UK terror | Pak to extradite Rashid Rauf
London has not yet sent any extradition request for Rashid Rauf, who gave breakthrough details of the conspiracy.india Updated: Aug 16, 2006 14:58 IST
Pakistan on Tuesday said it could extradite a British Al-Qaeda suspect held over a plot to blow up airliners but denied reports that a charity funnelled quake relief funds towards the conspiracy.
London had not yet sent any extradition request for Rashid Rauf, who allegedly gave breakthrough details of the conspiracy after his arrest in early August, a Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.
"Rashid Rauf is a British national, we do not have any extradition treaty at the moment, but yes because he is a British national the possibility of his extradition remains there," spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam told reporters.
"We have not received any request for extradition, so it would be hypothetical at this stage. But we have arrangements for mutual legal assistance," she said.
"We will continue to cooperate closely."
Britain last week arrested around two dozen people, reportedly including Rauf's brother Tayib, 22, in connection with the alleged plot to bomb US-bound passenger jets.
Toughened security caused chaos at airports worldwide.
Pakistan said last week that Rauf was a "key man" in the conspiracy and had connections to the Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan. Security officials said another Briton and five Pakistanis had been arrested.
"He (Rauf) is being interrogated," Aslam said without elaborating.
The British Foreign Office said it was waiting for a response from the Pakistan government concerning the arrests of two reported Britons.
"We actually sent a 'note verbale' to the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for an official status on the two (reported British) individuals that were arrested, i.e. nationality and things like that," a Foreign Office spokesman said in London.
The spokesman said he was "not aware" that there has been a response yet. The gist of the note was to find out whether the two were indeed British nationals and whether British consular officials can visit them.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's Aslam said Rauf had "nothing to do" with any charities involved in operations after last October's South Asian earthquake, which left 73,000 people dead and three million homeless.
She also dismissed as "absurd" reports including one in Tuesday's Washington Post that an unidentified Pakistani charity which received 10 million dollars from Britain for disaster relief had helped finance the alleged plan.
"These are all absurd baseless stories. The objective is to malign Pakistan and to cast a shadow on the efforts made by Pakistan to uncover and foil this terrorist plot," Aslam said.
Following reports that Rauf's father Abdul had worked for a quake relief charity in Britain, she said: "If one person is involved in a criminal act it does not mean that the entire family is criminal."
Separately a Pakistani official said that authorities had previously probed the transfer of 20 million pounds from Britain to Pakistan but it was in a money-laundering case and was "not even remotely linked" to the bomb plot.
A Briton of Pakistani descent sent the money via Dubai between May and November 2005 into three Pakistani bank accounts operated by four Britons of similar ethnicity, the official told AFP.
The New York Times on Monday said Britain was probing if the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity, regarded as the political wing of the Kashmiri militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, had provided money to some of the 23 suspects seized in Britain.
A spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Yahya Mujahid, said the allegations were untrue.
Pakistan placed Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafez Mohammed Saeed under house arrest last week but authorities said he was held to stop him causing public disorder.
"Hafez Saeed was not arrested due to links with the international plot," Aslam added.