- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2009

EGYPT

Al-Zawahri says Obama not welcome

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates | Al Qaeda’s second-in-command urged Egyptians to reject President Obama’s planned visit, seen as a charm offensive toward Muslims angered by his predecessor’s policies, and called him a “criminal.”

“Obama … is not welcome in Egypt,” Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian, said in a recording posted on an al Qaeda-linked Islamist Web site on Tuesday.

Mr. Obama’s “bloody messages have been received and are still being received, and they will not be covered by public-relations campaigns or theatrical visits or polished words,” he said.

GUANTANAMO BAY

Yemeni dies of ‘apparent suicide’

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico | A Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo Bay has died of an “apparent suicide,” U.S. military officials said Tuesday.

The Joint Task Force that runs the U.S. prison in Cuba said guards found 31-year-old Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih unresponsive and not breathing in his cell Monday night.

The Yemeni prisoner, known as Al-Hanashi, has been held without charge at Guantanamo since February 2002. Military records show he was about 31. His is the fourth apparent suicide at Guantanamo.

IRAQ

Man sentenced in Briton’s killing

BAGHDAD | An Iraqi man was convicted Tuesday in the 2004 kidnapping and slaying of British aid worker Margaret Hassan and was sentenced to life in prison.

Mrs. Hassan, 59, was one of the high-profile figures who fell victim to the wave of kidnappings that swept the country as the insurgency was gaining traction.

Shortly after her abduction, a terrified Mrs. Hassan was shown on a video pleading for her life and calling on then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw troops from Iraq. She was killed a month later.

The presiding judge handed down the sentence against Ali Lutfi al-Rawi after a one-day trial in an Iraqi court in Baghdad. He faced charges of kidnapping, murder and extortion.

Al-Rawi, a 36-year-old Sunni architect from Baghdad who had pleaded not guilty, was the second suspect charged as part of a gang believed to have kidnapped Mrs. Hassan, who was the director of CARE International in Iraq.

He was captured in March 2008 after he purportedly phoned the British Embassy to demand $1 million in exchange for information about the location of Mrs. Hassan’s remains, which have never been found.

The Dublin-born Mrs. Hassan was married to an Iraqi and had lived in this country for 30 years, spending nearly half her life helping Iraqis. She had joint British-Irish-Iraqi citizenship.

IRAN

Many arrested over street unrest

TEHRAN | Iran has made many arrests in connection with deadly unrest in its southeast and planned violence elsewhere in the country, officials said Tuesday, 10 days before the Islamic republic’s presidential election.

Judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said 20 to 30 people had been detained over street disturbances in the southeastern city of Zahedan in which six people were killed this week. But a police official said many more had been taken into custody.

State television had reported that clashes between backers and opponents of a Sunni cleric broke out in Zahedan on Sunday, three days after a bombing of a Shi’ite mosque killed 25 people in the city, which is home to many of Iran’s minority Sunnis.

ISRAEL

Comedian accused of plot to kill

JERUSALEM | Israel’s one-time king of comedy is being held behind bars on suspicion of ordering mafia-like revenge attacks on TV executives.

Dudu Topaz, 62, whose dazzling career has spiraled down in recent years, is purported to have hired two thugs to beat up the chairman and deputy chairman of commercial Channel 2, who took his show off the air several years ago.

Mr. Topaz, who denies involvement, is also suspected of ordering the beating of the publisher of a newspaper that refused to hire his services, according to police. His neighbor purportedly acted as a middleman between Mr. Topaz and the assailants.

The comedian was arrested on Sunday and remanded on Monday for another eight days in prison. Local media said he is likely to face indictment.

Mr. Topaz shot to stardom in 1980 with a number of TV comedy shows, one of which is said to have had Israel’s highest-ever ratings. He had disappeared from the limelight in recent years after failing to repeat his success.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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