Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Campaign for the Land of the Pure, Part 4

You might wish to review Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Now for a post I wish I didn't have to write.

We begin with Al-Qaeda had warned of Pakistan strike - in its entirety - by Syed Saleem Shahzad, dated May 27, 2011:

ISLAMABAD - Al-Qaeda carried out the brazen attack on PNS Mehran naval air station in Karachi on May 22 after talks failed between the navy and al-Qaeda over the release of naval officials arrested on suspicion of al-Qaeda links, an Asia Times Online investigation reveals.

Pakistani security forces battled for 15 hours to clear the naval base after it had been stormed by a handful of well-armed militants.

At least 10 people were killed and two United States-made P3-C Orion surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft worth US$36 million each were destroyed before some of the attackers escaped through a cordon of thousands of armed forces.

An official statement placed the number of militants at six, with four killed and two escaping. Unofficial sources, though, claim there were 10 militants with six getting free. Asia Times Online contacts confirm that the attackers were from Ilyas Kashmiri's 313 Brigade, the operational arm of al-Qaeda.

Three attacks on navy buses in which at least nine people were killed last month were warning shots for navy officials to accept al-Qaeda's demands over the detained suspects.

The May 2 killing in Pakistan of Osama bin Laden spurred al-Qaeda groups into developing a consensus for the attack in Karachi, in part as revenge for the death of their leader and also to deal a blow to Pakistan's surveillance capacity against the Indian navy.

The deeper underlying motive, though, was a reaction to massive internal crackdowns on al-Qaeda affiliates within the navy.

Volcano of militancy

Several weeks ago, naval intelligence traced an al-Qaeda cell operating inside several navy bases in Karachi, the country's largest city and key port.

"Islamic sentiments are common in the armed forces," a senior navy official told Asia Times Online on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.

"We never felt threatened by that. All armed forces around the world, whether American, British or Indian, take some inspiration from religion to motivate their cadre against the enemy. Pakistan came into existence on the two-nation theory that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations and therefore no one can separate Islam and Islamic sentiment from the armed forces of Pakistan," the official said.

"Nonetheless, we observed an uneasy grouping on different naval bases in Karachi. While nobody can obstruct armed forces personnel for rendering religious rituals or studying Islam, the grouping [we observed] was against the discipline of the armed forces. That was the beginning of an intelligence operation in the navy to check for unscrupulous activities."

The official explained the grouping was against the leadership of the armed forces and opposed to its nexus with the United States against Islamic militancy. When some messages were intercepted hinting at attacks on visiting American officials, intelligence had good reason to take action and after careful evaluation at least 10 people - mostly from the lower cadre - were arrested in a series of operations.

"That was the beginning of huge trouble," the official said.

Those arrested were held in a naval intelligence office behind the chief minister's residence in Karachi, but before proper interrogation could begin, the in-charge of the investigation received direct threats from militants who made it clear they knew where the men were being detained.

The detainees were promptly moved to a safer location, but the threats continued. Officials involved in the case believe the militants feared interrogation would lead to the arrest of more of their loyalists in the navy. The militants therefore made it clear that if those detained were not released, naval installations would be attacked.

It was clear the militants were receiving good inside information as they always knew where the suspects were being detained, indicating sizeable al-Qaeda infiltration within the navy's ranks. A senior-level naval conference was called at which an intelligence official insisted that the matter be handled with great care, otherwise the consequences could be disastrous. Everybody present agreed, and it was decided to open a line of communication with al-Qaeda.

Abdul Samad Mansoori, a former student union activist and now part of 313 brigade, who originally hailed from Karachi but now lives in the North Waziristan tribal area was approached and talks begun. Al-Qaeda demanded the immediate release of the officials without further interrogation. This was rejected.

The detainees were allowed to speak to their families and were well treated, but officials were desperate to interrogate them fully to get an idea of the strength of al-Qaeda's penetration. The militants were told that once interrogation was completed, the men would be discharged from the service and freed.

Al-Qaeda rejected these terms and expressed its displeasure with the attacks on the navy buses in April.

These incidents pointed to more than the one al-Qaeda cell intelligence had tracked in the navy. The fear now was that if the problem was not addressed, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supply lines could face a new threat. NATO convoys are routinely attacked once they begin the journey from Karachi to Afghanistan; now they could be at risk in Karachi port. Americans who often visit naval facilities in the city would also be in danger.

