Pakistan has arrested a French national suspected of being a key Al Qaeda operative with links to the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Naamen Meziche, who is believed to be connected to top Al Qaeda leader Younis al-Mauritania and a member of the Hamburg, Germany terrorist cell suspected of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks, was arrested by security forces in a raid close to Pakistan’s border with Iran, the BBC reported.
Of Algerian descent, he is reported to have recruited young men for jihadism at a mosque in the city, which was shut down in 2010 by the German authorities. He is currently being interrogated by Pakistani intelligence operatives, according to the Associated Press.
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According to the Agence France Presse, three of the individuals who hijacked planes in the 9/11 attacks – including ringleader Mohammed Atta – often met at the Hamburg mosque before travelling to the United States. French terrorism experts and Pakistan officials told the news agency that Meziche had moved to the border areas straddling Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan a number of years ago, but remained “among the very close associates” of Younis al-Mauritania, who was arrested last September in the Pakistani city of Quetta on suspicion of plotting to carry out attacks on the US, Europe and Australia.
US officials have often expressed frustration at Pakistan’s efforts to clamp down on militant groups, particularly those operating out of the country’s restive tribal areas along the with border with Afghanistan, Reuters reports. Pakistan insists it will clear out insurgent safe havens in accordance with its own strategy.
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