- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 25, 2004

FRANCE

Magistrate widens bin Laden funds probe

PARIS — A French judge has widened a probe into the financial network surrounding the family of Osama bin Laden after questioning his half-brother and learning of a 241-million euro ($325 million) transfer to Pakistan, Le Monde said.

Investigating Magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke received court authorization to extend his investigation after Yeslam bin Laden was questioned on Sept. 27 over charges of links with the organizers of the September 11 attacks in the United States, the paper said yesterday.

On Dec. 5, 2001, French authorities opened an investigation into financial transfers carried out through Paris between firms grouped within the Saudi Investment Co. run by Yeslam bin Laden, who also manages some assets of the family’s Saudi Binladin Group.

Although Yeslam bin Laden denied having had any contact with his half-brother for the past 20 years, the paper said, documents held by Swiss banking authorities suggest that he and Osama bin Laden held a joint account in Switzerland between 1990 and 1997, according to a private investigator hired by families of the September 11 victims.

AFGHANISTAN

Qanooni to lead opposition party

KABUL — Younus Qanooni, the runner-up in the historic Afghan presidential elections, yesterday congratulated President Hamid Karzai on the formation of his Cabinet, but said he is forming an opposition political party, called New Afghanistan.

Mr. Qanooni, an ethnic Tajik who had served as Mr. Karzai’s interior and education minister, said he has deep respect for Mr. Karzai, but felt he could best serve the nation by becoming a leading opposition figure.

Mr. Karzai described Mr. Qanooni as “a friend” and said he left him out of the Cabinet so he could start an opposition party ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for April.

HONDURAS

2 suspects held in bus massacre

TEGUCIGALPA — Authorities yesterday announced the arrest of two additional suspects in an attack on a bus that killed 28 passengers and wounded 14, while thousands of soldiers searched for more of the gunmen and families buried the victims.

Six children and 22 adults died Thursday when suspected gang members wielding assault rifles cornered a city bus in the San Pedro Sula suburb of Chamelecon, 125 miles north of the capital, Tegucigalpa, and sprayed it with gunfire.

RUSSIA

12 suspected of Islamist ties held

MOSCOW — Russian authorities have arrested 12 suspected members of the banned Hizbi Tahrir radical Islamic group, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said yesterday.

He said the arrests were carried out in the mainly Muslim Russian republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, as well as the Moscow region. Joint operations against Hizbi Tahrir, or the Party of Islamic Liberation, were continuing in the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, he said.

INDIA

Rebel leaders come home for Christmas

DHANFHIPARA — Dozens of rebels in battle fatigues sang Christmas carols in a bamboo church in India’s restive Northeast yesterday as two of their leaders returned for Christmas after 20 years of self-exile.

Armed guerrillas stood guard outside the thatched church in a sprawling dusty field in the forests of Dhanfhipara in Nagaland, where some 20,000 people have died in a separatist campaign led by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland.

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