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News Briefs

Mailbox Bomb Suspect Plotted To Make a ‘Smiley Face’

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- LAS VEGAS

Accused pipe bomber Luke J. Helder may have had a strategy in his selection of mailboxes, if his remarks to a sheriff’s deputy shortly after his arrest are to be taken seriously.

Helder said his choice of targets, when plotted on a map, would depict a “smiley face,” the ubiquitous symbol of happiness popularized during the 1970s.

Helder, who is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court Friday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was arrested Tuesday on a northern Nevada freeway after his father alerted the FBI that his son might have planted the pipe bombs found in mailboxes in five states.

Six of the bombs exploded, each one causing an injury, none life-threatening.

Helder admitted to planting 18 bombs, 10 of which were not set to detonate, according to FBI agents. Another six bombs were discovered in his vehicle. When stopped, Helder held a shotgun to his head before throwing it out his car’s window and surrendering.

Enron Auditors Warned About Accounting

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- HOUSTON

An Arthur Andersen partner testified Wednesday that he was warned about Enron Corp.’s accounting methods by Enron Vice President Sherron S. Watkins, and that he relayed those concerns to his firm’s Enron team.

Andersen partner James Hecker told a federal jury here that he received the call from Watkins, a former colleague at Andersen, Aug. 20. Hecker said Watkins confided her increasing uncertainty over the propriety of Enron’s methods of accounting for off-the-books partnerships managed by her supervisor, Enron chief financial officer Andrew S. Fastow.

Hecker was not involved with the Enron audit but said he relayed Watkins’ concerns to several Andersen partners in the Houston office who were.

Hecker, the first Andersen executive to testify in the trial, took the stand as prosecutors sought to prove that Andersen feared a Securities and Exchange Commission probe of Enron and shredded documents to obstruct the inquiry. A conviction on the obstruction charge could prompt the SEC to prohibit Andersen from auditing public companies, dealing a devastating blow to the 89-year-old firm.

CIA Fired Missile in Attempt to Kill Factional Leader with Al-Qaida Ties

THE WASHINGTON POST

The CIA fired a missile from an unmanned Predator aircraft over Afghanistan Monday in an unsuccessful attempt to kill a factional leader who’s vowed to attack U.S. service personnel and oust the interim Afghan government of Hamid Karzai, according to administration sources.

The targeting of a meeting of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and his top aides outside Kabul was based on information he was plotting attacks against Americans, officials said.

Hekmatyar is a Pashtun who as leader of a hard-line Islamic party, Islamist Hezb-e-Islami, has frequently changed loyalties over the past 20 years. Anti-Americanism has been one of his few long-lasting positions, sources said. U.S. officials and Afghanistan’s interim leadership allege Hekmatyar has ties to al-Qaida.

The CIA missile strike against Hekmatyar represented an escalation in a confrontation that’s been brewing for the past two months between the United States and Hekmatyar.