Posts Tagged ‘JeM’

News and views from around the web posted to the Wonderland Wire:

(more…)

In March, U.S. military intelligence was alerted that the alleged Taliban leader and bin Laden ally was in the captivity of the Pakistan government, Brad Thor reports. The truth probably depends on how you define the government of Pakistan.

(more…)


The Real News Network interviews Siddharth Varadarajan, Deputy Editor of The Hindu (14:42):


Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari made an honest plea to the world today in words you don’t see communicated often by a world leader.

Pres. Zardari’s Op-Ed in The New York Times titled, “The Terrorists Want to Destroy Pakistan, Too” affirms his commitment to expel terror from his country and create a viable democratic economy. From anyone familiar with the Former Pak PM Benazir Bhutto, assassinated almost a year ago, Pres. Zardari affirms his commitment to not allow his wife to have died in vain:

THE recent death and destruction in Mumbai, India, brought to my mind the death and destruction in Karachi on Oct. 18, 2007, when terrorists attacked a festive homecoming rally for my wife, Benazir Bhutto. Nearly 150 Pakistanis were killed and more than 450 were injured. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai may be a news story for most of the world. For me it is a painful reality of shared experience. Having seen my wife escape death by a hairbreadth on that day in Karachi, I lost her in a second, unfortunately successful, attempt two months later.

The Mumbai attacks were directed not only at India but also at Pakistan’s new democratic government and the peace process with India that we have initiated. Supporters of authoritarianism in Pakistan and non-state actors with a vested interest in perpetuating conflict do not want change in Pakistan to take root.

To foil the designs of the terrorists, the two great nations of Pakistan and India, born together from the same revolution and mandate in 1947, must continue to move forward with the peace process. Pakistan is shocked at the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. We can identify with India’s pain. I am especially empathetic. I feel this pain every time I look into the eyes of my children.

Pakistan is committed to the pursuit, arrest, trial and punishment of anyone involved in these heinous attacks. But we caution against hasty judgments and inflammatory statements. As was demonstrated in Sunday’s raids, which resulted in the arrest of militants, Pakistan will take action against the non-state actors found within our territory, treating them as criminals, terrorists and murderers. Not only are the terrorists not linked to the government of Pakistan in any way, we are their targets and we continue to be their victims.

India is a mature nation and a stable democracy. Pakistanis appreciate India’s democratic contributions. But as rage fueled by the Mumbai attacks catches on, Indians must pause and take a breath. India and Pakistan — and the rest of the world — must work together to track down the terrorists who caused mayhem in Mumbai, attacked New York, London and Madrid in the past, and destroyed the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September. The terrorists who killed my wife are connected by ideology to these enemies of civilization.

These militants did not arise from whole cloth. Pakistan was an ally of the West throughout the cold war. The world worked to exploit religion against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by empowering the most fanatic extremists as an instrument of destruction of a superpower. The strategy worked, but its legacy was the creation of an extremist militia with its own dynamic.

Pakistan continues to pay the price: the legacy of dictatorship, the fatigue of fanaticism, the dismemberment of civil society and the destruction of our democratic infrastructure. The resulting poverty continues to fuel the extremists and has created a culture of grievance and victimhood.

The challenge of confronting terrorists who have a vast support network is huge; Pakistan’s fledgling democracy needs help from the rest of the world. We are on the frontlines of the war on terrorism. We have 150,000 soldiers fighting Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their extremist allies along the border with Afghanistan — far more troops than NATO has in Afghanistan.

Nearly 2,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives to terrorism in this year alone, including 1,400 civilians and 600 security personnel ranging in rank from ordinary soldier to three-star general. There have been more than 600 terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan this year. The terrorists have been set back by our aggressive war against them in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Pashtun-majority areas bordering Afghanistan. Six hundred militants have been killed in recent attacks, hundreds by Pakistani F-16 jet strikes in the last two months.

Terrorism is a regional as well as a global threat, and it needs to be battled collectively. We understand the domestic political considerations in India in the aftermath of Mumbai. Nevertheless, accusations of complicity on Pakistan’s part only complicate the already complex situation.

For India, Pakistan and the United States, the best response to the Mumbai carnage is to coordinate in counteracting the scourge of terrorism. The world must act to strengthen Pakistan’s economy and democracy, help us build civil society and provide us with the law enforcement and counterterrorism capacities that will enable us to fight the terrorists effectively.

Benazir Bhutto once said that democracy is the best revenge against the abuses of dictatorship. In the current environment, reconciliation and rapprochement is the best revenge against the dark forces that are trying to provoke a confrontation between Pakistan and India, and ultimately a clash of civilizations.

