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Pakistan arrests French Al Qaeda leader amid turmoil with prime minister

The arrest of a French national, reportedly linked to the 9/11 mastermind, highlights the challenges Pakistan is facing as it tries to pull itself out of a deepening political crisis. 

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Pakistan has arrested a French man reportedly linked to one of the masterminds of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, officials said Wednesday, a reminder of the country's vital role in the war on international jihadist groups at a time of deteriorating relations with the US.

The arrest shows the additional challenges facing a country already trying to salvage its stumbling economy and pull itself out of a deepening political crisis. Following a Supreme Court decision Tuesday disqualifying the prime minister over a corruption probe, the president has called for parliament to elect a new premier on Friday.

The French national Naamen Meziche was captured in a raid in the Baluchistan region near the border with Iran, officials said, without specifying when this took place.

Western media reports have described Meziche as an Al Qaeda operative with links to European jihadist groups. He was believed to have been living in either Pakistan or Iran. CNN and the Wall Street Journal have reported Meziche was a friend of Mohammed Atta, who piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center. Meziche does not appear to have had any operational role in the attacks.

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