Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was arrested Saturday in Pakistan, a senior official told The Associated Press.
Mohammed was among three people arrested at their hideout in Rawalpindi, near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, the official said on condition of anonymity.
U.S. officials have described Mohammed as a key al-Qaida lieutenant and the organizer of the terror mission that sent hijacked passenger jets crashing into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, killing more than 3,000 people.
U.S. intelligence operatives and Pakistani authorities captured Mohammed in a joint operation.
Mohammed, 37, has not been charged in the Sept. 11 attacks, but he has been charged in a 1995 terror plot. He is one of the FBI's most-wanted terror suspects, and the U.S. government was offering up to $25 million for information leading to his capture.
Born in Kuwait, Mohammed is the uncle of convicted 1993 World Trade Center conspirator Ramzi Yousef, a senior Kuwaiti official told reporters Monday. Mohammed's older brother also is a member of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network and another brother died in Pakistan when a bomb he was making exploded.
A second man arrested in Saturday's raid in Rawalpindi was also of Middle Eastern origin but has not been identified. A Pakistani who was also arrested has been identified as Abdul Qadoos.
Interior Ministry spokesman Iftikar Ahmad said Qadoos was linked to a terrorist organization but refused to identify it. He said that Qadoos had received training in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani religious group Jamaat-e-Islami said Qadoos is a member but has no links to al-Qaida or any other terrorist group.
At a news conference in Rawalpindi Saturday, two local leaders of the group said the FBI conducted the raid and carried out the arrest.
A spokesman at the U.S. Embassy said that he didn't know whether the FBI was involved but said "we do have excellent cooperation with the Pakistanis.
"We provide technical assistance and but they conduct their own arrests."
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said a small number of FBI agents are in Pakistan but only to provide intelligence on al-Qaida or Taliban fugitives from neighboring Afghanistan.
However, Pakistani police and intelligence officials say FBI agents have been involved in nearly every important terror arrest in Pakistan.
The Pakistani government says it has handed over more than 420 al-Qaida and Taliban suspects to U.S. custody.
photo credit and caption:
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is shown in these undated FBI handout photos. Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States, was arrested Saturday, March 1, 2003, in Pakistan, a senior Pakistan government source told The Associated Press.(AP Photo/FBI)
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