Saleem Shahzad, Al Qaeda and ISI

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  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Comment: Saleem Shahzad, Al Qaeda and ISI by Khaled Ahmed

    Anyone who has read Inside Al Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 by Saleem Shahzad (Pluto Press 2011) will come to the following conclusions:

    1) It is Al Qaeda rather than the Taliban who plan militant attacks in Pakistan and that the Taliban execute no operations without the permission of Al Qaeda; 2) Jihadi organisations are subservient to Al Qaeda at the same time as some are also extensions of the Pakistan Army; 3) TTP was shaped by Al Qaeda through Uzbek warlord Tahir Yuldashev after the 2007 Lal Masjid affair; 4) 'Retired' army officers earlier handling proxy jihad defected to Al Qaeda but continued to use contacts within the military on behalf of Al Qaeda; 5) Benazir was killed by Al Qaeda and not Baitullah Mehsud; he was merely an instrument; 6) Mumbai was done by Al Qaeda through former Pakistan Army officers with help from Lashkar-e-Tayba (LeT) without the knowledge of the ISI despite the fact that LeT was on ISI's leash; 7) Army officers or freedom fighters trained by army for Kashmir jihad spearheaded Al Qaeda's war against Pakistan Army; 8) Islamic radicalisation of Pakistani society and media mixed with fear of being assassinated by Al Qaeda agents - who include ex-army officers - have tilted the balance of power away from the state of Pakistan to Al Qaeda; 9) Punjabi Taliban are under Haqqani Network which is supposed to be aligned with Pakistan Army; 10) Pakistan Army has ex-officers in Al Qaeda as well as serving officers collaborating with these ex-officers.

    Saleem Shahzad, who enjoyed the confidence of many Al Qaeda militants and never betrayed their whereabouts, writes: 'There were at least 600,000 youths there since 1979. At least 100,000 Pakistanis were active members or different Jihadi cadres. Over 1 million students were enrolled in various Islamic seminaries, and there were several hundred thousand supporters of Pakistan's Islamic religious parties. The main handler of the Afghan Jihad against the Soviets had been Pakistan's army, which itself was not immune to the influence of radicalism. Several army officers had pledged their allegiance (bait) to different Jihadi spiritual leaders, including Maulana Akram Awan of Chakwal. These groups were known in the Pakistan Army as pir bhai groups. Although General Pervez Musharraf had purged some of these elements from the Pakistan Army after 9/11, including his very close friend, the then deputy chief of army staff, Lt Gen Muzaffar Usmani, he was unable to completely eradicate the radical tendency, which had become deep-rooted in Pakistan's security services during the period from 1979 to 2001' (p. 9).

    Al Qaeda bent its principles constantly to take more allies on board. One was Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ): 'Slowly and gradually this strategy began to work, and brought thousands of new recruits into the Al Qaeda fold. Among them were two well-known brothers, Dr Akmal Waheed and Dr Arshad Waheed, from Karachi who were now linked to Al Qaeda through Jundullah. Dr Arshad Waheed was later killed in Wana in South Waziristan in a CIA drone strike, and soon afterwards Al Qaeda's media wing Al Sahab released a documentary on his life and exploits to inspire the younger generation. Subsequently several army officers joined the Al-Qaeda cadre' (p. 9).

    Radicalisation was facilitated by Jamaat-e-Islami: 'Its student wing had been formed in the 1948 as the offshoot of Jamaat-e-Islami, and by the 1970s it dominated all the country's major educational institutions, including the University of Karachi, University of Punjab, and University of Peshawar. Most of the middle-class members of Pakistan's leadership had belonged to the IJT as students, including Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan Muslim League leaders Javed Hashmi and Ehsan Iqbal, Pakistani law minister Dr Babar Awan, and almost 80 percent of Urdu-language newspaper and electronic media opinion writers and television talk show anchors in Pakistan' (p. 10).

    Uzbeks that Al Qaeda brought to Waziristan were critical in forming the violent mood of the militants: 'Tahir Yuldashev played a key role in the recruiting of such tribal militants as Abdullah Mehsud. Yuldashev headed an Uzbek force of 2,500 men. The Uzbeks were to give the Pakistani militants lessons in brutality to establish a reign of terror: their tactics included routinely slitting the throats of their foes' (p. 13).

