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Archive for Thursday, June 17, 2004

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June 17, 2004

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Ohio

Terror suspect ordered to undergo psychiatric tests

A man charged with plotting to blow up a shopping mall slammed his face on a table and smiled vacantly Wednesday in a Columbus, Ohio, courtroom where a federal magistrate ordered tests to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.

Authorities have accused Nuradin Abdi, 32, of plotting an attack with admitted al-Qaida member Iyman Faris, who is now imprisoned for never-acted-on plans to sabotage the Brooklyn Bridge. Hundreds of Abdi's supporters, including Muna Cheik, above, of Columbus, gathered to proclaim his innocence at the courthouse where Magistrate Mark Abel ordered the Somali national transferred to a federal psychiatric facility.

California

Report: Whistle-blower's evaluation manipulated

A National Guard commander told a mental-health counselor to change an evaluation to show that a serviceman who accused fellow soldiers of abusing Iraqi prisoners was mentally unfit, another soldier says.

The commander has refused to comment on the allegation.

Sgt. Greg Ford of the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion has said he was stripped of his duties and ordered to see combat-stress counselors after reporting that three fellow soldiers in the California National Guard unit abused Iraqi detainees during interrogations in Samarra last year. He said the soldiers choked detainees and stuck lit cigarettes in their ears.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Marciello said that after a mental health evaluation came back saying Ford was OK, he witnessed a company commander in the 223rd, Capt. Vic Artiga, ask a counselor to change the evaluation.

New Jersey

Family begs for safety of kidnapped American

The son of an American kidnapped in Saudi Arabia pleaded with the Saudi government Wednesday to work to free his father.

Paul Johnson Jr., 49, a Lockheed Martin employee from Stafford Township, was kidnapped Saturday by a group calling itself al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The organization is believed to be headed by al-Qaida's chief in the Saudi kingdom, Abdulaziz Issa Abdul-Mohsin al-Moqrin.

Paul Johnson III made his plea on CNN, appearing with an aunt and with the 3-year-old grandson his father has never met.

"I respect your country, I respect everything that everybody's done, and I just want to see my father brought home safely," the younger Johnson said. "The Saudis, you can make it happen and I'm just asking you please make this happen."

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