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Daily Archives: August 11, 2009

Rafsanjani withdraws from Friday prayers

Powerful Iranian cleric and opposition supporter Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has decided not to lead Friday prayers this week to avoid "political abuse" of the event, an official said yesterday.
"This week's Friday prayers were to be held by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani," said Reza Taghavi, the head of the coordinating body for Friday prayers, the Fars news agency reported.
"[But] we have been informed that he has decided to leave it to another prayer leader in order to prevent any political, unconventional and unacceptable abuse of the occasion."
In his previous sermon in Tehran last month, Rafsanjani called for the release of detained election protesters and said the Islamic republic had been plunged into "crisis" since the June vote that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.


Islamics in German bombing plot confess

Four alleged Islamic militants accused of plotting devastating bombings against US interests in Germany have made full confessions to authorities, prosecutors in Duesseldorf said yesterday.
The three German nationals and a Turk have spent the past weeks detailing their plans to agents from the Federal Crime Office after a shock announcement in court on June 9 that they would plead guilty to the charges against them.
The four defendants, who could face 15 years in prison if convicted, aim to shorten what was expected to be a mammoth trial and reduce their sentences by confessing, defence attorneys said.
"The accused confirmed that they intended to kill as many American soldiers as possible here," federal prosecutor Volker Brinkmann told reporters before the trial resumed in Duesseldorf, after a two-month recess.
He added that the four had made "very comprehensive statements".
The accused were to tell the court of their alleged bid to mount at least three bombings against US military installations and American citizens in Germany.
Prosecutors say the group, known as the Sauerland cell after the region where they were captured in September 2007, aspired to carry out attacks on the same scale as those of September 11, 2001 on the United States which killed more than 3,000 people.
After months of surveillance, police using US and German intelligence said they caught three of the suspects red-handed, mixing chemicals to make the equivalent of 410 kilogrammes (900 pounds) of explosives – 100 times the amount used in the 2005 London bombings that killed more than 50 people.
Two of the suspects, Fritz Gelowicz, 29, and Daniel Schneider, 23, are German converts to Islam, a third is a German citizen of Turkish origin, Attila Selek, 24, and the fourth a Turkish national, Adem Yilmaz, 30.
They have been charged with belonging to a terrorist organisation – the Islamic Jihadic Union in Pakistan, an extremist group linked to Al-Qaeda – and conspiring to stage attacks with explosives.
The trial was expected to be one of the lengthiest and costliest on a militant plot in Germany since urban guerrillas from the Red Army Faction faced court in the 1970s.