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March 29, 2010 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-03-29

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0 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, March 29, 2010 - 3A

* The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, March 29, 2010 - 3A

Probe sought in
fatal shooting of
mosque leader
Political and civil rights
activists are renewing their call
for an independent investiga-
tion into the fatal shooting of
a mosque leader during an FBI
About 200 people gath-
ered Saturday for a town hall
meeting at New Bethel Baptist
Church in Detroitto discuss the
October death of Imam Luq-
man Ameen Abdullah.
He was shot at least 21 times
during a raid on a Dearborn
warehouse by FBI agents who
said they were investigating
Abdullah and several other
men in connection with a theft
Abdullah's supporters say it
was an act of police brutality
aimed at a black Muslim.
One of Abdullah's sons says
one of his father's legs was bro-
U.S. officials:
Relationship with
Israel still strong
Top advisers to President
Barack Obama say the rela-
tionship between the U.S. and
Israel remains strong despite
sometimes blunt talk and dis-
agreements between the two
' countries.
David Axelrod tells CNN's
"State of the Union" that Isra-
el is a close and valued friend
of the United States. He says
there's an unshakable bond but
that sometimes blunt talk is
part of friendship.
Axelrod says the peace pro-
cess is essential to Israel's secu-
rity and the administration is
doing all it can to move that
process forward.
Meanwhile, senior Obama
adviser Valerie Jarrett tells
ABC's "This Week" that friends
like Israel and the United States
can disagree without incur-
ring damage. She says what's
important is to be able to have
frank conversations and move
More than 7,000
protest Mexican
crime wave
More than 7,000 people
have gathered in the northern
Mexico city of Monterrey to
protest a wave of violence that
has affected the country's third
largest city in recent weeks.
Most of the protesters wore
white at a rally in Monterrey's
main park and some released
white balloons and a white
dove as signs of peace.
Nuevo Leon state Gov.
Rodrigo Medina led the pro-
testers on a brief walk through
Fundidora Park. His border

state has seen a surge in vio-
lence that authorities blame
on a turf war between the Gulf
drug cartel and the Zetas, the
cartel's former hit men.
Hours before the rally yes-
terday, two soldiers and a civil-
ian were wounded in a shootout
between troops and gunmen in
demand Pope's
British protesters called on
Pope Benedict XVI to resign
yesterday as they staged a dem-
onstration over the Catholic
Church's handling of clerical
sex abuse cases.
Demonstrators gathered
outside Westminster Cathedral
to call for action over the scan-
dal, carrying placards display-
ing messages including "Pope?
Nope!" and "Don't Turn a Blind
Eye," though fewer than SO
people joined the rally.
Revelations of the sexual
abuse of children by priests
at Catholic institutions have
swept across Europe, including
in the pope's native Germany.
Benedict has been criticized
over a case dating to his tenure
as archbishop of Munich, and
his actions when head of the
Vatican office responsible for
disciplining priests.
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports

FBI raids in Midwest
lead to gun charges

President Barack Obama greets military personnel in an army dining facility at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan yesterday. Obama's
visit came as a surprise to the troops, who listened as he voiced the country's continuing military support.
During tri Obama vows to
continue Afghanistan fight

Obama tells troops
that the war is
'absolutely essential'
to American security
KABUL (AP) - Under elabo-
rate secrecy, President Barack
Obama slipped into Afghanistan
yesterday near the front lines of
the increasingly bloody 8-year-
old war he is expanding and
affirmed America's commitment
to destroying al-Qaida and its
extremist allies in the land where
the 9-11 plot was hatched.
Obama's six-hour visit was con-
ducted entirely under the shroud
of nightfall, after Air Force One's
unannounced flight from the U.S.
Obama defended his decision to
escalate the fight, telling troops
whose numbers he is tripling
that their victory is imperative to
America's safety.
His bid to shore up faith in
the struggle was aimed both at
the troops who cheered him and
Americans back home. And, he
demanded accountability from
Afghan authorities to make good
on repeated promises to improve
living conditions, rein in corrup-
tion and enforce the rule of law to
prevent people from joining the
"Your services are absolutely
necessary, absolutely essential to
America's safety and security,"
the president told a lively crowd
of about 2,500 troops and civil-
ians at Bagram Air Field north of
Kabul. "Those folks back home
are relying on you. We can't forget
why we're here."
It was Obama's first trip as
president to Afghanistan, where
the number of U.S. troops killed
has roughly doubled in the first
three months of 2010 compared
with the same period last year
as Washington has added tens of
thousands of additional soldiers
to reverse the Taliban's momen-
"We did not choose this war,"
Obama reminded the troops,
recalling the Sept. 11, 2001,
attacks and warning that al-Qaida
was still using the region to plan
terrorist strikes against the U.S.
and its allies. "We are going to
disrupt and dismantle, defeat and
destroy al-Qaida and its extremist
Obama had gone Friday after-
noon to the presidential retreat
at Camp David, Md., from which
unnoticed departures are easier
because of its secluded mountain
location. The small contingent
of White House aides and media
brought on the trip were sworn to
secrecy. Obama arrived in Kabul

