Pakistan has informed US-led coalition forces that an al-Qaeda kingpin linked to an alleged plot to blow up airliners is based in eastern Afghanistan, security officials said yesterday.
The senior Pakistani officials said the unnamed al-Qaeda member was based in Afghanistan's volatile eastern province of Kunar, which borders Pakistan's militant-infested northwestern tribal areas.
The information came from the interrogation of Rashid Rauf, a Briton whose arrest by Pakistani agents early this month allegedly led to the uncovering of the plot to bomb US-bound planes, the officials said.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not identify the militant but said he was on the level below the terror network's chief Osama bin Laden and deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.
When asked if the US-led forces stationed in Afghanistan were chasing the individual, one of the senior officials said: "Obviously we are working very closely, and cooperation among the coalition partners is excellent."
He would not divulge if there had been any progress in the hunt.
Meanwhile, UK police searching woodland for clues in an alleged plot to bomb trans-Atlantic passenger jets found a suitcase containing components for a homemade bomb, the BBC reported on Thursday.
The BBC quoted an anonymous police official as saying a suitcase holding "everything you would need to make an improvised de-vice'' had been uncovered in a stretch of woodland in High Wycombe, 45km northwest of London.
The wood is near the home of one of two dozen suspects arrested on Aug. 10 in connection with the foiled bomb plot.
The Metropolitan Police refused to comment on the BBC report, saying it could not discuss anything found during the ongoing searches, which reportedly have uncovered firearms and other items of interest.