- The Washington Times - Monday, March 3, 2003

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan The stunning arrest of reputed September 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed by Pakistani intelligence and CIA agents began with a near miss last month in a dusty border town and became a feverish chase fueled by communications intercepts and suspects' interrogations.
Mohammed, an unidentified man of Middle Eastern origin and Pakistani Ahmed Abdul Qadoos were arrested early Saturday in Rawalpindi, a bustling city adjacent to the capital.
Mohammed and the unidentified man were handed over to U.S. authorities and spirited to an undisclosed location out of the country, a senior government official said.
Security officials, also speaking on the condition they not be named, said the trail heated up after authorities arrested an Egyptian man during a raid in the frontier city of Quetta on Feb. 14.
Authorities had hoped to find Mohammed a top al Qaeda figure with links to a decade of deadly plots but he was not there.
"At the time of that raid in Quetta the authorities were looking for Khalid Shaikh but he escaped and from there they followed him to Rawalpindi," the senior government official said. "They got information from the man they picked up in Quetta and from phone calls until they tracked him down to Rawalpindi."
A top police official in Quetta said the arrested suspect changed his story many times during questioning, but finally identified himself as Abdul Rehman from Egypt.
The official said police were aware that another suspect got away but were not told of his significance. The police later handed Rehman over to Pakistan's intelligence agency, known as ISI.
"We got some information about two foreigners who were in the neighborhood. When we went there we found only one," the official said. "Rehman admitted there was someone else with him, but he never said anything about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed."
The second foreign suspect arrested in Rawalpindi with Mohammed has not been named, but the senior government official said he was "also proving to be an important man."
Mohammed, 37, is perhaps the most senior al Qaeda member after bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.
He is believed to have organized the September 11 terror attacks, and was linked to a 1995 plot to bomb trans-Pacific airliners and crash a plane into CIA headquarters. He also has been tied to April's bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia, which killed 19 persons, mostly German tourists.
A Pakistani intelligence official with knowledge of the case said American communications experts helped Pakistani authorities trace an e-mail the arrested Quetta suspect sent to Qadoos. They immediately put him under surveillance, which led authorities to Mohammed, the official said.
U.S. officials said the operation in which Mohammed was captured was carried out jointly by the CIA and Pakistani officers.
Qadoos' family yesterday denied his involvement in terrorism and insisted he was alone at home with his wife and children when authorities burst in around 3 a.m. Saturday.
They said about 25 heavily armed agents, some in civilian clothes and some in blue uniforms, stormed into the house, rifling through drawers and pointing their guns at the children.
They quickly took Qadoos away and kept his wife and children under guard in a small bedroom as they searched the house, Qadoos' sister, Qudsia Khanum said.
Qadoos' father, Abdul Qadoos, is a prominent microbiologist who worked in Africa for the World Health Organization for many years before retiring, Miss Khanum said.
Qadoos, 42, however, has never been able to hold down a job and had lived at home with his parents his entire life, his sister said.

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