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Inside Pakistan's terror schools

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Terror training schools, teaching hundreds of new and young recruits in suicide missions and the use of sophisticated weapons, have been active in many parts of Pakistan, including Punjab, the North West Frontier Province, Waziristan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Different terrorist groups, including the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, often with the help of former Pakistan army soldiers, run these schools or camps. The syllabus, the training and indoctrination are far more sophisticated than the pre-9/11 training camps.

The terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008, and killed over 160 people were trained in one or two of these schools where several hundred others have been undergoing training for more than two years.

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Geo News television is the latest to confirm that the lone gunman captured during the Mumbai carnage does indeed belong to a village in Pakistan’s Punjab province. The channel’s 9 p.m. news report on Friday showed footage of people at Faridkot in Deepalpur tehsil, Okara district in south Punjab talking about Mohammad Ajmal Amir (‘Kasab’) as a boy from the village who had last been seen four or five months ago.



"Geo News" (pakistani news channel) reported that “He told his mother to give him her blessings as he was going for jihad,” one old man told the Geo reporter.





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The Mumbai Attacks: More Than Meets the Eye


As details emerge about who was responsible for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last week, the evidence points to a militant group and network of associates that can be linked to a number of intelligence agencies, including the ISI, the CIA, and MI6.


December 4, 2008

by Jeremy R. Hammond


Correction: This report incorrectly states that Omar Saeed Sheikh was imprisoned for his involvement in a plane hijacking. He was imprisoned for his involvement in the kidnapping of American and British nationals and released in exchange for the hostages of a plane hijacking.


Details have emerged regarding who was responsible for the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, with the evidence pointing to the Pakistani-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). But the trail doesn't end there.

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Indications of a coming attack were reportedly received by intelligence agencies well in advance. US signals intelligence (SIGINT) picked up a spike in “chatter” indicating something was brewing, which was supported by information from assets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some of the information that was received by US intelligence was passed on to India as early as September.

The details were specific. The CIA station chief in Delhi reportedly met with his counterpart at India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), to pass on intelligence that LeT was planning a major attack that would come from the sea.

Less than a week before the attacks, a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan purportedly killed a British citizen of Pakistani descent named Rashid Rauf, who was suspected of planning to blow up commercial airliners flying from Britain to the U.S. He fled Britain in 2002 after being suspected of stabbing to death his uncle, Mohammed Saeed. He settled in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, and married a relative of Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of another militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Besides being linked to JeM, he was also suspected by some intelligence sources of having connections to the ISI. Pakistani authorities arrested him in Bahawalpur in August 2006 at the behest of British authorities, but he escaped police custody when they allowed him to enter a mosque ostensibly to say afternoon prayers. While police waited outside, Rauf walked out the back door. He may have just escaped, but there were also rumors that he was secretly taken into custody by the ISI in a plan that kept him under wraps while preventing him from being extradited to Britain.

The location of Rauf was reportedly given to U.S. officials by the Pakistani government, and may have been a move calculated to appease the U.S. over charges that elements of the ISI are still assisting militants engaged in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. Earlier this year, terrorists bombed the Indian embassy in Kabul, and both India and the U.S. claimed that the ISI had been involved in the attack.

The airstrike that killed Rauf may also have been the result of early information obtained on the attack on Mumbai, as intelligence agencies reportedly had learned that he was involved in the planning of a major upcoming terrorist event. They may have sought to take him out before such an attack could occur.

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Indian intelligence had obtained its own warnings of an attack. One indication was a request from a LeT operative to obtain international SIM cards for an upcoming operation. There was also information that a LeT team was training at a camp near Karachi, and that part of their training was to prepare for launching attacks from the sea. The team was trained under Zakir-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, also known as “Chacha”. Also among the information received was that the Taj Mahal hotel was pinpointed as a major target.

As a result, security at the hotel was increased, but was lessened again just a week prior to the attacks because of complaints from the hotel’s clients. Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, which owns the hotel, acknowledged that warnings of a possible attack had been received.

The Tata Group is also invested in the energy sector, and stands to gain from the recent deal between the U.S. and India, which would provide India with nuclear resources outside of the framework of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system. Pakistan has voiced its opposition to the U.S. deal with its nuclear-armed neighbor.

On November 18, RAW intercepted a satellite phone conversation made to a number in Lahore, Pakistan, known to be used by the military commander of LeT known alternatively by the names Yusuf Muzammil or Abu Hurrera, also known as “Yahah”. The caller notified his handlers that he was heading for Mumbai with unspecified cargo.