This proactive approach by Pres. Zardari follows the grotesque game of political football being played by Indian PM Manmohan Singh and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The displaced anger within India should be expected amongst its people and for politicians to play with that fear is an insult to the hundreds who lost their lives in Mumbai and the heroes who lived for their fellow man regardless of their nationality in those days of horror.

Pres. Zardari echoes the philosophy of his late wife stressing that free, transparent, democratic societies of integrity are the great weapon against terrorism because the demonization of those promoting such societies is a victory for terrorism.

Joint Indo-Pak efforts are crucial to fight terrorism where it’s strongest: unified political morale. And Pak cannot be expected to get out of the dark regarding ISI without the sharing of intelligence and the best way to do so is to participate in the interrogations of those apprehended in Pak andPaki Kashmir

The Times of India reports that Pak will not allow the pursuit of justice for the Mumbai attacks to be a unilateral effort in the region as they are insisting to be involved with the interrogations of those they apprehend in Pak and Paki Kashmir because, as the president says, ‘the terrorists want to destroy Pakistan, too.’ Unfortunately, India is still tossing around the football — taking the cynical approach in the public eye, calling the Paki raids and arrests since the Mumbai attacks, “tokenism,” as Pak won’t release those arrested to India in the effort to not be shut out:

Pakistan has arrested two key terror suspects India wants and could permit New Delhi to interrogate them if this is done jointly, a senior Pakistan minister said on Tuesday.

Confirming the arrests of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi, a top suspect in the Mumbai terror strikes, and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, wanted for his alleged role in the Dec 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar Tuesday said India may be allowed to interrogate them.

“If need be, we can have a joint interrogation,” Mukhtar said in a telephonic interview.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was silent on the interrogation aspect but asserted that the suspects would not be handed over to India, as New Delhi has demanded.

“The arrests are being made for our own investigations. Even if allegations are proved against any suspect, he will not be handed over to India,” Qureshi said in Multan, adding: “We will proceed against those arrested under Pakistani laws.”

Ruling out any movement of Pakistani troops towards the Indian borders, Mukhtar asserted that Pakistan will “help India in every possible way” and made a renewed pitch for joint investigations into the Mumbai attack – a suggestion that India has spurned.

Claiming that Islamabad was cracking down on terror groups, Mukhtar said: “No one can doubt our credibility. We have discussed how we can help our neighbours in fighting terrorism.”

“We are ready to help India in every possible way. Joint investigations will help in probing the Mumbai attack,” Mukhtar asserted.

“We will help India in joint investigations… India may be allowed to interrogate these people also,” he added.

Following the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistani security forces also sealed a camp of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JD), as the LeT is widely believed to have been renamed after it was proscribed, in the Shawai Nullah neighbourhood of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.

In a statement issued late Monday, a military spokesperson in Islamabad said in a statement that an operation to target militant organisations had started in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

“The military confirms an operation of law enforcement is underway,” it said, adding that there had been arrests and investigations were underway.

Pakistani authorities on Monday placed restrictions on the movement of JeM chief Masood Azhar by confining him to his multi-storeyed concrete compound in the Model Town area of Bahawalpur.

“It’s nothing more then tokenism. They want to take minimum possible action to appease the Americans,” Satish Chandra, a former deputy national security adviser and a former Indian envoy to Pakistan, told IANS.

The TOI reported yesterday of confirmation that LeT is backed by Pak spy agency, ISI, without any mention of it being a rouge agency as I’ve compiled many reports that confirm just that while reporting Pak’s strong efforts in the raid of a LeT/JuD camp in Paki Kashmir, referring to the raid as “intelligence-driven,” sends a complex message to the Indians. Again, it is crucial for PM Singh and the Indian media to make it very clear that ISI is apart from the civilian government of Pakistan.

As for Indian law enforcement, the identities and images of the nine dead suspected Pakistani attackers were released.



A day after New Kerala reports that Pakistan is refusing to hand over fugitives requested by India, the US wants four ex-ISI officials declared terrorists, and The Times of India reports that India (with the US) has proof of ISI involvement in last week’s Mumbai attacks, but does not condemn the Pakistani administration or civilian armed forces. ( Watch ):

Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who was in Pakistan on Wednesday, is believed to have told his Pakistani interlocutors that Washington had enough evidence to show a Pakistani hand in the attack, the sources said.

Sources here also refuse to believe that the Pakistani army did not have knowledge of the Mumbai operation given that ISI is controlled by it.

At the same time, sources do not believe that the civilian government in Pakistan is involved in the attack. In fact, one view is that the civilian government itself may be a target of the strike which may be used by the army to heighten tensions with India to return to power.

Washington has asked Pakistan to crackdown on Lashkar-e-Taiba, which now goes under the name of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and to arrest its chief Hafiz Mohd Saeed because it has evidence of their involvement in the attack, the sources said.

