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Leaders to U.N.: Attack the roots of terrorism

The battle against terrorists is being won but the "ultimate war" against terrorism will be lost if the roots of the problem aren't addressed, Pakistan's president told the U.N. General Assembly's ministerial meeting Wednesday, echoing a theme raised by leaders of many developing countries.

The leaders stressed that the priorities of the developing world are receiving little more than lip service and that the United Nations, by virtue of having policies dictated by wealthy nations, has failed to tackle key issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Terrorism poses the most urgent threat to many countries. For many of us, the terrorist threat is very close and . . . very personal," Gen. Pervez Musharraf said. Pakistan is a key U.S. ally in the war on terror.

Global cooperation has been "highly successful" and the international community is "winning the battle against terrorists," he said. "However, what we are doing is insufficient to win the ultimate war against them."

While many countries have called for a concerted effort against terrorism, leaders of developing nations argued for a closer look at terrorism's roots.

They said the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, coupled with the events that followed, have left the international community focused on terrorism at the expense of other issues that fuel tension among the most disenfranchised peoples.

"For the majority of the world's people . . . the most immediate threats are those of poverty, hunger, unsafe drinking water, environmental degradation and endemic or infectious diseases, such as AIDS and malaria," said Djibouti's president, Ismail Omar Guelleh.

He said the "knee-jerk reaction of crushing (terrorism) militarily fails to address its many manifestations."

Musharraf said antiterror responses must be "accompanied by a clear, long-term strategy, striking at the root of the problem if we are to ensure final success against this scourge."

Lebanon captures al-Qaida operative

BEIRUT, Lebanon _ Lebanon announced the arrest of the country's top al-Qaida operative and said Wednesday that he and another Lebanese suspect plotted suicide attacks on Western embassies and recruited insurgents to fight in Iraq.

Senior security officials said the two, who were arrested Friday with eight accomplices, also planned to assassinate Western diplomats and attack Lebanese security and judicial targets.

At least one of the suspects allegedly had contact with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant whose Tawhid and Jihad group beheaded two American hostages in Iraq this week.

Lebanese officials said the arrests were testimony to its cooperation in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. They thanked Syria _ the key power broker in Lebanon _ and Italy for their cooperation in breaking up the alleged plot.

Interior Minister Elias Murr identified the two key suspects as Ahmed Salim Mikati and Ismail Mohammed al-Khatib. He said the accomplices included Lebanese and Palestinians.

Elsewhere . . .

GUANTANAMO: The U.S. military dropped an espionage charge against Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi, a Muslim interpreter accused of spying at the camp for terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. . . . Also, 10 prisoners were transferred from Afghanistan to Guantanamo, the first time new detainees have arrived at the naval base in 10 months.

AFGHANISTAN: An attack on a patrol killed an American soldier, the third U.S. fatality this week in Afghanistan. The soldier died in an attack on a security patrol on Monday in Khost province, said Maj. Scott Nelson, a military spokesman, but he provided no further details.

RUSSIA: Russian investigators arrested an airport police supervisor who briefly detained two women suspected of killing themselves and 88 others aboard two passenger airliners last month. The officer, Capt. Mikhail Artamonov, had already lost his job overseeing counterterrorism activities at Domodedovo International Airport outside Moscow. He now faces criminal charges for failure to take a simple action that might have prevented the acts.