Palestinian To Succeed bin
Laden As al Qaeda
Leader - Report

Moscow (IANS) - Al Qaida has named a Palestinian to be Osama bin Laden's successor in case the latter is arrested or killed, Russian news agency Ria-Novosti reported.

Quoting sources in Dubai, Ria-Novosti said Al Qaida members fleeing Afghanistan have revealed this to Pakistani intelligence officers during interrogations.

The leadership of the terrorist outfit would pass over to Zain Al-Abedin Hasan, a 30-year-old Palestinian from Gaza Strip, in case of Bin Laden's death or arrest, Ria-Novosti reported.

Hasan has been based in Peshawar for the last few years, overseeing the recruitment and dispatch of mercenaries from different parts of the world to Afghanistan.

The Palestinian is accused of masterminding the terrorist attacks on citizens of western countries in Aman on New Year's eve in 2000, said Ria-Novosti.

The Jordanian intelligence agency had found evidence of Hasan's complicity in those terrorist attacks, and more than 20 terrorists had been arrested in connection with those incidents, the new agency said.

The sources said during the 1990s more than 20,000 mercenaries, mainly from Arab countries, had crossed into Afghanistan and became members of Al Qaida.

Nearly half of Al Qaida members, including many members of its leadership, have managed to escape from Afghanistan, the news agency said, adding that the outfit's communication infrastructure had been destroyed in the U.S. air raids.

Ria-Novosti said because of the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan for the first time Al Qaida did not receive any donations on the occasion of Ramadan from the Arab countries.

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