. We are the FBI and we’re on the same level’ they said to him, ‘You are going to start getting tortured from tomorrow if you don’t start coughing up information.”’

Kenyan Muslim leaders have in the meantime been up in arms against what they view as gross mistreatment of their followers by security agents in recent times. According to Prof Abdulghafur El-Busaidy, the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, the renditions should not only be seen as an issue affecting Muslims alone, and must instead be seen as blatant abuse of Kenyan citizens’ basic human rights.

“What has been going on for the last few months is wrong, whether those shipped out of Kenya are Kenyan citizens or not,” he told the Sunday Nation in an interview last week. “It is the duty of the country’s courts to determine who is guilty of an offence like terrorism, and definitely not the duty of the Immigration department or the police.”

By Tuesday last week, the issue of the Guantanamo transfer was in the Kenyan Parliament.

In what was described as a “charged House,” members were reluctant to accept the explanations about Mohamed Abdulmalik’s case that were proffered by Internal Security Assistant Minister Peter Munya, who like the American ambassador described the man as “an international terrorist, a man of dubious nationality,” who had allegedly participated in the bombing of the Paradise Hotel in Kikambala in 2002.

Several MPs demanded the repatriation of 24 Kenyans who had allegedly been irregularly flown to Somalia. But Immigration Minister Gideon Konchellah was insistent that no Kenyans had been sent to Somalia.

The denials in Parliament provoked the Kenya Human Rights Network to call another press conference last Thursday, during which the government was thoroughly castigated for its official denials, which flew in the face of overwhelming evidence that Kenyans were indeed among those affected by the renditions.

For instance, on Thursday afternoon this writer managed to speak to a man who said he was the uncle of one of the captives renditioned to Somalia on the flight of 27 January.

Mr Salmin Bwanaheri Bwana Mkuu said he had known the detainee, whose name appears as Saidi Hamisi in the manifest of that flight, since the latter was a child. “He was actually born 32 years ago at Mwandoni in Kisauni, near the Nyali Police Station in Mombasa,” he said.

Elsewhere, the Ethiopian authorities early this week succumbed to international pressure and finally admitted holding some of the suspects expelled from Kenya: “Pursuant to a common understanding between Ethiopia and the (Transitional Federal Government in Somalia) some of those who have been captured have indeed been brought over to Ethiopia.

Their number is 41,” said their statement. It added that 29 of them were slated for release and that five foreign nationals from among that number had already been released.

They were from Tanzania, Sudan, Denmark, UAE (apparently Kamiliya, renditioned from Kenya) and Sweden. More will be freed in due course, the statement added.

Whether there will be Kenyan citizens among those released remains to be seen. Should that be the case, Kenyan authorities will be forced to eat extremely humble pie, given their repeated denials that Kenyans were among those renditioned.

Des prisons secrètes américaines en Éthiopie/ Secret U.S. jails in Ethiopia

On l’avait supposé dans une nouvelle précédente et c’est maintenant confirmé par l’Associated Press. Les États-Unis ont au moins trois prisons secrètes en Éthiopie qu’ils utilisent pour interroger tout suspect soupçonné d’appartenir à Al-Qaida. La Presse de Montréal nous communique la nouvelle:

Des agents de la CIA et du FBI traquant des militants d’Al-Qaeda dans la Corne de l’Afrique retiennent des personnes soupçonnées de terrorisme et originaires de 19 pays dans des prisons secrètes en Éthiopie, révèle une enquête menée dans la région par l’Associated Press.

D’après les organisations de défense des droits de l’Homme, des avocats et des diplomates occidentaux interrogés par l’AP, plusieurs centaines de prisonniers, dont des femmes et des enfants, ont été transférés secrètement et illégalement ces derniers mois du Kenya et de Somalie vers l’Éthiopie, où ils sont détenus sans inculpation, ni accès à des défenseurs ou à leurs familles.

Parmi les détenus figurerait au moins un citoyen américain, alors que d’autres seraient originaires du Canada, de Suède et de France, selon les données rassemblées par une organisation musulmane kenyane des droits de l’Homme et un listing de vol obtenu par l’AP. Les autorités des pays concernés n’ont pas réagi dans l’immédiat à ces informations.

