Christopher Dickey

Stories by Christopher Dickey

  • A Deadly Puzzle

    THERE ARE FOUR KNOWN eye-witnesses to all of the events leading up to the fatal crash, and three of them are dead. The fourth, bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, lies in Pitie Salpetriere Hospital with injuries so grave (his lips and tongue were torn off) that he has been unable to communicate with police. For now, that leaves French investigators with people whose accounts of the tragedy range from self-serving to unreliable. Even the ""hard'' evidence, from skid marks to the blood-alcohol level of the driver, tells an ambiguous story. But with the public crying out for an explanation--indeed, for a scapegoat--the blame game is being played for high stakes. The tabloids, stung by the public's fury over their role in the princess's death, would like to fix blame on the driver (who, blood tests indicate, was drunk) and spread the erroneous report that the car was careering along at 121 miles per hour. And the Fayed camp has unleashed its PR machine, insinuating that no driver, even cold...
  • Horror In The Night

    IN THE WEE HOURS OF SUNDAY mornings in Paris, when tourists throng the Champs-Elysees and locals fill the cafEs of the Marais and the Latin Quarter, the wide streets that run past chic apartment buildings along the Seine are nearly deserted. At this hour the Cours la Reine, a tree-lined promenade, would be a straight, fast shot away from the center of the city even in its original, early-1600s design. But in modern times city planners made it even straighter and faster: they split the road so its inner two lanes dip through tunnels to avoid the traffic lights at cross streets. If your car is fast, and your driving sure, this is the perfect route for a getaway. And a getaway is what Diana, Princess of Wales, and her friend Emad (Dodi) Fayed had clearly intended. ...
  • Unfinished Business

    YOU JUST CAN'T FIND A car more purely American than a pickup truck. I don't care where it's made. It's functional, sporty--why, hell, for a lot of Americans it's a downright spiritual thing. But Europeans, they just don't get it. In France, in a good year, maybe 2,200 pickups will be sold all over the country. In Paris they're about as rare as pecan pie. And even the American companies pushing them in Europe as ""sport utility vehicles'' don't really seem to know what they've got. A German at the General Motors plant in RUsselsheim told me, as if it was a surprise to him, ""A pickup is a car that's always not complete.'' ...
  • One Fantastic Voyage

    CAN YOU REMEMBER A TIME WHEN there were no scuba divers? When our vision of the ocean went no deeper than the keel of a glass-bottom boat? That's the way it was before Jacques-Yves Cousteau. He co-invented the Aqua-Lung. He used it to explore oceans, rivers, caves in every corner of the planet. And he took us along. For 50 years his films conveyed a wondrous excitement about nature and -what is rare - a sense of good-natured intimacy with it. The spectacle beneath the seas was wildly alien, but through Cousteau it became suddenly and marvelously accessible. By the time he died last week, at the age of 87, this former French naval officer was the environmentalist emeritus of the global village. He had changed the way we see the world and the way we live in it. ...
  • Free Lunch Has A Price

    LAST WEEK THE WORLD LEARNED something that most French have suspected for a long time: President Jacques Chirac is out of touch with his people, his nation and political reality. In April, almost on a whim, he called snap elections for Parliament, hoping to get a five-year mandate for economic austerity and European integration. Instead, he got repudiation. Six weeks ago his center-right coalition had an 80 percent majority in Parliament. When second-round ballots are counted this week, he'll be lucky if he's got any majority at all. Chirac will be president for five more years, but he could be forced into an uneasy ""cohabitation'' with a leftist government led by the Socialists. Even if it doesn't come to that, Chirac's stupendous miscalculation has severely weakened both his own authority and the prospects for a single European currency. ...
  • The Generals' Quiet Coup

    TURKEY'S GENERALS THINK THEY'VE been patient. In the past year they've stood aside as bickering civilian politicians allowed Islamic fundamentalists to take over the government. They've seen the Islamic prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, inject religion into Turkish politics. They've watched him strengthen ties with pariah states Iran, Iraq and Libya. And they've fought against Kurdish guerrillas in the southeast, even though they believe Erbakan's Iranian friends are backing the rebels. Now they've had enough. ...
  • Mission Impossible

