Terrorist Omar Sheikh of Pakistan posed as Pranab, rang Zardari

Thursday, November 26, 2009 · 0 comments

pakistani terrorists

Pakistani militant Omar Saeed Sheikh, one of the three freed in 1999 by India at Kandahar in exchange for passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane and later arrested for the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, was the one who made hoax calls to President Asif Ali Zardari and the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in a bid to heighten Pakistan-India tensions after last year's terrorist attacks on Mumbai, investigators have told Dawn.

"Omar Saeed Sheikh was the hoax caller. It was he who threatened the civilian and military leaderships of Pakistan over telephone. And he did so from inside Hyderabad jail," investigators said.

The controversy came to light after Dawn broke the story, one year ago, that a hoax caller claiming to be then Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee was making threatening calls to President Zardari.

It was on the night of November 26 last year that Saadia Omar, Omar Sheikh's wife, informed him about the carnage in Mumbai. Sources said that the information was passed on to Omar in Hyderabad jail through his mobile phone, which he was secretly using without the knowledge of the administration.

Saadia kept updating Omar about the massacre through the night and small hours of the morning. On the night of November 28, when the authorities had regained control over the better part of the city, Omar Saeed, using a UK-registered mobile SIM, made a phone call to Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

He told an operator handling Mukherjee's calls that he was the President of Pakistan. Indian officials started verification as part of security precautions and, after some time, the operator informed Omar that the Foreign Minister would get in touch with him soon.

Omar then made a call to President Asif Ali Zardari and another to the Chief of Army Staff. He also made an attempt to talk to the US Secretary of State, but security checks barred his way.

The presidency swung into action soon after Zardari's conversation with the adventurous militant. Zardari first spoke to Prime Minister Gilani and informed him about the happenings. He also took Interior Minister Rehman Malik into the loop.

In Rawalpindi, Gen Kayani immediately spoke to the chief of the Inter Services Intelligence, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

According to sources, not only President Asif Zardari was taken in by Omar's audacity but the COAS was also baffled by his cheekiness.

Gen Kayani, sharing his thoughts with close associates, said he had been bewildered by the caller's threatening tone. But Maj Gen Athar Abbas, the military spokesman, finds the report unbelievable. "I am not his (Army chief's) operator. I don't know who puts calls through to him, but I think this can't be true," said Athar Abbas.

Interestingly, when Omar Saeed Sheikh was making these hoax calls, the Lashkar-e-Toiba chief was also in Karachi, but it is not known whether Omar Saeed was acting under the guidance of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi or on his own.

Investigators got into the act without wasting time, coming up with their findings within hours. Their conclusion was that the phone call which came from the Indian External Affairs Ministry was actually their (Indians') check. They said calls to President Zardari and the Army chief were made from a Britain-registered SIM.

Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf, in his autobiography, had alleged that Omar Saeed was an agent of MI6, the British intelligence agency.

The very next morning, November 29, Hyderabad jail was raided by intelligence agencies and over a dozen SIMs were recovered along with two mobile sets. Majid Siddiqui, the jail superintendent, was suspended.

"I don't know much but it is true that some mobile SIMs and mobile sets were recovered from Omar Saeed Sheikh when he was in Hyderabad jail. I got him transferred to Karachi jail because that is a far better place for such high-profile terrorists," Allauddin Abbasi, DIG Prisons, Hyderabad, told Dawn over phone.

The authorities had a word with Saadia Omar too. She was advised to "control" herself. The matter was then placed in the files of secret agencies marked as 'secret'.

The Federal Investigation Agency never interrogated Omar Saeed about the Mumbai attacks. Dawn's efforts for getting the viewpoint of Tariq Khosa , the FIA chief, drew a blank.

Omar, currently confined in a high security cell of Karachi Jail, has a long record of militancy, from kidnapping foreigners in Mumbai in 1994 to kidnapping Daniel Pearl in January 2002. He was freed by India in December 1999 as part of a deal that saw New Delhi agreeing to release militant leaders in exchange for the freedom of hostages on board an India plane hijacked to Kabul.

