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Teen hurls grenade, injures two Americans

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 18, 2002

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two U.S. soldiers and their Afghan interpreter were wounded Tuesday afternoon when a teenage boy, later identified as an Afghan Islamic militant, threw a grenade into their jeep in a crowded market.

The injured Americans and their assistant, who weren't immediately identified, were rushed to a hospital operated by the International Security Assistance Force, the foreign peacekeeping unit that patrols Kabul.

Lt. Tina Kroske, a U.S. military spokeswoman at Bagram air base north of the city, said that one suffered injuries to the head and "in the lower extremities," while the second had shrapnel wounds in his lower right leg.

The incident was the first deliberate attack on U.S. soldiers in the Afghan capital since U.S. military operations in Afghanistan began 14 months ago. There are about 12,000 U.S. troops in the country.

The attacker, 17, who was seized by the police, was described by Afghan authorities as a native of the rural province of Khost, a former stronghold of the Taliban movement. He was recently trained in a Pakistani religious academy and was acting on instructions from an Islamic extremist group, officials said.

They said he had brought three grenades with him from Khost on Tuesday, intending to use all three against American targets, but was tackled by a policeman and a street vendor after throwing the first one.

"He said, 'I am a Muslim and I don't want Americans here,' " Interior Minister Taj Mohammed Wardak said. "We should take this very seriously. It is the beginning of a larger campaign of terrorism in Kabul." He said the attacker "definitely belonged to a network. He was not an ordinary boy."

Woman who got survivor benefits is investigated

NEW YORK -- A woman who reported her brother missing in the World Trade Center attack last year and collected survivor benefits is under investigation after authorities found the man does not exist, the FBI said Tuesday.

The name Jeffrey Montgomery was removed from the list of victims last week, along with two others who were erroneously reported missing. Authorities said Friday they had contacted all three, but now say there is no Jeffrey Montgomery.

"At this time we don't believe that Jeffrey Montgomery exists," FBI Special Agent Jeff Lanza said.

Cassaundrea Montgomery of St. Joseph, Mo., allegedly received several thousand dollars from the Red Cross. Her attorney, Bert Godding, declined to comment. She has not been charged with a crime.

Agents arrest uncle of New York suspect

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The uncle of one of the six western New York men accused of belonging to an al-Qaida terror cell was arrested by federal agents Tuesday after raids on buildings in Buffalo and suburban Lackawanna.

Mohammed Albanna, a leader in the area's Yemeni community, was seized by Customs and Drug Enforcement Administration agents in the doorway of his Buffalo store, the Queen City Cigarettes and Candy Co.

A second man, who was not identified, was taken into custody. U.S. Attorney Michael Battle said a third person was being sought.

The federal prosecutor would not elaborate on the allegations against the three. The Buffalo News had reported Tuesday that federal authorities were searching for a businessman who had illegally funneled large amounts of money to Yemen.

Albanna, asked if he was guilty of anything, said: "Not at all."

Briefly . . .

AL-QAIDA CAMPS REBUILT: Al-Qaida training camps have recently been reactivated in eastern Afghanistan, and volunteers are making their way to the camps, a U.N. report said Tuesday.

While Osama bin Laden's financial network has been mostly dismantled, the group still has "access to substantial funding from its previously established investments," said the report, which monitors sanctions on al-Qaida.

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