- - Monday, October 25, 2010

CANADA

Terrorist sentenced for leading plot

BRAMPTON, Ontario | The ringleader of a homegrown terrorist group was sentenced Monday to 16 years in prison for leading a terror cell plotting to attack Canada’s Parliament buildings, electrical grids and nuclear stations.

Fahim Ahmad had pleaded guilty in May trial to participating in a terrorist group, importing firearms and instructing his co-accused to carry out an activity for a terrorist group.

Ahmad and 17 others were arrested and charged with terrorism offenses in 2006. The group became known as the Toronto 18.

The court heard that Ahmad, 26, was the leader of a terror cell and held two training camps to assess his recruits’ suitability. Under his direction, plans were made to attack nuclear stations and storm Parliament, taking politicians hostage until Canada gave in to his demands to pull troops from Afghanistan.

Outside the Brampton courtroom, prosecution lawyer Croft Michaelson said he was pleased with the sentence. “We’ve sent out a strong signal to the community that these type of offenses will not be tolerated in Canada, and it reflects the seriousness of the crime,” he said.

VENEZUELA

Chavez says in Libya country submits to no one

TRIPOLI, Libya | Visiting President Hugo Chavez said Saturday Venezuela would not submit to any outside supervision after warnings from the United States over Caracas’s decision to build its first nuclear power plant.

“We will not accept being supervised by anyone,” Mr. Chavez said in Libya after being awarded an honorary degree at Tripoli’s Academy of Higher Education.

The firebrand president said Venezuela’s Oct. 15 agreement with Russia to build and operate the Latin American country’s first nuclear power station was “a sovereign choice.”

“Venezuela is not afraid of American imperialism,” he said.

On Tuesday, President Obama backed Venezuela’s efforts to develop nuclear power for civilian energy purposes, but also said Caracas had “obligations.”

“Our attitude is that Venezuela has rights to peacefully develop nuclear power,” he said, adding that as a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty it must also meet its obligations not to weaponise those systems.

Mr. Chavez on Wednesday signed 11 deals with Tehran focused on energy cooperation between the two major oil producers and U.S. foes.

CUBA

Self-employment rules made official

HAVANA | Cuba has made official the grand economic changes it announced last month, publishing nearly 100 pages of rules and regulations for small businesses in the government Gazette.

The move means eagerly anticipated licenses for the self-employed should be around the corner, and already on Monday, lines of potential entrepreneurs formed at several government offices around the capital.

Cuba announced on Sept. 13 that it would lay off half a million workers and push many of them into the private sector. It later detailed some 178 private jobs that will be allowable, the most significant economic changes on the island since the early 1990s. But the rules did not become law until they were published Monday.

They allow Cubans over the age of 17 to start their own business, as long as they are permanent residents. Citizens can also apply for licenses for more than one business. They will even be allowed to sell their services to the state, though there will be strict transparency rules to try to stave off corruption.

MEXICO

Ex-prosecutor’s brother shown on video

CIUDAD JUAREZ | A video posted online shows the kidnapped brother of a former Mexican state attorney general claiming at gunpoint that he and his sister worked for a drug gang.

The video posted on YouTube shows Mario Gonzalez sitting in a chair, handcuffed and surrounded by five masked men pointing guns at him.

Mr. Gonzalez is the brother of Patricia Gonzalez, who stepped down Oct. 3 as attorney general of the border state of Chihuahua. Mario Gonzalez was kidnapped Thursday.

A state attorney general’s office spokesman confirmed Monday that the man in the video is Mario Gonzalez.

In the video, Gonzalez says at gunpoint that his sister aided La Linea, a street gang tied to the Juarez cartel.

MEXICO

Police nab Chinese smuggler

MEXICO CITY | Mexican federal police have captured the suspected leader of a gang that trafficked Chinese migrants through Mexico to the U.S.

The Public Safety Department says Huang Chen Yaowei was arrested after a joint investigation with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Another suspect, Zhendi Li, was arrested in New York.

A department statement Friday said Mr. Huang charged $80,000 to move groups of Chinese illegally to the U.S. Accomplices brought the migrants from China to Mexico, where they were put up in hotels while awaiting fake passports.

The federal police detained eight Chinese migrants in the raid to arrest Huang. They also seized more than $70,000 in U.S. and Mexican currency.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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