Soon after his release from Indian captivity, Omar Saeed developed close relations with the LeT leadership, including Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. He was invited to a training camp in Muzaffarabad where he spent a couple of days delivering lectures to recruits. Sources said Lakhvi wanted Omar to join LeT and give the organisation an international face. In February 2002, Omar was arrested for the murder of Daniel Pearl. — Dawn, Pakistan

ISI helped Taliban supremo Mullah Omar flee

Friday, November 20, 2009 · 0 comments

pakistan isi terrorism

Terrorist Organization ISI helped Taliban supremo Mullah Omar flee:

Fearing that Taliban supremo Mullah Omar might be targetted by US drones, Pakistan's ISI has helped him to flee from the border town of Quetta to the mega port city of Karachi, where he has established a new Shura council.

One-eyed leader of the Afghan Taliban recently found refuge from potential US attacks in Karachi with Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) assistance, the Washington Times reported quoting US intelligence officials.

"Mullah Omar travelled to Karachi last month after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He inaugurated a new senior leadership council in Karachi, a city that so far has escaped US and Pakistani counter-terrorism campaigns," the officials said.

The paper said the ISI helped Mullah Omar move from Quetta, where they felt he was exposed to attacks by unmanned US drones.

"The development reinforces suspicions that the ISI, which helped create the Taliban in the 1990s to expand Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, is working against US interests in Afghanistan as the Obama administration prepares to send more US troops to fight there," the daily said.

Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran and analyst on al Qaeda and the Taliban, confirmed that Mullah Omar had been spotted in Karachi recently, the daily said.

"Some sources claim the ISI decided to move him further from the battlefield to keep him safe" from US drone attacks, Riedel was quoted as saying.

"There are huge madrassas in Karachi where Mullah Omar could easily be kept," he said.

Riedel noted that there had been few suicide bombings in Karachi, which he attributed to the Taliban and al Qaeda not wanting to "foul their own nest".

At the same time, the daily said so far there has been no indication that the top Al Qaeda leadership too had moved to Karachi.

Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri are still thought to be in the tribal region of Pakistan on Afghanistan's border, he said.

However, the newspaper said according to intelligence officials, other mid-level al Qaeda operatives who facilitate the travel and training of foreign fighters have moved to the Karachi metropolitan area, which with 18 million people is Pakistan's most populous city.

"One reason, [al Qaeda] and Taliban leaders are relocating to Karachi is because they believe US drones do not strike there," a official was quoted as saying adding that it is a densely populated urban area.

Pakistan's five military officers, linked to Headley, arrested

Thursday, November 19, 2009 · 0 comments

pakistan military terror

Some serving and ex-military officers are among five people arrested in Pakistan in connection with the LeT plot to carry out a major terror attack in India using American national David Coleman Headley, a media report said today.

"Pakistani authorities had arrested as many as five other people in connection with the (Lashkar-e-Toiba) plot in recent weeks, including some former or current Pakistani military officials," the New York Times reported.

The paper quoted an official, who has been briefed on the investigation, as saying that those arrested remain in custody, but it was unclear what role they played in the expanding plot.

Headley, 49, and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 48, who were arrested last month by FBI are accused of plotting terror attacks on behest of LeT against India and a Danish newspaper.

"The arrests of Headley and Rana have widened into a global terrorism inquiry that has led to arrests in Pakistan and implicated a former Pakistani military officer as a co-conspirator," the paper quoted officials as saying.

The American intelligence officials believe that some Pakistani military and intelligence officials even encourage terrorists to attack what they see as Pakistan's enemies, including targets in India, it said.

