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Homeland Security

VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-324439 CQ Pak al-Qaida (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=05/05/05

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=CQ PAKISTAN / AL-QAIDA (L ONLY)

NUMBER=2-324439

BYLINE=BENJAMIN SAND

DATELINE=ISLAMABAD

CONTENT=

///// DUE TO NEW INFO DELETES SECOND SENTENCE FROM TEXT GRAF 5 OF CR2-324433. /////

HEADLINE: Arrest of Suspected Terrorist in Pakistan Could Yield Information on al-Qaida

INTRO: The arrest of a man thought to be the number-three leader of the al-Qaida network may give Pakistani and U.S. investigators key information about the terror group, but so far there is no indication they are any closer to the capture of its leader, Osama bin Laden. VOA's Benjamin Sand reports from Islamabad.

TEXT: Pakistani officials say this week's arrest of Abu Faraj al-Libbi is a breakthrough for the country's campaign against the terror group, al-Qaida.

The Libyan is considered a key link between al-Qaida and domestic extremists who oppose Pakistan's support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

An independent political analyst in Pakistan Ayaz Amir, says the alleged number-three al-Qaida leader could help Pakistan's security forces penetrate the local terrorist networks.

/// AMIR ACT ///

"One would presume that he would have vital information, things like safe houses, other agents, communications."

/// END ACT ///

Since his arrest earlier this week, security forces have arrested about two-dozen terrorist suspects across Pakistan.

He is accused of having a role in two assassination attempts on Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, in 2003. He allegedly was once Osama bin Laden's personal assistant and recently emerged as a top commander for al-Qaida's global operations.

President Bush hailed his arrest and praised Pakistan's counter-terrorism operations.

But experts here are downplaying expectations that al- Libbi's capture will lead to bin Laden's arrest. Washington and its allies has been hunting bin Laden since the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the United States carried out by al-Qaida. He evaded capture after the U.S. military invaded Afghanistan, where he was based, and has since managed to elude U.S., Pakistani, and Afghan troops.

Security experts say the hunt for bin Laden has weakened the ability of al-Qaida leaders to communicate with each other. Analyst Ayaz Amir says it is unlikely al-Libbi was able to maintain close links with al-Qaida's top leaders.

/// AMIR ACT ///

"I doubt if there would be a secure communication link between al-Libbi and Osama bin Laden. I cannot imagine electronic communications between them, given the American capability to intercept all communications."

/// END ACT ///

Pakistan's military says al-Qaida's network in the country has been dismantled and its leaders isolated.

Since 2001, more than 500 suspected terrorists and their supporters have been captured in Pakistan, including some of Osama bin Laden's top advisors. (SIGNED)

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