Al Qaeda arrest on Cyprus?

Cyprus’s chief of police has confirmed a newspaper article claiming that a Pakistani Al Qaeda suspect has been arrested on the island, a report from Nicosia said yesterday. According to the Athens News Agency, chief Tassos Panayiotou said the suspect – who has been deported to an unspecified destination – was a member of Saudi Osama bin Laden’s Muslim fundamentalist group. The ANA quoted Panayiotou as confirming a report on the matter in yesterday’s Machi newspaper, but offered no further details. The newspaper had claimed that the Pakistani man, aged about 45, was arrested a few days ago in cooperation with American agents who had been watching the suspect. According to Machi, the man – whom the paper described as a leading Al Qaeda operative – had been planning terrorist attacks against US-connected buildings in countries close to Cyprus. The Pakistani was arrested and deported, the paper said, without specifying where. The ANA said Panayiotou had refused to reveal where the man had been deported. Last December, Cypriot police initially announced they had detained five Pakistani students suspected of planning terrorist acts at Paphos airport, before admitting that they had made a mistake.