- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 23, 2001

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan The key to understanding the links between radical Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia lies in Khattak, a town 28 miles from the northwestern city of Peshawar.
This is where the fundamentalist University for the Education of Truth is located, and where nine out of the Taliban's top 10 leaders spent between eight and 12 years studying and reciting the Quran as it was written in classical Arabic.
The university president is Sami ul-Haq, co-president of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (Party of the Holy Men of Islam). He is widely considered the closest friend in Pakistan of Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader believed responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
The institution's 2,500 students are drawn from all over the Muslim world, stretching from Morocco to Indonesia.
Though many come from the Arab world, some 700 are from Afghanistan and 500 from the Muslim former Soviet republics.
One of the Khattak facility's chief backers is Pakistan's powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, considered as a state within a state.
Links between the two go back to the school's founding 50 years ago by Mr. ul-Haq's father.
Over the years, ISI has both funded the Khattak facility and recruited agents from its graduating classes.
Since 1996, when the Taliban took over Kabul, its top leaders, who graduated from Khattak, have been frequent guest lecturers, journeying freely between the two countries.
Students at the school speak about bin Laden with reverence, as the Muslim world's leading hero after the Prophet Mohammed himself.
The Taliban (the word means students in Arabic) movement was inspired by a former ISI chief, Gen. Hameed Gul a fundamentalist who became virulently anti-American after the United States abandoned Afghanistan following the Soviet pullout in 1989.
During the war against Soviet occupation forces, Gen. Gul worked closely with the CIA and Saudi intelligence.
He spent two weeks in Afghanistan immediately prior to Sept. 11, intelligence sources say.
The murky world of Pakistani links to the Taliban became apparent with efforts to mobilize anti-U.S. demonstrations in cities and small towns throughout Pakistan on Friday.
Security officials told UPI they worried about the loyalties of religious leaders in towns and villages in the Northwest Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan.
No sooner did frontier tribal elders pledge fealty to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday than the heads of the tribes held a jirga, or consultative meeting, Friday to denounce Gen. Musharraf's support for the U.S. war effort against terrorism.
It is an open secret in Pakistani security circles that ISI devoted undisclosed amounts of money to help the ulema, or religious council, turn out thousands of demonstrators at Friday's pro-Taliban rallies.
From Karachi to Peshawar and from Lahore to Quetta, the mullahs and muftis were assigned the task of producing from 100 to 500 demonstrators per mosque and madrassa (religious school), a security official said.
The ISI objective was to demonstrate by aiding the demonstrators a groundswell of anti-U.S. sentiment to hundreds visiting journalists from all over the world.
Though the protests produced dramatic images, with demonstrators burning U.S. flags and President Bush in effigy, the turnout was far lower than most had expected.
The security official explained that, depending how well the demonstrators shouted and how effective were their banners hastily painted in English for TV camera crews they were to be rewarded with chicken dinners and movie outings.
The security official said children were also told they would get 20 rupees (30 cents) if they showed sufficient zeal and 200 rupees ($3) for a direct hit against a police officer with a stone. By contrast, a Pakistani policeman makes 120 rupees a day.
Distributed by United Press International

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