British man pleads guilty in bomb plot

Published October 13, 2006

LONDON - A 34-year-old British man pleaded guilty Thursday to murder conspiracy in what authorities said was a plot to blow up the New York Stock Exchange and other high-profile financial targets across the eastern United States.

Records also revealed the plot, still in its infancy, included plans to explode a radioactive dirty bomb in Britain capable of causing "injury, fear, terror and chaos," authorities said.

Dhiren Barot, a native of India who grew up in north London and converted to Islam, admitted his role in both parts of the conspiracy.

The arrests of Barot and seven other suspects in 2004 led to a high-level security alert in the United States aimed at securing buildings in financial districts in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

Barot and two other defendants still awaiting trial in Britain also face charges in the United States.

Red Cross meets with Guantanamo detainees

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The Red Cross met at Guantanamo Bay with 14 new "high-value detainees," including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday.

The encounters apparently mark the first time the 14 detainees have met with anyone other than their captors since they were arrested, held in CIA custody at secret locations, and transferred weeks ago to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Among them are the alleged architects of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

RELEASED DETAINEES: Sixteen Afghans and an Iranian arrived in Afghanistan on Thursday after they were released from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, an Afghan official said.

The 16 Afghans appeared at a news conference alongside Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, head of Afghanistan's reconciliation commission. Mejadedi said most of the Afghan prisoners were innocent and had been turned over to the U.S. military by other Afghans.

Pope meets with Jewish group, speaks against hate

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI met Thursday with representatives of a Jewish group and said that religion should never be used to justify hatred and violence.

"May the Eternal One, our Father in heaven, bless every effort to eliminate from our world any misuse of religion as an excuse for hatred or violence," Benedict told the Anti-Defamation League, a U.S. group that fights racism and anti-Semitism.

The comments came a month after Benedict's speech at a German university sparked anger in the Muslim world when he quoted a medieval text.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, said his group supports Benedict's desire for honest interfaith dialogue, particularly when it comes to relations with Muslims.

NATO forces clash with militants in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - NATO-led forces and Afghan troops clashed with suspected Taliban militants Thursday in southern Afghanistan, leaving as many as 20 suspected insurgents dead.

In the east, a suicide bomber struck a vehicle carrying Afghan soldiers, wounding 16 people.

Meanwhile, a U.S. soldier died Wednesday after falling from a helicopter during a landing approach in southern Afghanistan, NATO said. A name wasn't released.

Also ...

BRAKE FLUID POISONINGS: Panama launched a criminal investigation Thursday after officials announced that the mysterious deaths of 21 people were likely caused by the intentional contamination of government-made cough syrup with a coolant used in brake fluids.