ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistani police captured the younger brother of Hambali (search), Usama bin Laden's point man for Southeast Asia, in an arrest that may help unravel a tangled web of links between Al Qaeda (search) and the Jemaah Islamiyah terror group blamed for the deadly Bali bombings.
Rusman Gunawan, an Indonesian, was among 17 students detained Saturday in raids on three Islamic schools in the southern port city of Karachi (search) -- the latest in a string of high-profile arrests of terror suspects in this Muslim country.
The students "are suspected terrorists or have links with terrorists," Foreign Ministry spokesman Massood Khan said Monday.
Gunawan was believed to be in charge of Jemaah Islamiyah (search)'s Pakistan branch and to have arranged trips for Hambali to Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to an Indonesian-based terrorism expert who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Hambali, 39, whose real name is Riduan Isamuddin, was Southeast Asia's most wanted man until he was arrested Aug. 11 in Thailand by Thai police and the CIA. U.S. authorities then flew him to an undisclosed location. Many Indonesians use only their given names, so family members often don't share a surname.
"Yes, the brother of Hambali is among the 13 Malaysian and two Indonesian students who were detained in Karachi," Interior Ministry spokesman Iftikhar Ahmad told AP on Monday. Two students from Myanmar were also arrested in the raids.
It was not immediately clear what authorities planned to do with Gunawan.
FBI and Justice Department officials said there were no outstanding U.S. warrants or charges against him. FBI officials declined to comment on Gunawan's importance or on the circumstances of his capture.
In the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, police spokesman Zainuri Lubis said they had no evidence of wrongdoing against Gunawan and would not seek his extradition.
Temu Alam, an official with the Indonesian consulate in Karachi, was quoted by the Indonesian news agency Antara as saying the consulate had requested access to the prisoner.
Southeast Asian security officials accuse Hambali of planning the bombings last October in the Indonesian resort island of Bali; the Bali blasts killed 202 people, mostly Western tourists. He is also accused of planning the Aug. 5 bombing of a hotel in Jakarta, in which 12 died.
Hambali is said to have trained under bin Laden in Afghanistan in the 1990s. In Southeast Asia, he is seen foremost as the militant who brought Al Qaeda-style attacks to the region.
Many Jemaah Islamiyah leaders are Indonesians who trained at Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Authorities have uncovered an elaborate network of links between the two groups following the arrests of top militants.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks who was captured in Pakistan in March, has allegedly said he contacted Jemaah Islamiyah in 2000 to recruit operatives for a "second wave of hijacking attacks to occur after Sept. 11," according to interrogation reports reviewed by AP.
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf will address the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday about his country's role in fighting terrorism.
Several of Pakistan's high-profile arrests of suspected terrorists have coincided with major international diplomatic events.
Exactly a year after Sept. 11, 2001, a suspected planner of the attacks, Ramzi Binalshibh, was captured in the southern city of Karachi. Then, in June, three days after Musharraf met President Bush in the United States, authorities arrested another Al Qaeda operative and seized a video cassette that was purportedly of bin Laden warning of attacks against U.S. interests.
Pakistani officials have denied that they orchestrate the timing of the operations, saying the link is coincidental.