Headley and Rana were accused in the FBI complaints of reporting to Ilyas Kashmiri, a former Pakistani military officer who has become a militant commander associated with both al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Taliban target creator, blow up ISI jihad lab

Friday, November 13, 2009 · 0 comments

Mad that parts of the very institution that created it had now turned against the Taliban, Islamist suicide bombers on Friday completely destroyed the headquarters of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence in Peshawar that was once the laboratory of jihad run by Pakistan army officers.

Taliban terrorists blew up an explosives-laden truck outside the three-story building on Khyber Road that leads to the gateway to Afghanistan and central Asia through which the ISI pushed in combatants, weapons and explosives for years to help its erstwhile ally, the Afghan Taliban to capture Kabul finally in 1996.

The dawn attack at 6.40am, the 19th in Peshawar in five months, razed the building to rubble. It was not clear how many security personnel were inside the building when the bomber struck on the road leading to the Khyber Pass just before the city's rush-hour.

``It was a suicide bombing outside the intelligence office building. Five security personnel have been martyred,'' Pakistan's chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told reporters. Other officials said the toll was nine.

``First there was firing, then a huge blast. Then everything was turned into dust and thick smoke,'' said Haroon Jan, an eyewitness who was brought into the Lady Reading hospital with a broken shoulder and head injuries.

The lawless frontier town of Peshawar, criss-crossed by Great Game deal-makers, militias and armies as political histories on both sides of the Khyber changed, has borne the brunt of the Taliban reprisals. Suicide attacks have bloodied the town's marketplaces and streets daily as Pakistan's army, eager to be seen to be acting against the globally-despised Taliban, mounted offensives against South Waziristan tribespeople.

Several big tribes, such as the Mehsud, form the backbone of the Tehrik-e-Taliban and have been suppliers of warriors and weapons traditionally for the mujahideen and later for Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaida and several anti-India groups which operated openly with military support in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Most of these operations, even after Washington turned on the heat following 9/11, were supervised by Pakistani officers posted at the Peshawar ISI regional HQ on Khyber Road.

The last time an ISI building was targeted was in May, when 24 people were killed in a suicide attack in Lahore.Minutes after Friday's attack, soldiers sealed off the area around the ISI headquarters but another suicide attack on a police station in Peshawar killed six other people and wounded 40. Scared residents whispered that more attacks were imminent since a fresh batch of suicide bombers had entered the town.

Khyber Road was shut to all traffic and security beefed up at residences and offices of the provincial chief minister, NWFP governor, the army corps commander and the American consulate, all located few hundred meters from the blast sight. Schools, which had barely opened after a two-week closure because of security threats, were ordered shut again on Friday.

The attack came on a day that Gen James L Jones, president Barack Obama's national security adviser, began a two-day trip to Pakistan and met with army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Washington has goaded a reluctant Pakistan army into taking the war against terror seriously. That's led to the daily reprisals on both military and civilian targets.

Security Agents in Pakistan behind Terror Attack

Monday, October 19, 2009 · 0 comments

Iran has received information that "some security agents" in Pakistan were cooperating with elements behind Sunday's attack on the Revolutionary Guards, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.

Ahmadinejad called on Pakistan not to waste time in cooperating with Iran in apprehending the perpetrators, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, Pakistan condemned the suicide bomb attack in Iran and denied suggestions from the Iranian president that "some security agents" in Pakistan were cooperating with the bombers.

Iranian state television said 42 people were killed in Sunday's attack on the elite Revolutionary Guards in the country's volatile southeast.

"Pakistan is not involved in terrorist activities ... we are striving to eradicate this menace," foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told the Daily Times newspaper on Sunday.

Pakistan's prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the "ghastly act of terrorism" in predominantly Shi'ite Iran, Gilani's office said.

Iran has in the past accused Pakistan of hosting members of the Sunni insurgent group Jundollah, Iranian state television said. Iranian media said Jundollah claimed responsibility for Sunday's bombing, which killed more than 30 people.

Some analysts believe Jundollah has evolved through shifting alliances with various parties, including the Taliban and Pakistan's ISI intelligence service, who saw the group as a tool against Iran.

