Pakistan arrests French al-Qaeda suspect
Pakistani security forces have arrested a French al-Qaeda figure who is believed to have been behind a plot to launch commando raids on British and European targets. Naamen Meziche was detained close to the border with Iran, according to a security official.
He was part of cell that triggered warnings across Europe in the autumn of 2010 when it emerged that gunmen were planning to take hostages in a string of coordinated assaults, using similar tactics to the devastating 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which left more than 166 people dead.
A senior security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Telegraph that Meziche was arrested near the south-western city of Quetta, known as a haven for extremists. He described Meziche as a close associate of Younis Al Mauretani, another leading al-Qaeda figure who was arrested in Quetta last year and had been personally tasked by Osama bin Laden to plot attacks on Australia, Europe and the US. "He was trying to flee the country and was heading to Somalia," said the official.
Pakistani intelligence agents are currently questioning the 41-year-old, who is of Algerian descent, and say he will eventually be deported to France.
Meziche has been known to counter-terrorism officials for at least a decade. He belonged to the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell that the US says masterminded the 9/11 attacks. He reportedly recruited jihadists at a notorious mosque in the northern German city, which authorities closed in 2010 because of its role in spreading fanaticism. Three of the 9/11 hijackers, including their ringleader Mohammed Atta, who piloted the first plane into New York's World Trade Center, met regularly at the mosque before moving to the United States.
Meziche is believed to have travelled to northern Pakistan in early 2009 with 10 other recruits from Germany.
Posted on 06/20/2012 8:58 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax