In a move which has largely gone unnoticed, the White House has lifted the diplomatic immunity of John Negroponte, currently US permanent representative at the United Nations. He is expected to be detained shortly and taken to Camp Zeist in the Netherlands (now re-named the International Detention Facility) for questioning at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague about his part in his countryís terror campaign in Central America in the 1980s. The arrest will come as part of a new UN drive to eradicate terrorism world-wide to be called The Campaign against Real Terrorism, CART. Negroponte was the US ambassador to Honduras at the time of Washingtonís sponsorship of Contra atrocities.
The United Nations is ceasing its collaboration with the present war on non-Western terror as it adopts the new CART strategy. Kofi Annan, the US Secretary General, is known to be unhappy that hitherto the present "war on terror" has been confined to targeting those who oppose Western economic and political interests and has ignored terror emanating from the rich member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others. Backed by Nelson Mandela and others, he is keen to establish a more even-handed operation. "The UNís credibility will at stake here if we donít back up our words with effective and forceful action against terrorism whoever are its godfathers. This is what CART is designed to do," said a UN spokeswoman in New York yesterday.
The United Nations has plans to weigh in massively against terrorists and torturers anywhere they are to be found. "We will smoke them out of their chancelleries, weed them out of their armies and seize their funds wherever and whenever. Our hand has been immeasurably strengthened by the newly established International Criminal Court which weíll be using to the fullest extent", the spokeswoman added.
CART, is to be formally launched at a simple ceremony on New Yearís Day in United Nations Plaza in New York. The families of victims from many countries from Nicaragua to Chechnya will stand in a circle before the Secretary General and an Angolan army bugler whose legs were shot off by white South African terrorists twenty-five years ago will play the last post.
The strategy has been worked out secretly at UN headquarters through which the civilised nations of the world will refine their search for those responsible for evil actions world-wide and finally bring them to justice after the long period of impunity which they have enjoyed. It is being co-ordinated by The 11 September Group (9/11G) named after the terror attack by a group of mutinous military men against the civilian government in Santiago in 1973, and a copy-cat operation last year in New York and Washington DC, which killed fewer people but was still serious.
Among the first to be targeted will also be Augusto Pinochet, the leader of the 1973 rebellion who has escaped going to court after a sophisticated international fraud put together by the British, Spanish and Chilean governments. His acquisition in the late 1970s of chemical weapons of mass destruction such as sarin with the aid of British firms such as Gallenkamp of Loughborough, already well documented, will be scrutinised anew by the 9-11G.
Also in the UN sights are those responsible for the invasion of Angola by South Africa in 1975, years of civil war which claimed the lives of millions and is at the root of the present famine which today threatens the lives of a third of the twelve million-strong population of Angola. F.W. de Klerk and Henry Kissinger are among the surviving supporters of militant apartheid who are to be arrested and brought to Camp Zeist. Kissinger, a former assistant to the US Presidents Ford and Nixon, will also have to answer questions about terrorist atrocities in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay Indonesia. In addition CART will take over the prosecution of those involved in massacres in Rwanda.
Given the topicality of Indonesia in the light of the horrific deaths of more than two hundred people in Bali the UN will be re-opening its investigations into the deaths of more than a million Indonesians in 1975. "While we are desperately sorry for those involved in the massacre on Bali", said a senior UN figure, "there is no getting away from the fact that there were five thousand Indonesian victims in 1975 for every one victim in October this year. It is difficult to comprehend but those are the facts."
Another special unit, the Oscar Romero Team (ORT), named after the murdered archbishop of San Salvador, one of the best known of the Central American victims of international terrorism, was formed last month. As well as looking into atrocities committed in El Salvador itself, it will pursue those responsible for the Contra terrorism in neighbouring Nicaragua in the 1980s, including Mr Negroponte. The ORTís main job, however, is to investigate and punish those responsible for the deaths of two hundred thousand, mostly native, people in Guatemala which has already been labelled a genocide by the UN. Investigations into complicity in the genocide will shortly start in Washington, Tel Aviv and Buenos Aires where governments were all implicated in the massacres. The ORT is encouraged by the fact that several of the Argentine military have been arrested: progress is expected to be slower in the United States and Israel. "We are nevertheless determined," commented a senior source at UN headquarters.
The ORT will also be seeking ways of bring to court those behind the murders at the Sabra and Chatila camps and at Qana in the Lebanon and investigators will shortly be seeking the extradition of Ariel Sharon for war crimes. They realise the difficulties of detaining a head of government in office, but are understood to be willing to await the end of his term in office before proceeding.
Raids are meanwhile being planned on the safe houses terrorists and torturers being maintained in Florida, the hiding place for many Latin American terrorists, and in Turkey. Amnesty asked recently, "Why are these terrible things allowed to go on in Turkey - a society with traditions of tolerance, a history of parliamentary democracy, whose people are admired and respected for their kindness and hospitality by all who visit the country?".
There will be special operations, too, to cut off the financing of terror and terroristsā bank accounts in the City of London, the Channel Islands, Panama City, Vaduz, Tel Aviv, Washington and Miami. The Retained Money Squad (RMS) - known jocularly at UN headquarters as the Robert Maxwell Squad - is charged with investigating the funding of extremism.
The secret account, no 16 750 393 which Pinochet and his wife LucŪa maintained at the Riggs National Bank in Washington to house his earnings from the drugs trade is to be examined for the first time. According to published documents, on 3 January 1997 it was shown to have a credit balance of US$1,169,308.23. This figure has puzzled investigators given that his annual pay as commander-in-chief of the Chilean army had been £10,500 a year.
Tossing aside allegations that some of Pinochetís earnings from drug running were parked in the Channel Islands as alleged in the Spanish press, Mr Robert Pratt, Jerseyís Director-General of Financial Services, enthused last night, "We welcome such moves wholeheartedly".
At the same time the UN itself is putting through its own process of self-evaluation. Following the publication last year of the book LíAssassinat de Lumumba by Ludo de Witte, a strategic working party (SWP) is to re-examining the UNās own involvement and that of its late secretary-general Dag Hammarskjold in Belgian terrorism in its former African colony which led to the murder of the Congolese leader in 1961.
CART is reported to have raised eyebrows in some capitals. "Donít you dare, busterĒ, threatened a nervous spokeswoman at the Pentagon last night speaking on condition of anonymity.
In Downing Street the Prime Ministerís official spokesman laughed and commented, "In your dreams, matey."