Pakistan Makes Quick Arrests In NYC Bomb Attempt

Pakistan makes arrests connected to NYC bomb attempt

Zeeshan Haider


A NYPD officer in an bomb suit examines a Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle parked in New York's Times Square May 1, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) – Pakistan on Tuesday made several arrests in connection with the failed Times Square car bomb attack in New York, security sources said.

"We have picked up a few family members" related to Faisal Shahzad, the chief suspect in the attempted attack, a security official in Karachi said. A friend of Shahzad was also arrested.

Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani-American, was arrested late on Monday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York after being removed from a plane as it was about take off for Dubai, American officials said.

Another intelligence official in Pakistan said Shahzad received militant training in northwest Pakistan near the garrison town of Kohat. The area around Kohat is a stronghold of Tariq Afridi, the main Pakistani Taliban commander in the region.

Pakistan, which could come under renewed U.S. pressure to crack down harder on militants after the Times Square incident, vowed on Tuesday to help the United States bring Shahzad to justice

Shahzad will appear in Manhattan federal court later on Tuesday to face charges "for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on the evening of May 1," according to a statement by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, FBI agent George Venizelos and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

"We will cooperate with the United States in identifying this individual and bringing him to justice," Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Reuters.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson met Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Malik and talked about the issue, Pakistani government officials and the U.S. Embassy said.

"We have an ongoing cooperation with the United States on anti-terrorism efforts. If required by the United States, we will extend full cooperation to them in this regard," Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said.


Malik said Faisal’s family came from northwestern Pakistan which is mainly inhabited by Pashtuns and where Islamic militants are active.

"He belongs to Pabbi," he said, referring to a small town near the main northwestern city of Peshawar about an hour’s drive from Islamabad.

"He has Pakistani identification documents. We are making further checks."

He added there had been no arrests in Pakistan so far.

A source familiar with the investigation in the United States said Faisal was of Kashmiri descent.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States and has arrested hundreds of al Qaeda operatives and handed over many of them to the United States after it signed up to the U.S.-led war on terrorism after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

The Taliban in Pakistan said on Sunday it planted the bomb in Times Square to avenge the killing in April of al Qaeda’s two top leaders in Iraq as well as U.S. interference in Muslim countries.

Some officials voiced scepticism about the claim. But former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, who last year oversaw an Obama administration strategy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan, cautioned against dismissing a possible role by the Taliban.

(Editing by Chris Allbritton)

Antony C. Sutton, Documented Wall St. Backing of Communism and Nazism

[Professor Sutton led the way in exposing the treacherous duplicity of America's financial and political leaders.  Never before in history has mankind produced national leadership in any country which allowed the financial powers to manufacture and strengthen enemies, to wage war against their own countrymen.  Sutton documented this, producing detailed research which implicated the international bankers, especially those with American citizenship, even though he endured public charges of "anti-Semitism" for daring to expose powerful Jewish interests.

Further investigations by Dr. Sutton into American secret societies like the Skull & Bones, and shadowy organizations like the Trilateralists shone light where none had been before, from his insider positions in academia.  His work showed us that America's secret leaders have been sowing subversion and creating America's own enemies long before today's "Islamists" came along.  We need more insiders like him to dig through the real records of the infinite crimes committed in their quest for a global empire.]

Antony C. Sutton

— Feb. 14, 1925 – June 17, 2002

Antony Sutton has been persecuted but never prosecuted for his research and subsequent publishing of his findings. His mainstream career was shattered by his devotion towards uncovering the truth. In 1968, his Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development was published by The Hoover Institute at Stanford University. Sutton showed how the Soviet state’s technological and manufacturing base, which was then engaged in supplying the North Vietnamese the armaments and supplies to kill and wound American soldiers, was built by US firms and mostly paid for by the US taxpayers. From their largest steel and iron plant, to automobile manufacturing equipment, to precision ball-bearings and computers, basically the majority of the Soviet’s large industrial enterprises had been built with the United States help or technical assistance.

Professor Richard Pipes of Harvard said in his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Soviet Realities and America’s Future (Simon & Schuster;1984): “In his three-volume detailed account of Soviet Purchases of Western Equipment and Technology . . . [Antony] Sutton comes to conclusions that are uncomfortable for many businessmen and economists. For this reason his work tends to be either dismissed out of hand as ‘extreme’ or, more often, simply ignored.”

The report was too much and Sutton’s career as a well-paid member of the academic establishment was under attack and he was told that he “would not survive”.

His work led him to more questions than answers. “Why had the US built-up it’s enemy? Why did the US build-up the Soviet Union, while we also transferred technology to Hitler’s Germany? Why does Washington want to conceal these facts?”

Sutton, following his leads, proceeded to research and write his three outstanding books on Wall Street, FDR, the Rise of Hitler, and The Bolshevik Revolution. Then, someone sent Antony a membership list of Skull and Bones and “a picture jumped out”. And what a picture! A multigenerational foreign-based secret society with fingers in all kinds of pies and roots going back to ‘Illuminati’ influences in 1830’s Germany.

Published Works of ANTONY C SUTTON

1998 FTIR . . . . $50.00
1997 FTIR . . . . $50.00

1996 Moscow . . . . Russian

1995 CPA
Get it from Amazon

1995 Moscow . . . . Russian

Two-part documentary on financing Hitler. Detailing Bush/Harriman role.
Commentator Daniel de Wit . . . . Dutch

1995 CPA
Get it from Amazon

1988 Out of print.

1986 Liberty House Press . . . . $20.00
406-652-3326 / 406-652-3329 (fax)

Updated hardcover 2002 edition.
P.O. Box 577
Walterville, OR 97489

1986 Liberty House Press . . . . $12.50
Get it from Amazon

1979 FTIR . . . . $20.00

1979 Out of print

1977 Arlington House (New York) and Sandton (South Africa) Out of print
You may be able to get it from Amazon

1976 Swiss East Institut, Berne . . . . German

1976 Arlington House
1999 Buccaneer Books

1973 Out of print
You may be able to get it from Amazon

1976 Arlington House.
1999 Buccaneer Books
Get it from Amazon

1974 Arlington House
1999 Buccaneer Books

1973 Out of print.

WARS AND REVOLUTIONSa comprehensive list of conflicts including fatalities
1973 Part One 1820 to 1900 1974
Part Two 1900 to-1972
Out of print.

1968 Volume One 1917-1930
1971 Volume Two 1930-1945
1973 Volume Three 1945-1965
In print available from Hoover Institution Press.
Get it from Amazon

in three volumes.

Monthly 8-page newsletter $65.00 a year.

$ 100.00 A YEAR.

  • FTIR
  • Pallada
    121170 Moscow
    Russia a/ya no 4
  • TrineDay
    P.O. Box 577
    Walterville, OR 97489
  • Liberty House Press
    PO Box 80650 Billings
    MT 54108
    1-800-343-6180 (credit cards and information)
  • Hoover Institution Press
    Stanford University
    Stanford, CA. 94305

Noshki, Balochistan On Edge

[Perhaps Pakistani officials are seeing the logic in the Central Asia News report on the Balochistan trap that they see being laid.

Notice the above map which has the key locations from the report marked.  Draw a line from Noshki, south to Ras Malan, as instructed and you will see the projected eastern border of the International Strategic Corrider, the slice of Balochistan that is deemed necessary to the "pipeline wars."

“If I were to draw such a border, I would take Nushki as the starting point and draw a north-south line, connecting it with Ras Malan. All the area west of the line up to Iranian border would be the strategic corridor.”

Final Solution’ Frenzy – Part Four: Final Solution for Pakistan]

Pakistani helicopters have been seen flying in a low altitude in Noshki

on 2010/5/4 0:00:00 (27 reads)
ccupied Balochistan: The peaceful atmosphere of Noshki and adjourning areas was disturbed by thunderous sounds of Pakistan’s gunship helicopters on Monday, afternoon. Residents reported that they have seen military helicopters fly above their head in Noshki, and surrounding mountainous regions. There is sense of fear and panic among the people in the concerned areas.

A spokesman of BRP said that the hovering of Pakistani helicopters above Noshki and increasing the number of Para-military forces in the region seemingly gestures the preparation of a massive military operation in Noshki and surrounding hilly areas. He said after the grand operation in Quetta the Pakistani forces apparently wanted to carry out a similar search operation in Noshki and other parts of Balochistan.

The monster in the mirror

The monster in the mirror

The Mumbai attacks have been dubbed ‘India’s 9/11′, and there are calls for a 9/11-style response, including an attack on Pakistan. Instead, the country must fight terrorism with justice, or face civil war

Azam Amir Kasab filmed on CCTV inside the Chhatrapati Shivaji train station in MumbaiAzam Amir Kasab, the face of the Mumbai attacks. Photograph: Reuters

We’ve forfeited the rights to our own tragedies. As the carnage in Mumbai raged on, day after horrible day, our 24-hour news channels informed us that we were watching “India’s 9/11″. Like actors in a Bollywood rip-off of an old Hollywood film, we’re expected to play our parts and say our lines, even though we know it’s all been said and done before.

As tension in the region builds, US Senator John McCain has warned Pakistan that if it didn’t act fast to arrest the “Bad Guys” he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on “terrorist camps” in Pakistan and that Washington could do nothing because Mumbai was India’s 9/11.

But November isn’t September, 2008 isn’t 2001, Pakistan isn’t Afghanistan and India isn’t America. So perhaps we should reclaim our tragedy and pick through the debris with our own brains and our own broken hearts so that we can arrive at our own conclusions.

It’s odd how in the last week of November thousands of people in Kashmir supervised by thousands of Indian troops lined up to cast their vote, while the richest quarters of India’s richest city ended up looking like war-torn Kupwara – one of Kashmir’s most ravaged districts.

The Mumbai attacks are only the most recent of a spate of terrorist attacks on Indian towns and cities this year. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati, Jaipur and Malegaon have all seen serial bomb blasts in which hundreds of ordinary people have been killed and wounded. If the police are right about the people they have arrested as suspects, both Hindu and Muslim, all Indian nationals, it obviously indicates that something’s going very badly wrong in this country.

If you were watching television you may not have heard that ordinary people too died in Mumbai. They were mowed down in a busy railway station and a public hospital. The terrorists did not distinguish between poor and rich. They killed both with equal cold-bloodedness. The Indian media, however, was transfixed by the rising tide of horror that breached the glittering barricades of India Shining and spread its stench in the marbled lobbies and crystal ballrooms of two incredibly luxurious hotels and a small Jewish centre.

We’re told one of these hotels is an icon of the city of Mumbai. That’s absolutely true. It’s an icon of the easy, obscene injustice that ordinary Indians endure every day. On a day when the newspapers were full of moving obituaries by beautiful people about the hotel rooms they had stayed in, the gourmet restaurants they loved (ironically one was called Kandahar), and the staff who served them, a small box on the top left-hand corner in the inner pages of a national newspaper (sponsored by a pizza company I think) said “Hungry, kya?” (Hungry eh?). It then, with the best of intentions I’m sure, informed its readers that on the international hunger index, India ranked below Sudan and Somalia. But of course this isn’t that war. That one’s still being fought in the Dalit bastis of our villages, on the banks of the Narmada and the Koel Karo rivers; in the rubber estate in Chengara; in the villages of Nandigram, Singur, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Lalgarh in West Bengal and the slums and shantytowns of our gigantic cities.

That war isn’t on TV. Yet. So maybe, like everyone else, we should deal with the one that is.

There is a fierce, unforgiving fault-line that runs through the contemporary discourse on terrorism. On one side (let’s call it Side A) are those who see terrorism, especially “Islamist” terrorism, as a hateful, insane scourge that spins on its own axis, in its own orbit and has nothing to do with the world around it, nothing to do with history, geography or economics. Therefore, Side A says, to try and place it in a political context, or even try to understand it, amounts to justifying it and is a crime in itself.

Side B believes that though nothing can ever excuse or justify terrorism, it exists in a particular time, place and political context, and to refuse to see that will only aggravate the problem and put more and more people in harm’s way. Which is a crime in itself.

The sayings of Hafiz Saeed, who founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) in 1990 and who belongs to the hardline Salafi tradition of Islam, certainly bolsters the case of Side A. Hafiz Saeed approves of suicide bombing, hates Jews, Shias and Democracy and believes that jihad should be waged until Islam, his Islam, rules the world. Among the things he said are: “There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy.”

And: “India has shown us this path. We would like to give India a tit-for-tat response and reciprocate in the same way by killing the Hindus, just like it is killing the Muslims in Kashmir.”

But where would Side A accommodate the sayings of Babu Bajrangi of Ahmedabad, India, who sees himself as a democrat, not a terrorist? He was one of the major lynchpins of the 2002 Gujarat genocide and has said (on camera): “We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire … we hacked, burned, set on fire … we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be cremated, they’re afraid of it … I have just one last wish … let me be sentenced to death … I don’t care if I’m hanged … just give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura where seven or eight lakhs [seven or eight hundred thousand] of these people stay … I will finish them off … let a few more of them die … at least 25,000 to 50,000 should die.”

And where, in Side A’s scheme of things, would we place the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh bible, We, or, Our Nationhood Defined by MS Golwalkar, who became head of the RSS in 1944. It says: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”
Or: “To keep up the purity of its race and culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races – the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here … a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

(Of course Muslims are not the only people in the gun sights of the Hindu right. Dalits have been consistently targeted. Recently in Kandhamal in Orissa, Christians were the target of two and a half months of violence which left more than 40 dead. Forty thousand people have been driven from their homes, half of who now live in refugee camps.)

All these years Hafiz Saeed has lived the life of a respectable man in Lahore as the head of the Jamaat-ud Daawa, which many believe is a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba. He continues to recruit young boys for his own bigoted jehad with his twisted, fiery sermons. On December 11 the UN imposed sanctions on the Jammat-ud-Daawa. The Pakistani government succumbed to international pressure and put Hafiz Saeed under house arrest. Babu Bajrangi, however, is out on bail and lives the life of a respectable man in Gujarat. A couple of years after the genocide he left the VHP to join the Shiv Sena. Narendra Modi, Bajrangi’s former mentor, is still the chief minister of Gujarat. So the man who presided over the Gujarat genocide was re-elected twice, and is deeply respected by India’s biggest corporate houses, Reliance and Tata.

Suhel Seth, a TV impresario and corporate spokesperson, recently said: “Modi is God.” The policemen who supervised and sometimes even assisted the rampaging Hindu mobs in Gujarat have been rewarded and promoted. The RSS has 45,000 branches, its own range of charities and 7 million volunteers preaching its doctrine of hate across India. They include Narendra Modi, but also former prime minister AB Vajpayee, current leader of the opposition LK Advani, and a host of other senior politicians, bureaucrats and police and intelligence officers.

If that’s not enough to complicate our picture of secular democracy, we should place on record that there are plenty of Muslim organisations within India preaching their own narrow bigotry.

So, on balance, if I had to choose between Side A and Side B, I’d pick Side B. We need context. Always.

