Hindu Vivek Kendra
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Karachi is teeming with terrorists'

Karachi is teeming with terrorists'

Author: IANS
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: September 17, 2002

Introduction: The Times Says Pakistan Govt Aware Of Al-Qaeda Men's Presence In The City

Karachi is teeming with terrorists with the knowledge of the government, and this is what made it possible for two key Al Qaida men to operate from there, according to a report in The Times.

In reference to the arrests of Al Qaida suspects last week, it said: "In the cluttered back streets of Karachi, there were few who believed their government's boast that the latest arrests have ended Al Qaida's operations inside Pakistan." For months, western intelligence agencies had suspected that some of Osama bin Laden's lieutenants were hiding in the Pakistani port city of 1.2 crore that has no shortage of safe havens for Islamic militants, the paper said.

The virulent anti-US sentiment is evident in regular street demonstrations in Karachi, and it was here that two of Bin Laden's most trusted lieutenants arrived last June. The support network was already in place for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, head of Al Qaida's military committee, and Ramzi Binalshibh, who called himself the co-ordinator for the September 11 attacks.

The Times report details Al Qaida operations in Karachi. Following are excerpts: "Hundreds of fighters from the wars in (Jammu and) Kashmir, Afghanistan and Chechnya live in this teeming city, and it was a veteran of a Bin Laden training camp who in the summer rented the spacious apartment in a high-rise block in what is known as the Defence Housing District, where the senior Al Qaida men were captured last week after a shootout. "There were women and children with the group, who took over adjoining apartments on the sixth floor of the address at 15th Commercial Street, where their neighbours included officers of the Pakistani Army.

"The two Al Qaida men were careful not to draw attention to themselves, appearing to spend most of their time playing cards or watching television. Their reason for being in Karachi was principally to help others from Al Qaida to escape abroad.

"The popular image is of Al Qaida men hiding out in the inhospitable mountain ranges that fringe the border with Afghanistan, moving around on horseback after dark, never showing their faces and paying local tribal chieftains to provide some modest safe house.

Men like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tire of such hardship and prefer city dwelling, even though the risks of discovery are greater.

"The way in which Ramzi Binalshibh spoke about Bin Laden led some intelligence analysts to suspect the Al Qaida leader was dead, and this performance by the soft-spoken Yemeni quartermaster was evidence of how the network would survive without its founder." His arrest has provided the much-criticised ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, with a coup and given FBI agents a chance to interrogate a man known to be trusted with Al Qaida's secrets.

"Binalshibh was crucial to the network's day-to-day operations. His job was to link terrorist cells around the world with the high command. He is thought to be the only man left alive who attended the two Al Qaida summits where the detail for the US attacks were worked out.

The first was in Manila in January '00, where the 30-year-old student revealed who would undertake the mission, and the second in Spain in July '01, where he met his old roommate, the hijack leader Mohammed Atta, at a holiday resort near Tarragona to make final arrangements.

"It was Binalshibh who wired money to flight schools and to the hijackers' bank accounts.

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