(38 year cycle)
The present Saturn/Pluto cycle started in November 1982. It reached its outgoing square (+90 degrees) in March 1993 and its opposition in August 2001. The incoming square (+270 degrees) occurred in November 2009 and the next cycle will commence in January 2020.
What might the cycle mean ?
We have given the generic meaning of this cycle as the ‘The transformation of social, political and economic structures’. An alternative would be ‘the relationship between transformation and the Status-Quo’ but these terms are inherently opposites – what is established is always going at some point to be transformed. This cycle focuses in on ‘structures’ and the most important structures which determine human activity and survival are social, political and economic.
In the Saturn/Uranus cycle we looked at how a new intellectual mindset sweeps away the Status Quo, in the Saturn/Neptune cycle we looked at how new collective ideals get put into practice, over time becoming the Status Quo. But here we look at how the key structures that determine the Status Quo – social, political and economic institutions and organisations, national and international power centres, leaders and figureheads, constitutions, formations and frameworks – get transformed even destroyed. This is a cycle of organisational death and re-birth.
CONJUNCTION Oct 1981 to Oct 1983 (exact in November 1982)
The 1982 Saturn/Pluto Conjunction (if we confine our attention to the period October 1981 to October 1983 when the planets were within a 10 degree orb) coincides with one major structural change of huge future global significance – the repositioning of Islam into the geopolitical arena and the seeding of fundamentalist terrorism. The only other development of potential major significance – the war between Britain and Argentina over the status of the Falkland Islands – did not lead to any significant global repercussions. On top of these changes there are the assassinations of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, the President and the Prime Minister of Iran, Lebanon’s President-elect and the Prime Minister of Grenada along with the attempted assassination of President Reagan, Pope John Paul II, the Israeli ambassador in London and Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein. In addition the structure of government is overthrown in Bangladesh and Guatemala, replaced in China and Portugal and severely threatened in Poland and Assam. There are other less global developments which appear to follow this cycle – for instance the European Union begins to expand its membership and makes plans to strengthen monetary cooperation and the British Royal family’s international image gets transformed.
THE BEGINNINGS OF FUNDAMENTALIST TERRORISM
Let us first examine the period between October 1981 and October 1983 to see if we find the earliest beginnings of the rise in Islamic fundamentalism and associated terrorism exactly at this time.
SEVEN MAJOR VIOLENT DEVELOPMENTS
We can indeed find it crystallised in seven violent developments – first the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat by members of Islamic Jihad, second a bomb set off in Teheran by Khomenei supporters which kills the Iranian President and Prime Minister, third an eventually suppressed Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Syria which kills a reported 10,000 to 20,000 people, fourth the massacres by Christian militiamen in alleged alliance with Israel of some eight hundred unarmed Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, fifth the suicide bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut killing 62 and sixth the suicide bomb attack on the US Marine barracks in Lebanon which kills 241 U.S. Marines – significantly the first reported major anti-Western suicide bombing – and finally seventh by what will turn out to have unexpected significance – the emergence of the Mujahideen guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan. All exactly in these 2 years !
FUNDAMENTALIST POLITICS FAILS IN ALGERIA, SUCCEEDS IN IRAN
This unprecedented alignment of terrorist and guerrilla activity in Egypt, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan is paralleled by two simultaneous strategic developments. The first is the rise on the very edges of Europe in Algeria of a major fundamentalist political opposition seeking to electorally overturn the government and replace it with a theocracy – which fails there but happens in Iran. The concerns about theocracy in North Africa will re-surface later with the ‘Arab Spring’. The second is the restructuring of anti Israeli groups in Lebanon who go on to provide training camps and logistics for a campaign which will prove a key thorn in Israel’s side for over two decades. Hezbollah and Hamas will play a major role later. The coming together of these developments are well described by the BBC TV documentary series ‘The Power of Nightmares’ written and produced by Adam Curtis. The series traces the rise of fundamentalist terrorism finding its earliest seeding in 1949 – at the tail end of a previous Saturn Pluto conjunction.
IN 1982 FUNDAMENTALIST TERRORISM IS BEING SEEDED BUT IT WILL MAXIMISE AT THE HALF WAY POINT IN THIS CYCLE
In the seven developments we have listed we can see highlighted the key elements of the major political issue that dominates world politics today – fundamentalist terrorism – or viewed another way ‘the clash between American led economic globalisation and consumer democracy versus Al Qaeda represented religious. family and indigenous traditionalism’. Of course terrorist actions have been evident globally since the 1970s but the groups behind them had cited political rather than ideological or religious objectives. This now begins to change. In 1982 fundamentalism is in the background being seeded – the name of a file at the CIA perhaps but not a term used on television news programmes. But we shall see this issue surge ahead at the cycle out square in 1993 and get multiplied and amplified across the world after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre which occurs precisely within six weeks of the exact date when this Saturn/Pluto cycle reaches its maximising opposition angle.
WHAT GAVE RISE TO IT ?
So what gave rise to fundamentalism? What feeds fundamentalist movements is the deep resentment felt by many Muslims against Western economic, political and cultural domination – a resentment against its modernism (the idealisation of what is new) and secularism (religion seen as a purely individual activity if at all) – both are perceived as direct threats to Muslim identity and self-esteem. Fundamentalist movements share a common hostility to the way in which these influences corrupt traditional Islamic societies. Modernism and secularism are viewed as a continuation of colonialism and imperialism by other means. As David Zeidan puts it “the primary goal [of fundamentalism] is to purify Islamic societies from corruption by the perceived endemic Western evils of secularism, atheism, alcohol, drugs, sexual permissiveness, and family breakdown”. In a wider sense the aims of fundamentalist terrorism are to protect Islamic countries from the perceived threat of US based globalization and the inexorable spread of consumerist secular culture – the gradual ‘McDonaldisation’ and ‘Hollywoodisation’ of their world.
GOALS INCLUDE ESTABLISHMENT OF ISLAMIC GOVERNMENTS
Further goals include the establishment of new Islamically oriented governments which will apply Islamic law (Shari’a) and ‘ultimately, the formation of a bloc of states so constituted that they will be able to change the rules of international relations and trade and thus alter the current balance of economic and political power world-wide. The oil resourcing power of Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil producing countries, first evident with the OPEC oil embargo in 1973, is seen as inadequate. Fundamentalism may manifest in violent and apparently irrational ways but these are its articulated quite rational goals.
THE WEST SEES SOME ISLAMIC JUDICIAL PRACTICES AS BARBARIC
On the other side seen from the perspective of the West’s values some of the religious and judicial customs of the Islamic world are regarded as barbaric – the stoning to death of those taken in adultery and the amputation of a limb in cases of theft – or as retrograde – the prevention of women’s education or the very severe punishment of blasphemy. More extreme Western critics may argue that fundamentalism is essentially the product of the painful struggles of pre-modern, pre-advanced industrial countries as they are ‘dragged howling and protesting’ into the 21st century – a world that must inexorably replace older societies based on religion and tribal values. But is this right ?
WHAT OF THE PAINFULLY OBVIOUS SICKNESS OF WESTERN SOCIETY ?
For unfortunately this analysis fails to take account of the painfully obvious sickness in Western consumerist society. The level of crime and deviance is matched by the increasing absence of any sustaining belief system or universal moral authority. Not only has the dramatic rise in standards of living and disposable income not been shown to have led to increased individual happiness or societal cohesion, but despite all the advances in scientific and medical knowledge, all manner of new ills assail individuals and communities in the West – new illnesses, new neuroses, new anxieties pervade a commoditised world where an endless array of new products are marketed, many manifestly failing to answer true individual and societal needs and where every value is at risk of being debased to a commodity. No wonder less developed societies can feel resistance at being dragged into this wonderful new world.
SUCCESS FACTORS ENCOURAGING NEW-FOUND SENSE OF MUSLIM PRIDE AND IDENTITY
A number of developments have led up to the spread of fundamentalism at this point in time including the Arab defeat in the 1967 six day war against Israel, the secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, the Lebanese civil war which broke out in 1975, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. All these events were challenges which ended by making Islamic consciousness stronger and more united. Other events were not drawbacks but successes such as Arab military gains in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the world-wide impact of the Arab oil embargo, the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Mujahideen resistance against the Russians resulting in the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the establishment of the Islamic regime in Sudan in the same year, the successes of the Islamic political party, the FIS, at the polls in Algeria in 1991, as well as the successful resistance to the Russians in Chechnya in the early 1990s – these all contributed to a new-found sense of pride and power and Muslim cultural identity. Furthermore the fact that most Muslim states (Egypt, Algeria, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan, Malaysia) have reintroduced shari’a principles into their constitutions is seen as a significant achievement. Iran is seen as the benchmark for Islamicisation as it is the first modern state where Islamic fundamentalism has succeeded in taking over power and in implementing its authentic Islamic vision with a new Islamic constitution and a new economic system in line with Islamic principles.
ITS GEOGRAPHICAL SPREAD
Islamic fundamentalism has become a key issue in each of the following countries where there was a crisis in 2005 : Afghanistan, Algeria, Chechnya, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Ivory Coast, Kashmir, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Uganda. More crucially it has become the key international issue for the USA and among the major EU powers in the wake of the September 11th attacks in New York and Washington, the Allied invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the March 2004 and July 2005 terrorist attacks in Madrid and London.
FIGHT AGAINST GLOBALISATION AND CULTURAL EROSION
In the majority of these 12 countries fundamentalists are active on domestic rather than international issues, issues to do with a demand for a more tribal or religious government or a demand for separation or independence – Afghanistan and Chechnya are respectively good examples. Nevertheless a common potential objective is the exclusion of Western (or in the case of Chechnya, Russian) political, economic and cultural colonisation and the preservation of traditional ethnic, religious and cultural standards. Globally the issue is positioned strategically somewhere between a fight against US led economic and consumer globalisation and a defence against the cultural erosion of ethnic or religious culture and standards.
THE WEST SILENT ABOUT ILLS IN ITS OWN BACKYARD
The West defends its economic and cultural liberalism citing freedom of expression and sees globalisation in time raising everyone’s standard of living and democracy bringing social justice and opportunity everywhere. But the West is silent about its own backyard, about the many ills that dominate wealthy democratic societies – ills that in many cases have been laid at the door of a materialist and an a-religious society – crime, alcoholism, drugs, prostitution and the collapse of the family – ills which traditional societies have proved more successful – if ruthless – at controlling and ills which since colonial days have been shown, in key cases like the Philippines, to be the well documented side effects of ‘Western’ modernisation. Fundamentalism opposes the West’s vision and substitutes its own. And its potential scope is extensive and powerful for Muslim influence predominates in countries with much of the world’s population especially developing countries with a rapidly growing population but also countries in the Middle East which like Saudi Arabia and Iraq control two thirds of the world’s crucial oil reserves.
MUSLIMS THE MAJORITY IN 4 MOST POPULOUS COUNTRIES
Muslims form the majority in four of the countries with the largest populations in the world (those with over 100 million citizens) – Indonesia 225m (where they are 88%) , Pakistan 141m (97%), Bangladesh 129m (88%) and Nigeria 123m (51%). In addition they make up over 10% of India’s 1 billion population. They also constitute an important proportion of the population of 60 other countries in the world, with sizeable numbers (between 25 and 65 million) in the following countries – India, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. (Even in France, Germany and the UK they account for between 2.5% and 7% of the population.)
FUNDAMENTALIST ATTACKS NOT JUST AGAINST THE WEST
In these and other countries American, and to a similar extent European, interests are now opposed or threatened by fundamentalist activists, though the fundamentalist attack is also against Arab governments allied to the West such as Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. In some countries like Algeria the opposition is to secular government ever since Iran (and for a time Afghanistan) replaced their ostensibly democratic governments with a theocratic government partly or wholly led by Islamic theological leaders. Other countries function as a base for activists with governments such as Iran, and until recently Libya and Syria accused of themselves arming and financing terrorist actions.
TOP CONCERN IS WAVE OF SUICIDE BOMBINGS TARGETING CIVILIANS
But at the top of the list of concerns is the wave of concerted, and in many cases unpredictable, bombing campaigns, increasingly suicide based, firstly against Israel, America and Western citizens across the world from Bali to Baghdad, from Istanbul to Madrid and from London to New York; but secondly, and numerically (leaving aside 9/11) far more significant, between Sunni and Shia or between Muslim and Hindu or Buddhist or other regionally minority races. The bombings by Sunni against Shia are accentuated by Al-Qaeda being a largely Sunni group. The roots of these waves of fundamentalist terrorism lie in the 1981 to 1983 period when activists decide on a religious rather than simply a political justification and objective for their violent campaigns, though in some cases the roots lie centuries deeper.
