Thursday, December 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India




National Capital Region--Delhi

W O R L D

Corruption cases filed against Hasina
Dhaka, December 12
Former Prime Minister, leader of the Awami League and leader of the Opposition in Parliament Sheikh Hasina with five former ministers, a number of retired or serving bureaucrats, army and air force officials have been sued in 12 separate cases of corruption, financial irregularities, misuse of power and land grabbing, by the Anti-Corruption Department.

First key charges in Sept 11 probe; French faces death term
Zacarias MoussaouiWashington, December 12
Attorney-General John Ashcroft yesterday announced the first indictment of a key figure in the September11 attacks — six conspiracy charges against Zacarias Moussaoui, who has been held as a material witness. Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, faced the death penalty on four of the charges.

Mullah Omar safe, claims Taliban
Kandahar, December 12
Taliban supremo Mullah Muhammed Omar has succeeded in reaching an unspecified safe abode outside Afghanistan, a Taliban information ministry official said. The official said his leader had safely passed out of Afghan territory but did not elaborate in which direction, SADA reported.


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TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
The new Defence Minister of the interim government in Afghanistan, Mohammad Fahim, told reporters that Mullah Omar may be hiding in the Kandahar region.
(28k, 56k)
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan would not be allowed into areas where they might be likely to come into contact with Osama bin Laden.
(28k, 56k)

Move beyond ABM Treaty: Bush
Washington, December 12
US President George W. Bush has vowed not to let the 1972 ABM Treaty come in the way of deployment of a missile shield, amid reports that Washington has informed Moscow about a soon to be given six months’ notice for withdrawing from the treaty.

Man held for trying to defraud IA
Washington, December 12
A US resident claiming to be a billionaire has been charged with illegally trying to draw on a $11.88-million letter of credit issued by Indian Airlines to lease passenger jets.

LTTE attacks mar swearing-in
Colombo, December 12
The LTTE today staged major attacks against army troops and the police, killing at least 16 persons on the eve of a new Cabinet of ministers being sworn in, defence officials said. LTTE rebels fired 120 mm mortar bombs at the Pahala Toppur army base in the north-eastern district of Trincomalee in a bid to overrun the camp, officials said.

Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga (L) swears in Tilak Marapona (R) as Minister of Defence in Colombo on Wednesday. The 25-member Cabinet lead by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in after his arch-rival President Chandrika Kumaratunga agreed to give up the defence and finance portfolios she has held since becoming President in 1994. — Reuters photo


4 Palestinians killed in Israeli missile attacks
Gaza City, December 12
Four Palestinian civilians were killed and at least 17 wounded when Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a security building in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said.

 

A Palestinian boy throws stones at an Israeli tank during clashes near the Neve Dekalim Jewish settlement at Khan Younis south of the Gaza Strip on  Wednesday after the funeral of the four Palestinians killed by Israeli missiles. — Reuters photo

2 Indian copters for Nepal to fight Maoists
Kathmandu, December 12
India has donated two helicopters and arms to help the Nepal’s government crush a Maoist insurgency, Indian Embassy sources said today. The two five-seater Cheetah helicopters, which were built in Bangalore under a licence from a French company and used by the Indian Army, arrived in Nepal yesterday, the sources said.

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Corruption cases filed against Hasina
Atiqur Rahman
Tribune News Service

Dhaka, December 12
Former Prime Minister, leader of the Awami League and leader of the Opposition in Parliament Sheikh Hasina with five former ministers, a number of retired or serving bureaucrats, army and air force officials have been sued in 12 separate cases of corruption, financial irregularities, misuse of power and land grabbing, by the Anti-Corruption Department (ACD). Formal charges are yet to be framed. Sheikh Hasina is now in Florida, on a month-long private visit.

With formal clearance by the incumbent Prime Minister, Ms Khaleda Zia, the ACD filed cases in different police stations of the capital on Wednesday. This is a major action by the present Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led coalition government against their main adversary — the Awami League. The former Awami League government of Sheikh Hasina during her tenure had also filed similar corruption cases against her political opponent present Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and her brother Major Iskander who is now a legislator. Ms Zia had to obtain bail from the high court even after assuring power. As such the move is viewed by political observers as a retaliatory action.