    Al Qaeda's central hero was Captain Khurram Ashiq of the Pakistan Army who was followed by his brother Major Haroon Ashiq to become Al Qaeda's hand that wielded the sword: Khurram was an assault commander of the elite anti-terrorist Zarrar Coy from Pakistan's Special Service Group (SSG) in 2001 when he flipped after 9/11. Because of his Salafi background he was shaped into a warrior by LeT. He wrote to Saleem Shahzad about his brother too. 'Major Haroon Ashiq hung up his boots right after 9/11. On his release from service, he joined LeT. One of my unit officers Major Abdul Rahman also followed suit. I joined the outfit soon after, without caring for the consequences' (p. 83).

    For Captain Khurram faith came before country. While on a UN mission in Sierra Leone he clearly demonstrated it: 'Khurram built a mosque and a Madrassa in Sierra Leone, despite the opposition of his commander, Brigadier Ahmad Shuja Pasha, later chief of the ISI' (p. 85). Both brothers had joined the LeT, but had soon 'realised that the LET was just an extension of Pakistan's armed forces' (p. 86).

    Haroon read classical Muslim academics like Imam Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn-e-Khaldun and Muhammad Bin Abdul Wahhab. Among modern-day scholars he studied the works of the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Syed Qutb, as well as the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Syed Abul Ala Maududi' (p. 86). Haroon then severed his ties with the Kashmiri struggle and move to North Waziristan with his family. Khurram and Rahman then went to the Afghan province of Helmand in 2007 (p. 87) where Khurram was martyred, after which Rehman joined Haroon in Al Qaeda, becoming the lynchpin of the Mumbai attack in 2008.

    As an Al Qaeda terrorist, Haroon enjoyed contacts inside the army: 'Haroon developed a silencer for the AK-47. This became an essential component of Al Qaeda's special guerrilla operations. He then visited China to procure night vision glasses. The biggest task was to clear them through the customs in Pakistan, Haroon called on his friend Captain Farooq, who was President Musharraf's security officer. Farooq went to the airport in the president's official car and received Haroon at the immigration counter. In the presence of Farooq, nobody dared touch Haroon's luggage, and the night vision glasses arrived in Pakistan without any hassle [Farooq was a member of the Hizbut Tahrir, a fact discovered by the military intelligence as late as nine months after his posting as Musharraf's security officer. After being spotted, he was briefly arrested and then retired from the Pakistan Army]' (p. 88).

    Al Qaeda targeted NATO supplies through Haroon in 2008: 'Haroon travelled through North Waziristan to Karachi. When night fell, he stayed in army messes in the countryside. Being an ex-army officer he was allowed that facility. He spoke English and Urdu with an unmistakable military accent' (p. 92). He took revenge on Major General Ameer Faisal Alavi because the latter had killed a lot of Al Qaeda men - including Abdur Rehman Kennedy - as leader of a Pakistan Army assault on Angor Adda in North Waziristan. Haroon ambushed Alavi in Islamabad 'jumping out of his car and killing Alavi with his army revolver' (p. 93). Haroon believed in the Ghazwa-e-Hind (Battle for India) hadith and thought End of the World was near, and the advent of the Mahdi was at hand with the help of the armies of Khurasan (Afghanistan-Pakistan) (p. 200).

    Haroon is now in Adiala jail in Rawalpindi after failing to kidnap an Ahmadi, Sarwar Khan. (The police officer in Adiala jail told Saleem Shahzad he had started admiring his prisoner.) In custody he admitted to killing Major General Alavi and kidnapping Hindu filmmaker Satish Anand with the help of one Major Basit from Karachi. After he discovered that Anand had no money to give he released him on orders from Al Qaeda's Ilyas Kashmiri 'if he embraced Islam' which Anand immediately did. Later Al Qaeda decided that to refill its empty coffers it will abduct only non-Muslims, in particular, Ahmadis. (A 2011 kidnapping of an Ahmadi in Rawalpindi happened just a little ahead of the time of writing - KA.)

    The Mumbai operation was actually the revival of an old ISI plan. The idea was to deflect the Pakistan Army away from Waziristan and get it to fight India instead. This nearly succeeded: 'Pakistan's militant leaders Mullah Fazlullah and Baitullah Mehsud announced that they would fight alongside Pakistan's armed forces in an India-Pakistan war, and the director general of ISI, Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, confirmed this understanding in his briefing to national and foreign correspondents, when he called Fazlullah and Baitullah Mehsud Pakistan's strategic assets' (p. 95).

    Saleem saw Al Qaeda busily pursuing the goal of weaning Pakistan away from the West with violence and ideology. Pakistan's own teleology of moving from mild to harsh Islam across its history helped. He saw Al Qaeda achieving the following objective: 'Pressure on the ruling Muslim elites and the Muslim masses to break their alliance with the West and support the Islamists' cause of a global struggle for the freedom of occupied Muslim lands and establishment of a Global Caliphate' (p. 125).

