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Terror abound: From Faisal Shahzad to General Nadeem Ijaz – by Kamran Shafi

So who’s surprised?

Just as the country was settling down to the usual terrorist attacks on our armed forces and police and the weekly bomb attacks somewhere or other in the Citadel of Islam by the former (?) friends and buddies of our establishment, the self-appointed keeper of this country’s morality and ideology, another jihadi with links to Pakistan, was apprehended in the United States trying to blow up Times Square, New York, New York. Well, surprise, surprise.

This Faisal Shahzad, the son of a retired air vice marshal who is a good man according to those who have known him all his life, has himself said that whilst he was acting alone in planning and executing his botched plan to murder and maim innocents on NYC’s streets, amongst whose number there would have been Pakistani taxi-drivers as friend Dr Omar Ali writing for a website quite poignantly points out, he did visit Waziristan and receive training in making IEDs. (It is a good thing he turned out to be stupid and a bad learner to boot). Also, the Tehrik-i-Taliban, Pakistan, promptly came out with a statement saying it was behind the attempted bombing.

Qari Hussain Mehsud, said he takes “fully responsibility for the recent attack in the USA”. Qari Hussain made the claim on an audiotape accompanied by images that was released on a YouTube website that calls itself the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan News Channel.

“This attack is a revenge for the great and valuable martyred leaders of the mujahideen,” said Qari Hussain Mehsud, the top trainer of suicide bombers and IED makers. He listed Baitullah Mehsud, the former leader of the Pakistani Taliban who was killed in a Predator strike in August 2009, and Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the former leader of Al Qaeda Islamic State of Iraq who was killed by Iraqi forces in mid-April. And although he was not mentioned, an image of Abu Ayyub al Masri, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, was also displayed in the images accompanying the audiotape.

Now then, whilst the Taliban have been known to take credit — if blowing up innocent people can ever be called commendable — for acts it had nothing to do with, I would not be surprised at all if they were behind this attempted bombing.

For, please consider that every wannabe mass murderer terrorist in recent times, or shall we say post 9/11 times, has in some way or another had something or the other to do with our unfortunate country. Take the most disgraceful-looking, the most vicious criminals Richard Reid aka Abdul Raheem aka Tariq Raja the shoe bomber and Jose Padilla aka Abdullah al-Muhajir aka Muhajir Abdullah. Please go to the Internet and look at the photographs of these two beauties and read their illuminating bios.

Both were in and out of prison all their lives; from borstal institutions to prisons for hardened criminals, convicted and jailed on charges ranging from minor theft to armed robbery to murder by kicking people’s heads in. Both ‘found’ Islam and became jihadists. Both, you guessed it, travelled to Pakistan several times each to be trained in the art of mass murder.

I have asked this question a hundred times: who was their sponsor when they applied for visas to visit this luckless country? It is important to expose these people, because nothing in the world recommends them for a visa to visit any country, even laid-low Pakistan.

We will never get an answer to the question, however, not in a million years, for at the end of this particularly ugly trail we are bound to find some ugly home truths; home truths that impel the world to refer to our poor Pakistan as the hub of world terror.

In a story published in a section of our press on May 6, 2010, we are told that the former head of Military Intelligence, Maj Gen Nadeem Ijaz was cleared by the three-member ‘fact-finding committee’ on the basis of a two-page letter written by him on Dec 28, 2007, addressed to the COAS after the incident of hosing down the crime scene where Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on Dec 27, 2007.

According to the paper: “The people involved in washing down the crime scene, actually spoiled the evidences,” wrote Nadeem Ijaz in the letter. “Many evidences, which could have been useful in criminal investigation, have been washed away,” he added.

This purported letter was reportedly shown to the prime minister by the COAS after the UN report put the blame on the MI chief. The news report again: “Consequently, Prime Minister Gilani, instead of clearing the name of the former MI chief on the basis of the letter written by Nadeem Ijaz on Dec 28, 2007 to the army chief, agreed to do it in a proper manner and constituted a three-member committee on April 24, 2010 with a ‘one-point mandate’ and that was to investigate and find out as to who actually was behind the hosing down of the crime scene in such a hurry after the tragedy”. The rest as they say is history.

Now then, if this is the case, why was the letter not released to the press as soon as the UN report came out? Surely there were no military secrets contained in it — it was just proof that the MI chief had done his duty and done it well, pointing out to the COAS that washing the crime scene was the wrong thing to do. It would have immediately brought the army out in a very good light; there would have been no dark rumours going about; and news and talk-show anchors would not have had several field days. In addition, three government officials would have gone about their regular duties and not wasted their time on something that was already a proven fact; just one day after poor Benazir Bhutto was mercilessly shot to death.

Which be it as it may, I continue to believe that someone high up ordered the crime scene to be washed clean; that a mere CPO could never have done it on his own. So go figure.

