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SHAPE NEWS MORNING UPDATE 30 OCTOBER 2002

 

 

 

WAR ON TERRORISM

         U.S. military building database of terror suspects

         Portugal warns of Islamic plot in East Timor

         Jordanian police detain Islamic militants after killing of U.S. diplomat

AFGHANISTAN

         U.S. soldier died by friendly fire in Afghanistan

IRAQ

         Top U.S. military officer warns Iraq to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction or face military strike

         U.S. exercise set for early December in Qatar

         Chief UN inspectors to see President Bush and Vice-President Cheney

NATO

         U.S. homeland security director meets counterparts on European trip

         President Kuchma may skip NATO summit to avoid Iraq arms row

EU

         Solana coaxes Turkey to accept EU-NATO plan

         Slovakia to hold referendum in June on EU membership

BALKANS

         Serbian government labels assassination suspects terrorists

         Bosnia bans arms exports and sacks officials over Iraq

         Study confirms Swedish peacekeepers not exposed to uranium in Kosovo

 

WAR ON TERRORISM

 

         The United States is compiling digital dossiers of the irises, fingerprints, faces and voices of terrorism suspects and using the information to track their movements and screen foreigners trying to enter the country. The U.S. biometric system is known as the Biometrics Automated Toolset or BAT. The database can also be searched by soldiers via satellite telephone from a battlefield. (AP 292047 Oct 02)

 

         The Portuguese army has warned of a plot by Islamic militants to bomb U.S., Portuguese and Australian interests in East Timor, the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) said on Wednesday. ABC radio reported that the Portuguese army intelligence report identified five targets, including a branch of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), Portugal's Banco Nacional Ultramarino and popular bars, in the capital Dili. It said the report named two suspected members of the Islamic group Jemaah Islamiah and said they planned to smuggle explosives from neighbouring Indonesia. (Reuters 300330 GMT Oct 02)

 

         Jordanian officials rounded up dozens of known Islamic extremists for questioning in the assassination of American diplomat Laurence Foley as suspicion for the attack fell on al-Qaida or the terrorist movement's sympathizers. In Beirut, Lebanon, the prominent Arabic language newspaper An-Nahar speculated that the killing was the work of "al-Qaida sleeper cells that have threatened strikes against American targets." Jordanian authorities discounted a claim of responsibility by Shurafaa' al-Urdun, or the Honorables of Jordan. In a statement to an Arabic newspaper in London, the group said it killed Foley to protest U.S. support for Israel and the "bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan." (AP 292115 Oct 02)

 

AFGHANISTAN

 

         Military investigators determined that a U.S. Army special forces soldier was killed by withering "friendly fire" from an Air Force AC-130 gunship in Afghanistan in March and not by al Qaeda mortar fire as originally thought, defense officials said on Tuesday in Washington. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that a final version of the report on the incident was being reviewed by Army Gen. Tommy Franks' chief deputy, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong. Gen. Franks told reporters at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday that his attorneys were studying the report but he had not seen it or given his final approval. "There are classified pieces in that because of the tactics, techniques, and procedures we use with AC-130 gunships," he said, adding secret material involving the use of elite Special Operations forces would be removed from the final report. (Reuters 291847 GMT Oct 02)

 

IRAQ

 

         The only way for Iraq to avoid a military strike is to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff warned on Tuesday. Speaking after talks with the king of Bahrain, the last stop on his Gulf tour, Gen. Richard Myers said the United States is deploying forces in the region "to do whatever it is they are called upon to do." (AP 291913 Oct 02)

 

         With speculation growing over a possible U.S. war with Iraq, the chief of the Pentagon's Central Command said on Tuesday he would personally lead a major Gulf military exercise from a base in Qatar in early December. Army Gen. Tommy Franks said he would go to the Gulf for a week to 10 days, but that 600 or more of his headquarters staff from Tampa, Florida, would be there for up to six weeks as part of command and communications exercise "Internal Look." Speaking at a Pentagon briefing, Gen. Franks left open the possibility that sophisticated military communications equipment and troops might be left in Qatar indefinitely. (Reuters 291958 GMT Oct 02)

