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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pakistani charity funded airline bomb plot: report

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A Pakistani charity that received 10 million dollars from Britain for earthquake relief last year helped finance the alleged bomb plot to blow up US-bound passenger jets, The Washington Post said.

"The innocent Pakistani souls in Britain who contributed so generously for the victims of the earthquake didn't know that their money would actually be used for one of the biggest terrorist operations," a Pakistani intelligence official told the daily.

The charity was not mentioned by name, but the official said the funds traced to it helped investigators uncover the alleged plot British authorities thwarted last week and which US officials have tentantively linked to Al-Qaeda.

Another senior Pakistani intelligence official said the charity had received some five million pounds (10 million dollars) from Britain, but that less than half was used for relief operations in the October earthquake that killed 73,000 people.

"British intelligence smelled foul play the moment the transfer was made in December last year," said the senior official, who like his colleague asked not to be identified due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.

The New York Times on Monday said the British authorities were investigating whether the Jamaat-ud-Dawa Charity, active in the mosques of Britain's largest cities, had provided money to some of the 23 suspects under arrest for the foiled bomb plot.

The charity, according to Pakistani and US officials cited by the Times, is believed to be the successor of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic militant group which the Pakistani government banned in 2002.

A British terrorism expert consulted by The Washington Post said the chaos that followed the devastating earthquake in northern Pakistan last year allowed Pakistani intelligence agents to learn more about the militant groups operating in the area.

A spokesman for Jamaat-Ud-Dawa reached by the Post denied any funding by his group of the bomb plot in Britain, insisting that the group condemned terrorism and that it was not under investigation by the Pakistani government.
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