Pakistani security agencies have arrested two al-Qaida suspects and are investigating whether one is a Syrian believed to be a key figure in Osama bin Laden's terror network in Europe, two intelligence officials and a senior government official said Thursday.
The two suspects were captured this week during a raid on a house in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, said one of the intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
A senior government official confirmed the arrests and said authorities were investigating whether one of the suspects was Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, alleged to have had a key role in the March 11, 2004, Madrid bombings that left 191 people dead and more than 1,500 people injured. That official also declined to be named, saying he was not allowed to comment publicly on the investigation.
Neither the intelligence officials nor the government official had information about the identity of the second suspect.
Pakistani government spokesmen and the U.S. Embassy said they could not immediately confirm the arrests.
Last year, the U.S. government announced a US$5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Nasar, also known as Abu Musab al-Suri.
The U.S. Justice Department's Rewards for Justice Web site describes Nasar as an al-Qaida member and former trainer at terrorist camps in Afghanistan who helped train extremists in using poisons and chemicals. It also says he is likely to be in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Nasar was born is Syria and also has Spanish nationality. His name has also been linked to the July 7 bombings in London that left 52 people dead, AP reported. V.A.