just two days after a threaten-
ing new audio message from al-
Qaidaleader Osama bin Laden,
believed to be hiding along the
ungoverned border between
Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"If this region slides back-
wards," Obama told the troops, "if
the Taliban retakes this country,
al-Qaida can operate with impu-
nity, then more American lives
will be at stake, the Afghan peo-
ple will lose their opportunity for
progress and prosperity and the
world will be significantly less
secure. As long as I'm your com-
mander in chief, I'm not going to
let that happen."
That resolve was meant just
as surely for stateside citizens as
for the people who heard it face
to face. Polls find that Americans
are divided on the war if, more
recently, favorable to Obama's
handling of it.
Obama's dark suit was soiled
with dust when he stepped off?
his helicopter at the presidential
palace in Kabul. White House
officials said Obama, in private
talks, wanted to drive home the
point that Afghan President
Hamid Karzai and his Cabinet
must do more to battle corrup-
tion and cronyism in govern-
Karzai "needs to be seized with
how important that is," said Jim
Jones, Obama's national security
adviser. Karzai has raised eye-
brows in Washington with recent
trips to Iran, China and Pakistan
and his welcoming Iranian Presi-
dent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to
Kabul this month.
In public remarks, Obama told
Karzai and his cabinet that he was
pleased with progress made since
their last discussion by secure
videoconference on March 15.
Obama invited him to visit Wash-
ington on May 12. He also praised
recent steps in the military cam-
paign against insurgents. But he
stressed that Afghans need to see
conditions on the ground get bet-
"Progress will continue to be
made ... but we also want to con-
tinue make-progress on the civil-
ian front," Obama said, referring
to anti-corruption efforts, good
governance and adherence to the
rule of law. "All of these things
end up resulting in an Afghani-
stan that is more prosperous and
more secure."
Karzai promised that his coun-
try "would move forward into the
future" to eventually take over
its own security, and he thanked
Obama for the American inter-
vention in his country.
He told Obama he has begun to
establish more credible national
institutions on corruption and

made clear he intends to make
ministerial appointments more
representative of the multiple
ethnic and geographic regions of
the country, according to a U.S.
account of the meeting.
The White House insisted
that Karzai's Cabinet partici-
pate in most of the meetings with
The Cabinetmincludesa number
of ministers favored by the U.S.,
including the heads of finance,
interior and defense, whom the
Obama administration wants
to empower as a way of reduc-
ing the influence of presidential
cronies. Some talented Afghans
administrators have complained
that Karzai marginalized them
in an attempt to solidify his pow-
"We have to have the strategic
rapport with President Karzai
and his Cabinet to understand
how we are going to succeed his
year in reversing the momentum
the Taliban and the opposition
forces have been able to establish
since 2006."
The Afghan government has
tried to tackle corruption in the
past with little success but Kar-
zai pledged after fraud-marred
August elections to rein in graft
by making officials declare their
assets and giving the country's
anti-corruption watchdog more
power to go after those accused of
misusing their office. This month
he gave more powers to an anti-
corruption body, including the
authority to refer cases to court
and act as prosecutor.
Initially, the White House
said Karzai had been informed
of Obama's impending visit just
an hour before his arrival. But
Obama's press secretary, Robert
Gibbs, said later that the Afghan
government was told about the
trip on Thursday.
At least 945 members of the
U.S. military have died in Afghan-
istan, Pakistan and Uzbekistans
since the U.S. campaign started in
late 2001, according to an Associ-
ated Press count.
Obama, speaking to troops in
a cavernous tent known as the
"clam shell," said, "We know
there's going to be some difficult
days ahead, there's going to be
setbacks. We face a determined
enemy, but we also know this: the
United States of America does not
quit once it starts on something.
We will prevail, I am absolutely
confident of that."
In December, Obama ordered
30,000 additional forces into the
fight against the Taliban. Those
new U.S. troops are still arriving
and most are expected to be in
place by summer, for a full force
of roughly 100,000 U.S. troops.