ISLAMIC THEOLOGICAL JUSTIFICATION FOR VIOLENT ACTS
We can see this threshold highlighted at the assassination of President Sadat in 1981 at the cycle conjunction, in the 54-page document titled “The Neglected Duty” left behind by the Muslim extremists, members of Islamic Jihad, who assassinate the Egyptian president. The document provides for the first time an elaborate Islamic theological justification for such a violent act. It was also earlier that year that leading fundamentalists had met in Paris and put out an Islamic Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which excluded all freedoms that contradict the Islamic principle of shari’a. The probable direct cause of Sadat’s assassination was the crackdown he had ordered on Islamic groups in Egypt and the enduring anger over the peace treaty he had signed with Israel. But thereafter the issues would fuse. By the time of this cycle’s opposition stage in 2002/3 all Islamic militant groups would use such a theological justification for the violent acts they carry out and nearly all would cite Palestine as a key cause.
THE VIOLENCE MAY BE EXPECTED TO PEAK AT THE CYCLE OPPOSITION
This cycle’s stages should correlate with the seeding of fundamentalist terrorism, with a challenge it encounters that spurs it on, with a maximisation of its impact and with a terminal stage that restructures it or redirects it. We shall be examining the changing nature of terrorism qualitatively – as we have just done for the conjunction period. But at the end of this particular cycle we shall also be examining whether the four stages of the cycle synchronise with any surge in the number of deaths from terrorism – which is the main way analysts tend to assess the status of terrorism. These numbers, as we shall see, do not peak at the cycle opposition (despite the 9/11 fatalities being by far the largest single incident) then decline but around each of the 4 stages of the cycle they do show a definite and apparently increasing upward surge.
INCREASING CALLS FOR AN ISLAMIC REPUBLIC
This cycle’s correlation with fundamentalist developments in Algeria is strong. In the wake of Iran proclaiming itself an Islamic republic in 1979 strong pressure arises in Algeria to follow Iran’s example. From that year on large numbers of young people begin to congregate at mosques where imams outside the control of the government preach in favour of a more egalitarian society. In a pattern of escalating violence during the early 1980s, religious extremists become increasingly active in the country, attacking women in Western-style dress, questioning the legitimacy of the ‘Marxist’ Algerian government, and calling for an Islamic republic that would use the Quran as its constitution.
AUTHORITIES ROUND UP & PROSECUTE ISLAMIST ACTIVISTS
After a brutal confrontation between Marxist and Islamist demonstrators at the University of Algiers in November 1982 [Exact cycle conjunction November 1982], the authorities round up and prosecute for subversion students, imams, and intellectuals linked with the Algerian Islamic movement. For Algeria, a country whose colonial past ties it far closer to Europe than any other North African state, this is merely the beginning not just of the very bloody fundamentalist conflict that is to come but also of the role radical Algerians will have in spreading fundamentalist terrorism throughout the world.
PLO’S EXIT FROM LEBANON LEADS TO FORMATION OF HEZBOLLAH
This cycle also appears to correlate with the restructuring of militant and fundamentalist anti-Israeli groups as well as the development of nearby mobile logistical bases and training camps for fundamentalist terrorists. This structural alteration in the pro Palestinian activist line up against Israel takes place when in 1982 Israel invades Lebanon in order to drive out Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which has been using the country as a base for anti-Israeli operations. In September 1982 the PLO leaves Lebanon and in May 1983, under the terms of a US mediated peace agreement, Israeli forces also leave, though maintaining control over a 12-mile-wide ‘security zone’ in southern Lebanon near the Israeli border. But the exit of the PLO from Lebanon leads to the formation with Iranian assistance of Hezbollah, a far more militant Islamic group.
UNSTRUCTURED TERRORIST GROUPS GET MILITARY SUPPLY & TRAINING
Hezbollah not only continues to attack military posts in southern Lebanon and northern Israel but also for the first time uses the area for military supply and training. This provides a new level of professional militarism to otherwise unstructured terrorist groups and this increased threat goes on to demand the attention of Israeli forces for another 22 years.
US GIVES MUJAHIDEEN ARMS LATER TO BE USED AGAINST US FORCES
We have mentioned the emergence of the Mujahideen guerrilla fighters in Russian occupied Afghanistan. The Russians had moved into the country to support a Communist government. During 1981 the Afghan Army which numbered 100,000 strong drops to 30,000 due to defection to the Mujahideen. Starting in 1981 the United States’ CIA carries out massive covert operations within Afghanistan and starting in 1982 tens of thousands of Muslim fighters from dozens of countries arrive to support the fight against the Russians. With stunning irony the US helps finance the arming of these guerrilla fighters unaware that after their success in driving out the Russians, these arms and training will later be put to use against the Americans themselves.
ISRAELI FIGHTERS BOMB IRAQI NUCLEAR PLANT
Developments in Iraq may correlate strongly with later stages in the cycle, but are not meaningfully strong at the Conjunction. There are only two internationally reported events in the 1981-1983 period in Iraq which hint at major on-going significance. The first is the June 1981 destruction by Israeli fighter bombers of an Iraqi nuclear power plant, which Israel alleges could be used to make weapons of mass destruction. The second is the creation of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) a body designed to increase control over Iraqi opposition groups belonging to the same Shiite faith as most Iranians. In February 1983 and early 1984 Iraq is invaded by Iran which results in US and British warships being sent to the Persian Gulf.
OUT SQUARE March 1992 to April 1994 (exact in March & Oct 1993 and Jan 1994)
Can we find in the relevant events of 1993 and early 1994 serious challenges or setbacks for fundamentalist terrorism followed later by significant advances? The exact outgoing square is in late March and early October 1993 and the start of January 1994. Allowing an orb of approximately 10 degrees between the planets we shall look in detail at the period March 1992 through to April 1994.
WORLD TRADE CENTER GARAGE ATTACKED KILLING 6
Perhaps the most remarkable correlation with this cycle square is the bombing of the parking garage of the 187 storey New York World Trade Center (WTC) by Islamic terrorists on 26th February 1993. [1st exact Out square date 20 March 1993] The bombers fail in their principal objective though they kill 6 and injure over 1,000 people. Four Islamic extremists are later convicted and each sentenced to 240 years in prison. What is remarkable is that it is precisely at this cycle’s opposition in September 2001 that the same WTC’s twin towers are totally destroyed by airplanes hijacked by Islamic terrorists. Nearly 3,000 persons will be killed in this later incident, which leads to a transformation of international politics. The failed fundamentalist terrorist attempt at the Out square will turn into a horrific maximisation, a horrific terrorist success at the cycle opposition.
OSAMA BIN LADEN STRIPPED OF SAUDI CITIZENSHIP
Another related and highly significant correlation is that early in 1994 in Saudi Arabia Osama Bin Laden, the scion of a wealthy Saudi family, is stripped of his Saudi citizenship because of his activities financing a host of hard-line fundamentalist groups from Egypt to Algeria. A setback perhaps but one that encourages him to look more closely at the focus and scope of his operations. At the cycle opposition in September 2001 a team from his al Qaeda terrorist network carries out the suicide airplane bombings of the WTC and the Pentagon, the most notorious terrorist incident of modern times, perhaps the most spectacular in all history.
NUMBER OF AL QAEDA TERRORIST ACTS CLIMBS RAPIDLY
But in both developments at the cycle Out square, Islamic fundamentalism can be seen as failing to achieve its objectives or encountering challenges, However these challenges appear to act as a spur to advance the scale of the movement’s objectives and activities. In fact the number of Al Qaeda related terrorist acts climbs rapidly during the 1992 to 1994 period. In December 1992 in the first attack attributed to associates of Osama Bin Laden a hotel is bombed in Aden, Yemen, killing two people. During 1993, the year of the bombing of the WTC garage in New York, while Bin Laden begins constructing terrorist training camps in Sudan, Al Qaeda is reported as beginning its search for nuclear weapons and materials. On 3rd and 4th October 1993 [2nd Exact cycle out square 9th October 1993] Al Qaeda sponsors the ambush of UN troops in Somalia, killing 18 US servicemen – leading to the complete withdrawal of US forces ! Hence despite or as a result of challenges the movement ends this period in a stronger and more threatening position. Al Qaeda now becomes an important target for Western intelligence agencies though. as we now know, until September 2001 they seriously underestimate the level of threat it poses.
AL QAEDA’S TRAINING CAMPS IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN
By the time of the opposition in 2002/3 Al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan and the remote mountains of neighbouring Pakistan will have invited US armed attack and the scope of the Al Qaeda logistics involved in the 9/11 attacks will have stunned the world. It is interesting that the word Al Qaeda actually means ‘the base’ – significant not only because it is terrorist training bases that underlay the spread of al-Qaeda but because base is a ‘structural’ (Saturn) word !
THIS TERRORISM ENSURES POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS REVIEW THEIR POLICIES
It is important to underline that this cycle is not simply associated with the development of Islamic fundamentalism and associated terrorist activity ? It is just that this is the most serious manifestation of something generically related and far wider – the production of a revised world political structure. The ending of fundamentalist terrorism will not stem from a military solution. Perhaps that is a sentence which deserves to be continually repeated ! As is intended, this kind of terrorism ensures that the key political institutions in the world are consciously or unconsciously forced to review and re-assess their actions. Fundamentalism thus directly or indirectly is likely to play an important role in changing the socioeconomic structure and objectives of Western capitalism or at least globalisation. Conversely at the same time fundamentalist practice and objectives are likely to have had to make some significant adaptation not so much to the West but to the requirements of the 21st Century and especially to much needed internal peaceful relations between its sects. By the time of the next conjunction in 2020 the present balance of international power is likely to have been significantly restructured.
ALGERIAN ARMY CANCELS ISLAMIC ELECTION WIN
In Algeria in 1992 Islamic fundamentalism encounters a crucial challenge. The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) is prevented by the military from democratically taking over power from the secular-socialist FLN regime. The cancellation of the elections which had been running strongly in favour of the FIS along with the prohibition of Islamic parties leads perhaps inevitably and directly to a long running civil war between Algerian fundamentalist guerrillas and the Algerian army, an extremely bloody war which by 1995 has claimed nearly 40,000 lives. The atrocities make it literally the most blood-soaked war at the time – though the pervasive and extreme drug gang crime in Mexico has now surpassed it in gory horror ! In February 1992 the Algerian government imposes a state of emergency which goes some way towards quelling the spreading fundamentalist unrest. But in June 1992 President Mohammed Boudiaf is assassinated by a bodyguard with Islamist links. Then during 1993 the emergence of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) helps the rebellion flare up again in November and December. In 1994 the fundamentalist campaign becomes more violent and more wide-ranging.
SOME OF THE MOST BRUTAL TERRORIST ACTS IN THE WORLD
The conflict in Algeria, which is to cause over the next 10 years around 150,000 deaths, is widely acknowledged to have taken off in early 1992, with the decision of the army to suspend elections. Though the suspension of elections constitutes a real setback to fundamentalism the movement goes underground, it survives, expands and strengthens with parts of it carrying out some of the most brutal acts of violence in the world. The failed attempt by Islamic fundamentalists to come to power democratically will prove of signal importance to fundamentalism gaining supporters since many Islamists are now able to say to themselves that democracy simply ignores the results of elections if they clash with established political and economic interests. The democratic process is seen as a waste of time and frustrated, many turn to more radical, more violent approaches. This experience is echoed in other elections in other Muslim countries such as Indonesia and will famously be later echoed in Egypt.
IN OSLO PLO AND ISRAEL AGREE TO RECOGNISE EACH OTHER
In 1992 – 1994 a new peaceful solution challenges Palestinian militancy. This period sees an important peace agreement signed between Palestine and Israel in Washington together with the first plans for a Palestinian state. In August 1993 Israel’s Cabinet approves a framework for Palestinian autonomy in the occupied territories. In September 1993 PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) leaders and Israel agree to recognize each other, clearing the way for the signing of the Oslo accord. The Oslo accord allows thousands of PLO guerrillas to return to Palestine without Israeli interference.
AT WHITE HOUSE PLO’S ARAFAT AND ISRAELI PM RABIN SIGN ACCORD
On September 13th 1993 [Exact cycle out square 9th October 1993] in a historic scene at the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat shake hands after signing an accord granting limited Palestinian autonomy, an agreement shortly afterwards ratified by the Israeli parliament and later by the Palestine Central Council. In October 1993 Rabin and Arafat hold their first official meeting in Cairo, Egypt to begin work on realizing the terms of the Israeli-PLO accord. It is interesting to note that the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs regards the September 1993 Declaration of Principles as the major threshold in the history of Terrorism before the Intifada of September 2000. In February 1994 the PLO leader initials an agreement on security measures with the Israeli Foreign Minister. This sequence of developments seriously challenges the fundamentalist objectives of overthrowing Israel. However away from the negotiating tables the battle between Israeli forces and pro Palestinian guerrillas is destined to reverse many of the apparent gains in the peace process.
