Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Europe 2004

Dateline Europe fom Reuters -- March 16, 2004, after the Spanish capitulation.

France has received threats of a possible attack against French interests from an Islamist group apparently named after a Chechen guerrilla killed in a Moscow hostage-taking in 2002, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday. The letter, sent to several newspapers, threatened "to plunge France into terror and remorse and spill blood outside its frontiers," Jacques Esperandieu, deputy editor of the daily Le Parisien which received a copy, quoted it as saying. The ministry confirmed earlier Justice Ministry reports that the threat, which it said was sent "on behalf of the servants of Allah, the powerful and wise," mentioned possible attacks in France and against French interests abroad.

Security experts say France is also a target because of its cooperation with authorities fighting Islamic militants in its former North African colonies Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

Flash! The Guardian reports that Spain's hesitance to concede the disputed of island of Perejil may have prevented Morocco from sharing information with Spanish authorities that could have thwarted terrorist attacks. Meanwhile the Spanish Foreign Minister journeyed to Morocco to attend a funeral service for North Africans killed in the Madrid train attack.

In the Moroccan capital of Rabat on Tuesday, Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio expressed solidarity between the two countries - separated by 9 miles of water - at a memorial service for the bombing victims. "Spain is the European mirror of Morocco, and Morocco is the African mirror of Spain," Palacio said.

Dateline 1938. Backbencher Winston Churchill, reacting to Neville Chamberlain's triumphant return with an agreement from Hitler promising he would spare Britain any further demands rises to warn the House of Commons.

"And do not suppose this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in olden time. ... We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude which has befallen Great Britain and France. Do not let us blind ourselves to that. It must now be accepted that all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe will make the best terms they can with the triumphant Nazi Power. The system of alliances in Central Europe upon which France has relied for her safety has been swept away, and I can see no means by which it can be reconstituted."


CNN is reporting that France has been threatened by a Muslim group that would make "blood run to (its) borders." for banning the use of headscarves at state schools.

The letter, from a previously unknown group calling itself the "Servants of Allah the Mighty and the Wise," said it planned to take action after Muslim girls were banned from wearing headscarves in schools.

... Describing France as a country of "wine, pigs, loose morals and nudity," the group said it planned to use attack techniques imported from Gaza and Chechnya that "have never been used in the West until now." The letter, postmarked from Paris and sent to the chief editor of "Le Parisien," urged Muslims to stay out of crowded areas.

Meanwhile, a car bomb leveled an ordinary residential hotel and its surroundings in Baghdad. Casualties, mostly Iraqi, are heavy.

Several ambulances rushed to the scene with the drivers shouting over their loudspeakers: "Don't bring us the dead people. We can't help them. Bring us the injured." Two ambulances that tried to leave the scene were quickly surrounded by an angry crowd that blocked the streets as men shouted: "You can't leave now. There are children buried inside." Crowds of Iraqis gathered at the site. Some of them expressed anger at insurgents who have launched attacks in Iraq, calling on the Americans to crack down on the insurgency.

...  One of the Iraqis, Zaki Mohammad, 31, said of the people behind the attack: "They have to hang these people as criminals in front of the people in the city of Baghdad." "Long live U.S.A.," said Ali Mohammad, a 36-year-old Iraqi graduate student and friend of Mr. Mohammad. "We support the U.S.A."