As a result of the intelligence it had received, India’s Navy and Coast Guard were on the lookout for suspicious ships entering Indian territorial waters, and were specifically told to watch for an unidentified ship coming from Karachi.

Only one of the terrorists in the Mumbai attacks was captured alive, Azam Amir Kasab, a resident of the territory of Punjab in Pakistan. According to reports, he has told his interrogators a great deal about how the attacks went down.

Kasab confessed to being a member of LeT. He and his fellow terrorists were instructed to target foreigners, particularly Americans, British, and Israelis. They had set out from Karachi in a ship called the “MV Alpha”, which is allegedly owned by Dawood Ibrahim, a terrorist wanted by India in connection with bombings in Bombay in 1993 that resulted in 250 deaths. Ibrahim is also wanted by Interpol, and has been designated a global terrorist by the U.S.

Confronted with increased naval patrols that were boarding and searching suspect vessels, the team hijacked a fishing trawler called the “Kuber”, registration number 2303, and killed most of its crew except for Amarsinh Solanki, whom they kept alive to help navigate.

On November 26, as the terrorists neared their target destination, they killed Solanki by slitting his throat. An associate of Ibrahim’s in Mumbai had arranged to pick the team up in inflatable rubber dinghies. They went ashore at about 9pm. Witnesses reported seeing them land in the dinghies, which were unusual among the common wooden fishing boats, and unloading a number of large bags.

Once on shore near the Gateway to India, Mumbai’s main landing point near the Naval dockyard, the team split up. Four men went to the Taj Mahal hotel, where an advance team had already checked in on November 22 and set up a control room. Two went to the Nariman House, the Mumbai headquarters of Chabad Lubavitch, an ultra-orthodox Jewish group. Another acquisitioned a taxi and drove to the railway station. Two others headed to the Leopold restaurant, a hot spot for foreign visitors to Mumbai.

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At about 9:20pm, one team arrived at the Nariman House, where they took hostages, while another opened fire at the Leopold café. At 9:45, terrorists entered both the Taj Mahal and Trident Oberoi hotels, where hostages were again taken. At 10:15, two of the men began firing indiscriminately outside the Cama hospital. At 10:30, terrorists entered the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station and again opened fire.

According to Pakistan’s Daily Times, the terrorists identified and killed two U.S. intelligence officers at the Taj Mahal hotel.

Indian officials are now saying that just 10 men were responsible, indicating that two-man teams were able to strike one target and move on to the next. Teams held out under siege the the Nariman House and the hotels, with the Taj Mahal the last to be cleared. By the end, it had taken Indian forces 60 hours to kill or capture the attackers, with their reign of terror finally ending on the 29<SUP>th</SUP> with nearly 200 people reported dead.

According to police, the men were aged 18 to 28. They were found to have drugs in their system, and traces of cocaine and LSD were found at one or more scenes of their attack, which they apparently had taken for an additional adrenaline boost to keep them going for the long siege and battle with Indian special forces.

A Mauritian government identity card was discovered with the terrorists who attacked the Taj Mahal hotel, along with credit and debit cards of a number of different banks, including HSBC (headquartered in London and named after its founding member, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, with global branches), HDFC, and ICICI (both banks in India). The Republic of Mauritius is a former British colony and member of the Commonwealth off the east coast of Africa, near Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

mumbai_mp5n_smg.jpgThey were reported to be using AK-47 assault rifles. Photos shown in the press reveal what appear to be variants with a folding stock. They were also reported to have handguns and grenades. Additionally, police recovered sub-machine guns used by the terrorists. An Associated Press photo of the confiscated guns reveals what appear to be Heckler & Koch MP5-N sub-machine guns. The “N” model is a version of the MP5 designed specifically for the U.S. Navy and used by Navy Seals teams.

BlackBerry cell phones were also recovered from the terrorists, containing international SIM cards investigators believe correlate with the early intelligence further connecting the team to LeT. During the attacks, they received calls from outside the country, which is apparently among the evidence leading government officials to early on state publicly that the terrorists had ties to a foreign nation.

A global-positioning system (GPS) and satellite phone were found in the abandoned Kuber fishing trawler. Navigation routes plotted in the GPS revealed the planned route from Karachi to Mumbai and back again, indicating that the terrorists hoped they might possibly be able to escape and return to Pakistan. Investigators determined that this was the phone used to contact Muzammil, the LeT military commander. Calls from the phone were also traced to Lakhvi, the LeT training specialist.

