severs major Lebanon supply link
Aug 5: Israel and Hezbollah fought bloody ground
battles and exchanged fierce air and missile strikes
Friday - including bombing raids that severed Lebanon's
last major supply link with Syria and the outside
world, and the guerrillas' deepest rocket attack
inside Israel to date.
explosions resounded in Beirut's suburbs early Saturday
as Israeli warplanes renewed their onslaught, local
media said. Israeli helicopters, meanwhile, attacked
suspected Hezbollah positions in the southern city
of Tyre, though Hezbollah's TV station claimed that
fighters repelled helicopter-borne troops who tried
to land, killing one soldier. Israel declined to
days of desultory diplomacy, Washington said it
was near agreement with France on a U.N. cease-fire
resolution, possibly by early next week. But Israel
and Hezbollah showed no signs of holding their fire.
aircraft on a mission Friday to destroy weapons
caches hit a refrigerated warehouse where farm workers
were loading fruit, killing at least 28 near the
Lebanon-Syria border. And three Hezbollah rockets
landed near Hadera, 50 miles south of the Israel-Lebanon
border; 188 rockets rained on other towns, killing
three Israeli Arabs.
the determination of both Hezbollah and Israel to
look victorious when the conflict finally ends,
the worst of the fighting may still lie ahead with
the militant Shiite guerrilla fighters perhaps making
good on their threat to rocket Tel Aviv and Israel
launching an all-out ground offensive, pushing northward
to the Litani River.
military officials said Friday they completed the
first phase of the offensive, securing a 4-mile
buffer zone in south Lebanon, though pockets of
Hezbollah resistance remained.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz told top army officers
to begin preparing for a push to the Litani, about
20 miles north of the border - a move that would
require Cabinet approval. Peretz vowed his forces
would complete "the whole mission" of
driving guerrilla fighters out of missile range,
a defiant response to the Hezbollah leader's threat
to launch missiles into Israel's largest city.
airstrikes destroyed four key bridges after dawn,
severing Beirut's final major connection to Syria
and raising the threat of severe shortages of food,
gasoline and medicines within days. The attack in
the Christian heartland just north of Beirut killed
four civilians and a Lebanese soldier. Israel said
it targeted the bridges to stop the flow of weapons
to Hezbollah from Iran through Syria. Those weapons
include not only missiles, but sophisticated anti-tank
missiles said to be responsible for most of the
44 Israeli soldiers killed in more than three weeks
aid workers said the destroyed highway was a vital
conduit for much-needed food and supplies, with
Christiane Berthiaume of the World Food Program
calling it Lebanon's "umbilical cord."
"This (road) has been the only way for us to
bring in aid. We really need to find other ways
to bring relief in," she said in Geneva, Switzerland.
were in danger of closing soon because medicines,
hospital supplies and fuel for generators was fast
running out. Staples like milk, rice and sugar were
growing short across the country. Lines at Beirut
filling stations stretch longer by the day. Dr.
George Tomey, acting president of the American University
of Beirut, said its Medical Center, one of the prime
and best known medical facilities in the Middle
East, will stop receiving new patients as of Monday,
except for emergency cases.
and Blair back UN force to take control in Lebanon
DC, July 29: The British Prime Minister, Mr Tony
Blair, and the US President, Mr George Bush, have
vowed to push for a UN resolution next week authorising
a multinational force to help the Lebanese Army
to take over Hezbollah-controlled territory in south
Lebanon. The two leaders said that the UN resolution
would help to bring closer an end to the fighting
- but gave no clear timetable.
Blair emphasised that the planned multinational
force would not fight its way in. "This can
only work if Hezbollah are prepared to allow it
to work," he said.
Potential troop contributors will meet at UN headquarters
in New York on Monday. The United States will be
represented by Nicholas Burns, the No 3 official
in the State Department. France, Italy, Turkey,
and Indonesia have signalled their readiness to
participate in such a mission. British officials
said that the force would not enter the zone until
the violence had ended.
Foreign Ministers from the 15 Security Council nations
made tentative plans to gather in New York next
multinational force must be dispatched to Lebanon
quickly to augment a Lebanese army as it moves to
the south of that country," Mr Bush said. "An
effective multinational force will help speed delivery
of humanitarian relief, facilitate the return of
displaced persons and support the Lebanese government
as it asserts full sovereignty over its territory."
