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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another US Consulate vehicle intercepted

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Another Land Cruiser of the US Consulate was intercepted on Friday by the security personnel at a check-post near the Sherpao Bridge and impounded at the Sawvar Road police station after its number plate was found bogus.

Officials of the law-enforcement agencies stopped the Land Cruiser (No IDL-1967) around 1:30 pm and demanded documents of the vehicle. The security personnel at the check-post forced the driver to park the vehicle on service lane.

They checked the documents and, finding the number plate of the Land Cruiser fake, took it to the Sarwar Road police station. Besides driver, there were two other people in the vehicle, including a female official, Morgan, of the US Consulate. The suspects were allowed to go after the American Consulate and the federal government intervened.

US FBI agents and their Pakistani colleagues interrogated on Friday five young American Muslims who wanted to go to Afghanistan to fight US-led forces, Pakistani officials said.

The case is bound to fan fears in Western countries that the sons of immigrants from Muslim countries are being drawn to Islamist militancy, a process made easier by the Internet. The five men, students in their 20s from northern Virginia, were detained this week in Sargodha in the Punjab province.

The five men tried to contact militants and stayed in touch with each other through the Internet, Pakistani security officials said, highlighting the difficulty authorities are facing in trying to track and disrupt plots organised online. Police in Sargodha took the first step toward filing charges with complaints based on laws pertaining to foreigners and the use of computers to organise crime. “A case has been registered against the five for violating Pakistan’s foreigners and cyber acts,” Sargodha police chief Usman Anwar told Reuters.

Five young Americans arrested in Pakistan for trying to join Islamist militant groups will not be deported unless police clear them of any crimes, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Friday. The group of the US citizens have been grilled by the FBI and Pakistani officials. They are accused of seeking to engage in militant activities and trying travel to the northwest Taliban heartland, officials said.

District police chief of Sargodha Usman Anwar told local television channels on Friday that the men he arrested had come to Pakistan to try and join Islamist militant groups and travel to the northwest Taliban heartland.

They had tried to contact jihadi groups in Pakistan through YouTube and other websites, he said and added that they were US citizens with origins in other countries, including two Pakistani-Americans.

“All of them are in the custody of police in Sargodha. They are being interrogated and will not be deported,” the interior minister said. He added: “If they are involved in any act of terror or (had) the intention of doing a terrorist act, we will take action according to our law. We can only deport them once our law enforcement agencies or courts clear them.”

Malik told reporters that the five Americans were arrested on intelligence passed on through the US embassy in Pakistan, which informed that the men “may do some act of terror or sabotage activity”.

“It appeared from the documents and maps they were carrying that their destination was Miramshah. This indicates what they were up to.” A spokesman at the US embassy in Islamabad, Richard Snelsire said four of the five men had been confirmed as US citizens.

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