Airline plot mastermind was Zawahri kin: Paper
Islamabad, Aug 19: A son-in-law of al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahri was the mastermind of a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners unearthed in Britain this month, a Pakistani newspaper said today.
British police said on August 10 they had foiled a major plot to carry out suicide bombings on aircraft bound for the United States and are questioning 23 suspects.
Pakistan said last week it had arrested seven people, including two British Muslims of Pakistani descent, in connection with the plot.
One of the arrested Britons was identified as Rashid Rauf and Pakistan said he was an al Qaeda operative with links in Afghanistan and was central to the plot.
Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, citing what it described as credible sources, said a son-in-law of the fugitive Zawahri was the mastermind and was being hunted.
The newspaper did not identify the suspected mastermind but said Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's deputy, was known to have several sons-in-law.
Senior Pakistani security officials were not immediately available for comment.
Zawahri is believed to be hiding out along the Afghan-Pakistani border, in the area of the eastern Afghan province of Kunar and the Bajaur region in Pakistan.
A missile from a CIA drone aircraft hit a meeting of al Qaeda leaders in Bajaur in January. US intelligence officials believed Zawahri might have been attending the gathering.
The airliner bomb mastermind was believed to have met one or more of the plotters in Bajaur or across the border in Kunar, Dawn said.
It did not say when the meeting was believed to have taken place.
The mastermind had made some initial payments to the plotters, Dawn said, citing its unidentified sources.
Separately, the US network ABC reported yesterday that Pakistani officials had arrested a top al Qaeda commander, Matiur Rehman, in the course of their investigation into the London bomb plot.
Pakistani security officials have denied that Rehman, one of the country's most-wanted militants, had been arrested.