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Global manhunt for 'suicide terrorists'

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The U.S. released a videotape of five suspected al Qaeda members.


(CNN) -- The United States announced a worldwide manhunt Thursday for five men whom officials said may be planning new, possibly imminent, terrorist attacks.

U.S. officials appealed to the public for help in locating the men featured in photos and videotapes released Thursday by the Justice Department. (Full story)

"We believe that these could be and likely appear to be sort of martyrdom messages from suicide terrorists," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "Whether or not the attack would be imminent or not is something we can't determine."

He said the videotapes were found in the rubble of Muhammed Atef's house in Afghanistan. Atef was indicted in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

All five men featured in the videotape excerpts are suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.

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U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller ask for help in antiterrorism investigation and show videotapes of suspects (January 17)

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The Justice Department releases silent video of five suspected terrorists

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Four of the men were identified by name: Abd Al-Rahim, Muhammad Sa'id Ali Hasan, Khalid Ibn Muhammad Al-Juhani and Ramzi Binalshibh. The fifth man was unidentified.

Little was known about the men, Ashcroft said, except for Binalshibh, who was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the government's indictment against Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged so far in direct connection to the September 11 attacks.

In southern Afghanistan, three U.S. Marines were injured at approximately 4:30 p.m. Thursday (7 a.m. ET) when an unknown object exploded in a pit where they were burning trash at their base camp at Kandahar International Airport.

The Marines, with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, were treated at the base medical facility for non-life threatening wounds. Their names were withheld pending notification of their next of kin.

Latest developments

• A plane carrying 30 al Qaeda and Taliban detainees arrived Thursday at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to the Pentagon. It was the fourth such flight since last week and brings to 110 the number of detainees being held at Camp X-ray. Officials said there were no problems during the flight.

• Representatives from the Red Cross were expected to tour Camp X-ray Thursday. U.S. officials said the Red Cross would be able to speak with each detainee. (Full story)

• U.S. intelligence officials said Thursday a man who showed up at the airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan, apparently does not have credible information on the locations of bin Laden or Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. There had been hopes the man would provide an "intelligence breakthrough" that would lead to Omar or bin Laden. One official said reports about information the man might have were exaggerated. The officials said they believe bin Laden and Omar are alive and still in Afghanistan.

• U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking in Kabul, the Afghanistan capital, promised Thursday the country could count on a long-term commitment from the United States. "We will be with you in this current crisis and in the future," Powell said at a news conference with Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai. (Full story)

• Police in Leicester, England, arrested 11 people Thursday as part of a European antiterrorism investigation. Authorities charged eight of the suspects under Britain's terrorism act and three others with immigration violations. (Full story)

• Hamid Karzai, the leader of Afghanistan's interim government, has accepted an invitation from President Bush and will visit Washington on January 28, the White House said Thursday. "This visit provides an opportunity to develop the U.S. partnership with Afghanistan to eliminate terrorism and build a stable Afghanistan which will not again become a base for terrorist activity," the White House said in a statement.

• U.S. Special Forces soldiers combed villages, caves and tunnels in southeastern Afghanistan Thursday, searching for al Qaeda and Taliban forces, according to several U.S. military sources. The focus of the operation has moved south in recent days to Paktika and Kandahar provinces, where some cave complexes were thought to connect to nearby villages, buildings and escape routes.

• The union representing airline baggage screeners in Los Angeles and San Francisco has filed a lawsuit challenging a new congressionally authorized provision requiring airport screeners be U.S. citizens. The Aviation and Transportation Security Act passed last November bars non-citizens from working as screeners at U.S. airports.

• Despite considerable documentary evidence of al Qaeda's interest in obtaining nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, U.S. military officials reiterated Thursday they do not believe such weapons are in Afghanistan. (Full story)

• Four Senate Democrats asked the Justice Department Thursday to change its proposed rules governing a compensation fund for families of September 11 victims, saying survivors could be denied money that Congress intended them to have. The lawmakers joined several September 11 victims' groups in asking that the Justice Department increase the proposed limit of $250,000 on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

• An Egyptian man arrested at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport the week after the September 11 terrorist attacks was found guilty Thursday of lying to federal agents. Wael Abdel Rahman Kishk, 21, was acquitted on a second charge of possessing a fake pilot's certificate. Sentencing, expected to be less than six months, is set for February 18.

• The FBI has issued an alert to law enforcement officials nationwide warning that al Qaeda agents may have been probing Web sites related to nuclear power plants. A law enforcement official emphasized the information on the Internet surfing was uncorroborated and that the warning was issued so local authorities would think carefully about "what they put on Web sites."

• A senior State Department official will travel next week to several central Asian countries bordering Afghanistan, the department announced Thursday. Beth Jones, assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, will visit Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to "further the U.S. policy of building countries in that region," a statement said.

• An Egyptian graduate student said Thursday he did not blame investigators for mistakenly linking him to the attacks on the World Trade Center. Authorities Wednesday dropped charges against Abdallah Higazy that he lied to the FBI about his knowledge of aviation radios -- one of which he allegedly had while staying in a hotel across from the Twin Towers September 11.

• Six Algerians accused of plotting an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia could soon be transferred to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, sources said Thursday. But the suspects' attorneys said they had obtained an order from a Bosnian human rights agency forbidding the suspects' extradition without further legal proceedings. (Full story)

• Airline travel in the United States has steadily increased since plummeting immediately after September 11, according to statistics released Thursday by the Air Transport Association of America. The number of passengers for December is down 14.2 percent from the same time last year -- but well up from the 34.2 percent drop in September.



 
 
 
 



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