Today's Developments 9/25

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• Leaders of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban said the attacks on the United States were consequences of U.S. policies.

• The Taliban was struck a heavy psychological blow when Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, cut off all ties with the puritanical Muslim movement.

• British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the Taliban they faced war unless they handed over Usama bin Laden and a host of other "terrorists" based in Afghanistan.

• The European Union's plans to admit new members from the ex-communist bloc should help to boost security for all Europeans at a time of growing global tension, the EU's Enlargement Commissioner said.

•   The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called for the world to recognize the suicide attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon as "crimes against humanity," adding that such recognition would oblige all states to cooperate with both the United States and United Nations to bring the perpetrators to justice.

• Japan is promising to provide logistical and medical help to U.S. forces in the fight against terrorism. President Bush has been meeting with the nation's prime minister.

• Ten people have been killed in shootouts in Indian Kashmir in the past 24 hours, but officials say separatist violence has eased as guerrillas pack up and head for Afghanistan to prepare for a possible U.S. attack.

• The U.N. is preparing for 1.5 million refugees to flee Afghanistan.

• Switzerland, home to a third of the world’s offshore wealth, pledged full backing for Washington’s call to trace the funds that financed the suicide attacks in the United States and insisted its bank secrecy laws would not be a barrier.

• Usama bin Laden's organization made a fresh call to arms, saying, "wherever there are Americans and Jews, they will be targeted."

• The Taliban say they will dispatch 300,000 fighters to defend Afghanistan's borders, many times more than most experts believe they have. The United Nations said the Taliban threatened to kill U.N. relief workers in Afghanistan — mostly Afghan nationals, since most foreigners have left the country — if they communicate with the outside world.

• The European Union delegation in Pakistan promised to help the nation cope with a flood of refugees expected to stream in from Afghanistan if the United States attacks.

• President Vladimir Putin has walked a fine line with his own military by offering limited help for U.S. operations in Afghanistan while ruling out direct Russian military involvement, analysts said.

• Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cancelled talks with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw after Israel accused him of making remarks that could be seen as justifying "terrorism" against Israelis.

• Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's much-delayed trip to Syria was cancelled at the last minute. Each side blamed the other for calling it off.

• Jack Straw said during a landmark visit to Iran that Britain would show Tehran evidence about the attacks on the United States.

• Pope John Paul II, appearing frail and tired, was unable to complete his speech after arriving in Yerevan, capital of Armenia. A priest finished reading the prepared text as the 81-year-old pontiff sat slumped on a throne.

• China's Premier Zhu Rongji discussed a global campaign against terrorism with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder by telephone and urged that any action conform to international rules, state media said.

• Japan is cracking down on suspicious banking activities as part of a global drive to choke off funds to those implicated in the attacks. The Financial Services Agency (FSA), Japan's financial watchdog, threw its weight behind steps announced last week by the finance, foreign and trade ministries to clamp down on transactions linked to "terrorists."

• Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar warned the world against forcing a proxy government on Afghanistan at a press conference in Islamabad. Sattar also asked that the international community not supply weapons to the Taliban or the Northern Alliance.

• Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reaffirmed his backing for a U.S. "war on terrorism," but said only peace in the Middle East could bring about a lasting solution to global terrorism.

• Saudi Arabia cut all ties with Afghanistan's Taliban government, saying Afghan leaders were defaming Islam by harboring and supporting terrorists.

• Russian President Vladimir Putin said his nation will intensify its support of Afghan opposition forces and is prepared to supply them with weapons and military equipment.

The Investigation:

• U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld vowed on Tuesday not to lie to the media about the new war on terrorism, but said he could not promise to always tell the truth if that put the mission in danger.

• Interpol issued an arrest warrant for Egyptian-born surgeon Ayman al Zawahri, reported to be Usama bin Laden's deputy, the international police organization said in a statement.

• Investigators believe that on at least one of the hijacked flights, one of the terrorists was in the cockpit before takeoff. According to law enforcement sources, cockpit voice recordings suggest that at least one of the hijackers posed as a pilot and was given the standard courtesy of allowing any pilot from any airline to join a flight by sitting in the jumpseat.

