The second-in-command to Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al- Zarqawi was shot to death in a confrontation with US and Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad, reports said. The incident Sunday in an apartment building took place after "a tip from an Iraqi citizen." Abu Azzam was responsible for funding terrorist operations in the capital and for facilitating the infiltration of Islamist radicals from other countries. Sketchy details suggested he was alone at the time of the shooting and died before he could be interrogated.
Iranian leaders demanded that the International Atomic Energy Agency resolution referring their government to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions be "corrected" and said the enrichment of uranium that could be used in nuclear warheads will be resumed if it isn't. They also said they'd cancel all cooperation with the IAEA, such as giving its inspectors unfettered access to nuclear sites. And they threatened to punish countries that voted with the US in favor of the resolution, notably India, which signed a $22 billion, long-term deal last June to import liquefied Iranian natural gas.
By a 104-vote margin, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon survived a challenge to his leadership of Israel's Likud Party. But Monday's referendum on moving up the date of the party's primary election from November of next year to April exposed deep divisions over the Sharon strategy of withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. Archrival and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netan-yahu said the challenge to Sharon isn't over and predicted he'd win next year.
Prospects for an early return to power-sharing in Northern Ireland were dealt a blow, with a leading Protestant politician dismissing Monday's announced disarmament by the Irish Republican Army. The Rev. Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party accused the international commission on weapons surrender and the IRA of engaging in a coverup. He suggested that the IRA had secretly transferred its vast arsenal of guns, explosives, and other weapons to "sister organizations." The IRA has refused to allow documentary proof of disarmament. Asked whether his forces would join a self-rule government with the IRA's political ally, Sinn Fein, Paisley said, "We will not be doing it."
Appearing to leave the door open a crack on whether he'll seek to hold on to power in Russia when his term ends, President Vladimir Putin told a national TV interview, "I'll find my place in the order of things" after 2008. But he said he considers trying "to introduce any changes in the Constitution" as inappropriate. Russia's charter forbids presidents from running for a third term. But speculation has been rife that senior officials in the Kremlin are exploring ways to keep Putin, whose public approval rating has consistently been in the 70 percent range, in office.