Officials: Three Al Qaeda Suspects Being Held in Pakistan

Authorities were questioning an Iraqi national and two Afghan men for suspected Al Qaeda links after detaining them in an overnight raid in the Pakistani border city of Peshawar, officials said Monday.

The three men were picked up in the upscale Peshawar suburb of Hayatabad late Sunday night, an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.

Computer discs and unspecified documents were recovered from their possession, according to the official, who couldn't say whether the materials found were significant.

The Iraqi national was identified only as Masood. The Afghans' names were not released.

Pakistani security forces also carried out raids late Sunday in Jalozai and Shamshatoo, Afghan refugee camps near Peshawar, but no one was detained, the official said. Both camps were home to Arab militant fighters during the 1980s Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Shamshatoo camp, outside Peshawar, was mostly run by loyalists of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a rebel leader labeled a terrorist by the United States.

Many Al Qaeda fugitives and remnants of the ousted Afghan Taliban regime are believed to have crossed into Pakistan to flee U.S. bombing. Three of the biggest arrests so far of Al Qaeda suspects have taken place in Pakistan -- most recently the March 1 arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in Washington and New York.

An Arab Al Qaeda financier and his alleged Pakistani host were also captured in the city adjacent to Islamabad.

The arrest has raised hopes that authorities are closing in on Al Qaeda chief Usama bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding in a narrow corridor in the southwest, along the border between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. There was no indication that the recent action in Peshawar, 750 miles northeast of the corridor, was related to that hunt.