Saturday, December 15, 2007

Liquid bomb plot evaporating

When the story about the alleged plot to blow up transatlantic flights using liquid bomb ingredients smuggled aboard at Heathrow first broke -- in the run-in to the 2006 election season in the US -- the man whose name kept coming up in the plot was Rashid Rauf, a British citizen who was in Pakistan at the time. Bit by bit the details of the charges against him seemed to weaken.

An extradition request by Britain for him was most recently only based on a murder charge unconnected to the bomb plot, although of course he could have been questioned about more things once he was returned to the UK. As of now though, he won't be questioned about anything. Because, he has "escaped" from police custody. Pakistani police seem to suspect collusion between him and his guards.

Given the role of this plot of the mythology of counter-terrorism -- it's constantly cited an example of international cooperation achieved through US surveillance techniques -- why is it that just when some concrete information is about to come into view, it unravels?

UPDATE 8 SEPTEMBER 2008: The plot is looking even more like vapour at this point. A trial with 8 accused, only 3 convicted, and none of an imminent plot to blow up airlines. So the question keeps coming back: why was Rauf arrested in the first place? Any future juries would like to know.

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