أرشيف صحفي

A Man suspected of terror links detained in Mauritania

BY SHEIKH BEKAYE Associated Press Writer

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania — A MauritanianRetour ligne automatique
suspected of plotting a bomb attack against theRetour ligne automatique
United States, and who reportedly has links to theRetour ligne automatique
millionaire fugitive Osama bin Laden, has beenRetour ligne automatique
arrested in Mauritania, security officials saidRetour ligne automatique
Friday.

Mohambedou Ould Slahi was being held at theRetour ligne automatique
offices of the Bureau of Mauritanian Security, saidRetour ligne automatique
the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.Retour ligne automatique
He was arrested in this West African nationRetour ligne automatique
after leaving neighboring Senegal on Wednesday,Retour ligne automatique
they said.Retour ligne automatique
Slahi, who had been living in Canada, left thereRetour ligne automatique
in part because of an investigation into an allegedRetour ligne automatique
bomb plot U.S. authorities say was tied to binRetour ligne automatique
Laden, the Canadian Security Intelligence ServiceRetour ligne automatique
said Thursday.

U.S. officials accuse Bin Laden, a SaudiRetour ligne automatique
believed to be living in Afghanistan, of mastermindingRetour ligne automatique
the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies inRetour ligne automatique
Kenya and Tanzania. Those attacks killed 224Retour ligne automatique
people, including 12 Americans.Retour ligne automatique
In Washington, a federal law enforcement officialRetour ligne automatique
said Friday that U.S. officials want to questionRetour ligne automatique
Slahi. But the official, who also spoke on conditionRetour ligne automatique
of anonymity, would not say whether the U.S. governmentRetour ligne automatique
would try to bring Slahi to the UnitedRetour ligne automatique
States or would question him in Mauritania.Retour ligne automatique
The Senegalese newspaper Walfadjri reportedRetour ligne automatique
Friday that Slahi had been detained for a fewRetour ligne automatique
hours at the Dakar airport after arriving fromRetour ligne automatique
Paris. He was questioned and then allowed toRetour ligne automatique
travel to the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, theRetour ligne automatique
paper reported.

Walfadjri, quoting unidentified police sources,Retour ligne automatique
said Slahi was questioned because his name wasRetour ligne automatique
on an Interpol list of people to watch.Retour ligne automatique
Slahi’s family, Arabs who were originally nomadsRetour ligne automatique
who ranged across theRetour ligne automatique
Sahara Desert,

settled in a crumblingRetour ligne automatique
apartment building in Bouhdida, just outsideRetour ligne automatique
Nouakchott, when drought ravaged the region in the 1970s.Retour ligne automatique
On Friday, Slahi’s mother, who identified herselfRetour ligne automatique
only as Fatima, denied her son would be involvedRetour ligne automatique
in a bomb plot.

“My son is not the kind of person who can kill,”Retour ligne automatique
she said, as more than a dozen female relatives,Retour ligne automatique
and one teen-age boy, gathered in a crampedRetour ligne automatique
apartment. “At the end, you will see that it all was a big lie.”Retour ligne automatique
She described him as a deeply religious manRetour ligne automatique
who “cries when a member of the family has a simple injury.”

Dan Lambert, a spokesman for Canadian intelligence,Retour ligne automatique
said Thursday that Slahi left CanadaRetour ligne automatique
sometime after authorities uncovered the allegedRetour ligne automatique
plot on Dec. 14 when they arrested AhmedRetour ligne automatique
Ressam for allegedly trying to smuggle bombmakingRetour ligne automatique
components into the United States.Retour ligne automatique
Ressam, an Algerian, pleaded innocentRetour ligne automatique
Thursday in federal court in Seattle to charges ofRetour ligne automatique
planning a terrorist bombing.Retour ligne automatique
Three other Algerian nationals and a womanRetour ligne automatique
married to an Algerian are in custody, and policeRetour ligne automatique
in the United States and Canada are searching forRetour ligne automatique
another Algerian.

According to a report in The New York Times,Retour ligne automatique
Slahi’s brother-in-law is one of bin Laden’s topRetour ligne automatique
lieutenants. However, a U.S. law enforcement officialRetour ligne automatique
said Thursday on condition of anonymity thatRetour ligne automatique
U.S. investigators are unsure of this.Retour ligne automatique
U.S. investigators are also not sure if Slahi wasRetour ligne automatique
a major figure in the bombing plot, or just a minorRetour ligne automatique
messenger, the official said in Washington.Retour ligne automatique
No specific evidence has been released linkingRetour ligne automatique
bin Laden to the newly alleged bombing plot.Retour ligne automatique
Authorities have not said what the targets of thatRetour ligne automatique
plot might have been.

Before Slahi left Montreal, he shared a smallRetour ligne automatique
room at the Assunna Mosque, said BahaaRetour ligne automatique
Elbatal, the mosque’s secretary.Retour ligne automatique
Elbatal said Slahi needed a place to stay in earlyRetour ligne automatique
January, and left Jan. 21. “I never felt he was aRetour ligne automatique
dangerous person,” he said.

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