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October 20, 2004
Pakistan Bags Another One

Pakistani officials confirm that a major al-Qaeda operative was captured in Peshawar a few days ago, Agence France-Presse reports today:

Pakistani security forces arrested an Egyptian Al-Qaeda operative in the northwestern city of Peshawar bordering Afghanistan, a security official said. The official identified the man as Abdul Rehman and said he was on the most wanted list of the US Central Intleligence Agency.

"He is an important Al-Qaeda operative who had been hiding in Pakistan," the official who could not be identified told AFP on Wednesday.

The Pakistanis continue to roll up major AQ players in their country, which indicates that the new democratic movement in Afghanistan ill suits them for continued operations. Reuters describes Rehman as a "communications expert" but not a senior man. However, they report that the Pakistanis also captured a more senior AQ leader, Saleh Nauman, ten days ago while he tried to flee Pakistan. The Pakistanis call Nauman a member of the new leadership in AQ.

The delay in announcing their capture indicates that they may have received some intelligence from one or both. The last time Pakistan captured a communications expert, Naeem Noor Khan, they rolled up a number of AQ cells in the days immediately following his arrest. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, the AP now reports that 1,000 Pakistani troops are assaulting a potential AQ hideout in South Waziristan:

About 1,000 Pakistani soldiers backed by helicopter gunships, mortars and artillery Wednesday pounded a mountainous region near the Afghan border where a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers is believed to be hiding. ...

The assault targeted the village of Spinkai Raghzai in South Waziristan, a tribal region where the Pakistani army has been hunting Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida associates. But the top military commander in the region said Tuesday it was unlikely bin Laden was hiding in the area, as U.S. authorities suspect.

Abdullah Mehsud, a former prisoner at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who was released in March, had been hiding in the area. The one-legged militant, who is Pakistani, is believed responsible for the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers on Oct. 9. Since returning home, he has taken command of militants in South Waziristan and has forged ties with al-Qaida, Pakistani intelligence officials say.

This is another of the Guantanamo Seven who went right back to their terrorism after being released from American custody, thanks to pressure from our European allies and weak-kneed civil libertarians here at home. My guess is that the Pakistanis will be much less likely to give Mehsud a third chance to wreak havoc on civilian populations.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 20, 2004 11:59 AM

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Tracked on October 20, 2004 4:36 PM

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