    REMINDERS OF SADDAM HUSSEIN'S RUTHLESS efficiency in crushing those who would challenge him line the road north to Iran from the city of Sulimaniyeh. The scattered stones of demolished villages attest to the 1988 ""Anfal'' campaign, designed to move Kurds away from the border. A young woman washing dishes in a stream raises her face to a passerby and displays hideous scars left by Saddam's poison-gas attack on the village of Halabja eight years ago. Last week fresh victims straggled up the highway, none more bitter than Iraqi dissidents who once dreamed that CIA support would help them topple the tyrant in Baghdad. ""We were 350 in Erbil two weeks ago; now there are only a few of us left,'' said Samir, 35, an engineer from Basra. He had spent three days trudging barefoot to safety. ""The U.S. has done nothing. We are finished.'' ...
  • The Death Of Innocents

    SHE WAS WALKING HOME FROM THE pool at 10 p.m. when he pulled up in a white van. Belgian police aren't saying how Marc Dutroux, 40, got 14-year-old Laetitia Delhez into his car. But they say a witness jotted down the license number and that it was his undoing: a search of Dutroux's dilapidated home in Marcinelle, near the French border, turned up nothing. But after hours of interrogation, the unemployed electrician said, ""I'm going to give you two girls.'' Behind a metal armoire was the door to a basement cell where he was holding Laetitia and Sabine Dardenne, 12, who had vanished while riding her bicycle to school nearly three months earlier. Police found a trove of pornographic videos and photos, many showing Dutroux abusing young girls. The grimmest find was in the garden of another house he owned: the graves of Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, both 8. They had been snatched in June 1995, abused for eight months, then starved to death. ...
  • Target: America

    OUTSIDE THE Khobar Towers complex, Saudi Arabians in white robes and headdresses stood staring at the shattered apartment building, some of them using binoculars to take in the scene. One of the men, wearing the scraggly beard and short robe of the more radical Muslim believers, suddenly turned to Faiza Saleh Ambah, a local correspondent for NEWSWEEK, smiled at her and recited a verse from the Koran: ""Wherever ye are, death will find you out, even if ye are in towers built up strong and high.'' Without another word, he turned and walked away.The 19 Americans who died in the explosion in Dhahran, and the hundreds more who suffered injuries, were pulling tough duty to protect Saudi Arabia. The royal House of Saud needs an American shield. Its vast oil wealth has not bought security from the vengeance of Iraq's Saddam Hussein or the machinations of Iran's ayatollahs and their friends. And although they preside over one of the world's most rigidly fundamentalist states, the high-living...
  • The Arms Dealer

    PETER GALBRAITH HAS long enjoyed the limelight. As a 10-year-old boy in 1961, uprooted from home and school when his famous father, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, was appointed ambassador to India, young Peter received a letter of commiseration from President Kennedy. The letter was made public, and newspaper photographers asked Peter to pose with his little brother, Jamie. Peter promptly pushed his little brother aside. "I am the famous one, you know," he declared. ...
  • Mr. Assad's Neighborhood

    IF HAFEZ ASSAD LIVED IN A DIFFERENT neighborhood, the United States could write him off like a bad check. Who is this guy? Just another Third World potentate who picked the wrong side in the cold war, ravaged his economy with crackpot theories of socialism and pervasive corruption, built an enormous, expensive army that is 0-for-3 in every conventional war he fought, dallies with terrorists, allies with Iran, took his job by force, rules his 14 million people by fear, and after 26 years in power can think of no better successor than his son, an ophthalmologist. ...
  • The Trouble With In-Laws