The MV Alpha was also intercepted after the attacks by the Indian Navy.

Responsibility for the attacks was claimed via e-mail by a previously unknown group calling itself Deccan Mujahideen. This appears to be a front, apparently designed to direct blame upon groups within India and give the appearance of a home-grown terrorist attack. Deccan may refer to a neighborhood in the city of Hyderabad or to the Decaan Plateau that dominates the middle and south of India.

The RAW traced IP addresses used to send the e-mail to an account in Russia that was opened on the Wednesday just prior to the attack and used to relay the message to media in India. The e-mail was further traced to a computer in Pakistan, and investigators have also said that it was generated by dictation using voice recognition software.

dawood_ibrahim_interpol.jpgIndia has called for Pakistan to hand over 20 individuals it has alleged were involved in the attacks. Among the wanted men are Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed, and Maulana Masood Azhar.

As noted, Ibrahim is among Interpol’s most wanted. The U.S. designated him as a global terrorist in 2003, stating that he had ties to al Qaeda and that he funded attacks by militant groups, including LeT, aimed at destabilizing the Indian government. Ibrahim’s organization is known as the D-Company and is known to be heavily involved in drug trafficking. According to the U.S. government, D-Company is involved in large-scale shipment of narcotics into the U.K. and Western Europe. He is also alleged to have ties to the CIA through casino operations in Nepal.

Ibrahim is the son of a police constable and worked as a police informant, only to become involved in crime. He rose through the ranks of the underworld in Bombay (now Mumbai) to become one of the city’s leading organized crime bosses. He later fled to Pakistan, where he is believed to have stayed in Karachi under the protection of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Some Indian analysts have suggested that it was at the behest of the ISI that Ibrahim planned the Mumbai attacks. Pakistan has denied that he is in the country.

Wanted along with Ibrahim for the 1993 Bombay attacks is Aftab Ansari, also an Indian national. Ansari is linked to Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British national of Pakistani origin. Omar Sheikh is an associate of Osama bin Laden and has been accused of masterminding the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal.

Omar Skeikh was also the paymaster of the 9/11 hijackers and wired $100,000 to Mohammed Atta in Florida. According to Indian intelligence, working with the FBI a link was established between Omar Sheikh and the head of Pakistan’s ISI, Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed. Sources revealed to the media that the evidence obtained from Omar Sheikh’s cell phone indicated that it was at the behest of Mahmud Ahmed that the money was sent to finance the 9/11 hijackers. While this has widely been reported internationally, including by the Press Trust of India, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, Agence France-Presse, and UK’s The Guardian and The Times, it has not received any mention in the U.S. mainstream media.

Hafiz Saeed is the founder of LeT. He travelled to Peshawar to join the CIA-backed effort to overthrow the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan. Peshawar served as the command base for both the CIA and Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK). Haiz Saeed became the protégé of Abdullah Azzam, who, along with Osama bin Laden, founded MAK to recruit and train foreign fighters to join the mujahedeen. The CIA worked closely with the ISI to finance, arm, and train the mujahedeen.

By about 1988, MAK had been evolved into the group known as al-Qaeda by bin Laden. The name “al-Qaeda” literally means “the base”, and may either refer bin Laden’s base of operations for the mujahedeen war effort or the actual database of names of jihadist recruits. While numerous terrorist attacks have been attributed to al-Qaeda over the years, it isn’t so much a centralized organization as a loose network of individuals and affiliate groups having roots or otherwise associated with the CIA-backed effort against the Soviet Union.

Maulana Masood Azhar is the head of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and is also wanted by Interpol. Like LeT, JeM is said to have close links with the ISI, which has used the groups to wage a proxy war against Indian forces in Kashmir.

Like Hafiz Saeed, Azhar was numbered among the veterans of the Soviet-Afghan war. He was educated at Jamia Binoria, a madrassa (religious school) in Karachi that also served as a recruitment center for the mujahedeen.

He later became a leader of Karkat-ul-Mujahideen, a Pakistani militant group, and was captured by India in Kashmir in 1994. He was tried and acquitted, but spent six years in jail before being freed in exchange for the release of the crew and passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane in 1999. He formed JeM after returning to Pakistan.

