On Feb. 28, the husband and mother of Chicago federal judge Joan Lefkow were murdered at their home, in a case likely linked to the wacko ultra-racists called the World Church of the Creator. Lefkow had been receiving threats since hearing a case brought by an Oregon group of the same name attempting to halt the white supremacists from using it.
The ACLU and Human Rights First filed suit in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's home state of Illinois on behalf of eight men who suffered psychological and physicial injuries while detained by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Rumsfeld bears direct responsibility" because he "personally signed off" on policies guiding prisoner treatment, said ACLU director Anthony Romero. Also named are Col. Thomas Pappas, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski and Lt.
On Feb. 28, a federal judge in South Carolina ruled that the U.S. must charge or release accused "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla within 45 days. The Justice Department vows it will appeal. Padilla, a US citizen, has been held without traditional legal rights as an "enemy combatant" since June 2002. (Bloomberg, March 1)
The latest testimony in the Brooklyn federal trial of Yemeni Sheikh Mohamed al-Moayad is a Yahya Goba, 28, a member of the "Lackawanna Six," himself facing ten years imprisonment. His courtroom recount of a spring 2001 visit to an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, where he twice saw Osama bin Laden, wowed the media. Invoking Osama is a big strike against the Sheikh, even though he is not said to be linked to Goba.
Iran and Russia signed a deal Feb. 27 to get the Bushehr nuclear reactor, Iran's first, up and running. Under the deal, Russia agrees to supply fuel, and Iran agrees to have the spent returned to Russia so that it cannot be re-processed for nuclear weapons. Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh and Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, actually met at the Bushehr plant for the signing.
Thousands of protesters defied a ban on public gatherings in downtown Beirut as Lebanon's pariliament began a firey debate on who was responsibile for the Feb. 14 car-bomb assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. Demanding the government resign, protesters chanted "Syria get out!" and "Freedom, sovereignty, independence!" Violence was feared as pro-Syria demonstrators converged nearby to protest the visit by US deputy decretary of state David Satterfield.
The US military claims it has taken into custody Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan, half-brother of Saddam Hussein and a supposed key figure in the insurgency. Iraqi officials told the AP that Hassan had been captured by Syrian authorities in the northeast of that country, and handed over to US forces as a gesture of good faith following recent accusations that Damascus is aiding the Iraq insurgents. (AP, Feb. 27)
At least 22, including both rebels and government troops, are dead in fresh fighting with presumed Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. The bloodiest clash was in Helmand province, where troops were ambushed on night patrol. "Our mujahideen killed the soldiers in an ambush," Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.