China Hands Down Death Sentence To Christian Leader
Vol: 3 Issue: 30 Sunday, December 30, 2001
A court in China sentenced the leader of a banned Christian sect to death today. Gong Shengliang, founder of the South China Church, was convicted by the Jingmen City Intermediate Court on charges including “using a cult to undermine the enforcement of the law.” In addition to Gong’s death sentence, 16 other church leaders were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two years to life.
The South China Church preaches a fundamentalist, evangelical brand of Christianity and operated in defiance of laws requiring Protestants to worship only in the state-controlled nondenominational church. The church has 50,000 members spread through some 10 provinces in eastern and central China. China’s Bureau of State Security arrested Gong and the others in April after labeling the church a ‘cult.’
Oman Drafts New Money Laundering Law
The Gulf state of Oman has drafted legislation meant to prevent the financing of insurgency groups deemed as terrorists. The bill is nearing completion and will be submitted for government approval within weeks. If the bill is approved, Oman will become only the second Gulf Cooperation Council state to pass a law against terrorist financing. The United Arab Emirates was the first GCC to pass such a bill and has already frozen 14 bank accounts. Terrorist groups have enjoyed the enthusiastic cooperation of Gulf state banks for decades. The most terror-friendly banking systems are Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Neither has passed any similar legislation or made any significant effort to separate the terrorists from their money.
US Discusses Defense Cooperation Deal
Oman and the United States met over the weekend to discuss the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan as well as bilateral issues. Gen. Richard Myers, the U.S. Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff met Omani Defense Minister Badr Bin Saud Bin Hareb Al Busaidi. Attending the meeting was Omani Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Khamis Bin Salim Al Kalbani. Myers discussed the use of Oman as a base in any U.S. operations in the Persian Gulf area. The Pentagon has been seeking an air base to replace the one denied us by Saudi Arabia for use in the Afghan war. Myers also met Omani Air Force chief Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Bin Mahfoudh Al Ardhi. The two men were reported to have discussed joint cooperation. Despite the Persian Gulf War and America’s defense of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Oman is regarded as America’s closest ally in the Persian Gulf
Greeks Signs $30 Million Deal With Ukraine
The NATO member state of Greece is supplying components for the Russian-built submarine fleet of the Ukrainian navy. The Greek firm Sunlight has developed a series of batteries for several Russian-built submarines. They include the Kilo-class, Foxtrot-class and Romeo-class. The batteries has undergone successful testing in Greece. The Hellenic Navy has deployed the same batteries for its sub fleet. Sunlight, based in Thrace, is part of the Germanos Group. Executives said Sunlight signed a $30 million contract with the Ukrainian Navy for the manufacturing and delivery of batteries for Foxtrot-class subs. The contract is expected to be concluded in 2002.
US Inks Arms Deal With Egypt
The US and Egypt have entered into a fresh series of arms deals, including help for Egypt’s tank program as well as construction of marine facilities. In the first project the Pentagon approved a contract for the design and construction of a new marine railwary at the port of Alexandria. Pentagon officials said the contract will be completed in 2004. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Transatlantic Programs Center, Winchester, Va., will oversee the project. The corps has carried out several military and civilian projects in Egypt.
In another project, the Pentagon awarded Lockheed Martin a $15.2 million for support for the M1A1 tank program in Egypt. Lockheed will provide logistical support for all existing tank gunnery and tank driver training systems and one additional mobile M1A1 platoon tank gunnery training system for Egypt.
FBI Conducting 150 al-Qaeda Investigations in US
More than 150 separate investigations into groups and individuals in the United States with possible ties to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda organization has uncovered a much wider and more pervasive al-Qaeda presence in the US than was previously believed. The presence of al Qaeda members in the United States is of grave concern to senior Bush administration officials. That concern has helped fuel the massive domestic and foreign dragnet aimed in large measure at disrupting the operations of al Qaeda. Although the sheer number of investigations ongoing is suggestive of how large al-Qaeda’s operations in the US might be, investigators have yet to penetrate it.