- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Seized Taliban No. 2 was in peace talks

KABUL | The Afghan government was holding secret talks with the Taliban’s No. 2 when he was captured last month in Pakistan, Afghan officials said Monday.

A close aide to President Hamid Karzai said the arrest infuriated the Afghan leader. The aide told the Associated Press that the president “was very angry” when he heard that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was picked up by the Pakistanis with an assist from U.S. intelligence.

The aide said Mullah Baradar had also “given a green light” to participating in a three-day peace assembly that Mr. Karzai is hosting next month.

In violence Monday, a rocket attack on the sprawling Bagram Air Field, north of the capital, Kabul, killed one person, NATO said. A NATO spokesman would not say whether the victim was a service member or a civilian.


U.S. military hands prison to Iraqis

TAJI | The U.S. military handed over control of a prison holding some 2,900 detainees to Iraqi authorities on Monday as the Americans move ahead with preparations for a full withdrawal by the end of 2011.

Most of the Taji prison’s detainees are low and midlevel insurgents who were arrested by American troops, said Maj. Gen. David Quantock, commander of detainee operations. A small number have been convicted of crimes, he said.

Taji was the second prison to be relinquished by the U.S. Camp Bucca, an isolated desert prison that was once the largest lockup in Iraq, was closed in September. That leaves only one prison in Iraq in American hands. The U.S. military said it plans a July 15 handover of Camp Cropper, which has held high-level detainees, such as Saddam Hussein and members of his regime, on the outskirts of Baghdad.


Youth leader guilty of hate speech

JOHANNESBURG | A court convicted the governing party’s youth leader of hate speech Monday after he said the woman who once accused South Africa’s president of rape had had a “nice time” because she stayed the night and asked for taxi money.

A “gender justice” group took African National Congress Youth League President Julius Malema to the Johannesburg Equality Court after he made the comment to students in January 2009. Jacob Zuma was acquitted of rape in 2006 after he insisted the sex was consensual and went on to become president last year.

Just hours after the conviction, a court official sent a second round of hate-speech complaints to Malema. These complaints address Malema’s decision last week to lead college students in singing a song that calls for the killing of white South African farmers.


Bin Laden’s son: Free my siblings

CAIRO | One of Osama bin Laden’s sons has called on Iran’s supreme leader to release members of his family thought to be under house arrest there since they fled Afghanistan in 2001, according to a letter posted Monday on the Internet.

Khalid bin Laden’s statement accused Iranian authorities of mistreating about 30 siblings, saying they had been “beaten and repressed.” The letter, which was dated early January, appeared to have been written shortly after news reports surfaced about one his sisters who escaped from her Iranian guards and reportedly is taking refuge in the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

It has long been thought that Iran has in custody a number of bin Laden’s children who fled Afghanistan in 2001 — most notably his sons, Saad and Hamza, who were thought to have held positions in al Qaeda. But Iran never confirmed it, and claimed to have been surprised to discover 17-year-old Eman was at the Saudi Embassy.


Police find cache of explosives in Lahore

LAHORE | Pakistani police discovered a cache of bomb-making equipment and thousands of pounds of explosives Monday in an empty Lahore shop where authorities said a string of attacks on the eastern city may have been plotted.

Two suicide jackets, 16 hand grenades, hundreds of bullets and more than 3,300 pounds of explosives were found, police said. Police raided the shop after a tip from the owner, who told authorities he’d become suspicious because his new tenants had never opened for business. The explosives were packed into sacks, he said.

Lahore has been battered by a string of explosions in recent days.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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