- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2007

IRAQ

U.S. officer aware of phone restriction

BAGHDAD — A military witness said yesterday that a U.S. officer charged with the capital offense of aiding the enemy knew he was making a mistake by letting high-value Iraqi detainees use his cell phone to make unmonitored calls to people outside the prison.

Lt. Col. William H. Steele, 51, an Army reservist from Virginia, also is accused of fraternizing with a detainee’s daughter, illegally storing classified material, failing to obey an order, and dereliction of duty regarding government funds.

“He knew the monitoring program was in place, but he still let detainees use his cell phone” in privacy, said U.S. Special Agent John C. Nocella. The charge of aiding the enemy is tied to Col. Steele’s time as a military police commander at Camp Cropper, where Saddam Hussein was held before he was hanged.

NORTH AFRICA

Al Qaeda financing found through crime

MADRID — Al Qaeda’s North African operations are funded with money made through crime and charitable fundraising in Spain and France, a Spanish judicial investigation has found.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported yesterday that a team of prosecutors and judges had unearthed in the two countries a complex web of sleeper cells that finance terrorists in North Africa. It said investigators found that petty crime and the use of offshore funds are al Qaeda’s key revenue sources.

In one example, money from the Bahamas reached a cell in Spain that sought to mask its activities by creating bogus receipts in the name of a Japanese company, El Pais said.

Al Qaeda recently stepped up operations in the Maghreb region of North Africa via its Algerian offshoot, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, the main extremist organization in Algeria.

WEST BANK

Palestinian farmer shot by Israeli troops

HEBRON — A Palestinian farmer was wounded yesterday when Israeli soldiers opened fire at him near Ibna, a West Bank village, a Palestinian security source said.

Ibrahim Tmezi, 45, was shot while working in his fields, the source said. An army spokesman said the shooting occurred after the Palestinian threw stones and damaged an Israeli vehicle.

“The soldiers first fired into the air, but when this did not help they aimed at his legs,” the spokesman said. ”

Weekly notes …

Turkey’s foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, the sole candidate in Turkey’s presidential election, won’t attend international talks on Iraq in Egypt tomorrow and Friday, officials said yesterday. State Minister Mehmet Aydin, responsible for religious affairs, is to accompany senior diplomats and represent Turkey at the talks in Sharm el Sheik.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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