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Archive for Friday, October 3, 2003

Briefly

October 3, 2003

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Indonesia

Last of four Bali bombing suspects sentenced to death

The last of four main suspects in the deadly nightclub bombings on Indonesia's Bali island was convicted Thursday and sentenced to death by firing squad.

The verdict is the latest sign that Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, is serious about confronting Islamic militancy. Death sentences in Indonesia are rare, but are allowed under an anti-terror law adopted after last year's bombings on Bali, which killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

Ali Ghufron, an Afghan-trained militant who bragged of his friendship with Osama bin Laden, was "proven guilty of planning a terrorist action," Judge Cokorda Rai Suamba said.

Two other key Bali defendants -- Samudra and Amrozi bin Nurhasyhim -- have received death sentences and a third -- Ali Imron -- was given life in prison for the Oct. 12, 2002, attacks.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Military practices procedures for shooting down airliners

The U.S. military practices at least twice each week for the nightmare scenario of having to shoot down a civilian airliner hijacked by terrorists, the commander of forces in North America said Thursday.

Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, head of U.S. Northern Command, said a strong set of safeguards were in place to prevent an accidental or unwarranted shootdown of a commercial airplane. Commanders, pilots and air defense crews are drilled on those procedures as many as four times each week, Eberhart said.

The rules allow for an order to shoot down a civilian plane only if there is no other option to prevent a Sept. 11-style attack on the ground, the general said.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Graham campaign in flux

Democrat Bob Graham told a Senate colleague Thursday that he would abandon his struggling presidential bid, a Democratic source said, but in a day filled with mixed signals, aides said he would continue to campaign.

The Florida senator's future in the crowded Democratic field remained in doubt as the campaign made several staff changes and held a series of high-level meetings.

Initially, the Graham campaign announced a news conference for today, suggesting that he would quit the race. But late Thursday, the campaign and state Democratic Party said there would be no news conference. "Senator Graham has decided to soldier on," said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox.

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