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 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 22:19 GMT
Militant 'planned attacks' in Gulf
USS Cole following attack in Yemen
Nashiri is blamed for the USS Cole attack in 2000
A man suspected of being al-Qaeda's leader in the Gulf was plotting to attack "vital economic targets," officials in the United Arab Emirates have said.

UAE has said that Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was arrested before he could carry out his plans.

Al-Nashiri was planning to blow up several vital economic targets in the UAE

unnamed UAE official
Mr al-Nashiri - one of the top al-Qaeda suspects sought by the United States - is accused of involvement in the bombing of a US warship in Yemen and attacks on two US embassies in east Africa.

The UAE was confirming for the first time that its authorities had arrested Mr al-Nashiri in October and handed him over to the United States.

In November, the United States announced that it was interrogating Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri after his detention in an undisclosed foreign state.

'Mastermind'

"Prior to his arrest, al-Nashiri was planning to blow up several vital economic targets in the UAE with the purpose of causing a large number of human casualties among UAE citizens and expatriates and heavy material losses," said the official source, quoted by the WAM news agency.

"When he found difficulty in implementing his terrorist plans, he searched for other targets but we stopped him before he could carry out his new plans," the source said.

Captured al-Qaeda suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri
Nashiri allegedly headed al-Qaeda in the Gulf
The official added that Mr al-Nashiri had been carrying "several" passports and identity cards when he was arrested.

UAE media did not say where the suspect had been held since his transfer to the US authorities.

Mr Nashiri is alleged to have headed al-Qaeda's maritime operations.

According to WAM, Mr Nashiri was involved in the attack on the French oil tanker Limburg in the Gulf in October.

US officials also suspect him of:

  • masterminding the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden, in which 17 sailors died
  • playing a part in the bomb attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 231 people in 1998
  • plotting to attack US and British warships in the Straits of Gibraltar.

US officials said Mr Nashiri gave telephone orders to the bombers of the USS Cole from the UAE and may have given them money.

"He has a reputation as a ruthless operator," said one US official. "He is a very committed follower of [al-Qaeda founder] Osama Bin Laden."

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.


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19 Dec 02 | South Asia
19 Dec 02 | South Asia
02 Nov 02 | Country profiles
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