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Pakistan Considers US Request to Extradite Bin al Shibh - 2002-09-16

Pakistan says investigators have finished interrogating a prime suspect in the planning of last year's terrorist attacks on the United States. Senior Pakistani officials say they are considering Washington's requests to extradite the suspect, Ramzi Bin al Shibh.

Pakistani authorities captured Mr. Bin al Shibh on Wednesday, after a shootout in the southern city of Karachi.

At least nine other al-Qaida suspects were also detained.

American authorities believe that 30-year-old Yemeni national, Ramzi Bin al Shibh, was a member of the al-Qaida cell in Hamburg, Germany, that planned and carried out the September 11 attacks against the United States.

Mr. Bin al Shibh is currently being detained at an undisclosed location in Karachi, where agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have taken the lead in questioning him and other detainees.

Pakistani officials say they will consider U.S. requests to extradite Mr. Bin al Shibh. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan says Pakistani legal procedures need to be followed first.

"There is cooperation between the United States and Pakistan as coalition partners against terrorism," he said. "So whatever steps would be required to facilitate that investigation would be taken. Once the interrogations are completed and there is need for further interrogation in the United States or wherever they [al-Qaida suspects] need to be extradited, then that question will be examined."

Mr. Khan says investigators are trying to determine the identity of another high-level al-Qaida fugitive who was captured last week along with Mr. Bin al Shibh.

Many al-Qaida members have taken refuge in Pakistan after fleeing the U.S.-led forces in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistani authorities have detained a large number of them. Some have been extradited to the Untied States, including Abu Zubaydah, a key lieutenant of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The arrest of Mr. Bin al Shibh is seen as a major development in the U.S.-led efforts to destroy the al-Qaida terrorist network. U.S. officials say that the Yemeni national wanted to join the 19 hijackers involved in the attacks in New York and Washington, but was repeatedly refused a visa into the United States.