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Fighting terror

Karzai ally killed in home shooting

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 6, 2003

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A close ally of Afghan President Hamid Karzai was gunned down in southern Afghanistan in an attack provincial officials blamed on the Taliban on Saturday.

Haji Gilani and his nephew were killed by six gunmen outside their home in the town of Deh Rawood on Thursday night, said Dad Mullah, a spokesman for the Uruzgan provincial government.

Uruzgan governor Jan Mohammed said police have identified one suspect as Mardan Khan, whose brother was a Taliban commander. Witnesses reported seeing Khan flee the village after the attack. Police were investigating and no arrests have been made.

But Karzai's spokesman said a tribal feud may have been the motive.

"This was not a political murder. There was some enmity, some personal differences between two villages or two tribes," presidential spokesman Sayed Fazel Akbar said.

Gilani was the first man to give Karzai shelter in the province of Uruzgan as he launched his anti-Taliban revolt weeks before the religious militia collapsed under heavy U.S. bombing in late 2001.

Karzai entered Afghanistan secretly with a handful of followers and relied on anti-Taliban sympathizers for support and protection. He slipped past Taliban checkpoints on the back of motorcycles, and lived for days in homes of followers who risked their lives to protect him and helped rally support against the Taliban.

Britain revokes citizenship of radical Muslim cleric

LONDON -- The British government has revoked the citizenship of Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was ejected from a London mosque for his radical sermons and is wanted in Yemen on terrorism charges.

David Blunkett, the home secretary, said Saturday that he had sent al-Masri a letter withdrawing his citizenship and that al-Masri had 10 days to appeal or be deported. A new law allowing citizenship to be stripped from immigrants who "seriously prejudice" the country's interest went into effect Tuesday.

Al-Masri's attorney said he would challenge the decision.

Al-Masri's citizenship has so far protected him from any moves to extradite him to Yemen. Yemeni authorities officially asked Britain Saturday to hand him over.

A Yemeni security official said the request included proof of al-Masri's involvement in a number of terrorist attacks, including the 1998 kidnapping and killing of four Western tourists.

Al-Masri has been one of the most visible faces of radical Islam in Britain. He lost both hands and an eye fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan. He supports Osama bin Laden, praises as martyrs those who carried out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and has called Prime Minister Tony Blair a "legitimate target" for Muslim warriors.

The U.S. government says al-Masri is a member of the Islamic Army of Aden, the organization that claimed responsibility for the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, and it has frozen his funds.

Al-Masri denies involvement in violence and says he is only a spokesman for political causes.

German arrested in attack on Tunisian synagogue

FRANKFURT, Germany -- A German man under investigation in connection with a deadly attack on a Tunisian synagogue has been arrested in Saudi Arabia, the German Foreign Ministry said.

Saudi officials informed the German government this week they had arrested Christian Ganczarski. Ganczarski left Germany late last year after prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to arrest him.

The German weekly Der Spiegel reported that the United States suspects Ganczarski of working closely with Osama bin Laden.

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