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Archive for Monday, February 25, 2002

Briefly

February 25, 2002

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Washington, D.C.

Fighter jet patrols likely to be reduced

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld indicated Sunday he probably would scale back the continuous fighter jet patrols over U.S. cities, but said he had not yet made a decision.

"My personal view has been that what we need to do is what we have always done historically, and that's to have different threat levels. And as we see changes in the threat condition, adjust up or down," Rumsfeld said.

The Air Force's civilian leader told The Associated Press last week that he wants to end the post-Sept. 11 24-hour, 7-day-a-week patrols and instead leave fighters on "strip alert" at airfields, ready to launch in case of emergency.

Pakistan

Reporter's killers linked to al-Qaida network

The hunt for the killers of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is targeting three Arab nationals an indication, investigators say, that the perpetrators may be linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.

Authorities offered little information Sunday about the Arabs' identity or what role they may have played. But their alleged involvement combined with investigators' revelation that a key suspect now in custody said he met personally with bin Laden in Afghanistan suggested an al-Qaida link.

Four key suspects were already in police custody when Pearl was killed.

Rome

Investigators find holes in tunnel near U.S. Embassy

Italian authorities are investigating whether holes in the walls of a utility tunnel near the U.S. Embassy in Rome are linked to a group of Moroccan men police suspect were planning an attack on the embassy.

Photographs of the holes, which were large enough for a person to crawl through, have been forwarded to the prosecutor handling the case of nine Moroccans detained last week, Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica reported Sunday.

The Moroccans were arrested after police raided a Rome apartment Tuesday. Police said that during the raid, they found a cyanide-based compound and maps of Rome highlighting the U.S. Embassy and the capital's water supply.

Iran

Afghan leader pays visit

Hamid Karzai, making his first official visit to Iran as interim leader of Afghanistan, urged the United States and Iran on Sunday to put aside their differences and to focus on helping to rebuild his impoverished country.

Karzai arrived in Tehran just hours after meeting with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who told him the United States suspects Iran of sending elite commandos known as Sipah-e-Mohammed, or Soldiers of Mohammed, into Afghanistan to stir up trouble among armed tribes.

Washington accuses Iran of protecting fleeing al-Qaida and Taliban members, and sending the commandos into Afghanistan to undermine the U.S.-backed interim administration.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami rejected the renewed accusations Sunday, saying: "Iran from the very beginning has recognized the government of Afghanistan and thinks strengthening this government is its responsibility."

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