Blair and Mr Bush repeatedly invoked UN resolutions
calling for Hezbollah to disarm and for the Lebanese
Government to extend its authority across the entire
country. Mr Bush made clear that the UN resolution
would be passed under the "enforcement provisions"
of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, making it compulsory
for Hezbollah to respect it. But neither leader
explained what would happen if Hezbollah refused
to abide by a peace agreement to which it would
not be a party.
got to make sure that we go in as part of an agreement
that the Government of Lebanon have bound themselves
to, the Government of Israel has bound itself to,
the international community has bound itself to,"
Mr Blair said.
ceasefire deal could be agreed within days, not
weeks, diplomatic sources in Beirut said. British
officials have had "a torrent of contacts"
with foreign governments in the past three days
to put together a deal they believe will satisfy
both sides, and were optimistic that they would
US, Israel to support NATO-led force in Lebanon
July 24: The United States and Israel said on Sunday
that they were ready to support an international
force led by NATO in South Lebanon to ease tensions.
No US troops are likely to be in the force, which
according to a US media report could be between
10,000 and 20,000 strong and led by a contingent
from France or Turkey.
could be delicate questions, however, over whether
the force`s mission is to disarm Hezbollah or to
support the Lebanese army`s efforts to take control
in the south of the country.
Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations,
said today the US administration would take the
idea of NATO leading a buffer force "seriously".
In Jerusalem, Defence Minster Amir Peretz said Israel
supported the deployment of an international force
in southern Lebanon.
Israel pursues its military campaign against Hezbollah
in Lebanon, an operation which has left hundreds
dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their
homes, the proposed force is to be discussed by
US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice on her mission
to Middle East this week.
a new idea. We`ll certainly take it seriously,"
Bolton said on a television channel when asked about
the possibility of NATO leading the force. "I
think we have been looking carefully at the possibility
of a multinational force perhaps authorised by the
Security Council, but not a un-helmeted force,"
had already stated that US was open to the proposal.
She is to discuss plans for a possible force during
her trip this week to the Middle East and to attend
an international conference in Rome on the Lebanon
hospitalised due to hunger strike
July 24: Saddam Hussein was hospitalised on Sunday
on the 17th day of a hunger strike, the chief prosecutor
in his trial said. Jaafar al-Moussawi said he visited
the prison on Sunday where Saddam and the seven
other co-defendants are held and was told that the
ex-president's health "is unstable because
of the hunger strike."
took him to hospital and he is being currently fed
by a tube," al-Moussawi said. He refused to
identify the hospital. Asked if Saddam's health
had improved, al-Moussawi replied: "No, it
is not stable yet."
Israel battles Hezbollah, takes village
THE ISRAEL-LEBANON BORDER, July 23: Israeli tanks,
bulldozers and armored personnel carriers knocked
down a fence and barreled over the Lebanese border
Saturday as forces seized a village from the Hezbollah
soldiers battled militants throughout the day and
raided the large village of Maroun al-Ras in several
waves before finally taking control, military officials
said. Tens of thousands of Lebanese fleeing north
packed into the port of Sidon to escape the fighting
as the United Nations warned of a growing humanitarian
Sunday, warplanes for the first time hit inside
the port city of Sidon, currently swollen with refugees,
destroying a religious complex that the Israeli
military said was used by Hezbollah. Hospital officials
said four people were wounded.
series of large explosions reverberated through
Beirut in the early hours Sunday as Israeli aircraft
again pounded Hezbollah's stronghold in the south.
Warplanes also hit targets in eastern Bekaa Valley,
firing missiles in the cities of Hermel and Baalbek,
witnesses said. There was no immediate word on casualties
in either strike.
growing use of ground forces, 11 days into the fighting,
signaled Israeli recognition that airstrikes alone
were not enough to force Hezbollah out of southern
Lebanon. But a ground offensive carries greater
risks to Israel,
which already has lost 18 soldiers in the recent
fighting. It also threatens to exacerbate already
trying conditions for Lebanese civilians in the
military officials have said they want to push Hezbollah
beyond the Litani River, about 20 miles north of
the border, with the Lebanese army deploying in
the border zone. An Israeli radio station that broadcasts
to southern Lebanon warned residents of 13 villages
to flee north by Saturday afternoon. The villages
form a corridor about 4 miles wide and 11 miles
answers attack with lethal blows
July 17: Hezbollah and Israel traded fierce barrages
for a sixth day Monday, as the latest eruption of
warfare in the Middle East showed no sign of easing.
