January 22, 2009 -- ISLAMABAD, Pakistan --
Pakistani intelligence and paramilitary officers arrested an al Qaeda member in Pakistan's tribal areas yesterday who is believed to have taken part in the July 7, 2005 London bombings, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.
Saudi Zabi ul Taifi was caught in a raid outside of Peshawar along with six Pakistani al Qaeda suspects following a tip from Pakistan's intelligence agencies, the officials told ABC News.
The raid was the first time Pakistani officials acknowledged they had arrested an al Qaeda member since 2005, a sign of behind the scenes cooperation between Pakistan and the United States, which has been waging a covert CIA war against al Qaeda in the tribal areas with unmanned aerial drones.
"They are militants. They are the enemy of humanity and therefore they will be dealt [with] according to law of the land," Pakistan's interior chief, Rehman Malik, said to reporters in Islamabad today.
Residents in Barra, the town where ul Taifi was arrested, told Reuters they had seen foreigners in a car watching the raid, and the Associated Press reported the foreigners were American intelligence officials.
Today Pakistani intelligence officials say they are interrogating the seven suspects and do not have any plans to immediately hand them over to British authorities.
"After we've debriefed Taifi, the other agencies can also debrief him," one official told ABC News.
Terror Plots in U.K. Link Back to Pakistan
In a visit to Islamabad last month, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said three quarters of the terror plots being investigated in Britain had links to Pakistan's tribal areas.
At least three of the 7/7 bombers have been traced back to the Pakistani tribal areas: Mohammad Sidique Khan, who blew himself up at the Edgeware train station; Hasib Hussain, who blew himself up on a bus; and Shehzad Tanweer, who detonated himself between the Aldgate and Liverpool Street metro stops.
In November American and Pakistani officials told ABC News a predator strike had killed Rashid Rauf, a British national who helped coordinate and plan the failed 2006 plot to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic.
There have been at least 30 drone attacks by the U.S. on the tribal areas since last August. Improved technology and a larger network of well-paid informants have helped the U.S. precisely target a series of mid-level al Qaeda leaders. Those attacks, U.S. officials insist, have crippled al Qaeda's ability to operate in the tribal areas.
Most recently, a New Years Day strike killed Osama al Kini, whom American officials called al Qeada's chief in Pakistan. Al Kini, a Kenyan, along with an aide who was killed were behind the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, U.S. officials said.
While the Pakistani government publicly criticizes the drone attacks, Pakistani military officials sit with American and Afghan military officials watching live feeds from the drones in the Torkham border station along the Pakistan Afghanistan border, according to Western officials.