Italy Rejoices As Aid Workers Come Home

Celebrations erupted throughout Italy as the two Italian female hostages held in captivity for three weeks in Iraq returned to their home country on Tuesday night. A senior Italian politician says he believes a ransom of $1m or more was paid for the release of the two aid workers.

A Yemeni judge sentenced two men to death and four others to prison terms ranging from five to 10 years Wednesday for orchestrating the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole, an attack blamed on Osama bin Laden's terror network, news wires report.

IRAQ NEWS

Nation Rejoices as Women Return Italy welcomed home with joy and relief the two foreign aid workers whose abduction in Iraq three weeks ago and release Tuesday earned them the status of national heroines. (Chicago Tribune)

Italy 'Paid $1m to Free Hostages' A senior Italian politician says he believes a ransom of $1m or more was paid for the release of two female Italian aid workers kidnapped in Iraq. (BBC)

Ransom Payments Seen Fueling Iraq's Hostage Crisis The release of two Italian aid workers in Iraq has raised hopes other hostages may soon be freed, but reports that a large ransom was paid may only feed the burgeoning hostage crisis. (Reuters)

Caged British Hostage in Iraq Appeals to Blair A British hostage in Iraq made an impassioned plea to Prime Minister Tony Blair to help free him in a videotape aired on Wednesday that left relatives relieved to see him alive but appalled at his caged conditions. (Reuters)

Violence Threatens Iraq Elections U.S. warplanes struck a suspected insurgent hideout in rebel-held Fallujah on Tuesday and U.S. tanks and aircraft bombarded areas of northeastern Baghdad, stepping up military operations against guerrillas. (Moscow Times)

Blair Denies He Led Britain to War with False Justification Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday denied leading Britain into war on a false prospectus, despite intelligence on the threat posed by Iraq being wrong. (Boston Herald)

Allies Split Over Iraq Polls Jordanian King Abdullah's warning that it will be impossible to organise elections in Iraq that would not be open to question will not be welcomed in Washington, where the Bush administration is insisting that elections will be held in Iraq before the end of January as planned. (BBC )

Iraq Debate Already Hot as Rivals Prepare for Test President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry both face intensifying challenges to their credibility on Iraq as they approach Thursday's potentially pivotal debate on foreign policy. (LA Times)

Iraq Study Sees Rebels' Attacks as Widespread Over the past 30 days, more than 2,300 attacks by insurgents have been directed against civilians and military targets in Iraq, in a pattern that sprawls over nearly every major population center outside the Kurdish north, according to comprehensive data compiled by a private security company with access to military intelligence reports and its own network of Iraqi informants. (NY Times)

Iraqi Intelligence Officers Killed Five Iraqi police intelligence officers have been killed in a raid on a house in northern Basra. (Al Jazeera)

THE WAR ON TERROR

INVESTIGATIONS

Yemen Two Sentenced to Death for Cole Bombing A Yemeni judge sentenced two men to death and four others to prison terms ranging from five to 10 years Wednesday for orchestrating the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole, an attack blamed on Osama bin Laden's terror network. (ABCNEWS)

United States Al Qaeda Agent Smuggles People Into United States AN al Qaeda agent who helped plan the September 11 attacks has met leaders of a Salvadorean crime syndicate which controls the smuggling of illegal immigrants across the Mexican border into the U.S., according to intelligence sources. (The Herald)

Bush Officials Reinforce Terrorism Concerns Senior Bush administration officials said Monday that they remained deeply concerned about the possibility of a terrorist attack before or after the Nov. 2 presidential election and that they were taking preventive actions likely to remain in force through January. (LA Times)

Pakistan

Osama Probably Alive, in Pakistan, Top Officials Say Osama bin Laden and other senior al Qaeda leaders are most likely hiding in Pakistan, the U.S. commander of 18,000 foreign troops hunting militants in Afghanistan said on Monday. (Reuters)

Turkey British Banks Targeted By Bombs In Turkish Towns Two small bombs exploded in front of branches of the British HSBC Bank in Turkey yesterday and a third blast hit a Turkish-American Association in the capital Ankara. (The Herald)

