Pakistan to deport al-Qaida suspect

President Pervez Musharraf has said a top al-Qaida operative arrested in Pakistan will be handed over to the United States.

    Al-Libbi is the alleged al-Qaida number three

    "We are obviously going to deport him. We have extracted all the information and intelligence from him," Musharraf said, referring to al-Qaida's alleged number three Abu Faraj al-Libbi, who was arrested earlier this month.

    "I presume that he may have been deported already to the United States," Musharraf told CNN in an interview late on Tuesday, adding that until three days ago al-Libbi was in Pakistan.

    Al-Libbi is the alleged mastermind of two attempts on Musharraf's life in December 2003, and a bid to assassinate Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz before he assumed office last year.

    Asked why Pakistan was deporting al-Libbi to the United States even though the alleged al-Qaida operative was involved on two assassination attempts on him, Musharraf said there were "bigger issues" involved.

    "He did attack me twice, he was the mastermind behind the attack but then there is lot of other more important issues of his role in al-Qaida and his information and intelligence which needs to be corroborated with all the other intelligence that is available through interrogation of other al-Qaida personalities whom we have apprehended,' he said.

    Bin Laden whereabouts?

    "Therefore there are bigger issues involved and finally we will come to his trial later."

    Musharraf said that al-Libbi had not given interrogators any clues as to the whereabouts of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

    Musharraf says al-Libbi twice
    tried to assassinate him

    "No, he did not … He has always been saying that he is not in contact" with bin Laden, Musharraf said.

    When told Afghan President Hamid Karzai had said bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan, Musharraf described the statement as "conjunctures".

    "I really do not know how people can give such conjunctures, I could say he is in Afghanistan. But I never say that," he said.

    Pakistan says it has so far rounded up about 700 al-Qaida suspects, including alleged top operatives, in army searches of lawless tribal border areas and other operations.

    Most have been handed over to US custody. The US regards Pakistan as a key ally in the "war against terror".



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