See our post below about the news that the American born Al Qaeda spokesman was arrested in Pakistan. This now becomes just one of several reports from over the past few years where officials in another country announced someone connected to Al Qaeda had been arrested or killed — but proved to be false. As we warned in our post below, this had NOT been confirmed yet by U.S. officials. Now CBS News reports this:
An “important Taliban militant” was arrested today in Pakistan. But that is where the confusion started.
Earlier it was reported by Pakistani media that intelligence agents had arrested Adam Gadahn, the American-born spokesman for al Qaeda, in an operation in the southern city of Karachi.
It was further reported by the Associated Press and Reuters that Gadahn had been arrested, sourcing security officials.
CBS News was told by sources in the Pakistan government that it was Gadahn, even after U.S. officials refused to confirm it was the California native for whom a $1 million reward has been posted.
Now, CBS News’ Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad writes that earlier reports the detained individual was Gadahn proved false. According to a Pakistan security official who spoke with CBS News on condition of anonymity, the arrested individual is in fact “a Taliban militant leader who is known as Abu Yahya.”
The official said evidence compiled from an interrogation of the suspect and information exchanged with U.S. officials verified the man’s identify.
The reassessment only added to the confusion surrounding the arrest of a man earlier described by other unnamed Pakistani security officials as Gadahn.
“In the light of our latest information, I can say, this is not looking like Gadahn. But it is still the arrest of an important Taliban militant,” said the Pakistani security official who spoke to CBS News late Sunday.
The New York Times, sourcing American and Pakistani officials, reports that the man arrested was Abu Yahya Mujahdeen Al-Adam, and describes him as an al Qaeda commander who was born in Pennsylvania.
In doing this site for the past five years we’ve generally tried to observe two fail safe rules:
1. We try not to tout an exclusive breaking news story that originates in a weblog until we see confirmation in the mainstream media, unless it is a site known for solid original reporting.
2. We add a cautionary note in claims of major deaths and arrests of Al Qaeda officials until we see that there has been confirmation from U.S. officials.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.