- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 22, 2003

SAUDI ARABIA

Women arrested in militant’s flat

RIYADH — Saudi security forces in the Muslim holy city of Mecca have arrested four Saudi women after raiding a flat rented by a suspected militant, local newspapers said yesterday.

Al-Watan newspaper said the security forces found three rifles, a pistol and live ammunition, as well as a bag full of gold, when they stormed the flat on Friday. Other newspapers reported that police also found a handmade bomb.

The detention of women is rare in the conservative Muslim kingdom. Last month, Saudi authorities also arrested three women, a Syrian and two Moroccans, in a raid against suspects believed to be linked to the May 12 suicide bombings in Riyadh.

AFGHANISTAN

Videocassette warns of suicide attacks

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A masked militant, speaking in a video taped in a mud hut, warns of new al Qaeda suicide attacks and says Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network carried out deadly bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

If authentic, the video would be the first al Qaeda claim of responsibility for the suicide attacks on foreign housing compounds in Riyadh, which killed 26 persons and nine attackers, and bombings in Casablanca that killed 43 persons and 12 attackers.

Obtained yesterday by the Associated Press, the videotape also appeared to reflect an increasing alliance of three top opponents of the United States in Afghanistan: Al-Qaeda; the remnants of the former Taliban regime; and the followers of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan rebel leader whom the United States calls a terrorist and has tried to kill.

The videotape was obtained from a senior intelligence official in Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami organization. The official confirmed that the speaker on the tape was speaking for Hekmatyar’s party, which he said was working with al Qaeda and the Taliban.

TUNISIA

Little hope left for lost immigrants

SFAX, Tunisia — Rescuers off the coast of Tunisia in North Africa yesterday scaled down their search for nearly 200 clandestine immigrants missing after their overloaded boat capsized on its way to Europe.

A strong wind and deteriorating weather may mean that no more bodies are found. Twelve persons were confirmed drowned, their bodies taken from the sea by rescuers, 197 were missing and 41 survived after the boat laden with clandestine immigrants from Africa capsized in high seas southeast of the Tunisian industrial city of Sfax.

IRAN

Returning Mojahedin reunited with families

TEHRAN — A group of 22 former members of the People’s Mojahedin opposition group were reunited with their families in Iran yesterday, the latest batch of “repentant” fighters to return home since their bases in Iraq came under attack.

The men, who all described themselves as having been prisoners of the cult-like militia, were reunited with the aid of Iranian Rescue Association, a nongovernmental organization set up to “help those deceived by the hypocrites return to their families.”

According to the official news agency IRNA, the 22 former opposition cadres fled Iraq in June, soon after their main base near Baghdad was targeted by the U.S.-led coalition invading Iraq.

BELGIUM

Close to changing genocide law

BRUSSELS — Negotiators putting together a new Belgian government are close to reaching an agreement to amend Belgium’s controversial genocide law, which has soured relations between Belgium and the United States.

Belgium has been sharply criticized, especially by the United States, for a law empowering its courts to try foreigners for war and human rights crimes, no matter where committed.

Belgian radio VRT reported that the country’s Liberal and Socialist parties, which are putting together a new government, are close to reaching an agreement through which the law would be amended.

Under the plan, the law would apply only if a lawsuit in question had a link with Belgium, for example, if the victim or the perpetrators were Belgian.

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