Afghan President Urges Iraqis to Vote
Mon Jan 24,12:25 PM ET AP
KABUL, Afghanistan - President Hamid Karzai urged Iraqis on Monday to follow the example of Afghans and turn out for this weekend's landmark elections despite the threats of violence, saying their votes would help their country toward prosperity.
The U.S.-backed Afghan leader won Afghanistan's first-ever direct vote for president Oct. 9, almost three years after American forces ousted the Taliban for harboring Osama bin Laden. Remnants of the hardline militia failed to deliver on threats of major violence during the polls.
"The Iraqi people must not fear terrorists. Instead, they should make their elections a success with bravery and courage ... they must endeavor to ensure the rule of democracy and the right to elect their leader," Karzai said in a statement.
Iraqis have been urged to vote Sunday for a national assembly despite repeated deadly attacks on security forces, government officials and election workers and a vow by the al-Qaida affiliate in Iraq to wage all-out war on democracy.
"We showed through our votes that we now own a legitimate country which walks toward development and reconstruction," Karzai said. "Likewise, our Iraqi brothers and sisters should go to the ballot and play their role in determining their country's destiny."
Iranian, Afghan Presidents to Inaugurate Power Project
Tuesday January 25, 10:17 AM
TEHRAN, Jan 25 Asia Pulse - The presidents of Iran and Afghanistan will officially inaugurate a 132-kilowatt power transmission line from Torbat-e Jam in northeastern Iran to the western Afghan city of Herat on Thursday, said a senior power industry official here on Sunday.
The English-language paper `Iran Daily` on Monday quoted the deputy head of TAVANIR (a power generation, distribution and transmission company) as saying that once the power line becomes oprational Iran`s power exports to Afghanistan would increase ten-fold.
The official put the total cost of the project at US$13.8 million.
"The overall capacity of power transmission from Iran to Afghanistan would increase to 60 megawatts with the inauguration of the new transmission line, which covers 212 kilometers and has a 132-kilowatt (power transmission) post," he said.
He stressed that the amount spent to install the transmission line was part of the financial commitment made by the Islamic Republic of Iran for reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Last March, Iran opened a 150-kilometer, 20-kilowatt power transmission line to the western Afghan city. The project cost Tehran some US$2.3 million.
Iran has a plan to construct a cement factory in the war-torn country.
Several joint projects are currently being implemented in Afghanistan between Afghan and Iranian experts and feasibility studies are being conducted on a number of other projects in the cement, power and infrastructure sectors.
Afghan officials have repeatedly announced their willingness to work with Iranian contractors due to their historical and cultural affinities.
Iran`s Arian Bank was inaugurated in Kabul in December 2004 as part of the Islamic Republic`s efforts to facilitate trade exchances with Afghanistan.
The bank is the eighth foreign bank to operate in Afghanistan since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban by US-led forces.
Arian Bank`s total capital has been placed at US$10 million.
Given Iran`s half-a-billion-dollar commitment to Afghan reconstruction, the bank is expected to help raise the stakes of Iranian businesses in the war-ravaged country.
Iranian exports to Afghanistan, which consist mainly of foodstuff, garments, carpets and construction materials, topped US$200 million last year.
General in Afghanistan Urges Care on Iran
Mon Jan 24, 1:07 PM ET By STEPHEN GRAHAM, Associated Press Writer
BAGRAM, Afghanistan - A senior American commander in Afghanistan said Monday he knew of no U.S. spying missions in Iran and cautioned that instability in Tehran could harm his mission.
The New Yorker magazine last week reported that the U.S. military since last year has been carrying out undercover reconnaissance operations to gather intelligence and targeting information inside Iran.
Maj. Gen. Eric Olson, the operational commander of U.S. forces pursuing Taliban and al-Qaida remnants in Afghanistan, told The Associated Press he was unaware of any such operations, but he also said they would not come under his control.
Asked if he feared Iran could react to such missions — or even the perception that they had taken place — by trying to create problems in Afghanistan, Olson said: "I think it is in Afghanistan's interest to see stability in Iran and anything that is destabilizing or causes turmoil in Iran, especially close to the border, would not be good for Afghanistan and would not be good for my mission."
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Seymour Hersh reported in The New Yorker that President Bush's administration had been "conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer." U.S. Defense Department officials said the article was filled with mistakes but did not deny its basic point.
Bush says his administration will not rule out the possibility of using military force against Iran over its controversial nuclear program. Vice President Cheney said Thursday that Iran "is right at the top of the list" of world trouble spots.
