Spanish Judge Calls

Morocco a Major Threat

MADRID -- Spain's leading anti-terrorism judge testified Thursday that Europe's biggest terrorist threat is Morocco, with as many as 1,000 al Qaeda adherents capable of suicide attacks and skilled at slipping through the continent's southern gateway.

The impoverished kingdom, a short ferry ride across the Strait of Gibraltar, has about 100 al Qaeda-linked cells that raise money by dealing hashish, fencing luxury cars and smuggling people into Spain, Judge Baltasar Garzon told lawmakers investigating the Madrid train bombings. Most of the 17 suspects jailed in the March 11 bombings, which killed 190 people, are Moroccan.

"They use every means and mechanism, and their activity can even be initially perceived as ordinary delinquency," Garzon said of the cells.

"In my opinion, it is the gravest problem Europe faces today with this kind of terrorism."

Garzon said his figures came from police and intelligence data. Officials at the Moroccan Embassy could not be reached to respond to Garzon's allegations.

The Middle East

* JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon offered a powerful ultra-Orthodox Jewish party a place in his ruling coalition, his latest attempt to shore up a government weakened by his plan for withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

By inviting the Shas party and another ultra-Orthodox faction into his coalition, Sharon risked alienating both the moderate opposition Labor Party and the secular Shinui Party, which strongly support the Gaza pullout. Shas, representing ultra-Orthodox Jews of North African origin, has 11 seats in parliament and strongly opposes the withdrawal.

Africa

* DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania -- A former Rwandan finance minister, Emmanuel Ndindabahizi, was convicted and jailed for life for his role in the country's 1994 genocide, a U.N. tribunal spokesman said. Ndindabahizi, 54, traveled western Rwanda in April, May and June 1994, distributing weapons and instructing administrative officials, civilian militia and local residents to kill people identified as Tutsis, prosecutors said.

Europe

* SKOPJE, Macedonia -- Macedonia's coalition government adopted a long-delayed deal handing more powers to local councils, a crucial part of the NATO-brokered 2001 peace accord granting greater rights to the country's ethnic Albanian minority.

The agreement, unpopular among many ethnic Macedonians, should give the country's 500,000 Albanians more control over municipalities where they form majorities.

-- From News Services