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American Forces Press Service

Bush Lauds Pakistan for Capture of Top al Qaeda General

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2005 – Calling it "a critical victory in the war on terror," President Bush today praised the Pakistani government for capturing Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the No. 3 man in Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network.

"Al-Libbi was a top general for bin Laden," Bush said, before beginning a Social Security address to the Latino Coalition Conference here. "He was a major facilitator and a chief planner for the al Qaeda network. His arrest removes a dangerous enemy who was a direct threat to America and for those who love freedom."

A Libyan, Libbi is believed to have been behind two attempts on the life of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and numerous news reports -- citing intelligence sources -- say he was in charge of al Qaeda "sleeper cells" in the United States and Great Britain. "I applaud the Pakistani government for their strong cooperation in the war on terror," Bush said. "I applaud the Pakistani government and President Musharraf for acting on solid intelligence to bring this man to justice. The fight continues. We'll stay on the offensive until al Qaeda is defeated."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking at a news conference here with visiting Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, also commented on Libbi's capture.

"I think that over the next couple of days, we will be able to describe that this is a truly significant arrest," the secretary said, noting his lofty status in bin Laden's organization. America's top diplomat joined the president in praising Pakistan.

"The Pakistanis are to be congratulated for the hard work that they did," Rice said. "Of course, we've been cooperating with them, but the Pakistanis, as we've been saying, have been really stalwart in the war on terrorism. They've been fighting in parts of Pakistan that have not been even open to Pakistani forces for a very long time. And so this is a great victory for them. It's a great victory in the war on terrorism."

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