- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

BRITAIN

Bank heist suspects get day in court

LONDON — Three Britons made their first court appearances yesterday on charges stemming from a heist of $92 million from a cash depot in southeast London last month — one of the world’s largest bank thefts.

Police also announced their 14th arrest in the case.

The two men and a woman who appeared at Maidstone Magistrates Court were the first charged with involvement in the robbery of the Securitas Cash Management Ltd. warehouse in Tonbridge.

RUSSIA

Gorbachev turns 75, criticizes U.S.

MOSCOW — Former Soviet leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mikhail Gorbachev turned 75 yesterday, bitter that the end of the Cold War has left the United States with what he called a “superiority complex.”

“It would be in everyone’s interest if that big country America recovered from that disease,” he told journalists.

Mr. Gorbachev, who launched the democratic and economic reforms that ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, described the end of the Cold War as a gift that the United States has squandered.

GERMANY

Opposition wants probe of spying in Iraq

BERLIN — An opposition party warned yesterday that it may trigger a parliamentary probe of German intelligence operations in the Iraq war unless the government addresses more fully a report that its spies passed Iraqi defense plans to U.S. forces.

A leader of the Free Democrats said it could force a parliamentary investigation unless it is satisfied with the government’s rebuttal of the report before a panel of lawmakers on Monday.

The government conceded last week that German intelligence gave limited information on Iraqi forces to U.S. authorities before or during the March 2003 invasion, despite Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s outspoken opposition to the war.

MIDDLE EAST

Palestinians return funds to Washington

The interim Palestinian government has refunded $30 million in aid to the United States because the funds would have reached an authority led by Hamas, which Washington lists as a terrorist group.

C. David Welch, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, told lawmakers yesterday that the money was returned Wednesday and that the Palestinian Authority had promised to refund an additional $20 million before Hamas took over.

SAUDI ARABIA

Al Qaeda tells backers to spare oil wells

CAIRO — Al Qaeda has encouraged its followers to attack oil pipelines and facilities in Muslim countries but not oil wells, according to a document posted on a Web site by the group that targeted the world’s largest oil-processing complex, located in Saudi Arabia.

The document was at least a year old, but al Qaeda’s branch in Saudi Arabia posted it this week on an Islamic militant Web forum to show the justification for the Feb. 24 attempt to blow up the Abqaiq facility.

“The harm caused by targeting oil wells in the lands of Muslims outweigh the benefits because of health and environmental damages and because this will deprive Muslims of the benefit when God allows victory,” the document said. It urged Muslims to attack pipelines and refineries instead.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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