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Archive for Monday, October 29, 2001

Briefly

October 29, 2001

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Washington, D.C.

Homeland security briefings to be given 3 times a week

White House officials, facing daily choices between reassuring the nation and disclosing disturbing findings about terrorism, plan to begin releasing more information this week after initially playing down dangers facing the country.

Officials plan to announce today that Tom Ridge, Bush's new director of homeland security, will give briefings three times a week about terrorism response and prevention.

Administration officials say they will continue to be judicious with their releases of facts. "The policy of this administration is that we will only discuss factual, confirmed information by scientists and experts," an official said. "Just because cable television stations throw their version of breaking news on the screen doesn't mean that their facts are accurate."

Pakistan

Border restrictions eased

Pakistan has agreed to open its doors to Afghans in need of urgent help, the U.N. refugee chief announced Sunday after a trip to a refugee camp on the barren border.

Pakistan and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees will screen Afghans at the border, and women, children, the elderly and those in need of medical treatment will be permitted to cross.

Of Afghanistan's 21 million people, more than 4 million are refugees, the vast majority in Pakistan and Iran.

Afghanistan

More food rations dropped

Two American cargo jets dropped 35,000 packets of food over northern Afghanistan as part of an ongoing U.S. aid effort aimed at easing hunger while going after military targets, an Air Force spokesman said Sunday.

Saturday night's mission, carried out by a pair of C-17 planes, brings the total number of rations dropped so far to more than 935,000, said Maj. Scott Vadnais, a spokesman for U.S. Air Force Europe at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The start of the airdrops coincided with the beginning of U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan Oct. 7. Aid missions involving up to four planes have taken place most nights since.

Washington, D.C.

USS Cole suspect in custody

Pakistani authorities have arrested and turned over to U.S. custody a Yemeni microbiology student wanted in connection with the bombing of the USS Cole, The Washington Post reports.

Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, 27, is an active member of the al-Qaida network run by Osama bin Laden, the alleged organizer of the Sept. 11 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the newspaper said in Sunday editions.

Mohammed was secretly turned over to U.S. authorities bypassing normal extradition and deportation proceedings as part of a broad investigation of Arab students suspected of having ties to al-Qaida, the Post said, quoting unidentified Pakistan officials.

Mohammed would be the first person arrested outside Yemen for the October 2000 attack on the Cole as it refueled in the port of Aden. Seventeen sailors were killed and 39 injured when suicide bombers brought a boat alongside the warship and detonated explosives.

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