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May 3, 2011

Top al-Qaeda leaders captured or killed on Pakistani soil

Top Story

May 3, 2011

LAHORE: Following the killing of Osama bin Laden in the picturesque town of Abbottabad, Pakistan has again come to international limelight for all the bad reasons as history shows that till date, nearly a dozen of al-Qaeda’s most important leaders have either been arrested alive or have been killed in this part of the globe since the 9/11 episode.
A list of eminent al-Qaeda leaders arrested in Pakistan shows that on March 2 2002, less than six months after the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centre were allegedly rocked by this infamous organization, its then operational chief called Abu Zubaidah was apprehended in the industrial town of Faisalabad.
Born in 1971, the Saudi Arabia-born Palestinian Abu Zubaidah has been held by the American investigative agencies at the notorious Guantanamo Bay in Cuba since September 2006.
Also known as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husain and Abd Al-Hadi Al-Wahab, Abu Zubaidah was sentenced to death in absentia by a Jordanian court for his role in a thwarted plot to bomb the local hotels during millennium celebrations. There were reports in recent years that the United States government believed Abu Zubaidah was neither a member of al-Qaeda nor was he involved in the terrorist activities, for which he was subjected to some of the most inhuman torture techniques like water boarding since his arrest. On September 15 2002 another important al-Qaeda operative called Ramzi Binalshibh was arrested in Karachi and handed over to the FBI.
On March 1 2003 Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was arrested in Rawalpindi and also handed over to the FBI. A Pakistani by origin, Khalid had grown up in Kuwait.
Besides having masterminded the 9/11 attacks on the US, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad is also known to have beheaded the Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi in February 2002.
On March 16 2003 a high value al-Qaeda target named Yassir al-Jaziri was arrested in Lahore along with three other accomplices. His capture had resulted

after information was extracted from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He was then described as the seventh most important al-Qaeda member.
British Daily “The Sunday Mirror” described Yassir as “Osama’s moneyman” and a “computer wizard” who was captured with two laptops. In April 2003, Khalid bin Attash or Walid bin Attish, the man believed to have been a prime suspect in the case relating to the October 2000 attack on the American naval ship “USS Cole” at Aden, was seized in Karachi. He too was handed over to the US authorities for further probe.
In August 2009, another al-Qaeda strong man, Tohir Yuldashev, was killed in a US predator air strike, shortly after Baitullah Mehsud’s death.
Yuldashev, an Uzbek by origin, had reportedly lost a leg and arm in the drone missile strike on August 27 2009 and was rushed to a hospital in Zhob (Balochistan), where he had later succumbed to his injuries.
On July 30, 2004 after a 14-hour long encounter, a Tanzanian national and a wanted al-Qaeda commander Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was arrested from the city of Gujrat to the sheer delight of the American leadership.
Wanted by the US for his involvement in the explosions outside the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, Khalfan Ghailani had reportedly escaped to Pakistan immediately after the 1998 explosions. In August 2004 an al-Qaeda computer wizard known as Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan was arrested in Lahore. He was believed to have had extensive links with Khalfan Ghailani, who was arrested just days before him.
On May 2, 2005 another senior al-Qaeda stalwart Abu Faraj al-Libi or Mustafa al-Uzayti was arrested by the Pakistani sensitive agencies in Mardan, a town near Peshawar. He is now in American military custody at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, having previously been held at some secret location.
A Libyan by origin, Libi was believed to be an al-Qaeda’s number three at the time of his arrest and the head of the organization’s network functional in Pakistan. In May 2006, credible US wire agency Associated Press had revealed that a man called Mustafa Setmarian Nasar was captured in a sting operation carried out in the city of Quetta.
Quoting a US law enforcement official, the Associated Press had then reported that the dual Syrian-Spanish national was carrying a head money of $5 million.
Nasar was reportedly captured in late October 2005. He was wanted in Spain in connection with the 2004 Madrid train bombings. Nasar was initially mentioned by British media as a possible suspected planner in the July 7, 2005 London bombings. On January 29, 2008 Abu Laith al-Libi, a top aL-Qaeda commander and a trusted lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, was killed by a US missile in Waziristan.
An expert in guerilla warfare, Abu Laith al-Libi was a senior leader of the al-Qaeda movement in Afghanistan, who had appeared in various videos. He had also served as an al-Qaeda spokesman for some time.

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