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Islamic Pakistan is backstabbing Dhimmi Westerners

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Submitted by Gogadev (India), Aug 17, 2006 at 14:14

Islamic Pakistan is backstabbing Dhimmi Westerners :

The two faces of Jihadistan

The West tends to see the Musharraf regime as the last barricade against an Islamist coup, but Islamabad continues to support terrorism.

RICHARD BOUCHER, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.

"PAKISTAN should understand that there can be no double standards on terrorism: it cannot fight terrorism to its west and sponsor it to its east," Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said in response to the continuing jehadi violence in Jammu and Kashmir after the terror attacks in New York and Washington, on September 11, 2001.

Perhaps he ought to have delivered his message to Washington, not Islamabad. In July, India's policy establishment received a painful education on the principles that underpin Pakistan's successful practice of double standards. Even as New Delhi attacked Islamabad for failing to act against the terror groups which executed the July 11 Mumbai serial bombings, United States Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher sprang to its defence, demanding that New Delhi "find the evidence" to support its claims.

"Some of the groups that are suspected in these bombings are actually outlawed in Pakistan," Boucher insisted, asserting that "no country has done more than Pakistan in the ongoing fight against terrorism". Soon afterwards, presented with evidence of the Lashkar-e-Taiba's (LeT) role in the bombing during a visit to New Delhi, Boucher tempered his criticism. But he sparked off a fresh furore by making clear, at an August 8 meeting, that he did not believe "the Kashmir issue and terrorism are linked in any way". His remarks came just days before the authorities in the United Kingdom detained 24 suspects who were planning the mid-air bombing of nine transatlantic passenger flights. As with just about every terror operation of significance since 2001, the investigative trail leads back to Pakistan. Most of the men detained so far are British nationals of Pakistani origin. Two British nationals suspected of having played a key role in the plot were held in Pakistan; reports suggest that both had trained at a jehadi camp in that country.

Pakistan's cooperation with Western counter-terrorism operations, demonstrated by its support of the transatlantic bombing investigation, has won it applause. Many in the U.S. policy establishment see the regime of President Pervez Musharraf as the last barricade against an Islamist coup - and his backing of Western operations against Al Qaeda as evidence of Pakistan's credentials. At the same time, though, Islamabad has been continuing to sponsor the material and ideological infrastructure of terror. Evidence of Pakistan's state sponsorship of terrorism has grown with the publication of an investigative report by a Karachi-based magazine, The Herald. It states that internationally proscribed jehadi organisations such as the LeT and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) continue to receive between Rs.2 million and Rs.3 million each month from Pakistan's covert services, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), apart from communications equipment, weapons and logistical support.

According to The Herald, some 1,000 trained terrorists are housed in three camps in the Hazara region of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) alone, while thousands are stationed elsewhere. Investigators of the U.S. and the U.K. will be working to discover precisely which jehadi camps trained and motivated the key suspects. It ought to be no great task: after all, the officers of the ISI Directorates who will be assisting them work for the same organisation that funds the jehad.

Boucher's position, reminiscent of the U.S.' often-reflexive pre-9/11 support for Pakistan, might have been more persuasive if his own office had not been saying just the opposite. Although Country Reports on Terrorism, an annual State Department publication, praises Islamabad for cooperating "closely with the United States and other nations in a campaign to eliminate international terrorism", the facts it records on Pakistan-based jehadi organisations do not a little to undermine this assertion.

Consider, for instance, the case of the LeT. Among other things, Country Reports states that the organisation is "based in Muridke [near Lahore] and Muzaffarabad." It accepts that its leader is Hafiz Mohammad Saeed - who, Pakistan insists, only heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which it insists is a charitable organisation and therefore refuses to act against. In addition, Country Reports records that "almost all LT [Lashkar] members are Pakistanis from madrassas across Pakistan or Afghan veterans of the Afghan wars".

Country Reports records that the LeT "uses assault rifles, light and heavy machine guns, mortars, explosives, and rocket-propelled grenades", collects "donations from the Pakistani community in the Persian Gulf and the United Kingdom, Islamic NGOs [non-governmental organisations], and Pakistani and other Kashmiri business people", and "maintains ties to religious/militant groups around the world, ranging from the Philippines to the Middle East [West Asia] and Chechnya, through the fraternal network of its parent organisation Jamaat ud-Dawa".

On the JeM, Country Reports is even more damning. The Jaish "continues to operate openly in parts of Pakistan despite President Musharraf's 2002 ban on its activities. The group is well-funded, and is said to have tens of thousands of followers who support attacks against Indian targets, the Pakistani government, and sectarian minorities. Since [its leader] Masood Azhar's 2000 release from Indian custody in exchange for 155 hijacked Indian Airlines hostages, the JeM has conducted many fatal terrorist attacks."

Put simply, Country Reports renders Boucher's claims that Pakistan has acted against terror groups such as the LeT and JeM absurd: proscription, after all, means nothing if the organisation continues to operate, and that too in full public view. Masood Azhar operates not from a mountain hideout but from his home in Bahawalpur. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, too, faces no restrictions from a state that refuses to acknowledge, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa sponsors terrorism.

An epicentre for terror

U.S. intelligence officials have long known the facts on terror training camps in Pakistan. In March, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) showed a court satellite images of a terrorist training camps near Balakot in the NWFP, which were taken by spy satellites in 2001 and 2004. The FBI used the images to corroborate a confessional testimony by 23-year-old California resident Hamid Hayat, who has been convicted on terrorism-related charges.

Hayat was arrested along with his father Umar Hayat after evidence emerged that he had attended an Al Qaeda-affiliated training camp in Pakistan. He provided the FBI with a graphic account of how recruits at the camp were taught to fire at images of various high-ranking U.S. political figures, including President George Bush. The camp, just a short walk from the town, is thought to have been run by Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman Khalil, a jehadi leader who has been detained several times by Pakistani authorities but never prosecuted.

