- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2003

U.S. seeks to execute hijacker for first time

The U.S. government is trying to execute a hijacker for the first time, seeking the death penalty for the leader of a group of Palestinian terrorists who took over a Pan Am jet in Pakistan in 1986 and killed 22 persons.

Prosecutors are so intent on putting the Pakistani man to death — for killing two Americans who were among the victims — that they turned down his offer to plead guilty and serve a life sentence.

Zayd Hassan Abd Al-Latif Masud Al Safarini won the first round in the legal battle, persuading U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan that the death penalty does not apply in his case. Prosecutors have asked Judge Sullivan to reconsider. A hearing is expected this fall.

Border tunnel found by federal agents

Federal agents yesterday discovered a ventilated and well-lighted tunnel zigzagging more than 250 yards under the U.S.-Mexico border into California, through which smugglers are believed to have transported drugs, illegal aliens and other illicit cargo.

The sophisticated tunnel, with an entry at a tire shop some 50 yards south of the border in Mexicali, Mexico, initially was uncovered by city construction workers digging a trench along a main street in East Calexico, Calif., according to agents from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The tunnel, the first found in the Imperial Valley area of California, emptied into a residential area in Calexico.

ICE spokesman Dean Boyd said ICE agents will work with local authorities to ensure that all access to the tunnel is properly closed off.

The search of the tunnel was complicated, he said, because it appeared that it was still under construction.

Court revives suit over anti-gay ad

TAMPA, Fla. — A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit by a conservative Christian group against a public transit agency that refused an advertisement at bus shelters for an anti-homosexuality conference.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Miami, in a ruling made public yesterday, decided a federal judge in Tampa erred when he threw out Focus on the Family’s 2001 lawsuit against the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

The appeals court said the group may pursue its claim of First Amendment violations against the authority, which refused to post advertisements at bus shelters for the group’s 2000 “Love Won Out” convention in St. Petersburg. The conference discussed homosexuality and the theory it can be prevented or overcome through prayer and religious practice.

Clinton to campaign against Davis ouster

LOS ANGELES — Former President Bill Clinton is coming to the aid of California’s Gov. Gray Davis, officials said yesterday, as the Democratic Party gets out its big guns to fight efforts to oust their man.

Mr. Clinton is headed to the Golden State this weekend to campaign against the Oct. 7 recall vote aimed at deposing Mr. Davis less than midway through his second term, and will attend church with the embattled governor.

“The president will campaign against the recall vote with Governor Davis during his visit here,” a Davis campaign official said.

The two men will appear together Sunday during a service at a high-profile predominantly black church in Los Angeles’ south central area in a bid to curry opposition to Mr. Davis’ ouster.

In other recall news, Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock found encouragement yesterday in new poll numbers that show him gaining on both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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