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Friday, June 17, 2011

Al-Qaida and Pakistan: An Easy Alliance?

The question of who will succeed Osama bin Laden as the leader of Al-Qaida has been answered. It is Ayman al-Zawahri, the #2 man in the international terrorist organization.

As with most of Al-Qaida's leadership, al-Zawahri is living somewhere in Pakistan. And that should tell you something about our so-called "ally" in the fight against terrorism. Along with al-Zawahri four other key members of Al-Qaida are believed to be in Pakistan:

Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian believed to be a top-ranking member of Al Qaeda. The US is offering $5 million as a reward for his capture. Like al-Zawahri, Adel was indicted by the US for an alleged role in the African embassy bombings in 1998.

Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, an Egyptian with a $5 million reward on his head, Abdullah is supposedly a member of Al Qaeda’s top council. US intelligence thinks he is in Pakistan after fleeing Nairobi following the embassy bombings.

Rashid Rauf, a dual British-Pakistani citizen, Rashid Rauf is considered a key Al Qaeda operative and is suspected of involvement in a 2006 attempt to blow up aircraft leaving London with liquid explosives. He is also wanted in Britain as a suspect in the 2002 murder of an uncle. He was in Pakistani custody at one point, but "escaped" in 2007 when his guards allowed him to say prayers in a mosque.

Ilyas Kashmiri, a Pakistani from Kashmir. While not on the FBI’s most-wanted list, he is believed to be behind some of the deadliest attacks in India and Pakistan, including a 2009 suicide attack on Pakistan’s spy agency and cross border attacks on US forces in Afghanistan.

Al-Zawahri and his cronies are like the arsonist who is invited to stay in the neighbor's house.

"Aren't you worried that he will burn down your house?" asks a concerned friend.

"Why would he burn down a house of the person that is giving him shelter?" responds the homeowner.

"Because he is an arsonist."

The homeowner dismisses the neighbor's concern and not long afterwards his house burns to the ground.

Allowing al-Zawahri and his cohorts to remain in Pakistan is just about as foolish--especially since al-Zawahri is on record as saying that he wants a jihadist takeover of a Pakistani state or territory so al-Qaida can have a permanent base of operations.

Al-Zawahri has allied himself closely with Pakistani extremist groups and married into a local tribe along the Pakistani-Afghan border, thus cementing his ties to like-minded Pakistanis.

And there are apparently many who support al-Qaida and its mission to destroy the democratic nations of the West, eliminate non-Muslim religions and bend the world to its iniquitous will.

Al-Zawahri, 59, who carries the title of "emir," assumes power of al-Qaida at a time when Pakistani-U.S. relations are at their lowest point in decades.

That was evident when Pakistani authorities arrested five persons it says aided the CIA and the U. S. Navy Seal team in their successful raid on the compound where Osama bin-Laden was hiding just a short distance from a Pakistani military base.

Why Pakistan would arrest individuals who aided in the capture of the world's most wanted terrorist has left many U.S. officials scratching their heads.

There is little doubt that Pakistani military authorities were piqued that Washington did not inform it of its plans to raid the bin-Laden compound. In fact, the Pakistani government remains embarrassed by the incursion of the Seal team and the killing of bin-Laden. Pakistan considers the raid a violation of its sovereignty and many Pakistanis are angry with their own Army - the country's pre-eminent institution - for failing to intercept the US Navy SEALs who carried out the raid.

American officials have said privately that telling the Pakistanis about the raid would have led to bin-Laden's escape.

"There are too many people in the Pakistani military and government who sympathize with al-Qaida," one CIA analyst said. "Over there, many people are in bed with al-Qaida. They are radical Muslims first and political allies second."

Top Pentagon officials say the U.S. military will capture and kill al-Qaida’s new leader and that he will meet the same fate as Osama bin Laden. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters at the Pentagon al-Zawahri will face challenges as al-Qaida’s new leader, saying he lacks what Gates referred to as bin Laden’s “peculiar charisma.”

However, authorities in Pakistan have failed to expedite the entry of CIA officers into the country, despite agreeing two weeks ago to form a new joint intelligence-sharing team to hunt al-Qaida. The joint team was intended to rebuild trust on both sides that was badly damaged by fallout from the May 2 raid deep inside Pakistan.

The recent arrests of CIA informants has further eroded whatever trust exists between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Just back from Pakistan, House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. said it is "time to start putting more pressure on Pakistan to do the right thing," and he predicted the US would set new "benchmarks" for Pakistan to prove it is holding up its end in counter-terror cooperation.

Rogers said he'd had "frank discussions" with Pakistan's intelligence chief, as well as Army chief Gen. Asfaq Parvez Kayani over his suspicions that elements of the Pakistani army and intelligence service had helped shelter bin Laden, though he said there was no evidence the leadership was aware.

Rogers also questioned them on reports that the US shared the location of two bomb-building sites in Pakistan's frontier provinces with bad results. Two US officials told the Associated Press in early June that they'd shared the satellite information of the location of two Haqqani network bomb-making factories as a confidence-building measure while working on the formation of a joint intelligence effort with the Pakistanis.

But within 24 hours, the officials say they watched the militants clear out the sites - proof to the Americans that the Pakistanis had shared the information with US enemies, the officials said.

Despite such obvious treachery the U.S. continues to funnel some $2.5 billion a year into Pakistan--almost $20 billion since 2001.

Given the kind of duplicity we are seeing from our so-called Pakistani allies in the fight against al-Qaida one has to wonder how much of that money is actually being used in the war on terror.

Perhaps it is going into an al-Qaida pension fund.
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