U.S. officials doubt American al-Qaida is arrested

WASHINGTON — Despite numerous news reports that Pakistan has arrested an American al-Qaida operative in Karachi, the U.S. government is unaware that anyone affiliated with the terrorist network, American or otherwise, has been captured in Pakistan recently, U.S. officials said Monday.

Some Pakistan officials said Monday that the man captured is not the al-Qaida operative after all.

“None of this appears to be fact at this point,” said a U.S. official who asked not to be further identified because the official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

News reports that first appeared Sunday quoted unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials as saying Pakistani agents in Karachi had arrested Adam Gadahn, a Riverside, Calif., man who had converted to Islam and oversees al-Qaida’s propaganda operations.

Gadahn, 31, is the most wanted American member of al-Qaida and the first U.S. citizen since the 1940s to be charged with treason.

Media reports noted there was uncertainty about the identity of the suspect, with some Pakistani officials giving him different names, including Abu Yahya Mujahdeen al-Adam, a Pennsylvania militant who is thought to help command fighters in Afghanistan.

By Monday, news reports quoted unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials as saying the suspect had been misidentified and was al-Adam.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. government “cannot say that there is an American in custody” aside from five American citizens from Virginia who were arrested in December for allegedly trying to enlist in an extremist group.

A U.S. intelligence official, who couldn’t be identified because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said he knew of no recent arrest in Pakistan of any al-Qaida operative.

“We’ve had no information,” the intelligence official said. “Nothing.”

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