US officials took custody in Pakistan of a man described as prime suspect in September 11 attacks.
Ramzi bin al-Shiba, a suspected planner of the attacks and one of the world's most wanted men, was arrested in Pakistan after a fierce gun fight and turned over to US custody, US government sources said Friday.
Bin al-Shiba, a Yemeni, was captured in Karachi on Wednesday by Pakistani authorities accompanied by FBI agents. He was detained during a raid in which at least two people were killed and several others arrested, the same sources said.
In Pakistan, authorities said they were aided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in tracking bin al-Shiba by tracing satellite phone calls. Pakistan Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider said bin al-Shiba was the second suspected senior member of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network to be arrested in Karachi this week, although he did not name the other suspect, AFP reported.
The ministry said in a statement that a total of 12 foreigners were detained following two raids. "Two out of those arrested are suspected to be high-level al-Qaeda men and their identity is being confirmed," it said.
Bin al-Shiba was being held by US authorities in an undisclosed location, according to US sources. But Haider said bin al-Shiba and the other detainees were still in Pakistan.
Arab satellite television network Al-Jazeera recently quoted bin al-Shiba as saying he was active al-Qaeda planner of the September 11 attacks on the United States.
U.S. officials have said the Yemeni national, who was refused a visa into the United States at least four times before September 11, 2001, wanted to join the 19 hijackers involved in last year's attack.
U.S. President Bush praised the capture and vowed to hunt down other suspects still at large. "Thanks to the efforts of our folks and people in Pakistan, we captured one of the planners and organizers of the September 11 attack that murdered thousands of people..." Bush said.
"One by one, we're hunting the killers down. We are relentless, we are strong, and we're not going to stop," he told reporters at Camp David. (Albawaba.com)
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