    WHAT WAS HUSSEIN KAMEL THINKING? You don't betray Saddam Hussein, abscond with his daughter, feed Iraq's secrets to his enemies, then say, "Oops! Let's kiss and make up." Saddam never hesitates to kill a friend or relative who's even faintly suspect, and when Hussein Kamel, the chief of Iraq's secret weapons program, defected to Jordan last August, Saddam flatly dubbed him a "traitor." So when Kamel redefected to Iraq last week, diplomats thought it was only a matter of time before his homesickness proved fatal. Not much time, as it turned out. Three days after Saddam pardoned his wandering son-in-law, other family members stormed the residence and shot Kamel, a brother who had defected with him, another brother and their father. ...
  • Attack On The House Of Saud

    The explosion came only minutes before the midday call to prayer. The designer shops along Thirty Street, Riyadh's answer to Rodeo Drive, were preparing to close their doors, and American staffers at the Military Cooperation Program headquarters, a nondescript building just off the thoroughfare, headed as usual for the snack bar. Sharon Childer, a mail clerk from Tampa, Fla., heard the terrible sound. "It was almost as if I'd been electrocuted," she said. "I fainted, and seconds later I started hearing people screaming." The cafeteria and nearby offices were reduced to rubble and Childer found herself surrounded by dazed survivors "completely covered in dust and blood." A powerful car bomb, detonated just outside the building, had killed six, injured more than 60 and shattered the smug illusion that Saudi Arabia's capital was immune to terrorist attack. ...
  • The Woman In Black

    SHE BROKE DOWN ONLY ONCE. Catching sight of her husband's flag-draped coffin, she buried her face and was consoled by her children. But as heads of state came by to offer condolences, Leah Rabin maintained a grim dignity, an elegant stoicism. Calmly, if coldly, she accepted the hand of her husband's political enemy, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. For-those excruciating hours, she was content to let others speak for her--presidents and kings, who bore witness to Yitzhak Rabin's heroic strength, and granddaughter Noa, who evoked his little-known tenderness. ...
  • Plagues In The Making

    A virus that blinds its victims by making the eyeballs bleed. A germ that causes shrapnel wounds to develop gas gangrene, a potentially fatal condition that produces balloonlike sores on the skin. An indigenous pustular disease called camel pox, which is thought to be harmless to most Iraqis--but deadly to foreigners. Since the stunning revelation last August that Iraq had manufactured tons of biological weapons before the Persian Gulf War, new evidence has emerged of a program more extensive, and potentially more lethal, than outsiders imagined. The Iraqis turned abroad array of bacteria and viruses into tools of offensive warfare (chart). Now, hobbled by United Nations economic sanctions, Saddam Hussein's regime asserts that its germ-warfare arsenal has been destroyed. But U.N. investigators say there is no conclusive evidence to back up that claim. And some of Iraq's deadliest biological agents, such as anthrax spores, have very long shelf lives. ...
  • Enemies Like These

    Maybe Saddam Hussein is just lucky. His enemies often work harder against each other than against him. When his influential son-in-law absconded to Jordan and called for Saddam's overthrow in August, it raised hopes that a family feud might achieve what Desert Storm and a five-year boycott had failed to do, and bring the Iraqi dictator down. But faith in the errant in-law's promise has been waning ever since. And now the defection is sowing more dissent outside Iraq than in. ...
  • The Tiniest Diplomat

    Babies do have winning ways. They melt hearts and help break the ice socially. But can a baby contribute to peace in the Middle East? If the little girl in question is Zahwa Arafat, daughter of the PLO chairman, then the answer may be yes--in a very Middle Eastern sort of way. And she's not even teething yet. Actually, her work started before she was born. ...
  • His Secret Weapon

    For several days at the end of 1990 and the beginning of 1991, the world stood on the brink of the first holocaust ever caused by biological weapons. Iraq finally admitted last week that its germ-warfare program had been much bigger--and much further along--than it had previously claimed. In fact, as American-led forces prepared to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, Iraqi scientists were arming what United Nations investigator Rolf Ekeus calls the "great equalizer" in their arsenal: at least 25 missile warheads carrying about 11,000 pounds of biological agents, including powerful botulism poisons and the germs that cause anthrax. ...
  • 'A War In The Shadows'

