Monday, August 20, 2007

Pakistan Frees Al Qaeda's Computer Expert

By Cernig

The BBC is reporting that Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, notorious as Al-Qaeda's computer expert who turned double-agent, has been released by the Pakistani government. He has never been charged with any crime.
Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, 25, has been reunited with his family in the city of Karachi, officials and his lawyer said....Deputy attorney general Naheeda Mehboob Ilahi announced his release in a Supreme Court hearing, but gave no further details.

Mr Khan's lawyer, Babar Awan, confirmed that his client was back with his family. He noted that Mr Khan had been held without charge and had never appeared in court.

Security sources told the BBC that Mr Khan had been quietly released several weeks ago and that his home in Karachi was under surveillance.
Khan has been the subject of a fair bit of media splash over the three years since his arrest. He reportedly was Al Qaeda's cryptographer, setting the terror group up with secure codes for emails and was also a key player in several sets of arrests for alleged terrorist plots - including one against US financial targets which was linked to a heightened security alert just prior to the 2004 US presidential elections. Press coverage of the alert included the leaking of Khan's name, apparently by members of the bush administration.

Human Rights Watch had previously included Khan on a list of detainees in secret CIA custody but he is a free man now. One has to wonder whether his release without charge is a "thank you" for services rendered or whther US officials were even aware the Pakistanis were going to release him.

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