- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 20, 2008


Rights monitors expelled after report

CARACAS | Venezuela expelled two senior Human Rights Watch monitors hours after they reported that “discrimination on political grounds has been a defining feature” of Hugo Chavez’s presidency.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, the group’s longtime Americas director, was expelled along with the group’s deputy director, Daniel Wilkinson, for engaging in political acts while in the country on a tourist visa, the government said.

Mr. Vivanco is Chilean and Mr. Wilkinson is a U.S. citizen.

The rights monitors were handed a letter Thursday night accusing them of “anti-state activities.” Their cell phones were seized and their requests to contact their embassies were denied, the group said.

Venezuelan state television showed them gathering their belongings and being driven to the airport in a caravan complete with motorcycle escorts and flashing lights. They arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Friday morning.


Al Qaeda video warns of attacks

CAIRO | Al Qaeda threatened major new attacks in Afghanistan and dismissed setbacks in Iraq, vowing to continue its fight in a video marking the Sept. 11 attack, released Friday more than a week after the anniversary.

The lag in release, apparently due to problems in militant Web sites where al Qaeda posts its videos, raised questions among counterterrorism specialists over whether the terror network’s propaganda machine was faltering.

The 90-minute video, “The Results of Seven Years of Crusades,” features speeches by Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, and the final testament of Ahmed al-Ghamdi, one of the hijackers in the Sept. 11 attack.


Bomb kills five at religious school

QUETTA | A bomb exploded Friday at a religious school that police said was affiliated with a pro-Taliban political party, killing five people and wounding 10 more.

Television footage showed a gaping hole in the rough mud wall around the seminary near the southwestern city of Quetta and one heavily damaged adjacent room.

Police said the blast occurred in the wrecked room but didn’t indicate if it was an attack or if the bomb had been kept there. One witness claimed it was caused by a suicide bomber.

Quetta Police Chief Wazir Khan Nasir said the school was run by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, a hard-line Islamist party that is part of Pakistan’s ruling coalition government, and had not been registered with authorities.


Anti-mosque nationalists attacked

COLOGNE | Protesters throwing stones and paintballs disrupted the opening of an “anti-Islamification” conference Friday organized by a right-wing German nationalist group that opposes the building of a large new mosque.

About 100 protesters gathered outside city hall in Cologne‘s borough of Rodenkirchen to prevent two leaders of the Pro-Cologne movement from entering the building where they were to hold a news conference.

Police moved in to create a protective ring around the two men. The nationalists were turned away at the door by a city official on orders from the mayor. The group then sought refuge on one of the many rental boats that cruise the Rhine River. Police also prevented a planned bus tour by the nationalists through immigrant-heavy districts, arguing that it would have been provocative and could have led to unrest.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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