Attorney General John Ashcroft told Congress Tuesday that a major al-Qaida arrest over the weekend "is a severe blow to al-Qaida that could destabilize their terrorist network worldwide."
Ashcroft told the Senate Judiciary Committee that "next to (Osama) bin Laden, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the FBI most wanted terrorist."
Ashcroft also announced the January arrests of a Yemeni cleric who officials said secretly raised money and recruited troops for al-Qaida and Hamas. A complaint unsealed Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., charges Sheik Mohammed Ali Hasan al-Moayad with providing material support to a terrorist network.
"The FBI undercover operation developed information that al-Moayad personally handed Osama bin Laden $20 million from his terrorist funding network," Ashcroft said.
Al-Moayad, and his assistant, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, were arrested Jan. 10 in a sting operation at a hotel near Frankfurt airport in Germany. U.S. authorities consider al-Moayad's arrest a blow to Muslim charities used as fronts to finance terrorism.
Intelligence officials over the weekend captured Mohammed, operations chief for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network, in Pakistan. The Judiciary Committee was hearing about the developments Tuesday in testimony from Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.