Afghan Minister Says Smuggling

Of Insurgent Arms, Cash Is Rising

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Al Qaeda and other militant groups have smuggled explosives, weapons and millions of dollars in cash into Afghanistan for a resurgent terrorism campaign, the country's top defense official warned on Wednesday.

The comments by Defense Minister Rahim Wardak came after an unprecedented spate of suicide assaults -- the latest on Wednesday when a bomber attacked a U.S. military convoy in the southern city of Kandahar, killing three civilians.

Intelligence indicates that a number of Arabs and other foreigners have entered Afghanistan to launch suicide attacks, Wardak said. Besides explosives, the weapons smuggled into Afghanistan include remote-controlled timing devices and other computerized detonators, he said.

"There has been . . . more money and more weapons flowing into their hands in recent months," Wardak said. "We see similarities between the type of attacks here and in Iraq."

He said al Qaeda militants were increasingly teaming up with local rebels from the ousted Taliban movement to undermine President Hamid Karzai's U.S.-backed government because they have realized their influence is waning.

"There is no doubt that there is a connection between Taliban and al Qaeda and some other fundamentalists," he said. "In most cases, the suicide bombers are foreigners . . . from the Middle East, from neighboring countries. . . . It is a new trend."

the middle east

* AMMAN, Jordan -- The Iraqi woman who failed to detonate her explosive belt in an Amman hotel was arrested in the northeastern city of Salt, where she had sought the help of relatives, not in Amman as previously announced, the prime minister said.

The announcement raised the possibility that the woman was handed over to authorities by her sister's relatives, presenting a new twist in last week's triple hotel bombings, which killed 58 people, plus the three bombers.

Sajida Rishawi, who confessed on television Sunday to planning to blow herself up at the Radisson SAS Hotel on Nov. 9, fled from the hotel to an apartment that she and the three other Iraqis involved in the attacks had rented in the suburbs, Prime Minister Adnan Badran said. "But she went on to Salt because one of her relatives" lived there, he said.


* BERLIN -- Germany has charged three Iraqis with plotting to kill former Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi during a state visit to Germany last year, federal prosecutors announced. The three -- German residents identified as Ata A.R., 31, Mazen A.H., 23, and Rafik M.Y., 31 -- are suspected of being members of the radical Islamic group Ansar al-Islam. They were arrested Dec. 3, hours before they allegedly planned to attack Allawi in Berlin.

* PARIS -- Parliament gave final approval to extending France's state of emergency for three months after the government said the powers were still needed to end the country's worst civil unrest in four decades. The extra powers allow officials to impose curfews and permit police searches at night.

* THE HAGUE -- The trial of Slobodan Milosevic was adjourned until next week after the former Yugoslav president said he was feeling too ill to continue. The interruption came a day after Milosevic, 63, requested a six-week recess, citing a medical report that his heart condition has not stabilized. He has chronic high blood pressure.

* AMSTERDAM -- The U.N. war crimes tribunal acquitted Sefer Halilovic, the highest-ranking Bosnian Muslim to stand trial in The Hague. The wartime Muslim commander was charged with murder for failing to prevent a massacre of Bosnian Croats in 1993, during the country's 1992-95 war.


* SANTIAGO, Chile -- Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet told a judge he did not believe there were excesses during his 17-year rule, and if there were, God would pardon him, a rights lawyer said.

"Everything I did, all my actions, all of the problems I had I dedicate to God and to Chile, because I kept Chile from becoming communist," Pinochet told a judge regarding the 1973 military coup that put him in power, according to Hernan Quezada, a lawyer for families of human rights victims.

Quezada said he viewed transcripts of Judge Victor Montiglio's recent interrogations of Pinochet. Montiglio is prosecuting a case known as Operation Colombo in which 119 leftists died in 1975. Pinochet, 89, is accused of responsibility.

* GUATEMALA CITY -- Guatemala's anti-drug chief has been arrested in the United States for allegedly smuggling narcotics into the country when he was supposed to join a meeting on the war against drugs, Guatemalan officials said.

Interior Minister Carlos Vielmann said Adan Castillo, head of Guatemala's anti-narcotics agency, was arrested with two other senior anti-drug officials Tuesday in Virginia. Vielmann said Washington had first alerted Guatemala that Castillo was involved in drug smuggling six months ago.


* JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A video found last week in the hideout of one of Asia's most wanted extremists shows a masked man believed to be the fugitive threatening attacks against the United States, Britain and Australia. Police suspect the man is Noordin Mohammed Top, considered a key leader of the al Qaeda-linked group Jemaah Islamiah.

* TOKYO -- A Japanese court on Thursday convicted a U.S. Air Force serviceman of molesting a 10-year-old Japanese girl on the island of Okinawa earlier this year. The Naha District Court gave Staff Sgt. Armando Valdez, 28, a suspended prison sentence of 18 months, a court spokesman said.

* MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan -- The United Nations and the British military launched a huge airlift of food and tents to earthquake survivors high in Pakistan's mountains Wednesday as Islamabad appealed to the world for more money. Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, asked for more than $5 billion in aid. The Oct. 8 quake killed more than 73,000 people in Pakistan, mostly in Kashmir.

-- From News Services

British soldiers wrap up tents, food and other supplies for earthquake victims in Pakistan before an airlift by British helicopters from

an airport in Muzaffarabad.