Well this is good news…
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani security forces, with help from U.S. intelligence, have arrested al Qaeda’s third most senior leader after Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahri, Western intelligence sources said on Wednesday.
Pakistan says Abu Faraj Farj al Liby, whom it has said is a Libyan, was the ringleader behind at least two assassination attempts against President Pervez Musharraf in December 2003.
And although he does not figure on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “most wanted” list, Liby is believed to have taken over the role of the arrested Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who allegedly masterminded the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities.
“Al Liby is a top general for (Osama) bin Laden. He was a major facilitator and a chief planner for the al Qaeda network. His arrest removes a dangerous enemy who was a direct threat to America and to those who love freedom,” U.S. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday, before going on to praise Pakistan.
A U.S. counter-terrorism official in Washington was even more specific: “He is the third most important after bin Laden and Zawahri. It’s a significant blow to the group.”
While I’m sure it is a blow, but to me the better news is that Pakistan is still living up to its commitment to help in the GWOT. — Though it should be noted this guy was linked to the plot to kill Musharraf so it was not completely altruistic.
Surprise, Surprise, Bush was happy about it:
Bush Lauds Pakistan for Arrest of No. 3 al-Qaida Figure, a ‘Critical Victory in the War on Terror
May. 4, 2005 – The arrest of an al-Qaida operational chief in Pakistan “represents a critical victory in the war on terror,” President Bush said Wednesday. U.S. counterterrorism officials said the captive almost certainly knows crucial planning details for the terror network.
During an appearance to talk about Social Security, Bush praised the government of Pakistan for the arrest earlier this week of Abu Farraj al-Libbi.
Bush called him “a major facilitator and a chief planner” for Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terror network and said that his arrest “removes a dangerous enemy who is a direct threat to America and for those who love freedom.”
U.S. counterterrorism officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said al-Libbi was the No. 3 al-Qaida figure behind bin Laden and his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri. Officials said authorities expect that al-Libbi will have significant knowledge of al-Qaida’s operations and planning, given his position as al-Qaida’s No. 3 operative.
Officials consider this arrest the most significant blow to al-Qaida since the March 2003 capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed because al-Libbi is believed responsible for planning attacks around the world, including inside the United States. The officials would not elaborate.
The arrest is the result of months of close cooperation between the Pakistanis and the CIA’s most famous division, its clandestine service, according to the officials. The Pakistanis captured al-Libbi through human intelligence or traditional human spying.
The real payoff will be any intelligence they can get from him or his possessions. Often an arrest like this has a snowball effect.