Lahore, Feb 27: Pakistani security forces have arrested a top militant leader blamed by the slain former premier Benazir Bhutto for plotting a suicide attack on her in Karachi on October 18, 2007. Qari Saifullah Akhtar and his three sons were arrested on Tuesday by security forces at Ferozwala near Lahore, Geo News quoted official sources, as saying.
Akhtar, who is linked to al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and was head of the outlawed Harkatul Jihad al-Islami, fought along with the Mujahideen during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. He also trained jihadi fighters who were sent to Jammu and Kashmir during the 1990s. The militant leader first came to prominence in 1995 when he was linked to a plot by Pakistan Army officers to overthrow then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Though the Army officers were court-martialled and sentenced, Akhtar was set free without any action being taken against him. In 2004, Akhtar was arrested in the United Arab Emirates and handed over to Pakistani authorities. However, he was released again in mysterious circumstances last year.
In her last book "Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West", Bhutto had accused Akhtar of being involved in a plot to bomb her homecoming rally in Karachi on October 19 last year. Over 140 people died in that attack.
Bhutto was later assassinated in Rawalpindi on December 27.
Akhtar was linked to several other terrorist acts, officials said.