Senior al Qaeda Member - Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi - Arrested, While Zaeef in Custody; Mullah Omar Escapes on Motorcycle

Published January 6th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

A senior paramilitary trainer for Osama Bin Laden’s network al Qaeda is in the hands of U.S. troops, who are holding him in isolation at the prison at Kandahar airport in Afghanistan. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the most prominent member of al Qaeda captured since the outset of the war in Afghanistan, was detained and handed over to U.S. forces by Pakistani soldiers during last Friday. 

 

Al-Libi was one of 12 al Qaeda members on the list of individuals and organizations whose assets were frozen by the U.S. president George W. Bush on September 26, 2001 two weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. 

 

U.S. military sources believe the capture of al-Libi deprives al Qaeda of one of its most important figures and represents a potential boon of intelligence as the Pentagon seeks additional data on the possible location of other top al Qaeda activists, including Osama Bin Laden himself.  

 

Former Taliban Ambassador Detained 

 

Meanwhile, U.S. defense sources have reported a deal with Pakistan to turn over to U.S. control the Taliban's former ambassador to Islamabad, Abdul Salam Zaeef. "The arrangements are being made now as to where, when and how he will be taken into custody, but the basic deal is done," a senior defense official told the Washington Post.  

 

Zaeef, a bespectacled 34-year-old ethnic Pashtun who had sought political asylum in Pakistan after that state cut diplomatic relations with the Taliban movement, was deported back to his home country and instantly detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. 

 

Location of Mullah Omar 

 

In a related development, U.S. forces and their local allies are still looking for Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar. The search is concentrated in the area around Baghran, north of Kandahar. CNN reported that Omar had apparently slipped away from an attempt to locate and capture him on Friday. According to another report from Kandahar, Omar escaped on motorcycle as anti-Taliban forces closed in on a mountainous region in southern Afghanistan where he was believed hiding. 

 

Mullah Omar, 42, imposed his uncompromising brand of Islam on Afghanistan for five years and protected the Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden. But support for his Taliban regime evaporated under massive American air bombardments and he has been a fugitive for the past several weeks. (Albawaba.com) 

 

© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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