Christopher Dickey

Stories by Christopher Dickey

  • Training For Terror

    Afghanistan is famous for its honey. Farmers build hives among its unyielding mountains and let the bees fly where they will. Apart from opium and terrorism, the sweet gold stuff is one of the country's few exports. In the guise of a honey merchant, one of Osama bin Laden's closest aides traveled to the Pakistani city of Peshawar throughout the 1990s. His mission was to screen would-be holy warriors before assigning them to the kind of terrorist cells that would blow up American embassies in Africa, a U.S. warship in Yemen and ultimately stage the horrendous attacks on New York and Washington.But insane as these acts may seem, the honey merchant known as Abu Zubaida was not looking for madmen. Some recruits would best serve the cause by forging documents or moving money. Others might be good with guns or at making bombs. Only a few would be trained, eventually, to blow themselves to bits in suicide attacks on America and its allies.Abu Zubaida, a tall Gaza Palestinian who lost his...
  • Who's The Mastermind?

    "Who's got the brains and the money to do this?" asked one veteran of Washington's war against terrorism as the details of devastation flashed across the television screen this morning. Who indeed?Cautious speculation could include home-grown true believers preaching their own version of God and Country, like recently-executed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh; or the guerrillas and drug lords of Colombia, where U.S. troops and covert operatives are ever more deeply embroiled. But the first guess by many intelligence officials in the Middle East, Europe and the United States was the "jihadists" who have congregated in Afghanistan around Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden: "A whole flock of organizations that don't necessarily follow his direct orders or ever have contact with him," says Richard Murphy, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia, who is now at the Council on Foreign Relations.Bin Laden is a talker. He publicly declared "holy war" on all Americans in 1998 and...
  • Armani After All

    One morning in June Giorgio Armani woke to smoke pouring from the ground floor of his palazzo in Milan. Trapped in his living quarters on the top floor, the 67-year-old dean of Italian designers waited while the firemen did their jobs. "I stayed very cold, very philosophical," he said hours later, sitting at his desk in an immaculate white T shirt and blue jeans. "This happened. It's over. That's life."Armani told NEWSWEEK that story in one of several interviews about the latest chapter in his remarkable career: a bold global expansion into a variety of new cities, stores and merchandise. Though famously reticent, Armani also spoke openly about a personal tragedy that shaped his determination to retain control of the House of Armani--a move that could prove to be his smartest yet. Shunning pressure to sell out to larger suitors in this age of megamergers, Armani has retained complete control of his empire and, more important, of the cool, minimalist design sensibility that helped...
  • Books: Recollecting World War Ii

    Of the witnesses who are still alive, almost all remember the cherry trees in the French provincial capital of Tulle on June 9, 1944, the day of the hangings. They recall "the SS men, in their dark uniforms, gorging themselves amid the bright red fruit and green leaves," writes Adam Nossiter in "The Algeria Hotel: France, Memory and the Second World War" (Houghton Mifflin. 302 pages). And the way the Nazi soldiers "carried off the cherries, laughing and yelling," even as they executed, with cool efficiency, 99 young Frenchmen. The victims were selected at random, then hanged from lampposts and balconies. Some witnesses remember sounds more than images: the bodies being cut down afterward, or the accordion music that was played, gleeful and incongruous, throughout the horror.How does a society live with memories such as these? How do the experiences of atrocities endure among those who witnessed them, were victimized by them or collaborated in them? And how do those memories persist...
  • And Along Came A Spider

    The prostitutes' bodies are thrown on Iran's roadsides, or more often in open sewers. They are wrapped in their long, black chadors, the cloth knotted top and bottom to form a makeshift body bag. In every case, the killer has used a scarf to strangle his victim. Iran's newspapers call the cases "the Spider Killings," because the victims appear to be drawn like flies into the murderer's web. Their swaddled corpses resemble trapped insects awaiting their doom. It has been a year since the first bodies were discovered--in Mashhad, Iran's holiest city. To date, there have been 21.Who is this Spider? One suspect recently confessed to 16 of the murders. But the mystery--and the horror--extend far beyond the individual killer or killers. Many hard-line supporters of the regime have publicly cheered the murder spree, which last month claimed two new victims in Tehran, as a moral cleanup campaign. "Who is to be judged?" demanded the conservative newspaper Jomhuri Islami. "Those who look to...
  • Why Not Saddam

