Sunday, May 1, 2011

Better livelihood prospect drives poor Indian women to prostitution

New Delhi - Four out of five female sex workers in India have joined the profession voluntarily; they were not forced or sold into it. Prostitution is just one among several livelihood options available to women from poor backgrounds, says a new survey.

The ‘First pan-India survey of sex workers’, conducted by Pune University researchers Rohini Sahni and V Kalyan Shankar, found that 79.4 percent of sex workers (both those who entered the profession directly as well as those with prior experience in other fields) say they entered the profession on their own accord.

The remaining were forced (71. per cent), sold into prostitution (2.8 per cent) or cheated (9.2 per cent) into it. Of those who were sold, a vast majority say that it was their husbands, lovers, friends and acquaintances who sold them, very rarely blaming strangers. The preliminary report of the study (PDF) was released at the documentation centre of women’s group Akshara in Mumbai on Saturday.

The survey, commissioned by the Forum Against Oppression of Women under the aegis of the Sangli-based Centre for Advocacy on Stigma and Marginalisation, was conducted on a sample of 3,000 female sex workers and more than 2,000 male and transgender ones from 14 states and one union territory. The next leg of this survey will analyse data on abuse, stigmas, migration patterns among sex workers and special skills needed by them.

Major findings:
* 60% were from rural family backgrounds, 35% from urban family backgrounds;
* 65% were from poor family backgrounds, 26% from middle-class family backgrounds;
* 50% had no schooling, 7% had primary schooling up to class four, 13.4% had secondary schooling up to class seven, 6.5% had schooling up to class ten and 11.3% up to class twelve;
* 70% were Hindu, 20% Muslim, 6% Christian and 0.4% Buddhist;
* 26% came from Dalit backgrounds.

The survey found that while poverty and limited education are conditions that push women into sex work, poverty pushes women into other labour markets at earlier ages than in sex work. Therefore, sex work cannot be considered as singular or isolated in its links with poverty, as other occupations are pursued before sex work emerges or is considered as an option, the researchers said. Sex work may also be regarded as offering a significant supplementary income to other forms of labour. Many of those surveyed also worked in diverse occupations in the unskilled manufacturing or services sector for extremely poor wages.

The survey allowed women to express their work identities, both in sex work and out of it, providing flexibility to assert multiple work identities. In describing their working lives, a significant number of women move quite fluidly between other occupations and sex work. For example, a street vendor may search for customers while selling vegetables and a dancer at marriages may also take clients. It is not easy to demarcate women‟s work into neatly segregated compartments. Sex work and other work come together in ways that challenge the differentiation of sex work as an unusual and isolated activity.

The survey found that there was an overwhelming presence of economic reasons for women to have left their jobs in the informal markets – comprising responses such as low pay, insufficient salary, no profit in business, no regular work, seasonal work, not getting money even after work, could not run home with that income.

Sex work offers a significant premium of incomes to what unorganised labour markets offer across India. While poor family backgrounds and the need to look for incomes and livelihoods at an early age is what drives many girls and women into the un-organized labour markets, the possibility of earning higher incomes is what could be driving them into sex work. This, the researchers said, is corroborated by the fact that a large number of girls/women entered the labour markets much earlier than they entered sex work.

Sex work, therefore, cannot be considered as singular or isolated in its links with poverty, for there are other occupations as well which fit into the category of „possible livelihood options‟ before sex work emerges as one of them. Sex work is not the only site of poor working conditions. For those coming from the labour markets, they have experienced equally harsh conditions of highly labour intensive work for very low incomes. It is

Immune System 'Trigger' That Fights Disease Identified

In a welcome development, scientists are now one step closer to understanding the mysteries of how our bodies mount an immune response to fight disease.

David Underhill, an associate professor in Cedars-Sinai's Inflammatory Bowel and Immunobiology Research Institute and colleagues have discovered how a molecular receptor on the surface of white blood cells identifies when invading fungi have established direct contact with the cell surface and pose an infectious threat.

The receptor called Dectin-1 detects fungi and instructs white blood cells whether to expend the energy needed to devour the invading pathogens.

In early stages of infection, white blood cells patrol the body looking for invading pathogens. Dectin-1, a receptor on the surface of white blood cells, recognizes specific components of fungal cell walls, and alerts or "switches on" the immune cells to prepare to fight the infection.

The study helps explain how immune cells determine when pathogens are directly in contact with their surface and thus pose a significantly greater risk, demanding rapid destruction, the researchers said.

The findings were recently published in the journal Nature.


Obese people help thin friends gain weight!

London: Do our friends make us fatter? Yes, according to a new study which has found that thin people who socialise with the obese can put on weight.

But, here is the good news. The process can work in reverse too theoretically, says the study.

For the study, a team, led by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, examined 32 years of data collected during a research of people`s hearts in Framingham in Massachusetts.

Researchers discovered that where two people who are friends for a long time, and where one is heavier than the other, the thinner friend tended to increase in weight by up to 57 per cent over time.

The figure was made more even more stark when compared to the likelihood of the same happening between genetic relations -- 40 per cent -- and spouses, where the weight increase is an average of 37 per cent.

As an example of how it affects people who aren`t friends, the researchers studied the weights of neighbours and found no link in weight increase.

"I think our findings reinforced the idea that because people are interconnected, their health is interconnected," Dr Christakis was quoted by the `Daily Mail` as saying.

The process could also help obese people lose weight.

Dr Christakis said: "The same kind of phenomenon that contributes to an obesity epidemic could potentially -- potentially -- be harnessed to contribute to a reversal of the epidemic, because it`s equally the case that one person losing weight contributes to others around them losing weight."

At a basic level the results also seem to show that fatter people stick together, as do skinny people.


42.1 million viewers in India watched the royal wedding

New Delhi : The market share of English news channels increased by 15 percent as an estimated 42.1 million viewers in India watched the royal wedding between Prince Williams and Kate Middleton Friday, said rating agency Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd (aMap).

The surprise element of the rating was the viewership among housewives jumping by 25 percent.

"Viewership among housewives increased as they were glued to the watch every detail of the wedding ceremony, the designer clothing and the grand affair," Jiniti Shah, vice president, aMap said in a statement Saturday.


Royal wedding: official photographer reveals how he achieved 'effortless' pictures

The official pictures of William and Kate's wedding were shot to show two families coming together and reveal the couple's love for each other, the photographer Hugo Burnand has said.

Speaking at Clarence House in London, Hugo Burnand said he hoped it looked ''effortless, relaxed and friendly''.

He said his favourite photograph was one of the newlyweds with the bridesmaids and page boys, but there were only seconds to set it up and the children were coaxed with promises of jelly beans and sweets.

The pictures, taken in Buckingham Palace's throne room immediately after the bride and groom arrived from Westminster Abbey, capture the Royal Family and the Middletons in rapturous mood.

Mr Burnand said: ''Amazingly it was a family wedding.

''From where I was and from their point of view it was two families coming together and that was the feeling, the sense of family and love going between everyone.

''They had their own buzz. Everyone had their own buzz. It was that excitement that I hope you feel at most weddings.''

Asked about his technique, he said: ''I hope it looks effortless and relaxed and friendly and smiley because that is how it was.

''But that comes from months of preparation, hours of setting up, and being so organised that you are sort of in control at the time.''

Mr Burnand had only a short period of time between the couple's arrival at Buckingham Palace and their appearance on the balcony to take the official photographs.

He said: ''I hope when you look at the picture you feel, as a viewer, that you're engaged with the people in the picture. The only way to do that is to be engaged as a photographer.''

Bridesmaid Grace van Cutsem, the new Duke of Cambridge's three-year-old goddaughter, won hearts at the wedding when she was pictured on the balcony with her hands over her ears.

Mr Burnand said he had met and photographed her as a bridesmaid before.

He said: ''When she walked in I was able to go straight up to her and talk to her about the last time we had met and explain to her it was the same thing and she knew what was going to happen.

