- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

U.S. citizen claims torture

ABU DHABI | A U.S. citizen on trial in the United Arab Emirates on terrorism charges was tortured into confessing, his attorney said during a hearing in the country’s highest court.

Naji Hamdan, an American of Lebanese origin, was arrested in the UAE in August 2008 and charged in June with supporting terrorism, working with terrorist organizations and being a member of a terrorist group. The state prosecutor claimed Mr. Hamdan had ties with a group backed by al Qaeda in Iraq.

On Monday, his attorney, Abdul Khader al-Haithami, gave a robust defense of Mr. Hamdan in the Emirates’ Federal Supreme Court. Speaking loudly and defiantly, Mr. al-Haithami asked the court’s Chief Justice Khalifa al-Muhairi to acquit Mr. Hamdan because the only evidence against his client was a confession, signed as a result of physical abuse in detention.

Mr. Hamdan, 43, moved to the U.S. as a college student. He became a citizen and ran a successful auto parts business in the Los Angeles area. He also was active in the Islamic community.

He said the FBI began questioning him about whether he had terrorist ties in 1999, and he eventually decided to move his family back to the Middle East in 2006.

TURKEY

Iraq, Syria officials to meet in Istanbul

ANKARA | The foreign ministers of Iraq and Syria will meet in Istanbul on Thursday under Turkey’s efforts to mediate in a diplomatic feud between Baghdad and Damascus over militant attacks, Turkish Foreign Ministry sources said.

Iraq and Syria recalled their ambassadors last month after Baghdad accused Damascus of sheltering militants it blames for a string of bombings on Iraqi soil, including two huge truck bombs outside government ministries last month that killed 95 people.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who earlier this month traveled to Baghdad and Damascus as Ankara attempts to mediate in the dispute, will also attend the talks between Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem and Iraq’s Hoshiyar Zebari, the sources said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has formally asked the U.N. Security Council to launch an inquiry into the bombs, which triggered a diplomatic feud between Iraq and Syria, which had only recently begun to deepen ties strained since the early days of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

EGYPT

Official defends border shootings

CAIRO | Egypt defended its use of lethal force against African migrants trying to cross illegally into Israel, saying Monday that it does so only as a last resort and to fight criminal activity in the politically sensitive area.

Hundreds of Africans seeking political asylum or jobs in relatively prosperous Israel try to sneak across the border each year. Amnesty International says Egyptian border guards have fatally shot nearly 40 migrants since the start of 2008. The London-based rights group and others have criticized Egypt for failing to rein its border guards or investigate the recurrent cases.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said the use of force is necessary for Egypt’s security in a “sensitive” area where criminal activities - including drug and weapons smuggling - are common.

He said the guards first shout over loudspeakers, then fire warning shots, but don’t always have the chance to identify the infiltrators.

YEMEN

Army says it killed 31 Shi’ite rebels

SAN’A | Yemen’s army said Tuesday it had killed 31 Shi’ite rebels in separate operations in the rugged northern mountains where the military is pressing its month-old offensive aimed at crushing the militants.

Eighteen Zaidi rebels, known also as Huthis, were killed as they tried to capture army posts in the Jebel al-Ahmar area, 10 miles south of Saada town, state-run Saba News Agency quoted an army commander as saying.

A military source cited by the Defense Ministry Internet site said rebel chief Abdel Mohsen Taous was killed in an attack on his vehicle at Hidan, southwest of Saada.

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