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US Commends Pakistan for Capture of Alleged 'Mastermind' of  NY, Pentagon  Attacks - 2003-03-01

The Bush administration Saturday thanked Pakistan for its cooperation in capturing a senior member of the al-Qaida terrorist group. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer thanked Pakistani and U.S. authorities for a "successful joint operation" which captured several al-Qaida officials Saturday, including Mr. Mohammed.

In a written statement, Mr. Fleischer described Mr. Mohammed as one of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's "most senior and significant lieutenants."

He called Mr. Mohammed the "mastermind" behind the September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington and said he is known to have been "centrally involved" in plotting attacks since then, including more attacks inside the United States.

Mr. Mohammed is on the FBI's list of most-wanted al-Qaida leaders and has been under U.S. indictment since 1996 for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to bomb commercial airliners flying between the United States and Southeast Asia eight years ago.

U.S. officials had offered up to $25 million for information leading to the arrest of the Kuwaiti-born suspect.