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UPDATED: Official Questions Identity Of Man Thought To Be Al-Qaida Leader

Saif al-Adel.
Saif al-Adel.

Update at 8:58 a.m. ET. Official Questions Man's Identity:

The AP reports that a U.S. official doesn't believe the man arrested in Cairo is indeed the al-Qaida leader sought by the United States.

The AP is basing its story on an unnamed official. An FBI spokesman told the wire service that "every effort is being made by the U.S. government to verify the identity of the person in custody."

A man Egyptian authorities believed to be Mohammed Ibrahim Makkawi was arrested in Cairo today.

Our Orignal Post Continues:

A man the United States lists as one of its most wanted terrorists has been arrested in Cairo.

The AP reports that "security and airport officials" said Mohammed Ibrahim Makkawi was arrested when he arrived in the country on Wednesday from Pakistan.

Makkawi, who the FBI says is also known as Saif Al-Aldel, is wanted in connection to the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Makkawi, the FBI says, is also suspected of being a high-ranking member of al-Qaida.

The AP adds a bit of caution to the story, saying that Makkawi told reporters at the airport that he was not Saif al-Adel and that he had not been affiliated with al-Qaida since 1989.

The BBC has a bit more background on al-Adel, who the BBC says served as Osama Bin Laden's security chief:

F"ollowing the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Saif al-Adel is believed to have fled to Iran with Saad Bin Laden, a son of the late al-Qaeda leader.

"They were allegedly then held under house arrest by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Iran never acknowledged their presence. ...

"Recent reports said Saif al-Adel might have been released and made his way to northern Pakistan, along with Saad Bin Laden."

The FBI was offering $5 million for information that led to Al-Adel's arrest.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.