Certains détenus ont été interpellés par les troupes éthiopiennes qui ont renversé un gouvernement islamiste radical à la fin de l’année dernière à Mogadiscio, en Somalie. D’autres ont été expulsés du Kenya, pays où de nombreux Somaliens se sont réfugiés pour fuir les violences dans leur pays natal.

L’Ethiopie, qui dément détenir secrètement des prisonniers, est un pays d’Afrique de l’Est où les droits de l’Homme sont fréquemment bafoués. Ces dernières années, le régime d’Addis Abeba a aussi été un proche allié des États-Unis dans la lutte contre Al-Qaeda, qui essaye de s’implanter parmi les musulmans de la Corne de l’Afrique.

Des responsables américains, contactés par l’Associated Press, ont reconnu que des prisonniers avaient été interrogés en Éthiopie. Mais il ont assuré que les agents américains respectaient la loi et que leur action était justifiée parce qu’ils enquêtaient sur des attaques passées et sur des menaces terroristes actuelles.

Les prisonniers n’ont jamais été sous la garde des Américains, a affirmé un porte-parole du FBI, Richard Kolko, démentant que son agence soutiendrait ou participerait à des arrestations illégales. À l’en croire, les agents américains ont obtenu l’autorisation des gouvernements des pays de la Corne de l’Afrique d’interroger des prisonniers dans le cadre de la lutte antiterroriste.

Selon des responsables occidentaux, parmi les personnes détenues figurent des suspects connus pour les liens étroits qu’ils entretiendraient avec Al-Qaeda. Mais certains alliés des États-Unis ont fait part de leur consternation concernant les transferts dans ces prisons secrètes.

John Sifton, expert de Human Rights Watch en matière d’antiterrorisme, est allé jusqu’à dire que les États-Unis s’étaient comportés en «meneurs» dans une affaire qu’il a qualifiée de «Guantanamo décentralisé, externalisé».

Un enquêteur d’une ONG internationale de défense des droits de homme a lui précisé que l’Éthiopie avait installé des prisons secrètes sur trois sites: à Addis Abeba, sur une base aérienne éthiopienne à 59km à l’est de la capitale, et dans le désert près de la frontière somalienne.

«C’était un cauchemar du début à la fin», a raconté Kamilya Mohammedi Tuweni, une femme de 42 ans, mère de trois enfants et titulaire d’un passeport des Emirats arabes unis, dans ses premiers commentaires après sa libération à Addis Abeba, le 24 mars. Elle dit avoir passé deux mois et demi en détention sans avoir été inculpée. Elle est la seule détenue libérée à s’être exprimée publiquement.

Elle dit avoir été arrêtée au cours d’un voyage d’affaires au Kenya, le 10 janvier, avoir été battue, puis envoyée en Somalie où elle aurait partagé une chambre avec 22 autres femmes et enfants. Elle affirme avoir été conduite en Ethiopie, où un agent américain l’aurait interrogée et exhortée à coopérer.

We talked about it on a previous post and it is now confirmed by the Associated Press. The United States have at least three secret prisons in Ethiopia they use to interrogate persons suspected to belong to the Al-Qaida network:

CIA and FBI agents hunting for al-Qaida militants in the Horn of Africa have been interrogating terrorism suspects from 19 countries held at secret prisons in Ethiopia, which is notorious for torture and abuse, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

Human rights groups, lawyers and several Western diplomats assert hundreds of prisoners, who include women and children, have been transferred secretly and illegally in recent months from Kenya and Somalia to Ethiopia, where they are kept without charge or access to lawyers and families.

The detainees include at least one U.S. citizen and some are from Canada, Sweden and France, according to a list compiled by a Kenyan Muslim rights group and flight manifests obtained by AP.

Some were swept up by Ethiopian troops that drove a radical Islamist government out of neighboring Somalia late last year. Others have been deported from Kenya, where many Somalis have fled the continuing violence in their homeland.

Ethiopia, which denies holding secret prisoners, is a country with a long history of human rights abuses. In recent years, it has also been a key U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaida, which has been trying to sink roots among Muslims in the Horn of Africa.

U.S. government officials contacted by AP acknowledged questioning prisoners in Ethiopia. But they said American agents were following the law and were fully justified in their actions because they are investigating past attacks and current threats of terrorism.

The prisoners were never in American custody, said an FBI spokesman, Richard Kolko, who denied the agency would support or be party to illegal arrests. He said U.S. agents were allowed limited access by governments in the Horn of Africa to question prisoners as part of the FBI’s counter-terrorism work.

