U.S. Whisks Binalshibh Out of Pakistan
KARACHI, Pakistan ? Ramzi Binalshibh, the Sept. 11 terror suspect arrested in Pakistan last week, was flown out of Pakistan by the United States Monday, sources said.
The sources said Binalshibh, who authorities say trained to be the "20th hijacker" on Sept. 11, was among five Al Qaeda suspects flown out of Pakistan.
Fox News has learned the identity of another of the five Al Qaeda members now in the custody of the U.S. He is Umar Al-Gharib, the brother of a man thought to be one of the planners of the USS Cole bombing.
The five were arrested in Karachi last week, marking a major success in the U.S.-led war against terrorism.
Binalshibh, 30, is believed by the FBI to have been the intended 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks, but he was frustrated in his attempts to receive a visa to enter the United States in 2000, when, U.S. and German officials allege, he had planned to join the other 19 hijackers.
Instead, he allegedly provided logistical help to the operation and funneled money to his former roommate, Mohammed Atta, believed to have been the leader of the suicide hijackers.
Binalshibh boasted of his role in planning the Sept. 11 attacks during an interview in Karachi with Al-Jazeera television. The interview was broadcast last week, but the station said it received an audio-taped recording of the interview in June.
Earlier Monday, another government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said police were investigating whether suspects arrested with Binalshibh were involved in the murder of American reporter Daniel Pearl.
If a link were established, it would be the first evidence that Al Qaeda may have been involved in Pearl’s abduction and killing.
Binalshibh’s transfer to the United States became more likely Sunday when Germany decided not to pursue his extradition to face a mass murder-conspiracy indictment, and U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. was negotiating to have Binalshibh turned over to American officials.
"We certainly want custody of him, and we certainly want to be able to find out what he knows," Rice told Fox News Sunday.
Rice could not confirm speculation that another Al Qaeda suspect arrested last week was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of Usama bin Laden’s chief lieutenants.
"I wouldn’t rule anything out here, but I think that we’ll just wait and see how this unfolds," she said
Germany has an international arrest warrant for Binalshibh charging him with more than 3,000 counts of murder for allegedly conspiring in the city of Hamburg with Atta and other Sept. 11 plotters to attack the United States.
But German Interior Minister Otto Schily said Sunday the government had dropped plans to ask Pakistan to extradite Binalshibh, avoiding a potential conflict with the U.S.
Schily said that given the "terrible attacks of Sept. 11 occurred in New York and Washington, it goes without saying that Americans have priority for his extradition."
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft welcomed Germany’s decision, saying, "We, from time to time, cooperate to sequence our interests."
Sending Binalshibh first to Germany would have complicated efforts to hand him over to the U.S., since European Union nations refuse to extradite suspects to the United States if they can face the death penalty.
The U.S. has not issued any public indictment against Binalshibh, but he is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the designated 20th hijacker who was arrested before Sept. 11.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.