Pakistan Army says it has Al Qaeda's global operations chief in custody
Pakistan’s Army says it has captured Sheikh Younis al-Mauritani, a senior Al Qaeda leader known as the group’s global operations chief.
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“We have told the Americans we will capture Al Qaeda wherever we find them. If the Americans are worried about terrorism coming from this region then this gives them this peace of mind. We’ll eliminate Al Qaeda as long as they’re willing to do this trade-off with the Taliban,” she says.Skip to next paragraph
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But other analysts say Pakistan’s opposition to Al Qaeda, which views the Pakistani government as heretical, has remained strong over the past 10 years. According to Amir Rana, head of the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), Pakistan has captured some 1,500 Al Qaeda operatives since 9/11.
“Despite tension between the two countries, the cooperation against Al Qaeda was continuous. We haven’t seen any break or any disconnect in that cooperation,” he says. Pakistan has handed over high-level Al Qaeda operatives in the past, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Abu Zubaydah, and Spanish national Mustafa Setmariam Nasar. Imtiaz Gul, head of the Islamabad based Center for Research and Security, agrees.
Though the Pakistani security establishment may have played a so-called double game with factions of the Taliban and Punjabi militant groups, “I never believed the Army had any love for Al Qaeda,” he says. “Al Qaeda are the stated enemy of the Pakistan Army, so it makes all the more sense to go after them.
According to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, Mauritani came to authorities' attention after US intelligence discovered a paper authored by him from the “treasure trove” of intelligence they seized from Mr. bin Laden’s Abbottabad hideout.
McClatchy news reported that amid that "trove" was a document written by Mauritani, "where he sets out plans to attack economic targets in Europe. That multi-city plot, which involved Britain, France and Germany, was uncovered after the arrested of two German jihadists last year, triggering a terror alert in Germany. According to reports, the two had been recruited by al-Mauritani in 2009 in Pakistan's tribal area, where he allegedly told them that 'what we're planning, not even the devil has in mind.' "