• Law enforcement officials said they've determined through interviews with pilots who were on flights grounded September 11 that there were about a dozen Middle Eastern men, who have yet to be identified, on numerous flights sitting in the jumpseats.

• Three men from Middle Eastern countries have been detained in San Diego, as material witnesses for the investigation of the terrorist attacks two weeks ago. A law enforcement official said today the three could be sent to New York to testify before a grand jury.

• Four more people were arrested in France in connection with plans to attack U.S. interests in France. Sources say one of the targets was the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

• In Luxembourg, authorities followed the United States in freezing the assets of 27 individuals and groups named by President Bush as having suspected links with terrorism.

• In Malaysia, authorities jailed a man accused of receiving military training in Afghanistan and plotting a violent campaign to establish a hardline Islamic state in parts of Southeast Asia.

• In the Philippines, authorities are looking into at least two local charities with possible links to Muslim extremist guerrillas in line with U.S. efforts to cut off the money that supports terrorist organizations.

• Attorney General John Ashcroft said 352 people have been arrested or detained in the investigation; another 392 people are sought for questioning.

The Victims:

• New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced a new World Trade Center victim tally: 279 bodies recovered, 209 identified, 70 unidentified and 6,398 missing. The death toll from the Pentagon attack remained at 189, the toll in the Pennsylvania crash at 44.

• The mayor of New York today spelled out the process for families of those missing in the World Trade Center attack to seek death certificates and benefits.

• The Red Cross will give grants of up to $30,000 to families of those who died or are reported missing in the attacks.


• European markets closed mostly in positive territory after Wall Street shrugged off a gloomy U.S. consumer confidence report and posted modest gains.

• The Dow Jones industrial average gained 50.44 points to end at 8654.30, bringing its two-day advance to more than 418 points.

• The terrorist attacks have worsened Americans' concerns about the frail economy. The consumer confidence index dropped 16 points this month to 97.6, the largest single monthly point drop since the Persian Gulf War.

• Americans snapped up existing homes in August, pushing sales to an all-time monthly high. But demand has slowed since then as prospective buyers, shaken by the deadliest attacks in U.S. history, hold off on big-ticket spending.

• Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin told tax-writing senators that any plan using tax cuts to stimulate the struggling economy should be large enough to be effective, possibly as much as $100 billion.
The Home Front:

• The last standing piece of the World Trade Center towers — a seven-story twisted metal ruin that came to symbolize the terrorist attacks — was torn down and saved for possible use in a memorial.

• President Bush rallied the FBI to hunt down the "flat evil" attackers and defended the need for new wiretap and detention powers as vital tools in the war on terrorism after a tour of the command center at FBI headquarters.

• Harvard University is being asked to donate five million dollars, the amount it has supposedly received from the family of terror suspect Usama bin Laden, to victims of the terrorist attacks.

• Attorney General John Ashcroft has told a Senate panel that some individuals with possible links to the hijackers either got or tried to get licenses to transport hazardous materials.

• The United States will not launch a massive D-Day invasion to win the war on terrorism, but is preparing for a long, deadly fight following the Sept. 11 attack on America, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon.

• Moving to repair any damage to Muslim sensibilities, the United States changed the code name of its military buildup in response to the Sept. 11 attacks on America to "Operation Enduring Freedom."

• A businessman allegedly smuggled four box cutters past a security checkpoint and on to a plane at Philadelphia International Airport in an effort to persuade his wife not to fly, the FBI says.

• President Bush told congressional leaders that the U.S. plans for a long, open-ended hunt for terrorists while the FBI said it was seeking nearly 400 people for questioning in the Sept. 11 attacks.

• Friday's celebrity-packed telethon raised over $150 million in pledges, which organizers said will be distributed to attack victims via the United Way, with no administrative costs deducted.

• The Air Line Pilots Association pressed Congress to allow pilots to carry firearms in cockpits, a move the union says could prevent hijackings.

• The Senate is debating whether to continue closing military bases in light of the terrorist attacks. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., has offered an amendment to cut a base-closing provision from the defense spending bill.

• The U.S. government lifted a ban on crop-dusting flights; the planes had been grounded amid fears of biological or chemical attack since Sunday.

• The U.S. government said all airport workers with access to planes and secure areas must submit to new criminal background checks; it wants to reissue IDs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.