Man with holy war guide freed by German court

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

BERLIN -- A Turkish man arrested at Frankfurt airport two weeks ago with a protective suit against biological warfare and instructions for an Islamic holy war has been freed, prosecutors said Tuesday.

An investigation of Harun Aydin, who was taken off a plane to Iran on Oct. 17 after his baggage was searched, turned up no evidence that he was planning violent acts, federal prosecutors spokeswoman Frauke Scheuten said. But prosecutors are still investigating his possible membership in an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group.

During their search of Aydin's luggage, Frankfurt airport police found a CD-ROM with a training program for Islamic holy warriors. They also found protective clothing against biological and chemical warfare along with a face mask and equipment that could be used to make a detonator.

Argentine president pledges no debt default

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Hoping to soothe jittery investors, President Fernando De la Rua insisted Tuesday that Argentina would keep up its debt payments to investors and maintain the peso's one-to-one peg with the U.S. dollar.

Argentine stocks and bonds continued to weaken in early trading as investors worried about the country's ability to avoid a debt default after the government delayed the unveiling of a new economic recovery program.

Signaling souring investor sentiment, Argentina's country risk rating -- a barometer of investor confidence in Argentine bonds -- continue to climb over the 2,000 mark, meaning South America's second-largest economy ranks as one of the riskiest investments in the world.

Putin: More efficient arms production needed

MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin pledged Tuesday to streamline Russia's weapons industries, which are plagued by inefficiency and saddled with outdated facilities from the Soviet era.

Putin told a meeting of military and security officials and local governors in the Kremlin that the state would no longer buy obsolete products from military plants.

"The structure of the military industrial complex has remained archaic and doesn't answer today's military and political needs," Putin said.

In a separate move reflecting Putin's goal of streamlining the military-industrial complex, he signed an order Tuesday to set up the Sukhoi Aviation Holding Company for the production and export of Sukhoi jet fighters.

Ukraine destroys its last nuclear missile silo

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine destroyed its last nuclear missile silo on Tuesday, fulfilling a pledge to give up the vast nuclear arsenal it inherited after the breakup of the former Soviet Union.

The silo was blown up at a military range in the southern Mykolaiv region near Pervomaisk, according to the Interfax news agency. The U.S.-Ukrainian Cooperative Threat Reduction Program oversaw the destruction.

A team of U.S. and Ukrainian officials joined three schoolchildren in turning six keys to detonate the explosives that blew up the silo, the last of 46 to be dismantled.

Ukraine inherited the world's third-largest nuclear stockpile with the 1991 Soviet collapse, including 130 SS-19 missiles, 46 SS-24 missiles and dozens of strategic bombers.

First political dissident on trial in Syria in years

DAMASCUS, Syria -- A Syrian legislator who protested corruption and martial law appeared in court Tuesday on charges of inciting violence in the country's first open trial of a political dissident in decades.

Mamoun Homsi, 45, faces life in prison if convicted of slander, inciting sectarian violence and illegally trying to change the constitution.

He was arrested Aug. 9 after staging a hunger strike to protest decades-long martial law and a lack of freedoms in Syria. Homsi, a wealthy businessman, also called for an end to institutionalized corruption.

--From wire reports

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