Image: Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan
AFP - Getty Images file
Suspected al-Qaida point man Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan was released without charge.
updated 8/20/2007 4:51:33 PM ET 2007-08-20T20:51:33

A Pakistani accused of using his computer skills to help al-Qaida has been released after three years in custody, a government official and the man’s lawyer said Monday.

Pakistani officials have said that information from Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan quickly led them to a Tanzanian wanted for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, which killed more than 200 people.

Khan, who was captured in the eastern Pakistan city of Lahore in July 2004, has also been linked with terror plots in the U.S. and Britain, and to the arrests of suspects in Britain.

Deputy Attorney General Naheeda Mehboob Ilahi said in the Supreme Court on Monday that Khan, believed to be in his late 20s, was released and returned to his home in the southern city of Karachi. Ilahi provided no other details.

The court has been pressing the government for information on dozens of people whose relatives say they were picked up and held incognito by Pakistani intelligence agents for alleged links to militants.

Khan’s lawyer, Babar Awan, confirmed that his client had returned to his family but said he had not been able to speak to his client to ask where he had been held, and by whom.

Awan said Khan was never charged or brought before any court.

Khan, an engineering graduate, was suspected of being a point man who sent coded e-mails to al-Qaida operatives possibly planning attacks in the United States, Britain and South Africa.

Twelve days after his arrest, Pakistani authorities pounced in the city of Gujrat on Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who had a $25 million bounty on him for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Information from those captured, including maps and photos found on their computers, helped prompt the U.S. government to issue a warning about a possible al-Qaida attack on financial institutions in New York and Washington.

Clues gained after Khan’s arrest helped British investigators nab Dhiren Barot, a confessed al-Qaida terrorist sentenced last year to life imprisonment for plots to bomb U.S. financial targets such as the New York Stock Exchange and London hotels and train stations.

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