ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The net is closing around terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, Pakistani intelligence officials said Monday, confirming the No. 3 al-Qaida man captured one week ago met bin Laden in December.
Information from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed "is bringing us significantly closer to Osama," said one intelligence official who could not be identified according to the rules of the briefing by Pakistan's spy agency.
The press conference held at the InterServices Intelligence, or ISI, headquarters in Islamabad was the first ever by the spy agency.
"This is the first time in the history of Pakistan that this agency is organizing a briefing for the media," said Gen. Rashid Quereshi, spokesman for Pakistan's military president Pervez Musharraf - a close ally of the United States in the global war on terror.
ISI offered a short video purportedly of the arrest in nearby Rawalpindi of Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
Mohammed's arrest on March 1 resulted in a treasure trove of intelligence, the ISI official who gave the briefing said.
From evidence garnered from Mohammed and from other suspected al-Qaida operatives, "We find we appear to be just hours behind him (bin Laden)," the official said.
According to Mohammed, he met bin Laden in December, but he refused to say where. He also had letters in his possession that he said were written by bin Laden.
Also nabbed in the arrest was Mustafa al-Hisawi, the suspected financier of the Sept. 11 attacks, and Pakistani Ahmed Abdul Qudus, whose family is closely affiliated to the hardline religious organization Jamaat-e-Islami, a partner in a coalition that rules in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.
Jamaat-e-Islami and al-Qaida were not linked, said intelligence agencies, but "there are individual associations."