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Airplane bomb plot: The Pak link

By Rediff News Bureau
August 11, 2006 17:12 IST
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Three of the ringleaders of the foiled airplane bomb plot have been identified by Western intelligence agencies, reports ABC News.

'Two of them are believed to have recently traveled to Pakistan and were later in receipt of money wired to them from Pakistan, reportedly to purchase tickets for the suicide bombers,' the report said.

The three persons, who are now in custody, have been identified as Rashid Rauf, Mohammed al-Ghandra and Ahmed al Khan, says the ABC report.

While Pakistan jubilantly points to official British acknowledgement of its role in foiling the plot to blow up airliners headed to the US from London's Heathrow airport, there is growing concern over the fact that most, if not all, the 24 suspects arrested by the British authorities have links with Pakistan, and had travelled to that country recently.

According to one report, five Pakistanis were arrested in Pakistan on Wednesday as suspected 'facilitators' of the plot. Two Britons were arrested earlier.

Although Al Qaeda is being named as sponsor of this plot, authorities are now also said to be probing whether the plot was hatched in Pakistan, and whether the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist outfit also accused of being behind the Mumbai train blasts, was involved in any way.

The July 7 London bombings last year too were linked to people who had visited or trained in Pakistan, but British authorities could not make much headway into those investigations, apparently due to half-hearted Pakistani cooperation.

'We believe that Pakistan played an important role in uncovering this international terror network and also in breaking it,' Pakistan foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam told a television channel.

In fact, the move to arrest the plotters in the UK reportedly followed Pakistani intelligence reports of an order to speed up the plot after the arrests in Pakistan.

'We had been working with these countries on this case for a while, and there have been a few arrests in Pakistan, in coordination with the arrests in London,' Aslam said. 'As you are aware, Pakistan is an active partner in the global war on terror.'

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