It is an undeniable fact my friends, that our blessed country has become synonymous with the very worst acts of terrorism carried out across the world and with those caught in the planning stages of such attacks. More than that we have the distinction of playing host to every no-good bum and Yahoo who ever got it into his head to become a ‘martyr’.
Whether it was the beauty Richard Reid, the almost shoe-bomber; or the even more beauteous Jose Padilla, the wannabe ‘dirty bomber’, they were welcomed in this country not once, but several times. I have often demanded of the FO and the Interior Ministry to go into the records of our missions in the UK and in the US to find out just who repeatedly issued visas to these two homeless, criminal jailbirds? One has to use sifarish to get ones friends: academics; business people; known personalities a visa to visit the Land of the Poor, and this lot just breezed in!?
The long and the short of it is that we are now the hub of terror, like it or not, and we have, most times grudgingly, caught and handed over the bad boys. On March 2, 2002, barely six months after the Twin Towers were attacked by al Qaeda, Abu Zubeidah aka Zeinul Abedin, thought to be the terrorist organisation’s operational chief and with head money of five million dollars, was apprehended in the industrial town of Faisalabad and handed over to the Americans.
On September 15, 2002 another notorious al Qaeda operative called Ramzi Binalshibh was arrested in Karachi and handed over to the FBI.
On March 1, 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, thought to be the mastermind of the WTC attacks, was arrested in Rawalpindi and also handed over to the FBI.
On March 16, 2003, Yassir al-Jaziri, aka ‘the computer wizard’, ‘the banker to the Shiekh (Osama bin Laden)’, and the seventh-most important al-Qaeda member worldwide, was arrested in Lahore along with three other al-Qaeda operatives. All four were, as before, handed over to the Americans.
In April 2003, Khalid bin Attash aka Walid bin Attish, suspected of being responsible for the attack on the American naval ship USS Cole at Aden, was captured in Karachi. He too was handed over to the US authorities.
On July 30, 2004, the accused mastermind of the explosions that targeted the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Khalfan Ghailani was arrested from the city of Gujrat. He was given into American custody.
In August 2004, another so-called al Qaeda ‘computer wizard’, and thought to be a close associate of Khalfan Ghailani, Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, was arrested in Lahore and was also handed over to the Americans.
On May 2, 2005, a very senior al Qaeda planner Abu Faraj al-Libi aka Mustafa al-Uzayti, was arrested in Mardan, and was too handed over to the Americans.
In May 2006, Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, the main accused in the brutal Madrid train bombings was captured in the city of Quetta and, you guessed it, was handed over to the Americans.
On January 29, 2008 Abu Laith al-Libi, a top al Qaeda commander and a trusted lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, was killed by a US missile in Waziristan. In August 2009, another senior al Qaeda terrorist, Tahir Yuldashev, was killed in a US predator air strike.
The point I am making is that Pakistanis, mostly organisations such as the ISI, sometimes the police, have captured these terrorists and the State has then handed them over. In the case of those killed in drone strikes, people on the ground (whether from the ‘agencies’ or lay people) identify and mark the houses/modes of transport that the terrorists might be using so that they can be targeted from the air.
Every time, massive amounts of money have been paid by our allies in the War on Terror, both to individuals as well as to the ‘agencies’ for all of these top terrorists who had huge bounties on their heads.
All of the above were very bad boys indeed, who have not only poisoned and polluted Pakistan with extreme hatred and religious intolerance, witness: the daily massacre of Shias across the country; witness the hate being spewed against the Ahmadis; they have actually attacked the State itself in a bid to take the country over, lock, stock and bums. They have also killed thousands of our soldiers.
As for the bounty received, please see what the Commando says in his quite ludicrous book In the Line of Fire (Stand up Humayun Gauhar): “Since shortly after 9/11, when many members of al Qaeda fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan, we have played cat and mouse with them. The biggest of them all, Osama bin Laden, is still at large at the time of this writing, but we have caught many, many others. Some are known to the world, some are not. We have captured 689 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars. Those who habitually accuse use of “not doing enough” in the War on Terror should simply ask the CIA how much prize money it has paid to the government of Pakistan.”
Er, in that case, why is it that Dr Shakil Afridi who helped the Americans find Osama bin Laden himself is slated to be declared a ‘traitor’ by the Commission ‘investigating’ the US raid into Abbottabad please? Did he not help the Americans find and kill an international terrorist? Did OBL not kill thousands of Pakistan Army soldiers, even a serving lieutenant-general, and tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians? Did his people not attack PNS Mehran and destroy all of our maritime security aircraft? I should have thought Afridi should have been given the Nishan-i-Shujaat and the Nishan-e-Pakistan for his brave act not be tried as a traitor. By the way, with what face will the Commission declare Afridi a traitor while Musharraf and his humnawa enjoy freedom?
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2012.