AS ISRAEL ATTACKS MILITANT GROUP LEADERS, HAMAS STRIKES BACK
In February 1992 Israeli helicopters attack a convoy in Sidon, Lebanon, killing Sheik Abbas Musawi, leader of the Hezbollah group. In September 1992 Ahmed Qatamesh, the suspected leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is jailed and held without trial for over five years. As part of a response in December 1992 an Israeli border guard is kidnapped near Tel Aviv and later killed by the Hamas fundamentalist organization. This slaying prompts Israel to order the deportation of 418 suspected Muslim fundamentalists from the occupied territories, a move unanimously denounced by the UN Security Council. The Islamic fundamentalists deported by Israel are confined to a makeshift refugee camp in Lebanon. In January 1993 the Israeli Supreme Court upholds the deportation order. In March 1993 Israeli authorities bar West Bank Palestinians from entering Israel after two traffic police officers are shot to death.
ISRAEL STRIKES AT LEBANON TO ERADICATE HEZBOLLAH
In July 1993 Israel launches its heaviest artillery and air assault on Lebanon since 1982 in an attempt to eradicate Hezbollah and Palestinian guerrilla threats. Israeli guns and aircraft pound southern Lebanon. The fighting ends on July 31 with a US-brokered cease-fire. Israel and Hezbollah then agree not to attack civilian targets, but the cease-fire is short lived. In November 1993 violence breaks out in the Gaza Strip after Israeli undercover soldiers kill the head of the military wing of Hamas. In December a Palestinian boards an Israeli bus and opens fire with an assault rifle in the first major attack in Israel since the signing of the peace pact.
JEWISH SETTLER KILLS 29 PALESTINIANS, HAMAS FIRST SUICIDE BOMB
In February 1994 a response comes from the other side when Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein opens fire on Palestinians praying in a West Bank mosque and kills 29 people ! In March 1994 the Israeli Cabinet is forced to outlaw two Jewish extremist groups, branding them terrorist organizations. In early April 1994 a car rigged with explosives detonates next to a bus in Afula, Israel – 8 Israelis are killed and 45 wounded in Hamas’s first car bombing. Under this escalation from military to civilian targets a peaceful resolution of the issue falters and then fades. It is important in this chapter’s analysis to note that the first ever suicide bombing in Israel is carried out on April 13th 1994 when this cycle outgoing square is within 10 degrees. We shall later see how the full surge of Palestinian suicide bombings takes place precisely during the cycle opposition.
MUJAHIDEEN FORM ISLAMIC STATE OF AFGHANISTAN
On 15 April 1992, shortly after the Out square comes into orb, the Mujahideen overthrow the Afghan Communist government in Kabul led by President Najibullah. A rebel leader Rabbani becomes President, but factional fighting develops amplified by Iranian, Saudi and Pakistani interference. Nevertheless the Mujahideen succeed in forming the Islamic State of Afghanistan with an Islamic Jihad Council. All of the different parties are ostensibly unified under this government. However Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami refuses to recognize the government and launches attacks against government forces in Kabul. Fighting escalates in the capital leaving much of Kabul reduced to rubble.
MOHAMMED OMAR ASSEMBLES WELL ARMED AND TRAINED TALIBAN IN KANDAHAR
In April 1994 Mohammed Omar, a former guerrilla commander against Soviet forces, gathers a group of former guerrillas in the village of Singesar and is soon leading ‘the Taliban’ as Amir-ul-Momineen (Commander of the Faithful). The Taliban fighters are well armed with 800 truckloads of arms and ammunition garnered from a Soviet cache. They are well trained by the Frontier Constabulary, a paramilitary force of Pakistan’s Interior Ministry (ISI) – indeed from 1995 to 2001, the ISI is widely alleged to have supported the Taliban. With these advantages the Taliban capture the southern town of Kandahar and continue to gain territory before eventually taking over the government of the country
PRESIDENT CLINTON DISPATCHES CARRIER GROUP TO PREVENT KUWAIT INVASION
In this period in Iraq, US and allied warplanes attack Saddam Hussein’s missile sites, nuclear facilities and military complexes and on one occasion US warships fire 24 cruise missiles at Baghdad in retaliation for what the US calls a plot to assassinate former President Bush. Crucially in July 1993 a UN nuclear inspection team leaves Iraq after trying for more than a month to persuade the Baghdad government to allow surveillance cameras at two former missile test sites. In October US President Clinton dispatches a carrier group, 54,000 troops and several hundred warplanes to the Gulf area after Iraqi troops are spotted moving south toward Kuwait – this time the Iraqis pull back. Apart from the reference to Kuwait these events may sound curiously familiar – for the very same issues explode in a far more dramatic way at the cycle opposition in 2002-2003. However this correlation is not a central one.
ENLARGEMENT OF EUROPEAN UNION
Other structural developments in the 1992-94 period which appear to fit the Saturn/Pluto cycle are first the enlargement of the European Union to include Austria, Finland and Sweden while applications to join are received by Poland and Hungary. Secondly there are major split-ups in the British Royal family with the separation of the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of York along with the divorce and remarriage of Princess Anne. As has been pointed out these are good examples of cyclical developments which are important in their own sphere but which lack global significance.
OPPOSITION Aug 2000 to May 2003 (exact in Aug & Nov 2001 and May 2002)
In what way do global developments in late 2001 and 2002 show the issues we have charted from the Conjunction in 1982 through the out square in 1993 reaching a stage of maximum fruition but where internal contradictions start to appear? Allowing an orb of 10 degrees between the planets we shall look in detail at the period 13 August 2000 through to 26 May 2003 – strictly speaking excluding mid August to end November 2002 when the orb widens slightly beyond this limit.
9/11 – HIJACKED PLANES ATTACK WTC AND PENTAGON KILLING 3,000
The major manifestation of this cycle at the conjunction and square had been the growth of Islamic fundamentalism and associated terrorism. It hardly needs pointing out that the largest act of terrorism in the world, at least in modern times, takes place on September 11th 2001 when this planetary cycle opposition is only two degrees apart and midway between the two dates of exact opposition: 5th August and November 2nd. This event , which will surely figure among the most seismic events in modern history, sees airplanes hijacked by fundamentalist terrorists destroy the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and inflict major damage on the headquarters of the Pentagon. Nearly 3,000 people are killed by Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda operation and the event transforms US international attitudes and policy and impacts virtually all governments. As has been pointed out the same World Trade Center was bombed by Islamic terrorists at this cycle’s Out square in February 1993 when the planetary square was only three degrees apart.
NON MILITARY USE OF BIOCHEMICAL WEAPONS
LETTERS CONTAINING DEADLY ANTHRAX POSTED TO US GOVERNMENT OFFICES
What must also be noticed is that in this period occurs the first suspected widespread incidence of the non military use of biochemical ‘weapons’ in the West. Between 10th October and 13 December 2001 letters containing deadly anthrax spores are posted to US government offices and embassies, the resultant panic and chaos actually peaking around the second exact cycle opposition date – November 2nd 2001. By this time the FBI had decided the perpetrator was not a fundamentalist terrorist group but a lone US national. Although fundamentalist groups were not to blame, because the incidents so closely follow the 9/11 attack and seem so new and unpredictable in nature the reaction is a reaction to fundamentalist terrorism.
MASSIVE FEAR AND COSTLY DISRUPTION FROM ONLY 17 INFECTIONS
The massive fear and disruption which only 17 confirmed anthrax infections leading to 5 deaths could cause demonstrates dramatically what incredible damage a biochemical terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 would inflict. With 9/11 two huge towers iconising the US and the West’s economic power were transformed into rubble. In the case of the anthrax scare over 13,000 postal workers and many thousands of other people required treatment by antibiotics while the US postal service was obliged to spend $40m on electron-beam devices to sanitise letters and packages while mailrooms in 240 US embassies and US consulates worldwide had to be decontaminated. Across the USA (and many countries in the world) anthrax scares actually caused more widespread panic than did the World Trade Center attack !
MEDIA COVERAGE AMPLIFIES – “ANTHRAX TERROR GRIPS BRITAIN”
Let us see how the scare spreads. On 15th October while anthrax letters are sent to a US senator and an NBC News presenter the anthrax scare spreads to Australia, Canada, Argentina, Taiwan along with in Europe – France, Germany, Switzerland and Lithuania, as well as false alarms and some hoaxes in other countries. On 16th October the scare extends to Finland, Luxembourg, Norway and Northern Ireland leading to the UK government hastening to stockpile antibiotics. Media coverage fuels people’s fears – for instance British newspapers print headlines like ‘Anthrax Terror grips Britain’ and ‘Britain on red alert for anthrax horror’ as postal chaos develops. On the 17th October the FBI conclude the anthrax sample sent to the senator was a very potent form indeed.
“OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM ISN’T ANTHRAX, IT IS FEAR !’
At this point though around 16 people have been infected only three have died. The Director of Homeland Security states “Our biggest problem isn’t anthrax, our biggest problem is fear.” [2nd exact cycle opposition 2nd November] By November 11th following a fifth and final anthrax death, anthrax spores are discovered in the offices of three more US senators and cases of anthrax are confirmed in Pakistan, Germany and Lithuania. However at the same time the FBI indicates it now believes the outbreak originated in the US rather than abroad, and may be the work of a single person. Moreover after November 11th 2001 no fresh cases of confirmed anthrax exposure occur again. It is not until January 2003 that the next suspected biochemical attack is discovered – when British anti-terrorist police find small quantities of ricin, a lethal poison in a London apartment. This time fundamentalists are implicated and arrested.
IN KENYA FIRST MAJOR AL-QAEDA ATTACKS SINCE 9/11
We return to actual rather than suspected al-Qaeda incidents. While after May 2002 the Saturn/Pluto opposition does not prove exact again, between December 2002 and June 2003 it does come back into a 10 degree orb. On November 28th 2002 in Kenya three suicide bombers attack an Israeli-owned hotel, killing 13 people. On the same day, still in Kenya, at least two missiles are fired at, but miss, an Israeli airliner taking off from Mombasa airport. On December 2nd a statement attributed to al-Qaeda claims responsibility for both incidents – the first major al-Qaeda incidents since September 11th 2001. During December in Iraq and Yemen security forces battle with suspected al-Qaeda groups and in late January 2003 in Spain and Italy police arrest nearly 50 suspected al-Qaeda terrorists
It is worth noting that between 6th February and March 24th 2003 the Saturn/Pluto opposition comes back within a three degree orb – the degree of proximity that correlated so closely with the 1993 garage bombing of the WTC and the September 2001 destruction of the WTC. Could this suggest a major eruption of the forces involved in the previous two events would occur between these dates ? But what event or events could this be ?
Certainly there is a flurry of Al-Qaeda related developments during this time. For instance on February 7th the US moves its terror alert status to Orange, the second highest level. The government announces it has received intelligence information that Osama bin Laden’s terror organization would attack Americans at home or abroad during the annual February hajj pilgrimage to the holy Saudi city of Mecca. On March 1st a joint raid outside Islamabad by CIA and Pakistani agents leads to the arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11th terror attacks. But none of these developments can be described as truly major events.
THE NEXT MAJOR EVENT IS THE US INVASION AND WHAT IT TRIGGERS
Then on March 20th 2003 comes the major event – a development that almost as much as September 11th is destined to transform the structure of international politics and as it turns out to re-centre al-Qaeda’s war against the US. The United States invades Iraq – opening a short but aggressive ground war. US Secretary of State Rumsfeld warns that the attack in Iraq would be “of a force and scope and scale that is beyond what has been seen before.” – the ‘shock and awe’ strategy. Between March 20th and April 9th at least 1,700 Iraqi civilians are killed and over 8,000 injured in the battle for Baghdad. Then on the 22nd day of ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ US commanders declare Saddam Hussein’s rule over Baghdad over and jubilant crowds there swarm into the streets dancing, looting, cheering and bringing down images of the Iraqi leader
WHO COULD HAVE FORESEEN THE LONG LASTING CARNAGE AND HORROR THAT WOULD FOLLOW ?
The opposition is supposed to suggest the maximisation or coming to fruition of whatever is being indicated in the cycle – here fundamentalist terrorism. At first sight the US invasion of Iraq does not seem to tally at all with this. The arguments for the invasion had nothing explicitly to do with fundamentalist terrorism. Though the justification the US and Britain made in invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein – the presence of weapons of mass destruction – has now had its credibility not just severely questioned but completely discounted, there were moral arguments, almost certainly tangled up with economic and strategic motivations, for removing a dictator who had wiped out at least a million of his own citizens. The catalogue of arrest, torture and disappearance and the pervasive fear that dominated Iraq’s citizens’ lives speaks for itself. However there were opponents of the war who argued that though the military victory against Saddam and his forces would be won the situation that followed would simply play into the hands of al-Qaeda. It is doubtful however if opponents could have foreseen the scale and intensity of the long lasting carnage and horror that was to follow.
