Friday, December 31, 2004

Female Gangs on the Rise

The "Knockout Honies," "X-Rated Hunniez," and the "Most Wanted Honeyz" are three examples of a new phenomenon--"girl gangs"--that have cropped up in major cities across the United States in recent years. These three gangs are located in the Washington, D.C area. Some gangs have as many as 200 members, and fight rival gangs in traditional male-gang style with baseball bats, thrown bricks and knives.

Girl gang violence on the rise [MSNBC/Washington Post, Dec. 28, 2004]
GANG GIRLS [Calif. State-Northridge]
Interview with girl gang expert John Hagedorn of the University of Illinois at Chicago. [npr]
(via CrimProf Blog)

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Obesity Boom in Arab Countries

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Western Habits Fueled Weight of Women Prized for Size; Some Girls are Force Fed

Nouakchott, Mauritania - Jidat Mint Ethmane grew up in a nomad family in this improverished nation in the western Sahara. When she was 8, she says, her mother began to force-feed her. Ms. Ethmane says she was required to consume a gallon of milk in the morning, plus couscous. She ate milk and porridge for lunch. She was awoken at midnight and given several more pints of milk, followed by a pre-breakfast feeding at 6 a.m.

If she threw up, she says, her mother forcred her to eat the vomit. Stretch marks appeared on her body and the skin on her upper arms and thighs tore under the pressure. If she balked at the feeding, her mother would squeeze her toes between two wooden sticks until the pain was unbearable. "I would devour as much as possible," says Ms. Ethmane. "I resembled a mattress."

Today, Ms. Ethmane, 38 years old, is slender because her family ran out of money to continue the force-feeding technique, known as gavage. The term stems from the French word for the process used to force-feed geese to make foie gras. Yet in a recent interview in her family's one-room house, Ms. Ethmane sys she still believes in the practice. "Beauty is more important than health," she says. Her husband, Brahim, agrees: "It is thin women who are not healthy."

The belief that rotund women are more desirable as wives helps explain why much of the Arab world-which stretches from the Persian Gulf in the east to Mauritania in North Africa-is experiencing an explosion of obesity. About half the women in the Middle East are overweight or obese, according to the UN's World Health Organization.

Estimated Percentage of Women Overweight or Obese:
Bahrain: 83.0%
Lebanon: 75.0%
U.A.E.: 74.0%
U.S.: 62.0%
Morocco: 51.3%
Tunisia: 50.9%

New Obesity Boom in Arab Countries Has Old Ancestry [Wall Street Journal (subscription required)]
Don't go off that diet! [, Dec. 29, 2004]
FORCE FEEDING IN MAURITANIA: The Occult Powers of Food [Points of Departure]
Fat is no fun - Mauritanian girls balk at force-feeding [Khaleej Times Online, March 28, 2004]
Mauritania's 'wife-fattening' farm [bbc, Jan. 26, 2004]

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Tsunami History

The December 26th, 2004 tsunami looks like it is the most deadly in recorded history. The history of tsunamis that have caused wide scale destruction include:

• December 26, 2004: Earthquake measuring at least 9 on the Richter scale occurs to the south of Nicobar Island in the Indian ocean. At least 135,000 people are killed across Thailand, Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, and Africa.
• July 17, 1998: At least 2,200 people killed in Papua New Guinea after an earthquake of 7.1 magnitude generated a huge tsunami.
• August 23, 1976: South-west Philippines hit by tsunami that killed around 8,000.
• March 27, 1964: An earthquake in Alaska generated a 67 meter high tsunami that travelled at more than 620 kph. One hundred and twenty people killed, including 10 in northern California.
• May 22, 1960: Huge earthquake in Chile, at 8.6, creates a tsunami with a wave of up to 25 metres. Around 1,500 people killed in both Chile and Hawaii.
• June 15, 1896: A tsunami hits the east coast of Japan, killing at least 27,000.
• August 27, 1883: The Krakatoa volcano explosion destroyed the island, but a tsunami generated by the explosion killed more than 36,000 people.
• November 1, 1755: After an earthquake that destroyed Lisbon in Portugal, many people took refuge by boat. A tsunami followed which, with local fires, killed from 60,000 to 70,000 people.
• 1703: A tsunami hits Awa, Japan kills 100,000. The most deadly tsunami prior to 2004.

• The Biggest Wave:
On July 9, 1958 a HUGE earthquake triggered a HUGE landslide at the head of Lituya Bay, Alaska. The first (and biggest) wave measured an incredible 1,720 feet (524m) high.

• To put the Dec. 26, 2004 Tsunami in perspective, here is the historical record of earthquake disasters.

The deadliest earthquakes of the past century
1976 China, Tangshan 255,000 7.5
1927 China, near Xining 200,000 na
1920 China, Gansu 200,000 8.6
1923 Japan, Kwanto 143,000 na
1948 Turkmenistan 110,000 7.3
1908 Italy, Messina 70-100,000 7.2
1932 China, Gansu 70,000 7.6
1935 Pakistan, Quetta 30-60,000 7.5
1990 Iran, Gilan 35,000 7.7
2003 Iran, Bam 31,000 6.8

• List of other Major Natural Disasters

3.7 million...flood........China.....1931

sources: World Almanac, U.S. Geological Survey, Associated Press

Destructive tsunami history
The Biggest Wave []
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake []
Dec. 26, 2004 Sumatra Tsunami animation [shows movement of wave through Indian Ocean]

Monday, December 27, 2004

400 Women Murdered in Juárez, Mexico since 1993

Amnesty International reports:

Sexism, corporate greed, and drug trafficking make Juárez a deadly town for Mexico's women. Hundreds are dead, but the killers remain free.

The Crime Library did a full story on the slaughter south of the border:
A decade after the start of the official roster of the dead, only one thing is certain: All females are in danger on the streets of Ciudad Juarez.

One crime expert (Candice Skrapec) believed "at least three serial killers are involved in the unsolved murders of 182 women in Juarez."

Dallas Morning News on March 1, 2004:
Inquiry Indicates Police, Drug Ties: Disturbing reports say women were tortured and slain as celebration

The El Paso Times reported about the recent unsolved murder of Viviana Reyes:
More than 400 women have been killed in Juárez and Chihuahua City since 1993, and theories on who's killing the women include gangs, drug dealers, serial and copycat killers, and a group of powerful men.

The Juárez Murders []
Body Count [Crime Library]
Inquiry indicates police, drug ties [from Dallas Morning News]
In Juarez murders, progress but few answers [CNN, April 9, 2004]
Couple found innocent of teen's slaying []
Violence Against Women in Ciudad Juárez []

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Sex Trade and Trafficking of Women in Balkans

Tens of thousands of Eastern European women are falling victim to the Balkan sex trade. The Albanian Mafia has become very powerful because it is very proficient at smuggling people.

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) conducted an undercover investigation last year into people smuggling and the sex trafficking of women in the Balkans. Indications are that the situation in the Balkans hasn't changed much. Some excerpts from their investigative report:

Save the Children reported in 2001 that "in remote areas (of Albanian), where pupils may have to walk for over an hour to get to school, research has discovered that as many as 90 percent of girls no longer receive a high school education". One of the main factors was parents' concern that their children would be abducted on the way to class.

