Pakistan has decided to extradite recently captured senior Al Qaeda leader Younis Al Mauritani along with two other high-ranking operatives of the terrorist organization to the US, a military official said on Thursday.
Mauritani who was believed to be Al Qaeda’s external operations chief, and his two accomplices, Abdul Ghaffar Al Shami and Messara Al Shami, were arrested from the suburbs of Quetta on Monday by the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Authorities confirmed that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had provided the technical assistance to track them down.
A military official told on condition of anonymity that the detained Al Qaeda operatives were likely to be handed over to the US.
“It is our stated policy that we extradite Al Qaeda members of foreign origin,” the official said.
However, he did not give any timeframe for their extradition.
Meanwhile, Mauritani’s arrest and Islamabad’s decision on extraditing him is being viewed as a significant development to normalize relations between the ISI and CIA.
The level of co-operation between the two spy agencies had been strained ever since the US covert raid to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in his compound in Abbottabad on May 2.
The arrest of Mauritani has been hailed by Washington as ‘yet another blow to Al Qaeda.’
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday said that Pakistan’s capture of the senior Al Qaeda figure was an ‘encouraging’ sign that Islamabad was ready to bolster its cooperation with US counter-terrorism efforts.
He also reportedly said, “I assume that we will work with the Pakistanis to try to obtain access to the Al Qaeda militants.”
Pakistan has handed over hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives to the US since the beginning of the global campaign against the militant organization following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
But the policy has come under sharp criticism from some who believe that the government extradited many innocent people in return for dollars.
This article was published by the Oman Tribune on September 9, 2011.
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