Pakistan Releases over 2,500 Taliban, al Qaeda
Pakistan follows the truce to the letter and releases thousands of Taliban and al Qaeda members captured since 2001
Maulana Sufi Mohammad, head of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e- Shariat-e-Mohammed, freed from Pakistani prison.
The Pakistani government is living up to its commitments on the "Waziristan Accord," and has emptied the prisons of Taliban and al Qaeda who have been captured since the fall of 2001. The "Waziristan Accord" calls for the Pakistani government to "release prisoners held in military action and would not arrest them again," and that is exactly what is happening.
The Daily Telegraph discloses that Pakistan has released over 2,500 Taliban and al Qaeda, although an American military intelligence source estimates the number is higher. The Pakistani military has in the past put the number of al Qaeda and Taliban captured at around 500-700.
The Daily Telegraph then tracks down some of those released. The resultant interviews give the impression those released were somehow incorrectly identified as jihadis. A "young Tajik who entered Pakistan last year to study... at a madrassa in Peshawar... was shot in the side by Pakistani police as he tried to escape when the madrassa was raided." A "37-year-old Algerian... worked in the honey business when he was arrested last year." Al-Qaeda was deeply involved in the "honey business" and use this and other industries to mask their terror financing. A "Bangladeshi who has an American degree in engineering, admitted helping the Taliban against US-led forces in Afghanistan five years ago" was released to the al-Khidmat Foundation. The Daily Telegraph fails to recognize the al-Khidmat Foundation is in fact the Makhtab al-Khidmat, or the MAK, which was founded by Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and was used to funnel men and material into Afghanistan. The MAK is on the U.S. Department of State Terrorist Exclusion List.
But beyond the three low level operatives interviewed are a host of senior and mid level al Qaeda and Taliban operatives. A sample of those released included the following individuals, including the killers of journalist Daniel Pearl:
Ghulam Mustafa: "He was once close to Osama bin Laden, has intimate knowledge of al Qaeda's logistics and financing and its nexus with the military in Pakistan."
Maulana Sufi Mohammad: "Maulana Sufi Mohammad was Faqir Mohammed's first jihadi mentor who introduced him to militancy in Afghanistan in 1993. Sufi Mohammad was one of the active leaders of Jamat-e-Islami (JI) in the 1980s. He was the principal of the JI madrassa in Tamaergra, a town in the northwestern part of NWFP. He was an instinctive hardliner and in due course developed differences with JI and left them in 1992 to form Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed [TNSM]." Sufi Mohammad organized Pakistanis to fight jihad in Afghanistan and along with the TNSM fought in Kunduz November of 2001.
Mohammad Khaled: A brigade leader who led the Taliban in against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. ""It is a difficult time for Islam and Muslims. We are in a test. Everybody should be ready to pass the test - and to sacrifice our lives," said Mohammad Khaled.
Fazl-e-Raziq: A senior aide to Osama bin Laden, and "an ethnic Pakhtoon resident of Swabi district of the North West Frontier Province."
Khairullah Kherkhawa: The former Taliban governor of Herat.
Khalid Khawaja: "Khalid Khawaja is a retired squadron leader of the Pakistan Air Force who was an official in Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, in the mid 1980s. After he wrote a critical letter to General Zia ul-Haq, who ruled Pakistan from 1977 till 1988, in which he labeled Zia as hypocrite, he was removed from the ISI and forced to retire from the airforce. He then went straight to Afghanistan in 1987 and fought against the Soviets along side with Osama Bin Laden, developing a relationship of firm friendship and trust. Khalid Khawaja's name resurfaced when US reporter Daniel Pearl was abducted and subsequently killed. Pearl had come to Pakistan and met Khalid Khawaja in order to investigate the jihadi network of revered sufi, Syed Mubarak Ali Gailani."
Mansour Hasnain: A member of the group that kidnapped and murdered Danny Pearl. He also was "a militant of the Harkat-al-Mujahedin group, is one of those who hijacked an Indian Airlines jet in December 1999 and forced New Delhi to release three militants -- including Omar and Azhar."
Mohammad Hashim Qadeer: "Suspected of being one of [Daniel] Pearl's actual killers, was arrested in August 2005 and has notable al-Qaida links" and "ties with the banned extremist groups Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen and Jaish-e-Muhammad."
Mohammad Bashir: Another Pakistani complicit in the murder of Daniel Pearl.
Aamni Ahmad, Hala Ahmad and Nooran Abdu: Facilitators/couriers, and wives of al Qaeda members. "Pakistani authorities arrested 23 Arabs, including two children, suspected of links to Osama bin Laden, officials said Wednesday. All of them sneaked into the country from Afghanistan in recent weeks. The suspects include three women, identified as Aamni Ahmad, Hala Ahmad and Nooran Abdu, who are believed to be relatives of bin Laden. An interior ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the arrests were made in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan."
Gul Ahmed Shami & Hamid Noor: Al-Qaeda foot soldiers who fought in Afghanistan. "I want to be the next Osama bin Laden," said Shami in 2001. "Allah is with us. The Americans have technology but they don't have the courage to face death, which we do. I will be there until my death if need be. I know I probably won't come back," said Hamid.
These "miscreants" and "foreigners" are said to be streaming back to al Qaeda's new safe haven of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan, and reconstituting al Qaeda's organization.
As the Pakistani government lives up to their end of the "Waziristan Accord," the Taliban and al Qaeda have broken it repeatedly. Anti-Taliban clerics and tribal leaders have been shot and beheaded in Waziristan. A government official was also kidnapped in Waziristan, and a reporter was murdered in Dera Ismail Khan. The Taliban flaunts the terms of the truce and expends into neighboring agencies, and the Pakistani government continues to look the other way.