News / Asia

Former bin Laden Associate Says al-Qaida Has Chosen Interim Leader

This undated image released by the FBI shows Saif al-Adel, one of FBI's most wanted terrorists
This undated image released by the FBI shows Saif al-Adel, one of FBI's most wanted terrorists

News reports say a former Egyptian special forces officer has become al-Qaida's interim operational leader in the wake of Osama bin Laden's killing earlier this month.

CNN and Reuters quote Noman Benotman, a former associate of bin Laden who has since renounced al-Qaida's ideology, as saying that Saif al-Adel (also known as Muhamad Ibrahim Makkawi) has been chosen "caretaker" leader of al-Qaida until a successor to bin Laden is formally announced.

The presumed successor to bin Laden is his long-time deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, who also is Egyptian.  

In a separate development, Pakistan said Tuesday that its security forces had arrested a senior al-Qaida operative in the southern port city of Karachi.

The Pakistani military identified the man as Yemeni national Muhammad Ali Qasim Yaqub, alias Abu Sohaib Al Makki.  It said preliminary investigations showed that Al Makki was working "directly under al-Qaida leaders" along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

The Pakistani statement described the arrest as a "major development in unraveling the al-Qaida network operating in the region."

Pakistan has come under pressure from Western powers to explain how Osama bin Laden was able to hide in the Pakistani city of Abbotabad for years until U.S. special forces killed him in a covert raid on May 2.

Pakistan denies harboring bin Laden and says it has paid a heavy price for its own battle against al-Qaida militants and their Taliban allies, whose attacks have killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis in recent years.

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