AFP : British-Pakistani terror suspect still alive: lawyer

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

British-Pakistani terror suspect still alive: lawyer

November 24, 2008

LONDON (AFP) — British-Pakistani terror suspect Rashid Rauf is still alive, his lawyer told the BBC on Monday, saying reports that he had died in a US missile attack in Pakistan were "fake."

The alleged Al-Qaeda mastermind of a 2006 transatlantic jet bombing conspiracy was reportedly killed at the weekend in a US raid in a northwestern border district that is a known stronghold of Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

"We don't believe that this story is true... It is a fake story," lawyer Hashmat Ali Habib told BBC radio, adding: "We still believe that my client, Rashid, is alive."

He noted that requests for Rauf's body to be returned to his family had not been answered. "This is a new technique of the government to dispose of the cases like Rashid or other missing people," he said.

Rauf died Saturday when a missile hit a tribesman's house in the village of Alikhel, a Pakistani security official told AFP.

The strike site is in a lawless tribal territory and militants there usually surround the place after such attacks, preventing access of government representatives or the army, before burying the bodies themselves.

Rauf was arrested in 2006 in Pakistan over the bomb plot and 24 people were detained in Britain in a major swoop.

A day later a massive security operation at Heathrow Airport resulted in mass cancellations for several days, amid fears of a terrorist attack using liquid explosives on London flights bound for North America.

The Foreign Office said Saturday it was probing reports that Rauf had been killed. "We are currently investigating this at the moment, but we do not have any information," a spokesman said.