People smuggling has become so endemic in Albania that even the police are implicated. During the first five months of 2002, 102 officers were identified as being involved in the trade following a major police crackdown that was prompted by international pressure to stem the tide of girls reaching Europe. Sixteen of the suspects have been jailed, 12 transferred to other jobs and 15 given minor punishments, according to the Albanian interior ministry.

The extent of human trafficking from Albania is revealed in a secret internal government report seen by IWPR. According to the document, more than 100,000 Albanians were smuggled out of the country between 1993-2001. How many have ended up as prostitutes across Europe is hard to establish. But evidence from the streets tells its own story. According to (International Organization for Migration) IOM's 2001 survey, the majority of prostitutes in London's Soho area are either from Albania or Kosovo.

Trading in Misery [IWPR]
Trafficking of women: the Balkan Red Road []

15 Deaths a Day is Good News in Chinese Coal Mines

Chinese coal mines are having a banner year. According to the Chinese government statistics, 5,286 coal miners died in accidents between January and November of this year. That is an average of 15.83 deaths per day, which sounds pretty bad. However, this is 451 fewer deaths than in the same period of 2003, and it's within their officially forecast target. So this is really good news - unless you happen to be a Chinese coal miner. The Financial Times reports:

It was business as usual in the world's deadliest mining industry yesterday. Fourteen miners were killed in a coal mine gas blast in China's western province of Sichuan. Only three survived.

The deaths in the county of Xingwen are the latest sorry addition to the appalling safety record of China's coal industry, which provides most of the fuel for the country's booming economy. Just last month 166 people died in a blast in northern Shaanxi province; in October, 146 were killed in an explosion in central Henan province.

Despite the remorseless rise in the death toll, 2004 is likely to prove a better year than most for China's army of coal miners...

Chinese miners learn to live with danger [, Dec. 21, 2004]
Down and dangerous [, Dec. 2, 2004]
Miners die as China barons profit [reuters]
Chinese coal mine blast kills 14 [bbc]

Monday, December 20, 2004

Packing Heat: Legally

The website has the concealed weapons carrying database. As they say:

This is a great place to find out how to legally carry a concealed weapon, if it is possible in your state. We also try to discuss issues related to carrying in the news and talk sections. Make this your home, but behave...manners count.

The reported:
APRIL 30--Here in New York City, it seems that every celebrity--from Howard Stern to Steven Tyler--has been granted a license to carry a concealed weapon. But in northern California, it's the rare Bay Area resident who qualifies to pack a gat. One guy who has passed muster is peacenik actor Sean Penn, who was granted a carry permit last year by the Ross Police Department. In his license application, Penn cited threats that have been directed at him, particularly from an ex-employee whom Penn feared was trying to locate him.
The Smoking Gun Archive

Queen Elizabeth and movie stars packing heat

Saturday, December 18, 2004

JonBenet Ramsey Cold Case Heats up

This Christmas will mark the eighth anniversary of the death of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey in Boulder, Colorado. CBS' "48 Hours Mystery" will present some new evidence regarding the case this Saturday:

Eight years after the death of JonBenet Ramsey, her murder remains unsolved. But according to a report to be broadcast Saturday by 48 Hours Mystery, JonBenet's parents, Patsy and John, are no longer the focus of the murder investigation.

Correspondent Erin Moriarty also reports that there is new evidence that JonBenet's killer, who investigators now believe was an intruder, may have tried to kill again. Her report will be broadcast on 48 Hours Mystery, Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

The other victim, investigators say, was a little girl identified as "Amy," who took dance lessons at the same school as JonBenet, and was attacked and sexually assaulted at night in her bedroom on Sept. 14, 1997.

This validates the conclusion of Lou Smit. He is the retired Colorado Springs detective who solved the murder of Karen Grammer, sister of Kelsey Grammer. He also convinced Katie Couric (Today Show Host) and millions of television viewers that Patsy Ramsey did not kill her daughter, JonBenet Ramsey. Smit believes an intruder entered the house and murdered JonBenet.

"My goal is to find the killer," Smit said from his home in Colorado Springs. "I believe that a very dangerous person is out there and more effort should be directed at catching him."

JonBenet: DNA Rules Out Parents []
Katie Couric-Lou Smit Interview April 30, 2001
Lou Smit's Investigative Analysis of JonBenet Case [Crime Library]
Lou Smit: America's Hero!
Top Ten Modern Day Cold Case Murder Mysteries

update Dec. 18, 2004:
The CBS report indicated there was key forensic evidence that one key suspect, Boulder 1997 suicide victim Michael Helgoth, may have played a role. There is also a strong possibility that there were two intruders.

CU-Boulder journalism professor Michael Tracey, who helped develop the CBS story said: "This is just one last effort to really try and solve this crime," Tracey said. "Whoever did this, and I personally believe it's more than one person, is getting away with it."

JonBenet: DNA Rules Out Parents [, 48 Hours]
Video sleuth []

Thursday, December 16, 2004

BTK's Latest Communique

Nancy Fox Driver's License
Nancy Fox Driver's License?

The Wichita BTK (Bind-Torture-Kill) Strangler is starting to act more and more like Osama Bin Laden, that is, by practicing the art of "Death by Press Release." Another communique from the serial killer (1974-1986) was found in Wichita's Murdock Park on Tuesday (Dec. 14th). The package left by the killer looked like it contained the driver's license of Nancy Fox. Fox was a victim of the BTK Strangler on Dec. 8, 1977. This would be his sixth or seventh communique this year (depending on if the April 7th baby photo is counted or not). Bin Laden's latest audiotape was posted on an Islamic website today.

Pysche's Knot discusses the latest Wichita BTK (Bind-Torture-Kill) Strangler package - offering some insights and theories about its origin and contents. She also looks at a possible connection of the BTK Strangler to Wichita's old Moody’s Skidrow Beanery. The Beanery was in downtown Wichita, next to the tracks, and sought to serve both hoboes and citizens down on their luck, as well as the burgeoning counterculture.

The Wichita Eagle adds some more information about Murdock Park:

One unsolved murder that has drawn attention since BTK resurfaced is the 1996 killing of 20-year-old Avanthea Williams. Her body was found Oct. 30 of that year in an apartment building just a block north of Murdock Park.

The bottomline is the BTK Strangler wants to get caught. He is probably looking forward to his trial as the culmination of a long sick journey. After watching the Peterson trial and the O.J. trial he is probably savoring his time in the spotlight. He's right, his trial will not just be another "Trial of the Century," it will be "The Trial of Two Centuries." His first murder was in 1974. He's been on the loose for over 30 years.

Here's a simple heads-up to all media outlets and TV news networks - start making your plans to lay siege on the court house in Wichita, Kansas. Get your dibs in on the best rooms, the best exclusive camera locations, best parking, and the best studio space in Wichita ASAP. Hopefully, you will all be going to Wichita soon to cover the next "Trial of the Century."