At least three people
arrested in Mich,
Indiana and Ohio
ADRIAN, Mich. (AP) - The
FBI said yesterday that agents
conducted weekend raids in
Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and
arrested at least three people,
and a militia leader in Michigan
said the target of at least one of
the raids was a Christian militia
Federal warrants were sealed,
but a federal law enforcement
official speaking on condition
of anonymity said some of those
arrested face gun charges and
officials are pursuing other sus-
FBI spokeswoman Sandra
Berchtold said there had been
activity in two southeast Michi-
gan counties near the Ohio state
line. She wouldn't say whether
they were tied to the raids in the
other states.
FBI spokesman Scott Wilson
in Cleveland said agents arrest-
ed two people Saturday after
raids in two towns in Ohio. A
third arrest was made in north-
east Illinois yesterday a day
after a raid took place just over
the border in northwest Indi-
George Ponce, 18, who works
at a pizzeria next door to a
home raided in Hammond, Ind.,
said he and a few co-workers
stepped outside for a break Sat-
urday night and saw a swarm of
law enforcement.
"I heard a yell, 'Get eback
inside!' and saw a squad mem-
ber pointing a rifle at us," Ponce
said. "They told us the bomb
squad was going in, sweeping
the house looking for bombs."
He said another agent was
in the bushes near the house,
and law enforcement vehicles
were "all over." He estimated
that agents took more than two
dozen guns from the house.
Michael Lackomar, a spokes-
man for the Southeast Michi-
gan Volunteer Militia, said one
of his team leaders got a frantic
phone call Saturday evening
from members of Hutaree, a
Christian militia group, who

said their property in southwest
Michigan was being raided by
the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives.
"They said they were under
attack by the ATF and want-
ed a place to hide," Lackomar
said. "My team leader said,
'no thanks."' The team leader
was cooperating with the FBI
yesterday, Lackomar said. He
said SMVM wasn't affiliated
with Hutaree, which states on
its Web site to be "prepared to
defend all those who belong
to Christ and save those who
"We believe that one day, as
prophecy says, there will be an
Anti-Christ," the group's Web
site said. "Jesus wanted us to be
ready to defend ourselves using
the sword and stay alive using
An e-mail sent to the group
by The Associated Press wasn't
returned yesterday, and phone
numbers for the group's lead-
ership were not immediately
available. Berchtold, the FlIt
spokeswoman in Michigan, said
she couldn't confirm if the raids
were connected to Hutaree.
Lackomar said none of the
raids focused on his group.
Lackomar said about eight to
10 members of Hutaree trained
with SMVM twice in the past
three years. SMVM holds
monthly training sessions
focusing on survival training
and shooting practice, Lacko-
mar said.
In Michigan, police swarmed
a rural, wooded property
around 7 p.m. Saturday outside
Adrian, about 70 miles south-
west of Detroit, said Evelyn
Reitz, who lives about a half-
mile away. She said several
police cars, with lights flashing,
were still there yesterday eve-
ning and IS to 20 officers were
stationed in the area.
Neighbor Jane Cattell said
she came home from the movies
Saturday night and a helicop-
ter was circling above, its spot-
light illuminating her house.
She and her sister, Sarah Holtz,
wouldn't say who lived in the
home but said they knew them
from riding their horses past
their house.

Russian president
cuts two time zones

President reduces
number of time zones
from eleven to nine
MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's
president thought the country
had too much time on its hands,
so yesterday he eliminated two
of its 11 time zones.
The changes mean that
Chukotka - Russia's eastern
extreme, just across the Bering
Strait from Alaska - is now nine
hours ahead of Russia's west-
ernmost area, the Kaliningrad
exclave sandwiched between
Lithuania and Poland. Formerly,
there was 10 hours' difference.
As well as eliminating the
time zone that previously cov-
ered the Chukotka and Pet-
ropavlovsk-Kamchatsky regions
in the Pacific Far East, Presi-
'dent Dmitry Medvedev ordered
that Samara and Udmurtia,
two regions in central Russia,
should be on the same time as
The changes went into effect

before dawn yesterday when
most of Russia switched to
daylight savings time. People
in the eliminated time zones
didn't move their clocks an hour
Medvedev initiated the
change in his state of the nation
address last November, prompt-
ing some criticism that he was
addressing marginal issues at
the expense of the country's
array of problems.
But Medvedev said the
changd would help some far-
flung regions have more effi-
cient communications with the
central authorities, ease travel
and even improve the country's
international position.
"It's possible that this could
also aid the strengthening of
Russia's position as a link in
the global information infra-
structure," he said at a meeting
this month with ministers and
regional leaders.
But some people in the affect-
ed regions believe Medvedev
should have been doing some-
thing else with his time.


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