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Top Al-Qaeda fugitive held in Pakistan

Mustafa Setmarian Nasar's links stretch from Afghan terror training camps to extremist networks operating throughout Europe.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 15:06 IST

A top Al-Qaeda leader whose links stretch from Afghan terror training camps to extremist networks operating throughout Europe has been detained in neighboring Pakistan and possibly handed over to American authorities, according to a US law enforcement official.

Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, a Syrian who also holds Spanish citizenship, was captured during a November 2005 sting in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta in which a gunfight broke out and a person was killed, said the American official, who declined to be identified further because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The official, who spoke to the agency late last week, said Nasar, who is also known as Abu Musab al-Suri, may now be in the US custody but did not specify where. He declined to comment further.

US military officials aware of the detention of terror suspects at American prison facilities in Bagram, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had no immediate information Tuesday on whether Nasar had been incarcerated at either jail.

A senior Pakistani intelligence official said Nasar had been flown out of Pakistan to an undisclosed destination "some time ago."

"I only know that he is not here. But, I do know that Syrian authorities had also requested to get him back," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of sensitive nature of his work.

Pakistani and American officials have long been tightlipped on the status of Nasar, who has had a US$5 million (euro4.2 million) US bounty on his head and has been described by the American Justice Department as a former trainer at Osama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan who helped teach extremists to use poisons and chemicals.

First Published: May 02, 2006 15:06 IST