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Espionage suspect monitored earlier

By Wire services
Published September 26, 2003

WASHINGTON - Air Force authorities were "monitoring and investigating" a Syria-born supply clerk before he was sent to the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay to be an Arabic translator for suspected terrorists, court documents show.

Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi is charged with espionage for allegedly e-mailing classified information about the prison camp to an unspecified "enemy" and planning to give other secrets about the prison to someone traveling to Syria.

The Air Force began investigating al-Halabi "based on reports of suspicious activity while he was stationed at Travis AFB and also while deployed to Kuwait and Guantanamo Bay," Special Agent Lance Wega of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations wrote in applying for a search warrant with a California federal court.

Air Force Lt. Col. Rob Koon said Thursday he had no information on why al-Halabi was allowed to work as a translator at Guantanamo Bay when he had been under suspicion before arriving at the prison camp.

Alabama lawmakers okay massive budget cuts

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Two weeks after voters overwhelmingly rejected the biggest tax increase in Alabama history, the Legislature gave final approval Thursday to budget cuts that will mean hundreds of layoffs.

The $1.2-billion General Fund budget cuts funding to most state agencies by 18 percent. A separate $4.2-billion education budget allows teachers to retain their jobs, but cuts money for textbooks.

Republican Gov. Bob Riley had pushed for a $1.2-billion tax increase to try to close a deficit, but voters rejected it on Sept. 9.

Oldest Carnegie honoree praised for her heroics

PITTSBURGH - An 82-year-old woman who dove into a pond to rescue a fellow retirement home resident became the oldest woman honored in the 99-year history of the Carnegie Hero Fund, established to recognize human courage.

Carolyn Kelly, a retired medical technician, heard a car splash into a pond at the Glen Retirement Village in Shreveport., La. She jumped in and held 83-year-old Nina Hutchinson's head above water until help arrived on Sept. 1, 2002.

Sixteen others were honored Thursday with awards started by industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1904.

Reward issued in bomb death of deliveryman

ERIE, Pa. - Investigators released photographs Thursday of a cane-shaped, likely homemade firearm found in the car of a pizza deliveryman who died when a bomb locked around his neck exploded after he robbed a bank.

Federal agents investigating the death of Brian Wells on Aug. 28 outside Erie also issued a $50,000 reward for information leading to anyone responsible for the robbery and Wells' death.

Before he died, the 46-year-old deliveryman told authorities he had been forced to rob the bank by someone who locked the collar around his neck. Police who surrounded Wells after he robbed the bank were waiting for a bomb squad when the device detonated.

FBI Agent Bob Rudge said the cane-shaped weapon fired shotgun shells and appeared to be homemade. Investigators hope someone will recognize the gun, which is made of wood and metal.

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