"We were informed that some security agents in Pakistan are cooperating with the main elements of this terrorist incident ... We regard it as our right to demand these criminals from them," Ahmadinejad said, without giving details.

"We ask the Pakistani government not to delay any longer in the apprehension of the main elements in this terrorist attack," he said.

State television said Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned a senior Pakistani diplomat in Tehran, saying there was evidence "the perpetrators of this attack came to Iran from Pakistan."

Pakistan ISI behind attack on Indian Embassy

Sunday, October 11, 2009 · 0 comments

Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI was behind the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul which killed 17 people and wounded more than 60 others, Afghan envoy to the US has claimed.

"Yes, we do," Afghan Ambassador to the US Said T Jawad told the PBS news channel in an interview when asked if he was pointing the figure at Pakistan for the suicide bombing that took place on Thursday.

"We are pointing the finger at the Pakistan intelligence agency, based on the evidence on the ground and similar attack taking place in Afghanistan," Jawad said.

While the Karzai government was quick to point figure towards foreign players in the attack on the Indian embassy early this week, this is for the first time that a top Afghan official has blamed the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI for the terror strike.

The Afghan government has also blamed the ISI in the July 2008 attack on the Indian Embassy which claimed 60 lives.

The Afghan Ambassador also supported the report of General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, which recommends some 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

This is necessary to secure the country, Jawad said. He said Afghanistan would like to have a clear commitment to success from the Obama administration, which is currently, reassign its strategy for the country.

AQ Khan nails Pakistan's Goverment nuke lies

Saturday, September 26, 2009 · 0 comments

Pakistan The Most Dangerous Nuclear Proliferator

An angry, humiliated, and wounded A.Q.Khan has finally made public and official what has long been suspected: his nuclear proliferation activities that included exchanging and passing blue-prints and equipment to China, Iran, North Korea, and Libya was done at the behest of the Pakistani government and military, and he was forced to take the rap for it.

''The bastards first used us and are now playing dirty games with us,'' Khan writes about the Pakistani leadership in a December 2003 letter to his wife Henny that has finally been made public by an interlocutor. ''Darling, if the government plays any mischief with me take a tough stand,'' he tells his wife, adding, ''They might try to get rid of me to cover up all the things they got done by me.''

But Henny was unable to play hardball because Khan had also sent copies of that letter to his daughter Dina in London, and to his niece Kausar Khan in Amsterdam through his brother, a Pakistan Airlines executive. Pakistani intelligence agencies got wind of it and threatened the well-being of the family, forcing him to recant and publicly take the blame for the proliferation activities in a humiliating television spectacle engineered by then military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

However, a copy of the four-page letter reached Khan’s long-time journalistic contact Simon Henderson in 2007. In fact, in the letter, Khan tells his wife, ''Get in touch with Simon Henderson and give him all the details.'' Henderson says when he acquired the copy of the letter, he was shocked. His acquaintance with Khan goes back to the late 1970s, but it was never intimate, and consisted of an occasional interviews and conversations, and seasonal greetings.

Describing the four-page letter as ''extraordinary,'' Henderson says in numbered paragraphs, it outlines Pakistan’s nuclear co-operation with China, Iran and North Korea, and also mentions Libya. Some of the disclosures are stunning , and in one para that is bound to embarrass Beijing, besides implicating it, Khan writes about how Pakistan helped China in enrichment technology in return for bomb blueprints.

''We put up a centrifuge plant at Hanzhong (250km southwest of Xian),” Khan writes. “The Chinese gave us drawings of the nuclear weapon, gave us 50kg of enriched uranium, gave us 10 tons of UF6 (natural) and 5 tons of UF6 (3%).'' UF6 is uranium hexafluoride, the gaseous feedstock for an enrichment plan.

On Iran, the letter says: ''Probably with the blessings of BB [Benazir Bhutto]...General Imtiaz [Benazir’s defence adviser, now dead] asked me to give a set of drawings and some components to the Iranians. The names and addresses of suppliers were also given to the Iranians.''