Rockets struck deep inside Israel a day earlier,
killing eight people in Haifa, and Israeli planes
bombed Lebanon from north to south.
missiles hammered the Lebanese capital on Monday
morning, killing two people in Beirut's port, bombing
a gas tank in a northern neighborhood and shelling
the southern suburbs,
The port was in flames, and the Israeli army said
it had launched at least 60 strikes overnight, both
with aircraft and artillery. The strikes Monday
killed 15 people and wounded more than 53 by mid-morning.
death toll on both sides rose to more than 200 -
at least 180 in Lebanon and 24 in Israel. In addition
to the Israeli victims at a rail repair facility
in the Haifa attack on Sunday, an Israeli rocket
blew up a Lebanese army position, killing eight
soldiers, and a sea-launched missile killed at least
nine people in the southern Lebanese port of Tyre.
warned of massive retaliation after the Haifa attack,
and accused Iran and Syria of providing the weaponry
used in it. Israeli military officials said four
of the missiles were the Iranian-made Fajr-3, with
a 22-mile range and 200-pound payload, and far more
advanced than the Katyusha rockets the guerrillas
rained on northern Israel in previous attacks.
began to flee by the hundreds and several nations
drew up plans to get their citizens out. U.S. planners
arrived to organize evacuation for any of the 25,000
Americans seeking to leave. Two Marine Corps helicopters
evacuated 21 Americans to Cyprus on Sunday.
military flights rushed out some 350 people, mostly
Europeans. France, which has more than 20,000 citizens
in Lebanon, chartered a Greek ferry expected to
pick up some 1,200 people on Monday.
Monday, witnesses reported that waves of Israeli
airstrikes hit the Lebanese city of Tripoli and
Hezbollah strongholds in eastern town of Baalbek.
Missiles apparently aiming at a relay station for
Hezbollah's al-Manar television missed their target
and hit a house south of Beirut. Police said four
villagers were killed and 10 wounded. Lebanese police
said the village had been hit by missiles fired
from Israeli warships, but the Israeli military
denied gunboats had participated in the bombings.
hits Lebanon bridges, gas stations
July 15: Israeli warplanes renewed attacks on Lebanon
early Saturday, targeting bridges and fuel storage
tanks and gas stations in the east and south, security
Al Manar television station said at least three
people were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Hermel,
in the eastern Bekaa Valley. But security officials
said six members of a family were injured when a
rocket hit their house in Hermel.
fighter jets destroyed two bridges in eastern Lebanon,
Lebanese officials said, declining to be named because
they are not authorized to talk to the media. The
jets pounded a mountainous area near the border
with Syria where radio and satellite TV antennas
are located, they said. Another strike targeted
three bridges south of Beirut early Saturday, officials
jets also destroyed another bridge in the southern
market town of Nabatiyeh, the officials said. Jets
also hit six gas stations and fuel tanks were also
set ablaze in attacks along the coastal highway
linking Beirut to the south of the country.
Arab Al-Jazeera satellite TV channel also reported
that Hezbollah's guerrillas had fired dozens of
rockets at the Israeli town of Nahariya by the early
hours of the morning. In southern Lebanon, Israeli
troops warned residents of the Lebanese border village
of Marwaheen to evacuate in two hours or else the
village would be destroyed, security officials said.
No reason was given for the Israeli ultimatum.
150 Lebanese Sunni Muslim Bedouins left the village
Saturday morning and assembled around a U.N. peacekeeping
post seeking shelter, the officials said, speaking
on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized
to give statements to the media.
Jerusalem, an Israeli army spokesman said Saturday
that it attacked 44 Hezbollah targets in the past
24 hours, including the group's headquarters, al
Manar broadcasting offices and several bridges in
Lebanon, one on a Beirut-Damascus road.
newed violence came as the Israeli navy searched
for four sailors who went missing on Friday after
Hezbollah struck a warship off the Lebanese coast.
Israeli military officials said the ship had been
struck by unmanned Hezbollah aircraft rigged with
explosives. Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV reported that
guerrillas had targeted the Israeli warship after
it fired missiles into south Beirut.
in the middle of the sea, facing Beirut, the Israeli
warship that has attacked the infrastructure, people's
homes and civilians - look at it burning,"
Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said late
after Nasrallah's prerecorded audio tape was aired,
Arab television showed nighttime footage of what
they said was the Israeli warship burning. But the
footage was unclear.
Al-Manar TV showed footage of dozens of Lebanese
people dancing in the streets to celebrate the announcement
of damages inflicted to an Israeli ship. The audiotape
was released shortly after Israeli missiles struck
Hezbollah headquarters and Nasrallah's house in
has managed to fly unmanned spy drones over northern
at least twice in recent years. During the same
attack on Friday night, a civilian merchant ship
was hit by a Hezbollah rocket, the Israeli army
said. It gave no details on the nationality of the
vessel or whether there were any casualties.
launched its offensive after Hezbollah guerrillas
crossed the Israel-Lebanon border on Wednesday and
captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel has bombarded
Lebanon's airport and main roads in the most intensive
offensive against the country in 24 years, while
Hezbollah has launched hundreds of rockets into
least 73 Lebanese have died, most of the them civilians
in the four-day Israeli offensive. Eight Israeli
soldiers and four civilians have been killed in
the fighting, and the loss of the sailors threatened
to drive the death toll higher.
