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British jury convicts 2 in terror money plot

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 2, 2003

LONDON -- Two illegal immigrants from Algeria were convicted on Tuesday of plotting to raise money for terror groups that the British police said included al-Qaida.

Brahim Benmerzouga and Baghdad Meziane, both 31, were found guilty after a five-day trial. Each was sentenced to 11 years in prison. They are the first people in Britain to be found guilty of being part of the al-Qaida network.

The two had helped run an international credit card fraud scheme intended to raise money for terror organizations like al-Qaida. The pair worked together in a local factory and used numerous false identities to hide their connection to terror cells across Europe.

In other terrorism news ...

FBI WARNS OF FEMALE ATTACKERS: Recent intelligence has the FBI worried that al-Qaida might be recruiting and training women to carry out terror attacks, trying to regain an element of surprise for a network thinned by arrests, officials say.

For the first time in the war on terror, the FBI has issued a be-on-the-lookout bulletin for a woman, a Pakistani neurological expert, wanted for questioning in connection with Osama bin Laden's terror network.

Several U.S. intelligence officials said they have no credible information suggesting an imminent attack plan to be carried out by women, but analysts are wary of the possibility.

TERROR ARRESTS: Italian police arrested six men in the northern cities of Milan and Parma for suspected links to international terrorism and possession of false documents Tuesday. Also, 11 people with suspected links to al-Qaida were arrested in Yemen.

Evidence shows Serbs spied on NATO troops

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Evidence found during a raid of Bosnian Serb military offices indicates the army spied on NATO troops and other international officials in Bosnia, a NATO spokesman said Tuesday.

An analysis of evidence found March 7 in military intelligence offices in Banja Luka indicated the military spied at least all of last year, Capt. Dale MacEachern said.

NATO peacekeepers seized documents indicating the Bosnian Serb Army "collected and maintained intelligence" on peacekeepers, European Union police and the office of Bosnia's top international official, Paddy Ashdown, MacEachern said.

Did N.Korea test a missile? Japan says yes, but unsure

TOKYO -- Japanese officials contradicted themselves Tuesday about whether North Korea test-fired a missile, a gaffe that comes as Tokyo tries to show it is keeping better tabs on the North in the middle of a nuclear standoff.

In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman said North Korea fired an antiship missile but it was not considered a threat.

"We are aware that North Korea launched an antiship cruise missile from its west coast," Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis said. "While we are not alarmed by this, it is not particularly helpful, either."

Japanese military and government officials announced Tuesday that North Korea launched a shore-to-ship missile from its west coast into the Yellow Sea. But South Korea said it had no evidence of a launch, and hours later officials in Tokyo were not sure.

Elsewhere . . .

CONGO: Congo's government agreed to a power-sharing deal with rebel groups Tuesday. Representatives of the Congolese government, rebels, political parties and civic groups adopted a transitional constitution and an agreement to set up a transitional government for Congo, which has been riven by 41/2 years of civil war.

INDONESIA: Mudslides triggered by flash floods in eastern Indonesia killed 27 people with at least five reported missing, local officials and police said Tuesday.

BOLIVIA: Firefighters and local villagers raced Tuesday to reach villagers buried under clay and rocks from a landslide that has killed at least 13 people and left hundreds missing.

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