Dec 23 2007
The news of the ridiculously simple escape by a terrorist suspect in Pakistan struck me as very bizarre in every detail, as I noted in my first post. I tend to not want to speculate too much because some possible scenarios have interesting potential for our side. But reporting in the UK Times today does add one interesting scenario which I can speculate on which also implies something happening on our side:
FRIENDS of Rashid Rauf, the man wanted in Britain for last yearâ€™s Al-Qaeda plot to blow up transatlantic airliners, believe that he did not escape from custody last weekend but was kidnapped by Pakistanâ€™s 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.
Since then Rauf has been held with other Al-Qaeda suspects in Pakistanâ€™s highest-security unit in Rawalpindi until his â€œescapeâ€ 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 McDonaldâ€™s 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.
The Keystone Kop nature of the getaway has always had me thinking something else was going on and this was a made for media story. But the idea the ISI let Rauf escape has one interesting possibility. The man has information on some of al-Qaeda’s most dangerous and bold attack plans since 9-11. So there is the possibility the man was given an opening he could not resist and is now undergoing some serious interrogation, or even now cooling his heals in GITMO. There are lots of scenarios – including answering the question “was there someone on the inside of the UK airline bomb plot who tipped authorities?” One thing is for sure, something is happening under the covers on this story.