40 Saudi members of al Qaeda in custody
TEHRAN — Iran will turn over to Saudi Arabia several Saudi members of terror network al Qaeda who are in Iranian prisons, a senior official said in Tehran yesterday.
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz said in Riyadh that more than 40 Saudis have been detained in Iran.
The announcement is the first confirmation by Iran that some of the al Qaeda members it is holding are Saudis. Saudi Arabia began a crackdown on al Qaeda after suicide bombings in Riyadh on May 12.
U.S. officials have said al Qaeda members in Iran had a role in that attack. Tehran has denied U.S. accusations that it is harboring al Qaeda.
Cleric, 5 others held on terror-fund suspicions
MILAN — Italian police yesterday arrested a Muslim cleric and five other men suspected of financing an Islamic extremist organization that has links to terror network al Qaeda.
The six suspects, from Tunisia and Morocco, were seized in dawn raids by more than 170 police on 42 houses across northern Italy. A seventh suspect is on the run. They are believed to be members of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which has been fighting Algerian authorities to set up a pure Islamist state.
A police official said the swoop followed an investigation that uncovered a complex web of money-spinning scams that fed foreign bank accounts in the Middle East, Europe and the United States.
Al Qaeda suspects fail to appear in court
BLANTYRE — Prosecutors said five al Qaeda suspects would not be produced in court despite a ruling ordering the state to charge or free them, fueling speculation that the men had been deported.
State prosecutors said the five foreign men were arrested in a joint operation with U.S. officials during the weekend. But since news of the swoop broke Monday, the affair has been shrouded in confusion. The U.S. Embassy in Malawi denied involvement, and Malawian prosecutors said they do not know the whereabouts of the suspects.
Immigration sources and one high court judge said the men had left Malawi.
Four charged in hotel attack
NAIROBI — Four Kenyan nationals were charged yesterday in the November suicide bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel that the United States suspects was masterminded by extremists from terror network al Qaeda.
The attack on the Paradise Hotel near the coastal resort of Mombasa killed 16 persons, including the three suicide bombers. It occurred within minutes of a failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner leaving Mombasa’s airport.
Shells hit capital in new rebel push
MONROVIA — Shells pounded Liberia’s capital yesterday and explosions and machine-gun fire echoed in what President Charles Taylor’s forces said was a renewed rebel drive into Monrovia.
The fighting occurred despite a week-old cease-fire in the insurgency, which in the past month increasingly has seen the siege tighten on the capital of 1 million.
Defense officials said the insurgents had crossed the St. Paul’s River bridge into the western outskirts of the city. Fighting sent families rushing for safety.
Abortion pills sealed aboard Dutch ship
WARSAW — Polish customs officials sealed a cargo of abortion pills aboard a Dutch ship to keep activists from illegally distributing them in this predominantly Roman Catholic country, a spokeswoman said yesterday.
Inspectors found 45 pills of abortion-inducing Mifegyne and 180 pills of Cytotec, which enhances the other drug’s action, on board the Langenort. The ship docked Sunday in the Baltic port of Wladyslawowo.