St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Tape hints at al-Qaida, London link

By wire services
Published September 2, 2005

LONDON - Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant praised the July 7 bombings in London in a videotape that also featured a statement from a man who closely resembled one of the bombers. The tape, broadcast on Al-Jazeera, also said al-Qaida would carry out more attacks.

If proved authentic, the tape would either be evidence of a link between al-Qaida and the bombings, or an attempt by the group to associate itself with the attacks after the fact. Officials in Britain and the United States said they were aware of the tape but could not comment on its authenticity.

The man resembling one of the British-born bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan, praised "our beloved sheik, Osama bin Laden," and declared, "We are at war, and I am a soldier and now you too will taste the reality of this situation."

The video included what appeared to be a section showing Ayman al-Zawahri, the second in command of al-Qaida, speaking of "the blessed London battle."

The two men did not appear together in the tape - instead, shots of each were edited together - and Zawahri did not mention Khan.

Israel, Pakistan meet thanks to Gaza pullout

JERUSALEM - The foreign ministers of Israel and Pakistan met publicly for the first time on Thursday, a diplomatic breakthrough brokered by Turkey that appeared to be the first payoff for the Israeli pullout from the occupied Gaza Strip.

A jubilant Silvan Shalom, the Israeli foreign minister, called the meeting at an Istanbul hotel "historic" and "a huge breakthrough."

The Pakistani foreign minister, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, said that Pakistan had decided "to engage" with Israel and called the meeting "a gesture to underscore the importance we in Pakistan attach to Israel ending its occupation of Gaza."

But Kasuri and other Pakistani officials made it clear that full diplomatic relations with Israel would have to wait for a peace settlement in the Middle East and an independent Palestinian state.

Charges filed against four in Lebanon assassination

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanese prosecutors filed preliminary criminal charges Thursday against four pro-Syrian generals in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The preliminary charge was brought on the basis of a United Nations' investigation into the murder of Hariri, who was killed Feb. 14 in a Beirut bomb blast.

Earlier Thursday, the chief U.N. investigator leading the inquiry into Hariri's assassination said he believed more people beyond those suspects were involved in the assassination.

Detlev Mehlis also said his U.N. Security Council-ordered probe into Hariri's death had not yet identified any Syrian suspects but added there had been "problems" with Syrian cooperation.

Zimbabwe makes surprise payment on IMF debt

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The cash-strapped government of Zimbabwe made a surprise payment of $120-million to the International Monetary Fund this week, an amount that analysts said may be enough to keep the troubled African nation from being expelled when the global lender's ruling body meets next week.

China evacuates 600,000 as typhoon approaches

SHANGHAI, China - Nearly 600,000 people were evacuated as Typhoon Talim plowed into southern China on Thursday, forcing authorities to shut down schools, highways and airports, officials said.

The report said there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from Talim.

Though still a suspect, Dutch teen to be released

ORANJESTAD, Aruba - A judge on Thursday ordered the conditional release of Joran van der Sloot, 18, in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, but he remains a suspect, his defense attorney said. Court officials couldn't be reached and the prosecutors office declined to comment, saying it hasn't received the entire order.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.