Friday, September 12, 2008




The "New York Times" reported as follows on September 9,2008:

"A lengthy trial centering on what Scotland Yard called a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners ended Monday when the jury convictedthree of eight defendants of conspiracy to commit murder.

"But the jury failed to reach verdicts on the more serious charge of a conspiracy to have suicide bombers detonate soft-drink bottles filledwith liquid explosives aboard seven airliners headed for the United States and Canada.

"The failure to obtain convictions on the plane-bombing charge was a blow to counterterrorism officials in London and Washington, who haddescribed the scheme as potentially the most devastating act of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks seven years ago this week. British andAmerican experts had said that the plot had all the signs of an operation by Al Qaeda, and that it was conceived and organized in Pakistan.

"The arrest in August 2006 of two dozen suspects, including the eight put on trial, set off a worldwide alarm in the airline industry and led toa tightening of airport security, including time-consuming restrictions on passengers carrying liquids and creams in their carry-on luggagethat remain in force at most airports around the globe.

"But the case was hampered from the beginning, prosecutors said, by an investigation that was cut short, by the conflicting demands ofintelligence agencies, and by problems with introducing evidence in the courtroom. To protect sources and methods, the prosecution wasunable to introduce material from British or foreign intelligence agencies. In addition, Britain does not allow information in court that hasbeen gathered from domestic wiretaps.

"The arrest in Pakistan of Rashid Rauf, a Briton of Pakistani descent who American, British and Pakistani officials said was a liaison to AlQaeda, set off a series of events that led the British police to roll up the London-based cell far earlier than they had intended. The haste inmaking sweeping arrests made it hard for prosecutors to persuade the jury that the bomb plot had reached the stage at which an attack onairliners was imminent.

"Partly as a result, prosecutors never convinced the jury that the suspects were prepared to strike immediately, or even that they hadchosen planes as their targets. Nor did they convict a man whom they had accused of having links to Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

"Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said it might decide to call for a retrial of the case if it decides it might win convictions on the mostserious charges. A decision on that is expected within weeks. In addition, a number of other suspects will face trial related to the plot."

2. In this connection, I am annexing the following two articles written by me in August 2006:

3. The post-9/11 war on terrorism has many mysteries buried deep inside. The first mystery is about Omar Sheikh, the alleged master-mindbehind the kIdnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the journalist of the "Wall street Journal". He was sentenced to death by a court inPakistan, but his sentence has not been executed. The hearing on his appeal against the sentence has been adjourned over a hundredtimes till now. He is the fittest case for interrogation in Guantanamo Bay, but, for some strange reasons, the US authorities have shown no interest in getting hold of him and taking him to Guantanamo Bay for interrogation to find out the real truth about the kidnapping andmurder of Pearl.

4. The second mystery is about the arrest by the Pakistani authorities in August 2006 of Rashid Rauf, a Briton of Mirpuri origin, who isrelated by marriage to Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. He was projected as one of the master-minds of theBojinka--2006 plot and as the man, who tipped off the Pakistani authorities about the plot. No serious attempt was made by the British policeto get hold of him, take him to the UK and interrogate him. He escaped from Pakistani custody in December,2007, and has not been tracedso far. No attempt has been made by the Pakistani authorities to trace him.

5. One understands that there is a sensational untold story about these two mysteries, which could make a mother of all best sellers relating to the war on terrorism.( 12-9-08)

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




by B. Raman

There is considerable skepticism in informed circles in Pakistan, including the Police, over claims being made by the British, US andPakistani authorities of having thwarted a planned Al Qaeda terrorist strike of catastrophic potential by blowing up 10 US-bound aircraftsimultaneously. They suspect that it is a co-ordinated attempt by the authorities of the UK and the US, with the collusion of the Pakistanimilitary-intelligence establishment, to divert attention from the growing public criticism of their backing for Israel's military operations inthe Lebanon.

