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Friday, January 17, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Terrorism Notebook

Physician backs amphetamine use for pilots

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. — An Air Force physician yesterday sang the praises of amphetamines used by two fighter pilots who bombed a Canadian infantry unit in Afghanistan, saying fatigue, not "speed," kills.

The defense had contended Majs. Harry Schmidt and William Umbach, who face possible courts-martial, were buzzed out on Air Force-sanctioned Dexedrine when they dropped a 500-pound bomb on a Canadian infantry unit, killing four, near Kandahar on April 17.

The Air Force Surgeon General's office sent pilot physician Pete Demitry to the hearing. He told a news conference the Air Force has used the stimulant safely for 60 years and that it is better than coffee because it not only keeps users awake, but also increases alertness.

The grand jurylike "Article 32" hearing began Tuesday. Schmidt and Umbach face charges of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty that could bring up to 64 years in military prison if they are convicted.

Men with ricin reportedly linked to Iraq extremists

STUTTGART, Germany — The United States is investigating reports that men arrested in Great Britain with traces of the poison ricin are linked to an Islamic extremist group in northern Iraq, U.S. officials said yesterday.

A senior Bush administration official said U.S. intelligence has indications that connections exist between the men and Ansar al-Islam, a group that U.S. counterterrorism officials have said is linked to al-Qaida.

Officials are investigating whether a chemical — not ricin or VX, but another unidentified substance that may be useful in making chemical or biological weapons — was transferred from Ansar al-Islam to London through the country of Georgia, officials said. Some extremists in Georgia have ties to Islamic rebels fighting the Russians in nearby Chechnya.

Some in the U.S. government have suggested a connection between Ansar al-Islam and the government of Saddam Hussein, but many counterterrorism officials dispute that. The group, numbering a few hundred fighters, is believed to be loosely affiliated with al-Qaida.

Presidential protectors graduate in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — The first 52 agents of the Afghan Presidential Protective Service graduated yesterday from a basic-training course run by the U.S. Diplomatic Security Bureau's Anti-Terrorism Assistance department.

On Feb. 1, the agents will begin working alongside U.S. agents who protect President Hamid Karzai, leader of the fractious country. When they have completed on-the-job training later this year, they will take over from the Americans.

U.S. soldier on patrol wounded in attack

BAGRAM, Afghanistan — A U.S. soldier was shot in the leg during an attack on a patrol in western Afghanistan, a military spokesman said today.

The Special Forces soldier was injured last night, when his reconnaissance team was fired at 23 miles southeast of the town of Shindand.

The soldier was airlifted to the U.S. base in Kandahar and was in stable condition.

Reported school raids anger Pakistani religious leaders

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani authorities accompanied by English-speaking foreigners raided at least three Islamic schools in the capital, looking for al-Qaida and Taliban suspects, school officials said yesterday.

About six religious leaders filed a complaint with the Islamabad police demanding charges of unlawful interference in Pakistani religious schools be brought against the foreigners, who they said were FBI agents.

"We want these people charged. They illegally entered our madrassas and are interfering in the affairs of our religious institutions," said Abdul Rashid Qasi, deputy head of a school that was not raided. Islamic schools are called madrassas.

Pakistani officials would not confirm the raids or the identities of the English-speaking agents.

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