THE SECTARIAN BLOODBATH THAT FOLLOWS MAXIMISES FUNDAMENTALIST TERRORISM
There is no doubt that al-Qaeda made the most of the many opportunities to harass initially the US administration and military presence, later the Iraqi government which the US subsequently helped bring forth. The attacks on the US presence are greatly assisted by the longterm public relations disaster brought about by the gross abuse of detainees by US prison staff at the Abu Ghraib prison. However it is the sectarian bloodbath that a month or so later follows the invasion that definitely feeds into and amplifies fundamentalist terrorism. Hence it can be strongly argued that the invasion of Iraq did actually maximise the power and scope of fundamentalist terrorism.
We would expect that by the time of the cycle In square the ‘jihad’ aims of al-Qaeda and other militant fundamentalist groups will have in some way been structurally altered. Could that be by the scale and extent of sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia or is there some new geographical strategic angle that will emerge ?
AL QAEDA IN IRAQ (AQI) PLAN TO ESTABLISH A CALIPHATE ENCOMPASSING IRAQ’S NEIGHBOURS
It is noticeable that following the 2003 invasion the Jordanian Salafi Jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his militant group Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad achieved notoriety for suicide attacks on Shia Islamic mosques, civilians, Iraqi government institutions and soldiers partaking in the US-led force. Gradually Al-Zarqawi’s group became known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). In a letter to al-Zarqawi in July 2005, al-Qaeda’s then deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri outlined a four-stage plan to expand the Iraq War. The plan included expelling US forces from Iraq and clashing with Israel but also – as it happens of some future significance – establishing an Islamic authority as a caliphate and spreading the conflict to Iraq’s secular neighbours.
IT IS ALGERIA’S EXPORT OF TERRORISM THAT MAXIMISES
Does fundamentalist activity in Algeria get maximised at the opposition? On the face of it the correlation is not at all convincing as since 1993 the scale and frequency and bloodthirsty nature of terrorist violence in Algeria has been almost continuous until recently. It must be added that many observers believe that during this period the Algerian army were probably quite as ruthless as the militants – the head of a UN mission to Algeria, for instance, in 1998 stated his team had found evidence of human rights abuses by both Islamic militants and the Algerian authorities. However if there was any peaking in the violence it appears to have been around 1996-1997 when the violence had been so prolific as to invite in early 1998 special EU and UN attention. However what can be said to have maximised in this 2001-3 period is the export of fundamentalist terrorism from Algeria, a country with exceptionally close ex-colonial links with France and a significant immigrant presence in Spain. This human export has not only swelled militant fundamentalist centres in Europe but multiplied actual terrorist attempts – especially as we shall see in countries with liberal entry conditions such as the UK.
MASSIVE SURGE OF ARRESTS OF ALGERIAN MILITANTS IN UK AND EUROPE
Algerian terrorists had previously struck outside their country. In 1995, angered by the support the French had given to the Algerian Government they had launched bomb attacks on the Paris Metro. But in 2000 the main militant organisation, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) had largely disbanded following an amnesty brokered by the army. However another Islamic fundamentalist group the GSPC (the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat) continued to fight – and apparently not just on its home territory. The Algerian Government and certain intelligence agencies claim that it had teamed up with al-Qaeda to launch attacks abroad. As if to substantiate this in September 2001 Spain detains 6 Algerians with alleged links to Osama bin Laden and to a group planning attacks on US targets in Europe. This is followed by a massive surge of arrests of suspected Algerian militants in Britain and across Europe.
WORLDWIDE PENETRATION OF ALGERIAN MILITANTS
There had of course been arrests before. In 1998 police in Belgium had arrested Algerians suspected of being Islamic terrorists while police in Britain had also detained eight Algerians under anti-terrorist legislation. In 1999 two Algerians were convicted of planning a terrorist bombing campaign in Yemen while in Canada an Algerian was charged with smuggling bomb-making materials into the US. In that year a US court ordered the continued detention of an Algerian couple, members of the Armed Islamic Group blamed for some of the bloodiest attacks in Algeria while another Algerian-born man was arrested for bringing bomb parts into the US from Canada.
ALGERIA HANDS OVER LIST OF 350 ISLAMIST MILITANTS PROBABLY LINKED TO AL-QAEDA
But as we near August 2000 when the cycle opposition comes into orb the exposure of Algerian involvement in overseas terrorism significantly increases. In April in the US, first Ahmed Ressam is found guilty, then another Algerian, Mokhtar Haouari, is also found guilty on terrorist charges. In Italy police arrest eleven Algerians on charges of association with terrorist groups in Algeria. By the second half of 2001 it has become a flood. In August a court in Britain remands into custody six Algerians accused of terrorism offences and fraud. [1st Exact Opposition Aug 5th 2001] A week after the September 11th WTC attack Algeria hands over to Washington a list of 350 Islamist militants known to be abroad and whom Algerian intelligence believes are likely to have links to Osama Bin Laden. At the same time the GSPC group, believed by Algerian authorities to have been created by Osama Bin Laden, warns that it will target westerners in Algeria if Afghanistan is attacked. Also in September in court in Madrid are six Algerians suspected of links with Osama Bin Laden and in court in London is an Algerian pilot wrongly suspected of having been an instructor for four of the hijackers involved in the WTC attacks.
WORLWIDE NETWORK FROM LEICESTER TO LOS ANGELES TO STRASBOURG
In October 2001 in France a French-Algerian confesses during interrogation that he visited mosques in London and Leicester to recruit new members to Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network – besides admitting to being involved in a bin Laden backed plot to blow up the US embassy in Paris. Another Algerian is arrested by British police in Leicester and a further Algerian is named by US prosecutors as a leading figure in Bin Laden’s terror network. He is charged with conspiracy to blow up an airport in Los Angeles, with helping terrorists to travel to Bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan and with sending others to Canada to prepare for the attack. Also in October an Algerian man wanted in connection with terrorism charges in Italy is remanded in custody in London at the start of extradition proceedings. In November five Algerian militants linked with Osama Bin Laden are arrested in the French city of Strasbourg where they had allegedly planned to plant a bomb. They are also suspected of organising the escape to Spain of Mohamed Besnakhria, an Algerian said to be one of Bin Laden’s chief lieutenants in Europe. [2nd Exact Opposition Nov 2nd 2001]
DOZENS OF ALGERIAN MILITANTS ARRESTED
In January 2002 two Algerians are charged in Leicester, England with involvement in the al-Qaeda terror group and inciting terrorism. In March two further Algerian men are remanded in custody by a London court. In April four Algerian militants face a German court on charges of planning to bomb a public square in Strasbourg. [3rd Exact Opposition May 26th 2002] In September anti-terrorist police in London arrest a further number of Algerian terrorist suspects. In December 2002 Canadian intelligence officers in Ottawa arrest an Algerian man suspected of being associated with one of Osama Bin Laden’s top lieutenants while in Edinburgh Scottish police arrest a further 9 Algerian terrorist suspects – who are however all later released.
SEVERAL MILITANT NETWORKS MOSTLY ALGERIAN BROKEN UP IN EUROPE
In January 2003 some 15 months after the 11th September attacks in the US, European security agencies are reported by the BBC as having dismantled several Islamic militant networks said to have been either plotting attacks on European soil or providing logistical support to al-Qaeda – many if not the majority of those arrested in Europe, states the report, are Algerian. The majority of these had sought asylum in Britain after 1995 when the French anti-terrorist police had really cracked down on them after a number of bombings in the Paris Metro. Although the report maintains that Algerian militants mostly work independently of al-Qaeda, their objectives and methods, say the report, appear similar.
FIRST FUNDAMENTALIST BIOCHEMICAL ATTACK BY ALGERIANS IN LONDON
In January 2003 at an Algerian immigrant enclave in North London six Algerian men are arrested after police find traces of the deadly poison Ricin in a flat. This is the first occurrence of a biochemical attack agent since the anthrax scare of Autumn 2001. Shortly afterwards a police officer is stabbed to death in a follow up counter-terrorism operation in Manchester. In the same month Spanish police arrest 16 suspected terrorists in apartments in Barcelona and Catalonia thwarting a major terrorist attack – the group are connected to Algerians recently arrested in Britain and France on information almost certainly shared by the British MI6 and the French intelligence service DGSE.
UNLIKE THE FRENCH AUTHORITIES, THE BRITISH REFUSE TO BE DECISIVE
In March 2003 a leading expert on Algerian extremism tells the BBC she blames the 11 September attacks in the US on the West’s failure to heed the warnings of the 1995 Algerian GIA nail bomb attack on the Paris Metro. The British authorities had refused to act, she claims, allowing these networks to spread and become established in the UK, while the French authorities had been more decisive, making sweeping arrests and putting on mass trials. In May 2003 the cycle opposition moves out of orb and over the following year there are to be only two Algerian militants arrested, one in London and one in Northern Ireland – in October and November 2003 – while in Russia in December another Algerian, part of a Chechen guerrilla group is killed by an army unit. The spate of police and counter-intelligence force arrests fades either because the militants have been a good deal more careful to keep their cover or because it has been decided to wait and plan for an ideal opportunity for violence. Though parts of the Algerian fundamentalist network had certainly been exposed from this point on it appears that the cells manage to stay under cover.
SCOTLAND YARD REPORT ALGERIAN NETWORK KEY PART OF AL QAEDA IN EUROPE
The BBC journalist Peter Taylor says that the Algerian network now operates in autonomous cells which can change shape and tactics at will – “finding and neutralising such cells before they can strike has become even more difficult.” Although the first suicide bombings in Britain in July 2005 were not carried out by Algerians – all four bombers were of Pakistani descent – it was still possible that the perpetrators were a cell and that the person masterminding the attacks was an Algerian rather than from the Indian sub-continent. There have also been Algerian links to an Australian bomb attempt and the plot to bomb the market in Strasbourg, France. In the former case an Algerian cleric Abu Bakr is arrested in Melbourne; in the latter case the four Algerians indicted were referred to in 2004 by David Veness, the head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism unit, as part of an Algerian network which has been “a key dimension of the al-Qaeda agenda within western Europe”.
ALGERIAN EXTREMISTS SOUGHT REFUGE IN MORE LIBERAL UK
Two Algerians interviewed by Taylor in prison had been living in England for some years apparently without the awareness of the British Special Branch. But why had they based themselves in England ? The reason is clear. The French had a long and harsh experience of Algerian Islamic extremists, and had early on adopted a tough approach in dealing with them after they had carried out a series of bombings in Paris and Lille in the mid 1990s. So rigorous had the French crackdown been that many Algerian extremists had sought refuge in London – the UK being relatively easy to get into, easy to get supported in, and as subsequent events would so vividly demonstrate, hard to get deported from. When the UK’s MI5 and Special Branch did start to gather detailed intelligence they found the tentacles of the Algerian network, as Taylor relates, “crossed the Atlantic to Canada and the US, where cells had been planning to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on Millennium Eve 1999 – the would-be bomber, another Algerian, Ahmed Ressam.” Mrs Manningham-Buller, Head of the British MI5 intelligence service reported in 2005 that it was only when the Algerian security services had questioned one of its compatriots that through that intelligence being passed on, the UK ‘ricin’ chemical plot had been uncovered.
MADRID TRAIN BOMBERS CAME FROM NEIGHBOURING MOROCCO
The Madrid train bombers who killed 191 in March 2004 came mainly from Morocco not Algeria though there is little doubt that disaffected groups in Morocco have often looked to Algeria for example or even been directly influenced by them. On May 16th 2003, a few weeks before the cycle opposition goes out of orb, a dozen Moroccan suicide attackers set off five nearly simultaneous explosions in Casablanca, killing 33 people and themselves. Morocco joins the fundamentalist front line and with this baptism its activists are, like those in Algeria, destined to go on to export their attacks. Members of the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group blamed for the Casablanca bombings are also behind the March 2004 Madrid bombings – the most lethal land based terrorist incident in Europe in modern times (excluding the infamous 2004 Beslan School slaughter in Russia) with 191 people killed and 1,800 injured.
AT THIS TIME NEARLY HALF OF THE WORLD’S TERRORIST RELATED INCIDENTS ARE IN ISRAEL
There is little doubt that the Palestine issue enters a more violent and critical stage precisely in this period – indeed the key connection made by Al Qaeda fundamentalists between war against the US and Palestine liberation helps ensure this. However it is the frequency and ruthlessness of violence on both sides that marks out this period in this long running crisis. The frequency of terrorist and associated military actions in Palestine (it is quite difficult to draw a clear line between guerrilla activity and military action on either side) is at the outside rarely less than weekly, in certain periods it is quite clearly daily. And we are talking of a period of several years. To get an idea of this consider that between June 2001 and August 2002, ignoring any events that happened in Afghanistan with its US military invasion, there are more than 600 globally reported major terrorist incidents or government political/military responses to them. Of these about 280 (nearly half) are in Israel/Palestine.
