Arrests Alleged 9/11 Mastermind
1, 6:03 PM ET
By KATHY GANNON, Associated Press Writer
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the
suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, was
captured Saturday in a raid in Pakistan involving
U.S. agents, officials told The Associated
The arrest is a major coup in the war against
terrorism and could provide new clues in the
search for Osama bin Laden (news - web sites).
Mohammed, 37, is perhaps the most senior member of
the al-Qaida terrorist network after bin Laden and
Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri.
"It's hard to overstate how significant this
is," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
(news - web sites) said. "It's a wonderful
blow to inflict on al-Qaida."
A naturalized Pakistani who was born in Kuwait,
Mohammed is on the FBI (news - web sites)'s
most-wanted list and allegedly had a hand in many
of al-Qaida's most notorious attacks. The U.S.
government had offered a reward of up to $25
million for information leading to his
Mohammed was arrested along with two other men in
Rawalpindi, a city near the Pakistani capital of
Islamabad, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid
Ahmed said. The raid was the work of both U.S. and
Pakistani agents, according to U.S. and Pakistani
officials who requested anonymity.
Pakistan has handed other al-Qaida suspects over
to the United States but officials here would not
say whether that was the plan this time. Military
officials in the United States also would not
comment on whether Mohammed would be turned over
to the United States or another country.
"This is a great success today, but the war
on terrorism goes on tomorrow," said Jim
Wilkinson, a spokesman at U.S. Central Command in
Tampa, Fla. "There's still a lot of work to
U.S. officials say Mohammed organized the Sept.
11, 2001, terror mission that sent hijacked
passenger jets crashing into the World Trade
Center, the Pentagon (news - web sites) and a
field in Pennsylvania, killing more than 3,000
But even before then, Mohammed was wanted in
connection with plots in the Philippines to bomb
trans-Pacific airliners and crash a plane into CIA
(news - web sites) headquarters. Those were broken
up in 1995.
He also has been linked to April's bombing of a
synagogue in Tunisia. At least 19 tourists, mostly
Germans, were killed.
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 main
religious parties, Jamaat-e-Islami. The identity
of the Middle Eastern man has not been
Mohammed narrowly escaped capture in a raid about
a week ago in the southwestern town of Quetta, a
Pakistani government source said. During that
raid, a Middle Eastern man, possibly of Egyptian
origin, was arrested, according to the 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," the official said. "They
got information from the man they picked up in
Quetta and from phone calls until they tracked him
down to Rawalpindi."
Senior government officials said the three men
were arrested about 3 a.m. local time Saturday at
a house where Qadoos lives with his father.
But Omar Qadoos, Ahmed's cousin, said only Ahmed,
his wife and two children were in the house. There
also was a guard outside, he said.
"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
He said police held the family at gunpoint while
they collected cassettes, a computer and computer
discs, leaving the floor littered with clothes,
papers and other items.
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 also belongs to al-Qaida. Another brother
died in Pakistan when a bomb he was making
He also is said to be close to bin Laden's son,
In Washington, the FBI refused to confirm Mohammed
was arrested or say whether the bureau was
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has said a small
number of FBI agents are in Pakistan but only to
provide intelligence on al-Qaida or Taliban
fugitives from neighboring Afghanistan (news - web
However, Pakistani police and intelligence
officials say FBI agents have been involved in
nearly every important terror arrest in
The Pakistani government says it has handed over
more than 420 al-Qaida and Taliban suspects to the
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 hijackers trained.
On Sept. 11, 2002, Ramzi Binalshibh, a would-be
hijacker who could not get into the United States,
was captured in the southern port city of Karachi.
He was an aide to Mohammed and a key moneyman for
Binalshibh also was the former roommate of
hijacker Mohamed Atta.
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