hopes for new cease-fire with Hamas
CITY, July 8: Israel hopes its violent standoff
with Hamas over a captured soldier will eventually
produce a new cease-fire with the Islamic militants,
an Israeli Cabinet minister said Saturday, as Israeli
troops exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen and
army bulldozers searched for militants' tunnels.
now, Israel had set only two goals for its military
campaign in Gaza to win the release of the
soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, and to halt Palestinian
rocket attacks on Israel. Cabinet minister Ofir
Pines-Paz said Saturday that Israel wants to go
have a great interest in changing the rules of the
game," Pines-Paz, a member of the moderate
Labor Party and of Israel's Security Cabinet, told
Israel Radio. "If we reach a situation in which
there are no kidnappings, no rockets, no tunnels,
no raids into our territory, certainly Israel will
have to reciprocate."
officials offered contradictory responses.
al-Masri, a spokesman for the Palestinian ruling
party, suggested rocket fire could end if Israel
stops its offensive. However, the group said in
a statement on its Web site that rockets "are
the only available means for the Palestinian people
to defend themselves in the face of the aggression
and Zionist incursion into Gaza."
latest round of fighting, which claimed the lives
of 35 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier over the
past three days, began two weeks ago with a cross-border
raid in which Hamas-allied militants seized Shalit.
initially entered southern Gaza where the soldier
is being held. Hamas said Friday he is being treated
well, and a senior Israeli defense official, Amos
Gilad, said Saturday that Israel also believes the
soldier is alive.
Saturday morning, dozens of tanks drove toward Gaza
City, taking up positions about 500 yards from the
outlying neighborhoods of Shajaiyeh and Zeitun.
The army said the forces were sent to the area to
search for tunnels being dug by militants for possible
attacks on soldiers.
air force fired missiles at a group of militants
gathered at the outskirts of Shajaiyeh. Two Hamas
gunmen were killed in the area, hospital officials
said. Also, a Palestinian died of wounds sustained
in earlier fighting, bringing the three-day total
majority of the Palestinians killed since Thursday
were gunmen, but also included a number of civilians,
including an 11-year-old boy.
midday Saturday, about 250 Palestinians conducted
a funeral procession in downtown Gaza City, carrying
the bodies of two Palestinian militants who had
been killed earlier in the day in fighting with
Saturday, 65 U.S. citizens, many of Palestinian
origin, left Gaza in a convoy escorted by U.S. consular
officials. The visitors had asked to leave Gaza
because of the fighting.
Korea launches missile
6: Defying US and its neighbours warning to halt
its nuke program, North Korea test-fired six short
range missiles in the early hours of the day, however
the test fire seems to be unsuccessful while US
condemned the latest launches and Japan held an
to the news agency, the officials in Japan and the
US said N Korea launched up to six test missiles
at 03:32 hrs (Japan Time) or 00:02 hrs (IST) and
all come down in the Sea of Japan. Giving the details
of the missile, the agency said, four of the missiles
are shorter-range Scud-type weapons. However officials
said that two of them are apparently a long-range
Taepodong-2 model. One of these missiles - with
a potential estimated range of 3,500 miles - reportedly
failed less than 40 seconds after being launched.
Alarmed by the latest launch, Japan's Chief Cabinet
Secretary, Shinzo Abe said, "North Korea has
gone ahead with the launch despite international
protest. That is regrettable from the standpoint
of Japan's security, the stability of international
society, and non-proliferation of weapons of mass
In response to the reclusive state move, Japan said
it "strongly protested" against North
Korea's actions and held an emergency meeting to
discuss the move while the South Korean government
said it was also calling a national security meeting.
Meanwhile the US ambassador to the United Nations,
John Bolton, said the United States was "urgently
consulting" other Security Council members.
According to a White House spokesperson the staff
have been in urgent consultations and asserted that
the test firing is a "provocation".
planes attack bridge in Gaza
CITY, Gaza Strip, June 28: Israeli planes attacked
a bridge in central Gaza late Tuesday, Israel Radio
reported, and Israeli tanks were said to be on the
move, possibly signaling the start of a military
security forces said Israeli tanks were moving near
the Israeli village of Nahal Oz, a main Israeli
staging area just outside Gaza, but that they had
not yet entered Gaza.
the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, not far
from the border fence, armed militants took up positions
across from the blaring headlights of Israeli vehicles,
and Israeli attack helicopters hovered overhead.
