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August 03, 2004

More "Suspicously Timed" Al Qaeda Arrests

Nabs Appear to be "Timed" to Prevent Future Terrorist Attacks; Terry McAuliffe Blasts, "We were counting on successful terrorist attacks for our 'bounce'"

And once again, Democrats are surprised to learn that summer offensives are "timed" to occur in the summer:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistani authorities have arrested two high-ranking al-Qaida terrorists - one with a multimillion-dollar U.S. bounty on his head - in a days-long sweep that has netted at least six suspected militants, officials said Tuesday.

The interior minister said the arrests in eastern Punjab province were a major break just days after intelligence agents arrested Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian wanted for the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.

"In addition to Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, whose bounty was $25 million, we have captured another most wanted suspect with a bounty on him running into the millions of dollars," the minister, Faisal Saleh Hayyat, said.

He said both suspects were of African origin but refused to identify them or their nationalities.

Four Egyptians and a Libyan on the FBI's list of most-wanted terrorists are believed to be in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Each of them has a $5 million bounty on his head in connection with the embassy bombings.

Osama bin Laden's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, is also from Egypt. He and the al-Qaida chief are believed hiding along the Pakistan-Afghan border, far from Punjab province.

Hayyat's announcement followed news that at least six al-Qaida suspects, including a Syrian, have been arrested in separate raids in recent days.

Three of the suspects - two Pakistanis and a foreigner - were arrested on a road near the eastern city of Lahore, and five grenades and two AK-47 rifles were found in their sports utility vehicle, a high-ranking intelligence official told The Associated Press.

Another detainee is a policeman, Raja Waqar, assigned to the office of Punjab province's top politician; he is suspected of passing al-Qaida linked groups information on the whereabouts of top government officials, Lahore police chief Tariq Salim Dogar told The Associated Press.

"The previous record of the policeman shows that he has been involved in jihadi activities and had links with al-Qaida. We have initiated a probe to find out how he managed to get posted to such a sensitive place," Dogar said.

A fifth suspect, arrested Sunday at a bus station in a town near Lahore, identified himself as Juma Ibrahim, a Syrian, said district police chief Aslam Ghauri. He said Ibrahim was turned over to Pakistan's spy agency.

Another man was arrested trying to board a plane in Lahore with questionable documents, said a government official who gave no further details.

It was not immediately clear if any of the six militants described by Pakistani officials included the two senior al-Qaida men that Hayyat said were wanted by the United States.

Several of the detainees were believed to be linked to other al-Qaida suspects in custody, including a computer expert identified as Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan who was arrested July 13.


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