Was Birmingham-born militant Rashid Rauf behind Mumbai attack?
By Ben Goldby | November 29, 2008
INTELLIGENCE bosses are set to launch a probe into suspected links between Birmingham-born militant Rashid Rauf and last week’s terror attack in Mumbai.
Security forces in India will examine connections between two Islamist Kashmiri groups thought to be behind the Mumbai assault, which has claimed almost 200 lives, and Rauf, who was known to be a member of both terror groups.
Rauf, 27, from Ward End, Birmingham –an Al Qaeda suspect said to be the “key player” behind the alleged liquid bomb plot to blow up transatlantic airliners – was killed in a missile strike last Saturday in North Western Pakistan by an unmanned US drone.
Sources have now revealed that he was planning a major attack at the time of his death, and that the Mumbai murders show all the hallmarks of one of Rauf’s “terror spectacular” plots.
The Indian Mujahidin, which carried out a blast in Delhi in September and warned that they would strike next in Mumbai, is understood to have been behind this week’s terror outrage.
The group is made up of several different militant organisations, the most dangerous of which are the Pakistani-based Kashmiri “freedom” movements Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM).
Rauf was known to have strong links to both organisations.
He married a relative of JEM’s founder and worked with LET to train British jihadis who travelled to Pakistan. London 7/7 bombers Shehzad Tanweer and Mohammed Siddique Khan both studied at an LET madrassa near Lahore in 2004.
Last night, a terror expert told the Sunday Mercury: “It is understood that this attack in Mumbai is the work of the Indian Mujahidin, based on plans and support from Kashmiri groups based in Pakistan.
“The planning seems to have been done by an Islamist militant group called Lashkar-e-Toiba and they have close links to other Kashmiri fighters including Jaish-e-Mohammed.
“In Rashid Rauf we have a man who dreamed up an alleged plot to blow up 10 transatlantic planes. We know he plotted spectacular attacks and we know that we was planning a terror operation when he was killed.
“This attack in Mumbai, with the synchronised terror strikes in multiple locations, is certainly consistent with his approach to militant tactics.”
Rauf fled to the tribal areas of North Western Pakistan in April, 2002 as West Midlands Police tried to question him over the death of his uncle Mohammed Saeed in Alum Rock.
The former Washwood Heath High School pupil sought sanctuary in his family’s ancestral village of Haveli Bagal after he was named as the prime suspect in his uncle’s murder.
He married a relative of JEM founder and spiritual leader Maulana Masood Azhar in 2003 and turned to radical Islam.
Intelligence reports say he took an active role in planning terror attacks and was the alleged ringleader of the liquid bomb plot to blow up 10 jetliners over the Atlantic Ocean.
In August 2006, as spooks were monitoring the alleged airline bomb plot, Rauf, who was under surveillance by both British and Pakistani secret services, was connected by officers to LET and Al Qaeda and was known to be transferring cash and instructions to members in the UK.
Although charges over the transatlantic plot were later dropped against Rauf, the CIA continued to track his activities and he was held by Pakistani police as detectives back in Birmingham sought his extradition over his uncle’s murder.
But in December 2007 Rauf gave guards the slip at a roadside Mosque after a hearing in Islamabad, and is believed to have fled back to the lawless tribal regions of North Western Pakistan.
At the time of his death Rauf was meeting with Egyptian extremist and senior Al Qaeda field commander Abu Zubair al-Masri in the tribal heartland of Waziristan.
Indian investigators will now probe the significance of that meeting, thought to have been a “council of war” to discuss jihadi attacks against western targets, and examine connections between LET, JEM and the Mumbai attacks.
Officials in London have insisted that there is no evidence yet that Britons have taken part in the planning or execution of the Mumbai assault, although they cannot rule it out.
Around 30 counter terrorism officers from the Met Police have now been sent to India to help with the investigation.