Christopher Dickey

Stories by Christopher Dickey

  • Mohamed Khatami

    It was Mohamed Khatami's smile that won the votes of Iranians, and his tears that won their hearts. He's a complicated man, this son of an ayatollah, this mullah and revolutionary intellectual who is president of Iran. When he first sought the office in 1997, his affable grin looked like a ray of light after years of the late Ayatollah Khomeini's scowling face. Young people--the vast majority of Iranians--embraced his calls for a "civil society" that accepted Islam as the foundation of government, but rejected brutality in the name of God. Khatami won by a landslide. And there was never any doubt he would be re-elected when he ran for a second term last June. Yet when Khatami announced his candidacy, he wept. Just as his smile reflected Iranians' hopes, his tears reflected their frustrations."He still regrets accepting the nomination," a close associate of Khatami's tells NEWSWEEK. "He couldn't turn people down. He was their only choice." Ironically, Iran's president may also be the...
  • Let The Games Begin

    Row upon row of terminals fill the cavernous hall. This could be NASA's mission control in Houston, or a war room buried in a mountain somewhere near Washington, D.C., so intense are the cathode-illuminated faces, so passionate the life-and-death struggles played out on the screens. The terminals, and huge video displays overhead, show a vast empire spreading around the globe. Strategic positions are staked out in outer space. Terrorists square off against counterterrorists, and video gunmen scramble through labyrinthine alleys blasting evildoers to blood-soaked cyber-smithereens. And, oh yeah, there are a lot of soccer players, too.Such was the scene at the first World Cyber Games, held at a convention center in Seoul this month. Beneath three overlapping Olympic-style rings, 400 competitors from 37 countries promised "fair play for friendship and harmony," then grabbed their keyboards and mice and started (virtually) blowing one another away.Some call this sort of thing escapism,...
  • Practical Policing

    Who's on the front line in the global war on terror? The cops. They don't have multimillion-dollar drones to zap evil-doers from miles away. They look at the terrorists eye to eye in the mean streets of Cairo, Egypt, or Jersey City, New Jersey, and most often their only weapons are pistols and night-sticks.Cops are also in the fight for the long haul. Unlike troops in distant places, they never get a chance to declare victory and walk away. And while the American public and Congress gird for bio-terror and suitcase nukes, U.S. police and security forces haven't forgotten that the hijackings of Sept. 11 were carried out with box cutters. They know that the difference between life and death in the real world of counter-terrorism may depend more on a lowly flashlight or a folding stepladder than the latest high technology. So the International State Security Show (Milipol), a major exposition of the latest hardware for the forces of order held in Paris this week, showed a cop-on-the...
  • The Saudi Game

    The call came at about 10 on the night of Sept. 12, some 36 hours after the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. On the telephone was a high-ranking CIA official (probably the director, George Tenet), and his news was all bad: American intelligence believed that possibly as many as 16 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. "I felt as if the Twin Towers had just fallen on my head," recalled Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The ebullient prince knew that Americans would immediately blame Saudi Arabia for contributing so heavily to Al Qaeda's suicide squad. Bandar has spent the past 28 years carefully--and successfully--cultivating U.S.-Saudi relations, but he could see that his hardest work lay ahead.Bandar might have had another, deeper worry, though not one he would ever confess, certainly not to a Western journalist. If so many members of the suicide squad were Saudi citizens, how many more of them might be out there, ready to...
  • New Faces In Al Qaeda Hierarchy

    The language picked up on the Spanish phone taps was cryptic and frightening. A mysterious figure, code-named Shakur, was talking to the alleged leader of Osama bin Laden's clandestine organization in Madrid. The date was August 27, 15 days before suicide hijackers attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "I've cut all my communications and I'm calmer psychologically," said Shakur. "At the moment I'm doing something, I'm giving classes," he said, and he wouldn't be back in Spain for a month or so. "In the classes, we've entered into the field of aviation and we've even slit the bird's throat."Based on this and other evidence, Spanish Prosecutor Baltasar Garzon states in a court document made public today that a terrorist cell based in Madrid was "directly related to the preparation and carrying out of the attacks" on Sept. 11. The document, which remands eight suspects to prison to await trial, also reveals intelligence about key links among Mohammed Atta's group of...
  • A Lost Cause?