However, Sheikh Hasina in an interview with the BBC from her daughter’s residence in Florida, blamed the government of harassing her and her colleagues. The Deputy leader of the Opposition, former Speaker Abdul Hamid termed the action as political vendetta and an attempt to malign the image of the Awami League. Acting President of the Awami League and former Foreign Minister Abdus Samad Azad criticised the action as an attempt to harass the party chief and malign the party by filing ‘baseless and false cases’.

Cases were filed against former Home Minister Mohammad Nasim, former Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Engineer Mosharaf Hossain, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury, State Minister for Energy Rafiqul Islam , State Minister for Jute Faezul Huq, and Deputy Minister for Local Government Saber Hossain Chowdhury. Some defence ministry officials, former air force chief Jamaluddin Ahmed, former Defence Secretary and present Comptroller General Syed Yusuf Hossain, former Secretary and now Election Commissioner Shafiur Rahman and Chairman of the Public Service Commission, a teacher of Dhaka University Professor Mostafa Chowdhury were also sued in different cases.

The main case against Hasina is about a deal purchasing 29 MIG 29 fighter jets from Russia for alleged misappropriation of 700 crore taka. She is sued in another case of graft of two crore taka in a case of appointment of consultant in the Export Processing Zone (EPZ).

Acting President of the Awami League in a statement referred to the recent actions of withdrawal of special security protection to Sheikh Hasina the cancellation of allotment of Ganobabhan to her by the present BNP government as ‘acts of vendetta.’

Meanwhile, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Moudud Ahmed denied the allegations saying the cases were not filed with any ill political motive or to fulfil political vendetta.

Mentionable, the government has already taken steps to publish a White Paper on the corruption by the Sheikh Hasina government.

Bangla daily Jugantar in a political analysis published today remarked that the filing of corruption cases by the ruling coalition against Hasina and her colleagues had widened the gap between the ruling coalition and the main opposition. It added that the possibility of the Awami League attending the next session of Parliament seemed remote.
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First key charges in Sept 11 probe;
French faces death term

Washington, December 12
Attorney-General John Ashcroft yesterday announced the first indictment of a key figure in the September11 attacks — six conspiracy charges against Zacarias Moussaoui, who has been held as a material witness.

Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, faced the death penalty on four of the charges. He will be tried in a federal court and not in a military tribunal as established by President George W. Bush.

Mr Ashcroft said a grand jury in Virginia returned the indictment against Moussaoui on charges of “conspiring with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida to murder thousands of innocent people in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania on September 11.”

“Al-Qaida will now meet the justice it abhors and the judgment it fears,” Mr Ashcroft said.

Mr Ashcroft said Bin Laden and other leaders of his Al-Qaida organisation were cited as unindicted co-conspirators in the indictment.

The attorney-general would not say where Moussaoui was being held, only that it was in the USA.

The charges were announced exactly three months after hijacked plane attacks on the Pentagon just outside Washington and the World Trade Center in New York. Another hijacked jet crashed in Pennsylvania before it could attack any other American landmark. Nearly 3,300 persons were killed.

Specifically, the indictment carried charges of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, to commit aircraft piracy, to destroy aircraft, to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to murder US government employees and conspiracy to destroy US Government property.

The charges said Moussaoui trained in an Al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan and received funds from sources in West Asia and Germany.

Moussaoui initially was arrested in Minnesota on August 16 on immigration violations after he aroused suspicion by trying to buy time on a jumbo jet flight simulator at a flying school.

After the September 11 attacks, Moussaoui was arrested as a material witness and sent to New York for questioning.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said, “In February 2001, Moussaoui arrived in the United States, opened a bank account with $32,000 in cash and immediately enrolled in a flight school.”

Mr Mueller said Moussaoui has not been cooperating with law enforcement officials and they have got no information from him since his arrest. Reuters

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Mullah Omar safe, claims Taliban 

Kandahar, December 12
Taliban supremo Mullah Muhammed Omar has succeeded in reaching an unspecified safe abode outside Afghanistan, a Taliban information ministry official said.

The official said his leader had safely passed out of Afghan territory but did not elaborate in which direction, SADA reported.

“I can say nothing about where he has gone, but this is 100 per cent confirmed that he is now at a very safe location — not in Kandahar, not in Afghanistan either,” said the source who was in a hurry to leave here for the West. He added that Omar was “not in Pakistan.”

