Video: Arrested in Pakistan and NBC News
updated 5/4/2005 3:19:41 PM ET 2005-05-04T19:19:41

The man thought to be al-Qaida’s operations commander, and who might know where Osama bin Laden is hiding, has been arrested in Pakistan, the government announced Wednesday.

The arrest of Abu Farraj al-Libbi, a Libyan who is also wanted in two attempts to assassinate Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, is seen by U.S. officials as significant because of his alleged control over the daily operations of al-Qaida.

President Bush called the arrest a "critical victory in the war on terrorism."

Why the arrest is important
NBC’s Chief Justice Correspondent explained on MSNBC TV why this arrest is so important to the United States.

Williams notes that this arrest is important for several reasons:

1. It is clearly the biggest break against al-Qaida in nearly two years since the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohamed.  Al-Libbi is the man who took Mohamed’s place as the operations leader for day to day operations of al-Qaida.  Pete Williams says Osama bin Laden and his No. 2 are symbolically important, but the day-to-day operations of calling the shots, planning and implementing attacks would possibly fall under the direction of Abu Farraj al-Libbi.

2. Because al-Libbi was in such a high profile position in al-Qaida he would be plugged into the operations tactics and may have information about the whereabouts of bin Laden and how bin Laden has managed to elude capture. 

3. Al-Libbi may also have information regarding the planning of terror plots that are currently being discussed by members of al-qaida.

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