- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Two South African men — captured with a senior al Qaeda terrorist — were plotting attacks on tourist sites in their home country, and vowed an unceasing battle against America and President Bush when authorities nabbed them after a 12-hour gunbattle, a senior police official said yesterday.

South African officials denied that their country was a target, saying there was “no credible evidence” of such a plot.

The South African suspects were identified as Feroz Ibrahim, thought to be in his 30s, and Zubair Ismail, in his 20s, said Raja Munawar Hussain, the chief of police in Gujrat, the eastern Pakistani city where the men were arrested July 25.

Mr. Hussain said authorities found several maps of South African cities among the items seized after the raid, which also netted Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian with a $25 million bounty on his head for the twin embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998.

“They were all very well-trained terrorists because of the way they fought the gunbattle and the way they engaged us for 12 hours. This is something no common man could have done,” Mr. Hussain said.

A Lahore-based intelligence official said authorities think the men wanted to target tourist sites in Johannesburg, South Africa’s commercial center. The men are thought to have arrived in Pakistan on a flight from the United Arab Emirates just days before their arrest.

The Johannesburg daily Star quoted unidentified police sources as saying that key landmarks were among the targets, including the stock exchange, a stadium and shopping malls in Johannesburg, and a hotel, the U.S. Embassy and government buildings in Pretoria.

Another Johannesburg newspaper, ThisDay, said the British ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2 was another target. It was supposed to be attacked as it arrived in Durban or Cape Town from Mauritius.

Also yesterday, a Pakistani woman filed a petition in a Karachi court saying authorities had mistaken her husband for a wanted terrorist named Masrab Arochi.

Authorities say they arrested Arochi — the nephew of former al Qaeda No. 3 Khalid Shaikh Mohammed — in a raid in Karachi in June. But Jamila Khatoon said the man arrested was her husband, Abdul Karum Mahmood, and that he had nothing to do with terrorism.

Arochi is said to have led authorities to another man, suspected of being an al Qaeda computer expert and identified as Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan. Khan was arrested July 13, and, in turn, led police to Ghailani.

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