World digest 02/11/06

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Iran's Khatami: Islamic world ready for change

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- The Islamic world is fed up with violence and extremism in the name of religion and is ready for an era of progressive, democratic Muslim governments, former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Friday. Khatami said current conflicts between the West and Islam have created a situation that "can only see ever-escalating violence, whether in the form of war and occupation and repression, or in the form of terror and destruction." Khatami is a noted Islamic scholar whose moderate policies in religion and politics, especially his view of the United States, were opposed by hard-liners in Iran. He was Iran's leader from 1997 until June, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an ultraconservative, became president.

Man will return to U.S. to face murder charges

LONDON -- An unemployed British computer programmer accused of killing his wife and infant daughter as they lay in bed in their Massachusetts home agreed Friday to return to the United States to face charges. Home Secretary Charles Clarke signed an order Friday authorizing the return of Neil Entwistle, 27, to Massachusetts. That cleared the last legal hurdle in Britain; Entwistle could be sent back at any time. Entwistle is accused of using his father-in-law's handgun to shoot Rachel Entwistle, 27, and 9-month-old Lillian on Jan. 20 as they cuddled together in bed in the Boston suburb of Hopkinton. He flew to London the next day. Entwistle was arrested in London on Thursday.

Syrian charged in 2003 bombings in Istanbul

ANKARA, Turkey -- A Syrian was charged Friday with masterminding suicide bombings that killed 58 people in Istanbul, and Turkish prosecutors claimed that Osama bin Laden personally ordered him to carry out terror attacks in this pro-Western country. Loa'i Mohammad Haj Bakr al-Saqa, 32, was accused of serving as a point man between al-Qaida and homegrown militants behind the series of suicide bombings in Istanbul in 2003, said the indictment. It said al-Saqa gave the Turkish militants about $170,000. Al-Saqa had cosmetic surgery, according to a medical report, and operated by using an array of fake IDs and employing aliases even with his al-Qaida contacts, according to the indictment. The prosecutor's office demanded life in prison for al-Saqa and identified him as "a high-level al-Qaida official with a special mission." Al-Saqa has already been sentenced in absentia by Jordan, along with al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for a failed plot to attack Americans and Israelis in Jordan with poison gas during millennium celebrations. He was captured in Turkey in August.

Israel upset over Russian invitation to Hamas

JERUSALEM -- An Israeli Cabinet minister on Friday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of "stabbing Israel in the back" for inviting Hamas militants to Moscow following their decisive victory in Palestinian elections. The invitation is Russia's latest attempt to assert itself in Mideast diplomacy. France expressed support for the Russian plan, which breaks with the U.S. and European position of not dealing with Hamas until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel's right to exist. Putin further angered Israel on Thursday by saying he did not consider Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide attacks, to be a terrorist group.

Journalist's kidnappers set Feb. 26 deadline

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Kidnappers of American journalist Jill Carroll have threatened to kill her if their demands are not met by Feb. 26, the owner of a Kuwaiti TV station that has aired a new tape of the hostage said Friday. Al Rai satellite station owner Jassem Boudai said the kidnappers set "more specific" demands than the release of all Iraqi women from prison, which the group laid down in the first videotape released last month. Boudai refused to elaborate. He said that "sources close to the kidnappers" told the station Friday of the new deadline. The small, privately owned station aired a tape Thursday showing Carroll, 28, appealing for her supporters to do whatever it takes to win her release "as quickly as possible."

-- From wire reports

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