The Pakistan Army on Monday claimed to have arrested three operatives of al-Qaeda including Younis Al Mauritani who was reportedly personally asked by Osama bin Laden to strike targets of economic importance in the U.S., Europe and Australia. Mauritani — who is of North African origin — was apparently planning to target U.S. economic interests including gas/oil pipelines, power generating dams and strike ships/oil tankers with explosive laden speed boats in international waters.

The three were arrested from the suburbs of Balochistan's capital, Quetta, by the ISI in coordination with Frontier Corps but no further details including the time of the arrests have been disclosed. Besides Mauritani — mainly responsible for planning and conducting international operations to the extent that some refer to him as “al-Qaeda's foreign minister'' — the other two arrested have been identified as Abdul Ghafar Al Shami (Bachar Chama) and Messara Al Shami (Mujahid Amino).

The arrests, according to a statement put out by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), were made in an operation that was “planned and conducted with technical assistance of United States intelligence agencies with whom ISI has a strong, historic intelligence relationship''.

Coming after months of public muscle-flexing between the CIA and the ISI, the statement seeks to drive home the point about cooperation between the two organisations which have been at loggerheads all year; first over the arrest of CIA operative Raymond Davis and then the U.S. unilateral operation in Abbottabad to take out bin Laden.

According to ISPR, both Pakistan and the U.S. intelligence agencies continue to work closely together to enhance security of their respective nations. The “intimate cooperation'' between Pakistan and U.S. intelligence agencies has resulted in the prevention of a number of high profile terrorist acts not only inside the two countries but elsewhere in the world, the statement added.

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