British Al Qaeda member killed in Pakistan (Lead, Changing Dateline)

November 22nd, 2008 - 7:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Nov 22 (IANS) Al-Qaeda member Rashid Rauf, who was a British national of Pakistani origin, was among the five people killed in US drone attack early Saturday morning, said an official of the interior ministry.”We have received confirmation that Rauf has been killed in the attack,” the official told IANS, requesting anonymity.

He said that another Al-Qaeda member Abu Al-Asr was also killed in the missile fired by the drone.

Reports said that a US spy plane fired two missiles at the house of Khaliq Noor in Alikhel area of North Waziristan, killing five people, including three foreigners, and injuring six others.

The attack came just two days after Pakistan lodged a strong protest with the US ambassador over missile attacks on its territory and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani warned the US to stop the attacks immediately.

Rauf is alleged to be the mastermind of a 2006 transatlantic airplane bombing plot and was wanted by the British authorities. He was arrested in Pakistan in August 2006 and escaped from police custody in December 2007.

A day after Rauf was arrested several people were detained in Britain and the authorities had to cancel several flights because of the security threat. Since then airlines have banned carrying liquids, including water, by passengers.

The British government had requested Pakistan to extradite Rauf to London, where he was wanted by the police for the murder of his uncle in 2002.

According to The Telegraph of London, the radicalisation of Rauf had begun many years earlier in Birmingham in Britain. At some point, in his late teens, he appears to have committed himself to the Al Qaeda cause - and it is his militant views that are thought to have led to a family feud and his uncle’s death.

“It is not known exactly what made Rauf turn against the West. However, with dual British and Pakistani citizenship, he was married to a relative of Maulana Masood Azhar, the head and founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed, an Islamist militant group in Pakistan that has been linked to Al-Qaeda.

“With his distinctive looks - a long nose and his wiry black beard - it was never going to be easy for Rauf to hide once he was on the run, even in Pakistan. It was here, however, he seems to have become intent on working with Al Qaeda leaders to mastermind a major strike against the West in general, and Britain in particular,” the media report said.

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