Let's chalk up another one. In an article dated January 5, 2006, the Asia Times' Bureau Chief in Pakistan detailed the story of "Al Qaeda's man who knows too much".
He was once close to Osama bin Laden, has intimate knowledge of al-Qaeda's logistics and financing and its nexus with the military in Pakistan, yet US intelligence has not been able to get its hands on him.As with most of AQ's major players, he earned his jihadi stripes fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Ghulam Mustafa, 38, was picked up about 10 days ago in Lahore, and no charges have been brought against him: he is expected to disappear into a "black hole" and quietly be forgotten.
This is because Mustafa, erstwhile head of al-Qaeda's Pakistani operations, has some tales to tell, but the authorities in Pakistan would rather they were not heard, especially by the Americans, even though Islamabad is a signed-up member in the "war on terror".
When the Soviets pulled out, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) decided to set up a cell in Jalalabad oversee the establishment of a new puppet regime. Bin Laden and Mustafa were both part of that cell.
About that time, the uprising in Kashmir began and the ISI was instrumental in equipping militants in that region as well. Mustafa was assigned by the ISI to oversee the operation of guerilla training camps in Jalalabad with Bin Laden.
Meanwhile, Mustafa had penetrated deeply into the circle of Syed Mubarik Ali Gilani, a revered Sufi and custodian of the Mian Mir shrine in Lahore, from where the ISI runs one of its most effective networks.Mustafa was a key point man for coordinating training, financial, and logistical support for militants in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
(Read the whole Asia Times piece).
The more I read about the incestuous relationships between various jihadi factions and the ISI, the more I become concerned about our "collaborative" efforts with the Pakistanis. Since 9/11, the US has maintained a delicate position with regard to the Pakistani government.
The existence of Pakistan as an "official ally" in the Global War on Terror is of no real comfort when you find that a militant thread of terrorist activity runs deep into the Pakistani government's infrastructure.
They play the game on both sides of the fence. This is certainly evident by their most recent "protest" over the targeting of a hideout for senior al-Qaeda members. The continuation of this game only heightens my concern toward the infrastructure that Sheikh Gilani has established inside the US. Followers of his have carried out attacks on primarily religious targets and individuals around the country. This network could just as easily be used by the ISI to train new recruits or to launch surveillance or attacks on hard targets around the US as well.
Musharraf is supposedly the one bringing stability to the US-Pakistani relationship, but he himself has personal ties to Sheikh Gilani going back to the '60s which I will discuss in a future post.
As more and more links between Gilani and al-Qaeda emerge, the more I am convinced that we can not take his follower's presence lightly. True, not all of them are of a terrorist mindset. Many of the strictly religious followers are naturally going to be unaware of the organization's full scope but, there are others among them. Gilani's operatives are skilled in covert activities and follow classic cell structures.
I continue to run across news articles written by small-town reporters talking about how harmless the Muslims of the Americas group seems -- excusing the group's history as some sort of fairy tale. It's time to wake up.