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The Strange Death of Britain’s Most Wanted Terrorist

The killing of Rashid Rauf raises questions about information sharing between the U.S. and Great Britain.

by
Annie Jacobsen

Bio

November 25, 2008 - 12:00 am
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His death raises questions about information sharing and military alliances in the war on terror. Although Rauf is a British citizen, it appears England was not included, or even aware, of the American operation to kill him.

“A secret meeting on board an American aircraft carrier between the U.S. General David Petraeus and the head of the Pakistani military laid the foundation for the killing of Britain’s most wanted terrorist,” reports the Independent. The Guardian says, “Whitehall [was] kept in dark over strike.” And the Times Online reports that “MPs seek answers as CIA kills British terror suspect Rashid Rauf.”

With the international news of Rashid Rauf’s death comes another question: just how big of a player was Rauf after all? American officials have yet to officially comment, but the Telegraph reports they’ve been told by anonymous U.S. sources that Rauf was linked to al-Qaeda’s number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Rauf is also linked by marriage to Jaish-e-Mohammad, or The Army of Mohammed. Its leader, Maulana Masood Azhar (Rauf’s brother-in-law), orchestrates terror attacks in Indian Kashmir. When Azhar was sprung from an Indian prison in 2000, alongside Daniel Pearl’s future killer Omar Sheik, Osama Bin Laden threw him a party.

It is this growing and dangerous alliance that Bruce Riedel, a counterterrorism adviser to President-elect Barack Obama points out. “Rauf epitomizes the Pakistan-UK connection that Al-Qaeda is trying to exploit to attack Britain and the United States,” Riedel said. “He also has ties to Kashmiri terror groups closely aligned with al-Qaeda.”

In the tangled web of terrorist alliances and allegiances, one thing becomes clear: for the United States, certain terrorists are wanted dead — not alive.

Who the U.S. shares its information with apparently comes second to that end.

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Annie Jacobsen writes the "Backstory" blog (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/back-story/) for the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
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