ISLAMABAD: Sept 28: Pakistan has handed over to Saudi Arabia two sons of top Yemeni Al Qaeda leader Alawi who masterminded the suicide attack on Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammad bin Nayef in Jeddah last month.
Sources told Dawn that Saudi authorities had shared intelligence information about Alawi’s sons Ali and Siddique with Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik during his recent visit to Jeddah and requested cooperation in tracing and arresting the two top planners of suicide attacks.
On the basis of the information, Pakistani intelligence agencies went into action and arrested the two during a raid on sanctuary in tribal areas where they were hiding. They were brought to Islamabad and, after brief interrogation, were sent to Saudi Arabia escorted by security officials.
Getting hold of the wanted persons, Prince Nayef announced the release of a five-member Pakistani family arrested earlier on the charge of smuggling drugs into the kingdom. The operation was completed before Eid and Mr Malik announced at a news conference on the Eid day that the five Pakistanis had been released by the Saudi authorities, but he did not say what had prompted Saudi Arabia to release them.
Alawi is a top Al Qaeda leader from Yemen and his two sons were operating from Pakistan’s tribal areas, managing and supervising terror attack.
In the Jeddah suicide attack, Prince Nayef was injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Ramazan gathering.
Although there is no extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan handed over the two foreign militants bypassing its law to oblige the Saudi authorities.
Syed Rashid Husain adds from Riyadh: Five Pakistanis arrested on arrival in Jeddah with drugs in their slippers and subsequently released by the Saudi authorities are now expected to reach Pakistan on Tuesday or Wednesday. Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammad bin Nayef are in direct touch, finalising modalities of the return, Pakistan’s Ambassador Omar Khan Ali Sherzai told this correspondent.
The five were expected to be sent home earlier by a Saudi special flight, but the departure was delayed because Mr Malik was not in Pakistan.
The Saudi authorities have expressed the desire that the gesture of sending the Pakistanis returning by a royal plane, a demonstration of goodwill for the people of Pakistan, required that they should be received in Pakistan by none else than the interior minister.
Eight Pakistanis were arrested in Jeddah on charges of carrying drugs. Of them “three have been proven to be guilty, both by our investigations and the Saudi investigations,” the Pakistani ambassador said. These three had been involved in the drug trade for some time and had been to Saudi Arabia a number of times.
According to diplomatic sources, the group got arrested in Jeddah because of a remark recorded in the database about one of them. The immigration authorities found out that he had been coming to Jeddah on a regular basis.
During interrogation the man conceded that he was carrying drugs in his slippers and that seven other members of the group who had already been cleared and were waiting for him outside also carried drugs. This information led to the arrest of the seven.