The militants told residents to leave the area.
military officials said a limited operation has
been authorized for southern Gaza, aimed at "terrorist
infrastructure." The officials spoke on condition
of anonymity because they were not authorized to
talk to reporters.
has been massing troops and armor around Gaza since
Sunday, when Palestinian militants tunneled under
the border and attacked an Israeli army post at
a Gaza crossing, killing two soldiers and abducting
an invasion, Palestinian militants piled up sand
on roads near the border and in Gaza City. "We
are ready to confront any stupid act that the Zionists
might commit," said Abu Obeida, spokesman for
the military wing of Hamas, the Islamic group that
controls the Palestinian parliament. The group also
claimed that militants from various factions had
taken up positions throughout northern Gaza.
officials said the government asked Hamas to release
the soldier and has deployed 2,500 extra troops
along the border with Gaza to prevent an influx
of Palestinians if Israel invades. Egypt also imposed
a nighttime curfew on residents along the border.
Saddam's wife 'most-wanted' in Iraq
July 3: Iraqi National Security Advisor Muafaq al-Rabaei
on Sunday presented a list of Iraq's 41 "most
wanted" terror suspects, headed by Al Qaeda's
new leader in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer.
list includes individuals accused of committing
or plotting acts of terrorism in Iraq - including
the latest Sadr city car bombing which left 68 dead
and 102 injured on Saturday.
told reporters here that the list had been compiled
over a period of nine months and was based on intelligence
and security information collected by Iraq's four
security organs. He added that the names had also
been submitted to Interpol.
list, which includes three women - including Saddam's
wife Sajda Khair Allah and his daughter Raghd Saddam
Hussein - is however "not related to the list
of 55 wanted individuals drawn up by the US authorities."
list of 41 wanted individuals, along with their
photos, is to be posted in each police station and
in mosques with rewards available for information
leading to the detention of suspects.
called on the assistance of civilians and of neighbouring
countries to apprehend the individuals, some of
whom are based in Iraq while others are residing
in Arab countries, and bring them to justice. "We
will apprehend them whether they are in Iraq or
outside the country," said the national security
number of the suspects are accused of having links
with the Al Qaeda terror network, while others are
said to have broken off from existing Iraqi political
currents and militias to form their own movements.
described terrorism as "a cancer that recognises
no religion or country."
second-in-command issues video
June 22: Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader has issued a new
videotape calling on Afghans to rise up against
U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan in the wake of rioting
last month in Kabul.
The video by Ayman al-Zawahri - which would be his
sixth this year - was posted Wednesday evening on
an Islamic Web site known as a clearing house for
al-Qaida and other militants' statements.
am calling upon the Muslims in Kabul in particular
and in all Afghanistan in general and for the sake
of God to stand up in an honest stand in the face
of the infidel forces that are invading Muslim lands,"
al-Zawahri said in Arabic, according to a translation
by IntelCenter, an Alexandria, Va.-based contractor
that provides counterterrorism intelligence services
to the U.S. government.
the video, al-Zawahri is wearing a white turban
and sitting in front of a black backdrop with an
automatic rifle next to him, according to IntelCenter.
The firm did not say how it obtained the video.
3 1/2-minute tape appears to have been made the
day after a May 29 accident in which a U.S. military
truck crashed into traffic in Kabul, killing up
to five people. The incident sparked anti-foreigner
riots in Kabul that left about 20 people dead -
the deadliest unrest in the Afghan capital since
the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
direct my speech today to my Muslim brothers in
Kabul who lived the bitter events yesterday and
saw by their own eyes a new proof of the criminal
acts of the American forces against the Afghani
people," al-Zawahri said in the videotape.
tape came a day after the U.S.-led coalition in
Afghanistan warned that "significant fighting"
lies ahead as Taliban fighters resist the coalition
push to sweep clear the southern region of the country
ahead of a security handover to NATO-led
forces later this summer, military officials said.
Mountain Thrust began in earnest last week with
more than 10,000 Afghan, British, Canadian and American
troops deploying throughout four southern provinces
to crush a resurgent Taliban force in the largest
military operation since the former regime's 2001
than 600 people, mostly militants, have been killed
since May amid the deadliest campaign of insurgent-led
violence in years. At least 10 coalition soldiers
have been killed in combat since mid-May. The new
al-Zawahri message is part of a dramatic increase
in videos and audiotapes by al-Qaida. Al-Qaida's
leader Osama bin Laden has issued three tapes this
year, along with the six from his deputy, the Egyptian-born
Laden and al-Zawahri are believed to be hiding in
the rugged border zone of Pakistan and Afghanistan
video shows alleged 20th hijacker
June 22: Al-Qaida has identified a would-be 20th
hijacker for the September 11 attacks as a Saudi
operative who was killed in a 2004 shootout with
his country's security forces.
a statement accompanying a new video, the terrorist
network's propaganda arm identified Fawaz al-Nashimi,
also known as Turki bin Fuheid al-Muteiry, as the
operative who would have rounded out a team that
ultimately took over United Airlines Flight 93,
which crashed into a Pennsylvania field before reaching
its intended target.
