WASHINGTON — Former and current U.S. intelligence officials say the terrorist described as the linchpin in the hunt for Osama bin Laden has rejoined al-Qaida after the Bush administration released him from a secret CIA secret prison under pressure from Pakistan.
The CIA returned al-Qaida operative Hassan Ghul to his native Pakistan shortly after the U.S. decided to close its secret prisons in Eastern Europe in early 2006.
Officials say Pakistan held Ghul for at least a year before he eventually was released, making his way back to al-Qaida.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because details about Ghul's case remain classified.
Pakistan's decision to free Ghul is yet another troubling revelation in a time when the U.S. is rethinking its relationship with the government in Islamabad.
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