BTK Back [KAKE-TV, Dec. 15, 2004]
Park parcel may be from BTK [The Wichita Eagle, Dec. 15, 2004]
Friend believes license is Fox's [The Wichita Eagle, Dec. 16, 2004]
Residents fearful after park search [The Wichita Eagle, Dec. 16, 2004]
BTK - Another Package or a Ruse? [Psyche's Knot]
Moody's Skidrow Beanery [by by Pat O'Connor, Kansas University]
BTK (Bind, Torture, & Kill) Strangler Info [TJN]

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Losing Your Good Name: Identity Theft Facts

Identity Theft Statistics from April 2002 to April 2003

• Number of victims last year: 9.9 million
--misuse of existing accounts: 6.7 million
--new accounts and other fraud: 3.2 million

• Average cost to victims: $500
• Average time victims spent resolving their problems: 30 hours

• Ways victims' Identities were used fraudulently (percentage of victims, 2003):
Credit Cards: 33%
Phone or Utilities: 21%
Bank: 17%
Employment related: 11%
Gov't Documents or Benefits: 8%
Loan: 6%
Other: 4%

FTC: National Resource for Identity Theft []

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Gangs of New York: Rudaj vs. Gambinos

The New York media continues to dribble out stories about the Rudaj Organization aka Albanian Mafia. Here is one from The Daily News regarding the Rudaj Organization's violent power play for control of Queens gambling clubs:

Rudaj's organization battled with the Gambinos for clubs once controlled by the Luchese family, prosecutors say. After a violent confrontation over one club taken over by the Gambinos, acting boss Arnold Squitieri asked for a meeting with Rudaj and associates at a New Jersey gas station, Treanor (Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Treanor) said.

When Squitieri pulled out a gun at the meeting, a Rudaj henchman pointed his firearm at a gas pump, threatening to blow them all to pieces if Squitieri and the others didn't back away. They did.

"The Rudaj organization then operated without retribution in Astoria (Queens) after that," Treanor said.
Mob, Albanians in surf-and-turf war [NY Daily News, Dec. 10, 2004]
The Rudaj Organization aka: The Albanian Mafia
Arnold "Zeke" Squitieri

Monday, December 13, 2004

Feral Cities

Various cities around the world are descending into chaos and urban decay. Richard Norton of the Naval War College goes into a long analysis of what constitutes a feral city. Here is a list of some failed and failing cities in developing countries that are in varying stages of "wildness":

• Mogadishu, Somalia: the worst of the worst-no central government since early 1991 and with clan militias running wild. Hell on Earth.

• Johannesburg, South Africa: a culture of violence breeding ruthless gangs and decay that brings in swarms of squatters who have taken over the downtown including the stock exchange. Other South African cities like Durban and Cape Town are not far behind.

• Falluja, Iraq: to be seen if it can be brought back.

• Najaf, Iraq: ditto

• Kararchi, Pakistan: 40% of the population lives in slums. Thriving black market for drugs and weapons. A breeding ground for Islamic terrorists.

• San Paulo, Brazil: large sections of Brazilian cities (the favelas) have been turned over to the gangs. The wealthy use helicopers to travel and avoid the cesspool of shantytown strongholds below. There are 240 helipads in San Paulo and only 10 in New York City.

• Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Almost daily shoot-outs between the police and drug cartels are raising fears that Rio de Janeiro is facing something akin to a guerrilla war. [bbc]

• Mexico City, Mexico: serious crime has doubled over the past three to four years; it is estimated that 15.5 million assaults now occur every year in Mexico City. Car-jacking and taxi-jacking have reached such epidemic proportions that visitors are now officially warned not to use the cabs. The Mexico City police department has ninety-one thousand officers—more men than the Canadian army—but graft and corruption on the force are rampant and on the rise. According to Mexican senator Adolfo Zinser, police officers themselves directly contribute to the city’s crime statistics: “In the morning they are a policeman. In the afternoon they’re crooks.”

FERAL CITIES [Naval War College - Richard J. Norton]
Feral Cities [NY Times]

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Albanian Mafia Boss Denied Bail

Alleged Albanian Mafia Don Alex Rudaj was denied bail at a hearing on Dec. 7, 2004. The Journal News reported:

Rudaj, 37, was denied bail yesterday by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, despite an offer of seven friends and relatives to put up homes worth nearly $4 million to secure his release. The government opposed the bail request, saying Rudaj was a violent man who might flee to his native Montenegro if freed.

Rudaj's lawyer, James Kousouros, countered that his client was a hardworking man, devoted to his wife and three children, who had held a series of legitimate jobs since immigrating to the United States more than a decade ago
Federal prosecutors described Rudaj and his cohorts as fearless and violent.

To make their point prosecutors said Rudaj was the triggerman in a 1993 shooting of another organized-crime figure after a high-speed chase in the Bronx. Rudaj hung out the sunroof of a car and fired at Guy Peduto as he fled in another car from Rudaj and three others.

They also described an incident where Rudaj showed up with 20 thugs to get a good table at Rao's, the legendary and exclusive East Harlem Italian restaurant. It was late mob boss John Gotti's table. They got it.

Rao's is a famous mob hangout. It was there last December mobster and Rao's regular Louis (Louie Lump Lump) Barone fatally shot Albert Circelli after Circelli complained about Broadway singer Rena Strober's rendition of "Don't Rain on My Parade."

Given Mr. Rudaj's enjoyment of fine Italian food - this begs the question: did he ever dine at any of Chef Zef Vulevic's (aka Zef Vulaj and Joe Vuli) fine Italian restaurants in Westchester County, Connecticut, or New York City?

Mr. Rudaj's trial was scheduled to begin Sept. 26, 2005.

Bail denied to alleged Albanian mob boss [, Dec. 8, 2004]

The Rudaj Organization aka: The Albanian Mafia
Did the Albanian Mafia Murder Zef Vulevic?
Rao's Restaurant []

updated Dec. 17, 2004

Friday, December 10, 2004

Over 31,000 a month 'are dying in Congo war'

There is a "little" war raging in the African Congo that's killed 3.8 million people over the last six years and its gets no attention in the West. The Financial Times reports on some of the grim details:

More than 31,000 people are continuing to die every month as a result of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than 18 months after the signing of a peace agreement, according to a report published today.

The New York-based International Rescue Committee (IRC) said its mortality survey, conducted jointly with Burnet Institute of Australia, a medical research body, was one of the most comprehensive ever conducted in a conflict zone.

It put the total of war-related deaths over the last six years in Congo at 3.8m - saying that this made it the world's deadliest conflict since the second world war.

The estimate exceeds a widely cited figure of 3m deaths - mainly from disease and hunger - and the IRC's own previous tally of 3.3m, issued at the time of the peace agreement in April last year.

It compares with estimates of more than 2m deaths in the Vietnam war between 1961 and 1973.
One of the study's authors puts the losses in perspective:
“In a matter of six years, the world lost a population equivalent to the entire country of Ireland or the city of Los Angeles,” says the IRC’s Dr. Rick Brennan, one of the study’s authors. “How many innocent Congolese have to perish before the world starts paying attention?”

Democratic Republic of Congo: 3.8 Million Dead in 6 Year Conflict []
Over 31,000 a month 'are dying in Congo war' []

Rogue's Gallery of Bank Robbery Suspects

suspect Hampton, NH bank robbery
Hampton, NH bank robbery suspect has a monthly collection of surveillance camera photos of bank robbery suspects. Twenty-seven suspects from November 2004 bank robberies are currently posted. Do you recognize anyone?

