developments

AL-QAIDA IN IRAQ MEMBER TO GET DEATH

An alleged Al-Qaida in Iraq member should be hanged for his role in the June 2006 kidnapping, torture and execution of two U.S. soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, an Iraqi court decided Tuesday. A third soldier was killed in the gun battle with the terrorists. Ibrahim Karim al-Qaraghuli, 29, was found guilty of the murders by a three-judge panel in Iraq's Central Criminal Court in Baghdad after a three-hour trial. Two others accused of participating in the killings were found not guilty for lack of evidence. Al-Qaraghuli has 30 days to appeal.

AFGHAN COMMANDERS SEEK MORE TROOPS

U.S. commanders in Afghanistan now believe they need about 20,000 additional troops to battle the growing Taliban insurgency, as demands mount for support forces such as helicopter units, intelligence teams and engineers. The troop requests reflect the broader struggles the U.S. military faces in the rugged Afghan terrain. Fighting has intensified, particularly in the country's eastern region, where cross-border infiltration of insurgents from Pakistan is on the rise.

IRAN OPENS BASE ON VITAL WATERWAY

Iran announced Tuesday that it had opened a naval base in the Gulf of Oman to counter any hostile forces -- a clear allusion to U.S. Navy vessels patrolling nearby. The Gulf of Oman is the gateway to the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, vital routes for the area's vast oil supplies.

NEWS SERVICES