In this nuclear subcontinent that context is partition. The Radcliffe Line, which separated India and Pakistan and tore through states, districts, villages, fields, communities, water systems, homes and families, was drawn virtually overnight. It was Britain’s final, parting kick to us. Partition triggered the massacre of more than a million people and the largest migration of a human population in contemporary history. Eight million people, Hindus fleeing the new Pakistan, Muslims fleeing the new kind of India left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Each of those people carries and passes down a story of unimaginable pain, hate, horror but yearning too. That wound, those torn but still unsevered muscles, that blood and those splintered bones still lock us together in a close embrace of hatred, terrifying familiarity but also love. It has left Kashmir trapped in a nightmare from which it can’t seem to emerge, a nightmare that has claimed more than 60,000 lives. Pakistan, the Land of the Pure, became an Islamic Republic, and then, very quickly a corrupt, violent military state, openly intolerant of other faiths. India on the other hand declared herself an inclusive, secular democracy. It was a magnificent undertaking, but Babu Bajrangi’s predecessors had been hard at work since the 1920s, dripping poison into India’s bloodstream, undermining that idea of India even before it was born.

By 1990 they were ready to make a bid for power. In 1992 Hindu mobs exhorted by LK Advani stormed the Babri Masjid and demolished it. By 1998 the BJP was in power at the centre. The US war on terror put the wind in their sails. It allowed them to do exactly as they pleased, even to commit genocide and then present their fascism as a legitimate form of chaotic democracy. This happened at a time when India had opened its huge market to international finance and it was in the interests of international corporations and the media houses they owned to project it as a country that could do no wrong. That gave Hindu nationalists all the impetus and the impunity they needed.

This, then, is the larger historical context of terrorism in the subcontinent and of the Mumbai attacks. It shouldn’t surprise us that Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Taiba is from Shimla (India) and LK Advani of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh is from Sindh (Pakistan).

In much the same way as it did after the 2001 parliament attack, the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express and the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express, the government of India announced that it has “incontrovertible” evidence that the Lashkar-e-Taiba backed by Pakistan’s ISI was behind the Mumbai strikes. The Lashkar has denied involvement, but remains the prime accused. According to the police and intelligence agencies the Lashkar operates in India through an organisation called the Indian Mujahideen. Two Indian nationals, Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmed, a Special Police Officer working for the Jammu and Kashmir police, and Tausif Rehman, a resident of Kolkata in West Bengal, have been arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks.

So already the neat accusation against Pakistan is getting a little messy. Almost always, when these stories unspool, they reveal a complicated global network of foot soldiers, trainers, recruiters, middlemen and undercover intelligence and counter-intelligence operatives working not just on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, but in several countries simultaneously. In today’s world, trying to pin down the provenance of a terrorist strike and isolate it within the borders of a single nation state is very much like trying to pin down the provenance of corporate money. It’s almost impossible.

In circumstances like these, air strikes to “take out” terrorist camps may take out the camps, but certainly will not “take out” the terrorists. Neither will war. (Also, in our bid for the moral high ground, let’s try not to forget that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE of neighbouring Sri Lanka, one of the world’s most deadly terrorist groups, were trained by the Indian army.)

Thanks largely to the part it was forced to play as America’s ally first in its war in support of the Afghan Islamists and then in its war against them, Pakistan, whose territory is reeling under these contradictions, is careening towards civil war. As recruiting agents for America’s jihad against the Soviet Union, it was the job of the Pakistan army and the ISI to nurture and channel funds to Islamic fundamentalist organizations. Having wired up these Frankensteins and released them into the world, the US expected it could rein them in like pet mastiffs whenever it wanted to.

Certainly it did not expect them to come calling in heart of the Homeland on September 11. So once again, Afghanistan had to be violently remade. Now the debris of a re-ravaged Afghanistan has washed up on Pakistan’s borders. Nobody, least of all the Pakistan government, denies that it is presiding over a country that is threatening to implode. The terrorist training camps, the fire-breathing mullahs and the maniacs who believe that Islam will, or should, rule the world is mostly the detritus of two Afghan wars. Their ire rains down on the Pakistan government and Pakistani civilians as much, if not more than it does on India.

If at this point India decides to go to war perhaps the descent of the whole region into chaos will be complete. The debris of a bankrupt, destroyed Pakistan will wash up on India’s shores, endangering us as never before. If Pakistan collapses, we can look forward to having millions of “non-state actors” with an arsenal of nuclear weapons at their disposal as neighbours. It’s hard to understand why those who steer India’s ship are so keen to replicate Pakistan’s mistakes and call damnation upon this country by inviting the United States to further meddle clumsily and dangerously in our extremely complicated affairs. A superpower never has allies. It only has agents.

On the plus side, the advantage of going to war is that it’s the best way for India to avoid facing up to the serious trouble building on our home front. The Mumbai attacks were broadcast live (and exclusive!) on all or most of our 67 24-hour news channels and god knows how many international ones. TV anchors in their studios and journalists at “ground zero” kept up an endless stream of excited commentary. Over three days and three nights we watched in disbelief as a small group of very young men armed with guns and gadgets exposed the powerlessness of the police, the elite National Security Guard and the marine commandos of this supposedly mighty, nuclear-powered nation.

While they did this they indiscriminately massacred unarmed people, in railway stations, hospitals and luxury hotels, unmindful of their class, caste, religion or nationality. (Part of the helplessness of the security forces had to do with having to worry about hostages. In other situations, in Kashmir for example, their tactics are not so sensitive. Whole buildings are blown up. Human shields are used. The U.S and Israeli armies don’t hesitate to send cruise missiles into buildings and drop daisy cutters on wedding parties in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.) But this was different. And it was on TV.

The boy-terrorists’ nonchalant willingness to kill – and be killed – mesmerised their international audience. They delivered something different from the usual diet of suicide bombings and missile attacks that people have grown inured to on the news. Here was something new. Die Hard 25. The gruesome performance went on and on. TV ratings soared. Ask any television magnate or corporate advertiser who measures broadcast time in seconds, not minutes, what that’s worth.

Eventually the killers died and died hard, all but one. (Perhaps, in the chaos, some escaped. We may never know.) Throughout the standoff the terrorists made no demands and expressed no desire to negotiate. Their purpose was to kill people and inflict as much damage as they could before they were killed themselves. They left us completely bewildered. When we say “nothing can justify terrorism”, what most of us mean is that nothing can justify the taking of human life. We say this because we respect life, because we think it’s precious. So what are we to make of those who care nothing for life, not even their own? The truth is that we have no idea what to make of them, because we can sense that even before they’ve died, they’ve journeyed to another world where we cannot reach them.

One TV channel (India TV) broadcast a phone conversation with one of the attackers, who called himself Imran Babar. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the conversation, but the things he talked about were the things contained in the “terror emails” that were sent out before several other bomb attacks in India. Things we don’t want to talk about any more: the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the genocidal slaughter of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, the brutal repression in Kashmir. “You’re surrounded,” the anchor told him. “You are definitely going to die. Why don’t you surrender?”

“We die every day,” he replied in a strange, mechanical way. “It’s better to live one day as a lion and then die this way.” He didn’t seem to want to change the world. He just seemed to want to take it down with him.

If the men were indeed members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, why didn’t it matter to them that a large number of their victims were Muslim, or that their action was likely to result in a severe backlash against the Muslim community in India whose rights they claim to be fighting for? Terrorism is a heartless ideology, and like most ideologies that have their eye on the Big Picture, individuals don’t figure in their calculations except as collateral damage. It has always been a part of and often even the aim of terrorist strategy to exacerbate a bad situation in order to expose hidden faultlines. The blood of “martyrs” irrigates terrorism. Hindu terrorists need dead Hindus, Communist terrorists need dead proletarians, Islamist terrorists need dead Muslims. The dead become the demonstration, the proof of victimhood, which is central to the project. A single act of terrorism is not in itself meant to achieve military victory; at best it is meant to be a catalyst that triggers something else, something much larger than itself, a tectonic shift, a realignment. The act itself is theatre, spectacle and symbolism, and today, the stage on which it pirouettes and performs its acts of bestiality is Live TV. Even as the attack was being condemned by TV anchors, the effectiveness of the terror strikes were being magnified a thousandfold by TV broadcasts.

Through the endless hours of analysis and the endless op-ed essays, in India at least there has been very little mention of the elephants in the room: Kashmir, Gujarat and the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Instead we had retired diplomats and strategic experts debate the pros and cons of a war against Pakistan. We had the rich threatening not to pay their taxes unless their security was guaranteed (is it alright for the poor to remain unprotected?). We had people suggest that the government step down and each state in India be handed over to a separate corporation. We had the death of former prime minster VP Singh, the hero of Dalits and lower castes and villain of Upper caste Hindus pass without a mention.

We had Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City and co-writer of the Bollywood film Mission Kashmir, give us his version of George Bush’s famous “Why they hate us” speech. His analysis of why religious bigots, both Hindu and Muslim hate Mumbai: “Perhaps because Mumbai stands for lucre, profane dreams and an indiscriminate openness.” His prescription: “The best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever.” Didn’t George Bush ask Americans to go out and shop after 9/11? Ah yes. 9/11, the day we can’t seem to get away from.

Though one chapter of horror in Mumbai has ended, another might have just begun. Day after day, a powerful, vociferous section of the Indian elite, goaded by marauding TV anchors who make Fox News look almost radical and leftwing, have taken to mindlessly attacking politicians, allpoliticians, glorifying the police and the army and virtually asking for a police state. It isn’t surprising that those who have grown plump on the pickings of democracy (such as it is) should now be calling for a police state. The era of “pickings” is long gone. We’re now in the era of Grabbing by Force, and democracy has a terrible habit of getting in the way.

Dangerous, stupid television flashcards like the Police are Good Politicians are Bad/Chief Executives are Good Chief Ministers are Bad/Army is Good Government is Bad/ India is Good Pakistan is Bad are being bandied about by TV channels that have already whipped their viewers into a state of almost uncontrollable hysteria.

Tragically, this regression into intellectual infancy comes at a time when people in India were beginning to see that in the business of terrorism, victims and perpetrators sometimes exchange roles. It’s an understanding that the people of Kashmir, given their dreadful experiences of the last 20 years, have honed to an exquisite art. On the mainland we’re still learning. (If Kashmir won’t willingly integrate into India, it’s beginning to look as though India will integrate/disintegrate into Kashmir.)

It was after the 2001 parliament attack that the first serious questions began to be raised. A campaign by a group of lawyers and activists exposed how innocent people had been framed by the police and the press, how evidence was fabricated, how witnesses lied, how due process had been criminally violated at every stage of the investigation. Eventually the courts acquitted two out of the four accused, including SAR Geelani, the man whom the police claimed was the mastermind of the operation. A third, Showkat Guru, was acquitted of all the charges brought against him but was then convicted for a fresh, comparatively minor offence. The supreme court upheld the death sentence of another of the accused, Mohammad Afzal. In its judgment the court acknowledged there was no proof that Mohammed Afzal belonged to any terrorist group, but went on to say, quite shockingly, “The collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.” Even today we don’t really know who the terrorists that attacked the Indian parliament were and who they worked for.

More recently, on September 19 this year, we had the controversial “encounter” at Batla House in Jamia Nagar, Delhi, where the Special Cell of the Delhi police gunned down two Muslim students in their rented flat under seriously questionable circumstances, claiming that they were responsible for serial bombings in Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad in 2008. An assistant commissioner of Police, Mohan Chand Sharma, who played a key role in the parliament attack investigation, lost his life as well. He was one of India’s many “encounter specialists” known and rewarded for having summarily executed several “terrorists”. There was an outcry against the Special Cell from a spectrum of people, ranging from eyewitnesses in the local community to senior Congress Party leaders, students, journalists, lawyers, academics and activists all of whom demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident. In response, the BJP and LK Advani lauded Mohan Chand Sharma as a “Braveheart” and launched a concerted campaign in which they targeted those who had dared to question the integrity of the police, saying it was “suicidal” and calling them “anti-national”. Of course there has been no inquiry.

Only days after the Batla House event, another story about “terrorists” surfaced in the news. In a report submitted to a sessions court, the CBI said that a team from Delhi’s Special Cell (the same team that led the Batla House encounter, including Mohan Chand Sharma) had abducted two innocent men, Irshad Ali and Moarif Qamar, in December 2005, planted 2kg of RDX and two pistols on them and then arrested them as “terrorists” who belonged to Al Badr (which operates out of Kashmir). Ali and Qamar who have spent years in jail, are only two examples out of hundreds of Muslims who have been similarly jailed, tortured and even killed on false charges.

This pattern changed in October 2008 when Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that was investigating the September 2008 Malegaon blasts arrested a Hindu preacher Sadhvi Pragya, a self-styled God man Swami Dayanand Pande and Lt Col Purohit, a serving officer of the Indian Army. All the arrested belong to Hindu Nationalist organizations including a Hindu Supremacist group called Abhinav Bharat. The Shiv Sena, the BJP and the RSS condemned the Maharashtra ATS, and vilified its chief, Hemant Karkare, claiming he was part of a political conspiracy and declaring that “Hindus could not be terrorists”. LK Advani changed his mind about his policy on the police and made rabble rousing speeches to huge gatherings in which he denounced the ATS for daring to cast aspersions on holy men and women.

On the November 25 newspapers reported that the ATS was investigating the high profile VHP Chief Pravin Togadia’s possible role in the Malegaon blasts. The next day, in an extraordinary twist of fate, Hemant Karkare was killed in the Mumbai Attacks. The chances are that the new chief whoever he is, will find it hard to withstand the political pressure that is bound to be brought on him over the Malegaon investigation.

While the Sangh Parivar does not seem to have come to a final decision over whether or not it is anti-national and suicidal to question the police, Arnab Goswami, anchorperson of Times Now television, has stepped up to the plate. He has taken to naming, demonising and openly heckling people who have dared to question the integrity of the police and armed forces. My name and the name of the well-known lawyer Prashant Bhushan have come up several times. At one point, while interviewing a former police officer, Arnab Goswami turned to camera: “Arundhati Royand Prashant Bhushan,” he said, “I hope you are watching this. We think you are disgusting.” For a TV anchor to do this in an atmosphere as charged and as frenzied as the one that prevails today, amounts to incitement as well as threat, and would probably in different circumstances have cost a journalist his or her job.

So according to a man aspiring to be the next prime minister of India, and another who is the public face of a mainstream TV channel, citizens have no right to raise questions about the police. This in a country with a shadowy history of suspicious terror attacks, murky investigations, and fake “encounters”. This in a country that boasts of the highest number of custodial deaths in the world and yet refuses to ratify the International Covenant on Torture. A country where the ones who make it to torture chambers are the lucky ones because at least they’ve escaped being “encountered” by our Encounter Specialists. A country where the line between the Underworld and the Encounter Specialists virtually does not exist.

How should those of us whose hearts have been sickened by the knowledge of all of this view the Mumbai attacks, and what are we to do about them? There are those who point out that US strategy has been successful inasmuch as the United States has not suffered a major attack on its home ground since 9/11. However, some would say that what America is suffering now is far worse. If the idea behind the 9/11 terror attacks was to goad America into showing its true colors, what greater success could the terrorists have asked for? The US army is bogged down in two unwinnable wars, which have made the United States the most hated country in the world. Those wars have contributed greatly to the unraveling of the American economy and who knows, perhaps eventually the American empire. (Could it be that battered, bombed Afghanistan, the graveyard of the Soviet Union, will be the undoing of this one too?) Hundreds of thousands people including thousands of American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The frequency of terrorist strikes on U.S allies/agents (including India) and U.S interests in the rest of the world has increased dramatically since 9/11. George Bush, the man who led the US response to 9/11 is a despised figure not just internationally, but also by his own people. Who can possibly claim that the United States is winning the war on terror?

