Two Qaeda men arrested in Quetta
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani security forces have arrested two “important” Al Qaeda operatives –Egyptian Abdul Sattar Sharif ul Misri and a Saudi national Abdul Hakeem, officials said on Wednesday.
The pair was arrested in the southwestern city of Quetta on Monday, intelligence officials said. State-run Pakistan Television said they were found with explosives.
“These are important people,” Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, information minister in Pakistan’s outgoing cabinet, told Reuters, adding that Misri had a price on his head.
He did not say who had offered the reward for the capture of Misri, who is not among the American Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most wanted terrorists.
An intelligence official in Quetta said the two were captured in a rented mud house in a poor neighbourhood of Quetta, where many Afghan refugees also live. The owner of the house was an Afghan who was not present.
Another official said that Hakeem was in his early 20s while Misri was in his 40s and that both had been moved to Islamabad for further interrogation.
Misri was the third Egyptian Al Qaeda suspect Pakistani officials say they have arrested in recent weeks, but the organisation’s top Egyptian member, Osama Bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al Zawahri, has remained as elusive as his boss.
Security forces in Pakistan have arrested more than 70 men linked to Al Qaeda as part of a major crackdown since July.
Pakistan’s crackdown, including raids on mosques and Islamic schools, followed the arrest of computer expert Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, who officials say has provided crucial information about Al Qaeda operatives and the organisation’s plans to launch attacks in Britain and the US.
On Tuesday, security forces arrested another Al Qaeda suspect at a religious school run by a senior religious politician currently visiting India, officials at the school said.
Hafiz Abdul Khaliq was detained by police at the Matla-ul-Uloom-ul-Arabiyya school in Quetta. The school is run by Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, deputy parliamentary leader of Pakistan’s main Islamic bloc, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), who was visiting India with a parliamentary delegation at the time of the raid.
“They searched our madrassa and arrested our guest, Hafiz Abdul Khaliq, on suspicion of links with Al Qaeda,” Ahmed’s son, Hafiz Munir Ahmed, told Reuters.
Officials could not be reached to comment on this arrest. Last month the government also published photos of six “most wanted terrorists” and offered rewards totaling US$ 1.1 million for information leading to their capture. They include Egyptian Abu Faraj Farj Al-Libbi, alleged mastermind of two failed attempts on the life of President Pervez Musharraf last December. agencies