Monday, December 3, 2001
T u e s d a y ,  D e c e m b e r  4,  2 0 0 1
Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Tribal Troops Mass to Attack bin Laden

Excerpts from articles detailing efforts to attack forces suspected to be defending bin Laden somewhere in the neighborhood of the Tora Bora caves southwest of Jalalabad:

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An army of Afghan tribesmen was advancing yesterday on the mountainous Tora Bora cave complex where Osama bin Laden is thought to have taken refuge, amid reports that his deputy may have been killed or wounded by a US airstrike.

Tribal leaders in Jalalabad said 2,000 men had set off to attack the complex 35 miles southwest of the city, where the world’s most wanted man and hundreds of fanatical followers are believed to be preparing for their last stand.

The advancing tribesmen fought a brief skirmish with al-Qaeda gunmen at the foot of the mountains last night. There were no casualties and the gunmen retreated.

... Haji Mohammad Zaman, the military chief for Nangarhar province, said Ayman al-Zawahiri, the 50-year-old Egyptian doctor who is bin Laden’s mentor, had been caught in an airstrike near Tora Bora.

“I am not sure whether he is injured or he died,” Mr Zaman said. US television networks reported that Dr al-Zawahiri’s wife and children had been killed while he had probably escaped.

Dr al-Zawahiri — the world’s second most wanted man — is widely regarded as the real power behind the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The lifelong Islamic militant led Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the group that assassinated Anwar Sadat, the President of Egypt, in 1981. He met bin Laden while fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s and they merged their followers into the al-Qaeda organisation in the late 1990s.

He persuaded bin Laden to direct his “holy war” against America and helped to mastermind the September 11 attacks.

Mr Zaman said his forces had also begun to encircle the Tora Bora complex with its escape routes, where the Afghan Mujahidin held out for years against Soviet forces.

American helicopter gunships and special operations forces have arrived in Jalalabad to play a support role but Pentagon officials insisted that US commandos would not participate directly in what could be an extremely bloody hand-to-hand battle.

... Washington would prefer not to mount an assault using American troops against one of the most formidable fortified complexes in Afghanistan.

Afghan and Western military analysts contend that the base offers ideal guerrilla defences and would be an extremely difficult target for ground troops to attack if the Arab fighters decided to fight to the death.

Al-Qa'eda fighters inside the base are armed with sophisticated weaponry and have been improving defences in recent weeks. ...

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Israel War on Terrorism

Flash graphic presentation describing the recent islamic extremist suicide bombing attacks and the Israeli response:

(click for Flash presentation)

Inside IT

Excerpts from an article with details on Dean Kamen's new IT / Ginger / Segway personal transporter:

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Inside IT

(click for interactive presentation)

... Could this thing really change the world?

... Kamen explains, "the big idea is to put a human being into a system where the machine acts as an extension of your body." On first inspection, balancing on Ginger seems only slightly more feasible than balancing on a barbell. But what Kamen is talking about is the way Ginger does the balancing for you.

Lean forward, go forward; lean back, go back; turn by twisting your wrist. The experience is the same going uphill, downhill or across any kind of terrain--even ice. It is nothing like riding a bike or a motorcycle. Instead, ... "it's like skiing without the snow."

Exactly how the Segway achieves this effect isn't easy to explain; Kamen's first stab at it involves a blizzard of equations. Eventually, though, he offers this:

"When you walk, you're really in what's called a controlled fall. You off-balance yourself, putting one foot in front of the other and falling onto them over and over again. In the same way, when you use a Segway, there's a gyroscope that acts like your inner ear, a computer that acts like your brain, motors that act like your muscles, wheels that act like your feet. Suddenly, you feel like you have on a pair of magic sneakers, and instead of falling forward, you go sailing across the room."

... Pulling off this trick requires an unholy amount of computer power. In every Segway there are 10 microprocessors cranking out three PCs' worth of juice. Also a cluster of aviation-grade gyros, an accelerometer, a bevy of sensors, two batteries and software so sophisticated it puts Microsoft to shame.

... The possibility that the segway will be viewed as simply a high-end toy, a jet ski on wheels, is one of Kamen's greatest concerns, especially after Sept. 11. He wants his machine taken seriously, as a serious solution to serious problems.

... With the Segway, Kamen plans to change the world by changing how cities are organized. To Kamen's way of thinking, the problem is the automobile. "Cities need cars like fish need bicycles," he says. Segways, he believes, are ideal for downtown transportation.

Unlike cars, they are cheap, clean, efficient, maneuverable. Unlike bicycles, they are designed specifically to be pedestrian friendly. "A bike is too slow and light to mix with trucks in the street but too large and fast to mix with pedestrians on the sidewalk," he argues. "Our machine is compatible with the sidewalk. If a Segway hits you, it's like being hit by another pedestrian."

By traveling at three or four times walking speed, and thus turning what would have been a 30-minute walk into a 10-minute ride, Kamen contends, Segways will in effect shrink cities to the point where cars "will not only be undesirable, but unnecessary." ...

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Nukes by bin Laden?

Excerpts from an article describing the latest information on the threat posed by a terrorist "dirty nuke":

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Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network may have been closer to making a crude radioactive weapon than United States intelligence agencies thought, according to US and foreign sources.

Captured al-Qaeda members or associates have given information under interrogation and other evidence has come from CIA agents and US Special Forces who have examined al-Qaeda facilities in Afghanistan.

Recent US intelligence reports describe a meeting within the last year at which bin Laden was present when one of his associates produced a canister that allegedly contained radioactive material and waved it in the air as proof of al-Qaeda's progress in building a nuclear device.

The US Government has asked some of its allies to keep a look-out for the bin Laden associate and warned he might be trying to smuggle in radioactive material.

There is no conclusive evidence that bin Laden or his associates have built a radiological bomb or even have the capability to do so, these sources emphasised. But for years bin Laden has said publicly he was working towards capability. ...

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