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America strikes notebook

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 21, 2001

Translator: Bin Laden named hijackers

WASHINGTON -- Osama bin Laden names some of the Sept. 11 hijackers and commends them to Allah, according to a more thorough translation by one of the experts hired by the government to review a videotape of the suspected terrorist.

A more leisurely review of the tape, which was released by the government last week, came up with "a whole bunch of names," translator George Michael said Thursday in an interview with the Associated Press. He would identify only three: Nawaq Alhamzi, Salem Alhamzi and Wail Alshehri.

Alshehri was on American Airlines Flight 11, one of the planes that hit the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York; Alhamzi and Alhamzi were on American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon.

"You'll have to talk to the Pentagon about the rest," Michael said.

Michael, one of two translators hired by the government, said he handed the more detailed transcript to the Pentagon at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke said Thursday night that she was unaware of a new translation, but added it was not surprising to find more information with a more in-depth study of the conversation, considering the poor quality of the sound on the tape.

White House officials did not immediately comment on the reports.

Bush seeks to freeze assets of two more groups

WASHINGTON -- President Bush marked the first 100 days of the war against terrorism Thursday by asking allies to freeze the assets of two more groups, including one that he said provided information about nuclear weapons to Osama bin Laden.

At the White House, Bush said the United States was working with allies to cut financing to Umnah Tameer E-nau, a Pakistani group he said provided information about nuclear technology to al-Qaida, and Lashkar E-Tayyiba, which India has accused of terrorist acts in Kashmir, which both Pakistan and India claim.

Poll: Worst of antiterror war still lies ahead

Nine of 10 Americans say the toughest part of the nation's antiterror campaign is yet to come, says an ABC-Washington Post poll released Thursday. And a majority, almost two-thirds, say that Osama bin Laden must be captured for the war on terrorism to be considered a success.

The poll of 755 adults was taken Tuesday and Wednesday and has an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Among the poll's other findings:

Almost three-fourths support U.S. military action against Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein. Six in 10 say the war on terror won't be a success unless Hussein is toppled.

The number of Americans who think bin Laden will eventually be captured is seven in 10, down from eight in 10 in late September.

President Bush's job approval was at 87 percent, giving him an average job approval of just over seven in 10 for the year, putting him up with former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in that category.

Six in 10 said the government's actions in law enforcement do not threaten their civil rights.

The level of suspicion about people of Arab descent has dropped from almost half in September to about a third now.

Possible charges against U.S. Taliban fighter listed

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department on Thursday night released a list of charges that could apply to an American fighting for the Taliban, and though it said the list was not specific to the case of John Walker Lindh, he is the only American known to be in that apparent position.

The list includes six possible charges, but officials said one of them -- providing material support to terrorists -- was being given particular consideration because most of the others do not seem to apply in the Lindh case. That charge carries a punishment of up to life in prison but stops short of the death penalty.

Still, the list makes clear that this is just one in a range of options being presented to President Bush as he considers what to do with Lindh, a 20-year-old Californian who joined the Taliban.

Other possible charges are treason; murder of a U.S. government employee; foreign murder of a U.S. national; foreign murder of a U.S. national for the purpose of terrorism; and conspiracy.

No decision is imminent, officials said.

Sept. 11 widow is first to sue airline

CONCORD, N.H. -- A woman whose husband died on one of the jets that hit the World Trade Center filed the first lawsuit against an airline over the attacks Thursday, contending United's negligence led to the hijacking. No damages were specified.

Ellen Mariani of Derry sued in federal court in New York City. Her husband, Louis Mariani, 58, was a passenger on United Flight 175, the second plane to hit the trade center.

Aviation security nominee vows to meet deadline

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's nominee to head the new Transportation Security Administration told Congress on Thursday that he will meet lawmakers' timetable for overhauling the aviation security system within a year.

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