The Los Angeles Times reports on a damning new book written by Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a former French investigative magistrate who specialized on al Qaeda and homed in on the network in Pakistan.
According to Bruguiere, Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, (or elements of it, depending on your point of view and the specific situation) has provided crucial aid to terror groups, while members of the military, who doubled as Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives, trained terrorists for attacks against the West. From The Los Angeles Times:
The judge cites his investigation of Willie Brigitte, a Frenchman who was convicted of terrorism charges in 2007.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Al Qaeda militants helped Brigitte go to Pakistan to train with hundreds of Arabs and Westerners and several thousand Pakistanis and Afghans at a mountain complex in Punjab. Affiliated with Al Qaeda, the camp was run jointly by the Lashkar-e-Taiba extremist group and Pakistani security forces, which supplied arms and instructors, the book says.
CIA officers accompanied by Pakistani officials made four inspections of the camp, part of an agreement in which Pakistan had promised to prevent foreign militants from training with Lashkar, Bruguiere writes.
“But, since most of the officers of Lashkar belonged to the army, these inspections were doomed to draw a blank,” the book says. “The foreign recruits were alerted on the eve of the arrival of the inspection teams by their instructors, military men informed by their hierarchy.
“The trainees then had to . . . erase any traces of their presence and head to an elevation of more than 13,000 feet while the inspection lasted.”
The book says Brigitte testified that his handler was a Pakistani military officer, identified as Sajid, who sent the Frenchman to Australia to join a cell plotting bomb attacks on targets that included a nuclear plant. Alerted by French investigators on Brigitte’s trail, Australian police arrested the group in 2003.
Sajid also dispatched militants for missions in Britain and in Virginia, where authorities later convicted Americans who were part of a group known as the “paintball jihadis” and who were fellow trainees of Brigitte, the book says. A French court convicted Brigitte on terrorism charges and sentenced him to nine years in prison.
In 2006, Bruguiere went to the Pakistani port city of Karachi to investigate a suicide bombing that had killed 11 French naval contractors three years earlier. Pakistani security officials were uncooperative and hostile, he asserts.
“French officials in Pakistan were the target of threats and physical intimidation: a way of dissuading us from returning,” he writes.
In all fairness, Bruguiere is offering a glimpse into the recent past in Pakistan. Bruguiere retired from his job as judge/prosecutor in 2007, and things have changed somewhat since then. President Musharraf, who mastered playing both sides, left office in August 2008 and has been replaced by a civilian government (which has nominal control over the Army, however). The Pakistani Army effectively took the fight to the Taliban in Swat and is currently on the offensive in South Waziristan.
On the flip side, terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Harakat ul-Jihad Islami are still in business, and have even reopened training camps. The government turns a blind eye as Lashkar-e-Taiba renames its “charity” organizations and raises funds, while its leader Hafiz Saeed remains the Teflon Jihadi. The military still draws distinctions between “good” and “bad” Taliban – good Taliban fight only in Afghanistan while bad Taliban threaten the Pakistani state. As the military fights the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in South Waziristan, it has cut “peace agreements” with powerful Taliban commanders in neighboring regions. And the powerful Haqqani family remains untouchable.
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