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Pakistan arrests father of UK bomb plot suspect

Interior Minister of Pakistan, revealed that he was not aware that Abdul Rauf had been detained.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2006 11:56 IST

Pakistani authorities are holding the father of alleged London airline bomb plotter Rashid Rauf in custody, security officials said on Thursday.

The officials said it was not clear whether Abdul Rauf, 52, had been detained for questioning over his son's alleged role in the conspiracy to blow up transatlantic jets or if he was a suspect himself.

One intelligence source said that Abdul Rauf was picked up by Pakistani intelligence agents from Islamabad international airport soon after the arrest of his son earlier this month. "He was taken into custody from the airport when he was leaving the country," the official said.

Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said he was not aware that Abdul Rauf had been detained. "It is not to my knowledge," he said.

According to Islamabad, Rashid Rauf, 25, who was seized in the central city of Bahawalpur in early August, is a 'key man' in the bomb plot with links to Al-Qaeda.

It says his arrest led directly to the arrest of some two dozen people in Britain a week ago. Rashid Rauf's brother Tayib, 22, was one of those held in the British raids.

Pakistani officials said last week that two Britons had been arrested over the plot, although Abdul Rauf's nationality is not clear. Intelligence sources said Abdul Rauf also met his son a few days before Rashid was apprehended. "He went to see his son in Bahawalpur around the August 4," another official said.

The officials said Abdul Rauf had travelled to Pakistan in July with his daughter and a younger son to attend a wedding. Abdul Rauf is said to have emigrated from Pakistani Kashmir in the 1960s and reportedly runs a cake-baking business in Birmingham.

Residents said he had visited the family's ancestral village in the Kashmiri hamlet Haveli Begal, where they still have a house, around two weeks ago but had then left.

The British High Commission in Islamabad said that it was still waiting for Pakistan to respond to a request for details on the arrests of any British nationals in connection with the plots.