The official was one of the senior managers of the Bakhtar news agency. Till Monday conflicting reports were pouring in about Omar’s survival.

Excluding Pakistan, the only other place left for Omar is Iran, but that seems unlikely, as Iran was hostile to the Taliban during their rule in Afghanistan.

Also, in the tense international scenario, Iran cannot afford the risk of harbouring one of the men most wanted by the USA, observers said, adding that Omar may be hiding in Farah province somewhere near the border with Iran.

Omar came into the limelight in the early 1990s, when Afghanistan was embroiled in civil war among rival mujahideen factions after the fall of the Soviet-backed Kabul government of Najibullah.

Omar first took control of his home province Kandahar and captured 90 per cent of Afghanistan by 1996. He introduced a strict form of Islamic values and succeeded in bringing peace and stability in Afghan society.

His orders for demolishing ancient Buddha statues in Bamiyan province were carried out by his followers despite a global outcry.

The USA had put the Taliban leader on notice to hand over Osama bin Laden after September’s terrorist attacks. Omar and his Shura, (council) refused to extradite Bin Laden without any valid proof.

In view of continuous U.S. bombings over Kandahar, Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif and other important positions, Taliban forces withdrew from all the locations and confined themselves to Kandahar, which they held till last week. The Taliban surrendered Kandahar and two other southern provinces in the wake of an agreement with Hamid Karzai, prime minister-designate of the interim Afghan set-up. The surrender of Kandahar signified the end of the Taliban rule, which lasted for six years. IANS

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Senior Taliban leader hurt

Washington, December 12
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said a relatively senior Taliban or Al-Qaida leader, who was wounded in Afghanistan, has been extracted and taken for medical treatment to another country by his supporters. Mr Rumsfeld did not name either the leader or the country he was supposedly taken to, but indicated there could have been some other such instances he was not aware of.

The Secretary said his country was interested in talking to anyone, Taliban or Al-Qaeda, who had information that could add to the USA’s knowledge of terrorist networks in Afghanistan or neighbouring countries. PTI

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Move beyond ABM Treaty: Bush

Washington, December 12
US President George W. Bush has vowed not to let the 1972 ABM Treaty come in the way of deployment of a missile shield, amid reports that Washington has informed Moscow about a soon to be given six months’ notice for withdrawing from the treaty.

“We must move beyond the 1972 Ballistic Missile Treaty, a treaty that was written in a different era for a different enemy,” Mr Bush said yesterday at the Citadel, the state military college in Charleston, South Carolina.

“The USA and our allies must not be bound to the past. We must be able to build the defences we need against the enemies of the 21st century,” he said, claiming the success of the last week’s anti-ballistic missile test.

Reports from Moscow said Secretary of State Colin Powell has already informed Russia that Mr Bush would soon give a six months’ notice to get out of the ABM Treaty.

Mr Bush said the new threat to civilisation from terrorism was erasing old lines of rivalry and resentment between nations.

“Russia and the USA are building a new cooperative relationship, Germany and Japan are assuming military roles appropriate to their status as great democracies. The vast majority of countries are now on the same side of a moral and ideological divide.”

Mr Bush warned that “for states that support terror, it is not enough that the consequences be costly; they must be devastating.”

He said the USA was determined to build “limited and effective defences” against a missile attack.

“Our enemies seek every chance and every means to do harm to our country, our forces and our friends and we will not permit it.” PTI

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Man held for trying to defraud IA
Vasantha Arora

Washington, December 12
A US resident claiming to be a billionaire has been charged with illegally trying to draw on a $11.88-million letter of credit issued by Indian Airlines (IA) to lease passenger jets.

New Jersey resident Percy O. Tamayo was sentenced on Tuesday to 25 months in prison for posing as a wealthy businessman to fraudulently obtain $1.2 million using the letter of credit given by IA to GIA International of Grants Pass, Oregon, for the purchase of the jets.

Tamayo (37) a Peruvian national who also claims to have a doctorate from Harvard University, was arrested on Monday, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) complaint said.

In March, GIA assigned the letter to Tamayo, who had promised to finance the jets through his “vast financial interests,” the complaint said. He acknowledged he tried to transfer over $1 million from the line issued to an Oregon company to his bank accounts in Peru.

Tamayo tried to use the letter to obtain a bank loan and buy a television station in his native Peru, the complaint said, according to Bloomberg News.