''She was great. She's so adorable, Grace.

''They were all fantastic actually. A bit cheeky some of them, but we like that.''

Mr Burnand was red-eyed and emotional as he talked about his favourite picture.

He said: ''It was a picture we all wanted to take but we didn't know if we were ever going to have the time to do it.

''If things hadn't gone really smoothly we would never have got to that picture.

''We had seconds to put that picture together.''

But he said that, because he had discussed with his team and everyone in the picture knew what they were going to have to do, they were able to rush into position.

''Those children came in - there was a promise of sweets and jelly beans - but they knew what they had to do.

''When you look at those individual children in that picture you are seeing those children and their characters.

''That's the same with the bride and groom in the middle of the picture as well. That's really them. There's no time for direction, we've done all that.''

Sony executives bow in apology for security breach

TOKYO — Sony executives bowed in apology Sunday for a security breach in the company's PlayStation Network that compromised the personal data of some 77 million accounts on the online service.

"We deeply apologize for the inconvenience we have caused," said Kazuo Hirai, chief of Sony Corp.'s PlayStation video game unit, who was among the three executives who held their heads low for several seconds at the company's Tokyo headquarters in the traditional style of a Japanese apology.

Hirai said parts of the service would be back this week and that the company would beef up security measures. But he and other executives acknowledged that not enough had been done in security precautions, and promised that the company's network services were under a basic review to prevent a recurrence.

Hirai said the FBI and other authorities had been contacted to start an investigation into what the company called "a criminal cyber attack" on Sony's data centre in San Diego, California.

Sony said account information, including names, birth dates, email addresses and log-in information, was compromised for players using its PlayStation Network. Hirai asked all users to change their passwords.

Hirai reiterated what the company said last week -- that even though it had no direct evidence the data were even taken, it cannot rule out the possibility.

He said data from 10 million credit cards were believed to be involved, and that Sony still does not know whether information was stolen.

Sony has added software monitoring and enhanced data protection and encryption as new security measures, he said. The company said it would offer "welcome back" freebies such as complimentary downloads and 30 days of free service around the world to show remorse and appreciation.

"I see my work as first making sure Sony can regain the trust from our users," Hirai said.

The network, which serves both the PlayStation video game machines and Sony's Qriocity movie and music services, has been shut down since April 20. It is a system that links gamers worldwide in live play, and also allows users to upgrade and download games and other content.

Hirai said Sony suspected it was under attack by hackers starting April 17.

According to Sony, of the 77 million PlayStation Network accounts, about 36 million are in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Americas, while 32 million are in Europe and 9 million in Asia, mostly in Japan.

Pressure is mounting on Sony to restore services and compensate players.

U.S. lawmakers have sent a letter to Hirai demanding answers by May 6 about the security breach and Sony's response.

Hirai said he had read the online version of the letter and would answer the questions as soon as possible.

Last month, U.S. lawyers filed a lawsuit against Sony on behalf of lead plaintiff Kristopher Johns for negligent protection of personal data and failure to inform players in a timely fashion that their credit card information may have been stolen. The lawsuit seeks class-action status.

Hirai said the network problems would not hurt or delay Sony's product plans, including a tablet device that looks like Apple's iPad, an upgrade to the PlayStation Portable and a gradual global rollout of the Qriocity service.

Hirai also denied Sony had purposely held off on releasing information about network problems, a criticism that some have expressed.

He said the service was shut down to prevent damage, and that time was needed to find out what had happened and who was responsible.

But Yoh Mikami, a writer specializing in electronic security in Japan, said Sony's network business had suffered a serious blow as people were seeing its reliability as plunging. He said Sony also waited too long, more than a week, to tell users what had happened.

"What became clear today is that Sony didn't even know its server had a vulnerability," said Mikami. "Sony's crisis management came too little, too late."

Experts: Apple should've addressed concerns sooner

NEW YORK — Apple should have responded much sooner to concerns about location data stored on its iPhones, even if the company didn't have all the answers ready, marketing and crisis-management experts say.

The company took a week to deny that the phones track the precise location of their owners, as some users and privacy watchdogs had feared.

As soon as it started selling the devices, Apple should have said how it uses, or doesn't use, location data, said Joe Marconi, a DePaul University marketing professor and author of "Crisis Marketing: When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies."

"The whole problem could have been a non-problem if Apple had done some kind of disclosure of this in some kind of a privacy statement," he said. "Apple customers are fiercely loyal in a way we can say few (others) are today. With that comes a responsibility."

In a list of 10 questions and answers published Wednesday, the company explained that a data file publicized last week by security researchers doesn't store iPhone users' physical locations — just a list of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding them.

Apple said the data help phones figure out their location without having to listen for faint signals from GPS satellites.

The company did acknowledge that the data are stored for up to a year because of a software bug. It promised a fix in the coming weeks to reduce the duration of the storage.

Larry L. Smith, president of the Institute for Crisis Management, a public relations company, said Apple should have said something sooner in some form, even if it didn't have all the details right away.

"To me there is no excuse to stonewall, to put off facing your customers, your partners, your shareholders, your employees," he said. "When there is a problem, or an issue has been raised, it's so counterproductive to put off responding."

Even a response of "I don't know; I will get back to you" is better than none, he said. "You are not always going to have immediate answers."

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris would not comment on why the company waited to respond.

Speaking to The New York Times, CEO Steve Jobs defended the timing of Apple's response, saying that the company wanted to determine exactly what happened rather than rush to its public relations department.

"The first thing we always do when a problem is brought to us is we try to isolate it and find out if it is real," he said. "It took us about a week to do an investigation and write a response, which is fairly quick for something this technically complicated."

Jobs, who went on medical leave in January, said he was personally involved in writing Wednesday's response, as were other top executives, "because we think it is that important."

Despite all the hoopla, Smith said he doesn't expect Apple's latest blunder to hurt the company in the long run.

Apple quickly recovered from "antennagate," a problem with the iPhone 4's antenna design. It caused reception issues when people covered a certain spot with a bare hand.

Jobs apologized last July to people who were not completely satisfied with the iPhone 4, but denied there was an antenna problem that needed fixing. Even so, the company gave out free protective cases. "Antennagate" didn't seem to make a dent in the iPhone's popularity or sour Apple's devoted fan base.

And, Smith said, the "flap over data won't do the harm today that it might have done a few years ago when our attention span was a little longer. Somebody else will do something stupid tomorrow."

Companies that handle public relations crises well are not remembered long — that's the whole point. But Apple might learn from fast food companies such as Domino's Pizza and Taco Bell.

When video of a Domino's employee appearing to do disgusting things to food appeared on YouTube, Domino's responded by firing that person and the co-worker who recorded him. Later, CEO Patrick Doyle posted a video in response, saying the store had been sanitized "top to bottom" and that the company is re-examining how it hires workers "to make sure that people like this don't make it into our stores."

Taco Bell, meanwhile, spent millions of dollars on ads to counter a lawsuit that questioned whether the filling in its tacos was actually beef. The lawsuit has been dropped.

Smith said Taco Bell realized their taco customers were mostly men who bought it for the taste and price, not for its nutritional value.

Similarly, Apple might find that many users don't mind their location being tracked because this allows them to get directions, find nearby restaurants and use a slew of other apps and features of the iPhone. In Wednesday's statement, Apple said the data file in question helps speed location-based services.

Delhi Metro to use longer girders to expedite construction

To save time and conform to the latest international technologies, the Delhi Metro will use 25-metre long girders on some of the elevated viaducts to be constructed for the ambitious Phase-III, work on which will begin after the Union Government approves the project.

Using 25-metre long girders in the Phase-III will save time as well as minimise the inconvenience caused to people during the construction of the project, which will see another 107 km of the national capital getting connected with the Metro.

Delhi Metro had used 25-metre long girders in constructing the Airport Express Corridor, which was completed in just 27 months. In the Phase-II, DMRC used 4-6 metre long girders for construction which takes more time.

