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Saturday, 14 September, 2002, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Pakistan's al-Qaeda coup
Pakistan police with arrested man
The arrests followed a shoot-out earlier in the week
Zaffar Abbas


The arrest of several al-Qaeda members from Karachi, including Ramzi Binalshibh, is the direct result of high level of co-operation between the American intelligence services and Pakistani authorities.

Computer
US intelligence helped monitor the internet
Pakistani officials say that, since they do not have the proper infrastructure to monitor sophisticated communications between suspected militants, FBI operatives have been involved in the tapping of satellite phones and intercepting internet messages.

The capture of one of Osama bin Laden's key associates, Abu Zubaiyda, in Pakistan earlier this year was the result of this co-operation.

And the latest arrests were also made on a tip-off from the FBI.

Gun battle

Senior Pakistani officials say that, because of this co-ordination, two suspected militants were arrested from Karachi on the night of 9/10 September.

Guard at flats in Karachi
Pakistan 'closing in on remaining al-Qaeda men'
Their interrogation led to a second raid the following day, which resulted in a fierce gun battle between the heavily-armed al-Qaeda men and the Pakistani security forces.

The authorities say eight people were arrested during the second raids, including Ramzi Binalshibh and two women - all of Arab origin.

They are presently being interrogated in Pakistan, and according to a senior official, there is a strong possibility that one of the suspects could be Bin Laden's key media adviser.

It is not clear how many more al-Qaeda members are still in Pakistan, but these arrests have certainly raised the morale of the Pakistani authorities, who believe they are now closing in on the remaining al-Qaeda suspects who might be hiding inside the country.

This will be welcome news for Pakistan's security apparatus, whose reputation has been tarnished by the kidnapping and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl and the attacks on the foreign and Christian targets by local militant groups.

It will also help reinforce the message that President Musharraf wants to give out - that Pakistan will not be a haven for terrorism.


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

28 Aug 02 | South Asia
28 Aug 02 | South Asia
18 Jan 02 | Americas
05 Aug 02 | Islamic world
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