Fra den pakistanske presidentens memoarer III

The wanted man, the Heathrow plot and the 7/7 bombers

SINCE shortly after 9/11, when many members of al-Qaeda fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan, we have played cat and mouse with them. The biggest of them all, Osama bin Laden, is still at large at the time of this writing, but we have caught many, many others.

Some are known to the world, some are not. We have captured 689 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars. Those who habitually accuse us of “not doing enough” in the war on terror should simply ask the CIA how much prize money it has paid to the Government of Pakistan.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) was one of the most sought-after terrorists and featured prominently on the FBI’s “most wanted” list. A Kuwaiti-born Iranian national, KSM had most of his schooling in Kuwait and then attended college in North Carolina in 1984. From there he transferred to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was a member of what is known as the “Afghan alumni” terrorist network. Its sole reason for existence was to kill as many Americans as possible, anywhere, anyhow.

In 1993 KSM spearheaded the attempt to blow up New York’s World Trade Centre, along with his nephew Ramzi Yousef. Next, they plotted to blow up about a dozen airliners flying from South-East Asia to the United States on the same day. They also planned to dispatch a suicide pilot to crash into the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. This was called the Bojinka Operation. None of these plans materialised, however, because Ramzi Yousef was arrested in Pakistan in 1995 and handed over to the United States, shortly before he could pull off the operation. Other conspirators were arrested, but KSM managed to get away.

In the years that followed, before we arrested him in Pakistan, he devised al-Qaeda’s most audacious plans, including the September 11 attacks.

During his interrogation we discovered that as early as 2002 he had been working on plans to attack other London targets including Heathrow airport. Another leading terrorist had been told by KSM to carry out reconnaissance of, and prepare a plan to attack, Heathrow airport. After initial planning he also suggested Canary Wharf as an additional possible target.

The Heathrow plot was to be staged first. Al-Qaeda planned to use airports and airlines of the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Croatia, Poland, Romania and Malta to attack Heathrow because security at these airports and in their aircraft was lax. Al-Qaeda also decided not to use too many Arab hijackers to avoid suspicion.

Instead it planned to use hardened European Muslim veterans of the Bosnian jihad and even Afghans. It asked Hazim al-Shair (killed in Saudi Arabia in 2004), the head of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, to recruit the pilots who would take over the hijacked airliners. Failing that, he should send students to flying schools. They would select flights that landed at Heathrow at about the same time.

The signal for the hijackers to act would be the “fasten seatbelts” sign when it was switched on before landing. For weapons they would use the stainless steel cutlery on the plane as well as broken alcohol bottles. They hoped to crash the aircraft into the various buildings of Heathrow. (Ac- cording to KSM, another important al-Qaeda operative, Khallad bin Attash, suggested at a later stage in the planning that they change the target from Heathrow to some place in Israel but KSM did not agree.) All this information was passed on to the British authorities and fortunately the attack on Heathrow never came to fruition. This was one of our many hidden successes.

We later captured an associate of KSM and gave the British direct access to him. This would later reveal a link with Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, two of the people who were to carry out the suicide attacks on London’s underground system on July 7, 2005. This information about Siddique and Tanweer was not shared with us until July 28, 2005, three weeks after the attacks in London and despite the fact that Siddique and Tanweer had been spotted 17 months earlier.

When KSM started his life as a terrorist he was not with al-Qaeda; he had his own network. During much of the 1990s KSM first tried to maintain his operational autonomy and resisted swearing allegiance to any terrorist leader, because he thought of himself as being in the same mould as Osama bin Laden. But after the failure of Bojinka and the arrest of Ramzi Yousef, he decided to develop closer ties with al-Qaeda.

In 1996, after Osama bin Laden had moved back to Afghanistan, KSM met him in Tora Bora. He told Osama about his role in the bombing of the World Trade Centre in 1993 and the Bojinka Operation. KSM presented the idea of 9/11 to Osama bin Laden, but Osama vetoed it, asking KSM to join al-Qaeda first. Wishing to retain his independence, KSM refused.

In 1998 or 1999, perhaps persuaded by Abu Hafs al-Masri — now known to the world by his alias, Mohammad Atef — Osama bin Laden approved the plan for 9/11, though of course at that time the exact date could not have been determined. As soon as KSM learnt that Osama was on board, he brought his family from Qatar to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

The plan for 9/11 was kept secret between Osama bin Laden, Atef and KSM. Intelligence sources indicate that by 2000 Mullah Omar probably had a fair idea that largescale operations on American soil were planned, but he did not know any details. It is also said that he was not happy about it but apparently could do nothing. Mohammad Atef and Osama bin Laden shortlisted the operatives for 9/11 and asked KSM to select the best of them. Al-Qaeda’s shoora council, or consultative committee, approved the plan in August 2001.