“These 25-metre girders are precast in the casting yards, brought to the site on trailers and launched with the help of cranes which takes lesser time than the conventional segmental launching technique involving the use of launching girders,” DMRC spokesman Anuj Dayal said.

The use of the 25 metre girders will help DMRC expedite construction work in the stretches where the movement of trailers and cranes is possible.

Due to this, Mr. Dayal said, the number of traffic diversions and barricading on the roads will be of lesser durations.

For the construction of longer spans, which will come up over traffic intersections, the 25 metre girders will rest on specially designed pier caps cantilevering towards the tracks on both the sides, Mr. Dayal said.

Custom designed concrete decks will be put on the top of these pier caps to bridge the gap between the 25 metre long girders.

The Phase-III has been cleared by Urban Development Ministry’s Empowered Committee and the proposal is currently before the Group of Ministers. After getting the GoM’s nod, it has to be cleared by the Union Cabinet.

Apart from this technique, DMRC will also use steel girders on spans measuring 40 to 50 metres. Such steel girders have been used earlier in Phase II and Phase 1 at various locations, he said.

For curing of the civil structures to enhance their strength and durability, ‘sophisticated curing compound coating’ are also being explored as per international practices.

“Concrete of the quality of M-50 and M-60 will be used depending on specific requirements. The parapets on the elevated viaducts will also be much sleek and therefore, easier to handle,” he said.

Indian pilots' strike enters fourth day

FLAGSHIP carrier Air India was forced to cancel most of its domestic flights by a pilots' strike over pay that entered its fourth day.

The financially ailing state-run carrier, which says it has lost $6 million in revenues so far due to the strike, said it was operating just 39 domestic flights out of its regular 320, according to the Press Trust of India.

The airline is "operating on only trunk routes" to major Indian cities, an Air India spokesman said.

"We do not have any pilots," he added.

The airline, which at the start of the strike had been able to operate most flights, has also scaled back international operations.

More than 800 pilots were on strike, defying management warnings of dismissal, while non-unionised pilots, asked by management to fill in for the strikers, have begun calling in sick in support of their colleagues.

The airline, which has condemned the strike as "illegal, unfortunate and most irresponsible," has already sacked nine pilots and suspended six others.

The Delhi High Court has initiated contempt of court proceedings against the pilots, citing their "utter defiance" of its orders to end their strike.

If found guilty, the pilots could be sentenced to six months in jail.

"We're more than willing to go to jail," Rishabh Kapur, General Secretary of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), said.

In 2007, the government merged Air India with state-run domestic carrier Indian Airlines in a bid to create a more cost-efficient national carrier.

The pilots on strike were all originally hired by Indian Airlines and say that four years after the merger, they are still paid significantly less than the pilots from Air India.

They are demanding equal wages, but the airline has said no strike is legally permitted as a case on wage parity and other issues is pending before a tribunal.

"I hope sense will prevail upon these people," said civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi.

Private airlines have cashed in on the strike by hiking their fares on routes served by Air India.

India set for ninth rate hike to cool inflation

NEW DELHI: India, which has the highest inflation of any large Asian economy, looks set this week to hike interest rates for a ninth time despite mounting concern over the impact of monetary tightening.

The central bank has raised rates eight times since March 2010, albeit in gradual, quarter-point steps to minimise the impact on economic growth.

But inflation has remained high and some economists expect Reserve Bank of India (RBI) policymakers to move more aggressively when they meet on Tuesday.

"A 50-basis-point rate rise wouldn't surprise me -- inflation is proving stubbornly difficult to reduce," Deepak Lalwani, head of London-based India investment consultancy Lalcap, told AFP.

"It's time to step it up," agreed HSBC chief India economist Leif Eskesen.

Others bet the bank will stick to its "slowly, slowly approach" and only hike by a quarter point as it seeks to balance growth and inflation concerns.

The RBI meeting comes after data in April showed inflation had surged to nearly nine per cent.

The Asian Development Bank has said controlling inflation must be the Asian region's top priority as strong growth, turmoil in the Middle East and Japan's nuclear crisis drive up food and oil prices.

Asian economies from South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan to China are all battling inflationary pressures.

But some economists are concerned that India's central bank may push too hard on the brakes.

The benchmark repurchase, or repo rate, at which the bank lends to commercial banks, is 6.75 per cent while the reverse repo, paid to banks for deposits, is 5.75 per cent.

"The bottom line is the central bank needs to act but it should not go overboard," said CLSA economist Rajeev Malik. "It must avoid a repeat of the mid-1990s outcome of killing inflation by crippling growth."

The government has said it expects the economy to expand by nine percent in the current fiscal year, returning to levels it reached before the global financial crisis.

But there are already fears that Asia's third-largest economy will undershoot the target because of interest rate increases.

Investment house Goldman Sachs has already slashed its growth forecast for the year to March 2012 to 7.8 per cent from 8.7 per cent. Credit Suisse economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde has trimmed his expansion forecast to 7.5 per cent.

The economy is already showing signs of slowing with an 18 per cent year-on-year drop in capital goods output in February, trimming industrial production growth to 3.6 per cent.

Inflation, fed by food and fuel price rises, has been one of the biggest headaches for the Congress-led government headed by Premier Manmohan Singh, whose coalition is also reeling from a string of corruption scandals.

Reducing prices is a political priority even as higher growth is seen as key to reducing crushing poverty in the nation of 1.2 billion.

Poorer households, the backbone of the party's support, have been especially hard hit by inflation, a traditional lightning rod for political discontent.

"Inflation is the most important short-term problem," said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy head of India's influential economic Planning Commission, who has urged the central bank to use "all the flexibility" at its disposal.

Former central bank governor Y.V. Reddy said the Reserve Bank cannot afford any let up in its anti-inflation fight -- even if it means slower growth.

"Tell me any single period when we have had higher growth and higher inflation. It just does not happen that way and it is a wrong policy. What we need is low inflation and if it demands low growth, so be it," Reddy said.

Critics do not know the sacrifices made by founders: Narayana Murthy

A day after the Infosys board announced leadership changes, its Chairman and Chief Mentor, Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy, took a swipe at those who criticised the IT giant for favouring founders for the top jobs in the company.

Speaking to Business Line, Mr Murthy said critics do not realise the sacrifices the founders and their respective families made while building the company. “There are many people who comment on founders versus professionals. Unfortunately, none of them knows the kind of sacrifice the founder professionals made in the beginning.”

Explaining the hardship the founders and their families underwent in the early days of the company, he said, “Their wives cooked food for the employees, their wives carried out secretarial jobs while they lived on $250 a month in the US, and had to be away from their children. So, I think it is very easy to criticise and comment about founders and non-founders.”

In the leadership changes announced on Saturday, the current Chairman and Chief Mentor and one of the founders of the company, Mr Murthy has been elevated to the post of Chairman Emeritus while co-founders, Mr Kris Gopalakrishnan and Mr Shibulal, have been made the co-Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director respectively.

About his career spanning over three decades in Infosys, Mr Murthy pointed out that some of the lows were when his favourite colleagues had to leave the company under a cloud. “I had some lows (in my career at Infosys)… when one of my favourite senior colleagues had to leave the company under not-so-pleasant circumstances… when I had to take a decision all alone whether to accept the resignation of another colleague of mine. These were difficult situations, but, in the end, I am so happy that we did the right thing.”

Mr Murthy, who will demit office on August 20 this year, said he is willing to take up any post offered by the Government as long as he is able to do work which is close to his heart.

He would, however, look at an opportunity which allows him to work with youngsters and inculcate in them better work ethics and discipline.

On a larger canvas, he revealed that he was actively involved in the drafting of the Jan Lokpal Bill, and interacted with the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and the party's General Secretary, Mr Rahul Gandhi, on the issue.

