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Top foreign Taliban leader arrested in Pak's Punjab

world Updated: Nov 16, 2009 15:24 IST

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Pakistan intelligence agencies are claiming to have captured a top foreign Taliban leader from a city in Punjab while he was preparing to carry out terror attacks in the country's most populous province, a media report said on Monday.

The arrested Taliban leader, identified only by his initials "NAZ", was nabbed after being tailed by intelligence agencies for a week.

The commander ranks in the third tier leadership of the al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban and belongs to a Middle Eastern country, the report said.

He was responsible for operations in Punjab and Islamabad. An investigating official described him as an "information treasure trove", The News daily reported.

The commander arrived in Punjab a few days ago to "put terrorism activities in Punjab and the federal capital in top gear", the report said.

Some weeks ago, he went to Islamabad to "personally monitor and even lead a major terrorist attack" possibly in the city's "Red Zone", a high-security area in which the parliament, presidency and diplomatic enclave are located.

He travelled to a hamlet in the Margalla hills that overlook Islamabad during the last week of October and then moved to Talhaarh, located at the northern end of the hills.

It was at this point that intelligence agencies got wind of his presence.

As he moved between villages in the area, intelligence agencies conducted search operations using sophisticated technology but could not trace him.

The Taliban commander then disappeared from the area and surfaced in South Waziristan.

Intelligence agencies kept monitoring his activities and finally arrested him when travelled to a city in Punjab to "execute a major terrorist plan", the report said.

The newspaper quoted its sources as saying that the Taliban commander wanted to enter Islamabad through Saidpur, a village at the foot of the Margalla hills that has become a popular tourist destination.

He put off his plans as he suspected the area was under surveillance by intelligence agencies.

Law enforcement agencies have now deployed contingents of the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers, Frontier Constabulary and police commandos in the Margalla hills.

Inspector General of Police Kaleem Imam said contingents of paramilitary troopers had been deployed at vital points in the hills and 22 posts had been set up.