FAISALABAD, Nov 18: Osama Nazir, one of the alleged masterminds of attempts on the lives of President Gen Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, was picked up from a local madressah on Wednesday night.

Sources said the arrest was made when personnel of an intelligence agency and the Elite Force and police commandos raided the Madressah Fatehul Quran Al Arabia, adjacent to the Jamia Masjid Zikriya, in Civil Lines.

The raiding party searched all rooms of the madressah and mosque compounds and took into custody belongings of some students.

The team arrested Osama Nazir, a top ranking militant of the banned outfit Jaish-i-Mohammad, who carried a reward of one million rupees on his head. The team also recovered cell phones, computer disks, some documents and other material related to the jihadi organization and terrorist networks.

The sources said Osama Nazir was the second-in-command of Jaish-i-Mohammad and was a close associate of Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar.

He had direct links with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. He had visited Afghanistan on various occasions, especially during the Taliban regime, and Kashmir.

The sources claimed that Osama Nazir had been residing in the mosque in the vicinity of Civil Lines Police Station for almost a fortnight using a fake name. He was also allegedly involved in attacks on churches in 2002 and 2003 in different parts of the country.

No government official or senior police officer was ready to comment on the arrest. However, one police officer on condition of anonymity confirmed the arrest, saying that 'secret agency personnel' had conducted the entire operation and police just assisted them. The man was taken to some unknown location for interrogation.

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