ISLAMABAD: A senior al Qaeda leader has been arrested from Quetta along with two other high-ranking operatives for the global terror network, the army announced on Monday.
Younis al Mauritani, who was involved in planning and carrying out international operations, was picked up in the suburbs of Quetta, the military said in a statement.
Two other senior al Qaeda operatives, Abdul Ghaffar al Shami (Bachar Chama) and Messara al Shami (Mujahid Amino) were also arrested along with al Mauritani.
According to Inter Services Pubilc Relations (ISPR), Osama bin Laden had personally tasked al Mauritani to focus on hitting targets of economical importance in United States of America, Europe and Australia. His targets included gas/oil pipelines, power generating dams and strike ships/oil tankers which he planned to blow through explosive laden speed boats in international waters.
The press release states that the operation had been planned and conducted with the technical assistance of American intelligence agencies.
Al Mauritani does not feature on either the US' FBI list of most wanted terrorists or the US Treasury department's own list of global terrorists.
But Western intelligence officials from two separate countries confirmed Mauritani was part of al Qaeda's top team in Pakistan, and linked to threats against Europe.
"If it's confirmed, it's a good catch," said one Western intelligence source.
The United States (US) has repeatedly alleged that prominent terrorists and militants are active in Balochistan, the most prominent being the Quetta Shura. It is reportedly composed of top militants of the Afghan Taliban and has Mullah Omar in the senior leadership.
Pakistan rejects assertions that Omar is in Pakistan, or even that the so-called Quetta Shura exists.
Balochistan has seen a recent surge in violence linked to an insurgency, sectarian clashes and Taliban militants.
Hundreds of people have died in violence in the province since the insurgency flared in late 2004.