- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Iraqi Kurd links al Qaeda, local faction

SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq An Islamic militant faction in the U.S.-protected Kurdish safe haven was created by Osama bin Laden from terrorist cells shifted from Afghanistan just before the September 11 attacks, a top Iraqi Kurdish leader said yesterday.

Local intelligence sources also support U.S. charges that the Ansar al-Islam group has conducted chemical-weapons tests, said Barham Salih, prime minister of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

His group controls eastern parts of the no-fly zone, where Ansar al-Islam operates.

Mr. Salih said Ansar al-Islam was created 10 days before the September 11 attacks as part of bin Laden's plans to disperse his terrorist network before an expected U.S. strike on al Qaeda's command in Afghanistan.

He added there is "clear evidence" that Ansar al-Islam conducted limited tests of chemical weapons on farm animals. U.S. authorities said in August they did not attack Ansar al-Islam because the tests were crude and not considered a wider threat.

Iranians chant 'death to Saddam'

TEHRAN Thousands of Iranians chanted "Death to Saddam" at a public ceremony yesterday to mark the birthday of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi, who Shi'ite Muslims believe will return one day to usher in an era of justice.

The Iraqi leader was denounced during an address by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who vowed that the Islamic Republic would never adopt Western-style democracy, which he said is based on "lies and propaganda."

Iran, which fought a ruinous eight-year war against neighboring Iraq in the 1980s, officially opposes U.S. plans to attack Iraq, but has demanded that Saddam get rid of any weapons of mass destruction he might have, in line with U.N. resolutions.

Britons claim rape in Egyptian jail

CAIRO Attorneys for three Britons on trial for conspiring to overthrow the Egyptian government said this week that their clients had been tortured and raped in prison, the London Daily Telegraph reports.

The three Britons were held with 23 Egyptians in a cage in the courtroom as their attorneys asked for a doctor to be appointed to examine the validity of their charges on the opening day of their trial. All 26 defendants are accused of being members of the banned Islamic Liberation Party, also known as Hizb ut-Tahrir.

They face formal prison sentences of 25 years for attempting to undermine the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Egyptian authorities say the Britons Reza Pankhurst, 27; Ian Nisbett, 28; and Maajid Nawaz, who is in his 20s knowingly signed a confession.

Weekly notes

Turkey's Justice and Development Party, the moderate Islamist front-runner in Turkey's Nov. 3 elections, will not challenge the secular system of this mainly Muslim nation if elected, party officials say. The party is viewed with suspicion by the military-led secular elite because of its chairman, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was barred last month from running for parliament because of a 1998 conviction for Islamist sedition. An American commando who helped train Yemeni special forces has died in a traffic accident in that country, the U.S. Embassy in San'a reports. "Navy SEAL Jerry Pope died in a traffic accident between San'a and Hodeidah [on the Red Sea in western Yemen] on Oct. 17," the embassy said Monday.

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