54-minute video featuring al-Nashimi was obtained
Tuesday by IntelCenter, a U.S. government contractor
based in Virginia. U.S counterterrorism officials
declined to comment on the authenticity of the video
and its claims.
video included a screen crediting the al-Sahab media
committee with producing the message. While no one
is known to have forged the group's work, its statements
are often difficult to verify.
video includes footage of al-Nashimi justifying
attacks against the West. It also contains 27 minutes
of previously unheard audio of a siege that he took
part in on oil facilities in Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
car tires and gunfire are heard as the terror cell
moved from building to building. A voice in Arabic
can be heard saying: "Where are the Americans?
... Give me the information." The demands are
punctuated with more gunfire.
the May 2004 attack, militants dressed in military-style
uniforms opened fire inside two oil industry office
compounds, then moved to an upscale residential
area. They took 45 to 60 hostages.
security forces stormed the complex, but three of
the militants escaped, including al-Nashimi. Twenty-two
people were killed in the 25-hour rampage, almost
all of them foreigners, including one American.
Al-Nashimi was killed the following month in gunbattle
with Saudi forces.
Khobar assault was one of a series of attacks against
foreigners by al-Qaida's Saudi branch in 2003 and
2004, aimed at undermining its U.S.-allied royal
family. If the statements on the new video are true,
they would also fill in a missing piece of the puzzle
of the attacks on September 11, 2001.
counterterrorism officials have believed for some
time that the original 9/11 plot included another
hijacker on United Airlines Flight 93, which only
had four attackers. The two planes that flew into
the World Trade Center towers and the one that flew
into the Pentagon
each had five hijackers.
agents at first thought Zacarias Moussaoui was intended
to be on Flight 93, but later revised their allegations.
Moussaoui further muddied the waters during his
terrorism trial, when he claimed - and later recanted
- that he was supposed to fly a fifth plane on September
11 into the White House.
a May audio message, Osama bin Laden said Moussaoui
was not the 20th hijacker "as your government
has claimed." He didn't provide the actual
identity. Moussaoui pleaded guilty to conspiring
with al-Qaida to fly planes into U.S. buildings
and is serving a life sentence at a federal prison
September 11 commission identified yet a third person
as a possible 20th hijacker: al-Qaida member Mohammed
al-Kahtani, who was turned away at Orlando International
Airport in Florida in August 2001.
coalition forces kill 45 militants
June 17: Coalition forces attacked Taliban militant
camps in southern Afghanistan,
killing about 45 insurgents, coalition officials
said Saturday. On
Friday, Afghan and coalition forces surrounded a
"known enemy camp" in Khod Valley, Shaheed
Hasas district of Uruzgan province, killing an estimated
40 fighters, the military said in a statement.
forces tracked the development of this meeting until
there were more than 50 extremists gathered before
attacking the compound," said military spokesman
Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick. "The compound was
severely damaged, and we anticipate most of those
present were killed."
a separate incident, Afghan and coalition forces
conducted a raid on a Taliban compound near Tarin
Kowt, the capital of Uruzgan, killing five insurgents,
the military said. They also seized about eight
pounds of opium.
combat operations were part of Operation Mountain
Thrust, the largest anti-Taliban military campaign
undertaken since the former regime's 2001 ouster
in an American-led invasion.
More than 10,000 U.S.-led troops were deployed this
week across southern Afghanistan to quell a Taliban
resurgence and prepare the ground for the imminent
takeover of military control by NATO-led
this week, coalition forces said they killed an
estimated 40 militants in a remote, mountainous
area of southeastern Paktika province in operations
in support of Mountain Thrust. One coalition member
was wounded in that operation.
Canadian, British and Afghan troops have fanned
out over four restive provinces - Helmand, Uruzgan,
Kandahar and Zabul - to hunt down Taliban fighters
blamed for the surge in ambushes and bombings.
forces, primarily Taliban, have been stepping up
attacks against coalition and Afghan troops across
the country, particularly the south, in the bloodiest
campaign of violence launched since 2001. More than
500 people, mostly militants, have been killed in
the past month.
Heavy sea battle in Sri Lanka kills 24
June 17: At least 20 Tamil Tiger rebels and four
Sri Lankan naval troops were killed in a major sea
battle off the island nation's northwestern coast
today, the Defence Ministry said.
