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News Briefs, part 1

Somali Warlord Says New U.S. Policy Will Rekindle Strife

Los Angeles Times


Amid alarming signs that Somalia's rival clans are rearming for war, a key warlord told U.S. officials here Thursday that the Clinton administration's new policy on Somalia will rekindle the brutal civil war that destroyed the nation and nearly starved its people.

Meeting with diplomats in his battle-scarred office building in north Mogadishu, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, a powerful clan leader whose duel for power with Mohammed Farah Aidid reduced this sprawling capital to a lawless ruin, flatly ruled out a political solution without a U.S.-led disarmament campaign.

Moments after the session, during which U.S. officials told Ali Mahdi that U.S. policy would not include disarming the country's rival militias or hunting down the fugitive Aidid, Ali Mahdi told three American journalists, "Civil war is imminent."

In fact, throughout Mogadishu and the countryside, Somali clans are now digging up and cleaning their vast weapons caches, which were buried in the days before the U.S. Marines led the U.S. military intervention to save Somalia from famine and war last December.

In the days since the Clinton administration and Aidid's militia announced what amounted to unilateral cease-fires after the bloody Oct. 3 counterattack on U.S. forces, there have been persistent reports that heavy weapons and the "Mad Max"-style battle wagons known as "technicals" have reappeared outside Mogadishu.

Jury Declines to Convict L.A. Defendants on Last 2 Charges

The Washington Post


A jury Wednesday declined to convict Damian Williams and Henry Watson of the two charges remaining against them in the Reginald O. Denny beating case, the last act of a tumultuous trial in which Angelenos relived the most painful moments of deadly riots that swept the city last year.

In verdicts read Monday, Williams, 20, was convicted on four counts involving misdemeanor assaults and one count of mayhem, and he could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison at a hearing scheduled Dec. 7. Watson, 29, faces a maximum six-month term for conviction on one charge of assault, and prosecutors are to announce Monday whether he will be retried for the deadlocked charge on which a mistrial was declared Wednesday.

Watson was released from jail this morning for the first time since his arrest 17 months ago shortly after three days of rioting ignited April 29, 1992, when four white police officers were acquitted on 10 of 11 charges in the beating of black motorist Rodney G. King.

Prosecutors Try to Link Metal Pieces to Bomb Defendants



The FBI agent sifted through the plastic bag filled with jagged gray metallic scraps until he found the one with lettering etched into the side.

"The symbols that I can read are A20, and then there is a symbol I have trouble reading, and the next line, AGL," answered James McCarthy, who logged in the fragment when it was found in the avalanche of rubble in the weeks after the Feb. 26 World Trade Center blast that killed six and injured more than 1,000.

AGL, federal investigators say, stands for AGL Welding, the Clifton, N.J., company where the suspects allegedly bought tanks of compressed hydrogen gas to amplify their homemade bomb.

According to documents obtained by New York Newsday, AGL Welding took an order for three tanks of compressed hydrogen on Feb. 24 from a company called Kamal and Co. A delivery log from AGL shows the tanks were delivered Feb. 25 to a Jersey City, N.J., storage shed rented in the name of Kamal Ibrahim, which federal prosecutors say is an alias used by defendant Mohammad Salameh.

The jury has not yet heard testimony about the storage shed at 69 Mallory Ave. in Jersey City. But prosecutors are expected to present evidence that Salameh used an alias to rent it, stored the chemicals there used to make the bomb and accepted delivery of the three hydrogen tanks at the rented shed.

The indictment also accuses Salameh and others of loading the flammable cargo onto the Ryder rental van they later used to transport the bomb into the Trade Center.