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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Terrorist-of-the-Month Club 

Pakistan's answer to Harry & David -- order now and we guarantee that our Deluxe High-Value Gift Basket will be delivered to your doorstep in plenty of time for the November election! From Syed Saleem Shahzad of the Asia Times, via Cursor:
When US Central Command commander General John Abizaid visited Islamabad last week, his first priority was not Pakistan sending troops to Iraq, but the arrest of high-value al-Qaeda targets.

Almost magically, just days later, a Tanzanian al-Qaeda operative, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, was arrested in the Punjab provincial city of Gujrat. He is wanted in the United States in connection with the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. He was one of the United States' 22 most-wanted terrorists, and had a US$5 million bounty on his head.

Security experts close to the corridors of power in Pakistan tell Asia Times Online that as the November presidential elections in the US draw closer, more such dramatic - and timely - arrests can be expected. The announcement of Ghailani's arrest coincided with the Democratic Party's convention in Boston during which John Kerry was confirmed as challenger to President George W Bush . . . .

Already, though, under intense pressure from the US, Pakistan has handed over as many as 350 suspected al-Qaeda operators into US custody. Most have been low-ranking, but some important names are, according to Asia Times Online contacts, being held in Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) safe houses to be presented at the right moment.

The contacts say that Pakistan's strategic circles see the high-value al-Qaeda operators as "bargaining chips" to ensure continued US support for President General Pervez Musharraf's de facto military rule in Pakistan. Had Pakistan handed over top targets such as Osama bin Laden, his deputy Dr Aiman al-Zawahir, Tahir Yuldash (leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) and others - assuming it was in a position to do so - the military rulers would have lost their usefulness to the US in its "war on terror".

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