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Senior al Qaeda figure arrested


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A tip from a terror suspect held in Pakistan may have led to at least one of the 12 terror suspects arrested in Britain

Sources: Suspect arrested in Britain is a major al Qaeda player.
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(CNN) -- An al Qaeda operative believed to have been close to Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was flown home to Pakistan after he was arrested in Dubai, intelligence sources said.

Qari Saifullah Akhtar's capture may help in the hunt for the al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, the sources said.

Ahktar has been linked to two assassination attempts against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, the sources said.

Akhtar was arrested on Friday by the United Arab Emirates at Pakistan's request, according to the sources.

In another al Qaeda case, Pakistani investigators are hunting for two north Africans suspected to be involved in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in east Africa.

Abu Farj of Libya and an Egyptian named Hamza are believed to be in Pakistan.

A Pakistani official estimated his country has arrested and handed over at least 600 suspected al Qaeda operatives to U.S. officials in the last three years.

More than a dozen terror suspects around the world have been arrested in the past week.

Their apprehension is believed to have been fueled by intelligence from Pakistan, and many of the suspects are alleged to have strong ties to al Qaeda. (U.S. leak 'harms al Qaeda sting')

One man arrested in a British roundup is believed to have been on the ground in New York in 2001 conducting reconnaissance of financial buildings identified recently as possible attack targets, a U.S. law enforcement source told CNN.

He has been identified as Esa al-Hindi by U.S. government officials who describe him a "major player who moved operational information between key components of al Qaeda" in Britain, the United States and Pakistan.

Senior Pakistani intelligence officials said that during interrogations last month after he was apprehended, suspected al Qaeda computer expert Naeem Noor Khan spoke of a terror network in Britain and said he frequently relayed messages from Pakistan to the cell leader, an important al Qaeda operative.

Meanwhile, British police have been granted more time to question the nine men arrested last week on suspicion of terror-related activities. (UK terror susects held over)


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