Omar Saeed Sheikh was also caught and imprisoned by India for involvement in that hijacking, and was likewise released in exchange for the hostages. Like Azhar, Omar Seikh is reported to have close links to the ISI and, according to former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, was also an agent of MI6, Britain’s spy agency, which sent him to engage in operations in the Balkans.

Relations between India and Pakistan also reached a crisis point in December 2001, when gunmen attacked the Indian parliament. JeM and Let were held responsible for that attack as well, and both countries amassed troops on the border, a situation that led to fears of war between two nuclear-armed countries. The U.S. helped mediate an end to the crisis, pressuring Pakistan to crack down on militant groups and setting in motion the plan to assist India with its nuclear program that was finally realized this year.

LeT was banned in Pakistan in 2002 following the attack on the Indian parliament, but remained active in the country nevertheless. The group has denied responsibility for the attacks in Mumbai last week.

Pakistan has on one hand said it would formulate a response to India’s request to turn over the 20 wanted men, and on the other hand indicated it would not do so, insisting that the men are either not in Pakistan or that they have been under Pakistani surveillance and no indication seen that they were in any way involved.

While the evidence strongly points to LeT and a network of associates affiliated with the group or with each other, that web also includes the CIA and MI6. One early report said that some of the Mumbai terrorists were, like Rashid Rauf, British nationals. This was picked up by numerous press accounts around the globe, but the Indian government official this information was attributed to denied ever having said such a thing.


Theories that this was a false flag operation have already begun to spread around the internet, with varying culprits and motives. Whatever the truth is, what is clear from the facts one is able to piece together from media accounts is that there is more to the Mumbai attacks than meets the eye.


jrh_small.jpgJeremy R. Hammond is the editor of Foreign Policy Journal, a website dedicated to providing news, critical analysis, and opinion commentary on U.S. foreign policy from outside of the standard framework offered by government officials and the mainstream corporate media, particularly with regard to the "war on terrorism" and events in the Middle East. He has also written for numerous other online publications. You can contact him by clicking here.

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News Analysis: India: Mumbai Attacks


Role of Alleged CIA Asset in Mumbai Attacks Being Downplayed


Recent press reports on developments with regard to last month’s attacks in Mumbai, India indicate the role of Dawood Ibrahim, a wanted crime boss, terrorist, and drug trafficker, is being downplayed, possibly the result of a deal taking place behind the scenes between the governments of the US, Pakistan, and India, to have others involved in the Mumbai attacks turned over while quietly diverting attention from a man who some say could reveal embarrassing secrets about the CIA’s involvement in criminal enterprises.


December 10, 2008



by Jeremy R. Hammond


The role in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last month of an underworld kingpin that heads an organization known as D-Company, has known ties to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and who is alleged to have ties with the CIA is apparently being whitewashed, suggesting that his capture and handover to India might prove inconvenient for either the ISI or the CIA, or both.




It was Dawood Ibrahim who was initially characterized by press reports as being the mastermind behind the attacks. Now, that title of “mastermind” is being given to Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi by numerous media accounts reporting that Pakistan security forces have raided a training camp of the group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which evidence has indicated was behind the attacks. Lakhvi was reportedly captured in the raid and is now in custody.




At the same time Ibrahim’s role is being downplayed, Lakhvi’s known role is being exaggerated. Initial reports described him as the training specialist for LeT, but the major media outlets like the New York Times and the London Times, citing government sources, have since promoted his status to that of commander of operations for the group.




The only terrorist from the Mumbai attacks to be captured alive, Azam Amir Kasab, characterized Ibrahim, not Lakhvi, as the mastermind of those attacks, according to earlier press accounts.




Kasab reportedly told his interrogators that he and his fellow terrorists were trained under Lakhvi, also known as “Chacha”, at a camp in Pakistan. Indian officials also traced calls from a satellite phone used by the terrorists to Lakhvi.




But the phone had also been used to call Yusuf Muzammil, also known as Abu Yusuf, Abu Hurrera, and “Yahah”. And it has been Muzammil, not Lakhvi, who has previously been described as the military commander of LeT. It was an intercepted call to Muzammil on November 18 that put the Indian Navy and Coast Guard on high alert to be on the lookout for any foreign vessels from Pakistan entering Indian waters.




