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Al Qaeda-Pakistani ties deepen

Khalid Sheik Mohammed was nabbed at the home of a parliamentary official.

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This week's arrest of Al Qaeda's third-in-command was at once a tremendous coup for Pakistan's oft-maligned government and also a stunning embarrassment.

Officials here are quick to brag that local security forces nabbed Khalid Sheik Mohammed, along with another senior Al Qaeda leader, on their own. What they aren't crowing about is that Mr. Mohammed's arrest exposes a link between Al Qaeda and Pakistan's largest Islamic political party, Jamaat-e Islami.

The emerging connection highlights the political risks the Pakistani government faces as it hunts Al Qaeda leaders. It also implies a greater order of difficulty in rooting them out if thousands of Jamaat party members are willing to harbor terrorists in their homes.

Ahmed Abdul Qadoos, a Jamaat party member, was arrested alongside the two Al Qaeda terrorists. They had been holed up in the home of his mother, Farzana Qadoos, who is an elected district counselor for the conservative Islamic party.

Her residence, where the three men were arrested, is just five minutes from Army headquarters in this twin city to the nation's capital, and tucked in a guarded community that's home to top military officials. Officials say Mohammed had been coming and going from the home, apparently with little notice.

The party has also been implicated in other recent terror arrests. A Jamaat member was in the Karachi apartment where police found Al Qaeda leader Ramzi Binalshibh, and a doctor arrested in Lahore several months back for Al Qaeda ties was also linked to the party.

That's an uncomfortable fact for Pakistan, since Jamaat is a leading member in a coalition of hard-line Islamic parties that won control of two of Pakistan's four provinces in November elections and commands a sizable block in the National Assembly.

Senior Jamaat officials have variously insisted that Ahmed Qadoos was wrongly arrested or not a party member, and even claimed that the arrest actually took place at another location. They say their party is being targeted for political reasons.


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