Cleric denies grandson had jihadist training

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan -- A cleric on Tuesday disputed FBI allegations that his 22-year-old grandson received jihadist training at his Islamic seminary near Pakistan's capital, calling the charges "a pack of lies." Qari Saeed-ur Rehman said his grandson, Hamid Hayat, and son-in-law Umer Hayat, 47, were wrongfully arrested in California last week, and he dismissed suggestions they were linked to an al-Qaida cell. They were arrested on charges of lying to federal investigators after an investigation into possible connections between some members of the Pakistani community in Lodi, Calif., and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

South African leader dismisses deputy

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- President Thabo Mbeki dismissed his deputy Tuesday after he was caught up in a corruption scandal, throwing wide open the question of who will become the next leader of South Africa. Deputy president Jacob Zuma, who retains widespread support, had been groomed to succeed Mbeki at the helm of Africa's economic and diplomatic powerhouse when he stands down in 2009. Mbeki noted that Zuma, 63, has not been charged, but said a high court judge's ruling that he had a "generally corrupt" relationship with his financial adviser required the president to act.

First female in Kuwaiti Cabinet challenged

KUWAIT CITY -- Several lawmakers are challenging the appointment of Kuwait's first female Cabinet member as unconstitutional, one of them said Tuesday. Massouma al-Mubarak, a U.S.-educated university teacher and women's rights activist, was appointed Sunday but has not assumed her post. She is awaiting a decree from the emir or his deputy, the crown prince. The measure is only procedural. Al-Mubarak's appointment became possible when lawmakers granted women the right to vote and run for Parliament on May 16.

Two percent increase in cocaine production

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- South America's cocaine output rose by 2 percent last year, bucking a five-year downward trend as increases in Peru and Bolivia outpaced Colombia's clampdown on coca cultivation, a U.N. report showed Tuesday.

-- From wire reports

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