Peru Announces Arrest in U.S.

Of Suspects in Crime Network

LIMA, Peru -- Peru and the United States have intercepted a criminal network with possible al Qaeda links that smuggled Arabs into America after getting them false papers in Lima, Interior Minister Javier Reategui said on Friday.

"This is an international mafia," he told reporters. "The most dangerous thing is that some of them could be linked to al Qaeda."

After eight months of investigations in the United States and Peru, authorities detained three U.S.-naturalized Iraqis in Detroit and one Jordanian in Lima on Sept. 7 and another four Jordanians in Lima on Sept. 23.

Reategui said it was hard to determine if the Arabs had links to the terror group "because al Qaeda disguises itself."

THE AMERICAS

* UNITED NATIONS -- Haiti and Grenada need $59 million in humanitarian aid immediately to cope with the destruction wrought by fierce storms last month, said Jan Egeland, the top U.N. relief official.

The storms, Tropical Storm Jeanne and Hurricane Ivan, have left about 300,000 people in Haiti and nearly all of Grenada's 100,000 people in urgent need, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

At a conference of donors Friday, the United States pledged $50 million in emergency and reconstruction aid for the Caribbean region as a whole, on top of previous commitments, Egeland said. The European Union pledged $10 million, and Japan, Singapore and several European nations also made pledges.

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Police have smashed a ring feeding $2.6 million a month from cocaine sales to paramilitary outlaws, in one of the biggest blows against money laundering in Colombia for years, detectives said.

Police arrested 14 money launderers funding far-right militiamen with cash from smuggled narcotics, said the operational director of Colombia's DAS detective force, Jacqueline Sandoval.

EUROPE

* LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived home after a successful procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat, and doctors expected him to make a rapid and complete recovery with a very low risk of recurrence. Blair's condition -- supraventricular tachycardia -- is caused by rapid electrical activity in the upper parts of the heart and results in a sometimes irregular, rapid heartbeat.

Aides said Blair will be back at his desk Monday and intends to go ahead with a planned trip to Africa on Tuesday.

* MADRID -- Despite vociferous opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, Spain's cabinet proposed legislation giving homosexuals the right to marry and adopt children.

If parliament passes the legislation, Spain would join Belgium and the Netherlands in legalizing gay marriages.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* BEIRUT -- A remote-controlled car bomb wounded a prominent Lebanese opposition politician and killed his driver, weeks after the former minister quit the government to protest Syria's grip on Lebanon.

The target of the attack, Marwan Hamadeh, a Druze legislator, resigned as economy minister last month to protest parliament's extension of President Emile Lahoud's term by three years. Lahoud is backed by the Syrian government.

The attack came as the Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, who has called on Lahoud to resign, was trying to assemble an opposition front with anti-Syrian Christian politicians.

AFRICA

* MONROVIA, Liberia -- The United Nations launched a massive voluntary repatriation program to return an estimated 340,000 Liberian refugees still scattered across West Africa after a long, brutal war that ended last year.

On the three-year project's first day, 97 refugees were airlifted from Accra, Ghana, on a U.N.-chartered plane to Liberia's main airport.

* UNITED NATIONS -- The Security Council voted unanimously to send 5,900 more peacekeepers to Congo, less than half of what Secretary General Kofi Annan had requested.

* ABUJA, Nigeria -- A rebel Nigerian warlord withdrew a threat to shut down oil operations in the world's seventh-largest exporter as part of a peace deal negotiated with the government.

Warlord Moujahid Dokubo-Asari agreed to call off a threatened "all-out war" on the state and signed a six-point peace accord with a rival warlord pledging to disarm, a statement released after the three-day talks said.

ASIA

* SIALKOT, Pakistan -- A suicide attacker carrying a bomb in a briefcase struck a Shiite mosque crammed with hundreds of worshipers in eastern Pakistan, killing at least 25 people and wounding more than 50 during Friday prayers.

* SEOUL -- South Korea put its security forces on alert after Muslims were urged to resist the United States and its allies around the world in an audio tape believed to be from al Qaeda's deputy leader, local media said on Saturday.

-- From News Services