Pakistani authorities arrested a suspected al Qaeda operative and seized a video cassette purportedly of Osama bin Laden warning of attacks against U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia, intelligence officials said Friday.
The Egyptian national was arrested Wednesday in a raid on a house in the northwestern city of Peshawar, near the border with Afghanistan, said two intelligence officials.
Found at the home were three video cassettes, including one allegedly of bin Laden warning of attacks against U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia, according to one of the two intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Officials say the suspect, identified as Haris bin Asim, apparently wanted to deliver the video cassettes to the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera. The al-Jazeera correspondent in Islamabad, Ahmed Zaidan, said he had no knowledge of any cassettes or deliveries.
Word of the arrest comes a day after Saudi and U.S. officials said authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested one of the alleged al Qaeda masterminds in last month's terrorist bombings in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. In the May 12 assault, gunmen and suicide bombers attacked three housing compounds populated by Westerners and other foreigners. Nine attackers and 25 victims were killed.
Asim was arrested at the Katchi Ghauri refugee camp on the western edge of Peshawar, intelligence sources said.
In addition to the video cassettes, police also recovered U.S., Afghan, Saudi Arabian and Pakistani currency, they said without specifying how much.
Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, however, denied the arrest.
If it is true, the arrest would be the second this month of an al Qaeda suspect in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, where a pro-Taliban religious coalition rules.
On June 18, Pakistan arrested an Algerian national, Adil Al-Jazeeri, believed to have links with al Qaeda. Al-Jazeeri was arrested along with a Tunisian national suspected of providing forged travel documents to fleeing al Qaeda operatives.
Pakistan, a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terror, has arrested nearly 500 suspected al Qaeda men, most of whom have been handed over to the United States.
In March 2003, Pakistan arrested al Qaeda's top leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
Abu Zubaydah, once bin Laden's senior lieutenant, was arrested in Pakistan's Faisalabad in March 2002. Also on Sept. 12, 20012, Pakistan arrested Ramzi Binalshibh, another suspected planner of the attacks in the United States.
Pakistan also has arrested Waleed Mohammed Bin Attash, best known as Tawfiq bin Attash or Tawfiq Attash Khallada, a Yemeni who was one of two people described as masterminds of the bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen on Oct. 12, 2000.
By Riaz Khan