Homeland Security has cost the US government billions of dollars. Few countries, certainly not India, can afford that sort of price tag. But even if we could, the fact is that this vast homeland of ours cannot be secured or policed in the way the United States has been. It’s not that kind of homeland. We have a hostile nuclear weapons state that is slowly spinning out of control as a neighbour, we have a military occupation in Kashmir and a shamefully persecuted, impoverished minority of more than 150 million Muslims who are being targeted as a community and pushed to the wall, whose young see no justice on the horizon, and who, were they to totally lose hope and radicalise, end up as a threat not just to India, but to the whole world. If ten men can hold off the NSG commandos, and the police for three days, and if it takes half a million soldiers to hold down the Kashmir valley, do the math. What kind of Homeland Security can secure India?

Nor for that matter will any other quick fix. Anti-terrorism laws are not meant for terrorists; they’re for people that governments don’t like. That’s why they have a conviction rate of less than 2%. They’re just a means of putting inconvenient people away without bail for a long time and eventually letting them go. Terrorists like those who attacked Mumbai are hardly likely to be deterred by the prospect of being refused bail or being sentenced to death. It’s what they want.

What we’re experiencing now is blowback, the cumulative result of decades of quick fixes and dirty deeds. The carpet’s squelching under our feet.

The only way to contain (it would be naïve to say end) terrorism is to look at the monster in the mirror. We’re standing at a fork in the road. One sign says Justice, the other Civil War. There’s no third sign and there’s no going back. Choose.

Will Pak-American Bomber Provide Excuse for US Special Forces To Cross Border?

Failed New York bomb puts Pakistan under spotlight

If the United States pushes Pakistan too hard, it could strain relations that have improved in recent months. — Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Any links between Pakistan’s Taliban and a failed bombing in New York’s Times Square could put the country under renewed US pressure to open risky new fronts against militants.

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, has claimed responsibility for the failed bombing and its leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, appeared in videos on the Internet on Sunday threatening suicide attacks on major US cities.

A US citizen born in Pakistan, Faisal Shahzad, is accused of driving the failed car bomb into Times Square and will appear in Manhattan court on Tuesday, authorities said.

Questions may arise again over Pakistan’s determination to tackle militants as it juggles other problems, from a sluggish economy to power cuts that have made the government unpopular.

“Pakistan may have to prepare to make more sacrifices and wage a much more intense use of force such as search and destroy operations, more systematically,” said Rifaat Hussain, head of the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.

Pakistan, heavily dependent on foreign aid, says it is too stretched to expand security offensives to new areas such as North Waziristan, home to a complex web of militant groups that could deepen the threat to the state if antagonised.

“International goodwill is going to sour unless we are seen to be doing more against the groups in North Waziristan which have not been touched, and the groups of Punjab which have not been touched,” said Taliban expert and Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid.

Punjab a militant base

Some of Pakistan’s most dangerous militant groups are based in the country’s heartland Punjab province.

They include Lashkar-i-Taiba (LT), blamed for the 2008 attack on the Indian commercial capital Mumbai which killed 166 people and accused of plotting attacks in the West.

LT — once nurtured by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to fight India in Kashmir — is estimated to have between 2,000-3,000 gunmen and another 20,000 followers, many trained to fight and who could be mobilised against a crackdown.

A major assault could drive the LT and other Punjab groups into an alliance with the Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella group backed by al-Qaeda that continues to stage suicide bombings despite offensives the army says has killed hundreds of fighters.

Those risks may be put aside by the United States now that the failed Times Square bombing has sounded new alarm bells in a country still haunted by al-Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks.

If the United States pushes Pakistan too hard, it could strain relations that have improved in recent months.

“If Hakimullah is responsible for what happened in Times Square and is launching a campaign against American cities, then this is the kind of thing that shakes everybody up and generates political will to really get in the Pakistani government’s grill,” said Brian Fishman, counterterrorism research fellow with the New American Foundation.

“If Hakimullah is in any way providing direction to attacks on the US homeland, that changes the kind of influence the US is going to want to assert against Pakistan. That raises the stakes of the political game.”

Doubts on TTP ability

Many security experts are sceptical the TTP has the ability to stage attacks outside Pakistan, but worry it may be growing closer to al-Qaeda and could be adopting the global aims of Osama bin Laden instead of limiting itself to fighting the Pakistani state.

The United States has repeatedly called on Pakistan to do more to fight not just home-grown militancy but also al-Qaeda-backed Afghan Taliban based in North Waziristan who cross the border to attack Western forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has said it does not have the resources to go after other groups such as the Haqqani network, described by US forces as one of their biggest enemies in Afghanistan.

There are strategic reasons for Pakistan’s hesitancy to attack the Haqqanis, believed to operate from North Waziristan.

Pakistan sees the group as a strategic asset that will give it influence in any peace settlement in Afghanistan so Islamabad will want those militants on its side.

But it may have few choices if a solid Pakistani connection with the failed Times Square bombing emerges. Other cases already show Pakistani militants have global reach.

David Headley, an American arrested in Chicago last year, has pleaded guilty to working with LT to plotting attacks in India, including surveillance of targets in Mumbai.

Counter-terrorism experts say LT poses a risk to the West in several ways, including lending its network to groups such as al-Qaeda to conduct attacks.

Terrorism Is Helping the Americans

[Deobandi leaders refuse to cleanse their movement of the corrupting influence of Wahhabism, effectively sealing their lips shut out of fear for their own lives.  It took many years and a lot of effort on the Saudis' part to "Islamicize" Pakistan, indoctrinating Pakistani young men in the path of bloody revenge killings and political "jihad."  It will take many years of patient house-cleaning to find the true Deobandi path hidden beneath all of the CIA-doctored fake "Islam" heaped upon it.  Take care, Pakistan, lest your children turn into monsters and cut your throats in your sleep!]

Still shying away from condemning suicide bombings

By Nasir Jamal
Supporters of Sunni Tehreek wave sticks while chanting slogans against clashes between Ahle Sunnat and Deobandi sects in Faisalabad March 1, 2010. The clashes between the two groups on February 27 left dozens of vehicles, motor bikes and buildings damaged in the city. – Photo by Reuters.

LAHORE: The Deobandi leadership in the country has for the moment refused to give a consensual nod of disapproval to suicide attacks and other acts of militancy — despite efforts by some members to reconcile the school to new realities.

A meeting held here recently was part of this initiative for reconciliation. Rising above their political and factional disputes, around 150 leaders representing different Deobandi groups, seminaries and political parties from Karachi to Bajaur converged in Lahore on April 15 for a rare meeting.

Over three days they shared space at the Jamia Ashrafia, one of the oldest and influential Deobandi institutions in the city.

Many participants are known to have links with Pakistan’s visible and invisible establishment. They included moderates such as Mufti Rafi Usmani and hardliners such as Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi of the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan.

Big names in politicis — Maulana Fazalur Rehman, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed and Maulana Samiul Haq, whose Darul Aloom Haqania in Akora Khattak in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is credited to have given birth to Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, were also there along with heavyweights such as Maulana Saleem Ullah Khan and Hanif Jallundhry, who manage the Deobandi seminaries and education system in the country.

The objective of this rare Deobandi gathering, according to some participants, was to deliberate on terrorism, debate its causes, discuss impact on the economy and politics and suggest solutions and work together to stem the menace.

“The basic goal of this conference was to organise the movement for enforcement of Shariah through peaceful and democratic means, and discuss the reasons for terrorism in the country,” Qari Hanif Jallundhry told this reporter from Multan by telephone.

“The other objective was to draw public attention towards the need for defending Pakistan’s sovereignty and security.” More parochially, the organisers of the meeting were worried that growing militancy in the tribal backwaters of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and increasing incidence of terrorism in the cities in the rest of the country are exclusively being seen as a Deobandi phenomenon and has the potential to discredit the movement among the masses suffering because of it.

After all, the tribal fighters engaged in a pitched war with the military and killing its soldiers in the north-west or suicide bombers carrying out operations elsewhere in the country are either graduates of the Deobandi seminaries or are linked with Deobandi groups and organisations.


Qari Hanif conceded that militancy and terrorism could harm the Deobandi movement. “If terrorism can impact upon the economy and add to the troubles of common citizens of this country, how can we escape its effects,” he wondered.

Others say the meeting was organised at the behest of the government (read establishment), which is desperately looking for wider support from Deobandi pockets against militants fighting the army in the tribal areas. “The most important objective of those who arranged the assembly was to somehow convince the participants to issue a fatwa or religious edict censuring militants involved in terrorism and fighting the army and urging them to renounce violence at the behest of the government,” a participant from Balochistan told Dawn by telephone.

He said “a part of our leadership is under pressure (from the establishment?) to help evolve a wider consensus among all the Deobandi groups and organisations against the militants’ attacks on our soldiers and military installations as well as terrorist raids within the country”. If that was what the meeting aimed to gain, it was only partially achieved.

Maulana Ludhianvi and Hafiz Hussain Ahmed are said to have “turned the tables” on the organisers and forced them to restrict themselves to issuing a joint communiqué that was soft on militants and harsh on government and, obviously, the United States.

“Neither a fatwa triggered this war nor will it help stop one. If a fatwa could stop this war, we would have peace in our tribal areas and the rest of the country now,” another participant, who also refused to give his name, said. “Whatever is happening in Pakistan or Afghanistan today is a reaction to the American policies, its increasing influence and interference in Pakistan and our government’s inability to understand this fact and side with the West.”

The same source said a majority of the participants agreed that militancy and terrorism would continue to haunt this nation as long as the factors and causes responsible for forcing people to take up were not removed. This was exactly what the joint communiqué says. It blames the government’s policy of ‘toeing the American line’ on Afghanistan for growing terrorism. “..militancy and terrorism continue to haunt this country in spite of wide denunciation of such acts (suicide bombings and subversive activities) by all patriotic people as well as use of organised military force. The situation calls for a dispassionate analysis of the fundamental causes (of this situation). In our view it is the consequence of the foreign policy that Pervez Musharraf pursued (in the aftermath of 9/11) and the incumbent government continues to follow. We demand that the government separates itself from the war in Afghanistan and stops pursuing pro-American foreign policies and providing logistics support to foreign forces (for military operations in Afghanistan,” the communiqué says. The opponents of an edict against militants were vociferously supported by the participants from Swat and Bajaur and other tribal areas. “They are the people who are actually suffering at the hands of Americans and their allies in Pakistan. They are the people who have to bear the brunt of military action and drone attacks. How could they support pro-government edicts and decrees?,” the participant from Balochistan quoted above argued. Nevertheless, the communique did urge the militant groups to pursue peaceful means to achieve their objectives of enforcement of Shariah and expulsion of Americans from the country.

The paper calls for an end to all kinds of terrorist and subversive activities (by militant organizations). “If the government is following erroneous policies, it does not mean that we set our home afire. We, therefore, confidently and honestly believe that only peaceful struggle is the best strategy that can help enforcement of Islamic Shariah in Pakistan and secure it from the foreign influences.

The use of violence is contrary to Islamic teachings and detrimental to our objective of enforcement of Shariah in the country and efforts to expel Americans from this region. Rather, it is helping the United States deepen its influence in this region,” it argues.

Speaking to Dawn about the objectives and outcome of the meeting, Maulana Samiul Haq said: “We must avoid saying and doing anything that helps the evil forces (America in this case). And terrorism is helping the Americans.”

He made a distinction between what is going on in Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal regions. “What is going in Afghanistan is essentially jihad. They (Afghan Taliban) are fighting for the freedom of their country from foreign occupation. Some of our people (Pakistani Taliban) also want to go there and help their brethrens in their war for freedom.” He pointed out that certain elements who have entered the ranks of Pakistani Taliban and are killing innocent civilians and soldiers, are responsible for obliterating the distinction between jihad and terrorism. “The present situation is quite worrisome for us because it can build up pressures against our seminaries. But, the Maulana said, it is wrong to expect that the use of force can stop the militants from carrying out their operations or stem terrorism from the country. “The only lasting solution to the issue lies in talks. If the government is willing to talk (to the militants) on some solid, concrete points, we are ready to act as a bridge and mediate between the two parties. But before proceeding in that direction the government has to distance itself from the American policy objectives. You cannot stop suicide attacks and terrorism as long as you are seen to be standing side by side with the United States,” he contended.

Another JUI leader said it is important for Pakistan to bring the militants to the negotiation table. “The Americans are talking to Taliban, the Afghan regime is talking to Taliban. Why can’t our rulers?” He was perturbed that Washington “ignored” Islamabad as it began peace talks with the Afghan Taliban in spite of the fact that we are the ones providing it logistics support and cheap oil for its operations there. The communique too urged the government to “realise that the lasting solutions to internal insurgencies lay in peace talks. It, therefore, should review its foreign policy in the light of recommendations of the in-camera session of the parliament and effect necessary shift in its policies.” A participant conceded that the moderate Deobandi leadership is worried about its loss of influence and control over younger graduates from the seminaries. “This loss of influence on younger generations is pushing them towards militancy. The communique particularly addressed the younger students of Deobandi seminaries and advised them to follow the opinion and views of ulema to stay on the right path.”

Opaque and unaccountable counter-terror

Opaque and unaccountable counter-terror

Mosharraf Zaidi

The murder of Pakistan’s international man of mystery, Khalid Khawaja, should awaken Pakistanis on all points in the political, religious and social spectrum to the depth and complexity of the terrorists’ challenge to Pakistan. Khawaja was, what many investment bankers would call, a relationship manager. Along with a small group of others, he helped manage Pakistan’s various and increasingly complex relationships with terrorist groups. That he had spent an increasing share of his time in recent months trying to cool down and temper the responses of terrorists to the Pakistani state’s full-scale war on terror is ironic. Khawaja was the quintessential 21st century holy warrior — the anti-thesis of a counter-radicalisation strategy. That he was an asset in Pakistan’s strategy speaks volumes about how poorly prepared Pakistan is for this challenge.

As far back as 1987, Khalid Khawaja was seen to be too blunt, too extreme and too much of a risk for the piety-stricken Gen Ziaul Haq. It is ironic indeed that Daniel Pearl once harangued Khawaja for greater access to some of the Al Qaeda and Taliban figures he was on personal terms with. In the end, the extremist disease that beheaded Daniel Pearl was unable to distinguish between what Pearl represented, and what Khawaja stood for. When Pakistan’s violent extremists cannot tell the difference between Islamist activists like Khalid Khawaja and reporters for the Wall Street Journal like Daniel Pearl, we should all be very scared about what the hell it is, that is actually going on, in Pakistan. (That is of course if you haven’t yet been scared by the more than 25,000 lives that terrorism and counter-terror operations have claimed).

We know through the intrepid reporting of Zafar Abbas and Hamid Mir of course that Khawaja’s killers were not garden variety ‘Taliban’. We know that none of the so-called ‘good’ Pakistani Taliban — Gul Bahadur, Sirajuddin Haqqani, and their ilk — have any control over any of the ‘bad’ Pakistani Taliban — Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Ilyas Kashmiri, and their latest ilk, the Asian Tigers. We know that the Asian Tigers, the group that took Khawaja’s life, was inspired by the tragedy at Lal Masjid. We know that the Afghan Taliban, no matter how hard clash-of-civilisations-analysts try, are not the same thing at all, as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Pakistani Taliban, or their splinter groups, like the Asian Tigers.

