Pakistan police to seek terror charges for US suspects

AFP , LAHORE

Sat, Jan 02, 2010 - Page 4

Pakistan police said on Thursday they would seek terror charges and life imprisonment for five Americans accused of coming to the country to carry out attacks.

A Pakistani court last Friday remanded the five Americans in custody for another 10 days after police sought more time to complete their investigations.

The men were arrested in the town of Sargodha last month on suspicion of trying to contact al-Qaeda-linked groups and engage in militant activities, possibly in the northwest.

“Our investigation is complete and we will request the court during the next hearing to put the five men on trial under the anti-terrorism act and hand them down life imprisonment,” senior police official Tahir Gujjar said.

He said that the five men, who had recently been taken to the city of Lahore, were brought back to Sargodha on Thursday to complete the investigation process.

‘ACTS OF TERROR’

“It has now been established that the five men had contacts with militants, some of them foreigners, in South Waziristan, and they had come to Pakistan to carry out acts of terror,” Gujjar said.

Gujjar said police would submit evidence against the five Americans on Monday, the next scheduled court hearing.

The men, who are all US citizens with dual nationality including two Pakistani-Americans, have also been questioned by the FBI.

Police had earlier said they were looking for a man the suspects had contacted and who was believed to have links with al-Qaeda.

Another senior police official in Sargodha, Usman Anwar, confirmed that the police had ended their investigation.

“Police will not seek further custody of the boys and on the date of the next hearing they will be sent to jail,” Anwar said.

LINKS

Police had earlier said they were looking for a man the suspects had contacted and who was believed to have links with al-Qaeda.

Senior police official Haseeb Shah said last week that in a message saved in a common e-mail account, the man mentioned the name of a Pakistani nuclear plant.

“We hope that the evidence found from their laptops could lead to the breaking up of a terrorist network,” Shah said.

There has been concern in the US that extremists within Pakistan might try to take control of nuclear assets or attack atomic facilities, despite insistence from Western officials that the assets are safe.

A Pakistani court on Dec. 17 ordered that the five suspects cannot be deported without its permission.