Therefore, another crackdown was conducted and more people were arrested. Those seized had different ethnic backgrounds. One naval commando came from South Waziristan's Mehsud tribe and was believed to have received direct instructions from Hakeemullah Mehsud, the chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban). Others were from Punjab province and Karachi, the capital of Sindh province.

After Bin Laden was killed by American Navy Seals in Abbottabad, 60 kilometers north of Islamabad, militants decided the time was ripe for major action.

Within a week, insiders at PNS Mehran provided maps, pictures of different exit and entry routes taken in daylight and at night, the location of hangers and details of likely reaction from external security forces.

As a result, the militants were able to enter the heavily guarded facility where one group targeted the aircraft, a second group took on the first strike force and a third finally escaped with the others providing covering fire. Those who stayed behind were killed.

This was intended to be the first in a two-part series by Syed Saleem Shahzad, Pakistan bureau chief for Asia Times Online; he subsequently went missing and, four days after this article appeared, his body was found in a canal 150 kilometers from Islamabad.

I reproduced the article in its entirety because I don't want it to go the way of its author.

From Pakistan - silencing the truth-seekers by Karamatullah K Ghori, a former Pakistani ambassador, June 2, 2011:

Human Rights Watch cited a "reliable interlocutor" who said Saleem had been abducted by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). "This killing bears all the hallmarks of previous killings perpetrated by Pakistani intelligence agencies," said a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in South Asia, Ali Dayan Hasan. He called for a "transparent investigation and court proceedings".

Skipping down:

Killing, in cold blood a man of letters like Saleem amounts to an open declaration of war against the fundamental principles of Islam and defiance of the teachings of its Messenger, Prophet Mohammad, who bestowed the greatest honors on a seeker of truth by intoning that "the ink of a scholar's pen is holier than a martyr's blood".

The core problem in the context of Pakistan is the failure of the state as a whole - which includes its ruling elite, the military brass and civil society in general - to come to grips with the challenge of fundamentalists and their soul-comrades, the terrorists.

Except for a small segment of the intelligentsia bemoaning the debasing of Pakistan's moorings, there is hardly any backlash in evidence against the corrosive damage the fundamentalists are doing to its social order. The silence of the clergy against the defacing of Islam is simply deafening. Those few voices that articulated against terrorists have been brutally silenced.

With all due respect Mr. Ambassador, you need to read the Islamic holy texts a little more closely. Killing, in cold blood, is at the very heart of Islam; your holy prophet was very good at it. The silence of the clergy is because they know this is true, and the few who would dispute it know that it's true, too, and that they will be killed as takfir if they speak out against it. That's why they're silent. ;)

Skipping down:

The military leadership, on its part, has failed to check the spread of the festering cancer of fundamentalism and radicalism in its ranks - a damning legacy of General Zia ul-Haq's 11 years at the head of Pakistan, and then General Pervez Musharraf's rule until August 2008.

They didn't "fail to check the spread of the festering cancer of fundamentalism" - they promoted its spread. They wanted strategic depth against India; many of them even buy into the agenda that the infidel world needs to be forced to submit to Allah or be killed in a war of annihilation. You make it sound like these guys are trying to have it both ways; they're not - they're trying to promote the Land of the Pure and Submission to Allah, and they're shaking the US down for a jizya in the mean time.

(See also Justice, not words and Target: Saleem for more thoughts on the murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad.)

Now from ISI faces more heat after journalist's killing, June 1, 2011:

Shahzad was killed after he wrote a story that claimed al Qaeda attacked a naval base in Karachi last month after negotiations with the military to release two naval officials accused of militant links broke down.

That assault further humiliated the Pakistani military. Some believe that with its loss of credibility after the Bin Laden fiasco, and the naval base siege, the ISI may come under more public scrutiny for its apparent failure to tackle militancy and ease suicide bombings.

"Fewer people believe that the ISI is this powerful agency. People will start asking tougher questions," said Rifaat Hussain, head of the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.

"They may be more willing to ask why the ISI is tapping the telephones of the opposition when it should be providing more security for the country."

But equally likely is that journalists will think twice about writing hard-hitting stories after Shahzad’s death.

That was the plan: shut up a man who might very well have been the best journalist in the world regarding this topic, and make his death a fitting example to others - shut up about the Pakistani Deep State, or die horribly.

Excerpts from Shehzad's murder may be personal enmity: Malik dated June 1, 2011:

ISLAMABAD: Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that journalist Salim Shehzad's murder could be a case of personal enimity, Geo News reported.


