Omar Sheikh’s Pak handler Ilyas Kashmiri also handled Headley

Omar Sheikh’s Pak handler Ilyas Kashmiri also handled Headley

PranabDhalSamanta

Mum

A year after 26/11, renovation work on at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai on Sunday.

In late 1994, a milkman knocked on the door of a Ghaziabad house. As the door opened, he noticed men with guns inside, but he still delivered the milk. He then tipped off police who raided the place and rescued several foreign hostages being held by a group of terrorists, seeking the release of some arrested militant leaders including Maulana Masood Azhar. Azhar had been arrested in February that year.

When the police reached there, the commander of the terrorist group that called itself Al-Hadid — essentially it was a Harkat-ul Ansar-Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami operation — had just stepped out with his trusted lieutenant Omar Saeed Sheikh. The police confronted them as they returned and, in the gunbattle that ensued, Sheikh was injured and arrested but the commander escaped. He was none other than Ilyas Kashmiri. Omar Sheikh was later released in exchange for passengers aboard the hijacked IC-814 at Kandahar.

Kashmiri is the common thread that runs between Sheikh and David Coleman Headley, arrested by FBI for plotting terror attacks on India at the behest of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. Both were Pakistan-born anglicized youth, equally committed and skilled in understanding and adapting to the ways of the West. They did not fit the traditional description of a jihadi terrorist, yet were very effective in planning attacks.

Kashmiri, who was once the head of the infamous 313 brigade and the HuJI that carried out attacks in Kashmir, always looked for recruits with such attributes that allowed them to move under the radar, contributing to his terror missions abroad.

Headley or Daood Gilani was no exception. The FBI believes he is an alumnus of the Cadet College in Hassan Abdal, Pakistan which is very much like India’s military schools that train young children to join the Army. But Gilani moved to the US and then changed his identity in 2006. His cover for travels abroad was that of a representative of First Immigration Services, a company run by co-accused Tahawwur Hussain Rana.

Headley used “doctor” and “Pir Sahib” as the codewords for his patron-in-chief Ilyas Kashmiri. On September 13, amid press reports of Kashmiri’s death in a drone attack, he spoke to his contact in Pakistan who informed him that the “doctor may have got married there”. A distraught Headley shot back, “so it means our company has gone into bankruptcy then”.

FBI investigators believe that “getting married” was coded language for dying or having achieved martyrdom. This 13-minute phone call, according to the FBI, ended at 5.09 pm Chicago time and at 5.12 pm Headley did a Google search for Ilyas Kashmiri to read the latest reports. He repeated the search three days later on September 16 at 7.29 pm and accessed reports on Kashmiri’s alleged death.

The next day he again spoke to his Pakistan contact and said: “It is everywhere now… their marriage has been confirmed”. In the same conversation, a shaken Headley wanted to even fold up their activities. “But now there is nothing to do there. Now let us collect unemployment from the company… when a company lays off in case of bankruptcy, it discharges employees”. When his contact tried to console him that this was not a big loss to their effort, Headley replied: “No, it’s not a small loss, it is a major loss.”

On September 19, he spoke to a “family member” close to Kashmiri and said, “He was our Pir Sahib where you and I went… and we did baiat (oath of allegiance)” he just had a heart attack. It has made me very sad”. But on September 21, he got a call from his first Pakistani contact, who tells him that fresh reports indicate that Kashmiri is still alive. Headley could not control his emotions, “Buddy if this is true, then I will say a 100 prayers, a 100 prayers.”

It was not until September 30 that Headley got final confirmation of Kashmiri being alive. Excited, he made his contact swear several times on the veracity of the information and remarks, “So, he does not get married… so I will be able to meet him upon returning (to Pakistan)”. The reply is in the positive: “Absolutely right, he just today was asking about you”.

On October 3, Headley was off to Chicago’s O’ Hare International airport to board a flight for Philadelphia on his way to Pakistan — it was then that the FBI nabbed him, fearing he may not return for long or they may lose track of him.

Indian investigators believe that Headley, who had spent considerable amount of time and energy surveying targets in Copenhagen was under instructions to put the plan on hold and would have received fresh orders to go to India for attacks there. The Lashkar-e-Toiba member, who was in touch with Headley, had been persuading him to focus on India but FBI investigations suggest Headley was more keen on going ahead with Copenhagen, what he described as the “northern project” and the “mickey mouse project”.

This conflict comes to fore during that week in September when Headley is distraught by news of Kashmiri’s death. His undisclosed Pakistani contact, who is known to Kashmiri as well as the LeT, asks Headley to now reach out to his LeT contact. In that conversation, Headley complains that LeT’s eyes are “again in that direction”. This is important because the LeT contact, as recorded in FBI’s affidavits, had spoken last to Headley about revisiting “Rahul’s city”, a pointer to targeting India.

Headley also did not have a high opinion of his LeT contact, describing him as a person with “rotten guts” in the same conversation with his Pakistani contact, who does not disagree and says, “They do not want to take risks and want to be praised also”. To this, Headley responds: “Then there will be no profit because when you have high aims, as much as an investment will be risky as much is the chance of profits and at the same time there is chance of loss.”

