Morning Report: December 13, 2004

Karzai: bin Laden in region, will be caught. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says that Osama bin Laden is "definitely" in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region, and that he will be caught. In a CNN interview Sunday, Karzai also responded to questions about Afghanistan's ongoing opium production problem, and to allegations of misconduct by US troops. (CNN)

Bomb/shooting attack on border post at Rafah. A bombing and shooting attack from a secret, half-mile-long tunnel injured 11 Israeli soldiers at the Rafah post on the Israel/Egypt border. Debka reports that the attack is designed to thwart the candidacy or Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian/Israeli cooperation, and the disengagement plans of President Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. While the Israeli authorities had ample warning that an attack on the post was likely, the report adds, Israel re-opened the post under intense pressure. More importantly, 'Sunday night, all the Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip proved they could work together under a single commander. DEBKAfile’s military sources name him as 62-year old Khan Younes-based Palestinian brigadier general Saib Ajez, a veteran officer of the moribund commando-trained Palestinian Liberation Army and the best tactical brain the Palestinians have. He has 20,000 men under arms at his disposal. The rank and file are members of the Palestinian General Security Service, but their disciplined hard core is made up of Fatah, Hamas and Jihad Islami units in Rafah, Deir el Balah and Khan Younes. This unified force Ajez deployed last May to repulse the IDF’s first offensive against the smuggling tunnels of Rafah.'

Martial law remembered. At the time, it looked like the beginning of the end; in retrospect, it was the end of the beginning. Arthur Chrenkoff remembers martial law in his native Poland, which was imposed 20 years ago in reaction to the Solidarity movement: 'No, there were only two real possibilities: either we (the opposition, the overwhelming majority of the nation) did them (the communists) in, or they did us in. At midday, when the radio stations stopped playing somber classical music and the vision came back on TV screens, we knew it had been the latter. General Jaruzelski, stiffened by his orthopedic corset, his eyes hidden behind large dark sunglasses (a legacy of a Siberian internment by the Soviets, when strong sunlight reflecting off snow damaged his eyesight), faced the nation and read a proclamation declaring martial law. The army has taken over the government to suppress the opposition and save Poland from inevitable bloodshed. What freedoms there still existed under our communist government were suppressed; curfews imposed, freedom of movement within the country restricted. "Solidarity", the movement of some 10 million members (out of the population of 36 million) was cleanly decapitated just after midnight on Sunday morning, when the security forces swept in and arrested almost all of the trade union's leaders attending a national congress in Gdansk.' Read the whole post for Chrenkoff's reflections on that Sunday morning twenty years ago, as witnessed by a nine-and-a-half-year-old boy in Krakow.