With the arrest of suspected mastermind of September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States from the residence of a family associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami, the focus of spotlight is gradually turning toward this radical party considered the bulwark of Islamic movement in the country.

Saturday's arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Rawalpindi from the residence of a local leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Omul Qudous and her husband Abdul Qudous, has fuelled speculations about the possible connections of its members with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaida network.

In the past, on at least two other occasions foreigners and suspected Al Qaida members were arrested from the houses of the Jamaat-e-Islami members or their relatives.

In January, authorities arrested two foreigners after a shootout in Karachi from the residence of Sabiha Shahid, a prominent leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami's women wing.

In December, suspected Al Qaida members were arrested from a village close to Lahore from the residence of Ahmed Javed Khawaja who is a relative of Hafiz Salman Butt - another key leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

"I will ask Qazi saheb (Hussain Ahmed) why all terrorists who are being arrested have links with his party," Faisal Saleh Hayat, interior minister, told reporters in Islamabad. "I think the Pakistani nation would expect him to answer that these people being arrested, whether in Karachi or Lahore, have linkages with his party. We are waiting for his response."

But other top government officials have been much more cautious in their remarks against the Jamaat which has pockets of followers in the military and civil administration.

A senior military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that it would be premature to even suggest that any Pakistani group has ties with Al Qaida. "Until investigations are complete we won't like to say such a thing," he said.

Besides Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, authorities arrested a Somalian and Ahmed Qudous- son of the Jamaat-e- Islami members. Also the authorities detained Adil Qudous, a major in Pakistan army's signals' corps from the northern city of Kohat for questioning about the possible links of the family with the suspected mastermind.

The Jamaat-e-Islami has denied that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested from the residence of one of its members and says that the authorities are trying to malign the party.

But sources within the Jamaat-e-Islami say that while their party has no ties with Al Qaida, there is a possibility that a few Jamaat-e-Islami members could help the "fleeing mujahideen" because they had long association with them since they fought and helped each other during the days of the Afghan war in 1980s.

Jamaat-e-Islami was the leading Pakistani group mobilizing Pakistani youngsters for the so-called jihad against the occupation of Afghanistan by forces belonging to the former Soviet Union and Communists. The group had ties with Gulbadin Hikmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami.

Hikmatyar, then a leading guerrilla commander and recipient of U.S. weapons and money, used to stay at the residence of Qazi Hussain Ahmed. Now Hikmatyar is also on the run as the United States has included his name the list of suspected terrorists.

Analysts say it would be difficult for any Jamaat-e-Islami worker to accept that those Afghan and Arab mujahideen who fought alongside with them against the communists in Afghanistan, suddenly been portrayed as demons.

The Jamaat-e-Islami, a key component of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, also have ties with the Islamic movements the worldwide.

The party is campaigning against the government's pro-U.S. policies and its support to Washington in the war against terrorism.