Yet somehow, the word Taliban continues to be used in the broader Pakistani discourse wantonly, without any context. This enables a sanitised and simplified civilisational version of the world in which black and white caricatures are pitted against one another. On one side are the supposed frappuccino-sipping, sun-block dripping, dogma-ripping globalised liberals, on-side with the west and all things modern. On the other are the ‘Taliban’. If you don’t fit squarely into one group, you are automatically the other. This is why it is so easy to equate criticism of the PPP as a right-wing conspiracy, why it is so easy to label as anti-Pakistan anyone that questions the conduct of the military on and off the field of battle, and why it is so easy to brand those that condemn and oppose the tyranny of terrorists as American and Indian agents.

This “us versus them” formulation of a very complex set of incentives, stimuli and events had produced a dangerous culture of simplified good and evil in Pakistan. As we know from global experience, simpleton good v. evil is bush league — George W Bush League to be precise. If the American people have smartened up to the nuance and delicacy of dealing with different parts of the world, and different Muslim populations, differently, it seems ridiculous that Pakistanis should need any prodding at all to be convinced that nuance and delicacy might be in order in Pakistan’s own struggle against terrorists.

It stands to reason that among terrorist threats, there are both the reconcilables and irreconcilables. The reconcilable may include the so-called ‘good’ Taliban, like Haqqani and Co. Or they may not. We don’t actually know if there are any terrorists that are reconcilable. The possibility of openly exploring the space for armistices has been captured by the military, and shrunk due to the secrecy and failure surrounding previous attempts. The disastrous Nizam-e-Adl fiasco and the ensuing Rah-e-Rast operation in Swat buried the little political space that existed to consider engaging reconcilables. Many that had long advocated a zero-tolerance for terror groups’ demands were buoyed by the shrinkage of space for negotiations and talks with terrorists — at least partly, myself included. But Pakistanis have paid a high institutional price for the shrinking of the space for dialogue.

That price is the relevance of mysterious figures like Khawaja and Hamid Gul in Pakistani public life. In an environment that condemns talking to terrorists as a sign of weakness, and an existential threat, the only way the Pakistani state can communicate with terrorists is through these kinds of interlocutors. These interlocutors do the dirty work of the Pakistani state. The fact that Pakistanis don’t trust these interlocutors, any more than they trust their enemies, is not surprising. Operators like Hamid Gul can never enjoy the legitimacy to act on behalf of the Pakistani people. The only actors in the public space that do enjoy the luxury of legitimate agency are politicians.

Of course, the political space has not demonstrated its capacity for the courage to sit with, stare down, and negotiate with terrorists. Unless the mainstream parties, led by the PPP and the PML-N, produce politicians capable of travelling to the tribal agencies and sitting down with the Sirajuddin Haqqanis and Mullah Nazeers of the world, we can be certain of two things. One, public policy ‘trouble-shooters’ like Khawaja and Hamid Gul will continue to exercise power on behalf of the people of Pakistan, without the burden of accountability. Two, the Pakistani military will continue to conduct military operations — and charge taxpayers in Pakistan (and outside) a sizeable amount of money to do so, without any oversight at all.

If Pakistan’s military will ever be the impregnable wall of defence for Pakistan that it aspires to be, it needs to be subservient to civilian oversight. Only visible and demonstrable civilian oversight can help internalise the human cost of Pakistan’s war on terrorism. That cost begins and ends with innocent civilian casualties, or collateral damage. If there is one single issue that drives and motivates the rank and file of the irreconcilable terrorist threat in Pakistan, it is innocent civilian deaths.

We often speak of innocent civilian deaths in the abstract. The reason is simple. There is very little verifiable information about civilian deaths available to the public. All access to victims is controlled by the state — which is not too keen to allow a balanced national conversation. Still, two events stick out strikingly, in the chronology of the terrorism and counter-terrorism story of Pakistan since 2002. The first is the October 30, 2006, military attack on the Chenagai madressah in Bajaur, which killed more than 80 (mostly children). The second is the July 10, 2007, storming of Lal Masjid.

Innocent civilian deaths are often seen as a Trojan Horse, or a proxy for ideological opposition to war. And perhaps there needs to be an ideological debate about the merits and demerits of a Pakistani war on terrorism. But the implications of innocent civilian deaths on the actual war effort as it exists are here and now. They are real life, not ideological. The Asian Tigers’ are a direct correlate of the killing fields of Lal Masjid. Their murder of Khalid Khawaja is a manifestation of just how irreconcilable these groups have become.

The take-no-prisoners, kill-‘em-all approach to the Pakistan’s terrorism problem has been arguably successful in some respects. But if the fallout from Lal Masjid is anything to go by, its failures and their extent is unknowable. That is a dangerous and scary prospect.

Killing innocent civilians is what terrorists do. That’s how terrorists should be branded. Those Pakistani soldiers that are bravely fighting terrorists should never be seen as aggressors of innocent people. The manner in which Pakistan is countering terrorism undermines the sacrifices of its soldiers, and perpetuates the presence of Khalid Khawajas and Hamid Guls in our national conversation. Pakistan and democracy can do better than this.

The writer advises governments, donors and NGOs on public policy.

Iran Beefing-Up Air Defenses

Iran launches large-scale anti-aircraft installation production

Iran began large-scale “Misbah 1″ anti-aircraft installation production, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said at the opening ceremony of the anti-aircraft production line, Fars reported.

The anti-aircraft installations are able to prevent ground and air strikes, Vahidi said.

He added that the Misbah-1 is able to hit its target automatically using optical and radar air defense system installations.

The carrier can fire 4,000 shots per minute.

“The radar installation system can distinguish between enemy and friendly aircraft and also destroy drones,” Vahidi said.

Kyrgyz narcotic knife into the body of Russia–(Goog. Trans.)

Narco-aggression against Russia is on a broad front, capturing all aspects of political and socio-economic life. Important role in this play Kyrgyzstan. Currently, there are ten major routes of heroin from Afghanistan, occupied by Americans, and six of these routes pass through the Kyrgyz city of Osh – the most important hub of Afghan drug trafficking.

These routes are:

1. Afghan Badakhshan – Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan – Osh, Kyrgyzstan - Sumgait, Azerbaijan (Baku earlier in the area being reworked morphine into heroin, but with the development of production in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan drug mafia is more specialized in transit) - Bosnia, Croatia – Western Europe;

2. Afghan Badakhshan – Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan – Osh – Bishkek - Samara – Moscow – Estonia – Sweden – United States;

3. Afghan Badakhshan – Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan – Osh – Bishkek – Yekaterinburg – Moscow - Estonia – Sweden – United States;

4. Afghan Badakhshan – Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan – Osh – Bishkek – Nizhny Novgorod – Moscow - Estonia – Sweden – United States;

5. Afghan Badakhshan – Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan – Osh – Bishkek – Saransk – Moscow - Estonia – Sweden – United States;

6. Badakhshan – Dushanbe – Bombora, Georgia – Kobuleti (formerly here was carried out processing of morphine into heroin, but with the development of production in Afghanistan Kobuleti also become a transit point) - Ajara – Turkey;

7. Murghab – Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan – Osh – Bishkek – Ganja, Azerbaijan – Moscow - Siauliai, Latvia – Europe;

8. Mazar-e-Sharif – Termez, Uzbekistan – Shali, Chechnya – Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan – Turkey;

9. Mazar-e-Sharif – Termez – Samarkand – Ganja – Dagestan – Shawls – Moscow – Siauliai;

10. Mazar-e-Sharif – Termez – Samarkand – Ganja – Dagestan – Karachay-Cherkessia – Abkhazia – Romania.

The main traffic routes of heroin in Russia, Europe and the U.S. are the routes from Tajikistan in southern Kyrgyzstan.

These routes (Tajikistan – Southern Kyrgyzstan) are the three main road directions, which here and later in Kazakhstan and Russia carried the Afghan heroin: Khujand – Osh, Khorog – Osh and Dzhergital – Osh. For example, “Sogdian direction covers highways from the Tajik Khujand in the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan and on to Osh. Another trend, “Batken” – this mountain trails of Dzhergatalskogo region of Tajikistan in the Batken region. Part of the route passes through the territory of Uzbekistan. And almost all directions are in the Osh region of Kyrgyzstan, and later through the Jalal-Abad oblast drugs are shipped to the north of Kyrgyzstan – in the Talas and Chui region, and there are a wide stream in Kazakhstan, then – in Russia and Europe.

In addition, during the summer ferried drugs from the Tajik side in southern Kyrgyzstan on hundreds of mountain hiking and horseback transitions, which control almost impossible.

Thus, the path of Gorno-Badakhshan (Tajikistan) – Osh (Kyrgyzstan) is a key sector of the majority of routes.

Since 2008, an increase in the number of Kyrgyz citizens who were detained in Russia for drug trafficking. Only in early 2009, was seized nearly five tons of narcotic potions, of which 480 kilograms of heroin, hashish – 2680 kilograms. The detainees – mostly citizens of Kyrgyzstan and the natives of Kazakhstan who acquired citizenship of Russia. According to the Deputy Director of the Agency for Drug Control Kyrgyzstan Vitali Orozalieva, drug trafficking through Kyrgyzstan is constantly expanding, in 2009 compared to 2008, the volume of drugs seized increased by two times.

“Drug traffickers have large financial resources, – said V. Orozaliev – and thanks to the treachery of law enforcement, criminals are the most detailed information about the operation.” The average salary operative anti-narcotic agencies in Kyrgyzstan is 150 dollars, and if the drug dealers will be offered to him for “assistance” 50-100 thousand dollars, “tempted to give up that kind of money will be very strong,” stresses V. Orozaliev. He adds that the drug business – a very profitable occupation. If a kilogram of heroin in Afghanistan is 1200-1300 dollars, on the territory of Kyrgyzstan, its price goes up to 4-5 thousand dollars, and in Russia reaches 45 thousand dollars per kilogram.

“We are very strong splice drug with law enforcement authorities”, – said the expert Kyrgyz NGOs Adilet Eric Iriskulbekov. Even in the case of flagrante delicto, the offender can not always be brought to justice. Very often, thanks to the efforts of judges and medical experts accused admit mentally ill and they are able to completely avoid punishment.

And now attention.

April 1, 2010 Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kyrgyzstan staff during a special operation in the city of Osh to detain a suspect for illegal possession of narcotics for sales purposes, seize more than 160 packages of hashish produced in Afghanistan (about 107, 8 kg) and 24.4 kilograms of heroin. As the drug mafia has caused considerable shock, but less than a week, on the night of 6 / 7 April, the Kyrgyz revolt broke out, the power of the government seizes’ people’s confidence “, which assures Washington that remain on the territory of the U.S. military base in Manas .

Kyrgyzstan has long been hit into the geopolitical interests of the United States and its allies.

According to the CIA, Kyrgyzstan – a small, poor, mountainous country with a predominance of the agricultural sector. Cotton, wool and meat – the main agricultural products and exports. But among the natural resources – hydropower resources and significant deposits of gold and rare earth metals; local deposits of coal, oil and natural gas, nepheline, mercury, bismuth, lead and zinc. The same source notes that circulate in Kyrgyzstan illegal drugs, there is limited illicit cultivation of cannabis and opium poppy, mostly – for consumption in the CIS countries, valid for a limited government eradication program; growing use of the territory of Kyrgyzstan as a transit point for drug trafficking in Russia and Western Europe from South-West Asia.

In the West, have written that “the people’s anger” on the night of 6 / 7 April 2010 resulted in an increase of tariffs for gas and water, and arrests of opposition leaders, corruption, clan and authoritarianism of the ruling circles. Not a word about drug trafficking!

However, the Russian default of this criminal business is too expensive.

The boundary line between Russia and China within the Kyrgyz Republic was established over 100 years ago. In a number of reasons (inaccuracy in the description of the border, difficult high-altitude conditions, inadequate study area, etc.) between China and Kyrgyzstan have several contentious areas, membership of which was identified only in 1996, the Agreement on Kyrgyz-Chinese border. The boundaries of Kyrgyzstan with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan remain open. With the introduction of the rules of the Customs Union and the increase of customs duties is these areas Kyrgyz border will be most convenient for the passage of drugs. The problem discussed in February 2010 at a meeting of the government of Kyrgyzstan.

Despite the fact that Kazakhstan as of 1 January 2010 “live” in the Customs Union with Russia, its borders with other countries is still not consolidated. At many border crossings there is no basic electricity, and where on the standard in the customs and border services relies 100 employees working no more than 12

Looking at the map shows that the territory of Kazakhstan firmly “stuck” in the “southern underbelly” of the Russian Federation. Afghan drugs across the border of Kyrgyzstan with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan virtually unimpeded. Question: What happens after the establishment of the Customs Union of Russia and Kazakhstan?

Astana, Moscow delivered a hard condition – if the Kazakh side wants the Customs Union with Russia, it should strengthen the protection of its southern borders. The leadership of Kazakhstan has allocated a certain amount of increased border regime with its neighbors, promising to make progress in this direction with Kyrgyzstan. but rather whether the measures taken by Astana and Bishkek, to protect Russia from narco-aggression from the south of Afghanistan controlled by the Americans? The sad experience gives grounds for doubt.

Until now, the boundaries has always been “the gap” through which tons, not grams of “leaking” drugs . Interaction between drug lords Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia led to the smooth passage of tens of tons of drugs. If at Russian airports drugs are withdrawn grams, the land routes to Russia unhindered delivered tons of narcotic. In a series of PPC Russian-Kazakh and Kazakh-Kyrgyz border of the necessary equipment for inspection. Customs officers are unable to verify the heavy-truck, carrying large containers. It is said that these containers are removed from the Kyrgyz warehouses sealed, and nobody has the right to open them prior to arrival at its destination in Russia.

Who is interested in further maintaining that situation?

Azerbaijan stranded Nabucco–(Google translation)

[The following Kazakh report is very informative, spelling-out the death of Nabucco.  If it is true that Azerbaijan (the last potential supplier for the project) has agreed to sell all its gas to Gazprom, then there will be no available gas for the American/European pipe dream.  On the other hand, there still remains one potential supplier who could provide all the gas that Nabucco could carry, with the world's second largest reserve of gas, Iran.

Iran would gladly supply Nabucco, if only it wasn't for the issue of Israel's nuclear weapons.  Because of Israel's "ambiguous" nuclear deterrent, Iran needs nuclear protection, which Israel and the Zionist West will not allow.  How will the West have its way with everyone, getting Iran's gas and any potential nukes?  There is only one potential answer to that question, and we all know what it is.

Will US forces move against Iran, in order to seize its gas?]

Azerbaijan stranded Nabucco

Sergey Smirnov , head of industry “Expert Kazakhstan”

Azerbaijan has postponed the launch of the second stage of the Shah Deniz gas condensate field and began to export natural gas to Russia. This is a significant impact on further developments in the energy transit game between Russia and Europe

Photo: Reuters / Karoly Arvai

Hachalo development Shah Deniz-2postponed until 2017 (previously known as 2013 with peak production of over 20 billion cu. m of gas in 2015). According to Reuters, the differences were a reason for postponing the price of gas to Turkey, as well as the lack of investment solutions for the construction of gas pipeline Nabucco.

