30 September 2006

Pakistan and the Terror Nexus

Poor old General Musharraf. His PR trip trying to rehabilitate the image of Pakistan around the world appears to have been slightly scuppered by the leak of the now widely-reported UK Defence Academy paper. Notwithstanding the predictable chorus of denial from the corridors of power, namely, from those who for all intents and purposes stand accused (at the current time Musharraf, Blair, Bush, etc.), the leaked report is entirely consistent with a wealth of evidence in the public record.

The leaked report, authored by a British intelligence official with a military background, is based on interviews with Pakistani Army officers and academics. BBC News has flagged-up one of the most important sections of the document, which says:

"The Army's dual role in combating terrorism and at the same time promoting the MMA and so indirectly supporting the Taliban (through the ISI) is coming under closer and closer international scrutiny. Pakistan is not currently stable but on the edge of chaos.

[The West has] turned a blind eye towards existing instability and the indirect protection of Al Qaeda and promotion of terrorism.

Indirectly Pakistan (through the ISI) has been supporting terrorism and extremism - whether in London on 7/7 or in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The US/UK cannot begin to turn the tide until they identify the real enemies from attacking ideas tactically - and seek to put in place a more just vision. This will require Pakistan to move away from Army rule and for the ISI to be dismantled and more significantly something to be put in its place.

Musharraf knows that time is running out for him..."

The instrumental role that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has played in formenting international terrorism is well-documented. This paper from an MoD-run think-tank shows clearly that senior intelligence officials are privately so concerned about this problem, that they are leaking the material at this time precisely to counter Musharraf's latest round of PR exercises in the USA and elsewhere.

In The War on Freedom (2002), The War on Truth (2005), and The London Bombings (2006), I've described in somed detail Pakistan's role in supplying military, intelligence and logistical support to terrorist networks linked to 9/11, 7/7, and even Iraq. What's most disturbing about it, is that this is hardly a ground-breaking revelation. On pages 102-3 of The London Bombings, I quote from two US Defence Intelligence Agency documents dated from two weeks after 9/11, which I had obtained after their declassification in September 2003.

Five years ago, these intelligence reports had noted how "bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network was able to expand under the safe sanctuary extended by Taliban following Pakistan directives." Bin Laden’s camp, for example, located on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, "was built by Pakistani contractors, funded by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate." The Taliban regime "was created, imposed and recognised by Pakistan in pursuit of its own interests’, and under its jurisdiction, al-Qaeda was "able to grow unmolested inside Afghanistan."

But what about after 9/11? The Pentagon agency continues:

"Pakistan’s goals are simple, the continuance of the policy they have always demonstrated regarding Afghanistan... In Islamabad, they have tried to ignore or bury the evidence for some time. It must be a deeply troubling period for General [Musharraf] in Pakistan, who is asked to help hunt down the culprits that he helped to establish and supported. Not to support the US invites trouble and to assist the US to their aims also presents problems to Pakistan. The quandary leaves the Pakistanis confused as to how they might be absolved without permanently shattering their regional aspirations or their Government."

Five years later, it seems that little has changed. So what's been the response from the British and American governments? Instead of taking the drastic action advised by the Defence Academy report -- such as investigating and even dismantling the Pakistani ISI -- Blair and Bush, following in the footsteps of their predecessors, continue not only to actively attempt to conceal the ISI's criminal complicity from public understanding, but worse still also to escalate the provision of financial, military and intelligence support to the ISI. The record is almost absurd, with Musharraf rounding up thousands of militants one day, and then releasing them without charge the next, meanwhile continuining to provide covert financial and military assistance.

There's a lot of history here that needs to be recalled to grasp the significance of this. Such as the oft-ignored fact that former ISI Director, Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad, had ordered al-Qaeda finance chief Ahmed Omar Sheikh Saeed to wire at least $100,000 to chief 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta prior to the terrorist attacks on the WTC and Pentagon. This is one of those awkward, deeply uncomfortable stories that the mainstream tried to ignore, revealed at first by Indian intelligence officers cited in the Times of India (who obviously have the motive to dish the dirt on their Pakistani neighbours), but subsequently confirmed repeatedly by American (e.g. Wall Street Journal) and even Pakistani government and intelligence officials (e.g. Dawn). Extensive documentation and analysis is in The War on Truth. I can repost some of my analysis on that episode later on perhaps, if people really want me to (although I'd much prefer you go get a copy of the book, hint hint); but in the meantime you can get an online glimpse of some the relevant data and issues from Paul Thompson's timeline here.