On North Korea: ''[A now-retired general] took $3million through me from the N. Koreans and asked me to give some drawings and machines.''

Henderson does not explain why he waited nearly two years since he got hold of the letter to make it public. But he writes sympathetically about Khan’s travails in Pakistan, where he is held largely incommunicado under house arrest. The Pakistani government and the military have repeatedly rejected and challenged court orders to free him, and an episode last month, where Khan was freed just for a day on court orders before Islamabad locked him up again under pressure from Washington, appears to have precipitated the leak of the explosive letter.

Henderson’s Sunday Times expose also implicates the U.S and other western powers, who he says, basically shoved Islamabad’s rampant proliferation (while blaming it solely on Khan) under the carpet in order to get Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror. The move also saved Washington from huge embarrassment since it was basically asleep on the watch when Pakistan began its nuclear proliferation and then winked at it when it was discovered, all the while lavishing billions in military supplies on its unstable client state.


Henderson also implicitly defends Khan from charges that he profited from proliferation activities, as alleged by deposed military ruler Pervez Musharraf. Khan, he says, is adamant that he never sold nuclear secrets for personal gain. So what about the millions of dollars he reportedly made?

''Nothing was confiscated from him and no reported investigation turned up hidden accounts. Having planted rumours about Khan’s greed, Pakistani officials were curiously indifferent to following them through,'' Henderson writes.

According to Henderson, much was made of a ''hotel'', named after Khan’s wife, Henny, built by a local tour guide with the help of money from Khan and a group of friends in Timbuktu. But it is a modest structure at best, more of a guesthouse, he says. A weekend home at Bani Gala, outside Islamabad, where Khan went to relax, is hardly the palace that some reports have made it.

In fact, says Henderson, Khan was close to being broke by the summer 2007, when he was finding it difficult to make ends meet on his pension of 12,200 (Pakistani) rupees per month. After pleading with General Khalid Kidwai, the officer supervising both Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and Khan, the pension was increased to $2,500 per month and there was a one-off lump-sum payment of the equivalent of $50,000. Hendersen says he has copies of the agreement and cheques.

Henderson’s 3000-word expose also reveals a couple of intriguing tid-bits that should interest the world’s strategic community, including New Delhi. Besides details of the Pakistan-China nexus, he says Pakistan tested only two devices in its 1998 tit-for-tat nuclear tests that followed India.

While Pakistan claims it conducted six tests to be one-up on India’s five tests, Western experts and seismologists have long said they recorded only two signals for devices that measured between two and four kilotons. Khan also states clearly that China gave Pakistan designs for the nuclear bombs.

In fact, in one colorful passage in his article, Henderson describes how Khan was warned by a Chinese counterpart about the Pakistani Army. On a visit to Kahuta, Li Chew, the senior minister who ran China’s nuclear-weapons programme, tells Khan, ''As long as they need the bomb, they will lick your balls. As soon as you have delivered the bomb, they will kick your balls.''

Henderson himself seems deeply conscious of any perception that he is close to Khan or that he is a cat’s paw for any country. ''Any relationship with a source is fraught with potential difficulties. One doesn’t want to be blind to the chance of being used. Government officials and politicians in any country are seldom interested in the simple truth. They all have their particular story to tell. In this context, I am frankly amazed that Khan has chosen me to be his interlocutor with the world,'' he writes.

But Pakistani authorities were clearly aware that he and Khan had been in touch and Khan may have managed to smuggle a copy of the letter implicating Islamabad to him. Henderson says in a court document that Khan was asked to sign when he was promised freedom, there is a line that read “That in case Mr Simon Henderson or anyone else proceeds with the publication of any information or material anywhere in the world, I affirm that it would not be based on any input from me and I disown it.” That line was eventually deleted and replaced with a more general prohibition about unnamed ''specific media personnel.''

In other words, stand by for a flurry of denials.

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