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Guess, where the homeland of terrorism is?

August 27, 2004

The game's over. Khel khataam…

The Independent, London, reported it rather matter of factly: 'Like so much in the war on terror, the trail of the latest warnings of imminent al-Qa'ida attacks and orange alerts in the United States appears to lead back to Pakistan.'

Pakistan is 'widely seen as the ground zero of terrorism,' and a 'flurry of arrests over the last 48 hours of suspected Al Qaeda elements, all of whose trail leads back to Pakistan,' agreed the Christian Science Monitor.

'Pakistan is continuing to provide a 'production line' of new terrorists,' says The Observer, London.

Hai Ram!! Kya karen?

It seems the secret is out.

The firangs may have actually figured it out -- they've independently surmised that all international terrorism originates from Pakistan.

You have to admit this was not an easy one to deduce -- after all, there have been very few hints and suggestions to go by over the past few years about Pakistani complicity in global terrorism. But, we have to be careful -- Western standards of evidence can often be very exacting.

After all, these were these were the same firangs, who only after thoroughly investigating some entirely invisible signs of yellow cake from Niger, decided to take the relatively measured action of bombing 11,000 odd Iraqi civilians, including women and children, to their deaths.

But some of the clues may have been too subtle even for our favorite Yankees and their stiff-upper lipped angrez cousins, so, I thought -- perhaps, we should lay it all out, in our favorite name-the-country game questionnaire:

  • Remember the Bali bombings -- where did Hambali and his brothers get indoctrinated?
  • The embassy bombings in Africa -- where did the main perpetrators fly 'home' to after the bombings?
  • Aimal Kasi, the man who decided to take target practice on a traffic stop outside the CIA headquarters -- where did he come from?
  • The 1993 World Trade Center bombings, the Daniel Pearl murder, the Madrid bombings -- which country has common links to all?
  • Which country has played mid-wife to both Al Qaeda and the Taliban?
  • Rassam, the Algerian, who was trying to do his holy duty and blow up Los Angeles airport a few years ago -- where was his Algerian cell based? Which country did he first travel to for training?
  • Which is the only country whose nuclear scientists have maintained deep relationships with terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda?
  • While civilised countries around the world are spending billions of dollars building schools, roads and hospitals in Afghanistan, which country is spending untold millions in financing and stewarding a resurgent Taliban, that is engaged in burning schools for girls and even poisoning girls who dare to get educated?
  • Which country's intelligence chiefs have been directly linked with financial dealings with the 9/11 planners, according to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn?

Hold it, Hold it -- no need to look for  your atlas or pound out those Google searches -- the answer is obvious. It's that giant terrorist camp you find as soon as you cross our western borders. Who else could it be?

Ok, ok -- I'm being mean to the Pakistanis -- but, this is supposed to be a factual satire, you see.

In any case, what is this hullabaloo all about?

First, came the report created by the high-powered independent commission that was looking into the 911 attacks in the US. The full text of the 9/11 Commission Report had more mentions of Pakistan, than Iran and Iraq combined. Yet the highly respected US think tank, Center for Strategic and International quipped: 'It (the 9/11 Commission) badly understates the role of the ISI in Pakistan, however, and makes largely feel good proposals.'

Next came the arrest of African embassy bombing accused Ghailani in Pakistan…miraculously timed to be announced exactly three hours before John Kerry's presidential nomination speech.

'Security experts close to the corridors of power in Pakistan tell AsiaTimes Online that as the November presidential elections in the US draw closer, more such dramatic -- and timely -- arrests can be expected. Already, though, under intense pressure from the US, Pakistan has handed over as many as 350 suspected al-Qaeda operators into US custody. Most have been low-ranking, but some important names are, according to Asia Times Online contacts, being held in Inter-Services Intelligence safe houses to be presented at the right moment,' said Said Saleem Shehzad in Asia Times.

Third, the threat warnings went off all over the US, based upon the arrest of a Pakistani computer engineer, Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, in Lahore. This 'gifted graduate of Karachi University, with what police describe as "a flawless English accent," comes from a respectable middle class background. His mother is a university botany professor and his father worked for Pakistan International Airlines.'

This gent would travel abroad on behalf of Al Qaeda to evaluate possible sites and buildings for destruction, and in his spare time, would use his skills in encrypting messages and hiding electronic communications. While the rest of the world was scratching its head at the thought of a kid growing up in Karachi or Lahore planning to destroy buildings all the way across the world, the Pakistanis themselves did not find this surprising at all.

As one quipped: 'Every second jihadi I know has a computer and is always busy checking information on buildings in the US -- their height and width and their possible vulnerable areas -- and it is their routine practice to make plans with computer graphics to bring down US buildings to the ground.'

In London, Scotland Yard announced the arrest of Babar Ahmad, a British subject of Pakistani descent, on a extradition request from the US District Court in Connecticut.

Ahmad, 30, is accused of soliciting funds and property through the Internet for 'acts of terrorism in Chechnya and Afghanistan,' including political murder between 1998 and the end of 2003, US officials said.

Meanwhile, in Germany, a German-Moroccan fugitive allegedly involved in the September 11 attacks has been sending e-mail messages from Pakistan to his wife in Germany. The German news magazine Focus says in its latest edition German police have traced Internet messages from Said Bhaiji from Islamabad and Lahore in Pakistan.

British secret agents have foiled a massive terror attack in the UK which could have left tens of thousands dead, The People reveals. The plot by Al Qaeda is thought to have involved chemical or biological weapons triggered by a home-made bomb.

But the horrific plan was thwarted after a joint operation by MI5 agents in this country and MI6 spies working undercover in Pakistan. 'There is no doubt there are strong links between terrorists in Pakistan and those hiding in Britain,' said Patrick Mercer, the Conservative Party's homeland security spokesperson, after returning from Islamabad.

Mercer said preventive homeland security for the UK had to now begin in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, 'a source close to Uzbek extremist groups told The Associated Press on Saturday that al-Qaida directed and financed the group behind Friday's bombings and that the attacks were retaliation for Uzbekistan's support of the US-led war on terrorism. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the group was based in Pakistan and had been founded by several former fighters of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al-Qaida-linked terror group.'

Saleem Shehzad, a Pakistani journalist, in his latest column tells us: 'As a former Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence  operator and air force official, Khalid Khawaja, commented in the Pakistani press on the arrests of the two jihadis, "Every link of the arrested jihadi leaders goes straight to top army officials of different times."

'"The US State Department declared al-Badr a terrorist organization a few years ago, and has steadily put pressure on Islamabad to arrest its operators. (But) From the mid-1980s, then, to the present the ISI and al-Badr have virtually been one and the same thing.'

Finally, as CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, reported: 'Well, defense and intelligence sources are now confirming to CNN that there is 'recent intelligence that Al Qaeda training camps inside Pakistan have recently been reactivated.' The intelligence, we are told, is based in part on imagery, overhead imagery gathered in the last month.

More importantly, all the above reports are just from the past two weeks, and that too, I've left out about half a dozen other reports, for the sake of brevity.

Monday: Is the US suspicious about Pakistan?

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Arindam Banerji can be reached at

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