Remembrance of terrors past
By Luciana Bohne
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 15, 2006, 01:12

I am sure that we will be reading illuminating detective work on the Heathrow liquid-bombs plot very soon, exposing the holes in the official version -- detective work by journalistic investigators with better resources and more expertise than I can muster. However, in preparation for the revelations to come, I am going to focus on a crash review of the relations between the paladins of the so-called "war on terror," Britain and the US, with Pakistan and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

As we now know, the whole re-make of the 9/11 plot ("a second 9/11" the media calls it), released this August as a summer disaster movie to cover the disasters in the polls and on the ground of the lunatics in charge, is a movie script claiming to have unmasked a plot through the singular testimony of Rauf Rashid, apprehended by ISI somewhere on the fluid and porous border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I repeat: the foiling of the plot is based on ISI's claim that Rauf Rashid's interrogation (don't try to imagine what they did to him or how reliable this information might be as a result of robust interrogations) led to the disclosure of the new 9/11 plot.

What is ISI and what is its role in Bush's "war on terror"?

Well, there are some, including members of the British Parliament, who argue that there was a connection between 9/11 (the original movie) and the head of Pakistan's ISI. Former ISI head, Lt-General Mahmoud Ahmad, is said to have wired $100,000 to alleged 9/11 "ring leader" Mohammed Atta's two banks in Florida -- a detail revealed by Times of India and ignored by both western media and the 9/11 Independent Commission: (See more on the ISI-Atta connection.)

Michel Chossudovski (Global Research) points out that the link between ISI and Al Qaeda was a well-known fact to US intelligence (as was the fact that both ISI and Al Qaeda were the creations of the CIA). Yet the US decided to bring Pakistan's ISI on board to fight "the war on terror." Chossudovski points out that a State Department publication at the time confirmed that the government of Pervez Musharraf had links to international terrorism. Nevertheless, on 13 September 2001, Deputy Under Secretary Richard Armitage, a buddy of Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal, met ISI's chief spy behind closed doors in DC and gave him a list of "specific steps" for Pakistan to follow in the "war on terror."

Considering that Musharraf's coup in 1999 had not succeeded in securing his power, the cooperation with the US was nothing short of a necessity for existential survival.

In fact, Lt-General Mahmoud Ahmad was immediately dispatched to Kandahar to ask the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden, which they said they would do if the US would provide proof of his involvement in 9/11. The US declared Mahmoud Ahmad's mission a failure and went ahead with the invasion of Afghanistan -- showing that bombing innocent civilians was a priority over negotiating the capture of the alleged criminal "hiding" among them. Osama, like Elvis, still makes appearances at inexplicably fortuitous times in support of Bush's sagging popularity or fortunes, but he hasn't been captured "dead or alive."

It looks from all this that the US decided to use ISI, a known supporter, trainer, and funder of Al Qaeda, NOT to apprehend bin Laden but to set up a pretext to start the Afghanistan attack. Just before the 12 October date that started the bombardment of a country without an air force, Mahmoud Ahmad was removed from his ISI command, probably because of the Times of India revelations of the link between Pakistan's chief spook and Atta.

An article in Asia Times further links Lt-General Mahmoud Ahmad to Porter Goss, former CIA director, and Bob Graham, former US senator (D-Fla.), all of whom were breakfasting together in DC on the morning of 9/11 and didn't stop confabulating until the second plane hit the Trade Center towers. The Asia Times' link expands on the whole ISI-9/11 connection:

In case you wonder where Lt-General Mahmoud Ahmad is right now, he's in seclusion in his house in Rawalpindi. Was he questioned by the 9/11 commission? I don't think so!

The 9/11 Family Steering Committee had actually asked that the question of the ISI-Atta connection be addressed by the 9/11 Independent Commission (see question #22):

This, of course, is ancient history. It tells us that ISI and Musharraf's government were dragged into the war against "terror" while known to be involved in a government that was behind "terror."

What about Musharraf, ISI, and Pakistan now?

Musharraf has survived several attempts on his life and has been called "dead man walking." For a while, he was Bush's favorite Muslim, but things have changed. They started changing in 2004 when the Bush administration demanded that Pakistan do something about cleansing the North-West tribal areas and Waziristan of "terrorists" -- actually Taliban and various Islamic resistance groups -- from neighboring stans.

These mountainous autonomous tribal regions are ideal places for guerrillas but treacherous for the mobility of conventional armies -- as the British well know from their 19th-century disastrous Afghan Wars. Nevertheless, charged with "Mission Impossible" by a master to whom you can't say "no" or rationally explain that such a mission might start the first fires that eventually ignite a national Islamic revolution in Pakistan, Musharraf sent 30,000 troops in two or three expeditions in the spring of 2004.

These failed miserably, caused army casualties, and enraged the Pakistani public, who charged that the Pakistani army was made to serve western imperialism. Meanwhile, US Special Forces operations targeted villages in Waziristan with aerial bombardments, causing civilian deaths and refugees, but they left the credit to Musharraf -- to get around the sovereignty violation issue.

However, news of the massacres and depopulation of the region leaked out and the public demanded to know why the Musharraf government was allowing the US to violate Pakistani sovereignty. One such incident of a village massacre in January really strained Musharraf's hold on power.

He began to be called "Bush's poodle" and was prompted to deny it:

As though things for Musharraf were not bad enough, Hamid Karzai, the mayor of Kabul and besieged head of Afghanistan for Unocal and other energy interests, very recently charged that Pakistan is to blame for the resurgence of the Taliban in Bush's new Camelot for the Lords of the Opium Table in Afghanistan.

Condoleezza Rice voyaged to Islamabad and Kabul this spring to make peace between the two regimes, but she was unsuccessful in getting the results that the US and Karzai were looking for: a renewed dedication to fighting "terror" on the part of Pakistan. In a speech in DC in early July, the new Afghan foreign minister accused Pakistan of not doing an adequate job of countering terrorism (code word for "supporting the US in its conquest of West Asia"). He claimed that "terrorists were infiltrating from Pakistan [and] we do not have the strength to go after the sources."

Another blow to Musharraf's standing in the "Axis of Goodness" is a recent assessment by British Colonel Chris Vernon, chief of staff for southern Afghanistan. He stated publicly that the Taliban operated campaigns in Afghanistan from Quetta in Pakistan.

Understandbly, the British military brass resents Blair's unpopular request to send 3,300 more troops to failing Afghanistan to pick up the slack from the US's dumping Enduring Freedom via NATO on Britain's lap -- the fall guy after the US secured its oil-energy objectives and moved on to more enduring failures.

All in all, poor Britain is stuck with an Afghanistan on the verge of a Taliban takeover, aided by Pakistan's pro-Islamic governmental agencies, including the military and the ISI. Army supplies for British forces in Afghanistan -- those that cannot be airlifted -- have to travel through Pakistan -- shrouded in secrecy to prevent sabotage!

Yes, you can say that Pakistan's contribution to the war on the "Axis of Evil" leaves something to be desired from the point of view of its daft planners.

To boot, the US makes a nuclear deal with India, Pakistan's mortal enemy, showing just how far from favor and influence the satrap from Islambad has fallen!

What would you do if you were Musharraf and saw the writing on the wall? What would you do if they accused you of being soft on terror and gave you one last opportunity to regain their favor? Would you cook up some evidence under pressure to support their half-baked scheme to scare the world?

Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at

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