Tigers in a flotilla of 11 boats attacked patrol
craft of the navy off the coast of Mannar, just
a short distance away from the Palk Straits marking
the sea boundary dividing India and Sri Lanka. The
navy claimed it destroyed eight of the rebel boats
and killed 20 Tigers, while the navy lost three
water jet craft together with four sailors killed
and three wounded.
rebel attack came after Sri Lanka's military unleashed
two days of retaliatory strikes on Thursday and
yesterday on rebels Tiger positions, after a bus
bombing killed 64 people.
Meanwhile, the Tigers have shelled the police station
at Pesalai in the small Mannar islet and the security
forces retaliated using artillery. The pro-rebel
Tamilnet website said at least 30 civilians were
wounded but the Defence Ministry put the figure
at between 15 and 20.
police also reported a huge explosion, possibly
at mid sea, off the coast of Negombo district which
is south of Mannar. Two men with diving equipment
were arrested along the beach and they had taken
cyanide, the police said. The two were in a critical
condition and admitted to hospital where one succumbed
Explosion on bus in Sri Lanka kills 65
June 15: A powerful land mine ripped through
a bus packed with commuters and schoolchildren
in northern Sri Lanka on Thursday, killing at
least 65 people, the army said. Sri Lanka's
air force responded by bombing rebel-held areas
in the northeast. The
army blamed the Tamil Tiger rebels for the bus
explosion, but the rebels denied responsibility.
explosion - described as "huge" by
military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe
- was the worst single act of violence since
the government and Tamil Tiger rebels signed
a cease-fire in 2002, and renewed fears of a
return to war.
pro-rebel TamilNet Web site said two jets bombed
areas in the north of the country after the
explosion, but it provided no other details.
Samarasinghe confirmed the bombings, saying
the air force was taking deterrent action, but
it will be limited.
doctor at the hospital where the bodies from
the explosion were taken, S.B. Bothota, said
15 schoolchildren were among the 65 killed.
Another 78 people were wounded by the blast,
which also hit bystanders in a crowded part
of Kabithigollewa, a town in the northern Anuradhapura
district. Samarasinghe blamed the Tigers, saying
their "motive is to create terror."
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fought for
20 years to carve out a separate homeland in
Sri Lanka's north and east for the country's
3.2 million minority Tamils, who are largely
Hindu. The majority of Sri Lankans are Sinhalese,
most of whom are Buddhists. The cease-fire four
years ago ended large-scale fighting, but violence
has persisted, intensifying in the past several
months and killing civilians.
is near the northeastern districts of Vavuniya
and Trincomalee, flashpoints for violence in
recent months between the Tamil Tigers and the
Sri Lankan military.
hold delegation-level talks
DELHI, June 15: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
and the Amir of Kuwait began delegation-level
talks to discuss bilateral issues and sign three
important agreements, including one on avoidance
of double taxation.
Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah,
who arrived on Wednesday on a six-day state
visit, was given a ceremonial reception at the
forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning.
President A P J Abdul Kalam and the Prime Minister
were also present at the reception. The Amir
also inspected a guard of honour at the President's
his meeting with Singh, the Amir will ink three
pacts Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty (DTAT),
Agreement on Drugs and Narcotics and Agreement
on Cooperation in Culture. The
Amir will also meet Home Minister Shivraj Patil
and attend a banquet hosted by Dr Kalam at Rashtrapati
Bhavan in the day.
his visit, the first by a ruler of the Gulf
country in more than 20 years, the Amir will
also meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Defence
Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of the
Opposition L K Advani. He will exchange views
with Indian leaders on wide-ranging issues including
the developments in Iraq, the Iran nuclear issue
and the ongoing Indo-Pak peace talks.
is expected to assure support to New Delhi's
claim for a permanent membership of the UN Security
Council, and reiterate his country's strong
and historical ties with India. The two countries
would also explore ways to increase cooperation
in the energy sector and hold discussions on
setting up a mechanism for joint fight against
Amir, accompanied by a high-level business delegation,
will travel to Mumbai on June 17, to interact
with leading industrialists. With Kuwait deciding
to open its oil and petroleum sector to private
players, the oil-rich country is likely to seek
investment in this field. Kuwait
has been a major supplier of India's energy
needs and has supplied 11 million tonnes of
crude oil worth US$ 2.5 billion till 2005.
Iran says Western proposal 'positive'
June 7: Iran and the United States had a rare
moment of agreement Tuesday, using similar language
to describe "positive steps" toward
an accord on a package of incentives aimed at
persuading Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment.
said the incentives include a previously undisclosed
offer of some U.S. nuclear technology on top
of European help in building light-water nuclear
reactors. Other incentives include allowing
Iran to buy spare airplane parts and support
for joining the World
is under intense international pressure to accept
the deal in exchange for putting on hold a uranium
enrichment program that the West fears could
lead to the creation of nuclear weapons.
top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said the
proposals had "positive steps" but
that talks were needed to clear up ambiguities.
