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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pakistan to Give U.S. Custody of Al-Qaida Terrorist Suspect

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan will hand over senior al-Qaida terrorist suspect Abu Farraj al-Libbi to the United States for prosecution, even though he is believed to be behind two attempts to assassinate Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf.

"We deport al-Qaida suspects to the United States," Musharraf told a CNN conference in Atlanta, speaking via video hookup from Islamabad.

Some officials have described al-Libbi as al-Qaida's No. 3 leader, after Osama bin Laden and Egyptian surgeon Ayman al-Zawahri. However, he does not appear on the FBI list of the world's most-wanted terrorists, and his exact role in al-Qaida is murky.

Al-Libbi was arrested May 2 after a shootout in northwestern Pakistan. A senior intelligence officer told The Associated Press he had been in frequent contact with bin Laden in recent months and that Pakistani interrogators were grilling him on the terrorist chief's whereabouts. But Musharraf said al-Libbi was cooperating but had not provided any useful information on the whereabouts of bin Laden.

It was not clear when al-Libbi would be turned over, or where he is being held. At one point during the speech, Musharraf intimated that he believed the suspected terrorist had already been handed over to U.S. custody, before backtracking later.

In Pakistan, al-Libbi was wanted for allegedly masterminding two attempts on Musharraf's life in December 2003. The assassination attempts carry a maximum penalty in Pakistan of death by hanging. The personal nature of the attacks led many to believe Musharraf would seek to try al-Libbi here, but the general, a staunch ally of the United States, said that would not be necessary.