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Liberia's Taylor gave aid to Qaeda, UN probe finds

The senior Al Qaeda operative captured in Pakistan last week met with former Liberian president Charles Taylor in the years before and after Sept. 11, 2001, and received refuge from the former US ally while planning further terrorist operations, according to US intelligence officials and United Nations investigators. The officials and investigators also painted a picture of Liberia under Taylor as a haven for Al Qaeda, and raised new questions about why the United States waited so long to support Taylor’s ouster and continues to refrain from using its influence to bring him before a UN war crimes tribunal. The Defense Department approved a special forces raid to capture Al Qaeda leaders under Taylor’s protection in 2001, but called it off and never reactivated the plan, the US officials said in recent interviews, on condition of anonymity. Meanwhile, senior leaders of Al Qaeda continued to receive Taylor’s protection. On July 25, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was arrested in eastern Pakistan along with more than a dozen other Qaeda operatives and is being held in connection with the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa. But for at least three years beginning in the late 1990s, he lived in an army camp and hotels run by Taylor’s government in Liberia. In addition, Taylor’s forces harbored other suspected Al Qaeda leaders, including MIT-educated biologist Aafia Siddiqui, US officials and UN investigators said. Full Story

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