World briefs 06/27/03

Friday, June 27, 2003

Saudi authorities arrest key al-Qaida operative

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Authorities arrested one of the alleged al-Qaida masterminds in last month's terrorist bombings in Riyadh in a major blow to Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization.

Saudi and U.S. officials said Ali Abd al-Rahman al-Faqasi al-Ghamdi, 29, was in custody. State-run Radio Riyadh, quoted the Interior Ministry as saying the terror suspect surrendered to Saudi police.

In the May 12 assault, gunmen and suicide bombers attacked three housing compounds populated by Westerners and other foreigners. Nine attackers and 25 victims were killed.

U.S. counterterrorism officials in Washington predicted the arrest would severely hamper al-Qaida's operations in Saudi Arabia because al-Ghamdi was one of the organization's top operatives in the kingdom.

Ex-information minister appears on Arab TV

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Iraq's former information minister, who gained notoriety during the war for wildly implausible claims of victory, went on Arab television Thursday and stood by his statements, saying they came from "many authentic sources."

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf had denied that U.S. tanks were in Baghdad even as television pictures showed them in the capital. "There is no presence of American infidels in the city of Baghdad," al-Sahhaf asserted outside the Palestine Hotel on April 7. Baghdad fell April 9.

In his first appearance since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime -- an interview with the Al-Arabiya satellite network, al-Sahhaf did not directly back down from some of his false claims during the war.

Asked where he got his information, he said: "From authentic sources. Many authentic sources."

Judge: Bounty hunters should face charges

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- A judge found enough evidence Thursday to order U.S. bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman, his son and brother to stand trial on criminal charges for capturing a fugitive American heir.

Judge Jose de Jesus Pineda freed two other Americans, producer Jeff Sells and actor Boris Krutonog, but found that the Chapmans should be charged with criminal association and deprivation of liberty -- similar to kidnapping without requesting a ransom.

Chapman, a 50-year-old Hawaii-based bounty hunter, his son Leland and brother Timothy were arrested along with Sells and Krutonog on June 18, about two hours after the group captured convicted rapist Andrew Luster near a taco stand in this resort city.

Prosecutors maintain that the capture of the Max Factor cosmetics heir violated Mexican sovereignty.

-- From wire reports

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