    The joint declaration of the Pakistani Parliament and the subsequent statement issued by the Pakistan Army on 9 June 2011 seem to indicate that Al Qaeda is winning in nuclear Pakistan more effectively than in Somalia and Yemen.
     
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  3. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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    it is stunning khaled ahmed was the founding editor of nation, but people like him were systematically phased out and see what has been left of nation now, interesting how rationalists like him are being sidelined and pushed to the corner in an ever growing radicalised pakistan!

    i think a few things stand out

    a pakistan without american interests and involvement is not in our best interest, and even if that were to mean some military support, let it continue, else we could well have a mad dog (in regional context) on the run, but if this mad dog was to be on the run then US and EU are contemplating of some sort of UN intervention in pakistan, so if push comes to shove we might just be better off with the mad dog on the run option, but let that be the worst case option and a last ditch effort, the only problem, this mad dog runs around with nuclear teeth.

    AQ's role is getting increasingly defined in india but why is it that all this has to come out from outside sources? what are the indian authorities doing? headly comes and goes and the americans come telling us he played a prominent role in 26/11, AQ does a lot more and we are busy giving them clean chits and its a pakistani jurno spilling the beans, is the ministry of home affairs sleeping or are we that hugely incompetent, not that i underestimate our incompetence but this huge, well!

    ttp gets support of AQ and more importantly of haqqani network and incidentally the PA creme treats haqqani network as their strategic assets much like the way they treat ttp as their long term assets when the need arises. which shows even today pa/isi have a significant say within ttp which for now is attacking pa and pak citizens but if tomorrow america was to go away or pa was to no more fight for america then these very fighting forces would be more than willing to re-align with pa/isi and then we could be facing a lot more heat on kashmir front, but does this mean good news in anyway for the chinese on the east turkistan front because AQ would then like to have a slice of that as well at some point in time in future.
     
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  4. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    What should be the real concern is the "Pakistanisation of Alqaeda". Till now, Al Qaeda has been almost always been dominated by Arabs mainly Saudis and Egyptians. But the Saudis have struck hard against it and Egyptians were not far behind. This led to a lot of depletion in mid to low level commanders as well as elimination of many high profile leaders through drone strikes or otherwise. The only benefit to India from this was the Arab dominance meant a focus towards Arab regimes and the west.

    Now increasingly, AQ is relying on Pakistani players and increasingly turning inwards towards the Pakistani state. And obviously the next step after that would be India. Especially if the presence of retd. army and intelligence officers working with AQ is true. Some people might be welcome a collapse of Pakistan and emergence of secular nationalist movements, but if the collapse entails AQ sympathizers taking over a nuclear Pakistan, the picture will not be pretty. This also explains reports on how AQ influence LeT to launch the Mumbai attacks to reduce pressure from the Pakistani state on the western front by giving them the excuse to mobilize troops on the eastern front. In hindsight, it seems a very wise, if unpopular decision by Indian policy makers to not give that excuse to Pakistani Army.

    Another relevant article by Amir Mir on this issue.

    Growing Pakistanisation of al-Qaeda

    LAHORE: While the al-Qaeda high command has appointed an Egyptian Jihadi Saif Al-Adal as the military chief of the terror outfit to supervise operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, it has re-designated a Pakistani Jihadi Commander Ilyas Kashmiri as the group’s military strategist to plan and spearhead the terrorist attacks against the West.

    According to well-informed sources in the Pakistani security establishment, Ilyas Kashmiri, who is also the Ameer of the Azad Kashmir chapter of the Harkatul Jihadul Islami (HUJI), had been made the chief of al-Qaeda’s military operations for the region following the May 21, 2010, death of Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, its ex-operational chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan, in an American drone strike in North Waziristan. Yazid used to greatly admire Kashmiri’s tactical and guerilla skills and had left a recorded audio message before his death, on the basis of which Kashmiri was elevated as the operational chief of al-Qaeda. Yazid’s posthumous



    audiotape was released by al-Qaeda’s media wing on June 15, 2010, wherein he had referred to Kashmiri as an official part of al-Qaeda, adding that terror attacks should now be carried out inside the United States. Yazid also claimed in the same tape that al-Qaeda’s Kashmir faction led by Ilyas had carried out the February 13, 2010 bombing of the German Bakery in the Pune city of India, which killed 17 people, including two foreigners.

