Saif al-Adel, a senior Egyptian member of the al-Qaeda elite group who reportedly took over as interim replacement for slain chief of the terrorist outfit Osama bin Laden, was arrested in Cairo airport on Wednesday, reports quoting Egyptian security officials said.
Reports quoting officials at Cairo airport said he was arrested upon his arrival in the Egyptian capital on an Emirates airline flight from Pakistan, with a stoppage in Dubai.
All flights from Asia were under surveillance as Adel, believed to have based in al-Qaeda stronghold on the Afghan-Pak border, was expected on board a flight from either of these countries.
Egyptian state news agency MENA said he was under the custody of the Higher State Security Prosecution for interrogation.
Noman Benotman, an expert on the dreaded terror group, said in May last year that the former Egyptian Special Forces officer was assigned as temporary leader until al-Qaeda No.2 Ayman al-Zawahri, also an Egyptian, officially succeeds bin Laden.
Bin Laden was gunned down by the U.S. Navy's SEAL commandos in a midnight raid on his hideout northeast of the Pak capital Islamabad on May 2 last.
Adel, alias Muhamad Ibrahim Makkawi, is a member of the Majlis al-shura of al-Qaeda and a member of its military committee. He fought the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
After the Taliban was ousted in the winter of 2001 in U.S. retaliation of the 9/11 attacks, he fled to Iran. Based in the Islamic Republic, Adel established al-Qaeda's branch in Saudi Arabia that unleashed a series of terror strikes targeting the Saudi Kingdom.
Saif al-Adel, which means sword of justice in Arabic, is aged between 51 and 54, according to FBI records.
The FBI has listed him under "Most Wanted Terrorists" for "conspiracy to kill American nationals, to murder, to destroy buildings and property of the United States, and to destroy the National Defense Utilities of the United States."
U.S. prosecutors say Adel is one of al-Qaeda's leading military chiefs, and helped to plan bomb attacks on American Embassies in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam and Kenyan capital Nairobi on August 7, 1998.
Under the Rewards For Justice Program, the United States is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction of Adel.
He was valued for his military skills and became a key player in al-Qaeda's inner circle. But he is said to have had bitter disagreements over strategy with bin Laden and his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The most dreaded terror outfit, which carried out the 9/11 attacks dealing a massive blow to America's defense-intelligence prowess, has vowed to continue its fight against the U.S. and Israel under the new leadership of Zawahiri.
by RTT Staff Writer
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