Monday, August 14, 2006

Alleged UK ringleader links plot to Al-Qaeda

Terrorism: Human rights people are yelling they got thru torture.

The suspected ringleader of the alleged plot to blow up flights out of Heathrow has provided details that directly link the conspiracy to al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Pakistani officials said yesterday. The interior minister, Aftab Sherpao, said Rashid Rauf had given investigators "many, many clues which link this plan with Afghanistan, especially the al-Qaida of Osama bin Laden". He said Mr Rauf had been brought before a court and had been remanded in custody for a further two weeks. Mr Rauf, a British citizen, was held last week in Pakistan and has been pinpointed by security sources in the UK and Pakistan as the plot's prime mover. British officials said moves were under way to extradite him to Britain. Tasneem Aslam, the Pakistan foreign ministry spokeswoman, told the Guardian last night that information from Mr Rauf had led to last week's arrests in Britain, which included his brother Tayib, and confirmed that the plot was believed to have originated with "al-Qaida based in Afghanistan". Intelligence sources suggested that Mr Rauf was believed to have spent time in Lahore with members of the radical group al-Muhajiroun, now a proscribed organisation in Britain. Members of the group, who were supposedly in the country to do welfare work with earthquake victims, were required to leave when it transpired that they were British citizens. Yesterday there were unconfirmed reports in the Nation newspaper that Mr Rauf had been seeking to contact Matiur Rehman, who is wanted for an assassination attempt on President Pervez Musharraf and has a 10 million rupee (£88,000) bounty on his head. But though Mr Rehman has been named in the UK as a possible mastermind of the plot, this was played down yesterday by security officials in both countries. The investigation is continuing in Pakistan with further arrests - said to number between seven and 20 - understood to have taken place in the past few days. The foreign ministry spokeswoman described reports of how the alleged plot had been funded by an earthquake charity as "speculation and fabrication". Reports in Pakistani newspapers yesterday that Mr Rauf had "broken" under interrogation were described by a Pakistani human rights group as confirmation that he had been tortured. Asma Jehangir, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that it was obvious how the information had been obtained. "I don't deduce, I know - torture," she said. "There is simply no doubt about that, no doubt at all." She said it was difficult to get information on the identities and circumstances of those held. "Gone are the days when you could take at face value what the government was saying." She said often detainees' families were not notified of their whereabouts and they might be provided with lawyers who were close to the government.
The real question is if the information given is correct and useful, at this point I am unconcerned about how they got it.

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