IOL (Zambia) : Terror suspect flees in prayer stop at mosque

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Terror suspect flees in prayer stop at mosque

Sapa-dpa | December 17, 2007

Islamabad - A British terrorist suspect in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic commercial jetliners managed to escape from a mosque when his police escorts allowed him to say prayers on their way back to the prison, police said on Monday.

Rashid Rauf, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, escaped from guards on Saturday afternoon after appearing before a district court judge in Islamabad for an extradition hearing relating to a separate murder investigation in Britain.

His two escorts were immediately detained and were being investigated for possibly aiding the escape.

"The detained policemen told us that they were going back to the jail with the suspect in a private cab instead of a police van, when Rauf requested that they allow him to say noon prayers at a roadside mosque," one of the investigators said.

The investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Rauf entered the mosque with handcuffs on while the policemen waited for him in the cab. Twenty minutes later they discovered Rauf had slipped out a rear door while still wearing the handcuffs.

Initial media reports suggested the suspect had slipped out of his handcuffs and overpowered the escorts before escaping.

Rauf was arrested in Pakistan in August 2006 on a tip from the British government, which suspected he was part of a plot to blow up several jetliners flying from Britain to the United States. The alleged plot prompted authorities to cancel flights and issue security alerts.