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Volume 8
Number 14
April 2, 2003

Editor: Joseph Trainor

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"APOCALYPTIC" SANDSTORM PLAGUES ALLIES IN IRAQ

Sandstorms described as "apocalyptic" plagued the advance of coalition forces into Iraq last week.

On Tuesday, March 25, 2003, "armored units of the" U.S. Army's "3rd Infantry Division sat out a severe sandstorm 50 miles south of Baghdad, while a column estimated at 4,000 Marines used it as cover to advance toward Al Kut, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of the capital," Baghdad.

"M1A1 Abrams tanks and (M2) Bradley fighting vehicles were the lead elements of a 500-vehicle convoy that comprised all of 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment's ground combat power. The squadron's trek began just outside the town of As Samawah at dusk Monday," March 24, 2003.

"A blinding sandstorm had grounded the helicopters that would usually fly ahead checking for enemy positions."

The 7th Cavalry killed an estimated 150 Iraqi troops "in heavy fighting in Najaf," located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

"And nearly everyone cursed and endured the storm. 'It looks like it's raining sand,' Marine Capt. Neil Murphy said."

"One night in this week of hellish sandstorms here, 1st Sgt. Richard Lillie left Bravo Company trenches to reach three of his soldiers at an observation post about 500 yards (450 meters) away and stepped into a sea of blackness."

"A recurring theme for the infantry living and breathing in the sand-stricken atmosphere of southern Iraq is that this is like nothing they've ever seen before. Adding to the alienation is the certainty that folks back home have no idea what this experience is like from a grunt's eye view."

"The sky is strangely yellow in the daytime and anything beyond 15 feet (4.5 meters) takes on a spectral quality in the billowing dust. Anything farther out simply fades away."

"Soldiers cough and sneeze out dust and blow it out of their noses. Their eyes wash clods of dirt from their irises, leaving little mud balls hanging from their eyelashes. And everything from their ears to their teeth down to their feet is layered with it."

"'I can't even breathe,' says Pfc. Evan R. Brooks, 28, of Sonora, California. 'People who don't even have asthma are using inhalers.'"

"'I didn't expect this at all,' says Pvt. Thomas Lipscomb, 20, of Battle Creek, Michigan, who is an assistant gunner on a 60mm mortar here and has only been in the Army eight months."

"The (American) soldiers wear scarves or neck gaiters over their mouths and noses and goggles over their eyes. Still, sand invests everything."

"'It doesn't bother you that it's in your food, because it's already in your mouth before you start eating,' Lipscomb says."

"'I've never really been to the desert, but this has been like a bad day at the beach.'"

"Late Tuesday afternoon the sky turned pink and then a wave of thick, black sand swept through the area, turning day into night."

In the capital, "the wind's howl buffeted Imad Mohammed's window Tuesday, suffocating the peal of bombs from Baghdad's outskirts."

"To Mohammed, the relentless sandstorm was foreboding, a portent of divine will."

"'The storm is from God (Allah in Arabic--J.T.),' he said, looking out from his trembling window. 'Until the aggression started, never in my life did I see a storm like this. We all believe in God; we all have faith in God. And God is setting obstacles against the Americans.'"

"By evening, the sandstorm gave way to rain. Drops of mud fell on the city, clearing the sky for the last light of dusk. But the winds soon returned, with even more force than before, driving the last cars off the road and shaking (Iraqi) houses like a bombing."

"Imad Mohamed, who saw in the storm divine power, marveled at its force."

"'The only time I saw a storm like this was in the American movie Twister and in the words of the holy Quran (also known as the Koran--J.T.),' he said."

The storms also played havoc with the Allied parachute landing in northern Iraq.

"More than 1,000 soldiers parachuted into Iraq late Wednesday," March 26, 2003, "accompanied by tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. It took hours to dig out the behemoth weapons after they plummeted into vast mud fields created by heavy rainstorms."