Kasab told his interrogators that his team had set out from Karachi, Pakistan, on a ship belonging to Dawood Ibrahim, the MV Alpha. They then hijacked an Indian fishing trawler, the Kuber, to pass through Indian territorial waters to elude the Navy and Coast Guard that were boarding and searching suspect ships.




Although the MV Alpha was subsequently found and seized by the Indian Navy, there have been few, if any, developments about this aspect of the investigation in press accounts, such as whether it has been confirmed or not that the ship was owned by Ibrahim.




Upon arriving off the coast near the city, they were received by inflatable rubber dinghies that had been arranged by an associate of Ibrahim’s in Mumbai.




The planning and execution of the attacks are indicative of the mastermind role not of either Lakhvi or Muzammil, but of Ibrahim, an Indian who is intimately familiar with the city. It was in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) that Ibrahim rose through the ranks of the underworld to become a major organized crime boss.




At least two other Indians were also connected to the attacks, Mukhtar Ahmed and Tausef Rahman. They were arrested for their role in obtaining SIM cards used in the cell phones of the terrorists. Ahmed, according to Indian officials, had in fact been recruited by a special counter-insurgency police task force as an undercover operative. His exact role is still being investigated.






One of the SIM cards used was possibly purchased from New Jersey. Investigators are looking into this potential link to the US, as well.




Dawood Ibrahim went from underworld kingpin to terrorist in 1993, when he was connected to a series of bombings in Bombay that resulted in 250 deaths. He is wanted by Interpol and was designated by the US as a global terrorist in 2003.




It’s believed Ibrahim has been residing in Karachi, and Indian officials have accused Pakistan’s ISI of protecting him.




Ibrahim is known to be a major drug trafficker responsible for shipping narcotics into the United Kingdom and Western Europe.




According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), most Afghan opium (or its derivative, heroin, which is increasingly being produced in the country before export) is smuggled through Iran and Turkey en route by land to Europe; but the percentage that goes to Pakistan seems to mostly find its way directly to the UK, either by plane or by ship.




Afghanistan is the world’s leading producer of opium, a trend that developed during the CIA-backed mujahedeen effort to oust the Soviet Union from the country, with the drug trade serving to help finance the war.




The principle recipient of CIA-ISI funding was Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, one of the major drug lords. Hekmatyar has since joined with the Taliban in the insurgency effort to expel foreign forces from the country – not the Soviet Union, this time, but the US.




A Taliban ban on the cultivation of opium poppies in 2000 resulted in the near total eradication of the crop. But since the US overthrow of the regime in 2001, Afghanistan has once again become the world’s leading producer of opium, surpassing all previous records.




While Hekmatyar chose to side with anti-government forces, a number of other warlords involved in the drug trade were members of the Northern Alliance to whom the CIA doled out cash in the US effort to overthrow the Taliban following the 9/11 attacks.




One such warlord is Abdul Rashid Dostum, who was appointed Chief of Staff of the army under the government of Hamid Karzai, and who has been described in US intelligence’s own files as a “Tier One Warlord”.




That list includes a number of other high ranking officials within the Afghanistan government, including former defense minister and parliament member Marshal Mohammad Fahim, Interior Minister for Counter-Narcotics General Mohammad Daoud, and former governor of Helmand province (now by far the largest producer of opium) Sher Mohammed Akhundzada.




Although government officials parroted by the mainstream media tend to characterize the Afghan opium trade as being controlled by the Taliban, in fact the estimated drug profits of all anti-government elements (AGEs) is a mere fraction of the trade’s total estimated export value. The UNODC estimated the export value this year at $3.4 billion. Of that, AGEs profited between $250-470 million, less than 14% of the total trade. Moreover, what fraction of that percentage has gone specifically to the Taliban as opposed to other AGEs is unknown.




Furthermore, while the Taliban profits from the production of opium through ushr, a 10% tax on all agricultural products, and possibly through a protection racket in which it receives compensation for providing security along smuggling routes, the UNODC has acknowledged that there is little indication that the Taliban itself is responsible for either the actual production or trafficking of the drug.




This is an inconvenient truth for the US, which has so far managed through its propaganda efforts to successfully obfuscate the truth about the Afghan drug trade and portray the Taliban as being almost wholly responsible.




A known drug trafficker, Dawood Ibrahim is naturally also involved in money laundering, which is perhaps where the role of gambling operations in Nepal comes into the picture.