On September 21 or 22, 2001, Osama bin Laden recalled KSM to Afghanistan, even though KSM wanted to stay where he was. After analysing the suicide hijackings, they both got involved in the defence of Afghanistan and the transfer of their families to Pakistan.

Having been tipped off, our intelligence agents spotted an associate of KSM at Islamabad international airport on the morning of February 28, 2003. He was scheduled to meet KSM that evening. Our source informed us that they would be using two houses on Peshawar Road, Rawalpindi. A plan was immediately drawn up to arrest them alive. The problem was that our source was unfamiliar with the area and knew the houses only by sight. But by sheer ingenuity, coupled with a deep familiarity with the area, our agents were able to identify the houses on the basis of simple descriptions. At 1.45 the next morning, they surrounded the houses. The entrance doors were broken down and our agents rushed in, brandishing weapons and shouting. In one of the houses a man on the ground floor, taken by surprise, immediately pointed upward and said: “They are up there.”

Without breaking their momentum our agents ran upstairs and found KSM and his accomplice Mustafa al-Hawsawi with loaded Kalashnikovs beside them. When KSM managed to pick up his Kalashnikov, one of our officers tried to wrest it from his hand; the gun went off and a bullet hit and injured the officer. But before KSM and Mustafa could do further damage, they were overpowered and arrested. It had been a smooth, quick operation. We kept KSM in custody for three days, during which time we interrogated him fully.

Once we were done with him and had all the information we wanted, we handed him over to the United States Government.

© Pervez Musharraf 2006. Extracted from In The Line of Fire, published by Simon & Schuster at £18.99. Available from The Times BooksFirst at £17.09 (0870 1608080,

