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web posted October 1, 2001

Greenspan, Rubin tell senators tax cuts for economic stimulus could reach $100 billion

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin told tax-writing senators on September 25 that any plan using tax cuts to stimulate the struggling economy should be large enough to be effective, possibly as much as $100 billion.

Meeting privately with the Senate Finance Committee, Greenspan and Rubin agreed that a stimulus amounting to 1 percent of the nation's gross domestic product would be a proper benchmark, according to senators and aides who attended the meeting.

There was also general agreement among the Democrats and Republicans that any stimulus should be temporary, perhaps limited to two or three years, to guard against negative long-term effects such as federal budget deficits and higher home mortgage rates.

"I think it has to be temporary but significant enough to make a difference," said Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Finance Committee.

No decisions were made about which specific tax breaks to pursue or even whether to proceed with a stimulus plan at all. But the $100 billion figure is much higher than lawmakers had been suggesting last week, when Greenspan first urged Congress not to rush out a proposal in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that might have uncertain consequences.

At the White House, spokesman Ari Fleischer said President Bush was still weighing whether to back a stimulus plan. "It remains under review," he said.

Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, said the $100 billion would be in addition to spending or tax actions that Congress has already taken, including a $15 billion aid plan for the nation's airlines, $40 billion in emergency spending related to the attacks and $40 billion in tax rebate checks from the 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut enacted this year.

"There's a lot of economic stimulus already in the pipeline," said Baucus, D-Mont.

Baucus and Grassley said that Greenspan also repeated that lawmakers should wait for more economic data before deciding on whether a tax cut is needed to either boost consumer confidence or spur investment and business activity. Both senators agreed with the go-slow approach.

"These are different times," Baucus said. "We have to think a little more deeply here."

Russian memo lists Bin Laden camps in Afghanistan

Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden had at least 55 bases or offices in Afghanistan earlier this year with over 13,000 men, ranging from Arabs and Pakistanis to Chechens and Filipinos, according to Russian information.

A Russian memo to the United Nations, obtained by Reuters on September 26, reported that in addition to bin Laden's own men, about 3,500 fundamentalist Pakistanis were in the country as well as Pakistani soldiers and diplomats it said were working as advisers to the hard-line Taliban movement.

The memo to the U.N. Security Council, dated March 9, 2001, said most of bin Laden's facilities were in or around the main cities of Kabul, southern Kandahar, eastern Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sherif in the north.

Most were at former Afghan Army bases, on large former state farms and in caves in rugged mountain regions. About 150 men are based in Bagh-i-Bala, the hilltop restaurant that was once Kabul's most fashionable dining spot.

It was not clear whether these facilities, part of bin Laden's al-Qaeda ("the base") network, were all still in use at the time of or after the September 11 suicide flights into the World Trade Tower and the Pentagon in the United States.

Washington has named bin Laden as the prime suspect in those attacks and vowed to capture him "dead or alive" and punish the Taliban for harboring him. The Taliban say they have already taken emergency measures to defend themselves against any U.S. air attack.

A cover note from Moscow's U.N. delegation said the memo responded to a 1999 Security Council appeal for information "on bases and training camps of international terrorists in Afghanistan" and on foreign advisers to the Taliban.

Pakistani military spokesmen were not immediately available to comment on the list, which named 31 Pakistanis -- from generals to diplomats -- it said were working as advisers in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, the only country in the world that still recognizes the Taliban government, has long been accused of supporting and arming the movement, but it officially denies any involvement.

The memo, obtained from the Philippines Defense Ministry after being cabled there from Manila's mission to the U.N. in New York, says the focus of bin Laden's forces is at the former Afghan Army Seventh Division base at Rishkhor, south of Kabul.

Run by bin Laden's deputy Qari Saifullah Ahtar, it has 7,000 fighters, including 150 Arabs and some Pakistani fundamentalists, as well as a Pakistani army regiment, the memo said. A nearby camp has instructors from Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, it said.

Further south in Charasyab, at a former base for the anti-Soviet mujahideen, troops included 50 Filipinos and 40 Uighurs from the mainly Muslim Xinjiang region in western China.

The memo from Russia, which is fighting Muslim separatists in Chechnya, reported that at least 2,560 Chechens were serving or training with the bin Laden organization.

An unknown number of Czechs and Bulgarians were reported to be active at a well-defended base in Logar province south of Kabul.

Kandahar, the southern city that is spiritual center for the puritanical Taliban, was mentioned six times in the report, but without any major military installations.

In the eastern region around Jalalabad, bin Laden units were based in the city, in two large Soviet-built state farms nearby and at former army posts close to the Pakistani frontier.

Of the 19 camps said to be run by Pakistani fundamentalists, the memo named three militant groups active near Kabul. It did not identify who ran the other camps.

Several Pakistani groups have mobilised students at religious schools to go and fight in Afghanistan.

The memo said six Pakistanis had senior posts in the Taliban military and identified a former royal palace in southwestern Kabul as "headquarters of the commander-in-chief of the Pakistani forces in Afghanistan."

It said a Pakistani AWACS reconnaissance plane, of the type originally provided by the United States to monitor Soviet and Afghan air activity during the 1980s war, was based at Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan to survey the borders with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The memo did not reveal the source of the information.

Moscow had close ties with Afghanistan's Khad intelligence service during the 1979-1989 Soviet War and trained thousands of Afghan leftists at universities in the Soviet Union during that time.

