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Mistaken identity? Top Al Qaeda leader Saif al-Adel probably not arrested in Cairo.

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Was Saif al-Adel, a senior Al Qaeda commander wanted by the US since the bombings of US embassies in Africa in 1998, arrested today in Cairo? Probably not.

Confusion between Mr. Adel and another Egyptian militant (a far, far smaller fish) who may have shared a similar alias is probably to blame for the stories coming out of Cairo today. Very little is known about the man who ran training camps for embryonic Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1990s, helped set up the group's operations in Africa later that decade, and has been described as the leader of Al Qaeda's military committee since shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

Saif was incorrectly reported to be the new Al Qaeda leader after the killing of Osama bin Laden last year, and was also said to be held for a time by Iran, which means his capture could shed a lot of light on Al Qaeda's present, and recent past. Even more stunning would be the fact that he had effectively turned himself in, by notifying authorities and flying home, eventually giving up on the cause to which he'd devoted most of his adult life.


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