- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2008

GERMANY

3 Iraqis convicted of plot to kill Allawi

STUTTGART | Three Iraqis were convicted and sentenced to prison Tuesday for plotting to kill then-Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi during a visit to Germany in 2004.

The Stuttgart state court convicted the three of attempted participation in murder and membership in the terrorist organization Ansar al-Islam, a radical Islamic group linked to al Qaeda.

Ringleader Ata Abdoulaziz Rashid was given a 10-year sentence. Co-defendants Rafik Mohamad Yousef and Mazen Ali Hussein, also known as Mazen Salah Mohammed, were sentenced to eight and seven years. The men were arrested in pre-dawn raids in December 2004.

MALAYSIA

Arrest warrant issued for Anwar

KUALA LUMPUR | Police issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in connection with a sodomy accusation by a former male aide, his lawyer said.

Counsel Sankara Nair said police told him Mr. Anwar was formally “a suspect” in the case and faxed him a letter asking the politician to appear at a police station for questioning before Wednesday at 2 p.m.

The sodomy accusation, made last month, injected an unexpected twist into Malaysia’s politics, already in turmoil. The ruling party suffered badly at the hands of Mr. Anwar’s three-party People’s Alliance in the March 8 general elections.

SPAIN

Madrid opposes Basque referendum

MADRID | The Spanish government filed a lawsuit Tuesday with the Constitutional Court to block plans by the Basque region to hold a referendum that many see as a move toward independence.

State lawyers acted after the Basque regional government on Tuesday published its plan to hold the referendum Oct. 25, the Justice Ministry said.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialist government says the referendum is unconstitutional because only the central government, not a regional administration, can authorize such a vote.

The Basque government insists the nonbinding vote is a popular consultation, and not a referendum. With it, the regional government seeks the views of Basque residents on the separatist group ETA’s armed conflict and the region’s future political status.

BELGIUM

French-Dutch divide topples government

BRUSSELS | Belgium’s government collapsed Tuesday, unable to resolve an enduring divide over more self-rule for the country’s Dutch and French speakers. The gap was so wide the prime minister suggested the end of Belgium as a country was looming.

King Albert II immediately began discussions with lawmakers to try to resolve the situation, talks expected to take several days. He did not formally accept the resignation of the government offered by Prime Minister Yves Leterme late Monday, so Mr. Leterme’s government stays on in a caretaker capacity.

Mr. Leterme failed to get his Cabinet - an unwieldy alliance of Christian Democrats, Liberals, Socialists and nationalist hard-liners from both language camps that took office March 20 - to agree on a future together by devolving more federal powers to Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia.

ITALY

Ultra-light aircraft eyed as terror tool

ROME | A judge in Venice indicted an Iraqi on Tuesday who is suspected of plotting a terrorist attack on U.S. bases in Iraq using ultra-light aircraft.

Saber Fadhil Hussien was ordered to face a fast-track trial starting Nov. 18 on international terrorism charges, said his lawyer, Giorgio Pietramala.

Investigators believe Mr. Hussien, a former member of ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, had been in touch with followers of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the founder of al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed by a U.S. air strike in 2006.

Mr. Hussien had been living in Italy for 25 years, operating kiosks that sold kebabs.

WEST BANK

Israel rounds up Hamas activists

NABLUS | Israeli troops arrested seven Hamas activists Tuesday, including two municipal council members, in a widening crackdown on the Islamic militant group in Nablus, residents said.

The Israeli military confirmed that it arrested seven Palestinians in the city but did not elaborate.

Residents said troops seized the two Hamas city council members, a senior Hamas activist and other Palestinians known for their close ties to the group, including Hanin Darwazi, the head of a local women’s organization.

Hamas, a militant Islamic group, has a large, active women’s section. But arrests of Hamas women are infrequent. Tuesday’s pre-dawn sweep followed the closure in Nablus last week by the Israeli military of a shopping mall, a TV station and a newspaper, all with purported ties to Hamas.

JAPAN

Striking fishermen protest fuel prices

TOKYO | Fishermen across Japan went on a massive one-day strike Tuesday to protest skyrocketing fuel prices, the latest blow to the country’s foundering fishing industry.

The strike was the largest ever for the industry, involving 200,000 boats and 400,000 workers, organizers said. More than 3,000 fishermen from across the country gathered in central Tokyo and marched around the fisheries ministry in protest.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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