    However, since al-Qaeda’s former military chief Saif Al-Adal has returned to the battlefield after being freed by the Iranian government in exchange for the release an Iranian diplomat who was kidnapped by the Taliban in Pakistan in 2008, Ilyas Kashmiri has now been re-designated and assigned with the most difficult and challenging task of carrying out terror attacks in the West. Informed sources in the Pakistani security establishment say Kashmiri has been tasked to target the West keeping in view his global Jihadi links and a well-entrenched network of deep-cover agents in Europe and America.

    Kashmiri is also a prime example of the increasing partnership between Osama-led al-Qaeda, Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and the Jihadi groups active in the Indian-administered Jammu Kashmir — all of whom have assembled in the Waziristan region on the Pak-Afghan tribal belt. And Kashmiri is believed to be well placed to exploit this growing cooperation, which has augmented al-Qaeda’s capacity to launch major terror attacks against the US and its Western allies.

    Ilyas Kashmiri is considered brutal and goal-oriented just like his Egyptian partner Saif Al Adel, who has substantial experience cooperating with other anti-US militant groups. While Saif has served as a Colonel in the Special Forces of the Egyptian Army, there are unconfirmed reports that Kashmiri used to be a part of the Special Services Group of the Pakistan Army in the 1990s. He is on the American radar since the Mumbai terrorist attacks in which several US nationals were also killed. Originally, a product of the Pakistani establishment which had nurtured him to wage Jihad in Jammu & Kashmir, Kashmiri eventually fell out of favour with his spymasters when he refused to serve under the command of a junior Jihadi-Maulana Masood Azhar, who had just founded the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in early 2001 after being released from an Indian jail in the wake of an Indian plane hijacking.

    Following the Lal Masjid military action in 2007, he moved his operational base from his home town Kotli to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) to become a part of the Afghan Taliban-led resistance against the Nato forces in Afghanistan.

    Since then, he has emerged as a new international Jihadi plotter who is described by terrorism experts as the key man linking al-Qaeda with Western recruits and trying to infiltrate highly trained terrorists into Europe and the United States to launch Mumbai style terrorist attacks. Some recent findings by Western intelligence agencies say Ilyas Kashmiri is a key facilitator in al-Qaeda’s plan to carry out Mumbai-style commando attacks in Europe, mainly in Germany, France, and England. He has already established himself as the captain of al-Qaeda’s shadow army — Lashkar-e-Zil (LeZ), which is a loose alliance of al-Qaeda-and Taliban-linked anti-US militia. The Zil has distinguished itself by conducting unusual guerilla operations, like the one that targeted the CIA’s Forward Operating Base in Khost on December 31, 2009, that killed seven CIA officials.

    Besides being the Ameer of his own faction of the HUJI, the military strategist of al-Qaeda and the chief of the LeZ, Kashmiri is also the commander of Brigade 313, which is made up of the Taliban and allied Jihadi groups. Members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Harkatul Jihadul Islami (HUJI), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Jundullah, and several other Pakistani militant groups are known to have merged with al-Qaeda in Pakistan, and the group operates under the name of Brigade 313.

    Interestingly, the Brigade 313 also has a website whose landing page has the words “al-Qaeda Brigade 313” in the centre, in addition to inscribing the names of Harkatul Jihadul Islami, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jundallah, and the Movement of Pakistani Taliban in the four corners of the page.

    Further surfing of the website would show images of slain al-Qaeda leader Mustafa Abu Yazid and ideologue Abu Yahya al-Libi on the left side of the page, and an image of commander Ilyas Kashmiri on the far right.

    The brigade has been behind many high-profile terror attacks inside Pakistan, including the October 2009 commando assault at the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi. The GHQ attack was carried out after an American drone targeted Kashmiri and reportedly killed him in North Waziristan on September 14, 2009.

    Yet, hardly a month after his reported death, Kashmiri resurfaced and promised retribution against the United States and its proxies, saying the Americans were right to pursue him. “They know their enemy quite well. They know what I am really up to,” Ilyas Kashmiri had observed in an interview. In August 2010, the United Nations and the United States tagged him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist for his involvement in terrorist activities.
     
  5. Solid Beast

    Solid Beast New Member

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    Some people tend to fall into line with popularist instead of logical thinking and like the above post illustrates, the Egyptian and Saudi regimes are good for civilization, they have withstood the tests of time while Pakistan has failed, and failed for one reason only. They sheltered the poison to end all humanity under cover of nuclear weapons on top of that...while the brave regimes of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, ugly as they may be on the face, had the courage and moral fortitude to think of their nation's interests first and get rid of this menace. Now Pakistanis have filled this void and vacuum, of course logically and naturally...as the government and most people aren't sure who is good and who is bad Taliban.
     

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