    Saddam Hussein's jets streak across the Iraqi night, challenging American fighters to give chase. His SAM batteries, more effective now than at any time since the gulf war, probe the skies with radar, ready to fire. Often they do; so far they've missed. But the heat is on in the no-fly zones patrolled by the United States and Britain above northern and southern Iraq. New provocations and retaliations erupted again last week: in the most intensive bombing raids since February, about 20 U.S. and British warplanes attacked a military-communications center, a SAM site and a long-range-radar installation. Between air-strikes, President George W. Bush explained that Saddam was "still a menace, and we need to keep him in check, and will."In check? How about in jail? Slobodan Milosevic awaits trial at The Hague, and former Rwandan officials are on the stand in Arusha, Tanzania. Cambodia is gearing up for a war-crimes tribunal, and the former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre faces extradition...
  • O To Be A Dog In Paris!

    When Yves Contassot ran in the Paris municipal elections a few months ago, one especially pungent issue dogged him. Other politicians turned up their noses. But voters sensed this Green Party candidate would be different. "Do you have the courage?" they would ask, emphasizing that last word. "Do you have the courage to take on... dog poop?"Yes, Contassot replied. And now as deputy mayor of the City of Light, he's set out to prove it. Many Parisians don't realize what's coming, how lives and lifestyles will soon be transformed. But with the new year, a new era dawns for Paris and its famously pampered pooches.Whether Yorkie, poodle or Shar-Pei, it's out with the old and in with the new. No longer will the city's four-footed friends be permitted to poop wherever they please. Nor will it be enough to "curb" your dog, directing business to the street instead of the sidewalk. Come January, owners will have to clean up after their pets. If they don't, they'll pay fines up to several...
  • A Bad Bet In Monte Carlo

    Autopsy photographs of the late billionaire Edmond Safra do not show a man who was terrified at the moment he died. Nor do the pictures, examined by NEWSWEEK, show bullet wounds, as some reports have suggested. The official autopsy concludes that the 67-year-old banker asphyxiated after inhaling fumes from a fire in his penthouse, and "there was no sign of major trauma." But the photographs of Safra's round face are disturbing for another reason. On his lips is a slight, ironic smile that makes you wonder: could Safra have known how many enduring tales of intrigue and conspiracy would surround his death in a Monte Carlo penthouse on Dec. 3, 1999?The setting in the affluent Mediterranean principality of Monaco is perfect for amateur Agatha Christies. The list of potential suspects who might have a motive for killing Safra could fill a mystery writer's cupboard of villains: the Russian mafia, Arab terrorists, drug cartels and other money launderers, Mossad-trained bodyguards and...
  • First Blood

    For the first few hours it looked like the usual fare--if a bit more fierce this time. Like a regular weather pattern, so-called anti-globalization protesters have descended on every major economic meeting since 1999. Now Genoa too was engulfed in tear gas and shouts of rage, in hailstorms of rock-throwing at police. Surging crowds of demonstrators, many of them wearing motorcycle helmets and masks, engaged in a game of attack-and-retreat with police for several hours as they sought to outflank the authorities, all in an attempt to disrupt the G8 summit taking place in Genoa's cordoned-off center.But suddenly, about 3:30 p.m. Friday, everything changed. As the cops fell back one more time against a crowd assault, a lone police jeep found itself cut off by the demonstrators who swirled into the piazza. In a panic, the driver swerved to the right--and came up against a wall of broken windows and the scrawled graffiti no more cops. Young men with homemade plastic shields, wearing...
  • The Politics Of Apocalypse

