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Pak arrests key suspect in UK plot

Pak arrests key suspect in UK plot

Author: Shafqat Ali
Publication: The Asian Age
Date: August 18, 2006

Pakistan arrested Matee-ur-Rehman, leader of a banned outfit alleged for his involvement in the airliner plot in the UK, from his residence in Bhattai colony near Korangi Crossing, Karachi, sources said. Matee carried a prize of Rs 10 million on his arrest.

Sources said that Rashid Rauf, one of the main accused in the foiled plot, gave a tip that led to the arrest of Matee on Tuesday by a team of secret agencies. Meanwhile, the government has denied British intelligence agency MI6, access to Rashid Rauf and said its investigators are competent enough to probe his alleged links with different militant outfits. The investigators said that Rashid Rauf has admitted receiving funds from certain like-minded citizens. of South Africa.

He also confessed meeting an Al Qaeda leader of Arab origin, on the Pak-Afghan border, the investigators further said.

Contrary to earlier reports that said, Rauf was arrested a week before the London flight alert, the investigators said he was rounded up only a day before the alert.

According to the sources, the UK high commission had sought permission for MI6 officials to probe Rashif Rauf's involvement in the plot. They were insisting that as Rauf is a British national, it is their right to reach him for investigation.

The Pakistani government was of the view that since he had been caught in Pakistan, the local investigators will probe him. At a time when a court has sent him on remand, it will not be fair to allow the UK intelligence agents to investigate him, the sources said.

The sources said, Pakistani agencies had put Rauf under watch for the first time in 2002 when he arrived in Pakistan after assassination of his uncle in the UK. "We had put him under watch on recommendations from the British government," an official said.

According to the sources, he was also included in the list of suspects after the 7/7 tube and bus bombings in London. They said although he was under watch, his arrest was made only on August 9, a day before the plot of destroying US-bound flights was foiled in London. He was produced before a court of two days after his arrest,
the sources further said.

The sources said that Rauf had confessed receiving funds from some wealthy persons residing in South Africa for carrying out their "dream plan". They however said, Rauf refused to confirm if the other suspects of August 10 plot had taken him into confidence about their lethal plan. Rashif Rauf also admitted during the investigation that he held a number of meetings with an Al Qaeda leader on the Pak-Afghan border, investigators said.

Meanwhile, Britain is seeking from Pakistan custody of Rauf, said the Dawn on Thursday. A six-member team of British counter-terrorism officials has arrived here to seek Rauf's custody. There is no extradition treaty between Pakistan and Britain, but the latter is citing various international conventions to support its case.

Quoting a spokeswoman for Britain's Home Office in London, the Dawn said that there are a number of international conventions, such as the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, that set up formal extradition arrangements for certain types of criminal conduct.

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