ALMOST ALL SUICIDE BOMBINGS OCCUR WITHIN 10 DEGREES OF CYCLE OPPOSITION
Terrorist and associated military violence ranges from stabbings, shootings or an exchange of fire to gun battles, tank bombardment, shelling (grenade or mortar) attacks, bulldozer, tank or bomb destruction of buildings, helicopter missile and rocket attacks. However it is of course the attacks on civilians ranging from shootings or bombings directed at crowds, at buses or in cafes and clubs which stand out as the key indicator of the increased scale of violence and hatred. In particular it is the virtually unpreventable suicide bombings and it is these we shall look at in detail to investigate whether there is any real correlation between this new level of violence and the Saturn/Pluto cycle opposition. We shall find that almost every single one of the suicide bombings in this period of Israel/Palestine history take place within 10 degrees of this cycle opposition – this is fairly persuasive and cannot be easily written off as a coincidence. However the extent to which all the suicide bombings in this period cluster around the three points when the cycle opposition is exact is really quite extraordinary:
52 Suicide bombings in Israel/Palestine WITHIN cycle opposition orb and compared to exact Saturn/Pluto opposition points
Suicide bombs within cycle opposition period during 2001: Mar 4th, Mar 28th, Apr 22nd , May 18th , May 25th June 1st, June 22nd, June 24th , July 16th, [1st Exact Cycle Opposition Aug 5th 2001] Aug 9th, Aug 12th, Sep 3rd , Sep 9th, Sep 28th, Oct 7th, Oct 11th, [2nd Exact Cycle Opposition Nov 2nd 2001] Nov 8th, Nov 26th, Dec 1st, Dec 2nd, Dec 5th, Dec 9th, Dec 12th,
Suicide bombs within cycle opposition period during 2002: Jan 25th, Jan 30th, Feb 16th, Feb 18th, Mar 2nd, Mar 5th, Mar 9th, Mar 13th, Mar 17th, Mar 20th, Mar 21st, Mar 22nd, Mar 27th, Mar 29th, Apr 1st, Apr 10th, Apr 12th, Apr 18th, Apr 19th, May 7th, May 8th, May 19th, May 20th, May 22nd, [3rd Exact Cycle Opposition May 26th 2002] May 27th, June 11th, June 12th, Jun 17th, June 18th, June 19th, July 17th, July 30th, Aug 4th, (the incident on June 18 is the deadliest for six years)
Suicide bombs within cycle opposition period during 2003: Jan 5th, March 5th, March 30th, April 24th, April 29th , May 18th, May 19th, June 11th
In 2001 you will note the clustering around the August and November exact hits. In 2002 although the prolific March period is separated by two months from the third exact opposition the correlation is still impressive as this month the opposition is well within the 10 degree orb. Just to confirm the force of this correlation below are listed the very few suicide bombings outside the Feb 2001 to mid August 2002 and December 2002 to June 2003 periods when the orb was within the strict 10 degree limit we have laid down. If we were to widen the opposition orb from 10 degrees to 13 degrees all the incidents between September 2000 and August 2003 would be included in the opposition match:
16 Suicide bombs OUTSIDE the 10 degree cycle opposition period
2000: (note September marks the start of 2nd Intifada) only October 26th
2002: Sept 18th, Sep 19th, Oct 27th , Nov 21st, Nov 23rd
2003: Aug 12th, Sept 9th, Oct 4th, Dec 25th
2004 : Jan 14, Jan 29, Feb 22, Mar 14th, April 17th, Aug 31st
What makes the correlation more impressive is that after August 2003 the frequency of suicide bombings drops to less than one a month on average and during the six months after March 2004 there is only one relatively less serious incident – involving the deaths of security forces not civilians. One major reason for the fall away in frequency is that at the end of 2003 Hamas, one of the three main Palestine militant groups, temporarily calls off attacks within Israel. The BBC estimates that in the period following September 2000 about 436 Israelis died as a result of these attacks compared to the previous period between 1994 and September 2000 when 120 Israelis died in attacks. It is clear therefore that three quarters of these violent deaths occurred while the Saturn/Pluto cycle opposition was in orb.
TALIBAN”S ACTIONS & INACTIONS LEAD TO THEIR OVERTHROW
The cycle conjunction saw the origins of the Taliban in the Mujahideen and the Out square the Taliban seizure of national power. The opposition, peaking in late 2001, sees the Taliban government’s actions in Afghanistan reach maximum international impact – leading to their overthrow as the government of Afghanistan by a US-led coalition. The principal cause for the invasion is that the Taliban are sheltering Osama bin-Laden, the instigator of the 9/11 atrocities, and refuse to give him up. But their record of extremism ensures that a diplomatic alternative is never seriously on the table. That extremism covers gender, cultural but especially religious issues and these achieve peak impact early on in this cycle stage.
THE TALIBAN DESTROY A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE COUNTRY’S HERITAGE
Days after the opposition comes into orb in August 2000 the Taliban first close public bathhouses in Kabul, saying that Islam forbids men to display their bodies publicly and second shut down bakeries run by widows saying that Islam forbids women to work. More controversially Taliban Ministers then lead a wrecking crew through the National Museum destroying a significant portion of the country’s cultural heritage. A few months later to widespread international condemnation Taliban leader Mohammed Omar is to order the destruction of all pre-Islamic statues including the Buddha statues carved into the stone cliffs of Bamiyan. It is true that offsetting these actions the Taliban in August also issue a complete ban on growing poppies – those who defy the ban are threatened with jail. In early 2001 a UN team will confirm that the Taliban have nearly wiped out opium production in Afghanistan. But this is quickly outweighed when the Taliban now embark on a rash of edicts that will be condemned by virtually the whole non Islamic world.
DEATH PENALTIES FOR CONVERSION FROM ISLAM
In January 2001 the Taliban order the death penalty for anyone who converts from Islam to a different religion. In May 2001 The Taliban issue an edict that would require non-Muslims to wear distinguishing clothing. In August 2001 [1st Exact Opposition Aug 5th 2001] the Taliban close a US relief organization office and arrest and jail 24 of its workers for propagating Christianity. They jail 35 more people working for a Christian aid organization. But the Taliban’s reign is destined to shortly end. On January 19 UN sanctions begin following a 30-day deadline for the handover of Osama bin Laden. The sanctions coincide with the worst drought in 30 years.
300,000 FLEE KANDAHAR EXPECTING US AIR STRIKES
The day after 9/11 while the Taliban prepare for a US attack, Mohammad Omar, their leader, on whose territory Osama bin Laden is sheltering, goes into hiding. As many as 300,000 Afghans reportedly flee the Taliban base of Kandahar expecting US air strikes. On Sept 13 US Special forces arrive in Afghanistan while soon after Iran and Pakistan seal off their borders. On Sept 19 the Pentagon begins deploying troops, ships and planes to the Persian Gulf under the code name ‘Operation Infinite Justice.’ The Taliban rejects President Bush’s ultimatum to surrender Osama bin Laden. On October 1 the opposition Northern Alliance of Afghanistan meets in Rome with ex-king Zahir Shah and agrees to form a broad-based government open to cooperation with the West.
US & UK ATTACK BY AIR, NORTHERN ALLIANCE ON LAND
Taliban officials say they are dispatching 300,000 fighters to defend their borders. Analysts estimate available Taliban strength is nearer 50,000 fighters. On October 7 US and British forces strike 31 targets in Afghanistan using 40 warplanes and 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles having taken out all air defences. At the same time the Northern Alliance who oppose the Taliban move its front line artillery and infantry units against the Taliban. On that same day the Al-Jazeera TV network shows video footage of Osama bin Laden praising Allah for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
EXCEPTIONALLY HEAVY US AIRSTRIKES – WITH CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
On October 14 US warplanes hit Afghanistan targets around Kabul. Bombs also hit the cities of Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Herat. On Oct 16 over 100 aircraft strike targets in Afghanistan. On Oct 19 US commandos attack a Taliban stronghold in Kandahar. On the same day over 5,000 Muslim volunteers head into Afghanistan from Pakistan, offering their help in fighting what they see as a holy war against the US. On Oct 21 US warplanes hit Taliban frontline troops north of Kabul in the fiercest hits to date. On October 27 there are exceptionally heavy airstrikes by the US with civilian casualties – destined to controversially multiply.[2nd Exact Opposition November 2nd] On Nov 9 Northern Alliance forces claim the capture of Mazar-e-Sharif and the provincial capitals of Shibarghan, Meimanah, and Aybal.
NORTHERN ALLIANCE ISSUE AMNESTY TO ALL AFGHAN TALIBAN
On Nov 12 Taliban forces abandon Kabul and Northern Alliance forces move in to the capital while Kabul residents rejoice at the departure of the Taliban. On Nov 14 the UN Security Council approves a resolution to fill the political vacuum in Afghanistan and to provide security in areas freed by anti-Taliban forces, while Britain pledges 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan in addition to the 4,500 already in the war zone. On Nov 19 the Taliban begin secret negotiations for the surrender of Kandahar. On Nov 27 four Afghan factions meet in Bonn, Germany, and agree to give former King Mohammad Zahir Shah a role in a new Afghan government while in Afghanistan the Northern Alliance issues an amnesty to all Taliban except for non-Afghans. At the end of November in one appalling incident thousands of Taliban fighters, who had surrendered at Kunduz were shipped by container truck to prison camps at Sheberghan – up to 960 die en route, mostly from asphyxiation.
US BOMBS TORA BORA HIDEOUTS BUT MANY AL-QAEDA ESCAPE INTO PAKISTAN
As Osama bin Laden’s forces disperse into the mountains of Afghanistan. US bombing is concentrated around the White Mountains of Tora Bora where up to 2,000 bin Laden loyalists are positioned, many in fortified caves. On Dec 3 some 3,000 Taliban surrender near Kunduz. On Dec 5 Afghan delegates in Koenigswinter, Germany, sign an agreement for an interim post-Taliban government. On Dec 7 Taliban soldiers flee their key city Kandahar. On Dec 9 the last province under Taliban control, Zabul, is handed over to tribal leaders. On Dec 14 European leaders agree to send 4,000 troops to Afghanistan. On Dec 18 hundreds of al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are reported to have slipped into Pakistan from Afghanistan – along almost certainly with Bin Laden who is not destined to be discovered there for many years. On Dec 20 the first international peacekeeping forces arrive from Britain as the UN Security Council authorizes a multinational force for Afghanistan.
THE WAR IS OVER AS LOYA JIRGA ELECTS KARZAI AS PRESIDENT
On March 2 2002 US and Afghan forces attack hundreds of suspected al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in eastern Afghanistan in Operation Anaconda – The 12 day operation leaves as many as 800 enemy fighters dead. On March 14 Pakistan’s President Musharraf says the war in Afghanistan is over. On April 9 some 20 thousand refugees, attempting to return from Pakistan refugee camps, are blocked by poppy growers. Rival warlords are to hinder the return of another 2 million. On April 18 the former Afghan king, Mohammad Zaher Shah returns to his country after 29 years in exile. [3rd Exact Opposition May 26th 2002] On June 11 Afghanistan’s former king attends a long-awaited Loya Jirga, accompanied by leaders of Hamid Karzai’s interim government in a show of unity for a tribal assembly. On June 13 Afghanistan’s interim leader Hamid Karzai wins endorsement from about two-thirds of delegates and is inaugurated as president.
UN APPROVES ASSISTANCE AS NATO TAKES OVER
On Dec 22 Afghanistan’s six neighbours (Iran, Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) sign a non-intervention agreement in Kabul. On March 28 2003 the UN Security Council votes unanimously to extend the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan for a year. Finally on April 16 2003 NATO agrees to take command of the UN peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. In May the cycle opposition goes out of orb
Between 6th February and March 24th 2003 the Saturn/Pluto opposition comes back within a three degree orb – the degree of proximity that correlated so closely with the 1993 bombing of the WTC garage and the September 2001 destruction of the WTC. Is there a major event at this point that will determine the development path of fundamentalist terrorism? Yes – as we have pointed out already – on March 20th 2003 the US invades Iraq and swiftly overthrows Saddam Hussein. What the invasion and the resultant chaos also goes on to galvanise is a truly horrific outburst of al Qaeda and sectarian bombings, shootings, torture and executions that has become a bloodbath replicated in some respects in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
However the exact correlation between developments in Iraq earlier during the opposition period is slight – and almost wholly military. It is true that in August 2001 there is a significant increase in allied air bombings of Iraqi defence sites, a modification in November 2001 of the UN’s sanctions policy and then shortly after the final exact opposition a significant ramp up of allied bombing of Iraqi defence and communications facilities. But the whole process of President Bush laying out his case against the Iraqi president to the UN, the British report on Iraq’s alleged chemical, biological and nuclear weapon capability and the UN weapons inspectors returning to Iraq backed by a tough new resolution from the UN Security Council all come much later and do not relate to this cycle. The only correlation is with the US invasion and the ensuing terrorism.