The attack was planned, equipped and organised in Pakistan where the terrorists were trained and provided logistical support.

Contrary to the version that the terrorists used a hijacked Indian fishing boat to reach Mumbai after sailing from Karachi, the view here is that much more sophisticated means were used.

The sources spoke of a clear disconnect between the Pakistani civilian government and the all-powerful military establishment, which is causing difficulties for India in dealing with the situation.

Islamabad’s about-turn on sending the Director General of ISI to India is cited as an instance of this disconnect.

During a telephone conversation Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the Mumbai attack, President Asif Zardari had referred to an earlier Pakistani proposal for a meeting between the ISI chief and the head of India’s external intelligence agency, RAW.

Singh told Zardari that this was acceptable to India, after which Pakistan government had announced that the ISI head would travel to India.

After a post-midnight call on Zardari by Army chief Gen Ashfaque Kayani this decision was reversed with the President taking cover under a “mis-communication” with the Indian prime minister. Instead it was decided to depute a Director-level officer to India.

When the terror attack took place Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was in India and had consciously decided not to cut short his visit. However, the Indian government was told at 2.30 am that a special aircraft was being sent less than 4 hours later to take him back to Pakistan.

In what observers see as a clear message to the civilian government, the Pakistan army chief’s plane was sent to Delhi to pick up Qureshi, who boarded the flight around 7 am.

The view here is that the Pakistan army is using the current developments as a way out of the difficult situation it faces in the areas bordering Afghanistan where its writ does not run. Some 900 desertions are said to have taken place from the army.

Where this sounds like tough talk from India and the the US, this analysis of ISI is consistent with counter-terrorism and international media analysis throughout this decade.

Pakistan is a nuclear power, but there is much confusion about their new president, widower of Benazir Bhutto, Azif Ali Zardari, and prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani — both members of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

ISI was an agency much more closely related to the office of the president under Former Pres. Gen. Pervez Musharraf. It’s never been a secret that ISI supported Musharraf’s regime which was democratically overthrown by the PPP — a socio-populist party that supports democracy, not “Islamo-fascism” or imperialism or Sharia Law or moral relativism toward terrorist aggression. Indian officials, consistent with US suspicion, are implying that ISI is a rogue agency within the Pakistani power structure.

Earlier this week, I briefly touched on ISI’s relation to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) aka Jama’at-ud-Da’awa (JuD):

According to the South Asian Terrorism Portal, the LA Times, The Weekly Standard, and many other publications and experts directly link ISI to LeT.

Pakistani PM Yousaf Raza Giliani confirmed last Wednesday that ISI’s political wing had been “disbanded” by what the Pakistanis refer to as the “civilian government.”

Conflict between ISI and the PPP is nothing new. Suspicions have always surrounded their political wing of rigging elections against the PPP as they were ‘monitoring’ the integrity of those elections.

The BBC News profile of ISI months after 9/11 is telling:

Pakistan’s powerful military intelligence agency has been accused of propelling the Taleban to power in Afghanistan and supporting militants fighting India in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Critics of the shadowy Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), believed to have worked closely with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, say it is a “rogue agency” – functioning as an “invisible government”….

Following an attack on the Indian parliament – blamed by Delhi on Pakistan-based Kashmiri militants – General Musharraf is now believed to have ordered the ISI to prevent further attacks by militants in India that could precipitate all-out war.

But India holds General Musharraf himself responsible for an outbreak of hostilities in Kashmir in 1999 – and there are questions about the extent of central control over the ISI.

Some Pakistani politicians have railed at what they claimed was the ISI’s failure to answer to the government – or even to the army command.

ISI ‘dictates policy’

“It is a state within a state,” says Wajid Shamsul Hasan, a former Pakistani High Commissioner in Britain who is close to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

“Pakistan’s foreign policy has been run by the ISI rather than the foreign office,” he said….

“Under civilian rule the ISI had a fair amount of independence,” says Gary Samore of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “Under Musharraf, they’re answerable.”

Mr Hasan, however, said: “Musharraf has made a few changes but the fact of the matter is that the organisation is too big and self-interested.”…

Kashmiri ‘freedom movement’

Asked whether the ISI was sponsoring attacks in Kashmir, General Gul said: “I would say it’s the freedom movement… They are fighting Indian occupation.”

For more on this and other suspicions, see the Federation of American Scientists Intelligence Report on ISI in July 2002:

The ISI continued to actively participate in Afghan Civil War, supporting the Taliban in their fight against the Rabbani government. Backing of the Taliban would officially end after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; however, there are suspicions that sympathetic elements of the ISI continue to aid Taliban fighters.