2. They give the following arguments in support of their skepticism:

To blow up 10 aircraft simultaneously by smuggling liquid explosives inside and assembling an improvised explosive device (ISD) insidewould have required at least two suicide volunteers per aircraft, thus making a total of at least 20. Plus, they would have required at least 10 or more support volunteers to back them up. Thus, according to them, an operation of this type would have required a network of at least 50 volunteers whereas the British have arrested only 24 and say that they have arrested all those who were involved.

Those, who claim to know either personally or indirectly the background of the persons of Pakistani origin picked up by the British Police,say that not more four or five of them are motivated strongly enough to serve successfully as suicide volunteers. They claim that the rest ofthem are not suicide material.

Police sources, who had earlier reported about the visit of some people of Pakistani origin to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) to participate in earth-quake relief and who were subsequently got trained in the Waziristan training camp of the pro-Al Qaeda Jundullah (Armyof Allah), say the number involved was not more than four or five. They also say that these people were not capable of organising a catastrophic terrorist strike of the dimensions mentioned by the British and American authorities. They say their own suspicion was that these people were planning another 7/7 in the UK or a terrorist strike in Copenhagen in protest against the caricaturisation of the HolyProphet in a Danish journal.

3. During the sermons following the Friday prayers in the mosques and madrasas in the tribal areas of Pakistan on August 11, 2006, theBritish and American claims were debunked and Gen.Pervez Musharraf was accused of helping the British and the Americans in theirattempts to spread a canard. The speakers compared this to what they described as the canard spread by the US and the UK about Iraq'salleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) before invading that country in 2003 and the dramatic claims about an Al Qaedaplot made by the US' Homeland Security Department before the US Presidential elections of 2004 in order to swing the election results infavour of President George Bush..

4. Delivering a Friday sermon at the Jamia Mosque Mansoorah at Lahore on August 11, 2006, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) President andJamaat-e-Islami Pakistan Amir, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, said that “the hoax of the bombing plan in passenger planes is a well-orchestrated USand UK ploy to divert the attention of world media from the humiliation meted out to Zionist forces at the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon.” Headded that “it is shameful that Islamabad is unilaterally taking credit for extending a helping hand in arresting or unveiling the so calledterror plan in American and British planes for which no independent confirmation has yet been made.”

5. The skepticism is not confined to the jihadi circles. It is also evident in an editorial carried by the highly-respected "Daily Times" ofLahore on August 12, 2006. It said inter alia: "Whatever the case, a terrorist act on the alleged scale and coordination would have requiredmonths — if not a couple of years — of planning. This means that intelligence operatives, whether in Pakistan, Britain or the US, did notimmediately pounce on these men but kept them under watch for a long time and allowed the plot to unfold. This would have required amajor effort and the agencies must have got a lot of information while tracking these suspects and intercepting their communications. Weflag this point because the lack of information following the bust does not square, either with the commotion in the foreign media or the factthat the intelligence agencies in Pakistan or abroad should have the low-down on these people and be happy to share it with the media.

6. "The argument that little information is being given because the intelligence agencies do not want to alert other terrorist cells does notwash. The arrests, as we have noted, seem to have come after a patient sting operation and the alleged terrorists were caught just as theplot entered its final phase. In the event, there is no more that the intelligence operatives can do now; as for other terrorist cells, thearrests themselves would force them to scatter, abandon their plans and lie low for a fairly long time.

7. "We say this because the arrests by the Canadian authorities of dozens of people some months ago have proved to be trumped-up.Similarly, this revelation comes close on the heels of the disappearance of 11 Egyptians in the US. There is also a horrible war going on inLebanon and it is not unfolding in favour of Israel, the US and UK. Iraq has gone bad; Afghanistan is getting worse. The Bush-Blair duo is introuble at home and both need something really big to happen to justify their policies and distract attention from their losses. True, thisargument comes dangerously close to the realm in which conspiracy theories reside, but the past record of intelligence agencieseverywhere suggests they are quite capable of blowing up or underplaying things for better media management of their respectivegovernments’ performance. So a bit of skepticism is in order.

