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Going after the raiders of the dark

Going after the raiders of the dark

Author: Anil Narendra
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: November 16, 2001

Introduction: Many a puzzle will be solved if Musharraf turns the ISI jihadis over to the FBI for Interrogation.

Osama bin Laden has now threatened to use nuclear and biochemical weapons. But this is not the first time he has threatened to do so. In mid-September a few days after the September 11 attacks, in an interview to Al-Jajeera, TV he disclosed that he possesses nuclear and biochemical weapons and will use them at the appropriate time. When the US Secretary of State Colin Powell made his brief stop in New Delhi on 16 October, at a press conference this writer raised this question. Powell got angry and evaded the answer.

For the past two months America has not been able to trace Osama and in spite of their best efforts Osama remains untraceable. India has been giving vital intelligence input to the Americans, but it is unfortunate that the Bush administration, especially Colin Powell mistrusts Indians so much. Whatever India says is attributed to our antipathy towards Pakistan. Even if good inputs are given, America ignore them, suspecting our motives. It is said that because we have our own axe to grind with Pakistan, what we say lacks credibility. If Osama is untraceable today, the US has to thank Pakistan for it. India has been insisting that Pakistan cannot be a part of the solution when in fact it is a part of the problem. The Taliban is Pakistan's creation, which has been nurtured, funded, supported and brought up by the ISI. Pakistan will never tolerate the extinction of the Taliban.

Getting bin Laden at the earliest is now the top priority of the US and its allies. Its key is in the hands of Pakistan in general and its intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence, commonly known as the ISI,in particular.

There is sufficient circumstantial evidence to suggest that the involvement of the ISI in the September 11 bombings. The main accused, Mohammad Atta, was in close contact with the ISI prior to the attacks. $100,000 was wired in the past year from Pakistan to Atta. These funds were wired by Ahmed Omar Sheikh, one of the Kashmiri militants on the instructions of Lt. General Mahmud Ahmed, the ISI chief who has been removed meanwhile. Assuming that Gen. Ahmed wired this money, it follows that he must have also been aware of the purpose for which these funds were being remitted. That means that he was aware of the September 11 attacks. This very General was in America a few days before the attacks. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed met the Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in Washington the following day after the devastation. Was his trip to America a mere coincidence or was he there to oversee the execution of the plan of devastation?

Lt. General Mahmud was later on removed from his position by General Musharraf (at American prompting) when it was found that he had been passing vital war-related information to Mullah Omar. His jihadi tendencies are known to the Pakistanis as well as to the US. He has all along not only been in touch with Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leadership but helping them in every possible way. The London based Jane Intelligence Review has said Pakistan's ISI remains the key to providing accurate information to the US alliance in its war against Osama bin Laden and his Taliban hosts as it controls the "Army of Islam" comprising Osama's Al Qaeda and Kashmiri militants and the Taliban. "Known as Pakistan's secret army and invisible government, its (ISI's) shadowy past is linked to political assassination and smuggling of narcotics as well as nuclear and missile components," the report says. The ISI's influence with the Taliban can be gauged from the inclusion of the then ISI chief Lt. General Mahmud Ahmed, in Pakistani military and diplomatic delegation that went to Kandhar, in an attempt to defuse the looming military crisis.

Coming back to the weapons of mass destruction, is it yet another coincidence that some prominent Pakistani scientists are picked up for interrogation for having close links with Laden and the Taliban? If we link these arrests with Laden's threats the pattern becomes clear.

It would not surprise me that the Anthrax trail may lead to Pakistan. Though there are reports that a local has been held responsible for these attacks, but I still have my doubts. This is an old technique adopted and perfected by the ISI. In the 80's when militancy was at its height in Punjab, the ISI sent hundreds of similar "letter bombs" to people in India. One such letter also reached the Jullunder office of the Vir Arjun, and the poor dispatch clerk there was blown to bits when he opened the letter addressed to my late uncle. In the first week of October the US consulate in Lahore received an envelope containing anthrax spores. This was the first time that an American consulate had received a locally mailed envelope with anthrax spores. The FBI is advised to look more closely at the ISI activities. Who knows they might find an answer to the source of these anthrax attacks.

It is an acknowledged fact now that Pakistan continues to help the Taliban with arms, ammunition, medical supplies, fuel, etc, which are essential to sustain the regime. Pakistani soldiers are fighting with their Taliban brothers side by side in Afghanistan. We are delighted at the fall of Mazare Shareef. This could have been achieved earlier but for the folly of the Bush administration, which fell into the Pakistani trap of the so-called plan of moderate Talibani's being part of the post-Taliban government scenario. Pakistan prevented the allies and the US from helping the Northern Alliance earlier on the pretext that if the Alliance takes over Kabul it may be detrimental to the US interests in the long run. The capture of Mazare Shareef, besides providing the much needed booster to the ongoing US campaign, will serve as a vital strategic link to the American advance to other cities of Afghanistan. US officials in private now admit that Pakistan has misled them all along. It never gave the US any solid intelligence, with the result that bin Laden and Mullah Omar are still at large.

I believe that President Bush and his advisors have now seen through Musharraf's game. They are beginning to realise that Musharraf has been taking them for a ride. The recent speech by President Bush is a pointer to this direction. Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, President Bush said, "We must unite in opposing all terrorists, not just one of them... any government that rejects this principle, trying to pick and choose its terrorist friends will know the consequences. This was not a reference to Iraq, Iran or Libya. This could have been addressed only to Pakistan, or to elements in the Pakistani establishment who resent their country's support to the US or believe that their reward at the end of the Afghan campaign will be a licence to light the fires again in Kashmir.

President Bush's warning has come immediately after repeated snubs by the Americans. As for Musharraf's trying to justify terrorism in the garb of 'freedom struggle' because of Indian excesses, President Bush answered that quite directly, saying that neither national aspirations, nor remembered wrongs can justify terrorism. Without naming Pakistan, President Bush issued a veiled threat, "Some governments still turn a blind eye to terrorism, hoping that the threat will pass them by. They are mistaken."

If the US and its allies really want to capture Laden and Omar, then they have to question General Mahmud and his ISI jihadis closely. For, they hold the key to Laden's whereabouts. And if, double talk apart, General Pervez Musharraf really wants to cooperate with the US, then he should hand over General Mahmud and other jihadi leaders to the FBI for interrogation. I am sure that many a puzzle will be solved if Mahmud decides to sing. Hard ground intelligence will be the key to bring these Nazis of the East to justice and that can only be provided by these jihadi ISI Generals."
 


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