Yoichi Shimatsu, former editor of the Japan Times, wrote last month after the Mumbai attacks that Ibrahim had worked with the US to help finance the mujahedeen during the 1980s and that because he knows too much about the US’s “darker secrets” in the region, he could never be allowed to be turned over to India.




The recent promotion of Lakhvi to “mastermind” of the attacks while Ibrahim’s name disappears from media reports would seem to lend credence to Shimatsu’s assertion.




Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen similarly reported that according to intelligence sources, Dawood Ibrahim is a CIA asset, both as a veteran of the mujahedeen war and in a continuing connection with his casino and drug trade operations in Kathmandu, Nepal. A deal had been made earlier this year to have Pakistan hand Ibrahim over to India, but the CIA was fearful that this would lead to too many of its dirty secrets coming to light, including the criminal activities of high level personnel within the agency.




One theory on the Mumbai attacks is that it was backlash for this double-cross that was among other things intended to serve as a warning that any such arrangement could have further serious consequences.




Although designated as a major international terrorist by the US, media reports in India have characterized the US’s past interest in seeing Ibrahim handed over as less than enthusiastic. Former Indian Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani wrote in his memoir, “My Country My Life”, that he made a great effort to get Pakistan to hand over Ibrahim, and met with then US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice (now Secretary of State) to pressure Pakistan to do so. But he was informed by Powell that Pakistan would hand over Ibrahim only “with some strings attached” and that then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf would need more time before doing so.




The handover, needless to say, never occurred. The Pakistan government has also publicly denied that Ibrahim is even in the country; a denial that was repeated following the recent Mumbai attacks.




Others suspected of involvement in the attacks and named among the 20 individuals India wants Pakistan to turn over also have possible connections to the CIA, including Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of LeT, and Maulana Masood Azhar, both veterans of the CIA-backed mujahedeen effort.




Azhar had been captured in 1994 and imprisoned in India for his role as leader of the Pakistani-based terrorist group Karkut-ul-Mujahideen. He was released, however, in 1999 in exchange for hostages from the takeover of Indian Airlines Flight 814, which was hijacked during its flight from Kathmandu, Nepal to Delhi, India and redirected to Afghanistan. After Azhar’s release, he formed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which was responsible for an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 that led Pakistan and India to the brink of war. LeT was also blamed for the attack alongside JeM.




Both LeT and JeM have links to the ISI, which has used the groups as proxies in the conflict with India over the territory of Kashmir.




Hafiz Saeed travelled to Peshawar to join the mujahedeen cause during the Soviet-Afghan war. Peshawar served as the base of operations for the CIA, which worked closely with the ISI to finance, arm, and train the mujahedeen. It was in Peshawar that Saeed became the protégé of Abdullah Azzam, who founded an organization called Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) along with a Saudi individual named Osama bin Laden.




MAK worked alongside the CIA-ISI operations to recruit Arabs to the ranks of the mujahedeen. The ISI, acting as proxy for the CIA, chose mainly to channel its support to Afghans, such as Gulbaddin Hekmatyar. The U.S. claims the CIA had no relationship with MAK, but bin Laden’s operation, which later evolved into “al-Qaeda”, must certainly have been known to, and approved by, the CIA.

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But there are indications that the CIA’s relationship with MAK and al-Qaeda go well beyond having shared a common enemy and mutual interests in the Soviet-Afghan war. A number of al-Qaeda associates appear to have been protected individuals.




Branches of MAK existed elsewhere, including in the United States. The US Treasury Department lists one of MAK’s aliases as Al-Kifah. The Al-Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn, New York, served as a recruitment center during the 1980s, but its operations did not end after the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Kifah was also a recruitment center for efforts by extremist groups in the Balkans.




Just as in Afghanistan, the US also had mutual interests with Bosnian Muslims and extremist groups acting in the Balkans. MAK had since evolved into al-Qaeda under Osama bin Laden, which had links to groups operating in Bosnia. Despite an arms embargo against such groups, they managed to obtain weapons and supply shipments in which the US at best looked the other way and at worst played an active role.




The operations to arm al-Qaeda linked groups in Bosnia were carried under the watch of then director of the US European Command Intelligence Directorate Gen. Michael V. Hayden. Hayden subsequently served as the director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005 and is currently the Director of Central Intelligence, or DCI, which is the head of the CIA.




A former official at the US consular office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Michael Springman went public after 9/11 to explain how his office was used by the CIA to bring recruits to the US for training during the 1980s.




The Jeddah office is where most of the 9/11 hijackers obtained their visas to enter the US.