8. "Of course, there is every possibility that MI5, with ISI’s help, have captured a hoard of terrorists and no conspiracy is afoot to distract attention from Lebanon and Iraq and Afghanistan. But if that is the case then we must be given much more credible information by the UK and Pakistan governments than we have received so far."




By B.Raman

A hilarious novel by Graham Greene titled "Our Man in Havana" became a best-seller in the 1970s. It was about a mediocre officer of theMI-6, Britain's external intelligence agency, posted to Havana as a punishment for failing to produce any worthwhile intelligence in hiscareer. One day he sends to his headquarters a sensational report, which he claims to have obtained from a mole, about the arrival in Cubaof a highly lethal Soviet missile for use against the US.

2. The MI-6 and the CIA examine the report. There is excitement in both the agencies over this intelligence coup. They inform theirrespective political leaders. The MI-6's man in Havana is flooded with encomiums.The more the MI-6 asks him for further details of themissile, the more he gets from his mole.

3. One day, the excitement in the MI-6 breaks the ceiling when they receive from their man what he claimed was a copy of the diagram ofthe missile.The UK Defence Department, the Pentagon and the political leaders of the two countries are informed. The British and Americananalysts are mystified.The missile, going by the diagram, looks like no other missile the USSR was known to have produced before.Studiesare ordered as to how to counter it.

4. One British analyst has a vague feeling that he had seen a similar diagram somewhere before, but he cannot recall when and where.Oneday the vacuum cleaner in his house goes out of order.He opens it. Hey presto, he finds inside a diagram of the vacuum cleaner. He realisesthat what their man in Havana had sent as the diagram of a new Soviet missile, was actually the diagram of a vacuum cleaner.

5.There is utter consternation in the MI-6 headquarters. They call their man to London and question him. He admits that he never had a molein the Cuban security set-up and that he had fabricated all his reports. He got the idea about the new missile while repairing his vacuumcleaner one day.

6.The chief of the MI-6 and his officers ask him to wait outside while they discuss his cheating.The senior officers advise the chief not toadmit to the Prime Minister and the CIA that there was no such missile and that their man had made an ass of them.It would destroy theorganisation's credibility and that of the chief.

7.They decide to request their man to apply for premature retirement and recommend to the Government that his request be accepteddespite his outstanding work. They also decide to recommend him for knighthood for his outstanding performance in Havana. He remains onthe records of the MI-6 one of the greatest intelligence operatives produced by the British intelligence.

8. One is reminded of the MI-6's Man in Havana as one watches with amazement the encomiums being showered on President Gen. PervezMusharraf of Pakistan as a stalwart ally in the war against terrorism by President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair despite anavalanche of evidence regarding his duplicity. What is the evidence available against Musharraf so far:

His reluctance to hand over Omar Sheikh to the Americans for questioning regarding the kidnapping and beheading of Daniel Pearl, the USjournalist.

His continued refusal to hand over A.Q.Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, to the US for interrogation on his links with Iran,Libya,NorthKorea, Syria, Iraq and Al Qaeda.

His non-co-operation in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri and other remnants of Al Qaeda, who are now operatingfrom Waziristan in Pakistani territory.

His reluctance to act against Mulla Mohammed Omar, the Amir, and other leaders and cadres of the Taliban, who are killing Americans,British, Canadians, Afghans and others from their sanctuaries in Pakistani territory.

His refusal to act against the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and its mother organisation the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) despite the LET's globalramifications and its links with Al Qaeda.

His indignant denials of Indian and Afghan allegations regarding the jihadi terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory, which continues toencourage terrorism in India and Afghanistan.

