Pakistan seeks public help to nab terrorists

Thursday, August 19, 2004

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan published photos Wednesday in newspapers across the country of six terror suspects -- including a senior al-Qaida operative -- it says were behind attempts to assassinate the nation's president and offered a large reward for their capture.

The identities of the men highlighted the chilling nexus between several homegrown Pakistani militant groups and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. The government says al-Qaida had a hand in two December assassination attempts against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, as well as a July attempt against prime minister-designate Shaukat Aziz.

Musharraf identified the main suspect as Abu Faraj al-Libbi, a Libyan national. The government had never published a photo of him until Wednesday.

Al-Libbi appears in the photo as a dapper looking man with a short beard. He is wearing a Western suit and tie in the photograph, above a 20 million rupee reward offer, or $344,800.

The other suspects, all identified as Pakistan's "Most Wanted Terrorists," are Mati-ur Rehman, Amjad Hussain, Qari Ehsan, Omar Aqdas, and Mansoor -- whose alias is Chota Ibrahim. All are Pakistani and known to be linked with Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group.

It was not clear exactly what the other five men are wanted for or what role -- if any -- they had in the assassination attempts.

The advertisements promised anonymity for any informants and gave phone numbers and e-mail addresses to contact authorities. Some posters were printed in English and some in Urdu, Pakistan's other official language.

Hussain, who is best known as Amjad Hussain Farooqi, is also wanted for his part in the 2002 kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. In some accounts, Hussain recruited three Yemenis for the task and supervised it. In others, he carried out the butchery himself.

Hussain is also believed linked to al-Qaida's former No. 3, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2003.

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