Iran's intelligence minister, Ali Yunesi, said Sunday that a U.S. military strike against it would be a strategic blunder, and he brushed aside tough talk from Washington as psychological warfare rather than a real threat. Iranian officials say no American commandos have entered Iran.
Olson, speaking to an AP reporter after making a presentation to Kabul-based diplomats at the main U.S. base north of Kabul, said the only Iran-related operations run by the 18,000 mainly American soldiers under his command were efforts to intercept spies or militants entering Afghanistan from the west.
Olson told diplomats that Taliban militants had been so weakened by U.S. operations and the advances of Hamid Karzai's government that his forces would soon spend more time on reconstruction than pursuing militants.
Military planners said a national reconciliation program, to be announced soon by Karzai, already had persuaded about 70 "mid-level" commanders from the Taliban and renegade Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar willing to give up the fight.
The militants' failure to disrupt Afghanistan's October presidential election showed "that their capabilities are very limited," Capt. Heidi Urben told diplomats from countries including Pakistan, Germany and France. "The intent is starting to fade away as well."
CANADA COMMITS CA$3 MILLION TO MINISTRY OF FINANCE BUDGETARY REFORM:
UNDP's MAKING BUDGETS WORK PROJECT AIMS TO BALANCE BOOKS - MINISTRY OF FINANCE BUDGETARY REFORM - Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
ATTENDEES: Dr A. H. Ahady - Minister of Finance
HE Mr Chris Alexander - Ambassador of Canada to Afghanistan
Ms Nipa Banerjee - Head of Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Kabul
Ms Karen Jorgensen - Country Director (acting), UNDP
Tuesday, 25 January 2005 representatives from the Governments of Afghanistan and Canada, CIDA and UNDP will be on hand to sign the project document for Making Budgets Work.
The Government of Canada, through CIDA, has agreed to co-finance the 'Making Budgets Work' project, operated by UNDP within the Ministry of Finance. Canada's contribution amounts to CA$3 million. The purpose of the ceremony
is to mark the signing of this agreement.
The project emerged from its forerunner, Aid Coordination for Afghanistan, which focused predominantly on establishing an aid co-ordination system to manage the flow of financial assistance to Afghanistan reconstruction. The aid co-ordination system is now a fully Government owned and led system used by all international, national and provincial partners in Afghanistan's reconstruction.
For the next two years, to the end of December 2006, Making Budgets Work
will aim to further unify the national budget, modeling it on principles of transparency and accountability, to establish a monitoring unit for grants and loans, and to assist in the coordination and maintenance of the National Development Framework.
Head of Khad acquitted by Hague Court
By Habiburahman Ibrahimi
KABUL, Jan 23, (Pajhwok Afghan News)—An appeals court in the Hague ordered the release of a former chief of Khad, the feared Afghan intelligence agency modeled on the KGB by Afghanistan's former communist government.
The verdict on Hisamuddin Hisam was pronounced on January 19. Hisamuddin Hisam was earlier arrested by the Netherlands police in November last year on the charge of having committed numerous crimes including torture and harassment in his role as intelligence chief of Afghanistan.
He was released after receiving an imprisonment of one month and twenty five days. According to AFP, the reasons for Hisam's release remain unknown. However a reason for the acquittal may have been the lack of evidence against him.
A political science teacher in Kabul University, Mohammad Musa Marufi said the acquittal was an issue relating to human rights and that Hisam would have been convicted if evidence had been provided. Hisam who has been living in Netherlands since the collapse of communist regime in Afghanistan was head of military intelligence from 1983-1991.
Head of Afghans' lawyers association, Abdul Kabir Ranjbar doesn't consider Hisam's release as an important event. Speaking to Pazhwok he said: "most leaders of communist intelligence network are living in Netherlands. Why haven't more important people than him been arrested?"
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Court expressed ignorance about the arrest and release of Hisam when contacted.
Doctors airlifted to help sick Afghan children
KABUL, Jan 24 (AFP) - A group of Afghan and UN doctors flew into central Afghanistan to offer help after 25 children died of whooping cough, government and US military officials said.
The 10 doctors, equipped with antibiotics for 2,000 people and vaccinations for 2,500, were taken by a US military helicopter to the Gizab district of Daykundi province, some 300 kilometers (188 miles) south of Kabul. All roads to the district in Afghanistan's remote central highlands have been blocked by heavy snow, and reports of the deaths reached the capital last week.
