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Year-long FBI Case Ends in Capture Of Most-Wanted Computer Hacker

Los Angeles Times

An FBI agent caught one of the nation's most-wanted computer hackers in a foot chase Monday in West Los Angeles, where the fugitive was sighted about two blocks from the FBI's office after spending nearly a year on the run.

Justin Tanner Petersen, who has claimed that he worked undercover helping the FBI track down other criminal hackers, had been sought by federal agents since he fled while awaiting sentencing on a conviction stemming from the hacker underground's most sensational scam - hijacking radio station phone lines in Southern California to win contests with prizes ranging from new cars to trips to Hawaii.

Petersen, who faces up to 40 years in prison and fines of up to $1.5 million, was caught after a short foot chase that began outside an apartment building where an agent saw him getting out of a BMW, just blocks from the FBI's offices in the Westwood section of Los Angeles.

"It was superb police work by some very dedicated agents," said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Schindler, who would not reveal any other details of the capture.

Fighting Dashes Hopes of Peace In Afghanistan

The Washington Post

Fierce rocket and artillery duels have killed more than 800 people in Kabul this summer, demolishing hopes that two international peace missions launched this past spring can lead to a cease-fire and an end to Afghanistan's civil war.

Shifting alliances among feuding warlords have led to intensified fighting that this year has claimed almost 5,000 lives, wounded more than 25,000 and forced 600,000 people to flee Kabul, the capital.

And despite clear evidence that Afghanistan's people are terribly weary of war, fighting in recent months has spread to areas of the country that have not seen battle in years, including Mazar-e Sharif in the north and Herat in the west.

The faltering peace efforts demonstrate the difficulty of resolving the crisis in Afghanistan, which began when the Soviet Union invaded the country in 1979. After joining forces for 13 years to expel the Soviets and topple its communist successor regime in 1992, Afghanistan's warlords have been unable to agree on which of them should run the country. The dispute has degenerated into a brutal power struggle based on centuries-old religious, ethnic and tribal rivalries.

The renewed fighting has dashed slim hopes that peace missions by the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Conference, both of which sent special envoys to Afghanistan this past spring, will succeed.