Talk about a fresh attack on India figured first on July 3 when Headley’s LeT contact sent him an email inquiring about “new investment plans” even as Headley was working on the Copenhagen plan. He then asked Headley to revisit “Rahul’s city”, adding that “matters were good enough to move forward”. Headley asks a clarification on whether moving forward meant “towards Rahul” to the North. The reply came: “towards Rahul”.

Headley then asks a few pointed questions about the purpose of the visit and then whether the “northern project” was postponed. He never got a clear answer though he repeatedly asked the question in the email exchange that continued until August-end. At that point, FBI believes, the LeT contact was kept out of the Copenhagen plan. But Headley did tell his LeT contact that he will discuss the plans about “Rahul’s city” when they meet September-end.

While Indian investigators are moving on the assumption that Headley was a LeT member, the best understanding of Headley’s role comes from Headley himself in a September 20 conversation in coded language with one of Kashmiri’s “family members” when it was believed that Kashmiri was dead and Headley was gradually overcoming the “grief”.

“The main thing is business must go on. Main thing is I have some income… make some money. I don’t care if I am working for Microsoft or I am working for a GE or Philips, I don’t care. As long as I am making money, I don’t give a shit,” said Headley, leading FBI to conclude that in the end it did not matter to him whether he was working for Kashmiri’s group or the LeT.

Obama gives Interpol free hand in U.S.

Obama gives Interpol free hand in U.S.

No presidential statement or White House press briefing was held on it. In fact, all that can be found about it on the official White House Web site is the Dec. 17 announcement and one-paragraph text of President Obama’s Executive Order 12425, with this innocuous headline: “Amending Executive Order 12425 Designating Interpol as a public international organization entitled to enjoy certain privileges, exemptions, and immunities.”In fact, this new directive from Obama may be the most destructive blow ever struck against American constitutional civil liberties. No wonder the White House said as little as possible about it.

There are multiple reasons why this Obama decision is so deeply disturbing. First, the Obama order reverses a 1983 Reagan administration decision in order to grant Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, two key privileges. First, Obama has granted Interpol the ability to operate within the territorial limits of the United States without being subject to the same constitutional restraints that apply to all domestic law enforcement agencies such as the FBI. Second, Obama has exempted Interpol’s domestic facilities — including its office within the U.S. Department of Justice — from search and seizure by U.S. authorities and from disclosure of archived documents in response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by U.S. citizens. Think very carefully about what you just read: Obama has given an international law enforcement organization that is accountable to no other national authority the ability to operate as it pleases within our own borders, and he has freed it from the most basic measure of official transparency and accountability, the FOIA.

The Examiner has asked for but not yet received from the White House press office an explanation of why the president signed this executive order and who among his advisers was involved in the process leading to his doing so. Unless the White House can provide credible reasons to think otherwise, it seems clear that Executive Order 12425’s consequences could be far-reaching and disastrous. To cite only the most obvious example, giving Interpol free rein to act within this country could subject U.S. military, diplomatic, and intelligence personnel to the prospect of being taken into custody and hauled before the International Criminal Court as “war criminals.”

As National Review Online’s Andy McCarthy put it, the White House must answer these questions: Why should we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files that will be beyond the scrutiny of Congress, American law enforcement, the media, and the American people?

Karachi CCTV footage shows arsonists wreaking havoc

KARACHI: The CCTV footage of the Karachi riots has been released to the media. The footage captured by cameras installed by the city district government clearly shows arsonists setting fire to shops, vehicles and destroying public and private property.The images show several arsonists and rioters setting fire to cars and shops after the blast on Karachi’s Mohammad Ali Jinnah road.According to the CDGK, these and other visuals were also sent to police and other law enforcement authorities so that the people seen in the video can be identified and action can be taken against them.In the footage, police and other security personnel can be seen standing by, doing nothing, while miscreants were busy rioting.DawnNews spoke to DIG South Mr Ghulam Nabi Memon who heads the investigating unit probing the riots. He said the police did not open fire to avoid collateral damage.Memon said had the police opened fire they could have hit mourners in the procession and that would have had negative fallout. — DawnNews

Vodpod videos no longer available.

TTP denies hand in Karachi procession attack

[Is Pak Taliban spokesman telling the truth, or do terrorist bombers sometimes fear being too successful?]

TTP denies hand in Karachi procession attack

Vehicles are on fire after a bombing struck a Shia procession in Karachi, December 28, 2009. —Photo by AP

KARACHI: The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Thursday denied any involvement in the Karachi Ashura procession attack which killed 44 people and left dozens others injured.

Azam Tariq, the TTP spokesman, denied having any involvement in the attack and said militant commander Azmatullah Shaheen’s claim was baseless and that he ‘acted on his own will’.

The TTP, said Tariq, does not target public places in Pakistan.