Source: Dawn, 11 May, 2010

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  • There is no letter! just like there is no audiotape of Baitullah Mehsud. Kayani was also responsible for hushing up the investigation of the GHQ attack. This is how a mafia leader behaves!

  • Faisal Shahzad trained in Mohmand Agency: report
    Updated at: 1015 PST, Saturday, May 15, 2010 ShareThis story

    WASHINGTON: Faisal Shahzad was trained by the militant group in the Mohmand region and received $15,000 to carry out the New York attack, officials say.

    A US newspaper claimed that the main suspect in the attempted Times Square bombing received several days of training in Pakistan’s Mohmand region and roughly $15,000 from the Pakistani Taliban to finance the attack, according to U.S. officials briefed on the case.

    It appears likely that Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani American accused of leaving a vehicle loaded with fertilizer and propane tanks in Times Square on May 1, came up with the idea of the car bomb himself, one official said. Shahzad then apparently persuaded the militant group to give him assistance when he traveled to Pakistan’s border region in 2009 or early 2010, they said.

    Shahzad has told investigators that he met with Hakimullah Mahsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, before returning to the United States to carry out the attempted bombing, two senior officials said. His claim has been repeated by at least one other source a suspect arrested in Pakistan with ties to the militant group, the officials said.

    But U.S. intelligence agencies are still attempting to corroborate that a meeting occurred between Shahzad and Mahsud.

    Officials have been able to corroborate that part of Shahzad’s story, one U.S. official said. But investigators are still trying to figure out why he went to Mohmand, which is several hundred miles north of the Pakistani Taliban stronghold in North Waziristan.

    Investigators have been able to develop a better understanding of the financial support Shahzad received, with the arrest in recent days of three people two in Boston and one in Maine who may have been involved in the transfer of the funds from Pakistan, the officials said. It does not appear likely that they were aware of the purpose of the money transfers.

  • Heart of darkness
    By Irfan Husain
    Saturday, 15 May, 2010

    Faisal Shahzad proves incorrect the theory that education can make young Muslims reject terrorism. –Photo by AP
    Most tourists in New York will have visited Times Square, with its bright lights, buzz and non-stop energy. Named after the New York Times when the newspaper moved to its current premises in 1904, the area has seen its ups and downs.

    Now, after being relatively sanitised, its drug dealers and other assorted low-life have been pushed to other parts of the city. But the shops, theatre district, bars and music halls hum with activity round the clock.

    This, then, is the heart of America, and has come to represent a dynamic, thriving country both for its own citizens and for foreigners in all parts of the world. Therefore an attack on Times Square is construed as an attack on the United States. When Faisal Shahzad carried out his botched attack recently, he wasn’t just trying to kill and maim as many innocent people as possible, he was lashing out against the country where he had studied, got married and made a comfortable life for his family.

    He was no suicide bomber brainwashed by jihadis and intent on claiming his share of virgins in heaven. Rather, he was a privileged member of the extended Pakistani military network: born in the knowledge that his father’s rank in the air force would open doors shut to most Pakistanis, he was given a visa to the United States, and then citizenship. There was little to suggest that he would choose the path he did. So much for the theory that education can make young Muslims reject terrorism.

    Soon after, we learned of Mohammed Saif ur Rahman, a Pakistani interning at a hotel in Santiago, Chile, where he was arrested with traces of explosives on his hands and in his personal effects. While he has denied any attempt to blow up the US embassy where he had apparently been invited to discuss the cancellation of his visa, one does not innocently acquire gunpowder traces under normal circumstances.

    So here we have two men with close connections to Pakistan who stand accused of attempted acts of terrorism in two continents within a week. Small wonder that newspapers like the Daily Telegraph can print highly speculative stories like the one that appeared on May 11 and expect readers to believe them. Headlined ‘Pakistan agents linked to US plot’, the story alleges:

    “American investigators believe rogue Pakistani intelligence agents could have been involved in the Times Square bomb plot. They are examining a possible connection between Faisal Shahzad and Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence establishment, a potentially devastating blow to the country’s shaky anti-terrorism credentials. Mr Shahzad’s background as the son of a senior Air Force officer might have brought him into contact with intelligence agents who helped build the Afghan Taliban and who have channelled cash and training to home-grown jihadis, according to a source familiar with the investigation…. Pakistan has a history of using jihadi groups as a tool of its foreign policy. Its Inter-Services Intelligence agency helped train and equip Afghan Mujahideen … They have also supported militant groups in Indian-controlled Kashmir.…” And so on.

    While completely unsourced, the story is likely to be believed by many readers simply because Pakistan is now seen — and not without reason — as the epicentre of jihadi terror exported to different countries in an unending wave. While our default reaction is one of denial, the fact is that in many cases of terrorism abroad, there is an element of a Pakistani connection. Even when the terrorists are not themselves Pakistani citizens, they have visited training camps to obtain training, or have been brainwashed in one of our many madressahs.

