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Suspected Sept. 11 Mastermind Taken to Afghanistan, say Pakistani Officials

Pakistan says the suspected mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks was handed over to the United States Tuesday for further interrogation.

Pakistani officials say the alleged al-Qaida leader, Kuwaiti-born Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and his colleague from Somalia have been flown to a U.S. detention center in neighboring Afghanistan. U.S. officials have yet to comment on the Pakistani statement.

The two suspected terrorists were detained at a house near the Pakistani capital on Saturday along with a local man.

Pakistan's federal information minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, told VOA that Pakistan turned over al-Qaida suspects Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his colleague to U.S. custody after completing its own investigation.

He said the Pakistani detainee, Ahmed Qadoos, is still in the country and he will be tried by a local court for links with the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Mr. Qadoos is the son of an activist in Pakistan's largest right-wing religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami.

U.S. officials say the arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is an important victory against terrorism.

He is believed to be the terror network's operational commander and the architect of the September 11 deadly attacks on New York and Washington. The United States was offering up to $25 million for information leading to his arrest.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was believed to be planning fresh terror strikes against American and European targets. U.S. officials say his arrest will help prevent those attacks and could lead to the capture of al-Qaida's chief, Osama bin Laden.