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al-qaeda 2ic captured

  1. demon7

    258 Posts.

    Let the Torture begin~Where's Bin Laden?

    Bush hails al-Qaeda arrest
    March 2 2003

    US President George W Bush celebrated a major success in the fight against terrorism today with the arrest of the al-Qaeda operative suspected of planning the September 11 attacks.

    "That's fantastic!" the president said early today when his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, delivered the news of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's capture in Pakistan.

    Mohammed was arrested early today in a raid conducted jointly by American and Pakistani officials. It was unclear whether Mohammed had been taken into US custody or where he was being held.

    It was midnight Friday (eastern US time) when CIA Director George Tenet first called Rice, who was staying at Camp David with the president and first lady, to say that authorities were "pretty certain" they had Mohammed and two others, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

    The confirmation came first thing today and Rice called from her cabin to Bush's at the Maryland mountain retreat.

    "It's hard to overstate how significant this is," Fleischer said.

    "It's a wonderful blow to inflict on al-Qaeda."

    Fleischer described Mohammed as a "savvy operational planner" of the terrorist network and a nuts-and-bolts leader.

    Fleischer said Mohammed was one of Osama bin Laden's "most senior and significant lieutenants, a key al-Qaeda planner and the mastermind of the September 11 attacks".

    "The United States commends Pakistani and US authorities on the completion of a successful joint operation, which resulted in the detention of several al-Qaeda operatives, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said in a statement.

    Bush, portrayed as "pumped up" by a senior aide, characterised Mohammed as a "whale" of a get in the hunt for terrorists.

    A White House statement accused Mohammed of masterminding the attacks on Washington and New York and of being "centrally involved" in al-Qaeda plotting since then for attacks inside the United States.

    "This is a great success today, but the war on terrorism goes on tomorrow," said US Central Command spokesman Jim Wilkinson.

    "There's still a lot of work to do."

    Fleischer said it is too early for decisions about how Mohammed's case might be handled and whether he might be the first defendant Bush designates for trial before a military tribunal.

    A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the prospect of holding someone accountable for the September 11 attacks was tantalising, but that the president's priority was first to get as much information from Mohammed as possible about the continuing threat. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is expected to be turned over to US authorities and interrogated in an undisclosed foreign country.

    Although Pakistan's information minister said that Mohammed, captured earlier in a joint Pakistan-CIA operation, would be extradited to the United States, the official told reporters that was not the most likely plan.

    He said the alleged al-Qaeda operative was expected to be handed over to US custody but was "unlikely" to be legally extradited to the United States.

    Instead, "he will probably go the route of other top al-Qaeda leaders like Abu Zubaida," who was captured in Pakistan and has been interrogated by US authorities at an undisclosed location overseas.

    "There is a difference between US custody and extradition," the official said.

    Extradition is a legal term implying that a suspect would be subject to US laws and protections.

    The Bush administration has made clear its determination after the September 11, 2001, attacks to use extraordinary means if necessary to interrogate and bring to justice alleged "terrorist" suspects.

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