The New York Times leads with yesterday’s indictment of the head of a large Chicago-area Muslim charity on charges that he used his organization as a front to funnel money to al-Qaida. The Los Angeles Times leads with Congress’ coming vote on Iraq. The House, which is expected to vote today, and the Senate, which may do the same, are both expected to pass President Bush’s proposed resolution by a big margin. The number of Democrats who plan to vote against it is dwindling. USA Today leads with a follow-up to Tuesday’s attack on Marines in Kuwait. The Pentagon says that both attackers were known extremists and that at least one attended an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan. USAT, citing CNN, says that the head of Kuwait’s main mosque is suspected of having helped the attackers. Meanwhile, yesterday in Kuwait, American soldiers fired at potential attackers after a car tried to cut off their Humvee, and then men inside the vehicle pointed a gun at the soldiers. GIs shot at the car, which swerved off the road, and then drove away. No Americans were injured. The Washington Post leads with word that the Bush administration believes the audio tape released Tuesday of top al-Qaida honcho Ayman al-Zawahiri is genuine. (Note: The Post’s Web site was sick last night, so most of the paper couldn’t be accessed.)
The charity targeted by the feds yesterday, the Benevolence International Foundation, has been getting heat since 9/11 for being an alleged front. And its boss who was charged yesterday, Enaam Arnaout, has been in jail since April for having lied to authorities when he told them he hadn’t had contact with Osama Bin Laden. But as the NYTpoints out, these new charges go much farther: The paper says that authorities “discovered” (NYT’s words) documents at the charity’s Bosnia office showing that the organization has had various links to Bin Laden dating back to, but not limited to, the 1980s. The Wall Street Journal, which tops its world-wide newsbox (online) with the indictment, points out that the government is trying to build a similar case against a Muslim charity in Virginia. The Post has been following that story for the past few months and had a detailed piece about it on Monday.
The Journal emphasizes that Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle, eager to get Iraq off the agenda, moved to “quash resistance” by some holdout Democrats who want to continue debating. Daschle said that if necessary, he’ll make the Senate pull an all-nighter tonight to come to a vote. The NYT’s check-in on the resolution notes up high that two senators who had opposed Bush on Iraq—John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska—both announced yesterday that they’ve had a change of heart and now support the prez’s resolution.
Officials said the audio tape of al-Zawahiri was made recently, since he referred to various terror attacks that happened over the summer. The tape is obviously evidence that al-Zawahiri may be alive, but as the Post points out, the fact that it wasn’t a video suggests he might not be in tip-top shape. The Pentagon believes he was injured by a U.S. air attack in Afghanistan last November.
Everybody notes another suspicious shooting in Virginia. Police say they aren’t sure yet whether it was the sniper attacking again, but there are signs suggesting that it was. The victim was killed with one bullet, shot at a distance. And a witness saw two men speed off in a white vehicle. “Everything is very similar,” said one county official.
One bit of news nobody fronts: The Dow dropped to its lowest point in five years. It lost 215 points yesterday, before being saved by the bell to close at 7,268. The lack of attention can be partly attributed to Iraq. But it’s also because of the slow, drip drip, nature of the dip. Papers, of course, don’t do slow-moving very well.
According to early morning reports, a suicide bomber hit Tel Aviv, killing one and injuring 20. The bomber fell down as he was trying to get on a bus. The driver went to help him, and then seeing a bomb belt, held the attacker down while passengers ran. After the passengers moved away, the driver ran too, and the bomber set off his device.
In an analysis of the tension between the CIA and the White House over assessments of the danger posed by Iraq, the NYT’s Michael Gordon explains it this way, “The C.I.A. has to maintain its credibility for objective estimates. The White House is mobilizing the public and preparing foreign nations for a potential American invasion of Iraq.”
“Have you ever noticed … that I’m an over-the-hill crank?” USAT’s Sports section notices some remarks made recently by Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes’ oh-so funny man. “The only thing that really bugs me about television’s coverage is those damn women they have down on the sidelines who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about,” Rooney said Friday on TV’s Boomer Esiason Show. “I mean, I’m not a sexist person, but a woman has no business being down there trying to make some comment about a football game.” Rooney obviously got a bit of flak for the comments, but he didn’t seem too bothered. “What are they going to do, fire me from the Boomer Esiason Show?”