Bank Robbery Suspects []

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Iraqi Baathist Death Squads

The situation in Iraq is certainly chaotic and dangerous and it seems redundant to report or comment on the war. But this fact in a story from MSNBC/ stood out as an indicator of just now truly bad it is.

A total of 338 Iraqis associated with the new governing structures or with the Americans have been assassinated since Oct. 1, according to U.S. military figures. This includes 35 police chiefs, mayors and middle-ranking officials. In Mosul, where 136 bodies have been found in the past month, U.S. officers suspect a particularly brutal and extensive campaign by fighters from the once-ruling Baath Party to target members of the Iraqi security forces.

"Having so far failed in its plan to 'decapitate' the Iraqi interim government, the insurgency appears to be concentrating instead on 'hollowing it out,' " the report...said.

Generals see no 'silver bullet' to fight insurgents [msnbc, Dec. 6, 2004]

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Prime Suspect Identified in Sarah Fox Murder Investigation

Sarah Fox
Sarah Fox

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau has identified Dimitri Sheinman, 39, the married father of a 3-year-old as the No. 1 suspect in the murder of the Juilliard drama student. The NY Post first reported this yesterday. "He's the number one suspect," Morgenthau said. "But there's not enough evidence to convict him."

Fox vanished on May 19, 2004 after leaving her home in workout clothes, possibly for a run in nearby Inwood Hill Park. Sarah Fox's strangled, nude body was discovered on May 25, 2004, in a secluded wooded area of Manhattan's Inwood Hill Park.

Dimitri Sheinman
Dimitri Sheinman

Here is some information about Mr. Sheinman:
  • He provided "severely intimate" details or "visions" as he called them of the case that were not public during a 12 hour interview with police at the 34th Precinct in Washington Heights.

  • The details included the fact that a stick was found wedged between Fox's legs near her crotch.

  • He also described the position of the body: Fox was left nude, her clothes missing, with hands by her side, feet slightly apart almost in a state of repose on a ledge above a wooded running path.

  • Sheinman also talked about a specific rib injury Fox suffered.

  • He said whoever killed Fox took her clothes, which he also described. The clothes including her Walkman were stuffed into a white canvas bag with the word "Brunswick" on it.

  • He lives with his architect wife and 3-year-old daughter near the corner of Seaman Avenue and 218th Street, a block east of scenic Inwood Hill Park that abuts the Hudson River.

  • Sheinman moved to the U.S. from Moscow at age 11.

  • Sheinman is known for having confrontations with people over his habit of letting his large Rhodesian Ridgeback dog roam off the leash in Inwood Hill Park.

  • Mr. Sheinman was at home alone the day of Fox's disappearance. All the rest of his family had gone to Chicago.

A neighbor said:
"I would trust him with my son," ... "He has keys to my apartment. He's an extremely intuitive and extremely emotionally intelligent man. The police should look elsewhere. He is extremely well-liked."

"He was trying to help the investigation and they turned it completely around on him," ... "It's an extremely horrible thing to have happened."
A search warrant of Sheinman's three co-op apartments that overlook the park, his 1996 Jeep Cherokee, and the basement of his building was executed based on his statements to the police and since he lives near where Sarah Fox lived. Detectives seized a laptop, documents, and some hard-bound diaries. One of the diaries had a description of a girl in a park surrounded by flowers that mirrored the Fox crime scene. This has been deemed only circumstantial evidence, but not conclusive.

One official said that while Mr. Sheinman "looks good" to some of those involved in the investigation, others are less sure.

Pablo Guzman of WCBS-TV Channel 2 in New York first reported in an "exclusive" Special Feature leading off the 11:00 pm news on Wednesday, Dec. 1st, that police had identified a prime suspect in the Sarah Fox murder. But he didn't name the suspect. The NY Post was the first media source to identify Dimitri Sheinman as the prime suspect in the Fox case.

Given what just happened in Wichita, KS recently regarding the false alarm over the BTK (Bind-Torture-Kill) suspect it's probably wise to wait for more facts.

JUILLIARD-SLAY SUSPECT RAGES [New York Post, Dec. 7, 2004]
COPS' PROBE OF JUILLIARD GAL'S SLAY ZEROING IN ON 'HELPER' [New York Post, Dec. 6, 2004 - Exclusive]
'No. 1 Sarah suspect' [Daily News, Dec. 7, 2004]
Suspect Emerges in Inwood Murder Case [NY Times, Dec. 7, 2004]
DA identifies murder suspect [Newsday, Dec. 6, 2004]
New Info In The Sarah Fox Murder Probe [, Dec. 6, 2004]
Sarah Fox Fund [to support a scholarship in her name and provide money for a reward for information leading to the arrest of her killer]

Johnsville News coverage:
Prime Suspect Identified by Police in Sarah Fox Murder Case [Dec. 2, 2004]
Sarah Fox murder case grows cold and reward is raised [Nov. 21, 2004]
Sarah Fox Murder Mystery Update [June 9, 2004]
Juilliard Student Murder Mystery - Sarah Fox [May 28, 2004]

update Dec. 9, 2004: The NY Post is going after Mr. Sheinman in a story today. They report: "Tales of scary confrontations with Sheinman, 39, and his dog are legion" in the Inwood Hill Park neighborhood.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Reasons They Haven’t Hit Us Again

Why haven't terrorists been able to strike at the U.S. again since 9-11. Have the French of all people really saved our bacon? Christopher McDougall, Craig Horowitz and Evan Wright of The New Yorker Magazine examine the situation and offer some theories:

1. We’re On Al Qaeda Time.
2. New York Has Become A Difficult Target.
3. The French Have Saved Us.
4. Suicide Bombings Don’t Work Here.
5. Bin Laden Isn’t A Terrorist, He’s A Killer.
6. We Have Informants Everywhere.
7. Homegrown Terrorists Are Incompetent.
8. We’re Trying to Think Like They Think.

Reasons They Haven’t Hit Us Again []
Anatomy Of a Foiled Plot []
Camp Jihad []

Getting Doored

Dell Covington, a bicycle courier was killed on Eighth Avenue in New York City because he hit an opening vehicle door. This is called getting "doored" or "dooring" in the vernacular of NYC bike messengers. The cyclist was the 14th killed in NYC this year. The New Yorker interviewed some couriers to get their perspective on this dangerous profession. Here are some of the injury reports:

Tom Clark, 34
Injuries: I've broken three fingers and fractured my elbow. It's mostly rookies that get hurt. It takes about a year to learn how to stay safe.

James Berkley, 46
Injuries: I get doored once in a while. The main thing to worry about is jaywalkers. They cause all kinds of problems.

Jack Blackfelt, 35
Injuries: Part of what makes the job less dangerous is not thinking about the danger. But [not getting doored] is like dodging a gunshot. I broke my collarbone once.

Ben Stewart, 34
Injuries: I religiously don't listen to headphones. But I got knocked out once. I don't really know what happened, but the police report said a woman stepped off a curb, I avoided her and hit a car and then hit her.

Ken Stanek, 27
Injuries: I was riding between two buses that kept getting closer together. They both started pressing on my handlebars and I had to let the bike fall out from under me.