Two other of the hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, were in fact known to the CIA and were being monitored. Despite being known al-Qaeda operatives, they were allowed to enter the US under their real names and neither the FBI nor the State Department were notified.




The US explains this as the result of the CIA losing the terrorists’ trail when they travelled to Thailand after an al-Qaeda meeting in Kuala Lumpur. But this explanation does not stand up to scrutiny since it was known that they had obtained visas to enter the US. Thus, even if the CIA did in fact lose track of the terrorists, standard procedure should have dictated that the FBI and State Department be alerted.




The 9/11 Joint Inquiry and subsequent 9/11 Commission were apparently satisfied with the CIA’s explanation that it lost al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, and nobody was ever held accountable for the “mistake” of knowingly allowing two known al-Qaeda operatives on the terrorist watchlist to enter the United States unhindered.




Upon arriving in the US, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were assisted by an individual under FBI surveillance for his possible connections to terrorist groups and, furthermore, even lived in a house rented from an FBI informant. But the FBI claims that it didn’t know anything about the men, despite them using their real names and being listed in the phone book, because the CIA hadn’t informed them the two were in the country. The Joint Inquiry report described this as perhaps the single greatest missed opportunity to break up the 9/11 operation and prevent the attacks.




Additionally, it was in fact the CIA who not once, but at least on six separate occasions, approved a visa, including from the office in Jeddah, for or the entry of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a.k.a. “the Blind Sheikh”, into the US, despite his known connection to terrorist acts in Egypt, including the assassination of Anwar Sadat, and despite having been on the State Department’s terrorist watchlist. This, too, was described as a series of “mistakes” after the government was forced to admit that it had occurred – an explanation that the New York Times, which reported this information in a series of articles, seemed to find perfectly satisfactory.




Many, however, find such incompetency and coincidence theories to be simply not credible, preferring instead alternative, oftentimes much more plausible, conspiracy theories.




The Blind Sheikh had also travelled to Peshawar during the mujahedeen effort, and was good friends with Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, the CIA’s top asset during the Soviet-Afghan war. He later became the spiritual head of the terrorist group that carried out the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, a plot which the FBI had known about in advance through two or more informants.




One of the informants served as a bodyguard for the Blind Sheikh and was made responsible for obtaining materials to make the bomb with. Tape recordings he secretly made of conversations with his FBI handlers reveal that the original sting operation involved a plan to replace a chemical used in making the bomb with an inert simulant that would render it inoperative. But this plan was withdrawn by a supervisor at the FBI and the terrorist cell was allowed to go ahead and make a real bomb – which was then used to blow up the World Trade Center.




Another notable character connected to Al-Kifah training and recruitment efforts for al-Qaeda is Ali Mohammed. He also happened to be an in FBI informant, a CIA asset, and a member of the special forces in the US Army. It is Ali Mohammed whom some suspect of actually being the mastermind of the 1993 WTC bombing. He was later charged in connection to the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, but has since seemingly disappeared off the map.




After the 9/11 attacks, the investigation into the financing of the attacks led to Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British national of Pakistani origin. According to Indian officials, a joint investigation with the FBI revealed evidence that it was at the direction of the head of the ISI, Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, that Omar Sheikh transferred $100,000 to lead hijacker Mohammed Atta in Florida.




Omar Sheikh, a known associate of Osama bin Laden, was captured and imprisoned in India for his role in the kidnapping of American and British nationals in 1994. He was released in 1999 along with Maulana Massod Azhar in exchange for the hostages from Flight 814. According to former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, Omar Sheikh was also an agent of Britain’s spy agency, MI6, for whom he served in operations in the Balkans.




Omar Sheikh’s role in the 9/11 attacks has also been downplayed. Mention of him in the media instead focus on his role as the man responsible for the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. He is currently being held in Pakistan on charges relating to Pearl’s murder.




After Mahmud Ahmed’s alleged role in the 9/11 attacks became known publicly, Musharraf quietly replaced him and the whole affair was hushed up in the US. When a reporter from a foreign news agency asked then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice whether she was aware of the reports that the ISI chief had financed the hijackers and was in Washington meeting with high level officials at the time of the attacks, she denied having seen “that report” and protested that, “he was certainly not meeting with me.”




Interestingly, the White House website transcript of the press briefing censored the words “ISI chief” from the reporter’s question, despite the words clearly being audible in the video of the briefing.