Western security officials, who insisted on anonymity because the issue related to security matters, told AP that among those held were well-known suspects with strong links to al-Qaida.

But some U.S. allies have expressed consternation at the transfers to the prisons. One Western diplomat in Nairobi, who agreed to speak to AP only if not quoted to avoid angering U.S. officials, said he sees the United States as playing a guiding role in the operation.

John Sifton, a Human Rights Watch expert on counter-terrorism, went further. He said in an e-mail that the United States has acted as “ringleader” in what he labeled a “decentralized, outsourced Guantanamo.”

Details of the arrests, transfers and interrogations slowly emerged as AP and human rights groups investigated the disappearances, diplomats tracked their missing citizens and the first detainees to be released told their stories.

One investigator from an international human rights group, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak to the media, said Ethiopia had secret jails at three locations: Addis Ababa, the capital; an Ethiopian air base 37 miles east of the capital; and the far eastern desert close to the Somali border.

More than 100 of the detainees were originally arrested in Kenya in January, after almost all of them fled Somalia because of the intervention by Ethiopian troops accompanied by U.S. special forces advisers, according to Kenyan police reports and U.S. military officials.

Those people were then deported in clandestine pre-dawn flights to Somalia, according to the Kenya Muslim Human Rights Forum and airline documents. At least 19 were women and 15 were children.

In Somalia, they were handed over to Ethiopian intelligence officers and secretly flown to Ethiopia, where they are now in detention, the New York-based Human Rights Watch says.

A further 200 people, also captured in Somalia, were mainly Ethiopian rebels who backed the Somali Islamist movement, according to one rights group and a Somali government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize his job. Those prisoners also were taken to Ethiopia, human rights groups say.

Kenya continues to arrest hundreds of people for illegally crossing over from Somalia. But it is not clear if deportations continue.

The Pentagon announced last week that one Kenyan al-Qaida suspect who fled Somalia, Mohamed Abul Malik, was arrested and flown to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

When contacted by AP, Ethiopian officials denied that they held secret prisoners or that any detainees were questioned by U.S. officials.

“No such kind of secret prisons exist in Ethiopia,” said Bereket Simon, special adviser to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He declined to comment further.

A former prisoner and the families of current and former captives tell a different story.

“It was a nightmare from start to finish,” Kamilya Mohammedi Tuweni, a 42-year-old mother of three who has a passport from the United Arab Emirates, told AP in her first comments after her release in Addis Ababa on March 24 from what she said was 2 1/2 months in detention without charge.

She is the only released prisoner who has spoken publicly. She was freed a month after being interviewed, fingerprinted and photographed by a U.S. agent, she said. Tuweni, an Arabic-Swahili translator, said she was arrested while on a business trip to Kenya and had never been to Somalia or had any links to that country.

She said she was arrested Jan. 10. Tuweni said she was beaten in Kenya, then forced to sleep on a stone floor while held in Somalia in a single room with 22 other women and children for 10 days before being flown to Ethiopia on a military plane.

Finally, she said, she was taken blindfolded from prison to a private villa in the Ethiopian capital. There, she said, she was interrogated with other women by a male U.S. intelligence agent. He assured her that she would not be harmed but urged her to cooperate, she said.

In a telephone conversation with AP, Tuweni said the man identified himself as a U.S. official, but not from the FBI. A CIA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that the agency had no contact with Tuweni.

“We cried the whole time because we did not know what would happen. The whole thing was very scary,” said Tuweni, who flew back to her family in Dubai a day after her release.

Tuweni’s version of her transfer out of Kenya is corroborated by the manifest of the African Express Airways flight 5Y AXF. It shows she was taken to Mogadishu, Somalia, with 31 other people on an unscheduled flight chartered by the Kenyan government.

The family of a Swedish detainee, 17-year-old Safia Benaouda, said she was freed from Ethiopia on March 27 and arrived home the following day. Benaouda had traveled to Somalia with her fiance but fled to Kenya during the Ethiopian military intervention, her mother said.

“She is exhausted, her face is yellow and she’s lost about 10 kilograms (22 pounds),” her mother, Helena Benaouda, a 47-year-old Muslim convert who heads the Swedish Muslim Council, wrote on a Web site she set up to help secure her daughter’s release. “She was beaten with a stick when she demanded to go to the toilet.”

