ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan may extradite a British national arrested over the alleged London terror plot, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Tasnim Aslam said London has made no request for the extradition of Rashid Rauf, who was detained last week in eastern Pakistan and described as a "key person" in an alleged plan to blow up as many as 10 trans-Atlantic passenger aircraft from London.
"We do not have any extradition treaty at the moment but yes, because he is a British national, the possibility of his extradition remains there," Aslam said.
In Islamabad, British High Commission spokesman Aidan Liddle confirmed it had yet to make such a request, although an official at the Home Office in London said Britain had already sought Rauf's extradition and that he could be flown to Britain within days.
It wasn't immediately possible to reconcile the differing accounts. Liddle said that the High Commission was still waiting for Pakistan to respond to a request it made on Saturday seeking confirmation of any British nationals in Pakistani custody, a prerequisite of an extradition request.
Pakistani officials have said Rauf, who is believed to have links to Al Qaeda, and 16 other suspects, including at least one other British national, have been arrested here in relation to the plot. Some 23 people are in British custody.
The Home Office official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he wasn't unauthorized to speak about individual cases, said extradition requests were being made on an ad-hoc basis, as the two countries are yet to agree to a formal extradition treaty.
Aslam said Rauf's interrogation was continuing, but declined to provide further details. She also rejected reports of Islamic charities being involved in transferring money to people allegedly linked to the plot and detained in Pakistan. An official at the State Bank of Pakistan gave a similar denial.
Aslam repeated Pakistani assertions that Al Qaeda militants in neighboring Afghanistan were behind the London terror plot.
"In our view this was an Al Qaeda operation — Al Qaeda based in Afghanistan," Aslam told reporters at a press conference.
Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry has denied any Afghan connection to the plot, saying the country — home to thousands of NATO and American troops — was no longer a safe place for Al Qaeda to operate.
In Haveli Beghal, the Raufs' ancestral village in the Pakistani Kashmir district of Mirpur, locals on Tuesday said that Rashid Rauf's father, Abdul, was a highly respected man and that they were "astonished" by claims that his sons had been detained in relation to the London terror plots.
"The Rauf family are very noble people and were never involved in anything," Haveli Beghal resident Sakina Bibi said. "I don't believe his sons were involved (in the plot)."