Heard on the Street-Bike Couriers []
Killed on bike [, Nov. 19, 2004]

Friday, December 3, 2004

A Man with Too Much Money: Jack Whittaker

Jack Whittaker; his wife, Jewell, right; and their granddaughter Brandi BraggJack Whittaker; his wife, Jewell, right; and their granddaughter Brandi Bragg, are shown in December 2002, days after Whittaker won a nearly $315 million jackpot. Over the next five years, his wife left him and his granddaughter died of drug overdose.

Jack Whittaker Jack Whittaker
Jack Whittaker

Jack Whittaker won the Christmas night 2002 Powerball lottery and $113 million in cash ($314.9 million lottery prize). Since then his life has been like a slow-motion train wreck. Here's a brief rundown of his "rap" sheet and his tragic loss:

Recent news:

Update September 14, 2007:
Powerball curse? Record jackpot winner reflects -- In his darkest moments, Jack Whittaker has sometimes wondered if winning the nearly $315 million Powerball game was really worth it...

USA Today:
Unlucky winner in his own words -- Jack Whittaker should be living a fantasy after winning a nearly $315 million jackpot in 2002. But his life since then has been a downward spiral, punctuated by well-publicized indiscretions such as philandering and drunken driving.

Whittaker sat down with The Associated Press recently to discuss his gambling, his troubles and his personal losses. [...]

AP/Washington Post:
Powerball Win: Fantasy or Nightmare? -- "I don't have any friends," he said in lengthy interview with The Associated Press. "Every friend that I've had, practically, has wanted to borrow money or something and of course, once they borrow money from you, you can't be friends anymore." [...]

In all, Whittaker says, he's been involved in 460 legal actions since winning. He recently settled a lawsuit that alleged his bank failed to catch $50,000 in counterfeit checks cashed from his accounts.

Whittaker believes he has been unfairly demonized by the media, which he says exaggerated his problems and helped drive his wife away. [...]

Update Jan 13, 2006:
NY POST headline:
$315M MAN: I CAN'T AFFORD IT - A man who won a $315 million lottery jackpot says he can't pay a settlement to a casino worker he allegedly assaulted because thieves cleaned out his bank accounts. Powerball winner Jack Whittaker, who in 2002 collected a lump sum of $113 million after taxes, said "a team of crooks" cashed checks in September at 12 City National Bank branches and "got all my money," according to the motion filed by the casino worker's lawyer in state court.

"I intend to pay but can't without any money," Whittaker wrote, according to the motion. An official with City National Bank said yesterday the bank is investigating "small discrepancies" in Whittaker's accounts.
Timeline of the Jack Whittaker saga:

December 25, 2002, Andrew Jackson "Jack" Whittaker, Jr. wins the $314.9 million Power Ball drawing. Whittaker took the cash payment option.

• The West Virginia Gazette reported yesterday (Dec. 2, 2004):
Powerball multimillionaire Jack Whittaker faces arrest today after a Kanawha County magistrate revoked his bond.

Whittaker, 57, of Scott Depot has been free on a $150 bond since his January drunken driving arrest on Interstate 64 in Nitro. Kanawha County Magistrate Tim Halloran voided the bond today because State Police in Beckley charged Whittaker with DUI on Tuesday (Nov. 30, 2004).
• CNN reported on Wednesday (Dec. 1, 2004):
Jack Whittaker, 57, was arrested Tuesday night after his Hummer struck a concrete median on the West Virginia Turnpike near Beckley [Raleigh County, WV].

Senior Trooper M.J. Pinardo reported that he smelled alcohol, but Whittaker refused sobriety tests and was "extremely belligerent." Troopers also said they found a small pistol in Whittaker's boot and he was carrying $117,000 in cash.
• CBS reported in Sept. 2004:
Three men burglarized the home of Jack Whittaker, winner of the biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, as an acquaintance of Whittaker lay dead inside, police said Tuesday.
Jesse Joe Tribble, 18, died from drug-related causes and not from anything associated with the burglary. Tribble was an acquaintance of Whittaker’s granddaughter and was known to Whittaker, as well as all three of burglars.

J.C. Shaver, 20, James Travis Willis, 25, and Jeffrey Dustin Campbell, 20, were charged with larceny and other offenses after being captured on a security camera that Whittaker recently had installed.

• In May 2004, two men sued Whittaker, claiming they were injured when they were tossed out of a nightclub at his request.

• On March 9, 2004 Whittaker was sued by an employee of the Tri-State Racetrack & Gaming Center who alleged he assaulted her in March 2003. Charity D. Fortner, a floor attendant at the Nitro track, filed a lawsuit against Whittaker, alleging he forced her head toward his pants while he gambled at the track in March 2003.

• Fox News report from Jan. 7, 2004:
(Whittaker) was arraigned Tuesday by a Putnam County magistrate on charges of trying to hit and threatening to kill Todd Parsons, the manager of Billy Sundays Bar and Grill in St. Albans.

Police documents indicate Whittaker, who reportedly had been banned from the establishment, entered the bar Sunday and argued with Parsons.

He allegedly attempted to hit the bar's manager and threatened "to have the victim and his family killed," according to police reports.
• January 2004: in separate incidents, Whittaker was charged with drunken driving on Jan. 25, 2004 in Kanawha County, WV, and his vehicle was broken into and $100,000 was taken. Vernon Jackson Jr. of Scott Depot, West Virginia, was indicted on several charges including breaking and entering an automobile and grand larceny.

• CBS reported in Aug 2003:
A Powerball winner who has donated more than $3 million of his record winnings to churches was drinking at a strip club when $545,000 was stolen from his sport utility vehicle...

Whittaker called deputies at 5:20 a.m. and also called his private investigator, who found the stolen money behind the trash bin less than an hour later, police said.

Club employees declined to comment to The Associated Press. Kanawha County Chief Deputy Phil Morris said they told deputies Whittaker was allowed to stay at the club until after 5 a.m. because he had drunk too much alcohol. The club closes at 3 a.m.

Whittaker told deputies that he was drugged after his return to the Pink Pony, and he provided police with a urine sample for analysis, Morris said.

“There's no confusion on the fact that he didn't have all his faculties,” Morris said.
The strip club manager and his girlfriend were charged with drugging Whittaker and stealing the money. The money was recovered, and the case is pending in court.

'Lucky' Powerball Winner To Jail? [, Dec. 3, 2004]
Record lottery winner arrested on DUI, weapons charges [cnn, Dec. 1, 2004]
Jackpot Winner's House Burglarized as Dead Man Lies Inside [, Sept. 22, 2004]
More Hard Luck For Lottery Winner [, Sept. 22, 2004]
Powerball winner Whittaker is robbed two more times, sued [USA Today, March 12, 2004]
Powerball winner is robbed again _ and again [, March 11, 2004]
Record Powerball Winner Sued for Sex-Related Assault [Lottery Post, March 11, 2004]
One wild ride for jackpot winner [USA Today, Feb. 12, 2004]
Powerball Winner Arrested on Assault Charges [, Jan. 7, 2004]
Lotto Winner Robbed At Strip Club [, Aug. 5, 2003]
Yes, West Virginia, there is a Santa Claus [cnn, Dec. 27, 2002]

update Dec. 10, 2004: Jack Whittaker agreed to enter a substance abuse rehab program and surrender his driver's license in order to stay out of jail. So maybe Mr. Whittaker can right the ship. But today an AP news report came out saying that his 17-year-old granddaughter, Brandi Lasha Bragg, has been missing since Saturday, Dec. 4, 2004.

