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.
A judge in the tribunal created to try Saddam Hussein was assassinated by unkown gunmen along with his son outside their home in north Baghdad, two days after the tribunal ruled that a first group defendants from the Saddam regime would be tried for crimes against humanity.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Omar Karami has resigned follwing a wave of angry protests in Beirut. "I declare the resignation of the government that I had the honour to head. May God preserve Lebanon," Karami said. Lahoud was a close ally of Syria, and often at odds with martyred former prime minister Rafik Hariri. President Emile Lahoud must now appoint a new prime minister, but his days may be numbered as well; "Lahoud, your turn is coming!" is a popular protest chant. France and the US alike are calling for the removal of Syria's 15,000 troops from Lebanon.
Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel is being deported by Canada back to his German homeland, where he is expected to be arrested for inciting racial hatred. Zundel, who has been sitting in a jail cell in Canada for the last two years, is the author of "The Hitler We Loved and Why." Though the title seems to have come from a Mel Brooks movie, Zundel was ruled to be a security threat in Canada. The famed Zundelsite is a locus on the web for white supremacists, holocaust deniers and neo and not-so-neo Nazis. The cause of the irregularities surrounding his imprisonment has been taken up by Alexander Cockburn's Counterpunch. Perhaps there were irregularities in Zundel's imprisonment, but it seems Cockburn could find more noble causes to fight.
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.
Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon implicated Syria in the Feb. 25 suicide bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub that left four dead, after the group Islamic Jihad, which maintains a Damascus office, claimed responsibility. "The terrorist attack was perpetrated by members of Islamic Jihad. Thre orders came from Islamic Jihad elements in Syria," he said.