ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan has handed over to the United States senior Al Qaeda (search) suspect Abu Farraj al-Libbi (search), who was wanted for two assassination attempts against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search), officials said Monday.
Musharraf's spokesman, Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, confirmed that the president told a newspaper during a visit to the United Arab Emirates that al-Libbi had been handed over recently, without specifying exactly when or where he was sent.
"The president has said that he (al-Libbi) has been handed over to U.S. authorities," Sultan told The Associated Press.
Some officials have described al-Libbi as Al Qaeda's No. 3 leader, after Usama bin Laden (search) and Egyptian surgeon Ayman al-Zawahiri (search). However, he does not appear on the FBI list of the world's most-wanted terrorists, and his exact role in Al Qaeda is murky.
He was arrested May 2 after a shootout in northwestern Pakistan.
An intelligence official said al-Libbi was whisked out of Pakistan with U.S. officials aboard an airplane "a few days ago." The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the clandestine nature of his job, did not know where al-Libbi was taken.
The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said it had no information on the case, and the U.S. military in neighboring Afghanistan — a possible detention or transit point for suspects from Pakistan — said it could not "confirm or deny" if al-Libbi had passed through the country.
The CIA, FBI and Justice Department all declined to comment.
On May 31, Musharraf said Pakistan would hand al-Libbi, who is a Libyan, to the United States.
In an interview with United Arab Emirates daily al-Ittihad, he confirmed that had happened.
"Yes, we turned Abu Farraj al-Libbi over to the United States recently, and we don't want people like him in our country," Musharraf was quoted as saying.
The Pakistani leader did not provide any other details.
In Pakistan, al-Libbi was wanted for allegedly masterminding two attempts on Musharraf's life in December 2003. The president was unhurt, but 17 people died in the second attack.
The assassination attempts carry a maximum penalty in Pakistan of death by hanging. The personal nature of the attacks led many to believe Musharraf would seek to try al-Libbi here.
Pakistani officials also have said that al-Libbi was behind a suicide attack against Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, weeks before he took office last year. Nine people died, including Aziz's driver.
It was not entirely clear what charges if any al-Libbi might face in the United States, or if he has been indicted by any U.S. court.
In Washington last week, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States was talking to Pakistan about al-Libbi but had not yet discussed his extradition.
Pakistan says it has captured more than 700 Al Qaeda suspects since the Sept. 11 attacks, sending most of them to the United States.
They include Al Qaeda's former No. 3, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (search), who was arrested in March 2003 during a raid near Islamabad. Two other alleged Al Qaeda leaders, Ramzi Binalshibh (search) and Abu Zubaydah (search), also were arrested in Pakistan.
Pakistan also has deployed about 70,000 troops in its tribal regions bordering Afghanistan— considered possible hiding places for bin Laden — to track down suspected terrorists.