Airline bomb plot: Terrorists are British, not Pakistani - Islamabad

Britain has been accused of treating Pakistan like a "whipping boy" while failing to do enough to check home-grown British terrorism.

Updated: Sep 09, 2009, 17:56 PM IST

London: Britain has been accused of treating Pakistan like a "whipping boy" while failing to do enough to check home-grown British terrorism.

A senior Pakistani diplomat was Wednesday quoted saying terrorists convicted Monday of planning to blow up transatlantic airliners were "born and brought up" in Britain, not Pakistan.

"Sometimes for our British friends the truth is bitter. We have somehow turned out to be a whipping boy," the Pakistani diplomat said.

"The British need to search their own house. Britain has to take responsibility and they have to look into the issues which are driving these youth to extremism, which is the third-generation British -- they weren`t born and bought up in Pakistan."

The remarks by the unnamed diplomat, quoted in The Guardian newspaper, are the latest in a long-running squabble between Britain and Pakistan over who must take prime responsibility for acts of terror in Britain.

The British government claims that 75 percent of terrorist acts on British soil have a Pakistani link, but Islamabad insists that terrorism is Britain`s home-grown problem as these acts are carried out by youths who are British-born and raised.

The diplomat said Pakistani intelligence tipped off Britain about a plot to blow up at least seven transatlantic flights from London in 2006, saving 1,500 lives and thwarting al Qaeda`s biggest attack on the West since 9/11.

Three men face life sentences after being found guilty Monday of conspiring to explode liquid bombs on airliners. A fourth was found guilty of conspiracy to murder.

British media have reported that the plot was hatched on Pakistan`s border with Afghanistan, with a fixer linking al Qaeda with the terrorist cell based in London and High Wycombe -- a town with a large Pakistani-origin population.

Earlier this year, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari failed to appear for a planned joint press conference with British Premier Gordon Brown in Islamabad, in a move that the British press said was aimed at showing anger at the arrests of 12 Pakistani students in Britain.

The 12 men were accused of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism but were later released for lack of evidence.

The Pakistani diplomat said: "We don`t agree with Brown`s claims that three-quarters of these plots originate in Pakistan. We don`t have a magic wand to turn these people into extremists. These people were born in Britain, taught here, bred here."