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Intercepted phone call 'urged plotters to attack'

IOL | August 12 2006

An intercept of a telephone call made from Pakistan to Britain that urged plotters to go ahead with attacks on US-bound aeroplanes played a crucial role in foiling the alleged terror plan, Pakistani officials said today.

The arrest in Pakistan of a key suspect with alleged al-Qaida links, British national Rashid Rauf, prompted an unidentified associate of his to make the call from Karachi to one of the suspects subsequently arrested in Britain, the officials said.

“This telephone call intercept in Karachi and the arrest of Rashid Rauf helped a lot to foil the terror plan,” a senior Pakistani security official.

It wasn’t clear exactly when the call was intercepted, but officials have said Rauf – one of at least two Britons of Pakistani descent arrested in Pakistan - was held about a week before the plot was foiled in Britain on Thursday.

A British security agency’s informer in Pakistan with contacts with Rauf provided a tip that helped Pakistan arrest him, a Pakistani intelligence official said.

A US official disclosed that after the first arrests in Pakistan, word went from Pakistan to the London plotters to move ahead quickly, a message intercepted by an intelligence agency. That prompted British police to move in on the conspirators, long under watch.

The plotters allegedly planned to blow up as many as 10 planes flying to the US from Britain. Pakistan says it played an “important role” in breaking the conspiracy in co-operation with British and US agents.

Pakistan’s government has confirmed the arrests of seven suspects, and intelligence officials say 10 other people were detained Friday and were being questioned today to determine their links to the alleged plot and where they had received financial support or any training.

An intelligence official familiar with the investigation confirmed the communication intercept, and said British agents had been monitoring the activities of Rauf’s family since December.

The official said one of the suspects caught in Britain and named by British authorities, Tayib Rauf, is a close relative of Rashid Rauf.

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