    Global warming brings people together. The seas have not yet risen dramatically and the tides are not yet lapping at the Alps where the tree line used to be, but the threat of catastrophe seems real enough to make many people with very different political agendas find a common cause. Without global warming, the growing protest movement against "globalization" would be even less coherent than it already is. Because this slow-motion apocalypse can be traced to enormous multinational corporations, who market the fossil fuels that generate carbon dioxide, it is a perfect unifying force for global protest. And activists know it.American environmentalist Jeremy Rifkin, who has made a career warning about the dangers of scientific arrogance, looks back on the creation of the Global Greenhouse Network in the late 1980s as "the first time NGOs from around the world worked together around a central theme." Until then, says Rifkin, "environmental issues, and economic and social issues, could...
  • Bush's Foreign Affair

    Bianca Jagger, the celebrity activist, isn't exactly a fan of George W. But she loved the U.S. president's first European tour, looking on with pleasure from among thousands of shouting, marching protesters. They jeered him, reviled him, even mooned him. They trashed him as the "Toxic Texan," hoisted banners proclaiming bush go home and burned American flags. More than a hundred were arrested and dozens injured as rioters threw stones and broke shop windows in some of the uglier violence to cloud a European summit. How would she sum up the man, from a European perspective? "The contemporary antichrist," she says.The trip was supposed to be something of a "charm offensive," designed to dispel misapprehensions of the American president as a conservative, Bible-banging, gun-toting, global-polluting, undiplomatic stumblebum. He made clear progress. Europe's leaders exercised their well-learned politesse. But charmed they were not. "We don't agree on the Kyoto treaty," Bush said bluntly...
  • The Euro Panic

    Such is the specter of disaster now haunting a jittery continent. Not since the Millennium Bug came and went without biting so much as an ankle has any place seen such an outpouring of scary prognostication from smart people with serious authority. In one startling day of testimony before the European Union two weeks ago, continentwide associations of consumers, pensioners, workers and retailers used words like "scandal," "chaos" and "tragedy" to pillory the European elite for its failure to stave off what they described as an inevitable doomsday. Last week the European Federation of Accountants, not known as a bastion of apocalyptic soothsayers, complained that many businesses seem to have "no understanding of the commercial risks of not being ready," and warned of an epidemic of missed payrolls, bills, even credit-card payments. The same day the European Parliament debated a report citing the continent's "astonishing lack of preparedness" for the introduction of the euro, the...
  • Playing By Dutch Rules

    Ron Gerring missed the '60s the first time around, but he figures he's found a scene almost as good in Amsterdam today. "I see Holland as having only two rules," says the itinerant singer and songwriter from Toronto: "don't hurt anybody, and don't steal anything." Then there's the dope. "You don't have to worry about the police, the window being closed or your mother coming back," says Gerring, who is 39. "Yeah, this is hedonism." He smiles and sips his Heineken at the no-frills Hans Brinker Hotel. "Just short of debauchery, I think."Many of the Dutch government's critics would agree, only they're not smiling. The Netherlands' social liberalism--what a conservative columnist in Boston called "the Dutch Disease"--is often portrayed as radical, weird, just short of demented. It's not just a matter of marijuana. Prostitution--long and famously tolerated in the country's red-light districts--has just been fully legalized, complete with value-added tax on services rendered. This year the...
  • Lost In A Mobile Maze

    The tiny Isle Of Man in the Irish Sea is not known as a vanguard of technology, but this month it was to serve as the test bed for the highly acclaimed third-generation mobile phones. A subsidiary of British Telecom (BT), the British phone company, cobbled together a network and prepared to hand out prototype mobile handsets to about 200 volunteers. But problems arose in the software that keeps track of each call as it moves from one tower's range to another's. BT postponed the trial until late summer, after a similar delay announced a few weeks earlier by NTT DoCoMo in Japan. ...
  • The Knight Errant

    Silvio Berlusconi may be a media magnate, a billionaire, a target of endless probes and, quite possibly, Italy's next prime minister. But most of all, he's a "supersalesman," in the words of his leading political rival. And his favorite product is himself: "There's no one on the world's political stage that can compete with me," says Berlusconi. "None of them has the history and the human substance that I have." ...
  • Italy: After The Vote

    Out of the chaos at Italy's polls on Sunday, a new order emerged under billionaire businessman Silvio Berlusconi today. But what kind of order will it be? ...
  • The Arrogant American?

