FBI questioning Al Qaeda men

Published April 1, 2002

ISLAMABAD, March 31: Pakistan investigators assisted by FBI agents have begun interrogating suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban members arrested during raids involving US law-enforcement officers last week, a senior official said on Sunday.

“The interrogation process has begun. It is being carried out by our own intelligence agencies,” senior Interior Ministry official Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema told AFP.

US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents were collaborating with Pakistan intelligence officers to establish the identities of the detained foreigners, he said.

“We keep sharing information with the FBI agents.”

Some 60 people, including 29 mostly Arab and Afghan militants linked to the Al Qaeda network of suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, were arrested in the raids, Cheema said.

Nearly 20 US law-enforcement agents supervised the lightning raids overnight on Wednesday in Faisalabad, 270 kilometres south of Islamabad, police sources said on Friday.

Later raids were carried out in Lahore.

“The Americans were armed and masked. They did not go inside the houses but stood outside,” a police source said.

Cheema said the operation was conducted by local police on the basis of intelligence provided by US officials.

The police sources have said the detained foreigners have been shifted under tight security to police facilities in Lahore for questioning.

Cheema said investigators were trying to establish whether Abu Zubaydah, a key deputy of bin Laden, was among those arrested.

“I am not very positive. It is very difficult to confirm at this stage,” he said.

“We are waiting for reports from investigators. If we get something in black and white, only then we can confirm.”

US General Tommy Franks said on Friday that the raids had involved US and Pakistan police and that US forces provided intelligence. He stressed that no US troops had been involved in the actual raids.

“We have not, up to this point, asked to be able to conduct joint operations in Pakistan,” Franks told reporters in Washington.—AFP

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