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Fighting terror notebook

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 14, 2002


Kissinger resigns Sept. 11 panel

WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger stepped down Friday as chairman of a panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, citing controversy over potential conflicts of interest with his business clients.

"It is clear that, although specific potential conflicts can be resolved in this manner, the controversy would quickly move to the consulting firm I have built and own," Kissinger wrote in a letter to President Bush, who appointed him. "I have, therefore, concluded that I cannot accept the responsibility you proposed."

The decision was another blow for the fledging panel. Its original vice chairman, former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, resigned from the commission Wednesday, partly because of pressures to quit his law firm.

No replacement for Kissinger was announced, but Bush was expected to fill the position soon.

Kissinger's resignation came one day after he tried to assure victims' relatives that his business interests would not conflict with his duties as chairman.

A leader of a relatives' group, Kristen Breitweiser of September 11th Advocates, said the Kissinger and Mitchell resignations "reaffirm my belief that the commission needs to be pure, transparent and purely independent."

A spokeswoman for Kissinger said he had no comment beyond his letter to Bush. White House aides said the resignation was Kissinger's idea.

World Trade Center death toll lowered

NEW YORK -- Three people reported lost in the World Trade Center attack have been confirmed as alive and their names have been removed from the list of people missing on Sept. 11, city officials said Friday.

The discovery drops the number of people killed in the terrorist attack or reported missing to 2,792, according to the city's tally.

Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the city medical examiner, identified the three as Jeffrey Montgomery of St. Joseph, Mo.; William Yemele of Gaithersburg, Md.; and Oliva Khemrat of Jersey City, N.J.

The list of missing still could change as further errors are uncovered, Borakove said.

The toll does not include the 10 hijackers who died at the trade center.

Judge to supervise suspect's confinement

SEATTLE -- A federal judge, not the Justice Department, will oversee special confinement measures for terrorism suspect James Ujaama, allowing his lawyers more leeway to prepare his defense without government interference.

The order signed Thursday by U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein was a compromise between government and defense attorneys.

Ujaama, 36, of Seattle is accused of conspiring to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore., in 1999 and is being held on firearms and conspiracy charges.

Force commander opens Horn of Africa post

DJIBOUTI -- The U.S.-led combined task force to combat global terrorism in and around the strategic Horn of Africa formally opened for business Friday with the arrival of the USS Mount Whitney in the Gulf of Aden off Djibouti.

Disrupting and defeating "transnational terrorist groups posing an imminent threat" to partners in the U.S.-led coalition against global terrorism is the force's mission, Maj. Gen. John F. Sattler, the force commander, said.

Security Council calls Kenya attacks 'terror'

UNITED NATIONS -- Over Syrian objections, the U.N. Security Council on Friday condemned last month's "acts of terror" against Israeli targets in Kenya and deplored the claims of responsibility by the al-Qaida terror network.

By a vote of 14-1, the council urged all 191 U.N. members "to cooperate in efforts to find and bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these terrorist attacks." It was a rare show of support for Israel from the U.N. Security Council.

Ten Kenyans and three Israelis died Nov. 28 when a vehicle packed with explosives plowed into the Paradise Hotel, 12 miles north of Mombasa. Minutes before the blast, two missiles were fired at an Arkia Airlines aircraft as it was taking off from Mombasa airport with Israeli tourists returning to Tel Aviv. The missiles narrowly missed the jet.

Syria's U.N. ambassador, Mikhail Wehbe, said his government condemned the attacks but could not accept Israel being linked to efforts to combat terrorism while "ignoring the terrorism the Israelis are committing daily and particularly against the Palestinian people."

Israel's deputy U.N. ambassador, Aaron Jacob, expressed regret at Syria's objection, saying "the target of the attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, were clearly Israelis and an Israeli airliner."

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