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US hails Pakistan's capture of al Qaeda leader

world Updated: Sep 05, 2011 23:20 IST

The White House on Monday hailed Pakistan's capture of a "senior al Qaeda operative" as an example of counterterrorism cooperation, and a US official said the United States had provided "critical" tips and technical help.

The militant had been involved in plotting attacks against the interests of the United States and other countries, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said after Pakistan announced that it had captured Younis al-Mauritani.

"This is an example of the longstanding partnership between the US and Pakistan in fighting terrorism, which has taken many terrorists off the battlefield over the past decade," Earnest said in a statement issued while President Barack Obama was visiting Detroit for a Labor Day speech.

"We applaud the actions of Pakistan's intelligence and security services that led to the capture of a senior al Qaeda operative who was involved in planning attacks against the interests of the United States and many other countries," he said.

In Washington, a US official monitoring the situation said Mauritani's capture was "another major blow to al Qaeda."

"The US provided critical lead information and technical assistance in working with Pakistan to eliminate the threat posed by this terrorist," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Mauritani played "an absolutely central role in planning and coordinating al Qaeda's operations in Europe, plots that targeted both European and American interests," the official said.

"The Pakistanis deserve real credit for their hard investigative and operational work in taking deadly threats like al-Mauritani off the battlefield," the official added.

"There is clearly more to be done, and both sides recognize the imperative of acting together against these dangerous targets."