The Insider: Daily Terrorism Report

— Today, new information on slain Afghani leader Ahmed Shah Massoud — a new theory about why he may have been killed two days prior to Sept. 11 attacks. Also, an article about how the Pentagon is now hunting Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. And what was an al Qaeda terrorist manual doing in a house in Northern Ireland?

THE WAR IN IRAQ

Pentagon Says a Covert Force Hunts Hussein and Bin Laden The top American military commander for the Middle East has created a covert commando force to hunt Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and key terrorists throughout the region, according to Pentagon and military officials. (NY Times)

Six Killed in Helicopter Crash in Iraq Six die in helicopter crash near Tikrit; troops ambushed in Mosul as insurgency spreads northward. (AP)

Turkey Won't Send Troops to Iraq Turkey will not send troops to Iraq to relieve U.S. forces there, a government official said Friday, after local Iraqi officials made clear they didn't want Turkish soldiers to join the coalition. (AP)

Bush Aides Play Down Effort to Avert War at Last Minute Bush administration officials on Thursday played down the significance of an Iraqi effort to avert war by holding last-ditch negotiations with Washington through a back channel in the weeks before the war began in March. (NY Times)

Pentagon to Shrink Iraq Force The Pentagon announced plans to reduce U.S. forces in Iraq from 132,000 to 105,000 by next May. (The Washington Post)

U.N. Staff in Baghdad Relocated in Cyprus All 22 members of the United Nations international staff in Baghdad have now been temporarily relocated in Cyprus, the United Nations has announced. (Times of India)

Pakistani Baghdad Mission Staff Cut Pakistan has decided to reduce the staff strength of its embassy in Baghdad to a bare minimum, bringing it down to only five, officials sources told Dawn on Thursday. (Dawn)

Al Sadr Is in Iraq, says Aide An aide of the young Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr denied speculations that he fled the country or traveled to Iran. His aide told Elaph over the phone that Al Sadr was in al Kofa and lexplained the reason for his recent silence by saying that his statement had been misused. (Elaph)

U.S. Accepts Egypt's Offer to Train Iraqi Security Asharq Al Awsat reports today that the U.S. has accepted Egypt's offer to train the Iraqi security forces. The issue will be discussed during the visit of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to Egypt next Sunday. Sources said the suggestion came after communications between the C.I.A and Egyptian security agencies. (Asharq Al Awsat)

£100m in Aid Funds Diverted to Iraq More than 20 countries lose out to pay for post-war rebuilding. (The Guardian)

Analysis & Opinion

Rush to War, Revisited An article about an 11th-hour Iraqi peace offer last March suggests that the Bush administration was not serious about the idea of a coerced but peaceful solution to disarming Baghdad. (NY Times)

Iraq Is Not America's to Sell International law is unequivocal - Paul Bremer's economic reforms are illegal. (The Guardian)

Reconstructing Iraq I was pleased to see Egypt and some other countries taking the initiative to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq following the destruction to which this valuable part of the Arab world was subject. (Al Ahram Weekly)

Don't Expect Others to Pay for Your Follies When the US took the infamous decision of attacking Iraq and overthrowing the Saddam regime, it had not consulted the world at all. (Arab News)

The War on Terror

MIDDLE EAST

Afghanistan How Much Did Afghan Leader Know? Cable says Massoud learned bin Laden was planning U.S. attack. (CNN)

For the text of the cable (PDF format)

Afghanistan Says Al Qaeda Opens Second Front The al Qaeda network has stepped up activity along the Afghan-Pakistan border, opening a "second front" to divert U.S. military resources and attention from Iraq, Afghanistan's interior minister says. (Reuters)

Taliban Puts Conditions to Release Kidnapped Engineer Taliban spokesman Mavlavi Ahmed told Al Hayat in a phone interview that the kidnapped Turkish engineer Hasan Onal would be released in return for 250 Taliban members imprisoned in the provinces of Zabul and Ghazni. The engineer, who works on a U.S.-funded road project in Afghanistan, was kidnapped last week from the province of Zabul. Ahmed also warned against any attempts by U.S. or Afghan forces to free Onal and said they were awaiting directions from "the Taliban leadership." He explained that Onal was chosen because Turkey was part of the "crusader alliance against Muslims in Afghanistan." (Al Hayat)

Taliban Threatens Afghan Taxi Drivers Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers are threatening to kill taxi-drivers and other Afghans if they work with foreigners, according to a pamphlet received on Friday. (IAfrica, Al Jazeera)

