Asleep With the Enemy

At first, FBI Director Bob Mueller insisted there was nothing the bureau could have done to penetrate the 9-11 plot. That account has been modified over time--and now may change again. NEWSWEEK has learned that one of the bureau's informants had a close relationship with two of the hijackers: he was their roommate.

The connection, just discovered by congressional investigators, has stunned some top counterterrorism officials and raised new concerns about the lack of information-sharing among U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The two hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, were hardly unknown. The CIA was first alerted to them in January 2000 when the two Saudi nationals showed up at a Qaeda "summit" in Malaysia. The pair then went to San Diego, where they took flight lessons. In September 2000, the two moved into the home of a Muslim man who had befriended them at the local Islamic Center. He regularly prayed with them and even helped one open a bank account. He was also, sources tell NEWSWEEK, a "tested" undercover "asset" who had been working closely with the FBI office in San Diego on terrorism cases related to Hamas.

A senior law enforcement official told NEWSWEEK the informant never provided the bureau with the names of his two houseguests. Nor does the FBI have any reason to believe the informant was concealing their identities. But the FBI concedes that the San Diego case agent appears to have been at least aware that Saudi visitors were renting rooms in his informant's house. (On one occasion, a source says, the case agent called up the informant and was told he couldn't talk because "Khalid"--a reference to Almihdhar--was in the room.) I.C. Smith, a former top FBI counter-intellligence official, says the case agent had an obligation to keep close tabs on who his informant was fraternizing with--if only to seek out the house guests as possible informants. About six weeks after moving into the house, Aldmihdhar abruptly left town. Alhazmi moved out at the end of 2000.

A few months after the Oct. 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, CIA analysts discovered in their Malaysian file that one of the chief suspects in the Cole attack--Tawfiq bin Attash--was present at the "summit" and had been phtographed with Almihdhar and Alhazmi. It wasn't until Aug. 23, 2001, that the CIA sent a cable to U.S. border and law enforcement agencies identifying the two men as "possible" terrorists. By then, it was too late. The bureau did not realize the San Diego connection until after 9-11 when the informant heard the names of the hijackers and called his case agent. "I know those guys," the informant purportedly said referring to Almihdhar and Alhazmi. "They were my roommates."

Support for U.S. legislation creating a special investigative panel is increasing. Only then, say some members of the House Senate intelligence committee investigating 9-11, will the public learn whether more secrets are buried in the government's files.


Controlling The Kurds

The hawks in Washington say that deposing Saddam Hussein will free the region from the threat of his weapons of mass destruction. But for Turkey, regime change in Baghdad could bring more trouble than it eradicates. Ankara fears that if Saddam falls, Kurdish groups in northern Iraq will seize the opportunity to consolidate their current de facto independence from Baghdad. Even worse, a messy war could send a flood of Kurdish refugees into Turkey.

Although publicly the government opposes U.S. action against Iraq, Turkey's military is making its own contingency plans for war. On Aug. 30, Turkey's top general confirmed that Turkish troops are currently operating inside northern Iraq, ostensibly hunting down Kurdistan Workers Party rebels. Turkish advisers have also been installing electronic equipment at Bamerna airport in Kurdish-controlled Iraq, with a view to upgrading it into a military air base. Turkey has also formulated plans to move up to 12,000 troops into northern Iraq if the United States attacks, creating a 40-kilometer buffer zone to block Kurdish refugees.

Such plans have been met with consternation by Iraqi Kurds. "Ankara feels it has the right to interfere with our internal Iraqi affairs," says a spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Party, or KDP, which controls half of northern Iraq. And KDP president Masoud Barzani vows the region would "become a graveyard for Turkish soldiers if they invaded."

Growing support in the Turkish media for the rights of Iraq's 500,000-strong Turkic minority also has the Kurds on edge. The issue, fears one KDP official, could be used by Turkey as an excuse to occupy the Kurdish areas, "just like the Sudetenland Germans"--the ethnic German minority in Czechoslovakia whom Hitler used as an excuse to invade in 1938.

