A new significant blow for al-Qaeda: Pakistani agents working with the CIA have arrested Younis al-Mauritani, a senior leader believed to have been tasked by Osama bin Laden with targeting American economic interests across the globe, Pakistan announced today. The Pakistani military said the arrest of Mauritani and two other al-Qaeda operatives took place near the Afghan border in the southwestern city of Quetta, long known as a base for militants. A US officials said the arrests were carried out in the past two weeks.
Mauritani's capture is likely to create chaos within al-Qaeda: Even if he does not reveal compromising information, that possibility is almost certain to force the network to alter plans, move operatives, and make a variety of other sudden changes damaging its ability to carry out attacks. Pakistan's public announcement of close cooperation with the US spy agency appeared aimed at reversing the widespread perception that ties between the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency had been badly damaged by the US killing of bin Laden inside Pakistan. (Read more Younis al-Mauritani stories.)