Today's Paper

FBI joins Pak. raids on Al-Qaeda

ISLAMABAD March 29. In what is believed to be the first joint operation by Pakistani and American investigative agencies, two suspected members of the Al-Qaeda were killed and six persons, including two policemen, injured during a crackdown on terrorists in the Punjab province.

Two prominent Pakistani dailies, Dawn and The News, reported that FBI personnel and the local police were engaged in the operation in Faisalabad in the early hours of Thursday. Reports said that raids were also conducted in Lahore and four people arrested.

There was no official reaction to the reports. Pakistan's stated position after the September 11 events on co-operation with the U.S. against terrorism is that it is a partner in three specific areas — intelligence gathering, provision of air space and logistical support.

The joint operation assumes significance in the light of the reported statement by the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Abdul Sattar, that if necessary the question of allowing U.S. troops to cross over from Afghanistan in pursuit of Al-Qaeda suspects could be discussed. In his interview to The Washington Post, Mr. Sattar was quoted as saying that "there is no problem. U.S. forces can cross the border into Pakistan if necessary; we should discuss it".

The local media reported that acting on a tip-off that some Al-Qaeda members were hiding in Faisalabad, a joint team of the FBI and law enforcement agencies raided six spots in the city and arrested 46 persons, including 19 foreigners.

The reports said that 16 Arab nationals were arrested in a raid on a house. They tried to resist arrest and injured a constable with a knife. The raiding team then opened fire and killed Abdul Hasnat, who reportedly belonged to Syria. Four others were seriously injured and were rushed to hospital, where one died.

The raids were conducted simultaneously by special commando teams, each comprising five FBI men and local police personnel. Two men took photographs and shot on video all the raided places. Quoting police sources, the media reports said that no case had been registered nor the arrests entered into the records of the police stations concerned. However, they pointed out that "police will record the incidents as and when asked by the higher-ups, for which they have made an arrangement in the FIR books".

The Punjab police confirmed the killing of one person and the arrest of alleged terrorists in operations carried out on the outskirts of Lahore and Faisalabad. Quoting the Punjab IGP, Malik Asif Hayat, the Punjab police spokesman said in Lahore that the arrested members were dangerous terrorists belonging to different religious groups. However, he said, "I don't know whether they belong to Al-Qaeda." The police had information that some dangerous militants were hiding in various parts of Punjab. "Intelligence agencies passed on the information," he said.

Recommended for you