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Brother of suspected Southeast Asian terror chief arrested in Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The younger brother of Hambali, al-Qaida's suspected point man for Southeast Asia, has been arrested on immigration charges in Pakistan along with several other people, two senior Pakistani Interior Ministry officials said Monday.

The man, Rusman Gunawan, was one of 17 people from Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar arrested Saturday in raids on three Islamic schools in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, said one official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The official is closely involved in Pakistan's campaign against terrorists.

Officials said the men would be questioned to see if they were suspected of any crimes other than visa violations.

An Indonesia-based terrorism expert said Gunawan was believed to be in charge of the Pakistan branch of Jemaah Islamiyah, the terror network his brother is accused of helping found. Gunawan is believed to have arranged trips for Hambali to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said the expert, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Gunawan's capture came amid a series of arrests of suspected terrorists in Pakistan as President Gen. Pervez Musharraf prepares to address the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday about his country's role in fighting terrorism.

Hambali, whose real name is Riduan Isamuddin, was Southeast Asia's most wanted man until he was arrested Aug. 11 in Thailand by Thai police and the CIA. U.S. authorities then flew him to an undisclosed location. Many Indonesians only use their given names, so family members often don't share a surname.

Southeast Asian security officials accuse Hambali of planning last year's Bali nightclub bombings, which killed 202 people, and the Aug. 5 bombing of a hotel in Jakarta, in which 12 died.

Gunawan's arrest was confirmed by another Interior Ministry official, and by an Indonesian consular official in Karachi who was quoted by the Indonesian news agency Antara.

"We want access to (Gunawan and another student) so we can prepare consular and legal advice if they need it," the consular official, Temu Alam, was quoted as saying.

In the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, police said they also had no evidence of wrongdoing against Gunawan and would not seek his extradition, said Zainuri Lubis, a police spokesman.

Indonesia's SCTV reported Gunawan came to Pakistan in 1999 to study at Karachi's Abu Bakar University on a scholarship given by the Pakistani government. Before that, he sold vegetables at a village market.

Most of the other people arrested in Karachi were students who had overstayed their visas.

It was not clear what authorities planned to do with Gunawan, or whether he is wanted by the United States. There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

Terrorism suspects arrested in Pakistan include al-Qaida's alleged No. 3 leader, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was captured during a raid near Islamabad in March. In September, 2002, a suspected planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, Ramzi Binalshibh, was captured after a gun battle in the southern city of Karachi. In March, 2002, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, Abu Zubaydah, was arrested in Faisalabad.


AP reporters Lely T. Djuhari in Jakarta and Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this story.