Skip to comments.Pak seeks Al-Qaeda leader among arrested suspects; FBI called in
Posted on 01/19/2004 1:56:22 PM PST by Dog
Pak seeks Al-Qaeda leader among arrested suspects; FBI called in Associated Press Karachi, January 19
Pakistani agents are struggling to determine whether an Al-Qaeda leader is among seven suspected members of the terror group arrested in a weekend raid, and they've called in the FBI to help interrogate them, intelligence officials said on Monday.
Officials said the suspects were two Egyptian and three Afghan men, and two Arab women. They wouldn't identify them further, and there's been no word on whether they were believed to be engaged in an active plot.
They were arrested in a raid on an apartment complex on Sunday, a day after President Gen. Pervez Musharraf renewed Pakistan's vow to fight terrorism. Five grenades, four handguns, ammunition and maps of Pakistan and Afghanistan were seized.
"Photographs of the arrested people have been taken and they are being matched with other pictures of Al-Qaeda suspects," an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity. "We are trying to establish whether any senior Al-Qaeda leader is among these people."
Agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation were set to join Pakistani intelligence officers on Monday or Tuesday in interrogating the suspects, the official said.
US Embassy officials were not immediately available for comment.
The Pakistanis had hoped to arrest a leader of a local Islamic militant organization in the raid on Sunday, but he was not there, the official said.
Posted 1:01 PM by Patrick Belton
THERE SOME QUITE INTERESTING things afoot in Pakistan at the moment. Responding to US concern about madressahs, special groups drawn from the security agencies examined the records of madrassas in Faisalabad, paying particular attention to the names of students and staff, connection with other religious organizations, and sources of funding (raids which drew in turn criticism from the Islamist group Jamiat Ahle-Hadith). This comes on the heels of an International Crisis Group report which is highly critical of Gen Musharraf for not having followed through on his promised steps to stem jihadi ideology in the madressahs and bring them under government-approved curricula while making closer examinations of their funding sources. (ICG's Asia director Robert Templer argues in the report that Musharraf is too dependent upon the political support of the religious parties to have been able to move against the religious schools.)
At the same time, raids against Al Qaeda operatives in Karachi have increased in frequency, while in Peshawar similar crackdowns are being attempted against tribesmen harboring suspected Al Qaeda members. Also in Karachi, the operations chief of the Taliban- and Al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Shamim Ahmed, 25) was arrested today for his role in a bombing last Thursday at the city's Anglican cathedral.
What's really happening there? Stratfor believes that the national government in Islamabad has acquired some new level of support from the sundry tribes, enhancing the government's capability to flush out militant Islamists from tribally-controlled badlands and allowing Musharraf to cooperate with the U.S. while irking a smaller amount of anti-U.S. domestic sentiment through countermilitancy operations prosecuted in middle-class neighborhoods. On the one hand, Al Qaeda seems to be feeling under the gun after the organization posted a bad December - this, according to analysts of the Osama tape released in January. On the other hand, Musharraf also is feeling under the gun, as shown by the obvious penetration by militants of his security apparatus indicated by close knowledge of his movements drawn on in the two recent assassination attempts, while international flows of terrorists into his country continue to be exemplified by foreign-born operatives such as Uyghur separatist Hasan Mahsum and the Chechen-born suicide bomber who attacked Musharraf on Christmas Day. Some argue that precisely by appearing so weak in the face of Islamist opposition and two assassination attempts, Musharraf has gained serious negotiating power with both Washington and New Delhi, neither of which wishes to see him replaced with an Islamist successor. Combined with the possible playing out an end-of-term desire on Vajpayee's part to establish a place for himself in history aided by the current strong position of his popular Bharatiya Janata Party (shored, in turn, by a booming Indian economy), then the potential for amicable progress in Kashmir talks along lines fairly favorable to Pakistan seems increasingly likely, which could weaken Kashmiri radicals and their supporters within the lower levels of the ISI. At the same time, the increasing tempo of crackdowns on Al Qaeda members could indicate that the effect of two assassination attempts perpetrated by Islamists may have been to draw Musharraf more firmly into Washington's orbit, rather than toward the propitiation of his would-be murderers. And that would be good news indeed.
The Afghans with him could be bodyguards.
The officer said that two of the arrested were Yemenis, and three, including a woman, were Afghans. The official also said an Egyptian couple was among the seven. Information about one of the suspects came from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the official said, requesting anonymity. He identified the man wanted abroad as Fazal Mohammad Abdullah al-Misri, who is considered an explosives expert capable of making high-powered bombs. "He could be handed over to his home country," he said without saying what that country was.
Who is Fazal Mohammad Abdullah al-Misri?