Pakistani Army Officer Detained for Links to Banned Group

Posted June 21st, 2011 at 11:10 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's military says an army officer has been detained for links to a banned Islamic extremist group.

Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told VOA Tuesday that Brigadier Ali Khan was arrested for links with Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

The detained army brigadier had been working at the Pakistani military headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Abbas said the army follows a policy of “zero tolerance” for any such illegal activity. The military spokesman stressed that Khan was not linked to the Pakistani Taliban or al-Qaida.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir is an international Islamist organization that aims revive the Islamic “caliphate,” unifying Muslim countries under the laws of the religion. Although the group does not advocate violence, it is believed to have links to militant groups.

The army officer was reportedly arrested just days after U.S. special forces shot and killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden during a May 2 raid in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

Abbas denied Tuesday that the army brigadier's detention was in connection to the U.S. military operation or the arrests of Pakistanis who allegedly helped the CIA in advance of the raid.

The discovery of bin Laden in Pakistan raised questions as to whether members of Pakistan's military or intelligence knew the al-Qaida leader was hiding out in the country. Pakistani leaders have rejected such allegations.

Western officials have long suspected that some members of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency have links to militant groups.

Khan's wife on Tuesday rejected the allegations against him as “rubbish.” She said three generations of the brigadier's family have served in Pakistan's military.