Record Powerball lottery winner ordered into substance abuse program [, Dec. 8, 2004]
Powerball winner Jack Whittaker's granddaughter missing [, Dec. 10, 2004]
Powerball winner Whittaker's granddaughter goes missing [USA Today, Dec. 10, 2004]

update Dec. 13, 2004 : Record Powerball winner Jack Whittaker was ordered to start attending weekly Alcoholic Anonymous sessions Monday after pleading no contest to an assault charge. The misdemeanor charge stems from a January incident in which Whittaker assaulted and threatened the manager, Todd Parsons, 27 of Billy Sundays Bar and Grill in St. Albans, WV.

Lottery winner pleads no contest, ordered to attend A-A meetings [WQAD, Dec. 14, 2004]
Record Powerball winner gets probation on assault charge []

Brandi L. Bragg Brandi Lasha Bragg
Pictures of Brandi Lasha Bragg

update Dec. 14, 2004 : Putnam County sheriff's Sgt. Lisa Arthur said the granddaughter is not considered a kidnapping victim.

Lottery Winner's Wife Regrets Ticket [ABC News, Dec. 14, 2004]
Tough Times For Powerball Winner [, Dec. 14, 2004]

update Dec. 15, 2004 : Brandi Lasha Bragg's photo and description are posted on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Web site, which lists her as an endangered runaway.

Powerball winner's granddaughter missing [AP/Fox News, Dec. 9, 2004]

update Dec. 20, 2004 : The Charleston West Virginia Gazette is reporting this afternoon that Jack Whittaker's granddaughter, Brandi Lasha Bragg, was found dead in Putnam County, West Virginia. The body was found behind a junked van, wrapped in a sheet and plastic tarp.
Police found the body of Brandi Lasha Bragg outside of a house on Scary Creek Road in Scary Creek, an unincorporated area near St. Albans, said Sgt. Jay Powers of the State Police.

Investigators from the State Police and the Putnam County Sheriff's Department have been searching for Bragg since Whittaker reported her missing on Dec. 9. She has been missing since Dec. 4, according to her family.

Police went to 341 Scary Creek Road around 11 a.m. today because people interviewed by investigators mentioned the house, Powers said
Granddaughter of record lottery winner found dead [USA Today, Dec. 21, 2004]
Jack's grandaughter found dead []
Mega-Jackpot Winner’s Granddaughter Dead at 17 [, Dec. 22, 2004]

update Dec. 31, 2004:
Services for Bragg were held Christmas Eve at 2 pm at the Ronald Meadows Funeral Home in Hinton, West Virginia. A visitation was held Thursday (Dec. 23, 2004) at the funeral home from 6 pm to 9 pm.

Bragg was buried in a family cemetery in Summers County, West Virginia.

Her death remains under investigation. An autopsy performed on Brandi Bragg Tuesday (Dec. 28th) confirmed that there were no signs of harm to her body...

The Winfield detachment of the West Virginia State Police identified her body Monday which was found wrapped in a sheet and a plastic tarp behind a van at a residence in Putnam County.

Sgt. Jay Powers of the State Police says tattoos on Bragg's body helped determine her identification.

According to Putnam County records, the property and home (where Bragg's body was found) are owned by Steve Crosier. His son, Brandon, was Bragg's boyfriend. Mr. Crossier suggests that Brandi died of an accidental drug overdose, and that his son panicked and stashed her body. "All I know is she OD'd and Brandon freaked out" he says.
Overdose theory in death of lottery winner's girl [, Dec. 22, 2004]
Grandfather ($314.9 million PowerBall jackpot winner)blames girl's death on drugs [, Dec. 23, 2004]
Lottery winner's granddaughter got lots of cash [, Dec. 25, 2004]

Update Feb. 1, 2005 -- AP reported on Jan. 13, 2005:
State Police launched an internal investigation to find out why a trooper failed to provide enough information for the state Division of Motor Vehicles to revoke the driver's license of record Powerball winner Jack Whittaker.

Whittaker, 57, became an instant celebrity on Christmas Day 2002 after winning a $314.9 million Powerball jackpot, the richest undivided lottery jackpot in U.S. history. He took his winnings in a lump sum of $113 million.

Since then, he has been arrested twice for drunken driving - on Jan. 25, 2004 in Kanawha County and on Nov. 30 in Raleigh County.

The DMV issued a final order Aug. 27 after an administrative law judge found the state failed to present enough evidence to prove Whittaker was intoxicated when found asleep inside his Cadillac on Interstate 64. A magistrate also has dismissed criminal charges in the case.

State Police Trooper Brian Morris, the arresting officer, failed to establish his credentials to administer field sobriety tests, despite testifying that Whittaker failed two such tests, the final order states.
West Virginia Police Probe Powerball Winner's DUI Case [AP/, Jan. 13, 2005]
State Police probe Whittaker case (powerball winner) [, Jan. 13, 2005]
Record lottery winner's wealth cost him dearly [, Jan. 31, 2005]

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Suspect is Not BTK

The Wichita Police held a press briefing and have released a statement and Police Chief Norman Williams said the suspect they arrested last night on a trespassing charge is *not* the Wichita BTK (Bind-Torture-Kill) serial killer.

Police chief: No arrest in BTK case [Wichita Eagle, Dec. 2, 2004, updated: 4:25pm]

Person of Interest Held in Wichita BTK Strangler Case

Wichita BTK Strangler
News services are reporting this morning that Wichita Police are holding "a person of interest" in the Wichita BTK (Bind-Torture-Kill) Strangler case. Some initial reports say the man was born in November 1940 and some say he was born in 1939. So he is 64-65 years old. The arrest was made last night at 7:30 pm at the man's house in south Wichita, which is some 40 yards from some railroad tracks. This man was initially booked on trespassing charges stemming from 1995 and is being held at Sedgwick Co Jail. A second warrent charged him with several violations of city housing codes. On Tuesday Police released the following information about the serial killer:

Nov. 30, 2004
Wichita Police Dept. Statement
From Lt. Ken Landwehr

"Since last March, BTK has sent numerous communications to the media and the police. In these letters he has provided certain background information about himself which he claims is accurate. Based upon a review of that information, the following facts about BTK are being made available to the public in hopes of identifying BTK.

He claims the following:

• He was born in 1939, which would make his current age 64 or 65.
• His father died in World War II and his mother raised him.
• His mother was forced to work so his grandparents cared for him.
• His mother worked during the day near the railroad.
• He had a cousin named Susan who moved to Missouri.
• His family moved a lot, but always lived near a railroad.
• His grandfather played the fiddle and died of a lung disease.

• His mother started dating a railroad detective when BTK was around 11-years-old. This relationship would have occurred during the years of 1950 and 1955.

• In the early 1950's he built and operated a ham radio.
• He has participated in outdoor hobbies including hunting, fishing and camping.
• As a youth he attended church and Sunday school.
• He had a female hispanic acquaintance named Petra who had a younger sister named Tina.

• Around 1960 he went to tech military school.
• He then joined the military for active duty and was discharged in 1966.
• He has a basic knowledge of photography and the ability to develop and print pictures.
• In 1966 he moved back in with his mother, who had remarried and was renting out part of her house.