Satellite pictures, though, were not needed to provide evidence that terror camps exist in Pakistan. Just in June, for instance, a court in Alexandria, Virginia, convicted College Park primary schoolteacher Asad Ali Chandia on three separate counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support to the LeT. Chandia was one of 11 men who formed part of what has come to be known as the Virginia Jihad Network, U.S. residents who funnelled resources to the LeT, and trained at camps it ran in Pakistan.

Prosecutors were able to prove that Chandia had met Lashkar officials at its office in Lahore in November 2001 soon after resigning his job at a local supermarket. Chandia then trained at a Lashkar camp before returning to the U.S. in January 2002. The prosecution showed that upon his return, Chandia served as a chauffeur to a top Lashkar official, Mohammed Ajmal Khan, and helped him ship military training equipment from the U.S. to Pakistan, including a remote-controlled aircraft.

In April, weeks before Chandia was convicted, authorities in Atlanta, Georgia, filed an indictment against Syed Haris Ahmad and Ensaul Islam Sadequee. Both men, of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin respectively, were charged with planning attacks against oil refineries, military bases and communications systems. FBI officials told an Atlanta judge that Ahmad, like the key figures in the Virginia Jihad Network, had trained at a terror camp in Pakistan.

Pakistan's links also emerged during investigations into the bombing of the London Underground last year. Shehzad Tanweer, the principal organiser of the terror ring that carried out the suicide bombings, spent three months in Pakistan before the attacks, along with a second member of the ring, Mohammad Siddiq Khan. Tanweer is known to have spent several days at a sprawling campus in Muridke, which is run by the Lashkar's parent organisation, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

College dropout Zeeshan Siddiqui, who left his West London home in 1999 to join the jehad in Pakistan, played a key role in recruiting Shehzad. Intelligence organisations had been searching for Siddiqui since April 2003, when his best friend at the Cranford Community College, Asif Hanif, who died in an April 2003 suicide attack on a nightclub in Tel Aviv. Siddiqui, Israeli police reportedly believe, helped organise the bombing, which claimed three lives.

Several of the London Underground bombers are believed to have met leaders of the JeM, which has actively recruited British nationals for over a decade and a half. According to a July 18, 2005, report in The Times, London, the JeM and LeT "collect more than £5 million each a year from British mosques, even though both are proscribed organisations". "Most donors," the paper reported, "believe that their funds are going to charities and educational projects associated with the conflict in Kashmir."

Evidence of just where these funds are going once again emerged after the arrest of Assem Hammoud. Hammoud and two other terrorists planned to board trains with backpacks full of explosives, which they intended to detonate when the trains passed through a tunnel under the Hudson river in New York.

Lebanon's Internal Security Forces said Hammoud "intended to travel to Pakistan soon to take part in a four-month training session and then perpetrate the attack at the end of 2006".

Intelligence organisations from Australia to Indonesia and Russia have found similar links: as the scholar Ajai Sahni pointed out in a recent article, "the footprint of almost every act of international terrorism since 9/11 (and before) passes inexorably through Pakistan". High officials in the U.S. and the U.K., echoing this perception, have on more than one occasion made clear their belief that Pakistan needs to act more vigorously against Islamist terror groups.

Not all in the Western policy establishments share Boucher's belief that India itself is responsible for the terror onslaught it faces. Earlier in August, British Prime Minister Tony Blair argued that the West had been mistaken to link Kashmir and Chechnya to global Islamist terrorism. "Whatever the outward manifestation at any one time," he said, it is "a global fight about global values; it is about modernisation, within Islam and outside of it."

Even in the U.S., patience with Musharraf is wearing thin. Last month, Boucher's boss, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, chose not to address a joint press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri - a diplomatic snub that reflected her ire at Islamabad's continued support to Islamist terror groups operating in Afghanistan. Rice had earlier delivered blunt warnings to Musharraf during a visit to Islamabad, demanding stronger action against Islamist terror groups.

But Boucher's remarks suggest that at least a part of the U.S.' policy establishment, battered by the intractable crisis in Iraq and Afghanistan, seems to believe that ignoring the continued acts of terrorism against India is an acceptable price for whatever can be extracted from Pakistan. Soon after Boucher's polemical broadside, for instance, Pakistan prohibited unauthorised movement across its western border into Iran - a move intended to ensure jehadi groups are unable to deliver on their threat to reinforce Hizbollah forces in Iran.

Some believe the U.S.' geo-strategic considerations mean the world post-9/11 is much like the world before it, pious protestations of a united struggle against terrorism notwithstanding. "The U.S. will never act against India for anything it does to Pakistan", terrorism commentator and former intelligence official B. Raman records India's former spymaster R.N. Kao as saying. In a recent article, Raman recounted how the U.S. even destroyed forensic evidence related to the 1993 Mumbai bombings to shield Pakistan.

Are such policies short-sighted? Quite possibly. Large-scale carnage will remain a threat as long as terrorists have access to the infrastructure needed to assemble large-scale operations. If there is one lesson to be learned from the transatlantic plot, it is this: the real problem lies not in the intention of individuals to execute violent acts, but in the capabilities available to them. Unless Pakistan acts against jehadi capabilities, strikes against the West will always be probable.

But Boucher has made clear the U.S. is not willing to play the aces in its deck on India's behalf. "There are certain actions which could be taken very easily," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said on August 2, "to convince the people of India that when Pakistan says it is very serious about curbing terrorism it is going to take some action to do that." Just what India intends to do to get Pakistan deliver is a question Indian strategists are yet to answer.


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