A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Nov. 8 2001 7:12 AM

Money for Something 

 

 

The Washington Post, USA Today, New York Times, and Los Angeles Timesall lead with the White House's move to further crack down on al-Qaida's sources of money. Federal agents raided more than a dozen locations in four states. The government also froze assets of 62 organizations and individuals. The Wall Street Journal's worldwide news box is topped with Tajikistan's formal offer to let the U.S. use three of its air bases. If the bases are in good enough shape, U.S. attack planes could be using them within a month. The closer bases would allow the Air Force to use many more fighter-bombers over Afghanistan, and it would make it easier for U.S. planes to loiter and wait for targets to pop up.

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The government said the focus of yesterday's moves were two financial networks it says are linked to al-Qaida. The two networks function, at least on the surface, as hawalas, essentially informal banks that immigrants often use to send money home. President Bush said the two targeted hawalas,which operate in about 40 countries, "raise money for terror." A Treasury Department official put the amount at "tens of millions" of dollars. Italy, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates also raided some of the groups' offices yesterday. Heads of both organizations denied that their networks had any relationship to al-Qaida. The Post notes that the government has declined to discuss the evidence against the two networks since most of it is sealed.

The LAT says yesterday's actions "marked the first time the administration has targeted U.S.-based companies and individuals who are suspected of aiding and financing terrorists." Before the new anti-terrorism bill was signed, hawalas weren't really regulated. Now, like banks, they will have to report any large transfers of money.

The papers note that the Pentagon confirmed that the Northern Alliance has gained ground near Mazar-i Sharif. The alliance said that it's captured nearly 300 Taliban troops. Everybody mentions that alliance troops, apparently short on heavy armor, have been attacking with horses. The Pentagon saw that as positive. "This is opposition forces riding horseback into combat against tanks and armored personnel carriers. So these folks are aggressive."

The NYT cautions not to get too excited about the gains. First of all, it says, "the advance could not be verified." And even if the reports are accurate, says the Times, the Northern Alliance would still have to advance another 15 miles, through rough terrain, in order to capture Mazar-i Sharif. If they do get the city, though, it will become much easier for the Alliance to get supplies via land routes.

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The Post fronts news that refugees arriving in Pakistan report that, contrary to U.S. hopes, the Taliban is gaining support, especially in the south. "Even the people who did not really like the Taliban are now supporting them," said one man.

The WP does a bit of enterprising reporting and profiles two wealthy brothers from Chicago who supported the ill-fated excursion of anti-Taliban leader Abdul Haq. The story's headline claims that the brothers, who spent some of their childhood in Afghanistan, "shape U.S. policy on Afghanistan."  The piece doesn't really prove that, but it's still fascinating. "They just love the people," said the Richties' mom. "At this point, they think they own the country."

The NYT fronts an interview with two Iraqi defectors, both senior members of Iraq's intelligence service. The men told the paper that Iraq has a terrorist camp that has been training Islamic militants. The Times notes that the interview was set up by Iraqi opposition groups. American officials say that they met with one of the men, and he didn't have much useful information. The more image-inclined will be happy to know that the article was reported in conjunction with Frontline, a PBS show, which will air a related segment this Thursday.  

The papers mention that a gunman in Qatar fired shots at a U.S. air base. U.S. and Qatari troops shot back and killed the gunman. Next week, Qatar will host a meeting of the 142-nation World Trade Organization.

The WSJ reports on a bit that the other papers seem to have missed: The Postal Service acknowledged yesterday that they cleaned the wrong letter-sorting machine at the Brentwood processing facility, meaning the anthrax-tainted machine was still contaminated when the building reopened Sunday. Officials closed the facility again yesterday.

The papers report on the release of the transcript of a 911 call made by Thomas Morris Jr., a postal worker who later died of anthrax. "I'm having difficulty breathing," Morris told the dispatcher. "And just to move any distance I feel like I'm going to pass out." Morris then said he suspected he had anthrax. "A woman found the envelope and I was in the vicinity. It had powder in it. They never let us know whether the thing had—was anthrax or not. They never treated the people who were around this particular individual and the supervisor who handled the envelope. So I don't know if it is or not. The doctor thought it was just a virus or something. So we went with that, and I was taking Tylenol for the achiness." The dispatcher sent an ambulance, but Morris died later that day. The letter Morris was referring to tested negative for anthrax.