- - Thursday, October 4, 2012

JERUSALEM — Israeli authorities on Thursday indicted an Arab citizen of Israel on charges of spying for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, accusing him of gathering intelligence on security for Israel’s president and on army installations.

The Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency said in a statement that Milad Khatib, 26, from the northern village of Majd al-Krum, was recruited in 2009 by a Lebanese Hezbollah operative in Denmark.

He was ordered to collect information on Israeli army bases and armories, as well as details on security guards and motorcades of the Israeli president and other public officials.

In August, Mr. Khatib allegedly shadowed a visit by President Shimon Peres to his hometown, collecting information on his security detail. Authorities say he intended to pass the details to his Hezbollah operator but was arrested before he could do so.

It was unclear what information, if any, he supplied Hezbollah.


Kismayo residents fear new clan fighting

MOGADISHU — Renewed clan warfare threatens the future of Kismayo, where African Union and Somali troops earlier this week pushed out Islamic extremists.

Kismayo was the last bastion controlled by al-Shabab, the radical Islamists allied to al Qaeda that taxed goods coming into the port to fund their activities.

Al-Shabab announced their withdrawal from Kismayo, via Twitter, shortly after the Kenyan assault late last week.

But bitter clan rivalry is expected to hamper the creation of a new administration needed to run the city and port, residents say.

The clan rivalry centers on control of revenues from the port, which is one of Somalia’s most lucrative business hubs.

Recognizing the threat of renewed clan fighting in Kismayo, the top U.S. official on Africa, Johnnie Carson, this week urged the Mogadishu government and the African Union forces to “go in very quickly and establish political stability and a political system that takes into account the various clan and subclan interests.”


Plan for former bomb range that leaves debris rankles some

SAN JUAN — The U.S. government has a new battle in Vieques, the Puerto Rican island that was used as a Navy bombing range for decades.

An extensive cleanup of Vieques is under way, and the Navy says is close to finishing work on a former munitions disposal site on the island.

It would be a milestone for the cleanup, but the plan has sparked criticism.

The government proposes fencing off the 400-acre site as a nature reserve, without clearing about half the area of debris from years of detonating out-of-date munitions.

The Navy says it poses little danger and protects habitat.

Opponents say the Navy should clear the entire area. The plan is still under review. A public comment period ends Friday.


U.S. citizen sentenced to life for helping al Qaeda

BAGHDAD — An Iraqi court has sentenced an American citizen to life in prison on charges of assisting al Qaeda and financing terrorist activities in Iraq, according to a government statement released Thursday.

The Interior Ministry said Omar Rashad Khalil, 53, was recruited by al Qaeda in Iraq in 2005.

Khalil, an architectural engineer, is of Palestinian descent and entered the country in 2001, the ministry statement said.

The ministry released excerpts from a confession it said Khalil made in which he admitted to receiving money from a Syrian man in the United Arab Emirates to pay for terrorist attacks.

Khalil, who the ministry said also is known as Abu Mohammed, was sentenced by Baghdad’s central criminal court on Wednesday.

Iraqi government officials could not immediately be reached for more details.


92-year-old Scottish man dies, taking dialect with him

LONDON — In a remote fishing town on the tip of Scotland’s Black Isle, the last native speaker of the Cromarty dialect has passed away, taking with him a little fragment of the English linguistic mosaic.

Academics said Wednesday that Bobby Hogg, who was 92 when he died last week, was the last person fluent in the dialect once common to the seaside town of Cromarty, 175 miles north of Edinburgh.

“I think that’s a terrible thing,” said Robert Millar, a linguist at the University of Aberdeen in northern Scotland. “The more diversity in terms of nature we have, the healthier we are. It’s the same with language.”

The demise of an obscure dialect spoken by a few hundred people may not register for most English speakers, but it’s part of a relentless trend toward standardization which has driven many regional dialects and local languages into oblivion.

Linguists often debate how to define and differentiate the world’s many dialects, but most agree that urbanization, compulsory education and mass media have conspired to iron out many of the kinks that make rural speech unique.

Cromarty, which counts just over 700 people, is at the very end of a sparsely populated peninsula of forest and farmland. It is separated from Inverness, the closest city, by the Beauly Firth, a wide body of cold water where salmon run and dolphins frolic.

The Cromarty dialect included a helping of archaic “thees” and “thous,” as well as a wealth of seafaring vocabulary, including three sets of words for “second fishing line.”

The aspirate “h” was often added or subtracted, so that “house” would be pronounced “oos” and “apple” would be pronounced “haypel.” The “wh” sound was often dropped entirely.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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