Airstrike Kills Al-Qaeda Suspect in Pakistan

airstrike kills al-qaeda suspect

An alleged al-Qaeda operative linked to a 2006 plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners was killed Saturday in a U.S. missile strike in northern Pakistan, according to Pakistani and American officials.

Rashid Rauf, was among the five people killed in the attack by a US drone in North Waziristan, close to the Afghan border. The area is a key base for hardline terrorists, including European militants.

In August 2006, Mr. Rauf, a Briton of Pakistani descent, was confined in Pakistan, leading to the arrest of 25 suspects in Britain in connection with what prosecutors said was a plot to destroy seven airliners headed for the United States and Canada. This September, a British jury convicted three of eight defendants of conspiracy to commit murder, failing to reach verdicts on the more serious charge of using beverage bottles filled with liquid explosives to blow up the aircraft.

His capture also led to extensive changes in airport safety and a ban on liquids being taken onto planes in hand luggage, rules which remain in force more than two years on.

The CIA has also claimed that Rauf was actively involved in the radicalization of young Muslims visiting Pakistan and was a key player in the preparation of several terror attacks across the world.

Andrew Dismore, chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, will ask the scrutiny body to probe whether British intelligence services had been consulted about the missile strike, The Sunday Times newspaper reported.

“This is a very serious matter, particularly if the attack was based on intelligence provided by the British security agencies,” said the member of the Labour Party.

“We can investigate whether British security services had involvement in providing intelligence concerning British nationals in Pakistan. I anticipate this is a matter the committee might like to follow up,” he told the broadsheet.

Rauf’s lawyer, Hasmat Habib, said the suspected militant’s family in Pakistan had no information about his apparent death. “He was an innocent man, a god-fearing, devout polite man and this is an extra-judicial killing,” he said.

Photo: AP