Pakistan Arrests Alleged 9/11 Mastermind


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was arrested Saturday in Pakistan, a senior official told The Associated Press.

Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said Mohammed was one of three men arrested in a 3 a.m. raid in Rawalpindi, a city near Islamabad.

A U.S. official said both U.S. and Pakistani agents were involved in the operation.

Mohammed, 37, is one of the FBI's most-wanted terror suspects, and the U.S. government had offered up to $25 million for information leading to his capture.

U.S. officials have described him 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.

Mohammed, a Kuwait-born Pakistani national, has been linked to last April's bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia. At least 19 tourists, mostly Germans, were killed.

He has also been charged in connection with plots in the Philippines to bomb trans-Pacific airliners and crash a plane into CIA headquarters. Those were broken up in 1995.

Mohammed is the uncle of convicted 1993 World Trade Center conspirator Ramzi Yousef, a senior Kuwaiti official has said.

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.

Another man of Middle Eastern origin was arrested in Saturday's raid but has not been identified. The third man was a Pakistani, identified as Abdul Qadoos.

Interior Ministry spokesman Iftikar Ahmad said Qadoos was linked to a terrorist organization but refused to identify it. He added that Qadoos had trained in Afghanistan.

A Pakistani religious group said Qadoos has no links to al-Qaida or any other terrorist group. Qadoos is a member of the group, Jamaat-e-Islami.

At a news conference in Rawalpindi Saturday, two local leaders of the group said the FBI conducted the raid and carried out the arrest.

In Washington, the FBI refused to confirm Mohammed was arrested or say whether the bureau was involved.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has said a small number of FBI agents are in Pakistan but only to provide intelligence on al-Qaida or Taliban fugitives from neighbouring 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.

-- AP correspondent Paul Haven contributed to this report

03/01/03 15:19 EST