Pakistan captures Al-Qaeda suspect, kills another


ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistani forces arrested a foreign Al-Qaeda suspect and killed another in a shootout, and security officials are investigating whether one is a Syrian with reported links to the Madrid and London bombings

"Security forces had an encounter when they raided a house in Quetta on Tuesday. They captured a foreigner and killed another and they may be Al-Qaeda operatives," Information Minister Sheikh Rashid told AFP. "Their identification is not confirmed." Intelligence agencies are trying to establish if one of the men is wanted Syrian national Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, also known as Abu Musab al-Suri, security officials and another government official said Thursday on condition of anonymity. "They are seeking to confirm whether he is Syrian national Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, who has a bounty of five million dollars," the government official said. "But there is no confirmation as yet." The US Justice Department`s Rewards for Justice website confirms there is a five million dollar reward for the capture of Nasar, 47, adding that he is believed to be in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Both suspects involved in Tuesday`s raid were Arabs, a senior security official in Islamabad said. Agents raided their hideout in Sirki Road, the busiest street in the southwestern city of Quetta, just before the fast-breaking evening meal for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a local official added. "The suspect who died in the shootout was hit by bullets in the head," the official told AFP. Nasar is an Al-Qaeda member and former trainer at two terror camps in Afghanistan who pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the US Justice Department website says. It says Nasar -- who has red hair and pale skin -- worked with another key militant to train extremists in the use of poisons and chemicals. The US Justice Department website says "recent unconfirmed press reports suggest that he may have had a role in the March 11, 2004 Madrid Bombings". The attacks on commuter trains killed 191 people. Media and security journal reports have also quoted intelligence officials in Britain as saying Nasar is wanted in connection with the July 7 London bombings, which killed 56 people including four suicide bombers. Nasar has dual Spanish nationality by marriage after settling in Madrid in 1987, the website says. While there he issued a series of "inflammatory essays" and associated with the Algerian Islamic Group, it adds. He then moved to London and served as a European intermediary for Al-Qaeda, it says, travelling extensively between Europe and Afghanistan throughout the late 1990s and finally moving his family to Afghanistan in 1998. Pakistan says it has so far rounded up about 700 Al-Qaeda suspects, including alleged top operatives, both in army searches of lawless tribal border areas and other operations in major cities. In May it captured Libyan-born Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the terror network`s alleged number three and a suspect in two attempts to kill Pakistan`s President Pervez Musharraf. He was later handed over to the United States. In September another operation in Quetta led to the capture of the main spokesman for Afghanistan`s ousted Taliban regime, Abdul Latif Hakimi. He was extradited to Afghanistan a few weeks later.

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