WASHINGTON DC: In an email interview with The Express Tribune, a US official, confirming the arrest of Younis al-Mauritani by way of a co-operative action by Pakistan and US, called it a major blow to al Qaeda.
Describing al-Mauritani , as a seasoned and senior operative who was trusted by the group’s top leadership, the US official, who did not wish to be named, said that al-Mauritani played “an absolutely central role in planning and coordinating al Qaeda's operations in Europe, plots that targeted both European and American interests.”
The arrest comes after months of tense relations between both the United States and Pakistan, and especially amongst their intelligence agencies. The US official said that “this victory shows the continuing strength and value of US-Pakistani counterterrorism cooperation. The Pakistanis deserve real credit for their hard investigative and operational work in taking deadly threats like al-Mauritani off the battlefield. There is clearly more to be done, and both sides recognise the imperative of acting together against these dangerous targets."
When asked about the kind of co-operation and assistance provided by the United States to Pakistan, the official said that the US had provided “critical lead information and technical assistance in working with Pakistan to eliminate the threat posed by this terrorist."
Al-Mauritani was arrested by Pakistani security forces along with two other senior al Qaeda operatives from the Balochistan capital, Quetta on Monday.
Pakistan and US have experienced strained intelligence ties in the months after a US intelligence operative, Raymond Davis was arrested in Lahore for shooting two Pakistanis.
The ties between the two War on Terror allies were further strained after the US conducted unilateral military action deep into Pakistani territory by killing Osama bin Laden in a Abbottabad compound.
White House applauds but does not confirm
According to a transcript of the press gaggle by White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, said that while he had seen reports of al-Mauritani's arrest, he was not in a position right now to confirm those reports.
"I can tell you that the United States continues to work with our partner, Pakistan, to achieve our central goal of dismantling, disrupting, and defeating al Qaeda; that certainly the al Qaeda elements that are in place in Pakistan are a threat to both the Pakistani people and to the American people and our allies, and that’s an effort that we will continue to cooperate on with them moving forward."