ISLAMABAD, Aug 16: A six-member team of British counter-terrorism officials has arrived here to seek custody of Rashid Rauf, informed sources told Dawn on Wednesday. Twenty-five-year-old Rauf, who is from Birmingham, is believed to be the key planner of the alleged terrorist plot to blow up transatlantic airliners in mid-flight.

The sources said that although there was no extradition treaty between Pakistan and the United Kingdom, the British team wanted to take Rauf back to London for further investigation as part of Operation Overt, the police inquiry into the failed airline plot.

(A report from London quoted a spokeswoman for the UK Home Office as saying that there are a number of international conventions, such as the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, that set up formal extradition arrangements for certain types of criminal conduct.)

All that Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao was willing to tell Dawn was: “A team of UK legal experts has arrived here because Rauf is a British national. The team will coordinate and discuss all legal aspects.”

The sources said Pakistani intelligence agencies, tasked to investigate the matter, had not yet taken a position on Rauf’s extradition. They added that so far the UK team, which had given a list of more suspects, had not been allowed to quiz Rauf.

The sources said the UK team sought Pakistan’s help to locate an Eritrean national who was believed to be one of the key suspects in the plot.

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