- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 1, 2003

SAUDI ARABIA

Charity director shifts to domestic programs

RIYADH — One of the kingdom’s top charities, accused by Washington of links to terrorism, denies any militant connections but says it has shut down some overseas offices to focus on tackling domestic poverty.

Al-Haramain Foundation’s director, Sheik Aqil al-Aqil, said his organization, which raises about $53 million a year, promotes moderation and distanced itself from violent groups when it was established 10 years ago.



“We set up this institution to preach Islam peacefully. It’s very strange that we are described as terrorist,” Mr. Aqil told Reuters news agency in an interview. “Maybe there was a mistake. We have absolutely no inclination to violence.”

Mr. Aqil said Al-Haramain still operates in Egypt, Yemen, Sudan, Mauritania, Nigeria and Bangladesh. “All the offices that are working have a legal position,” he said, adding that public support for Al-Haramain is high: “We are like heroes in the Islamic world because America is against us.”

YEMEN

Hunt for terrorists widens east of Aden

SANA’A — Yemen stepped up the hunt this week for 60 Muslim terrorists, including 10 believed to have been involved in the bombing in October 2000 of the USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors.

Antiterrorist squads, backed by army units and military helicopters, scoured the province of Ebyan, on the southern coast east of the port of Aden. The suspects are believed to be members of the Islamic militant group Aden Ebyan Army, led by Mohammed Abdel Nabi, who was killed last week in a confrontation with security forces.

Four Islamist extremists were arrested Sunday, security sources said. “The four men were among six people arrested in the Sarar region, near Jabal Hatat,” a security source said, adding that two were ordinary citizens and released.

ALGERIA

Another case of plague detected in Oran region

ALGIERS — The second case in a week of bubonic plague has been detected in western Algeria, where 10 persons were infected with the deadly but treatable disease early last month, the health minister said yesterday.

The case was found in the village of Kehailia in the Oran region, 270 miles from the capital, Algiers, Abdelhamid Aberkane said in a radio broadcast. Ten persons were quarantined in Kehailia after they were infected with bubonic plague there in early June. One later died.

Mr. Aberkane said a delegation from the World Health Organization, including experts on bubonic plague, arrived in Oran on Monday. Bubonic plague is carried by rodents and transmitted by bites of infected fleas.

Weekly notes …

Egyptian-American activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim said in Cairo yesterday that he has reopened his looted human rights center in a political climate that has brightened since he was released from jail in December. “The civil society has revived after three years of demoralization,” Mr. Ibrahim said Monday after reopening the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, which was closed with his arrest June 30, 2000. He was acquitted in March of charges that he had tarnished Egypt’s image abroad.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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