- The Washington Times - Friday, December 20, 2002

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) Police arrested nine men believed to be al Qaeda operatives, including two Americans and a Canadian, in a joint raid with FBI agents in this eastern Pakistani city yesterday.

All nine were of Pakistani origin and belonged to the same family.

In Karachi, a clandestine bomb factory used by Islamic militants exploded yesterday, killing at least five terrorism suspects including one linked to the slaying of American reporter Daniel Pearl and the deadly bombing of a U.S. Consulate.

Pakistani television reported an exchange of gunfire during the raid on the Lahore home, after the family's guards apparently opened fire on police. Relatives said FBI officials searched the home for at least two hours and seized four computers and disks.

"We got information about these people, and today the police went there and made these arrests. We can say they are suspected al Qaeda," Pakistani Information Minister Sheik Rashid Ahmed said in a telephone interview.

No injuries were reported in the raid. Mr. Ahmed said some of the nine men arrested are suspected of having smuggled weapons to be used in terrorist attacks.

Those arrested were Dr. Javed Ahmad, a physician; his two sons; two brothers; three nephews; and one uncle. Two of the men were naturalized Americans and one a naturalized Canadian, but there was no immediate information on their names or hometowns.

"Pakistani security agencies accompanied by [FBI agents] arrested our family members like they were criminals," Marghoob Ahmad Mir, Dr. Ahmad's brother-in-law, told a news conference in Lahore.

Dr. Ahmad is a close relative of Hafiz Suleman Butt, a legislator and member of Jamaat-e-Islami, the oldest and best-organized pro-Taliban Islamic party in Pakistan.

Dr. Ahmad's family said he had been to Afghanistan to treat Islamic fighters, but denied he had any links to the Taliban or al Qaeda. Dr. Ahmad lived in the United States from 1972 to 1983.

He is the second Pakistani doctor to be arrested on suspected links to Taliban and al Qaeda fugitives. On Oct. 21, authorities arrested Dr. Amir Aziz, a British-trained orthopedic surgeon, and held him incommunicado for a month.

After he was released, Dr. Aziz said he had treated Osama bin Laden and had seen the al Qaeda leader after the September 11 attacks.

Meanwhile, yesterday's explosion in Karachi reduced the chemical storage warehouse to rubble, and police sifting through the wreckage found high-grade explosives and a rocket-propelled grenade.

The blast ended a months-long manhunt for Asif Ramzi, a suspect in both the Pearl killing and the U.S. Consulate bombing in Karachi that killed 14 persons in June. Pakistani police had offered a $50,000 reward for Ramzi's capture.

His body was found in the warehouse ruins, Deputy Inspector of Police Fiaz Leghari told reporters. The four other bodies had not been identified.

Inside the single-story building, police found 11 pounds of explosives and a grenade of the type used in a failed terror attack last year at the Karachi international airport. They also found 60 sacks of an unidentified white powder, which was submitted for analysis.

Ramzi, believed to be a member of the violent Lashkar-e-Janghvi Islamic group, was wanted for questioning in connection with several incidents, Mr. Leghari said.

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