- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2002

21 linked to al Qaeda seized in Singapore

SINGAPORE Singaporean authorities arrested 21 persons on suspicion most of them belonged to an al Qaeda-linked militant group that was plotting to blow up the U.S. Embassy, the government said yesterday.

All the suspects were Singaporean citizens, the home affairs office said without releasing details of the arrests last month. None of the suspects has been charged with any crimes, although they remain detained as allowed by the Internal Security Act.

The ministry said 19 of the suspects belong to Jemaah Islamiyah, a hard-line Islamic group that authorities here say has cells throughout Southeast Asia a region increasingly regarded as a second front in the global war on terror.

Cardinal imprisoned by Vietnam dies

VATICAN CITY Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, whose agonizing account of imprisonment by the communists in Vietnam made him an inspirational figure for many Catholics in his homeland, died Monday. He was 74.

Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, who went into exile in Rome more than a decade ago, died of cancer at a clinic, the Vatican said.

Although he was made a cardinal only last year, Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan had appeared on lists of potential successors to Pope John Paul II, particularly by those believing the next pontiff could come from a poor, non-European country. Vietnam has the largest Roman Catholic community in Asia after the Philippines.

Annan calls for battle on AIDS in Africa

NEW YORK U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a war on AIDS and the promotion of girls' education as the world body focused yesterday on what one African leader called extricating "Africa out of her long night of misery."

Opening the debate, Mr. Annan proposed stronger work on a "new partnership" to keep Africa from slipping into an irretrievable abyss.

"Combating HIV/AIDS and promoting girls' education are particularly central," Mr. Annan said. "The HIV/AIDS pandemic has become the greatest threat to Africa's development."

Polish communist goes on trial

WARSAW A Warsaw court began hearing testimony yesterday in the long-delayed trial of Poland's last communist leader, Wojciech Jaruzelski, for his role in the 1970 massacre of striking shipyard workers.

Mr. Jaruzelski, a 78-year-old retired general, is accused of ordering soldiers to fire on shipyard workers protesting food-price increases on Dec. 17, 1970, when he was defense minister. Forty-four persons were killed and more than 1,000 were wounded.

U.S. applauds reforms in Liberia

MONROVIA, Liberia The United States yesterday hailed a decision by Liberian President Charles Taylor to lift a state of emergency and a ban on political rallies but underscored the need for other steps to ensure real democratic rule.

"President Taylor's announcement this weekend is an important step in the restoration of full political freedom," the U.S. Embassy in the capital Monrovia said in a statement.

It said the move would "improve the prospects for open and free political dialogue for all Liberians" but more reforms were necessary to improve the political situation in Liberia.

Austria's Haider says he quit under threats

VIENNA, Austria Austrian far-right firebrand Joerg Haider, whose sudden refusal to lead his party sent it into a tailspin, said yesterday he had bowed out because threats had been made to harm his family.

Mr. Haider stunned his Freedom Party with his withdrawal Saturday after having inspired a party revolt that triggered the collapse of the ruling center-right coalition. Early elections have been scheduled provisionally for Nov. 24.

In his first public explanation of his decision, the anti-immigration populist said he was threatened late Friday at a restaurant by an unidentified man over Austria's plan to buy 18 Eurofighter combat jets.

U.S. seeks to calm Mideast water dispute

WAZZANI, Lebanon U.S. water specialists toured a river in southern Lebanon yesterday as Washington moved to defuse a dispute over a Lebanese plan to siphon water from a key source that also supplies Israel.

Water is a sensitive issue and a potential casus belli in the parched Middle East, and Lebanon and Israel often have sparred over the issue, last year trading barbs over a 10-inch pipe installed in southern Lebanon.

Lebanon has said it is uncowed by Israel's "threats" over the latest dispute.

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