Pakistani military officials said they have captured a senior al-Qaeda leader and two of his aides, according to reports.
Younis al-Mauritani, the army said, took commands from Osama Bin Laden and also planned and engineered operations for the terror network himself.
Mauritani was tasked personally by Osama bin Laden to focus on hitting targets of economical importance in United States of America, Europe and Australia, said the Pakistan army in statement. “He was planning to target United States economic interests including gas/oil pipelines, power generating dams and strike ships/oil tankers through explosive laden speed boats in international waters.”
Al-Mauritani and his accomplices were arrested in the southwestern city of Quetta. However, it is not clear when the detention took place.
The other two suspects were identified as Abdul Ghaffar al-Shami and Messara al-Shami.
Reportedly, the men were seized through the joint collaboration of both Pakistani and U.S. intelligence agencies.
This operation was planned and conducted with technical assistance of United State Intelligence Agencies with whom Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has a strong, historic intelligence relationship, the Pakistan military stated.
Pakistan described the arrests as a “another fatal blow” to al-Qaeda.
However, there are some doubts about the veracity of Pakistan’s claim. Indeed, positive identification of terror suspects are often difficult.
A Western intelligence officials told Agence France Presse: If [the capture is] confirmed, it's a good catch.
Last week, U.S. officials said they had killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahm, another top al-Qaeda figure, during a drone strike in Pakistan’s lawless border with Afghanistan. However, Islamabad officials never confirmed the kill.
Since the discovery (and assassination) of Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani compound in May, relations between Washington and Islamabad has plunged to historic lows. The Pakistani military has come under extreme pressure to root out Islamic militants along the border with Afghanistan.
If the capture of al-Mauritani truly was a joint effort with the Americans, it might suggest that some measure of trust has returned between Pakistan and the U.S.
Imtiaz Gul, a prominent Pakistani security analyst, told Pakistan’s Dawn English-langugae newspaper: “This is what the situation demanded. The entire Pakistan-US relationship basically revolves around the CIA and ISI and now it appears they are resuming their normal contacts.”