    Living as we do in post-Zia Pakistan, we do not notice how the poisonous environment created by extremist rhetoric amplified by an irresponsible media has infected millions of young minds. Like a virus, the call for jihad spreads across the land. Voices such as Zaid Hamid’s are provided a powerful platform like television to spout his violent brand of Islam where unsophisticated viewers lap up his vision. No anchor or regulator stops him — and others of his ilk — in mid-flow.

    School curricula have been replete with hateful stereotypes of non-Muslims. God only knows what our madressahs are teaching their students: the government has washed its hands off these institutions and the hundreds of thousands of children unfortunate enough to be instructed there. The recent discovery of a substantial cache of weapons and Jaish-i-Muhammed propaganda material from a mosque in Karachi underlines how radicalised our centres of religion have become.

    Despite the clear evidence of the involvement of many jihadi organisations in local and global terrorism, the government keeps its eyes firmly shut to the reality of the situation. No serious attempt is being made to rein in these killers, and to shut down their camps and training centres.

    Together with the Jaish’s arms, receipts from donors were also found in the mosque. It should not be a very difficult task to find who these financiers of terror are, but I have no doubt the government will buckle under to threats and pressure from religious parties and not follow through with its investigation. Many similar enquiries have got nowhere, and as a result, the jihadi terror network continues to thrive.

    Even when some of these terrorists are arrested, they are seldom convicted. Often the investigation is botched; in other cases, the judges are either too scared or too sympathetic to the cause of jihad to lock these people up. The result is that cops become reluctant to risk their lives to arrest these killers just to have the courts release them time after time.

    Obviously, there are no easy answers. Jihad is now too deeply rooted in the country’s psyche to be quickly and painlessly excised. But if we are to survive as a nation, we need to agree that we cannot allow successive generations to be brainwashed by an ignorant coterie of mullahs and media talking heads.

  • Editorial: Harbouring jihadis in our midst

    The arrest of Faisal Shahzad after an attempted car bomb attack in Times Square has landed Pakistan in hot water. On the one hand, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is warning us of dire consequences if there is a successful attack in the US in future that can be traced back to Pakistan and on the other, General Petraeus keeps praising us for our anti-terror efforts. This ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine being enacted by the US is not fooling anyone. We know that the US means business; thus it is time to introspect.

    After Shahzad’s arrest, the American authorities carried out raids in Boston, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. They have arrested two Pakistani men suspected of providing money to Shahzad in connection with the Times Square bombing. It seems as if Shahzad was not a ‘lone wolf’ after all and there were others working with him from within the US and outside. US Attorney General Eric Holder said that the American authorities believe the Pakistani Taliban were behind this failed attack and the US is working on the investigations with the Pakistani authorities. Holder vowed that the US “will use every available resource to make sure that anyone found responsible — whether they be in the US or overseas — is held accountable”. Meanwhile, another Pakistani man, Rehnab Khan, has been arrested in Chile at the US Embassy after traces of explosives were found on his hands, cell phone, bag and documentation. Whether Mr Khan is guilty or not cannot be ascertained at the moment, but there is an urgent need to find out why terrorists of all sorts in every nook and corner of the world are either Pakistanis or of Pakistani origin.

    Most of the would-be (or could-have-been) terrorists are young, educated men. This new phenomenon needs to be explored to find out how various terrorist networks are able to zero in on these young men. Are these men sleeper cells, working for al Qaeda or for the Taliban? Successive regimes in Pakistan have aided and abetted terrorist networks as part of our foreign policy, consequently making this country a paradise for such elements. Now that we have become victims of terrorism ourselves, this policy has been reversed. It will definitely take time in rooting out these networks from our soil despite Pakistan turning over a new leaf. At a time when we should be taking concrete steps to eliminate the terror threat, there is no sane explanation why the government and the military harbour an unnecessarily nationalistic sentiment about North Waziristan. Apparently, President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and General Kayani have decided that Pakistan would not succumb to US pressure to launch an offensive in North Waziristan. It comes as a surprise that we keep on taking ‘foreign dictation’ in most matters but when it comes to North Waziristan’s ‘terror central’, our government and military go on the defensive. By not taking on North Waziristan, we are endangering the whole world. For the sake of the future endgame in Afghanistan, saving the Haqqani network at the cost of world peace (and its fallout on Pakistan) is folly of the highest order. We must acknowledge the global embryonic outreach of the terrorist networks. Apart from cracking down on the Haqqani network and all the militants it is harbouring, Pakistan needs to make its anti-terror laws stricter. Those accused of killing a senior military office and a deadly attack on an army bus were acquitted by a court the other day. If we keep releasing terrorists and allow them to roam free like this, what will become of us? Food for thought.\15\story_15-5-2010_pg3_1