French prosecutor points out Pakistan links to jihadis


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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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1 Comment

  • ali says:

    It’s quite clear from Pakistan’s inaction against the LeT etc after the Mumbai attacks that it continues, foolishly and viciously, to support these groups against India. It is also clear that they continue to support or at least not threaten various groups in FATA that target Afghanistan and not Pakistan. The openly stated fears about an Indian alliance with the Afghan government is the stated (and in Pakistan, accepted) justification. That this is playing with fire seems lost on them, as do the lessons of the past.
    Moreover, after two decades of being allied to the Taliban, and given the rise of Wahabi’ism in Pakistan, supported by the steady influx of Arab petrodollars, it is also clear that a segment of the Pakistani army looks favorably upon the Taliban. Musharraf fired a number of Generals who were considered sympathetic to the Taliban, and this continues.
    However, I seriously doubt that the Army High Command would knowingly allow its officers to plot against Australia. The state has no interest in making more enemies than it already has.
    For most analysts, it seems the Taliban history starts at 9/11. When the Afghans were fighting the Russians, the CIA and ISI encouraged ‘Jihad’ and glorified them as Mujahideen. When the Americans disappeared after the fall of the USSR, they left the Pakistan Army not only holding the child of this unholy alliance, but also itself morphed towards radicalism.
    It is important to realize that this was not always the case. In the 1965 war with India, Chuck Yeager was posted with the Pakistan Air Force to train and counsel its officers. In his book, he described them as professional and highly westernized, not ideologue soldiers. Pakistan must take primary blame for the subsequent transformation, but the CIA’s Afghan war and subsequent retreat cannot be discounted. ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ made this starkly clear.
    After 9/11, there has been no engagement by America of the Pakistani Army on the issue of reversing the solidarity with the Taliban. Given the high degree of influence the US has on GHQ, their response should have been one of engagement, not indignation.
    I wonder if it is too late.


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