Islamabad, Jan 10 (Agencies): Qari Saifullah Akhtar, who is a self-declared warrior against US, NATO troops and allegedly ran terrorist training camps, is free now.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, the top judicial official in Akhtar's native Punjab province, said he was released from four months of house arrest in early December because authorities finished questioning him in connection with the October 2007 attempted assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and found no grounds to charge him.

However, one US official said on condition of anonymity that Akhtar has extensive ties to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups and is someone who should not be free to walk around the streets of Pakistan or any other country.

Former US intelligence officials and analysts said Akhtar's release is yet another sign of Pakistan's reluctance or inability to crack down on the most dangerous terrorist organisations.

"I think it is clear that Akhtar is going to go back to the front lines of the fight against the United States, which complicates our mission in Afghanistan, and threatens the stability and security of the region in general," says Charles Bacon, a US-based intelligence analyst.

Pakistani and US analysts say Akhtar's release reflects a growing lack of control by the country's security agencies over one-time prodigies who have broken away and turned their weapons on the State.

Mohammed Amir Rana, who runs the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, said freeing Akhtar was a desperate attempt by the security agencies to reunite militant groups whose members have splintered into smaller groups and in some cases, turned against Pakistan because of its support for the US-led war in Afghanistan and its attacks on the Taliban at home.

Bhutto had named Akhtar as a person she feared might try to kill her.

To protest his innocence, Akhtar's lawyer has filed suit against Bhutto's widower, President Asif Zardari, complaining that Bhutto had referred to his client as her would-be assassin, said author and defense analyst Ayesha Siddiqa. Bhutto named him as the bombmaker in the October attack on her in her posthumously released book.

"But the real reason is simply that there are elements in the (intelligence) agencies who are sympathetic to these guys," said Siddiqa, referring to militants.

No charges were ever brought against Akhtar over Bhutto or his suspected involvement in an earlier assassination attempt against former president Gen Pervez Musharraf, according to Jane's Defense.