'US Nationals Not to be Deported Till Cleared by Pak'

'US Nationals Not to be Deported Till Cleared by Pak'
A group of US nationals arrested in Pakistan over alleged terrorist links will not be deported until security agencies verify that they had not violated local laws, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said today.

"We will first see which laws they have violated. Once our law enforcement agencies or courts clear (the detained men), only then will we deport them," Malik told a news conference.

Malik said the detained persons will be dealt with according to Pakistani laws. The government currently has no plans to deport them, he indicated.

Though Malik told the news conference that five American men were in the custody of Pakistani police, US embassy spokesman Rick Snelsire said a total of six US nationals had been detained in the eastern city of Sargodha, located nearly 200 km from Islamabad.

A US consular officer had been granted access to the detained persons and a FBI team had also questioned them, Snelsire told PTI.

Pakistani police officials have said five of the detained US nationals, all Muslims in their twenties, wanted to go to Afghanistan to fight the US-led forces.

They tried unsuccessfully to link up with the banned Jaish-e-Mohammed in the southern city of Hyderabad and the Jamaat-ud-Dawah in Lahore but both groups reportedly turned them away, sources said.

Sources also said preliminary investigations had indicated the youths were also in contact with some al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan.

Officials of Pakistani intelligence and security agencies and the FBI have been questioning the five youths since yesterday, sources said.

The youths have been identified in police documents as as Ramy Zamzam, Iman Hasan, Waqar Hussain Khan, Ahmad Abdul Minni and Omar Farooq.

Two are of Pakistani origin, one of Yemeni origin, one of Egyptian origin and another of Ethiopian descent.

The five youths entered Pakistan through the southern port city of Karachi on November 30.

Sargodha district police Usman Anwar has said a case has been registered against the youths for violating the Foreigners Act and cyber crime laws.

Anwar said the youths had come to Pakistan to try and join militant groups and to travel to Taliban strongholds in the country’s northwest.

They also tried to contact jehadi groups in Pakistan through "YouTube and other websites", he said.

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