Al Qaeda suspect bound for U.S.
Musharraf says terror group’s power is reduced
June 1, 2005
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan will send top al Qaeda terrorist suspect Abu Farraj al-Libbi to the United States, according to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
Al-Libbi, captured on May 2, is believed to have masterminded two assassination attempts against Musharraf and is widely regarded as the No.3 man in al Qaeda.
Speaking via a video link from Islamabad, Musharraf told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: "I presume he may already have been deported to the United States."
Musharraf then said he did not know that for sure, but "we don’t want him in Pakistan".
The Pakistan president, who was addressing a CNN conference in Atlanta, said Pakistan had extracted "all the intelligence" from al-Libbi and had no further need for him.
Musharraf also said that al Qaeda no longer existed in Pakistan as a "homogenous body" and its members were reduced to operating in small bands.
Al-Libbi, who was believed responsible for the terror group’s global operations, was captured in northwest Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan on May 2.
At the time, U.S. President George W. Bush hailed the arrest of al-Libbi and that of 10 other suspected al Qaeda members as a "critical victory in the war on terror."
U.S. and Pakistani officials said al-Libbi and other al Qaeda suspects were arrested after a gunbattle in Mardan, a city in the country’s northwest province.
U.S. intelligence reports have said the same province is where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his top deputy, Egyptian surgeon Ayman al-Zawahiri, are believed to be hiding.
While al-Libbi has been described as al Qaeda’s No. 3 after bin Laden and al-Zawahri, he does not appear on the FBI list of the world’s most-wanted terrorists.
Musharraf said al-Libbi did not provide any useful information about Osama bin Laden.
"He says he is not in contact with Osama bin Laden."
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington on Tuesday that the United States was talking to Pakistan about al-Libbi but had not yet discussed his extradition.
Asked if he could confirm that al-Libbi was to be transferred to the United States, Boucher said, " No at this point."
"I don’t think there’s a formal process under way at this point," he added.
Al-Libbi, a Libyan, had a $10 million bounty on his head. He is blamed for masterminding two assassination attempts against Musharraf in December 2003, in the second of which 17 people died.
"He was the most wanted man in Pakistan, and he’s a big catch," Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said at the time. "It’s a good sign and we are going in the right direction."
Bush said after news of the arrest was released that "al-Libbi was a top general for bin Laden. He was a major facilitator and a chief planner for the al Qaeda network. His arrest removes a dangerous enemy who was a direct threat for America."
Bush praised the Pakistan government for its "strong cooperation in the war on terror."
Intelligence officials said al-Libbi was engaged last year in coded communication with al Qaeda operatives in both the United States and Britain.
U.S. counterterrorism officials believe al-Libbi took on the role of No. 3 in al Qaeda following the March 2003 capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Pakistan. They said al-Libbi was responsible for plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland.