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U.S. detains men linked to al-Qaida


WASHINGTON - U.S. officials said yesterday that forces in Iraq had captured several aides to Abu Musab Zarqawi, a suspected terrorist leader they think has links to al-Qaida and played a role in attacks in Iraq and terrorist actions in Europe and the Middle East.

The men were detained in a series of actions along with another man they identified as an "al-Qaida facilitator" who has been providing financial and logistical assistance to insurgents attacking U.S. forces.

One of the men was identified as Husam al Yemeni, captured by the U.S. military in a raid Jan. 15 near the troubled town of Fallujah.

U.S. officials in Washington said Yemeni fought in Afghanistan more than a decade ago, and recently suffered an injury that cost him all or most of one of his feet.

The Bush administration placed a $5 million bounty on Zarqawi's head last year after accusing the Jordanian-born militant of being the leader of a Palestinian extremist group, Al Tawhid, with close ties to al-Qaida and Ansar al Islam, an affiliated organization that has been based in northern Iraq. Zarqawi, who is of Palestinian descent, is thought to be hiding in Iran or perhaps being held in custody there. But U.S. officials said he may be in Iraq and playing a role in financing and orchestrating the attacks.

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