Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Lesson #87 for Aspiring Diplomats: When cooking up a bogus assassination plot, you can avoid offending key allies by selecting a faux-target of your own nationality:
An untimely diplomatic spat erupted between Pakistan and the United States yesterday after it emerged that an FBI sting to snare two leaders of a mosque on terrorist-related charges in Albany, New York, was built around a purported plot to assassinate the Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations.Based on a report in tomorrow's Washington Times (linked directly below), we think it's safe to say the U.S. has already addressed the problem.
The two suspects, Mohammed Hossain, the founder of the small, shop-front mosque, and its prayer leader, Yassin Aref, were arrested last week. Prosecutors said that they were lured by an FBI informant into agreeing to launder money after being told it would later be used to buy a shoulder-launched missile to kill the UN envoy.
But the plot against the ambassador, Muneer Akram, never existed and was purely a concoction of the FBI to trick the suspects. However, Pakistan officials said the notion of setting up their diplomat in New York as the purported target of the plot was "mind-boggling". The row comes at a time when both governments have been anxious to trumpet improved relations . . . .
[T]here was no attempt by Pakistani officials in Islamabad to disguise their astonishment at the nature of the Albany sting, which is not connected to the new terror alerts. "It is mind-boggling why they could not use the name of an American functionary," Masood Khan, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a news conference.
The government said it had made a formal complaint to Washington. "We have made a démarche to the US embassy here," Mr Khan added. "We hope that the US will realise its mistake and give instructions for rectifying this faulty methodology."