9/11: The Day Osama Shook The World

New Delhi :   On September 11, 2001,  a series of coordinated suicide attacks were carried out by Al Qaeda upon the United States.  On that morning, 19 al-Qaeda  terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger  jet airliners.

The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. Both towers collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others.

The hijackers crashed a third airliner into  The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington DC.

The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville  in rural Pennsylvania after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C. to target either the Capitol Building or the White House  There were no survivors from any of the flights.

Nearly 3,000 victims and the 19 hijackers died in the attacks.

According to the New York State Health Department, 836 responders, including firefighters and police personnel, have died as of June 2009. Among the 2,752 victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center were 343 firefighters and 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority.

 Another 184 people were killed in the attack on the Pentagon. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of over 70 countries

The United States President George W. Bush responded to the attacks by launching the War on Terror, invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban who had harbored al-Qaeda terrorists, and enacting the  USA Patriot Act.

Many other countries also strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded law enforcement powers. Some American stock exchanges stayed closed for the rest of the week following the attack, and posted enormous losses upon reopening, especially in the airline and insurance industries. The destruction of billions of dollars' worth of office space caused serious damage to the economy of Lower Manhattan.

The damage to the Pentagon was cleared and repaired within a year, and the Pentagon Memorial  was built adjacent to the building.

The rebuilding process has started on the Worlkd Trade Center site. In 2006, a new office tower was completed on the site of  7  World Trade Center.. The new  One World Trade Center  is currently under construction at the site and is expected to be completed in 2013.

Three more towers were originally expected to be built between 2007 and 2012 on the site. Ground was broken for the Flight 93 National Memorial on November 8, 2009, and the first phase of construction is expected to be ready for the 10th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2011

The Attack:

Early on the morning of September 11, 2001, nineteen hijackers  took control of four commercial airliners en route to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Boston, Newark and Washington DC.

 At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 was crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower, followed by United Airlines Flight 175,  which hit the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.

Another group of hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into  the Pentagon  9:37 a.m.

 A fourth flight, United Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania,  at 10:03 a.m, after the passengers on board engaged in a fight with the hijackers. Its ultimate target was thought to be either the Capitol or the White House.

Some passengers were able to make phone calls using the cabin airphone service and mobile phones,  and provide details, including that several hijackers  were aboard each plane, that mace or other form of noxious chemical spray, such as tear gas or pepper spray  was used, and that some people aboard had been stabbed Reports indicated that during two of the flights, the hijackers stabbed and killed aircraft pilots, flight attendants and in at least one case, a passenger.

The 9/11 Commission established that two of the hijackers had recently purchased Leatherman multi-function hand tools.

A flight attendant on Flight 11, a passenger on Flight 175, and passengers on Flight 93 mentioned that the hijackers had bombs, but one of the passengers also mentioned he thought the bombs were fake. No traces of explosives were found at the crash sites, and the 9/11 Commission believed the bombs were probably fake.

On United Airlines Flight 93, a transcript of audio recorded by the cockpit voice recorder  revealed that crew and passengers attempted to seize control of the plane from the hijackers after learning through phone calls that similarly hijacked planes had been crashed into buildings that morning.

 One of the hijackers gave the order to roll  the plane once it became evident that they would lose control of the plane to the passengers. Soon afterward, the aircraft crashed into a field near Shanksville.

In a September 2002 interview conducted by documentary-maker Yosri Fouda,  an  al Jazeera journalist, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who are believed to have organised the attacks, stated that the fourth hijacked plane was heading for the United States Capitol, which they gave the codename "the Faculty of Law"  not for the White House.

They further stated that al-Qaeda initially planned to fly hijacked jets into nuclear installations rather than the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but it was decided not to attack nuclear power plants "for the moment" because of fears it could "get out of control".

Three buildings in the World Trade Center Complex collapsed due to structural failure  on the day of the attack.

The south tower (2 WTC) fell at approximately 9:59 a.m., after burning for 56 minutes in a fire caused by the impact of United Airlines Flight 175.

The north tower (1 WTC) collapsed at 10:28 a.m., after burning for approximately 102 minutes.
When the north tower collapsed, debris that fell on the nearby 7 World Trade Center (7 WTC) building damaged it and initiated fires. These fires burned for hours and compromised the building's structural integrity, which led to the crumbling of the east penthouse at 5:20 p.m. and to the complete collapse of the building at 5:21 p.m.


There were a total of 2,996 deaths, including the 19 hijackers and 2,977 victims.

 The victims were distributed as follows: 246 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,606 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. All the deaths in the attacks were civilians except for 55 military personnel killed in the attack on the Pentagon.

More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

 In 2007, the New York City medical examiner's office added Felicia Dunn-Jones to the official death toll from the September 11 attacks. Dunn-Jones died five months after 9/11 from a lung condition which was linked to exposure to dust during the collapse of the World Trade Center.

 Leon Heyward, who died of lymphoma in 2008, was added to the official death toll in 2009.

Along with the 110-floor Twin Towers of the World Trade Center itself, numerous other buildings at the World Trade Center site were destroyed or badly damaged, including 7 World Trade Center, 6 World Trade Center, 5 World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center,  the Marriott World Trade Center (3 WTC) and the World Financial Center complex and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.

Of the buildings and structures belonging to the World Trade Center complex, North Tower (1 World Trade Center), South Tower (2 World Trade Center), the Marriott Hotel (3 World Trade Center) and 7 World Trade Center were completely destroyed, 4 World Trade Center, 5 World Trade Center, One Liberty Plaza, the U.S. Customs House (6 World Trade Center), and both pedestrian bridges were severely damaged. The Deutsche Bank building on 130 Liberty Street was partially damaged and demolished later.

Osama : A Life Of Terror

New Delhi : With the death of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, the curtains are drawn over a long era of terror spanning different continents on the globe. The Al Qaeda's reins  will now shift  to the former Egyptian doctor   Ayman al Zawahiri, for long No.2 in the Qaeda hierarchy.

Osama bin Laden's life has been a long-running story of turbulence, terror and tenacity.

Born 1957 to a  Syrian mother, Osama bin Laden was the seventh son among fifty brothers and sisters.
According to a report in Frontline, his father Mohammed Awad bin Laden came to the kingdom from Hadramout (South Yemen) sometime around 1930.

The father started his life as a very poor laborer (porter in Jeddah port), to end up as owner of the biggest construction company in the kingdom.

During the reign of King Saud, bin Laden the father became very close to the royal family when he took the risk of building King Saud's palaces much cheaper than the cheapest bid.

He impressed King Saud with his performance but he also built good relations with other members of the royal family, especially Faisal. During the Saud-Faisal conflict in the early sixties, bin Laden the father had a big role in convincing King Saud to step down in favor of Faisal.

After Saud's departure the treasury was empty and bin Laden was so supportive to King Faisal that he literally paid the civil servants' wages of the whole kingdom for six months.

King Faisal then issued a decree that all construction projects should go to bin Laden. Indeed, he was appointed for a period as the minister of public works.

In 1969 the father took the task of rebuilding Al-Aqsa mosque after the fire incident. Interestingly the bin Laden family say that they have the credit of building all the three mosques, because later on their company took over the task of major extension in Mecca and Medina mosques.

The father was fairly devoted Moslem, very humble and generous. He was so proud of the bag he used when he was a porter that he kept it as a trophy in the main reception room in his palace. The father used to insist on his sons to go and manage some projects themselves.

The father had very dominating personality. He insisted to keep all his children in one premises. He had a tough discipline and observed all the children with strict religious and social code. He maintained a special daily program and obliged his children to follow. At the same time the father was entertaining with trips to the sea and desert. He dealt with his children as big men and demanded them to show confidence at young age. He was very keen not to show any difference in the treatment of his children.


Osama was exposed very early on his age to this experience but he lost his father when he was 13. He married at the age of 17 to a Syrian girl who was a relative. He grew up as religiously committed boy and the early marriage was another factor of protecting him from corruption.

