- The Washington Times - Friday, October 17, 2003

MALAYSIA

Mahathir defends criticism of Jews

PUTRAJAYA — Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad refused to apologize yesterday for a speech in which he said Jews ruled the world, accusing the West of a double standard in criticizing Muslims and Jews.

Defending himself against international condemnation, Mr. Mahathir spoke at a news conference one day after addressing the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world’s largest Muslim group.

He said Westerners such as the Rev. Jerry Falwell receive little criticism for labeling the Prophet Muhammad a “terrorist,” while statements about Israel’s actions against Palestinians draw immediate charges of anti-Semitism.

He also said that remarks earlier yesterday by his foreign minister that expressed regret over misunderstandings if any offense occurred did not amount to an apology.

LEBANON

Hezbollah blocks U.S. Embassy convoy

BEIRUT — Armed men from Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group prevented a U.S. Embassy convoy from visiting an area bordering Israel yesterday, Lebanese security officials said.

In Washington, a State Department official said the United States has formally protested the incident and that Lebanese authorities promised an immediate investigation.

Lebanese security officials said the incident occurred as the U.S. motorcade was traveling to the Lebanese village of Labboune, a few hundred yards from the Israeli border. The U.S. vehicles left the area immediately after the incident.

INDIA

Suspects hole up in Kashmir building

SRINAGAR — Suspected Islamic militants holed up yesterday in an office and shopping complex after an attack that killed two guards at the home of the state chief minister in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

A standoff at the complex continued through the night and Indian authorities said they were prepared to blow up the four-story building. Earlier, soldiers and police faced withering gunfire as they rescued seven computer students and instructors by means of a rope through a fourth-floor window.

The gunmen fled to the shopping complex across the street from Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s home, firing at troops who evacuated shopkeepers and other civilians in the area.

GERMANY

Man held as spy for Bulgaria

BERLIN — German authorities have arrested a veteran intelligence agent on suspicion of betraying secrets to a female Bulgarian spy between late 1999 and last month, sources close to the case said yesterday.

They said the 64-year-old agent, a Balkan specialist with Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency, was arrested at his home in Munich Oct. 9.

In Sofia, the head of Bulgarian military counterintelligence said such reports were an attempt to smear the former communist country before it joins NATO next year.

BRITAIN

Blaine’s health falters near end of stunt

LONDON — U.S. illusionist David Blaine was battling severe palpitations and breathing difficulties yesterday with just over two days to go in his bid to survive 44 days without food in a box suspended above London’s River Thames, his spokesman said.

Mr. Blaine, 30, has been suspended in a clear glass box with water as his only sustenance. He is scheduled to come out of the box tomorrow.

The New Yorker has attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators, many of them hostile, since his fast began on Sept. 5.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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