Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's second-in-command, "probably cleared" the plot to blow up as many as 10 US-bound passenger jets, a senior Pakistani intelligence source said Thursday. The claim came as investigators in Britain were granted another week in which to interrogate 23 suspects in the plot while investigators continue to search for evidence in homes and places of business believed to be related to the case. Meanwhile, results of a new opinion poll showed majority support in Britain for profiling airline passengers by ethnic and religious background according to those perceived as posing the greatest security risk.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly pledged his help to the wife of a kidnaped Fox News cameraman in finding and freeing her husband as well as his colleague, reporter Steve Centanni. Centanni, an American, and New Zealander Olaf Wiig were seized Monday while on assignment in the Gaza Strip. No demands have been made for their release. In a related development, Abbas said he'd won agreement from Gaza militants to stop firing rockets into Israel if the latter halted its offensive there. An Islamic Jihad spokesman, however, characterized the pledge as only a "general tendency."
Using speedboats and helicopters, rescue crews ferried an estimated 6,000 Ethiopians to safety after they'd been stranded by the flooding that has devastated much of the country. Authorities, however, confirmed that at least 870 others had died and said they were preparing for that number to climb to 1,000. Tens of thousands more were cut off from food and shelter when the Omo River and its tributaries overflowed as a result of heavy seasonal rains. The government warned that pressure on major dams could cause them to fail and appealed for international help for overwhelmed emergency services.
The Red Cross sided with North Korea's government Thursday in estimating that only "hundreds" of people had died in the communist country from flooding and landslides. That figure is dramatically lower than the 57,700 estimated to be dead or missing by a leading aid agency in rival South Korea. Still, the government in Pyongyang committed itself to negotiations with South Korean relief agencies for help in recovering from the disaster. North Korea previously had said it could cope with the problem itself. Citing North Korean sources it would not name, one such agency also estimated that more than 200 bridges had collapsed and that hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland were inundated.
At least one person was killed, four others were trapped under rubble, and 60 more couldn't be reached on the high slopes of Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano after it erupted violently. Tungurahua rumbled back to life in 1999 after 80 years of being dormant, and on Wednesday night it shot lava five miles into the sky. A week ago, the National Geophysical Institute had said volcanic activity appeared to be decreasing in intensity.
Alfredo Stroessner, who died in exile Wednesday, ruled landlocked Paraguay ruthlessly for 34 years before being ousted by his own military in 1989. He spent his final years in Brazil, which granted him asylum, thwarting attempts to try him for human-rights abuses in his own country. Conversely, he also was credited with bringing relative modernity to one of the hemisphere's most backward nations. Stroessner was so reviled by Paraguayans that no memorials for him will be held, the current government said.