14 Sep 2002

Tongan registered ship carried Pakistani group said to be members of al Qaeda

9:24 am on 14 September 2002

Tong's controversial ship registry has been involved in a second incident involving alleged terrorist activities.

Yesterday, Italian police said that a group of Pakistani men arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit terror acts, had arrived in Sicily on a Tongan-registered ship

The police say the fifteen men are believed to be members of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

Earlier this year another Tonga-registered vessel carrying 50 tonnes of weapons that Israel said were en route to the Palestinian Authority was boarded by Israeli commandos in the Red Sea.

In June this year, the Tongan government announced that the registry was to be closed.

The chairman of a government committee said the government had acted because it was concerned about damage to the Kingdom's reputation.

There has so far been no government reaction to the latest incident.

They've been charged with conspiracy to commit terror acts.

and charged with a