Monday, March 9, 2009
MUMBAI & LAHORE - A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Lashkar e Taiba & Lashkar e Jhangvi - children of Pakistan Army
LAHORE ATTACK ON SRI LANKA CRICKET TEAM
As the din gets louder that Sunni extremists linked to Al Qaeda – the Lashkar e Jhangvi (LeJ) perpetrated the Lahore massacre on Sri Lankan cricketers, let not the main fact get lost in translation. One has to look at the attacks on Mumbai and Lahore not merely as stand alone incidents, but part of a larger game plan, some of which have already played out before, some are ongoing and certainly more to come in future.
The alleged mastermind of Lahore attacks has been identified and he is Mohammad Aqeel and all that is known is that he belongs to one of the banned outfits - Lashkar e Jhangvi (LeJ). He has not been caught but his accomplice TALAT has been apprehended.
LeJ: The late Zia-ul-Haq's perceived partiality towards the Deobandi sect of the majority Sunni community of Pakistan led to the formation on April 12-13,1979, of the Tehrik Nifaz Fiquah Jaffria (TNFJ) by the Shias. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with the blessings of the USA, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, encouraged a group of Deobandi Muslim migrants (Mohajirs) to counter the activities of the TNFJ. Thus came into being the Ajuman-e-Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (since re-named as the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan--SSP) on September 6,1984, under the leadership of Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, a semi-educated Khateeb who had his religious education in Darul Uloom, Kabirwala, and the Khairul madrasa of Multan in Pakistani Punjab. The well-motivated and trained cadres of the SSP offered themselves as mercenaries not only to the ISI for its operations against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan and against the Shias in Pakistan itself, but also to the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and Iraq for their operations against the Islamic regime in Iran. In 1996, the SSP underwent an ostensible split with a group led by Riaz Basra forming a separate anti-Shia organisation called the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). Though the two have since been operating separately, Pakistani analysts call the split an eye-wash and describe the LeJ as nothing but the militant wing of the SSP, to enable the latter to concentrate more on overground political activities.
Cricket & LeJ - Have attacked cricketers before:
In May 2002, a New Zealand cricket team abandoned its tour of Pakistan after an LeJ suicide bomber attacked them in front of their hotel in Karachi.
Hence, if LeJ was behind the Lahore attacks targeting Sri Lankan cricketers, this would be their second attack on cricketers.
Al – Qaeda - Oddities of timing to own up to Marriott bombing:
On the day the attack on the cricket team in Lahore occurred, the newspapers carried news that Al Qaeda had owned up the Marriott Hotel blast of September 2008 in a message sent to the Saudi embassy in Islamabad. On December 22, 2008, the adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior, Mr Rehman Malik, had told the National Assembly that the Marriott blast was carried out by Lashkar-e Jhangvi.
Al-Qaeda & IIF – where LeT and LeJ meet up.
The International Islamic Front (IIF), which is a coalition of likeminded jihadi organisations of different countries formed by Laden in 1998. Members from Pakistan include, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), the Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).
And the connection to ISI.
The connection of Pakistani jihadi organizations in IIF and their connections to ISI. All these organizations were formed by ISI and are organizations where ISI officers find employment after retirement. Why is it that only ISI controlled jihadi organizations find themselves part of Al-Qaeda’s elite group of IIF?
Before going back, the current situation:
On February 23, 2009, “under instructions” from Mullah Umar and “sheikh” Osama bin Laden, the three feuding warlords of Waziristan — Baitullah Mehsud, Maulvi Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur — announced reconciliation and merger under the rubric of Shura Ittehad Mujahideen (SIM). They also issued a pamphlet that vowed the targeting of Al Qaeda’s three enemies: “Obama, Zardari and Karzai”. Baitullah Mehsud’s Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) subsequently announced that it would no longer fight the Pakistan army. But the announcement of “Zardari” as a target while letting the Pakistan army off the hook is a menacing signal for Pakistani politics.
BuA: Hence, Al-Qaeda is trying to bring feuding to an end to help the Pakistan Army, while targeting the civilian set up in Pakistan. After the attack on Lal Masjid, (at the goading of the Chinese and in essence to please its all weather ally) , the Pakistan Army went on the wrong side of the Islamists. The US "war on terror" landed the Paksitan Army once again on the wrong side of the Islamists and Taliban - hence there was a backlash from them. The peace deals at SWAT and the formation of SIM (Shura Ittehad Mujahideen) are a step to heal the wounds and get the Islamists back into the fold of Pakistan Army.