INCOMING SQUARE Nov 2008 to August 2011 (exact in Nov 2009 and Jan & Aug 2010)
The incoming square should imply a terminal challenge to what was seeded at the conjunction in 1982, what developed in the face of challenge at the outgoing square in 1993 and what reached maximum fruition though with some internal contradictions at the opposition in 2001-3. Allowing an orb of 10 degrees between the planets we shall look in detail at the period November 2008 through to August 2011 – strictly speaking excluding January 2009 to mid August 2009 and December 2010 to February 2011 when the orb widens slightly beyond this limit.
We are looking to see a definite surge in fundamentalist terrorist violence but characterised by a change of direction or re-definition of aims in the strategies behind it and possibly by a change in the response plan by those forces attempting to keep it in check or defeat it. We shall be looking for the main evidence in the four key terrorist theatres – Iraq, Afghanistan,Pakistan and Israel/Palestine but also worldwide. The evidence we shall look to must essentially be a matter of numbers of fatalities but we shall also look at any surge or change in the type of targets and in what seems to be the principal motivation behind the attacks. Because we shall in fact find an even greater surge in the number of fatalities for major terrorist incidents at this stage we shall only examine incidents with over 50 fatalities on any one day.
The cycle In square comes just into orb on 10 November 2008. In the previous month there were bombings in Pakistan at Orakzai killing 113 (at 12 degrees), in the Somalian capital killing 56 (at 11 degrees) and in Assam, India killing 84. The In square is destined to go out of orb again in the second half of January 2009 as the planet Saturn stations retrograde (see Introduction). Nevertheless the first surge in major bombings can be seen on November 26 when 164 people are killed in Mumbai, India by 11 co-ordinated shooting and bombing attacks. Just three days later come the massacres in another continent in Jos, Nigeria with a death total that rises from 380 towards 700 though strictly speaking these are defined as riots rather than terrorism. In December 55 are killed in Iraq at Kirkuk.
Then there are no major terrorist bombings till the following June. However in mid January, before the cycle moves out of orb for some months, Israel makes its Operation Cast Lead attack on Gaza strip militants again with initial figures of 315 dead rising towards 1,200. These three are clearly defining incidents in the scale of violence – though the third is of course generally considered a response to terrorism.
The cycle In square stays out of a 10 degree orb till 14 August 2009. During that period there are only 2 major bombings – both at the end of June in Iraq killing 73 –one in a Shia Turkmen zone near Kirkuk, the other in the Shia enclave of Sadr City. Then on August 19 seven car bombs are detonated in Baghdad killing over 100 – the first day of such carnage in one Iraqi city since the Yazidi community massacres of August 2007 and this just 5 days after the In square comes back into orb. Then on October 25 two vehicles detonate in the Baghdad Green zone (heavily defended ministries and embassies enclave) killing at least 155. Three days later in Peshawar, Pakistan a car bomb is detonated in a woman-exclusive shopping district and 117 die. (1st Exact In square hit 15 Nov 2009) On December 8 a series of bombings in Baghdad kill at least 127 people. On January 1 2010 a suicide bomber kills 105 at Lakki Marwat in Pakistan. (2nd Exact In square hit 1 Feb 2010).
MORE SECTARIAN IN MOTIVATION
At this time the conflict in Pakistan and Afghanistan is developing a markedly more sectarian quality with the key objectives of the Taliban and Al Qaeda getting complicated by the aims and actions of rival sectarian Shiite and Sunni groups. (This of course had long been the case in Iraq.) Indeed on the very day the In square comes exact a female suicide bomber mingling among Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad detonates her belt killing 54 of them. On 5 February a further 40 Shiite pilgrims in Karbala are killed. March and April see further sectarian attacks. Then in May militants attack two mosques in Pakistan packed with hundreds of worshippers from the minority Ahmadi sect – 93 people die. Attacks on a Christian church killing 58 come later. This definitely marks a new trend in terrorist violence.
In March 2010 72 are killed by suicide bombings in Lahore. In April and May the two major bombings are purely sectarian – the first is a wave of attacks targeting Shia mosques in Baghdad killing 85, the second targeting two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore killing 86. It is not just the scale of incidents that surges at the In square it is also the frequency of incidents. July 2010 is the first ever month with four days on each day of which over 50 people are killed – 50 in Lahore, Pakistan, 70 in Baghdad, Iraq, 105 in the Mohmand area of Pakistan and 74 in Kampala, Uganda. All four incidents had a wholly or mainly religious target. August 17 sees 69 army recruits killed in Baghdad with a few days later a similar number killed across Iraq. (3rd Exact In square hit 21 Aug 2010) September sees a sectarian explosion in Quetta, Pakistan – killing 73 Shia and Ahmadi. There are no further major terrorist bombings before the end of November 2010 when the In square goes temporarily out of orb.
The In square comes back into orb again on February 16 2011. In the gap there are actually 2 suicide bomber incidents in Iraq in January 2011 with over 50 fatalities – in Tikrit 66 army recruits die and in Karbala 50 Shia pilgrims die. After January the next major bombings in April and May – the first at a Sufi shrine in Punjab, Pakistan kills 50, the second at a military training centre in Pakistan kills 80. The In square moves out of orb permanently on August 30 2011. Just before that on August 15 comes another major bombing where in five cities across Iraq 62 people die
FROM AQI (AL-QAEDA IN IRAQ) TO ISIL
So is there now a drop in major bombings ? Unfortunately not. Between the end of August 2011 and the end of July 2012, when virtually all research on this book stops, there are 12 major bombings of which 6 are in Iraq – each typically between 50 and 75 deaths and all but one sectarian. With the exception of Nigeria the remainder are in war torn areas. No, the correlation cannot be made in terms of the severity or frequency of bombings – but it appears that the proportion of bombings with a sectarian motive has significantly risen. But of more underlying importance is a change during this cycle stage in the make- up and ambitions of the various jihadist groups and in their relation to al-Qaeda. In particular during the 2008 to 2011 opposition period the forerunner of the group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) first emerges.
Earlier al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had joined other Sunni insurgent groups to proclaim the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). ISI gained a significant presence in the governorates of Al Anbar, Diyala and Baghdad. But during 2008 , when the In square comes into orb, a series of US and Iraqi offensives manage to drive out ISI from these former safe havens – to the area of the northern city of Mosul. In August 2011, just before the In square moves out of orb, ISI sends delegates into Syria which since March had been plunged in civil war. This group later establishes a large presence in Sunni-majority areas of Syria and merges with the al-Nusra Front to form the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
This group is destined to change the purely anti-Western and Islamic culture protection elements of jihad into a wholly more political and geographical strategy which aims for a regional caliphate and chooses extreme fear as a weapon against all its enemies in its tactics.
It has been militants from Algeria who have been key in spreading fundamentalist terrorism around Europe and America. The Islamic fundamentalists who had emerged in Algeria at the cycle conjunction in 1982 had their political party prevented by the military from democratically assuming power at the cycle Out square – the result a bloody no holds barred confrontation between the Algerian army and fundamentalist combat groups. When these groups found their blood-soaked violence was matched by a ruthless army many were forced to move abroad to swell militant fundamentalist centres all over Europe – relatively easy in countries with liberal entry conditions such as the UK.
At the cycle opposition leading up to and after 9/11 these groups planned and helped carry out many terrorist acts against people unconnected with their home governments. With their bloody and uncompromising recent history Algerian militants were only too happy that their situation and aims be framed by the global outlook of al-Qaeda – they became in the BBC’s words “exporters of terror”.
REFOCUS ON N. AFRICA – AL-QAEDA IN THE ISLAMIC MAGHREB
However the In square sees some of these groups refocus their strategy on North Africa. One group, the GSPC (the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat), had earlier ignored a government amnesty and continued to fight and, in liaison with al-Qaeda, launch attacks abroad. This was despite being hampered in North Africa by the US-funded Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative which covered Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia. In 2007 the GSPC announces that it would now operate under the name of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). During the In square period AQIM quickly becomes one of the region’s wealthiest, best-armed militant groups benefitting from the payment by humanitarian organizations and Western governments of numerous ransom demands for the release of hostages.
In March and June 2009 there is a surge in al-Qaeda-linked attacks though at the end of July the Algerian army kills dozens of Islamist extremists. In November 2009 Italy’s top security official says that authorities have smashed an international terror cell of 17 Algerians who were raising money to finance terrorism. But in March 2010 in the face of a dangerous rise in the terror threat in the Sahara-Sahel region seven north African states hold talks in Algeria to plan a coordinated response to Al-Qaeda. They plan to open a joint military headquarters in the Algerian city Tamanrasset, in a united effort to combat terrorism and kidnapping in northwestern Africa.
In July 2010 there is an outbreak of suicide bombings, some of which are thwarted but one of which injures 29 people. On August 26, just before the In square goes out of orb, a bomb explosion followed by a suicide attack outside a military academy kills 16 officers and 2 civilians in Cherchell. In all cases Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb quickly claims responsibility. AQIM is now suspected of having links with the Horn of Africa-based militant group Al-Shabaab, set to become more and more active in Kenya and Somalia.
It was the Israeli-forced exit of the PLO from Lebanon at the cycle conjunction that led to the formation of Hezbollah, a far more militarised group than the PLO. Conversely could it be the transformation of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group with the widest support, now with control of Gaza, into a primarily political group that marks the beginning of the end of terrorist bombings in Palestine. Though not a process that could develop without violence could this ultimately and paradoxically lead to the real turning point in Israeli/Palestine peace negotiations?
It has already been pointed out that after the cycle opposition suicide bombings virtually disappeared when Hamas called off attacks within Israel. In 2006 Hamas took control of Palestinian occupied territory – the Gaza strip. During this In square period we shall see Hamas propose and come close to enforcing a ban on using tunnels for smuggling across the Egyptian border and for a period a ban on any Gaza or West Bank militant group rocket firing rockets at Israel. Hamas has indicated, in agreement with Fatah, its readiness in principle to accept Israel and cease attacks in return for ceded territory along with other concessions – if it involved the pre 1967 Israeli borders. Let us see how both sides’ actions shape up in this two and a half year period.
FIVE MONTH TRUCE ENDS
In November 2008 an uneasy 5 month truce between the Israelis and Palestinian militants comes to an end as Gaza militants fire barrages of rockets and mortars at Israeli border areas prompting Israel to bar planned food and fuel shipments to Palestinian civilians. In December Palestinian negotiators say Israel proposes to annex 6.8 percent of the West Bank and though it is prepared to take in a few thousand refugees under a peace deal it has not revealed its position on the most contentious issue – the future of Jerusalem. On Dec 15 Israel releases 224 Palestinian prisoners in a gesture to boost support for moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. On Dec 25 Palestinian militants fire about 100 rockets and mortar shells across the border over two days.
OPERATION CAST LEAD
This prompts Israel two days later to put into operation ‘Operation Cast Lead’ as its warplanes retaliate, pounding dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in waves of airstrikes, killing over 200 people and wounding 270 others in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. Gaza militants respond with 30 rockets and mortars. On Dec 28 the UN Security Council issues a statement calling on Israel and the Palestinians to immediately halt all military activities. But as 2009 starts Israel rejects international pressure for a cease-fire and a fifth day of airstrikes takes the number of Palestinian deaths to 390 – of which some 200 were uniformed members of Hamas security forces. On January 3 Israeli warplanes, gunboats and artillery bombard more than 40 Hamas targets repeating this in response to a barrage of Hamas rockets on Jan 9th. The death toll rises to 776. International condemnation is exacerbated by Israel’s use of artillery shells with the incendiary agent white Phosphorus that cause terrible burns and its shelling of the UN headquarters in the Gaza strip destroying food and humanitarian supplies.
On Jan 18 2009 as the death toll reaches 1,200 – about half civilians – Hamas finally agrees to a week-long cease-fire with Israel and the last Israeli troops leave the Gaza strip. George Mitchell, President Obama’s new Middle East envoy, says a long-term Gaza truce must be based on an end to weapons smuggling to Hamas along with the re-opening of the territory’s blockaded borders. But Israel is still insisting there would be no deal, and no open borders for Gaza, until Hamas releases the Israeli soldier it kidnapped in 2006. On March 12 Hamas makes a rare criticism of other militant Palestinian groups firing rockets at Israel – saying now is the wrong time as truce talks continue.