Postet av: Ole Nyeng

Islamisme. Uden Musharraf ville Pakistan blive en atommagt, styret af radikale islamister, lyder den gængse forestilling i Vesten. I virkeligheden fører han os bag lyset, siger International Crisis Group.Tvivlsom partner»Måske er han en slyngel, men i det mindste er han vores slyngel.« Udtrykket stammer fra Franklin D. Roosevelts karakteristik af den nicaraguanske diktator Anastasio Somoza i 1939, men er brugt lejlighedsvis op igennem historien om alliancepartnere, som måske ikke ligefrem deler og praktiserer vestlige idealer, men alligevel er brugbare alliancepartnere i det store strategiske spil.En typisk sådan er general Pervez Musharraf, Pakistans præsident siden 1999, da han tog magten ved et militærkup. Musharrafs undertrykkelse af det pakistanske demokrati, hvor korrupt og ufuldstændigt det end var, er beklagelig efter vores standarder. Men generalen ses alligevel i de vestlige hovedstæder og ikke mindst USA som nøgleallieret i kampen mod terrorismen og det eneste bolværk mod Pakistans fremgangsrige radikale islamister. Uden ham ved roret kunne Pakistan meget vel blive den første atommagt med islamister ved magten, lyder den almindelige vurdering i vestlige regeringskontorer.Vi kan godt tro om igen, siger en spinkel midaldrende kvinde, Samina Ahmed, som i denne uge var i Danmark for blandt andet at briefe Folketingets udenrigsudvalg om situationen i Pakistan og Afghanistan. »Frem for at være et bolværk mod islamismen har Musharraf dannet alliancer med islamisterne og marginaliseret de moderate kræfter. Og denne alliance mellem militærstyret og islamisterne i Pakistan er hovedårsagen til, at talibanstyrker nu igen har fået solidt fodfæste i Afghanistan.«Samina Ahmed er en kvinde, der bør lyttes til. Hun sidder i Islamabad som leder af den anerkendte internationale tænketank International Crisis Groups kontor i Sydasien med det formål at observere udviklingen i regionen og give anbefalinger til Vestens politiske ledere. Og anbefalingen hedder nu, at det vil være klogt at opgive alliancen med general Musharraf – eller i det mindste at lægge et så stort pres på militærstyret i Islamabad, at det bliver nødt til at tage afstand fra Pakistans radikale islamiske bevægelser og indlede en seriøs demokratisering af landet. For Musharrafs tætte samarbejde med islamisterne gør Pakistan til både udklækningsanstalt, fristed og træningslejr for afghanske talibanere og tilrejsende fribyttere. Hvilket er en stor del af forklaringen på den markante opblomstring af krigen i det sydlige Afghanistan. Og dermed skyld i vestlige soldaters død...»Der er selvfølgelig også interne afghanske årsager til, at talibanerne er i fremmarch,« siger Samina Ahmed. »Men én ting står uafviselig klar: Uden den mulighed, talibanerne har for frit at krydse frem og tilbage over grænsen til Pakistan og uden træningslejre og logistisk støtte i Pakistans grænseprovinser, ville de ikke kunne fortsætte deres offensiv i Afghanistan. Hvis dette ikke stoppes, er det lige meget, hvor mange succeser de internationale styrker får i Afghanistan, lige meget hvor mange talebanere, man dræber: Der vil altid kunne rekrutteres nye hellige krigere fra madrassaerne i Pakistan.«Udadtil præsenterer Musharraf sig ofte som den sidste skanse mod de islamistiske bevægelser, uden ham den islamiske syndflod, et Pakistan med atomvåben styret af radikale islamister. At dette billede af ham er udbredt også i vestlige hovedstæder er udtryk for et fænomenalt godt spin-arbejde, mener Samina Ahmed. Et billede, islamisterne villigt bidrager til ved jævnligt at omtale Musharraf som »Vestens lakaj«. Men reelt ville Musharrafs militærstyre falde sammen uden støtten fra islamisterne.»Der er åbent oprør i en af Pakistans fire provinser, Baluchistan. Reelt har militæret kun kontrollen med halvdelen af landet,« siger Ahmed.AlliancerneHendes beviser for samarbejdet mellem militærstyret og de radikale islamister virker overbevisende: »Da Musharraf behøvede en slags legitimering af hans militærstyre, lod han sit gummistemplende parlament vedtage 17 forfatningsændringer, der gav ham grundlag for at regere. Hvem stemte for: Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (en seks-parti alliance af islamistiske organisationer).Alliancens hovedkraft er organisationen Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), som driver hovedparten af madrassaerne, koranskolerne, i Pakistan, som allerede støttede de afghanske jihadier under krigen mod de sovjetiske styrker, som udstyrede, trænede og leverede en del af ledelsen og en stor del af soldaterne til taleban-hæren, da den opstod, og som gør det den dag i dag.