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Woman 'not a suspect' in Pakistan terror probe

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Woman 'not a suspect' in Pakistan terror probe
17:27 CEST+02:00
A Swedish woman arrested in Pakistan three weeks ago, along with her child and two other Swedes, is not a terror suspect, a source close to the Pakistani authorities said on Thursday.

According to the TT news agency, the source said the woman, 19-year-old Safia Benaouda, is not suspected of having committed any terrorist crimes and that the Swedish foreign ministry should expect her and her two and a half-year-old boy to be released relatively soon.

As of Thursday afternoon in Pakistan, neither Sweden's ambassador nor any other official had met with Benaouda, her boyfriend Munir Awad, or Mehdi Ghezali, a Swedish national formerly held in Guantanamo Bay.

All three, along with Benaouda's child, are currently sitting in a prison in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

They were arrested in Pakistan along with seven Turkish nationals, one Russian, one Iranian, as well as someone from Pakistan, because of suspected terrorist ties.

Benaouda's mother Helena, head of the Muslim Council of Sweden, said in a statement issued to the Swedish media that she is worried and her priority is the safety of her grandson.

On Wednesday, she received confirmation that her daughter and grandson were apprehended in Pakistan on August 28th.

“I received the news from the Swedish embassy when I called them after having identified the little child in a picture,” said Helena Benaouda.

“Right now I feel both concern and anguish for my grandchild and for the situation in general, but also relief because the Pakistani admission means that some sort of contact has been established with my daughter, and through her, with the child. I am hopeful that I and the Swedish embassy will be able to work together in an appropriate manner, prioritizing the best interests of the child.”

Sources told Sveriges Radio (SR) that Benaouda was forced to travel to Pakistan on orders from Awad. The reason, she believed, was to meet other pious Muslims. During the trip, she began to suspect something was wrong, but by then it was too late for her to return to Sweden.

The police believe that the woman's role may have been to deflect suspicion away from the group.

According to SR's sources, a representative from Sweden's intelligence services is now in Pakistan to look into the charges that the Swedes have ties to terrorists.

Swedish security service Säpo, however, said it doesn't have any personnel in Pakistan, while the military intelligence service, MUST, said it “doesn't comment on operations we're involved with or on operations we're not involved with”.

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