• His first job was an electro-mechanic, requiring some travel.
• After attending more tech school he worked repairing copiers and business equipment; this sometimes required travel and he was away from home for extended periods.

• He admits to soliciting prostitutes.
• He has had a lifetime fascination with railroads and trains.

Based upon the investigation to date, we believe that BTK:

• Frequented the WSU campus in the early 1970s
• Was acquainted with P.J. Wyatt who taught a folklore class at WSU during the 1970s.
• Has written or still writes poetry. An example of this is the Oh Anna Why Didn't You Appear poem and the Oh Death to Nancy poem that were released in earlier media advisories.
• He utilized fake identification to gain access to people's homes or to conduct surveillance.

We are again asking for help from the public. We want to talk to any citizen who currently knows or recalls anything or anyone having a similar background to the one described above.

Citizens with information who are calling locally are asked to call 383-8273. Those calling from outside the Wichita area are asked to call 1-866-SOLV-BTK, that is 1-866-765-8285.

This is a fast breaking story so some of the current best information will be found on the BTK message boards. Here are the three most active boards:

BTK Strangler Msg Board [ of California]

BTK Strangler case [run by Wichita Eagle]

Message Board at

The Wichita Police have a website with an archive of all 2004 BTK news releases:

BTK News Bulletins

Update- Additional information about the suspect:

• His name is Roger Valadez
Man in custody may be linked to BTK [msnbc]

• His home is at: 1421 East Mt. Vernon, Wichita, KS

• His older brother Raymond A. Valadez (retired Cessna machinist) died Sunday, Jan. 18, 2004. [obituary at]

• One neighbor told KAKE-TV that she sold the house to the man in 1976 and that he moved in with a wife and four young children, but they left soon after and he's lived by himself ever since.

• Other neighbors said the man once worked for camping equipment firm Coleman Company, where two of the BTK killer's victims also worked.

Police Test DNA of Man in BTK Killer Case [, Dec. 2, 2004]

• The suspect's sister has been interviewed on local TV in Wichita and she says only one of the items on the police profile match Mr. Valadez, i.e. military service. The suspect's grandparents lived in Mexico and they never saw them, while police briefing said BTK's grandparents raised him. Suspect has no cousin named Susan, while BTK had cousin Susan in Missouri. Suspect's grandfather died of leukemia, not lung disease as in BTK news briefing.

Long stakeout puts man, 65, in custody [Wichita Eagle, Dec. 2, 2004]
Victim's Son: Dad Knew Killer [, Dec. 2, 2004]
BTK 'clues' breed theories [Wichita Eagle, Dec. 2, 2004]
Mayor got first look at startling details [Wichita Eagle, Dec. 1, 2004]
BTK delivers self-portrait [Wichita Eagle, Dec. 1, 2004]
BTK's background, as he describes it [Wichita Eagle, Dec. 1, 2004]

BTK Information Summary [Johnsville News]

update: Roger Valadez is not BTK. He is very unhappy the media released his name and that the police took his DNA. Valadez brought a lawsuit against: Emmis Communications, which operates the KSN group of stations, including KSNW in Wichita and KSNT in Topeka; and Journal Communications Inc. and Journal Broadcasting Group of Kansas, which owns Wichita's KFDI 101.3-FM. In addition, the retiree's Fourth Amendment rights were violated by Wichita police's hasty actions, his lawyer says.

Valadez's lawyers: DNA swab was illegal [Wichita Eagle, Jan. 12, 2005]

A Wichita man whose arrest on minor charges last December set off speculation of a possible link to the BTK serial killer has dropped the Associated Press from a lawsuit that alleges he was defamed by coverage of his arrest.

Wichitan drops AP from BTK lawsuit [Wichita Eagle, Feb. 2, 2005]

Gang Activity is on the Rise in Sonoma, CA

If you are Latino teenager in Santa Rosa, CA wearing or not wearing blue or red gang colors can mean the difference between life and death. Joy Lanzendorfer profiles the gangs and some gang members:

This year, Santa Rosa saw 32 drive-by shootings, up from 25 in 2003. Nine people have been injured, including a seven-month-old girl. Only two arrests have been made in connection with the shootings.

Many of the drive-bys are the result of an intense rivalry between Sonoma County's two biggest gangs, the Norteños and Sureños...

According to Rafael Vazquez, a gang research advocate who works with troubled youth in Sonoma County, estimates figure that approximately 2 percent of Santa Rosa's population alone--some 3,000 people--are thought to be involved in gang activity. That activity includes "generals" from the outside organization, or "mafia," that controls each gang; the corporate gang captains responsible for funneling money from various criminal rackets back to the mafia; and the kids in the streets who actually sell the drugs and commit the petty crimes that fuel it all.

These gang members exist in a secretive world colored by mysterious signs, rituals and bloodshed.

Gangsters Anonymous []

Prime Suspect Identified by Police in Sarah Fox Murder Case

Sarah Fox
Sarah Fox
Pablo Guzman of WCBS-TV Channel 2 in New York reported in an "exclusive" Special Feature leading off the 11:00 pm news on Wednesday, Dec. 1st, that police have identified a prime suspect in the Sarah Fox murder. He said: "the police have a name." He said he can't reveal the suspect's identity because there's not enough evidence yet to charge him with the crime. The evidence so far is circumstantial. The suspect is a male in his mid 30's who lives near Inwood Hill Park in upper Manhatten. He could be described as middle class. He also lives with a women who it's believed would be shocked to know this man committed ritualistic murder. The police know some of his habits and that he likes to walk in the park. The reward for information is now $27,000. Guzman asked anyone with information to call crime stoppers. Telephone: 1-800-577-TIPS or, for Spanish speakers, 1-888-57-PISTA.

Sarah Fox's strangled, nude body was discovered Tuesday, May 25, 2004, in a secluded wooded area of Manhattan's Inwood Hill Park. Investigators believe Fox may have been the target of a deranged killer with ritualistic tendencies. Her body appeared to have been posed and the killer may have placed yellow tulip petals and branches around the corpse. Fox vanished on May 19th after leaving her home in workout clothes for a run in nearby Inwood Hill Park.

Update: CBS posted a written summary of the Guzman report on their website at 1:00 pm, Dec 2nd:

Cops: Significant Leads In Sarah Fox Murder [, Dec. 2, 2004]

Update Dec. 7, 2004
: The New York Post identified the suspect by name in a story published Dec. 6, 2004.

Prime Suspect Identified in Sarah Fox Murder Investigation
[Dec. 7, 2004]
Sarah Fox murder case grows cold and reward is raised [Nov. 21, 2004]
Sarah Fox Murder Mystery Update [June 9, 2004]
Juilliard Student Murder Mystery - Sarah Fox [May 28, 2004]

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Another week another Death Threat

The list of al-Qaeda video and audio taped threats released since 9-11 is impressive. A death by press release strategy. Demented, pale, smelly men living in caves threatening the U.S and its allies with distruction. This crap is really getting old. What rock are they hiding under this week? The AP released a list of Al-Qaeda audio and video tapes but it was incomplete. Here is a better list with some linkage. List of al-Qaeda audio and video tapes to date since 9-11:

• Oct. 7, 2001: (Shot in late Sept./early Oct.) A threatening tape released at the start of the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and shown on al-Jazeera. It is believed to have been shot in late September or early October. Also on tape are bin Laden spokesman Abu Ghaith, chief lieutenant Ayman al Zawahiri, and Mohammed Atef, bin Laden's military commander.

