West Midlands Police have issued an arrest warrant for Rashid Rauf who is suspected of killing his uncle in 2002.
Father of two Mohammed Saeed was repeatedly stabbed in the stomach during a frenzied knife assault just yards from his home 12 years ago.
The 54-year-old delivery driver was ambushed as he arrived at his home in Washwood Heath after work at around 4.15am on April 24 2002. He collapsed and died in front of his wife and two children and was declared dead at the scene in Clodeshall Road.
West Midlands Police murder squad detectives sought to question his nephew Rashid Rauf about an alleged family feud which may have been linked to Mr Saeed’s death. But before he could be brought in for questioning Rauf fled to Pakistan where he is said to have struck up relations with established jihadists after marrying into the family of a cleric.
It’s alleged that with the backing of Pakistani groups Jaish e Mohammed and Lashkar E Toiyba, Rauf soon rose through the jihadi ranks to become a key planner for Al Qaeda attacks in Europe.
The Plymouth University drop-out, who was brought up in Birmingham, was supposedly the Pakistani “handler” for the London 7/7 bombers. It’s alleged that he was then trusted with a plot to organise a team of British suicide bombers who were tasked with blowing up a dozen US-bound aeroplanes over the Atlantic using liquid explosives disguised as bottled drinks.
But the planned attack began to unravel on August 7, 2006 when Rauf was taken into custody by secret service agents in Pakistan. Rauf‘s detention directly led to the arrests of the eight alleged British conspirators some of whom were eventually convicted of terror offences at Woolwich Crown Court.
His capture also led to widespread changes in airport security and a ban on liquids being taken onto planes in hand luggage – rules which remain in force more than eight years on.
In an inexplicable move British authorities chose not to ask their Pakistani counterparts for Rauf to be extradited for the liquid bomb plot. Instead they activated a West Midlands Police extradition warrant for Rauf to face murder charges over his uncle’s killing.
But moves to bring Rauf back to the UK, however, came to a standstill when he managed to break free from Pakistani custody. Following Rauf’s escape it is understood that he fled back to the lawless tribal areas of North Western Pakistan – a stronghold of the Taliban and Jaish-e-Mohammed, and beyond the reach of the authorities.
It was there that he was allegedly killed by a pilotless American drone aircraft on November 22 2008 when it’s Hellfire missiles struck a compound in the village of Akhikhel in North Waziristan. He was aged 27 at the time.
“Hunting a ghost”
Nevertheless, a spokesman for West Midlands Police said the Mohammed Saeed murder investigation was still ongoing but confirmed that no-one had ever been charged. He added: “With specific regard to the Mohammed Saeed murder investigation, police have only ever named Rashid Rauf as a suspect. This is because an extradition warrant was issued for him and until we receive official confirmation of his death, the warrant remains in place. We will not comment on other individuals that may or may not be linked to this investigation.”
Patrick Mercer, MP for Newark and former Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, said: “It truly is a bizarre set of circumstances when a local police force is in effect issuing a warrant for a ghost. In fact the mysterious case of Rashid Rauf has, as I envisioned, taken this country into uncharted waters.
“It’s what happens when a British government allows itself to get involved in the business of allowing an ally to attack a British citizen in a foreign country with a drone and all without due process.” He added: “We will probably never know the truth of where, how and exactly why Rashid Rauf was killed.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of the reports of Rashid Rauf’s death but at this stage we are unable to confirm these.”.