White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters, ”Threats remain. Al-Qaida has many tentacles, but one of them was cut off.” He also called Zubaydah’s capture “a very serious blow to al-Qaida.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday described Zubaydah as “a very senior al-Qaida official who has been intimately involved in a range of activities for the al-Qaida.” He’s now the most senior al-Qaida official the U.S. has captured in its post-Sept. 11 war against terrorism.
Fleischer said Zubaydah “will be interrogated about his knowledge of ongoing plans to conduct terrorist activities.”
The 30-year-old Zubaydah was captured along with 25 other suspects during a Pakistani police raid last Thursday, supported by FBI agents and CIA operatives, published reports said. According to those reports, Zubaydah was shot in the stomach, legs and groin as he attempted to escape from a compound in the city of Faisalabad, about 170 miles south of the capital Islamabad.
Rumsfeld said Zubaydah was in U.S. custody and receiving medical treatment for wounds that “seem not to be life-threatening.”
Rumsfeld refused to say where Zubaydah is being held for security reasons, but published reports say he is expected to be sent to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where other suspected al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners are being detained.
The Saudi Arabian-born Zubaydah has been linked to the planning of the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as foiled plots to bomb the U.S. embassies in Paris and Sarajevo, The New York Times reported.
A Jordanian military court sentenced Zubaydah to death last year for allegedly plotting to attack tourist areas in that country around New Year’s Day 2000.