Osama had his primary, secondary and even university education in Jeddah. He had a degree in public administration 1981 from King Abdul-Aziz university in Jeddah. Countries of the Arabian Peninsula, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sudan are the only countries he has been to. All stories of trips to Switzerland, Philippines, and London are all unfounded.


In addition to the general Islamic commitment he started forming an Islamic responsibility at early age. His father used to host hundreds of pilgrims during Hajj season from al over the world. Some of those were senior Islamic scholars or leaders of Muslim movements. This habit went on even after his father's death through his elder brothers. He used to make good contacts and relations through those gatherings.

At secondary school and university he adopted the main trend of many educated Muslims at that time, Muslim Brotherhood. There was a collection of Muslim scholars in Jeddah and Mecca at that period. There was nothing extraordinary in his personality and that trend was rather very non-confrontational. Interestingly, the 1980 raid in the Grand Mosque in Mecca was not appealing to him, neither the theology or that group. He had two distinguished teachers in Islamic studies, which was a compulsory subject in the university. First was Abdullah Azzam who became later as one of the big names in Afghanistan and the second was Mohammed Quttub, a famous Islamic writer and philosopher.


The first encounter with Afghanistan was as early as the first two weeks of Soviet invasion. He went to Pakistan and was taken by his hosts Jamaat Islami from Karachi to Peshawar to see the refugees and meet some leaders. Some of those leaders like Rabbani and Sayyaf were common faces to him because he met them during Hajj gatherings That trip which was [a] secret trip lasted for almost a month and was an exploratory rather than action trip. He went back to the kingdom and started lobbying with his brothers, relatives and friends at the school to support the mujahedeen. He succeeded in collecting huge amount of money and material as donations to jihad. He made another trip to take this material. He took with him few Pakistanis and Afghanis who were working in bin Laden company for more than ten years. Again, he did not stay more than a month The trip was to Pakistan and the border only and was not to Afghanistan. He went on collecting money and going in short trips once or twice a year until 1982.


In 1982 he decided to go inside Afghanistan. He brought with him plenty of the construction machinery and put them at the disposal of the mujahedeen He started spending more and more time in Afghanistan occasionally joining actual battles but not in an organized manner. His presence was encouraging to more Saudis to come but the numbers were still small at that period.


In 1984 he had one further step in strengthening his presence in Afghanistan by establishing the guesthouse in Peshawar (Baitul'ansar). That house was supposed to be the first station of Arab mujahedeen when they come to Afghanistan before going to the front or start training. At that period Osama did not have his own command or training camps. He used to send the newcomers to one of the Afghan factions.

The guesthouse establishment was coinciding with the formation of Jihad Service Bureau by Abdullah Azzam in Peshawar. The Bureau was very active in terms of media, publications and charity work. The Bureau publications were important in attracting more Saudis and Arabs to Afghanistan.


In 1986 Osama decided to have his own camps inside Afghanistan and within two years he built more than six camps. Some were mobilized more than once. He decided to have his own front and to run his own battles with his own command. Among the Arab fighters he had, there were senior Arab ex-military men from Syria and Egypt with good military experience. The story of the guesthouse and the camps was very attractive for more Arab mujahedeen to come and there was a significant surge in their numbers at that period.

In addition to many exchanges of fire and small operations, the first major battle he had face to face with the Soviet army with pure Arab personnel was the battle of Jaji in the province of Baktia 200 kilometers away from Khost. From then until 1989 he had more than five major battles with hundreds of small operations and exchanges of fire. During the period 1984-1989 he was staying more in Afghanistan than Saudi Arabia. He would spend a total of eight months a year or more in Afghanistan.


In 1988 he noticed that he was backward in his documentation and was not able to give answers to some families asking about their loved ones gone missing in Afghanistan. He decided to make the matter much more organized and arranged for proper documentation. He made a tracking record of the visitors, be they mujahedeen or charity or simple visitors. Their movement between the guesthouse and the camps had to be recorded as well as their first arrival and final departure. The whole complex was then termed Al-Qa'edah which is an Arabic word meaning "The Base." Al-Qa'edah was very much public knowledge. It was funny to see some people triumphing because they discovered it!


Late 1989 after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, he went to the kingdom in an ordinary trip. There he was banned from travel and was trapped in the kingdom. The Soviet withdrawal might have been a factor but the main reason for the travel ban were his intentions to start a new "front" of jihad in South Yemen. In addition, he embarrassed the regime by lectures and speeches warning of impending invasion by Saddam. At that time the regime was at very good terms with Saddam. He was instructed officially to keep low profile and not to give public talks. Despite the travel ban he was not hostile to regime at this stage. Indeed he presented a written advice in the form of a detailed, personal, private and confidential letter to the king few weeks before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.


He reacted swiftly to Iraqi invasion and saw it fulfilling his prophecy. He immediately forwarded another letter to the king suggesting in detail how to protect the country from potentially advancing Iraqi forces. In addition to many military tactics suggested, he volunteered to bring all the Arab mujahedeen to defend the kingdom. That letter was presented in the first few days of the incident, and the regime response was of consideration!

While he was expecting some call to mobilize his men and equipment he heard the news which transferred his life completely. The Americans are coming. He always describes that moment as shocking moment. He felt depressed and thought that maneuvers had to change. Instead of writing to the king or approaching other members of the royal family, he started lobbying through religious scholars and Muslim activists. He succeeded in extracting a fatwah from one of the senior scholars that training and readiness is a religious duty. He immediately circulated that fatwah and convinced people to have their training in Afghanistan. It was estimated that 4000 went to Afghanistan in response to the fatwah. The regime was not happy with his activities so they limited his movement to Jeddah only. He was summoned for questioning twice for some of his speeches and activities and was given warnings. To intimidate him, the regime raided his farm in the suburb of Jeddah by the National Guard. He was not there during the raid and was very angry when told. He wrote a letter of protest to Prince Abdullah. Abdullah apologized and claimed he is not aware and promised to punish who ever were responsible.


Osama was fed up with this almost house arrest situation and did not imagine himself able to stay in the country with the American forces around. One of his brothers was very close to King Fahad and also close to Prince Ahmed, deputy minister of interior. He convinced his brother that he needed to leave the country to sort out some business matters in Pakistan and come back. There was a difficult obstacle, the stubborn Prince Nayef, minister of interior. His brother waited until Nayef went in a trip outside the kingdom and extracted lifting the ban from prince Ahmed. When he arrived in Pakistan around April 1991 he sent a letter to his brother telling him that he is not coming back and apologized for letting him down with the royal family.


After his arrival to Pakistan he went straight to Afghanistan because he knew the Pakistani intelligence would hand him back to the Saudis. There, he attended the collapse of the communist regime and the consequent dispute between the Afghan parties. He spent great effort to arbitrate between them but with no success He ordered his followers to avoid any involvement in the conflict and told them it was a sin to side with any faction. During his stay the Saudis tried more than once to kidnap or kill him in collaboration with the Pakistani intelligence. His friends in the Saudi and Pakistani establishments would always leak the plan and make him ready for it. After his failure in sorting the Afghani dispute, he decided to leave Afghanistan. The only alternative country he had was Sudan. He left Afghanistan disguised in private jet only few months after his arrival. That was late 1991.


His choice of Sudan had nothing to do with jihad or "terrorism." He was attracted to Sudan because of what was at that time an Islamic banner raised by the new regime in Sudan. He wanted to have good refuge as well as help the government in its construction projects. There was no intention from his side or from the Sudanese regime to have any military activity in Sudan. Indeed the Sudanese government refused even sending some of his followers to the front in the south. He was treated in Sudan as a special guest who wanted to help Sudan when everybody was turning away. In Sudan he mobilized a lot of construction equipment and enrolled himself in busy construction projects. He spent good effort in convincing Saudi businessmen to invest in Sudan and had reasonable success. Many of his brothers and Jeddah merchants had and still have investment in real estate, farming and agricultural industry. In Sudan he had again escaped an assassination attempt which turned out later to be the plan of Saudi intelligence.


