Saturday, August 30, 2003

A man believed to be an al-Qaida operative, found with 11 surface-to-air missiles, has been arrested in Iraq by U.S. troops and has acknowledged he had been training with Ansar al Islam fighters to use the weapons against American forces, a senior U.S. official said Friday.

The arrest marks the first time the U.S.-led coalition has apprehended someone believed to be a member of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network who is operating in Iraq.

The unnamed suspect was captured during an Aug. 20 raid in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, the capital, along with two other unnamed men, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. At least one of the other two men was believed to be a member of the extremist group Ansar al Islam, the official said.

Intelligence officials said they found the suspected al-Qaida member's account, given during interrogation, credible.

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