 

         The leaders of the UN inspection teams left for Washington on Tuesday to see U.S. President Bush and Vice-President Cheney at the invitation of the White House, UN sources said. The officials did not spell out the precise purpose of the visit by chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei.  A UN official said he viewed the White House invitation as a sign Washington was now serious about the prospect of weapons inspectors returning to Iraq. (Reuters 292312 GMT Oct 02)

 

NATO

 

         U.S. Homeland security chief Tom Ridge will meet with European leaders during a trip abroad next week. Ridge is scheduled to meet on Monday in Brussels with European Union commissioners and EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana. He is also to meet with NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson and attend a session of the North Atlantic Council. He will also travel to the Netherlands and Britain. (AP 292044 Oct 02)

 

         President Kuchma said on Tuesday he would not attend a NATO summit in Prague next month unless suggestions that his country had breached UN sanctions by selling radar equipment to Iraq were dropped. Kuchma, who denies the charges, said he did not know how the investigation would end, but felt Ukraine could not expect meaningful dialogue at the summit as long as NATO doubted its integrity. (Reuters 291629 GMT Oct 02)

 

EU

 

         European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is trying to coax Turkey gently into approving a deal also acceptable to Greece on the future of EU-NATO relations, an EU official said on Tuesday in Brussels. In an attempt to break a two-year deadlock, Solana presented a document approved at an EU summit on Friday to Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel in Copenhagen on Monday evening. "Solana said the coming six weeks will be decisive for the relationship between Turkey and the EU, and therefore this is an opportunity you have," an EU official said. Asked how the Turks had reacted, the EU official said they were "in listening mode" and would make no commitment to the deal before Sunday's Turkish general election. (Reuters 291748 GMT Oct 02)

 

         Slovakia's deputy prime minister said on Tuesday that the country will hold a referendum in June on planned membership in the European Union. Deputy Prime Minister Pal Csaky was quoted by the state news agency TASR. (AP 291440 Oct 02)

 

BALKANS

 

         The Serbian government said that four suspects arrested in the killing of a ranking police official, Maj. Gen. Bosko Buha, were part of a terrorist group, the state-run Tanjug news agency reported. The four, allegedly part of a wider "terrorist network", are also suspected of having plotted to assassinate government officials and politicians. "The aim of this organized terrorist group was to destabilize the state by killing prominent officials," Serbia's Interior Minister, Dusan Mihajlovic was quoted as saying. (AP 300023 Oct 02)

 

         Bosnia imposed an indefinite ban on all exports of arms and military equipment on Tuesday in an attempt to clean up after its Serb region was caught in violation of a UN arms embargo on Iraq. The move followed the removal overnight of the Bosnian Serb defence minister and army chief, which brought to five the number of Bosnian Serb officials punished over the export of parts for Iraqi MiG-21 aircraft by the state-owned Orao factory. International peace officials said on Tuesday that they expected the investigation to continue and warned they might take measures if authorities failed to fully resolve the issue. "We will be looking at the action's outcome and I would expect that the process would continue. If we deem the action not to be appropriate, I am prepared to take actions as required," said the commander of the NATO-led peace force, General William Ward. He did not elaborate. (Reuters 291705 GMT Oct 02)

 

         A new study has confirmed that Swedish peacekeepers in Kosovo are not exposed to dangerous levels of uranium, a researcher said Tuesday in Stockholm. The Swedish Defense Research study showed 21 Swedish soldiers leaving Kosovo with lower levels of uranium in urine samples than when they arrived six months earlier. The results confirmed an earlier Swedish study that dispelled concerns about the use of the slightly radioactive metal in munitions. (AP 291613 Oct 02)

 

 

 

 

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