Iran promised to study the proposals seriously,
but gave no timeframe for a response.
Bush, using the same language, said Iran's initial
response "sounds like a positive step."
will see if the Iranians take our offer seriously,"
the president said in Laredo, Texas. "The
choice is theirs to make. I have said the United
States will come and sit down at the table with
them so long as they are willing to suspend
their enrichment in a verifiable way."
diplomat in Vienna described the U.S. offer
of nuclear technology as particularly significant
because it would, in effect, loosen a decades-long
American embargo on giving Iran access to "dual
use" technologies - equipment with both
civilian and military use.
the deal does not demand that Iran outright
give up its uranium enrichment program - only
suspend it, although likely for a long time.
Two earlier diplomatic initiatives by Europe
and Russia crumbled over the past year because
each demanded Iran scrap enrichment completely
- a stumbling block because of the program's
wide popularity with the Iranian public.
leaders fiercely defend their nuclear program
as a source of intense national pride, and say
the purpose of the enrichment program is to
create fuel for electricity - not nuclear weapons,
as the U.S. claims.
is the centerpiece of a nuclear program that
the Iranian government has touted as a technological
achievement, proving Iran is on a level with
developed Western nations. Iran has dismissed
past demands that it give up its right to enrichment
as an arrogant insult from Western nations afraid
of a high-tech Muslim nation. But it has signaled
it would accept some limits.
the West, enrichment is the center of fears
over Iran's intentions. Enrichment can produce
either material for a nuclear warhead or fuel
for a nuclear reactor.
latest proposal was revealed a week after Washington
changed strategy on Iran and - in an apparent
acknowledgment that it lacked support for sanctions
against the Islamic republic - conceded to entering
into direct talks with Iran under certain conditions.
The latest proposal appeared to be even more
of a concession on the Bush administration's
part - a major attempt to sweeten the package
for Iran in a bid to win concessions over the
Washington, State Department Sean McCormack
declined to go into specifics of the proposal.
He said diplomacy "is at a sensitive stage"
and the United States wants Iran to have a chance
to review the proposal without having it discussed
publicly. He refused to offer a time frame,
but said the Iran's timetable to consider the
package was "weeks, not months."
about reports that the offer of Western technology
includes U.S. technological assistance, McCormack
said: "Well, I've seen a lot of reports
flying around the past couple days about what
may or may not be in this package. I would just
caution everybody, until we actually are able
to discuss what is in the package in public,
take reports with a grain of salt."
United States would also lift some sanctions
- including allowing Iran to buy the much-needed
airplane parts - and join with Europeans in
direct negotiations with Iran over the future
of Iran's nuclear program. Diplomats said Monday
that the United States additionally agreed to
open the door for Europe to sell Tehran new
Airbus planes. Iran's commercial fleet is largely
made up of Boeings purchased before the 1979
revolution, and Tehran frequently complains
that the U.S. ban on parts has undermined safety.
U.S. pressure has also prevented Iranian attempts
to purchase new Airbus aircraft.
Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana presented
the package to Iranian officials Tuesday in Tehran.
"The proposals contain positive steps and
also some ambiguities, which must be removed,"
Larijani said afterward.
did not identify the ambiguities but said he discussed
them with Solana and that more talks would be
required. "We hope we will have negotiations
and deliberations again after we have carefully
studied the proposals," he said. Foreign
Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran would give
the proposals "careful study" and then
"we will inform our friends of Iran's views."
said of the meeting: "I have a feeling that
it has been very, very constructive," and
said the two sides would have more contacts in
the coming days.
the talks, Solana also "carried a message"
about potential penalties if Iran refuses the
offer. But he withheld telling the Iranians the
specific threats - including the possibility of
U.N. sanctions - so as not to jeopardize the "positive"
atmosphere, said one diplomat in Vienna.
Tehran does not accept, the package threatens
Iran with a travel ban against its ruling religious
leaders and government officials involved in the
nuclear program, plus a freeze of Iranian financial
assets abroad, U.S. officials and diplomats in
Vienna have said.
current package's lack of a demand for scrapping
enrichment entirely could prove key, said Iranian
political analyst Mostafa Kavakebian, who predicted
Iran would accept temporary suspension of uranium
enrichment but would reject any permanent halt.
past days, Iranian leaders have combined tough
talk with signals that they are open to a deal
- perhaps an attempt to portray to the Iranian
public that they remain firm, even as they consider
reversing their refusal to suspend enrichment.