Benazir Bhutto & LeJ :
Ms Benazir Bhutto had revealed in an interview that the attack on her procession in Karachi in October 2007 was carried out by the gang of “Abdul Rehman Sindhi, an Al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) militant from the Dadu district of Sindh”. After her assassination in December 2008, an Al Qaeda spokesman claimed having killed “an American asset”. In the late 1990s, whenever the government of Pakistan demanded the handover of LeJ killers, the Taliban government, backed by Al Qaeda, steadily refused the demand.
The revelations in the book “The Way of the World”, by Pulitzer Prize winning US journalist Ron Suskind : the conversations between Musharraf and Benazir, including Musharraf’s quote - “You should understand something, your security is based on the state of our relationship”.
Looks like the state of the relationship was not good.
A look at Musharraf: After all, he may well become the next President of Pakistan ousting Zardari !
We all see a moderate face, but we also know he plotted the Kargil. So who is the real Musharraf ?. (I will tie in LeJ, Mushrraf, Al Qaeda shortly, hence the digress).
Gen Musharraf was 'picked up' by the then military dictator of Pakistan, Gen Zia-ul-Haq, as a young Brigadier in 1987 on strong recommendations from the Jamaat-e-Islami, in part of the Zia gameplan to 'Islamise' the Pakistani Army. Gen Musharraf was perceived as a 'devout Deobandi', who could be trusted to mobilise and train 'jihadis' for the Afghan campaigns against the Soviet Union.
NOTE 1 on MUSHARRAF: Gen Zia, a known Islamist, was not going to love any “secularist”. And Musharraf a ‘devout Deobandi’ was recommended by Jamaat e Islami.
Brigadier Musharraf, SSP, Al Qaeda:
In 1988, as a Brigadier charged with suppressing a Shia revolt in Pakistan occupied Gilgit-Baltistan, Gen Musharraf used Islamist 'irregulars' from the North West Frontier Province, under the command of OSAMA BIN LADEN, to execute a campaign of pillage, arson, rape and slaughter, in which hundreds of Shia were killed. These Islamist irregulars were Sunni hardliners – the ISI formed Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) – from where LeJ was later formed.
Thereafter, Gen Musharraf was intrinsic to the 'demographic re-engineering' of the illegally occupied region, through which large numbers of Pashtun and Punjabi 'outsiders' were forcibly settled there, to alter the existing demographic balance that overwhelmingly favoured the Shias. After decades of this policy, while Shias continue to maintain a slim - though diminishing - majority, the proportions have been altered from 1:4 in their favour, to 3:4.
NOTE 2 on MUSHARRAF: Musharraf was no stranger to genocide, and ethnic cleansing and tried to use it to good use in Kashmir. The friends of Musharraf, and Pakistan Army, were the ISI created terror organizations and LeJ was at the forefront, along with LeT. And yes, Musharraf worked together with Osama bin Laden in GILGIT.
Gen Musharraf and Kashmir:
Musharraf wanted to plant the Pakistani flag on the Srinagar Assembly building and he has not shied away from these comments. In 1999, with Mr Pervez Musharraf as its chief, the Pakistan army invaded the Kargil sector of the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir with military formations - particularly the Gilgit Scouts - posing as 'irregulars' or 'mujahideen'.
It is a well established fact that every Pakistani Army and Deobandi jehadi organizations (it is an irony that Deoband is based in UP and its seminaries are spewing these terrorists) – have only one agenda: Make Afghanistan the 5th province of Pakistan and Kashmir its 6th province.
An interview Benazir gave on May 20, 2000, reveals Pakistan’s Kashmir policy: She said: Three crucial changes took place in the Kashmir policy:
i) The leadership of All Party Hurriyat Conference was effectively replaced by HuM & LeT
ii) The arena of conflict was expanded beyond the disputed area
iii) Non-military targets i.e. civilians, were also included as targets
When we reflect back on 26/11, the above three points should be remembered.
The plan for KASHMIR:
Pakistan’s idea is simple. Make the Hindus flee the state. Pakistan wants to make Jammu, Rajouri, Udhampur & Poonch Muslim majority areas and then press for DIXON formula type solution with the backing of USA & its allies in Afghan & Iraq wars. (Pakistan is still the frontline ally of US for the Afghan war).