According to the deputy Vice Presidentof the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), Vitaly Beglyarbekova, Azerbaijan is seeking to Turkey instead of the current 120 dollars per 1000 cubic meters of gas pay for market price. In addition, there is no clarity in what amount of gas Turkey will buy in the futurefrom Shah Deniz-2for their own consumption, but some may remain for export to Europe. In this design the second phase Shah Deniz is estimated at 20 billion dollars.

Now the first phase of field development gas is distributed between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. In 2010, theon the Shah Deniz-1expected production of about 7.6 billion cubic meters. m compared with 6.2 billion cubic meters. m in 2009. But this year, Turkey will buy from Azerbaijan’s 4.7 billion cubic meters. meters of gas (in 2009 – 4,0 billion cubic meters. m), which is less than the previously agreed amount of 6.6 billion cubic meters. m. Analysts say that the gas negotiations more difficult and disagreements between the two countries forfor a rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia, with which Azerbaijan de jureis at war, forthe conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Gas arias Baku

Nabucco gas pipeline is named after the famous opera of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Nabucco” (Nabucco – Italian interpretation of the name of the Assyrian king Nebuchadnezzar II). As you know, it tells of distress of the Jews, their capture and then release the king Nebuchadnezzar. Gas pipe, like the Assyrian king, must liberate Europe from the captivity of Russia’s Gazprom. In the meantime, the EU can not even gather in a single chorus of suppliers and consumers of gas and pipeline project is far from the success of the opera.

Recall that the Nabucco project involves the construction of gas pipeline of 3300 km, which will connect the Caspian Sea region to Western Europe via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary to the end point Baumgarten in Austria. The beginning of its development was started in February 2002. Since then, the estimated project cost has increased by more than half, to 8 billion euros, but the start date of work (not to mention their end) are constantly pushed back and is becoming increasingly uncertain. The reasons are many.

The major drawback of the project is a complicated ownership structure and lack of leadership. A list of its shareholders in equal shares by 16.67% includes the company Botas (Turkey), Bulgargaz (Bulgaria), Mol (Hungary), OMV (Austria), RWE (Germany) and Transgaz (Romania). No final investment decision: it was assumed that the shareholders will fund a third of the cost, the rest – financial and creditthe organization. Today, the project is experiencing serious financial difficulties and problems in obtaining credit.

There is no guaranteed sources and filling the tube. Originally planned gas pipeline under the Iranian gas (Iran has the world’s second largest after Russia explored reserves), but the conflict over its nuclear program buried those plans. Then, hopes were pinned on Turkmenistan, but she chose to sell gas to China and Russia. As the resource base for the Nabucco project has been considered the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz offshore field. Moreover, until recently, officials from Azerbaijan, although with certain conditions, but strongly supported the accession of his country to the European project. Alternative similar projects (such as Russian-Italian”South Stream”) classed as phantasmagoric.

Time passed, but country shareholdersNabucco could not reach a unanimous verdict on the strategy of supply. The project still has no obligation to supply by the possible supplier countries.outcome – in fact doubted the project in Baku.

At last in January this year, an economic forum in Davos, President Ilham Aliyev said about this project than ever critical. Azerbaijan, in the absence of a transport agreement with Turkey and the unwillingness of European pipeline project began actively consider alternatives to transport their gas. In particular, the supply of liquefied natural gas via the Black Sea to Europe. In mid-April in Bucharest, Azerbaijan, Romania and Georgia have signed a memorandum on cooperation in gas supplies. The project of liquefied gas to Romania (which can be further expanded to include a Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldova) provides for the construction of two terminals for liquefied natural gas: one – in Georgia, the other – in Romania.

In Baku, have also been considering to increase exports of gas to northern Iran and the possibility of joining the gas pipeline Turkmenistan – China. Were made and concrete steps: from Russia’s Gazprom signed a contract to supply 500 million cubic meters. m. of gas in 2010.

Russian onslaught

It is estimated that within the next 20 years demand for natural gas (especially for electricity production) in EU countries will increase from the current level of 40%. Moreover, the growth of this demand will coincide with the depletion of North Sea gas fields to ensure Europe “blue” fuel.

Russia has successfully used the European issues and put forward their competing projects – Nord Stream and South Stream. In “Northern stream”, which will take place across the Baltic Sea from the Bay Port (Vyborg) to the coast of Germany (the city of Greifswald), began laying the offshore portion of the pipeline. Starting the first line of bandwidth 27.5 billion cubic meters. m. of gas is scheduled for next year.

The project “South Stream”, which implements Gazprom jointly with the Italian concern ENI, involves laying a pipeline about 900 km across the Black Sea from Novorossiysk to the Bulgarian port of Varna. By tube capacity of 63 bcm. m per year should be exported around 35% of Russian gas supplies to Europe. In Bulgaria, the pipeline is divided into two branches, the north will go to Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Austria, and south – to the south of Italy. Russian project, in contrast to Nabucco, do not need contracts with purchasers of gas: Gazprom has repeatedly said that South Stream will be redirected to transit flows of Ukraine. Apparently, it prevailed on a number of European countries to participate in it.

To implement the land of the project signed intergovernmental agreements with Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. Expressed interest in the project and participating in a competing pipeline project Nabucco Romania. In the last weekend of April “Gazprom and Austria’s OMV (initiator of the Nabucco) signed a basic agreement to establish a joint venture on a parity basis to develop a feasibility study for the Austrian section of the South Stream” pipeline construction and operation capacity of not less than 10.5 billion cubic meters. m. It is expected that in June, will sign an agreement on joining the French group Electricite de France (EdF) to the shareholders of the South Stream. Thus, in accordance with the reached agreements to date the main route of the pipeline will run across at least seven European countries. However, if the originally anticipated that the pipeline will become operational in 2013, now its commissioning is scheduled for December 2015-th.

Moscow has also tried – and very successfully – to deprive the Nabucco potential sources of raw materials, making proposals to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to export gas at prices close to European. Thus, Gazprom agreed to pay for deliveries of Azerbaijani gas to 300 dollars per thousand cubic meters. It is clear that the decision of Russian authorities is a political rather than economic in nature. In addition, Russia and SOCAR in January 2010 not only agreed to supply during the current year 1.0 billion cubic meters. M of gas against the initial 0.5 billion, but also charted in 2011 export growth to 2 billion cubic meters. m with the possibility of further expansion. Russia even expressed the wish to buy all the gas exported by Azerbaijan.

Of course, formally existing supplies of Azerbaijani gas to Russia are not connected with Nabucco. But if the Turkmenistan – China turned down the prospects of the European project for Turkmen gas, the contract between Gazprom and Azerbaijan deprived Nabucco important starting volume. Moreover, Azerbaijan’s position could have a decisive influence on the further development of energy transit game between Brussels and Moscow. After all, if Azerbaijan starts to implement its contingency plans, not only the sand-suffering Nabucco, and “dry” almost any other, we draw in the West, bypassing Russia energy routes for transportation of natural gas from the Caspian Sea region to Europe.

US Strong-Arms PM Hatoyama, American Demands Outweigh Popular Outrage

Futenma US Marines base, Okinawa, Japan

Residents of Okinawa want the base moved entirely off the island

Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said it will not be feasible to entirely remove a controversial US base from the island of Okinawa.

The US Marines’ Futenma base is deeply unpopular with many residents and removing it had been a key election pledge of the prime minister.

But on a visit to the island, Mr Hatoyama said “realistically speaking, it is impossible” to fully relocate it.

The island is home to over half the 47,000 American troops based in Japan.

Mr Hatoyama, speaking on his first visit to Okinawa since becoming prime minister, said maintaining the base in some form was needed for national security, under Japan’s post-war military alliance with the US.

“I really feel sorry as I visit here today that I must ask for the Okinawan people’s understanding that part of the base operations would have to stay,” the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

He appealed to the people of Okinawa to “share the burden” of the base.

Mr Hatoyama had promised to resolve the issue by the end of May.


Japan and the US agreed a deal in 2006 to reduce the US troop presence in Okinawa.

The two had agreed to relocate the Futenma base to a less populated part of the island, but Mr Hatoyama had favoured moving the base off Okinawa entirely.


Japanese media reports suggested he now intends to follow the 2006 plan, under which troops move to an area off the coast of Camp Schwab in Nago, in the north of the island.

The row over Futenma has undermined support for Japan’s centre-left government and damaged its ties with the US.

Last month, nearly 100,000 people staged a protest on the southern island, demanding that the base be removed.

Islanders have been angered by incidents involving US troops based there, including the 1995 rape of a 12-year-old Japanese girl by three US servicemen.

Other complaints have focused on noise levels and objections to the US military use of Japanese land.

Analysts say Mr Hatoyama’s handling of the issue could be critical ahead of elections for Japan’s upper house of parliament in July.

Why the Courts have not heard the appeal of Omar Saeed Sheikh of Jaish-e-Mohammed even after eight years?

Why the Courts have not heard the appeal of Omar Saeed Sheikh of Jaish-e-Mohammed even after eight years?

Why the Courts have not heard the appeal of Omar Saeed Sheikh of  Jaish-e-Mohammed even after eight years? Omar Saeed Sheikh, best known for killing Daniel Pearl, is a notorious terrorist currently in Hyderabad jail. Some mainstream media people who cry hoarse about the pervasiveness of ‘conspiracy theories’ in Pakistan ought to answer why Omar Seed Sheikh’s appeal case has not been decided since 2002?  If such well known, high profile and convicted killers [called militants by some] go unpunished, there is no other choice but to conclude that they are protected by very powerful forces in the establishment.

Let’s look for reasons in this article of September 21, 2001

Daniel Pearl and the Paymaster of 9/11:

9/11 and The Smoking Gun that Turned On its Tracker

by  Chaim Kupferberg
Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation (CRM), ,   4 September/ septembre 2002 (revised 21 September 2002)

For a simplified synopsis and summary of this important article, click here.

It was supposed to be the key chain of evidence linking the September 11 hijackers to Osama bin Laden – a wire transfer of $100,000 to lead hijacker Mohamed Atta. For a public increasingly skeptical of evidence culled from passports in the rubble and flight manuals in the glove compartment, here was the “money” shot, a financial trail leading to the fall of the Twin Towers. Yet less than five months later, the man initially fingered as the paymaster of 9/11 would be sitting in a Pakistani jail, accused of a wholly different crime – the murder of Daniel Pearl.

Depending on where or when you have read his name, he is known as Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, or Umar Sheikh, or Syed Sheikh(if you write for CNN). For simplicity’s sake, we will refer to him as Omar Saeed, a Pakistani-born former student of the London School of Economics who grew up in the suburbs of Great Britain. Under the alias of Mustafa Mohammed Ahmad, he was reported to have wired $100,000 to a bank account in Florida belonging to 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta.

“U.S. investigators believe they have found the ’smoking gun’ linking Osama bin Laden to the September 11 terror attacks,” wrote Julian Borger and John Hooper of The Guardian on October 1, 2001. That very same day, a terror group based in Pakistan, the Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed responsibility for a suicide attack against the provincial legislature in Kashmir, leaving 38 dead – and Pakistan on the brink of war with India.

As reported by Maria Ressa of CNN on October 8, 2001, here is Omar Saeed’s connection to that incident:

“The Pakistan-based group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, initially claimed responsibility for the attack. It was formed by Pakistani cleric Maulana Mazood Azhar, shortly after he was released from an Indian prison in 1999. Azhar was one of three jailed Islamic militants freed by Indian authorities in exchange for passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines 814. Indian and U.S. authorities now see a link between that hijacking and the September 11 attacks in the United States. Freed with Azhar was Ahmed Umar Syed Sheikh [Omar Saeed], whom authorities say used a pseudonym to wire $100,000 to suspected hijacker Mohammad Atta, who then distributed the money in the United States.”

According to a CNN posting dated October 6:

“[Omar Saeed] would still be in prison were it not for the December 1999 hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814 – an ordeal strikingly similar to the four hijackings carried out on September 11. The plane, with 178 passengers on board, was en route from Katmandu, Nepal, to New Delhi, India, when terrorists used knives to take control of the aircraft, slitting the throat of one passenger to force the pilots to open the cockpit door…Because investigators have now determined that [Omar Saeed] and Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad [the pseudonym] are the same person, it provides another key link to bin Laden as the mastermind of the overall [9/11] plot.”

Notice the implication here: the bin Laden connection to 9/11 is considerably strengthened by reason of bin Laden’s connection to Omar Saeed, whose own connection to the 1999 Indian Airlines hijacking bears a gruesome similarity to the modus operandi reportedly employed in commandeering the airplanes on September 11. Lest there be any doubt as to Omar Saeed’s status in al-Qaida, terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp offered this assessment in the same October 6 article: “He [Omar Saeed] is also linked to the financial network feeding bin Laden’s assets, so therefore he’s quite an important person…because he transfers money between various operatives, and he’s a node between al Qaeda and foot soldiers on the ground.”

That is the testimony from CNN. And, as far as I can tell, CNN’s October 8 article was – at least for several months – practically the American “mainstream” media’s last mention of Omar Saeed and his $100,000 deposit for 9/11. For on that very next day – October 9 – The Times of India broke with this bombshell:

“While the Pakistani Inter Services Public Relations claimed that former ISI [the “Pakistani CIA”] director-general Lt-Gen Mahmud Ahmad sought retirement after being superseded on Monday, the truth is more shocking. Top sources confirmed here on Tuesday that the general lost his job because of the “evidence” India produced to show his links to one of the suicide bombers that wrecked the World Trade Center. The U.S. authorities sought his removal after confirming the fact that $100,000 were wired to WTC hijacker Mohammed Atta from Pakistan by Ahmad Umar Sheikh [Omar Saeed] at the instance of General Mahmud [Ahmad]. Senior government sources have confirmed that India contributed significantly to establishing the link between the money transfer and the role played by the dismissed ISI chief. While they did not provide details, they said that Indian inputs, including [Omar Saeed’s] mobile phone number, helped the FBI in tracing and establishing the link.”

Thus, courtesy of The Times of India, by October 9, Omar Saeed was not only tagged as the “bagman” of 9/11, but he was now reported as acting under the orders of the chief of Pakistani intelligence. That in itself is not so surprising, as the ISI was long acknowledged as being the primary backer – pre-9/11 – of the Taliban. Yet why, then, would the U.S. government insist on nothing more punitive than the general’s immediate retirement? Here is one possible reason, courtesy of the archives of Karachi News, datelined September 9, 2001 (two days before 9/11, for those who didn’t notice):

“ISI Chief Lt-Gen [Mahmud Ahmad’s] week-long presence in Washington has triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council. Officially, State Department sources say he is on a routine visit in return to CIA Director George Tenet’s earlier visit to Islamabad…What added interest to his visit is the history of such visits. Last time Ziauddin Butt, [General Ahmad’s] predecessor, was here during Nawaz Sharif’s government, the domestic politics turned topsy-turvy within days. That this is not the first visit by [General Ahmad] in the last three months shows the urgency of the ongoing parleys.”

In the light of what followed, one might hazard a guess as to what was so urgent. Whatever the case, Omar Saeed, by way of General Mahmud Ahmad, had now garnered his very own – albeit indirect – connection to the Pentagon. Under normal circumstances, The Times of India article could be effectively quashed simply through being ignored by the mainstream American media (which it was, save for a brief, almost sluggish, mention from the Wall Street Journal). Nevertheless, there now remained the sticky matter of dealing with that $100,000 money trail – possibly one of the greatest examples (if the only one) of a smoking gun turning on its tracker.

