Suspected al Qaeda militant caught in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A suspected al Qaeda militant has
been killed and another captured during a shoot-out with
Pakistani security men in the southwestern city of Quetta, a
government minister said on Thursday.
Al Jazeera television said it had received a statement that
two people had been arrested, identifying one as Mustafa
Setmariam, a Syrian with a $5 million U.S reward on his head.
But Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said
authorities were still trying to determine if the arrested man
was Setmariam. He believed neither the arrested man nor the man
killed in the Tuesday shoot-out were “high-value targets.”
“They are Arabs but their nationality is not yet known,”
“We don’t know the identity of the one who was killed or
arrested. Apparently they are not high-value targets but
they’re hiding their identities. It takes time to establish
their exact identity.”
Al Jazeera television said the two suspected al Qaeda
militants had been arrested in Quetta on Monday.
The U.S. State Department late last year posted a reward of
$5 million for information on the whereabouts of an al Qaeda
member identified as Mustafa Setmariam Nasar.
It said he was a former trainer at militant camps in
Afghanistan where he taught the use of poisons and chemicals.
Nasar was a Syrian with dual Spanish nationality, the State
A police official in Quetta said the man killed in the
shoot-out was believed to be a Saudi national and identified
him as Sheikh Ali Mohammad Saleem.
Two suspects had been arrested, said the police official in
the city near the border with Afghanistan.
“Their faces were covered with wheat sacks after their
arrest,” the official said.
Sources close to the investigation into the March 11, 2004
Madrid train bombings have said Setmariam may have played a
leading role in the attacks that killed 191 people.
But Spanish officials said on Thursday that Spain had not
issued a warrant for his arrest over the attacks.
The Spanish government has received no official information
from Pakistan about the arrested man, a government source said.
Setmariam is wanted in connection with another Spanish
He was one of 35 people, including Osama bin Laden, charged
by a Spanish judge in September 2003 with al Qaeda membership.
Twenty-four of the group were put on trial in Spain earlier
this year and 18 were convicted of a crime.
They included Syrian-born Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, leader
of an al Qaeda cell in Spain, who was jailed for 27 years in
September for leading a terrorist group and conspiracy to
commit terrorist murder in connection with the September 11,
2001 attacks on U.S. cities.
Prosecutor Pedro Rubia said during the trial that only
Setmariam stood between Barakat Yarkas and bin Laden.
(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft in Madrid)