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Australian al Qaeda fighter captured

SAS troops
Australian SAS troops, with faces obscured, pictured close to the action in Afghanistan  

By Grant Holloway

CANBERRA, Australia -- An Australian who trained with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan has been captured by Northern Alliance troops.

Australian Attorney-General Daryl Williams said Wednesday the 26-year-old caucasian man had been arrested by the Northern Alliance on or around December 9.

Williams would not give details of the man's capture or personal details for security reasons, however, the Pentagon has told CNN that the man is providing them with "useful information".

The attorney-general declined to say if the man was a Muslim, although radio reports in Australia say the man is a convert to Islam.

Williams said the man had no known criminal record and had "not previously come to notice" with Australian security organizations.

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The man, believed to be from the southern Australian city of Adelaide, had left Australia in 1999 and joined the Kosovo Liberation Army fighting in Yugoslavia.

He then moved to Pakistan in November 1999 where he trained with the Islamist guerilla group Lashkar-e-Taiba, a statement from the attorney-general's office says.

"During the year 2000 he went to Afghanistan where he undertook training with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network," Williams told reporters Wednesday.

Williams said the man appeared to be more involved in al Qaeda than American John Walker, who was captured fighting for the Taliban.

"What we can say is that he has undertaken more training than Mr Walker has," Williams told radio listeners.

Members of the man's family have been interviewed by Australia's security intelligence organization and federal police officers and Australia is now discussing the matter with other countries' security authorities, including the U.S.

"The capture of the man raises a range of legal questions relating, among other things, to possible offenses against Australian law," Williams said.

Rialto Towers
Melbourne's Rialto Towers were a suspected target in a terror plot  

However, he said the there was no information, at this stage, linking the captured man to any security threat within Australia.

Last week it was revealed that a man arrested in India had confessed to a plot to attack targets outside of the United States, including Australia's tallest building, the Rialto Towers in Melbourne.

Australian and Indian authorities are taking the confession seriously, especially after it was revealed the man underwent pilot training at an aviation school in Australia.

Australia was one of the first nations to offer military assistance to the U.S. following the September 11 terror attacks.

About 150 of Australia's Special Air Services troops are now deployed on the frontlines in Afghanistan.

In total, Australia has committed more than 1,500 military personnel to the coalition response as well as navy frigates, a transport ship with air defense, long range maritime patrol aircraft, tanker aircraft and F/A-18 fighter aircraft.

Earlier this year Australia and the U.S. celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ANZUS defense pact between the two nations


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