US jihadists held in Pakistan

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Five American Muslims arrested in eastern Pakistan were directly connected to al-Qa'ida and are suspected of planning terror attacks in the country, a local police chief alleged yesterday.

Another senior officer said the men wanted to fight jihad, or holy war, in north-west Pakistan and against US troops in Afghanistan and had asked for help from two Pakistani militant groups, which had turned them away because they did not trust them.

US officials believe the five are men who were reported missing more than a week ago by their families in the Washington DC area. The families had asked the FBI for help after finding a farewell video left by the men showing scenes of war and casualties and saying Muslims must be defended.

The men, aged from 19 to 25, were picked up on Wednesday at a house in the city of Sargodha in eastern Pakistan. The house was owned by the father of one of the men, according to Usman Anwar, the local police chief. The father, whom police said was a US citizen identified as Khalid Farooq, was also detained.

"They are proudly saying they are here for jihad," Mr Anwar said. "They are directly connected to al-Qa'ida."

Authorities say they have shared information with FBI officials who have arrived in Sargodha.