On Thursday, March 27, 2003, "paratroopers of the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade" siezed the Harir airfield northeast of the city of Irbil. Iraqi troops, "battered for days by U.S. cruise missiles," retreated from hilltop positions near the town of Chamchamal.

(Editor's Note: This puts the 173rd Airborne Brigade within striking distance of the as-Zab As-Saghir, or Little Zab River valley, also known as "Saddam's Area 51" because of the reputed presence of aliens at Zarzi and Qalaat-e-Julundi. See UFO Roundup, volume 7, number 51 for December 17, 2002, "Saddam's Area 51?" page 2. However, the brigade's main objective is reportedly the city of Kirkuk.)

By Saturday, March 29, 2003, however, the paratroopers "still struggled to establish a base camp in the knee-deep muck of muddy fields," which had been created by three days of non-stop rain.

"It was like a monsoon in Irbil province," Ayesha al- Khatabi, UFO Roundup paratroopers "still struggled to establish a base camp in the knee-deep muck of muddy fields," which had been created by three days of non-stop rain.

"'I trained in the swamps of Florida for two years and I've never seen mud like this,' said Captain Eric Blaus, 30, of Collingswood, New Jersey." Middle East correspondent, reported, "After Saddam's troops pulled out, the Kurds made jokes about climbing Mount Ararat and patching the holes in Noah's Ark."

(See USA Today for March 26, 2003, "Behind the lines with the 3/7 Cav: Ambushes, confusion but survival," page 1A; and March 27, 2003, "Brutal sandstorms testing even the toughest," page 5A; the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for March 26, 2003, "No dearth of wind and fire" and "Sudden darkness compounds G.I.s woes," page 4A; for March 28, 2003, "U.S. paratroopers sieze base, head for oil fields in northern Iraq," page 6A; and for March 29, 2003, "Baghdad ground attack could happen this weekend," page 7A. Many thanks to Steve Wilson Sr. and Ayesha al-Khatabi for the storm reports.)

WEEPING MARY STATUE SHOCKS VENEZUELA

"Hundreds of Venezuelan (Roman) Catholics are flooding to a small chapel in Caracas," the national capital, "where they say a Virgin Mary statue has been weeping tears of blood as a powerful message against a looming U.S.-led war with Iraq."

"Worshipers have lined up to catch a glimpse of the small Santa Maria, Reina de la Rosa Misteriosa (Spanish for St. Mary of the Mystic Rose--J.T.) statue at Belen College in eastern Caracas. Tracks of red stains mark the cheeks of the blue-eyed statue, which resides in an ornate wood and glass case inside the school's chapel."

(Editor's Note: The lady's birth name is Miriam bat- Joachim, and she was born in Nazareth around 15 B.C.)

"Workers at the school, which is run by nuns, said the statue had bled from its eyes since Monday morning," March 17, 2003, "and again more heavily Wednesday," March 19, 2003, "in what they say was a message of peace."

President George W. Bush ordered the first Tomahawk missile strikes against Baghdad at 7:12 p.m., Wednesday evening, March 19, 2003.

"'They started oozing blood all at once. It was really an amazing sight,' said Sister Maritza, who is a member of the Servants of Jesus religious order. 'We cannot guess at the plans of God, but obviously it is a call to avoid a war.'"

Sister Maritza "said the statue had arrived in Venezuela from Germany about three years ago and had been carried in processions throughout the predominantly Catholic South American nation." (See the Daily Telegraph for March 24, 2003. Many thanks to Robert Fischer and Mohammed Daud al-Hayyat for this report.)

(Editor's Comment: Okay, that's two portents just before the outbreak of the current war. The other was the bleeding portrait of Jesus Christ in India. For more, see UFO Roundup, volume 8, number 11 for March 12, 2003, "Weeping Jesus portrait causes stir in India," page 7.)

STRANGE TALES OF GULF WAR 2

Some very unusual stories are coming out of Gulf War 2, the current conflict in Iraq. Here are a few of them:

(1) Veiled Reference to Zarzi? - On Tuesday, March 25, 2003, BBC World Service carried a speech by a spokesman for the regime of embattled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. At one point, the Iraqi spokesman, commenting upon the "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad, said, "Even the people of other planets...if they exist...are against this war."