The Indians, however did not get trapped into the plans, despite attacks on its Parliament in 2001, or the audacious attack in Mumbai on 26/11 by going to war – which would have acted as a catalyst for all the various feuding jehadi organizations to become one and fight with the Pakistan Army, while the real plan was to infiltrate Kashmir with more than 2000 of highly trained terrorists to take over the state gradually.
Had Pakistan succeeded, they would have gone the whole hog and press USA & UN for implementation of their new DIXON formula.
Sir Owen Dixon, the U.N. Representative came to the subcontinent pursuant to the Security Council's 1950 resolution on the Kashmir dispute.
That was "The Dixon Plan". It assigned Ladakh to India, the Northern Areas and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) to Pakistan, split Jammu between the two, and envisaged a plebiscite in the Kashmir Valley. Pakistan demurred at first, but agreed. It fell through because Nehru did not accept the conditions under which the plebiscite could be held; precisely the issue on which the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) and Graham failed. They, because of their ineptness; Dixon because he lost patience.
My reading of Musharraf: He is NOT TO BE TRUSTED at all. It was his then ISI chief Mahmood Ahmed, whose hands were caught in the till for financing the 9/11. Musharraf is a Deobandi die-hard, and is committed to the cause of breaking India up through a 1000 cuts. His overtures of peace are just a show. As an Indian Brigadier pointed out – Pakistan cannot fight on three fronts – hostile western borders, deteriorating internal security and a hostile eastern border. Pakistan army’s peace overtures is to keep “peace” in eastern borders till it “deals” with the other two issues – which are mostly its own creations anyway to seize power from the civilian leadership.
Yes, while Pakistan is in control of the major terrorist organizations through ISI in Pakistan, it is not in control of all and there are, I am sure, foreign powers, hostile to Pakistan, who are making use of these terror organizations to their advantage too.
The striking similarities between ISI covert ops team and the commado jehadists that struck Mumbai & Lahore:
The typical ISI covert ops team contains a Major, a JCO, an NCO and about 10 soldiers who merge with the Mujahideen and serve under direct operational command of the ISI. They attack in a buddies formation.
In both Mumbai & Lahore,10 – 12 commando - terrorists attacked in pairs. But what gave it a signature covert ops was the GPS (Mumbai attacks) & conversation trail. In Mumbai’s case : One of IP addresses that was accessed by Zarrar Shah to talk to the Mumbai attackers, 18.104.22.168, belongs to Col R Sadatullah whose official address is SCO, Qasim Rd, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The link to Pakistan Army is clearly established and it seems there are a couple more to be named in the future.
Interim conclusion: Whether it was LeT in Mumbai, or LeJ in Lahore, the hands of ISI & Pakistan Army are clear. And movements like Al Qaeda dominated Shura Ittehad Mujahideen, which targets the civilian government and eases Pakistan military leads credence to the theory.
HISTORICAL CONNECTIONS between Al Qaeda, ISI, LeT, LeJ – a few examples. It is stunning how well co-ordinated ISI, Al Qaeda and LeT / LeJ were, and therefore continue to be:
1. LeT / ISI / Al Qaeda / KMM
Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia (KMM) was formed by a Pakistan trained Afghan jehad veteran ZAINON ISMAIL. 50 of his cadres were trained by LeT in Muridke. They were flown to Kuwait and by sea to Alor Satar in north western Malaysia. Zainon flew to Kuwait and visited Pakistan on the basis of a PAKISTANI PASSPORT provided by the Pakistan Mission in Kuwait. He and his organization received liberal monetary help from ISI, and training facilities by LeT at Muridke, co-ordinated by ISI.
2. LeT / ISI / Jemaah Islamiya (JI) / Al Qaeda and BALI BOMBINGS:
Hambai was JI’s operational chief. He was sponsored to visit Pakistan as a mujahid. After initial training in a Peshawar camp of ISI & LeT camp in Muridke, Hambali was deputed to the training camp of ABDUL RAUF SAYYAF, leader of Ittehad-i-Islami in Afghanistan. Here he was contacted by Al-Qaeda. Under ISI & Al Qaeda guidance and JI support, two important Pakistanis – WALI KHAN AMIN SHAH and KHALID SHIEKH and HAMBALI planned spectacular terrorist actions in South East Asia. One of Hambali’s important collaborators was ABDUL AZIZ alias IMAM SAMUDRA, who too was trained in Pakistan at LeT camp in Muridke and was the mastermind of the BALI bombings in Oct’02. While in Pakistan, Imam Samudra, was taken to Binori mosque where bulk of Taliban cadets were trained. Imam Samudra’s main training was at LeT’s camp in Muridke.