During his stay in Sudan anti-American incidents happened in Somalia and South Yemen. Neither of the two incidents was performed by his group in the proper sense of chain of command. Both were performed by people who had training in Afghanistan and had enough anti-American drive. He might have given some sanctioning to the operations but one thing was certain, the Sudanese were completely unaware of either.


Between his arrival to Sudan and early 1994 he was not regarded publicly as Saudi opposition and Saudi citizens were visiting him without too much precautions. Only the well-informed people would know that he was classified as enemy to the Saudi regime. His assets were frozen sometime between 1992 and 1994 but that was not published. The Saudis decided to announce their hostility early 1994 when they publicized withdrawing his citizenship.


After long silence and tolerance, bin Laden replied by issuing a communiqué condemning the Saudi decision and saying that he does not need the "Saudi" reference to identify himself and it is not up to Al-Saud to admit or expel people from Arabian Peninsula. He then formed together with activists and scholars from the kingdom a group called "Advice and Reform Committee" (ARC). The ARC was, according to its communiqués and published agenda, a purely political group. The ARC published around 17 communiqués which might have contained harsh criticism of the Saudi regime and plenty of religious rhetoric but never contained reference for violence or incitment of violence.


The car bomb in spring 1995 in Riyadh was the first major anti-American action in the kingdom. Bin Laden never claimed responsibility, but the Saudi government tried to link the incident to bin Laden by showing video confessions of four "Arab Afghans" involved in the bombing.


Sudan was exposed to huge international pressure for hosting bin Laden and his followers, and bin Laden felt that he is becoming an embarrassment to the Sudanese. Early in 1996 he started making contacts with his old friends in Afghanistan to prepare for his reception. He fled Sudan in a very well planned trip with many of his followers to go straight to Jalalabad in Eastern Afghanistan.


When he arrived there, the situation in Afghanistan was very unsettled between the many factions, but he had very good relations with all factions and all would protect him. The area he arrived to was under control of Yunis Khalis, a very influential warlord who later on joined Taliban.


June 1996, after his arrival in Afghanistan was the Khobar bombing. Nobody claimed responsibility, but sources from inside the Saudi ministry of interior confirmed involvement of Arab Afghans, with possible link to bin Laden The Saudi government wanted to frame Shi'a, at the beginning but Americans were very suspicious of the Saudi story. Bin Laden himself never claimed responsibility but gave many hints that he might have been involved. The Saudi government has acknowledged recently that bin Laden's men were behind the bombing.

After few months of his arrival he issued his first anti-American message, a Declaration of War. That declaration was limited to expelling American forces outside the Arabian Peninsula. His sense of security and nobody to embarrass must have been the drive to release that 12 page declaration. Interest in him by the Saudis never stopped and they tried very hard to convince Yunis Khalis to hand him over, and he flatly refused despite the luxurious offers.


Taliban swept Jalalabad late 1996, almost without war, and bin Laden came under their control. He was optimistic that they will give him sanctuary but he was not sure. He was surprised when a delegation of Taliban came to meet him by order of Mullah Omer, the leader of Taliban, with instructions to reassure him that he will have even better protection under Taliban. The delegation expressed Taliban honor of protecting somebody like him who sacrificed a lot for the sake of jihad.


The Saudis never gave up. Early 1997 they bought some mercenaries in the Pakistani Afghani border. The operation was arranged with the Pakistani intelligence. The information leaked to bin Laden and he decided to move immediately to Qandahar, the stronghold of Taliban. The operation was then cancelled.


When bin Laden left Jalalabad, he ordered many of his followers to join Taliban in their war against Dostum and to protect Kabul. The unexpected happened. Taliban troops were fooled by a trap in the north and Kabul front was exposed to Shah Masood. Taliban were so disorganized at that stage that it was only those few Arabs who were there to push Shah Masood off Kabul and they did efficiently.


The leader of Taliban Mulla Omer was keen to meet Osama. He met him early 1997 after two TV interviews, Channel 4 and CNN. Mulla Omer expressed respect and admiration but requested him to have low profile. He stressed that that was a request and not an order. Osama replied with appreciation and thanks and reassured Mulla Omer that he was going very low profile.


Sometime in late 1997 a big operation was planned by the Americans. The primary plan was for American special forces to attack bin Laden's residence in Qandahar and kidnap him in a commando style operation. The plan was mocked in Pakistani desert and proved dangerous. While the Americans were reconsidering the decision, the news leaked to bin Laden, again through the Pakistani military, and he made it public. That was published in Al-Quds Al-Arabi in London. The Americans had no choice but to cancel. Americans acknowledged this incident only recently, but did not acknowledge the leak.


Bin Laden noticed that the driving force in Taliban were Ulema (religious scholars). He made very good links with them and lobbied specifically for the subject of American forces in the Arabian Peninsula. He was able to extract a fatwah signed by some 40 scholars in Afghanistan sanctioning the use of all means to expel the American forces from the Peninsula. The issue of that fatwah was an asset to him inside Taliban domain. He felt that Ulema were at his back and he can go high profile after long silence.


His second presence in Afghanistan has attracted many mujahedeen to move there again. Among those were Ayman El-Zawahery of Egyptian Jihad and Rift'ee Taha of Jama'a Islamia. There was also new phenomenon during that period. Bin Laden decided to go pan-Islamic instead of Saudi or Arabic. He attracted Kashmiris, Pakistanis, Indians, and Muslims from the Soviet Republics. He thought at that stage that he could make an international alliance against America. In February 1998 he declared the formation of the International Front. The declaration contained two elements, formation of the front and a fatwah sanctioning killing Americans and Jews. Apart from two Arabic newspapers, the declaration had minimal coverage by the press.


After avoiding the media for almost a year he decided to open the door wide for them. In April 1998 he received the ABC TV team and two weeks later he held press conference in Khost and warned of impending attack in few weeks time. Mulla Omer was not happy with this new media escalation, but felt it difficult to control him while he is protected by the scholars. Indeed bin Laden said that he would abide with what ever the Ulema board decides


The bombings in Kenya and Tanzania July 1998 were not a big surprise. Yes, it was a surprise but in terms of choice of location and targets. Despite his declaration of war against America anywhere, the attack was expected inside Saudi Arabia. Having said that, it is not [to be taken] for granted that he is behind the bombing.


It is not known why the Americans chose a camp in Khost to retaliate. The camp was an almost deserted camp where only few Arabs have stayed, with a neighboring camp of Kashmiris. Bin Laden himself was hundreds of miles away, and the rest of Arab Afghans were in the northern front celebrating their recent victories.


Since the American attack bin Laden was put in heavy protection and advised to stay hiding. His followers made another credit when they protected Kabul front again and pushed Masood forces back.


Bin Laden was brought up with good manners. He matured as extremely humble and very generous person. He insists to join his comrades in every act. Very frequently he cooks for them and serves them. He lives a simple life in a small flat in Jeddah or in a shed in Afghanistan and insists on his family to eat simple and to dress simple.

He is known to be strictly truthful and would never lie, but he is politically conscious and believes there is a room for political maneuver even if you are devoted person. Despite being shy he has dominating personality. He speaks very little and looks serious most of the time. He would appear with a soft smile but he seldom laughs. His followers see a lot of aura on him and show great voluntary respect to him. For some reason that falls short of a proper charisma. He is not known for giving distinguished speeches, and there is almost no audio or video recordings of him.

He is widely educated and spends a good deal of time reading. He is fond of media monitoring and information gathering and research. There was always a data management team with him wherever he went.

Among the outstanding features is his courage. He will not show a flicker even if a bomb exploded near him. He was exposed to more than 40 incidents of heavy bombardment, three of them were full of death and flesh around him. A Scud missile exploded 17 meters distance from him. At one time he was almost the victim of chemical weapons. More than once he needed treatment in hospital for body injuries. Despite this courage he is very cautious person. He would not keep any electronic instrument close to his vicinity. Some times he even avoids any device even if it is a simple watch near him because he believes this might help in targeting him.

