A German citizen arrested near a militant stronghold in Pakistan appears to be affiliated to terrorism. A Taliban spokesman called him "our comrade", and local security officials say he was linked to al Qaeda.
The man wore a woman's burqa in a bid to disguise himself
Intelligence officials in Pakistan said on Tuesday that a German man they arrested was associated with the al Qaeda terrorist organization.
Police arrested the man late on Monday after receiving a tip in the northwestern region of Bannu, close to the militants' stronghold of Waziristan on the Afghan border.
"He's our comrade. He was going somewhere," the head of the Taliban's media center, Muhammed Umer, told the news agency Reuters by telephone.
"We have many Germans here who are taking part in the jihad. It shouldn't be shocking."
Shafqat Khan, a senior police officer in the Bannu region where the man was arrested, said he was travelling in a car with two tribesmen, wearing a full Islamic veil, a burqa, in a bid to disguise himself as a woman.
"They were carrying a girl in a bid to pretend they're a tribal family," Khan said.
Suspect under interrogation in Peshawar
The Taliban and al Qaeda have a number of strongholds on the Pakistani-Afghan border
A team of operatives from various intelligence agencies are now questioning the man in Peshawar, after he was taken to the capital of the north-western Khyber-Pakhtunhwa province by helicopter.
"Initial investigations showed that the man was associated with al Qaeda," one Pakistani intelligence official told German news agency dpa, on condition of anonymity.
"He had participated in some raids against coalition forces in Afghanistan and used to travel between Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal region from time to time," he said.
Authorities have not yet released the suspect's name, saying that doing so could obstruct their investigation.
Other as yet unconfirmed reports suggest that the man was a weapons expert, who specialized in making explosive vests for suicide bombers.
The German intelligence agency's annual report, published Monday, concluded that dozens of Germans or foreigners living in Germany have travelled to Pakistan for paramilitary training by militant groups in recent years. However, rather than the Taliban or al Qaeda, most tend to be affiliated with the Islamic Jihad Union and Uzbekistan's Islamic Movement.
Author: Mark Hallam (apn, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Michael Lawton