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Abu Zubaydah (1973 - present) (Arabic: ابو زبيدة) was a high-ranking member of al-Qaida and close associate of Osama bin Laden. He is currently in U.S. custody in an unknown location. Zubaydah's name is often transliterated as Abu Zubaidah, Abu Zubeida, or Abu Zoubeida. Born Zein al-Abideen Mohamed Hussein (Arabic: زين العابدين محمد حسين), he is also known by over thirty-five aliases.
Born in Saudi Arabia, Zubaydah has been close to al-Qaida all his life. In the 1980s he operated a popular terrorist training camp near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He became an associate of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. During the 1990s, he was the chief recruiter for al-Qaida.
In the late 1990s, Zubaydah played a lead role in one of the 2000 millennium attack plots, and a possible tangential role in a second. There were plans to bomb a fully booked Radisson hotel in Amman, Jordan, and three other sites. This targeted tourists from the United States and Israel. But on November 30, 1999, Jordanian intelligence intercepted a call between Zubaydah and Khadr Abu Hoshar , a Palestinian militant, and determined that an attack was imminent. Jordanian police arrested 22 conspirators and foiled the attack. Zubaydah was sentenced to death in absentia by a Jordanian court for his role. There is also evidence that Zubaydah approved the Los Angeles airport bomb plot in 2000. This plot was also foiled.
In March of 2001, United States Condoleezza Rice was informed by the CIA that Zubaydah was planning a major operation in the near future. This was one of the first of many reports in the Spring of 2001 that increased the threat level and indicated that an attack was coming. Many of these reports mentioned Zubaydah by name. The attack finally came in the form of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The U.S. government believes he became al-Qaeda's top military strategist following the death of Muhammad Atef in November 2001. A later plot to bomb the U.S. embassy in Paris failed, as did an alleged plot to attack a target in Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Zubaydah was probably a conspirator in both of those plots.
U.S. intelligence located Zubaydah in 2002 by tracing his phone calls. He was captured 2 March, 2002, in a two story apartment in Faisalabad, Pakistan. He was shot three times in a firefight, including a wound to the groin and a wound to the thigh, but survived. Many documents were found in his possession that led to the indictments of over one hundred people. Now in U.S. custody, he has given a great deal of information about the 9/11 attack plot. Zubaida is considered the highest ranking prisoner captured by the U.S. in the war on terror.
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