The mother spoke briefly by telephone with AP, saying any information she had was being posted on the Web site. She declined to make her daughter available for an interview.

According to the Web site, an American specialist visited the location where Benaouda was being held and took DNA samples and fingerprints of detainees. It said the teenager was never charged or allowed access to lawyers. The teen was also concerned about a 7-month-old baby that was in detention with her, the Web site said.

The transfer from Kenya to Somalia, and eventually to Ethiopia, of a 24-year-old U.S. citizen, Amir Mohamed Meshal, raised disquiet among FBI officers and the State Department. He is the only American known to be among the detainees in Ethiopia.

U.S. diplomats on Feb. 27 formally protested to Kenyan authorities about Meshal’s transfer and then spent three weeks trying to gain access to him in Ethiopia, said Tom Casey, deputy spokesman for the State Department.

He confirmed Meshal was still in Ethiopian custody pending a hearing on his status.

An FBI memo read to AP by a U.S. official in Washington, who insisted on anonymity, quoted an agent who interrogated Meshal as saying the agent was “disgusted” by Meshal’s deportation to Somalia by Kenya. The unidentified agent said he was told by U.S. consular staff that the deportation was illegal.

“My personal opinion was that he may have been a jihadi a-hole, but the precedent of ‘deporting’ U.S. citizens to dangerous situations when there is no reason to do so was a bad one,” the official quoted the memo as saying.

Like Benaouda, Meshal was arrested fleeing Somalia. A Kenyan police report of Meshal’s arrest obtained by AP says he was carrying an assault rifle and had crossed into Kenyan with armed Arab men who were trying to avoid capture.

Meshal’s parents insist he is innocent and called on the U.S. government to win his release.

“My son’s only crime is that he’s a Muslim, an American Muslim,” his father, Mohamed Meshal, said from the family’s two-story home on a cul-de-sac in Tinton Falls, N.J., where he lives with his wife, Fifi.

“Clearly the U.S. government interrogated him, and threatened him with torture according to the accounts that we’ve seen,” said Jonathan Hafetz, a lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law who has been assisting the family.

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday to demand Meshal’s immediate release. “Our government cannot allow an American citizen to continue to be held by the Ethiopian government in violation of international law and our own due process,” he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, the guardian of the Geneva Conventions that protect victims of war, is seeking access to the Ethiopian detainees, said a diplomat from a country whose citizens are being held. He insisted on speaking anonymously because he is working for their release.

U.S. officials, who agreed to discuss the detentions only if not quoted by name because of the information’s sensitivity, said Ethiopia had allowed access to U.S. agencies, including the CIA and FBI, but the agencies played no role in arrests, transport or deportation.

One official said it would have been irresponsible to pass up an opportunity to learn more about terrorist operations.

Kolko, the FBI spokesman, also said the detainees were never in FBI or U.S. government custody.

“While in custody of the foreign government, the FBI was granted limited access to interview certain individuals of interest,” he told AP. “We do not support or participate in any system that illegally detains foreign fighters or terror suspects, including women and children.”

Paul Gimigliano, a CIA spokesman, declined to discuss details of any such interviews. He said, however: “To fight terror, CIA acts boldly and lawfully, alone and with partners, just as the American people expect us to.”

One of the U.S. officials said the FBI has had access in Ethiopia to several dozen individuals – fewer than 100 – as part of its investigations.

The official said the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed hundreds are a major focus of the agents’ work. Law enforcement officials have long believed the bombings were carried out by members of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network who were later given safe haven in Somalia.

The official said FBI agents would not be witness or party to any questioning that involved abuse.

It wasn’t clear how many people the CIA interviewed or whether the agency’s officers were working jointly with the FBI.

The CIA began an aggressive program in 2002 to interrogate suspected terrorists at an unknown number of secret locations from Southeast Asia to Europe. Prisoners were frequently picked up in one country and transferred to a prison in another, where they were held incommunicado by a cooperative intelligence service. But President Bush announced in September that all the detainees had been moved to military custody at Guantanamo Bay.

One Western diplomat, who refused to be quoted by name for fear of hurting relations with the countries involved, would not rule out that additional suspects in Ethiopia could be sent to Guantanamo.

Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua insisted no laws were broken and said his government was not aware that anyone would be transferred from Somalia to Ethiopia.

