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5/6/03 - CAPTURE OF TAWFIQ ATTASH - 2003-05-06

Pakistani authorities have captured six suspected al-Qaida terrorists, including Tawfiq, also known as Khallad. A citizen of Yemen, Attash is believed to have planned the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Navy ship Cole in October 2000 that killed seventeen American sailors. President George W. Bush explains why the arrest of Attash is important:

"He's a killer. He was one of the top al-Qaida operatives. And he was right below Khalid Sheik Mohammed on the organizational chart of al-Qaida. He is one less person that people who love freedom have to worry about."

Khalid Sheik Mohammed was a top leader of al-Qaida. He was arrested in March by Pakistani authorities and is now in U.S. custody. More than four-hundred-fifty suspected al-Qaida terrorists have been arrested by Pakistani authorities since the al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11th, 2001. Among the six al-Qaida suspects recently arrested is Khalid Sheik Mohammed's nephew, Ali Abed al Aziz. Police also seized one-hundred-fifty kilograms of explosives and a large quantity of weapons and ammunition.

The arrest of top al-Qaida leaders and many of their subordinates shows what Secretary of State Colin Powell called "unprecedented progress" in the global war against terrorism:

"As a result of these efforts, thousands of terrorists have been captured and detained. For those still at large, life has definitely become more difficult. It is harder for terrorists to hide and find safe haven. It is harder for them to organize and sustain operations. Terrorist cells have been broken up, networks disrupted, and plots foiled."

Secretary of State Powell warned that while progress has been made, "terrorists are planning appalling crimes and trying to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction." He said, Americans "will not relax our resolve, our efforts, and our vigilance."