Hence, the blood stains of Bali Bombings, can be traced straight back to Lashkar e Taiba’s training camp in Muridke, facilitated as usual by the ISI.
3. ISI / LeT / HuM/ Al Qaeda and KOSOVO
The ISI linked HuM & LeT volunteers numbering 50 left for Albania (1994) through Turkey, under the noses of NATO forces. They were lodged in Kosovo by Kosovar muslims to fight against Serbian army & militia. The ISI backed Pakistanis were grouped under the AL-QAEDA BANNER (wow !!!). Two more groups of Pakistani mujahideen belonging to Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) were deputed to Kosovo in a flight chartered by ISI (look at the very close co-ordination between ISI & LeT for global jehad). This flight took them to Turkey and then smuggled into Kosovo. Their leader was Mullah Saraf-ud-Din. These Islamic fighters created havoc and later on many of them settled on in Kosovo. These fighters married locally and are now propagating their hardline views through mosques and madrassas – and they remain a very dangerous force in future aligned against Europe. Similar assimilation of Pakistani fighters with local women have taken place in Bosnia creating similar danger for Europe.
4. ISI / HuM / LeT /LeJ /BOSNIA
Not 50 this time, but 500 jehadists were recruited by ISI belonging to HuM, LeT and LeJ to be deputed to Bosnia. Pakistan Air Force (PAF) carried weapons for Bosnian rebels. The then Lt Gen of ISI Javed Nasir claimed that despite the UN ban, he successfully air-lifted sophisticated anti-tank missiles which were used by LeT / HuM terrorists and turned the tide of war in favour of the Bosnian Muslims and forced the Christian Serbs to lift siege. The US was extremely peeved and the then President of USA – Bill Clinton was on the verge of declaring Pakistan as a terrorist state, when Nawaz Sharif (then PM of Paksitan) placated Clinton by sacking Javed Nasir from top post of ISI.
The conclusion one can easily draw from here – the ISI openly used the terrorist organizations for global jehad and it sided with Al Qaeda with impunity.
For an excellent analysis of ISI connections with terrorist organizations and global jehad, I recommend this book - "FULCRUM of EVIL" by Moloy Krishna Dhar (former Indian Intelligence Bureau [IB] Chief). The book can be purchased by clicking here.
The current US intelligence outlook:
John Michael "Mike" McConnell served as the United States Director of National Intelligence from 20 February 2007 to 27 January 2009 during the Bush and seven days of the Obama administration, stated: “The Taliban are making huge inroads into Afghanistan and other militants saw an opportunity over the next two years to attempt the first violent overthrow of a nuclear armed state – Pakistan. The country was ripe for the picking. It’s weak and corrupt government faced national bankruptcy, an insurgency raged at the doorsteps of the capital and the Pakistan government had no comprehensive strategy to confront either conflict. Nor did it seem to want to.
BuA : We can intelligently now know why Pakistan did not want to confront the militancy.
McConnell also came to the conclusion that Pakistan’s aid to Taliban was no act of rogue intelligence, but instead was a government policy.
Such enlightenment came through telephone intercepts of Army Gen Kiyani where he is said to have stated that the Taliban were strategic assets of Pakistan Army (quoted from David Sanger’s new book – The Inheritance).
HENCE: What is confronting India today?
A Taliban which has tacit Pak Army approval. Al Qaeda linked terror organizations like LeJ, LeT and HuM enjoying benevolence of ISI in its terror activities inside India as well as in Pakistan. A concerted effort by Pakistan Army to use these jehadi organization to weaken the civilian leadership of Pakistan to take control of Pakistan again – maybe in a different guise, but in control nonetheless. The twin attacks were intended to fast forward the Taliban/Al Qaeda/military takeover of Pakistan.