Indonesia Indonesian Police Identify Jakarta Embassy Bomber with DNA Tests Indonesian police Wednesday said DNA tests had successfully identified a suicide bomber involved in a deadly attack this month on the Australian embassy in Jakarta. (AFP)

JI's Hambali 'Associate' Arrested Indonesian police have arrested a man they describe as an associate of Hambali, an alleged senior leader of militant group Jemaah Islamiah (JI). (BBC)

Afghanistan U.S.-Led Forces Focus on South, East for Afghan Election U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan are stepping up efforts to improve security before next month's election, focusing on the south and southeast where militants have been most active, a military spokesman said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Invites U.S. to Counterterrorism Conference Saudi Arabia has invited the United States to take part in a counterterrorism conference to be held in the kingdom in February, a Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday. (AFP)

Jordan King Warns of Growing Terror His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday said he was "concerned over the growing phenomenon of terrorism," which threatens human welfare and security. (Jordan Times)

LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS

'American Taliban' Asks Bush to Reduce Prison Term An American citizen serving a 20-year sentence for fighting with the former Taleban regime in Afghanistan is asking President Bush to reduce his prison term. (Voice of America)

Slain CIA Officer's Father Discounts Lindh's Claims The father of a CIA officer killed when Taliban prisoners revolted in a U.S.-run prison in December 2001 said he doesn't believe that John Walker Lindh — dubbed the "American Taliban" — never fought Americans. (CNN)

Former Prisoner Testifies in 9/11 Trial A Moroccan charged with helping the Sept. 11 hijackers viewed Americans as enemies and appeared to support the attacks on New York and Washington, a former fellow prisoner testified Tuesday. (AP)

Moussaoui Appeals Death-Penalty Issue Lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui have asked a full federal appeals court to consider whether he should face a possible death penalty even though his lawyers have been denied direct access to al Qaeda captives. (Minnesota Star Tribune)

ANALYSIS & OPINION

Plea for Clemency The parents of Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh say that this week's release of Yaser Hamdi means their son should be freed sooner too. (Newsweek)

Growing Pessimism on Iraq A growing number of career professionals within national security agencies believe that the situation in Iraq is much worse, and the path to success much more tenuous, than is being expressed in public by top Bush administration officials, according to former and current government officials and assessments over the past year by intelligence officials at the CIA and the departments of State and Defense. (Washington Post)

Inconvenient Facts John Kerry has now decided that he must deny any links between Saddam's Iraq and terrorism. There are some facts which he should be confronted with at tomorrow's debate. (Weekly Standard)

Welcome to the Green Zone The Green Zone is a little America embedded in the heart of Baghdad. (Atlantic Monthly)

The Next Iraqi War What Kirkuk's struggle to reverse Saddam's ethnic cleansing signals for the future of Iraq. (New Yorker)

Irresponsible Intelligence Reform Momentum is growing for efforts to dramatically reorganize the U.S. intelligence community in the few weeks before Congress adjourns for the elections. But while there has been much arcane debate on budgetary authorities, one important aspect of the reform proposals has gone largely unnoticed: the serious threat they pose to civil liberties. (Washington Post)

Cheney 'Pushes the Envelope' on Al Qaeda-Iraq Connection The phrases vary. Some days, Vice President Dick Cheney says Saddam Hussein had "long-established" ties to Al Qaeda. Other days, he says the onetime Iraqi dictator "had a relationship" with the terrorist group. (LA Times)

Growing Pessimism on Iraq

A growing number of career professionals within national security agencies believe that the situation in Iraq is much worse, and the path to success much more tenuous, than is being expressed in public by top Bush administration officials, according to former and current government officials and assessments over the past year by intelligence officials at the CIA and the departments of State and Defense. (Washington Post)

The Insider Daily Terrorism Report (DTR) is a summary of major news articles and broadcasts relating to international terrorism and developments in Iraq. The DTR is edited daily from foreign and U.S. sources by Chris Isham, Hoda Osman, and Brinda Adhikari of the ABCNEWS Investigative Unit. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ABCNEWS.