CNN confirmed that Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmed, the Head of Pakistan’s Intelligence agency (ISI) in 2001 (at the time of 9-11), had used Omar Sayed, the slayer of Daniel Pearl, to wire $100,000 to Mohammad Atta – the leader of the 9-11 hijackers. And, at the fag end of the operation, just before the September 11, Atta wired the excess money (in thousands) back to Omar Sayed. It was further reported that:
“FBI’s examination of the hard disk of the cellphone company Omar Sheikh had subscribed to led to the discovery of the “link” between him and the deposed chief of the Pakistani ISI, Mahmud Ahmed. And as the FBI investigators delved deep, reports surfaced with regard to the transfer of $100,000 to Mohamed Atta, one of the terrorists who flew a hijacked Boeing commercial airliner into the World Trade Center. General Mahmud Ahmed, the FBI investigators found, fully knew about the transfer of money to Atta.”
The funds that Atta received from Omar were distributed to other conspirators in Florida just weeks before the attacks.
A month after 9-11, Mahmud resigned from the post of Head of ISI. And everyone lives “Happily ever after”. The 9/11 Commission’s Final Report meanwhile said that the source of the funds “remained unknown”. To believe that US has ability to strike unhindered in Islamabad but not know of the funds that were wired all the way to US, seems a bit weird. Masochistic and willful complicity with Pakistan, on part of the American law makers and the Government is the only evaluation of the report’s conclusion that this writer can come to.
Cut to Afghanistan – in a book The Man From Pakistan, the British investigative journalists Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins have suggested that Chaudhri Abdul Majeed and Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, who held a series of senior posts in Pakistani nuke programme, went to Taliban headquarters in Kandahar in mid-August 2001 and spent three days with bin Laden just a month after 9-11!
The month after 9-11 must have been fairly hectic time for the Pakistan’s Intelligence and Army establishment combine.
Some troubling questions and thoughts that come up are:
- One has to be remarkably imbecile to believe that Mahmud was behaving on an individual basis and somehow wanted to share $100,000 (which in Pakistani Rupees is close to 8.5 million!) from his own pocket with the lead hijacker of 9-11.
- If the decision to finance Mohd. Atta was made at the highest level of Pakistan’s Intelligence establishment – then, it is reasonable to believe that Pakistan Army was involved in that as well. ISI Chiefs are Army Generals on loan to the Intelligence agency.
- Even discounting what we know NOW of the fate and the sorcery of the Pakistani establishment of having completely missed Bin Laden while he lived under (or IN) their noses – it is reasonable to confirm that some of the most powerful and serving Generals in Pakistan’s Army and Intelligence set up were instrumental in planning, financing and executing the attacks on 9-11, with or without participation from Osama Bin Laden and his Jehadis.
- The establishment was also actively engaged in passing on the Nuke technology or its knowhow in some way to Al Qaeda. Afghan War and the distraction for the Pak Army from that, may have slowed the proces down.
The links between Pakistani establishment – specifically the Army and ISI – with Taliban and Al Qaeda have been known – and in many cases, even documented – by people. But, if you come too close, you are eliminated. Daniel Pearl met his fate, it is said, because of that. His slayer and the conduit for the 9-11 financing, Omar Sayed Sheikh, has yet to be brought to justice. Similarly, on November 19, 2008 Maj Gen. Mir Faisal Alavi was gunned down just outside Islamabad. His crime was that he had enough evidence of complicity of Pakistan Army with Taliban and he had threatened to come out with it. He had been sacked by Musharraf because he was against any deals with Taliban. When it became difficult to control him, he was eventually eliminated.
The story of Alavi is very instructive. As much as we are led to believe that there are “moderate” elements in the Pakistani Army and ISI, one wonders, what is the definition of “Moderate”? One who keeps silent and looks the other way when the other elements in the establishment dance along with Al Qaeda and Taliban? Because those who want to oppose are not tolerated. So what use or value are the moderates?
And that has been the issue one sees in the current situation when the various elements from Pakistan have come out defining themselves as “moderates” – who oppose “extremists hijacking their religion” and emphatically say (as an Editor of Pakistani daily “Friday Times” said on CNN) “even I am Pakistan”. However, if you are but a silent spectator without any protest and the cost of your silence happens to be lives of others, then you are no longer distinguishable from the violent who commit the murders. You can falter once and mistake the intentions of the unscrupulous – but your appeal is just a way to pave way for more extremism, then it is difficult to take you on your face value. If this is a life and death situation – as it is – then it can’t always be life for you (the “moderates”) and death of the innocents from other societies. If your country is worth saving, then it is worth saving by YOU!
Its not just Osama who has been caught in close vicinity of Islamabad, even Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) was caught in Rawalpindi (outskirts of Islamabad) – when even he was supposed to be in the mountains of tribal areas. If so many people are in such close vicinity of the nation’s capital, then it is hard to believe that there is no patronage from the establishment.
In his book, “In line of Fire”, interesting Musharraf discusses how his Government had missed an Al Qaeda operative living in Abbottabad “again”. And that it had been said that someone very important was living in that area. So, its not that no one knew that 150 miles radius around Islamabad is where all the top Al Qaeda guys are residing wasn’t known to anyone. EIther it was connivance or WILFUL “looking the other side”. No other optiion is possible. It was certainly not a mistake.
“The second miss was again in Abbotabad. We were tipped off that someone important in a1 Qaeda was living in a house there, and that someone else, also very important, someone we were looking for, was supposed to come and meet him. We did not know that the second someone was Abu Faraj al-Libbi, but we had enough information to attempt an interception. Our team members stationed themselves around the house in Abbotabad. When the expected visitor turned up, the person in the house came out to meet him. But as he approached, the visitor acted suspicious and tried to run away. There was an exchange of fire, and he was killed. The visitor was not Libbi. Later, after we arrested Libbi and interrogated him, we discovered his pattern: he would always send somebody ahead as a decoy while he himself stayed behind to observe. He was undoubtedly watching his decoy perform the fatal pantomime that day” (Musharraf in his book “In Life of Fire”)
Pakistani Rhetoric on Taliban and the Truth
Despite the common rhetoric of Pakistani commentators and even leaders – that US created Taliban and even messed Pakistan up during the Afghan war, the truth is somewhat different. Pakistan used US and its urgent need – fetish, actually – to deal with Soviet Union. And although, Pakistan’s ISI repeatedly put its bet on losers (Hekmatyar) – it were the opponents Jalaluddin Haqqani who actually won the decisive victories against the Soviets. Not until, Pakistan had created the Jehadi Madrassa network and created Taliban and used it to hit at Massoud (after US had abdicated Afghanistan arena) – that Pakistani establishment did get an upperhand. Taliban was therefore NOT a US creation but a Pakistani creation. Mujahideens who won the war against Soviets were NOT on the side of Pakistan.. but against them for most part. (read The Af-Pak War of Arms and Minds for complete details).
As much as people in the Washington corridors make it all about the misuse of doles to Pakistan, its probably far bigger than that. Its about Pakistan’s direct complicity in 9-11 and other terrorist activites (apart from Nuclear Proliferation by AQ Khan), and passive acquiscence of American establishment in all of that.