USA

Al Qaeda will attempt to assasinate an international leader either in the US or abroad as part of a larger terrorist attack, a report in The Washington Times said, citing unidentified US intelligence officials. A new taped message from Osama bin Laden could trigger the plot, the report said. Information found on the computer of Al Qaeda suspect Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, captured in Pakistan last month, was the basis for the report, the Times said.

An indictment unsealed in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, revealed that Kamran Akhtar , a Pakistani resident of New York, had been arrested July 20 after police spotted him filming Charlotte's 60-story Bank of America headquarters and another downtown building that houses the local FBI office. Also in his possession were videotapes of buildings and transit systems in Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, and Austin, Texas. It was not immediately clear whether authorities consider Akhtar a terror suspect. Court documents indicate that Akhtar did not, as he said, have a "green card," signifying permanent residence status.

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates Tuesday by one-quarter of a percentage point for the second time this year and suggested that additional "measured" increases are on the way - perhaps when the Fed next meets Sept. 21. A move to push up short-term interest rates to 1.5 percent was followed by a quarter-point jump in the prime lending rate, the benchmark for millions of consumer and business loans, to 4.5 percent. The increases are designed to stem inflation.

In a closely watched Colorado primary election, Peter Coors, on leave as chairman of the Coors Brewing Co., emerged Tuesday as the Republican candidate to replace retiring GOP Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, while state Attorney General Ken Salazar prevailed in the Democratic runoff. The Coors-Salazar showdown holds special significance as Republicans seek to maintain their slim margin of control in the Senate. In Georgia, first-term US Rep. Denise Majette won a runoff to become the Democratic choice to oppose GOP Rep. Johnny Isakson, the heavy favorite to replace retiring Sen. Zell Miller (D). Majette is the first black US Senate candidate to win a nomination in Georgia.

Two computer disks holding classified nuclear information may not be missing from the Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory after all, the state's senior US senator said. Pete Domenici (R) said their supposed disappearance may result from misintrerpreting the absence of two bar-code labels. On a tour of the facility this week, Domenici sought answers to the scandal that has shut down most classified work there. He said the confusion could stem from a failure to destroy extra labeling stickers.

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