"Who are these 'people of other planets?'" asked Ayesha al-Khatabi, one of UFO Roundup's Middle East correspondents. "Some ufologists in our region believe this is a reference to the aliens to whom Saddam gave sanctuary a few years ago. They are alleged to be at the underground base in Zarzi or at the old citadel of Qalaat- e-Julundi," both located in the upper Little Zab valley near the Kurdish zone.

(2) Message from Beyond - On Saturday, March 22, 2003, Christian seeress Annelore Sent reported, "Then the Holy Spirit directed me toward the north of Iraq and began deep, heavy intercession, calling for a Shield of Protection. To where it found, apparently, the greatest and real danger to our troops landing in the north of Iraq, where Saddam has apparently set a trap for our troops."

(Editor's Comment: Another possible reference to the Zarzi aliens?)

(3) Still Hunting for Osama - In his column News of the Weird, Chuck Shepherd reported, "Top Pentagon and CIA officials met with the author of The Bible Code, who said Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts can be detected by connecting letters from ancient Hebrew."

(4) Following in Grandma's Footsteps - A German architect named Karl Esser gave an interview in Munich last week, in which he claimed "that he helped a company design a bunker under Saddam Hussein's palace in Baghdad in the early 1980s that is likely to withstand even the newest non-nuclear bombs."

Besser designed the mammoth bunker, which is located 100 meters (330 feet) beneath Saddam Hussein's palace in Baghdad. He said the bunker "is able to withstand simultaneous strikes by up to 16 American cruise missiles." He also said he doubts any American bombs "can breach the bunker, which extends more than 19,400 square feet, has a ceiling up to 2 meters (6 feet, 6 inches) thick and two exit tunnels."

"Esser said he planned most of the bunker, organizing the delivery of equipment such as an air supply system, power generators and heavy doors used to seal the shelter. It was completed in 1984 and cost $60 million, he said."

Bunker-building apparently runs in the family. Sixty years ago, in the 1940s, Esser's grandmother, also an architect, worked for the Organisation Todt under Albert Speer. She designed the Fuhrerbunker under the Chancellery building in Berlin for Adolf Hitler. (See WorldNet Daily for March 23, 2003, the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for March 28, 2003, page 15, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for March 31, 2003, "German engineer: Saddam's bunker hard to crack," page A5.)

WOMAN PHOTOGRAPHS PHANTOM PANTHER IN SOMERSET, UK

"Police have stepped up patrols around a Somerset (UK) village after a woman spotted a 'panther-like creature.'"

"The woman reported seeing the large cat in a field at Puriton, near Bridgwater, Somerset, at about 9 a.m. Sunday morning," March 16, 2003.

"She described the animal, which was black, as the size of a Labrador" retreiver dog.

"Officers investigating the sighting are wanting to examine a photograph of the creature taken by the woman."

"A spokesman said they were keeping an open mind about the sighting."

"'Police are aware and are increasing patrols in the area. If we get a lot more sightings in the same area, it will be something we would actively investigate further.'"

"He asked anyone else who spotted a similar creature to contact police." (See the BBC News broadcast for March 19, 2003. Merci beaucoup a Robert Fischer pour ces nouvelles.)

ORANGE FIREBALL SIGHTED BY HUNDREDS IN ITALY

"According to the prefecture of Isernia, nurmerous observations made during the late evening of Saturday, March 15, 2003 were received the the Isernia police's provincial command switchboard in regards to an unidentified flying object which had fallen in a wooded area near the town of Venafro, setting off a fire which was rapidly brought under control" by Italian firefighters.

"No object was found in the area, and snowfalls over the ensuing days imperiled further investigation. Initially, the authorities were worried about a public furor, denying that the fire had been caused by a meteorite or a piece of space wreckage, and suggesting instead that the incident had to do with a lightning strike."