The 9/11 Commission also acted to whitewash Mahmud Ahmed’s alleged role in the attacks. Despite the question of the ISI chief’s involvement being included on a list of items for the Commission to investigate from families of the victims of the attacks, the Commission’s report made no mention of it, either to confirm or deny the information, which, despite having received zero coverage in the US major media (with the one exception of a citation of a report from the Times of India in a blog on the Wall Street Journal’s opinion website), was widely reported internationally (as well as in US alternative media).




Rather, the 9/11 Commission simply acted as though such reports didn’t exist. Despite Bob Graham, one of the chairs of the earlier Congressional Joint Inquiry, publicly stating that he was surprised by the evidence of foreign government involvement (he added that this information would not be made public for another twenty or thirty years when it would be due for release to the national archives), the 9/11 Commission report arrived at the opposite conclusion, saying there was no evidence of any such involvement and, moreover, that the question of who financed the attacks was “of little practical significance”.




Another former head of the ISI is now being privately accused by the US of involvement with the group responsible for the Mumbai attacks, according to reports citing a document listing former ISI chief Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul and four other former heads of Pakistan’s intelligence agency as being involved in supporting terrorist networks. The individuals named have been recommended to the UN Security Council to be named as international terrorists, according to Pakistan’s The News.




The document has been provided to the Pakistan government and also accuses Gul, who was head of the ISI from 1987-1989, of providing assistance to criminal groups in Kabul, as well as to groups responsible for recruiting and training militants to attack US-led forces in Afghanistan, including the Taliban.




Hamid Gul responded to the reports by calling the allegations hilarious. The US denied that it had made any such recommendations to the UN.




But the US has similarly accused the ISI of involvement in the bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul last July. This was unusual not because of the allegation of an ISI connection to terrorism but because it was in such stark contrast with US attempts to publicly portray Pakistan as a staunch ally in its “war on terrorism” when the country was under the dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf.




The US attitude toward Pakistan shifted once an elected government came to power that has been more willing to side with the overwhelming belief among the public that it is the “war on terrorism” itself that has exacerbated the problem of extremist militant groups and led to further terrorist attacks within the country, such as the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto last year or the bombing of the Marriot Hotel in September. While the world’s attention has been focused on the attacks in Mumbai, a bomb blast in Peshawar last week killed 21 and injured 90.




While the purported US document names Gul and others as terrorist supporters, another report, from Indian intelligence, indicates that the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Mumbai were among 500 trained by instructors from the Pakistan military, according to the Sunday edition of The Times. This training of the 10 known Mumbai terrorists would have taken place prior to their recent preparation for these specific attacks by the LeT training specialist Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.




But while Lakhvi, Muzammil, and Hafiz Saeed have continued to be named in connection with last month’s attacks in Mumbai, the name of Dawood Ibrahim seems to be either disappearing altogether or his originally designated role as the accused mastermind of the attacks being credited now instead to Lakhvi in media accounts.




Whether this is a deliberate effort to downplay Ibrahim’s role in the attacks so as not to have to force Pakistan to turn him over because of embarrassing revelations pertaining to the CIA’s involvement with known terrorists and drug traffickers that development could possibly produce isn’t certain. But what is certain is that the CIA has had a long history of involvement with such characters and that the US has a track record of attempting to keep information about the nature of such involvement in the dark or to cover it up once it reaches the light of public scrutiny.




Related: The Mumbai Attacks: More than Meets the Eye :





Jeremy R. Hammond is the editor of Foreign Policy Journal, a website dedicated to providing news, critical analysis, and opinion commentary on U.S. foreign policy from outside of the standard framework offered by government officials and the mainstream corporate media, particularly with regard to the "war on terrorism" and events in the Middle East. He has also written for numerous other online publications.

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Nobody is downplaying role of Dawood ibrahim in providing mobile sim cards and other logistics to jihadis.

The report is dated nov29 and some indian muslims are arrested.

Pakistan is vehemently declining to handover Dawood ibrahim for the last 25 years.

Dawood ibrahim was the main culprit in 1993 mumbai(then bombay) blasts.Dawood was declared guilty in india courts and interpol notice is on him.

obviously the writer of this article don't know any thing about the situation in india.

It is completely open and known to everybody that the alqaida operatives were provided weaponry by america in soviet days of afghanistan occupation.

The jihadists after tasting success in defeating the soviets have now trained their guns on westerners .

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