"Twenty-five children died of whooping cough in Gizab... and three children have died of measles in Deh Rawood district of Uruzgan in the course of the past week," Afghan health minister Sayed Mohammed Amin Fatemi said on Sunday.
US military spokesman Major Mark McCann said they flew down the team from the Afghan health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) in a US-led coaltion aircraft.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease that can cause weeks of severe coughing. Every year it kills more than 300,000 children around the world, according to WHO figures, but patients can be treated with antibiotics.
Afghanistan's child mortality rate is one of the world's highest, the WHO says. More than 250 out of 1,000 children die before the age of five in Afghanistan, while in France it is five out of 1,000.
There were outbreaks of whooping cough, measles and some other epidemic diseases in northeastern and southern provinces of Afghanistan last year and year before.
NZ defence force to stay extra year in Afghanistan
25 Jan 2005 04:29:55 GMT
WELLINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - A New Zealand defence force team will stay in Afghanistan for an extra year to help with security and reconstruction, Prime Minister Helen Clark said on Tuesday.
The deployment of the 120-strong provincial reconstruction team in the central province of Bamiyan has been extended for a further 12 months until September 2006.
Parliamentary and provincial elections in Afghanistan scheduled for April 2005 meant it was important that the international community maintained its involvement, Clark said in a statement.
"Failure to stabilise Afghanistan would have consequences for the campaign against terrorism," she said.
"The Taliban and elements sympathetic to al Qaeda continue to provide resistance to the Afghan authorities and to the multinational force mandated by the United Nations," she said.
New Zealand, which has been working in Bamiyan since 2003, will also send two police officers to help rebuild the local police force.
Last March, New Zealand sent a detachment of 50 elite special forces troops for a six-month tour of duty.
Provincial reconstruction teams are small, joint military-civilian teams aimed at improving security and helping with aid and reconstruction efforts in outlying areas.
United States forces toppled Afghanistan's radical Islamist Taliban government in late 2001 for failing to surrender al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, architect of the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. cities.
Greece to send military medical unit to Afghanistan
Athens (dpa) - Greece said it will send more troops to assist the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, the government announced Monday.
"Greece has decided to increase its presence in Afghanistan by sending a medical unit for 18 months,'' said government spokesperson Evnagelos Antonaros.
"The presence of Greek forces overseas, including Afghanistan, is part of Greece's participation in operations approved by the United Nations,'' Antonaros said.
Last year, Greece repeatedly rejected NATO calls for more troops, saying its troops were needed in Greece to assist with safeguarding the 2004 Olympics.
Greece currently has 122 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, the majority of them engineers and medical personnel.
War-torn Afghanistan gives helping hand to Aceh
By Tomi Soetjipto / January 24, 2005
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - War-torn Afghanistan, itself utterly dependent on foreign aid, began a humanitarian medical mission on Monday in Indonesia's tsunami-battered Aceh province.
"When we heard about the tsunami, the president ordered a delegation sent to the tsunami-affected areas, especially to Indonesia," team leader Sohaila Siddiq, a woman doctor, told Reuters at Banda Aceh's Zainal Abidin hospital.
Siddiq, wearing a headscarf and military fatigues with the rank of three-star general, declined to say how much the mission was costing but said the Afghan government was providing the funds.
A woman with the rank of general would have been unheard of in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, let alone leading an aid mission abroad -- one of many changes in that country since U.S.-led forces ousted the hardline Islamists in late 2001.
The 20-strong team of doctors and nurses, Afghanistan's first overseas aid mission in decades, arrived last week in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital of Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra island.
Logistical and administrative problems had prevented them from starting work until Monday.
The doctors, ranging from general surgeons to neurologists, flew into the north Sumatra city of Medan on Jan. 20 on an Afghan airliner with 30 tonnes of aid, mostly medicine and food.
KNOWING ABOUT SUFFERING
Afghan doctors can easily relate to the trauma of the Acehnese, Siddiq said.
"Those people who have suffered a lot know what suffering is about. Because we've had 25 years of war, we know better about this suffering," she said.
On Monday, the main team of seven doctors began treating patients at Banda Aceh's Tengku Faqinah hospital, one of the few hospitals or clinics that have been able to open since the tsunami swamped the coasts of Indian Ocean countries on Dec. 26.
Nearly 174,000 people were killed in Indonesia. Thousands more were injured and more than 500,000 were left homeless.
