Suspect detained in Mideast

Monday, November 5, 2001

WASHINGTON -- A suspected Al-Qaida operative observed meeting with hijacker Khalid Almihdhar in Malaysia in 2000 has been detained in the Middle East for questioning in connection with prior terrorist attacks, officials said Sunday.

The man was being questioned by intelligence agents about his possible contact with the hijacker, his suspected involvement in the USS Cole bombing and a foiled plot to bomb a hotel in Jordan filled with Americans during the millennium celebrations, officials said.

The man was videotaped by Malaysian security authorities in a January 2000 meeting with Almihdhar and other supporters of Osama bin Laden and his network.

At the time, neither Almihdhar nor the man now in custody were known to be connected to terrorism. Officials did not provide the man's name. They said he has not been charged with any offense.

However, the meeting took on new significance this past summer when information developed in the bombing of the Cole suggested the man now being held in the Middle East might have been connected to the plot, officials said.

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