Monday, August 09, 2004

Juan Cole:
Bush Administration outing of Khan Enabled 5 al-Qaeda Cell Members to Escape Capture:
Neville Dean of PA News reports that a magistrate has given British police only until Tuesday to finish questioning 9 of 13 men arrested August 3 on suspicion of being part of an al-Qaeda cell. The men had been in email correspondence with Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, who since mid-July has been functioning as a double agent for the Pakistani government. He was arrested in Lahore on July 13 and "flipped."

The Bush administration revealed Khan's name to US journalists on Sunday August 1 on background, and it appeared in the US press on Monday. The Bush administration thus effectively outed Khan as a double agent (he sent emails to his London contacts as late as Monday).

The British MI5 was forced to have the London cell of 13 arrested immediately on Tuesday, fearing that they would flee now that they knew Khan had been arrested two weeks earlier. The British do not, however, appear to have finished gathering enough evidence to prosecute the 13 in the courts successfully.

It now turns out, according to Neville, that "Reports last week also claimed that five al Qaida militants were on the run in the UK after escaping capture in last Tuesday’s raids." If this is true, it is likely that the 5 went underground on hearing that Khan was in custody. That is, the loose lips of the Bush administration enabled them to flee arrest.

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