- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2007

Two tunnels found on U.S.-Mexico border

SAN DIEGO — Two unfinished cross-border tunnels were discovered this week near the Otay Mesa port of entry by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

ICE officials said both tunnels originated in Mexico in an open area adjacent to the primary border fence. The passageways, located about 130 feet apart, were very primitively constructed, they said, adding that the tunnels were 3 feet wide and 3 feet high.

Located about 5 feet beneath the surface, the first tunnel’s entry was covered by plywood and dirt and extended about 5 feet into the United States, officials said. The second tunnel extended about 2 feet into the United States and was partially filled with water, they said.

No arrests have been made in the case, but the investigation is ongoing.

Gitmo detainee claims torture

A Saudi terrorist suspect said at a military hearing that he was tortured into confessing that he was involved in the bombing of the USS Cole, according to a Pentagon transcript released yesterday.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national of Yemeni descent, said he made up stories that tied him to the 2000 Cole attack, which killed 17 U.S. sailors and nearly succeeded in sinking the $1 billion destroyer in Aden harbor, Yemen.

“From the time I was arrested five years ago, they have been torturing me. It happened during interviews. One time they tortured me one way, and another time they tortured me in a different way,” al-Nashiri said, according to the transcript. “I just said those things to make the people happy. They were very happy when I told them those things.”

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said that any charges of torture would be investigated.

Two charged in ambush of illegals

TUCSON, Ariz. — Gunmen apparently trying to seize a smugglers’ truckload of drugs attacked a pickup hauling 23 suspected illegal aliens early yesterday, killing two persons and wounding another, authorities said.

Border Patrol agents tracking footprints found two men along with three high-powered weapons near a campsite south of where the shooting occurred, a Border Patrol deputy chief and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said.

Rosario Humberto Araujo-Monarrez, 21, and Martin Esrain Flores-Gaxiola, 18, from the Mexican state of Sinaloa, were questioned yesterday afternoon and admitted to having fired high-powered weapons into the truck, authorities said. They were charged with two counts each of homicide and 21 counts each of attempted homicide, sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Chief Richard Kastigar said.

The group of illegals had crossed into the United States on foot the night before near Sasabe and were picked up by two or three smugglers, or coyotes, with a Ford pickup registered in Henderson, Nev., Sheriff Dupnik said.

He said one witness inside the pickup heard the driver yell at the shooters: “I don’t have any drugs, I have people.”

Chocolate Jesus won’t be displayed

NEW YORK — A planned Holy Week exhibition of a nude, anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ was canceled yesterday after Cardinal Edward Egan and other outraged Catholics complained.

The “My Sweet Lord” display was shut down by the hotel that houses the Lab Gallery in Midtown Manhattan. Roger Smith Hotel President James Knowles cited the public outcry for his decision.

The reaction “is crystal clear and has brought to our attention the unintended reaction of you and other conscientious friends of ours to the exhibition,” Mr. Knowles wrote in the two-paragraph cancellation notice.

Matt Semler, the gallery’s creative director, resigned in protest.

Gitmo detainee gets nine months

A U.S. military tribunal sentenced an Australian to nine months in prison yesterday after he pleaded guilty to supporting terrorism — the first conviction at a U.S. war-crimes trial since World War II.

A panel of military officers had recommended a term of seven years, but a section of the plea agreement that had been kept secret from the panel capped the sentence at nine months for David Hicks, who has been held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for more than five years.

Under the plea deal, the confessed Taliban-allied gunman will be allowed to serve his sentence in an Australian prison, but must remain silent about any purported abuse while in custody. Hicks previously reported being beaten and deprived of sleep at the military prison.

Hicks is a former outback cowboy who acknowledged aiding al Qaeda during the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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