Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fuqra Associate Linked to Neo-Taliban Cabal

I have written several times about a man named Khalid Khawaja, a former officer in Pakistan’s ISI as well as its air force and rumored to have at one time served as a pilot for Osama bin Laden. Among his various roles, he is also a very close associate, some might say a consigliere or even "blood brother" to Sheikh Syed Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, founder of the secretive militant group known as Jamaat ul-Fuqra. Following one of my reports, Mr. Khawaja even commented on this site, defending Gilani’s reputation. Gilani is also the founder of Muslims of the Americas, which serves as a front organization for Jamaat ul-Fuqra and is believed to have a few thousand members spread throughout the United States. In fact, Khawaja was once quoted as saying, "Osama doesn’t have many people in America, but...I am telling you, Osama does not have even one of his followers as committed as Sheik Mubarak Gilani. Osama does not have even one as committed as the least of his people."

Khawaja has a long history in the jihadi movement of Pakistan. According to a source of mine who has actually met him, he has a rather genteel disposition, but is quite skilled with weapons and has experience in the jihadi training apparatus of Pakistan. Having served as an officer with the ISI, along with his wife, for years he has received protection from elements of the Pakistani government. However, it seems that tide is changing as competing (and ruling) elements are now responding to a perceived threat from Khawaja and others.

Khalid Khawaja Goes Missing

On January 26 of this year, Khawaja was arrested outside of the Lal Masjid in Islamabad and charged with the distribution of hate material. Among materials seized from him was a banned book entitled ‘Fatwa-e-Rasheedia’. He was held first in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. On February 3, his application for bail was denied. After being detained for close to a month, he was due to be freed on February 22nd after finally being granted bail. He then disappeared. The BBC reported that he was believed to have been handed over to intelligence officials and is being held at a military prison known as Attock Fort.

Attock Fort, where Khawaja is believed to be held

Despite his known associations with terrorist groups, like Gilani – Mr. Khawaja has attempted to portray himself outwardly as a humanitarian. In fact, ironically, he is head of an NGO called Defence of Human Rights and has advocated against the government regarding the disappearance of hundreds of people believed abducted by security agencies.

Emergent Neo-Taliban Threat

B. Raman, a former Indian intelligence official, writing for the South Asia Analysis Group’s International Terrorism Monitor, noted in a paper entitled “Looming Jihadi Anarchy in Pakistan” (released on March 30, 2007):

There has been an increasingly disturbing challenge to the authority of Pakistan's President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, from jihadis inspired by the Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda, who are actively supported by a group of retired officers of the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). This group is led by Gen. Mohammad Aziz, a Kashmiri Sudan from the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, Lt. Gen. Javed Nasir, Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, Maj.Gen. Zahir-ul-Islam Abbasi and Sq. Leader Khalid Khawaja.


Khawaja was also in the ISI and used to be in touch with the Taliban after it came into being in 1994 and Osma bin Laden after he shifted to Afghanistan in 1996. After leaving the ISI, he joined the Jamaat-ul-[Fuqra] (JUF) of Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Jilani, which has many followers in the Muslim communities of the US and the West Indies. Daniel Pearl had sought his help for arranging a meeting with Jilani. Pearl wanted to enquire about any links between the JUF and Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. It was Khawaja, who had tipped off the kidnappers of Pearl about his Jewish background and created a suspicion in their mind that Pearl had links with the CIA and Mossad. He is now in detention on a charge of instigating the women students of a madrasa of Islamabad (Jamia Hafsa) to start an agitation against the demolition of some mosques in Islamabad. This agitation has been going on for the last two months. In addition to other demands, the agitating women students, who project themselves as future wives and mothers of suicide bombers, are now demanding his release from jail. They have been shouting slogans in praise of bin Laden and Mulla Omar.


Prominent weblog Little Green Footballs posted this BBC video the other day profiling the radical Jamia Hafsa madrassa in Islamabad to which Khawaja has been linked. then posted a subsequent analysis of this with links to news of additional developments.

So, the questions to be asked now are - What is the government of Pakistan going to do with Khawaja? Will they continue to hold him incommunicado, interrogate him for useful intel, and then go after these radical elements? Will they cave to pressure and release him? Will subversive elements in the government intervene on his behalf? Will Sheikh Gilani be further exposed in all this as having played a role? Will US intelligence agencies request and/or receive information gleaned from Khawaja's interrogation regarding Gilani's network and its ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda?

Well, for now, it seems the government has caved. They have agreed to release him within days.

Previous Posts
1) The commitment of Sheikh Gilani's followers
2) Khalid Khawaja
3) The Journalist & The Jihadi

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