Feature

Rashid Rauf, britiskfødt pakistaner, var bindeledd mellom Al Qaida i Pakistan og hjemmeavlede britiske jihadister som planla å sprenge ni transatlantiske fly med flytende bomber i mineralvannsflasker. Britisk politi hadde skygget og overvåket dem i lang tid, og hadde holdt amerikanerne orientert. Men i USA var det valg, og Bush og Cheney trengte noe som kunne mobilisere terrorfrykten. Da bød britenes plot på en sjanse. Britene ville ta gruppen med buksene nede og få vite mest mulig. I stedet gikk Cheney inn og fikk pakistanerne til å arrestere Rashid Rauf i Pakistan. Det ødela hele etterforskningen, og britene var rasende.

De hadde enormt med materiale, men den laveste domstolen frikjente nylig de åtte tiltalte for punktet om flysprengninger.

Rashid satt et år i pakistansk varetekt, britene ville ha ham utlevert, men han greide å flykte da han fikk gå inn i en moske for å be. Men fredag kveld var det slutt:

At 10pm on Friday night the tribesmen in the villages of North Waziristan heard a sound they have learnt to fear. The hum of American reconnaissance planes high above the lawless tribal lands that span the Pakistan-Afghan border usually presages an imminent strike by Predator drones, targeting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters who shelter in their midst.

There have been more than 20 such attacks since August, but this time it appeared to be a false alarm. The locals were relieved when the sound faded at midnight.

Three hours later, however, they were woken by explosions in Khaisoor, as three Hellfire missiles from a Predator destroyed a mud-built bungalow in the village.

Inside, among the five people killed and six injured, were Rashid Rauf, the British militant alleged to have masterminded a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners in 2006, and two senior Al-Qaeda comrades, Abu Nasr Al-Misri and Abu Zubair Al-Masri, according to Pakistani intelligence sources.

The bungalow belonged to Khaliq Noor, who locals say is not a Taliban figure but who rented it out to the militants. They would have regarded the house as the safest of havens. The village is a Taliban stronghold; it was here that the Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud and Pakistan government officials signed a 2005 «peace deal» that the Americans regarded as a surrender to terrorism.

But their location had been betrayed, either by their own use of a mobile telephone, or by the spies and special forces tracking them. Senior Pakistani government sources say the attack was lined up by the country’s intelligence services who tipped off their American counterparts about Rauf’s whereabouts. They added that he, rather than the two Arabs, was the main target of the attack.


Hunt for Rashid Rauf that ended with hellfire