An article has been posted on Times Online UK which raises concerns that Pakistan’s secret service may have staged the escape of Rashid Rauf a few days back. The excuse / investigation presented by the Pakistani Police seems to be an utter farce when the explanation shows that a high profile prisoner was allowed to munch down at McDonald’s and then allowed unchained and unattended to offer prayers in a mosque, only to let him escape through the ‘other door’.
In December 2006 the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities, and his charges were downgraded to forgery and possession of explosives. It can very well be speculated that the government is now afraid that, if he were allowed to go back to the UK he would then be an utter embarrassment for the present regime since they had trumpeted and hyped his involvement in global terrorism
A brief Introduction of Rashid Rauf as posted on Wikipedia
Rashid Rauf, a dual citizen of Britiain and Pakistan, was arrested in Bhawalpur, Pakistan in connection with the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot in August 2006, a day before some arrests were made in Britain. The Pakistani Interior Minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, claimed that “he is an al Qaeda operative with linkages in Afghanistan”. He is said to be one of the ringleaders of the alleged plot. In December 2006 the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities, and his charges were downgraded to forgery and possession of explosives
TIMES ONLINE, UK: Friends of Rashid Rauf, the man wanted in Britain for last years Al-Qaeda plot to blow up transatlantic airliners, believe that he did not escape from custody last weekend but was kidnapped by Pakistans military intelligence agency (ISI). They fear he may be shot. Rauf was arrested in Pakistan in August last year at the same time as 25 men were held in Britain after police uncovered an alleged plot to blow up 12 airliners flying to the United States from Heathrow and Gatwick. The arrests led to widespread changes in airport security and a ban on liquids being taken onto planes in hand luggage.
The government is now afraid that he would be an embarrassment if sent to UK because of their hype of his involvement in terrorismSince then Rauf has been held with other Al-Qaeda suspects in Pakistans highest-security unit in Rawalpindi until his “escape last weekend. The Pakistan government has blamed junior policemen escorting Rauf back to jail after a court hearing in Islamabad where he was fighting moves to extradite him to Britain in connection with the murder of an uncle. The officers had allowed him to stop for lunch at a McDonalds restaurant and later in the journey permitted him to pray at a mosque. His handcuffs were removed to allow him to pray freely. When the guards entered the mosque to check on the prisoner, he had escaped through another door.
Their description of his getaway has been met with disbelief throughout Pakistan, with diplomats and commentators asking how a prisoner described by the countrys interior minister as a leading Al-Qaeda operative and held in Pakistans highest-security detention unit could be allowed to walk away in broad daylight. Raufs lawyer and a close family friend both said last week that they believed he had not escaped but had been taken into secret security-service custody and they feared for his life. They said they believed the countrys intelligence service did not want him to be extradited to Britain and had in effect kidnapped him to preempt any court decision to deport him.
More than 400 opposition activists and Islamic militants have been secretly detained by the security services in this way and Pakistans Supreme Court has criticised the policy and ordered the government to free a number of detainees. Khalid Khawaja, a former Pakistan intelligence agent who counts Osama Bin Laden as a friend, said he had shared a cell with Rauf and had become close to him and his family. He said Rauf was a simple man who did not have the wherewithal to plot an escape. He said he believed that Rauf might have been “taken away by the ISI and feared that his friend might be shot dead while “on the run.
“He was a high-value prisoner wanted by the British. How could he just get a chance to run away like this? It is not possible without the active involvement of the government. Now they have said he ran away. If hes found killed no one will question it because he ran away, he said. Hashmat Habib, Raufs lawyer, said his client was being victimised because the Pakistani authorities had been forced to drop all charges against Rauf over the transatlantic flight plot. “In my estimate its an organised disappearance. They dont want to hand him over. Hes an innocent man. He was fixed up and the government is now afraid that he would become an embarrassment if sent to the UK because they hyped up his involvement. He was not involved in terrorism, he said.
Pakistani officials have said that Rauf was a leading figure in the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist group, which is believed to have had strong links with Pakistans intelligence agencies. The group was behind the hijacking of an Indian Airlines jet in 1999 and the beheading of Daniel Pearl, the American journalist, in February 2002. Its members have included Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the terrorist from Wanstead, east London, who was later convicted of the kidnap and murder of Pearl.
Credit for the link Thought Stream