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The Road to Jehad runs through Islamic Pakistan !

Reader comment on item: Red Mosque in Rebellion

Submitted by Ateeq (India), Aug 14, 2007 at 12:31

Once again, the road to terror runs through Pakistan. Despite Islamabad's claims to have played a crucial role helping Britain uncover a plan to blow up airliners flying to the United States, Pakistan remains a breeding ground for terror and is the most likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden. Terror groups operating out of Pakistan may already have taken over al-Qaeda's functions in a global terror network. Operating virtually unmolested under dozens of different identities, they are recruiting, radicalizing and training young militants for future attacks on Western targets. As details of a plot to blow up as many as 10 U.S.-bound airliners surface, it not only highlights Pakistan's role as an active partner in the war on terror, it underlines the fact that Pakistan remains a global centre for terrorism linked to al-Qaeda.

Yesterday, senior government officials in Pakistan proudly announced it was their own counterterrorism work that triggered a global terror alert and Britain's moves to arrest 24 alleged plotters who intended to stage the largest terrorist attack since 9/11. Pakistani officials say they arrested two British nationals of Pakistani origin last week who provided information on the latest plot. The men were detained in Lahore and Karachi.

Yesterday Pakistani officials identified a "key suspect" in the case as Rashid Rauf, a British citizen whom they described as "an al-Qaeda operative with linkages in Afghanistan." It's believed Mr. Rauf may be the brother of Tayib Rauf, arrested in Birmingham on Thursday as part of the airline bomb plot. "We arrested him from the border area and on his disclosure we shared the information with U.K. authorities, which led to further arrests in Britain," Pakistan's Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said.Pakistan is believed to have arrested 10 others in the airline bomb plot whom it has identified as local "facilitators" who met with or assisted the foreign terror suspects.

Yesterday, ABC News in the United States reported U.S. counter-terrorism officials think the ringleader of the airliner plot may be Matiur Rehman, a 29-year-old al-Qaeda commander who once tried to assassinate Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf. The Guardian newspaper in Britain also reported investigators there rushed to arrest airliner bomb suspects after being tipped off by Pakistan that it had intercepted and decoded a message sent to the British plotters telling them to "Do your attacks now." The go-ahead message was issued immediately after the arrest of the two British suspects in Pakistan. Other British news reports say Pakistani officials tipped their Western counterparts to the fact substantial sums of money were wired from Pakistan to two alleged bomb plot ringleaders in Britain to help them buy airline tickets. As details of the plot trickle out, it reinforces the image of Pakistan as a politically fragile and chaotic state that increasingly has become a magnet for religious fanatics and terrorists.

Following last year's July 7 subway bombings in London, which killed 52 innocent people and injured 700, it was learned three of the four suicide attackers were British Muslims of Pakistani origin. One of the bombers, Mohammed Sidique Khan, had travelled to a pro-Taliban madrassa or seminary run by the hardline Jamaat al-Dawat group in Lahore just before the attacks. Jamaat al-Dawat claims to be a religious-based charity but the United States has branded it a terrorist front group with close links to Lashkar-e-Taiba (the Army of the Pure), which has recruited volunteers to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and sponsored terrorism in Kashmir. Most recently, Lashkar-e-Taiba was implicated in the bombing of crowded commuter trains in Mumbai, India, on July 11. Lashkar-e-Taiba has also been linked to an alleged terrorist plot in Canada in which police have arrested 18 men on charges of plotting to attack government targets in Toronto and Ottawa. International terrorism officials claim Lashkar-e-Taiba has direct links to al-Qaeda and now serves as a stand-in for the group, attracting young Islamic militants to Pakistan, where they receive terrorist training and indoctrination before returning to their homelands bent on launching attacks of their own.

Pakistan's military and intelligence services are also riddled with Islamic extremists who played major roles in establishing the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan. Lately they have been criticized for not doing enough to stop pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda forces from trekking over Pakistan's western border to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan. Yesterday, the U.S. embassy in India highlighted the threat posed by Pakistani-based terrorists when it issued a travel advisory warning U.S. citizens of possible al-Qaeda-sponsored bomb attacks in New Delhi and Mumbai ahead of India's 60th Independence Day celebrations on Aug. 15. The same day the British airline bomb plot was revealed, Pakistan slapped a month-long period of house arrest on Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, who now operates Jamaat al-Dawat. It also ordered the expulsion of all foreign students attending some 13,000 madrassas, which frequently preach the glories of jihad and martyrdom in the name of Islam.

Still, even as Pakistan co-operates in the war on terror, there is a growing chorus of complaints it isn't doing enough to suppress militant Islamist groups, which merely change their names to avoid periodic government crackdowns. Pakistan's tortured politics has created a political vacuum in which radical Islamist parties thrive. As a result, while the vast majority of Pakistanis are overwhelmingly secular, Pakistan is still fast becoming a stronghold for militant Islamic fundamentalists

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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