- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2003

KARACHI, Pakistan Pakistani police have arrested six men believed to be linked to terror network al Qaeda, including a Yemeni wanted in connection with the September 11 attacks and the bombing of the USS Cole, an Interior Ministry official said yesterday.
Waleed Mohammed Bin Attash, best known as Tawfiq bin Attash or Tawfiq Attash Khallad, was arrested Tuesday in one of two raids conducted in southern Karachi by Pakistani authorities. The identities of the other suspects were not immediately known.
"This is a big catch. Attash is wanted in the USS Cole bombing," said Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema, the head of Pakistan's counterterrorism unit. "I think he is very important."
U.S. counterterrorism officials in Washington confirmed the capture of the suspect, also known as Khallad, and described him as one of the most-wanted al Qaeda fugitives. Khallad was actively plotting new attacks, the officials said on the condition of anonymity.
U.S. intelligence officials said Khallad is suspected of meeting with two of the September 11 hijackers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in January 2000. Those hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, were on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
Khallad also is believed to have helped plan the suicide attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors. The U.S. destroyer was rammed Oct. 12, 2000, by an explosives-laden dinghy while refueling in the Yemeni port of Aden. Yemen is the ancestral home of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden and the attack was blamed on his al Qaeda network.
Another top suspect in the Cole bombing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, al Qaeda's chief of operations for the Persian Gulf is in U.S. custody.
Brig. Cheema said all six suspects are in Pakistan. There was no indication they were among a group of suspects in the Cole bombing who escaped from a Yemeni prison earlier last month.
U.S. law enforcement agencies have not yet questioned the suspects, he said, and the raids "were solely a Pakistani operation."
Police sources said the first lead came Monday when authorities stopped a truck carrying explosives among sacks of potatoes. The three Pakistani militants who were arrested led police to a fourth Pakistani man, who was arrested Tuesday and, in turn, pointed authorities to Khallad, the police sources said.
Pakistani authorities also recovered 330 pounds of explosives and a large quantity of arms, ammunitions and detonators "intended to be used for terrorist attacks," said a statement by Brig. Cheema's National Crisis Management Cell.
U.S. intelligence sources say several al Qaeda fugitives who fled the U.S.-led coalition's war on terror in neighboring Afghanistan had found a safe haven in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, with 14 million people.

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