Bridge Over Troubled Borders

Bridge Over Troubled Borders

Bridge Over Troubled Borders

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Dec. 9 2001 5:09 AM

Bridge Over Troubled Borders

The Los Angeles Timeslead is new and specific information on the next possible targets in the U.S. campaign against terrorism: terrorist recruitment and training facilities in the Aceh region of Indonesia, the valley of Hadhramaut in Yemen, the birthplace of Osama Bin Laden's father, and Ras Komboni, a port in Somalia. The New York Timeslead is Page A30 news at the Washington Postand also inside the LAT: Under U.S. pressure, the president of Uzbekistan has agreed to reopen a bridge to Afghanistan to make way for food and medical supplies to move more quickly into that country. The lead at the WP examines what happens when, in the words of the article's headline, "After September 11, Myth and Truth Collide." The myth, as best the paper can put into words, is the "shared American narrative" about Sept. 11 that has everyday heroes, good vs. evil, and flag pins and FDNY caps for sale. The truth is that for families directly affected by Sept. 11, life is a lot more difficult now. The thesis of the piece is that there is a contrast between the "communal myth" of Sept. 11 and the reality of survivors' lives, and the story is made up of several vignettes about how survivors are adjusting. 

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According to U.S. officials, prisoner interrogations and materials seized in Afghanistan are giving the United States good information about how al-Qaida works and where it is located, the LAT reports. Already, American forces have raided al-Qaida assets in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the United States would prefer not to commit its military to striking the next targets in the war against terrorists and instead wants to supply and support other governments so they can take care of the problem.

Because aid for Afghanistan has had to travel by slow barges, the opening of the Uzbek bridge will make it easier for relief workers to get aid into the country quickly, the papers report. However, once they cross the border, things are no better than they were before because roaming bandits are attracted to the easy targets the convoys make. The bridge has been closed since 1997 because Uzbeks have feared Islamic terrorist spillover from Afghanistan.

The NYT lead also reports no new developments in the search for escaped Taliban leader Mullah Omar or in the chaos in Kandahar, where warlords are fighting for control of pieces of the city and then attending meetings to try to figure out who has what. The LAT says that the two tribal leaders reported yesterday to be fighting for Kandahar should be able to come to an agreement today.

The WP breaks the news that the United States has obtained a tape of Bin Laden in which he indicates that the damage to the World Trade Center was much greater than he had expected. He had anticipated that the buildings would only collapse down to the level at which the planes had hit them. The terrorist's language indicates he was familiar with the plans for the attack, senior officials say, the best evidence yet that Bin Laden was directly responsible for Sept. 11. The LAT mentions this tape inside, crediting the WP.

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The WP front reports that of the 30 leaders of al-Qaida, the United States has only confirmed that five or six have been killed. Marines are searching around Kandahar equipped with photos of these leaders to help them recognize the terrorists, according to the NYT and WP.

The headline of an NYT front-page report seems like old news—"Nuclear Experts in Pakistan May Have Links to Al-Qaida"—but it turns out the paper has found out about more Pakistani nuke experts with ties across the border. The two Pakistani nuclear scientists with ties to al-Qaida who were investigated about a month ago did not have any knowledge that would help terrorists build a nuclear weapon, but U.S. intelligence now suggests that different scientists who do have experience building these weapons also may have had contact with al-Qaida.

The WP front assesses Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's role in the Afghan war, basing the story in part on an interview with the secretary. Among Rumsfeld's most important decisions so far has been his insistence that special operations troops be put in place to call in airstrikes.

The late-closing LAT includes word of a new suicide bombing in Haifa, Israel, which, according to early reports, killed the suicide bomber and injured nearby Israeli soldiers. On Sunday the Israeli military raided a couple of Palestinian villages, killing four and capturing 20.

A WP reporter has uncovered more papers in a house left behind by fleeing al-Qaida. These notes instruct terrorists not on the art of weapons-making but on the ways of the West. Included in the tips is the advice that deodorant goes on the body, not the clothes, and that men will be "in big trouble" if they accidentally apply women's perfume instead of cologne.