    Hollywood, with its keen sense of the emotional moment, is remaking "The Quiet American." Based on Graham Greene's 1955 novel, it's the story of a tragically naive American official in Saigon who, convinced of his own desire to do good, misunderstands completely the values and needs of other societies. Audie Murphy starred in the first version. Brendan Fraser stars in the remake. And much of Europe thinks President George W. Bush is playing the role in real life. ...
  • The Dragonfly Suit

    American F-16 fighter planes and Soviet-built MiG-29s will scream through the skies of Nevada next month in a furious series of supersonic dogfights. It won't be the first time. In previous Red Flag exercises in the skies above Nellis Air Force Base, America's top guns have almost always had the technological edge. This time when the planes go into the wild high-speed twists and turns of close combat, things may be different. It's not that the MiGs have gotten better, or that the German Luftwaffe pilots who will be flying them are any more skilled than the Americans. The difference will be purely sartorial: the German pilots will be wearing better outfits. ...
  • Nibbling At The Net

    In the narrow streets of old Cairo--in alleys where beggars limp through piles of garbage, where idle men puff on their hubbly-bubblies and chickens beat up dust with their wings--the ancient tradition of the neighborhood scribe lingers. Al-Shaymaa Mohammed, 19, types letters for anyone who will pay. The job used to be done on a manual typewriter. Today she uses a word processor. Two months from now she expects to be hooked up to the Internet. "I've heard a lot about the Internet. People come and they ask for it," she said last week. "I want to learn how to use it, because then I would know a lot about the world." She pauses, thinking about what else the Net might mean. "They say some people find husbands on it." ...
  • Paris's Urbane Renewal

    Sitting in his campaign headquarters--a onetime cafe near Paris's trendy Marais district--Bertrand Delanoe lights a Davidoff cigarillo and contemplates the cities he adores: New York because "it's a melting pot," Los Angeles because "it's Latin," "fabulous" Rio, "contradictory" Cape Town. He loves "the great Arab cities," Marrakech and Fez, and "has a passion for Jerusalem." In short, the man last week's polls predicted would be the next mayor of Paris has a penchant for cities where cultures collide and produce a mix that is quintessentially urban. Delanoe himself is quintessentially urbane. Just the sort of man you might expect to find having a coffee in his quartier--not necessarily the kind you'd expect to lead a populist revolt. ...
  • Riders On The Storm

    The 33-year-old doctor took off his blue overcoat to answer a visitor's question. Why had he fled northern Iraq, paying smugglers $2,000 to take him through Turkey to "somewhere in Europe"? He rolled up the sleeve of his plaid shirt. Why had he and about 900 other Kurds squeezed into the hold of a derelict freighter called the East Sea, only to be abandoned off the southern coast of France when it ran aground? Dr. Ihsan Ibrahim held out his withered arm. A ragged scar wound its way over the shrunken biceps and under his shoulder. In Iraq, he said, he was attacked one night and stabbed several times because he'd been agitating against Saddam Hussein. "If I hadn't made this trip," said Ibrahim, "I would be dead now." ...
  • A Spreading Islamic Fire

    Americans are nothing if not self-assured, especially about their most cherished values. What's wrong with freedom and the pursuit of happiness? So it's all a bit puzzling. Why should America now be the enemy? Is the Islamic fundamentalist threat a kind of clash of civilizations--a permanent struggle that feeds on deep-seated resistance to Western values? So it might seem, at first. Osama bin Laden, who clearly knows what resonates with his legions, likes to cast his struggle in such stark terms. He has claimed that it is "an individual duty" for Muslims to kill Americans, civilian and military, wherever they are found. Counterterrorism officials say bin Laden's grand plan is to drive the United States out of the Muslim world entirely, then replace moderate governments with fundamentalist Islamic states. And ultimately? Well, one bin Laden-inspired cell in Chechnya has posted a global map of Islamist power on the Internet--and it projects a world that in 100 years will be entirely...
  • THE COLD FACTS OF WIRELESS