Put simply, here was the problem: as early as September 18, the gun was simmering on low heat, gradually drawing flavor as the days passed. As reported by Jim Stewart of CBS News that day: “From apartments, homes and cars once belonging to the dead hijackers, agents have uncovered a money trail that they hope will lead to the hijackers’ accomplices.” And, sure enough, by September 30, it did, when ABC News “This Week” reported:

“…federal authorities have…tracked more than $100,000 from banks in Pakistan to two banks in Florida to accounts held by suspected hijack ringleader Mohamed Atta. As well this morning, TIME magazine is reporting that some of that money came in the days just before the attack and can be traced directly to people connected to Osama bin Laden.”

The next day, October 1, 2001, the smoking gun sprouted an alias – Mustafa Ahmad, as reported by Judith Miller of the New York Times (and not to be confused with General Mahmud Ahmad, the ISI Chief). Similarly, Borger and Hooper of The Guardian that very same day named bin Laden’s paymaster as Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad, pointing out that this was the alias for a “Sheikh Saeed”, who was reported to have wired the money from the United Arab Emirates before he left for Pakistan.

The money trail story was now in full swing, yet trouble – perhaps traces of the brewing ISI revelation – now seemed to be lurking in the background. By October 3, 2001, things started to get unsettlingly murky. For on that day, British Prime Minister Tony Blair released his infamous report, summarizing – for a skeptical public – the “persuasive” case against bin Laden for involvement in the events of September 11. Yet amid all the innuendo that was employed in the report to nail down bin Laden’s culpability, there was nary a mention of that key piece of evidence – the $100,000 pay-off to the hijackers.

Even more curiously, on that very day, New York Newsday reporters John Riley and Tom Brune provided an alternative suspect for the Mustafa Ahmad alias:

“Mustafa Ahmad is an alias used by Shaykh Sai-id, who has been identified as a high-ranking bin Laden financial lieutenant. In the wake of the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Tanzania in 1998, Tanzanian officials arrested and charged with murder an Egyptian named Mustafa Ahmed. After alleging that he had confessed to being a high-level al-Qaida operative, Tanzania then released him without explanation a few months later, according to news reports at the time.”

Put simply, if Riley and Brune are correct, then “Shaykh Sai-id”, alias Mustafa Ahmad, could not possibly be Omar Saeed, as Omar was nicely locked away in an Indian prison in 1998. Keep in mind, too, that this article appears to be one of the first American references to Mustafa Ahmad as being an alias for a “Shaykh Sai-id.”

A follow-up article by The Guardian’s Julian Borger, dated October 5, 2001, does not make matters any clearer. Critiquing Blair’s definitive report on al-Qaida, he wrote:

“It omits mention of a key link in the evidential chain discovered by U.S. investigators: the money trail between a group of the hijackers and an al-Qaida operative in Dubai, known as Mustafa Ahmad. It is not clear whether it is Ahmad, an al-Qaida paymaster, that Mr. Blair has in mind when the document claims ‘one of Bin Laden’s closest and most senior associates was responsible for the detailed planning of the attacks.’ He could instead have in mind someone higher up in the chain of command such as Mohamed Atef or Abu Zubeidah, both of whom are al-Qaida military commanders.”

As to Borger’s consideration of Mustafa Ahmad’s status in the al-Qaida hierarchy:  “A lower-level al-Qaida figure, known as Sheikh Saeed, alias Mustafa Mohamed Ahmad, organized money transfers from Dubai to the hijackers and received return transfers of unused money before leaving for Pakistan on September 11.” By the end of the first week of October, various news correspondents had apparently provided alternative personas for the Mustafa Ahmad alias – and nobody seemed to notice.

That first week of October 2001 was indeed a busy one in the War Against Terror. It began with a high-profile terror attack in Kashmir, perpetrated, reportedly, by a group with links to the man tagged by CNN as paving the money trail to 9/11. Mid-week saw the release of Tony Blair’s much-touted report on the evidence against bin Laden, conveniently timed for the invasion of Afghanistan by week’s end. If, by late September, the smoking gun was shaping up to be the starting gun for the race into Afghanistan, at some point in that first week of October, there was enough smoke blowing in all directions to keep everyone well and thoroughly diverted.

On December 18, 2001, the Associated Press – acting as the mouthpiece for the mainstream press in absentia – would officially (and matter-of-factly) put on record for us the identity of the paymaster behind 9/11, unveiling him as:

“Shaihk Saiid, also known as Sa’d al-Sharif and Mustafa Ahmad al-Hisawi. A Saudi, Saiid, 33, is bin Laden’s brother-in-law and financial chief. Saiid has been with bin Laden since his time in the Sudan. Saiid allegedly wired money to Atta in preparation for the Sept. 11 attacks, according to court documents.”

The “court documents” in question are, presumably, the Zacarias Mossaoui indictments released earlier that week, listing “Mustafa Ahmad” as paymaster. With a deft sleight of hand, and seemingly from out of nowhere, the Associated Press had managed to replace a 28-year old Pakistani militant tied to the ISI (Omar Saeed) with a 33-year old Saudi (Shaihk Saiid) tied – by marriage- to Osama bin Laden himself.

The Associated Press had gradually edged toward its December 18 announcement, supported by a convenient paper trail – in particular, President Bush’s Global Terrorist Executive Order, signed September 23, 2001, in which a “Shaykh Sai’id (aka Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad)” was mentioned as a financial operative in al-Qaida, among a list of 27 individuals and entities slated to have their assets frozen. On October 13, 2001 (four days after The Times of India bombshell), the Associated Press announced that “the government [had] widened its financial dragnet,” including on a “new list”: “Sa’d Al-Sharif, a brother-in-law of bin Laden and a senior associate believed to head bin Laden’s complex financial network.” Note that the October 13 piece made no mention of any aliases for Sa’d al-Sharif, nor did it connect him to the – by then – well-publicized money trail. It took a third list, announced on December 18, for the Associated Press to complete the syllogism: Sa’d al-Sharif = Shaykh Sai’id = Mustafa Ahmad = 9/11 bagman. By then, however, bin Laden’s culpability was long settled, and any money trail long forgotten.

More conveniently, an alternative home could now be found for that $100,000 revelation, distancing it from The Times of India and CNN, circa Oct. 6-8. Now all that remained was to prepare alternative “lodgings” for Omar Saeed and the retired ISI general. Sometime in November 2001, the Justice Department complied by laying out the bedding, “secretly” indicting Omar Saeed for a 1994 kidnapping, and thus setting the stage for his later appearance in an entirely different performance – the murder of Daniel Pearl.

The Disinformation Thickens

If, by December 18, the money trail to 9/11 was now a settled fact, nobody seemed to take much notice. Earlier that week, on December 13, the Bush Administration had presented a new, more “sexy”, smoking gun – the certified Osama bin Laden Videotape Confession. That would probably explain why, five days later, no headlines were screaming “Bin Laden Brother-In-Law Linked To 9/11!” And perhaps that would be for the better, as such a headline might have triggered a keen sense of deja vu in anyone who was able to recall another bin Laden brother-in-law who was linked to the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 – Mohammed Jamal Khalifa. Ramzi Yousef, the alleged terrorist bomber convicted of that crime, was “said to have received money from bin Laden’s brother-in-law,” according to Steve Macko in a July 25, 1997 item from ERRI.

Curiously, it was this particular brother-in-law who was first mentioned in connection with the events of September 11, as early as two days after. According to correspondent Jaime Laude of Philippine Headline News Online, “…the government announced it is stepping up efforts to hunt down Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, a brother-in-law of Bin Laden, the prime suspect in Tuesday’s terrorist attacks on the U.S.” A CNN article by Maria Ressa, dated September 28, 2001, linked Khalifa to the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines, and, through Ramzi Yousef, to the 1993 WTC attack. As reported by Ressa in that article, “Part of the Osama bin Laden money trail [for September 11] may lead to the Philippines and the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.” In other words, if the money trail did lead to Abu Sayyaf, we would possibly be faced with the following syllogism: Abu Sayyaf = Mohammad Khalifa = Mustafa Ahmad = 9/11 bagman. As Ressa, by October, had explicitly tagged Omar Saeed as the alleged paymaster, we can safely assume that CNN was no longer pursuing the brother-in-law angle to the money trail.

And what of this other brother-in law -The “Shaihk” With The Many Aliases? It appears that with the authoritative – and shockingly brief – proclamation from the Associated Press on December 18, no further commentary on the Man Behind The Money Trail was needed. The Shaihk’s disappearance from the world’s headlines was as sudden as his appearance. In any case, the world was by then distracted by the December 13 attack by Kashmiri terrorists on the Indian Parliament in Delhi – an attack that once more placed India and Pakistan on the brink.

Coincidentally enough, Omar Saeed was linked to that attack by – another coincidence – Maria Ressa, in a CNN article dated June 7, 2002. If, by then, she had already forgotten her previous designation of Omar Saeed as the 9/11 bagman, her memory was now jogged by the revelation that “Al Qaeda funded the [1999 Indian Airlines] hijacking operation” that resulted in Omar Saeed’s release from prison. Omar Saeed, through his purported membership in Jaish-e-Mohammed, would now find an alternative bin Laden link (and cover story), courtesy of Maria Ressa and colleagues. As the above-mentioned July 7 article reports: “Evidence is surfacing that al Qaeda is controlling key Kashmiri separatist groups and fueling tensions – something al Qaeda successfully did in Chechnya and Southeast Asia.” In a June 12 report, Maria Ressa elaborated: “What Osama Bin Laden has done, intelligence officials say, is to hijack regional movements and exploit them for his purpose.” The CIA must be green with envy.

One wonders if the October 9 Times of India article might have aroused bin Laden’s wrath toward India, for it was a mere five days later – on October 14, 2001 – that The Times of India reported:

“Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist group has now formally and publicly adopted the Kashmir issue as one of their causes…In a new video-taped message released through Al-Jazeera television network, an unnamed Al-Qaeda spokesman added the Kashmir cause to their familiar list of grievances that include US presence in Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian issue, and the situation in Iraq.”

Now that bin Laden’s people had formally announced his updated business plan, he was free to plan some spectacular mischief in India – presumably while dodging all those “daisy cutter” bombs being hurled his way. And his “apparent” agent of choice – Omar Saeed, by way of the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group.

The Developing Cover Story

While CNN’s October articles on Omar Saeed linked him to the September 11 hijackers, it made no mention at all of any links to ISI Chief Mahmud Ahmad. As to those mainstream news outlets that neither mentioned Omar Saeed nor the ISI Chief in their reports on the money trail, frequent reference was made to the paymaster’s alleged pseudonym – Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad. By fortuitous happenstance, the pseudonym also had the odd feature of sounding confusingly similar to the ISI Chief’s name. Thus, in the early days of October, one could read an American article about the paymaster Mustafa Ahmad and, assuming he came across The Times of India’s piece on ISI General Mahmud Ahmad, conclude that the Indian article was just an alternative version of the American articles on Mustafa Ahmad. Assuming a reader caught the anomaly early on, he would have a hell of a time making his case at any dinner parties.Mahmud Mustafa? Muhammad Ahmad? This, in intelligence parlance, would be a textbook example of “muddying the waters” over the ISI Chief’s link to the money trail.

Similarly, bin Laden’s brother-in-law, “Shaihk Saiid,” bears more than a passing resemblance to the name Omar Saeed Sheikh. Drop the “Omar”, and one could easily see how a well-intentioned correspondent (like Maria Ressa) and a well-informed terrorism expert (like Magnus Ranstorp) could mistaken bin Laden’s 33-year old V.P. of Finance for bin Laden’s 28-year old V.P. of Finance In Kashmir.

Whatever the case, after October 9, Omar Saeed, as a news item, largely receded into the background while the money trail story died a slow, subtle death. In the meantime, an explanation was gradually being elaborated for the ISI Chief’s “sudden” retirement. As early as October 10, 2001, Vernon Loeb and Alan Sipress of the Washington Post reported that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf “ousted several influential intelligence and military leaders who remained close to the Taliban, most notably purging Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed of the [ISI], which long served as the Taliban’s patron.” Vernon Loeb here seemed to be replicating a technique that was used to great effect the day after September 11 – briefly reporting on an anomaly with an authoritative tone that appeared to say, Move on, folks. Nothing to see here.

For the sake of economy, we will refer to it as the Shrug Technique of disinformation. Loeb had previously provided a demonstration of the technique soon after the Twin Towers had collapsed, in a brief capsule obituary on World Trade Center security chief John O’Neill, where Loeb blandly informed us that: a) John O’Neill was formerly the main FBI agent in charge of investigating all terrorist acts linked to bin Laden; b) O’Neill was banned from Yemen by Ambassador Bodine; c) O’Neill recently left a 30-year career in the FBI “under a cloud” to d) take up the position at the WTC only two weeks before 9/11.Nothing to see here, folks. Move on.

On October 22, more than a week after President Bush decided to freeze bin Laden brother-in-law Sa’d al-Sharif’s assets (presumably to accompany his “Shaykh Sai’id” alias, whose assets were frozen on September 23), Johanna McGeary of Time Magazine drew a lawyerly distinction between President Musharraf and the policies of his ISI:

“Most startling was the premature retirement of [Musharraf’s] trusted friend Lieut. General Mahmoud Ahmad, chief of the formidable…ISI, widely regarded as the country’s invisible government. As a staunch patron of pro-Taliban policies, Ahmad is thought to have opposed Pakistan’s new alliance with the U.S. Musharraf had reason to fear that segments of the ISI might thwart promised cooperation with U.S. intelligence.”

In the parlance of propaganda, the above could be termed as an example of a “limited hangout.” It begins with a frank admission of a fact that, on its surface, appears to be damaging (i.e. ISI support of the Taliban, and, through them, al-Qaida), yet instead serves to protect a far more damaging revelation (i.e. American/CIA influence over the ISI). By conceding the most transparent evidence against the ISI, one may then resort to the Shrug Technique to dismiss those who might be inclined to ask their own questions.

For instance: if President Musharraf “had reason to fear” being thwarted by segments of his ISI, then why would he send someone so clearly unreliable as General Ahmad to negotiate the handover of Osama bin Laden? Tim McGirk, in an April 29, 2002 piece for Time Magazine, provides the backdrop for that answer:

“The first move Musharraf made to tame the ISI was dumping its chief, [General Ahmad]. He and [Musharraf] were close friends and fellow plotters in the 1999 coup that brought Musharraf to power. But the intelligence chief proved too radical for Musharraf’s purposes. Former comrades of [General] Ahmed’s say he experienced a battlefield epiphany in the Himalayan peaks during a 1999 summer offensive against India and began to pursue his own Islamic-extremist agenda. At a cabinet meeting, he once yelled at an official, ‘What do you know? You don’t even go to prayers.’ Of more concern than these outbursts was [General] Ahmed’s sympathy for the Taliban. When the President sent him to Kandahar six days after Sept. 11 to persuade Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar to hand over bin Laden, the spymaster instead secretly told Omar to resist, an ex-Taliban official told TIME. Word of this double cross reached Musharraf, who on Oct. 7 replaced [General] Ahmed as ISI boss.”

