- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Pakistan has handed over to U.S. authorities about 20 Arabs arrested last week in raids on suspected al Qaeda hide-outs, a senior intelligence official said yesterday.
Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official confirmed that a man captured in the raids and believed to be a key deputy of Osama bin Laden is in U.S. custody.
"It appears that he is Abu Zubaydah, but we are not 100 percent certain of that at this point," said the official, quoted by Agence France-Presse, on the condition of anonymity.
Intelligence sources said Zubaydah had taken effective control of al Qaeda after the collapse of Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani intelligence official, who asked not to be named, said that the Arabs would be flown to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners are detained.
The prisoners were believed to have been sent to the Jacobabad air base in southern Sindh province, which is being used by the U.S. military for its campaign in Afghanistan.
The Arabs were among 60 persons arrested in raids on Thursday in the cities of Faisalabad and Lahore. Agents seized weapons, laptop computers and other documents. One suspect was killed and five persons, including a policeman, were wounded.
The intelligence official said authorities discovered the location of the hide-outs after interrogating seven people Pakistanis, Ugandans, Sudanese and Mauritanians who were arrested last month along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The capture of Zubaydah would be a severe blow to al Qaeda because of his detailed knowledge of the worldwide network and his personal ties to key members of the organization.


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