By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 29, 2004; 7:21 PM
Earlier this month, the New Republic reported that the Bush administration was putting pressure on Pakistan to arrest some major-league terrorists before the November election.
In fact, the magazine quoted one unidentified Pakistani intelligence official as saying that a White House aide told the head of the spy agency last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT [High-Value Target] were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July." Those just happened to be the first three days of the Democratic convention.
Um, guess what?
The AP has reported Thursday afternoon that "Pakistan has arrested a Tanzanian al Qaeda suspect wanted by the United States in the 1998 bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the interior minister said Friday. He said the suspect was cooperating and had given authorities 'very valuable' information."
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was reportedly to be on the FBI's list of 22 most wanted terrorists, and a reward of up to $25 million was offered for his capture.
And get this: The arrest was actually made Sunday, the AP reported from Islamabad. But the capture was announced Thursday. The bulletins hit the wires soon after 3 p.m., or about seven hours before John Kerry delivers his acceptance speech.
Obviously, I have no evidence that there's any connection between the timing of the arrest and the allegations made by the New Republic, which White House officials dismissed at the time. But the way the announcement was handled raises questions, to say the least. If you nabbed Ghailani on Sunday, why on earth would you wait until hours before Kerry's speech to tell the world -- and open yourself up to charges of politicizing the war on terror?
© 2004 washingtonpost.com
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Trashing Teresa (washingtonpost.com, Jul 28, 2004)
What Exactly Was the Message? (washingtonpost.com, Jul 28, 2004)