ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan gave details yesterday about its initial interrogation of reputed Al Qaeda No. 3 Abu Farraj al-Libbi, who stayed silent for hours after his capture this week before admitting his identity, an intelligence official said yesterday.
''Only two questions are being asked, over and over, and in different shifts: 'Where is bin Laden?' and 'What were your plans?' " said a senior Pakistani intelligence official with intimate knowledge of the interrogation.
Libbi and an unidentified suspect were caught Monday after an exchange of gunfire with security forces outside the northwestern Pakistan town of Mardan, about 30 miles from Peshawar. Witnesses said armed Pakistani agents -- some disguised in burqas, the all-encompassing garment worn by women in conservative Islamic families -- ambushed the two men as they rode a motorbike across a dusty graveyard on the outskirts of Mardan.
The unidentified suspect was arrested there, but Libbi fled to a nearby private guest house, where he tried to hide.
''I am a jihadi! Police are after me!" witness Bakht Munir quoted Libbi as saying before the Libyan was tracked down by the commandos, who smoked him out with tear gas and led him away.
The arrests were announced Wednesday. The other suspect was not identified.
President Bush hailed the arrest as a victory that removes a key enemy, and jubilant Pakistani officials said the capture will boost the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
The Libyan terror suspect, allegedly a close confidant of bin Laden's, was Pakistan's most wanted man, accused of masterminding two 2003 assassination attempts against President Pervez Musharraf that left 17 dead.
Information Minister Sheikh Rashid confirmed that Libbi was in Pakistan's custody and that he was being questioned. He declined to give details. An intelligence official familiar with the investigation said Libbi was being questioned by Pakistani counterterrorism specialists and security officials.
''He remained silent for hours, but he had to admit that he is Al Qaeda. He had no other option because our people had very solid evidence to prove his identity," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
US counterrterrorism officials said Wednesday that American intelligence agencies were also taking part in the interrogations.
Libbi, who is thought to use at least five aliases, was behind only bin Laden himself and Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahri in the terror group's hierarchy, US counterterrorism officials said.