To make things worse, Ankara has cut back truck traffic through the Habur Gate border crossing into Turkey--which has been the main source of tax revenue for the KDP--and begun talks with Syria to open an Iraq route that would bypass Kurdish territory. Although a similar scheme was squashed last year under pressure from Washington, circumstances have changed; the White House now needs Turkish facilities to launch any operation against Baghdad. Iraq's Kurds are likely to become the sacrificial pawns in this chess game.

NEWSWEEK Special Issues In this special report, the second in NEWSWEEK's ongoing collaboration with the World Economic Forum, we peer into the future to see how the world might look a decade from now. Such prognostications can often seem fanciful. But given how much has transpired in the past 10 years--the rise of the Internet, the decoding of the human genome--it's not unreasonable to expect the changes in the next decade to be equally dramatic.

This special issue draws upon World Economic Forum expertise and projects, among them the Bridging Europe initiative, which has brought together some 1,000 men and women under 25 from 33 nations to bring the voice of youth into the debate over the future of the European Union--heretofore dominated by men over 60. The Young Arab Leaders project was designed to bring young talent from this region into the international spotlight, and two of them (Tayeb Dajani and Mustafa Abdel-Wadood) speak out in this issue on Islam in 2012. The problems we examine are precisely those that will face the World Economic Forum's Global Leaders for Tomorrow.

In October we will publish our next collaborative report, a 90-page special issue on the future of China. Klaus Schwab, the founder and president of the World Economic Forum, believes that "the synergy between the Forum and NEWSWEEK will benefit both our members and their readers." I'm sure you will agree.

--Fareed Zakaria
Editor, NEWSWEEK International


Nervous On the Nile

On Sept. 5, the Egyptian government pushed the Arab League to pass a resolution creating a relief fund for southern Sudan, controlled by Christian rebels involved in that country's 19-year civil war. Cairo's motives, though, weren't purely humanitarian. Under a peace agreement drawn up this summer in Kenya, the south has the right to separate from the Arab-Muslim north in 2009. A divided Sudan would mean one key thing for its northern neighbor: less Nile water.

Currently, a 1959 colonial-era treaty grants all Nile water to Egypt and Sudan. (Egypt gets the lion's share.) Upstream countries like Ethiopia and Kenya are allowed to tap only into the Nile's tributaries. If Sudan dissolves, so will the treaty--and a half dozen East African nations will be scrambling to draw upon the water denied to them for decades. "Any change in the formula would come at Egypt's expense," says one Western diplomat. "But what can they say: 'Another million Sudanese should die so we can have our water'?"

Luckily for Egypt, few outside southern Sudan want to see the continent's largest nation fracture along religious and racial lines: a split could have a domino effect in similarly fractious regions of Africa and would leave extremists unchecked on either side of the Sudanese front lines. Relief funds that might keep the south happy are a small price to pay to keep Egypt from going dry.


Until Death Let Us Spend

Graef Crystal, a former compensation consultant turned pay critic, thought he'd seen it all--until former General Electric chairman Jack Welch's soon-to-be ex-wife, Jane, filed court documents in their pending divorce case on Sept. 5. The papers reveal that much of the Welches' lifestyle is being paid for by GE shareholders. Among the company-provided perks: a $15 million Manhattan apartment, cell phones, satellite televisions, computers and security service at each of their six homes, a Mercedes and limousine service. "What does he do, tow the Mercedes behind the limo?" asks Crystal. "I'm surprised they didn't expense his toilet paper." In fact, they did: GE, the filing says, covers "toiletries" at the New York pad.

