ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror
attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed,
has been arrested in one of the biggest
catches yet in the war on terrorism, Information Minister Sheikh
Ahmed told The Associated Press.
Mohammed, perhaps the most senior al-Qaida operative after Osama bin
Laden and Egyptian Ayman
al-Zawahiri, was one of three people arrested
in Rawalpindi, near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on
His arrest is a major coup in the effort to stifle al-Qaida. Mohammed,
who is on the FBI most wanted list, had
a hand in many of the terror
organization's most notorious attacks in recent years.
In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush exclaimed "That's
fantastic!" after his national security adviser,
delivered the news.
CIA officers and Pakistani authorities carried out the operation that
led to Mohammed's capture, according to
American officials, who spoke on
the condition of anonymity.
The tip-off came about a week earlier following a raid in the
southwestern town of Quetta and the arrest of a
Middle Eastern man,
possibly of Egyptian origin, according to a Pakistani government source
who spoke to the
AP on condition of anonymity.
"At the time of that raid in Quetta the authorities were looking
for Khalid Shaikh but he escaped and from there
they followed him to
Rawalpindi," said the official. "They got information from the
man they picked up in Quetta
and from phone calls until they tracked him
down to Rawalpindi."
Mastermind of the
September 11, 2001 Attacks
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
U.S. officials regard Mohammed as
a key al-Qaida lieutenant and
of the terror mission that sent
hijacked passenger jets
into the World Trade Center, the
Pentagon and into a field in
state of Pennsylvania, killing more
than 3,000 people.
Mohammed was arrested along with
a second man of Middle Eastern origin
and a Pakistani, Ahmed Abdul
Qadoos, 42, a member of one of the
country's best organized and well
established religious parties,
Jamaat-e-Islami. The identity of
the Middle Eastern man has not
Pakistani government officials wouldn't say whether Mohammed had been
handed over to the United States,
but it's likely given Islamabad's
previous practice of handing over al-Qaida suspects to the U.S.
While Qadoos' family said he was alone when police stormed the house,
senior government officials said
Mohammed and the second man were picked
up in the same raid, which took place around 3 a.m. Saturday
A guard protecting the Qadoos house tried to stop police from firing at
them, but they quickly overpowered
him, said Omar Qadoos, a cousin of
Ahmed Abdul Qadoos. Neighbors fearing that a robbery was under way
called the police.
"The police pounded on the gate and then they rushed through. There
was some firing, but no one was hurt
and then they beat the guard and
broke the lock on the front door," Omar Qadoos said.
The only people home at the time of the raid were Qadoos, his wife and
two children. Qadoos lives with his
father. Omar said police held the
entire family at gunpoint while they collected cassettes, a computer and
computer discs. Clothes, papers and household items were strewn on the
floor of the Qadoos household
evidence of the police search.
Mohammed has not been charged in the Sept. 11 attacks, but he has been
charged in a 1995 plot to blow
up 11 passenger planes on their way from
Asia to the United States. The U.S. government was offering up to
million for information leading to his capture.
Mohammed's ties to terrorism are deep. He is the uncle of convicted 1993
World Trade Center conspirator
Ramzi Yousef, and one of his older
brothers is also an al-Qaida member. Another brother died in Pakistan
when a bomb he was making exploded. He is also said to be close to bin
Laden's son, Saad bin Laden.
While the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan does not comment on FBI activities
here, a spokesman, speaking on
condition he not be identified, said:
"We do have excellent cooperation with the Pakistanis. We provide
technical assistance, but they conduct their own arrests."
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has been an important ally in
the U.S.-led war on terror, but has
said that only a small number of FBI
agents are operating in Pakistan and only to provide intelligence on
suspected al-Qaida or Taliban fugitives from neighboring Afghanistan.
However, Pakistani police and intelligence officials say FBI agents have
been involved in nearly every
important terror arrest in Pakistan since
the war on terrorism began. The Pakistani government says it has
over more than 420 al-Qaida and Taliban suspects to U.S. custody.
Until now the biggest catch so far was the arrest last March of al-Qaida's
suspected financier, Abu Zubaydah,
who was taken into custody in a raid
in the central Pakistani city of Faisalabad. Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi-born
Palestinian, was said to be a link between bin Laden and many of al-Qaida's
Abu Zubaydah ran the Khalden camp in Afghanistan, where U.S.
investigators believe many of the Sept. 11
On Sept. 11, 2002, Ramzi Binalshibh, a would-be hijacker who couldn't
get into the United States, was
captured in the southern port city of
Karachi. He became an aide to Mohammed and a key moneyman for
attacks. Binalshibh was also the former roommate of hijacker Mohamed
Captured the Mastermind of the September 11th Attacks"
U.S. President George W. Bush Speaks at a Live Prime Time Press
March 6th, 2003 in the East Room of the
March 6 - The following are opening remarks from President Bush's
March 6th, 2003 evening press conference.
PRESIDENT BUSH: "Good evening. I'm pleased to take your questions
tonight, and to
discuss with the American people the serious matters facing our country
and the world.
This has been an important week on two fronts on our war against terror.
First, thanks to
the hard work of American and Pakistani officials, we captured the
mastermind of the
September the 11th attacks against our nation. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
planned the hijackings and directed the actions of the hijackers. We
believe his capture
will further disrupt the terror network and their planning for
Second, we have arrived at an important moment in confronting the threat
posed to our
nation and to peace by Saddam Hussein and his weapons of terror. In New
the United Nations Security Council will receive an update from the
chief weapons inspector.
The world needs him to answer a single question: Has the Iraqi regime
unconditionally disarmed, as required by Resolution 1441, or has it
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