Front Page: Osama bin Laden Fine, Mugabe, Missile Defense

  • Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, says Osama bin Laden is alive and doing very well in a recording just released. In the 104-minute recording posted on the Internet, al-Zawahri said, “Sheik Osama bin Laden is in good health. The ill-intentioned always try to circulate false reports about him being sick.” He then went on to call the UN an enemy of Islam and promised more attacks saying, "we promise our Muslim brothers that we will do our utmost to strike Jews in Israel and abroad with help and guidance from God.” As a finale to the piece, he defended al-Qaeda's mission saying, “We do not kill the innocent. We fight those who kill the innocent — the Americans, the Jews, the Russians, the French and their agents.”

  • In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe says that he's ready to compete in a runoff election. This statement comes after the opposition candidate has declared victory and the opposition party has squeaked out a win of more parliamentary seats — though the official results showed that Mugabe's party won the popular vote. Independent counts are showing that the opposition candidate may indeed have won, 49 percent to Mugabe's 42 percent, but unless a candidate wins over 50 percent, a runoff is needed. The deputy information minister said, "President Mugabe is going to fight to the last, and he's not giving up, he's not going anywhere, he hasn't lost the election."
  • Amid debates over Afghanistan at the NATO summit, President Bush has won support for his plan to build a missile defense system in Europe, despite Russian objections. The plan adopted states, ''ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat to allied forces, territory and populations," and mentions the protection of allies to be provided by a US-led system. Bush however lost his appeal for the Ukraine and Georgia to be granted membership due to a block by Greece. Albania and Croatia were extended invitations to join.
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