- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2001

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —A campaign to smash the global terror network has already clashed head-on with Pakistan's two states within a state the Islamist clergy and the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI).
By any measure, Pakistan has long been a state sponsor of terrorism. But what the U.S. regards as an integral part of the transnational network is seen in Pakistan as Kashmiri "freedom fighters" called "terrorists" in India willing to commit suicide to "liberate occupied Kashmir." Most of them have been trained in Osama Bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan. They consider themselves blood brothers of thousands of fellow guerrillas known as terrorists in the U.S. from many parts of the Muslim world, from Indonesia's Laskar Jihad organization to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers and Filipino ransom kidnappers. Bin Laden was their common mentor and hero. Pakistan has long been their safest of safe havens. Harkat-ul-Mujahideen is a militant group that acts as a link between the Kashmir underground and the Taliban.
Most of these groups share the same enemies list the U.S. and Israel. Their larger agendas, beyond their respective local issues, are also remarkably similar: Judeo-Christian decadence and depravity that must be smashed by destroying U.S. capitalism.
Successive Pakistani governments turned a blind eye to militant groups and shrunk from confronting them. When Gen. Pervez Musharraf seized power in October 1999, he decided to take on Islamist extremists, but ISI was against such a crackdown and the army was divided. They argued that the extremist clergy would turn against him, stirring up the Kashmiri guerrilla movement. In fact, there are substantial army elements especially among junior officers, noncoms and the rank and file that favor the militant goals of the religious extremists. The two fathers of Pakistan's nuclear bomb are also anti-American fundamentalists. Gen. Musharraf relieved them of their nuclear responsibilities last spring and made them advisers to his office.
Gen. Musharraf's declaration of support for the U.S. last week has galvanized extremist religious factions. He received an intelligence report yesterday, according to UPI's sources, that a group known as "The Pious Ones" had issued a contract on his life. The president's security detail is now insisting he wear a bullet-proof vest while driving between the President's House in Islamabad and Army House in Rawalpindi, where he also works into the early hours of the morning and lives with his family. Gen. Musharraf turned down the security request.
Former high-ranking officers such as Gen. Hameed Gul, a retired ISI chief are also sympathetic to the mujahideen groups that were trained by Pakistan in the 1980s to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Taliban plural for talib, or student of the Koran was originally Pakistan's creation under the tutelage of Gen. Gul. It was Gul's idea to call them Taliban, or "students." He turned bitterly against the U.S. after Washington lost interest in Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.
Today, Gen. Gul acts as "strategic adviser" to Pakistan's principal extremist religious parties. When Gen. Musharraf heard that the Foreign Ministry had authorized visas for some Chechen guerrillas earlier this year, military intelligence, not ISI, followed them after their arrival in Pakistan straight to Gen. Gul's house in Rawalpindi. A steady stream of other visitors from Sudan, North Africa and the Middle East goes through his house. Gen. Gul's wife told UPI today that the general was traveling "where he could not be reached."
Three weeks prior to Sept. 11, Gen. Gul, now 71, in his capacity as strategic adviser, attended a large gathering of extremist religious leaders at the "University for the Education of Truth." in Khattak. Gen. Gul then traveled on to Afghanistan where he spent two weeks. He told friends upon his return, two days before the terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, that China and Iran would soon recognize Taliban.
The madrassas or Koranic schools were created in the early 1980s, mostly in the Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan, the two provinces bordering Afghanistan along the 1,300-mile Durand Line. ISI, at the time, calculated the madrassas would provide long-term protection against communist ideology and what was then the fear of future Soviet expansion into Pakistan. The madrassas eventually spread to the entire country. One million children now study at these schools. The attraction for parents is a free education, albeit entirely Koranic, in a country that is 70 percent illiterate with a per capita income of $450.
Arguably the most important Koranic institution is the University for the "Education of Truth" in the town of Khattak. Taliban's nine top leaders, with the exception of "Supreme Leader" Mullah Mohammad Omar, graduated from Khattak. ISI and wealthy Saudis have been funding the university for the past two decades. Every Muslim country is represented in its 2,500 student body. Two retired generals told UPI that each graduating class provides recruits for ISI. The more promising students are encouraged either to extend their eight-year course by two more years to qualify for the title of mufti or mullah, or to go on to Afghanistan for training in Bin Laden's facilities.
A former army corps commander said, not for attribution, that ISI continues to help Taliban with communications and safe houses in Quetta and Peshawar to this day.
Gen. Gul now heads a NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) called Service for All (SFA). A former military intelligence officer, now in the private security field, told UPI it should be called CFA, or Cover for All. The officer said SFA organizes Afghan refugee volunteers for "a wide variety of conflicts in which guerrillas fight for Muslim causes."
Gen. Gul wants for Pakistan what Bin Laden wants for his native Saudi Arabia: Destruction of established governments and their replacement by an Islamic state. His friends say he has political ambitions.
Stay tuned for the "real-time" intelligence pledged by President Musharraf to the U.S. in its global war against the transnational terror network. Definitions of what constitutes terrorism remain to be determined or negotiated.

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