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News Briefs

Muslim Group May Be Targeting U.S. Embassy

THE WASHINGTON POST -- BEIJING

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said Wednesday there is evidence that an obscure Muslim organization fighting Chinese rule in the western province of Xinjiang has been planning a terrorist strike against the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan.

The allegation, aimed at the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), marked the first time the United States or China has accused a Uighur rebel group of plotting to attack Americans. Added to other U.S. statements blaming the movement for more than 200 terrorist acts in China, it suggested the Bush administration has accepted the Chinese government’s assertion that it is fighting radical Muslim terrorists in Xinjiang.

Human rights groups have accused China of exaggerating the terrorist threat to justify a crackdown on dissent among the region’s 8 million Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking ethnic group that practices a moderate form of Islam.

On Monday, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage announced that ETIM had been added to a State Department list of terrorist groups, freezing its assets in the United States and fulfilling a long-standing request by the Chinese government. He said the group “committed acts of violence against unarmed civilians without any regard for who was hurt.”

Al-Qaeda Drawing Fresh Funds

SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON POST -- UNITED NATIONS

A global campaign to block al-Qaeda’s access to money has stalled, enabling the terrorist network to obtain a fresh infusion of tens of millions of dollars and putting it in position to finance future attacks, according to a draft U.N. report.

In the months immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States and other U.N. members moved to shut down al-Qaeda’s financial network, freezing more than $112 million in assets belonging to suspected members and supporters of the organization.

But only $10 million in additional funds have been blocked over the past eight months, according to the 43-page draft report, which was written by a U.N. panel responsible for monitoring enforcement of an arms, travel and financial embargo against al-Qaeda and its associates.

Al-Qaeda continues to draw on funds from the personal inheritance of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born dissident who heads the network, as well as investments and money diverted or embezzled from charitable organizations, according to the draft report.

Westerfield Penalty Phase Begins

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- SAN DIEGO

A former niece testified Wednesday that, when she was 7 years old, David Westerfield stuck his finger in her mouth while she was sleeping and began “playing with my teeth.”

The testimony came on the first day of the penalty portion of Westerfield’s trial for kidnapping and murdering 7-year-old Danielle van Dam.

Under state law, a jury in a penalty trial can consider prior misconduct by the defendant, even if it did not result in a criminal charge or investigation.

The young woman was called by the prosecution in an attempt to show that Westerfield had a tendency toward making improper advances on underage girls. Deputy District Attorney Jeff Dusek told jurors in Superior Court that Westerfield deserves to be executed.

The witness, now 19, who was identified only as Jenny Lynn, said she had bitten Westerfield to get him to stop, but that she had not shouted or called for her parents, who were downstairs at a party.