PESHAWAR, Pakistan – President Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search) said Monday that a Libyan member of Al Qaeda (search) was behind two assassination attempts against him in December, and vowed to rid Pakistan's tribal regions of hundreds of suspected foreign terrorists.
Musharraf, who escaped the attacks unhurt, did not name the Libyan suspect, who he said funded Islamic militants to carry out the bombings.
"The man who organized the suicide attacks against me was from Libya and a member of Al Qaeda," he told a meeting of tribal elders in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
Musharraf has previously said Al Qaeda could have played a part in the attacks, but this was the first time he explicitly identified a suspect.
"He gave 1.5-2 million rupees ($26,100-$34,700) to a Pakistani who recruited Islamic militants, Islamic extremists," Musharraf said.
The president promised that the government would reveal more details about who was behind the attacks. He said the suspects would be shown on television.
"You will see their interviews," he said, without giving further details.
The two bombings happened 10 days apart in December. On both occasions, Musharraf was traveling in a motorcade in Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad. The first attack destroyed a bridge seconds after his vehicle passed, but no one was hurt. In the second attack, suicide bombers tried to ram into his vehicle, killing 16 people.
In his address Monday, Musharraf also made his strongest statement yet about the presence of Al Qaeda rebels in Pakistan's rugged mountains bordering Afghanistan — believed to be a possible hiding place of Usama bin Laden (search).
He acknowledged for the first time that between 500 to 600 foreigners "from different countries" were living in the semiautonomous tribal areas, and vowed to drive them out if they would not surrender.
"You give any name to them, Al Qaeda or not, but I will say we will not allow these foreigners to stay in our tribal areas and create problems for us," the president said.
"We will not allow them to get training in our tribal areas, store explosives and go back to Afghanistan for killing their Muslim brothers."
"We will stop this practice," he said.
Pakistan is a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, but has faced criticism as rebels of Al Qaeda and Afghanistan's former ruling Taliban regime are believed to launch cross-border attacks in Afghanistan from Pakistani soil.
In the past two years, Pakistan's military has deployed 70,000 forces in the tribal areas for the first time since independence, and has launched a series of operations to track down terrorist suspects there.
Musharraf's speech came ahead of a scheduled visit to Pakistan on Wednesday by Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Earlier Monday, a large bomb packed with chemicals and loaded inside a van was defused outside the U.S. Consulate in the southern city of Karachi.
It was not immediately clear who planted the device, though Islamic extremist groups have repeatedly targeted Westerners and minority Christians since the government threw its support behind the U.S.-led war on terrorism.