    The explosion came at exactly 5:30 p.m., the height of the rush hour, ripping bodies apart in an underground commuter train beneath Place St-Michel, right in the heart of Paris. Shocked commuters groped their way to the surface amid clouds of smoke. Latin Quarter cafes became triage centers, and helicopters evacuated the wounded from a makeshift landing pad in front of Notre-Dame cathedral. In all, seven people died and more than 90 were wounded in the worst terrorist attack France has seen in nine years.A few hours later, many tourists were back strolling on the banks of the Seine with barely a second thought. But the French themselves were seized by what government officials described as a public "psychosis"-a return of the fear instilled by past waves of terror in 1982 and 1986. Crank calls emptied stores, Metro stations and museums: in a single incident, 8,000 people were evacuated from beneath the crystal pyramid of the Louvre. There were plenty of potential suspects in the...
  • The Ninjas Crack Down

    Montasser al-Zayyat, an Egyptian lawyer, represents members of the radical Gamaa al-Islamiya (Islamic Group), who are linked to terror attacks from Cairo to the World Trade Center in New York. In the United States, such Islamic fundamentalists get their day in a civilian court. In Egypt, says al-Zayyat, "They are being sent to death, or they are being murdered in the streets, or they are being tortured inside prisons, or harassed and followed."That marks a change. Not long ago, radical Islam in North Africa was the West's nightmare. In 1998 alone Egyptian fundamentalists bombed the interior minister's car, attacked the prime minister, attempted to gun down the information minister and all but mined the tourism industry with random attacks on cafes, tour buses and Nile cruise boats. Algeria seemed even more precarious after a discredited military clique seized power to stop the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) from taking power through elections in 1992. Soon a fierce guerrilla war was...
  • A Fence Across The Sand

    Yitzhak Rabin stumbled over a bloody piece of wood as he approached the scene of the explosion. His bodyguards steadied him. In silence the Israeli prime minister looked at the clothing and glass shards strewn around a bus stop in front of Ashmoret prison. The remains of an M-16 automatic rifle lay on the ground, torn apart by the force of the blast. beware suspect objects, said part of a sign warning against terrorist bombs. But no one had seen what two suicidal fanatics were about to do until it was too late. Palestinian workers are so prevalent in Israel. Then 20 soldiers and a civilian died, blown away by explosives the pair carried on their bodies. ...
  • The Oldest Pyramid Scheme

    Even the air feels heavy under 2.3 million blocks of granite, especially when someone turns out the lights. Then comes the chorus of humming meditative incantations in the resonant chamber, ""led'' by Aton-Re, a 3,000-year-old contempo- rary of King Tutankhamen. ""Ommmmmmmmmmmm . . . Ammmmmonnn-Ra.'' Here in the deepest room of the Great Pyramid of Cheops, 345 feet under the entrance, American mystic and ""channeler'' Kevin Ryerson, speaking in Aton-Re's oddly affable accent, guides his little flock of ""initiates'' from Washington and Hawaii and Georgia through ""experiential mythology'' and ""the ancient art of emotional healing'' that has brought them all the way to Egypt. ...
  • Kuwait: Flirting With America

    AHMAD AL-WASMY GETS MISTY-EYED on the subject of country music. "It's talking about principles, about values," he says with the hint of a Southern drawl. He went to school in Bowling Green, Ky., fell in love with the likes of Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire, and now hosts a weekly show on Kuwait's FM "Superstation." "Country music has a whole different attitude, and I hope to deliver this message." ...
  • Body Politics

    Forget people. As the International Conference on Population and Development prepared to open in Cairo on Sept. 5, the world seemed ready to drown in paper. Faxes, press kits, blasts, counterblasts, revisions and revised revisions swirled about in a dizzying storm. Only those who survived the mayhem of the Earth Summit at Rio in 1992 were prepared for this, and sometimes even they were overwhelmed: Vice President Al Gore, a star at Rio, hobbled into Cairo with a torn Achilles' tendon in a cast. ...
  • The Return of the Exile

