Pakistani Forces Pound Alleged Hideout
About 1,000 Pakistani soldiers backed by helicopter gunships, mortars and artillery Wednesday pounded a mountainous region near the Afghan border where a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers is believed to be hiding.
The assault targeted the village of Spinkai Raghzai in South Waziristan, a tribal region where the Pakistani army has been hunting Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida associates. But the top military commander in the region said Tuesday it was unlikely bin Laden was hiding in the area, as U.S. authorities suspect.
Abdullah Mehsud, a former prisoner at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who was released in March, had been hiding in the area. The one-legged militant, who is Pakistani, is believed responsible for the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers on Oct. 9. Since returning home, he has taken command of militants in South Waziristan and has forged ties with al-Qaida, Pakistani intelligence officials say.
Also Wednesday, intelligence officials said they had captured a suspected al-Qaida communications expert of Middle Eastern origin whom they identified as Abdul Rahman. Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed confirmed the arrest of a terror suspect, but would not provide further details on when or where he was captured. The man did not appear to be on either the FBI (news – web sites)’s most-wanted terror list or a similar Pakistani list.
So, we’re chasing after a one-legged terrorist who we had in custody after 9/11 and then let go? Lovely.