The suspects, an Egyptian named Sharif al-Misri and another man of Middle Eastern origin identified as Abdul Hakeem, were caught Sunday when Pakistani intelligence agents acting on a tip raided a home in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. Associated Press
QUETTA, Pakistan - A suspected al-Qaida operative who was captured along with another man during raids in this southwestern city is an "explosives expert" who had arrived here from Iran, a security official said Thursday.
The suspects, an Egyptian named Sharif al-Misri and another man of Middle Eastern origin identified as Abdul Hakeem, were caught Sunday when Pakistani intelligence agents acting on a tip raided a home in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province.
The men's arrest was announced Wednesday by Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
A security official who is familiar with the investigations of the two suspects told The Associated Press on Thursday that al-Misri had arrived in Pakistan from Iran, where his wife and children have been living since the U.S.-led coalition ousted the government of the Taliban from Afghanistan in late 2001.
"He (al-Misri) is an explosives expert. He has told us that his wife and children live in Iran," said the official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.
He said al-Misri admitted training militants in Afghanistan but insists he has done nothing against Pakistan.
"So far, it is not clear why he came here," said the official. "We suspect, he was on some mission, but we don't have any details."
Pakistan, a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, shares a border with Iran. Pakistani and Iranian border guards often arrest people, mostly Pakistanis, who try to illegally cross the border to travel to Europe in an effort to seek better jobs.
The latest arrests came weeks after Pakistani police and intelligence agents arrested Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian with a US$25 million bounty on his head, and Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, a Pakistani computer expert allegedly with links to al-Qaida operatives around the world.
The arrests led to a terror warning in the United States, and counterterror operations in Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan has arrested more than 550 al-Qaida suspects and turned most of them over to the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in America.