- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Terrorists foiled

The United States yesterday applauded the arrests of suspected terrorists in Singapore and Malaysia, saying the actions are examples of a wider Southeast Asian commitment to the war on terrorism.

Singapore announced the arrests of 15 persons, including some linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

He noted additional arrests in Malaysia of suspects with apparent connections to al Qaeda, although he did not say how many were apprehended.

"These arrests show the global nature of the threat posed by terrorist networks," he said.

Mr. Boucher said the suspects in Singapore were arrested for "collecting funds for terrorist groups, surveillance of establishments in Singapore that were targeted for terrorist bombing and attempts to procure material for bomb construction."

Singapore did not announce any specific locations targeted by the suspects.

"Obviously, we have to assume that our embassy and other U.S. interests were among the potential targets," Mr. Boucher said.

"We're encouraged by the range of counterterrorism cooperation and actions that are taking place throughout the world," he added. "Southeast Asian nations have also taken effective measures to stop the financing of terrorism, to share intelligence information, to step up law enforcement all of which are having a positive effect against the presence of terrorists in the region."


Search for Sacirbey

The government of Bosnia-Herzegovina has asked the United States to extradite its former ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed Sacirbey, on embezzlement charges.

"It is up to the U.S. legal institutions now to try to find a solution which will satisfy justice," Deputy Foreign Minister Ivica Misic told the Bosnian newspaper Dnevni Avaz Sunday. "We believe they will regard our request for extradition as justified."

The Bosnian government accuses Mr. Sacirbey of embezzling $611,000 from its U.N. mission in 2000. It filed criminal charges in March through Interpol.

Although he served two terms as Bosnia's U.N. ambassador and one stint as foreign minister, Mr. Sacirbey is a U.S. citizen. The Bosnian government suspects he is still in the United States but has no address for him, Mr. Misic told the newspaper.

In April, The Washington Times' U.N. correspondent, Betsy Pisik, quoted Mr. Sacirbey as saying that the disputed money was used to pay a team of lawyers handling Bosnia's suit against Yugoslavia at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Mr. Sacirbey, 45, served as U.N. ambassador from 1992 until 1996 and then as foreign minister until 1998, when he returned to the U.N. post.

He was born in Sarajevo but came to the United States when his parents sought political asylum here. He was given U.S. citizenship in 1973 and attended Tulane University, where he played football on an athletic scholarship. A photograph of him in his Tulane football uniform appears on the Bosnian government Web site.

He earned a law degree from Tulane and a master's in business administration from Columbia University.


Back in Belgrade

The president of Yugoslavia welcomed the new U.S. ambassador, expressing pleasure at having American representation back in Belgrade after a "bad period."

That polite diplomatic language referred to the U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999, which led to a break in diplomatic relations.

President Vojislav Kostunica received Ambassador William Montgomery Friday, when he presented his diplomatic credentials to the Yugoslav leader.

"This shows that relations between the United States and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have resumed their upward movement following a bad period," Mr. Kostunica said.

Relations were restored after Mr. Kostunica replaced Slobodan Milosevic, the authoritarian president toppled in a popular uprising in November 2000. Mr. Milosevic is currently facing war crimes charges before a U.N. tribunal in The Hague.

Mr. Montgomery, a career diplomat, served as ambassador to Croatia from January 1998 until Nov. 17, 2000, when he was appointed chief of mission of the embassy in Yugoslavia. The Senate confirmed his appointment as ambassador a year later.

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