BAGHDAD – The deputy commander of a radical Sunni Islamic group linked to al-Qaida has been arrested in northern Iraq, the U.S. military said Tuesday.
The group, Ansar al-Islam, is believed by the military to be behind attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops in Mosul, considered the last urban stronghold of al-Qaida in Iraq, and elsewhere in the country.
Fakri Hadi Gari, also known as Abu Abbas and Mullah Halgurd, and nine other suspected members were arrested July 24 during a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation, the U.S. military said.
Described as a key operative, Gari is accused of organizing attacks as well as recruiting and financing operations, the military said.
He also is accused of coordinating the movement of insurgents across the borders of Iraq.
Abbas urges nonviolence
BETHLEHEM, West Bank – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas opened his Fatah movement’s first congress in 20 years Tuesday with a call to step up nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation and to keep faith in peace talks despite years of setbacks to the dream of statehood.
But he stopped short of renouncing a clause of Fatah’s founding charter that prescribes “armed revolution” against the Jewish state. “Although peace is our choice, we reserve the right to resistance, legitimate under international law,” he said, using ambiguous language that covers violent as well as peaceful action.
He added that Palestinians must find consensus on “the proper forms” of resistance at any given time but made it clear now was not the time for bloodshed.
Abbas spoke at the inaugural session of a long-delayed gathering to elect a new generation of Fatah leaders. The aim is to rally the secular movement, stigmatized by defeat and paralyzed by internal division, as a vibrant alternative to the Islamic militants of Hamas.
Abbas’ position as Fatah chairman was not on the line. But as more than 1,800 delegates began three days of private debates, it was unclear whether the 73-year-old leader could hold together the movement founded by the late Yasser Arafat and nurtured by the West as the mainstream Palestinian champion of compromise with Israel.
The congress opened in discord, with 400 delegates from the Gaza Strip absent because the territory’s Hamas rulers had barred them from leaving.
Detainee deal progresses
KOROR, Palau – A lawyer for some Chinese Muslims detained at Guantanamo Bay said they have overcome reservations about being sent to Palau and a final deal to relocate them is close.
Top U.S. official in Palau Mark Bezner confirmed today that the State Department is compiling a document spelling out terms of the detainees’ relocation.
Palau offered in June to take 13 detainees from the Muslim Uighur minority as part of President Barack Obama’s plans to close Guantanamo.
But some were hesitant because they feared the island state could not shield them from China.
A lawyer for two of the men, George Clarke, said the detainees met with State Department officials and that “more than four and less than all” of the 13 have agreed to go to Palau.
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