9 Suspected al-Qaida Arrested in Pakistan
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) _ Nine suspected al-Qaida operatives, including three Americans and two Canadians, were arrested by Pakistani police in a joint raid with FBI agents in the eastern city of Lahore on Thursday, officials said. All nine were members of the same family.
The Americans and Canadians were all of Pakistani origin, officials said.
There was an exchange of gunfire during the raid on the family’s home, with family members saying their guards opened fire on police and FBI agents. No one was hurt. Relatives said FBI officials searched the home for at least two hours and seized four computers and compact discs.
``We got information about these people, and today the police went there and made these arrests. We can say they are suspected al-Qaida,″ Pakistan’s information minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
No injuries were reported in the raid in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province,
The information minister said some of the nine men arrested are suspected of possibly having smuggled weapons to be used in terrorist attacks.
Those arrested were Dr. Javed Ahmad, his two sons, two brothers, three nephews and one uncle. Ahmad and his two sons, Umar Karar and Khyzer Ali, are U.S. citizens and used to live in Florida, said Rehman Beg, a relative.
Ahmad lived in the United States between 1972 and 1983.
Ahmad’s brother, Naveed Khawaja, and a nephew are Canadian nationals and used to live in Toronto, Beg said.
``Pakistani security agencies accompanied by foreigners (FBI agents) arrested our family members like they were criminals,″ Marghoob Ahmad Mir, Ahmad’s brother-in-law, told a news conference in Lahore.
``Ahmad’s two private security guards exchanged fire with the raiding party, but neither side suffered any injuries,″ Mir said.
Ahmad is a close relative of Hafiz Suleman Butt, a legislator and member of Jamaat-e-Islami, the oldest and best-organized pro-Taliban Islamic party in Pakistan.
Ahmad’s family acknowledged he had been to Afghanistan to treat Islamic fighters, but denied he had any links to the Taliban or al-Qaida.
Ahmad is the second Pakistani doctor to be arrested for alleged links to Taliban and al-Qaida fugitives. On Oct. 21, authorities arrested Dr. Amer Aziz, a British-trained orthopedic surgeon, and held him incommunicado for a month.
After he was released, Aziz admitted in an interview with AP that he had treated Osama bin Laden and had seen the al-Qaida leader after the Sept. 11 attacks.