He is intelligent and has reasonable strategic thinking, but he downgrades himself in the presence of Islamic scholars. He always admires Shiekh Safar al-Hawali and would have not gone through his current controversial path if al-Hawali was free. Some people saw him as a man with vision, others doubt it. They think that he never had clear long term plan. They see the last fatwah as evidence of that.


Contrary to what is always reiterated bin Laden has never had official relations with the Saudi regime or the royal family. All his contacts would happen through his brothers. The brothers would approach two members of the royal family who were fairly sympathetic to Osama. They were Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, deputy minister of interior and Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Aziz, deputy minister of defense. He might have met them in few occasions but those meetings would have been purely social or accidental in one of his brother's houses. Specifically he had no relation with Turki al-Faisal head of Saudi intelligence. He used to be very suspicious of his role in Afghanistan and once had open confrontation with him in 1991 and accused him of being the reason of the fight between Afghan factions. He was wary of the Saudi government very early in the eighties, but he thought it was wiser to keep silent and benefit from their de facto support to jihad in that period.


Bin Laden has never had any relation with America or American officials. Claims of relation with CIA or other American departments are all unfounded. Since the late seventies he had strong anti-American feeling. He committed himself and family and advised all friends to avoid buying American goods unless it was necessary. He was saying very early in the eighties that the next battle is going to be with America. ... No aid or training or other support have ever been given to bin Laden from Americans. Bin Laden would bring money from individuals donating straight to him. The weapons he had were either captured from the Soviets or bought from other factions.


Again there were no official relations with officials in Pakistani government. However, he had paramount respect by many Pakistanis including people in the army, intelligence and religious establishment. They were so penetrating that they would always leak any plan against him by the Pakistani-Saudi-American alliance.


His relation with Taliban would best be understood if Taliban themselves are understood properly. First of all Taliban are not simply another Afghan faction supported by Pakistan. Taliban are sincere to their beliefs, a religiously committed group unspoiled by political tactics. They would never bargain with what they see as matters of principle. Bin Laden for them is a saint. He is a symbol of sacrifice for the sake of jihad. They see him as very rich Arab from the Holy Land who gave up his wealth and luxury to fight for the sake of his brother Muslims in Afghanistan. They see themselves performing a double duty here, an Islamic duty of protecting this distinguished person and a tribal duty of protecting a descent refugee. The latter is a big value in Afghanistan. Once, a Taliban leader said to a Saudi envoy that if a goat would seek refuge to my tent I would never hand it over, how on earth do you want us to hand over a holy man like bin Laden?

There was no argument within Taliban about handing over bin Laden. There is however some difference in opinion about how high his media profile should be.

In addition to the factor of principle, bin Laden had twice had the credit of protecting Kabul recently.

Bin Laden became an intimate part of Taliban structure when he taught them how to deal with state affairs in a proper manner. For example, they were to be fooled by some oil and gas companies and sell the pipeline project for cheap. He advised them to learn from the Iraq-Turkey and Iraq-Syria agreements. They wanted to privatize some factories and were about to sell them to Pakistani businessmen for cheap prices. He taught them how to conduct proper bidding procedure and guarantee good prices.


It is needless to say that bin Laden has not had any relation with Iran. Iran knows that bin Laden is a committed Sunni and he regards Iran as Shi'a state. The trust between the two is minimal but both have avoided criticizing each other publicly. Having said that, he sees America as common enemy and according to a Pakistani newspaper he regards an anti-American alliance with Iran and China as something to be considered.


Bin Laden has two circles of followers. First are the closed core followers who are related to him by a chain of command and take orders like a secret organization. Most of those are probably in Afghanistan. Many are inside Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia and probably Gulf countries. Like any secret group, those followers would not disclose their relation. Inside Saudi Arabia many of those would appear like any average citizen. The number of those is probably in hundreds.

The second circle is much wider and the number is probably in thousands. They are located in the same countries. They would look at bin Laden as Godfather but they do not have proper chain of command or secret links with him. They would regard themselves obliged to perform some of his general orders. Most of those followers are not organized and get trapped by the Saudi police fairly easily. But some are intelligent and make use of the loose nature of their structure to function without attracting attention.


Before his final departure from Saudi Arabia, his financial activities were almost copies of his brothers. Indeed, he is still part of the big mother company. However he had committed himself at very early stage to a special code which he thought was necessary to guarantee the Islamic nature of this activity. For example he would never invest in non-Islamic country. He would never use banks unless it was absolutely necessary. He does not believe in stock market because he thought the investor cannot escape interest since the money has to be in a bank and produce some interest. He is also preoccupied with the idea that Jews control banks and stock market.

He had three setbacks which would have made him bankrupt otherwise. The first was the freezing of his direct assets by the Saudi government. All his traceable money was frozen including his share in the big mother company of bin Laden. No body knows the exact amount but it was probably in the range of 200-300 million Dollars.

The second setback was the loss he had in Sudan. The Sudanese government was too weak financially to pay him for the construction projects and he ended up hardly with 10% of the payment. He lost in Sudan not less than 150 million dollars.

The third setback happened last year when one of his close aids defected to the Saudi government. The defector Sidi Tayyib Al-Madani had some financial information about him until early 1995. Bin Laden knew about the plans of this man to defect and so had few months to liquidate the few businesses known to this defector. There was very little trace of those businesses but dismantling them was not without loss.

There is, however the other side of the story. Bin Laden is a member of a big family. His father's financial inheritance has not been sorted. The brothers agreed to keep many assets of the father and distribute the profits only. Most of the brothers and sisters are observing Muslims and very keen not to "spoil" their income with money which is not theirs. They believe it is their duty to let the owner of any riyal to have it. The only way they guarantee that is by letting bin Laden's share reach him. Some of the brothers and sisters believed it was their religious duty to support this distinguished brother from their own money. While many are very careful not to irritate the royal family, many more do not care and insist on letting the money reach Osama.

The way bin Laden family money is structured is very complicated because there is the big company and there are many small companies of few brothers together, and there are many individuals with their personal investment. To make the matter even more complex it is very well known that bin Laden family money is intimately mixed with the royal family money in a very complex way. Most of the companies are joint ventures with members of the royal family including King Fahad himself.

There is another big source of income to bin Laden, donations. During the early jihad era when it was blessed by the Saudi regime, he made excellent relations with many wealthy Saudis and Arabs. It is true that most of those would not support him now because of the Saudi government position but some do take the risk.

Lastly, bin Laden activities are not very dependent on money. His followers are not mercenaries. Training does not cost a lot of money. Explosives and weapons are very cheap in some parts of the world. In Somalia TNT for example is cheaper than sugar. In Yemen you can buy an RPG for less than TV set. The role of money here is over exaggerated by many writers.


In the eighties bin Laden was seen as a star of the Afghan Jihad. He was very much admired and respected for his sacrifice but he was not seen as a potential leader. Almost nobody saw leadership ambitions in him at that period. His public image was so good that the regime used this image to have a boost during early days of the Gulf War. The regime published a fabricated interview with him in "Al-Muslimoon" newspaper claiming he supported the regime measures to counteract the Iraqi invasion.

In the period between Iraqi invasion and his reappearance in Afghanistan 1996 he was almost forgotten by the public. The elite and especially the jihadis were still admiring him and following up his news. Some even made their way to Sudan to meet him and offer support. The public were reminded about him by the video confessions of the group attributed to Riyadh bombing.

After his declaration of jihad in 1996 his public image had a surge but this time as a leader rather than a star. There was a lot of controversy about him. In Saudi Arabia nobody would accuse him of being part of conspiracy but people would differ about his new program. There was almost a consensus in the Saudi domain on refusal of American presence in Arabia and many would like the idea of expelling the Americans by force. Many others had reservations and thought violence will bring a lot of trouble to the country. Interestingly those who disagreed with him did not accuse him having personal agenda or looking for personal benefits.

