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Source: Bin Laden aide providing information

Raids in Pakistan may have prevented terror attack

Abu Zubaydah
Abu Zubaydah  

From David Ensor and Kelli Arena
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Captured al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah is talking, providing limited information to interrogators, according to a highly placed U.S. government source.

Some U.S. officials also believe that recent raids in Pakistan, one of which resulted in Zubaydah's capture last week, may have helped interrupt a planned terrorist attack. That belief is based on information netted during the raids, but a specific target for attack has not been identified, the source said.

Publicly, U.S. officials would say little Wednesday about the capture of Zubaydah, what they are learning from him or even where he is being held.

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FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged that Zubaydah's arrest "assists in helping prevent another terrorist attack," but he would not offer any details.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said access to individuals such as Zubaydah -- a top aide to Osama bin Laden described as being in charge of al Qaeda operations and responsible for recruiting new members -- helps in "intelligence-gathering." Rumsfeld called Zubaydah "a man who knows about additional terrorist acts."

Rumsfeld denied reports the United States is considering handing Zubaydah over to another country that could use harsher interrogation techniques than U.S. law allows.

He called such media reports "wrong and irresponsible."

"We are responsible for his detention, and we intend to remain responsible for his detention," he said.

U.S. officials would not say where Zubaydah is being held. They did say, however, that he will not be sent to the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, where it is feared he could communicate with other detainees.

Zubaydah is recovering from gunshot wounds to the groin, thigh and stomach inflicted when he tried to flee during last week's raid, according to U.S. officials.

While a final decision has not been made, it is expected Zubaydah will be tried by a U.S. military commission.

Zubaydah, a Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia, is also wanted by Jordan, which indicted him for his alleged role in a thwarted millennium bomb plot.

Leads found in computers, documents, other materials

Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials say they are following up leads found in computers, documents and other materials seized in the raids of safe houses in Faisalabad and Lahore, Pakistan. Several subordinates of Zubaydah were also captured during the raids and will be interrogated, officials said.

Mueller would not elaborate on what was found in the Pakistan safe houses. He also refused to comment on whether anything found was linked directly to a planned terrorist attack.

"He was a principal al Qaeda leader," Mueller said at a briefing with reporters. "Pakistani authorities should be congratulated on his capture."

He said FBI personnel assisted in the raid that resulted in Zubaydah's capture, but added that Pakistan had the primary authority.

At the Pentagon, Rumsfeld said the U.S. government had decided not to disclose Zubaydah's location for security reasons. He said medical care was provided for Zubaydah because the U.S. government has an interest in his being able to speak with investigators.

U.S. officials said Zubaydah remains in "serious" condition but is expected to survive his injuries.

Additional raids are possible in Pakistan and elsewhere, officials said, based on information gleaned from the earlier ones.




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