Welch and GE's board moved quickly to quell damage from the revelations. Both issued statements saying Welch's retirement contract has been publicly available since 1996; that's true, but details of exactly what GE was paying for are new. GE's board said it made the deal in order to keep Welch onboard to select his successor, and that his performance made it worth the price. Welch dismissed the hubbub over "a one-sided filing by one party in a contested divorce." Compensation professionals point out that it's unclear how many of these perks he's actually using, but they say the deal is definitely lavish--especially because it continues until he dies. Still, a few other A-list CEOs do almost as well, according to compensation experts. Whether publicity over Welch's deal forces directors, who are already under pressure to ask tougher questions in the wake of Enron et al., to start paying more attention to overly generous retirement deals remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, younger CEOs may draw a valuable lesson from the episode. While Jack Welch got his board to grant him nearly every benefit known to man, he forgot to ask for the one that might have saved him more money than all his other perks put together: company-paid marriage counseling.


Crayola Critic

In 1999, 17-year-old Jang Gil Su fled North Korea for China, hiding by day and begging by night, like some 150,000 to 300,000 of his compatriots. Jang, who escaped to South Korea only after he and his family had occupied the United Nations refugee agency's Beijing office in June 2001, passed those trying times by drawing, creating a crayoned picture of the miseries of his homeland--a country so isolated that his drawings are some of the few existing visual records of life there. They created a stir in South Korea, where they were published as part of a book while the family was still hiding in China, and also in Japan, where both a book and a CD-ROM version have appeared. Now they've reached an unusual venue in the United States: the U.S. Senate. Nearly 60 of Jang's drawings have been on display in the Senate's Russell Office Building for the past week. The U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, the show's organizer, hopes to take the pictures to other American cities to highlight the plight of those still living in the North.

IRAN: Catching It While They Can

GATES OF WOMEN'S PRISON ARE FINALLY OPEN! reads the black-and-white poster of a controversial new Iranian film called "Women's Prison." The same might not be said of Iran itself, where the hard-liners continue to ban any movies--including director-producer Manijeh Hekmat's tale of a budding relationship between a female warden and prisoner--that offend its strict sense of propriety. But there are signs that the ministry may be loosening up, including the fact that "Women's Prison" was finally released in mid-August. Crowds have been flocking to see the gritty flick. "This is the third time I'm seeing this," says Zahra, a 16-year-old high-school student clad from head to toe in Islamic dress. "I came to see it on the first day because I thought they might ban it again." It wouldn't have been the first time that a film's distribution license was revoked despite initial approval. Last year "Bad Boys," a film about three teenagers on the run, was banned several weeks after opening after being deemed immoral and offensive by the country's Islamic hard-liners.

To get her movie on the big screen, Hekmat did have to make some concessions. "I had to cut seven and a half minutes of the film," she says. "As a director I'm not happy with this version, but I had to do it, otherwise it would never be shown." The director ditched several scenes, including one of the warden's confiscating--and then trying on--lipstick. Still, "Women's Prison" has other controversial moments that did make the final cut: prostitution, lesbianism and drug addiction--all of which have rarely been talked about in Iranian films--feature briefly. It also looks back critically at the 1979 Islamic revolution as a time of overideological zeal and condemns the postrevolution government's policies. And for the first time in a film made since the revolution, Iranian moviegoers get to see women's hair. Well, sort of. To circumvent the obligation to wear a head scarf, actresses in "Women's Prison" put on wigs or simply shaved their heads.

Hekmat is just one of dozens of female filmmakers working in an Iranian movie industry that has won critical acclaim in recent years. "Your gender is not as important as whether you are independent," says Hekmat. "There are many women filmmakers who comfortably work within the government structure, and many men who have to struggle in order to be independent." What's more remarkable is that the hard-liners feel comfortable enough--or at the very least obliged--to allow criticism of the country's recent history. Films like "The Burnt Generation" and "The Hidden Half" have questioned the postrevolutionary extremism. The movie's approval "shows how much [Iranian authorities] have changed in the past 20 years," says Hekmat. Still, she isn't counting out another ban. And Iranians like Zahra are heading back to the box office to catch her film while they still can.