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Five Kuwaitis freed from Guantanamo

Fri., Nov. 4, 2005

Kuwait City Five Kuwaitis who had been held in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay prison camp, including one who had been on a three-month hunger strike, returned home early today.

Khaled al-Odah, who heads a private group that rallies for the release or trial of Kuwaiti prisoners at Guantanamo, said the men would be taken first to the hospital for medical check-ups before meeting with officials for questioning.

The five were recommended for the transfer by an administrative review board. They could face criminal proceedings in Kuwait, but prefer that to remaining at Guantanamo without being charged or tried, the lead attorney, Tom Wilner, said in the United States.

U.S. forces arrested the Kuwaitis in Afghanistan or neighboring Pakistan during the 2001 war on terror in that country following the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

The transfer brings the total of detainees sent to other governments to 73. Another 179 have been released. About 500 detainees remain held at the Guantanamo facility in Cuba.

Gadhafi’s son talks up better U.S. relations

Montreal The second son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, viewed by many as his possible successor, says he hopes his country’s political and economic opening to the U.S. will soon lead to normalization of relations.

Seif Islam Gadhafi, 33, has served as an unofficial emissary to the West, consulting with foreign officials, issuing calls for political and economic reforms at home and defending Libya’s human rights record. While in Canada in September to open an exhibit of Libyan art that included some of his own paintings, he held unofficial meetings with top officials, including Prime Minister Paul Martin.

“I’m not saying we are a democratic state 100 percent,” he said in an interview. “But we have made Libya a model for the Middle East.”

Critics remain dubious. They say Libya’s overtures to the West are an attempt to end its political isolation and attract foreign investment to stabilize the economy. Political opposition is prohibited and international human rights groups have reported that Libyan security forces arbitrarily arrest regime critics and detain them without charge.

U.S. pledges aid to earthquake victims

Muzaffarabad, Pakistan A U.S. general stressed Thursday that American helicopters and troops will help victims of South Asia’s earthquake for months to come, but the World Food Program warned that its own relief flights might have to be scaled back within days.

The U.N. agency said it was running out of money because donors have not given enough to meet the region’s desperate needs.

Survivors, meanwhile, prepared for dampened celebrations today of Islam’s biggest feast, the Eid al-Fitr, amid the rubble and sadness of communities shattered by the Oct. 8 quake. Some 80,000 people died and 3 million are homeless, mostly in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir.

During a visit to Muzaffarad, the commander of U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan repeated American assurances that the U.S. helicopters and troops diverted from Afghanistan to quake relief would keep flying through the winter and beyond.

“It’s a huge effort. It’s got to be a sustained effort, and we’re here with our Pakistani friends, with our allies, working as a team to get this massive mission done,” Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry said.

U.S. helicopters will resume relief flights today near Pakistan’s frontier with India after a halt that was ordered Tuesday when a U.S. chopper reported being fired on with a rocket-propelled grenade.


 

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