- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 19, 2010

PAKISTAN

Jailed Americans claim torture

SARGODHA | Five Americans arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of terrorism told a court Monday that they had been tortured by police — charges that could add to political sensitivities surrounding the case.

The men made the allegations during a hearing before a special anti-terrorism court in the eastern town of Sargodha. The session was held in order for police to submit a charge sheet that says the suspects had conspired in a terrorist act, a formal legal step that brings them closer to a possible indictment.

The men also shouted the allegations to reporters as they were driven from the building. No details as to the nature of the purported torture were given.

Prison authorities and police denied any ill-treatment. A U.S. Embassy spokesman said he had no immediate comment about the torture allegations, but noted consular officials have visited the men.

The five men, all young Muslims from the Washington area, were detained in December at a house in the Punjabi town of Sargodha, 120 miles south of Islamabad, not long after arriving in Pakistan.

CANADA

Judge sentences ‘Toronto 18’ ringleader

BRAMPTON, Ontario | A Canadian judge on Monday sentenced the ringleader of a homegrown terrorist plot to set off truck bombs in Ontario to life in prison.

Zakaria Amara, 24, pleaded guilty in October. He acknowledged being a leader of the so-called Toronto 18 plot to set off bombs outside Toronto’s Stock Exchange, a building housing Canada’s spy agency and a military base. The goal was to scare Canada into removing its troops from Afghanistan. The 18 were arrested in 2006.

Judge Bruce Durno said the attack would have been the most horrific crime in Canada’s history if the plot been successful.

IRAQ

Gunmen kill 5 at aid office

BAGHDAD | Officials said gunmen broke into the office of an Iraqi humanitarian organization in Baghdad on Monday and killed five employees.

The attackers also left behind a bomb, which exploded later when security forces arrived at the scene, according to an interior ministry official and a police officer. They said the blast in the mainly Sunni Azamiyah neighborhood in northern Baghdad wounded two members of Iraqi security forces.

An official said that the head of charity, Alaa al-Qaisi, was wounded in the attack, while two of his brothers were among the dead.

NIGERIA

Torching of church sets off deadly riot

JOS | Angry Muslim youths set a church filled with worshippers ablaze in northern Nigeria, starting a riot that killed at least 27 people and wounded more than 300 others in the latest religious violence in the region, officials said Monday.

About 5,000 people lost their homes as rioters also burned mosques and homes in Jos, a city that saw more than 300 residents killed during a similar uprising in 2008, said local Red Cross official Auwal Muhammad Madobi.

Sani Mudi, a spokesman for the local imam, said 22 people died Sunday after rioters set fire to a Catholic church, starting a daylong wave of violence between Christians and Muslims. Five others died Monday from their wounds, and police and soldiers set up numerous road blocks throughout Jos.

TURKEY

Pope attacker freed from prison

ANKARA | The Turkish man who shot Pope John Paul II nearly 29 years ago emerged from prison Monday, declared himself a messenger from God, then spent his first night of freedom in a luxury hotel room.

Mehmet Ali Agca, 52, shot John Paul on May 13, 1981, as the pope rode in an open car in St. Peter’s Square. The pontiff was hit in the abdomen, left hand and right arm. John Paul met with Mr. Agca in Italy’s Rebibbia prison in 1983 and forgave him.

Following his release, Mr. Agca was taken to a military hospital, where doctors concluded he was unfit for compulsory military service. Upon his arrival later at the five-star Sheraton hotel, he addressed reporters in English. “I will meet you in the next three days,” Mr. Agca said. “In the name of God Almighty, I proclaim the end of the world in this century. All the world will be destroyed, every human being will die. I am not God, I am not son of God, I am Christ eternal.”

GERMANY

Israeli Cabinet meets in Berlin

BERLIN | Israel’s Cabinet convened Monday for the first time in Berlin, the former heart of the Nazi regime, for a special joint session with the German government highlighting the two nations’ strong bond six decades after the Holocaust.

The focus, though, was not on threats gone by but on one that may loom in the future - the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran.

After the joint session, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Iran will face new sanctions if it doesn’t change course on its nuclear program.

BRITAIN

Hackers attack Jewish newspaper

LONDON | Turkish hackers attacked the Web site of Britain’s flagship Jewish newspaper, replacing the main page with a Palestinian flag and anti-Semitic writings, the paper’s editor said Monday.

The Web site for the Jewish Chronicle • the world’s oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper — was defaced for a “couple of hours” on Sunday, editor Stephen Pollard said Monday.

In a message posted in English and Turkish, a group calling itself the “Palestinian Mujaheeds” quoted from the Koran and attacked Jews in anti-Semitic terms.

The paper said “early indications” were that the cyberattack’s perpetrators were operating from a computer in Turkey. It comes a week after the eruption of a damaging diplomatic feud between Israel and Turkey.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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