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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 16:43 GMT
Prominent al-Qaeda member captured
Northern Alliance soldiers
Addel Rahman is in the custody of the Northern Alliance
A spokesman for the American-led coalition has confirmed that a high-profile member of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network has been captured in Afghanistan by Northern Alliance forces.

Coalition spokesman Kenton Keith said Ahmed Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian, was currently being held at an undisclosed location and would be handed over to the coalition shortly.

Mr Rahman, aged 35, is the son of the Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, who is currently in jail in the United States for the bombing of the World Trade Centre in 1993.

Omar Abdel Rahman
His father is serving a life sentence
According to Mr Keith, Ahmed Abdel Rahman is involved with the training of al-Qaeda and international terrorist group members and closely linked to Bin Laden himself.

However, correspondents say his importance is largely symbolic, and comes from his father's position as a leading Egyptian Islamist.

Military tribunal

Earlier the American vice president, Dick Cheney, suggested earlier that Mr Rahman could become one of the first people to be tried by the special military tribunals set up to try non-Americans accused of involvement in the 11 September attacks.

Mr Rahman's capture is the first confirmed arrest of a top al-Qaeda member.

Sources say that he is a popular figure within al-Qaeda and that he has been widely used in promotional pictures for the organisation, showcasing his work and that of his father.

"This is a significant catch," an unidentified senior US administration official said. "He is a known terrorist, a member of the top al-Qaeda hierarchy."

Training camps

Osama Bin Laden
He is closely linked to Osama Bin Laden

According to administration officials Mr Rahman has spent many years in training camps in Afghanistan, where he became part of Bin Laden's inner circle.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Mr Rahman and his brother Muhammad had been dropped off in Afghanistan by their father in 1990, shortly after they completed junior high school.

Influential figure

Mr Rahman's father, known as "the Blind Sheik", remains a very influential figure in Egypt's Jihad movement, despite currently serving a life sentence in the US.

Sources say that Mr Rahman spent many years trying to figure out a way to get his father released from prison, but to no avail.

Now Mr Rahman too could be facing imprisonment if he is indeed put before the kind of military tribunal that the Bush has suggested terrorists involved in the 11 September attacks should face.

"This is exactly the kind of individual the military tribunal was created for," one Bush administration official said.

See also:

30 Nov 01 | South Asia
Noose tightens on Kandahar
29 Nov 01 | South Asia
Q&A: Afghan talks progress
30 Nov 01 | South Asia
Leading Pashtun quits Afghan talks
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