BuA: Yes I am saying, there is no difference between Pakistan Army, ISI, Taliban, LeT, LeJ and Al Qaeda. They are all connected to each other for various activities and Pakistan Army is the controller. In fact, if Al Qaeda were to be eliminated, Pakistan Army takes control of global jehad through LeT, LeJ.
Here is the question therefore? People are saying that Al Qaeda wants to take control of Pakistani nukes and Taliban inroads in Pakistan is a worrying sign for Pakistan. My question to them – what is the role of Pakistan Army and ISI in all this, given the close history and military objectives of these said organizations (Pak Army & ISI) in supporting not only Taliban, but Al-Qaeda backed jehadi organizations like LeJ, LeT etc. What is the ultimate game plan here?
Other than military objectives like the 5th & 6th province (Afghanistan and Kashmir) there is also a theological story residing in GHAZWATUL HIND, KHORASAN and the final battle (this for a later article). While cold military logic will make the Pakistan Army & ISI act on the choices it has, this will have no succor for the militants bred on wahabbi / deobandi madrassas. It is for these militants that the theological story is essential as it gives them the fodder, the rationale for acting out and be part of a history.
Hence, given the adulterous relationship ISI has with Al-Qaeda & Taliban while professing undying love for USA, one would imagine the political leadership of USA will be as clear on the role of Pakistan Army as Mc Connell was. However, that is not so, as Obama goes on to find the good Taliban – anyone here can please tell me from historical perspective what was a good Nazi?
In the grand scheme of things, the two incidents of Mumbai & Lahore are just that – means to the end that the Pakistan Army has thought out for itself. And as Musharraf stated recently in Delhi – if India does not solve the Kashmir issue, there will be many more Kargils.
A look at what India has to contend with from the enlightened US political establishment:
David Sanger, in his book, The Inheritance, writes in the introduction: The grand ambition of Bush presidency post 9/11 was to create a “RIP IN TIME”, to re-order the Middle East and the wider world so that America would never face a day like that – or a far worse one – for generations. Bush’s theory was that the combined effect of America’s military power and the newly declared intolerance for accepting risks to American security or to its interests around the world – particularly nuclear threats – it would convince the other nations to SURRENDER their weapons of mass destruction. The pre-emption doctrine would put nations on warning. The US successes in Afghanistan and in Iraq, the administration argued, would sow the seeds for DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTIONS. Repressed people would find the confidence to rise up against self interested mullahs and oil soaked dictators (except, of course allies like SAUDI ARABIA). Some of these events would happen right away. Others, like democracy’s rise, would become what Condoleeza Rice called, “ a generational project.”
BuA: In hindsight, we can evaluate / guage / assess whether any of the above policy objectives were met as Bush went away and Obama came in. As Obama sifts the sands looking for the elusive good Taliban, to rescue him from the Afghan quagmire, India has to think through its options. India has to come to one simple conclusion really – that the US will act for its sake only and not for any other country. In that case, the mess in our western borders and the conniving Pakistan military’s last acts have not ended with the attacks on Mumbai and Lahore.
MILITARY COUP IN THE OFFING ?
And as I write this, the ominous signs of a military takeover in Pakistan (in some form) are taking shape. General Kiyani, former head of ISI, is learnt to have told president Zardari to set things right before the March 16 protest called by lawyers and supporters of Sharif to demand reinstatement of Supreme Court judges sacked by former president Pervez Musharraf. Kiyani, just back from the USA, has been told by the Americans to clean up the NWFP - which he has assured he can, if Army were in control. Looks like the USA has bought the line.
There are two choices facing the Pakistan Army :
1. Go after the Taliban and other obscurantist forces and make Pakistan a freer society. The price to pay for this will be severe backlash from these organizations that are embedded in every aspect of Pakistani society, including in the Army & ISI. This will also mean giving up on these "strategic assets".
2. Try to obfuscate the issue into good Taliban and bad Taliban and carry on business as usual. Increase attacks in Afghanistan and Kashmir to bring parties to a negotiating table that will be to Islamabad's advantage.
Incidentally, the debate of good and bad Taliban has been handled excellently in this article A futile search for 'moderate' Taliban written by Walid Phares.
The readers are free to choose the path that the Pakistan Army will take. I am sure the tone of my article reflects my choice / preference / view.
What next for INDIA? Another hijack to free Kasav? Or something more ominous !