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Top Bali bomb suspect captured

A top Indonesian al Qaida operative wanted for the 2002 Bali bombings has been arrested in Pakistan, foreign intelligence sources have said.

The rare high-profile capture of Umar Patek, a suspected member of the al Qaida-linked militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, could provide valuable intelligence about the organisation and possible future plots.

It is not clear whether Pakistan stumbled on Patek or his capture was the result of an intelligence tip.

Details about what he was doing in Pakistan also remain murky, raising questions about whether he was there to plan an attack with al Qaida's top operational leaders as the 10th anniversary of the September 11 2001 attacks on the United States approaches.

Patek, 40, a Javanese Arab, is well-known to intelligence agencies across the world. He is believed to have served as he group's deputy field commander in the nightclub bombings that left 202 people dead, many of them foreigners.

The US was offering a million-dollar reward for the arrest of the slightly built Patek - who is known as the "little Arab" - in the attack that killed seven Americans.

News of his arrest came from two intelligence officials in Indonesia and Philippines. Patek's exact whereabouts were not immediately known.

The question of what to do with him could become a key indicator of how US president Barack Obama will handle major terrorist suspects captured abroad. American officials declined to comment on the case.

Under George Bush, he would probably have been moved into the CIA's network of secret prisons. One of Patek's accused co-conspirators in the nightclub bombing, Hambali, spent years in the prison system and is now being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But the CIA's secret prisons are closed and Mr Obama is trying to empty Guantanamo.

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