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White House: Key al-Qaida Operative Captured

The Bush administration says a man seized in Pakistan last week is key al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah. The Bush administration says the capture is a severe blow to the terrorist network.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer describes Abu Zubaydah as a key recruiter and operational planner and a member of Osama Bin Laden's inner circle.

He says the al-Qaida official was captured last Thursday in raids on several houses in the town of Faisalabad, not far from the city of Lahore. Mr. Fleischer says Abu Zubaydah was shot several times as he attempted to escape and is now receiving medical treatment. He says the location is not being disclosed, and adds an interrogation is underway.

Senior Bush administration officials have spoken in recent days about their concerns that al-Qaida may be trying to regroup. The White House spokesman says the capture of Abu Zubayda will make it more difficult for the terrorist network to rebuild. In his words: "al-Qaida has many tentacles, and one has been cut off."

Ari Fleischer made the announcement before reporters without cameras and microphones present. He read a formal statement and provided few other details. But he did go to some lengths to praise Pakistan's efforts to help track down al-Qaida and Taleban fugitives. He noted that the raids were led by Pakistani authorities. And he made clear the White House is pleased to see the Pakistani government following up its stated commitment to fight terrorism with such concrete action.

Mr. Zubaydah is a Palestinian who has helped run al-Qaida. He is the highest ranking member of the terror network to be captured since the U.S. led military operation in Afghanistan began last October against al-Qaida and its Taleban supporters.