- The Washington Times - Monday, December 24, 2001

American Taliban met with bin Laden
NEW YORK John Walker, the American Taliban, once lived in a secret camp where he attended a small meeting with Osama bin Laden, Newsweek magazine reported yesterday.
At the meeting, "the disciple basked in the glow of his master," the magazine said in its Dec. 31 issue.
Citing sources familiar with information that Walker provided the FBI after his Dec. 2 capture, Newsweek said Walker was eventually trusted enough by the al Qaeda network to live near Kandahar in the main camp, where bin Laden was a frequent presence.
In the months preceding the attacks, al Qaeda leaders presented Walker with a choice: he could follow a course of intensive terrorist instruction or fight as an al Qaeda warrior against the Northern Alliance.
Walker has told U.S. authorities that he chose to fight, avoiding what a Justice Department official described as "martyrdom training," the magazine said.

Ali to become pitchman to Muslims on war
LOS ANGELES Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has agreed to star in a Hollywood-produced advertising campaign designed to explain America and the war in Afghanistan to the Muslim world.
Jack Valenti, who is overseeing the "Hollywood 9/11" public relations effort, said Mr. Ali has tentatively agreed to do a one-minute public service announcement designed for broadcast in several translations over such prominent Middle East networks as Al Jazeera and the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation.
Entertainment industry executives say they hope Mr. Ali has special credibility with the audience because of his conversion to Islam in the 1960s and his refusal to serve in Vietnam when drafted.

Air Force grounds whole C-141 fleet
MEMPHIS, Tenn. The Air Force grounded all C-141s this weekend after a wing on one of the transport planes collapsed as it refueled at Memphis International Airport, spilling 9,000 gallons of jet fuel.
The order from Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., affects 90 C-141s in service worldwide, said Col. Carl Cotney, wing commander of the 164th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard.
The order was given as a precaution until engineers could determine whether the wing failure reflected a problem involving the entire fleet, or just the single plane.

Anthrax vaccine finds few takers
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. People possibly exposed to anthrax at the Boca Raton offices of tabloid publisher American Media Inc. were offered a vaccine taken from military supplies on Saturday, but there were few takers.
Anthrax contamination at the office complex was discovered in early October, when a photo editor died of the inhaled form of the disease after apparently coming into contact with tainted mail. A second employee was infected but survived.
Of more than 1,100 American Media employees and contractors to whom the three-shot series was offered, three decided to take the vaccine, said Tim O'Connor, spokesman for the Palm Beach County health department. Nearly three dozen Boca Raton postal workers and investigators who had been inside the building also were offered the vaccine.
On Saturday, 59 people came to the clinic and were offered a 40-day supply of antibiotics in addition to the military vaccines; 40 people decided to go on the antibiotics.

Train derails near Rochester
ROCHESTER, N.Y. A freight train derailed yesterday, spilling thousands of gallons of chemicals that ignited in a fireball, authorities said. Two nearby houses were heavily damaged.
At least seven of the 42 cars of the CSX Corp. jumped the rails about 3:30 p.m. in Charlotte, a suburb north of Rochester. Two tankers containing methylene chloride and acetone leaked and caught fire, said fire Capt. Dan McBride.
Part of the train crashed into a house, and another nearby house caught fire soon afterward. No one in the homes was hurt, Capt. McBride said.
Plumes of black smoke could be seen more than 10 miles away

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