RealNews

Al Qaeda Arrest Seen Key but Threat to U.S. Remains

Senior U.S. officials charged with homeland defense hailed on Tuesday the recent arrest of a suspected top al Qaeda lieutenant but warned the nation could not relax its vigilance against terrorism. Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller called the weekend arrest in Pakistan of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a significant blow to al Qaeda that could destabilize the network worldwide. The arrest of the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States came at a propitious time for the Bush administration, which has been stung by criticism its preparations for possible war with Iraq had obscured the broader U.S.-led war on terrorism. It also boosted Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s relations with the United States but could increase his difficulties with Islamic parties at home. The largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, called Mohammed a hero of Islam, and accused the government of a shameful sellout to the United States. Ashcroft told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing the arrest of Mohammed, one of the FBI’s most wanted men whom he described as the “brain” of al Qaeda, should provide a vital intelligence opportunity to “prevent new terrorist attacks from killing more innocent Americans.” Full Story

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