He allegedly used the letter of credit on Monday to try to secure the $1.2 million loan from Bergen Capital Inc., a broker-dealer in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.

“We believe he’s a conman,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Kirsch said after Tamayo’s initial appearance in a federal court in Newark.

Tamayo was arrested at Bergen Capital, where FBI agents had secretly videotaped him boasting about his finances, Kirsch said. U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan D. Wigenton denied bail to Tamayo, who was charged with interstate transportation of stolen property.

Kirsch told the judge that Tamayo posed a “serious risk of flight” and had a plane ticket for Peru. He said Tamayo has said he was a “high-flying world-renowned financier” and a billionaire with global real estate holdings and a stake in a hotel.

“He has no such assets or monies,” Kirsch said. The prosecutor also said Tamayo does not have a doctorate from Harvard and does not have corporate interests in New Jersey and elsewhere, as he had claimed.

Bergen Capital’s president, Charles Gilbride, said Tamayo approached his firm last week claiming he had brokered a transaction between the Peruvian government and GIA, and that the letter of credit was his fee. IANS
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LTTE attacks mar swearing-in

Colombo, December 12
The LTTE today staged major attacks against army troops and the police, killing at least 16 persons on the eve of a new Cabinet of ministers being sworn in, defence officials said.

LTTE rebels fired 120 mm mortar bombs at the Pahala Toppur army base in the north-eastern district of Trincomalee in a bid to overrun the camp, officials said.

Defence ministry spokesman Sanath Karunaratne said the security forces beat back the pre-dawn rebel assault by killing at least six guerrillas. Three soldiers were also killed and 20 of them wounded.

“Troop reinforcements were able to repulse the attack and take back a bunker line that the terrorists occupied briefly,” Mr Karunaratne said.

In a simultaneous attack, the LTTE struck the Valachhenai police station in the adjoining Batticaloa district. Six constables and a civilian employee of the nearby telecommunications exchange were killed.

Another 11 persons were wounded in the attack against the police when the guerrillas set ablaze the police station. The guerrillas also destroyed the local telephone exchange at Valachhenai.

Meanwhle, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe named a 25-member Cabinet today, assisted by 28 ministers without Cabinet rank and nine deputy ministers, officials said.

President Chandrika Kumara-tunga, who was holding important portfolios like Defence and Finance until now, retained none.

She averted a possible controversy by relinquishing any claim to a portfolio, even though the Constitution allows her to do it.

The new ministry was sworn in at a function at the President’s House this afternoon, ending two days of uncertainty over a possible deadlock if the President, who represented the defeated People’s Alliance, denied the Prime Minister the final say in filling up crucial portfolios. PTI

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4 Palestinians killed in Israeli missile attacks

Gaza City, December 12
Four Palestinian civilians were killed and at least 17 wounded when Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a security building in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said.

Late yesterday two Israeli gunships hovering over the Palestinian Authority’s national security building fired three rockets at the site, causing severe damage to the building and several others in the vicinity. Half an hour later, the helicopters returned and fired two more rockets at the building, which is located in a residential part of the self-rule city in southern Gaza.

Witnesses said the second raid hit an adjacent refugee camp and said there were a large number of victims because the attack coincided with the end of evening prayers.

They said the Palestinian security forces had quickly evacuated the area when they heard the sound of approaching Apache helicopters.

An Israeli army source said the military had detected terrorists in the area. AFP

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2 Indian copters for Nepal to fight Maoists

Kathmandu, December 12
India has donated two helicopters and arms to help the Nepal’s government crush a Maoist insurgency, Indian Embassy sources said today.

The two five-seater Cheetah helicopters, which were built in Bangalore under a licence from a French company and used by the Indian Army, arrived in Nepal yesterday, the sources said.

The helicopters were fitted with machine guns and expected to be used to transport soldiers to the Maoists’ north-western strongholds, they said.

The Nepal army has had difficulty using land routes to reach some of the rebels-dominated areas of the mountain kingdom, with the Maoists either planting landmines or ambushing troops.

The sources said New Delhi had also sent to Nepal “a couple of trucks” with arms and ammunition.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee late last month told King Gyanendra that his government would provide Nepal “whatever assistance was required” to combat the Maoists, officials in New Delhi said. AFP
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