Saturday, September 30, 2006
Pakistan and the "Terror" Nexus
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?
Britain now faces its own blowback
Intelligence interests may thwart the July bombings investigation
Michael Meacher Saturday September 10, 2005 The Guardian
As the 2002 Dutch government report on Bosnia makes clear, the US provided a green light to groups on the state department list of terrorist organisations, including the Lebanese-based Hizbullah, to operate in Bosnia - an episode that calls into question the credibility of the subsequent "war on terror".
This is all the more remarkable when this is the same Omar Sheikh who, at the behest of General Mahmood Ahmed, head of the ISI, wired $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, the leading 9/11 hijacker, before the New York attacks, as confirmed by Dennis Lormel, director of FBI's financial crimes unit.
Yet neither Ahmed nor Omar appears to have been sought for questioning by the US about 9/11. Indeed, the official 9/11 Commission Report of July 2004 sought to downplay the role of Pakistan with the comment: "To date, the US government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks. Ultimately the question is of little practical significance" - a statement of breathtaking disingenuousness.
All this highlights the resistance to getting at the truth about the 9/11 attacks and to an effective crackdown on the forces fomenting terrorist bombings in the west, including Britain. The extraordinary US forbearance towards Omar Sheikh, its restraint towards the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, Dr AQ Khan, selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, the huge US military assistance to Pakistan and the US decision last year to designate Pakistan as a major non-Nato ally in south Asia all betoken a deeper strategic set of goals as the real priority in its relationship with Pakistan. These might be surmised as Pakistan providing sizeable military contingents for Iraq to replace US troops, or Pakistani troops replacing Nato forces in Afghanistan. Or it could involve the use of Pakistani military bases for US intervention in Iran, or strengthening Pakistan as a base in relation to India and China.
Michael Meacher is the Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton; he was environment minister from 1997 to 2003.
The Pakistan connection
There is evidence of foreign intelligence backing for the 9/11 hijackers. Why is the US government so keen to cover it up?
Michael Meacher Thursday July 22, 2004 The Guardian
Omar Sheikh, a British-born Islamist militant, is waiting to be hanged in Pakistan for a murder he almost certainly didn't commit - of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Both the US government and Pearl's wife have since acknowledged that Sheikh was not responsible. Yet the Pakistani government is refusing to try other suspects newly implicated in Pearl's kidnap and murder for fear the evidence they produce in court might acquit Sheikh and reveal too much.
Ahmed, the paymaster for the hijackers, was actually in Washington on 9/11, and had a series of pre-9/11 top-level meetings in the White House, the Pentagon, the national security council, and with George Tenet, then head of the CIA, and Marc Grossman, the under-secretary of state for political affairs. When Ahmed was exposed by the Wall Street Journal as having sent the money to the hijackers, he was forced to "retire" by President Pervez Musharraf. Why hasn't the US demanded that he be questioned and tried in court?.../...A fourth witness is Sibel Edmonds. [my favorite story, HOAX-hiding Buffet/js] She is a 33-year-old Turkish-American former FBI translator of intelligence, fluent in Farsi, the language spoken mainly in Iran and Afghanistan, who had top-secret security clearance. She tried to blow the whistle on the cover-up of intelligence that names some of the culprits who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, but is now under two gagging orders that forbid her from testifying in court or mentioning the names of the people or the countries involved. She has been quoted as saying: "My translations of the 9/11 intercepts included [terrorist] money laundering, detailed and date-specific information ... if they were to do real investigations, we would see several significant high-level criminal prosecutions in this country [the US] ... and believe me, they will do everything to cover this up".
Furthermore, the trial in the US of Zacharias Moussaoui (allegedly the 20th hijacker) is in danger of collapse apparently because of "the CIA's reluctance to allow key lieutenants of Osama bin Laden to testify at the trial". Two of the alleged conspirators have already been set free in Germany for the same reason.
The FBI, illegally, continues to refuse the to release of their agent Robert Wright's 500-page manuscript Fatal Betrayals of the Intelligence Mission, and has even refused to turn the manuscript over to Senator Shelby, vice-chairman of the joint intelligence committee charged with investigating America's 9/11 intelligence failures. And the US government still refuses to declassify 28 secret pages of a recent report on 9/11..../...Senator Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate select committee on intelligence, has said: "I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted, not just in financing ... by a sovereign foreign government." In that context, Horst Ehmke, former coordinator of the West German secret services, observed: "Terrorists could not have carried out such an operation with four hijacked planes without the support of a secret service."
That might give meaning to the reaction on 9/11 of Richard Clarke, the White House counter-terrorism chief, when he saw the passenger lists later on the day itself: "I was stunned ... that there were al-Qaida operatives on board using names that the FBI knew were al-Qaida." It was just that, as Dale Watson, head of counter-terrorism at the FBI told him, the "CIA forgot to tell us about them".
· Michael Meacher is Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton. He was environment minister 1997-2003
.../... It comes out that he was keeping tens of millions of dollars earned from heroin smuggling in a Deutsche Bank account. This is interesting because insider trading just prior to 9/11 will later connect to a branch of Deutsche Bank recently run by “Buzzy” Krongard, now executive director of the CIA. [Financial Times, 8/10/2001]
At the time of the attacks, ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed is at a breakfast meeting at the Capitol with the chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Senator Bob Graham (D) and Representative Porter Goss (R) (Goss is a 10-year veteran of the CIA’s clandestine operations wing). The meeting is said to last at least until the second plane hits the WTC. [Washington Post, 5/18/2002] Graham and Goss later co-head the joint House-Senate investigation into the 9/11 attacks, which has made headlines for saying there was no “smoking gun” of Bush knowledge before 9/11. [Washington Post, 7/11/2002] Note that Senator Graham should have been aware of a report made to his staff the previous month (see Early August 2001) that one of Mahmood’s subordinates had told a US undercover agent that the WTC would be destroyed. Evidence suggests that attendee Mahmood ordered that $100,000 be sent to hijacker Mohamed Atta. Also present at the meeting were Senator Jon Kyl (R) and the Pakistani ambassador to the US, Maleeha Lodhi. (All or virtually all of the people in this meeting had previously met in Pakistan just a few weeks earlier.) Senator Graham says of the meeting: “We were talking about terrorism, specifically terrorism generated from Afghanistan.” The New York Times reports that bin Laden was specifically discussed. [Vero Beach Press Journal, 9/12/2001; Salon, 9/14/2001; New York Times, 6/3/2002]
Rice's deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, who became national security adviser after she became secretary of state, and Rice's top counterterrorism aide, Richard Clarke, also were present.
Woodward wrote that Tenet and Black considered the briefing the "starkest warning they had given the White House" on the threat posed by Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. But, he wrote, the pair felt as if Rice gave them "the brush-off."
Speaking to reporters late Sunday en route to the Middle East, Rice said she had no recollection of what she called "the supposed meeting."
"What I'm quite certain of, is that it was not a meeting in which I was told that there was an impending attack and I refused to respond," she said.
Ashcroft, who resigned as attorney general on Nov. 9, 2004, told the Associated Press on Monday that it was "disappointing" that he never received the briefing, either.
But on Monday evening, Rice's spokesman Sean McCormack issued a statement confirming that she'd received the CIA briefing "on or around July 10" and had asked that it be given to Ashcroft and Rumsfeld.