Bin Laden scoffs at U.S. ban

Osama bin Laden, the top suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, says Washington's move to freeze assets of groups linked to his al-Qaida movement will not curtail his activities, a newspaper reported September 28.

The report appeared in the Urdu-language newspaper Ummat, which is published in Karachi. The newspaper said it submitted questions for bin Laden to Taliban officials and received written replies. Efforts to contact Taliban officials to confirm were unsuccessful.

"Freezing of the assets or accounts of al-Qaida or any other jihad (holy war) organization won't make any difference," Ummat quoted bin Laden as saying.

According to the newspaper, bin Laden said al-Qaida has three alternate financial systems, which are being run separately and independently by those "who love jihad," he said. No power in the world, including the United States, could force them from this path, he added.

President Bush on September 24 ordered a freeze on the assets of 27 people and organizations with suspected links to terrorism, including bin Laden and al-Qaida.

In the interview, bin Laden said his vast network of thousands of sympathizers will not be affected by Bush's move because its members include financial experts who know all the loopholes in the global financial system.


Bin Laden -- a millionaire Saudi exile living in Afghanistan since 1996 -- repeated denials that he was behind the Sept. 11 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Bush administration has demanded the Taliban hand him over to the United States or face retribution.

Bin Laden claimed the Western media were spreading propaganda against him. "They are saying such absurd things about us that we wonder (whether) they have become the victim of their own propaganda and began to fear it," he said.

Islam does not permit the killing of innocent women, children or men, even during war, he said. "I have said this before that I have no connection with the Sept. 11 attacks in America ... nor any information about it."

The newspaper has not been a conduit for bin Laden statements in the past.

Clinton, Dole join in aid effort

Former President Clinton joined his former rival Bob Dole on September 29 in launching a nationwide effort to raise $100 million to make sure scholarships are available for children of people killed or disabled in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"It seems to me this can be a living memorial, and they'll understand as they grow older ... that Americans continue to care," said Dole, a former senator and the 1996 GOP presidential candidate.

Clinton, a Democrat who defeated Dole in the presidential election, said the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund will be available to meet the educational needs of the children of the victims long after the news of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon pass from the headlines.

"This is a gift that will be giving for a long time," Clinton said at a news conference with Dole at Georgetown University. "Nothing is more important long term than to see that the children affected by this tragedy will have the opportunity to have an education."

Dole encouraged Americans to "keep on giving until it hurts, but in this case I don't think it will hurt."

The scholarship fund will be administered by the Citizens' Scholarship Foundation of America, a private scholarship and educational support organization.

Officials said 100 percent of the money contributed for victims' families will be made available for financially needy students. Those eligible include not only the children but also the spouses of those who died or were permanently disabled in the attacks or during rescue efforts.

People wishing to contribute to the fund or to apply for a scholarship can do so online at www.familiesoffreedom.org. Those who wish to donate by mail can do so by writing a check in any amount to Citizens Scholarship Foundation of America, earmarked for the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund. Checks can be mailed to CSFA, 1505 Riverview Road, P.O. Box 297, St. Peter, Minn., 56082. All donations are tax-deductible.

Investigators: Attacks cost $500,000

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were financed with a $500,000 bankroll, a law enforcement source said Septmber 29 as the FBI sent more agents to Germany in the search for masterminds of the plot.

FBI agents tracked the hijackers' bank accounts, their communications and their travel tickets as they followed a trail that could lead to a small group of chief plotters in Europe and the Middle East.

The FBI said it's pursuing more than 100,000 leads as agents narrowed their overseas search. Simultaneously in the U.S., more than 100 investigations were under way into alleged hate crimes against Arab-Americans.

The law enforcement source, speaking only on condition of anonymity, said the half-million dollars is all linked in some way to the plot. The Washington Post reported the FBI documented numerous large cash withdrawals and a long trail of hotels, rental cars and airplane trips.

The FBI has focused on Osama bin Laden sympathizers in England, Germany and the United Arab Emirates, authorities told The Associated Press. One official said more agents have been sent in recent days to Germany, where a cell of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network was said to be operating in Hamburg.

Time magazine reports in its issue on newsstands Monday that Mohamed Atta, a leader of the hijackers, received wire transfers of cash on Sept. 8 and 9 via a money service in Florida. It said FBI records showed the sender was Mustafah Ahmed, a suspected bin Laden financial operative in the Middle East.

While investigating some 120,000 tips sent to an FBI Internet site and toll-free hotline, laboratory specialists examined more than 200 submissions of evidence from the Pentagon, World Trade Center and western Pennsylvania crash sites of hijacked airliners. More than 106,000 leads have been generated by FBI field offices.

Along with the search for the terrorist plotters, the bureau said it was pursuing those committing alleged hate crimes in the United States.

More than 104 investigations were initiated, involving alleged attacks or threats against Arab-American individuals and institutions.

The FBI, CIA and other U.S. agencies have painstakingly recreated the travels of the 19 hijackers over years through Germany, Afghanistan, Spain and London.

Much of the effort has focused on Germany, where federal authorities on Saturday announced the arrest of three Muslim men suspected of plotting attacks in that country.

The prosecutor's office said it had no evidence linking the men to the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The accused are suspected of plotting violent attacks in Germany while belonging to an organization with a fundamentalist Islamic background," the statement said. It did not give details.

On September 28, British prosecutors identified an Algerian pilot as the primary instructor for four of the 19 airplane hijackers. Lofti Raissi was brought to court in London, where a prosecutor told an extradition hearing he played a crucial role by making sure the hijackers had pilot training.

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