Apparently, General Ahmad was quite adept at pulling the wool over one’s eyes. According to a September 12, 2001 article from the Scripps Howard News Service, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) were sitting down for breakfast with the ISI Chief when they received word of the 9/11 attacks. “[He] was very empathetic, sympathetic to the people of the United States,” Graham reported of Ahmad. If Ahmad was opposed to any U.S. alliance, as Johanna McGeary reported, Graham certainly wasn’t seeing past the “love-me” vibes that Ahmad was apparently flashing him over coffee and danishes – a considerable oversight for someone who is Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Incidentally, Graham and Goss are the co-chairmen in charge of the commission to investigate the events behind September 11. Graham, a former Florida governor, and Goss, a veteran of the CIA, “are guarding their intelligence turf, saying they and their staffs are uniquely qualified to sift through tens of thousands of sensitive intelligence documents and interview spies and spymasters without compromising classified sources and methods,” according to an Associated Press item dated May 30, 2002. “Colleagues say Graham and Goss bring a pragmatic, bipartisan style to intelligence committee work that leaves politics outside their mostly secret meetings.” We can trust they will give each other a probing, “independent” grilling as to their itinerary in the days leading up to 9/11.

The above-referenced article, by Curt Anderson, also contains a superb demonstration of the Shrug Technique. Witness:

“The morning of Sept. 11, Sen. Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss were doing what the two intelligence committee chairmen frequently do – having breakfast together at the Capitol. With them was then-Pakistani intelligence chief [Mahmud Ahmad]. [General Ahmad’s] task was to persuade Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders to hand over terror suspect Osama bin Laden. As the three men talked over the knotty problem, an aide handed Goss a note saying an airplane had hit the World Trade Center. A few moments later the Capitol would be evacuated, and the following month [General Ahmad] was fired.”

Move on, folks. Nothing to see here.

End Game

On January 22, 2002, a terror attack was launched on the American Cultural Center in Calcutta (which was eventually linked to Omar Saeed). The next day, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl disappeared off the streets of Karachi, Pakistan. As the mainstream media reported it, Pearl was investigating Pakistani links to Richard Reid, otherwise known as “the shoe bomber.” Yet as Tariq Ali of The Guardian reported on April 5, 2002: “Those [Pearl] was in touch with say he was working to uncover links between the intelligence services and terrorism. His newspaper has been remarkably coy, refusing to disclose the leads Pearl was pursuing.”

Whether Pearl’s leads had anything to do with the laptop hard drive that the Wall Street Journal passed on to the Defense Department sometime in December 2001 is a question that some have parsed. The story, according to Wall Street Journal reporters Alan Cullison and Andrew Higgins, of “how a computer apparently stuffed with al-Qaida secrets came to light, involves a combination of happenstance and the opportunism of war…”

As reported by Dan Kennedy of The Boston Phoenix: “The Journal’s foreign editor, John Bussey, says that Cullison had been covering the Northern Alliance for about a month and a half when his computer was destroyed.” In one of those fortuitous examples of happenstance, as Cullison went computer shopping in Kabul, he was informed that a local computer merchant had on sale a genuine al-Qaida computer, certified by the looter himself, who claimed to have filched it from the bombed-out headquarters of bin Laden lieutenant Mohammed Atef. Among the incriminating hard drive documents that basically confirmed everything ever told to us by every counterterrorism expert throughout the ’90’s, Cullison – who was on the Northern Alliance beat – was lucky enough to find the smoking gun implicating al-Qaida in the assassination of Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was mortally wounded just two days before September 11.

The smoking gun, as reported by Cullison and Higgins on December 31 2001, was a “letter, written in clumsy French in the name of an obscure, London-based Islamic information agency.” The letter – carrying the name of Yasser Al-Siri – involved an interview request of Massoud. The Northern Alliance leader, as it turned out, was killed by “two men who posed as journalists to interview Massoud Sept. 9, both French-speaking Arabs, [who] carried stolen Belgian passports.” As luck would have it, the incriminating letter also happened to confirm the hunch of Her Majesty’s Government, which had already arrested one Yasser Al-Siri in London in October, charging him with conspiring to assassinate Massoud. London. Al-Siri. Clumsy French. Stolen Belgian passports – to any aspiring Sherlock Holmes or Perry Mason, al-Qaida is the gift that keeps on giving.

So where was the Pearl angle in all this? In the July/August 2002 issue of The Columbia Journalism Review, the former president of NBC News, Lawrence K. Grossman, presented the possibility that Pearl was kidnapped due to the Wall Street Journal’s decision to publish the laptop documents. He quoted James Goodale, a former lawyer for the New York Times, as saying, “No matter what, they should not have published that they cooperated with the government…I will say flat out what the WSJ did is detrimental to the safety of U.S. journalists abroad.”

Columbia Journalism students take note: what Grossman has authored is a superbly crafted exercise in disinformation (for an article that runs barely 1,000 words). You can almost feel the directed implications cresting over your brain as you read Grossman’s account of what those al-Qaida computer files contained: “… a remarkably detailed account of its agent Abdul Ra’uff’s travels in Israel and Egypt in search of terrorist targets. Ra’uff’s itinerary matched that of the would-be shoe bomber, Richard C. Reid…U.S. officials who reviewed the files are convinced that Ra’uff and Reid are the same person.”

Implication #1: The contents of those computer files might have sent Pearl on his purported quest for the shoe bomber. His quote of Goodale leads us to Implication #2: The Wall Street Journal’s admitted assistance to the government may have led Pearl’s captors to conclude that Pearl was a CIA agent. Most importantly, Grossman establishes his bona fides with this little anecdote:

“…The late William Colby, a CIA director, once confided to a reporter friend of mine, Stanley Karnow, that several major news organizations actually were complicit in helping the CIA plant agents posing as reporters in their overseas bureaus. To this day, the CIA has refused to make clear that it no longer uses reporters as agents or agents posing as reporters…”

All of which leads us to Implication #3: He is shocked – shocked! – that propaganda happens here because – take his word as a media insider – it’s not the norm.

Note to aspiring investigators: Be careful as to which facts you “ingest” in constructing your theories. Some stories – like The Al-Qaida Computer Tale - serve as nothing more than a red herring “cluster bomb”, meant to forever obscure the truth by forcing an accommodation with a “well-known fact” – a sort of modern update on the “Oswald In Mexico” gambit. Whichever lead Daniel Pearl was pursuing – which we may never know – the important fact to keep in mind is the man who would eventually be tagged for his murder – Omar Saeed Sheikh.

Only four days after the disappearance of Daniel Pearl, Omar Saeed once more bobbed up into the world’s headlines after staying submerged for more than four months. As reported by Rajeev Syal and Chris Hastings for The Telegraph on January 27:

“The London School of Economics…has been host to at least three al-Qa’eda-linked terrorists, The Telegraph has been told. An intelligence report says that the trio studied or lectured at the London University college between 1990 and 1993, when it became a breeding ground for Islamic extremism…The three – including one man called Ahmed Omar Sheikh [Omar Saeed] – have been revealed as having links with the LSE in an intelligence file seen by this newspaper and now being studied by police.”

The reason for Omar Saeed’s sudden reappearance in this article had nothing to do with Daniel Pearl. As Syal and Hastings reported:

“Omar [Saeed], 28, a former mathematics student at the LSE, is said to have been linked to last week’s drive-by shooting in Calcutta that killed five policemen. He has also been named as one of the key financiers of Mohammed Atta, the pilot of one of the jets that hit the World Trade Centre on September 11.”

Unfortunately, Syal and Hastings did not provide the names of the other two terrorists, but they did report that one of them “was arrested in Delhi last month for reported involvement in the recent attack on the Indian Parliament.”

As we shall soon see, Omar Saeed’s link to the largely forgotten money trail was now being carefully resurrected, leaving bin Laden’s ever-marginalized brother-in-law off to the sidelines once more. What had changed in the interim? An October 1 attack on the provincial legislature in Kashmir, a December 13 attack on the parliament in Delhi, a January 22 attack in Calcutta, and – the coup de grace – the January 23 kidnapping of Daniel Pearl. If, after October 9, Omar Saeed had largely gone underground, he was purportedly a busy little mole in the months following.

While the average news reader would now care less about any arcane financial dealings, the money trail story was nevertheless “out there” and ultimately had to be accounted for in a definitive version. Somebody was playing for the history books. In the months following October 9, a working “legend” was being elaborated for Omar Saeed, one that would increasingly distance him from the implications of his relationship with the ISI chief.

Now, as the purported perpetrator of all sorts of al-Qaida-linked mischief – helped along by bin Laden’s well-timed October 14 plug for Kashmir – Omar Saeed’s link with the 9/11 hijackers could be obscured and/or minimized amid a veritable buffet of terrorist activity. By the time of Omar Saeed’s debutante “outing” as a suspect in the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl on February 6, 2002, the Omar Saeed/Money Trail Story was now fully ripened for the Shrug Technique. On February 10, Time Magazine’s Unmesh Kher offhandedly mentioned Omar Saeed’s $100,000 link to 9/11. But more importantly, that very day, the Associated Press, courtesy of Kathy Gannon, would officially snub bin Laden’s brother-in-law (and thereby refute itself) by reporting: “Western intelligence sources believe Saeed sent $100,000 to Mohamed Atta, the suspected ringleader of the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackings, through a money transfer system known as hawala that bypasses banks and official financial institutions.” Alas, it appears in retrospect that bin Laden brother-in-law Sa’d al-Sharif (alias Shaykh Sai’id alias Mustafa Ahmad al-Hisawi) was merely a “temporary hide-out” for the money trail.

The February 10 article by Gannon, while making a redemptive stab at a limited hangout of the truth, nevertheless spoiled its record by grabbing at another juicy morsel of disinformation: “Kamal Shah, chief of police in Sindh province…said investigators were trying to track Saeed. ‘We feel we are close,’ he said. ‘We can’t give you a timeframe. But we don’t think we are far off.’”

As far off as the upstairs bathroom, perhaps – for Saeed had already been in custody for five days by that time. Saeed “surrendered Feb.5 in the presence of Ejaz Shah, a former top ISI official now working as home secretary of Punjab province,” reported Karl Vick and Kamran Khan of the Washington Post on May 3. On February 12, the Pakistani authorities finally decided to formally announce the arrest of Omar Saeed. So how did he spend his week-long secret hideaway with the Pakistani authorities? As reported by the Associated Press on July 1 2002, “Saeed said authorities illegally detained him and tortured two of his fellow defendants in order to give police more time to fabricate a case against him.”

As the Washington Post framed it on May 3: “Officials acknowledge that Saeed remained in ISI custody for a week while Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, visited Washington and said he was ‘relatively certain’ Pearl was alive.”

If Musharraf was being somewhat shifty, he ratcheted it up a notch on February 9, when he suggested that Indian intelligence played a hand in Pearl’s kidnapping. His evidence, according to a February 9 Washington Post item by Kamran Khan:

“So far, investigators said, the suggestion of an Indian connection revolves around three phone calls to New Delhi placed from the same cell phone that was used to lure Pearl to a restaurant in Karachi on Jan. 23, the last time he was seen in public. Police sources say they have traced the calls, with the help of the FBI, to numbers for an Indian cabinet minister and two members of parliament. But the sources said they believe those phone calls were made to mislead investigators into concluding that India was involved.”

In almost an exact mirror image of the October 9 Times of India allegations, Omar Saeed was now being pawned off on the Indians.

In the same article, on that very day, the disinformation was coming fast and furious:

“Police today also took the unusual step of turning for help to the jailed leader of Jaish-i-Muhammad, Masood Azhar. The sources said they persuaded Azhar to make a call from his prison cell to Saeed requesting Pearl’s release.”

More likely, he used string attached to two styrofoam cups to reach Saeed in the neighboring cell.

As the “official” story had it soon after Saeed’s “official” arrest on February 12, the case was solved when the authorities successfully traced a series of e-mails back to one of Saeed’s alleged accomplices, who then confessed that he was only acting under Saeed’s orders. The government’s case, as reported by Zarar Khan of the Associated Press on July 1, “rests heavily on technical FBI evidence, which traced the e-mails to fellow defendant Fahad Naseem.”

Thus, it would appear that the FBI had a hand in linking Omar Saeed to the kidnappers of Daniel Pearl. This is an important fact to consider, for -remember – The Times of India, on October 9, had linked Saeed to ISI Chief Ahmad, reporting that Indian intelligence had supplied evidence to the FBI. In the aftermath, ISI Chief Ahmad was “quietly retired” at the insistence of the U.S. government, according to the Oct. 9 Times of India. Eventually, the American mainstream media – mostly through Time Magazine – would provide the cover story for General Ahmad, tagging him as “pro-Taliban” yet omitting any suggestions that he might have been orchestrating payment for the 9/11 hijackers, with Saeed as his primary agent. And while the mainstream media began to effectively distance Saeed from the money trail soon thereafter (while simultaneously “smothering” the money trail story), the Justice Department waited a month after the October 9 revelations to finally move against Saeed by issuing an indictment – but not by reason of any alleged 9/11 links. According to a CNN item posted February 28, 2002:

“U.S. officials said that [Omar Saeed] was secretly indicted in November in connection with the 1994 kidnapping in India of western tourists, including an American. Justice Department officials won’t say what prompted that indictment, which came more than six years after the incident.”

The revelation – in February – that the FBI had already moved against Saeed back in November was an excellent exercise in “plausible deniability.” The indictment itself would provide a cover story for any future “limited hangout” concerning Saeed’s links to the money trail. Citing “uncertainty” as to the true identity of the pseudonymous paymaster Mustafa Ahmad, the Justice Department could then claim that it played it “safe” in November by indicting Saeed for an offense to which he could definitely be linked. Any notion of a “cover-up” could then be dismissed by evidence for the admitted confusion surrounding the identity of “Shaykh Sai’id” as Mustafa Ahmad.

By late February, most of the components for the full cover story were coming together in the mainstream media. Omar Saeed could now simultaneously be linked to al-Qaida and “rogue” elements in the ISI, distancing him from President Musharraf and the post-September 11 “good” ISI. As reported by Nancy Gibbs in a February 25 article for TIME:

“Pakistani investigators and newspapers in the U.S. have speculated that rogue elements linked to the ISI wanted to demonstrate to Musharraf and the world that they were not so easily tamed…[Musharraf] was able to cut the extremists loose after Sept. 11 and replace the hardline, pro-Taliban ISI Chief [General Ahmad]…”

In short, the mainstream media were laying the groundwork for a possible future “hangout” on explicit links between General Ahmad’s “rogue” ISI clique and Omar Saeed. In this respect, Saeed and General Ahmad would be portrayed as having a common intention. As reported by Kamran Khan and Molly Moore of the Washington Post on February 18:

“Saeed said attacks outside the U.S. cultural center in Calcutta, the Indian Parliament in New Delhi and a legislative assembly in Kashmir were aimed at provoking India into taking action against Pakistan. Extremist organizers – some with ties to Saeed – hoped Musharraf would be forced to back away from his public stand against militant activities, Saeed told police.”

While the Post item by Khan and Moore also mentioned Saeed’s links to bin Laden – “Saeed told [police] he had traveled to Afghanistan ‘a few days after September 11′ to meet Osama bin Laden” – at no point was General Ahmad or the 9/11 money trail mentioned.

