US captures 'senior al-Qaida operative'

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A senior al-Qaida operative has been captured by US forces and is now being held in Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon has said.

Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi was described by the US department of defence as "one of al-Qaida's highest-ranking and experienced senior operatives".

Al-Iraqi was captured by US forces as he attempted to return to his homeland of Iraq, the Pentagon said. It added that his goal was either to coordinate al-Qaida activity in Iraq or prepare attacks "outside Iraq against western targets".

He is known personally to Osama Bin Laden and had spent much of his life directing Taliban terrorist operations against security forces in Afghanistan. Recently, he directed assassination plots targeting a UN official and Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf.

After a period of CIA captivity he has now been transferred to the US terror detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon added.

It was not immediately clear when al-Iraqi was originally arrested, although it appears he has only recently been transferred to Guantanamo Bay. The Pentagon's statement said "he will undergo a period of in-processing to help him adjust to detention rules and procedures".

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