W A S H I N G T O N, March 17, 2002 -- A man who was branded by the United States as one of the 22 most dangerous terrorists in the world, and a top-level member of al Qaeda, was captured within the past week, ABC News has learned.
Though U.S. authorities are not talking publicly, the captured al Qaeda member, Abu Anas Al-Liby, has close links to Osama bin Laden, and officials consider his arrest significant.
Sudanese authorities captured Al-Liby, Intelligence sources tell ABCNEWS — though Sudanese presidential advisor Ghazi Salah al-Din denied his country's government had any knowledge of any capture, the Reuters news service reported.
Alleged Tie to Embassy Bombings
Al-Liby is regarded as Osama bin Laden's expert on computers, and is accused of plotting the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people and wounded more than 4,000.
"The fact that he was captured, arrested in Sudan by the Sudanese and turned over to the Americans, is a very significant development," said Vince Cannistraro, the former CIA director of counterterrorism who is now an intelligence consultant for ABCNEWS.
It may be especially significant because Sudan is still on a U.S. State Department list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
The United States allegedly used a carrot and stick approach to gain Sudan's cooperation — trying to help the country end a civil war, while threatening to bomb Sudan if it harbored terrorists.
Al Qaeda Money Flow
ABCNEWS also has learned that the al Qaeda network has stepped up communication and financial activity — moving money from country to country in Africa and Asia — indicating al Qaeda, while wounded, is still alive, still has funds to support terrorist operations and can move those resources.
Al Qaeda is relying less on banks where money can be traced and frozen.
"A lot of couriers are carrying cash around," Cannistraro said. "People have been stopped at borders with huge amounts of cash on their persons, obviously acting as couriers from one al Qaeda cell to another."
The increased activity has American officials concerned.
Some intelligence reports indicate a possible attack in the United States or on American interests overseas sometime around the end of this month, though sources say the reports are sketchy and far from conclusive.
In other developments …
In eastern Afghanistan, American, Canadian and Afghan forces spent another day searching caves in Shah-e-Kot Valley for al Qaeda fighters. It's part of the 'mop-up' phase of Operation Anaconda, now winding down.
The fate of hundreds of prisoners captured during the war in Afghanistan could be clarified as early as this week. The Pentagon is preparing to announce that some of the detainees will face military trials.
ABCNEWS' John Cochran in Washington contributed to this report.