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Officials: Al-Qaida Leader Detained in Pakistan

  • VOA News

Officials in Pakistan say an al-Qaida leader has been detained near the country's border with Iran.

Pakistani authorities said Wednesday that Naamen Meziche, a French national of Algerian origin, was captured during a raid near Quetta - the capital of Baluchistan province. They said he was arrested while trying to flee the country, but provided no further details.

Officials say Meziche was a close associate of senior al-Qaida leader Younis al-Mauritani, who was arrested in Baluchistan last September with the help of the CIA. Mauritani was believed to have been tasked with targeting economic interests in the United States, Europe and Australia.

Meziche has been linked to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. and is said to be a member of an al-Qaida cell in Germany.

Meziche's arrest comes amid U.S. criticism that Pakistan is not doing enough to crack down on militant safe havens.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. was "reaching the limit" of its patience with Pakistan and urged the country to take action against insurgents who attack American forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan's foreign ministry rejected Panetta's comments, saying they did not contribute to peace and stability in the region.

Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have been strained over a number of recent issues, including Pakistan's closing of the NATO supply routes into Afghanistan after the mistaken killing of 24 Pakistani troops in U.S. airstrikes last November.

Pakistan has also condemned U.S. drone strikes targeting Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants in the country's northwest.

Islamabad also sharply criticized the covert U.S. raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad last May.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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