The thrust of the matter is that neither al-Qaeda veteran Sheikh Saeed -- a British Muslim by the way -- nor Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad been indicted or even remotely officially investigated for their complicity in the financial organization of the 9/11 attacks. Former Labour Minister Michael Meacher MP pointed out the huge and dangerous ramifications of the Pakistani connection in a Guardian piece published just over a year before 7/7. "It is extraordinary", he observes, "that neither Ahmed nor Sheikh have been charged and brought to trial on this count [of financing 9/11]. Why not?"

Ironically, Musharraf has provided an inkling of an answer to this question recently, in the wake of the Defence Academy leak, apparently in an attempt to launch his own PR counter-offensive by leaking confidential and embarrasing information available to the ISI. The Gulf Times reports one of the particularly interesting, and damning tid-bits from Musharraf's new book In the Line of Fire:

"Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf has disclosed that Omar Sheikh, who kidnapped and murdered American journalist Daniel Pearl and is now facing death penalty, was actually the British secret Agency MI6’s agent and had executed certain missions on their behest before coming to Pakistan and visiting Afghanistan to meet Osama and Mullah Omar.

... General Musharraf has written in his book that while Omar Sheikh was at the London School of Economics (LSE), he was recruited by the British intelligence agency MI6, which persuaded him to take an active part in demonstrations against Serbian aggression in Bosnia and even sent him to Kosovo to join the jihad. At some point, he probably became a rogue or double agent.

The local media is discussing the possibility that Omar would use evidence from President Musharraf’s memoirs to save himself from the hangman."

There are those who might doubt the word of Musharraf, and who can blame them? But in fact I documented Omar Sheikh Saeed's simultaneous intelligence connections to the CIA, ISI and MI6 in The War on Truth and The London Bombings. Details have come forth from an intriguing combination of American, British and Pakistani government sources.

Readers of my 7/7 work will begin to see an unnervingly familiar pattern here. As I explained on "Generation 7/7", a Channel 4 learning documentary that has been aired several times since the 7/7 anniversary (including last week), the suspected 7/7 mastermind al-Qaeda fixer Haroon Rashid Aswat is also an MI6 double agent according to American intelligence officials. When former Justice Department prosecutor John Loftus came on Fox News last year and revealed the extent to which MI6 had been protecting Aswat from our own police services and the CIA, the official story shifted suddenly and inexplicably. Police spokesmen, who had previously described in detail the telephone records of Aswat's extensive conversations with alleged chief London bomber Mohammed Sidique Khan, summarily denied that Aswat had any connection at all to 7/7. The shift in reporting happened precisely to conceal the embarrassing revelation that the failure to apprehend Aswat, was due to the active obstruction of attempts to apprehend him, by our very own MI6.

As Michael Meacher MP also noted, the subject of Musharraf's revelations -- Ahmed Omar Sheikh Saeed -- may well have also been connected to the planning of the 7/7 atrocities. He notes "reports from Pakistan" suggesting "that Sheikh continues to be active from jail, keeping in touch with friends and followers in Britain." Although this is hardly surprising, given Sheikh's incestuous relationship with Pakistani military-intelligence, it is utterly disturbing. Why do our governments continue to refuse to investigate this issue?

3 comments:

  1. There are twists and turns in all stories from Washington D.C to London and to Islamabad. This so called Al-Qaeda network was once a close ally of the United States and one can argue that it was United States own product to resist the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The leaders of Al-Qaeda were friends of the United States and had multiples trips to United States to acquire weapon equipment to help their resistance in which Pakistan played a key role.

    So during the soviet invasion the (today’s) terrorist network was working for the CIA including Pakistan so how do we not know that today they are still working for the CIA?

    As long as this Bin laden is at large America has got the pretext to increase their world domination and virtually march into any country as and when they please. The only two constraints which are not on their side are the Muslim population around the world and time.

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  2. There seems to me to be an awful lot of negative press recently about the ISI - India even directly pointed the finger at them for the Mumbai bombings. I do wonder if they aren't being lined up as scapegoats for 911 and/or 77? Whilst potentially embarrassing to the Bush and Blair administrations, it would be arranged to exonerate the CIA and MI6 who will already be planning way beyond the George and Tony show. And it would gut the 911 truth movement - a conspiracy to end the conspiracies?

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  3. i am doing a research project on the media in pakistan and how the political figures use it, and whether or not there is freedom of speech.. i would really appreciate it if i could have your point of view on this, i myself am currently studying in england. please reply asap

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