Saudi Arabia Paper Reveals Names of Saudi Militants Killed in Mecca Al Hayat reports according to sources that the two terror suspects who blew themselves up yesterday in Meccca were Mot'ab Al Mahyani and Samy Al Loheiby, both Saudis. Sources believe that Al Loheiby was the one who shot and injured an American working at a Saudi naval base in Al Jubail town last May. (Al Hayat)

Top U.S. Aides Arriving for Talks on Iraq, Terror Fight U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will arrive here early next week to hold talks with Saudi officials about Iraq and the Middle East peace process. (Arab News)

Special Unit Screening U.S. Visa Applications The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has opened an office in the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh as part of its effort to review visa applications and prevent potential terrorists from visiting the U.S. (Arab News)

Morocco Moroccan Crackdown 'Includes Torture' Amnesty International says the practice of torture has widened in Morocco as part of an 'anti-terrorism' campaign. (News Agencies)

Yemen Continued Attempts to Release Yemenis Held in Germany Sources told Elaph, an Arab online news service, that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh renewed his request to Germany for the release of Mohammed Ali Hassan al Mouyad, a prominent Muslim leader in Yemen, and his aide. U.S. officials believe Sheikh Mouyad, who was arrested in Germany in January is associated with terrorism. Sources said Saleh also discussed the issue with F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller. (Elaph)

AMERICA

United States Travel Warning Updated The State Department updated its warning on travel to the Middle East on Thursday to say that ships and planes could be hijacked. (Reuters)

Moussaoui Is Warned About Threatening Notes The alleged Sept. 11 conspirator could lose his right to represent himself, judge says. (LA Times)

Terror Alerts Have Been Refined, Officials Say After issuing four terror alerts during the first eight months the U.S. government's color-coded alert system was in place, the administration has gone almost six months without imposing any. (USA Today)

9/11 Panel May Reject Offer of Limited Access to Briefings The White House has offered to provide a federal commission with limited access to Oval Office intelligence reports regarding the Sept. 11 terror attacks, but some members of the panel have described the offer as inadequate and are renewing the threat of a subpoena, commission officials said on Thursday. (NY Times)

Judge Lets Charge Against Lawyer Stand A federal judge refused to toss out the remaining conspiracy charge against civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart yesterday, saying that the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan had made no agreement to avoid prosecuting her. (Newsday)

Editorial: The Growing Collection of '20th Hijackers' Ashcroft now has three suspects in the 9/11 atrocity. But he still hasn't met his goal -- an executed terrorist. Will the real 20th hijacker please stand up? (LA Times)

Canada Foreign Spies May Have Stolen Arar Document Solicitor General Wayne Easter raised the prospect yesterday that foreign intelligence agencies operating in Canada obtained a rental lease for the former Ottawa home of Maher Arar through illegal means, which led to his deportation to a Syrian prison where he was tortured for 10 months. (CanWest News Service)

ASIA

Kyrghystan Plan To Bomb U.S. Base Foiled Security and intelligence officials in Kyrghystan announced that three youths from Hizb al Tahrir al Islami (The Islamic Liberation Party) were preparing to bomb a U.S. airbase. Only the first names of the three were revealed. Security agencies said they were trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan and received their orders from Afghanistan. Upon their arrest, weapons, explosives and maps of the base were found. (Asharq Al Awsat)

EUROPE

Northern Ireland 'Terrorist Manual' Found in House Computer discs which appeared to relate to al Qaeda terrorism and a terrorist training manual were found during a search of a house in County Antrim, a court has been told. (BBC)

Germany U.S. Rejects Germany's Request on Trial U.S. authorities rejected a German court's request that accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed be allowed to testify in the trial of a suspected member of the Hamburg al Qaeda cell behind the attack. (AP)

France, Spain France, Spain Seek Meeting on "Islamist Terrorism" France and Spain plan to hold a meeting of police chiefs of a number of Mediterranean countries to discuss fighting "Islamist terrorism", the interior ministers from the two countries said on Thursday. (Reuters)

AFRICA

Somalia Somalis Shocked by U.N. Report Shocked by a U.N. report that their country hosted Al-Qaeda fighters, Somalis said yesterday they feared the findings might disrupt international attempts to heal more than a decade of anarchy. (Reuters, AP)

The Insider Daily Terrorism Report (DTR) is a summary of major news articles and broadcasts relating to international terrorism and the war in Iraq. The DTR is compiled daily from foreign and U.S. sources by the ABCNEWS Investigative Unit. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ABCNEWS.