    Of all the new, new things that came to seem old over the last year, the near hysteria around the "mobile Internet" in Europe was in a class by itself. Techno-gurus and telecom companies proclaimed the coming of a "third generation" of mobile telephones in the next two to four years. They would offer broadband data speeds 100 times faster than current mobile phones. Color screens, streaming video, real-time music downloads and e-commerce ("m-commerce") galore, all in the palm of your hand.A few telecom companies believed their own hype. Others were afraid they'd be left to die in Silicon Gulch if they didn't race down the trail. European banks anxious to invest in European high tech saw mobile communications as the new El Dorado and anted up $110 billion for licenses. Now, to build the all-new infrastructure that 3G phones require, they'll have to invest an additional $90 billion to $110 billion."That is a lot of money," says Lars Godell, a leading analyst at Forrester Research, ...
  • War On Two Fronts

    Bursts of automatic-rifle fire echo up the street; wisps of tear gas float in the air. An ambulance rushes toward the scene, where Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint outside the Palestinian city of Ramallah are using live ammo to force back a rock-throwing mob. Marwan Barghouti stands out in the open, watching from 100 yards away, hands in his pockets, as relaxed as if he were at a family picnic.In fact, he's at a funeral: a procession bearing the corpse of a young Palestinian shot the day before has just ended nearby. Now, older mourners and local politicians, handkerchiefs over their noses because of the tear gas, are paying their respects to the 41-year-old Barghouti. They go to him for advice because he runs a group of Fatah militias, guerrillas the Israelis call Tanzim--the shock troops of the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank. One of the mourners, a gray-haired man cringing at the noise of guns, asks with deference just when the dying might end. "We are at the start of this...
  • Beware Complacency

    Deadlines for Armageddon are nothing new in the Middle East. Someone is always predicting the end of the world brought on by the coming of a messiah, the passing of a dictator, the rise of a sect, the failure of a peace plan. The region is forever about to die of thirst or bathe in blood. The world watches with fear and incomprehension as the crisis comes--and passes. Then life goes on. Complacency settles over the Middle East again as if all those fears were unfounded. Tourists start to drift back to the Pyramids. Regular programming resumes around the world.But nothing in the Middle East is more dangerous than complacency. Enormous problems are put on hold instead of being solved; declared at an end simply because they didn't end the world. In fact they accumulate, they fester, and create the potential for greater problems to come. If we didn't know that before, it's certainly a lesson the last year should teach us about the next one. The peace process between Israelis and...
  • Different Strokes

    Mik Mehas still has the swagger of a ballplayer. At 59, the one-time L.A. Dodger is mostly gray, with hair braided in a pigtail. He no longer wears pinstripes, but the Stars and Stripes are emblazoned all over his shirt, and a bit of embroidery on the butt of his Ty-Cobb-style knickers reads "Bad Boy MM." He doesn't wear spikes anymore, just some grungy New Balance trainers. And he's not chewing tobacco, but his jaw is set as if he were. Everything about this grizzled old jock says hard ball--except that bat in his hands. It's a mallet, and he's swinging it back and forth between his legs, taking aim until, with devastating accuracy, he slams a ball across the field. The crowd cheers. Mehas touches his crotch for luck and gets ready to wind up for another shot.Thirty-five years after an eye injury ended his brief stint as a third baseman with the Dodgers (so brief that we can't find any reference to it on the Web), Mehas is back in the big leagues. But this ain't Dodger Stadium, or...
  • Letter From Jerusalem

    If a new war began today between Israel and the Palestinians, and many voices on both sides are saying that it did, then it remains for the moment contained.Ramallah, where two Israeli soldiers were brutally lynched this morning, and where Israel started a series of ferociously precise helicopter rocket attacks this afternoon, is about as close to Jerusalem as the Bronx is to Manhattan. It's the city--the borough--just down the road. Yet as the violence escalated in downtown Ramallah today, downtown Jerusalem was calm and went about its business. Traffic flowed and jammed and flowed as ever. Children scampered home from school with backpacks full of books, crowded buses carried people from their offices to their houses. For the moment the only sign of the impending apocalypse down the road was that radios were turned up even louder than usual, and people listened more attentively. Jerusalem is hoping the war won't come. But the city isn't confident that it won't; in the past, war...
  • A Tale Of Money, Lies And Videotape?

