In an apparent about-face, senior officials of Egypt's government said the terrorists who bombed resort hotels and a marketplace at Sharm el-Sheikh last weekend were not Pakistani nationals after all. On Monday, police in the area were circulating photographs of five Pakistanis suspected of involvement in the bombings, and the Interior Ministry provided the same pictures to newspapers. But by Tuesday, authorities said they were seeking the suspects only for illegally entering Eygpt. They identified one of the bombers as an Egyptian with ties to Islamic militants. Pakistan's government had protested Monday's assertions.
In a rare meeting with opposition party leaders, British Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed not to "give one inch" to terrorists on his government's policies in the Middle East, no matter what "excuse or justification" they use for attacks such as those on London's transit systems. Meanwhile, results of a new poll found that 63 percent of Muslims surveyed after the terrorist bombings in London have considered leaving Britain. But 79 percent said British participation in the Iraq war was heavily or somewhat responsible for the attacks.
Al Qaeda posted a statement on an Internet site, saying it will execute two Algerian diplomats who were kidnapped in Baghdad last week. Videotape of the two wearing blindfolds also was posted, but no further details were provided. The Algerian government would not comment, except to say that for its diplomats to become the targets of political violence in Iraq "is beyond comprehension." Earlier this month, Al Qaeda claimed to have executed captured Egyptian diplomat Ihab al-Sherif and to have made attempts on the lives of Pakistan's and Bahrain's envoys to Iraq.
Saying an Islamic militant had shown no remorse for committing murder with "terrorist intent," a judge in the Netherlands sentenced him to life imprisonment without parole. Mohamad Bouyeri, who was born in Amsterdam of Moroccan parents, admitted at his trial to killing Theo van Gogh last November, calling the Dutch filmmaker "an enemy of Islam." A pretrial hearing in the cases of 12 other suspected Islamist extremists is scheduled today in Rotterdam on terrorism charges unrelated to van Gogh's murder.
To the relief of other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the military government of Burma (Myanmar) agreed to forfeit its chairmanship. Foreign Minister Nyan Win told ASEAN's six-day conference in Vientiane, Laos, that Burma wanted to give "full attention" to its "ongoing reconciliation and democratization process." Western leaders had said they'd boycott the ASEAN meetings unless Burma either yielded the chairmanship or freed Nobel Peace Prize-winning democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi from more than two years of house arrest.