Yet Khan and Moore introduced a seemingly innocuous new “wrinkle” to the story – Saeed’s admitted “relationship with Aftab Ansari, the alleged gangster and chief suspect in the shooting outside the U.S. cultural center in Calcutta…Saeed said he met Ansari while the two men were jailed in New Delhi’s Tihar prison.” To anyone reading that snippet – unaware of the Saeed/ISI/9/11 Money Trail link – the offhand mention of Ansari would barely register. As we shall shortly see, though, the addition of Ansari to an eventual “hangout” of the full cover story would be absolutely crucial, for it also involves the participation of the Times of India.

As we have seen, the Times of India, through its October 9 revelation, set in motion a huge degree of activity surrounding the evidence implicating bin Laden for September 11. Moreover, India was repeatedly being led to the brink with Pakistan through terror attacks that would eventually be linked to Saeed and/or rogue elements in the ISI. If, theoretically, India had the “goods” on Pakistan and the U.S. government, apparently other forces were at work to maintain countervailing pressure on India. If the October 9 revelation seemed – on its face – to be an attempt by India to soil the reputation of Pakistan, by February 13, the Times of India was explicitly backing away from the sinister implications of its October 9 outing.

When the news of Saeed’s “official” arrest broke on February 12, here is how the Times of India would describe Saeed’s connection to the 9/11 money trail a day later:

“…there were allegations that [Saeed] had organized at least one bank remittance to the terrorists who were responsible for the September 11 strikes in the US and that Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed had helped him in this regard. There was, however, no evidence to indicate whether Ahmed was aware that this amount was meant for the terrorist strikes in the U.S.”

This was a crucial point to emphasize, for it was widely known that General Ahmad had been involved in several intense discussions with American officials in the months leading up to 9/11. The importance of any cover story, then, would be to divert attention and thought from The Implication That Dare Not Speak Its Name – that General Ahmad’s ISI were the operational commanders of the 9/11 hijackers, acting themselves as proxies for the U.S. government/U.K./EU (i.e., the coalition spearheading the War On Terrorism).

With General Ahmad’s involvement in 9/11 thus somewhat obfuscated by the Times of India on February 13, the Times of India then proceeded, on February 14, to fully “inoculate” against the virus that it had released on October 9. Its main vaccine – Aftab Ansari:

“Aftab Ansari arranged for $100,000 for Omar [Saeed] Sheikh, prime accused in the kidnapping of WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl…Ansari arranged a series of e-mails with [Saeed] and Asif Reza Khan [who was killed on December 7] in August 2001, where he was asked to help out with a ‘noble cause’… Indian officials interrogating Ansari said that, on August 8, 2001, Ansari asked Khan over e-mail whether he agreed to part with $100,000 for a ‘noble cause’ as requested by [Saeed]…on August 11, Ansari sent an e-mail to Khan saying that ‘the amount mentioned had been sent to [Saeed]’…On August 19, [Saeed] e-mailed Ansari again, saying, ‘The money that was sent has been passed on.’”

Thus, after attempting to clip ISI General Ahmad out of the picture on February 13, the Times of India then attempted the next day to insert Aftab Ansari into the money trail story. Conveniently, Ansari was deported from the United Arab Emirates to India only a few days before, where he was arrested for the terror attack in Calcutta. As the UAE was previously reported by the American media to be the country from which the pseudonymous paymaster “Mustafa Ahmad” made the $100,000 wire transfer, Ansari’s link to that country would provide further confirmation for this developing cover story.

And while Pakistan was not quite let off the hook, the Times of India – by way of Ansari – now more firmly linked the money trail back to al-Qaida:

“Officials said the e-mails also hint at Ansari’s possible linkages with the al-Qaeda network. The e-mails also refute Pakistani authorities’ rebuttal of their nexus with the deported gangster. Interestingly, the mode of communication adopted by them is similar to that used by Mohammad Atta and other al-Qaeda members to carry out the September 11 attacks…This gives credence to the perception that Ansari had arranged $100,000 for the terror attacks on America, officials said.”

In short, by February 14, the Times of India was officially touting the Saeed/Ansari duo rather than the Saeed/General Ahmad coupling.

Yet this was not the Times of India’s first mention of Ansari in connection with Omar Saeed and the 9/11 money trail.  That first mention dates, in fact, to Tuesday January 22, 2002 – the day of the Calcutta attack, and exactly one day before Daniel Pearl’s disappearance.  Here, then, was the Times of India’s initial account of the Saeed/Ansari connection:

“[Indian] CBI Director P C Sharma told visiting FBI Chief Robert S Mueller that Ansari, who claimed responsibility for [today’s Calcutta] attack, had taken a ransom of Rs 37.5 million to free shoe baron Parthapratim Roy Burman through hawala channels to Dubai, CBI sources said.  Out of this amount, Omar [Saeed] … had sent $100,000 to Atta through telegraphic transfer, CBI sources said.”

Thus, by January 22, not only was FBI Director Robert Mueller on scene in India, but he was reportedly apprised of the Ansari/Saeed/Money Trail by Indian authorities.  Conveniently, Ansari had claimed responsibility for the attack that very day, and his subsequent deportation to India from Dubai was also conveniently timed with the subsequent arrest of Omar Saeed for the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl.  As Mueller’s FBI was also reportedly on hand to trace the Pearl kidnapping back to Omar Saeed, it is reasonable to deduce from these facts an alternative explanation for Mueller’s January 22 visit – namely, that Mueller was “on hand” to coordinate this final leg of the Omar Saeed cover-up story, bringing in Ansari by way of the well-timed Calcutta attack, and then employing his colleagues in Indian intelligence to feed the Times of India its corrective “take” on the Omar Saeed/Money Trail Story

With the Calcutta operation in place, in conjunction with the Pearl kidnapping, Omar Saeed would now be nicely set up for his initial January 27 resurrection in the British Telegraph, to be followed days later in the American media through his February 5 “outing” in connection with the Pearl kidnapping.  I do not mean to imply by this that the Calcutta attack and the Pearl kidnapping were conducted for the sole purpose of establishing a cover-up legend.  Far from it.  Covert operations – particularly those with propaganda value – are often “loaded up” with a number of multi-faceted, yet related, objectives.  In this way, a “rogue ISI” element could be established as standing against the interests of the U.S./Pakistani War On Terrorism, and Omar Saeed in this light could then be presented as standing at the center of the very nexus between this rogue ISI and the al-Qaida terror network that had already declared its opposition to India in Kashmir. 

On July 15, 2002, Omar Saeed was sentenced to die by a Pakistani court. By this time, all contingencies had long been covered. The confusion surrounding the identity of the pseudonym Mustafa Ahmad could provide a “plausible” explanation as to why the media neglected – even after Saeed’s February 12 “arrest” – to consistently link him to the money trail, which by then had long taken a backseat to the Official Bin Laden Videotape Confession of December 13. Moreover, by linking Saeed up with all that post-9/11 terror activity, Saeed’s pre-9/11 role would be effectively minimized. Most importantly, the mainstream media would – as of this writing – observe an iron-clad rule for reporting on Saeed – that is, never mention Saeed, al-Qaida, the money trail, the ISI, and General Ahmad in the same article. In those articles that would mention Saeed’s links with the money trail, they would also now mention his links to al-Qaida but omit any mention of General Ahmad. Where those articles mentioned Saeed’s links with the ISI, they would omit mention of the money trail and General Ahmad. Of those articles that mentioned General Ahmad and the ISI, General Ahmad would be tagged as “pro-Taliban” while “rogue” elements in his ISI would then be linked to al-Qaida – with any mention of Saeed and the money trail safely omitted. Now, with the Ansari angle credibly in place, it is a safe bet that the mainstream media – probably courtesy of Time Magazine – will one day “put it all together” for us, detailing how Ansari and Saeed, at the behest of al-Qaida, organized the money transfers to the hijackers as rogue elements in the ISI looked the other way, possibly not realizing that their “pro-Taliban” sympathies would facilitate the actions of September 11.

The whole cover story, however – with its endless obfuscations, diversions, and fallback explanations – cannot obscure the fact that it depends on a huge number of coincidences and conveniently timed set-ups to keep it in place. Moreover, evidence can be marshaled to show that the mainstream media – either as willful agents or as passive mouthpieces of the intelligence apparatus – planted disinformation that was meant to structure perceptions in a specific direction. The elaboration of the cover story bears the marks of its apparent mistakes and missteps.

But more disturbingly, the Omar Saeed/ Money Trail Story effectively shatters the credibility of the media/intelligence apparatus that provided virtually all the information on bin Laden and his al-Qaida network over the years. If this one small element of the overall 9/11 terror picture shows this much evidence of information management, one wonders how many other elements in this tale bear the marks of elaborate orchestration by the parties who have fed us all the data.

In intelligence operations, a credible “legend” is created through acting out all elements in the story rather than simply fabricating them for later use. Thus, “lead” hijacker Mohamed Atta most likely did receive a wire transfer of $100,000, arranged by an operative who was connected to al-Qaida, an organization that was fully financed, structured and “false-flagged” by Pakistanis and Saudis acting as operative proxy agents/patsies for what appears to be a globally connected Western elite intelligence apparatus.

As a crucial element in constructing the “legend” of 9/11, it was necessary to provide the links between the hijackers and al-Qaida. The paradox is this – an apparently sophisticated terror entity like al-Qaida would be required to maintain an elaborate evidential trail leading to its hijackers. Put simply, the names on those boarding passes would have to be the same names linked to various credit cards, witnesses, apartments, cell phone records, etc. Whether or not a hijacker by the name of Al-Suqami, al-Shehhi, or Atta was using a false passport would be largely irrelevant if it could be shown that someone employing the same false alias was linked to the same incriminating evidence. The evidence – culled from credit card charges, Internet communications, cell phone calls, and ATM withdrawls – revealed, according to a November 4, 2001 article in the New York Times, “…a picture in which the roles of the 19 hijackers are so well-defined as to be almost corporate in their organization and coordination.” And that is the paradox. If the names on those boarding passes were used only once, there would be no evidence at all linking those hijackers to al-Qaida.

Here was an example of an anomaly “hiding in plain sight.” With the hijackers conveniently sowing a consistent trail of the same names or aliases all over the place – establishing a “legend” that could be corroborated by real witnesses – the media could then be used to plant all kinds of disinformation and red herrings to divert attention from this most obvious anomaly. For example, where ABC News would report on September 12 that a passport belonging to a hijacker named Satam Al-Suqami was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center, the other mainstream outlets would widely report the discovery of the “mystery passport” days later – on September 16 – as having some kind of evidential significance. But it was an obvious red herring. At best, it would signify this – that a passport was found which bore the same name as someone whose boarding pass bore the same name as someone linked to an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan. More “smoke” would then be wafted over the “mystery” surrounding this discovery when it was widely reported that FBI honcho Barry Mawn would not reveal the name on the passport (when all the media had to do was to check their Sept. 12 file clippings from ABC News).

Other red herrings would follow. The “full” passenger lists, for instance, would be released without the names of the purported hijackers on it – leaving some to sniff that the government had “something to hide.” But quite simply, the main fact worth hiding is the notion that the hijackers worked so assiduously to build a convenient evidential trail with their supposed aliases. Take Mohamed Atta, for example. If he weren’t so wedded to spreading his name like seed, then we would have no money trail story, no incriminating flight manuals in rented cars, no surveillance videos, no flight school witnesses – in fact, nothing at all on which we could hinge a legend for Mohamed Atta. The mainstream media repeatedly assured us that the hijackers were quite meticulous in staying below the radar, following the professional protocols of the Al-Qaida Handbook. Yet at every step of the way, they risked blowing their cover, going so far as to book flights under names that were either already on FBI watch lists or that could easily be linked to “shady” associates.

By smothering the public with an apparent abundance of evidence, by conjuring the illusion that thousands of federal agents were compiling a comprehensive paper trail, the terror “experts” diverted us from the obvious fact that the 9/11 hijackers – purportedly the most cunning operatives for the most sophisticated terror operation in history – were instead certified morons, leaving us the gift of their boarding passes as the slim thread that would tie them to the Potemkin facade that is al-Qaida.

Someone by the name of Marwan Al-Shehhi was careful to rent a hotel room in Deerfield Beach, taking further care to leave behind Boeing 757 manuals and “an eight-inch stack of East Coast flight maps.” Someone under the name of Marwan Al-Shehhi was also careful to use that name in activating his cell phone account so that one day, on November 4, 2001, Don Van Natta and Kate Zernike of the New York Times would be able to write: “Mohamed Atta, in seat 8D in business class, dialed his cellphone … [reaching] Marwan Al-Shehhi in seat 6C on United Airlines Flight 175.” How Van Natta and Zernike were also able to report that Atta called Al-Shehhi his “cousin” on that particular phone call perhaps reveals my ignorance over what can be divined through paper records of cell phone calls.

Moreover, it was convenient that someone by the name of Mohamed Atta took care to fasten his name tag on the luggage that he so thoughtfully left behind – in addition to the rented car he abandoned in the airport parking lot – so that authorities could find “a five-page handwritten document in Arabic that includes…practical reminders to bring ‘knives, your will, IDs, your passport, all your papers.’” The existence of a written reminder for professional hijackers – who were presumably intensively trained to commandeer those airplanes with knives – to pack blades for their flight bears no rational explanation (except to confirm to us that, indeed, the hijackers did use sharp implements to take those planes).

But for all his credit card charges, cell phone calls, and bar tab receipts, Mohamed Atta was most fastidious in setting up a bank account in his name, so that he would be able to receive a wire transfer of $100,000 from someone who could definitively be linked to al-Qaida. That would be the paper trail, the “money” shot, the financial link to 9/11. And, best of all, the evidence would be unimpeachable because the whole transaction was in fact carried out by this “lead” hijacker who so consistently provided the evidence in elaborating the “legend” of 9/11. But it was not meant to be. At some point, the lines crossed, a seam showed, a careless inconsistency bore its ugly head. Amid the confusion, this emergent “smoking gun” needed to be aborted.

In the aftermath, new “smoking guns” would emerge, more smoke would be blown. And what of that illusion – the one that in those early days after 9/11 seemed to conjure an image of thousands of federal agents building a paper forest of evidence implicating the hijackers? “The hijackers left no paper trail,” declared FBI director Robert Mueller on April 30, 2002. “In our investigations, we have not uncovered a single piece of paper … that mentioned any aspect of the Sept. 11 plot.” In other words, they no longer needed to stand guard and defend the mountains of innuendo and smoke that was blown in those early days to provide you with the authorized account of 9/11. Mueller, with his carefully worded lawyerly formulation – “piece of paper”, “mentioned”, etc. – would thus have it both ways: throwing up the innuendo without legally obligating himself to defend it.

In the end, the smoking gun was not the money trail. Nor was it the “whistle-blowing” article that appeared to expose it. Instead, the smoking gun lay in the actions, words, and deceptions of those who so cynically took it upon themselves to direct our perceptions – to tell us what, why, and how we know what we know. For in so closely managing the flow of information, by weaving in so many coincidences and synchronicities that could only be explained by willful orchestration, they exposed the seams of their duplicity, and in so doing, exposed before our eyes the intricate workings of a vast, all-pervasive disinformation apparatus that now risks its own destruction – for its contours can now be perceived by all who care to look.