TERRORISM

Al-Qaeda chief urges attacks in 9/11 speech

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called Wednesday on Muslims to attack U.S., European, Israeli and Russian targets in a speech on the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks the online activity of extremist groups, reported that in a video released by al-Qaeda, the 68-year-old Zawahiri also criticizes “backtrackers” from jihad, referring to former militants who changed their views in prison and called the Sept. 11 attacks unacceptable because civilians were harmed.

“If you want jihad to be focused solely on military targets, the American military has presence all over the world, from the East to the West,” he said. “Your countries are littered with American bases, with all the infidels therein and the corruption they spread.”

The al-Qaeda attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, killed about 3,000 people in the United States.

In his speech, Zawahiri referenced President Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, which was announced March 25. He called on Palestinians to seek “martyrdom” by attacking Israelis with suicide vests in response.

Zawahiri became leader of al-Qaeda after the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALs. He is believed to be hiding in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions.

— Associated Press

NETHERLANDS

Court acquits doctor in major euthanasia trial

A Dutch doctor was acquitted Wednesday of all charges in the euthanasia of an elderly patient who suffered from dementia.

Judges at The Hague District Court found that the patient had expressly requested euthanasia at an earlier stage in her disease and that the doctor had acted carefully in accordance with the law, consulting other doctors and the patient’s family, and on the basis of her will.

The case was seen as a test for the legal boundaries of euthanasia cases in the Netherlands, where assisted suicide and mercy killing are allowed by law under certain conditions — such as when a patient is experiencing unbearable suffering with no hope of recovery and wishes to die — when overseen by medical professionals.

The 74-year-old woman at the center of the case had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years before her death. She had a certified living will stating her wish for euthanasia if her condition worsened significantly. The doctor carried out the mercy killing with her family’s consent and support.

Prosecutors brought the criminal case, arguing that the doctor should also have checked with the patient, even though she was no longer mentally competent, saying the law was unclear on that point.

But the court ruled the doctor was right to rely solely on the living will to carry out the mercy killing. It said that the patient was too affected by dementia to make a “coherent” request to die but that her request was clear in her living will and from numerous conversations with her family and medical professionals.

— Reuters

SOUTH AFRICA

Ni­ger­ians flee amid anti-foreigner attacks

A group of Nigerians boarded a free flight from Johannesburg to Lagos on Wednesday, after a week of violence targeting foreigners in South Africa that has stoked tensions between Africa’s two largest economies.

It was not clear how many people were on the flight, operated by the private Nigerian airline Air Peace, but Nigeria’s government said an estimated 313 people would board.

In total, 640 Nigerians living in South Africa had registered at Nigerian missions to take the flights offered by the airline last week after bands of South Africans attacked foreign-owned shops and stalls, looting and burning the small businesses and targeting some of the shopkeepers.

The violence has killed at least 12 people. Police say they have arrested more than 700 people.

The nationalities of those killed have not been revealed, but local media noted that Nigerians, Ethiopians, Congolese and Zimbabweans have been attacked.

Air Peace’s offer to fly Nigerians home has been endorsed by the Nigerian government, which recalled its high commissioner to South Africa and boycotted a high-profile meeting of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town last week.

Several South African-owned businesses in Nigeria also came under attack in a wave of retaliatory violence. South Africa temporarily closed its diplomatic missions in Nigeria last week.

— Associated Press

Indonesian province shuts schools over forest fire haze: Authorities shut most schools in parts of Indonesia's Sumatra island to protect children from a noxious haze as deliberately set fires burned through peatland forests, officials said. The Disaster Mitigation Agency said more than 3,600 fires have been detected on Sumatra and Borneo islands, leading to very poor air quality in six provinces with a combined population of more than 23 million. Nearly every year, Indonesian forest fires spread damaging haze across the country and into neighboring Malaysia and Singapore. The fires are often started by smallholders and plantation owners to clear land for planting.

— From news services