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British police arrest suspected Islamic militant on U.S. warrant

By Times wire
Published August 8, 2005

LONDON - A suspected Islamic militant deported to Britain was arrested Sunday on a U.S. warrant accusing him of taking steps to organize a training camp in Oregon to prepare jihad fighters in Afghanistan, police said.

The arrest of Haroon Rashid Aswat, a British citizen of Indian descent, comes as British prosecutors said they would consider treason charges against any Islamic extremists who express support for terrorism.

The U.S. warrant accuses Aswat of conspiring with others between October 1999 and April 2000 to set up a camp in Bly, Ore., aimed at training and equipping individuals to "fight jihad in Afghanistan," police said in a statement.

Aswat, 30, had been detained in Zambia since July 20, where he was questioned about 20 phone calls reportedly made on his South African cell phone with some of the bombers responsible for the July 7 transit attacks in London that killed 52 people and the four bombers. He was deported Sunday to Britain, said Zambian Home Affairs Secretary Peter Mumba.

U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia shut after threat

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - The U.S. Embassy and consulates in Saudi Arabia will close today and Tuesday because of a threat against U.S. government buildings, the embassy said Sunday.

In a statement, the embassy said mission personnel will limit nonofficial travel during the next two days and urged Americans to keep "a high level of vigilance." The statement did not elaborate on the nature of the threat.

Hours after the announcement, a Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, said his government had no information about a possible threat.

"We can't dispel the possibility of a terrorist attack happening in the region. But we have no information about an imminent terrorist attack in the kingdom," he said.

Chavez accuses U.S. antidrug agency of spying

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday accused the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration of using its agents for espionage, and said Venezuela was suspending cooperation with the U.S. agency.

Chavez, who regularly accuses the U.S. government of plotting against him, said, "The DEA isn't absolutely necessary for the fight against drug trafficking."

U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield said last week that the United States had hoped to maintain cooperative antidrug efforts in Venezuela, and that without them "there is only one group that wins, and that group is the drug traffickers."

LOCAL ELECTIONS: Voters across Venezuela cast ballots to select thousands of local officials Sunday in elections that could predict how well President Hugo Chavez's political allies will fare in key congressional elections in December. The elections were to decide thousands of city council and parish board posts, plus two provincial mayors and one governor, in the sparsely populated state of Amazonas.

Tropical Storm Irene forms in Atlantic

MIAMI - The ninth named storm of the busy Atlantic hurricane season, Tropical Storm Irene, formed Sunday but posed no immediate threat to land, forecasters said.

Farther north in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Harvey weakened with top sustained winds of 50 mph, down from 60 mph Saturday. Harvey was about 620 miles south of Cape Race, Newfoundland, moving northeast near 13 mph.

At 11 p.m., Irene was about 1,025 miles east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands and was moving west-northwest near 12 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The system had sustained winds of 40 mph. The center's five-day projection indicates the storm will make a turn to the north, bringing it east of Bermuda.

[Last modified August 8, 2005, 02:45:22]

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