Three Strikes Against Terrorism
Pakistan and the U.S. scored a victory against al-Qaeda with the arrest of Ramzi Binalshibh. Two other suspected al-Qaeda members were killed and at least 10 were detained in a series of raids in Karachi. Officials believe Binalshibh, a Yemeni who belonged to al-Qaeda's Hamburg cell, helped plan the Sept. 11 attacks. He had been denied a visa to enter the U.S. four times. Germany said it would request his extradition.
Elsewhere, Dutch police arrested the head of a Kurdish group suspected of links with al-Qaeda, while Italian authorities took 15 suspected terrorists, believed to be Pakistanis, into custody from a ship docked in Sicily. They had pretended to be seamen, but their ignorance of navigation aroused the suspicion of the ship's captain, who diverted his vessel from Libya to Sicily. The men had false passports, along with lists of names with the annotation "about to get married" believed to be a code used for a terrorist who is about to attack.
Ultimatum at the U.N.
In a forceful speech at the United Nations, U.S. President George W. Bush told world leaders that Iraq "is a grave and gathering danger." Bush said the U.S. wanted to disarm Iraq of chemical and nuclear weapons by working through the U.N. Security Council, but he warned that war would be unavoidable if Iraq failed to comply "immediately" with U.N. resolutions. "Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it become irrelevant?" asked Bush. He argued that Iraq was a threat to the U.S. and the Middle East because it could provide groups such as al-Qaeda with the technology to kill on a massive scale. He did not offer evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed either nuclear or chemical weapons. Instead, Bush warned that the first time the world would know for sure was "when, God forbid, he uses one."
No Smoking Gun
After 95 days of testimony, 300 exhibits and 124 witnesses, prosecutors in the U.N. war-crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic ended the portion of their case dealing with the massacres and forced deportation of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Prosecutors believe their circumstantial evidence against Milosevic will secure his conviction.
A woman prisoner became the 65th person to die in a hunger strike protesting the conditions under which political prisoners are held in Turkey's maximum security jails. Hamide Ozturk, 32, died in hospital in Istanbul; she had been serving a 12-year sentence for membership in the banned Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front, a violent far-left group. The wave of hunger strikes began in January 2001 after police fought radical groups who had taken control of prison dormitories, turning them into no-go areas.
At least 21 people died and eight people were missing after floods raged through villages and towns in the south of France. Five of the dead were from the village of Aramon, which was inundated when a dam gave way following torrential rain. The d é partement of the Gard, between the Mediterranean and the hills of the Massif Central, got the worst of the floods, with 19 dead and 3,000 people forced from their homes. Provence has suffered five such disasters since 1988. Jacques Thorette, a drainage expert, said: "Everywhere in France, we have paved rural roads; we have built car parks around supermarkets without worrying where the water would go."
At a meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the entire cabinet of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority submitted its resignation when it became apparent that the majority of council representatives would support a vote of no confidence in the cabinet. The resignation was seen as a severe blow to Arafat, who must now submit to the council names for a new cabinet by Sept. 26. Council member Mohammed Hurrani, though part of Arafat's Fatah movement, called the resignation "a great victory."
Nepal's guerrilla war intensified as Maoist rebels killed 58 policemen and soldiers in the town of Sandikharka, 295 km west of the capital Katmandu. More than 4,000 rebels overran the remote town, where 200 soldiers were garrisoned. Less than 24 hours earlier Maoists killed 49 policemen in Bhiman in southeast Nepal.
Representatives of the Dalai Lama visited Beijing in the first formal exchange in nine years between China and the exiled Tibetan leader. The delegation included the Dalai Lama's representatives in the U.S. and Europe, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen. The purpose of the high-level visit was not revealed but U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: "We do see the trip of Lodi Gyari to Beijing and then to Lhasa [Tibet's capital] as a positive development." In 1950, China took control of Tibet, a move it calls a "peaceful liberation" and the Dalai Lama terms an invasion. After an anti-Chinese uprising failed in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to India.
Nearly two years after Florida's hanging chads helped jinx the U.S. presidential election, the state's polling system was again at the center of controversy after technical problems marred a primary election. Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno refused to rule out a legal challenge to the results. Unofficial tallies showed that Reno, who wants to be the Democratic candidate to fight Florida's Republican Governor Jeb Bush in November, trailed newcomer Bill McBride by less than 1% of the vote. Following the 2000 fiasco, Florida spent $32 million on a new computerized voting system. But the machines rejected many voters' identification cards. Said election supervisor Gisela Salas: "Many election workers did not know how to operate the machines."
Words of Warning
A rebel leader said that the Colombian government's refusal to agree to a prisoner exchange has jeopardized the lives of dozens of hostages. But President Alvaro Uribe has insisted that the unilateral release of all hostages, including an ex-defense minister, a state governor and 12 legislators, is a prerequisite for talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Violence continued to rock Kashmir as it prepared for state assembly elections that begin this week. On Wednesday the law minister in the Muslim majority state, Mushtaq Ahmed Lone, and his three bodyguards were gunned down at an election rally. Indian security officials said that an Islamic militant, disguised as a woman and seated in a segregated area, took an AK-47 from under his robe and opened fire as Lone rose to speak. Several groups claimed to be behind the attack. One of them, Al-Arifeen, a new group, said: "We will continue such attacks on all who are participating in the polls."
U.S. special forces got a dressing down from their commanders after top brass back home saw photos of bearded and turbaned Americans guarding Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Close shaves were ordered all round. But the suddenly exposed chins proved vulnerable to the sun. "The guys are really burning out there," said a U.S. special operations officer in Kandahar.