ISLAMABAD: Security officials said on Thursday they had arrested a top militant near the Afghan border but not a Pakistani Taliban leader who colleagues had identified last week as a man who once tried to blow up former president Pervez Musharraf.
The officials said on July 15 the military had captured Adnan Rashid, who was accused of trying to kill Gen Musharraf in a 2003 bomb attack and who later escaped from jail.
Some officials hailed the arrest, which followed a shootout, as the first major catch since the army launched an offensive against militants in North Waziristan along the Afghan border last month.
The government and army did not officially confirm the arrest at the time.
Later, various other security officials said it was not Rashid who had been captured but an important Al Qaeda bomb-maker and trainer.
“A high-value target has indeed been arrested but it is not Adnan Rashid,” one of the officials said. “There was a mix-up.” The official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to the media, declined to identify the trainer or give details about him except to say he had extensive experience in training suicide bombers and making bombs.
Two other officials also said Rashid had not been arrested. Rashid is believed to be in his mid-30s and a former Pakistani Air Force officer who tried to become a suicide bomber before he was jailed for the attempt to blow up Mr Musharraf.
He escaped from jail in 2012 along with nearly 400 other militants.
Several Pakistani Taliban leaders also said Rashid had not been captured.
“The news that Adnan Rashid was arrested is completely baseless,” a Taliban leader who identified himself by his first name, Sabir, told Reuters by telephone. “He is free and safe and protected by his 12 suicide-bomber bodyguards who never leave his side. His family is with him.”
Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2014