Pakistani and American officials have long been tightlipped on the status of
Nasar, who has had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head. He has been described
by the U.S. Justice Department as a former trainer at
Osama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan who helped teach extremists to use
poisons and chemicals.
Another Pakistani official confirmed the Quetta arrest but had no information
on Nasar's whereabouts.
"He had been interrogated by us. He had been interrogated by our American
friends," said the official, who also declined to be identified because of the
secretive nature of his activities. He added that both Syrian and U.S.
authorities wanted to take Nasar into custody.
A picture and short biography of the red-haired Nasar was recently removed
from the U.S. government's Rewards for Justice Web site. Justice and State
Department officials declined to say why Nasar was no longer profiled.
It would not be the first time Pakistan ¡ª a key U.S. ally in the war against
terrorism ¡ª has detained al-Qaida terrorists and turned them over to the
Pakistan says it has captured more than 750 al-Qaida suspects since the Sept.
11, 2001, attacks and has handed most of them to the United States.
They include al-Qaida's former No. 3, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a key planner
of the Sept. 11 attacks, who was arrested in March 2003 during a raid near
Islamabad, and his purported replacement, Abu Farraj al-Libbi, who was detained
in May 2005 in Pakistan's northwest.
Media reports have linked Nasar, who holds Spanish citizenship, to the 2004
commuter train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people, and to the July 7,
2005 attacks in London that left 56 dead, including the four bombers.
In September 2003, Nasar was among 35 people named in an indictment handed
down by a Spanish magistrate for terrorist activities connected to al-Qaida. His
exact role, if any, to either the Madrid or London bombings is unclear.
He is also wanted for a 1985 attack on a restaurant near a military base
close to Madrid airport that left about 20 people dead ¡ª regarded as the first
international Islamic terrorist attack to take place in Spain.
Spain's ambassador to Pakistan, Jose-Maria Robels, said that Spain had sought
information from Pakistan about Nasar's reported arrest in November but had
received no reply.
"Pakistan knows our interest but we have not had any official answer," he
said in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Nasar, who lived in Spain and was married to a Spanish woman, also stayed in
London during the mid-1990s before traveling to Afghanistan where he was
believed to have been part of Bin Laden's network, a Western diplomat in
His movements have been traced to Syria, Afghanistan,
Iran, Iraq and at least two European capitals.