"As a rebuttal to such statements, witnesses have meanwhile come forth with testimony in which they claim to have distinctly observed a long fiery trail of an orange color, passing overhead from a southerly direction and then falling into the woods of Monte Corno (mountain) where, immediately following the impact, the witnesses saw flames break out." (See the Italian newspapers Il Giornale del Molise and La Stampa for March 17 and 18, 2003. Grazie a Edoardo Russo, Renzo Cabassi, Roberto Labanti e Gildo Persone di Centro Italiano di Studi Ufologici (CISU) per questo rapporto.)

DAYLIGHT UFOs HOVER OVER SANTIAGO DE CHILE

"Several unidentified flying objects were reported at noontime on" Friday, March 21, 2003 "by dozens of people in the barrio Providencia (neighborhood) of Santiago," the capital of Chile.

"A group of lights hovered directly over the city, just above the intersection of the Calle 11 de Septiembre and the Calle Marchant Pereira (streets)."

"Various witnesses to the phenomena made it known to Terra Chile. According to them, the sighting involved a large circular object of intense brilliance which was accompanied by other lesser (smaller) objects. Some witnesses claim to have seen up to seven objects around it."

Chilean UFO researchers "received many phone calls shortly after the event. Up to now, the authorities of the General Office of Civil Aviation have not produced any explanation for the event." (Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales y Guillermo Gimenez de Planeta UFO para eso informe.)

UFOs SEEN AT MOUNTAIN IN NORTHERN MEXICO

A UFO has been seen three times in recent week near the summit of El Cerro del Pueblo, a mountain in Mexico's northern state of Chihuahua.

Roland M. Tremblay reports that on Sunday, March 16, 2003, at 5 a.m., Gonzalez Ponce and other witnesses saw a UFO hovering above the mountaintop. The mountain itself is on the outskirts of Villa Lopez in Chihuahua state, not far from the so-called "Zone of Silence."

"The last sighting happened very recently," Tremblay reported, "March 16, and was witnessed by half of the village (of Villa Lopez--J.T.). The UFOs appear to get out from the top of the mountain through a wormhole or an interdimensional window. The site is one of the most important deposits of barite, a barium-bearing mineral. The barium could be what gives them the necessary energy to accomplish this, as if the barite deposit was utilized as a giant superconductor to channel gravitational/ electromagnetic forces from the core of the Earth."

"More and more witnesses are coming forward, and now there are reports of time travel to the year 1645 and some sort of alien underground installation under the mountain." (Email Form Report)

MYSTERIOUS LIGHTS SEEN IN MADISON, WISCONSIN

"I was at a friend's apartment on the west side of Madison, Wisconsin (population 208,054) on Sunday, March 23, 2003," eyewitness Joel N. reported, "I recently purchased a pair of 16X70 binoculars for stargazing and technical viewing. The sky was finally clear for a couple of nights after days of clouds, and I wanted my friend to check out Jupiter. We went out his patio door, and my friend was attempting to look at Jupiter through my binoculars. I was talking about how I could see Saturn earlier in the evening when I suddenly saw six dim reddish lights in a V-formation moving slowly from the south. Three on one side and three on the other."

"I said to my friend, 'What the hell is that!?'"

"He started to say, 'That's an airpla...' when he realized there was absolutely no sound; the lights were not flashing; and it was too close and large to be an airplane with no sound."

"I would guess that if I held my hand at arm's length, it would be just smaller than my hand. I pulled my binocs from him to take a closer look. I couldn't see it in my binocs at all. I took the binocs away from my eyes and said, 'Where the hell did it go?'"

"He pointed to it, but I couldn't see it any more, and then he told me it had disappeared. He said it never changed pace or direction."

At first Joel and his friend thought the V-formation "was a flock of Canada geese reflecting red light from the ground" but "after we talked about it, we agreed that the speed and formation of the dim reddish lights were perfect the whole time and, most likely, rectangular shaped." (Many thanks to John and Jenny Hoppe of UFO Wisconsin for this report.)

