World briefs – May 18

Iraqi security forces have detained an al-Qaida militant suspected of planning an attack on the World Cup in South Africa next month, an official said Monday.

Iraq detains militant suspected of plotting to attack World Cup

BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces have detained an al-Qaida militant suspected of planning an attack on the World Cup in South Africa next month, an official said Monday.

Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for Baghdad security services, said Abdullah Azam Saleh al-Qahtani was an officer in the Saudi army. He is suspected of planning a “terrorist act” in South Africa during the World Cup beginning June 11, al-Moussawi told a news conference in Baghdad.

He said al-Qahtani entered Iraq in 2004 and is suspected in several attacks in the capital and elsewhere in the country.

In South Africa, a police spokesman said Iraq has not notified them of the arrest.

“We have not received any official reports from them,” Vish Naidoo told The Associated Press. “Whatever arrest they made there, they know, we don’t know anything about it.”

Earlier Monday, South African police paraded fire engines, armoured carriers and other vehicles through Johannesburg to show they were ready to secure the country for the World Cup.


Haitian court convicts American

in ‘orphan’ case, woman freed

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The last of 10 Americans detained while trying to take 33 children out of Haiti following the Jan. 12 earthquake was released Monday after a judge convicted her and sentenced her to the time she had already served in jail.

Laura Silsby, the organizer of the ill-fated effort to take the children to an orphanage being set up in the Dominican Republic, returned to her jail cell briefly to retrieve belongings before quickly heading to the Port-au-Prince airport.

“I’m praising God,” Silsby told The Associated Press as she waited for a flight out of Haiti. She declined further questions.

The Idaho businesswoman had been in custody since Jan. 29. She was originally charged with kidnapping and criminal association. Those charges were dropped and she was convicted of arranging illegal travel under a 1980 statute restricting movement out of Haiti signed by then-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.


Search resumes for missing plane

SALANG PASS, Afghanistan — Dense fog hindered rescuers who fanned out across mountainous terrain on Monday to search for the wreckage of an Afghan passenger plane that vanished with 44 passengers on board.

After receiving tips from local residents who heard a loud bang, Afghan authorities rushed to the Salang Pass, a major route through the Hindu Kush mountains that connects the capital to the north. Late Monday night, they said they suspected the plane may have gone down farther south, closer to its destination of Kabul International Airport.

The plane, operated by Pamir Airways, a private Afghan airline, was travelling from Kunduz in northern Afghanistan to the capital. Myar Rasooli, the head of Kabul airport, said air traffic controllers’ last contact with the plane was when it was about 55 miles (85 kilometres) north of Kabul. He said there was no distress call from the plane.

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