The under-staffed hospital, which has hosted international doctors ranging from Estonia to Australia, welcomed the Afghans.
"We don't have an orthopaedic surgeon," said the hospital's chief doctor, Lutfie, who like most Indonesians uses one name.
"It's good that they're coming," he said, adding the Afghans would be working along with a medical team from the Queensland state government of Australia.
Language was a problem for the Afghans when they started examining patients, though.
Ear, nose and throat specialist Said Aza struggled to ask the age of a pregnant patient. Looking puzzled, the woman said: "Four months, it's four months old," showing the doctor four fingers in an apparent reference to the age of her unborn baby.
An Indonesian nurse was able to translate Aza's broken English to the patient.
"It's difficult, but I don't mind. They've been quite helpful so far," said the nurse, Dian Zulkarnaen, a volunteer from Jakarta.
The Afghan medical team was planning to stay in Aceh for at least a month, said Siddiq, who once served as Afghanistan's health minister.
Bush to seek about $80 bln for military operations
By Adam Entous Tuesday January 25, 11:06 AM
WASHINGTON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - The Bush administration is seeking about $80 billion in new funding for military operations this year in Iraq and Afghanistan, pushing the total for both conflicts to almost $300 billion so far.
Administration and congressional officials said the new request, expected to be announced on Tuesday, would come on top of the $25 billion in emergency spending already approved for this fiscal year.
That means funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will total nearly $105 billion in fiscal 2005 alone -- a record that shatters initial estimates of the cost.
In addition to money for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and for new Army equipment, up to $650 million is expected to be earmarked for humanitarian, reconstruction and military operations in Asian nations devastated by last month's tsunami, congressional aides said. The administration is considering debt relief for Indonesia, the hardest-hit country, they said.
The funding request comes as the U.S. Army said it is now planning to keep at least 120,000 troops in Iraq for the next two years to train and fight alongside Iraqi forces against insurgents. The Army total is part of a force of 150,000 American soldiers, Marines and other troops now in Iraq.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said it was Congress' "highest responsibility" to provide the troops the support they need. But she said lawmakers "owe it to them to critically examine President Bush's request."
John Pike, a defense analyst with GlobalSecurity.org, said the Pentagon might need even more money this year "because we just don't know the rate at which the insurgency will grow or subside, and we don't know the rate at which the Iraqi security forces can be stood up."
The funding request is expected to be formally submitted to Congress after President George W. Bush sends up his fiscal 2006 budget on Feb. 7.
BRACING FOR A BACKLASH
The White House is bracing for a backlash from Democrats and some Republicans. At nearly $105 billion, total funding for military operations in 2005 would be more than 13 times larger than Bush's budget for the Environmental Protection Agency.
In addition to money for military operations, at least $780 million would go to combat the drug trade in Afghanistan.
The administration is also considering including $1 billion to $2 billion to construct a new U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad, and up to $200 million in aid for the Palestinians to shore up newly-elected President Mahmoud Abbas.
Aid for Ukraine may also be included to bolster new President Viktor Yushchenko, congressional aides said.
Bush has so far pledged $350 million in tsunami aid. The new package is expected to include up to $650 million, including $250 million to $350 million for reconstruction, and up to $300 million to replenish funds spent by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Pentagon.
Administration and congressional officials had initially expected this year's supplemental spending to total closer to $50 billion. But cost estimates skyrocketed to as much as $100 billion as the Iraq insurgency intensified.
Critics have long accused Bush and his advisers of understating the costs. Before the invasion, then-budget director Mitch Daniels predicted Iraq would be "an affordable endeavor," and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz assured Congress: "We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon."
Not including the new funding request, Congress has so far approved $120 billion for Iraq and another $60 billion for Afghanistan. Last year it also approved a $25 billion contingency fund for the Pentagon.
Yet only a fraction of the $18.4 billion set aside for rebuilding Iraq has been spent. The White House blames the insurgency for the slow pace of reconstruction. (Additional reporting by Steve Holland and Anna Willard)
Explosive mix in Pakistan's gas province
By Ahmed Rashid in Lahore / BBC News 24 January, 2005
In his latest guest column for the BBC News website, journalist Ahmed Rashid looks at the problems afflicting Pakistan's troubled south-western province of Balochistan.
A week of recent violence in the desert province of Balochistan left half of Pakistan bereft of gas supplies and the danger of an explosive civil war between the army and Baloch nationalists and tribesmen.
