Lindh indicted on 10 charges by jury

ALEXANDRIA, Va.

A federal grand jury indicted John Walker Lindh on 10 charges yesterday, alleging he was trained by Osama bin Laden”s network and then conspired with the Taliban to kill Americans.

Lindh”s lawyers, nonetheless, pleaded for his release until trial, and said “highly coercive” prison conditions forced him to waive his right to remain silent and confess his activities as a Taliban soldier to the FBI in Afghanistan.

With his arraignment scheduled for Monday, the indictment accused Lindh of conspiring to provide support to terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, supplying services to Afghanistan”s former Taliban rulers and possessing weapons during violent crimes. Lindh faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

“John Walker Lindh chose to train with al-Qaida, chose to fight with the Taliban, chose to be led by Osama bin Laden,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “The reasons for his choices may never be fully known to us, but the fact of these choices is clear.

“Americans who love their country do not dedicate themselves to killing Americans,” Ashcroft told a Justice Department news conference called to announce the charges.

Defense budget draws fire from Democrats

WASHINGTON

Democrats yesterday questioned whether President Bush”s defense budget would give him too much room to expand the war on terrorism without consulting Congress.

At one point, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers acknowledged it is “absolutely possible” American troops will come in harm”s way in the Philippines, where the anti-terror effort is already widening.

In a hearing on Bush”s 2003 budget plan, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin asked about the Pentagon”s plans for a proposed $10 billion reserve fund for unspecified future war needs.

“Could those funds be used for any activity that the president or you decided to use them for without further authorization or action from Congress?” Levin (D-Mich.) asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He noted Congress generally doesn”t appropriate money in advance for unidentified military operations.

Levin specifically asked about Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Bush called those countries members of an “axis of evil,” singling them out for what analysts said was a surprising and harsh warning in his State of the Union address last week.

Mob storms court, kills 3 defendants

JENIN, West Bank

An angry mob led by about two dozen Palestinian gunmen and members of the security forces stormed a heavily guarded Palestinian courtroom in this West Bank town yesterday and killed three defendants charged with a vigilante killing.

The three men”s slaying appeared to be part of a clan feud. They were killed in the court”s bathroom, where police hid them after the mob charged into the building, said a security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

The assailants pushed their way into the bathroom, pumped dozens of bullets into the three defendants and dragged their bodies into the streets, shooting in the air in triumph, the security official said.

The defendants had been dressed in Palestinian police uniforms. Court officials had tried to disguise their identities.

China warns U.S. not to support Taiwan

BEIJING

A top Chinese official warned the United States yesterday against tilting toward greater political support for Taiwan but at the same time stressed that Beijing is willing to be more flexible toward the island”s independence-minded ruling party.

Just two weeks before President Bush is to make his first state visit to China, the senior official expressed deep concern that Washington might swap its historically ambiguous policy toward Taiwan for more overt backing of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian”s government, which Beijing distrusts.

In particular, the official cited remarks last month by the top U.S. envoy to Taipei, Richard Bush, who said the United States would “help Taiwan defend itself” if threatened. Bush also appeared to criticize Beijing”s insistence on the so-called “one China” principle.

Citizens hijacked planes, Saudis admit

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia acknowledged for the first time today that 15 of the 19 hijackers in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were Saudi citizens.

“The names that we got confirmed that,” Interior Minister Prince Nayef said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Their families have been notified.”

Previously, Saudi Arabia had said the citizenship of the 15 hijackers was in doubt despite U.S. insistence they were Saudis.

Osama bin Laden the chief suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks the killed more than 3,000 people was Saudi born but stripped of his citizenship in 1994.

Asked if he had information on whether bin Laden was dead or alive, Nayef said: “We have no information and we have no interest in this subject.”

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