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Yemen Captures 2 Top Al-Qaida Leaders - 2004-03-04

Authorities in Yemen say they have captured two top leaders of the al-Qaida terrorist network.

The arrests came after security agents aided by helicopters and tanks surrounded a suspected terrorist hideout in the mountains of southern Yemen late Wednesday. More than a dozen suspected militants were taken into custody.

Officials say they have arrested Egyptian militant Sayed Imam el-Sharif, who is said to be an influential member of Al-Qaida as well as a former leader of Egypt's Islamic Jihad. One Yemeni official said Mr. al-Sharif is wanted for his alleged connection with terrorist attacks carried out by his organization.

They have also apprehended Abdul Raouf Naseeb, described as a Yemeni extremist and senior al-Qaida operative. He is believed to have survived an attack by a CIA drone in November that killed six al-Qaida operatives, and is the alleged mastermind behind the prison escape of several militants who had been jailed in connection with the bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors.

Meanwhile in Egypt, the interior ministry confirmed Thursday that an Islamic militant suspected of involvement in deadly attacks against foreign tourists in Luxor seven years ago is being held in an Egyptian prison.

Mohammed al-Zawahri is also a former leader of Egypt's Islamic Jihad. His brother, Ayman al-Zawahri, is believed to be Osama bin Laden's second-in-command, and his whereabouts are still unknown.