- The Washington Times - Monday, August 31, 2009

SAUDI ARABIA

Al Qaeda boasts of infiltration success

CAIRO | Al Qaeda claimed responsibility Sunday for a suicide attack that injured a Saudi prince and said the bomber — a wanted militant who had fled to Yemen — arrived on a royal jet after convincing the ruling family he wanted to surrender.

Despite the attack on Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, his father, Interior Minister Prince Nayef, said the kingdom would not change its offer for militants to repent. Saudi Arabia has been praised for having one of the world’s best terrorist rehabilitation programs in the world.

Saudi officials said the prince was lightly wounded in the bombing at his home in Jidda on Thursday night while he was receiving well-wishers for the holy month of Ramadan.

The prince and his father are two of the kingdom’s top anti-terrorism officials. Prince Nayef is a half brother of Saudi King Abdullah and one of the most powerful members of the royal family.

AFGHANISTAN

Voting fraud charges keep growing

KABUL | Major fraud complaints in the Afghan presidential election surged Sunday to nearly 700, raising concern that the volume of cases that must be investigated will delay announcement of a winner and formation of a new government.

President Hamid Karzai is leading with 46.2 percent of votes from the Aug. 20 ballot, followed by former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah with 31.4 percent, according to official figures from 35 percent of the polling stations. Mr. Karzai must win more than half the votes to avoid a runoff.

Final results cannot be certified until the election-complaint commission finishes investigating all major fraud allegations. Officials had hoped to release the final tally by Sept. 17, but the huge number of complaints makes that unlikely.

INDIA

Moon unit breaks down

BANGALORE | India terminated its first mission to the moon Sunday, a spokesman for the national space agency said.

Communications with the unmanned Chandrayaan-1 craft broke down early Saturday. The cause of the malfunction is being investigated.

The $79 million mission was launched amid national euphoria in October. A vehicle landed on the moon a month later and sent back images of the lunar surface. But a sensor in the main craft, orbiting the moon, malfunctioned in July, raising fears that the two-year mission might have to be curtailed.

BRITAIN

Lockerbie release linked to oil deal

LONDON | Britain denied Sunday any link between trade with Libya and the Lockerbie bomber’s release after a report suggested London was swayed by an oil deal into making him eligible for a prison transfer home.

The Sunday Times said the government decided two years ago that it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to ensure that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi could at some point be sent back to Libya.

According to letters obtained by the newspaper, Justice Secretary Jack Straw dropped an attempt in 2007 to exclude al-Megrahi from a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya because of “wider negotiations” with Tripoli.

His decision came after discussions between Libya and BP over a massive oil exploration deal became bogged down, the paper said. The deal was ratified by Libya soon afterward.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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