President Pervez Musharraf, who faces increasing political isolation, is already dealing with a rebellion by fundamentalist Pashtun tribesmen in the north-west allied to al-Qaeda, and a bloody civil war between Shias and Sunnis in Gilgit in the far north.
The two conflicts have claimed hundreds of lives. However, a war in Balochistan would be more deadly for the government. It could create the spark for more widespread unrest among smaller groups who are all opposed to what they see as the Punjabi-dominated army and who feel left out of the military-run political system.
Over the past five years, President Musharraf has sidelined smaller nationalist parties in the provinces in favour of an alliance with the mullahs. The nationalist parties had shared power with the centre in the 1990s during Pakistan's decade of failed democracy.
Any conflict in Balochistan would involve Iran and Afghanistan, who have substantial Baloch populations. It could also derail the India-Pakistan peace process as Islamabad has accused Delhi of funding and arming the Baloch insurgents - a charge India denies.
On 11 January, Bugti tribesmen, encouraged by their chief, Sardar Akbar Bugti, and the secretive nationalist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), attacked the country's largest gas producing plant at Sui after local police accused an army captain of raping a female doctor working there.
Sui is in the heart of the Bugti tribal area - a land of dry, barren mountains and desert. At the end of a five-day battle, in which the tribesmen stormed the gas company compound, eight people, including three soldiers, were killed and 35 people wounded.
The army rushed thousands of troops and paramilitary forces to Sui. The rebels were heavily armed, well trained and organised, using sophisticated satellite telephones. They fired 430 rockets and 60 mortar rounds at the Sui plant, said Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao.
President Musharraf, a former commando, then threw fuel on the fire, saying: "Don't push us. It isn't the 1970s when you can hit and run and hide in the mountains. This time you won't even know what hit you."
His comments and the fact that the army captain has still not been arrested, infuriated the tribesmen and opposition politicians, who warned the army not to create "another Bangladesh" - the 1971 civil war that divided then East Pakistan from West Pakistan.
"In case of military operations, the Baloch people will fight a decisive battle this time... till the last drop of their blood," warned Sardar Ataullah Mengal, chief of the Mengal tribe, allied to the Bugti.
Baloch nationalists demanding greater political rights, autonomy and control over their natural resources, have led four insurgencies - in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-63 and 1973-77 - which have been brutally suppressed by the army.
Now a fifth is under way and this time the insurgents are demanding independence. For the past two years, hit-and-run raids against the army have occurred all over the province. Last May, three Chinese engineers were killed in the port town of Gwadar by a roadside bomb, an attack admitted by the BLA.
The danger is that the present conflict has for the first time united educated nationalists with the tribesmen. The Sui incident led to the most powerful Baloch fighting tribes - the Mengals, Mazaris and Marris - uniting and rushing to aid their beleaguered Bugti brothers.
They all camped together outside Sui and in Dera Bugti, ready to take on the army. While the BLA demands outright independence, Baloch nationalist politicians are calling for more jobs for the Baloch people, greater gas royalties from Sui, an end to building more military cantonments in the province and greater Baloch ownership of the massive port being built by China and the government in Gwadar.
"We oppose the colonial policies of the state," says Sanaullah Baloch, a spokesman for the Balochistan National Party, a legal political group. The insurgents have a stranglehold over the rest of the country due to Sui gas.
Sui produces about 45% of Pakistan's total production. Massive shortages followed the attack. The state-owned Pakistan Petroleum Ltd, which runs the field, admitted the damage was far more severe than previously thought and might take a month to repair.
Many of its technicians ran away or refused to work on repairs because of security concerns. After the attack, steel, fertiliser and electricity plants were forced to curtail production. Domestic consumers in Karachi and Lahore have had gas cuts of up to 12 hours a day.
President Musharraf has made no friends among the Baloch people in the past five years and now he is paying the price. By befriending Pashtun mullahs in the eastern part of the province, he has made the Baloch people feel more deprived.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who tends to see everything in economic terms, is now trying to force feed Balochistan with development funds and aid when what is needed is a dialogue that brings moderate Baloch politicians back into the political mainstream.
In the past, every military regime has alienated the Baloch people, leading to unrest and insurgency. Unless the army is prepared to step off the political stage and allow democracy to flourish the Baloch people are unlikely to be satisfied.
Pakistan PM in Brussels for EU talks
BRUSSELS (AFP) - Pakistan's Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz arrived in Brussels for talks with European Union (EU) leaders on boosting the "strategic partnership" between Islamabad and Europe, officials said.
