|A BRITON accused of plotting to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners escaped from a Pakistan mosque after police taking him to jail in a taxi stopped so he could say his prayers.|
Police have revealed new details about the escape of Rashid Rauf following a court appearance in Islamabad on Saturday. The incident is a serious embarrassment for Pervez Musharraf's Government.
|This may be the richest story we've seen come out of Pakistain yet, with the exception of the mysterious fire on the 16th floor of ISI headquarters in 2002 that destroyed all the terrorism records.|
Police said at the weekend that Rauf had broken free from his guards and handcuffs as he was being escorted from court to a prison van.
|They don't feel egg on the face like we do. They just ignore it and go on, pretending it's not there. Eventually it erodes.|
But a police official, speaking yesterday on condition of anonymity, said Rauf was being taken back to Adiala Jail - a high-security prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi - when he asked his guards to let him say afternoon prayers at a roadside mosque. "The policemen accepted his request," the official said. "Rashid Rasuf went inside the mosque with handcuffs on, but he slipped out from a rear door." The official said the two police officers had admitted they were waiting in a car outside the mosque as Rauf went inside and did not check on him for 20 minutes. They are under investigation over the escape.
|One of those daring daylight escapes, y'know? Kinda like Riaz Basra used to have, even the first time or two he was dead.|
Rauf's lawyer, Hashmat Habib, said yesterday that "in my opinion it is not escape, but a case of mysterious disappearance".
|Absolutely brilliant. We can picture it now: Rather than transporting Rashid from the calaboose to the courthouse in a paddy wagon, cuffed and leg-ironed, two policemen with enormous flat feet pop him in a taxi. When he wants to stop off and be devout, both of the coppers remain in the cab on their enormous behinds, whilst their high-profile prisoner saunters in the front door of the mosque wearing his cuffs and out the back.|
He said that on occasions, his client had been brought from prison to court hearings in armoured vehicles - a claim that contrasts with newspaper reports yesterday that he was conveyed in a taxi and idly left to wander into a mosque to say his prayers.
|Doesn't sound that mysterious to me, and I never even finished law school.|
Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz had assured British Ambassador Robert Brinkely that the suspect's capture was a "priority", British High Commission spokeswoman Laura Davies said yesterday.
|Y'see, he was only conveyed in armored vehicles when he wasn't set up to escape, with no doubt an evil minion waiting inside the mosque with a change of clothes and a fresh turban for him, and a getaway rickshaw parked at the back door with its 2-cycle motor running.|
Interior Secretary Kamal Shah said security teams were searching the country and would report back within three days.
|Right. And stretching Omar Saeed Sheikh's neck is a priority, too.|
Rauf, who is of Pakistani origin, was arrested in Pakistan in August last year on a tip-off from British investigators.
|"Duh! We asked around an' everything, boss! Nobody's seen 'im!"|
Pakistan described him as a key suspect in a purported al-Qaeda plot to blow up passenger planes flying from Britain to the US, prompting a major security alert at airports worldwide and increased restrictions on carry-on items.
|He wasn't extradited, though.|
He was charged with possessing chemicals that could be used in making explosives and with carrying forged travel documents.
|Not that plotting to blow up passenger planes flying from Britain to the US is against the law in Pakistain, mind you...|
Rauf denied involvement in the plot and prosecutors later withdrew the case against him, though he remained in jail awaiting a decision on a British extradition request.
|The former is mildly against the law, but not extraditable, whilst the second is common enough to cause consternation when the documents aren't forged.|