NEW HAWKISH ISRAELI ADMINISTRATION
Yet just as one side softens its stance the other hardens as Incoming Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu puts together a significantly more hawkish administration. On April 1 Israel’s new foreign minister, says Israel will not abide by commitments made to pursue Palestinian statehood at the 2007 Annapolis Peace Summit. Moreover at the end of May 2009 PM Netanyahu says that Israel will continue to build homes in existing West Bank settlements, defying US calls to halt settlement growth. Since 1967, Israel has built 121 West Bank settlements, now home to around 300,000 Israelis. An additional 180,000 live in Jewish neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem, which, like the West Bank, was captured by Israel in the June 1967 Six Day war. On June 14 Netanyahu says he would accept a Palestinian state, but with conditions such as having no army that the Palestinians swiftly reject. However at the end of June Israel grants US-trained Palestinian security forces greater autonomy in four major West Bank cities.
In early September as Israel approves the construction of hundreds of new homes in the West Bank Arab League chief Amr Moussa states that any Israeli offer for a settlement freeze that doesn’t include east Jerusalem is unacceptable and “will suspend the peace process.” This cuts across a comprehensive new peace plan released by Israeli and Palestinian activists with more than 400 pages crammed with maps, timetables for troop withdrawals and lists of weapons a non-militarized Palestine would be barred from having.
As September turns into October Israeli forces storm Jerusalem’s holiest shrine, the Al-Aqsa mosque firing stun grenades to disperse hundreds of stone-throwing Palestinian protesters in a fresh eruption of violence. In November Israel’s military intelligence chief claims Hamas militants in Gaza have successfully test-fired an Iranian rocket able to reach Israel’s largest urban centre in Tel Aviv. Israel also claims Hezbollah guerrillas now possess tens of thousands of rockets, some also capable of reaching the country’s major cities.
CONCESSIONS AND DEFENCES
At the end of November both sides start making concessions. Hamas announces that it has reached an agreement with other militant groups in Gaza to stop firing rockets at southern Israeli towns. At the same time Israeli PM Netanyahu proposes a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction – however the freeze would not include east Jerusalem, the area of the holy city claimed by the Palestinians for a future capital. On Dec 14 tens of thousands of Hamas supporters throng Gaza City to mark the 22nd anniversary of the group’s founding. Hamas PM Ismail Haniya uncompromisingly tells supporters that “Hamas remains committed to the elimination of Israel”.
In January 2010 Israel announces two plans it believes will make it harder for Hamas to attack it. First, it successfully tests a high-tech shield against future mortar and rocket attacks from Hamas-ruled territory. Second, it approves the construction of two massive steel fences along the long and porous southern border with Egypt. These announcements are scarcely peace proposals and the negative effect is compounded a fortnight later when Netanyahu declares that Israel would retain parts of the West Bank forever. Nevertheless On March 7 a sceptical Palestinian leadership agrees to hold US-mediated peace talks with Israel for four months, effectively ending a 14 month breakdown in communications between the two sides.
Yet the issue of Settlements remains the key issue – for the Americans, for the UN and for the Palestinians – and obstinately for the Israeli administration which insists it will continue its construction plans. When Israeli PM Netanyahu meets with President Obama their discussions fail to produce any sign of a resolution on this issue. In the contested area of East Jerusalem there are riots and one senior Hamas leader calls for a new ‘intifada’ or uprising – though officially Hamas is being constructive – it orders Gaza residents to shut smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt indefinitely.
ISRAELI COMMANDOS STORM AID FLOTILLA
On May 5 US mediator George Mitchell launches Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations after a break of more than a year and a half. But before they can get underway an event takes place that hardens international criticism of Israel. On May 31 Israeli naval commandos storm a flotilla of ships carrying 10,000 tons of aid and 700 pro-Palestinian activists towards the blockaded Gaza Strip, killing 9 passengers in a predawn raid that set off worldwide condemnation and a diplomatic crisis. At least 4 of the 9 dead were Turkish. A massive protest breaks out in Turkey, Israel’s long-time Muslim ally, which unofficially supported the boat mission. Ankara announces it will recall its ambassador and call off military exercises with Israel. In order to dampen this wave of outrage Israel agrees to ease its 3 year long land blockade of the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu again meets President Obama in July in Washington but while Netanyahu pledges “robust steps” to revive the peace talks it is not till September that Israeli and Palestinian leaders meet in Washington and clear the first hurdle.
SETTLEMENT BUILDING CONTINUES
On September 17 Israel reiterates its refusal to extend curbs on settlement building now expiring, despite US pressure and Palestinian threats to walk out of peace talks. In October PM Netanyahu spells out recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as his price for a renewal of a ban on construction in the occupied West Bank. The offer is rejected out of hand by the Palestinians, who say it had “nothing to do with the peace process.”
On Nov 21, Palestinian President Abbas says that he will not return to the negotiating table with Israel without a settlement freeze that includes annexed Arab east Jerusalem. On Dec 3 he threatens to dissolve the Palestinian Authority if Israel does not stop building settlements on occupied land. A few days later the Middle East peace process collapses after Washington admits defeat in its efforts to secure an Israeli freeze on settlement building. Related thorny issues are the status of Jerusalem and the fate of at least 250,000 Palestinian refugees claiming the right to return to their original homelands now within Israel. Can these issues be resolved before the next Saturn/Neptune cycle starts in January 2020 ?
If there is to be a true peace deal perhaps it would need to involve, like the Northern Ireland Good Friday agreement, concessions many of the majority Israeli population would find unpalatable. Of course if Hamas, like Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, became more a political than a military force it is not clear whether other militant Palestinian groups like Islamic Jihad would follow suit – but that could be a price Israel is prepared to pay.
INSURGENTS LARGELY CONTROLLED FROM PAKISTAN
At the end of October 2008, just before the In square comes into orb, Afghan and Pakistani leaders vow to seek dialogue with the Taliban saying the “door is now open” for reconciliation. It will turn out to be an over-optimistic announcement. The truth is that insurgent forces in Afghanistan will continue to be largely controlled from the Pakistan side of the border. The top leadership of the Afghan Taliban make up a militant organisation called Quetta Shura, based in the city of Quetta in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. According to General Stanley McChrystal, then International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander, the Quetta Shura is directing the Afghan insurgency. In a 2009 report he states, “Afghanistan’s insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan.”
CIVILIAN DEATHS CAUSE RIFTS WITH GOVERNMENT. ‘GREEN ON BLUE’ DEATHS SAP MORALE
The truth is also that in the next three years Coalition forces are going to battle the Taliban on every front without making any appreciable strategic headway – beyond training the Afghan army and security services. The truth is also that civilian deaths caused by NATO airstrikes and other artillery are going to reach levels that will cause a serious rift between NATO and the Afghan government and people. The truth is also that the number of ‘green on blue’ deaths – where typically insurgents either genuinely employed in the army or disguised in Afghan army or police uniform kill coalition soldiers – will multiply eroding morale. According to NATO, these attacks killed 61 soldiers in 2012 compared to 35 killed in 2011.
CORRUPTION AND ELECTORAL FRAUD DOMINATES ADMINISTRATION
Finally the truth is that corruption in government finance or decision making along with gross electoral fraud will continue to dominate the administration. A UN report states that corruption in Afghanistan is so entrenched that Afghans had to pay bribes worth nearly a quarter of the country’s GDP in 2009. US diplomatic cables, leaked by WikiLeaks, portray Afghanistan as rife with graft with tens of millions of dollars flowing out of the country and a cash transfer network facilitating bribes for corrupt Afghan officials, drug traffickers and insurgents.
KARZAI PROTESTS AS NATO AIRSTRIKE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES MOUNT
The first week of November 2009 sees three NATO airstrikes that kill over 20 civilians with President Karzai demanding a halt to these casualties. There will be double this number the following January and fresh civilian deaths in February and April. Indeed on Nov 25 President Karzai at a meeting with the UN Security Council demands that the international community set a ‘timeline’ for ending military intervention in Afghanistan. But airstrike casualties mount especially in May 2009 when coalition jets kill dozens of civilians taking shelter from a ground battle between Taliban and coalition forces and in November 2009 when NATO rocket strikes kills twenty civilians, including at least 3 children. The worst comes in mid February 2010 when 15 civilians -including six children and seven Afghan policemen – are killed and to cap it all on Feb 21 another NATO airstrike kills 27 Afghan civilians – a military report unbelievably excuses the act by saying “inexperienced operators of a drone aircraft were responsible”.
In early 2011 Afghan government investigations find that NATO killed 65 civilians, many of them children, during recent operations in a remote north eastern militant stronghold. In March nine young children die in a NATO strike as they collect firewood. Days later President Karzai tells General Petraeus that his apology for that mistaken air strike was “not enough.” On March 22 a further two civilians are inadvertently killed by a helicopter gunship and a further four by fire a few days later. When yet another NATO airstrike kills 14 civilians. President Karzai reacts by saying he will no longer allow NATO airstrikes on houses, his strongest statement yet against the strikes NATO claims are key to its war on the Taliban.
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE TALIBAN BECOMING THE ENDGAME
This 2008 to 2011 period sees negotiations with the Taliban becoming more and more the endgame and the central issue in any solution to the Afghan conflict. The process starts in early March 2008 when President Karzai welcomes President Obama’s call to identify moderate elements of the Taliban and encourage them towards reconciliation. The plan, supported by the country’s Muslim clerics, is for talks to take place with the Taliban mediated by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. US Secretary of State Clinton makes it clear that this olive branch would depend on the Taliban rejecting al-Qaeda – a condition the Saudis will also insist on. However on April 1 a Taliban spokesman says the Taliban rejects any such proposal – calling it a “lunatic idea” – and simply demands that foreign troops withdraw.
In late January 2010 when President Karzai visits Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government refuses to get involved in peace-making unless the Taliban severs all ties with, Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. When the talks do take place in May in the Maldives the Taliban respond by saying those at the talks claiming to be from the Taliban are no longer active members.
On March 2010 President Karzai meets a senior delegation from the insurgent group Hezb-i-Islami, an unprecedented step toward peace – perhaps hinting at divisions within the insurgency. The top UN envoy also meets with this group. On June 4 a national peace conference, urges the government to take formal steps toward negotiating with insurgents.
TALIBAN LEADER CLAIMS REPORTS OF PEACE TALKS MISLEADING RUMOURS
In October 2010 NATO admits it is facilitating contacts between senior Taliban members and the highest levels of the Afghan government. Indeed Afghan officials are reported to be asking NATO to halt military operations in areas where reconciliation talks could take place. However Taliban leader Mullah Omar says in a statement that reports of peace talks between militants and the Afghan government are “misleading rumours”.
KARZAI SAYS EFFORTS AT DIALOGUE SHOULD FOCUS ON PAKISTAN
In June 2011 President Karzai confirms published accounts about US talks with a personal emissary of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar – the sessions are held in Germany and Qatar and this time no denial is issued. Yet on Sept 30 a month after the In square has gone out of orb President Karzai says in a videotaped speech that attempts to negotiate with the Taliban are futile and efforts at dialogue should focus instead on Pakistan.
MORE US AND EU TROOPS BUT HUMAN AND CASH COSTS MOUNT
In July 2009 as American and NATO troops under their new commander US General Stanley McChrystal sweep into Taliban-controlled villages in southern Afghanistan in their biggest military operation yet they meet little resistance as they try to win over local chiefs. But the months ahead show little further progress. Nor do ideas of creating local militia and arming them prove workable.
In November 2009 as NATO takes command of the training of Afghan army and police President Obama announces his plans to send a further 30,000 troops – but with an 18 month timeline for starting to bring US troops home. At the same time NATO announces that 25 countries have pledged a further 7,000 troops. But the costs mount. In June 2010 US military deaths during the campaign surpass the 1,000 mark while those of the British reach 333. It is estimated that the cost of sustaining each American soldier in Afghanistan is about $1 million !
AFGHAN FORCES TO TAKE OVER SECURITY IN 7 PARTS OF THE COUNTRY
In November 2010 NATO nations meeting in Portugal formally agree to start turning over Afghanistan’s security to its military next year and to give them full control by 2014. On Dec 16 President Obama says the US will start withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 as promised. On March 22 2011 President Karzai says his nation’s security forces will take over from the US-led coalition in seven parts of the country, a first step toward his goal of having Afghan police and soldiers in charge by the end of 2014.
FEROCIOUS BATTLE AT KABUL HOTEL
At an anti-terrorism conference the presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran agree to join forces in combating militancy. Yet a day later President Karzai accuses Pakistan of firing 470 rockets into two of its eastern border provinces in a three-week barrage. On June 28 heavily armed Taliban militants storm a top Kabul hotel, sparking a ferocious battle involving Afghan commandos and a NATO helicopter gunship that leaves 11 people dead as well as 9 attackers. The hotel ironically was hosting delegates attending an Afghan security conference. On July 17 Afghanistan begins handing responsibility for security from NATO soldiers to its own troops, igniting a process designed to leave the country free of foreign combat forces by 2014. On July 23 just before the In square goes out of orb NATO troops hand control of the northern capital Mazar-i-Sharif to local forces – it is the sixth of seven areas to transition to Afghan control.