ISI has been engaged in covertly supporting the Kashmiri Mujahideen in their fight against the Indian authorities in Kashmir. Reportedly “Operation Tupac” was the designation of the three part action plan for the capture of Kashmir through proxy warfare, initiated by President Zia Ul Haq in 1988 after the failure of “Operation Gibraltar.”

According to a report compiled by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) of India in 1995, ISI spent about Rs 2.4 crore per month to sponsor its activities in Jammu and Kashmir. Although all groups reportedly received arms and training from Pakistan, the pro-Pakistani groups were reputed to be favored by the ISI. As of May 1996, at least six major militant organizations, and several smaller ones, operated in Kashmir. Their forces were variously estimated at between 5,000 and 10,000 armed men.

The oldest and most widely known militant organization, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), spearheaded the movement for an independent Kashmir. This group declared a cease-fire in 1994. The most powerful of the pro-Pakistani groups is the Hezb-ul-Mujahedin. The other major groups are Harakat-ul Ansar, a group which reportedly has a large number of non-Kashmiris in it, Al Umar, Al Barq, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Lashkar-e Toiba, which is also made up largely of fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many of these militants were trained in Afghanistan, where several ISI agents were killed during U.S. air strikes in 1998 against terrorist training camps. Since the defeat of the Taliban, militant training camps have moved to Pakistani Kashmir.

In September 2006, BBC News discovered a leaked paper from a UK Ministry of Defence think-tank stating on Pakistan (NOTE: One of the ex-ISI agents the US wants declared a terrorist, Lt. Gen. Hameed Gul, defends ISI in this profile.):

The Army’s dual role in combating terrorism and at the same time promoting the MMA and so indirectly supporting the Taliban (through the ISI) is coming under closer and closer international scrutiny….

[The West has] turned a blind eye towards existing instability and the indirect protection of Al Qaeda and promotion of terrorism.

Indirectly Pakistan (through the ISI) has been supporting terrorism and extremism – whether in London on 7/7 or in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The US/UK cannot begin to turn the tide until they identify the real enemies from attacking ideas tactically – and seek to put in place a more just vision. This will require Pakistan to move away from Army rule and for the ISI to be dismantled and more significantly something to be put in its place.

The most recent credible report comes from, arguably, the most powerful private organization to influence American foreign policy: the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a nonpartisan think-tank on international affairs. I highly suggest reading the full report. Here are excerpts:

Many in the Pakistani government, including slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, have called the intelligence agency “a state within a state,” working beyond the government’s control and pursuing its own foreign policy.

Constitutionally, the agency is acountable to the prime minister, says Hassan Abbas, research fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. But most officers in the ISI are from the army, so that is where their loyalties and interests lie, he says. Experts say until the end of 2007, as army chief and president, Musharraf exercised firm control over the intelligence agency. But by late 2008 it was not clear how much control the new civilian government in Pakistan had over the agency. In July 2008, the Pakistani government announced the ISI will be brought under the control of the interior ministry, but revoked its decision (BBC)“virtually no control” (PDF) over the army and the ISI. within hours. Bruce Riedel, an expert on South Asia at the Brookings Institution, says the civilian leadership has In September 2008, army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani replaced the ISI chief picked by Musharraf with Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha. Some experts say the move signals that Kiyani is consolidating his control over the intelligence agency by appointing his man at the top. In November 2008, the government, in another move to rein in the agency, disbanded ISI’s political wing, which politicians say was responsible for interfering in domestic politics. Some experts saw it as a move by the army, which faced much criticism when Musharraf was at the helm, to distance itself from politics….

With a reported staff of ten thousand, ISI is hardly monolithic: “Like in any secret service, there are rogue elements,” says Frederic Grare, a South Asia expert and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He points out that many of the ISI’s agents have ethnic and cultural ties to Afghan insurgents, and naturally sympathize with them. Marvin G. Weinbaum, an expert on Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Middle East Institute, says Pakistan has sent “retired” ISI agents on missions the government could not officially endorse.

there appears to be division within the ISI.

… Weinbaum in 2006 said the Pakistani military has largely ignored Taliban fighters on its soil. “There are extremist groups that are beyond the pale with which the ISI has no influence at all,” he says. “Those are the ones they go after.”

Pakistan does not enjoy good relations with the current leadership of Afghanistan, partly because of rhetorical clashes with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and partly because Karzai has made strong ties to India.

According to Weinbaum, Pakistan has two policies. One is an official policy of promoting stability in Afghanistan; the other is an unofficial policy of supporting jihadis in order to appease political forces within Pakistan. “The second [policy] undermines the first one,” he says. Nawaz says there is ambivalence within the army regarding support for the Taliban. “They’d rather not deal with the Afghan Taliban as an adversary,” he says.

Note: The report contains quotes in defense of the ISI from former agents and end of the CFR report refutes that of the prior cited UK think-tank RE: London’s 7/7 bombings.