- The Washington Times - Monday, January 5, 2009

FRANCE

Sept. 11 leader to go on trial

PARIS | The self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks goes on trial in absentia in France on Monday on charges that he ordered a deadly Tunisian synagogue bombing less than a year after the assaults on New York and Washington.

The proceedings in Paris are expected to highlight the reach and complexity of al Qaeda-linked networks in North Africa, although they are unlikely to directly affect the fate of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is being held by the United States at the U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Also on trial in France are Christian Ganczarski, a German who converted to Islam, and Walid Naouar, the brother of the suicide bomber who drove a propane-laden truck into an ancient synagogue on the island of Djerba on April 11, 2002, killing 21 people.

Ganczarski and Naouar are charged with complicity in the killings and attempted murder in the synagogue attack and face life sentences if convicted.

BRITAIN

Brown: No request by U.S. on detainees

LONDON | British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the U.S. has not asked Britain to accept detainees from Guantanamo Bay if the facility in Cuba for terrorist suspects is closed.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to shut Guantanamo. Several European nations have said they are considering taking inmates who cannot be returned to their own countries because of the risk of persecution.

Mr. Brown said Sunday that Britain supports the closure of Guantanamo but had not yet been asked to accept inmates.

About 250 detainees remain at the U.S.-run camp in Cuba.

KOSOVO

Serbian minister asks for calm

MITROVICA | Serbia’s minister in charge of Kosovo called Sunday on international institutions to cool tensions after firefighters were injured in a blast in this ethnically divided city.

After meeting minority-Serbian representatives in Mitrovica, Goran Bogdanovic appealed to NATO-led peacekeepers (KFOR), U.N. peacekeepers and the EU mission to “prevent provocations and escalation of conflict” by majority ethnic-Albanians.

Uneasy calm returned to the streets after KFOR troops reinforced their presence following two explosions overnight Friday in the northern part of the town, populated mostly by Serbs.

Seven firefighters were injured in the second blast as they were trying to put out a fire in an Albanian-owned building apparently set by a group of ethnic Serbs angered by the first explosion.

GERMANY

Swastikas desecrate Holocaust memorial

BERLIN | Vandals daubed swas-tikas on some of the slabs that make up the capital’s Holocaust memorial, policie said.

Police said security guards discovered the swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans on 12 slabs Saturday afternoon. Authorities ordered its swift removal.

The memorial to the Holocaust’s estimated 6 million Jewish victims consists of a field of 2,700 gray slabs situate close to the capital’s Brandenburg Gate.

It opened to the public in 2005 and is freely accessible round-the-clock. Similar vandalism has occurred before.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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