Suspect commits suicide with grenade
SANA’A, Yemen – A suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist wanted in connection with the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole blew himself up with a grenade late Wednesday as Yemeni security forces closed in on him in Yemen’s capital city, security sources said.
A police statement identified the suspect as Sameer Mohammed Al-Hada, a 25-year-old Yemen native. He was one of the most important people on a list of wanted al Qaeda suspects that the United States had given to Yemeni officials, sources said.
Al-Hada was wanted in connection with the bombing of the Cole, which killed 17 U.S. sailors and wounded 39. Yemeni security sources said Al-Hada had trained in Afghanistan.
Naval officer accused of rape found dead
WASHINGTON – U.S. Navy officials said Tuesday that the Navy officer charged with raping an enlisted sailor under his command was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
William S. Petrie, 43, was found on the beach off the Colonial Parkway about seven miles outside of Williamsburg, Va., according to Deputy Chief Ken Middlebrook of the James City County Police Department.
Petrie was to appear Tuesday at a military hearing similar to a civilian preliminary hearing. According to the charges, Petrie engaged in an “unduly familiar personal relationship” with the sailor at a naval support facility at Souda Bay on the island of Crete.
Petrie’s body was sent to a forensics lab in Richmond, Va., for autopsy.
Plane crash in Iran kills 118 passengers
KHORRAMABAD, Iran – The Iran Air Tours Tupolev Tu-154 flight crashed at 7:55 a.m. on Tuesday, outside the city of Khorramabad, 230 miles southwest of Tehran, the government said.
The Russian-made airliner lost contact with the control tower at Khorramabad airport minutes before hitting the Sefid Kouh mountains, 15 miles west of the city.
All 105 passengers and 13 crew members aboard the plane were pronounced dead. Relatives of passengers gathered at Tehran Mehrabad Airport, mourning, as they sought information on the fate of their loved ones.
According to the official Islamic Republic News Agency reports, several Iranian legislators, meanwhile, called for the resignation or impeachment of Transport Minister Ahmad Khorram.
Bush helps advance more black colleges
WASHINGTON – President Bush on Tuesday created a presidential advisory board for historically black colleges and universities.
The president signed an executive order establishing the board, which includes sitting presidents of the colleges and representatives of private foundations and other educational institutions.
The president’s budget plan for fiscal 2003 proposes about $264 million for historically black colleges and $89 million for historically Hispanic schools. One of his campaign promises was to increase funding for these institutions by 30 percent by 2005, the year Bush’s term ends.
Eight people killed in Somalia shootout
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Eight people were killed in fighting between rival militias armed with truck-mounted heavy machine guns in southern Somalia on Tuesday, witnesses said.
Witnesses said fighters from both sides were killed in the 90-minute clash in the Bardhere district of Gedo region 400 km (250 miles) west of Mogadishu. Gunmen used more than 20 of the battle wagons known as technicals in the encounter.
The Somali Restoration and Reconciliation Council (SRRC) accuses the Transitional National Government (TNG) of harboring armed Islamic militants linked to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda group.
Residents said about 60 residents of the village had fled the area to try to escape the fighting.
New version will replace old Quran
LOS ANGELES – A translation of the Koran with several controversial footnotes and commentaries that offended some Jews will be removed from Los Angeles public school libraries and replaced with a less objectionable version, according to an agreement reached Monday.
A panel of Islamic experts and other educators will review potential substitutes for the nearly 300 copies of the 1934 book, “The Meaning of the Holy Quran.” The books were donated last month by a local Islamic foundation.
“In the interest of good faith and goodwill and being sensitive to people’s concerns we agreed that the books should not be used,” said Salam Al-Marayati, spokesman for the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
First female monk ordained in Thailand
THAILAND – A Buddhist nun has become the first female monk ordained in Thailand, presenting a serious challenge to the nation’s all-male clergy.
Varanggana Vanavichayen, 55, was ordained Sunday by a female Sri Lankan monk in the presence of a male Thai monk. According to Theravada scriptures, as interpreted in Thailand, for a woman to be ordained a monk, the ceremony must be attended by both a male and female Buddhist monk.
Monks are the main clerics in Thai Buddhism. The deputy chief of the government’s Religious Affairs Department, however, said Varanggana will not be recognized as a monk since it is against traditional Buddhist beliefs.
Federal agency sides with Ford Explorers
WASHINGTON – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decided Tuesday that there is insufficient evidence to investigate whether the Ford Explorer’s design makes a crash more likely if the tread on the SUV’s back tire separates.
Ford, which replaced more than 6.5 million Firestone tires on its vehicles in 2000, has blamed Firestone for the problem. Firestone has insisted that the design of Ford Explorers contributed to the accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that “the data does not support Firestone’s contention” that Explorers were more likely to cause a loss of control following a rear tread separation than other comparable SUVs.
Milosevic accused of human brutality
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The U.N.’s chief prosecutor accused former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic of being “responsible for the worst crimes known to humankind” at the opening of his landmark war crimes trial.
Milesovic, 60, went on trial at The Hague on Tuesday, charged with crimes against humanity in Croatia and Kosovo, and genocide in Bosnia.
“Today as never before, we see international justice in action,” Carla Del Ponte said in her opening statement. His case, she said, would be a powerful demonstration that “no one is above the law” or beyond the reach of justice.
Milosevic, who has already spent seven months behind bars in The Hague, could spend the rest of his life in prison.
February 14, 2002