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News Briefs

U.S. Fears That bin Laden Has Nuclear Technology

U.S. intelligence agencies have recently concluded that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist network may have made greater strides than previously thought toward obtaining plans or materials to make a crude radiological weapon that would use conventional explosives to spread radioactivity over a wide area, according to U.S. and foreign sources.

Some of the conclusions come from interrogations of captured al-Qaida members or associates. Some come from evidence gathered in the past month on the ground in Afghanistan by CIA officers and U.S. Special Forces from former al-Qaida facilities.

In addition, recent U.S. intelligence reports describe a meeting within the last year in which bin Laden was present when one of his associates produced a canister that allegedly contained radioactive material. The associate waved the canister in the air as proof of al-Qaida’s progress and seriousness in trying to build a nuclear device.

Americans Are Again Warned Of ‘Credible’ Terrorist Threat
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- washington

President Bush’s chief of homeland security, citing “credible” but unspecific threats Monday, asked Americans for the third time since Sept. 11 to be on alert for possible acts of terrorism.

Monday’s warning was based on the possibility of attacks timed to coincide with the upcoming end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as well as the celebration of Jewish and Christian holidays.

U.S. intelligence officials said there were indications that the threats were linked to al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network, but that no specific target, time or place had been identified. The Bush administration has blamed al-Qaida for the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and has said its terrorist operatives have been planning counterattacks in response to the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan.

There was “no indication of type of attack,” said one intelligence official, adding that the “quantity of credible threat info was above the norm” and coming from “a variety of sources.”

Plea Deal Reached With Teen Suspect in Professors’ Slayings

los angeles times -- BOSTON

The mystery surrounding the slayings last January of two Dartmouth College professors inched closer to solution Monday as New Hampshire authorities announced they have cut a deal with the younger of two suspects.

In a statement issued Monday, Attorney General Philip T. McLaughlin said James Parker, 17, will plead guilty to an adult charge of being an accomplice to second-degree murder in the death of 55-year-old Susanne Zantop.

First-degree murder charges are expected to be dropped. Parker likely will not be charged in the death of Half Zantop, 62.

“Jimmy has made the decision to accept responsibility for his actions, and is hopeful that his plea will enable his family and that of the Zantops to begin the healing process,” defense attorney Cathy Green said Monday.

The move provides a long-awaited opening for Parker to testify against his best friend, 18-year-old Robert Tulloch. Prosecutors hope Parker will offer a motive for the savage killings in the bucolic village of Etna, N.H., just miles from the Dartmouth campus in Hanover.