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July 13th, 2009
World Links: Liberia's Charles Taylor Testifies, Somali Insurgents Kidnap Foreigners From Hotel

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor, accused of aiding and commanding rebels in a civil war in neighboring, diamond-rich Sierra Leone, testifies at his war crimes trial in the Hague. Taylor does not deny the range of atrocities committed during the bloody conflict, which have been recounted by a series of prosecution witnesses, but pleads not guilty to 11 counts including murder, torture, and sexual slavery. Taylor’s defense lawyer states, “The case is all about linking the crimes to Mr. Taylor, but the evidence has been riddled with inconsistencies.”

Ten Somali gunmen kidnap a group of foreigners at the Sahafi hotel in the capital, Mogadishu. The hostages, French security advisers aiding the U.N.-backed interim government, are blindfolded, bound and taken to an Islamic-insurgent area in Mogadishu. Insurgents led by Al-Shabab are trying to overthrow the weak interim-government in Somalia. Two Somali-Americans, believed to have joined al Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, are charged in Minneapolis with aiding terrorism.

Iran hangs 13 Sunni rebels and members of Jundallah for their role in attacks in southern Iran. Iran considers Jundallah a terrorist group and accuses Jundallah members of killing hundreds of Iranian civilians and military personnel and inciting sectarian tensions in Iran.

A helicopter providing food and supplies to NATO forces in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, crashes, killing at least six people. Though unconfirmed, the Taliban claims responsibility for shooting down the Chinook aircraft in the Sangin district. District police chief Fazlul Haq states, “It was in the sky on fire and then went down.”

Ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya calls for the interim government to step down, after mediated talks later this week, and for his reinstatement as president. Speaking from Nicaragua, Zelaya states, “I will go escorted by the people; you can go with your guns, and instead of shooting innocent children like the one you murdered at the Toncontin airport, shoot me. I have enough moral reliability to take your blows and bullets.”

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