Periscope

Calling Al Qaeda: Questions About Iran One of the most important early sources of information about the global reach of Al Qaeda was a stack of telephone bills. Between 1996 and 1998, Osama bin Laden and a handful of top lieutenants--including Egyptian sidekicks Ayman Al-Zawahiri and the late Muhammad Atef--stayed in touch with the outside world from their hideouts in Afghanistan using a Compact-M portable satellite telephone. Billing records for the phone were obtained by U.S. investigators probing the '98 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa. A country-by-country analysis of the bills provided U.S. authorities with a virtual road map to important Qaeda cells around the world.

The largest number of outgoing calls--238 out of 1,100--were to hard-wired and mobile phones in England. The recipient of most of those calls, bin Laden associate Khalid al-Fawwaz, has been in British custody for years awaiting extradition to the United States. The second largest group of outgoing calls (221) was to numbers in Yemen, according to documents obtained by NEWSWEEK. Some calls went to a Yemeni phone number that investigators now believe was used as a "switchboard" by conspirators involved in the three deadliest Qaeda attacks since '98: the embassy bombings in Africa, the bombing of the USS Cole and September 11. U.S. intelligence sources say the switchboard number was registered to Ahmad Mohammad Ali al-Hada, the patriarch of what appears to be a Yemeni terrorist clan. Intelligence sources say al-Hada fought as an Islamic guerrilla against Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan where, in 1999, he sat next to bin Laden at a banquet. One of al-Hada's sons-in-law, Khalid Almidhar, was a member of the team that crashed an American Airlines plane into the Pentagon on 9-11. Another son-in-law is among 13 men named by the Justice Department last week as members of a terror team feared to be plotting an imminent attack against American targets. Intelligence sources say two of al-Hada's sons have been killed in terrorism-related incidents: one in an explosion in Afghanistan; the other blew himself up in Yemen last week when authorities tried to arrest him.

Other countries called from bin Laden's satellite phone include Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Egypt. Nearly 10 percent of the outgoing calls went to numbers in Iran. U.S. officials had little explanation for the calls to Iran. A Bush administration official said that U.S. intelligence has believed for years that hard-line anti-American factions inside Iran helped the bin Laden organization operate an "underground railroad" smuggling terrorists to Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. U.S. intelligence is skeptical of Iranian claims of having recently cracked down on Taliban and Qaeda fighters trying to flee from American forces. Billing records show no calls from bin Laden's satellite phone to Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

North Korea: A Hard Line

If North Korean leader Kim Jong Il won't comply, Bush may try to curb missile sales by interdiction on the high seas and by working with Russia, China and other possible transit countries to stop the trade. If Kim continues to rebuff international atomic-weapons inspections, Bush will reconsider the U.S. pledge to supply the nuclear core for two light-water reactors. "One thing we won't do is try to starve them," the aide said. The White House aim is to reduce North-South tensions, integrating the North into the world economy and encouraging reforms similar to China's. "If they don't take that option, the regime won't survive," he said. "But we're not going to stand by and let them pump out counterfeit money and missiles."

BOOKS

Bombs Away

ENVIRONMENT

Ain't No Mountain Clean Enough

don't

THE OSCARS

The Word of (Bad)Mouth Campaigns

CLONING

Cat-alyze

The surprise to many observers was that the kitten did not look like a younger version of her "genetic donor," Rainbow. The older cat is a white, orange and black calico, while CC is a black and white tabby with almost no orange. Scientists can't fully explain why the genetic twins appear so different. But reproductive physiologist Mark Westhusin, who led the research team, notes that coat-color patterns aren't controlled solely by DNA. Neither is an animal's personality, meaning that an affectionate cat could give rise to an aloof feline. "Cloning is reproduction, not resurrection," says Westhusin.

It will be several years before kitty cloning is commercially viable. Still, word of the breakthrough drew criticism from the Humane Society of the United States, which noted that there are already too many cats "desperate for homes." Regardless, phones were swamped last week at the Texas gene bank that provided financial backing for the research--Genetic Savings & Clone.

Design: The Coolest Cell Phone Wins

Transition: Waylon Jennings

Jennings, a diabetic who died in his sleep last week at 64, was a country singer with a rock-and-roll heart. He played bass in Buddy Holly's road band, and would have died with him in the legendary 1959 plane crash if he hadn't given up his seat to J. P. (The Big Bopper) Richardson. His hit singles--"The Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line," "Good-Hearted Woman," "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?", "Luckenbach, Texas," "I've Always Been Crazy"--relied on thumping bass, his throaty-sounding Fender Telecaster, three chords, simple structures, and bluntly witty lyrics positing Waylon ("Waylon"?) as unrepentant hell-raiser and forthrightly footloose lady-killer. It could have been a tiresome formula. But the music always sounded irresistibly tasty, and he usually managed to have fun with his own image--"Too Dumb for New York City, Too Ugly for L.A.," as he put it in a 1992 song. Jennings was one daddy who knew how to walk the line between posturing and self-parody; somehow that outlaw bit never got out of hand. David Gates

DESIGN

The Fabric Of Our Lives

The crowd was particularly breathless over Nicolas Ghesquiere, the 30-year-old designer of Balenciaga. (It was the revitalized French label's first time showing in New York, a gesture of solidarity with the city that earned many an air kiss.) Ghesquiere, who first gained recognition with a weird little patchwork purse, didn't settle on prettiness this time either. He brought with him loopy patched tops with sagging armholes and vests that looked like the offspring of a lap dog and a throw rug. Guests like Sarah Jessica Parker, whose "Sex and the City" character has sure worn worse, were thrilled.

At the opposite end of the city and the fashion spectrum, Ralph Lauren served up beautiful, careful clothes calibrated to his brand image. Inside his Madison Avenue headquarters--it looked like a Hard Rock Cafe version of the company complete with glass cases displaying vintage Lauren outfits--he paraded designs derivative of the English country gentleman. You can't blame him for doing the same old pretty thing. Americans will always buy WASPiness, how-ever phony.

Stephen Burrows is hoping for that kind of staying power this time around. One of the first black designers to earn mainstream recognition, the '70s luminary dropped off the radar decades ago when his disco designs and lifestyle fell out of favor. "I never stopped designing," he says. "I just stopped working." Now he's back with a boutique at New York City's Henri Bendel, and stars turned out en masse to welcome him home. "When I met him, I was 19," said Iman, 46, draped in his flesh-baring neon green creation. "My body's not what it used to be. But you just have to stand straight and hope everything will stay up."

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

Special Skategate Edition

                              C.W.
Skating judges          -     They share the gold with Enron execs for
                              world-class sleaze. Axel of Evil?

Salt Lake City          +     Old: Mormon proselytizers in every chair
                              lift. New: Hip, beautiful venue. It's all good.

Rogge                   +     New Belgian IOC chief is the anti-Samaranch.
                              And he medals in damage control.

Campaign reform         +     Finally, a bill nears passage. Even with flaws,
                              it's better than legalized bribery status quo.

C. Powell               +     Talks condoms on MTV. Next: Cheney
                              talks noserings with Carson Daly?

Cloning                 +     Private firm clones a cat. CW sez: Pet
                              duplication is this technology's killer app.

Katherine Stroup and Susannah Meadows