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CNN BREAKING NEWS

al Qaeda Terrorist Hambali Being Held In Unidentified Country

Aired August 14, 2003 - 15:44   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: For more now on Hambali and the attacks that the president was talking about, let's bring in our David Ensor, national security correspondent. David, let's talk a little bit about Hambali. Give our viewers some of the background and also what led to this arrest.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was captured several days ago, Kyra, in another country, somewhere in southeast Asia, we believe, but U.S. officials are not saying where, that country does not want to be identified. He's in U.S. custody in some unidentified third country overseas, and you may be sure he is being interrogated very closely.

First and foremost, to see who he might know of the whereabouts of that might also be captured. Other al Qaeda figures, either senior figures or people who might be plotting attacks in the coming weeks and months against U.S. targets or others.

He is suspected of involvement in the Bali bombing. In the Marriott bombing in Indonesia. He was one of the organizers of the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia at which -- with the attendance of the couple of the hijackers. It's understood that the beginnings of the plot for the September 11 attacks against the United States were first developed.

So this is a very senior man. U.S. officials say they consider him at the top of the second tier of al Qaeda. I mean, this is not at the level of Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri, the top two. It may be -- there may be one or two in between them, for example Sifal al-Ottle (ph), who is believed now to be the operations chief and may be in Iran, some officials believe. Still, this is a major coup, the most wanted man in southeast Asia, that is for sure -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: David Ensor, thank you.

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