updated 9/30/2004 4:59:13 PM ET 2004-09-30T20:59:13

Pakistani intelligence agents arrested a Libyan on suspicion of having links to al-Qaida after raiding a home on the outskirts of this northwestern city Thursday, security officials said.

The suspect identified himself as Ahmed Abdullah during initial interrogation after his arrest in the area of Matanni near Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s deeply conservative North West Frontier Province, said an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

It was unclear what prompted the authorities to conduct the raid, and Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao refused to confirm it.

However, another security official in the capital, Islamabad, confirmed the arrest. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

It was unclear what link Abdullah was believed to have with al-Qaida.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its war on terrorism and says it has arrested scores of terrorist suspects in recent months.

On Thursday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Pakistan’s fight against terrorism was “very noteworthy, very noble.”

Armitage said he has held discussions recently with Pakistani officials, including President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, about Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri.

“Whatever the level, the rank of the terrorists, they have to be rooted out,” Armitage told Geo television.

Farooqi previously implicated
On Wednesday, Sherpao told the Cabinet that security agencies had “broken the back” of al-Qaida’s network in the country by killing a key Pakistani operative, Amjad Hussain Farooqi, during a weekend raid in a southern town.

Officials have implicated Farooqi in many terrorist attacks in Pakistan, including the 2002 kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and two failed assassination attempts on President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in December 2003 that left 17 people dead.

Since Farooqi’s killing, authorities have rounded up at least 11 other suspects, all Pakistanis, although it is unclear whether they are linked to any attacks.

Authorities say they are still hunting for a top Libyan al-Qaida operative, Abu Faraj, said to have plotted at least one of the attacks against Musharraf with Farooqi.

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