CIA launches recruitment drive on internet and TV

The Central Intelligence Agency is attempting to recruit more spies by advertising on the internet, radio, and television, and holding meetings with American Muslims to make up for a severe shortage of Arabic speakers.

Leon Panetta, the new CIA director, will meet with Muslim groups in cities such as Detroit to spearhead the new drive to recruit more Arabic speakers and Muslims. Urdu and Pashtu speakers are also among those being sought in the continuation of an anti-terror initiative launched by former U.S. president George W. Bush.

“We want to emphasize to those communities that we welcome first-generation Americans to apply. They bring critical language skills and a knowledge of culture to support our intelligence mission.” Earlier this month Scott White, third in command at the CIA, held meetings with Arab-American and Chaldean-American representatives in Detroit, which has heavily populated American Muslim suburbs. He told the groups that he would bring Mr. Panetta to a future meeting.

Crackdown on ‘suicide websites’

The law on “suicide websites” is to be rewritten to ensure people know they are illegal, the government has said. It follows concerns people searching for information on suicide are more likely to find sites encouraging the act than offering support. It is illegal under the 1961 Suicide Act to promote suicide, but no website operator has been prosecuted. The law will be amended to make clear it applies online and to help service providers police the sites they host. Justice Minister Maria Eagle said there was no “magic solution” to protecting vulnerable people online. In April, the British Medical Journal reported on a study in which researchers used four search engines to look for suicide-related sites. The three most frequently occurring sites were all pro-suicide, prompting researchers to call for anti-suicide web pages to be prioritised. An outright ban on suicide sites would have been unworkable, according to the Samaritans.

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Spain arrests two on militant recruitment suspicion

Police in Barcelona arrested two people on Tuesday on suspicion of recruiting Muslims to fight for militant groups, news agency EFE reported. The report said they were not connected to 11 other Islamist militants who a Spanish court charged on Thursday with offences related to suicide bomb plots in the Spanish city and Germany. The identity or nationality of those arrested in the Raval district of the city was not known, EFE said. The operation was continuing, it said. Officials at the Interior Ministry were not immediately available for comment. Ben Harding and Elizabeth Piper report.

Seven in French Custody for Suspected Ties with Radical Islamists

Five suspected radical Islamists who allegedly trained in hopes of joining the Iraqi insurgency were held for questioning in southern France. Seven other men went on trial in Paris on Wednesday suspected of involvement in an al-Qaeda recruitment network also aimed at Iraq. Seven people were taken into custody in the cities of Toulouse, Montpellier and Carcassonne; two of those picked up were subsequently released. Police have alleged that some French youths with North African-roots may be traveling to Iraq via Algeria and Morocco.

Suicide bomber recruitment trial starts in Belgium

Six men are accused of operating a network to recruit people in Belgium, to join an Islamic militant group. Among the recruitments was a female convert to Islam, who carried out a suicide attack in Iraq near a U.S. patrol in November 2005. The trial, which began Monday in Brussels, takes place amid rising fears of Islamic militant ties within Belgium.