ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A Pakistani man arrested along with alleged Al Qaeda No. 3 Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was ordered kept in prison Tuesday to allow authorities time to bring charges against him, court officials said.
Ahmed Abdul Qadus was ordered held an additional two weeks by the Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi, a city adjacent to the capital. Qadus was arrested March 1 along with Mohammed and a third man, alleged Al Qaeda financier Mustafa al-Hisawai. Qadus' family says he is innocent and denies that the two foreign Al Qaeda suspects were ever in their home.
Qadus is being held on charges of sheltering a religious extremist. He is scheduled to be brought to court again on March 25, at which point his detention is likely to be extended.
Mohammed and al-Hisawai have been handed over to U.S. custody and are being held at an unknown location outside of Pakistan.
Qadus' attorney has requested bail for his client, and the court scheduled a bail application hearing on March 17. Qadus is not expected to attend that hearing personally.
Meanwhile, an Iraqi doctor detained for nearly five months on suspicion of ties to Al Qaeda was freed Tuesday, his family said.
Shokat Nafeh Hekmat was working at a hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta when he was detained on Oct. 16, allegedly by Pakistani security officials working closely with FBI agents.
"My father has reached home," Hekmat's 7-year-old son Mustafa Nafeh told The Associated Press at the door of his home. "Of course, we are very happy on the release of our father."
However, Hekmat himself declined to meet with the newsmen when they reached his home.
"I am sorry, I will not meet with any journalist," visibly frightened Hekmat told reporters when he came to the door.
Hekmat was working at a private hospital in Quetta when he was detained. His family has denied he has any links to Al Qaeda terrorist network.
In recent months, Pakistani officials in the eastern city of Lahore have detained other doctors suspected of links to Al Qaeda members. They reportedly were questioned by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigiation.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Amer Aziz, who admitted treating Usama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders before and after Sept. 11, has been released.
A second doctor, Ahmad Javed Khawaja, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and eight family members were arrested in December on charges of harboring Al Qaeda operatives. Two of Khawaja's sons, both of them also doctors, and some other family members have since been released.
Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in war on terror, and its security agencies have handed more than 400 Taliban and Al Qaeda suspects over to U.S. officials after their arrest in different parts of the country.