AFTER US FORCES LEAVE STILL MANY PURELY SECTARIAN ATTACKS
You will recall the correlation of Iraq with this cycle is tenuous. Is there any correlation at the In square – only the departure of the last US troops. By the time the In square has moved out of orb in late August the final US troops’ baggages are packed. The extension and harmonisation of the government between different interests such as Sunni and Shia has yet to effectively take place. However there appears to have been some slight dampening down of support for terrorism but although figures show a lower death count from terrorism this is unlikely to last
The expected rise in fatalities as US troops leave did occur in January 2011 – but in the remaining part of the In square virtually all incidents now appear to be pure sectarian attacks though al-Qaeda attacks on the largely Shia government are perhaps hard to distinguish (Al-Qaeda being a largely Sunni network).
DO DEATHS FROM TERRORISM SURGE NEAR THE CYCLE STAGES ?
This cycle appears to correlate with the growth of Fundamentalist Terrorism as a global issue – but its closest match is with events in the countries of Algeria, Israel/Palestine and Afghanistan. There is a possible correlation with Iraq – but purely in terms of the effect the US invasion has in maximising terrorism in that country.
ANY NUMERICAL CORRELATION NOT EXPECTED TO BE CYCLICAL
But if this 35 year cycle really does correlate with fundamentalist terrorism does the number of people killed by terrorism worldwide show a surge at the cycle Out square, the cycle opposition and the cycle In square. Just to be quite clear we do not expect any numerical correlation to be truly cyclical – that is to rise at the Out square, peak at the half way point then decline at the In square – but could there perhaps be surges around those key cycle points. The correlation of Terrorism with the Saturn/Pluto cycle does not have to be a match in the quantitative sense – except in the sense that it is extremely unlikely a terrorist incident on the scale of 9/11 (at the maximising opposition point) could re-occur in this cycle – though as has been noted it could re-occur at the mid point of the next Saturn/Pluto cycle. As an example, it would be difficult to rule out a nuclear or biochemical theme to the following Saturn/Pluto cycle – where small terrorist acts could have potentially huge ramifications. But let us look now at the rise and fall in global terrorism figures during the present Saturn/Pluto cycle.
Unfortunately accurate and clearly sourced annual figures which can be totalled globally across such a period as 1982 to 2012 are simply not available – nor are accurate figures across this period available for every crisis zone. The figures from Wikipedia’s ‘List of Terrorist Incidents’ (2013) appear well researched and correlate well with authoritative sources for many of the key years. However they are incomplete (for instance they exclude aircraft terrorist attacks) . The specially compiled list of Terrorist Incidents below details deaths from terrorism for all years of this cycle to date. Those years when the Saturn/Pluto cycle is at the 4 key stages are coloured RED :
1983 697 (incls 241 US marines + 117 plane dead)
1985 923 (incls 329 plane dead)
1988 362 (incls 243 plane dead)
1989 438 ( incls 171 + 110 plane dead)
1998 740 (incls 260 mid estimate for Sidi-Hamed)
2001 436 (PLUS 2,973 WTC+Pentg + plane ) 3,409
2004 3,024 (of which Iraq 1,512)
2007 2,583 (incls 500 Qahtaniya, N Iraq bombings)
2011 Jan – Jun 3,635
2011 Jul – Dec 1,117
2012 Jan – Jun 2,292
2012 July – Dec 2,112
Table X List of reported fatalities worldwide from Terrorism 1980 – 2012
(Airplane bombs frequently have disproportionately huge fatalities so are itemised)
The above yearly totals show the following very qualified correlations with the four periods when the cycle aspects are in orb.
Notice how during the Conjunction (1981-83) the total number of deaths surges. However a much bigger surge comes in 1985 when the Saturn/Pluto conjunction has separated to 20 degrees – which is out of orb. At the Out square (1992 -94) there is another surge upwards but this time it only kicks in after the Out square finishes. At the opposition when we might expect the figures to maximise they do so but only because of the 2,973 deaths on 9/11 – though in 2002 the 1,105 figure is the highest other figure up to that time. The In square lurch upwards certainly takes the total figures to a new annual high (4,752) in 2011 but we would expect a sharper fall-off in 2012 – though it is clear that the regularity and detail of Wikipedia entries since 2010 has significantly improved – at the time of writing only the pages before 2010 carry the Wikipedia editor comment: “This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it”.
If we look at the key terrorist countries – Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan we shall find that in the case of Israel/Palestine there is a slight numerical correlation with the rise and fall of terrorism fatalities – which even extends back to before Israel’s formation. But there is no numerical correlation with the other countries – where terrorism played little part in the years 1981-83 inclusive (cycle conjunction) or the years 1992-1994 inclusive (cycle Out square) or even the years 2001- 03 inclusive (cycle opposition) – though of course the US did invade Iraq triggering a surge in terrorism there on 19 March 2003 a couple of months before the cycle In square ends. We therefore only look at the correlation with deaths from terrorism in Israel/Palestine
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) website offers a page headed “Terrorism deaths in Israel – 1920-1999 ” listing totals of Israeli residents (before 1948, Palestine Mandate citizens) falling victim to hostile enemy action – in the vast majority of cases by terrorism. We shall simply examine the years 1947 (when the 1948 conjunction came into orb) to 2012 (research cut off point) to see if the two Saturn/Pluto cycles and their four stages correlate with a surge in the numbers killed in Israel. Please note this does not include the much higher numbers of Palestinians killed mainly by the Israeli military and in a smaller number of cases by Israeli activists or Palestinians killed by other Palestinians. It may be worth citing that until 1947 there were only two years were deaths were close to 100 – the first is 1929 – which is within orb of a Saturn/Pluto opposition, the second is 1938 which is within orb of a Saturn/Pluto In square.
NUMERICAL CORRELATION DOPES NOT HOLD THOUGH CYCLICAL ONE DOES
Looking however at the two full Saturn/Pluto cycles covered on this website and checking how many years had high numbers of deaths we find that in the first 1947 – 1982 cycle the conjunction years of 1947 and 1948 do indeed have exceptionally huge numbers of deaths – respectively 152 and 179 but that the Out Square years, the opposition years, and the In square years only show a very slight correlation – in 1956, 1968 and 1974. In the second cycle – 1982 up to 2012 only – we find no correlation at the conjunction, but numbers of deaths do surge during the Out square in 1993 and 1994 and especially at the Opposition in 2001 but fall off dramatically at the In square. The numerical correlation with the number of deaths does not hold but the cyclical correlation where we would expect a maximisation at the opposition and a decline at the In square does hold – even when it comes to the mode of attack – shootings or suicide bombs.
The Israeli MFA provides Tables showing that Shooting attacks peaked in 2001 (5,274 attacks with the nearest annual figure 2,917), that Suicide attacks peaked in 2002 (60 attacks with the nearest annual figure 36) with only rocket attacks (perhaps to be considered as much military as terrorist) showing a peak in a later year
Does the rise and fall in global deaths from terrorism show a synchronistic (surge at key cycle stages) or truly cyclical (rise to peak at opposition then decline) correlation with the Saturn/Pluto cycle ?
First, does this period show a change in the number of deaths from terrorist violence in the rest of the world outside the countries we have covered ? Unfortunately while we can split off Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan from the world total in recent years and estimate the rise and fall in terrorist deaths there, it is not comparatively possible to do this with the rest of the world. We have to look at the overall picture covering all 72 countries where terrorism has been noted as taking place. Focusing on these key countries and based on the US CounterTerrorism Centre’s (CTC) Worldwide Incidents Tracking system (WITS) almost 13,200 deaths from terrorism occurred in 2010. More than 75% of these took place in South Asia and the Near East. 97% took place in 15 countries which logged more than 50 deaths from terrorism. Besides the four countries we have been dealing with they are Somalia, India, DR Congo, Russia, Thailand, Colombia, Yemen, Philipiines, Sudan, Iran, Nigeria and Uganda.
GLOBAL TERRORIST DEATHS DECLINE AT CYCLE IN SQUARE
CTC states that although the number of attacks worldwide rose in 2010 by almost 5 percent over the previous year, the number of deaths declined for a third consecutive year, dropping 12 percent from 2009. Worldwide, excluding Iraq, there were 9,822 deaths in 2010, down from 11,656 in 2009 and 10,695 in 2008 and close to the 2007 figure of 9,107. This decline could just possibly be said to correlate with the cycle in square. Unfortunately CTC discontinued WITS in April 2012.
MAJOR TERRORIST INCIDENTS
One final assessment of the degree of correlation of fundamentalist terrorism with this cycle is to examine the frequency and scale of major terrorist bombings only. Throughout this website we have taken 50 deaths as a threshold at which major terrorist incidents start. However to shorten the long list this would produce we have raised that threshold to 100 deaths.
THE BOMBINGS WITH GREATEST FATALITIES ARE OFTEN CO-ORDINATED ATTACKS
We will exclude in transit airplane and long distance train bombings where it is the crash itself that produces most of the fatalities – inevitably these tend to have a very high death count. The list also excludes all actions where the military (official or rebel) or airforce play a central role and only covers bombings not shootings (unless an unquantified mix). Attacks by drug cartels are ignored. The following Table lists the year and month, the country, the number killed (excludes suicide bombers themselves but not other attackers) and where relevant the city or target group. The years where one of the cycle’s four stages is in orb are in RED
1983 October Lebanon 299
1985 May Sri Lanka 146
1985 November Colombia 100
1987 April Sri Lanka 110
1990 August Sri Lanka 147
1993 March India 257 (Mumbai)
1995 April USA 168 (Oklahoma)
1995 June Russia 172 (Stavropol)
1998 January Algeria 260* (Sidi Hamed)
1998 August Tanzania/Kenya 223 (US Embassies)
1999 September Russia 293 (Apartment bombs)**
2001 August Angola 252 (derailed train attack)
2001 September USA 2,973 (9/11 plane attacks
2002 May Colombia 117
2002 October Indonesia 202 (Bali club bombings)
2002 October Russia 160 (Moscow Theatre)
2004 February Iraq 117 (Mosul)
2004 February Singapore 116 (SuperFerry)
2004 March Iraq 106 (Karbala Shia shrine)
2004 March Spain 191 (Madrid)
2004 September Russia 334 (Beslan school)
2006 July India 209 (Trains in Mumbai)
2006 November Iraq 215 (Sadr City)
2007 January Iraq 131 (Baghdad Shia shrine
2007 February Iraq 135 (Baghdad Shia zone)
2007 March Iraq 114 (Hilla Shiite pilgrims)
2007 March Iraq 152 (Tal Afar Shia zone)
2007 April Iraq 200 (Baghdad Shia zone)
2007 August Iraq 796 (Yazidi communities)
2007 October Pakistan 136 (Bhutto attack)
2008 October Pakistan 113 (Orakzai)
2008 November India 173 (Mumbai)
2009 August Iraq 101 (Baghdad Ministries)
2009 October Iraq 155 (Baghdad Green Zone)
2009 October Pakistan 117 (Peshawar)
2009 December Iraq 127 (Baghdad Ministries)
2010 January Pakistan 105 (Lakki Marwat)
2010 July Pakistan 105 (Mohmand Agency)
2012 January Nigeria 185 (Kano by Boko Haram
2012 May Yemen 120 (Sanaa by al-Qaeda
2012 July Iraq 116 (various cities)
2012 August Iraq 128 (various cities)
2012 September Iraq 108 (various cities)
2013 January Pakistan 126 (Quetta)
* mid pont of AFP and Algerian Press figures
+ Source Iraqi Red Crescent
** Some analysts have suggested these were not terrorist attacks
The above yearly major incident figures show the following very qualified correlations:
There is of course no exact correlation but there is an approximate pattern showing. At the 1983 conjunction there is an unprecedented fatality count for 2 Lebanon terrorist attacks – 241 American servicemen and 58 French troops. Then at the 1993 cycle Out square 257 are killed in Mumbai – the largest fatality count since the Lebanon bombings. 1998 and 1999 both have high figures** but at the 2001-2 cycle opposition, in addition to the huge 9/11 figures, 2002 shows the next highest year total of 479. The 2004 total of 864 and the Yazidi massacres of 2007 puts this pattern out of kilter. Yet most importantly at the time of writing after 2007 there are no figures above 185.
Although immersed in these cold figures I should like to emphasise how truly horrifically shocking the scale, frequency and ruthlessness of these attacks has been to research. It is almost impossible for the vast majority of us to imagine the realities of the weekly bloodbath analysed in this chapter – only the journalists, NGOs and others who risked their lives and peace of mind can speak of this.
The next Saturn/Pluto cycle starts in 2020 and is exact on January 12 – coming into orb on 22 December 2018 and staying in orb in orb till 31 January 2021