- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Militant freed, linked to British hostages

BAGHDAD | The Iraqi government has released the leader of a militant Shi’ite group linked to the 2007 kidnapping of five Britons, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Interior Ministry spokesman Alaa al-Taii said Qais al-Khazali was freed Sunday, after his transfer several days earlier from U.S. to Iraqi custody.

Al-Khazali is the head of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or League of the Righteous. He was detained over an attack that killed five U.S. soldiers in January 2007 in the holy city of Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad.

After his arrest, his group was linked to the kidnapping of Peter Moore, a 36-year-old British computer expert, and his four bodyguards outside the Finance Ministry in May 2007.

The bodies of three of the bodyguards have been handed over to British authorities. Mr. Moore was released alive last Wednesday but the fate of the final hostage remains unknown.


U.N. stops food aid to 1 million in south

GENEVA | The U.N. food agency is stopping aid distribution to about 1 million people in southern Somalia because of attacks against staff and demands by armed groups that aid organizations remove women from their teams, the agency said Tuesday.

The World Food Program is moving staff and supplies to northern and central Somalia from six areas in the south that are largely controlled by the al-Shabab Islamist group, said Emilia Casella, a WFP spokeswoman. The U.S. State Department says al-Shabab has links to al Qaeda.


Pyramid scam suspect sent to U.S.

BOGOTA | A man convicted of bilking Colombians out of hundreds of millions of dollars in a pyramid scheme has been extradited to the United States.

David Murcia faces indictments on money laundering and conspiracy charges in a New York federal court. Colombian officials handed him over to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Tuesday and he was being flown to New York.

A Colombian court already has sentenced Murcia to more than 30 years in prison for money laundering through a company that drew investors with promises of fantastic interest rates. It collapsed in late 2008.


United pilot faces alcohol charge

LONDON | A United Airlines pilot who was pulled from his trans-Atlantic flight to Chicago shortly before takeoff pleaded guilty Tuesday to being above the alcohol limit for flying a plane.

Erwin Vermont Washington of Lakewood, Colo., was removed from United Airlines Flight 949, which was scheduled to fly from London’s Heathrow Airport to Chicago in November, after a co-worker suspected him of being drunk.


Parliament votes on U.S. beef ban

TAIPEI | Taiwanese lawmakers voted Tuesday to ban imports of some kinds of U.S. beef over concerns about mad cow disease, reversing an earlier deal the government had negotiated with Washington.

The legislature’s move to reinstate a ban on U.S. ground beef and offal reflects public concern that Taiwanese health officials lack sufficient safeguards to prevent mad cow disease.

While the U.S. voiced its disappointment with Taiwan’s move, it is unlikely to have serious consequences for relations between the sides — including American arms sales to the island.


Radical cleric stuck after visa denials

NAIROBI | A Jamaican-born radical Muslim cleric who once led a London mosque attended by convicted terrorists is stuck in Kenya despite attempts to deport him because other nations are refusing to allow him to transit through their countries, officials said Tuesday.

Sheik Abdullah el-Faisal is being expelled from Kenya because of his history of being involved in terrorist activities, Kenya’s immigration minister said. Britain has said el-Faisal’s teachings heavily influenced one of the bombers who carried out the 2005 transport network bombings in London that killed 52 people.

El-Faisal — who has called for Americans, Hindus and Jews to be killed — traveled from Nigeria and through Angola, Malawi, Swaziland, Mozambique, and Tanzania by road before coming to Kenya, said a Kenyan official.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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