Saturday, March 23, 2002

An Indian newspaper reported in October that Lt-Gen Mahmud Ahmad, the leader of the Pakistani security agency, ISI, arranged to direct $100,000 to Mohamad Atta, leader of the September 11 terrorists, by sending it through Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, later the alleged abductor and murderer of Daniel Pearl and probably a part of al-Qaeda (he worked for bin Laden when bin Laden was in the Sudan). When you read this, particularly in light of the murder of Pearl, you say, 'ah ha!'. This appears to be the smoking gun that ties together ISI, al-Qaeda, the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the murder of Daniel Pearl. Pearl was presumably murdered because he was getting too close to the truth that the Pakistani government was not really serious about cracking down on Islamic fundamentalists (Musharraf, after Pearl's death, even said something to the effect that the murder was because Pearl was getting too close to the truth). Everything ties together so neatly. Or is it too neatly? We've been fed lots of information about how ISI is staffed with radical Islamic fundamentalists, and how Musharraf is trying to take back the country from them and put it on a modern, pro-Western, secular path. I have no doubt that ISI is riddled with fundamentalists. We know that the al-Qaeda training camps were originally set up by ISI to provide soldiers to rid Afghanistan of the infidel Russians. Subsequently, ISI has promoted Islamic fundamentalism in India and Kashmir, and has supported the Taliban. I have never, however, heard of an elite intelligence unit that does not end up supporting the interests of the power elite in the country which it nominally serves. What are the interests of the notoriouly debauched and un-Islamic power elite in Pakistan? Will they not make a fortune if a pipeline is built through Afganistan, in building it, maintaining it, and charging rent for the part that goes over Pakistan? Was the Taliban not in the way of making that fortune? Is it not therefore likely that ISI was assisting in the removal of the Taliban? Was not the first step in removing the Taliban giving the Americans an excuse to attack Afghanistan by providing a connection between the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the September 11 terrorists? What better connection than a payment shipped from a Pakistani al-Qaeda member to terrorist Atta? Think about the lack of logic in the payment: 1) Why does ISI, an organization which presumably has access to all manner of sophisticated and covert banking techniques, decide to send money to Atta through using the traceable services of an al-Qaeda member in Pakistan? 2) How does the Indian newspaper find out about this, unless it was leaked to them? 3) When Musharraf mused that Pearl was getting close to revealing the truth, that truth couldn't be the idea that ISI was supporting al-Qaeda or the idea that the Pakistani army and ISI were filled with fundamentalists, as everyone knew these things - what Pearl may have been discovering was that the connection between ISI and al-Qaeda and Atta was a complicated frame-up, aimed at providing an excuse for the Americans to attack the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pearl might have been killed for insulting his captors by pointing out to them how they'd been had. On and before September 11, where was Lt-Gen Mahmud Ahmad, the leader of ISI? Washington, D. C. (and it wouldn't surprise me if he spent some time in Langley). Remember that ISI's confederate in establishing the camps to train soldiers against the Russians was the CIA (Brzezinski is still proud of the success of this mission). Lt-Gen Mahmud Ahmad's presence in Washington on September 11 was later regarded as suspicious, as were his possible ties to Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and he was fired (or, rather, allowed to 'retire') as head of ISI by Musharraf, a firing which may be part of the deception. On top of all this is the rather odd reticence of the Wall Street Journal to make the connection between the murderer of its reporter, Daniel Pearl, and the ISI. Why would the American newspaper, which you would think would want to play up the Atta connection to al-Qaeda, be so coy? Is it just because they wanted to protect U. S. ally Musharraf from being tainted by connections to Islamic fundamentalism? Musharraf has fired the leader of ISI and said all the right things. Could it be that the Wall Street Journal doesn't want to draw attention to the ISI-Atta connection since it is no longer needed as an excuse for an attack on Afghanistan, and bringing attention to it might make someone realize how suspicious it seems (not to mention that it may be the real cause of Pearl's death)?