HARI SREENIVASAN: The pastor of a small church in Florida refused to back down from plans to burn copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The controversial protest has drawn widespread criticism from the Obama administration, military commanders, and religious leaders. But Pastor Terry Jones said he also has received a lot of support ahead of Saturday’s demonstration.
PASTOR TERRY JONES, Dove World Outreach Center: Our burning of the Koran is to call the attention that something is wrong. Something is wrong. It is possibly time for us in a new way to actually stand up, confront terrorism. So, as of right now, we — we are not convinced that backing down is the right thing. So, on September the 11th, we shall continue with our planned event.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In Washington, the top two national security advisers in President Obama’s Cabinet denounced the plans. Defense Secretary Gates said it was ill-advised. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Jones and his church to back down.
U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: It’s regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida, with a church of no more than 50 people can make this outrageous and just distressful, disgraceful plan, and get, you know, the world’s attention, but that’s the world we live in right now. I mean, it — it doesn’t in any way represent America or Americans or American government or American religious or political leadership.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Jones says he has already received more than 100 death threats and has started carrying a pistol to protect himself.
In Afghanistan today, security forces in Kabul beat back hundreds of angry customers trying to withdraw their savings from a branch of the country’s largest private bank. The Kabul Bank is embroiled in a crisis that escalated last week, after its top two directors were forced to resign amid allegations of corruption. Since then, Afghans have removed more than half of the bank’s $500 million in liquid cash. Today, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai assured customers their savings are safe.
Police in Pakistan announced plans to charge three men for helping a failed attack on New York’s Times Square. The men face terrorism-related charges for helping the bomber from afar, including sending him money. In may, Faisal Shahzad, an American citizen, drove an explosive-packed SUV into Times Square, but the bomb failed to detonate. Shahzad has already pleaded guilty to terrorism and weapons charges in the United States related to the bombing.
The government of Iran today halted the stoning execution of a woman convicted of adultery and said her case is under review. The sentencing of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani provoked an international outcry. Adultery is the only crime that carries the penalty of death by stoning under Sharia law. The Iranian government said it will continue to move ahead with separate murder charges against her.
Mexican marines have arrested seven gunmen suspected of taking part in last month’s massacre of 72 migrants near the U.S. border. Four were arrested after a shoot-out last week with marines. The others were taken into custody several days later. Investigators suspect the migrants were killed for refusing to work for the Zetas drug cartel.
On Wall Street today, stocks were up slightly in another day of light trading. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 46 points to close at 10387. The Nasdaq rose 20 points to close above 2228.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jim.