• CHASING A SHEIKH: Today's story about an Iraqi sheikh in US custody (page 1) has been a story that the Monitor's Scott Peterson has been pursuing, off and on, for two months. He traveled to the sheikh's mosque and spoke to his followers. He interviewed other Sunni imams in the area, and spoke with several of the US officers involved in the case. At one point, a US officer suggested that it might be advantageous to all involved if Scott interviewed the sheikh face to face.
Alas, Scott says that "key people committed to helping me arrange access finished their tours in Iraq. Others, who were helping me be in touch with the 'key people,' changed jobs - and mobile phones. None of which is unusual here in the confusing bureaucracy of postwar Iraq."
One source said Sheikh Tahama was sent to Cuba. Another said he'd been released. Another said he was in US custody in southern Iraq.
• HOMES FOR AFRICAN HOMELESS: Anna Mofokeng, the founder of the Masisizane Women's Club, an all-women's South African version of Habitat for Humanity, died earlier this month. She was diagnosed with AIDS. As first reported by Rena Singer on April 27, 2001 ("S. African women raise high their own tin roofs"), Ms. Mofokeng formed a group to help homeless women help themselves. At the time, they had built 18 homes in two years. The article prompted dozens of readers to send donations, and the group has since built more than 100 homes.
Following the article, the South African government hired Mofokeng to start similar self-help groups throughout Johannesburg's many squatter camps. "When I last spoke with her, in May, she said that she had helped found dozens of self-help groups operating on her model and was still confident that she could turn South Africa's acres of tin shacks into proud neighborhoods," says Rena.
Mofokeng leaves behind a son in high school and another in local community college. The members of the Masisizane ("help one another" in Zulu) Women's Club vow to carry on and hope to build hundreds of more homes.
The club's address is : PO Box 9955 Midrand 1685 South Africa. Readers who send checks, please write out the date on the check, just like this: Sept. 17, 2003.
David Clark Scott