    Rage turns quickly to disappointment in the Arab world. Already, the hot air that buoyed Osama bin Laden's jihad against the West has begun to chill. This week, as headlines flash news of the Taliban's retreat, the sophisticates in the cafes of Beirut and on the beaches of Dubai are assigning bin Laden's name to the dubious pantheon of leaders who've raised Arab hopes, then sent them crashing down. There's the suave nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s and '60s; fierce-eyed Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s; Saddam Hussein in 1990; and now Osama.Today's still unconfirmed reports that Mohammed Atef has been killed and that the Taliban are abandoning even their stronghold in Kandahar are seen as confirmation that the fight may soon be over. "People are too jaded, they are too tired," says a market researcher in the United Arab Emirates. "They were willing to celebrate him for a little while, and then 'Enough!' There goes another one." Even in Pakistan, the stridently anti...
  • Sleeping With The Enemy?

    Once upon a time the ogres of international terror were known to all: Libya's leader, Muammar Kaddafi, was branded the most dangerous man in the world, a lunatic who thought nothing of blowing up a Pan Am 747 out of the sky over Scotland. Syria's secret services nurtured hijackers and suicide bombers. Iran's mullahs inspired suicidal zealots to attack American embassies and blow up a barracks full of Marines. Sudan's radical Islamist leaders gave asylum to the infamous Carlos, and shelter to no less than Osama bin Laden himself.The State Department still lists all four countries as state sponsors of terror. Yet when President George W. Bush told the world after September 11, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists," leaders in Libya, Syria, Iran and Sudan may have heard a summons to repent. They're certainly not full-fledged members of what Secretary of State Colin Powell calls "this rather incredible coalition." But in ways that might have seemed unimaginable two...
  • Eying The Next Fronts

    The police joined the war before the soldiers. So did the narcs. And the spies. Afghanistan may be a new battlefield to American troops, but it is only one front in the struggle against globalized terror. The war was going on long before the suicide attacks of Sept. 11, and will endure long after the last bomb is dropped on Kandahar. What's new is the realization that so many guerrillas, terrorists and common criminals in so many different places have been drawn into the complex web of terror surrounding Osama bin Laden. And many of the cops, commandos, narcotics agents, covert operatives and common soldiers who once fought lonely battles in their own far-off lands are now being enlisted by Washington for its war on terror.Problems that once seemed parochial now matter to the rest of the world--from homegrown jihads to organized crime. When it comes to thugs and thuggery, it really is a small world after all. For example, in a recent report to NATO, Gwen McClure, an FBI agent...
  • Confronting The Mob

    In the Nasser neighborhood of the Gaza Strip, a few dozen men sit on white plastic chairs and sip bitter coffee at a wake for 13-year-old Abdullah al-Ifranji. The boy had been struck in the head by a policeman's bullet. Two days earlier, shortly after leaving his school across from the Islamic University, he walked into the middle of a violent demonstration. Handwritten condolences from Hamas, the radical Islamic group, hang on every wall of the house.Just another grim scene to come out of the Palestinian territories--or so you might think. But there is one difference. No Israelis were involved in the killing of Abdullah and two others that day. For the first time since the yearlong intifada began, Palestinian policemen shot down their own people with live ammunition. The confrontation started when Palestinians rallied in the thousands to support Osama bin Laden and denounce the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan. Yasir Arafat, fearing he would lose the sympathy of President George W. Bush...
  • 'America Has To Face Reality'

    Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, whose nervous ego matches his enormous fortune, should have known better. Before the billionaire investor (Citicorp, Disneyland Paris, Four Seasons Hotels) went to visit Ground Zero in New York City on Oct. 11, some of his friends cautioned him to keep his message simple--and sympathetic. Decked out in full Saudi regalia, he observed the devastation and handed New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani a check for $10 million to benefit the victims' families. But in a press release and subsequent interviews, bin Talal couldn't stay on message. He kept talking about an American bias toward Israel and Palestinian anger. By the end of the day, Giuliani had sent back the check. NEWSWEEK's Christopher Dickey met with bin Talal after he returned to Saudi Arabia. Excerpts:Prince Alwaleed bin Talal: No, never. Giuliani should never have politicized the matter.Look, America has to face reality if they don't want to fight terrorism for the next 100 years. You're going to...
  • 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. ...