soft-drink terrorism: the Matrix version


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Ties to Al Qaeda? That's a strong indicator of 'false flag' operation, as Al 
Qaeda has always been a CIA asset.



August 12, 2006
Suspect Held in Pakistan Is Said to Have Ties to Qaeda

This article was reported and written by Alan Cowell, Dexter Filkins and Mark 

LONDON, Aug. 11 ‹ Pakistani officials said Friday that they had arrested a 
British-born associate of Al Qaeda who appears to have been a crucial player in 
what authorities said was a plot to blow up as many as 10 passenger jets bound 
for the United States.

The suspect, identified as Rashid Rauf, was arrested Wednesday in the eastern 
city of Bahawalpur, the officials said, just hours before the authorities began 
a series of raids across Britain to break up the plot they say was rapidly 
unfolding here.

According to a former Pakistani official close to the intelligence services 
there, the information leading to the arrest of Mr. Rauf came from a mole 
planted by the British police who had been monitoring the plot inside the United
Kingdom. With Mr. Rauf safely in hand, British authorities on Thursday swept up 
24 suspects who they say were planning to carry liquid explosives onto passenger
airliners and detonate them as the planes flew to the United States.

American and Pakistani officials said they decided to arrest the 24 suspects, in
part because they were concerned that word of Mr. Rauf¹s arrest could send the 
British plotters underground. The officials described Mr. Rauf, who is of 
Pakistani descent, as a hardened Islamic militant who had been acting as a 
liaison for Al Qaeda in its relations with the plotters in the United Kingdom.

³There is definitely an Al Qaeda connection to this,² Mahmud Ali Durrani, 
Pakistan¹s ambassador to the United States, said.

In another interview, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, the Pakistani interior minister,
called Mr. Rauf a ³key Al Qaeda operative.²

American officials in Washington concurred that Mr. Rauf was believed to be a 
principal facilitator in the plot to blow up the airliners and that he was 
affiliated with Al Qaeda.

British officials, however, declined to discuss a welter of news reports 
suggesting that the attack had been imminent, with airplanes exploding in midair
over American cities from Los Angeles to New York. One British security official
said reports that the attack was scheduled for next Wednesday were ³rubbish.²

According to an American official and the former Pakistani official, the 
authorities in Pakistan were still searching for at least one other suspect 
thought to be involved in the plot to blow up the airliners. Both spoke on the 
condition of anonymity.

Neighbors in Birmingham said Mr. Rauf was the brother of Tayib Rauf, one of the 
24 arrested in the dragnet Thursday. An American official confirmed that they 
are brothers.

A Pakistani official in the United Kingdom and a Western intelligence official 
said Mr. Rauf was also wanted on murder charges in the United Kingdom. The 
details of those murders were not known.

The British police said late Friday they had released one of the 24 suspects in 
the case. They did not identify that person.

British authorities, who have been searching the suspects¹ homes, have 
discovered a videotape from one of the suspects in which he explains his 
involvement in the attack and predicts his eventual death. No other details 
about the tape were available. Two of the British nationals who carried out 
suicide attacks on British subways last July, Mohammad Siddique Khan and Shehzad
Tanweer, made videotapes before the bombings, each proclaiming his support for a
militant brand of Islam.

If it proves fruitful, the arrest of Mr. Rauf would be the first indication of a
link between Al Qaeda and the plot to blow up the airliners, which British and 
American officials say could have killed thousands of people. A Pakistani 
official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Pakistani government 
had also picked up one other British-born man in connection with the plot, as 
well as at least five Pakistanis. The other British man could not be identified.

Still, the exact nature of Mr. Rauf¹s role in the plot was not immediately 
clear. American officials said that at least 2 of the 24 arrested Thursday had 
traveled to Pakistan in the weeks leading up to the planned attack. It was 
unclear Friday whether those two suspects met with Mr. Rauf while they traveled 
to Pakistan, or what they did while they were there.

According to Pakistani officials, Mr. Rauf is affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammed, 
the militant Islamic group that is closely linked to Al Qaeda and that is 
battling Indian rule in the mountainous region of Kashmir. The group has been 
officially labeled a terrorist group by the United States government and is 
believed to be responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street 
Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Its precursor organization, Harkat ul-Mujahedeen,
trained in Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.

