Sunday, October 12, 2008




Adam Gadahn alias Azzam al-Amriki, an American convert to Islam who headed As Sahab, the propaganda wing of Al Qaeda and wasmissing since a missile attack by an unmanned US aircraft early in the morning of January 29, 2008, on a house at a village called KhushaliTorikhel, 12 kilometres south of Mir Ali town, in North Waziristan, is back. The death of Abu Laith al-Libi, a Libyan national and an importantAl Qaeda leader, in this missile attack was announced by a web site ( associated with Al Qaeda, on January 31,2008. Hisso-called martyrdom was also confirmed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 to bin Laden, in an audio message disseminated on February 27,2008.

2. The "News" of Pakistan had reported that there was speculation in the tribal areas that Gadahn was also present in the house attackedby the missile and that there were rumours that he was also killed, but this was not confirmed. However,the disappearance of Gadahn afterJanuary 29,2008, and his non-appearance in any of the video and audio messages disseminated by As Sahab thereafter gave rise tospeculation that he must have been either killed or incapacitated by the missile strike.

3. After an absence of a little over seven months, Gadahn gave sign of life again in a video message disseminated by As Sahab on October4,2008, coinciding with the end of the Muslim fasting period. The message, which is mainly addressed to the Muslims of Pakistan, with somereferences to the Muslims of other countries of the South Asian region,including India and Afghanistan, refers to a number of incidents in thePakistani tribal belt in September, the controversy over the ground attack by the US Special Forces in South Waziristan and the election ofAsif Ali Zardari as the President, thus indicating that it must have been recorded in the second half of September. However, it does not referto the explosion outside the Marriott Hotel of Islamabad on September 20,2008.

4. The message virulently criticises both political and military leaders of Pakistan for the operations undertaken by the Pakistan Army in theBajaur and Swat areas and for their co-operation with the US. It seeks to question the sincerity of the criticism by Pakistani leaders of theUS intrusions into Pakistani territory and air space and to project them as an eye-wash. He calls Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan's Chiefof the Army Staff (COAS), as a "wolf in wolves' clothing".

5. The message contains no direct criticism of India nor of Indian leaders. It does not refer to the serial blasts in various Indian cities sinceNovember ,2007. It, however, criticises the Pakistani leaders and agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for divertingattention away from the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir in order to carry out military operations in the tribal areas. It also calls for unity ofaction by the Mujahideen of Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and other countries of the region.

6.The passing references of relevance to India are given below:

"The Mujahideen and their supporters in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India and the region must be on their guard against the plots and conspiracies being hatched against them in the corridors of ISI headquarters, Army House and other centres of Satanic scheming in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Kabul and must close ranks and must never allow the agents of America and the criminal regimes of the region's capitals come between them and their brothers."

"It is the interference of the hypocrites from the ostensibly helpful Pakistani agencies which has delayed victory in Kashmir for all these long years. It is the liberation of the jihad there from this interference which will be the first step towards victory over the Hindu occupiers of that Muslim land."

7. There are two intriguing sentences in the message. It says: " Someone wanted us to imagine that the same Pakistan Government, whichis probably responsible for the death of more Muslims in Pakistan than the Americans are and the same Pakistan Army which is mercilesslybombing the Bajaur Agency to please its Crusader backers are both SUDDENLY PREPARED TO FIGHT KUFAR (INFIDELS) INSTEAD OFMUSLIMS. Someone wanted to imply to us that the same Pakistan Army which for seven years has left Pakistan's borders wide open in frontof the Crusaders and Hindus while it fights the Mujahideen and kills defenceless innocents to please its paymasters in Washington IS NOWINTERESTED IN PROTECTING THOSE BORDERS." (Emphasis mine)

8. Who is that "someone"? Is the Pakistan Army making peace overtures to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) by suggesting that peace inthe tribal areas was necessary to enable it to go back to the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir and resume assistance for the jihad inKashmir? He seems to caution the TTP that this is a trap and that it should not fall into it. He describes this as a "classical Pakistanipropaganda with no factul basis."(12-10-08)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: )