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Friday, July 30, 2004

Bin Laden's network 'crumbling'

July 31, 2004
The network supporting Osama bin Laden was crumbling after the arrest of a top Al Qaeda operative, one of the world's most wanted men, a senior government minister said yesterday.

The Tanzanian-born Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani had a $5 million reward on his head, and is wanted by the United States for his role in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa.

Investigators are scouring a computer and several discs seized when they captured Ghailani and 13 others after a 14-hour gunbattle with security forces last weekend in the city of Gujarat, 175km southeast of Islamabad, intelligence sources said.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said that he was sure the African would prove a rich source of information on the Al Qaeda network that is supporting fugitive Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman Al Zawahri.

Both are believed to be hiding out in rugged mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

"Osama bin Laden or Al Zawahri don't work in isolation," Hayat said. "They work through these networks."

The minister said those networks are "obviously in the process of crumbling at this point of time." "We have certainly gained important and valuable information as a result of these arrests," he said.

Intelligence sources said Ghailani had been flushed out of South Waziristan, a Pashtun tribal region on the border with Afghanistan.

The sources said Ghailani was captured along with his Uzbek wife and two South Africans after his driver led police to his hide-out. FR Reprint.

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