Six Al Qaeda suspects arrested

09 May 2005

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RAWALPINDI, May 8: Security agencies have arrested six people on the basis of information provided by arrested Al Qaeda operative Abu Farraj Al Libbi and one of the detained suspects could be a high-profile personality of the network, sources told Dawn on Sunday.

The identity of the detained people is being kept confidential but it has been learnt that two of them are of Middle Eastern origin and four are from the NWFP and Punjab.

Al Libbi gained prominence after he was named as the mastermind behind assassination attempts on President Gen Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi. Some military personnel were found involved in the attacks.

His capture followed a series of arrests, including that of Mushtaq Ahmad, an air force employee who had been convicted of his role in the bombing of a bridge which collapsed moments after the president’s convoy had crossed it in December 2003 in Rawalpindi.

The crackdown following Al Libbi’s capture prompted speculations in foreign media that the security agencies were hunting Al Qaeda supporters in the armed forces.

A website reported that military officials connected with the Afghan cell during 1996-2001 were prime suspects.

It claimed that Al Libbi was given the assignment to kill President Musharraf because of his proven abilities and connections among Pakistani jihadis and members of the armed forces, some of whom had participated in the two assassination attempts.

Inter-Services Public Relations Director-General Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan rejected the report as baseless.

When his attention was drawn to the involvement of armed forces personnel in the attacks masterminded by Al Libbi, he said the entire network had been smashed and all involved had been arrested. He said that such elements were no more there in the forces.