- The Washington Times - Monday, September 14, 2009

AL QAEDA

A new message from bin Laden

A new audio message purported to be an “address to the American public” from al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden has been released by the militant network’s media branch, a U.S.-based terrorism monitoring group said Sunday.

Al Qaeda’s As-Sahab media released a video featuring a still image of bin Laden and an audio statement, said IntelCenter, noting that there were no subtitles or transcript yet available.

The release came two days after the United States marked the eighth anniversary of the al Qaeda-sponsored Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

“The video shows a still of bin Laden while the audio statement plays. There is no video footage of bin Laden or of anything else, aside from the graphics surrounding his still. There is no media footage or footage from other groups,” IntelCenter said. The group described the release as “an address to the American public” and said bin Laden typically releases such a statement annually about September or October.

KAZAKHSTAN

Recovering addicts die in fire

TALDYKORGAN | Fire roared through a drug-treatment center with a history of safety violations Sunday, killing 37 people as patients tried to escape through barred windows, officials said.

The blaze broke out about 5:30 a.m. and quickly spread through the 7,000-square-foot, single-story, Soviet-era building. About 40 people were evacuated, Kazakhstan’s Emergency Situations Ministry said.

“I heard them screaming for 20 minutes. They were screaming ‘Save us, save us,’ ” said a woman who lives across the street.

The cause of the fire about 120 miles north of the commercial capital, Almaty, was not immediately known.

NETHERLANDS

Fakes pollute moon rock supply

AMSTERDAM | The discovery of a fake moon rock in the Netherlands’ national museum should be a wake-up call for more than 130 countries that received gifts of lunar rubble from both the Apollo 11 flight in 1969 and Apollo 17 three years later.

Nearly 270 rocks scooped up by U.S. astronauts were given to foreign countries by the Nixon administration. But according to experts and research by the Associated Press, the whereabouts of some of the small rocks are unknown.

The Rijksmuseum, more noted as a repository for 17th century Dutch paintings, announced last month it had had its plum-sized “moon” rock tested, only to discover it was a piece of petrified wood, possibly from Arizona. The museum said it inherited the rock from the estate of a former prime minister.

Genuine moon rocks, while worthless in mineral terms, can fetch six-figure sums from black-market collectors.

ISRAEL

Astronaut’s son dies in jet crash

JERUSALEM | The son of an Israeli astronaut killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster six years ago was killed in the crash of his F-16 warplane.

Military officials identified the pilot killed on a routine flight over the West Bank as Asaf Ramon, son of Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon.

Ilan Ramon was one of seven crew members killed in 2003 when the Columbia exploded before it was scheduled to land.

A former fighter pilot who took part in Israel’s bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, he was the payload specialist on the shuttle flight.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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