Monday, January 26, 2004

A senior al Qaeda operative and several associated figures were captured last week in Iraq by local Iraqi and U.S. forces, a senior administration official said yesterday.

Hassan Ghul, described as the most senior associate of Osama bin Laden found in Iraq, was picked up last week in the northern part of the country by Kurdish forces, the official said. "He was a senior facilitator who was caught coming into the country," the official said. Speculation was that Ghul, a Pakistani, was scouting out what al Qaeda could do in the future against U.S. forces, the official said.

Ghul has been part of al Qaeda for at least a decade and was known to deliver money to terrorist groups in the Middle East and Africa.

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