In order to ensure life safety, Malik said that orders have been passed to allow journalists to carry small arms with them for self-protection.

Returning now to an ongoing trial in the US, involving David Coleman Headley, we pick up from page 3 of Bad Company: Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and the Growing Ambition of Islamist Militancy in Pakistan, testimony before Congress by Lisa Curtis, dated March 11, 2010:

The findings from the Headley investigations have awakened U.S. officials to the gravity of the international threat posed by Pakistan's failure to crack down on terrorist groups, including those that have primarily targeted India. U.S. officials had previously viewed the LeT solely through an Indo–Pakistani lens rather than as an urgent international terrorist threat. The Headley investigations appear to be changing the way the U.S. government views the LeT. U.S. State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Daniel Benjamin, for instance, recently said that the Headley investigations show the LeT has global ambitions and is willing to undertake bold, mass-casualty operations.

Most troubling about the Headley case is what it has revealed about the proximity of the Pakistani military to the LeT. The U.S. Department of Justice indictment that was unsealed on January 14, 2009 names a retired Pakistani army major, Abdul Rehman Hashim Syed, as Headley's handler, and Ilyas Kashmiri, a former commando with Pakistan's elite Special Services Group, and now leader of the Harakat-ul-Jihadi-Islami, as the operational commander behind the Mumbai attacks. While the allegations do not specify that serving Pakistani army or intelligence officials were involved in the attacks, they reveal that the Pakistani army's past support and continued facilitation of the LeT contributed to the terror group's ability to conduct the assaults.

The Pakistani military is heavily involed with not just Al Qaeda, as shown by the attack on the Pakistani naval base, but also with LeT. And, as we considered in Part 3, this has ramifications here at home. From Confessed Terrorist Tried to Help U.S. Track Down Other Terrorists, May 31, 2011:

CHICAGO — Confessed terrorist David Coleman Headley was so eager to cooperate after his 2009 arrest that he worked with FBI agents to try to engineer the capture of a suspected mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and proposed setting up another kingpin for a missile strike, according to testimony in federal court Tuesday.


Headley also offered to travel undercover to the tribal areas of Pakistan and present Ilyas Kashmiri, an al-Qaida-connected leader indicted in the Denmark plot, with an ornate sword that Headley suggested could be outfitted with a homing device to set up a U.S. missile attack, according to his testimony.

Headley revealed Tuesday that Kashmiri wanted to assassinate the chief executive officer of the Lockheed Martin Corp, which manufactures the Predator drone, as retaliation for the missile strikes that have killed scores of militants in Pakistan.

"Kashmiri was working on a plan," Headley testified. "He said he knew people who had already done surveillance. And he asked if weapons were available in the U.S."

Headley, who did not further describe the details of the plot, met with Kashmiri twice in Pakistan in 2009, according to his confession. Officials with the FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment on Headley’s mention of a plot targeting Lockheed CEO Robert J. Stevens. Lockheed officials also declined comment, citing a policy of not discussing specific threats against the company.

Kashmiri was behind a plan last fall to carry out Mumbai-style shooting attacks in Britain, France, Germany and Denmark, counter-terror officials say. Kashmiri has a far-flung network and is one of the most feared terrorist leaders today, especially in the vacuum left by the killing of Osama bin Laden. But it would be a new and troubling development if Kashmiri had directed operatives to work on a bona-fide plot to assassinate a prominent figure in the United States.

This confessed terrorist Headley has credibility problems, and he knows it. That is why US officials have so painstakingly checked his story, and it has checked out as much as it can. See How Do We Know Pakistan Terror Witness Is Telling the Truth? from May 31, 2011.

Pakistan's ISI was involved in 9/11 - not all of the ISI, but key elements. Key elements of the ISI have been supporting terrorists for decades, and trafficking in Afghan heroin to fund their jihad. Some of these people have been involved in the A. Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network. Some of them were involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. These are Deep Events of Pakistan's Deep State.

These guys and their ideology comprise a rabid dog, and the US is helping fund it with military aid to Pakistan. Pakistan now runs the serious risk of getting cooked over the fire its Deep State helped kindle. And, from terrorists' nukes that may even now be on US soil (and quite possibly have been for years) to assassinations of key US industrial leaders whose products help fight the War on Terror in Pakistan, that fire might just start really blazing up here in the US.

The Campaign for the Land of the Pure is just getting started.

No comments:

Post a Comment