Nine Al Qaeda Suspects Arrested in Pakistan

Police arrested nine suspected Al Qaeda operatives, including two Americans and a Canadian, in a joint raid with FBI agents in this eastern Pakistani city Thursday.

All nine were of Pakistani origin and belong to the same family.

Pakistan Television reported an exchange of gunfire during the raid on the family's home, after the family's guards apparently opened fire on police. Relatives said FBI officials searched the home for at least two hours and seized four computers and CDs.

"We got information about these people, and today the police went there and made these arrests. We can say they are suspected Al Qaeda," Pakistan's information minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said in a telephone interview.

No injuries were reported in the raid in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's eastern Punjab province.

Rashid said some of the nine men arrested are suspected of possibly having smuggled weapons to be used in terrorist attacks.

Those arrested were Dr. Javed Ahmad, his two sons, two brothers, three nephews and one uncle. Two of the men were naturalized Americans and one a naturalized Canadian, but there was no immediate information on their names or hometowns.

"Pakistani security agencies accompanied by foreigners (FBI agents) arrested our family members like they were criminals," Marghoob Ahmad Mir, Ahmad's brother-in-law, told a news conference in Lahore.

"Ahmad's two private security guards exchanged fire with the raiding party, but neither side suffered any injuries," Mir said.

Ahmad is a close relative of Hafiz Suleman Butt, a legislator and member of Jamaat-e-Islami, the oldest and best-organized pro-Taliban Islamic party in Pakistan.

Ahmad's family acknowledged he had been to Afghanistan to treat Islamic fighters, but denied he had any links to the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Ahmad lived in the United States from 1972 to 1983.

Ahmad is the second Pakistani doctor to be arrested for alleged links to Taliban and Al Qaeda fugitives. On Oct. 21, authorities arrested Dr. Amer Aziz, a British-trained orthopedic surgeon, and held him incommunicado for a month.

After he was released, Aziz admitted that he had treated Usama bin Laden and had seen the Al Qaeda leader after the Sept. 11 attacks.