- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2005

LEBANON

Syrian arrested in editor’s slaying

BEIRUT — A Syrian was arrested yesterday on suspicion of involvement in the assassination of Gibran Tueni, the anti-Syrian general manager and columnist of An-Nahar, Lebanon’s leading newspaper.

Abdel-Qadar Abdel Qader was among three Syrians who had been detained for questioning in the Dec. 12 killing of Mr. Tueni, who also was An-Nahar’s top editor. The formal arrest was made on a warrant by Lebanese military prosecutor Rashid Mizher based on telephone calls Mr. Abdel Qader made before and after the car bombing that killed Mr. Tueni and two of his bodyguards, a judicial official said.

The arrest was the first in the investigation of the assassination of Mr. Tueni and a string of other bombings that targeted anti-Syrian politicians and journalists in the wake of the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in April after a 29-year military presence.



SAUDI ARABIA

Dissident’s backer said to change mind

RIYADH — An ally of an exiled Saudi dissident accused of ties to al Qaeda has returned to Saudi Arabia after renouncing his opposition activities, local newspapers reported yesterday.

Dissident Abdel-Aziz Shanbari, who worked with London-based Saad al-Fagih for two years, arrived in the kingdom this week and was quoted by semiofficial Saudi newspapers as saying that he disagreed with Mr. al-Fagih and that Saudis who had contacted his Movement for Islamic Reform, well-known in the kingdom via its Web site and radio station, had been “deceived.”

The United States and Britain froze Mr. al-Fagih’s assets this year after he was named on a United Nations list of people associated with al Qaeda. Mr. al-Fagih says his group aims to oust the Saudi monarchy by peaceful means and accuses the Bush administration of targeting him for opposing the U.S.-allied Saudi royals.

EGYPT

Nation seeks help with land mines

CAIRO — A conference underlining the gravity of Egypt’s land-mines problem got under way here yesterday, with delegates appealing for international support in the mine-clearing effort.

“The existence of large numbers of land mines in the northwestern coast impedes development and causes serious health and environmental damage,” said Boutros Boutros-Ghali, chairman of Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights and a former secretary-general of the United Nations.

Egypt is one of the most heavily mined regions in the world, a legacy of World War II and the Arab-Israeli wars, which left the country’s northwestern desert littered with an estimated 22 million mines and unexploded ordnance. Officials say the explosives have killed or injured 8,000 people.

Weekly notes …

Turkish prosecutors said yesterday that they are examining whether European Parliament lawmaker Orhan Pamuk, the country’s best-known novelist, should be prosecuted over accusations of insulting Turkey’s armed forces. The European Union called on Turkey to do more to protect freedom of expression at a time when it seeks to join the bloc. … Five Saudi police officers were killed yesterday during a shooting spree in the ultraconservative northern Qassim province by a man. The Interior Ministry said the man was captured at a checkpoint that had been the site of several shootouts with al Qaeda-linked militants.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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