Lawyers and human rights groups argue the covert transfers to Ethiopia violated international law.

“Each of these governments has played a shameful role in mistreating people fleeing a war zone,” said Georgette Gagnon, deputy Africa director of Human Rights Watch. “Kenya has secretly expelled people, the Ethiopians have caused dozens to disappear, and U.S. security agents have routinely interrogated people held incommunicado.”

Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Katherine Shrader in Washington, Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Sweden, and Rebecca Santana in Tinton Falls, N.J., contributed to this report.

Un “arc islamiste” menacerait la France/ An “axis of the islamists” is threatening France

Après le Maroc, voici la France qui craint une attaque provenant de groupes islamistes organisés provenant du Maghreb et du Sahara. La Presse de Montréal vient de nous présenter cet article (de l’AFP [Agence France Presse]):

Un «arc islamiste radical» s’est mis en place dans les pays du Maghreb, sous l’égide de l’ex-GSPC (Groupe salafiste de prédication et de combat) algérien, et menace directement la France, a déclaré mercredi le juge antiterroriste français Jean-Louis Bruguière.

Dans une interview à l’AFP, il a ajouté: «l’appellation “Al Qaeda au Maghreb”» (choisie par le GSPC depuis le 11 septembre 2006) «cela veut dire quoi ? Cela souligne l’allégeance à Al Qaeda et cela traduit la volonté affichée d’une régionalisation de l’organisation. C’est quelque chose de sans précédent».

«C’est notre sujet de préoccupation majeur et il est clair que cela constitue une menace directe pour la France» a-t-il ajouté. «La France est l’objectif prioritaire. Il faut s’adapter, comme nous l’avons toujours fait, à ce nouveau type de menace».

«Tous les ingrédients sont réunis: l’ex-GSPC a vocation de prendre en compte l’ensemble des mouvements radicaux du Maghreb: le GICL lybien (Groupe islamiste de combat lybien), le GICM marocain, le GICT tunisien. On a un arc islamiste, avec des projets également dans le sud, le Sahel».

«L’incident de Casablanca» (au cours duquel un jeune islamiste s’est fait sauter dimanche dans un cyber-café) «est le signe d’une opération qui aurait dû avoir lieu ailleurs. C’est l’élément émergé d’une situation beaucoup plus sérieuse, qui ne concerne pas uniquement le Maroc», a ajouté le juge.

«Sur le plan opérationnel, nous savons depuis début 2004 qu’il y a des connections opérationnelles entre ces mouvements, des hommes qui passent d’un pays à l’autre. Tout cela est piloté par l’ex-GSPC».

Bien que nous ne réfutions pas l’existence d’une menace terroriste, on peut dire que les propos du juge Brugière ne font rien pour appréhender le problème du terrorisme en gardant la tête froide. Aussi, le terme “arc islamiste” utilisé par l’AFP permet de dépeindre tout le Mahgreb en tant que repère de “Barberousse des temps moderne”. À quand les alertes de couleurs en France (et pourquoi pas des codes bleu, blanc et rouge)?

Le juge Brugière est celui-là même qui a fait les manchette en proposant au Tribunal Pénal International d’inculper Paul Kagame, président du Rwanda de l’assassinat de Juvénal Habyarimana (ancien président du Rwanda):

À l’issue de son enquête, le juge Bruguière [a rendu] une ordonnance de soit-communiqué qui met en examen plusieurs membre du FPR et recommande au TPIR d’inculper Paul Kagame, couvert par son immunité de chef d’État.

After Morocco, it’s France’s turn to fear attacks from organized islamist groups from the Maghreb and the Sahara. La Presse de Montreal just put an article online (link in french – full article above) which presents Jean-Louis Brugière, a french judge, who says France is threatened by an “axis of islamists”. Brugière is the same judge who:

indicted Paul Kagame, current President of Rwanda and leader of the FPR, claiming that he deliberately assassinated Habyarimana [former president of Rwanda] in order to provoke the genocide against his own ethnic group, in order to cynically take power.

Now, we don’t deny the existence of terrorism, but the way Brugière describes the situation doesn’t help at all. And the AFP (Agence France Presse) using the term “axis of islamists” oversimplifies reality and turns the Mahgreb into “a hideout for modern day Barbarossas”. When will we see color coded alerts in France (and what about blue, white and red alerts?) ?