Pakistani officials yesterday admitted that an American citizen arrested on suspicion of being a member of al-Qa'ida is not the movement's US born "spokesman" Adam Gadahn.
Gadahn has featured on al-Qa'ida videos exhorting American Muslims to target the US. He is one of the FBI's most wanted men, carries a $1m reward and on Sunday, it was claimed that he had been snatched in a raid in Karachi.
The man who is under arrest has been identified as Abu Yahya Majadin Adam by intelligence officials. The name is similar to an alias used by Gadahn which may have given rise to the initial bungle over his identity.
According to the Pakistani officials the suspect is said to have proudly declared himself a member of al-Qa'ida during his interrogation. He is described as "fair-skinned" and speaks both English and Pashto.
It is unclear what the suspect's role is within the terror group. The claim that he was the 31-year-old California-born Gadahn was withdrawn after the FBI issued a denial. Despite the confusion, the arrest of another American citizen casts fresh light on the threat posed by converts to Islamist extremism who have travelled to Pakistan to fight with al-Qa'ida and the Taliban. In December, a group of American suspects was arrested in the town of Sargodha after allegedly trying to forge links with local militant groups.
The latest arrest represents progress for often-troubled allies Islamabad and Washington amid a period of enhanced cooperation. The arrest is also likely to sharpen focus on Karachi as a militant hideout. Last month, in a joint operation, CIA and Pakistani intelligence agents snatched Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy head of the Afghan Taliban, from a Pashtun-dominated neighbourhood in the city.
The suspected American terrorist is reported to have been picked up in a suburb concentrated with refugees fleeing the Pakistan army's offensive against Taliban militants in South Waziristan. Hours after the news emerged, the Pakistani Taliban perpetrated its first major attack in weeks after a vehicle laden with explosives rammed into a house used to interrogate terror suspects in Lahore. At least 13 people were killed by the blast, 61 injured including women taking children to school, and the building collapsed. The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers pick through the debris.
The attack represented a security lapse, Khusro Pervez, the city's top administrator conceded.Reuse content