al-Qaeda suspect captured
14 September, 2002, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
One of the key suspects
in the 11 September attacks on New York and
Washington last year has been arrested in
Yemeni national Ramzi Binalshibh, who recently
claimed to have been one of the organisers of the
attack, was captured after a three-hour gun battle
at an apartment building in Karachi.
Mr Binalshibh, who is said to have shared the
Hamburg flat where the attacks were planned with
suspected hijack ringleader Mohammed Atta, is on the
FBI's most wanted list and has a $25m bounty on his
He is now reported to be undergoing interrogation by
the Pakistani police.
"It's a very sensitive issue," said one US
official, quoted by Reuters news agency.
Mr Binalshibh, 30, was detained on Wednesday - the
first anniversary of the 11 September attacks - when
the flat where he was staying was raided by
Pakistani police commandos, supported by US
The operation was planned after US intelligence
agents intercepted a satellite phone call from the
flat, Pakistani security sources said.
The raid - which prompted one of the fiercest gun
battles in Karachi for several years - was reported
on Wednesday, but it was not until three days later
that an al-Qaeda connection was confirmed.
Correspondents said it was significant that the
confirmation came from US officials, rather than
The arrests were made after police surrounded the
building in southern Karachi - an area which is home
to many foreign businessmen.
When officers police stormed the flat used by
suspected al-Qaeda members, a gunfight broke out,
which spilled out on to nearby rooftops.
Two suspects were killed, and the remaining five
surrendered, including Mr Binalshibh.
Six police officers were injured, two of them
US officials said that no Americans were wounded
during the operation, which led to the recovery of
heavy weapons and various items of communications
equipment from the building.
The BBC correspondent in Islamabad, Susannah Price,
said the arrests are a major coup, both for the
Pakistani authorities and the American
At the same time, they demonstrate that members of
al-Qaeda are present, not just in remote areas on
the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, but in Karachi -
Pakistan's largest city.
Mr Binalshibh challenged the US authorities to find
him in a pre-recorded interview broadcast by the
Arab TV network al-Jazeera on Thursday.
Together with another al-Qaeda suspect, Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed, he explained how the group operated
and how the 11 September attacks had been
They said in the interview that Osama Bin Laden had
been involved in planning the attacks, and that Mr
Binashibh had been the co-ordinator of what was
referred to as "Holy Tuesday".
Mr Binalshibh tried to enrol at a US flying school,
but was repeatedly refused a US visa.
Investigators believe he had originally been picked
to be one of the leaders of the suicide attacks, but
instead handled logistics and financial matters for
the al-Qaeda members who were allowed into the
He posed as Atta's girlfriend in Germany when the
two communicated through e-mails.
The German authorities have also issued a warrant
for Mr Binalshibh's arrest, for membership of a
In a separate development, US officials say five men
of Yemeni origin, believed to be US citizens, have
been arrested in Lackawanna, near Buffalo in upper
New York state, on suspicion of operating as a
They are suspected of attending a training camp
linked to Osama Bin Laden.
However, officials say there is no evidence the men
were planning to carry out any attacks.
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