MORE UFOs SPOTTED NEAR TERRACE, BRITISH COLUMBIA

More UFOs have been sighted in Canada's western province of British Columbia, notably around the town of Terrace, B.C.

On Sunday, March 23, 2003, at 7:40 p.m., a UFO, "grayish white in colour, round and extremely bright, became immediately two times as bright before speeding by" Terrace, B.C. "again and continuing towards the northwest. The object moved from Kitimat, B.C. in the southwest to the north. It also moved very quickly. Before heading toward the city, it had slowed significantly over Thornhill. There were two witnesses to the sighting."

On Tuesday, March 25, 2003, at 8:55 p.m., "the witness had just stepped outside to have a cigarette and said he noticed this 'thing' out of the corner of his eye. The witness said the craft was seen just above the clouds after it broke into a clearing in the night sky. He described the object as being very large, black, triangular in shape, with three points of light on each of the object's corners."

"He also noticed that the object moved very fast and was totally silent. He said the object was flying over Highway 401 near Burnaby Mountain," just outside Coquitlam, B.C. "The object was observed for three to four seconds."

"'It freaked me right out!' the witness said."

Canadian ufologist Brian Vike checked with local meterologists and learned that the cloud ceiling was 11,000 feet (3,300 meters) over Coquitlam that night. (Many thanks to Brian Vike for these reports.)

READER FEEDBACK:

JELU'S FATHER IS REALLY...JOHN D. MacDONALD!?

Concerning the Jelu story in UFO Roundup, volume 6, number 19 for May 10, 2001, Thomas R. Mazanec writes, "The Jimenez affair in Ayacucho (Peru) in 1955 is strikingly similar to the short story, 'Ring Around the Redhead' by John MacDonald. It was published in Startling Stories (for) November 1948 and anthologized in a number of collections (including):

      Science Fiction Adventures in Dimension
      Adventures in Dimension
      Other Worlds, Other Times
      Love 3000
      Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories #10

"It was also dramatized in Tales from the Darkside on October 17, 1985 with Penelope Ann Miller as Keena the alien."

(Editor's Note: Although he's best remembered for his Travis McGee mystery novels, John Dann MacDonald (1915- 1986) also wrote science fiction for the pulp magazine market during the late 1940s. Nice piece of literary detective work, Tom!
It is possible that MacDonald's 1948 short story was the initial source of the "Jelu in Ayacucho" tale I first heard in Peru back in 1973. Especially if one of those anthologies was translated into Spanish and published in paperback before 1970.
Can any of our Spanish-speaking readers shed more light on this?)


From the UFO Files...

1944: THE MAD GASSER...MYSTERY SOLVED?

Of all the strange entities that showed up in the Twentieth Century, none were quite as weird as the Mad Gasser of Mattoon.

This real-life "super-villain," dressed like a character out of DC's All-Star Comics, prowled the streets of Mattoon, Illinois (population 18,291), during August and September 1944, "appearing at night at the bedroom windows of houses, in most cases those of women. Sometimes he sprayed a noxious gas inside. Some people reported various ailments and a general malaise after the gassings."

But now, after nearly sixty years, one man thinks he has the answer to the Mad Gasser's secret.

"Scott Maruna is ready to name names."

"For two years, he has researched leads, interviewed witnesses and pored over every bit of information he could dig up on the Mad Gasser of Mattoon."

"He has studied police reports, pondered newspaper accounts and constructed criminal profiles."

"'I think I have almost been obsessed with the case for the past two years,' Maruna said, 'I have probably read everything ever written about the Mad Gasser of Mattoon.'"

"After countless hours of hard work and investigation, Maruna said he has made some startling discoveries, including secrets surrounding the case that have been buried for the last sixty years."

"Maruna said he uncovered the true identity of the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, and while the name of the gasser may come as no surprise to some long-time Mattoon residents, he believes most people will be shaken by what he calls 'the other half of the story.'"

