Pakistan hands over terror suspect to U.S. - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Pakistan hands over terror suspect to U.S.

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Posted: Monday, June 6, 2005 6:51 am | Updated: 8:18 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan has handed over to the United States senior al-Qaida suspect Abu Farraj al-Libbi, who was wanted for two assassination attempts against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, an official said Monday.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani confirmed a reported comment by Musharraf published in a newspaper in the United Arab Emirates on Monday that al-Libbi had been handed over, but gave no further details.

"The president made a statement to this effect. The president's statement was self-explanatory. I don't have further details," Jilani said at a news conference in Islamabad.

Some officials have described al-Libbi as al-Qaida's No. 3 leader, after Osama bin Laden and Egyptian surgeon Ayman al-Zawahri. However, he does not appear on the FBI list of the world's most-wanted terrorists, and his exact role in al-Qaida is murky.

He was arrested May 2 after a shootout in northwestern Pakistan.

An intelligence official said al-Libbi was whisked out of Pakistan with U.S. officials aboard an airplane "a few days ago." The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the clandestine nature of his job, did not know where al-Libbi was taken.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad was not immediately available for comment.

On May 31, Musharraf told CNN that Pakistan would hand al-Libbi, who is a Libyan, to the United States.

In an interview with United Arab Emirates daily al-Ittihad he confirmed that had happened.

"Yes, we turned Abu Farraj al-Libbi over to the United States recently, and we don't want people like him in our country," Musharraf was quoted as saying.

The Pakistani leader did not say when or how al-Libbi was handed over or provide other details.

In Pakistan, al-Libbi was wanted for allegedly masterminding two attempts on Musharraf's life in December 2003. The president was unhurt, but 17 people died in the second attack.

The assassination attempts carry a maximum penalty in Pakistan of death by hanging. The personal nature of the attacks led many to believe Musharraf would seek to try al-Libbi here.

Pakistani officials also have said that al-Libbi was behind a suicide attack against Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, weeks before he took office last year. Nine people died, including Aziz's driver.

It was not entirely clear what charges if any al-Libbi might face in the United States, or if he has been indicted by any U.S. court.

In Washington last week, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States was talking to Pakistan about al-Libbi but had not yet discussed his extradition.

Pakistan says it has captured more than 700 al-Qaida suspects since the Sept. 11 attacks, sending most of them to the United States.

They include al-Qaida's former No. 3, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was arrested in March 2003 during a raid near Islamabad. Two other alleged al-Qaida leaders, Ramzi Binalshibh and Abu Zubaydah, were also arrested in Pakistan.

Pakistan also has deployed about 70,000 troops in its tribal regions bordering Afghanistan- considered possible hiding places for bin Laden - to track down suspected terrorists.

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