Osama bin Laden's spokesman 'held in Jordan'

US official confirms Suleiman Abu Ghaith's arrest, calling it a "significant victory" in ongoing fight against al-Qaeda.
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2013 20:27
Still image from video obtained by Reuters news agency in 2002 shows man believed to be al-Qaeda spokesman Ghaith

Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, who served as al-Qaeda's spokesman, has been arrested and detained in Jordan in an operation led by Jordanian authorities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US government sources said.

"Definitely, one by one, we are getting the top echelons of al-Qaeda"

- Peter King, Senior congressman

Initial public confirmation of Suleiman Abu Ghaith's capture came from Representative Peter King, a senior Republican member of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee and former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

On Thursday, King called the arrest a "very significant victory" in the ongoing fight against al-Qaeda.

King said the capture was confirmed to him by US law enforcement officials.

The sources said Ghaith took part in the September 11, 2001, attacks against the World Trade Center and Pentagon and had initially been picked up in Turkey.

The Turkish government then deported him to Jordan, said the sources, where local authorities and the FBI took custody of him.

'Vigorous interrogation''

"I commend our CIA and FBI, our allies in Jordan, and President [Barack] Obama for their capture of al-Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. I trust he received a vigorous interrogation, and will face swift and certain justice," King said in a statement on Thursday.

"Definitely, one by one, we are getting the top echelons of al-Qaeda," King said. "I give the [Obama] administration credit for this: it's steady and it's unrelenting and it's very successful."

US sources indicated that, while a CIA role in the capture of Abu Ghaith could not be ruled out, the FBI took the lead role in the operation under the auspices of an interagency body known as the High-value Detainee Interrogation Group.

The US accused Osama bin Laden of being the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks [GALLO/GETTY]

The group was created by Obama's administration after the president ordered the permanent shut down of a CIA programme in which rebel suspects were detained and held in a network of secret prisons, during the administration of former President George Bush.

The suspects were sometimes subjected to controversial and physically coercive "enhanced interrogation techniques," and also sometimes transferred without trial to third countries under a procedure known as "extraordinary rendition".

The Turkish newspaper Hürriyet reported that Abu Ghaith was passing through Jordan, on his way to Kuwait, shortly after leaving Turkey.

The newspaper said that Abu Ghaith was taken into custody more than a month ago at a luxury hotel in the Turkish capital, Ankara. But Turkish officials decided he had not committed any crime in Turkey, and released him, the newspaper reported.

In Ankara, Turkish officials refused to confirm Abu Ghaith's deportation or his capture in Jordan to the Associated Press.

In Amman, the Jordanian capital, a security official said he had no information on the CIA arrest in Jordan.

US intelligence officials in Washington did not immediately respond to request for information about Abu Ghaith.


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