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Pentagon: Top al-Qaida figure captured

March 14, 2008 12:24:19 PM PDT
The Pentagon says authorities have captured a high-level al-Qaida figure who helped Osama bin Laden escape from Afghanistan in 2001. Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to say when or where Mohammad Rahim was captured - or by whom - announcing only that he was handed over by the CIA to the Pentagon earlier this week and is being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But in a memo obtained by The Associated Press, CIA Director Michael Hayden told agency employees that Rahim was detained in the summer of 2007.

"Rahim is a tough, seasoned jihadist," Hayden said. "His combat experience, which dates back to the 1980s, includes plots against US and Afghan targets."

Rahim is a close associate of bin Laden and has ties to al-Qaida organizations throughout the Middle East, Whitman said.

He said Rahim helped prepare the al-Qaida hideout at Tora Bora - a mountain area full of warrens used by bin Laden during the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He assisted al-Qaida's escape from the area during the U.S. operation to try to catch the al-Qaida leader, officials said.

"Rahim's detention in the summer of 2007 was a blow to more than one terrorist network," Hayden said. "He gave aid to al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other anti-Coalition militants.


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