Pakistan‘s military announced Sept. 6 the arrest of senior al-Qaeda leader Younis al-Mauritani along with two other top operatives, Abdul Ghaffar al-Shami and Messara al-Shami. Younis al-Mauritani is said to be head of al-Qaeda’s international operations, charged with planning and preparing attacks on the US, Europe and Australia. The arrests, in the city of Quetta, have been hailed as the fruit of cooperation between Pakistan’s ISI and the CIA—despite recent friction between Islamabad and Washington over drone strikes. “I think it’s a tribute to the Pakistanis who worked with us in this effort,” CIA director Leon Panetta told reporters on a visit to New York City to commemorate the 9-11 attacks. Asked whether the US would seek access to al-Mauritani, who is in Pakistani custody, Panetta said: “I assume that we will work with the Pakistanis to try to obtain access and try to gather intelligence from that individual.” (Daily Times, Pakistan, AFP, Sept. 7; Reuters, Sept. 6)
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Al-Qaeda strikes back?
Police in Pakistan are investigating whether a twin suicide bomb attack on the home of a top paramilitary official that killed at least 23 people in Quetta Sept. 7 is linked to the recent arrest of three top al-Qaeda operatives in the city. Brigadier Farrukh Shahzad, deputy head of the Frontier Corps paramilitary force for Baluchistan province, survived the morning attack but his wife was killed. More than 50 people were injured in the blasts. (LAT, Sept. 7)
Pakistan: terror targets anti-Taliban tribesmen
A suicide bomber killed 31 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a funeral for a member of a tribe that has raised an anti-Taliban militia in Pakistan’s northwestern district of Lower Dir, north of Peshawar. The attack took place at Samarbagh village, where more than 100 mourners were attending the funeral of a tribal member. The assailant detonated his vest among the crowd as they were preparing to offer funeral prayers. (Long War Journal, Sept. 15)
Last month, a suicide bomber attacked a crowded mosque at Jamrud in the Khyber tribal district (FATA), killing 48 people and wounding more than 100 during Ramadan prayers. (AFP, Aug. 20) The mosque at Jamrud was similarly targeted in 2009.