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Impeach Bush

Leak Allowed al-Qaida Suspects to Escape
Sun Herald.com
MATTHEW PENNINGTON
Associated Press
Posted on Tue, Aug. 10, 2004

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - President Gen. Pervez Musharraf says Pakistan has been "90 percent" successful in arresting suspects behind a series of high-profile terror attacks, including against key government leaders.

Yet senior officials said Tuesday that some al-Qaida fugitives escaped after news reports revealed the arrest of a computer expert for Osama bin Laden's network who was cooperating with investigators.

Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, a 25-year-old Pakistani, was nabbed in a July 13 raid in the eastern city of Lahore. His capture was a signal victory for Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism. He led authorities to a key al-Qaida figure and sent e-mails to terrorists so investigators could trace their locations.

In an interview published in a Pakistani newspaper Tuesday, Musharraf hailed the efforts of the country's intelligence agencies.

"We have achieved an unprecedented 90 percent success to unearth elements involved in terrorist attacks against myself, prime minister-in-waiting Shaukat Aziz and in other high-profile cases," Musharraf was quoted as saying by The News.

Pakistan has seen a string of bombings and suicide attacks over the past year, including two suicide bombings by Islamic militants that the president narrowly escaped in December, and another last month targeting Aziz, the current finance minister and prime minister designate. Seven people were killed in the attack, though Aziz was unhurt.

The attacks appear to have reinforced Musharraf's resolve to crack down on al-Qaida, whose elusive leader has long been believed to be hiding out someplace along Pakistan's forbidding border with Afghanistan. Pakistan has arrested about 30 terror suspects in less than a month.

But on Tuesday, two senior officials expressed dismay that the arrest of Khan made it into the media too soon - reported first in American newspapers on Aug. 2 after it was disclosed to journalists by U.S. officials in Washington.

"Let me say that this intelligence leak jeopardized our plan and some al-Qaida suspects ran away," one of the Pakistani officials said on condition of anonymity.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Sunday that Khan's name had been disclosed to reporters in Washington "on background," meaning that it could be published, but the information could not be attributed by name to the official who had revealed it.

The Pakistani officials said that after Khan's arrest, other al-Qaida suspects abruptly changed their hide-outs and moved to unknown places. On Monday, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., asked the White House to explain why Khan's name was revealed.

The disclosure on Aug. 1 came as the Bush administration was defending its decision to warn about possible attacks against U.S. financial buildings in New York, Washington and Newark, New Jersey.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan cautioned Monday that information may be more limited about future raids against al-Qaida suspects.

Khan led authorities to Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani - a Tanzanian with a $25 million American bounty on his head for his suspected involvement in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in east Africa - and the capture of about 20 other al-Qaida suspects. The arrests also prompted a series of raids in Britain and uncovered past al-Qaida surveillance in the United States.

Pakistani officials over the weekend have said they are searching for two North Africans: Abu Farj, a Libyan, and Hamza, an Egyptian, who are believed to have spent some time in Pakistan with Ghailani.

A Pakistani security official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that despite failing to capture some al-Qaida suspects after Khan's arrest, the country's security agencies were chasing them and would eventually get them.

The official would not reveal the names or nationalities of the fugitives who evaded arrest.

Ghailani and Khan are still in the custody of Pakistan.

Officials say Ghailani and Khan's computer contained photographs of potential targets in the United States and Britain, including London's Heathrow Airport and underpasses beneath London buildings.

Eds: Associated Press writer Munir Ahmad contributed to this report.

A terrorist was allowed to escape because someone in the White House wanted to make some more headlines news. This is one of the reasons why and how the media has become so corrupt. They can't wait for the next exclusive story from the Bush White House and once they get it they don't care if national security is harmed by this Administration.

Helping an enemy escape during a time of war is treason.

The Bush Administration freely admits they gave the media classified information regarding this suspect, but their excuse is it was done on "background" and shouldn't have been reported. Has it ever occurred to these idiots that national security is more important than headlines.