updated 12/15/2007 3:55:34 PM ET 2007-12-15T20:55:34

A British suspect in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jetliners, escaped from police custody in Pakistan on Saturday, officials said.

Rashid Rauf escaped after appearing before a judge at a court in the capital, Islamabad, said Khalid Pervez, a city police official. Two policemen were being questioned about how Rauf had gotten away.

Federal Interior Secretary Kamal Shah said he had been informed of the escape, but said he had no details.

"I don't know anything — I'm shocked," Rauf's father, Abdul Rauf, told The AP by telephone from Birmingham, 200 miles north of London.

Rauf, who also has a Pakistani passport, was arrested by Pakistani intelligence agents in August on a tip from their British counterparts.

At the time, Pakistan identified him as a key suspect in the alleged terror plot, sparking a security alert in Britain that saw mass cancellations of flights to and from Heathrow Airport for several days in August and increased restrictions on carry-on items.

However, a Pakistani anti-terrorism court dropped terrorism charges against Rauf on Dec. 13 and held him accountable only for possessing bomb-making materials and living in Pakistan without valid documents. Later, a higher court — acting on an appeal by Pakistani authorities — suspended the anti-terrorism court's ruling until Jan. 15.

A judge then extended his detention until Jan. 19.

His lawyer, Hashmat Habib, said his client had been falsely implicated and would prove his innocence.

Rauf arrived in Pakistan soon after his uncle was stabbed to death in 2002. Pakistan has said British authorities had asked Pakistan to extradite Rauf in connection with a murder inquiry.

Pakistan and Britain do not have an extradition treaty.

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