The EU notably plans to discuss boosting regional security and fighting terrorism with Aziz at the start of a four-day trip by the Pakistani leader, while trade and other economic issues are also on the menu.
"The meeting will reinforce the EU's relationship with Pakistan which is a key strategic partner for the EU," said the European Commission in a statement shortly before Aziz arrived in Brussels on Monday.
"It will seek to set the direction for developing (EU-Pakistan) relations for the coming years," it added. At the start of the trip Aziz was to meet EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. On Tuesday he is due to meet EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson.
Trade volume between Pakistan and Belgium stood at 400 million euros (about 520 million dollars) in 2003-2004, it said. Other issues expected to be discussed in Brussels include peace moves between Pakistan and India, counter-terrorism efforts, United Nations reforms, reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq and cooperation with the EU.
A Brussels commission spokeswoman said the EU wants to see progress on a re-admission agreement with Pakistan covering the terms of expulsion of Pakistani nationals from EU countries.
"I think probably the Pakistani side will want to talk about trade preferences," said Emma Udwin, spokeswoman for EU external relations commissioner Benita Fererro-Waldner.
"We will certainly also want to talk about the re-admission agreement that we are currently discussing with the Pakistanis and the need to make progress there in a swift and efficient fashion," she said.
During his stay Aziz will address a gathering at the Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels and meet Belgian businessmen and Pakistani expatriates.
He is also to visit the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Wednesday, officials there said. During his trip Aziz will also meet his Belgian counterpart Guy Verhofstadt.
Germany Nabs 2 Suspected al-Qaida Members
By MATT SURMAN, AP
BERLIN - German police on Sunday arrested two suspected al-Qaida members believed to be planning a suicide attack in Iraq (news - web sites), federal prosecutors said. One of the men also allegedly tried to obtain uranium.
Police arrested Ibrahim Mohamed K., a 29-year-old Iraqi living in Mainz, on suspicion of recruiting suicide attackers in Germany and providing logistical help to the terrorist organization. He also is believed to have tried to obtain uranium in Luxembourg.
The other suspect, 31-year-old Palestinian Yasser Abu S., planned to carry out a suicide attack, chief federal prosecutor Kay Nehm told reporters in the western German city of Karlsruhe.
The Iraqi suspect trained multiple times in camps in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States and then spent a year in Afghanistan fighting American forces after the attacks, prosecutors said.
During this time he had contact with high-ranking al-Qaida leaders, they said. "This convinced him not to seek the original aspiration of martyrdom as a suicide attacker, but rather to recruit suicide attackers in Europe," prosecutors said in a statement.
He recruited the Palestinian suspect in September for a suicide attack in Iraq, and purchased more than $1 million in life insurance for him, with the aim of faking the man's death in a car accident in Egypt, prosecutors said. The majority of the insurance payoff was to fund al-Qaida activities, they said.
Prosecutors said they could provide no more details on the men's effort to get uranium, and declined to release the suspects' surnames according to usual German criminal procedures. Authorities searched four homes in Mainz and Bonn as part of the raid, authorities said.
Germany has cracked down on suspected terrorist and extremist activity since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, which were planned in part by a terrorist cell in Hamburg.
On Jan. 12, police took 22 suspects into custody during nationwide raids on a network of Muslim extremists that turned up militant Islamic propaganda and forged passports. In December, police arrested three suspected members of the Ansar al-Islam terror group who allegedly planned to attack Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi during a visit to Berlin.
In October, authorities arrested Syrian-German businessman and suspected key al-Qaida financier Mamoun Darkazanli on a European warrant. Spanish authorities accuse him of providing al-Qaida with logistical help, and the United States labeled his Hamburg-based trading company a front for terrorism.
Efforts to bury penultimate Afghan Jew in Israel
The Jerusalem Post (Israel) / January 24, 2005
Last week the number of Jews living in Afghanistan was decreased by 50 percent when Yitzhak Levi – an elderly man who constituted half of the country's minuscule Jewish population – passed away in Kabul.
Following his death, Levi's family, who lives in southern Israel, is making efforts to transfer the body for burial in Israel.
Chief Sephardic Rabbi in Israel Shlomo Amar has joined in the effort, and has begun diplomatic contacts.
The United States is expected to cooperate in the effort by sending a US military chief to Kabul to identify the body and manage its transfer to Israel, Rabbi Amar revealed in an interview with Army Radio.
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