UK Bomb Plot Suspect Escapes

Botched extradition deep embarrassment to Musharraf government
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2007 8:57 AM CST
A suspect in a London terror plot Rashid Rauf is escorted by Pakistani police officers, unseen, to appear in court in this file photo taken Dec. 22, 2006 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. An anti-terrorism court...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The escape in Pakistan last night of a British terror suspect has set off a nationwide manhunt and further strained precarious diplomatic relations between Britain and Pakistan, reports AFP. Guards returning Rashid Rauf, 26, to jail from a court appearance allowed him to stop for burgers and prayers, where Rauf vanished. "It seems his handcuffs (were) removed to let him say his prayers," said a jail spokesman.

Rauf's uncle, who was along for the ride, has been arrested. British officials suspect Rauf of participating in a conspiracy to blow up a dozen transatlantic airliners, and seek his extradition for a 2002 murder. Western observers are viewing Rauf's disappearance as "a cock-up not conspiracy." Pakistan has launched a major search, sealing off Islamabad and circulating Rauf's photograph to airports.