His making a deal with the Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants in Waziristan under which they have agreed to observe a cease-fire insideWaziristan in return for Musharraf's closing his eyes to their raids into Afghan territory

9. And, so on and so on and so on. In spite of all this, Mr.Bush and Mr.Blair keep showering praise on Their Man in Islamabad. Their praise shows no sign of stopping despite new evidence of the General's duplicity regarding the alleged plot to blow up 10 US-bound aircraft, thediscovery of which was announced dramatically by the British police on August 10, 2006.

10.Musharraf and his officials proclaimed that it was Pakistan, which discovered the plot and alerted the British about it on August 9. Theyprojected Rashid Rauf, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, as the chief co-ordinator of the plot on behalf of the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Whatstrip-tease they have been playing about Rashid Rauf!

They said he was arrested while crossing into Pakistan from Afghanistan a week before the British announcement. Sections of the Pakistani media reported that he was actually arrested in Bahawalpur in southern Punjab on August 8. He had acquired anexpensive house there and married the sister-in-law (wife's sister) of Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM),which was designated by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in December,2001.

After the publication of the report of his arrest in Bahawalpur, the Pakistani officials changed their version. They said they had actually arrested an associate of Rashid Rauf while crossing over into Pakistan from Afghanistan and he led them to Rashid in Bahawalpur. Theyhave not given the name of this associate.

They said that the entire plot was conceived by the No.3 of Al Qaeda who, according to them, is based in Afghanistan, but they could notgive his name except to say he was close to No.2 Zawahiri.

Then, they said it was actually a son-in-law of Zawahiri, who conceived the plot and tried to use Rashid to have it executed. They gave the name of the so-called son-in-law. When it was pointed out to them that this son-in-law was reported by them earlier this year to have been killed in an American air raid in the Bajaur tribal agency, they have gone silent. Musharraf has advised his agencies not to give any more briefings to the media.

11.Musharraf has suddenly become a stickler for the law. In the past, the Pakistani authorities had informally handed over to the Americanswithout following the due process of the law Mir Aimal Kansi, Ramzi Yousef, Abu Zubaidah, Ramzi Binalshib, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, AbuFaraj al-Libi and many others without informing their courts about their arrests.Abu Faraj was handed over despite the fact that he was theprincipal accused in the case relating to the plot to kill Musharraf in December,2003.

12.In the case of Rashid Rauf, they are following the entire procedure as laid down in the law. They informed a court of his arrest. Theyproduced him before a magistrate and obtained his remand in police custody for interrogation. They have reportedly requested the Britishfor a formal written application for handing him over so that they can put it up to the Magistrate for orders. A British police team is waiting inIslamabad patiently for an opportunity to question him.

13. Any police would have been anxious to question him as urgently as possible in order to neutralise any other threat before it materialises,but not the British. It is now 10 days since the plot was discovered, but the British are yet to interrogate the so-called principal co-ordinatorof it. They are showing remarkable patience.It is like a clip in slow motion from a Charlie Chaplin movie. The whole case relating to Rashid ismoving at a pace which would make the proverbial snail look a great sprinter.

14. Rashid Rauf may well go down in history as the terrorist, whom nobody wanted to interrogate. The Pakistanis don't want to interrogate him too much lest their duplicity be exposed.The British and the Americans don't want to be in a hurry to interrogate lest their own gullibilitybe exposed.Moreover, there is a great danger if it comes out that they again let themselves be taken for a ride by Musharraf.Not only will their credibility be in ruins, but they may even face claims for damages from airline companies and passengers, who incurred losses amounting to billions of dollars as a result of the drama staged by the British police.
15. The only way of avoiding all this is to persist with the drama and to go on showering encomiums and lollipops on Musharraf. It would be dangerous to admit that he was a trickster, who took them for a ride. Better to let him go down in history as the world's greatest warrior against terrorism and as the hero of the discovery of a plot to blow up 10 US-bound planes.

16. They sink or swim with Their Man in Islamabad.