USA

The Bush administration hailed as "fantastic" the capture of a top Al Qaeda figure and said it was a major advance in the counterterrorism war. "It's hard to overstate how significant this is," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's arrest in Pakistan Saturday by a team of Pakistani and CIA agents. An alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mohammed reportedly was being questioned while in US custody at an undisclosed location Sunday afternoon. In a second blow to the terror network, a car bomb in Lebanon killed Abu Mohammad al-Masri, whom Israel had accused of leading Al Qaeda operations there. Two others were injured in the blast at a Palestinian refugee camp.

The State Department asked Turkey for "clarification," after parliament there rejected the Bush administration's request to use Turkish bases as a staging area for 62,000 US troops for a potential war with Iraq. While diplomats said they hoped Turkey would reconsider, defense officials said military planning was "flexible enough" to cope if the NATO ally fails to do so. The cash-strapped Ankara government could receive as much as $30 billion in economic aid for agreeing to the deployment, but a majority of Turks oppose the idea.

Embattled US Olympic Committee chief executive Lloyd Ward resigned Saturday, saying "competing interests" and "backbiting" had made his continued service in the post untenable. His departure ends a tumultuous 16 months in office and an ethics investigation that has led six other top officials to quit since December, including one of Ward's main critics, ex-president Marty Mankamyer. The USOC's executive committee will meet this week to pick a temporary replacement.

A sketch by the late Spanish surrealist Salvador DalĂ­ was reported stolen from Rikers Island prison in New York. The Corrections Department said workers noticed Saturday that the framed artwork, displayed in a locked case in the lobby of the men's jail, had been replaced with a copy. The sketch, which depicted the crucifixion, was appraised at $175,000 in 1985.

Due to unusually warm winter weather, the Iditarod Trail sled dog race traditionally run from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, will begin Monday in Fairbanks for the first time in its history. Organizers had to truck in snow for city streets in preparation for the ceremonial start Saturday in Anchorage.

The Monitor's Learning section has been honored with three awards by the Education Writers Association for material published in 2002. Stacy Teicher, Marjorie Coeyman, and Sara Steindorf won first prize in the News Feature or Issue Package category for "Opening the Book on Race." Coeyman and Mark Clayton took second prize in the Series or Group of Articles category for "Driven," a three-part look at competing for admission to prestigious colleges. Learning also placed first in the Special Section or Page category.

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