Earlier, on Wednesday, Asmatullah Shaheen, a top militant commander based in South Waziristan told news agencies by telephone that the TTP was behind the attack, warning that they would carry out more such attacks and also target government installations

Army, ISI Blocking UN Probe Into Bhutto Assassination

‘Limited mandate’ hinders UN probe into Bhutto’s killing

In this file photo taken on July 17, 2009, Peter Fitzgerald (R) a member of UN inquiry commission listens to Ben Malor, a UN official during a news conference in Islamabad. The inquiry commission has been denied access by the Pakistani government to interrogate the Army Chief and other top officials of intelligence agencies. –Photo by Reuters

KARACHI: The UN probe into the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has hit a road block as the government denied access to the incumbent Army Chief and other top serving military generals for interrogation.

The UN had appointed a three-member inquiry commission to determine the facts and circumstances under which Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007.

According to the terms of reference of the investigation, the UN had demanded that the commission should enjoy compelete cooperation from the government.

The commission wanted access to the Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, former ISI Chief Lt.Gen Nadeem Taj and former Military Intelligence Chief Lt.Gen Nadeem Ejaz Mian among other top officials of the intelligence agencies.

The UN probe commission’s terms of reference said ‘the government shall comply with the requests of the commission for assistance in collecting the required information and testimony, and shall provide it with the necessary facilities to enable it to discharge its mandate.’

A top government official confirmed to DawnNews that a written request had been received from the UN commission to interrogate military officials, including the incumbent Army Chief during the investigation process.

The official added that it was after thorough consultation by the government that the UN commission was informed in writing that access to abovementioned officials cannot be granted to them. –DawnNews

Mufti Usmani holds Blackwater responsible for blast

[Now would that be the Blackwater that works for the ISI, or the one that contracts for the CIA, or isn’t it all the same?]

Mufti Usmani holds Blackwater responsible for blast

By Shamim Bano

Karachi

Contrary to the claim and media reports by the media about Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan taking responsibility of the Ashura bomb blast, Mufti Mohammed Rafi Usmani held US agency Blackwater responsible for the gory incident that claimed more than 40 lives.

Addressing a news conference along with Muhammed Taqi, Mufti Muhammed Naeem, Maulana Tanver-ul-Haq and others on Wednesday, Mufti Usmani said that Blackwater was involved in the killing of innocent people in the Muharram procession.

He said that soon after the blast, shops in the city’s economic hub were set ablaze which proved that the attack was “pre-planned and organized”.

Mufti Usmani said that the incident was a conspiracy against Islam and the government totally failed to control the situation, as it was the responsibility of the government to provide security to the citizens and to protect the property. He said that the terrorism act was not committed by any Muslim and instead it was the act of Blackwater that had hired locals to unleash terror in the city.

He alleged that Blackwater was hiring youths in Peshawar to carry out attacks and suicide bombings.

Mufti Usmai said that no person could carry weapons or other destructive items with him on occasions of religious processions and the incident was an attack on the country’s sovereignty.

“By the grace of God we achieved the country, but we do not take care of it. It is not only weaknesses of successive governments but also of the people who are the least bothered about taking care of their country,” he said.

The government, he said, must stop taking dictation from the US and form its own policies. Mufti Usmani demanded that immediate measures should be taken to compensate the affected traders of Boulton Market, Light House and other affected areas.

He also demanded conducting an independent inquiry into the incident and exposing those involved in the heinous crime.

Meanwhile, the Sunni Ittehad Council condemned the attack on the Ashura procession.

Addressing a press conference, Sahibzada Fazal Karim said that the attack on the procession was a conspiracy to destabilise the country.

He demanded of the government to constitute a commission headed by the Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court to probe the matter and to ascertain the losses incurred by the traders within 15 days. He also demanded of the government to announce compensation for the affected traders so that they could restart their businesses again.

He also supported the strike call given by the Sunni Rahber Council for Friday.

Meanwhile, the Sunni Tehreek (ST) in a separate press conference also endorsed the Friday strike call and announced to hold a protest rally in the city on Saturday. ST leader Shakil Qadri said that protest rallies would also be held in other parts of the country.

More Motorcycles and Murder In Karachi

[Just the latest incident of multiple murders, probably using automatic weapons, associated with missing or stolen bikes.  All the assassinations of generals taking place lately have been on motorcycles, just like the recent “hit” in Karachi, where ISI i.d.s were recovered from the assailants.]

Bullet-riddled bodies found

Karachi

The bullet-riddled bodies of Ghulam Nabi, 35, and Aurangzeb, 32, were found lying opposite the Coast Guards’ Headquarter, in Korangi 2ž from the Zaman Town police limits.

The police also recovered a pistol and a motorcycle from the spot.

During investigations, it transpired that the motorcycle was snatched from Korangi Industrial Area (KIA) on December 22 by the slain, Ghulam Nabi, from an employee of a towel factory.

The police said that Nabi was wanted by police stations of Korangi, Zaman Town, Awami Colony and KIA in robbery cases.

The other deceased, Aurangzeb, belonged to Larkana and was employed in a towel factory in KIA. A case was registered and investigation is under way.