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Fighting terror notebook

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 9, 2002

U.S. sends 1,000 more into fight on terror

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon is sending an estimated 1,000 more Americans to help track down al-Qaida around the Horn of Africa.

The troops could launch missions to catch terrorists in vast lawless areas of the region even if they don't have permission from the local governments, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke suggested Friday.

"There may be circumstances where we go into an ungoverned area in pursuit of al-Qaida, and I'll just leave it at that," she said in response a question at a Pentagon news conference.

The amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney -- to be used as a floating headquarters off the coast of Djibouti -- will leave its Norfolk, Va., homeport Tuesday. Two days later it will depart with Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., who will coordinate military operations in the African region.

The Mount Whitney has a Navy crew of some 560, and members of the 2nd Marine Division who will help set up the command center in Djibouti probably will number about 400, officials said.

The Americans will join a multinational force of thousands already in Africa -- including some who have been trying to catch terrorists there since al-Qaida began fleeing Afghanistan a year ago. There are 700 to 800 Americans at a French military base in Djibouti, deployed several months ago for what defense officials would describe only as "training and contingencies."

Photos of terror suspects find way onto Web site

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon was investigating Friday who took and released photographs of terror suspects being transported in heavy restraints aboard a U.S. military plane.

Four photographs of prisoners -- handcuffed, heads covered with black hoods and bound with straps on the floor of a plane -- appeared on the Web site of radio talk show host Art Bell. The site said the photos from aboard a C-130 plane were from an "anonymous mailer."

It has long been known that prisoners were heavily restrained, and photos of prisoners bound and kneeling after arrival at the U.S. high-security prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, this year created a stir among human- and prison-rights groups.

"We have very very tight restrictions on any images of the detainees for security purposes and because we have no interest in potentially holding detainees up for any kind of public ridicule," said Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke.

It is at least the third time prisoner photos have troubled the Pentagon.

Swedish man with gun at airport is charged

BERLIN -- A Swedish man previously suspected of trying to hijack a plane was charged Friday with illegal possession of a weapon. Swedish prosecutors dropped hijacking charges against the man, Kerim Chatty, 29, last week, citing lack of evidence.

In late August, Chatty was arrested after airport security agents at an X-ray machine at a small airport outside of Stockholm saw a loaded handgun in Chatty's toiletry kit as he was preparing to board a flight for Britain.

Chatty said he had accidentally left the handgun in his bag. He could be sentenced to four years in prison if convicted on the weapons charge.

Man killed in Yemen may be linked to U.S. cell

WASHINGTON -- A Yemeni-American killed in a CIA airstrike in Yemen has links to alleged members of the al-Qaida cell in suburban Buffalo, N.Y., that was raided by U.S. authorities in September, the Associated Press reported Friday.

The man, identified as Ahmed Hijazi, is a U.S. citizen, officials said. The apparent killing of a U.S. citizen, even an alleged terrorist killed collaterally, threatens to draw the CIA into murky waters.

Hijazi's precise links to the Buffalo cell were not made clear. Yemeni officials believe Hijazi was a pseudonym, and his real name was not known.

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