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US Detains al-Qaida Suspects Nabbed by Canadian Navy - 2002-07-20


U-S officials have formally detained two men captured days ago by the Canadian navy in hopes of learning more on the whereabouts of al-Qaida members who have fled Afghanistan.

A Pentagon spokesman told V-O-A the two suspects may have ties to Osama bin Laden's terror network. The official declined to identify the suspects, but said they are being held at the U-S detention facility at Bagram Air Base near (the Afghan capital) Kabul.

Pentagon officials say they also may detain as al-Qaida suspects two other men seized by a French naval vessel in a separate intercept operation.

Few details of the Canadian and French maritime intercepts have been released, but both involved one or more speed boats owned by an individual who U-S defense officials say may have a reputation for smuggling. A Pentagon spokesman says it is not clear whether speedboats carrying the suspects were launched from Iran or Pakistan. But he says the watercraft were intercepted in the area where the Gulf of Oman meets the North Arabian Sea.

U-S defense officials have yet to determine whether the interceptions at sea indicate that coalition forces have discovered an al-Qaida escape route.

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