Saudi, Egyptian Intelligence Officers Questioning Arab al-Qaeda Captives in Pakistan

Published December 31st, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

A group of 139 Arab al-Qaeda prisoners are being interrogated by Saudi Arabian and Egyptian intelligence officers in a prison in the Pakistani city of Kohat, according to reports in the American and Pakistani press. Over the past week, the prisoners have been continuously questioned by American FBI officers and Pakistani officials, in addition to the Arab intelligence officers. Pakistani intelligence sources told the Chicago Tribune that the teams carry out separate questioning, and then pool the results. 


An important question that American interrogators have been trying to get an answer to is the location of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. According to a report in the Washington Post, the prisoners have revealed that they last saw Bin Laden alive and well about Dec. 14, four days before they were captured trying to cross the border from Afghanistan. However, the prisoners have steadfastly refused to reveal where they saw Bin Laden, leaving their captors in the dark in their hunt for “the most wanted man in the world”. 


For the Arab intelligence officers, a key point of interest is the involvement of al-Qaeda in the Arab world. Pakistani officials informed about the interrogations told the Washington Post that Saudi investigators were alarmed to learn from some of the captives that about 2,000 young Saudis have been through al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and are now back in Saudi Arabia. 


The al-Qaeda prisoners were caught by the Pakistani military when they tried to escape the American assault on their bases in Afghanistan by infiltrating into the neighboring country. As they were being moved to the Kohat jail by bus, some of the al-Qaeda men seized the Pakistani guards' weapons and rebelled, leading to a fierce two-day long clash in which several al-Qaeda fighters and Pakistani soldiers found their death. Pakistani daily Dawn revealed that Pakistan is not taking any more chances with their captives - Kohat airbase and the central prison have been cordoned off by commandos of the Pakistani Army’s elite Special Services Group, and security is being personally supervised by the head of the SSG, Brigadier Haroon. (

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