«Samme alliance mellem militærstyret og islamister gør sig gældende i den Nordvestlige Grænseprovins, en provins med en langstrakt grænse til Afghanistan. Her danner Musharrafs parti provinsregering sammen med islamisterne i Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).I Nord-Waziristan i det såkaldte Tribal Area har militærstyret indgået en våbenhvileaftale med islamistiske militser i håb om, at det vil stoppe den langvarige konfrontation mellem militæret og lokale stammers hellige krigere. Ifølge aftalen trækkes militærets kontrolposter tilbage, konfiskerede våben afleveres og fængslede militante islamister er løsladt, mod at militserne lover ikke at krydse grænsen til Afghanistan for at deltage i talebanernes krig. Hvor meget det løfte er værd, viste en tilsvarende aftale, som militærstyret indgik for to år siden i Syd-Waziristan. I dag har lokale talebanere fuldstændig overtaget kontrollen med området og praler åbenlyst af at sende hellige krigere over grænsen.Endelig har styret i Islamabad og den islamistiske MMA-alliance også indgået et samarbejde om at bekæmpe et oprør, som nationalistiske, men sekulære og stærkt anti-taleban-orienterede bevægelser indledte sidste år i Baluchistan, Pakistans største provins. Baluchistan udgør 40 procent af Pakistans areal, heriblandt størsteparten af kysten, har enorme olie- og gasforekomster, men er tyndt befolket, kun seks procent af Pakistans 160 millioner mennesker bor her. Får oprørsbevægelserne held til at vinde kampen for autonomi eller selvstændighed, er det et stort slag mod militærstyret i Islamabad. Så militæret, islamistiske militser og talibanere udkæmper her, hvad Samina Ahmed kalder »en hæslig krig«, med alle dertil hørende ingredienser: pågrebne politiske aktivister »forsvinder«, familier udryddes, hele landsbyer udsættes for massakrer. I september blev en af de mere moderate oprørsledere, Baluchistans tidligere førsteminister Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti myrdet sammen med en stor del af hans familie, da militæret bombede hans tilflugtssted fra luften, og siden er konflikten eskaleret.»Baluchierne er stærkt anti-Taleban og burde være Vestens naturlige allierede. Men ikke blot ignoreres deres kamp helt i Vesten, Musharraf bruger også de amerikanske våben, styret har modtaget for at bekæmpe al-Qaeda og Taleban, til at bekæmpe oprørerne i Baluchistan,« siger Samina Ahmed.StøttegrupperneMed et fristed i Pakistans grænseprovinser, militær og logistisk støtte fra pakistanske islamistiske militser, talrige rekrutteringsmuligheder i flygtningelejre og koranskoler og fri passage frem og tilbage over grænsen er det ikke så underligt, at talebanernes offensiv i Afghanistan går så strygende, og at sikkerhedssituationen over det meste af landet er stærkt forværret i det seneste år på trods af en massiv indsats af internationale styrker.Kernen i den afghanske oprørshær, de hardcore ideologiske talebanere, får hjælp af tre andre betydningsfulde grupper, siger Samina Ahmed.Det drejer sig om etniske pashtunere, der kæmper for at genvinde den position i det afghanske styre, de havde under Taleban (som fortrinsvis består af pashtunere). Det drejer sig om lokale krigsherrer, der af mange forskellige grunde, ikke mindst økonomiske, ikke ønsker, at centralstyret i Kabul skal vinde. Endelig drejer det sig om lejesoldater. »Talebanerne betaler godt, de strør om sig med penge. Går du i deres sold, betaler de 80 dollar om måneden, mens man som almindelig politimand måske tjener 30 dollar. Årsagen er selvfølgelig, at talebanerne kontrollerer og beskatter opiumsproduktionen, som i år er rekordstor, 6100 ton – på trods af de internationale styrkers tilstedeværelse. Det udgør 92 procent af verdens opiumproduktion,« siger Samina Ahmed.Ud over Vestens – efter International Crisis Groups opfattelse – fejlagtige alliance med Musharraf, har vi begået talrige fejl i indsatsen i Afghanistan, mener hun.»Vi bragte krigsherrerne ind og gav dem magt for at bekæmpe Taleban, selv om det ikke var nødvendigt. Vi valgte den grimmeste samarbejdspartner, fordi strategien jo hed: Light footprint, quick exit. Genopbygningen skulle så hurtigt som muligt over på afghanske hænder, og vi skulle ud så hurtigt som muligt. Men genveje er en farlig ting. Resultatet i dag er et sammenbrud af lov og orden, også i de områder af Afghanistan, som Kabul-regeringen kontrollerer. Vi har storstilet korruption i regeringen, i parlamentet, i administrationen, i provinsernes administrationer. En berygtet narkobaron er i dag chef for Kabuls politi, og politistyrken på 60.000 mand er dybt korrupt. Folk oplever et klima, hvor ingen forbrydelser straffes. Spørger du en afghaner, hvad vedkommende savner allermest, svarer de fleste ikke mad, end ikke sikkerhed, men retfærdighed. Det er ikke nok, at det internationale samfund forsøger at bygge sikkerhed, det er lige så vigtigt at bygge fungerende institutioner.«Men i overskuelig tid fremover vil de internationale styrker have nok i blot at hindre, at talebanernes kontrol med store dele af de sydlige provinser breder sig til det østlige Afghanistan. Her er det afgørende, at vi sætter Pakistans præsident Musharraf pistolen for brystet og simpelthen kræver, at hans styrker genindsættes i grænseprovinserne og stopper talebaners og islamisters frie bevægelse. Et krav, der meget vel kan føre til, at styret bryder sammen.Men er der så ikke en reel fare for, at de islamistiske grupper tager magten? Det mener Samina Ahmed ikke:»Islamisterne er meget synlige, men de har ikke nogen stor base i den pakistanske befolkning. I et frit og fair valg ville hverken islamisterne eller Musharraf have en chance,« mener hun.Så det er, hvad Vesten burde arbejde på: en demokratisering af Pakistan. »Pakistan har i virkeligheden en stor demokratisk kultur. De har et civilsamfund, to fungerende store demokratiske partier, domstole, der har vundet en vis uafhængighed – hvor mange autoritære stater kan man sige det om?«

13.10.2006 @ 23:31

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