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Former Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil surrendered last week, and was quickly handed over to American forces. U.S. officials hope that Muttawakil will provide a wealth of information about the Taliban's dealings with Osama bin Laden and his foreign legion of "Afghan Arab" fighters.

U.S. officials also are optimistic that top Qaeda leaders were killed by a CIA Hellfire missile last week. According to intelligence sources, the missile was fired after a camera aboard a CIA Predator spotted a suspected Qaeda gathering high up in the mountains near Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan. The video pictures from the drone showed a small group of men in robes apparently behaving deferentially to one of their number, who was noticeably taller than the others. Afghan leaders suggested that the men killed by the remote-controlled missile were only minor Qaeda fighters. But U.S. officials say they "can't rule out" the possibility that the six-foot-plus bin Laden himself was the tall man spotted on the video. (Bin Laden's chief deputy, Egyptian doctor Ayman Al-Zawahiri, is also believed to be fairly tall.) U.S. officials say they can't confirm unofficial reports that bin Laden's wealthy Saudi relatives have been asked to supply specimens of family DNA. The Pentagon has dispatched a military team to the site of the missile attack to investigate.

U.S. officials have been disappointed by reports from other fronts. In Indonesia, sources say, authorities have lost track of one of the most important local terror leaders, Parlindungan Siregar. In November, Siregar was identified at an antiterrorism trial in Spain as a key Qaeda suspect. And although Indonesian security forces say they have located a Qaeda camp where foreign and local terrorist volunteers allegedly were trained, Camp "Mujahiddin," as it is known to Indonesian intelligence officials, had been deserted by the time authorities managed to inspect it in December 2001.

U.S. officials acknowledge that other Qaeda lieutenants are waiting in the wings to replace its top men. Intelligence analysts are studying reports that Muhammad Atef, an Egyptian Qaeda leader who the Bush administration says was killed during fighting last year, has now been replaced as Al Qaeda's top military commander by another Egyptian, Muhammad Ibrahim Makkawi, also known as Saif al-Adil. But U.S. officials say it's also possible that Al Qaeda's military wing is now being commanded directly by Zawahiri--assuming he is still alive.

IRAQ

Getting Saddam

The United States also is currently haggling out details with the U.N. Security Council about dropping the broad range of sanctions that have hurt mostly Iraqi civilians. Instead, it hopes to introduce new "smart" sanctions intended to target imports that would help Iraq's military. In the unlikely event that Saddam buckles and fully complies with the U.S. and U.N. demands, Washington would have "to take a look" at its "policy of regime change," says a State Department official. At the same time, of course, the administration is pressing ahead with new military options for ousting Saddam.

SONS AND HEIRS

Junior's Japanese Jaunt

The new juice comes from this month's issue of respected Japanese monthly Shincho 45: a tell-all interview in Seoul with a former Tokyo-based escort who claims she spent the night with Junior back in 1998. Apparently, Junior often visited Tokyo, living it up at the city's many Korean nightclubs and bars. Until his highly publicized passport slip-up, the anonymous South Korean escort didn't realize his true identity. Now, she's spilling the beans.

Her night with Junior was pretty wild. He sang Japanese pop songs until he was covered in sweat, ate three plates of flounder sashimi and knocked it all back with glass after glass of Hennessy Extra cognac. But he was very "polite" and respectful, his companion reveals. "He spoke slowly and softly, like a big yakuza boss in the movies." She was also impressed by Junior's fluency in Japanese and knowledge of the local culture.

OK, but was he good in bed? Shincho's reporter learned that Junior passed the missile test. "He was so gentle [and] attentive, kind and sensitive to my needs and feelings. A gentleman in bed... Not like you journalists who dare ask such [an] impolite question!"

FIRST PERSON GLOBAL

By Zoran Cirjakovic

Mention Ethiopia and images of bloody wars, perpetual famine and ruthless dictators come to mind. But on a recent two-week journey I found something surprising: fervent faith and a sense of the life of early Christians in the Holy Land.

In the country's Christian highlands, I ascended to the sacred city of Lalibela--a tiny town 2,600 meters above sea level--with hundreds of pilgrims and a handful of tourists on the eve of Timkat, or Epiphany, the colorful festival celebrating the baptism of Christ. Melsie Adamu, my 20-year-old guide, explained that in the 12th century, King Lalibela decided to build a "New Jerusalem" in order to spare his Christian subjects from the dangerous pilgrimage to the old one.

This New Jerusalem is stunning. It boasts 11 beautiful monolithic rock-hewn churches linked with secret tunnels and surrounded by little caves where monks used to pray in isolation. As we walked around the churches, Melsie pointed out--with a straight face--Golgotha, the Jordan River and the Tomb of Christ (among the real Jerusalem's most famous sites).

Over the next few days, as I watched pilgrims wrapped only in sullied white cotton cloths smelling of sheep skin gather in the churches and monasteries; as I stood with them on cold mornings during long services in churches hidden in remote mountain caves; as I witnessed their religious zeal as they faced barefoot, equally deprived priests banging church drums, I slowly started to feel as if I, too, were in the real Jerusalem during the first decades of Christianity.

I've always wondered how it must have felt to live in the Holy Land during that extraordinary time. I've visited Jerusalem and read history books, but the images of antiquity never came to life. I had started to lose hope that they ever would. Suddenly, in Lalibela, in the middle of nowhere, in the troubled Horn of Africa, I had stumbled upon something that I thought I would never find.

FIGHTS: LAWSON VS. LEWIS

Chess?
I thought it was safer than boxing.

Interesting that a guy who makes his living with his fists could also be so cerebral.
Often, the mark of great champions is their intelligence. Muhammad Ali sometimes managed to win against much more physically imposing people with his ingenuity.

Did you get any prebout tips?
[Former grand master] Nigel Short said that, should Lennox offer a draw in a menacing tone of voice, I should accept.

Did Lennox try to psych you out at all?
He suddenly put on gangsta rap--I think it was Snoop Doggy Dog--extremely loud. At one point, a telephone [rang], which was part of the record. He said to me, "I think that's your phone." Psychological warfare, but by chess standards it wasn't too bad.

Who won?
I won both games.

What advice would you give him?
Get a chess coach, [because] he clearly has ability. Nigel Short said he would have offered to coach Lennox himself, but he's holding out for that other great chess-loving sporting celebrity, Anna Kournikova.

What does it feel like to beat a world champ?
Part of me wanted him to win, because I like the idea of a world boxing champion being very good at chess. On the other hand, I hate to lose.

OLYMPICS 2002

Hokey Hockey

BANKERS

A Meeting of Opposites

It's an odd pairing, but apt. Old Wim and young Rusnak are perfect polar opposites. Consider: in his four years as ECB president, Duisenberg had remarkably little effect on European money markets. He's seldom cut interest rates in order to bolster the euro-zone economy, refusing to follow the example of the U.S. Federal Reserve. He ushered in the euro but he's done almost nothing to help it. (The currency is down 26 percent against the dollar since it was introduced in January 1999.) So averse to risk is Wim that it's no wonder frustrated dealers call him the "Eurogaffeur."

Rusnak, on the other hand, did nothing but take huge risks--and allegedly rack up huge foreign-exchange losses at Allied Irish Banks' U.S. subsidiary, Allfirst. Ireland's largest bank now fears for its survival. Its accumulated losses could reduce its 2001 profits by 596 million. Rusnak's full role is not yet clear, but at least he knows how to make an impact. Unlike good old Wim. Too bad they couldn't have been joined at birth.

ECONOMY

Gold Fever

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