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Pakistan arrests senior al Qaeda leaders with CIA help

The CIA has assisted Pakistan's spy agency in the arrest of three top al Qaeda suspects in the southwestern city of Quetta, a Pakistani army statement said Monday, a sign that strained ties between the two agencies may be on the mend.

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AP - Pakistan’s spy agency arrested three senior members of al-Qaida in an operation assisted by American intelligence, the army said Monday.

An army statement identified the most senior detainee as Younis al-Mauritani, who it said had been tasked by Osama bin Laden with targeting Western economic interests worldwide.

The statement said the arrests took place in the southwestern city of Quetta, but did not say when.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency has cooperated with the CIA over the last 10 years to arrest scores of al-Qaida suspects, but ties between the two agencies have suffered greatly in recent months over CIA drone strikes inside Pakistani territory and the unilateral American raid that killed bin Laden.

The unusual announcement of the arrest of the three appears to signal that the relationship could be warming.

“This operation was planned and conducted with technical assistance of United State Intelligence Agencies with whom Inter-Services Intelligence has a strong, historic intelligence relationship. Both Pakistan and United States Intelligence agencies continue to work closely together to enhance security of their respective nations,” the statement said.

Many top al-Qaida commanders are believed to live in Pakistan, and getting Islamabad’s cooperation in cracking down on the network has been a top American goal since the Sept 11, 2001, attacks. U.S. officials have recently claimed al-Qaida’s capabilities have been seriously weakened due to drone strikes and arrests in recent years.

 

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