Sat, Nov 05, 2005 - Page 5 News List

One terror suspect killed, another held in Pakistani raid

WANTED MAN?The raid, in one of the country's southern provinces, is believed to have netted one of al-Qaeda's top men, who is also wanted by the US

AP , QUETTA, PAKISTAN

An al-Qaeda suspect was killed and another arrested in Pakistan, and authorities tried to determine on Thursday if the detained man is a Syrian who has a multimillion-dollar bounty on his head and once taught militants at Osama bin Laden's terror camps in Afghanistan.

Intelligence officials said a third man, linked to a Pakistani extremist group, was also captured in Tuesday's raid on a shop that was also the office of an Islamic charity linked to a hardline militant group.

The raid was in Quetta, capital of Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan.

"I can only confirm that there was an encounter, and our security forces arrested one suspected al-Qaeda terrorist while another terrorist was killed," said Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

He said it would "take some time" to confirm their identities.

Authorities were investigating whether one of the suspects is Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, 47, a Syrian native who also holds Spanish citizenship, said a senior government official.

Intelligence officials said that the detained man has been "tightlipped and very uncooperative" during interrogations.

The US Justice Department has offered US$5 million for information leading to Nasar's arrest, describing him as an al-Qaeda member and former trainer at terrorist camps in Afghanistan who helped train extremists in using poisons and chemicals.

The department's Rewards for Justice Web site also says he is probably in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Media reports have linked Nasar, also known as Abu Musab al-Suri, to the Mar. 11, 2004, Madrid bombings that left 191 people dead and more than 1,500 injured, and to this year's July 7 bombings in London that left 56 people dead, including the four bombers.

Police in Madrid said they have no confirmation that the suspect under arrest is Nasar. London's Metropolitan Police and the Home Office could not immediately comment on Britain's interest in Nasar.

Intelligence officials in Quetta said authorities got a tip that al-Qaeda members were visiting the shop, and decided to launch the raid on Tuesday.

Residents in Quetta's Sarki Road neighborhood said they saw Pakistani intelligence agents raiding the shop and dragging some men into a vehicle when gunshots rang out.

A witness, Mohammed Salahuddin, said some passers-by were hit, and one of the arrested men -- whose face had been covered with a black hood by the intelligence agents -- was bleeding.

"I was buying something when security officials suddenly entered the shop and overpowered two or three people. When they were throwing them in two vehicles, I heard gunshots and some passers-by fell down," Salahuddin said. "I don't know who opened the fire."

There was no official confirmation that any passers-by were injured in the raid.

An intelligence official in Quetta said the al-Qaeda suspect who died in the shootout was a Saudi named Sheikh Ali Mohammed al-Salim. The official said al-Salim had been living with Nasar.

He said the third man was a suspected member of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistani Islamic militant group allegedly linked to al-Qaeda.

US Embassy officials said they could not confirm the arrests.

Bari Dad, owner of the property where the raid took place, said he had rented the shop to a man he identified as Abdul Hanan. Dad said Hanan had also used it as an office for the Madina Trust, a Pakistani charity that is linked to Jaish-e-Mohammed.

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