This image went on with occasional boosts by the media until the African bombings. Interestingly the story of the International Front and fatwah did not attract much attention. The Kenya Tanzania bombings reminded people of bin Laden. The media coverage was so overwhelming that the Saudi authorities felt jealous of bin Laden. People's reaction, however, was mixed. While many felt triumph for scaring the Americans, many others felt upset by the picture of hundreds of civilians killed and injured in the attack. They felt that this can never be justified.

The American missiles then played very strong role in sorting the controversy. After the American attack on Sudan and Afghanistan it became almost shameful to criticize bin Laden. People inside Saudi Arabia and in other Arab countries were full of anger towards America, and whoever can antagonize America would provide a fulfillment to their desire of discharging their anger. The American strike with the associated remarks by Clinton and American officials proved that bin Laden is a big challenge to America. In the mind of average Arab and Muslim bin Laden appeared as the man who was able to drive America so crazy that it started shooting haphazardly at unjustified targets. There was another factor which made people forget the scene of civilian victims, the special nature of the Sudanese factory. Those who had reservations of the African bombings thought that this arrogance of the Americans is much worse than the embassy bombings. Their view was that while bin Laden or others can make "executive" mistake because of their difficult circumstances, logistics and communication, America is not supposed to do this mistake unless it is done in purpose.

Interestingly the jealousy of the Saudi regime was seen clearly in the Saudi media when they instructed the Saudi TV and radio not to mention bin Laden name at all. Even when they reported the American missile attack the news item was " attack on terrorist base in Afghanistan, period".

Osama Bin Laden Found Dead : US Media

Washington : The world's most dreaded terror mastermind Osama bin Laden is dead, American media reported.

The US is in possession of Bin Laden's body, reports the BBC.

Details  about Osama bin Laden's death are yet to come out.

Rumours of Osama's death were reported on Twitter before the official statement.

Shortly before 12:30am Keith Urbahn, Chief of Staff, Office of Donald Rumsfeld tweeted: "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn."

Minutes later a CBS news reporter tweeted: "House Intelligence committee aide confirms that Osama Bin Laden is dead. U.S. has the body."

Sources said bin Laden was killed by a U.S. bomb a week ago. The U.S. had been waiting for the results of a DNA test to confirm his identity, reports Fox News.

The Afghan government has confirmed that Osama bin Laden is dead and his body was in the possession of the US authorities.

Another report said, bin Laden along with some of his family members were killed in a mansion outside Islamabad.

The announcement comes nearly a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks which started a tireless hunt for the terrorist mastermind and Al Qaedaleader.

Man Dies After Chemist Gives Him A Wrong Drug

Mumbai : A 65-year-old tailor from Mankhurd  Abdul Gaffar Khan dies in Sion Hospital on Saturday afternoon, after the chemist gave him a wrong medicine, reports Mumbai Mirror.Khan,who had hypertension,was erroneously given medicine for cancer by the chemist a few days ago.

He died in hospital on Saturday afternoon. Khan,who was undergoing treatment at the out-patient department at Sion hospital,had recently been prescribed a list of medicines - one of which was Met XL 50.Instead of giving him this drug,the chemist gave him an anti-cancer chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate.

Within 24 hours of taking this,Khan's body broke into a rash,and he started feeling uneasy.He was taken to Sion hospital where he breathed his last.The sole breadwinner of an extended family of 10,Khan is survived by his wife,a daughter of marriageable age and four sons.

Khan’s nephew, Abdul Ali, said that his uncle had acute hypertension and was undergoing treatment for the last four months.

“On April 15, during a routine check-up at Sion hospital, the doctor prescribed four medicines. The next day, he told me to fetch the medicines from Mukhtai Medical Store,” Ali said. “Two days later, he started taking the medicines which made him nauseous and giddy and had boils all over his body.”

On April 24, Khan was admitted to Sion hospital. Doctors at the hospital confirmed that instead of being given ‘Met XL 50’ - a drug to treat hypertension, Khan had been taking ‘Methotrexate’ - an anti-cancer drug which has severe side-effects.

Over the next five days, Khan’s condition deteriorated. He died on Saturday afternoon.

Acting Dean of Sion hospital, Dr Suleman Merchant, told Mumbai Mirror that Khan died due to wrong medication.

 “The medicine he was taking is an anti-cancer drug, and is extremely strong. Such medicines should not be given without a proper prescription,” said Dr Merchant. “We tried our best to treat the patient.”

Forensic experts who conducted a post-mortem on Khan’s body confirmed that the anti-cancer drug was mainly responsible for Khan’s death. “Methotrexate is a schedule ‘H’ drug, which should not be doled out without prescription.

Even after administering this drug, the patient needs to be kept under observation every three days for any adverse reaction,” said Dr Rajesh Dere who conducted the post-mortem.

“In this case, the patient did not have cancer and the drug had severe side-effects, prima facie leading to his death. I have advised the police to book the chemist.”

Police Sub-Inspector V Jadhav from Trombay police station, said: “For now, a case of accidental death has been registered.The chemist had not given a bill. As soon as we get the bill, we will register a case and take action against the chemist.”

I Will Not Break Down, Nor Bow Out, Says Modi

Ahmedabad : Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today accused the Centre of persecuting him through constitutional authorities, saying he would neither “break down” nor “bow out”.Modi’s statement came in the backdrop of recent revelations made by IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt in his affidavit in the Supreme Court implicating the CM in the 2002 communal riots.

“I have been silent for one year. But today, when the Golden Jubilee celebrations are getting over, I want to put my word before the people,” Modi said during the closing ceremony of a function celebrating Gujarat’s Golden Jubilee year.  “This kind of discrimination in democracy, faced by Gujarat, would not have been experienced by any other state,” the chief minister said.

“In the coming days, I would be entering the battle field with my full strength, I want your blessing,” Modi told the gathering.“To tolerate injustice is also a crime, now Gujarat won’t tolerate injustice,” he added.

“There are thousands of opportunities to trouble Modi, every constitutional authority has been let out to harass Modi. But Modi will not breakdown nor would he bow out,” the chief minister said.

Modi also attacked state Congress, without naming it, for boycotting the Golden Jubilee celebrations terming it anti-Gujarat.

“We have always tried to take everybody together. But those who wanted to take political advantage did not participate or cooperate in the Golden Jubilee celebrations,” Modi said without naming the Congress party.  Those who did not consider the golden jubilee celebration as theirs, opposed it or created obstacles in it, are anti-Gujarat, he said appealing the gathering to “not forgive them”.

Modi said that this was not his function alone, it was a celebration for the entire state. “There could be differences but why this kind of perversity?” he asked.  “Some people forget to take name of Gujarat, but they can’t miss remembering Modi. They don’t feel blessed if they do not remember Modi 108 times. They are into the habit of criticising Gujarat,” Modi added.

The chief minister said that the progress of Gujarat was a collective effort of all the governments in the past 50 years and also by the leaders and people of the state.“People of Gujarat know us very well. They do not have any question in their minds about our philosophy or what we are trying to achieve,” he added. PTI

Kalmadi Spends Birthday In CBI Lockup

New Delhi  :  Known for his pomp and show, sacked CWG Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi today spent a quiet birthday in CBI custody.

He was the centre of glitter during the fortnight-long sports extravaganza last year but when it came to his birthday, it was without all the razzmatazz.

For a man, who used to make everything a showbiz, his birthday this year was an occasion that was probably only known to CBI sleuths around him. He is also believed to have spent some time with a few family members.

Kalmadi, who has been known for high-class parties, turned 67. He was arrested by the CBI on April 25.

At present serving an eight-day custody period, the suspended Congress MP from Pune was wished by some CBI officials questioning him in connection with the purchase of Time-Score-Result from Switzerland, agency sources said.   PTI

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