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Friday, 22 November, 2002, 10:59 GMT
'Al-Qaeda Gulf chief' held by US
USS Cole following attack in Yemen
Al-Nashiri is accused of the USS Cole attack
A suspected senior al-Qaeda leader who was detained in the past few weeks has been named by US officials as Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri - believed to be leader of the network's operations in the Gulf.

US authorities have been interrogating Mr Nashiri in an undisclosed foreign country, officials said on Thursday.


He has a reputation as a ruthless operator... He is a very committed follower of Osama bin Laden

US official
A week ago US officials said a senior al-Qaeda leader had been caught, but they declined to identify him.

Mr Nashiri is suspected of masterminding the October 2000 attack on the American warship USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden, in which 17 sailors died.

US Homeland Security director Tom Ridge said on Sunday that the prisoner was providing useful information.

String of attacks

US officials say Mr Nashiri gave telephone orders to the bombers of the USS Cole from the United Arab Emirates and may have given them money.

Captured al-Qaeda suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri
Al-Nashiri is alleged to have headed al-Qaeda in the Gulf
"He has a reputation as a ruthless operator," said one US official. "He is a very committed follower of Osama bin Laden."

US authorities have also linked Mr Nashiri to the bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 231 people in 1998.

They go on to claim he was involved in an alleged plot to attack US and British warships in the Straits of Gibraltar.

After the Cole attack, he is said to have travelled to Afghanistan, escaping via Pakistan to Yemen after the US-led invasion that ousted the Taleban.

Successes

Officials have not said where or how Mr Nashiri was captured, but they confirmed that he was held briefly in Afghanistan before being transferred to his current location.

The announcement of Mr Nashiri's capture follows a string of reported successes in the worldwide effort to root out al-Qaeda cadres by the CIA, FBI and US military.

On 3 November, a US-operated unmanned aircraft killed seven occupants of a car being driven in Yemen that were said to include the country's top al-Qaeda operative, Qaed Salim al-Harthi.

September saw the capture in Pakistan of Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged planner of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.

The highest-ranking al-Qaeda suspect in US custody is Abu Zubaydah, the alleged chief co-ordinator of organisation's terrorist cells around the globe.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rob Watson
"The US says it's winning the war on terrorism"
The BBC's Fergal Parkinson
"It's the intelligence he has which is useful"

Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

17 Nov 02 | Middle East
15 Nov 02 | Americas
18 Nov 02 | Middle East
29 May 01 | Africa
14 Dec 00 | Middle East
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