    Yasir Arafat came back to Gaza last week -- waving through the sunroof of an armored Mercedes. "Some people don't like him," observed Fathi Shawa, a cook at the hotel where dozens of undercover police had set up a command post for the PLO chief. Arafat paused at the border crossing only long enough to shake an Israeli general's hand, kiss the ground and be hoisted on the shoulders of newly minted Palestinian police. And although many of Gaza's almost 1 million Palestinians were excited, this was not the celebration that many had imagined. The square in front of the old Palestinian parliament building, where Arafat finally spoke and pelted admirers with candy and white flowers, was only half full. The crowd was curious, skeptical. One veteran Palestinian fighter, Muhammad Dahman, recalled an old Arab proverb about "the man who fasts and fasts, and then breaks his fast with an onion." ...
  • America's Most Wanted

    America's most wanted terrorist is a lean, bearded man with a broken nose, intense eyes and two very dangerous skills: he builds enormous bombs from scratch and he makes people trust him. Nearly a year and a half ago he arranged the explosion in New York's World Trade Center that killed six people and injured more than 1,000. It was the worst terrorist atrocity ever committed in the United States. Then he got away. ...
  • Step Forward. Now Inch Back.

    HOSNI MUBARAK IS RUNNING HARD. His broad features, sometimes grinning, sometimes grimacing, are plastered all over Cairo's streets. His National Democratic Party is drumming up votes from Aswan to Alexandria, and with any luck at all this week, Egypt's president will win an unprecedented third term by a landslide. Especially since there's no one else on the ballot. Voters mark "yes" or "no" to six more years of Mubarak -and no one doubts the outcome. ...
  • 'You Didn't Hit Saddam'

    Hisham Mahir and his buddies walk, talk and joke American. Like a lot of well-to-do suburban kids in Baghdad, they've got shopping malls in their souls and Pepsi in their veins. "We watch the films," explains Ahmed Faiz, a lanky 19-year-old in orange jams and a baseball cap turned backward. The guys rattle off the names of their favorite stars: Hisham likes Michael Bolton. Hydar Dewachi votes for Tom Cruise. Ahmed talks of Julia Roberts-only to be told she just got married. He groans dramatically, his romantic fantasy down the tubes. Then the boys, laughing at Ahmed's little tragedy in the middle of their country's big one, get back to work on the pile of rubble that was once their neighbor's home. ...
  • Car Bombs: A Potent Weapon Of Fear

    A car bomb may be the most terrible weapon in a terrorist's arsenal. Its utter banality only makes it more fearsome: an everyday item, turned shockingly, randomly lethal. A car with a trunk full of explosives looks just like any other car in the parking lot. But load the average family sedan with the right charges, and the explosion can be as powerful as the ordnance dropped during Desert Storm. Load a truck with sophisticated explosives, like the yellow Mercedes truck that drove into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut 10 years ago, and the blast can be apocalyptic. Witnesses to that bombing did not report the barracks destroyed when they sent out distress calls--they said it ceased to exist, taking with it the lives of 241 American servicemen. ...
  • Should We Fear Islam?

    Just before the Mother of Battles, Saddam Hussein discovered the word of God. For more than two decades he had espoused a secular, left-wing, Arab nationalist philosophy that left a distinct impression the Supreme Being wa s named Saddam. But as war with the United States and its allies loomed in early. 1991, he had Allahu akbar (God is great) stitched between the stars of the Iraqi flag. Official rhetoric that used to lambaste enemies as "imperialists" now denounces them as "infidels." ...
  • War, Rebuilding, More War

    Baghdad glistens in the winter sun, and a thin layer of smog on the horizon even hints at industrial prosperity. Heavy traffic crosses the eight bridges over the Tigris. The trains run on time. There is electricity everywhere, and water. Bureaucrats man their desks. Republican Guards man their posts. Saddam Hussein's portraits are as ubiquitous as ever: praying, soldiering, balancing the scales of justice, even carrying mortar for reconstruction. ...