    Last week French President Jacques Chirac faced renewed allegations of corruption--from the grave. The daily Le Monde ran excerpts of a videotape made in 1996 by former aide Jean-Claude Mery, who died last year. On the tape, Mery details how he collected and distributed kickbacks from construction companies that won government housing contracts. In one part, he describes how in 1986 he handed 5 million francs to Chirac's chief of staff--with Chirac looking on. At the time, Chirac was not only mayor of Paris, but also prime minister.Chirac denied all the charges, denouncing the "abracadabra history" in which "a dead man is made to talk after a year, and holds forth about events from 14 years ago." He suggested the affair was concocted by his political enemies. The pro-Gaullist newspaper Le Figaro called the accusations "the first stink bombs" in the campaign for presidential elections next year.In fact, the stench from this posthumous confession taints French politicians of every...
  • The Wired Road Ahead

    The engine never made a sound like this before. A kind of a rattle. Or click. Hard to describe, really, but the noise is driving you crazy, and each morning you worry the car's going to conk out before you make it to work. So you take it to your mechanic and--he doesn't hear anything. Quite embarrassed and considerably poorer, you drive home. Next morning, there's that sound again...What to do? The answer may lie in a button soon to be on your dashboard. Press it, and a little black box in your car that's monitoring just about everything happening in the engine, the drive train, and the electrical system transmits data directly to the car company's computers and mechanics.While you drive, they figure out what's wrong. If it's serious, they tell you to pull over. If not, they say can give you an ideahow soon you need service, what needs to be done, and where, and give you directions.That's only one of the many ways your life is about to be changed through the development of what auto...
  • Big Tobacco's Next Legal War

    For cigarette salesman Leslie Thompson, 1993 was an especially good year. A star employee with Northern Brands International (NBI), a tiny, four-person export outfit owned by the tobacco giant RJR Nabisco, Thompson sold an astonishing 8 billion cigarettes that year, reaping about $60 million in profits. Walking the company's halls, Thompson received a standing ovation from executives who'd gotten hefty bonuses as a result of his work. On his wrist he flashed a Rolex, a gift from grateful wholesalers.These days, Thompson's name is no longer greeted with applause in the tobacco industry. He and other former executives are soon to be quizzed by federal prosecutors about the shady side of the cigarette business. NEWSWEEK has learned that a federal grand jury in North Carolina is investigating explosive allegations about links between major cigarette makers and global smuggling operations that move vast quantities of cigarettes across borders without paying any taxes. It's a multibillion...
  • Cbs Tries A Dutch Tv Treat

    John de Mol fires up another Marlboro Light and considers what we might call the Gladiator Paradigm. De Mol is the Dutch producer behind the quasi-reality show "Big Brother," set to debut on CBS this week. Ten strangers are locked in a house for 89 days. Every minute of their waking, sleeping, bitching, loving, nose-picking lives is recorded by 28 cameras and 60 microphones--until, one by one, they're voted off the show by the viewers. Thumbs up, let 'em live. Thumbs down, they're out of the house--the coliseum connection. You get the impression there's nothing de Mol wouldn't consider. "I am 100 percent sure that if we announce a show where we say we'll take 10 people and put them in an airplane and there are nine parachutes and one person is probably going to die and the nine who will live all get $1 million," de Mol says, stubbing out his latest cigarette, "we will get enough contestants for a daily show."Not that he's going to try it. Besides, the formula de Mol has with "Big...
  • Inside The Trade

    Judging the color of a diamond is such subtle work that experts in Antwerp do it only 20 minutes a day. After that, even under powerful lights they have trouble distinguishing the four categories of white that are whiter than "white." Then, some diamonds are yellow or blue, even black. They're studiously classified, too. Such grading and sorting has been central to the trade in the Belgian city for more than 300 years. It's only in the last few months, however, that anyone worried about what British officials call "blood diamonds." They may be any color, in fact. But they carry the invisible stain of Africa's carnage.Such stones account for about 4 percent of the 860 million diamonds polished last year. But precisely because blood diamonds cannot be distinguished from clean ones, the industry faces the task of proving its stones are not tainted. Otherwise, gem-quality diamonds could become as politically and morally unacceptable for many consumers as banned ivory and boycotted furs....