American and Pakistani officials believe that Mr. Rauf trained in camps of Al 
Qaeda in the late 1990¹s or later, when that group and other militant 
organizations operated freely in Afghanistan.

Pakistani and American officials said they had received another early warning of
the plot in Britain from a Pakistani man picked up crossing the Afghan border 
five weeks ago. According to the former Pakistani official, the man told 
authorities there of a plot in Britain involving the destruction of several 
commercial airlines.

A senior American law enforcement official said that the British disruption of 
the plot to down airliners began with the follow-up investigation after last 
summer¹s suicide attacks on the London subways, which killed 56 people, 
including the 4 bombers.

³MI5 tracked everyone involved in the London attacks,² the official said. ³Their
past movements, phone calls and e-mails, everything. It was comprehensive in 
much the same way that the F.B.I. conducted the post-9/11 investigation.²

The investigation led authorities to the suspects in the current plot and 
allowed them to insert an undercover officer, the official said.

A British security official said that law enforcement officials started to 
monitor the group in December 2005.

The 23 suspects still detained in Britain were drawn mostly from the country¹s 
large population of Muslims of Pakistani descent. Their ages ranged from 17 to 
35, with many from the immigrant neighborhoods in Walthamstow in east London; 
High Wycombe, west of the capital; and Birmingham, in the Midlands.

At least three of the men were converts to Islam, according to neighbors. One of
them, Don Stewart-Whyte, 21, traded a comfortable life in High Wycombe for an 
austere devotion to Islam under the name of Abdul Waheed.

New details emerged Friday about the plot, which British officials said could 
have killed more people than the nearly 3,000 who died in the terrorist attacks 
on Sept. 11, 2001.

A British security official said the suspects had been planning to use an 
explosive called TATP, to be detonated by an electrical charge like a cellphone.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said authorities believed the
suspects were planning to blow up as many as 10 planes.

Also Friday, British authorities said they had frozen the financial assets 
belonging to 19 of the 24 suspects, whom they identified publicly for the first 

Britain, meanwhile, remained on its highest level of terrorist alert, known as 
³critical,² while travelers at the nation¹s airports continued to face delays 
and stringent security patrols. On Thursday, after the conspiracy was made 
known, thousands of travelers were stranded as hundreds of flights were 

On Friday, things began to move again. British Airways said that 70 percent of 
its short-haul flights were operating and most of its trans-Atlantic flights had
been restored. Passengers were still barred from taking carry-on bags onto 
planes, reflecting the suspicion that the plotters had planned to use explosives
hidden in soft drink bottles or other containers.

Explosives experts said detonators could have been hidden in MP3 players or the 
flashes of disposable cameras.

Ever since the security alert, passengers in Britain have been barred from 
carrying any hand baggage, electrical equipment or liquids onto planes. They may
carry only personal items like wallets and medication in transparent plastic 

There were suggestions Friday that the plot uncovered in Britain may have been 
planned to reach to other countries. Maleeha Lodi, Pakistan¹s ambassador to 
Britain, said in an interview that the network uncovered in Pakistan had ³wider 
international dimensions.²

Coming 13 months after the July 7, 2005, London bombings, the disclosure of the 
new conspiracy convulsed Muslim groups gathered in mosques and Islamic 
bookstores, prompting some to protest that their religion was being stigmatized.
Others complained that no evidence had been produced to support the official 
reasons for the arrests.

³Those arrested are innocent until proven guilty,² said Mohammed Shoyaib Nergat,
the imam of a mosque in Walthamstow, where many of the detainees prayed.

Mohammad Khaliel, spokesman for a prayer group in High Wycombe, where several 
men had been arrested, insisted that Islamic leaders in the town ³have been 
putting the broad moderate message of Islam.²

He said those arrested ³came across as diligent, hard-working pious people who 
would pick the litter off the street and put it in the bin.²

Alan Cowell and Dexter Filkins reported from London for this article, and Mark 
Mazzetti from Washington. Reporting for this article was contributed by Lowell 
Bergman from Berkeley, Calif.; Eric Pfanner and Pamela Kent from London; Salman 
Masood from Islamabad, Pakistan; Mohammed Khan from Peshawar, Pakistan; Heather 
Timmons from Birmingham, England; and Katrin Bennhold from Paris.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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