• Nov. 3, 2001: (Shot late Oct./early Nov.) Bin Laden, dressed in camouflage and armed with an AK-47, says in a tape aired by al-Jazeera that the war in Afghanistan is in a religious war. "The people of Afghanistan had nothing to do with this matter. The campaign, however, continues to unjustly annihilate the villagers and civilians, children, women and innocent people."

Dec. 13, 2001: U.S. Defense Department releases a videotape of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan on Nov. 9, 2001, saying the destruction of the Sept. 11 attacks exceeded even his "optimistic" calculations. [transcript]

Dec. 27, 2001: (Shot late Nov. 2001) The "Gaunt Tape," so named because bin Laden is haggard and doesn't move his left arm, is believed to have been recorded around Nov. 19, 2001. In the tape, bin Laden refers to the U.S. bombing of a mosque in Khost "several days" earlier. The U.S. bombed a mosque in Khost on Nov. 16. Bin Laden does not move his left arm and his appearance is both gaunt and pale. Al-Jazeera airs the tape.

• April 17-18, 2002: (Shot in Oct. 2001) The "Riverside tape," believed shot in October 2001, is shown on Arabic language broadcasters MBC and al-Jazeera in slightly different versions. In this tape, bin Laden praises the impact the Sept. 11 attacks had on the U.S. economy.

October 6, 2002: Al-Jazeera broadcasts a brief audiotape in which a voice attributed to bin Laden says the "youths of God" are planning more attacks against the United States. U.S. experts say the tape can't be authenticated because of its poor quality.

• Nov. 12, 2002: (Contemporaneous) Bin Laden calls Bush the "pharaoh of this age" and lists recent attacks in a statement carried on al-Jazeera. Specifically, he notes: "The incidents that have taken place since the raids on New York and Washington up until now -- like the killing of Germans in Tunisia and the French in Karachi, the bombing of the giant French tanker in Yemen, the killing of marines in Failaka [in Kuwait] and the British and Australians in the Bali explosions, the recent operation in Moscow and some sporadic operations here and there -- are only reactions and reciprocal actions." It is the first bin Laden message that can be dated in nearly a year.

• Feb. 11, 2003: (Contemporaneous) A voice purported to be bin Laden calls on Iraqis to carry out suicide attacks against Americans and defend themselves against a U.S. attack in a tape broadcast on Al-Jazeera. U.S. counterterrorism officials say the audio message was probably authentic.

• Feb. 13, 2003: An audiotape purported to be of bin Laden reads a poetic last will and testament in a recording first obtained by the British-based Islamic Al-Ansaar news agency. Bin Laden says he wants to die a martyr in a new attack against the United States.

• April 7, 2003: In an audiotape obtained by The Associated Press in Pakistan, bin Laden exhorts Muslims to rise up against Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other governments it claims are "agents of America" and calls for suicide attacks against U.S. and British interests. The CIA determines the 27-minute tape is likely authentic.

Sept. 10, 2003: In the first video image of bin Laden in nearly two years, he is shown walking through rocky terrain with top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri (most likely shot in 2001). Two taped messages accompanied the video: In one, a voice purporting to be bin Laden's praises the "great damage to the enemy" on Sept. 11 and mentions five hijackers by name. In the other tape, a voice said to be that of al-Zawahri threatens more attacks on Americans. "Rely on God and devour the Americans, like lions devour their prey. Bury them in the Iraqi graveyard," al-Zawahri said.[]

Sept. 28, 2003: Aljazeera aired an audiotape of Ayman al-Zawahiri calling on Pakistanis to overthrow President Pervez Musharraf.

Oct. 18, 2003: Aljazeera aired a videotape of Usama bin Ladin calling on Iraqis to stand firm against 'US crusaders'. He also issued a stark warning that his followers would carry out further actions both inside and outside the United States. [transcript: msg to Iraqis] [transcript: msg to U.S.]

Oct. 18, 2003: Al-Qaida releases a new videotape message related to the May 2003 attack in Riyadh. On the 45-minute tape, made available on several websites friendly to the group, is an audio recording of the attack on U.S. and British housing in the Saudi capital. Also on the tape: What appears to be new images of Bin Laden...and 4 terrorists killed in the bombing...two speaking English for the first time on tape. One of them, Hazem Al-Kashmiri, claims to be the son of a former major general in Saudi intelligence. He says, "We promise that we will not let you live safely and will not see anything else from us: just bombs, fires, destroying homes, cutting your heads. A second terrorist, Mohammed Al Moqeet, adds, "Stop killing Muslims or we will kill you as you are killing Muslims.” []

Dec. 19, 2003: In an audio tape Al-Qaida number two Ayman al-Zawahri has called American soldiers cowards "with no faith in their leaders". [transcript] [bbc]

Jan. 4, 2004: A speaker thought to be bin Laden says on an audiotape broadcast on Al-Jazeera that the U.S.-led war in Iraq is the beginning of the "occupation" of Persian Gulf states for their oil. He calls on Muslims to keep fighting a holy war in the Middle East. Officials say it is probably authentic. [transcript] []

Feb. 23, 2004: Ayman al-Zawahri warned the US of fresh attacks in an audio tape aired by Aljazeera.

Feb. 24, 2004: Ayman al-Zawahri condemned French moves to ban the Muslim headscarf in government schools. "This is a new sign of the Crusader hatred which Westerners harbour against Muslims while they boast of freedom, democracy and human rights," al-Zawahri said on the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television

April 15, 2004: A man identifying himself as bin Laden offers a "truce" to European countries that do not attack Muslims. It vows revenge against the United States for the Israeli assassination of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin. []

• May 6, 2004: An online audiotape released on Islamic forums with the purported voice of bin Laden offers rewards of gold for the killing of U.S. and U.N. officials.

June 23, 2004: An audiotape posted on the internet and purportedly recorded by Iraq's al-Qaida-linked chief Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi threatens to kill Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi.

Sept. 9, 2004: In a videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, al-Zawahri proclaims the United States ultimately will be defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan. The message appears to be a rallying call for al-Qaida ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Oct. 1, 2004: Al-Jazeera television airs an audiotape purportedly from al-Zawahri in which he urges Muslim youths to carry out pre-emptive strikes against the United States and its allies. The tape also urges young Muslims to fight on even if al-Qaida leaders are killed or captured. []

Oct. 29, 2004: Al-Jazeera airs a video of bin Laden saying the United States can avoid another Sept. 11 attack if it stops threatening the security of Muslims. [transcript] []

Nov. 29, 2004: Al-Jazeera airs a video of al-Zawahri in which he vows to keep fighting the United States until Washington changes its policies.

Dec. 16, 2004: An audiotape message attributed to Al-Qaida leader Usama bin Ladin and broadcast on an Islamist website on Thursday laid the blame for the unrest in Saudi Arabia on the kingdom's ruling monarchy. He also praised the attack on the US consulate in Jedda and called for more attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure. He said: “We call on all the mujahideen in the Arabian Peninsula to unify their ranks . . . and target the oil supplies that do not serve the Islamic nation but the enemies of this nation.”

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