"According to Maruna's recently-released book The Mad Gasser of Mattoon: Dispelling the Hysteria, the real Mad Gasser was not an escaped Nazi, a crazed ape-man or a figment of the imagination, as many other publications have reported over the last several decades."

"Instead, Maruna's theory suggests that the gasser was actually a well-known resident of Mattoon--someone from an influential family who had a grudge against many area residents and desired revenge against a town that would not accept him."

"That person, according to Maruna's book, was Farley Llewellyn, the son of a grocer who was considered 'a pillar of the community.'"

"Although his father was highly respected, Farley never 'fit in' to the Mattoon community."

"'When I spoke with people who knew him, the same words would keep coming up over and over--odd, different, recluse, loner,' Maruna said, 'Although he was highly intelligent and excelled in school, no one ever really understood him.'"

"When Farley returned to Mattoon after attending the University of llinois as a chemistry major, Maruna's sources report that he became even more introverted and distant."

"Spending most of the time in a full-scale cellar chemistry laboratory on his father's property, Farley began drinking heavily. Only days prior to the first Mad Gasser attack, one neighbor recalls an explosion that resulted from one of Farley's experiments in the secret lab."

"Maruna said he has no doubt that the explosion occurred while Farley was testing the gas he would later use to terrorize local residents. 'I believe his true intent was to blow up the town,' Maruna said."

"Maruna, a Jacksonville chemistry and physics teacher who grew up in Charleston," Illinois (population 21,039) "said the gas Farley used could have been nitromethane, a sweet-smelling, clear and highly volatile liquid that can cause nausea, burning of the mouth, swelling of the lips and minimal eye irritation."

"Because nitromethane evaporates quickly, little or no evidence would often be left by the time police arrived at the scene of the attacks. Following almost all of the attacks, victims describe the gas as smelling 'sweet' with one person comparing it to the smell of cheap perfume."

"It was not long after the gasser attacks began during the first week of September in 1944 that Farley became a suspect. In fact, Maruna said many Mattoon residents told him that they knew Farley was the true Mad Gasser all along."

"Why, then, have police and others remained silent for so long?"

"'It was partly out of respect for Farley's family, primarily his father,' Maruna said. In fact, it was only because all of the Llewellyn family are now dead that many area residents are finally willing to speak out."

"In addition, Maruna said a 'twist' in the case cast a shadow on police suspicions that Farley was the Mad Gasser."

"Farley was placed under constant police surveillance following the first several gassings. However, the attacks continued to occur, baffling police and giving the appearance that Farley was innocent."

"Maruna believes that, in an attempt to clear their brother's name, Farley's two sisters, Florence and Katherine Llewellyn, assumed the role of the Mad Gasser for the final series of attacks."

"According to Maruna's book, the later gassings became much more sloppy and were completely different from the earlier attacks. While Farley had preyed on couples and families during the earlier gassings, his sisters targeted younger victims, often single women."

"The final victim of the gasser reported that her sons chased the culprit down a local alley behind her house and later found a set of footprints under the window where the paralyzing gas had been sprayed--prints that were made by a pair of women's high-heeled shoes."

"Although Farley was no longer considered a prime suspect in the case, the Llewellyn family placed him in a state mental institution following the final Mad Gasser attack, where he lived out the remainder of his life."

"The Llewellyn sisters were never considered as suspects and remained in Mattoon until their deaths."

"So there you have it, the truth is finally out, or at least one version of it."

"'That is what I love so much about the Mad Gasser case,' Maruna said, 'There are so many opposing viewpoints and I think there is a little bit of truth to all of them." (See the Des Moines Register for March 24, 2003. Also the book Weird America by Jim Brandon, E.P. Dutton, New York, N.Y., 1978, page 81.)

Well, that's it for this week. Join us next time for more UFO, Fortean and paranormal news from around the planet Earth, brought to you by "the paper that goes home- -UFO Roundup." See you in seven days!

UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 2003 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post news items from UFO Roundup on their websites or in news groups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue in which the item first appeared.

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